Tourism sector revival in sight

NEW DELHI, Nov 6: After pandemic lull, domestic tourists are again flocking to places of their choice with travel agents witnessing upward trend in bookings for the upcoming peak season around Christmas and New Year.
As travel rules are getting simpler and vaccination coverage widening, some of the travel agents have seen booking levels (for air tickets) returning to 60% of the pre-pandemic level.
Industry sources said that travel firms are slowly calling back their employees sent on leave to manage the growing enquiries from travellers.
With ban on international scheduled flights extended till November 30, enquiries for local destinations are on the rise.
“Domestic Tourism has grown over 3.5x over last year and we continue to see our customers booking their holidays to Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, North-East, Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala,” said Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head, SOTC Travel.
D’Souza noted that Udaan routes connecting metros, mini-metros and tier-2 and cities to the north eastern states, hilly areas and islands are most popular with holiday seekers.
Not surprisingly, online travel aggregator EaseMyTrip’s air segment booking grew 2.5 times and hotel nights booking grew by 11 times during the second quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal.
“We are now extremely bullish about the strong pent-up demand in the travel industry,” noted Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder of EaseMyTrip.
Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook India said that a clear upside of the pandemic and limited reopening of outbound destinations is the spotlight on domestic tourism.
“Indians are keen on exploring incredible India and via in-depth trips with strong demand for hidden gems like the living roots bridges, canoeing on the clear waters of the Dawki and exceptional/ non-standard experiences ? including accommodation like palaces, havelis, tree tops, forts or in the heart of a desert or bamboo grove,” Kale said.
The uptrend seen in the domestic travel is set to help the service industry limp back on its feet after pandemic disrupted the whole economy and damaged the travel and hospitality sector brutally.
As per industry estimated, about 25 million people lost their jobs in the sector as pandemic swept through the country. A sizeable number of travel firms shut shop and moved to other business for survival.
“We are hoping that leisure travel would make a comeback sooner than later. The enquiry for Christmas and New year is encouraging. Air travel booking has reached almost 60% of the pre-pandemic level,” said Rajiv Mehra, President of Delhi-based travel and tour operators’ body Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO). (UNI)