The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has predicted that outbound travel and domestic tourism in India will suffer losses of nearly $500 million due to the coronavirus outbreak. Pronab Sarkar, the president of IATO has said that outbound travel may reduce by 50% and domestic travel will go down by 60% as more and more Indians are cancelling their travel plans in fear of contracting the disease, reports LiveMint.
New schemes to encourage customers to make bookings
This sudden dip in demand has made tour operators such as Yatra, Thomas Cook and SOTC to offer various schemes to their customers to promote sales. Schemes include zero cancellation fees, alternative destination packages and rescheduling options to travellers. “Customers are wary of making fresh bookings to the affected locations and airfares to these destinations have dropped by over 40%. We have received close to 35% cancellation queries for overseas trips. We are advising and helping customers to postpone their travel dates,” said Sabina Chopra, co-founder and COO, corporate travel and head industry relations, Yatra.com.
He said: “If the situation continues for more months, this loss will be higher. Some high net-worth individuals in the country have already cancelled their international trips fearing the risk of catching the disease,” he said. “I feel media coverage has deteriorated the confidence of travellers in the country. Once reports of the disease being controlled globally come in, I expect tourism to bounce back.”
SOTC Travel said it was shifting its focus on domestic packages like Andaman Youth Special-backpackers, Himachal Spiti bike trip and Sikkim bike trip. “We also provide customers insurance cover for the full sum insured for Europe, USA, Africa, Australia and New Zealand,” said Daniel D’souza, president and country head, leisure, SOTC Travel.
Rajeev Kale, president and country head—holiday, MICE and Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, said: “There is an increase in demand for spiritual tourism such as the chardham yatra.”