Revenge Tourism, a term used to describe bottled-up demand for travel after months of lockdown, is in fashion nowadays in countries around the world. The term originates from the Chinese concept of ‘revenge spending’ which was used to describe the explosion of consumer spending after China opened up to the world in the early 1980s.
India, too, witnessed a sudden rise in tourism in October after almost 6 months- April to September- of lull. From March 23 to June the country was under strict lockdown and from July to September the government opened up the country for economic activities in a phased manner. However, in the initial months of July to September, people avoided travelling due to Coronavirus fear. But, since September 15- which was the peak day for India- the number of cases have consistently declined and now people are packing their bags to drive to nearby tourist destinations.
“The lockdowns and restrictions only delayed travel. With confidence returning and the restrictions eased, we expect travel to increase over the next few months and, eventually, return to pre-Covid levels,” says Cleartrip.com’s Head of Corporate Strategy Aditya Agarwal.
Most of the service sector companies are still offering work from home facilities, and therefore, the occupancy to nearby tourist locations which have good resorts with workstations has gone up exponentially. Also, the duration of stay at these resorts has also shot up from 3-4 days to 6-7 days. “All leisure hotels that are within driving distance of metros are seeing over 80 per cent occupancy now, which is much higher than pre-Covid levels,” says Manav Thadani, co-founder of consultancy Hotelivate.
The people in the tourism and hospitality business expect the demand to shoot up in the coming months as more and more families give themselves some time for leisure. Most of the schools and colleges are still either closed or providing online classes and working parents have saved a lot of leaves amid the Coronavirus lockdown. So, all the pent up demand is to be reflected in the upcoming festive season, and the business houses expect to have the best quarter across the segments in October to December.
“There is a certain segment taking to travel with a vengeance (such as millennials, young, working professionals who are making the most of remote working). But families and senior citizens, who are at high risk, are choosing to stay put,” says Rakshit Desai, managing director of Flight Centre Travel Group’s India business.
The biggest source of revenue for luxury tourism and travel businesses that remains untapped are the people who used to travel to foreign destinations. Given the fact that international travel to Western countries like Europe and the United States remains unlikely as the number of cases is rising again in those countries, many families are expected to spend that money on domestic travel. Therefore, luxury tourism operators expect a big hike in business in the coming months. The nearby countries which are performing better on the Coronavirus front, like Sri Lanka and UAE, are also witnessing a surge in tourists from India.
On the domestic front, people are avoiding travel to distant locations and prefer adjoining locations at a drivable distance. “The adjoining State travel is another trend which is picking up. For instance, the Gujarat market is moving towards Mount Abu in Rajasthan while Delhi-NCR is moving towards Sariska in Rajasthan, or Mussoorie and Nainital in Uttarakhand,” says Vikram Lalvani, Chief of Sales, Revenue and Destinations, Sterling Holiday Resorts.
Countries like China aggressively promoted revenge tourism to boost the demand in post-Coronavirus lockdown, and this led to positive growth in Chinese economy in the second quarter. In India, the pent-up demand would be reflected in the third quarter as the country bent the curve after September 15. Revenge Tourism and Revenge Spending would give India Inc its best third quarter ever.