#Vaccine-Tourism: Is this #challenge an #opportunity for the Tourism Sector?

The #Tourism and #Hospitality Industry prepared their comeback in the #economy as a #Mumbai-based travel agency; #GemTours&Travel claims to develop vaccine tourism for high net-worth individuals (#HNI) clients who wish to travel to the US for the shot. In a viral #SocialMedia post, the Mumbai-based agency has reportedly developed a package of ₹1,74,999 that includes Mumbai-New-York-Mumbai airfare, three night/four days stay along with a shot of the #vaccine. The message going around social media mentions that-

“Be among the first to get #CoronaVaccine: As soon as #PfizerVaccine is officially published to sell in #America (Tentative date 11th Dec), v r (we are) ready to get it done for select FEW #VVIP Clients.”

Moreover, in a recent tweet posted by the agency, it states,

“Not to get carried way & stay away from false news, but this a new concept and revival in tourism & hospitality industry, much needed breather for this industry, thank you for tweeting.”

The numbers given in the #WhatsApp message that was circulating were not answered. In the text message, the firm said it was unable to answer calls owing to the flood of queries. The operator said it is not holding or procuring any vaccine and everything will be done as per official permissions of US health department.

“Everything we will arrange will be within laws of United States of America. We will only process your requirements. Right now, no time frame can be committed. We are keeping the list ready so as and when America allows foreigners to come and take vaccine, we should not waste time because every life matters to their family members,” the firm said in a message.

However, Gem Tours & Travels is not registered with the #IndianAssociationOfTourOperators, an industry body that helps in the promotion of travel and tourism in India.

Recently, the #PTI reported that Travel agents have also started receiving enquiries from Indians who want to travel to the #UK as soon as possible to get the #COVID-19 vaccine approved by the #BritishGovernment on Wednesday. The UK on Wednesday became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 after “rigorous” analysis by its independent regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Nishant Pitti, Co-founder and CEO, #EaseMyTrip.com said while this is an offbeat season for travel to London, after Wednesday’s announcement about the Pfizer vaccine, he has already received queries from some Indians willing to go to London.

“We are dealing with an airline to offer fixed price seats. We already have deals with London hotels. And we are planning to do some deal with a hospital over there so that we can generate a package for that,” he explained.

On Wednesday, a Bengaluru-based travel company said that Indians are asking if a short trip, without #quarantine, to the UK to get the Pfizer vaccine was possible. However, Jyoti Mayal, President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) told PTI that people are right now “waiting and watching” as they want to know what the vaccine is going to be like.

“Though the government has said there would be no side effects of the vaccine, people want to watch all this before getting the shot,” Mayal noted.

It is speculated that the reason behind this sudden outburst of desperation among the #Indians for Vaccine Tourism is mainly three factors. First, we are the second worst hit after USA in the world. Second. The mixed signals of the Government is adding to the skepticism among the Indians and thirdly, the high efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in compared to the ongoing issues with the AstraZeneca and Oxford University is leading to a large number of people to get the vaccine shots according to the UK or USA protocol.

Another marketing manager and avid traveller, Delhi-based Lata Sharma who works at a travel portal too reiterates the same.She says,

“This could very well be a #PublicityStunt. How can one verify such offerings? There is #MedicalTourism but to promote vaccine tourism in such times is ridiculous!”

  • Arishmita Aditya
  • Silchar

Sources:

  1. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/1970/jan/01/vaccine-tourism-indians-keen-on-going-to-uk-to-get-pfizer-jab-travel-agencies-receive-enquiries-2231292.html
  2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/more-lifestyle/mumbai-based-travel-agency-claims-to-develop-vaccine-tourism-irks-travellers-and-travel-industry/story-77dMfvrRfpPyjyZpZMTTLP.html
  3. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/columnists/vaccine-tourism.html
  4. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/mumbai-based-travel-firm-launches-covid-vaccine-tourism-package-11606200988251.html

Picture Sources:

  1. Financial Express
  2. Times Now

Arishmita Aditya

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