The tourism sector is bouncing back from the impact of COVID across the world. Data suggests that the industry will crawl back to the pre-Covid-19 levels in a few months. According to the IBEF data, by 2028, the Indian tourism and hospitality industry is projected to earn US$ 50.9 billion compared with 2018. This indicates a good sign for the industry. The sector’s confidence is also boosted by some special incentives from the government. Between 2020 and 2021, the pandemic caused job losses, loss of companies, and disruption of plans for many in the industry. Also, the industry witnessed a 60-80 percent decline in international tourism in 2020. In 2020, foreign tourist arrivals slump by 75.5% YoY to 2.68 million, and arrivals through e-Tourist Visa (Jan-Nov) lessened by 67.2% YoY to 0.84 million. Companies noticed that upper-middle-class and lower-middle groups are using more mobile technologies, leading to increased regional connectivity among people. This is the reason why many companies are now ready to use technological solutions to reach a wider audience by offering the best deals.
The recent bounce-back in the travel sector is witnessed in its online booking segment compared to the offline one. There has been a marked growth in online bookings and increase in online travel market over the years and it is changed compared to offline bookings. Rikant Pittie who is co-founder of EaseMyTrip and an industry expert stated that while offline bookings might have been the established norm for many years, customers are now showcasing a strong preference for online bookings and have started exhibiting a strong dependency on online travel platforms and apps. “Apps and travel platforms provide a seamless and convenient booking experience, especially considering customers now prefer booking their travel tickets through their phones. One of the biggest reasons why customers now prefer online bookings is because it offers a seamless & safe way they can make their bookings,” Rikant Pittie said.
Explaining the reason behind this shift, he explained that when booking through websites or apps, customers can get their tickets within minutes, which is significantly faster as compared to booking it offline. “One of the key measures implemented during this period was to use technology for processes that were human resource-intensive. At EaseMyTrip, we invested in technological innovations such as a customer-friendly Whatsapp chatbot that aids and eases bookings for customers. The company automated processes like seat booking, meal booking, cancellation, customer service, among others. Despite this shift to online travel bookings, we also have over 56 thousand travel agents working with us to provide a range of ancillary services to customers, especially to those that are booking complete travel and holiday packages,” he said.
Elaborating on destinations that people have booked the most, Pittie said that over the past few months, they have witnessed a significant jump in travel bookings, especially owing to the vaccination drives being implemented across the country. “For international destinations, Dubai leads the pack followed by the Maldives, Sri Lanka, US and Australia. For domestic travel, customers are opting for destinations such as Jaipur, Goa, Uttarakhand, and North East India. We have witnessed a 30% jump in domestic bookings. Additionally, we have also witnessed a sharp growth in air ticket bookings to and from Tier 2 and 3 cities, since the pandemic. While this was initially due to the travel restrictions and safety, it has led to a behavioral change in travel patterns for these cities.”
The revival in tourism is expected to bring back its pre-covid golden days. Before the covid-19, WTTC stated in its report, the travel and tourism industry contributed to India’s GDP which was about 6.8 percent of the entire economy. This shows why the Travel and tourism industry is important for any country which got standstill in the pandemic. Central and state governments are easing the rules and regulations for the travel enthusiast in India. Now as international flights have also opened, recovery is expected to be slightly faster in all regions.