By Aditi Roy
The COVID-19 pandemic that spread like wildfire since last December has affected human life and economies across the world. Among all the sectors that are reeling, it is the tourism and hospitality industry that has been hit the most given all the border closures, travel restrictions and lockdowns, airlines, cruise operators and hotels are seeing instant effects of the pandemic.
While many are willing to stay put for the next few months until the condition improves, 70.08 per cent of the people have shown a strong sentiment towards traveling, once the lockdown gets over, says a survey.
The survey was jointly conducted by Jumpin Heights and Journey Weavers between May 1-12 among 200 respondents between the age group of 20 to 50 years. However, about 48 percent of the respondents said that they would plan to travel only by the end of 2020 considering lockdown is lifted sometime soon.
The main concern expressed by a majority of respondents was the fear of crowds they will encounter in transit and at the destinations. Therefore, 43.9 percent people prefer to stay indoors and take precautions as much as possible, whereas the other 36.7 percent of respondents want to work to make up for the salary crunch. However, the remaining 19.4 percent are willing to travel in order to make up for quarantine.
About 29.6 percent respondents said they’ll only be comfortable traveling next year onward.
The lockdown 4.0 has been started with some guidelines, the Director-General of Civil Aviation has hinted to begin the operation of domestic passenger flights in a graded manner. The international flight operations will take longer as several nations have imposed travel restrictions and banned the entry of expatriates and foreign nationals. In such a scenario, the survey indicates that 82.5% percent of respondents are ready to travel domestic and only 17.5 percent are inclined towards international travel as it’s a daunting task due to worldwide spread of the coronavirus.
The Airports Authority of India in a tweet yesterday has put up “The New Normal” of air travel yesterday, which included advisories like: Traveling only when it is essential and avoiding visiting crowded places, among others.
Indian Railways recently announced to restart the passenger train services with special trains beginning operation from New Delhi connecting various cities across the country. Acknowledging the same, the survey also tracked the reservation patterns of the travelers where 26.5 percent of respondents are ready to make a reservation now if there is no deposit or no cancellation fees. Also, 55.1 percent of enrollees are not ready for the same.
IRCTC has issued a fresh refund policy where passengers showing high fevers (only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to board and travel) while boarding will not be allowed to travel despite having confirmed tickets. In such cases full refund will be made against the ticket.
When it comes to adrenaline-pumping activities, adventure junkies surely can’t resist it. The study shows that there is considerable demand for adventure activities. It also reveals that 45.9 percent of respondents are planning to indulge in heart-pounding adventure activities post-lockdown.
Speaking about the results of the study, Ms Niharika Nigam, Director-Business Development of Jumpin Heights said “Our survey has revealed how a post lockdown world will look. In such uncertain times, we are closely gauging customer sentiment to better understand what travel would look like once restrictions or limitations ease.”
Shalini Raj, Founder, Journey Weavers, said, “While travel will take some time to normalise, our study helps us understand specific customer needs and concerns. People in lockdown are waiting eagerly to be outdoors. They want to witness wide-open skies, an expanse of ocean, acres of lush green forest, snow-capped mountains, and a long route journey to get rid of stress and anxiety. No doubt, tourism and travel will be in an extremely different phase after the quarantine. Customers are more likely than ever to select those destinations and hotels that practise responsible tourism and utmost safety standards.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought travel and other industries to a standstill. Everyone is in hope to get out of it, and things will bounce back to normal soon. The time is challenging, and hence the fundamental need for people to travel hasn’t disappeared. The moment these restrictions are eased or lifted, you will see that the necessary travel will come back. Customers will make choices based on which product or service is able to meet their needs at an affordable price point,” Raj rounds up.
(Aditi Roy can be contacted at email@example.com)