New Delhi: The surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the new Omicron variant of the disease has halted the revival of the travel industry as travellers have started deferring their travel plans.
“In 2021, we experienced a 400% jump in advance bookings for flight tickets for the year-end holidays…the Omicron variant halted the travelling revival that we expected for this period. Despite this new surge, the travel sentiment remains strong,” said Rihant Pittie, the co-founder of the online travel firm EaseMyTrip.
Pittie added the current customer trends shows a strong emphasis on safety and hygiene. “…customers are now starting to choose places that (follow)… high safety standards and which are following Covid-19 protocols.”
Pitte said customers were yearning to travel once the restrictions are lifted. “Even with new variants, restrictions and limitations, the travel industry is expected to grow further in the coming year as industry stakeholders and travellers are gradually adapting to the evolved travel norms.”
Rating agency ICRA cited the rising infections and added passengers are apprehensive about air travel and also some state governments have imposed restrictions on it. It added there was a limited impact of the new Covid-19 variant on travel in December 2021. “The average daily passengers for the week beginning December 27, 2021, was 3.4 lakh compared to 3.7 lakh and 3.6 lakh during the week beginning December 20, 2021, and December 13, 2021,” said Rajeshwar Burla, vice president and group head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA.
Cleartrip, another online travel company, said the travellers were looking for flexible travel options that have them covered in case there is a sudden change in regulations due to the new variant.
“As a result, we are seeing a higher interest in our products — EzCancel that offers a 100% refund on cancellations and Flexifly which enables consumers to change plans. Customers buying Flexifly VAS have doubled since November while EZCancel is also seeing a spike,” said Prahlad Krishnamurthi, chief brand officer, Cleartrip.
Cleartrip has reported an increase in modification and cancellation of existing bookings over a couple of weeks as travellers are adjusting their plans due to revised advisories. Krishnamurthi said in 2022, the domestic flight trends were looking very strong compared to 2021. “Metro destinations are on track to exceed 2021 numbers.”