With travel restrictions within India and across the globe being gradually lifted, domestic and international travel is on the rise. In India, where the second wave of the coronavirus has ebbed, tourist industry experts say that people are on 'revenge travel' mode after being confined in their homes for months together due to the fear of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns. Many of the vaccinated people are especially keen to move out of their inert state.
"What we're seeing these days is revenge traveling. People want to go somewhere so desperately as many of us have been restricted to our homes for months. As a result, we witnessed a rise in the number of domestic trips to secluded destinations as the second wave started declining," NSN Mohan, CEO of Kennedy Holidays, says.
For the tourism industry, August to October is usually considered to be 'off season' for travel due to unsuitable weather conditions in the monsoon season. March to July and November to January are usually the preferred seasons for travel since many places in the country have pleasant weather at this time. However, though it is 'off season' currently, people are choosing to travel out of sheer frustration and the need to step out after being locked up for so long. People want to visit places of natural beauty and enjoy outdoor activities, says Srivatsava Lakkaraju, CEO of VM Tours and Travel in Hyderabad. "Most people prefer to go on drives to nearby destinations. They go on weekend trips with a one-night stay," he says.
It's wedding season in the Telugu states and several couples are also going on honeymoon trips. "Since it's Sravana Masam, the wedding season, we are getting enquiries and bookings are being made for honeymoon packages to various destinations. The top choice is the Maldives," adds Srivatsava. The Maldives trip costs about Rs 1 lakh minimum per head, and includes travel, accommodation and food expenses, according to VM Tours and Travel.
Meanwhile, companies like the Hyderabad Trekking Company have also started offering group trips to various destinations like Gokarna, Doodh Sagar, Leh Ladak among others. Vaccination for those above 18 years of age or RT PCR tests are considered mandatory for most of these trips.
Secluded destinations and safe stays
According to the industry experts, when people travel with family, they are willing to spend more on accommodation to ensure that the stay is safe, the room is santised and comfortable.
â€śUsually there are three types of tour markets â€” budget, upmarket and luxury. Now we are seeing more tourists in the luxury category, followed by upmarket and the budget market hasn't taken off yet,â€ť says Mohan. He adds that people prefer to stay in secluded places with good accommodation facilities, where they can enjoy nature, relax in a pool, and read books in a peaceful environment.
Citing an example of client demands, he says that the Kennedy Travel Agency has been getting enquiries for the Udaipur Lake Palace where the room rent is around Rs 45,000 per day.
Srivatsava adds that tourists are researching the hotels that they want to stay in, and are making sure that the places are clean. â€śMost of the top hotels had 66% occupancy in the off season this year. Earlier, people used to spend a lot on sight-seeing and less on accommodation, but now it's changed,â€ť he says.
As always, the tourism industry is dynamic when it comes to pricing. After the second wave, some travel agencies and hotels announced a drop in prices, but with the increase in the number of tourists, the prices have again shot up to usual levels or have become more expensive.
While tourism is improving on one hand, locals in tourist areas are worried about new people coming from different corners of the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Himabindu, a tourist who travelled to Lambasingi near Vizag from Hyderabad along with a friend, says, "The local people are conscious about new people coming from various places. They were vigilant about ensuring that tourists wear masks and reminded us about the precautionary measures to be taken," she says.
Like Himabindu who traveled to secluded areas of Vizag, many tourists from the Telugu states are picking destinations like Vizag, Gokarna, Manaali, parts of the North East. Maldives is the most sought after international destination.
In sync with the rules
International travel is yet to revive owing to different travel rules in various countries that keep changing depending on the number of COVID-19 cases. Vaccination certificates and RT-PCR tests are also mandatory for many of these destinations.
â€śWhen it comes to rules, we are checking the concerned state rules or the countryâ€™s entry rules in case of international travel and are preparing our clients accordingly,â€ť says Srivatsava.
He adds that people who took the Covaxin jab are still facing issues when it comes to travel rules, while the journey has been smooth for those vaccinated with Covishield.
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