Travel stopped, reset and restarted again with renewed vigour. Many travellers who were largely confined to their homes for months have started to plan their travel to destinations on their bucket list. For an industry that is well accustomed to sudden changes, the pandemic brought a seismic disruption that left many wondering about the future of travel. Despite the grave impact on the industry revenues, especially on tourism- dependent economies, there has been a dedicated pursuit towards stabilisation and recovery. Countries have steadily opened their borders for tourists, ensuring that diligent protocols are followed as we learn to coexist with Covid-19 being a part of our lives.
Travel recovery has been redefined globally with prominent trends emerging such as improving traveller confidence, understanding and adapting to new travel choices and drivers of demand, increased emphasis on flexibility and most importantly, pledging to build resilient, inclusive, and sustainable tourism. As travellers resume their journeys wanting to explore the world once again, it is important to understand how the pandemic has altered the way people think and want to experience travel. We tried to decode this with our inaugural ‘Travel Confidence Index’ which was carried out across 11 markets in the APAC region, with the objective of diving into the current mindset of the average traveller, the desires, and motivations that drive travel decisions in an endemic Covid-19 world. The study also captured the extent to which travellers were willing to make sustainable travel choices.
Indians emerged as APAC’s most confident travellers with 86 per cent of Indian travellers intending to travel in the next 12 months. The Index also revealed an appetite for sustainable travel amongst Indian travellers – the highest in APAC with 82 per cent of Indian travellers willing to pay more if it means they can make more sustainable travel choices. The research, which polled more than 11,000 travellers from eleven countries and territories across the Asia Pacific, combined with the proprietary data and insights as a digital travel leader, offers insights into the region’s travel confidence.
In India, we believe in ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ i.e., ‘Guests are equivalent to God’, and Indians do take this phrase seriously. As high as 84 per cent of Indians have shown confidence in their market welcoming international travellers while 87 per cent are comfortable with the reopening of international borders. Despite a few Covid-19 restrictions, travel optimism continues to remain high with 70 per cent of Indian travellers accepting anticipated travel disruptions and 78 per cent considering leisure travel as important while keeping their overall health and safety in mind. 84 per cent of Indian travellers stated that they are confident about their country’s preparedness to receive international travellers safely.
Preference for domestic travel is set to continue. As a testament to Indians’ love for exploring destinations closer to home, the research revealed that 87 per cent of Indian travellers are likely to travel domestically, even though international travel restrictions have been completely lifted. More than half (58 per cent) display their preference for travelling with their family.
Out of the 11 markets polled across the APAC region, India once again topped the index in terms of our intent to travel sustainably, with 93 per cent of respondents agreeing on the importance of making sustainable travel decisions followed by Vietnam (83 per cent) and China (77 per cent). The intent is backed by action as 82 per cent of Indian travellers are willing to pay more if it offers them the option of making more sustainable travel choices.
The travel sector is one of the foremost drivers of economic progress, global connectivity, and the livelihood of some of the populations and businesses that are most vulnerable, and hardest hit, by the pandemic. Thus, supporting growth and country recovery will help global economic recovery, build resilience, and support all of those who depend on this sector for work.
Ritu Mehrotra is Regional Commercial Director APAC at Booking.com