We can’t really call it post-COVID travel yet, so we will stick to travel during COVID times for now. In this regard, Indians are doing a great job, and we are hopeful that it is done with the seriousness of the times. Lately, a new trend has surfaced among Indian travellers that is being calledRevenge Travel.
Travellers have not been able to strike their bucket lists in the last three months, which surely has created a strong urge for tourism. Also, hotels, resorts, car rental companies, tourism boards and every stakeholders involved in tourism have clearly understood that the future game plan will be only to majorly focus on safety, physical distancing and visible hygiene, and are working to come up with very advanced level of cleanliness and contactless services. With these new protocols and SOPs in place, the major requirement of the day is to instill confidence in the minds of travellers.
As per a report by McKinsey & Company, titled ‘The way back: What the world can learn from China’s travel restart after COVID-19’, people still want to travel. Many are calling this “revenge travel”: bookings for cruises in the United States—arguably one of tourism’s hardest-hit sectors—remain strong for 2021. The report states, “The travel sectors of countries that lack large domestic markets will recover more slowly and may open up first to travelers from nearby countries. We think that travel will return in other countries much as it has in China. The young will go first. Travel will involve nearby destinations. Economy travel will recover more quickly. And outdoor and nature-related destinations will be more popular than congested cities.”
The History of Revenge Tourism :
The term “Revenge Tourism” originates from the Chinese concept of ‘revenge spending.” Revenge spending is the behavior of consumers emerging from isolation, spending more money than they did before. What a revenging Irony!
The concept first appeared at the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a sociopolitical movement from 1966 until 1976 that drove the country into extreme poverty. Its end resulted in increased consumer demand in the 1980s, as the people’s sense of liberation stimulated their desire to compensate for the 10-year oppression. Similar behavior was noted after the 2007-2008 Financial crises and even the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. After facing tragedy, many people choose the “YOLO!” way of life till they again come back to equilibrium.
The Worldwide Phenomenon :
Currently, India has started numerous air bubbles with countries across the world, so international travel is slowly becoming a possibility while being restricted at the same time. Among the countries that India has collaborated with for the air bubble are the USA, the UK, Tanzania, Germany, Japan, France, Canada, and more.
Domestic travel is the best option for Indian travellers right now as trends show many heading out to the hills, which is a good place to distance yourself from crowds.
What Tourism Industry say about it?
Speaking about the new consumer behavior, Miguel Munoz, Chief Resorts Officer, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India, informs: “Tourism is expected to grow gradually as we move into the ‘new normal’ from a nationwide lockdown that kept families indoors. After this experience, everyone would need time to relax and rejuvenate themselves which is why families are already working on a wish-list of where they would like to travel. In fact, this could almost be thought of as ‘Revenge Tourism’ which refers to an overindulgence in travel therapy. This desire for leisure holidays to seek serenity will spike in India, as people emerge from quarantine.”
Also, the once hot favourite destinations for leisure travel will no longer be a major crowd puller in the post COVID-19 era. Some experts feel that revenge tourism will happen, but it won’t be immediate.
Mahindra Holidays has reported that their resorts in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra are all sold out during the weekends. Also, as compared to September, the hotel occupancies have shot up to 80% on weekends and 60% on weekdays.At the same time, Chalet Hotels is experiencing a boost of 20-30%, as compared to pre-Covid figures, in its room occupancy in metro cities, as a result of Vande Bharat Mission that brought about huge business for high-end hotels. The hotel’s Vice President reported that real estate and infrastructure projects around Mumbai and other metros have caused companies’ staff to stay in their hotels on account of containment norms.
A similar wave of optimism has been noticed in flight bookings as well. As per Cleartrip.com, flight booking levels have gone up to 40%, significant growth in comparison to pre-Covid levels of 20% and 30% in August and September respectively.
Are Hotels Prepared For This?
Be it the State Governments or Hotels, each one is leaving no stone unturned and offering attractive incentives to drive-in a large number of tourists from all over the country. These entities are ensuring that hygiene is maintained at all times and the same message gets communicated to its guests.
The month of September saw the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board offering heavy discounts of 25% on hotel bookings under its Tourist Incentive Coupon scheme. Similarly, the Kerala Government has made all tourist attractions accessible except the beaches, keeping safety measures in check to prevent the spread of the virus. Goa is also welcoming a number of local tourists. However, the government has not yet allowed entry of foreign charter planes.
Future of Tourism
There has been a lot of demand which the industry is witnessing, But with unknown factors to be considered, there are major challenges which needs to be addressed. The general perception now is that we need to live with covid-19.
The biggest and foremost challenge while reopening the business will be the implementation of the new standards, which will require developing a new set of skills around the management of cleaning, disinfection, and inspection. The firms will also need to create isolation rooms for employees who experience symptoms while at work.
Players feel that the industry will start witnessing growth from the next fiscal year. Also, maintaining the utmost level of safety and hygiene will the core for business ahead.
Experts believe that as soon as a vaccine is in place or the economy recovers on the back of revenge tourism, including hotel stocks in one’s portfolio can be a good move. But investors need to exercise caution and sticking to well-established brands would help than risking in lesser-known ones.
At the same time, one may avoid keeping the hotel stocks as one’s core portfolio. Instead, don’t exceed your portfolio allocation beyond 25% to be on the safer side.