January 27, 2021
Tourism in India has been showing promising growth over the years although it was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tourism Sector generated $194 bn in 2019 and supported 39.80 Mn jobs which is 8 % of its total employment.
The vaccination drive, via its vaccination certificate shall provide a boost to tourism and encourage people to travel again.
Currently, manufacturing both Covishield and Covaxin India has become the fastest country to reach the 5 million mark.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns across the globe proved to be a big blow to the tourism industry, both in India and around the world
Travel and tourism, which forms the largest service industry in India, had been witnessing steady growth over the years. According to The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism generated $194 bn or 6.8% of India’s GDP in 2019 and supported 39.80 Mn jobs which is 8 % of its total employment. The industry became one of the largest Foreign Exchange Earners in India with earnings of $29.962 billion over Jan 2019 – Dec 2019 equating a growth of 4.8% over the previous year. Forecasts also suggest that the sector will grow at an annual rate of 6.9% to $460 bn by 2028 which is 9.9% of GDP.
Several Government initiatives also helped boost this growth. The Incredible India Tourist Facilitator (IITF) Certification Programme to enhance the overall experience of tourists by creating a pool of local and trained professionals, is a great example of this. Similarly, the launch of the Incredible India Website in Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish languages was also aimed at attracting tourists from various regions. An initiative called ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ was started in January 2020 to boost domestic travel.
However, the COVID-19 vaccine definitely put a spanners in the growth prospects of the tourism industry.
With COVID-19 finally coming under control, especially since vaccines are now available and large-scale vaccination drives underway across many countries, there are several green shoots and reasons to cheer as the industry prospects are starting to look up.
India’s nationwide vaccination drive began on January 16 and it become the first to touch the five million vaccinations mark. Currently, India has permitted the use of vaccines for the ongoing vaccination drive— Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin from Bharat Biotech International Ltd. The people of India have been quite receptive to the vaccines. According to a recent survey conducted by Edelman Trust barometer, nearly 80% of India’s population were willing to get vaccinated against Covid -19 within 6-12 months. This means that India’s willingness to opt for the Covid-19 vaccine is almost 2.5 times higher than the global average of 33%.In the recent Union Budget FY2021-22, the government announced an investment of US$4.7 bn to aid the Covid-19 vaccination drive across the country. In addition, the Government has rolled out various health and vaccine plans across the country. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman increased the health budget outlay by 137% for FY2021-22.
Given the Government’s push towards vaccination and healthcare, measures such as issuing of vaccination certificates can certainly help build greater confidence among both tourists and the industry alike.
Already, beneficiaries of the vaccination receive a link for downloading the certificate as part of the confirmatory SMS sent post-vaccination. In addition, the person administering the vaccine as well as the district immunisation officer the can download the certificate and hand it over to the beneficiary. Those who receive the first vaccine dose get a provisional certificate. This is followed by the final certificate on receipt of the second dose.
These Vaccine certificates could be important tools to build confidence and encourage medical tourism, both domestic and international. As the footprint of vaccination goes up and vaccines become more widely available, we are likely to see the return of tourists and a reversal in the industry’s fortunes as it recovers from the setbacks. India has already established itself as a destination for medical tourism. The COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in India could help establish India as an even bigger destination for medical tourism.
Vaccination certificates coupled with proactive measures taken for safe and healthy tourism will create the right ecosystem for both Indian and international tourists. The ability of tourists to produce a vaccine certificate will certainly act as a confidence-booster of the tourism industry in India in the coming months.