For South Asian countries, regional collaboration can be a saver!

Published on : Saturday, July 25, 2020

Maldives after witnessing empty beaches and hotels for months, tourism operator, Ahmed Waheed explains that he is interested to assist financially well-off travelers’ trade their COVID-19 masks for snorkeling and scuba gear.


For almost 60 percent of its GDP and job, Maldives is dependent on tourism. On July 15, Maldives reopened hotels by following stringent safety standards to safeguard vacationers and employees from the virus.
“We are working very closely with Ministry of Tourism to ensure a relaxing and safe holiday for our tourists, back in the tropical paradise,” said Waheed, who owns ITAW Travel & Tours. “Our target is to market as broadly as we can, for the time being digitally, tapping into the Middle Eastern markets along with others to create a niche offering.”
Other countries in South Asia are yet to reopen their tourism sector, which include some of the most exotic destinations of the world.


We all know about the picture-perfect beaches of Sri Lanka and world’s highest mountain peaks in Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. Also, the majestic Bengal tigers of Sundarban wetlands shared by Bangladesh and India are some of the major attractions of this region. And cultural sites abound, including Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim shrines visited by millions of pilgrims each year.


Due to coronavirus, the tourism industry of South Asia has lost around 10 million jobs and $52 billion in GDP , as per the new World Bank estimates. Lost jobs disproportionately impacted women, youth, and locals working in various hotels, restaurants, travel companies, and sundry small businesses.
Revamping tourism after such experiencing a major blow would not be that easy. A good way to restart is with regional collaboration as Bank economists explain in a recent trade brief, COVID-19 and Tourism in South Asia: Opportunities for Sustainable Regional Outcomes.


Tourism ministries, business groups, and travel businesses all through South Asia can stretch insufficient government resources and private sector budgets by working jointly on common targets.


For instance, one significant common goal is to make sure tourism businesses take to rigorous health and hygiene safety standards to protect workers and visitors. This signifies designing safety certification programs starting right from hotels, restaurants, airports, taxis, and attractions as well as training workers to regularly use disinfection chemicals and protective equipment.


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