Summer is fast approaching and that means the holidays are fast approaching. But with the pandemic playing the villain role during what is unquestionably the longest peak vacation period for Indians for two consecutive years, all hopes are pinned on 2022 for the return of the major summer holidays. Tour operators say the signs are promising as the tourism sector is already experiencing a revival after the third wave.
“There was a brief gap in January due to the third wave of infections. But people started planning summer vacations from April to May. Most people go for domestic tourism mainly to Himalayan destinations like Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh etc. said Aravind Kumar, Managing Partner of Crimson Holidays. He added that some “bravehearts” are looking to international destinations like Europe. “Thailand is open but connectivity is an issue from Bengaluru at the moment. In fact, demand is only there for Sri Lanka, Maldives and Dubai due to connectivity,” he added .
The current trend, he said, is for high-end resorts to command high prices because people aren’t traveling overseas. “Tour operators will not experience a full recovery until international flights have fully started. Additionally, COVID-19 testing on return is proving to be a deterrent as there are allegations of false positives. If one tests positive before heading to a destination, he can postpone the trip because hotels and airlines are willing to be flexible. But getting tested before leaving that country and then testing positive is a problem because the expenses are increasing,” he explained.
But for summer holidays, people are waiting until the last minute to book because many had a bad experience during the first wave, when the pandemic was new and neither businesses nor people knew how to cope. to the situation. It took over a year for them to be reimbursed. “Many don’t wait for the summer either. With working from home and online courses, people are doing the same from tourist destinations,” added Aravind.
Nagesh Babu RS of World Trails Private Ltd., said investigations have started but as international destinations are not open except for Dubai and the Maldives, and not all flights are operational, domestic destinations are experiencing good demand. He also noted that Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are popular destinations due to winter tourism. “Hotels are booked until April for some of these destinations. Flights are also expensive due to high demand. Tourism in Andaman has also restarted. Around Bengaluru and popular destinations like Kodagu there is 80% occupancy,” he added.
By March to April, tourism will be back to the levels seen in October to December 2021 before the Omicron variant hit, said Mr. Ravi, a founding member of the Karnataka Tourism Society. “The requirement of RT-PCR for people from Goa, Maharashtra and Kerala is deterring tourists from coming to Karnataka. January saw a lot of rule changes, but we are seeing some recovery. In March-April it will be back to normal – to what it was in October, November, December,” Mr Ravi said.
He expressed hope that business travel will also start to pick up as conferences, off-site meetings, team-building meetings, etc. account for a large part of the activity. “To revive the sector, the requirement for RT-PCR must be removed and certain tax advantages must be granted,” he said.