Just as the world was planning its trip for the new decade, there comes the news of coronavirus creating havoc in Wuhan, Central China. Before our 21st-century brains could figure out what’s happening, it had already tightened its grip in almost all the sectors known to humanity. Travel and tourism not being an exception. In fact, the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian tourism and travel industry is so great that even after almost 6 months of COVID 19 having being hit India, the industry is still struggling to get up. With some minimum stimulus and grants from the Govt, all the other industries are at least surviving. But India’s hospitality and tourism sector is facing the hardest hit ever, especially with the closure of the interstate and country borders, visa cancellations, travel restrictions, and lockdowns.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON TOURISM
The confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in its report, has said that the percentage of ‘cancellation’ of flights and hotel bookings have gone up exponentially and has touched nearly 80 % in March, in many Indian locations. We could very clearly see that as from Jan – Mar the footfall of tourists to the statue of unity, Gujarat fell by 38 percent. Even the monument of love wasn’t spared. On average the authorities could sell 22,000 tickets to foreigners each day, but in March it fell down to 16,000 and shutdown gave a final blow to the already crippled footfalls, as just 2 days prior to the shutdown a bare minimum of 8000 and fewer sales were seen. COVID undoubtedly is having a negative impact on tourism.
For the Indian tourism industry, summer is the main revenue season. But due to the pandemic, we have lost that too. With the daily count of the country surging every day, even winter seems bleak. India’s tourism industry alone contributes to about 10 percent of India’s GDP. Now with the economy already suffering, this loss further adds fuel to fire.
Siddharth Jain, CEO of Sapphire Ventures says,” these are unprecedented times and business has literally come to a standstill”. “Even if COVID 19 cases decline, recovery will minimum take another 8 – 10 months” – he adds.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HOTELS AND RESORTS
There is a lot of uncertainty as to what lies ahead and this uncertainty leads to great confusion. This is the reason why no research can provide us with a true and clear picture of what is kept for us in the future. A by-product of this uncertainty can be seen with the dropping of rentals to nearly 30 – 40 % of pre- COVID levels. Vikram Oberoi, MD and CEO of the “Oberoi Group” expresses his disappointment on Govt’s lack of support for the sector. “We have never before seen this erosion of revenue. In my lifetime it’s the first such crisis. I was hopeful that the Govt. will give due care to this sector too. Unfortunately, we weren’t part of that.” The Oberoi Group owns 33 five- star hotels and resorts and operates across India, Indonesia, Morocco, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc.
The same goes for other luxury hotels too. Umaid Bhawan, Taj Lake Palace, Wildflower hall, Rambagh Palace, etc are also struggling to put their heads over water. If this is the condition of such top-notch hotels of India. It’s not hard to imagine how pathetic will be the condition of our local city hotels.
Every coin has two sides. This too has another side to it. As the restrictions eased, after two months and finally domestic travel in India resumed, this sector saw a gleam of hope. But the road is not easy. All the online ticket booking platforms like Cleatrip, yatra, MakeMyTrip, EaseMyTrip updated their websites with the new guidelines and safety measures they will be following. On 21st May, Chief Executive Officer of Goibibo, Rajesh Maghow pens down a message saying, “ The sky is finally opening up in India.”
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON ONLINE FOOD DELIVERY PLATFORMS
The cloud of coronavirus also brings with it a silver lining for this industry. The food and eatables delivery platforms like BigBasket and Grofers reported a fivefold increase in demand during this lockdown. In fact, the online grocery market is expected to clock $3 million in sales. This is all due to the rising concerns for safety which prevented people from going out, which in turn resulted in the spike in demand for home delivery.
According to food delivery platforms and restaurant analysis, even customers ordering food online are spending 25-30% more per order and the volumes are continuing to recover, touching about half the pre – COVID levels. The rise in order values is because of the fact that as more and more millennials are working from home, they don’t have the time and energy to cook food, especially in the metros; online food delivery platform Swiggy and Zomato said. There are other reasons like the willingness of customers to buy from known brands abiding by proper hygiene protocols. This made many premium restaurants to launch their home delivery facility. Promotions and discounts are also attracting customers. These are some of the positive impacts which come with corona.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON DOMESTIC TRAVEL
According to many analysts, domestic travel is going to recover faster than international travel. People will now start exploring places to visit near to their cities and towns. Luxury five-star hotels will be ditched for private farmhouses, nearby in city hotels, Govt. rentals in National parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Tourists will avoid going to the most sought after crowded tourist places. With the workplace shifting from office to home, millennials are feeling burnt out with excessive time spent with family and parents. It is now “out- sickness” and not “ homesickness” what they will be experiencing if work from home continues longer. So, probably they’ll be searching for hotels to that nearby beach or farmhouse or they may want to shift to a place close to nature, even if it’s for a week. And their first priority will be a proper internet connection, a place where they won’t be facing any technical glitches. Hotels along with hygiene conditions, need to take care of this; if they want to benefit in the long run.
Lockdown has restricted the movement of people across different regions. The places which are used to be overcrowded with tourists are now standing vacant. Further, it has devastated the lives of many people attached to it directly like local guides, transportation, hotels, and restaurants, or indirectly like bloggers, airlines, travel agencies, and apps, etc. Everyone is looking forward to the end of lockdown so that they can again explore their favorite destinations. They can enjoy some precious moments with their loved ones. Hope we all see that phase soon…
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