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Tourism and hospitality sector may take a little longer to recover but overall growth story may not be impacted despite rise in Covid numbers

Indian travelers driving global tourism

Even as threats arising from the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid 19 virus loom large, concerns for the hospitality and tourism sector India have risen as large-scale cancellations of bookings made for January have already started.

“Just when things were coming back to normal, the tourism sector has been hit once again. Cancellations have started and now it seems we will have to wait for a little longer,” an executive engaged with a five star hospitality chain told India Narrative.

However, the executive said that as most studies have suggested that the variant is milder and is expected to peak by the end of this month or February, the sector which employs about 32 million people of which 8 per cent are directly engaged – will start recovering by the end of the financial year.

From Monday, vaccination for teenagers between the age 15 and 18 will also be opened up.

Also read: Tourism gets hit in Sri Lanka as hotels & restaurants shut down due to shortage of cooking gas

The booster doses will start from January 10 but priority will be given to healthcare workers, senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

“Once the Covid 19 pandemic is controlled, we will see a surge in demand as there is already a built-up pent-up travel desire among people,” the executive said.

In November last year, India reopened its doors to foreign tourists who are fully vaccinated after a gap of about 20 months. Tourists coming in from other countries had been allowed quarantine-free stay in the country.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) data revealed that the tourism sector accounted for 6.8 per cent of India’s GDP in 2019.

Experts said that the country’s growth momentum will not be impacted severely as most companies have already adapted to the new work style.

While companies have started asking their employees to get booster doses immediately once it opens up, human resource executives said that the work from home (WFH) mode will continue until the spread is contained.

“There is concern and that is natural but there is also no need to press the panic button, we have seen a brutal second wave last year and today not only are we better prepared to handle the virus but also most experts have opined that this may not be as dangerous as the earlier one,” an executive with an American multinational told India Narrative.