'50 pc Indians plan to travel in Apr-Jun; containing COVID will be difficult if a quarter do so'

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Mumbai, Apr 12 (PTI) As many as 50 per cent of the respondents in India plan to travel during the April-June period, and if even a quarter of them actually travels, it will be difficult to curb the COVID-19 spread as the country sees the second wave of the pandemic, according to a survey.

Many also made their bookings in February and March this year after no travel for over a year due to the emergence of the pandemic last year, according to the survey conducted by online social platform LocalCircles.

The survey, based over 25,000 responses from citizens from across 305 districts, covered three questions — What kind of travel do people plan to undertake during this summer season (April-June); whether they have booked their travel for this summer; and what will be their primary mode of travel this summer.

'In response to the first question, 17 per cent said 'holiday destination', 24 per cent said 'visit family and friends', and 9 per cent said 'plan to do both the above',' LocalCircles said in a statement.

The aggregate responses from citizens surveyed indicate that as many as 50 per cent of citizens plan to travel during April-June 2021. This question in the survey received 8,624 responses.

'This is again a major area of concern given the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in India in the past 30 days, and if 25 per cent of Indians do proceed with their travel plans during summer, it could be extremely difficult to contain COVID-19 in India,' it said.

Summer travel may mean taking a flight and train/rental cars for the upper-middle class or middle-class families either seeing family/friends or visiting a holiday destination. However, many will be frequently travelling by sleeper class in trains or taking a bus to see their parents or grandparents, as per the statement.

Given the rise in COVID-19 cases, with the national daily caseload going up by 10 times in the last one month, people travelling could cause significant deterioration to the already-grim COVID-19 situation in India, it said.

The survey also found that those who have booked may likely travel unless airlines, hotels, travel portals/agents accept cancellations and refund their money.

The platform said it has been tracking citizens' travel plans since September last year. The February 2021 survey had indicated that a whopping 60 per cent of citizens planned to travel this summer.

With caseloads rising, LocalCircles decided to conduct another survey in the past three days of March to understand how the rising caseloads had impacted people's travel plans, it said.

About 25 per cent of the respondents said they have already done booking for the proposed travelling, while 12 per cent of citizens said they have 'not booked yet but will book soon'.

The percentage of citizens saying they 'will not be travelling and staying home' has increased from 29 per cent in February to 45 per cent in the latest survey.

The comparative findings of the two surveys indicate that though some citizens have put their summer travel plans on hold, a whopping 50 per cent still plan to travel.

According to the survey, as many as 38 per cent of those who were planning to book summer travel are likely to put their plans on hold.

The percentage of citizens who had voted for 'had plans to book but putting it on hold for the time being' has increased from nil in the February survey, to 38 per cent in the latest survey.

According to the survey, citizens who voted for 'Not booked yet but will book soon' has decreased from 37 per cent to 12 per cent, while citizens who voted for 'will do at last minute and no need to book' have also decreased from 43 per cent to 25 per cent. PTI IAS HRS hrs