After a year of strong demand, Covid comes back to haunt travel industry

If 2022 was the year of ‘work from anywhere’, 2023 will be the ‘bucket list’ year, with Indian travellers are more likely to tick-off dream destinations in their bucket lists, say industry experts.

However, industry players remain cautiously optimistic amid looming fears of a new covid-19 variant and inflationary pressures.

The year 2022 started with international travel bans, inter-State travel restrictions, and covid-19 protocols. A lot has changed since then with the gradual easing of restrictions, but rising fuel prices, higher airfares, skewed margins, and wavering customer sentiments have kept the travel industry on edge. 

In 2022, domestic travel was close to 80-90 per cent of that of pre-covid period, while the international travel segment was nearly 70-80 per cent of the pre-Covid-levels, per multiple players that businessline has spoken to. 

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“Travelers are back with a vengeance, boosted by strong pent-up demand, improved confidence levels and the lifting of restrictions in an increasing number of destinations. Traveling with family and friends in large groups is also picking up with the global relaxation of travel restrictions,” explained Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO & Co-founder, ixigo.

Analytics firm Sciatic Solutions’ data show a rise in intercity travel demand of 180–200 per cent over the previous year has underpinned the industry’s optimism, especially in the travel-by-bus segment. The Indian traveller is better prepared than ever to explore destinations within the country, thanks to work from anywhere that gave people flexibility in choosing a work place of their choice, a company spokesperson said.

In the air-travel segment, Indian travellers weren’t deterred by higher prices, with the average price for a return domestic economy flight was approximately ₹15,840—an increase of about 52 per cent compared to 2019. A return economy flight to Asia was approximately ₹36,834, an increase of about 59 per cent, and a return economy long-haul flight was about ₹80,006—an increase of about 59 per cent, Kayak’s data showed.

Indians showcased a desire to experience new destinations and tick-off destinations in their travel bucket lists. Travelers were also keen on bigger, grander, and more adventurous escapes. 

“Spiritual hubs and cultural destinations like Varanasi saw more than 50 per cent rise in search queries for train travel this year.  Tirumala-Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh witnessed one of the highest comebacks with more than 200 per cent increase in train search queries for summer travel this year,” ixigo said.

Industry players are ending the year on a bittersweet note. While they are forecasting that travel industry will continue to be on an upswing, they also foresee that fears of a new Covid variant and inflationary pressures will continue to be a concern in 2023. 

Digital travel platform Agoda’s Family Travel Trend survey 2022 reveals that four out of five travellers will take a vacation with immediate family in the next 12 months.

Spending pattern

Research from reveals that nearly 75 per cent of Indian travellers will continue to prioritise their vacations, but will be seeking more bang for their buck, with 69 per cent planning to be even thriftier than in the past on their travels.

Recent consumer research conducted by found that two-thirds of Indian travellers said that they were willing to cut back on day-to-day expenses to compensate for travel expenses.

Despite optimism and growth outpacing pre-Covd-levels, 77 per cent of travellers expressed concerns about international borders are being closed while they are overseas. 

Travellers from most recently opened markets, including South Korea and Japan, are most concerned, in comparison to those from markets that quickly removed border restrictions including the US, Australia and India, said Agoda


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