Flight Plan

Avocado in the time of the virus

Poonam Verma and Shivpriya Nanda | Updated on May 02, 2021

Travel tick: Some 40 lakh tourists headed to Goa over the New Year   -  ISTOCK.COM

Poonam Verma and Shivpriya Nanda on getting the airline industry back on its feet

For those of us who are senior citizens or almost getting there, all-night parties in Assagao in Goa are as far removed as coconuts in Gulmarg.

We have hunkered down in all seriousness, falling just short of wearing the spacesuit-like PPEs at home. So, hearing about 40 lakh tourists heading to Goa over the New Year when the airline industry had seen a drastic drop in air traffic was a revelation.

To get the aviation industry back on its feet and tapping into the pent-up demand for travel may need a change in the script. Reports state that the air traffic is back to 65 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels. With many senior citizens vaccinated, there is a possibility that quite a few will start to fly regularly to meet their children in different parts of the country — or just for fun.

While international tourism could still take some time to get to the top of the charts, domestic tourism seems to have attained a new status symbol. There is not a booking to be had for jungle safaris and the Alps have been replaced by skiing in Gulmarg.

There is a proposal to set up 100 new airports under the government’s Vision 2024. Will at least some of these airports focus on creating tourist hubs to truly exploit the tourism potential of India?

Another relevant thread in this is the Krishi Udan Scheme aimed at providing assistance to farmers in the transportation of agricultural produce. An Avocado, sold for ₹90 in Bengaluru, is available in Delhi for over ₹450 per piece. Several exotic fruits and other perishable agricultural products are not able to access the growing domestic demand. The aviation industry rising to this challenge through the Krishi Udan Scheme could usher in change, especially with the recent experience of testing cold storage farm facilities in use for Covid-19 vaccines.

There are large tracts which have limited or no access to air travel or cargo. Perhaps Covid-19, and what we have learnt from it, will bring the discussion on where the new airports should be back to the drawing board to boost tourism and for greater access to agricultural markets.

Poonam Verma and Shivpriya Nanda are partners, J Sagar Associates

Published on May 02, 2021

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