Coronavirus Impact: 54% Indians cancelling or not booking their planned travel this summer
- • 30% increase in citizens looking to cancel summer travel in last 30 days
- • 48% Indians plan to cancel their international business travel for the next 4 months
- • Most citizens cancelling their travel facing cancellation charges levied by airlines/agents
March 16, 2020, New Delhi: Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. India has invoked the British era Epidemic Disease Act 1897 to control the spread of COVID-19 in India. India has locked down and suspended all tourist and medical visas including PIO and OCI and the only individuals now landing at airports are Indians coming back.
Many countries have followed India and are now under total lock down after the Coronavirus outbreak has claimed more than 6000 lives globally. Iran, Italy, Spain and France are faced with the worst outbreaks after China and South Korea. Cities like Seattle and NYC are struggling as well. This virus has caused havoc around the world with many countries not allowing foreigners to enter their country, and in the midst of all this, people who had planned their travel early have been struggling with cancellation charges on their flights, hotels and other bookings. Key industry events like the World Mobile Congress, SXSW have either been postponed or cancelled.
After numerous complaints and appeals by consumers on its platform, LocalCircles in collaboration with MoneyControl, decided to conduct a survey to check the impact of Coronavirus on their upcoming travel plans in the next 4 months. The survey received more than 22,000 responses from citizens located across the country in over 140 districts.
The first question asked citizens how is Coronavirus a consideration in their or their family’s summer (March – June) travel plans. 20% respondents said they have made the bookings but may cancel it based on how the situation develops while 34% said they have not made the bookings yet and would book based on how things develop. 8% said they have made their bookings and would travel regardless, while 6% said they have not booked their travel yet but will make their bookings regardless of how the Coronavirus situation plays out.
54% citizens cautious about travelling this summer due to Coronavirus
An increasing number of people are becoming wary of traveling in the midst of the Coronavirus scare. The months of March-June have historically been high travel season for the Indians, majorly due the summer vacations in schools, but it seems like Indians do not want to take a chance with this rather scary virus and are cancelling/postponing their travel plans.
The following comparison is a testament to this fact. In the poll conducted last month, 41% citizens had said that they were cautious about travelling this summer due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This number has now increased to 54% in a month’s time, pointing towards the fact that more and more Indians are finding travelling to be unsafe for them and their family at this time.
The big worry that people of India have is the community transmission, something that researchers from around the world have approximate at 10% of the total infections and more common in places like Wuhan, South Korea, Iran, Italy etc.
Coronavirus Impact: Percentage of citizens cautious about summer travel rises by over 30% in the last 30 days
When asked how is Coronavirus impacting their or their family’s work-related travel between June and March, 20% said they plan to cancel both domestic and international travel while 28% said they plan to travel domestically but cancel their international travel. 16% said they plan to travel domestically as well as internationally as scheduled and do not plan to make any changes to their plans.
48% citizens plan to cancel their international business travel for the next 4 months
More and more companies across the world have decided to shut their offices to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and are asking their employees to work from home. They are also restricting/cancelling domestic and international travel to protect their employees, and further their colleagues and family members from getting infected.
The final question asked citizens if they had to cancel their travel plans for this summer due to Coronavirus, how has been their experience. 38% said they had to pay cancellation fee to the website/travel agent and the airline/railways, while 9% said they had to pay cancellation fee to the airline/railways only and not to the website/travel agent. 5% said they had to pay cancellation fee to the website/travel agent but not to the airline/railways, and 20% said they are yet to cancel their travel. 24% said they don’t plan to cancel their travel.
Most citizens who are cancelling summer travel are faced with cancellation charges from airlines/railways and websites/agents
The Ministry of Civil Aviation recently asked the airlines to consider providing free cancellation/rescheduling options in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Although some airlines have been responsible enough and waived off the rescheduling and cancellation charges, citizens are still facing the wrath of cancellation charges from various ends. For example, if you have booked the tickets from an online portal and the airline waives off the cancellation charges, you still end up paying some charges to the online portal. Some consumers have reported that advance paid for taxi bookings, sightseeing tours, hotels and Airbnb etc. is not being fully refunded.
The Government of India has been very responsive and prompt in the wake of Coronavirus and many bold decisions have been taken in quick time. On March 11th, the Government accepted the citizen demand which came out through a LocalCircles survey, where citizens had demanded additional restrictions to be placed to drastically limit travel by foreigners to India for 30 days. The Government within 24 hours suspended all tourists and medical visas for 30 days.
These are testing times for the entire travel and tourism industry – the airlines, the hotels, the travel agents, as well as those small tour and taxi operators. The best solution that seems at this point is to adjust cost structures, stay flexible, and with a collective approach work to minimise the period of impact to both citizens and business.