Amidst tour packages’ misinformation spreading like wildfire, lockdown restrictions of countries changing by the minute or wrong choice of travel accommodation that might go against all your other safety precautions, Chairman of GVK Group, GVK Reddy suggests ways to safe travel for fellow Indian travel enthusiasts.
By the beginning of the pandemic in India, in 2020, a sudden restriction on travel was one change that the country had rarely seen before. As the lockdown restrictions were slowly relaxed later, travellers and enthusiasts alike were soon seen making the most out of their work from home settings to take Staycations and breather trips. Soon enough however, situations deteriorated again as the pandemic cases shot up in the country like never before, imposing a total ban on movement whilst also sealing borders that won’t let travellers in. For a large part of the year, travelling activities came to a halt and soon enough so, travelling started to look like a distant dream for most of us. This was true for the entire world as well, where many nations imposed their own lockdown rules, covid restrictions and travel bans.
India’s mass vaccination drive brought in good news for all travel enthusiasts; citizens felt safer to move around after getting vaccinated. Travel companies too re-entered the picture with exciting travel itineraries inclusive of covid protocols. GV Sanjay Reddy, the Vice Chairman of GVK Group observes, “If there is one thing that people have missed the most during this pandemic, it is the freedom to travel without fear. However, they are using this as a learning experience, and becoming more mindful about not just the choices they make but the responsibility to shoulder as travellers. The desire for safety, hygiene and quality is higher than ever before”.
The unlock phase saw multiple doors of travel open up to call tourists to be a part. One such new proposition was the popularity of “vaccine tourism”. There were several countries in the world that were welcoming tourists to visit or stay for the purpose of vaccination against Covid-19. The iconic tourist retreat- Maldives, had decided to open its borders for people seeking vaccines, as an incentive to reopen its tourism sector. Making it the first country to have launched a vaccine tourism plan, soon later, news spread of Russian authorities planning to extend their vaccination drive to visitors, expected to start functioning by the second half of the year. While the moral and ethical dilemmas attached to this new initiative was in scrutiny, several tour operators began chalking up itineraries and plans while travel enthusiasts saw the offers in great light for its advantageous narrative. It was however in the shocking events that followed we learnt that Russia’s vaccination tourism has been touted as a rumour by the agency whose name was being floated all over the media for this package. The Russian government denied all calls to the matter and deemed it a “hearsay”. As multiple Indian travel agencies organised offers of elaborate tours to Russia apropos the news, it all came down to be nothing but a spectacular fiction! Following the turn of events, owing to rising covid concerns, the Maldivian government has further announced a travel ban on tourists from India from April 27, 2021. In this loop of circumstances that change by each day and misinformation that spreads like wildfire, netizens have indeed become very susceptible to misleading proposals. Dr. GVK Reddy, Chairman of GVK Group extends his concerns in the wake of these present state of affairs expressing, “Fellow Indiansshould stay wary of the information that reaches them. We ought to verify facts. One should not rely on any word on the street till the time the government of the host country and as well as our own government substantiates it.” As true as this stands, a very important factor in helping us fight the pandemic is in empowering the citizens with the right information and taking precautions as per the advisories being issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Thus this comes with great responsibilities on the part of people too, to cut the trail of spread of rumours and create more awareness amongst one another.
GVK Reddy elaborates on the intricacies of the pandemic circumstances where, “It is for the best that we halt our travel plans for outside the country for a while. The crisis brings unsought situations, the rules and restrictions in countries change on the spur of the moment”. The emphasis of local over global has been one valued lesson that the pandemic has taught us all. With over a year long state of isolation, countries have learned to live a more local-contractual oriented life now, making the most out of what is available around. Domestic travels are best advised during this time and also as we progress to post-covid times. Responsible tourism and sustainability of travel ought to be in focus. India offers magnanimous architecture and culture, picturesque locations, scenic beauty, from the aesthetics of hills and mountains to tranquil beaches by ocean lines. This could be a great time to rediscover the magnificence of your own land while helping the tourism of our own country reinstate from the great losses the crisis has brought about. Sustainable travels have a great role in helping our country recover from the covid losses. They could help the travel sector recover through the benefit of ensuring safe travels for them and vacationing at the proximity of home.
For the post covid travel checklist, it is also advisable for people to choose their travel destinations more wisely and pay extra attention to safety and hygiene in accommodation. Hotels are implementing new and improved cleanliness and hygiene processes in the wake of Covid. GVK Reddy states, “It is the duty of a responsible tourist to inspect the hotel hygiene policy of the place they choose for their stay. We should be attentive to the solutions they offer to ensure health and safety is maintained at all times.” With advanced technology, limited guest capacity and continuous disinfection of spaces, some local Indian accommodation establishments are doing a great job to ensure safety and provide the best guest experience possible. GVK Reddy notes, “While hotel hygiene and standards have always been a top priority, the pandemic mandates these enforcements for the good. As we are all adapting to the new normal, so is the hotel industry brilliantly taking steps.” Steadily but cautiously, we see how the country is set to step up and host a top notch travel experience post covid. We are only hopeful of Indian tourists shifting their attention to responsible domestic travels now, where they learn to tailor their own “safe” for travel experiences!