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Citizens who have booked summer travel may pose major risk to India’s 2nd massive Covid-19 surge

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on April 12, 2021

25% of people who have already booked may still proceed with their travel plans, says survey

In mid-February, Akshai Mallappa booked a 3 nights-4 days family package to the Maldives from April 10 – 13 at all-time low roundtrip airfare of ₹16,000 per head on MakeMyTrip.

That was when Covid cases were few and far between and India’s vaccination drive was well under way. But, the trip had to be aborted as the mandatory Covid test that he and his family had to undergo before boarding the flight, revealed that he (despite having taken both vaccinations shots) and his son tested Covid positive, while his wife and daughter tested negative.

“We are due for the Covid test again next week and if is negative, then we will go ahead with our plans with the next available dates” he told BusinessLine.

Similarly, Lalitha Kumar’s all-women’s trip to Bhutan last March got cancelled due to the national lockdown and after waiting patiently for a year, she booked a trip to Kashmir in mid-June 2021.

With the recent unprecedented spike in daily Covid caseload touching nearly 170,000 per day compared to 2020’s highest daily case load of 97,400, she has decided to opt for a nearby destination, that she and her friends can drive to comfortably. “I am going through Covid fatigue after being cooped up indoors for a whole year. I desperately need a break,” she said.

A survey conducted in February 2021 by LocalCircles, a community social media platform that enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric, revealed that 60 per cent of citizens planned to travel this summer. LocalCircles conducted another survey in the last three days of March to understand how the rising Covid caseloads had impacted people’s travel plans, which received over 25,000 responses from 13,225 people located in 305 of the 736 districts in India.

The survey shows that though some people have decided to put their summer travel plan on hold, 50 per cent plan to travel from April to June. What is more alarming is that 25 per cent who have already booked their travel intend to go ahead with it; 12 per cent who have not booked yet intend to book soon and 25 per cent have voted for last minute bookings.

Flights and road travel seemed to be the most preferred modes of travel with 30 per cent saying “flights” and 24 per cent saying “car, taxi or bus.”

“While summer travel may mean taking a flight and train/rental cars for upper middle class or middle class families and either seeing family/friends or visiting a holiday destination, for many who are not so privileged, it means travelling by sleeper class in trains or taking a bus journey to see their parents or grandparents, many times in the same State. Since 25 per cent of Indians who have already booked may still proceed with their travel plans unless services providers like airlines, hotels, travel portals and agents cooperate with refunds, it may become extremely difficult to contain Covid in India. We will be sharing these findings with key stakeholders in Central and State Government, so necessary interventions and actions can be taken,” said Sachin Taparia, founder, LocalCircles.

Published on April 12, 2021

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