Lakhs lose jobs as tourism badly hit in eastern region: Travel agent's body

The tourism industry in eastern

India has taken a severe beating due to the COVID-19 outbreak with lakhs of people dependent on it suffering immense losses and job cuts, the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) said on Sunday.

TAFI is in touch with the government whether any relief can be provided to the sector for the benefit of hundreds and thousands associated with it, the Chairman of TAFI (Eastern Region), Anil Punjabi, said.

At least two lakh people directly associated with the tourism sector in this part of the country are facing the brunt of the pandemic, he said.

"There are no bookings for the summer season as there has been total cancellation," he said.

Punjabi expressed his apprehension that even the Durga Puja and Diwali season will not see any improvement in the travel business, mainly in the international sector.

With most of the countries saying that they will not allow inbound travel for six months after the lockdown is lifted, there is little hope for any revival of international tourism at least till the end of the year, he said.

The TAFI east India chairman said that it is also to be seen how the situation evolves in the country.

"With school holidays having been extended till June and with the syllabus pending, I don't think many will travel," Punjabi said.

The extraordinary situation is hitting the economies of most countries very hard, he said.

It will also put a curb on spending and people will have different priorities, he said.

Punjabi also said that tourism may restart in phases with domestic travel when the situation improves.

"The pandemic has had an enormous effect on jobs and businesses in the sector and the travel industry is down totally," he said, asserting that safety of the customers is the priority.