The joint Managing Director of Creative Travel, Rajeev Kohli, has been playing an important role in SITE (Society of Incentive Travel Executives) and other bodies, as well as recently speaking at the IATO (Indian Association of Tour Operators) convention in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, where he offered some interesting suggestions to face these crucial times. Rajeev’s father, Ram Kohli, founded Creative Travel and himself has headed IATO, PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), and other organizations in the travel and tourism industry.
Rajeev has been utilizing these COVID days to experience more of his own home country. He has been rafting, visiting cultural attractions, and basically doing things he did not seem to have the time for before. It is his prediction that everyone just has to get used to living with this coronavirus as more variants keep coming in to play. He believes travel will begin to creep back up this year, while adding that the government must also realize that the loss of revenue is at a point where it is too much for those still fortunate enough to be in business to bear. He said:
2022 will be a better year than the one before, simply because it has to be.
Of course, not all those involved in the troubled travel industry have identical or even similar views on the subject of how the industry will shape up in 2022. The scope of views and varied ideas range from optimism to utter pessimism during these uncertain times.
The Managing Director of Sayaji Hotels, Raoof Dhanani, feels that overall the hospitality sector has changed 180 degrees since COVID, and with the new year comes new hope, a new dawn, and new light. He sees a great revival in traffic and an increase in demand through the innovative use of technology, which he predicts will have a much more significant role in the industry.
Managing Director of Travel Spirit, Jatinder Taneja, who is also active in PATA, says that is it is difficult to predict 100% what will happen in the coming year, but he stays in constant contact with other industry leaders in the market and is confident that domestic travel will continue to grow. He said the cultural and natural tours that his company offers is showing good prospects and that it is important to keep a watchful eye on current trends.
The Travel Bureau Managing Director, Sunil Gupta, believes that high-end domestic travel will continue to grow, as will overall domestic travel. He does, however, feel that international tourism will be a big challenge, stating that outbound tours may have to wait until 2023 to make a comeback. He thinks that the domestic MICE industry, including weddings and events, will begin to resume in April of this year and sees better air connectivity as the driver that will boost domestic travel in a big way.
Leisure Hotels Group, led by Vibhas Prasad, believes that after February of this year, travel will improve and this trend will continue for the remainder of 2022. They also observe that trends that are visible include driving holidays, travel with friends and relatives, self-drives, and working from hotels/resorts. Wellness holidays will increase as will experiential travel, and people will travel with shorter time planning.
The founder of Tree of Life Resorts, Himmat Anand, has spent many years in the hospitality industry, both as an agent and in hotels. He says that nothing can be predicted anymore. It is a wait and watch situation. Plans A, B, C, and D have to be ready to face the situation, and both outbound and inbound travel will take time.
The Director of EllBee Hospitality Worldwide, Sahib Gulati says that lessons from the recent past tell us that there will be uncertainty in 2022. Surprises cannot be predicted, feels the young hotelier. “As an industry, we are hopeful that the situation improves,” he says. Sahib quips, “Let us hope for the best.”
What is in store for India’s travel and tourism industry will play out in the days ahead, as it will for all those in the industry around the world, in this new life dealing with COVID.