Travel Trade Journal
Pandemic induced revenge travel makes domestic tourism soar
With relaxed Covid restrictions, revenge tourism has become the flavour of the season, leading to a boom in domestic travel. The industry is also gearing up for ‘revenge travel’, as more and more Indians are hitting the road and flocking to popular destinations. TTJ interacts with the travel trade industry in West Bengal to know the reasons behind the soar in domestic travel, the current trends that are ruling the industry and the future that lies ahead.
After a long dull period because of the pandemic and lockdowns, travel curbs have been relaxed. Domestic tourists once again began heading to popular tourist retreats across the country. The dawn of the festive season marked a tidal wave of visitors to the Himalayan destinations in West Bengal and Sikkim.
Explained Sandeepan Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer, Siliguri’s Eastern Meadows Tours, “With the vaccination process in order, the steady flow of tourists to Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas began sometime in September-end, this year. Most hotels in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Siliguri, Pelling, and Gangtok recorded around 60 per cent occupancy. While the influx of tourists gained momentum at the onset of Durga puja and Diwali, leading to 90 per cent occupancy in hotels. In today’s times, the need of the hour is to achieve a sustained flow of tourists. Both Central and state governments have taken up strides for a complete vaccination drive. Our travel group took up several vaccination programmes and around 2,000 stakeholders in Siliguri and Darjeeling Hills came forward to create confidence in the minds of travellers. The pandemic should not resurface and, in current times, COVID-19 is moving towards the endemic stage. Keeping with COVIDsafety measures, the disease would be sporadic in times to come.”
Ghosh is also associated with Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators Association (EHTTO) that is making strides to keep the Himalayan destinations pollution-free and has proposed to come up with a promotional video for West Bengal Tourism.
The coming summer holidays will be crucial for the domestic tourism sector. Ghosh said, “If things go according to the plan, the next summer holidays will pull in a large chunk of domestic travellers that will help the travel industry to churn out around 80 per cent business. At the same time, it is essential to gain confidence in the minds of travellers. Since people want to indulge in newer experiences, they are focusing on offbeat, serene and pollution-free destinations like Tinchulay, Takdah, Rishikhola and Dwaipani in the district of Darjeeling. Homestay facilities will take over in the post-pandemic world. With the resumption of airlines, the travel industry will boom and experience a golden period in the next two years.”
The domestic tourism industry in India is performing better in the pandemic break. Popular tourist destinations along with luxury and heritage hospitality groups are witnessing a steady flow of travellers. On this, Manoj Saraf, Managing Director, Gainwell Travel and Leisure commented, “Thousands of tourists are descending on Goa’s beaches to beat the pandemic boredom. All major Goa-bound flights from Indian metros are choc-a-bloc and Goa has emerged as the leisure domestic tourism capital of India. The premium hospitality groups have tripled their prices while the high-end, five-star properties in Goa are occupied till March, next year. MICE groups are flying off to Goa. Hence, domestic tourism in the country is at an all-time high since high-end travellers are unable to visit overseas and are heading to luxury getaways in the country. All luxury, heritage and premium properties in Rajasthan have doubled their charges. The boom period for domestic tourism is here to stay for the time being, since global tourism is passing through a period of uncertainty. There will be a greater number of group departures and advance bookings but domestic travel will gradually slow down.”