Revenge travel across the world has caught up with preCovid levels by value, but not by volume. People are travelling in larger groups, farther away from home, to more luxurious locations. This is being aided by revival of capacity in the travel industry, higher transport costs and facilities upgraded over the course of the pandemic. Essentially, inflation is shoring up leisure travel numbers while business travel remains muted. Spillovers are expected into the next summer holiday season. But rapidly cooling economies will find it difficult to sustain the tempo once pent-up vacation savings are whittled down. India is likely to remain an outlier here because of its strong recovery, tourism capacity constraints and its overwhelming dependence on budget travellers.
The spike in international travel provides the domestic industry an extraordinary opportunity to promote India as a destination. Upscaling travel and hospitality infrastructure can cater to a new-found demand for more luxurious holidays. Indian tourism could also seek to exploit lingering Covid restrictions in big pockets of inbound and outbound travel like China.
The bigger theme, though, is about Indians travelling within the country. Domestic demand is expected to remain strong, emerging as it is from restrictions on pilgrimage. There is also the context of large social gatherings for weddings. These provide a layer of cushioning for the Indian tourism industry that it had lost during the pandemic. Keeping cultural aspects aside, connectivity through investments in road, rail and air infrastructure is improving. India is also likely to remain the fastest-growing major economy in the near term, propping up business travel although some pandemic-era interactions like virtual meetings are here to stay. Revenge tourism is self-limiting. But India can expect secular growth in the tourism industry based on its inward-looking economy. This would be an interesting juncture to create the trajectory for its growth based on the learnings of a once-in-a-lifetime event.
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