“We want to develop Maharashtra a quality tourism state” – said Aditya Thackeray, Cabinet Minister of Tourism & Environment, Government of Maharashtra.
Q. What you would like to say about tourism in the middle of this covid 19 crises?
We have to take the state of Maharashtra ahead, pitch it to the world. I am really keen that Maharashtra will be the first to declare and deliver something for the hotel industry. We have to revive very quickly, take the sector ahead and figure out how we can work with the other sectors. A task force has been set up, we can work in sync, understand what is doable in the medium-term and long-term.
Q. What measures you would like to suggest for some critical issues faced by the hotel and restaurant industry.
I advised the preparation of two documents; one for the industry’s sustenance plus revival and one for driving its growth after that. This is something we (government and hotel & restaurant industry) have to do together, make a massive effort to get the industry back on track. Our hotel sector is one of the best in the world, there is no comparison on warmth and service. We want to develop Maharashtra as a tourism positive state. We can get people across the world to come to us and stay in our hotels. We need travellers who will spend at least 36 hours in the city they visit.
Q. What will be the next in travel industry?
Outlining the way forward, a coastal road is planned in the Raigad-Sindhudurg belt and there are plans for having hotels developed, with scope for JVs and PPP.
Safe travel will be important, we need to be transparent in our numbers the way we have so far. The way 9/11 changed travel, COVID-19 will do the same. We will have to adjust, spaces are small in Mumbai and Maharashtra, so how do we move ahead? Let's put together a group and move ahead unitedly as a team.
Q. What you would like to say about corona and its impact?
Most of the countries are in lockdown, those who had opened up and lifted restrictions had to close down again. I have been interacting with doctors around the world and foundations globally. How do we live with Corona? Will it allow us to live with it? COVID-19 is something no-one has seen before in history. The entire world is witnessing lockdowns for an indefinite period. We are facing an invisible enemy, we don't know the timeline. We are waiting for a defining moment when a scientist says he's found a cure. Would the travel and tourism industry sustain till that moment?
There is nothing for it in the package from the Centre. The only reason we haven't declared any package as the state of Maharashtra is that we are fighting from the forefront. This is a battle that will be long drawn. The questions we face are when do we exit from the lockdown, how do we exit and would things revive?
Hereby I appreciate the fact that almost every hotel and restaurant in Maharashtra has helped the state government to house doctors and frontline healthcare workers.