Six travel agents who started on a pan-India road journey from Surat, Gujarat, on September 18 to unlock domestic tourism reached Kolkata on Wednesday after covering 22 states and Union territories and clocking nearly 10,000km. The group has been halting at state capitals and key cities and towns to interact with the travel trade fraternity and motivate them to restart tourism activities. Kolkata is one of the most significant stops in their journey as people from Bengal are avid travellers.
“Bengalis and Gujaratis love to travel. It is impossible for domestic tourism to take off if members of these two communities don’t travel. Therefore, a lot depends on the travel trade fraternity in the state. They need to instill confidence among people and tell them that it is possible to travel safely,” said Rajiv Sethi, a travel agent from Surat.
Sethi, along with Ritesh Parekh, Sanjay Patel and Nitin Gupta from Surat; Thomas Koshy from Ahmedabad and Pawan Dubey from Mumbai intend to cover 34 states and Union territories. Barring the islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, the team will travel for 36 days, covering the four extreme corners of India — Koteshwar in Kutch, Leh in Ladakh, Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The team has already traversed through west, north and north-east India and covered parts of east before reaching Kolkata.
“The travel and tourism trade was the first to be impacted by the Covid crisis and will be the last to recover. We are telling everyone that we need to get started now or it may be too late. Already, several travel agents have gone out of business. We want people to understand that it is safe to travel with precautions. The fatigue of waiting for the crisis to end is leading to depression. That is emerging as a new problem that travelling can help resolve,” said Koshy.