With international travel opening up, here’s what frequent travellers are upto

Ever since the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) declared that India will now fly back and forth to specific international locations, it’s planning time for most who have missed travel last two years. While things are not yet entirely back to normal, this is a huge step and will certainly boost the economy. Of course, this move begs the question: what does travel look like in 2022?

What does international flying look like in 2022?

As per a tweet by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), “Passenger footfall at various airports of AAI has increased rapidly. From May 25, 2020 to April 3, 2022, AAI’s airports handled 13.07 lac flight movements and 14.12 cr flyers.”

“After two years of pandemic-related disruption, there are signs that the pandemic is now reaching the endemic stage. There is a positive sentiment around travel with the upcoming summer travel season. We’ve witnessed a steady increase in overseas bookings among our customers since the government announced the resumption of scheduled international airline operations from March 27. Since January 2022, international bookings have witnessed a steady increase of 80 per cent,” shared a spokesperson from Cleartrip.

Vacation trends in 2022

A two-year hiatus in international travel naturally means that this year will see a boost in travelling. There are two emerging trends that industry experts predict this year: one is going back to explored and loved destinations, and the other is experiential travel.

Riaan George, a luxury travel content creator and journalist, feels that people will return to familiar places this year. “I think the biggest travel trend in 2022 with the international skies opening up is a return to all the old favourite destinations. It’s a manifestation of revenge travel in that sense. Indians love going to places like Singapore, New York, and London and 2022 will see people revisiting these destinations.”

Apart from known and loved destinations, travellers are also seen heading to exotic international destinations. “There is a pent-up demand of travellers keen on exploring various exotic international destinations,” shares a spokesperson from Yatra.com.

Another travel trend that promises to grow this year is experiential travel. “Leisure holidays are in high demand right now, with some locations offering a variety of adventurous sports. Demand was strong for Sri Lanka, but it has dwindled due to the country’s ongoing internal conflict,” shares Cleartrip.

Leena Gurnani from Panda Reviewz feels that eco-friendly travel trends will also see a significant rise. “People will now prefer not just travelling to offbeat destinations but will also opt for eco-friendly travel and activities that reduces their travel footprints.”

Business travel, however, is yet to see a momentum. As companies are gradually reopening offices and on-ground events resume, business travel will begin only when it is essential and with strict safety protocols in place. #Bleisure and #ReturnToBase are the new corporate travel buzzwords.

The other side

Going to an international travel destination after two years of being at home sounds like a dream, but industry expert Ashutosh Mehere offers a different perspective. “Travelling to international destinations this summer sounds great, but you must consider visa processes. Places like USA and Australia are burdened with pending applications, and chances are you will not get a visa on time. Also, the travel costs are extremely high right now. Pre-Covid, if you looked at group travel, most of us would operate at a budget of Rs 50,000 per head. Right now, it’s Rs 75,000, which means if you are a family of four, you have to shell out an extra lakh.”

Considering the price point, visa applications, and even vaccination restrictions (India is still in the phase of getting booster shots), a good option would be to also look at domestic travel destinations, Mehere suggests. “The outlook towards domestic travel has changed in the last two years. People are willing to spend big bucks on local destinations as it frees them from visa hassles and the fact that if travel guidelines change at the last minute, they are still going to be in the country.”

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Published on: Sunday, April 17, 2022, 07:00 AM IST