‘Post-lockdown, tourism industry will need multi-stage action plan’

Stakeholders say its revival, however, will take at least a year

Updated - May 27, 2020 04:07 am IST

Published - May 26, 2020 07:20 pm IST

A street vendor waiting for customers in South Chithirai Street in Madurai on Tuesday.

A street vendor waiting for customers in South Chithirai Street in Madurai on Tuesday.


Tourism industry in Madurai, which provides jobs to hundreds of people, will take at least a year for revival. For that to happen, a multi-stage action plan to promote Madurai as a safe tourist spot is needed, say stakeholders.

Different stakeholders – autorickshaw drivers, bus operators, travel agents, hoteliers, tour guides and vendors around tourist spots – have been severely affected due to COVID-19 pandemic. “In recent years, food tourism has exponentially grown in Madurai. The delay in revival of the industry would affect hundreds of small eateries, including those selling jigarthanda ,” says a Tourism department official.

Post-lockdown, bus and flight fares are expected to increase exponentially, further worsening the prospects of tourism industry, says M. Rajesh, secretary, South Tamil Nadu Association of Travel and Tourism. “The need to maintain personal distancing and frequent disinfection of buses will increase fares, resulting in lower patronage,” he adds.

G. Raveendran, who runs ‘Skywing, a firm arranging travel packages, says due to Covid-19 outbreak, visa norms have been changed in several countries. “Even if relaxations are offered and safety measures are adopted, people won’t have money for trips in the near future,” he says.

In the coming months the government must focus on domestic tourism and promote Madurai as a safe tourist spot to help revive the sector, says Chitra Ganapathy, president, Travel Club, Madurai.

She says tourism is expected to revive in five stages. In the first stage, people will start visiting local restaurants and subsequently visit nearby tourist spots. Then they will travel to other districts by car. Then, they will take inter-State train or flight journeys. In the final stage, international tourists will start coming in – probably in October 2021, she adds.

“The focus must be to instil confidence among tourists of safety and hygiene that will be in place at tourist spots,” she says. Personal distancing, hand washing and wearing of masks must be enforced in all spots, including temples, she adds.

K.P. Bharathi, Programme Leader, Dhan Foundation, stresses identification and promotion of lesser-known destinations. “Several tourist spots in Madurai are untapped. There are Jain sculptures at around 18 locations in the district; several villages with historical significance along the Vaigai; and traditional trade routes,” he adds.

The Tourism department official says disinfection of all major tourist spots is under way, and measures to ensure personal distancing after the opening of the spots are also taken.

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