Over the last few months, the way people travel has changed a lot. While a major chunk of the year was spent in lockdown and people had to cancel their trips, now restrictions are slowly being lifted and safe travel is being permitted once again — within the country and outside.
But the pandemic is still far from over. And while the world has already started to change, travellers have started accommodating these changes, too. From seeking a higher level of travel security and exploring doorstep delights, to turning work-from-home into an opportunity to live somewhere else in the world, digital travel company Booking.com has combined research from more than 20,000 travellers across 28 countries and territories, including India, to reveal nine predictions for the future of travel — in the coming year and beyond.
Even in the travel hiatus, the desire to explore has not been dampened, the survey found. In the recent lockdowns, 63 per cent of Indian travellers reported being excited about travelling again, while 63 per cent indicated they are more appreciative of travel now and will not take it for granted in the future. Travellers also report that they plan to take a similar number of trips both domestically and internationally in the 12 months after travel restrictions are lifted in their country, as they did in the year pre-pandemic year (March 2019 – March 2020).
Additionally, our time at home has made us want to see the world even more, with 65 per cent of Indian respondents asserting a heightened desire to see even more of the world, and 49 per cent wanting to travel more in the future to make up for time lost in 2020. The survey found that over 50 per cent of Indian travellers intend to plan a trip to make up for a milestone celebration missed in the pandemic (such as a birthday or a wedding), while 54 per cent intend to re-book a trip they had to cancel.
Safety and hygiene
Travelling will come with its challenges, but Indian travellers are ready to take them on. While 86 per cent of the respondents will take more precautions and will look to the travel industry to help them gear up for this new normal, 77 per cent will only book a particular accommodation which has clear health and hygiene policies in place; 79 per cent favour accommodations that have antibacterial and sanitizing products.
As such, while 71 per cent of Indian travellers will avoid certain destinations, 78 per cent expect tourist attractions to allow for social distancing measures.
Working remotely has irreversibly entered the mainstream, with people looking to take longer trips in the future that effectively combine work and leisure. No longer confined to five days a week in an office and desperate for a change of scene, the survey predicts we will see a significant rise in ‘workation’. As such, while 68 per cent of Indian travellers have already considered working from a different destination, 63 per cent would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely.
Familiarity of domestic destinations
As per the survey, 52 per cent of Indian travellers still plan to travel within their own country in the medium term (7-12 months’ time), with 41 per cent planning to do so in the longer term (in over a year’s time). When it comes to local travel, 49 per cent of travellers plan to explore a new destination within their home region/country and 50 per cent will take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of their home country. Locally or not, 57 per cent of Indian travellers intend to travel somewhere they’ve already been previously, for the familiarity.
The coronavirus may have halted our 2020 travel plans, but it has also given some much-needed resting time to the world’s most popular tourist destinations. And now 70 per cent of Indian travellers want to travel more sustainably in the future. We can, therefore, expect to see a more eco-conscious approach in 2021, as the pandemic has heightened people’s awareness about their impact on the environment and local communities.
While 78 per cent of Indian travellers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options, travellers will consequently visit alternative destinations in a bid to avoid travelling during the peak season (54 per cent) and also to avoid overcrowding (49 per cent).
In addition, 46 per cent of Indian travellers feel nostalgic looking at old photographs from previous vacations; this can help them decide on a future trip. Furthermore, 70 per cent of Indian travellers will be more price conscious when it comes to searching and planning a trip in the future, and 64 per cent are more likely to hunt down promotions and savings, behaviours that may last years.
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