Travel is the way to escape one’s mundane life and look at the world with a perspective different then one’s own. It’s a source of happiness and recreation but for some, it’s a source of income and livelihood. There exists a section of society that solely relies on tourism for their daily bread.
World Travel and Tourism Council estimates loss of over 100 million jobs in the Travel and Tourism sector. The industry contributes 10.3% of Global GDP. It is expected to see about US$ 2689 billion loss all across the world.
In the wake of big picture, here’s small businesses that have suffered and are expected to suffer long after the lockdown is over. It will take time for people to start travelling again.
- TOUR GUIDES
Every time you visit a fort or a historical monument, you find yourself being greeted by a number of tour guides, who show you around, introduce you to the history of the place, make you live through the times in the past and at the end of the day leave a part of their peculiarities in you.
Dharmendra Kohli is a tour guide at Chittor. He says, “Everything is closed. The first three months are the peak season due to weather. But this year, very few people showed up and later everything was put into lockdown.”
With everything being shut down and no tourists, they tend to suffer the most. They have no regular income to rely on and are struggling to make ends meet.
- LOCAL VENDORS
Next up are the local vendors, i.e., artisans and handicrafts. People visiting buy these local art products as souvenirs and gifts for their family and friends. There are markets solely dedicated to this purpose in many cities. Like the walled city market in Jaipur caters to block prints and silver jewelry.
Sanju Khunteta owns a jewelry shop in Parkota. He says, “We have been keeping our shop closed for a while now. A part of our customers are foreigners who like to buy silver jewelry. With no tourists that part of the income is going to be effected.”
They have suffered a major blow due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and will see repercussions even after the pandemic is contained.
- HOSTEL OWNERS
Hostels are a growing trend in the business of travel. Due to an increase in youth opting for cheap places to stay, at major tourist destinations, hostels have come up. ‘Zostel’ is an international hostel branch that has its hostels all across India. Apart from that, destinations like Pondicherry and Gokarna have a number of hostels since it sees a lot of young tourists aged between 18-25.
Kevin Raja, owner of Nomad House Hostel, Pondicherry, says, “I’ve had to pay rents and salaries even after there is no income at all. And we are not expecting to be back in business before September. People are going to be skeptical about staying in a community hostel due health issue.”
With no source of income for youth, they tend to refrain from travel for some time. Travel is not on their priority list.
- LOCAL TRANSPORT SERVICES
All the transport services are shut right now in the wake of Covid-19. Local Transport service in major tourist destinations thrive on tourism. Rickshaws, cart-pullers or even local buses are not in a functioning state. Also, due to the fear of spread of virus, people are expected to avoid taking local transport months after the place has been declared covid free.
Kevin says, “The rental scooter services has suffered a lot more than we expected since they had taken loans to buy scooters and still have installments to pay. With no income it’s paying heavy on them.”
The owners of these services have no other income to rely on. Private bus companies have suffered too.
- TRAVEL BLOGGERS/VLOGGERS
The backbone of their blogs is travel. And without there’s nothing they are able to post about or write about. They are having a hard time managing their schedules and being quarantined in their homes.
Bhavna Moihnani runs her own travel blog ‘theghumakkads.in’. She mentions, “It is affecting our earnings badly. Most of the companies has asked employees to go on unpaid leaves for the time being. It is about how we tackle these few months to have a good business ahead.”
They earn from what they shoot, from what they capture and from what they write. None is possible without travelling.
With everything said and done, like all the businesses, travel is going to suffer too. Economy is in a bad condition and GDP is on an all-time low, it will take time for everyone to recover from this phase. What might make the difference for these small businesses is their will to survive during this testing times.