India should promote USA-like mode of domestic tourism: Veer Vijay Singh
Speaking at the recently held BW HOTELIER WebBlast, Veer Vijay Singh, CEO & MD, Trance Hotels; Former COO, Vivanta by Taj discussed the need to promote domestic tourism, demand for industry status, and strengthen regional tourism.
Since international tourism is completely at a halt in the present pandemic situation, industry experts have been discussing the need to move the focus towards domestic tourism. Veer Vijay Singh, CEO & MD, Trance Hotels; Former COO, Vivanta by Taj in a recent BW HOTELIER WebBlaston ‘Future of the Hospitality Industry: An Outside In View’ addressing the issue pointed out, “We won’t get many foreigners this year.” He argued for the need to do something that the US (United States) has done recently. “They are coming up with something where they are going to give income tax waivers for the guests who travel and come to hotels – for instance, airlines and hotel bills amount can be taken as a waiver from income tax,” Singh informed. He is also of the opinion that waiving of lease rentals is something should be demanded by industry leaders in post-Covid.
Further, Singh gave the example of countries like Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Egypt of having done a great job at domestic marketing, which he feels is crucial in the present times. Singh asserted, “We need to market India as destination (and even for domestic tourism)” He explained, “We need to make a nice taskforce consisting of stakeholders, not just some secretaries or ministers.” Also, Singh argued that there has to be some certification that India is a safe destination.
Taking the discussion further, Singh pointed out that a very important thing that has been pending for a long time is an industry status. As per a report, till 2019, 4.2 crore jobs were created in the tourism sector in India, which was 8.1 per cent of the total employment of the country. “It has happened that over a long period we have worked for our industry status, but unless we don’t get it, we will not get the benefits as we should be getting as exporters.” He added, “We get a lot of foreign exchange. That foreign exchange should not be having any GST (Goods & Services Tax).” Moreover, Singh argued, “We should get infrastructure and loans for seven to ten years, not five to seven years.”
The need to strengthen regional tourism has also been discussed by industry experts several times. Singh shared, “We have been working towards central tourism but FHRAI (Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India) like platforms need to have regional bodies. Each state has a different issue and a different problem.”
Looking ahead, Singh is hopeful that the situation will bounce back faster than people are thinking. He reasoned: “Man is a social animal and hence the urge to travel will never go away.” Singh shared, “In the process of ‘Unlocking’, first to be would be small resorts. They are nearby large cities and can be reached in an hour or a couple of hours. Since they have a lot of space along with being safe, they will pick up faster.” “I think I am a die-hard optimistic and so I do tend to see the glass half full,” Singh said.
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