Among all the industries trying to sustain the pandemic crisis, the tourism industry suffered the most over the past two years. The tourism industry is a significant contributor to a country’s economy in terms of GDP, foreign exchange earnings, and employment. During pandemic business travels, gatherings, and global meets are reduced to zoom calls, especially after the impact of the new strain. It also took a toll on all associated tourism sectors like hospitality, travel agencies, tour operators, and transportation services.
Traveller’s confidence has been badly affected by the ongoing crisis and uncertainty. According to a report by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), travellers have become overly cautious in their outlook as the pandemic has stopped their confidence levels to sub-zero. Restoring traveller confidence for utilising public transport is a significant challenge. The fall in traveller confidence has eventually led to a fall in demand and has affected tourism across a considerable period.
Also, the pandemic has impacted the way people approach travel-related decisions, aspects of which are likely to last for some time. Enhanced transparency around health and safety tops the list. A survey by Booking.com on the future of travel shows that 77 percent of Indians mentioned they would only book accommodations if it was clear what health and hygiene policies a destination had in place, with 71 percent saying they would avoid certain destinations altogether due to safety concerns.
UNWTO highlights the potential of domestic tourism as a way to boost economic and tourism recovery in destinations around the world. They explain that as global travel restrictions begin to ease, destinations all over the world are focusing on the growing domestic travel, with many offering promotions for travelers to meet and visit their own countries as an ideal opportunity for destinations and tourism businesses – in both developed and developing countries – to recover from the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the ongoing pandemic, new concepts have come up like workcations, staycations, and others because of which domestic travel has increased from the past few months. Festivals are becoming a major reason for people to travel within India. And now people have started travelling within India all over again. Some places are now safe to travel while others are still not that safe. People are now looking at unexplored and less crowded destinations, which naturally provides social distancing, for their next vacation. With very limited international tourism opportunities, travelers are looking at visiting never before heard of destinations within India. Popular leisure destinations are witnessing the usual traffic, but the unexplored markets are now the number one choice destination for travelers. Destinations like Uttarakhand, Himachal, Leh are trending among the youths.
Speaking about the potential of domestic tourism, Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said, “India has a robust domestic market which could soften the impact of COVID 19 as compared with nations that rely largely on international tourists. Post lockdown and as the control over the spread of pandemic is achieved, it is widely agreed that domestic tourism will recover faster than international tourism. Dekho Apna Desh is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism; the initiative is in line with the appeal of the Prime Minister made from the ramparts of Red Fort on 15th August 2019 in his speech asking every citizen to visit at least 15 destinations by the year 2022, to promote domestic tourism in India which is intended to enhance tourist footfalls in places of tourist interest so as to help develop the local economy.”
Hence, domestic tourism is increasing gradually in the country and will become more popular among people when compared to international destinations, as long as the situation doesn't improve fully.