The flexibility and adroitness of the English language have been put to the test by efforts to describe how ugly the impact of the COVID-19 has been on the travel and tourism industry. The travel industry is facing the worst cash crisis in the history of flight. Since the travel ban due to corona, airlines and hotels have faced cancellations and depleted their earnings via refunds to customers. The uncertainty of the future has further stymied the customers from accepting vouchers from them for future travels. How will our choice of transport and the post -corona travel change in the future?
Needless to say, the global pandemic has shaken our confidence to travel again. “Social distancing” and “hygiene” are the buzzwords that will decide our means of travel. According to a draft plan by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), airlines may have to fly with 40% of their seats empty. For safety purposes, no bookings will be taken on all middle seats and the last three rows. With lesser seats to travel on, passengers will opt for alternative methods of transportation. Governments too will be more stringent while issuing visas.
Modal Shift In Transport
Whilst in lockdown, we have all turned into “digital travellers”. Glossy photos of our trips in the past and virtual online tours are quenching our thirst for wanderlust. However, once the lockdown phase is over and till the vaccine is not developed, we will have to adapt to the new way of safe travel. Coronavirus could facilitate a modal shift in the transport sector. Since the world stalled due to the pandemic, we have seen the reduction in pollution and emission levels. We will continue to aspire for a much cleaner environment with a dramatic cut in greenhouse gas emissions. People will revel in the slow, deliberate journeys that are possible without aviation. They will prefer to use their own vehicles. It is for this reason that there will be a rise in domestic vis-a-vis international travel. Even within the city, people will prefer to walk or cycle than take the public means of transport. Social distancing will become a norm of life.
Increase in Staycations and Road trips
People will opt for weekend staycations, road trips and domestic getaways to ease their travel anxiety. For Delhi-ites closeby places such as Karma Lakelands or luxury hotels like The Roseate will see more bookings. A little further, they can go to Aamod Kuchesar Fort, Neemrana Fort, The Tree House Resort for rejuvenation. It will feel safer to travel to Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow, Rajasthan by road than by catching a flight. The enormity of the COVID-19 monster is such that we are all small in front of it. The biggest hotel chains and airlines have been brought down on their knees because of it. It is the small homestays and farms that will be resilient and will endure the strain.
Travel as we knew it before the pandemic occurred, will take several months to recuperate fully. Even when it does, travellers are going to be more mindful about the places to travel. They will appreciate the journey and the destination more. The shift will be more towards slow travel. They will look at ways to connect with a place, appreciate their holidays a bit more, and will slow down their travel experiences. They will look at off-beaten and less crowded destinations. The badly hit Corona infected countries like Spain, Italy, China will be avoided for a long time.
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Our past global crises have shown that the travel industry is resilient and will bounce back once the storm abates. The lockdown and travel ban has already stirred the need to travel again. People will step out but with caution and we all need to take the precautionary measures. Travel will be closer to home initially and that people will do more driving tourism. However, there will be a certain section of the population that will be more than willing to pack their planes and catch a flight overseas. They are the ones who must be extremely cautious about the way they travel.
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