Much like the rest of the world, the shock came in March 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The government had to impose a strict lockdown, the first being travel restrictions. The travel and tourism industry was one of the worst impacted industries worldwide, and this was no different for India. In the hotel segment, the key indicators including occupancy rate, average daily rate, or revenue per available room shrunk in the second and third quarter of 2020. The employment situation of millions of Indians had been negatively impacted.
Over the year, restrictions were slowly got lifted across different parts of the country. Towards the festival season in late 2020, the travel and tourism industry in India was finally able to attract some customers again. Although they had a tough year, hoteliers across the country anticipated that it would take around two years to reach pre-pandemic levels again.
From a customer perspective, many people yearned for a weekend trip after months of being in lockdown. Furthermore, mountainous regions away from crowded cities had been the first choice for a trip after the lockdown. With a return to pre-pandemic levels, there is also a likelihood of a more eco-friendly and responsible tourism.
India is one of the fastest emerging tourist destinations in the world. With beautiful varying landscapes from beaches to snowclad mountains with diverse culture, traditions and cuisines, the country has plenty to offer for international and domestic tourists alike. Moreover, awareness and marketing initiatives such as the Incredible India campaign along with e-visa options, help make travelling to India more accessible for international tourists. Nevertheless, domestic tourists make up the lion’s share of tourists in the country as well as for revenues through tourism. Government schemes like ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ had been continued even in pandemic times with a series of webinars on domestic tourist hotspots. With many western countries still following travel restrictions for travelling abroad, it will be the domestic tourists’ turn to bring the travel and tourism industry on the track to recovery in 2021.