A recent report published in McKinsey termed travelling— as the second-most-desired activity— after dining out in the post-pandemic world. Though the report had respondents answering a survey in the United States, the trend in India and rest of the world is no different. In India, the travellers are not just returning but flocking to popular destinations. With Covid-19 cases declining and more and more states reopening hotels, bars, public places for visitors, the industry is seeing sharp growth.
There has been a steep upsurge in bookings across popular destinations around metro cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad among others. Tourists’ favourite destinations around Delhi-NCR like Jim Corbett, Nainital, Shimla, Kasauli, Dharamsala, Chail, Manali, Kasol, and hills of Uttarakhand have reported a surge in enquiries and bookings. The same also holds true for travel hotspots around Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
In Kerala—where tourism holds the larger share of the economy—Covid-19 cases have declined significantly as the state launched series of initiatives to woo travellers from across the country. With international travel still under partial restrictions, it is the domestic travellers that the industry is now targeting. The industry is also gearing up for ‘revenge travel’, as more and more Indians are hitting the road, taking revenge as it were for the months of uncertainty, and working from home.
Adaptability is the key
“A change of air,” was the theme for Kerala Tourism at the Travel and Tourism Fair held in Ahmedabad recently. In order to prioritise safety of tourists, the state has introduced an efficient and meticulous bio-bubble model, creating protective layers of service providers to receive and host tourists.
It is the adaptability in these changing times that would determine how the industry would fare in the coming days. Groups will be forced to put in a lot of incentives to bring family travellers as corporate bookings might take more time to reach the pre-pandemic levels.
“Covid has been a big learning,” says Jose Ramapuram, Director Marketing at Evolve Back (formerly known as Orange County), a group that runs a chain of luxury resorts in India. Evolve Back which operate resorts like Kamalapura Palace in Hampi, Kuruba Safari Lodge in Kabini and Chikkana Halli Estate in Coorg has made sure that a secure environment eases travellers’ concerns around health.
Surely, these efforts have ensured a significant increase in bookings. “There has been a steady increase in bookings at our properties in the past few weeks since the time travel restrictions have eased. All our properties did very well during the off-season months as well. We are expecting this trend to continue till the end of this year. We will look forward to a steady and positive recovery in this post-pandemic era,” Mr Ramapuram told India.Com.
People prefer secluded places
Demand for secluded and private properties have been on the rise of late. “There’s a huge surge. People want to travel following COVID safety rules, and they are primarily seeking for isolated/secluded and naturally remote areas with private accommodations to stay in,” says Shahzad Aslam, Head Sales & Marketing, Leisure Hotels Group. Leisure Hotels Group runs a chain of hotels/resorts/camps/private bungalows spread across popular destinations in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
COVID-19 has prompted people to spend time with their families and that explains the rush for secluded family/me time.
“Our experiential properties in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have got a good volume of queries along these lines. After the COVID 2.0 wave subsided, we saw a 15 to 20% increase in travel in the last few months. With the holiday season approaching and the vaccination campaign in full gear, we anticipate that demand will be robust in the following months as well,” Shahzad said.
The enthusiasm in the travel sector has also led to the recovery of those working in the periphery. It has brought cheer to people who were employed in tour companies, tour-taxi operators, local retail vendors, farm-produce suppliers, temporary workers in the restaurant industry and workforce employed in the hospitality industry as a whole.
Massive Revival Expected in Wedding Industry
Pandemic also disrupted grand wedding plans for many families. With people going online or postponing their wedding during the pandemic, things are likely to peak in the wedding season that starts following post the Durga Puja festivities in India. Hotels, that make a sizeable business during the season, are hoping that this upcoming season would be crucial.
“The pandemic has brought about a change in the mentality of travellers. With the decline in COVID-19 cases, the tourism destinations have been opening, travellers are set to venture out. As far as the wedding industry goes, many luxury weddings were postponed from last year as they could not be held due to travel restrictions. FNP Weddings will see a slight sigh of relief as the travel guidelines and are easing out,” said Mr Vikaas Gutgutia, MD & Founder, Ferns N Petals.
With flights operating, states easing travel regulations, people beginning to break free from the Covid-forced pause, days look promising for the travel and hospitality industry. In return, the travel companies or hotel groups would need to anticipate demand and bring inflexible pricing, give options of last-minute cancellations to consumers and address their anxieties.
(India.Com.Travel will be coming out with series of hotel reviews, industry articles, the hospitality sector’s view on the recent surge and how they will address travellers’ anxiety that is likely from this travel boom. For suggestions and story tips, you can get in touch at [email protected])
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