Vaccinations are getting the popularity vote because they safeguard one’s health and allow for travel. But will it work?
Benazir Nazar, CEO, Akbar Holidays
We have been receiving a lot of enquiries for both international as well as domestic holidays from travellers who have got both their doses of vaccination. They are very keen to travel now. Everyone’s missed their children’s holidays and seems they would want to just take off after the prolonged periods of lockdown and travel restrictions between countries and within the country as well. But the reality of the flights not being operational, interstate restrictions, and the requirement of negative RT-PCR tests remains. With the number of enquiries we have been getting, I am looking forward to a fruitful and busy year end, subject to easing of travel bans. That is yet to be seen and we hope for the best, safest solution. We also do weddings and have done a couple of them in different parts of the word and in India. But, yes, the number of inquiries that we would have ideally received have significantly gone down. Destinations include Phuket, Dubai, Istanbul, Bahrain, Alula, Bahamas, and Lake Como.
Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India)
In response to surveys conducted by us in June 2021, 81% of respondents indicated they have already been vaccinated and this is one of the key drivers of travel demand. While initial demand was restricted to our HNI/UHNI segment, what is noteworthy is that our teams are seeing interest from across segments and not merely from metros but also tier-II markets like Jaipur, Lucknow, Coimbatore, Mysuru, Chandigarh, Surat, Baroda, Nagpur, Patna, etc. Currently, the domestic favourites include Leh-Ladakh, Kashmir and Himachal with interest in international destinations like Dubai, Maldives, Bali, Thailand and Mauritius.
Nagsri Prasad Sashidhar, Chief Happiness Officer, NAGSRI (Mumbai)
The choices Indians have for holidaying internationally are limited at the moment with only Russia welcoming Indians. Personally, I have not been pushing clients to start travelling yet. I think, as responsible travel curators, we should wait a while for the wave to settle completely lest we break into 3.0. Once the borders do open, I will personally recommend that clients travel only after both the doses of the vaccine to be safe. I have been making bookings for clients who have made up their minds to travel. In fact, some of them are making bookings to Kashmir for November onwards.
Jay Bhatia, Director, Tulsidas Khimji Holidays
We are getting loads of queries from travellers who have completed both their vaccine doses. The challenge faced by us in India is that destinations where Indian visitors will be allowed do not have direct connections. Similarly, destinations to which airlines are carrying passengers, tourists are not permitted to enter. Holidays in India are also gaining momentum since mid-June this year. Kerala, Karnataka, Kashmir are on the top, other than local drivable destinations for weekend breaks. We are confident that with number of cases going down, a lot of international destinations are expected to open up for us. We expect an increase between mid-July to August 2021.
Anshu Tejuja, Managing Director, Ashoka Dream Holidays
It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and people are now overdone with quarantine and staying at home. They are just waiting to be able to step out and holiday. In fact, we have been getting queries from clients who are waiting to get out and willing to travel anywhere. Our clients are already travelling within India to whatever options are open and available. Once the borders open and India is off the red zone list, tourism will blossom. I truly hope even Covaxin gets approved by WHO for international travel since a lot of people have taken it; they were unaware of this and are now panicking.
Hasan Patel, Director, Tripjack
Global trends of leisure travel bouncing back after successful vaccination is very promising. As we look towards the west, travel consultants are seeing huge growth in booking requests as the nation’s vaccination drives continue. We have started observing similar hotel bookings and international sector growth in our 30,000 travel agent network in India. Russia, Serbia, Uzbekistan, Mexico, USA are seeing good bookings. Last year, when destinations like Maldives and Dubai had eased travel for Indians, there was a huge surge in demand. This year with the vaccine around, the demand is likely to be even higher.
Inputs by Hazel Jain