The covid crisis has wreaked havoc on the Tourism Industry worldwide. It has been especially devastating for communities solely dependent on travel for their income.
As travel grinds to a halt, not all governments, especially developing countries, have pockets deep enough to bail out this failing sector.
It might be 3 to 5 years, before the tourism sector can revive, to the levels enjoyed in the pre-covid era.
So where does this leave the people who find themselves with no source of income, and burdened by debt?
The most affected, is the young generation in rural areas, who’s ancestors farmed or herded. While all they (now) know is to drive taxis, run cafes and guesthouses. Not all can go back to the occupations of their forefathers, as some have built guesthouses on farm land, while others have sold their lands to buy taxis, start cafes, etc. A majority of this youth is uneducated or under-educated, unable to get jobs in the overtly competitive city.
Is there a silver lining to this dark cloud?
Could this prove to be an opportunity for the youth to up-skill in a different industry, and move away from sole dependence on tourism?
Lets take stock of what these young women and men have learned from a lifetime in tourism. They have met and interacted with people from all over the world, giving them high emotional intelligence. EQ is a key metric in the customer service and sales industry. Its the ability to provide the best experience possible to a customer. High EQ is valued across all industries.
There is an opportunity for them to work in Contact Centres. Oh and they love to talk on the phone.
IT enabled services like BPO and Call Centers, have helped a whole generation of people in India, enjoy a higher quality of life for over 2 decades.
Rural BPOs have flourished in parts of the country, where there was little or no tourism or agriculture.
There is also great promise in IT jobs like data-entry, analytics, e-marketing, and web development.
There is no magic bullet here. This kind of shift towards the IT sector, will not be easy. It will require real effort. Its easy to build rooms, and rent them out. But acquiring a new skill and work ethic, can be challenging. Not all the youth will be able to make this transition. The skilled ones will chart a new course in their destinies and their communities, while creating plenty of support jobs for the unskilled ones, as they build a booming tech economy.
Further, this transition will require government help. In terms of attracting investment and talent, in the Technology sector, by providing a promising policy framework and infrastructure.
Another happy consequence of this crisis, is the rise of the “remote economy”. This will allow highly skilled talent to move out of crowded cities, and move closer to nature in search of a more holistic work-life balance. This means that nature-blessed-mountain-states, can attract high-level executives and techies, who will in turn invest their time in training the next generation of (local) employees in the ITES and Technology sectors.
The beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh, seems to be moving in the right direction, as they opened up the IT Sector at the Global Investor Meets held in Nov’19, to attract investment in order create more IT jobs in the state. They have committed to establishing a Technology Park in the state.
We hope to see more concrete steps, and concerted efforts in this direction.
Governments have a great opportunity, to become attractive for startups to move to the area, create employment, good global industry PR, and emerge as a startup destination. This can be achieved by Grants, Subsidies, Instant Online Company Incorporation, 10 year Income Tax Holiday, etc.
The State of Delaware in the United States, has successfully used similar strategies to become a global hub for companies, both big and small, who have setup and moved there. Today, they host great companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, Facebook and DuPont, to name a few.
In fact, more that 60% of all Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware.
So what we need is, youth open to change, and government committed to attracting the smartest and the best talent, to help carve a new path towards a higher quality of life for its citizens.
We need a balanced approach, which enables us to move away from the unsustainable practices, as seen in the over-exploitation of tourism.
Moving instead towards a higher quality of life, while keeping the beauty of nature intact.
How will moving on a new path, change the lives of future generations?
Perhaps they will be thankful, that we didn’t lose the opportunity to save their inheritance, their home, their future.
Blissful Media is committed to bringing to reality this vision, in the great state of Himachal Pradesh, in India.