Home / Companies / News /  Indians defer holiday plans as new wave sparks déjà vu

With the surge in new coronavirus cases sweeping India, and many states imposing fresh curbs, travellers are looking to modify their summer holiday plans in April-July according to the evolving situation.

Around 50% of Indians, for instance, from across 300-odd districts, said they would like to travel during the next three months despite the second wave, to visit family or for holiday, the findings of a study by LocalCircles shows.

Around 25% of Indians who have bought tickets intend to travel, which will increase the risk of contracting the infection unless airlines, hotels and travel portals allow cancellations and refund money, the report added.

Travel operators, both online and offline, admitted that they have been getting requests to make changes to summer bookings as people are looking to postpone their holiday plans.

Thomas Cook India, which claims a 30% month-on-month jump in domestic business in March, said it is witnessing deferment of plans, but it has been limited to Maharashtra so far.

“Being cooped up for more than 12 months with work from home (WFH) and the added burden of home chores has resulted in significant lockdown fatigue and, hence, given the anticipation of that much-awaited holiday break, Indians are unlikely to cancel their summer vacation bookings. What we are seeing though is a potential of deferment of plans, if at all, and this has been limited to the state of Maharashtra," said Rajeev Kale, president and country head, holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

MakeMyTrip said the second wave of covid-19 is definitely having a knock-on impact and the firm does foresee a transitory slump in travel bookings in the near future, but did not divulge the exact percentage dip.

“While there is an understandable dip in leisure travel sentiment as uncertainty around the virus returns, a faster vaccine roll-out should also have a bearing on the overall sentiment in the coming weeks. As of March, almost 85% travellers are seen opting for refundable tickets. The latest booking pattern also indicates that while travellers are willing to postpone their upcoming vacation by a few weeks, they are still keen on taking a summer holiday with more caution," said a MakeMyTrip spokesperson.

SOTC Travel, which introduced a summer holiday sale with a range of offers, including free cancellation, said consumers are displaying pent-up travel demand though they are looking for guidance and hand holding when it comes to travel planning. “We have received a few requests for rescheduling," said Daniel D’Souza, president and country head, leisure, SOTC.

Meanwhile, Booking.com said that it is closely monitoring the updates on coronavirus-related situation from the government and related departments.

“We understand the importance of flexibility for travellers, and our options for free or flexible cancellation policies helps travellers update and cancel bookings until 24 hours before check-in at many properties via our platform," said a Booking.com spokesperson.

Budget hospitality chain Zostel, which is offering value-driven long-stay workcation options, said it has received 20-30% of booking cancellations with travellers postponing plans by up to two months. These are coming in mostly from Maharashtra. “With companies again being forced to switch back to WFH, Zostel is prepared with a relaunch of its staycation drive," said Aditya Kaushik, head of demand and revenue, Zostel.

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