World Tourism Day – Rethinking Tourism: Travel is coming back with a vengeance this year and data shows that there will be a massive boom this festival season as festive travel demand has surged similar to or even beyond pre-pandemic levels. With most flights and trains getting fully booked a month in advance and ready to push the accelerator, we take a moment this world tourism day and analyze how travel has changed after pandemic and what is the difference we see in pre and post pandemic travel. Despite its rich treasure trove and high rankings in natural & cultural resources coupled with price competitiveness, India -the 5th largest economy in the world could only capture 1.24% of the World’s International Tourist Arrivals in 2019. Have we realised the true impact of tourism and are we able to convert our natural advantages into potential economic advantage? The two years of Covid pandemic triggered a lot of changes in many sectors including tourism. The Covid pandemic swept through the world and wreaked havoc like never before. It remains the worst crisis to hits the industry, ironically tourism relies on the same mobility that spreads the disease. The pandemic triggered consumers to make 2022-23 “Year of the Travel Reset”
Travellers are now embracing regenerative travel and challenging over-tourism and correcting under-tourism. There is a renewed interest in ‘experience’ inclusive of destinations rooted in meaningful connections with nature, community development, conservation and sustainability (green activism & low carbon lifestyle are here to stay), while putting purpose first.
Also Read | World Tourism Day – Rethinking tourism: Emerging travel trends that are shaping the new Indian traveller’s preferences
Post pandemic, the travel is less about where you go and when you go and more about who you are with and what you can do together from mass travel to meaningful travel. The year ahead will also see the rise of premium travel.
Expedia is calling 2022 the year of the GOAT, or the “Greatest of All Trips.” The big once in a life time adventure dream trip to loosen the purse strings (go big, spend big).
All of this necessitates much research, and many travellers consider using a travel agent to be a much simpler option. In fact, a study by Travelport showed that due to the pandemic, 33% of travellers are now more likely to book a trip using a travel agent.”
Anil Parashar, President and CEO of InterGlobe Technology Quotient, said “Travel patterns have altered after the pandemic, and we see a huge desire for new experiences. We have seen a rise in demand, and customers are now looking for more transformative experiences when they travel. Technological developments are reshaping the travel industry and have a substantial influence on business outcomes, too. Contactless payments, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are giving customers the confidence and control they need to travel smoothly and quickly.”
“Sustainability is also getting more attention, and many travellers are putting more value on activities and places that help the local community and are leaning more toward eco-friendly travel options. Community-based tourism has picked up, and companies too are aligning their offers to attract these discerning travelers,” Parashar added.
The travel has not changed, it has only gone back to pre-pandemic level with more rush is another view that has come up. Sharing her personal experience, Vandita Purohit, Founder of TraWork and Mauji, said, “I recently traveled to a few places in Europe and, honestly, my experience wise I did not feel there is any change anymore. It’s gone back to how it used to be. However it has definitely become more expensive, and there is so much more rush of tourists everywhere than usual. While there are so many reasons for this, but it hasn’t affected the travel and tourism that much. People are still travelling.”
Another thought is that now travel is more unplanned and spontaneous compared to pre-covid days. “Earlier travel used to be pre-planned and organised, but due to the epidemic, short-notice bookings have increased marginally which has affected the speculations and prediction of the coming season/business,” Tushar Parihar, Owner of Kaner Bagh Heritage Boutique Hotel in Udaipur told FinancialExpress.com.
Also Read | World Tourism Day – Workations have become increasingly popular: Chander K Baljee, Chairman & MD, Royal Orchid Hotels & Regenta Hotels
As travel with human touch takes centerstage in 2022, FinancialExpress.com got in touch with Dr Anil V. Pillai, Director – Terragni Consulting (P) Ltd ,The Human Engagement Company, to understand impacts of post-pandemic travel. Pillai said that even though we are in post-pandemic age, “there is still residual fear, not so much in India but globally, of catching a bug from your fellow co-traveller. This makes for some very cumbersome travel environments.”
“Then there is the post-pandemic revenge travel, where the hitherto home-bound citizen is trying to make up lost time with a vengeance causing long Queues at almost every airport and destination and finally, post the pandemic, staffing levels at travel touch points are still to come back to pre-pandemic levels. This labour shortage runs across airport handlers to restaurant staff, causing a very poor travel experience.”
Experts may differ on the exact impact of pandemic on travel but all of them agree that it has trigger a renewed will among travellers to explore new destinations and soak in unique experiences.