Nearly 65% of the domestic air travel has returned to the pre-Covid-19 level and now there is a need to evolve a strategy to bring back the tourism industry on its feet, India’s civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said. He was addressing a webinar on ‘Aviation and Tourism-the Road Ahead’ hosted by the Federation of Association of Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH).
Kharola also said in the times of Covid-19 air travel has become a preferred mode of travel for being a safe means of transportation. “On the first day of resumption of domestic air services (25 May) there were 79,000 people who would travel and we were worried. But gradually it started improving,” he said.
Kharola said, on 27 November, total 2.50 lakh passengers travelled on domestic flights and considering that the average per day passenger number was around 3.70-3.75 lakh before the pandemic hit the country, almost 65% of the domestic travel is back to the pre-Covid-19 level. He said that as more business activities and colleges open up, this may go up to 80-90 per cent in the next 2-3 months or almost to the level of normalcy.
Kharola also said as business travel demand will take time to come back, it will be segments like VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) driving the demand in aviation going forward.
On the opening of scheduled international commercial passengers flights, he said: “International aviation depends not only on us but other side also.”
“Aviation is going towards normal. This normalcy ought to be brought in tourism industry also. Tourist destinations have already opened up, the ASI has opened up the monuments. Now is the time to convince people that it is safe to travel,” he said.
“So we all have to work together and evolve a strategy to motivate that domestic tourism also picks up,” he said, adding that at the same time other countries should also consider issuing tourist visas again. Kharola also urged the tourism industry to promote domestic airlines as it would help in revival of the economy.
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