Indians are making big plans of ‘revenge travel’ as COVID-19 restrictions get lifted in many states

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Indians are making big plans of ‘revenge travel’ as COVID-19 restrictions get lifted in many states
BCCL
  • According to a survey released by consulting firm Deloitte, 54% of people surveyed feel safe to travel in June, as compared to 50% in the previous wave.
  • An OTA executive says people are doing “revenge travel” which is evident from significant increase in queries and bookings.
  • A recent ‘Back to travel’ research conducted by Booking.com found out that around 68% of Indian travellers who couldn’t travel in 2020 are extensively yearning to travel this year.
Samaira Jain, a freelance content writer based in Delhi, feels that her life has become extremely “monotonous”. The pandemic, the lockdowns and restrictions it has induced have put on hold her dreams and plans of travelling to her favourite destinations. She wants her “normal life” back.

Delhi is gradually limping back to normalcy, as lockdown relaxation kicked in from May 31.

Jain, along with her family, has decided to visit Shimla — in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh — after the lockdown. She sounds very excited and seems ready to embrace the beauty of the Himalayan foothills. “Our lives have become so monotonous, we have started feeling depressed. In order to change our mind we decided to travel and take some days off,” says Jain.

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India’s ramped up vaccination drive also seems to have given people a sense of confidence.

Diyara Doshi, who is a teacher in a private school in Mumbai, echoes Jain’s views in a sense. Along with her husband, she is planning a getaway for a weekend in Lonavala, a hill station around 90 kilometres away from the capital of Maharashtra. Doshi and her husband got themselves fully vaccinated so that they can plan their leisure trip on a weekend. “We have taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, so we are now a little safe to travel,” says Doshi.

As the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic stormed the country, heavy restrictions were imposed including strict lockdowns and travel restrictions. Decline in active daily cases lead many states to lift lockdown restrictions and open up for tourists once again trying to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

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On June 14, a beeline made by tourists was seen on the Kalka-Shimla Highway, near Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh, choked with cars. It clearly shows that people are choosing to throng to hill stations despite fear of infection still being around.

Indians are making big plans of ‘revenge travel’ as COVID-19 restrictions get lifted in many states

According to a survey released in May by consulting firm Deloitte, 54% of people surveyed feel safe to travel in June, as compared to 50% in the previous wave. The survey also says that the intent to travel for leisure in these three months (June to August) will see an upward trend as compared to previous waves, partly because of COVID-19 vaccination boosting people’s confidence to return to normalcy.

Ishaan Bilala, an analyst at consulting firm KPMG, wants to go on a short vacation in Tosh near Kasol in Himachal Pradesh. He is looking forward to booking a comfortable hotel with a “surreal view”, where he and his friends can take a small break from their work and enjoy themselves without worrying about COVID-19. “We know that COVID has not ended, and with rumours of a third wave already around the corner, we thought we should take one trip at least before cases hike again,” says Bilala.
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A recent ‘Back to travel’ research conducted by online accommodation aggregator Booking.com found that around 68% of Indian travellers who couldn’t travel in 2020 are extensively yearning to travel this year, while 70% travellers are planning to travel in the near future. The survey further reveals that around 72% feel that travelling this year is more important to them than it was before the outbreak of the pandemic.

With lockdown restrictions being lifted in various states, the average number of people taking flights per day rose from 42,000 in May to 1,25,000 from the third week of June.

Travel bookings surge in the month of June
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“Within a week since restrictions began to ease, we have seen a jump of nearly 200% in hotel bookings for the month of June as compared to April — with the majority of states where lockdown restrictions have been relaxed considerably,” says Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer (COO) of online travel aggregator (OTA) MakeMyTrip.

Rajiv Subramanian, vice president of Cleartrip tells Business Insider that there is a large pent up demand for travel. According to him, routes between Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi dominate the top sectors for flight bookings in the last few weeks of June. “In terms of hotel bookings, we have seen a growth in booking in states with hill stations such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir. Areas in and around Mumbai are the leading areas of hotel bookings.”

Travel bookings in month of April and May had seen a huge dip

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The number of domestic passengers travelling via air in the month of April fell by 27% and this further dropped by over 60% in the month of May as COVID-19 cases were shooting up in the country, as per the Directorate General of Civil Aviaion (DGCA). “Starting April, there was a decline in demand due to the rising COVID-19 cases across the country. Now with the incoming of vaccines, there are many reasons to be optimistic as travel intent climbs up again. With travel being an integral part of people’s lives, a few destinations have seen a 50% rise in hotel bookings in the month of June as compared to April and May,” says Sabina Chopra, co founder and COO of OTA platform Yatra.com.

The first three months of 2021 when COVID situation in the country seemed slightly improving, people had once again started to venture out of their homes. “First three months of the year saw a good number of travellers making leisure travel, with the next two being heavily impacted due to COVID-19,” says Nishant Pitti, chief executive officer (CEO) and cofounder of OTA site EaseMyTrip.

Number of travellers searching for travel and accommodation sees an uptick

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Not only have the number of people who travelled have gone up but also the number of tourists who are seeking to or planning to travel has also surged in the past few weeks. “The number of people searching for places/queries for trips have increased multifold in the past few weeks. We have witnessed a booking increase of 40% from the lows in May that indicates the tendency of people for revenge travel has already kicked in with a significant increase in queries and bookings,” adds Pitti.

The number of domestic tourists visiting India during 2019 was 2321 million as compared to 1853 million in 2018, with a growth of 25.3%, reveals India’s Ministry of Tourism statistics.


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