Get, set, go! Bookings surge as international travel opens up
After a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 crisis, travellers are getting back to do what they do best — packing their bags and jetting off. Thanks to the news of resumption of international flights from March 27, and India resuming tourist visas for foreign nationals, summer of ’22 is set to be the perfect comeback for globetrotters. With countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa and Bali opening up to fully vaccinated international travellers, key players in the industry feel that this might revive the sector.
While some say experiential holidays are witnessing a surge, others are seeing an uptick for longer holidays at Switzerland, France, Spain and the UK. “Summer holidays this year are expected to be a double bonanza. Not only are tons of international destinations opening to Indian travellers, but they also have three years’ worth of international holiday budgets saved up to splurge now. We expect bookings during this season to surpass anything we’ve seen in the recent past,” says Arun Ashok, regional head – India and Middle East, Luxury Escapes.
Much-needed relief for tourism sector
For some, it’s a win-win situation to see foreigners travelling to India and help boost tourism and generate revenue. “Opening up international flights is the boost the travel and hospitality industry needed after two years of inactivity. International tourism is a significant source of income for the sector, especially in states like Kerala and Himachal. Hopefully, we’ll welcome a large number of tourists again — the Ukraine crisis notwithstanding,” opines Kovid Kapoor, co-founder, Holidify.
An increasing number of countries are now allowing Indians to enter without the mandatory quarantine. In many cases, fully vaccinated passengers are no longer required to furnish a negative RT-PCR test upon arrival either. Daniel D’souza, president and country head, SOTC Travel shares, “Since the announcement, we are witnessing significant travel appetite with a surge in queries of nearly 30-50%.” He says the reopening of closer-to-home destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia (starting April 1) has resulted in a further boost with their online search seeing “a jump of over 100% for short haul destinations”.
Rajeev Kale, president and country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa - Thomas Cook (India) Limited says the surge in demand extends beyond the summer vacation period as well. He says, “We are seeing an uptick of 20-40% in queries, with Europe’s Switzerland, France, Spain and UK still heading the leader board (40% increase), followed by short hauls like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Thailand, Maldives, Turkey, Egypt, Singapore (30%); also long hauls like Australia (20%). What is noteworthy is that the interest is not limited to peak summer vacation season, but also for long weekends, & celebration of special occasions.”
The travel bug returns
The opening up of destinations and resumption of flights has restored confidence in travellers, says Ritu Mehrotra, regional commercial director APAC at Booking.com.
She adds, “2022 is going to be the year when travellers make up for all their lost vacations. Whether it’s as a part of their self-care regime, the desire to connect with local communities, an opportunity to explore, or the thrill of saying yes to whatever opportunities come their way, it’s all about seizing the day and making every trip matter.”