Tourism sector sees signs of revival after the knock-down

COVID-19 had dealt a body blow to the sector

Published - June 15, 2020 02:17 am IST - Bengaluru

The Karnataka Tourism Forum has said that the government nod to re-open the sector after over two months of lockdown has brought huge respite to the industry.

The Karnataka Tourism Forum has said that the government nod to re-open the sector after over two months of lockdown has brought huge respite to the industry.

The tourism sector has had a slow start since the Centre allowed opening on Monday, having missed out on a big ticket holiday period that is usually the summer vacation. This year, the holiday period coincided with the lockdown enforced to contain COVID-19.

Having lost two peak holiday months, the sector is seeing a slow start with tourists trickling in. The Karnataka Tourism Forum (KTF) said the government nod for the sector to re-open after over two months of lockdown brought huge respite to the industry that is also a big avenue for employment. The few days so far, the forum said, have shown ‘encouraging signs of revival’ in leisure hotels and resorts, and the first weekend is seeming more optimistic.

Seeking change

“The frustration of having been locked down at home is making people now seek a change of scenario and drive to leisure destinations close to their cities. Kabini, Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru are seeing traction as far as bookings are concerned. Resorts have seen 30% to 35% occupancies, which is assuring, considering these were down to zero,” KTF president Sanjar Imam told The Hindu.

He also said the hotels have had ample time to prepare for reopening and have sensitised and trained their staff on SOPs as guided by the State government. Some hotels have also experimented with the pre-purchase model at discounted prices and have had encouraging to overwhelming responses, he added.

“It is early days yet and there is euphoria towards opening up, so we will need to see how it plays out and if the booking trends sustain. Hopefully, precautions are practised strictly by both service providers and customers and one doesn’t see an escalation in infections. Karnataka has had a relatively low number of cases compared to other States and the hope is it will continue to stay this way. This will keep the travel industry optimistic,” Mr. Imam said.

Travel not priority

The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) decided to open properties in a phase-wise manner, but has not seen much traction so far, though Jungle Lodges saw a good response.

“It is slowly picking up, but occupancy is very poor. We have received about 30 bookings only and the occupancy rate is less than 10%. We expect travel and tourism to pick up slowly, but again it will be directly dependent on the spread of the virus in the State. We also need to understand that travel is not a priority for anyone right now,” explained Kumar Pushkar, MD, KSTDC.

‘In city travel’

Hotel chain OYO said they anticipate demand to slowly increase in States like Karnataka, and pointed to the trend of in-city travel. Higher hygiene standards, minimal-touch services, affordability and enhanced credibility top the list of consumer requirements.“We have seen a positive response to our hotels reopening with a significant part of this demand being driven by metro cities, including Bengaluru, Gurugram, Noida, Kolkata and Hyderabad. With most people opting for personal means of transport, bookings trends so far show guests’ preference towards same-city travel in these cities. We have seen an uptake in travellers opting for in-city staycations. A majority of the bookings are being made by SMEs and business travellers who are travelling inter-State to procure goods and services as businesses reopen under Unlock 1.0.,” said an OYO spokesperson.

OYO also said the near future could see a boost in road trips and domestic tourism in the State with even ‘habitually international travellers’ turning to domestic tourist hubs such as Mysuru, Hampi, Karwar and Chikkamagaluru, as well as go on pilgrimages to Dharmasthala, Gokarna and Udupi.

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