Like in other developing countries, our destinations reliant on local and foreign travellers have been the hardest hit since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, hopes for a recovery of the travel and hospitality sector are pinned on a silver bullet: the nationwide vaccination programme.
As the travel sector reopens, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is taking steps towards vaccinating staff of hotels who have direct contact with travellers.
The resumption of the travel sector on the ground can save jobs, help the country’s economy and satisfy the desire to travel again.
It can work on the ground with communities, regional authorities and the travel industry coming up with a transformative plan that is workable and helps drive traveller behaviour change maintaining mandatary health guidelines.
Other health measures will also remain vital, including mandatory masks wearing, pre-departure and arrival temperature screening at airports, bus terminals, and social distancing. If vaccination uptake in destinations is low, these measures will become even more important.
As we look to recover from this profound crisis, the safe restart of tourism is essential.
Safety is at the top of the mind for travellers and services as travel services resume and travel destinations are reopened.
Resuming the travel sector must come along with developing new tourist destinations as our country is rich in tourism resources, and tourism is a lucrative business that contributes a lot to the country’s development.
With an unprecedented opportunity to transform the relationship of the tourism sector with people, nature, the climate and the economy, our travel sector is going to build back better.
The pandemic has given us a chance for a reset — we should make the most of the opportunity.
As societies and industries are now also looking to rebuild and reemerge from the crisis, we must ensure that our region-wise master plans for travel recovery are safe and responsible. It must be a shared responsibility between visitors, local communities, business owners, employees and local governments.
It is time to seriously work on ways we can open up again and accept that a certain level of risk comes with greater freedom of movement.