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Can Middle East & Indian travel sectors shake off COVID-19 blues this year?

January 21, 2021 Headline News No Comments

With the pandemic’s raging impact, the travel industry across the globe found itself in deep water as coronavirus fears outdid the people’s motivation to explore new destinations. Simultaneously, the Government’s travel restrictions came as a final nail in the coffin for the industry, incapacitating the revenue stream of tour operators.

Now, only a handful of locals can be seen at most tourist spots which used to remain flocked with foreign visitors. The tourist attractions in India and Middle Eastern nations are no different as they continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

However, the stifled celebrations at the bygone New Year’s Eve has left many travel enthusiasts hankering after exciting experiences. It could mean 2021 offering a silver lining to the travel sector across India and the Middle East; although there are several stumbling blocks for the industry to address.

Given the current backdrop, let us unravel the big picture of travel setting in the Middle East and India.


While the Middle Eastern nations generally fared better in handling the crisis, the impacts of the pandemic dominated the travel setup in these countries. Nevertheless, the situation appears to be returning to normal, inspiring hopes among the travel operators.

The Middle East en route recovery 

Governments have amped up their efforts to facilitate business scenario, boosting the hospitality sector that seems to be an economic driver for most Middle Eastern nations. For instance, the travel setting for the city of gold – Dubai, appears to be warming up with its iconic Dubai Shopping Festival already at its peak. It would mean travel enthusiasts can once again satiate their shopaholic desires while relishing several awe-striking events.

On the other hand, Lebanon has introduced a 24-hour lockdown for 11 days, starting 14 January 2020 to fight rising coronavirus infection cases. It has further escalated unemployment and other economic concerns while exacerbating issues for the travel sector.

Tearing down boundaries for growth

The travel industry can envision beefed-up businesses as Saudi Arabia and its allies have agreed to open their borders and airspace to Qatar, ending a blockade of over three years.

The decision not only signals an end to the pollical dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar but also promises to offer an edge to the travel sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The business opportunities are set to increase, and the resumption of air travel is expected to support the airlines when they are still reeling from the pandemic shock.

It could also help the GCC countries formulate their travel bubble, ensuring the travel boom while avoiding the second wave of infection.

©Kalkine Group 2021

 Vaccination campaigns pick up momentum

The economic and travel settings seem to be firmly integrated with the success of the COVID-19 vaccines. In a bid to fight the infection, the UAE has already commenced inoculating Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines while Saudi Arabia’s three-phase vaccination program is also underway.

Furthermore, the Israel Ministry of Tourism, amidst its vaccination drive is also focusing on reopening tourism by summer 2021. This seems to be a holistic plan that includes green island outline, funding for hoteliers and many other initiatives.


Albeit the impact of coronavirus was felt globally, India was among the hardest hit nations with record-high cases and decline in the country’s overall income. However, the situation has substantially improved now, paving the way for the revival of the travel industry.

Transitions to adapt to the new normal

Indian travel providers appear to be changing their way of work, embracing innovative technologies and adapting their operations as per the Government’s issued standard operating procedures. Automated check-ins, thermal screening, and frequent sanitisation have become the “new normal” as the Indian tourism sector strives to get out of the woods.

However, with limited international travel, staycations and local tourism is expected to take centre stage to bounce back.

Much-needed Government aid in trying times

Travel players are eyeing Government support to recover jobs lost during the pandemic. The tourism industry has urged the Government to offer adequate financial aid ahead of the Union Budget which is to be presented on 1 February 2021. Heavy taxations on tourism businesses and lack of stimulus for the industry continue to be the travel players’ significant grievances.

Meanwhile, the Government’s mass vaccination program has begun and is expected to set the stage for the recovery of the tourism sector.

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