Business

‘Consumer confidence, pace of jabs key to travel recovery’

Even as the travel industry is getting back on track after taking a severe hit due to the second wave of the pandemic, the industry’s full recovery is dependent on speedy vaccination and building consumer confidence, a senior Booking.com official said.

“We are cautiously looking up,” Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager - South Asia at Booking.com, told The Hindu. “Travel has and will continue to play an important role in people’s lives. With vaccine roll-outs in India, we’ve witnessed pent-up demand in travel in the past few months. We are seeing a little bit of travel optimism, especially after the second wave of COVID,” she added.

Demand is now returning and even though some restrictions continue, people have started to travel and this trend would continue to grow if there were no fresh waves, Ms. Mehrotra said, adding that even though the company was seeing some initial cheer in the market, there was a long way to go for recovery.

Vaccination, she added, will play a key role in this. “In India, around 20% of people have been vaccinated and there is a long way to go.”

Domestic travel has been the driving force for Booking.com in India and globally, too. For domestic and leisure travel, the company is seeing ‘strong’ growth even compared with 2019 levels in India, along with an uptick in international travel. “We are seeing searches for destinations like Maldives, U.K., France.” She, however, added that corporate travel might not return as quickly as leisure travel is coming back.

“People are still looking at leisurely getaways. Domestic destinations such as Leh, Manali, Udaipur, Lonavala, continued to be in demand over the past few months. There is still a lot of enthusiasm for road trips, but now we’ve seen a healthy mix. For example, people are now also travelling from Delhi to Goa,” she said.

As to when the sector would start hiring again, Ms. Mehrotra said it was hard to predict when employment would pick up. Pointing out that 10% of the workforce is employed in travel and tourism, she said while technology would not replace them there can be a shift in the kinds of jobs with changing business models.

“It’s hard to predict how that piece will start to shape up once things become normal... you will still need people on the ground... I believe in opportunistic growth. For example, while [it is true that] a lot of people are losing jobs, there is a lot of demand for different kinds of work (like delivery boys)... Sustainability as a segment will see a rise...Alternative industries will start to look up and there will be employment shifts,” she said.


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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:52:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/consumer-confidence-pace-of-jabs-key-to-travel-recovery/article36543391.ece

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