Covid-19 and Tourism: Threats and Strategies as Perceived by Tourism Stakeholders of Sikkim
Keywords:COVID19, perception of threats, Post-COVID19-strategies, support from tourism stakeholders
The ongoing pandemic has restricted human mobility to only essentials. Inevitably, tourism which survives on temporary movement of human not for essential but mostly for recreation and leisure, will suffer the most. Sikkim is majorly dependent on tourism for employment and income generation and has bagged many tourism awards for its excellence. In 2017, it has received 6.96 lakh tourists from March to May. Under the ongoing pandemic for the same season tourist flow has reached to 0, needless of saying that the well thrived tourism industry of Sikkim is threatened now. The aim of this study is to explore the major threats of COVID19 on tourism business as identified by tourism stakeholders of Sikkim and their perception of these threats and Post-COVID19-Strategies (PCS). Total 32 stakeholders have been interviewed through an online survey who identified 9 potential threats. The uncertainties related to reopening of tourism business is the mostly feared threat followed by loss in tourist arrival longer time to recover. Stakeholders are least worried about threats like leaving the sector or decreased stay duration of tourists. Strikingly, stakeholders who receives tourists in bulk, owns bigger and well-equipped accommodation, dining and entertainment facilities, bears high maintenance and overhead costs are more tensed than small players. 18 PCS have been identified and respondents were enquired about their level of agreement on implementing, practicing or morally supporting these PCS using a 5-point Likert scale. The most agreed strategy to practice is an onsite precautionary health practice i.e. ‘proper sanitization of every room and cars availed by tourist every time they leave’. The least supported (recovery) strategy is ‘arranging fairs and festivals right after reopening the tourism sector to boost up tourist flow’. This study is an initial exploratory attempt that has outlined the spirits of tourism stakeholders under a pandemic condition which may further build a ground for confirmatory and theory building studies on these issues.