Listen to Divya dialogue with Taruna Seth, Founder and Navigator-In-Chief, Encompass Experiences about how domestic travel and tourism will re-invent itself post-COVID-19. Encompass offers unique travel experiences to its clients by integrating sustainability and travel.
“COVID has made the travel industry hit a massive pause button. For now, the only tune we can play is, dream now and travel later.”
How are you coping in the travel and tourism sector during COVID?
The travel and tourism sector has never been hit like this before. There was always some demand. Taruna states, “the only way to cope is to mentally dive into a dream vacation.” Even though countries like Italy and Switzerland that were severely affected are opening borders and going back to normal, it will now become all about domestic travel.
FYI With DR: Travel and tourism generated INR 16.91 lakh crore or 9.2% of India’s GDP in 2018 and supported 42.673 million jobs, 8.1% of its total employment.
Will the domestic travel boom in India?
People will take the plunge to travel to domestic destinations. Taruna explains, “domestic travel may just save the day for most travel companies in India.”
DR Pro Tip: Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, India inspects that the market for domestic flights will be running in full capacity by the end of 2020.
People would choose to take road trips across destinations close to their home towns.
The fad pre-COVID was to take luxury trips abroad rather than in India. People would choose to go to locations like Mauritius and Malaysia than Orissa. This will change, as the borders would not open up and even if they do, the entry would be restricted.
FYI With DR: Prime Minister Modi urged people to visit 15 domestic tourist destinations by 2022.
Will the travel demand get permanently lost, or is it just delayed?
The fundamental need for people to travel isn’t lost. The essential travel has already begun in India for business and other things. However, it will take some time before leisure travel kicks-in. “The travel economy is delayed, but not cancelled.”
FYI With DR: People will travel regardless of COVID-19 due to months of being on lockdown. This is called revenge travel.
How has coronavirus changed people’s attitude towards travel?
People would be sceptical of travelling now more than ever. Travel always came with a positive connotation of ‘relaxing’, which has changed due to COVID-19.
Destinations and stays people choose would be on how clean they are, and if they follow the necessary guidelines.
DR Pro Tip: People will choose standalone villas over hotels and hostels.
People will travel to remote places in India that have a lower population over travelling to crowded places like Mumbai.
DR Pro Tip: The younger generation would invest in travelling over the middle-aged.
People have lost their jobs due to COVID. The priority at the moment would be to find more suitable and stable employment than travel.
If there would be lesser income to spend, then travel would not be a priority. Income and travel have a direct relation.
What are the challenges India will face during the surge of tourism?
Replicating Foreign Experiences
People who were travelling abroad to countries like the USA are used to amenities that come with outdoor experiences like trekking. To replicate that in India will be a considerable challenge. Companies like Encompass understand that and will be able to direct their clientele to local destinations that will offer similar experiences, like trekking in California.
As people will be ready to start travelling again, they will require confidence from travel agents and other touring companies about safety and hygiene.
Will India have to adopt a lean travel approach when it comes to luxury travel?
Yes. However, the lean approach applies to multiple industries. People are re-imagining the way they have been running businesses. Even Encompass has had to furlough a lot of people and have cut down to their core team, without hindering the quality of work.
Work From Home
A lot of store-front offices will not exist post-COVID. Even travel companies have understood that remote work yields the same results. Travel agencies that were working online will see through this pandemic.
What will be the trends in travelling post-COVID?
There will be a lot of social innovation in hospitality. There will be more conscious travelling where people will be more sensitive towards nature.
People will not be hopping from one place to another and would be staying longer in one place. Hotels will re-invent themselves as safe havens for slow travels.
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