The Indian Government has mandated states to do away with any restrictions on movement of persons within the country. The policy of unrestricted travel first announced in Unlock 2 has been reiterated in Unlock 3 and 4 guidelines and the states are now lifting restrictions like e-passes, COVID-19 tests and quarantine, etc. The states who allow unrestricted access are likely to benefit from huge pent-up demand, as the air, rail and road transport also open up. Yet only about a dozen states have implemented travel without any restrictions and rest are expected to follow soon. Domestic air travel has resumed to the level of one-third of its usual levels and is likely to come back to normalcy within the end of the year 2020 as anticipated by the aviation ministry. Countries are also preparing to reopen as the risk perceptions of travel have considerably subsided. Though it may be a while before full normalcy is established, countries that open faster and with least restrictions are likely to tap into the pent-up demand in the coming season.
Domestic travel reopening fully is a strong precursor to that happening internationally. It is noteworthy that domestic air travel in China is reported to have recovered to 84% to what it used to be in 2019. Domestic as well as international destinations that open faster and with least restrictions are likely to tap into the pent-up demand in the coming season. Given the widespread nature of the pandemic, now it is being realised that lockdowns are a blunt instrument and widespread travel restrictions are not required, as per WHO.
In the above backdrop, the global travel industry is assembling at the virtual travel expo - ReCONNECT on 18th September, hosted by the organisers of India's leading travel trade show OTM Mumbai. ReCONNECT is a virtual platform to help 3000+ travel industry professionals to restart the dialogue for resumption of domestic and international travel, as the restrictions are gradually lifted.
Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Kenya Tourism Board have joined ReCONNECT as Premium Partner Countries. Tourism Fiji and Spain Tourism are Official Partners while Bangladesh is the Partner Country. Singapore Tourism Board is exhibiting as the Feature Country. Frankfurt Tourism, Visit Brussels and Zagreb Tourist Board will also be present as Feature Destinations for the first time. Destinations like Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and many others will be represented at the event.
Amongst Indian States, Gujarat Tourism will be present as the Premium Partner State. The Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India is also setting up a virtual booth at ReCONNECT, extending its vital support for reopening tourism. Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has joined in the capacity of the Hospitality Partner. helloGTX and Technogram are the event's Travel Technology Partners. OneAbove has come onboard as the DMC Partner.
ReCONNECT will take place on a proprietary virtual platform that allows ease of doing business where destinations can e-meet with their buyers and media to rebuild confidence and re-energise travel. Using the AI-powered Smart Matchmaking tool, sellers can connect with the most relevant buyers for digital networking. Virtual brand promotion, video conferencing and screen sharing are all a part of ReCONNECT.
Over 4,000 buyers have registered for the virtual event. Travel agents, corporate buyers, wedding planners and event managers comprise a diverse base of buyers interested in meeting with 200+ B2B suppliers representing 500+ destinations from 18 countries in the virtual show.
The event is also hosting a global Conference Programme with the best minds of travel & tourism from India, Asia and beyond. More than 25 leaders from Bidroom, Genesys Digital, Lonely Planet India, Reliance, SAP Concur, Travelstop, Thomas Cook are going to discuss travel in a post-COVID world.
ReCONNECT is supported by travel associations like TAAI, TAFI, OTOAI, ADTOI, MTOA, IATO, IATTE, Skal International Mumbai South, ETAA, NIMA, SITE, SATA, GTAA, TOSG, TAAN, VTA, ATAA, TAAS, TAG, TTAUP, HHTDN, EHTTOA, SIGTOA, TTAA, TAAP, UTEN, TLC, SGTCA and TAHAT.
The virtual event is designed to provide the long-awaited booster shot to the Indian travel trade community and their global partners, in the wake of lockdowns.