As Omicron embarks on world travel, domestic traffic is getting over it for now
Unlike how the two waves of Covid-19 in India impacted travel and flights – domestic and international segments saw a noticeable dry up in demand during both waves – the spread of the Omicron variant has a varied impact on travel patterns.
Reports from airlines and several online travel agencies indicate a continued increase in demand for domestic air travel through 2022, but there is a noticeable slowdown in international travel sentiment – to and from India.
The many restrictions imposed not only by India, but also by other jurisdictions, are one of the main reasons for the low expectations regarding international travel.
âWe have seen a temporary drop of around 20% (compared to company expectations) in international bookings at this time. Countries like UK, France, US and Singapore are affected due to the restrictions and concerns with the new variant, âRikant Pittie, co-founder of Easy Trip Planners, told The Sunday Express, adding that most of these travelers did not cancel but postpone their travel plans by due to concerns about the new variant.
A senior executive at a national low-cost airline said the reluctance was due to experiences with previous travel bans.
âThousands of people, especially NRIs, who returned home the last time were unable to return to their country of employment. They came to India and got stuck here because a country like Singapore or Saudi Arabia would not allow them to enter without rigorous quarantines. This is why the international demand is lower than what was initially expected for Christmas, New Year, etc. Â», Declared the executive.
Singapore, for example, announced a freeze on ticket sales for flights under its quarantine-free travel program in the city-state from Dec. 23 to Jan. 20. As part of this program, Singapore has allowed entry without quarantine from some countries, including India, to fully vaccinated and tested passengers.
Demand for domestic travel, however, continues to be robust despite an increase in the number of Covid-19s. Prahlad Krishnamurti, Commercial Director of Flipkart-owned online travel agency Cleartrip, said: âWe are seeing a slight increase in international flight cancellations towards the end of the year amid conversations about the new variant. However, domestic flight bookings continue to be on a healthy growth path. In 2022, the trends for domestic flights seem very strong compared to 2021. The metropolitan destinations are on the way to exceed the figures of 2021. The leisure destinations like Goa, Chandigarh, Jaipur show a very strong increase compared to the figures of 2021 . “
The demand for domestic travel, which started to gain momentum from the festival season in October-November, continued through the year-end holiday season and is expected to increase in the future, as This is evidenced by the increase in search queries for leisure destinations.
Rajnish Kumar, Co-Founder and CPTO Group, ixigo, said, âThe appetite for domestic travel is always strong for the holiday season. We saw a 10-15% year-over-year increase in search queries for popular national leisure destinations for year-end travel, including Goa, Jaipur, Srinagar and Udaipur. Demand for wedding-related travel also increased in November and December, with people returning to the trend of destination weddings. Along with the deterioration of air quality in metropolitan cities like Delhi, we are also seeing a trend towards’ escape tourism ‘where an increasing level of pollution is pushing tourists to flock to destinations like Goa’.
Additionally, a LocalCircles survey found that despite the Omicron risk, 58% of respondents in India still plan to travel within the next three months. But even though more than half of those polled plan to travel until March, only 18% have made reservations to travel by one of three modes of transportation – air, rail and road.