#Voices of Travel: Business in a Post-virus World
The travel and tourism industry worldwide is facing an unprecedented tragedy with the outbreak of COVID19. How are travel businesses reacting? Hear it all from the people that matter. Chandra Prakash Bhatter, Director, Neptune Holidays, Kolkata has to say:
The coming season was looking excellent. The business in the books was better than the last 3 years. The demand was increasing and there was a lot of business in the pipeline for the next six months. We had extensive sales & marketing plans for 2020. The Domestic Tourism business was looking very bright. We had planned a number of air departures and fixed departures for different destinations in India and abroad. Accordingly, we had booked a lot of chartered flights, hotel rooms and logistics in several destinations.
The outbreak of Corona Virus 2019 shattered all our plans. All our business for February, March as well as next F.Y. 2020-21 got cancelled. The business in the pipeline has been reduced to zero. The biggest question in today’s date is whether we would be able to survive. We as a Team of 250 members and their families are really frightened about our sustainability and future. As a company, the biggest threat for us today is the cash crunch. We have paid huge advances to airlines, hotels and transporters towards the upcoming season anticipating a handsome volume of business. Now the travellers have cancelled all their travel plans. We are only getting cancellations for FITs and Groups scheduled in May 2020. The advance they have paid has to be refunded to them. The suppliers (Airlines, Hotels, Transporters, etc.) are not giving us a refund and issuing credit notes and requesting to use the advance in future bookings. At the same time the operating expenses, starting from salaries to loan repayment to all other operating expenses are becoming a big challenge.
The Travel & Tourism sector in India accounted for 8 per cent of the total employment opportunities generated in the country in 2017, providing employment to around 41.6 million people during the same year. As of 2019, 4.2 crore jobs were created in the tourism sector in India which was 8.1% of total employment in the country. (Source: India Brand Equity Foundation – IBEF). According to WTTC, India ranked 3rd among 185 countries in terms of travel & tourism’s total contribution to GDP in 2018 (Source: World Travel & Tourism Council – WTTC). The World Travel and Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated 16.91 lakh crore (US$240 billion) or 9.2% of India’s GDP in 2018 and supported 42.673 million jobs. So it’s a huge contribution towards the nation-building process and we are proud of that. We have been promoting tourism in India and abroad in the best possible manner.
We are very hopeful that if we are able to sustain and overcome this phase, tourism would again improve. However, at this moment, we feel even if everything comes back to normalcy even in the next month, it will take minimum one year to revive tourism. The setback to the global economy which this Virus has done would have a very long impact on tourism. One has to understand that tourism is one of the secondary need to all. Tourism was the first sector which got hit due to Corona and it is probably going to be the last sector which is going to come back to its previous state.
We are requesting all to postpone their tours for later this year. Let us stay together and look forward to a better tomorrow.