Post Covid stops, Indian travel and tourism industry is witnessing an unprecedented splurge in domestic activity. To many people this has come as a surprise. What could be the reason for this ‘sudden’ growth in domestic numbers?
Unobtrusively, but steadily and surely, it has become easier to travel. Our own internal connectivity has improved dramatically. Not in spite of covid but even because of it.
In the last few years, roads have opened, and while journey time may not always have cut down, it is a fact that the roads are wider, with more flyovers and more facilities enroute. Newer routes have been chalked. Road travel has seen possibly the biggest spike in numbers nation-wide, except we don’t have the numbers. In terms of air travel, we have seen an unheard-of new city pairs giving rise to new breed of travellers. Imagine a flight from Bareilly to Jaipur! Frequencies have improved though air travel has not exactly become cheaper.
In fact, the Indian propensity to may more is most noticeable. Every sector is charging more and the Indian domestic traveller is willing to pay more. The same traveller was earlier haggling on rates in India, but paying that bit extra for their overseas trips. That idea of paying more for services rendered, appears to have got accepted. Indians are willing to pay what earlier they would pay only overseas. Equally, the realisation that Indian hospitality is considerably more extensive than anywhere in the West. Could there also be a realisation that there is nothing like home? After all, Indians best understand Indian behaviour and needs.
Why have they stopped haggling? I think the internet has a lot to do with this. You don’t engage on the other side with anyone. You can surf, see what suits you, what is your preference between cost and services, make your decision, and simply buy. It is just the click that works. No bhai bhai, no network, no upgrades through connections, no hidden discounts that can be shared. Travel has now acquired the assurance on the price front, that you are paying the price of the day.
Aligned closely is the ease in making payments. Credit cards, UPI and the rest have made a huge impact on travel. I pay and I get a receipt. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, we can have problems when travel does not materialise, for one reason or the other, or when refunds are expected and do not materialise. They don’t always do. With one foreign airline, very recently, I got a full refund on day four after making a cancellation, all on the internet.
Lastly, I would like to think, most importantly, there has been a significant increase in the purchasing power of the same well-heeled Indian. Imagine any class of India, in the upper middle, or middle, or even the higher classes, I suspect they all have more money to spend. And interestingly, its all being spent on the card. Families, as a unit, have even more. Within family units, more members are earning and doing well. The youth is getting starting salaries which a few generations ago people would earn when they were retiring. So, the rules of the travel game are changing, suddenly become even more noticeable, after the three years of pandemic disruptions, and it is here to stay.