This summer season starting April onwards and continuing till the present date has been good and super busy with work due to the outburst of Outbound Travel. Ease of covid protocols worldwide, pent-up demand of the last 2 years, and opening of skies by the Government of India allowing scheduled flights to resume have all helped in boosting the outbound travel. These last few months the office has appeared nothing less than a warzone – full of activity, excitement and of course pressure to complete the work in the stipulated time before the departure of the passenger.
Inspitethe Visa Challenges being posed with most of countries, especially the popular destinations, the demand for outbound travel is robust and increasing on a daily basis. If only the Consulates of European countries, Canada, USA and UK had pre-empted the mad rush and made appropriate arrangements regarding manpower to take care of the demand, the outbound story would have been a blockbuster instead of a super hit. However, I would like to sincerely thank the French Consulate and the Swiss Consulate for their proactive approach in the early months by giving appointment dates and most importantly processing the applications in a week’s time.
In the post-pandemic era, in an endeavour to move forward together, all the stakeholders connected to the Outbound Travel Industry will have to be on the same page to ensure that outbound travel becomes a seamless and smooth process. This will surely lead to a win-win situation for all concerned, and we would surely be singing our way to La La Land. It is a known fact that the Indian visitor is a high spender when on a holiday and a country not capitalising on this (due to a delayed visa process) is losing out on helping its tourism stakeholders to earn some serious big bucks from the Indian Outbound Traveller. There is a huge uptake and demand for high-end luxury resorts in the destination of travel, also we see there is a big sense of urgency to enjoy and go on a holiday when the opportunity is there and not wait for another day or another time. Who knows when again the traveller will be stuck at home or lose a loved one etc…and the clients are ok and also keen to take back-to-back holidays or frequent holidays.
If this trend of multiple and urgent outbound travel continues and if more and more consulates open up fully to accommodate the surging demand, Outbound Travel from India will hit the pre covid levels soon. In the last 24 months, lot of things have changed and are continuing to change. There is manpower shortage in the tourism industry worldwide, hotels are not fully operational, a lot of establishments and transporters who were servicing the tourism industry earlier are not fully operational or have shifted to alternate businesses. All this is leading to challenge in the operation and completion of the service effectively and efficiently.
However the way I look at the present time and my take is very simple – itis a fresh start for all of us and instead of talking about pre-covid days, let us talk of how we can build up from here on, start progressing and galloping to the finish line! As we say in our Travel Industry, it is the journey that is important and not the destination. It is not WHERE you travel, but with WHOM you travel that makes all the difference! Any country in the world that knows the potential of Tourism Money but is not focussing on India is playing a losing game! Love it or hate it, one cannot ignore the Indian Outbound Travel Juggernaut. However, if you do so it will be solely at your own risk!
(Mahendra Vakharia is a seasoned travel professional and owns and runs a company in Ahmedabad by the name Pathfinders Holidays Pvt. Ltd.)