After registering this negative record, the Rajasthan travel trade is busy searching for solutions for the ongoing year at a time when the state fights the highest ever COVID surge with the second wave hitting harder and stronger.
As per Rajasthan tourism officials, "The state registered a total of 16,05,560 tourists in 2019 which were reduced to 4,46,457 numbers in 2020, a steep fall of -72.19%. Similarly, in terms of domestic tourists, 522,20,431 visited the desert state which were reduced to 151,17,239 recording -71.05% dip in 2020 as compared to last year figures. Overall, the Rajasthan tourism industry witnessed a steep fall of -71.50% in tourist numbers in 2020 compared to the corresponding year."
Now, while the industry was planning to make up last year's blues with Rs 500 crore announced by the state government in the budget, there came the second wave of Covid forcing the industry to think anew and afresh.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a major setback to the tourism sector. All the stakeholders of the tourism industry should work in tandem to overcome these challenging times," said minister of state for tourism Govind Singh Dotasra.
He opined that the recently announced Rs 500 crore budget under the Tourism Development Fund will indeed go a long way in reviving tourism in the state by building infrastructure and development of new tourism spots. Rs 200 crore of this budget has been set aside for marketing and promotion, he added.
Highlighting the urgent need for the vaccination of the workers in the hospitality industry, Dr Jyotsna Suri, CMD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group and chairperson, FICCI Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Committee, said that the recent surge in Covid-19 has again weakened the tourism sector and domestic tourism will be the area of focus for the next two years. She appealed to the Minister that the hotel and restaurant staff should be treated as frontline workers and their vaccination should be an immediate concern.
Randhir Vikram Singh, President, IHHA and co-chairman, FICCI Rajasthan State Council, said that domestic tourism holds the key and Rajasthan has all the required ingredients to unleash the vast potential of the sector. For the next two years, few foreign travellers will be coming to India. UK has already barred foreign travel. In such a scenario, we have big hopes from experiential tourism which can be best experienced in rural Rajasthan, he told IANS.
Nishant Jain, Director - Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, in his address shared that Rural Tourism is a priority segment in tourism policy and hence has been given due importance.
President, HRAR & RATO, Kuldeep Singh Chandela demanded that industry status should be given to the tourism sector.