Given the nature of international travel, both, short-haul and long-haul, with bookings and itineraries ironed out well in advance, outbound has remained unfazed from the recent unfoldings, for now, informed Neelu Singh, CEO and Director, Ezeego1. Noting that the next couple of months were to bring more clarity on how the decision of clamping down on black money was going to impact the travel and tourism landscape in the country, she expressed confidence in the appetite of the Indian outbound in ensuring steady business for the industry in the coming season.
“It has definitely created a slowdown for the small-time agents as they predominantly transact in cash,” noted Neelu Singh, assessing the impact of the development. She, however, was quick to add that being an online travel portal, they had been constantly promoting cashless travel and “most customers pay online, or through credit or debit card or cheques.”
While traditional agents have in ways, large and small, felt the pinch of the cash crunch, she, however, contested that the ongoing cash situation had little impact on their year- end bookings for international packages. “We registered a 10% growth in outbound segment over last year. The cash crunch has also encouraged travellers to book all-inclusive packages including airfare, stay, food and sightseeing as they would only have to spend on shopping and personal expenses. So, while the move has impacted the travel industry at large, there is no downfall in the outbound travel numbers,” Neelu Singh revealed.
Attributing the steady rise in numbers, also, to booked tickets and planned itineraries well in-advance, she said “bookings to international destinations, both, short- haul and long haul did not witness any change in travel plans as they were booked 2-3 months prior. As for the upcoming summer travel bookings, we have been receiving inquiries on all-inclusive group packages to Southeast Asian countries as well as to Europe and the USA.”
On the question of whether there was a chance of a slump in numbers, as far as the outbound was concerned, she maintained that the industry needed to wait and watch on how the move unfolded in the next couple of months and affected the travel scenario.
Sounding confident of a robust season, in the coming summer, sharing that while people were conscious of spending and choosing packages that met their budget, “Europe and United states being important summer destinations for most Indians, we don’t foresee any cancellations or postponement or change in destinations,” she explained.
“We are certain that the situation will be normal very soon and not deter travellers from travelling to their favourite summer destinations. We expect our outbound travel business to grow at least by 10% -15%,” Neelu Singh added.