Spike in Covid-19 cases fails to blunt Indian appetite for travel

Travel is booming across the country, and despite a recent spike in Covid cases, demand has not let up, with travel agencies continuing to see an increase in bookings for both leisure and travel. business. A total of 8,329 new infections have been recorded in the past 24 hours, an official statement said on Saturday.

“With the restart of international flights and the easing of restrictions boosting business sentiment, our business and leisure travel business has seen an increase, doubling month-on-month since January. We are currently operating at over 90% of pre-Covid levels, led by IT, Consulting, Banking & Finance, Global Accounts and SME fueling demand,” Indiver Rastogi, President and Group Head, global business travel, Thomas Cook (India) and SOTC, says FE.

Rastogi said they are not currently seeing any cancellations due to the increase in Covid cases. “There is a clear appetite and although the tilt has been towards domestic travel, international travel is on the rise with a rapid relaxation of travel and health protocols,” he said.

Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO and co-founder of travel portal ixigo, said: “Confidence and travel demand are strong for summer travel. Search queries for UAE, USA, UK and Canada are growing weekly. »

Apart from the increase in Covid cases, there has also been an increase in air fares and hotel rates. Since the resumption of international flights, 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).

In addition, hotel room rates in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the North East have increased by 50%, Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala by 40%. % and Goa by 10% in June compared to January.

In Europe and the United States, hotel room rates increased by 12-15% and 10% respectively in June compared to April. For hotels in the Maldives, the increase was 5 to 7%. Aditya Gupta, Senior Vice President, Hotels and Vacations, Yatra.com, said summer travel is one of the biggest travel trends in the industry.

“The increase in Covid cases has had no impact on business travel such as flights, hotels, holidays, buses etc. The increase in cases is still very recent and we have no seen no impact yet,” Gupta said. A Vistara executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, also confirmed that there was no impact on demand at this time.

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

“For international travellers, most countries have eased restrictions significantly over the past two months. Indian airports saw a surge in international passenger traffic to 72% of pre-Covid levels in May and it is expected to reach 80-85% of pre-Covid levels in FY 2023,” the carrier added. word.

While Cleartrip has seen a 12% jump in organic hotel bookings for leisure travel since January, it expects higher growth in the months ahead.

“We get questions like in the days before the pandemic. Flights and trains are booked. Keeping Covid protocols in mind, this week and next week we are full at home. We had to turn away people calling us for reservations next week,” says Arijit Datta, owner and partner of Twin Tour, which runs a boutique hotel and travel agency in Kolkata.