As COVID cases hit new lows, 59% citizens surveyed plan to travel during March-May months
- ● Of those who plan to travel, 52% citizens plan to visit family/friends while 22% may visit holiday destinations
- ● With risk of new BA.2 mutations growing globally, key is to follow COVID appropriate norms of mask and social distancing during travel
February 23, 2022, New Delhi: There has been a steady decline in the daily COVID cases in India, with the daily test positivity rate now below 2%, bringing hope of revival for the travel and tourism industry post Omicron-led 3rd wave of the pandemic. With no restrictions in domestic travel, citizens have started traveling again, which is evident with the daily air traffic crossing the 3 lakh passengers mark, indicating a sharp recovery with air travel now at 85% of pre-COVID levels.
It can be recalled that the survey conducted by LocalCircles in December 2021 had indicated that 58% of citizens said they plan to travel in the next 3 months. However, given the rise of Omicron in late December, many ended up rescheduling or cancelling their travel plan. Now given the decline in COVID cases in India, community discussions are once again indicating a rise in interest to travel.
To understand the travel plans of citizens from March to May 2022 and the type of travel they plan to undertake during the period, LocalCircles has conducted another national survey, which received close to 20,000 responses from people residing in 321 districts of India. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women. 47% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
59% citizens planning to travel during March-May though only 12% have made their bookings
As cases of COVID in India continue to decline, the first question asked citizens, “How do your travel plans look like for the coming 90 days (March-May)?” In response, 12% said “Have plans and have booked the tickets, stay, etc.”, 18% “Have plans to travel during these 3 months but have not booked tickets and stay yet”, 29% “Have plans to travel during these 3 months but have not booked tickets and stay yet and will only decide close to travel date”, 29% “Have no plans to travel during these 3 months”, and 12% are “Undecided, or couldn’t say”. On an aggregate basis, 59% of citizens are planning to travel during March-May, though only 12% have made their bookings. This question received 10,127 responses.
As Omicron cases reduce, enthusiasm for travel back to what it was pre-Omicron
In a similar survey conducted by LocalCircles in December 2021, 58% of citizens had said they plan to travel in the next 3 months. This percentage has increased by just 1% to 59% in February 2022, indicating that as cases of Omicron reduce, the level of enthusiasm for travel among citizens is back to what it was pre-Omicron.
Of those who plan to travel in March – May timeframe, highest number likely to visit family/friends and undertake other miscellaneous travel (non-holiday destination travel)
The following asked, “What kind of personal travel do you plan to undertake in the next 90 days (March-May)?” In response, 8% said “(1) Holiday destination”, 38% said “(2) Visit family and friends”, and 29% said “Other travel”. Breaking down the poll, 8% of citizens are planning “1 & 2” types of travel in the next 90 days, 3% said “2 & 3”, another 3% said “1 & 3”, and there were also 3% who plan all “1, 2 & 3” travels. 8% of citizens couldn’t say. The findings indicate that of those who plan to travel in March- May, the highest number is likely to visit family or friends and undertake other miscellaneous travel, for instance, non-holiday destination travel. This question received 9,550 responses.
If responses given by citizens are aggregated in the order of preferences of travel, 52% are planning to “Visit family and friends”, 38% are planning “Other travel”, and 22% plan to go to “Holiday destination”. Some of them are planning to undertake multiple types of travel.
Visiting family/friends and other miscellaneous travel on top of people’s list as compared to visiting holiday destinations in the next 3 months
While the above findings indicate a positive growth from an economic standpoint, experts are of the view that caution must be exercised to follow COVID protocols. While India has seen both Omicron variants i.e. BA.1 and BA.2, new mutations of BA.2 continue to be reported in different countries from around the world with special focus at this time on BA.2 H78Y. This particular mutation of Omicron sub variant BA.2 has been reported to be highly transmissible and causing severe disease in Denmark. While keeping an eye on global developments and following COVID norms of masking and social distancing, people may safely travel in the coming months but also be prepared to reschedule in case situation deteriorates. As much as it is important for people to stay aware and comply, the Government also needs to ensure it stays on top of global developments to manage risk and impose restrictions while also enforcing compliance to COVID norms at airports, railway stations, bus stands, tourist destinations.
Close to 20,000 responses from people residing in 321 districts of India. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women. 47% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform, and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.