Coronavirus pandemic turns travel plans upside down! Check how cruises, hotels, flights are impacted

Swapna Raghu Sanand
However, this time around nearly 90% bookings of hotels and flights for the peak time have been cancelled.

Coronavirus outbreak hits Indian travellers and their travel plans in 2020! The FICCI Survey and Report – Impact of COVID-19 on Indian economy puts together significant takeaways for Indian travellers, particularly as the world is witnessing a crisis like never before that has directly impacted the way people choose to travel. Cruise bookings, for instance, were becoming popular with Indian travellers. However, the FICCI report indicates that cruise bookings for countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have registered considerable cancellations already. From the report, the indications are gloomy as the tourism industry expects the situation to further deteriorate in March and in the forthcoming summer season i.e. April-June. Usually, the number of Indian travellers to both domestic and international destinations peak during the months of March and April. However, this time around nearly 90% bookings of hotels and flights for the peak time have been cancelled.

Cruise bookings for destinations such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have also been cancelled by travellers in huge numbers. According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the hotel, aviation and travel sector together may incur loss of about Rs 8,500 crore due to travel restrictions imposed on foreign tourists by India for a month. The message is clear: negative impact on jobs across the industry.

Coronavirus impact on travel and hospitality
Most Indians love to travel and plan ahead for their summer vacations with family friends. This year, the scenario looks grim. Taking into account the travel restrictions placed on foreign tourists in India, IATO has raised concerns that the country’s aviation, travel and hospitality industry may altogether incur a loss of Rs 8500 crore! Of course, there is no doubt ‘safety first’ is the global mantra right now. So, in that sense, travel can come much later.India’s travel and hospitality industry has taken a major hit, given the large scale cancellation of travel plans by domestic and foreign tourists.

Coronavirus concerns: Big drop in inbound and outbound tourism!
A significant drop in inbound and outbound tourism since January 2020 has now raised serious concerns for all segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. Notably, the MICE segment has been hit the most, according to the FICCI report on Impact of COVID19 on global economy. Take a look at some of the major events that announced last minute cancellations – Mobile World Congress, Google I/0 and Facebook’s F8 event, among others. A cursory glimpse of these cancellations is enough to figure out that the loss is huge.

Typically, in India, the annual summer vacations begin in the forthcoming season starting from April to June. During the summer vacation, Indian travellers to domestic and international destinations tend to peak. This time, Indian travellers are bound to be extra cautious about traveling or making summer vacation plans. Already, the FICCI report cites that there have been around 90 per cent bookings of flights and hotels for the peak time have been cancelled in large numbers.

Coronavirus outbreak affects travel across the globe

Around the world, travellers are likely to have lesser ‘flight’ options now within the country and outside. For instance, Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand have reworked their domestic schedules after being advised by their governments, as per a report by Global News Canada. The same report has cited that Emirates has issued a statement that it would stop most passenger flights this week and the airline is set to cut wages by half due to the coronavirus impact on travel. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways cut its passenger capacity by around 96 per cent as government restrictions on travel make flight operations difficult.

Egypt, which ranks as one of Africa’s most visited tourist destinations, was the first African country to confirm a COVID-19 case and also the first country in the continent to record a death. In Africa, the most number of deaths so far are from Burkina Faso. Other countries such as Algeria, Morocco are also reporting an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. In South Africa, the province of Gauteng has confirmed more than half of the country’s coronavirus cases till date. Latest reports from ‘The South African’ show that the province is taking extra measure to curb the spread.

While the signs are disturbing and alarming globally, the urgent need of the hour is to curb any possibility of travellers’ movement that can further spread the coronavirus pandemic to those geographical regions where the spread is currently well-contained and under control.