India’s travel industry has been witnessing a strong surge in the past few months, contrary to expectations, says Romil Pant, senior vice-president of Leisure Travel, Thomas Cook India. By Christy Varghese
With Covid-19 being a distant memory, and every Indian state throwing their borders wide-open for tourists, we Indians are back at it, travelling, with vengeance. Thomas Cook India, a leading integrated travel services company, conducted a study which revealed some surprising insights.
The pandemic had virtually thrown the travel and hospitality industry in a state of disarray last year, and it wasn’t expected to improve anytime soon. However, on that particular count, most of us were wrong. Bookings, done with the assistance of Thomas Cook India, reflect a 60 per cent month-on-month growth, ever since the Covid situation was taken stock of, with vaccinations, shared Romil Pant, the senior vice-president of Leisure Travel at Thomas Cook India recently.
“There has been a jump of over 300 per cent, with respect to bookings, when we compare the data from September 2019, much before the pandemic, with the numbers generated for September 2021. This surge can best be attributed to lockdown fatigue and pent-up urge to travel,” he postulated, before sharing other noteworthy trends.
A surge in demand for the forthcoming festive and winter season, Expo 2020 Dubai and honeymoon travel due to the marriage season in the North is powering travel growth from Delhi. “At this point in time, Thomas Cook India is back to 65 per cent of pre-pandemic level bookings; with domestic travel at an impressive 290 per cent and international at 55 per cent,” he revealed.
As per Pant, travelling with India is the best possible option, for those who seek leisure, “With the most prominent factor being ease of communication, it might take a while before we see international travel achieving pre-pandemic numbers. Let’s consider you test positive for Covid in India, away from your hometown, the language divide does not play a huge role and all our packages are equipped with TravShield — a comprehensive safe travel programme, in association with Apollo Clinics. TravShield gets you free rescheduling and cancellation, if you are afflicted with Covid, you are entitled to insurance; in short, we are here for you. However, while travelling overseas, it is not as simple as that. Getting the permissions in place from the embassy/consulate, that might take a while.”
He went on to elaborate on some details that one might overlook while travelling, for instance, the cost of the RT-PCR test. “You might be surprised by how easier it is back home, here in India, when it comes to dealing with RT-PCR tests. Every country of the European Union has different costs for the RT-PCR tests, with the cheapest being €50. When travelling overseas, you need to take every factor into account. Something Thomas Cook India would be happy to help you with,” he shared with a smile.
Other notable trends that he touched upon was how homestays and farm-stays have emerged as the preferred place of stay, after the Covid pandemic. It was not very surprising, though, as tourists opted to stay in places with less people, with many booking a villa for multiple families to stay in, together. He also chose the occasion to clarify that Thomas Cook has been misunderstood as an organisation which exclusively facilitates overseas travel, “To the contrary, we have our agencies spread across the country to help those who wish to see more of our beautiful country. With winter approaching, we have seen a surge in pre-bookings for places and experiences in the Andamans, Goa and Kerala. Even though the number of cases in Kerala might be high, the mortality rate is low. And throw in an administration which pulls all stops for its tourists, no wonder Kerala remains a hot destination.”
Currently, as per the study, which takes into account numbers from September 2019 to September 2021, Maldives, Switzerland, France, Russia, Spain, Egypt are the top international destinations. Maldives, with no restrictions throughout, was no surprise on the list. The ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai is also seeing a brisk demand currently, Pant noted.
So, what are you waiting for? Go on and satiate that travel bug, but do your research first and travel safe, whenever you do.