Sh. Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation said that by the end 2024 the aircraft fleet of the country would be increased to 1200 from the current 700 as a long-term revival plan of the government in the aviation sector.
Sh. Kharola was speaking in a webinar titled “Sustainable Tourism in India” hosted recently by Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism (FAST) in association with Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI). Referring to the improvement in the airport connectivity, he said, “The work on new connectivity through the development of 65 new airports is in full swing. Till 2019, about 70 new airports have been added to the airport capacity and by the end of 2021, another 65 new airports will be added. The country will have a network of 200 airports.”
Highlighting the Government’s thrust areas on capacity additions in terms of fleet size and technology improvements he informed that apart from smaller aircraft and Air-taxis, Helicopters and Sea Planes will also be part of the diverse portfolio of Indian Civil Aviation.
Shri Kharola stressed the need to identify important tourist places with less crowd and high importance in terms of building an eco-tourism around such destinations and change the mindset that Air Travel and Tourism are Safe and Healthy.
He further pointed out that as a measure of Traffic Revival Drive, the Government has allowed calibrated increase in capacity utilization in the aviation sector, so as to improve the flying viability of the airlines and have made efforts to maintain an equal business opportunity to all the players; as a result of this, now airlines in the country are able to use their 75% of capacity.
He mentioned that Contact Less air travel has induced the feeling amongst travellers that Air travel is safe. This new normal must be adopted and implemented at all tourist places by the different stakeholders such as Hotels, Service Providers, Supporting Staff, Local Transport etc. so as to further build the confidence among the travellers about their protection and overall healthy work environment.
He said, The government is very much concerned for the sustainable growth of the aviation sector and has already taken a number of steps and measures vigorously for the survival of the sector. He specifically mentioned the need of upgrading the skills of the supporting staff and generating awareness about the new normal set up by the industry.
Sh. Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism while addressing in the webinar did mention that having all the crew members, front line staff and workers vaccinated is laudable and is contributing towards the revival of the tourism sector and slowly the tourism shall be back to normal. He highlighted the peaks that erupted as and when the traffic was eased in between; that clearly establishes that people at large are looking for a safe, healthy and economical destination to visit.
He stressed that “Now our focus is on Domestic Travel, we have to identity more and more places with less crowded tourist destinations. Tourism Industry has to make efforts to create confidence among tourists that all the hotels, places and supporting staff are ‘Safe and Healthy’.” Government is attracting traffic through various campaigns and promotions including ‘DhekoUpnaDesh’, ‘Sathee’ for self-certification for covid-19 protocol, and many other incentives and acts at a local level. He dis dwell upon the efforts undertaken at the level of departments under his ministry. His positive and proactive approach was well appreciated by all present.
While moderating the deliberations, Sh. Vinod Zutshi, IAS (Retd.), former Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, applauded the work of the government in the initial phase and the second wave and the recent decision about the announcement of the free visas to visit India; he further said that the lockdown has provided new opportunities for creating new business models including identifying local tourist places, Intra Region Domestic tourist circuits and business & the industry is required to work on these areas as quickly as possible. He was optimistic and expressed the hope that the travel & tourism sector will certainly come back to normalcy with more and more opportunities and growth avenues. The pandemic has necessitated that some protocols will have to be adopted even beyond 100% vaccination.
Earlier, while giving his welcome address, Forum President, Lt. Gen. KM Seth canvassed the travel & tourism scenarios in the country in general and in particular the gloom that has engulfed the sector as an impact of Covid-19. He emphasized the role of ‘FAST’ as a key facilitator between the industry, the government and the stakeholders.
In the beginning, Shri Raman Sidhu Chief Executive Officer, EBG Federation and Life Trustee FAST, introduced all the speakers in the webinar. Shri V.P. Agrawal, Vice President FAST and former Chairman, Airports Authority of India, whilegiving the Vote of Thanks on records mentioned that the webinar proceedings will go a long way in building sustainable tourism in the country.Shri G.S. Bawa, former General Manager (PR), Airports Authority of India for hosting the webinar and ensuring seamless proceedings and the apt kickoff of the Webinar and introduction of the FAST and RTSOI.
Other key speakers include Shri DeepKalra, CMD, MakeMy Trip; Mr Kamal Hingorani, Chief Customer Service Officer, Spice Jet, and Mr Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy & Revenue Officer, Indigo.