There is increasing evidence now that the travel bookings whether by bus, train or by air or by a private vehicles is on the rise. There is talk of an earlier defunct airline resuming service very soon and the divestment of a government owned airline is finally getting interest from private investors though its a start. The airports are also talking about greater numbers and there is a beginning of discussions to roll out additional capacity as there is a fear that the current capacity will be overwhelmed the minute there is further normalcy in travel specially for key strategic airports. This is largely on the basis of domestic travel estimates as the international travel is still to normalise. The occupancy in key tourist venues continues to show buoyancy with increasing revenue parameters. This no doubt is music to the ears of the beleaguered travel industry which has been hit hard and how by the pandemic. There was hardly a doubt that travel will resume but ….the question was dependant on the control of the pandemic which presently is on a downward curve at least in India. So do we take this as the new dawn….or is there a twist in the tale to still waiting to happen?
The answer presently is and there cannot be another, that nobody knows, specially on the pandemic! The behaviour of the virus specially the current Covid strain is hugely unpredictable with the discovery of new strains like the Delta variant almost on a daily basis. While this is unfortunately true, there are some positives too which hopefully can help. The biggest positive of all is the discovery of number of vaccines which are being produced and are available. They may fall short to detect all variants but for now they are life saving and give the world a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. With growing vaccinations in India and across the world, the possibility of free travel albeit with a few precautions is increasing by the day. Testing for the virus and its aftercare is also far beyond its initial avatar which had everybody at their wits end. With increasing knowledge every day we are getting used to deal with this monster. So what is the prognosis for the travel industry…., where do we go from here?
The dawn to my mind is very much here though the sunshine is still absent with its fleeting presence beginning to show through the clouds. What do we do when we say the summer is round the corner …. Prepare,albeit with caution. My take on what we should be in consideration for everybody in travel business is…
1. Continue with rigour with the covid protocol established as it would be counterproductive to let one’s guard down now even with a little higher cost. Airlines and the hospitality industry with their skills on customer service as well as excellence need to be at their best to assist in this likely revival of demand. Safety, convenience and indulgence today will go a long way in retaining customers who use your facilities in these times.
2. It’s also time to look at your facilities, their upgrades and also perhaps new locations for the hospitality industry. The transport industry too needs to rethink its costs as well as connectivity. This new dawn will only flower if there is coordinated action between infrastructure and the industry, a fact painfully brought out by the long thinking time we have had in the recent past. Time to partner with local government and agencies as they too have the same goals. Also domestic tourism can best be enhanced through this collaboration.
3. The most critical as in every other industry is the Human Resource which has suffered the most during these past two years. Tourism is possibly the largest employer of labour both formal as well as informal and in India at least the informal people have no visible protection. Time to relook at this weak link and repair. My guess is that this is again where partnership with local governments is essential.
If this has to be the new dawn then has to be new thought behind this. We are somewhat assured of the people’s propensity for travel but have a long way to make it enjoyable, hassle free for traveller and equitable for the people who will make it happen. Look forward to a great winter season this year in India and hopefully a full revival in the year to come. Want to see the sunshine again…!