At least until the beginning of 2020, life was normal. We had to go out to work, we got to enjoy ourselves with our pals by going out for a movie or have a wild night of partying. We could set out on adventures and live life to our heart’s content. Never did we anticipate all of these simple pleasures of life being snatched away from us. But it has, thanks to the Covid pandemic.
The nature of this pandemic is such that the best way to combat it is by practicing social isolation and distancing. For this reason, the entire world went into lockdown. This changed the way our world functioned. But for the most part, we learned how to adjust. Our houses replaced office spaces, Netflix replaced theatres, takeaways and apps replaced restaurants. However, there’s one industry that couldn’t adapt as quickly to the lockdown: the travel and tourism industry. Wondering how has Covid affected travel? Read on.
Given the nature of this industry, it was the first to be impacted and also the worst hit. Fear of contracting the disease as well as stringent lockdown norms meant that fewer people were out traveling than in the years before. All around the world were huge numbers of flight ticket and hotel reservation cancelations.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization has estimated a 70% decline in international tourist arrivals around the world from January to October 2020 (compared to the previous year). Those who depend on tourism for their livelihood have already been affected and millions have lost their jobs too. In addition to this, over 120 million people are at risk of unemployment as well. It has been a bleak situation worldwide.
The Indian travel and hospitality industry wasn’t spared either. It is observed that hotel reservations in India were less than 20-30% as compared to the pre-Covid times. Even the number of flights has been reduced substantially. All in all, the projected loss for the travel and tourism industry is over INR 5 lakh crore, according to a study by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Hotelivate.
With this mighty blow thanks to the Covid pandemic, this industry was first hit, the worst hit, and would also be the slowest to recover.
As we mentioned above, the travel and tourism industry couldn’t adapt itself to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The stringent lockdown norms coupled with the traveler’s apprehension about contracting Covid proved to be even more nails in the industry’s coffin. But during the downward trend of cases in late 2020, this and the urgent need to revive the economy have pushed the government to start opening up businesses and tourist places as well (before the second wave, that is!)
This doesn’t mean that everything has gone back to the way it was before Covid. Now what we have is called ‘the new normal’ – how to live with Covid until a cure is found. Here are the ways in which traveling has changed in the new normal in India:
Also read: What To Keep In Mind For A Safe Holiday?
Gone are the days when you could travel in and out with little concern (we hope not, though!). Quite a lot of interstate and international travel restrictions have been put in place. Arriving from abroad would normally mean a mandatory 14-day quarantine for most states in India. While domestic travel has fewer restrictions and quarantine may be avoided in some places, you’ll still be tested for symptoms.
Depending on which state you’re from and going to, the rules may differ. Interstate traveling by railways or road is a lot less complex, but you’ll still be tested for symptoms.
In addition to these processes, there’s a lot more paperwork as well. You may need to get a Covid test done before traveling or register yourself in the state’s Covid portal. Also, you may have to install the Aarogya Setu, an app developed for contact tracing and self-assessment, on your smartphone.
During the early months of the Covid lockdown, everyone decided to bar themselves in the comfort of their houses and wait out the pandemic. Sitting at home got pretty old pretty quickly, and when things started opening up, people started rushing out (We don’t recommend going out just yet!). Why is everyone going out now? The answer is ‘Revenge Travel’. Sitting at home has caused a lot of pent-up desire to travel, and when they get a chance, they take it!
However, it’s not completely irrational. So long as social distancing and Covid safety rules are followed, it’s possible to travel safely. Travelers are now reluctant to go long distances on holiday. The new trend now is ‘backyard tourism’ – people prefer to vacation in places that are a short drive away. Also, people will look for places that are offbeat in an attempt to avoid crowds of tourists. This means that rural tourism would be preferred over city tourism.
Hotels and resorts were badly hit by the Covid pandemic. But when things started opening up and with the changing traveler behavior, they’re adapting to the traveler’s preferences in the new normal. Travelers have become a lot more conscious about Covid safety. That and the new SOPs for accommodations have led to hotels and resorts being Covid ready with staff ready to take on emergencies.
[caption id="attachment_2059" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] Credits: gostops.com[/caption]
As backyard tourism has been showing an increasing trend, hotels and resorts that are located a couple of hours away from major cities are in more demand. On the other hand, MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) tourism, which typically involves a lot of people, took a significant hit due to the lockdown.
Many people simply want to escape the four walls of their house and live somewhere more scenic for a couple of weeks. Or they want to do the same but not take time off work as well. The Covid pandemic has resulted in the increase of workation and staycations. This is why many hotels and resorts have adapted to provide these services.
Covid has affected travel in particular, in addition to everything in the world. Things may not be back to what it was for a very long time, but so long as you follow the Covid safety norms, you may be able to travel in this new normal. While this would give you a much-needed break from the monotony of the lockdown, it’ll also support the much-affected tourism industry.
Getting the Covid vaccine in India is not mandatory. But it’s recommended to protect oneself and those around them from contracting and spreading the disease.
There’s little evidence that Covid-19 can spread through feces. So you need not worry about it.
No, the vaccine centers arrange for limited on-the-spot registration slots. But it’s recommended to go through the online registration process to book a slot in advance for a hassle-free experience.
There’s no evidence that Covid-19 can survive and be transmitted through drinking water.
Smoking involves contact of fingers (which may be contaminated by the virus) with the mouth, which greatly increases the risk of infection. Also, sharing smoking paraphernalia (cigarettes, hookah, pipes, etc) makes you even more vulnerable to infection.
The Covid virus is known to be capable of spreading in all areas, including places with hot and humid climates. This is why you should be taking the Covid precautions seriously, wherever you are.
Consumption of red and fatty meats, butter, full-fat dairy products, oil, lard, etc are to be reduced. As far as possible, avoid trans fats and highly processed foods. Replace them with foods that are minimally processed and contain fiber.
Yes, the Union Health Ministry has stated that you can take the Covid vaccine three months after recovery.
Yes, with one mobile number, you and three of your family members can register for the Covid vaccine in the CoWIN portal.
Yes, the Covid-19 virus dies quickly when it’s exposed to UV light. On the other hand, the virus thrives at room temperature with humidity of less than 50%.