Spike in Covid-19 cases fails to dull Indians’ appetite for travel

Spike in Covid-19 cases fails to dull Indians’ appetite for travel

11 Jun    Finance News

Travel is booming across the country, and despite a recent spike in Covid cases, demand has not dampened, with travel companies continuing to witness a rise in bookings for both leisure and corporate purposes. A total of 8,329 new infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, an official statement said on Saturday.

“With the restart of international flights and easing of restrictions driving positive corporate sentiment, our corporate travel and bleisure business has seen a surge, doubling month-on-month since January. We are currently running at over 90% of pre-Covid levels, led by IT, consultancy, banking & finance, global accounts and SMEs fuelling demand,” Indiver Rastogi, president and group head, global business travel, Thomas Cook (India) and SOTC, told FE.

Rastogi said they are currently not witnessing any cancellations due to the rising Covid cases. “There is clear appetite and while the tilt has been towards domestic, international travel is on the uptick with rapidly easing travel and health protocols,” he said.

Aloke Bajpai, group CEO & co-founder of travel portal ixigo, said: “Travel confidence and demand is strong for summer travel. Search queries for UAE, US, UK & Canada are seeing a week-on-week growth.”

Apart from rising Covid cases, there has been a surge in airfares and hotel rates as well. Since international flights resumed, the airfares for Singapore have increased by 59%, Bali by 43%, Mauritius by 31%, Dubai and Abu Dhabi by 18%, Switzerland, France and Italy by 15%, according to Thomas Cook (India).

Besides, room tariffs for hotels in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and North-East have gone up by 50%, Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala by 40%, and Goa by 10% in June as compared to January.

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In Europe and the USA, the hotel room tariffs have shot up by 12-15% and 10%, respectively, in June when compared with April. For hotels in Maldives, the hike has been 5-7%. Aditya Gupta, senior vice-president, hotels and holidays, Yatra.com, said summer travel is one of the biggest travel trends in the industry.

“The rise in Covid cases has not had any impact on travel across businesses such as flights, hotels, holidays, buses, etc. The rise in cases is still very recent and we are yet to witness any impact,” Gupta said. A Vistara executive, on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed there is no impact on demand as of now.

A Cleartrip spokesperson said for domestic travellers, there are no frequent changes in regulations and the movement is smooth, with the recovery in domestic passenger traffic reaching 98% of pre-Covid levels in April and May.

“For international travellers, most countries have significantly relaxed restrictions over the past couple of months. Indian airports have witnessed a steep ramp-up in international passenger traffic to 72% of pre-Covid levels in May and it is expected to reach 80-85% of pre-covid levels during FY 2023,” the spokesperson added.

While Cleartrip has witnessed a jump of 12% in organic hotel bookings for leisure travel since January, it is expecting higher growth in the coming months.

“We are getting queries as in the pre pandemic days. Flights and trains are booked. Keeping in mind Covid protocols, this week and the next week we are housefull. We had to decline people who were calling us for bookings next week,” says Arijit Datta, owner and partner at Twin Tour, who runs a boutique hotel and travel agency in Kolkata.

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