In 2019, India attracted 10.5 million foreign visitors; 5 million NRIs travelled back home to be with family and friends; 1.8 billion Indians travelled within the country for holidays, pleasure and leisure; 26 million Indians travelled overseas for tourism…. India has an estimated 53,000 travel agents, 115,000 tour operators, 15,000 adventure companies, 911,000 tourist transporters, 53,000 hospitality companies and five lakh restaurants … the industry employs an estimated 3.8 crore people. And these statistics do not include numbers for aviation and starred hotels which are not in the medium & small enterprises count.
Let us look at 25 possible trends in the near future, each important in its own way:
- Country borders may not be open to all for some time.
- Some geographies may become no-no for a while.
- Business travel will decrease significantly.
- MICE market will go into coma for a while.
- Mega events will become less attractive.
- Group travel will shrink.
- Leisure travel too will dwindle for some time.
- Lesser number of students may travel overseas to study.
- Religious tourism will drop.
- ‘Mature’ travelers, read retirees, will be most drastically impacted.
- Tourism may look inwards, be more domestic directed.
- Destination weddings may suffer a serious setback.
- School trips will dry up.
- Nature will triumph.
- Air travel will become more expensive.
- Airports will be less crowded.
- Luxury hotels may come cheaper.
- Cruises may be shunned for a while.
- Road-trips may find greater favour.
- ‘Hometown’ tripping will a big segment.
- Food & Beverage consumption will be impacted.
- ‘Adventure’ in food & travel may take a nosedive.
- Experiences will prevail over the physical.
- Shopping will suffer serious setback.
- Customer will have more choice, more flexibility.
The 5 key factors, however, in the overall travel scenario that will drive all of the above trends will be:
- Safety : both perception and reality will matter
- Health : government may introduce mandatory checks
- Hygiene : There will be no compromise on this
- Brands : Those that will stand for quality will win
- Value: Good value for good money will be the new mantra
The business may take anything between 9 to 24 months to start climbing back to previous peaks. Till then the headwinds will be strong and severe. Some will succeed, some will struggle, some will perish.
- By Sandeep Goyal