The Institute of Risk Management’s (IRM) India Regional Group, which promotes the development of an ecosystem for professionals, business owners, academicians, entrepreneurs, and students from an enterprise risk management perspective, recently organized a webinar on the topic: risk management in travel and tourism. The discussion was moderated by Cyrus Sethna, Co-Founder, EASA and the panellists included Valentin Dombrovsky, CEO, Travelabs, Russia, Anup Kanuga, Tourism Council, Head of the Travel Agents Association of India, and Neil Patil, Director, Veena World, India.
The experts estimated a slow recovery for the sector, with 75 per cent of pre-COVID travel restored by the summer of 2021, reaching 2019 levels only by 2022. The panellists also expect the sector to see a surge in mergers and consolidations among travel agencies, resulting in fewer of them in the future, and a shift towards increased efficiency with a leaner workforce.
Enunciating about predictions and strategies for travel agencies in India Anup Kanuga, Tourism Council, Head of the Travel Agents Association of India said, “The travel industry is a very resilient industry and will definitely bounce back. The domestic tourism will open first, then regional, followed by long haul destinations. The slowdown will result in the travel agencies reducing their staff. Training the existing talent to improve efficiencies will take precedence. Digitization will play an important role in the travel industry as well and travel agencies will have to ensure that they are equipped with an appropriate digital infrastructure to be ahead of the curve. Those who are nimble and are able to move quickly and address the changing needs of the traveller will emerge winners in the long run.”
The experts further predicted an increase in younger people travelling for leisure, and that older people would be travelling less due to health and safety considerations. The panel also discussed the impact of COVID-19 guidelines on travel insurance and expressed the belief that travel insurance policies would be revised to reflect them.
Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian travel and tourism industry, Hersh Shah, Chair, IRM India Regional Group said, “There are a number of risks that can impact the travel industry, and companies in the sector have now realized the magnitude of the threat presented by a pandemic. For the successful and speedy revival of India’s travel industry, organizations will need to incorporate risk thinking into their strategy, and adopt new measures and practices to minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, and also protect themselves against this and other threats, going forward”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has especially disrupted the Indian travel sector, due to the ban on international and domestic travel. From January to February of this year, inbound and outbound tourism witnessed a drop of 67 % and 52 % respectively. In March and April, Indian tour operators and travel agents experienced an average loss of 50-80 % in revenue as compared to the same period last year.