COVID-19 impact: How you travel, dine and take a holiday set to change in 2021!

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Updated: Dec 08, 2020 1:14 PM

A silver lining of hope for India’s leading travel and hospitality stakeholders is a necessity in 2021 as people have turned cautious when venturing outside their homes.

Food start ups and home entrepreneurs are seeing an upward trend in terms of demand for immunity boosting products. (Image source: Honey & Dough)

Travellers take note: How you travel, dine and take a holiday will change in 2021! The pandemic may have offered a bigger opportunity for people to change the way they travel, plan their holidays and accommodation. A silver lining of hope for India’s leading travel and hospitality stakeholders is a necessity in 2021 as people have turned cautious when venturing outside their homes. While the wedding season continues to show an uptick in terms of increased demand for new venues and hospitality options, the futuristic prospects of domestic travel and hospitality segments need a greater boost.

However, many are concerned that the impact of the pandemic on the travel and hospitality sector has been severe in 2020. Since a lot of people are still working from home, ibis introduced the concept of ‘work@ibis’, alternate office space solutions with all the services that a hotel can offer at affordable prices.

Sylvain Laroche, Director of Operations, ibis & ibis Styles India told The Financial Express Online, “As a leading smart economy hotel brand in the world, we prioritize customer centric value add-ons over discounts/deals. In the last few months, the world around us has changed rapidly and hotels have had to adapt and become more thoughtful in the way they do things. In the new “now”, brands are creating meaningful offers which resonate with guests and will lead the way to recovery.”

Undoubtedly, travel preferences and consumption patterns have changed. Sharing his view on the marked changes in travel preferences, Sylvain Laroche observes, “We are also witnessing the rise of the sensitive traveller, who respects his eco-system and seeks sustainable travel experiences.”

Chefs have rejigged their menus to focus on fresh and local produce. Food start ups and home entrepreneurs are seeing an upward trend in terms of demand for immunity boosting products.

Home entrepreneur Dipali Bhattacharyya, whose entrepreneurial journey began with a personal loss following the passing away of her husband at a young age, says that there has been a significant uptick in demand for locally made pickles such as her signature raw turmeric and coconut pickle. Another popular selling item among her products is her methi pickle.

“Raw materials are directly sourced by us from the local market. Our products are sold across five outlets apart from offering home delivery across the country. We ensure to deliver the best quality products and keep it as per FSSAI standards,” she told The Financial Express Online.

In fact, Bhattacharyya’s homegrown brand, Prakrity, which she manages with her daughter Suditree Devya, enjoys nationwide distribution from different places across the country including Guwahati, Delhi NCR, Bengaluru and Gujarat.

Not just the fear of COVID-19, the gloom of winter also prompts food entrepreneurs and restaurants to come up with something tempting. With the onset of winters in Delhi-NCR, Honey & Dough have introduced a special menu to add warmth to cozy winter months. From classic options such as Nutty Almond Hot Chocolate and Red Velvet Hot Chocolate to range of teas such as Rose Tea, Turmeric Latte, Tiramisu Latte and Rose and Peppermint tea, the food options to tempt you to order something that boosts immunity are plenty. In addition to this, there are soups to choose from such as Broccoli soup or Roast Bell Pepper Soup and a spread of seasonal winter salads. The category of desserts include offerings such as Chocolate Gateau Cake, Nutella Almond Chocolate Tart, besides almond croissants and salted peanut butter cookies.

Meanwhile, street food festivals are gaining traction in Mumbai as we head for the New Year. With the emotional element of ‘nostalgia’ being played up during the last month of the year, the opportunity for hotels and restaurants is unmistakable.

“The ‘Indian Street Food Festival’ at Hotel Sahara Star will provide a tour of flavours from across the country and offer a perfect platform for Mumbaikars to gorge on some of the best street food from India without leaving their city. Our culinary experts have put together a nostalgic menu as part of the special buffet,” Chef Ranjan Rajani, Executive Chef, Hotel Sahara Star told The Financial Express Online about the ten day long culinary food festival that is being hosted at the Earthplate restaurant. Showcasing Kathi rolls, Papdi Chaat among the appetizers to classics such as Amritsari Chhole Bhature, the icing on the cake tops up with a delicious dessert spread of Saffron Ghevar with malai rabdi, Raj bhog and Kulfi with falooda.

Yet concerns remain about a complete recovery in the travel and hospitality sector.

Speaking exclusively to The Financial Express Online, Vibhas Prasad, Director, Leisure Hotels Group states, “The COVID 19 pandemic and the impact of the Indian lockdown has had a disastrous impact on the country’s hospitality sector for now and perhaps forever. It will probably take another one or two years to come back to pre-COVID levels or till the time the vaccine comes out. We expect the recovery to be strong, particularly on the domestic fore as currently the sector is currently devastated. There is a huge demand for leisure as well as biz travel and not to forget the large social events and wedding industry.”

Sabina Chopra, Co-Founder and COO, Yatra had earlier told The Financial Express that travellers are more conscious about the impact of their travel on the environment as well as on the local economy. In her view, travellers now want an immersive experience where they can explore their interests and in this context, packages that come with personalised offerings and services and alternative holiday accommodations are emerging as popular choices.

Vibhas Prasad, Director, Leisure Hotels Group told the Financial Express, “Already, some leisure markets are seeing a good recovery. We expect the recovery to be in double digits once the vaccine is freely available. Inbound, exhibition sectors will also recover in a year or two. Domestic leisure market will be a key focus area with emphasis on staycations, daycations and workcations. One of the key factors in the country’s favour is that India’s domestic tourism market is strong, which will be a key factor in the industry’s recovery.”

Notably, from the uptick in demand that the country is now witnessing, there is a horizon of hope looming ahead as the year comes to an end and the possibility of vaccine availability looks bright.

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