INDIA. Delhi: The new normal era after COVID–19 forced people indoors for more than eight weeks during the second wave of the pandemic era is here. People are now eager for a getaway. And as travel season unlocks, the safety of people is also of prime concern. Travelers have to strictly follow the precautionary measures and help authorities to provide a safe and healthy environment for all.
During this onset of the new normal, the rising tourist numbers is surely a good sign for the travel industry that is hoping for a revival and coming out with new offers. The travel sector is hoping to bounce back from a historic pandemic crash.
Scenario around the world
People around the world are vaccinated, and ready to travel. The aviation industry is also showing a bounce back and there has been a significant increase in the number of flyers since COVID-19 in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere. For the Americans, the Fourth of July weekend is around the corner, and more and more people are hitting the roads as well as flying out.
The thrust is on local travel. In the USA almost 90% of people are planning to stay local, and explore areas close to home or maximum travel nationally, i.e. a trip to another part of their country.
Even in the United Kingdom, about 90% of people are planning to travel in other parts of the UK and to stay close to home this summer. Canada tops in local travel options with over 95% planning to take their summer holidays close to home.
The thrust in India too, is on local travel, and most of the travel operators are focusing on developing the regional market, and offering unique trips that appeal to local travelers while still following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
With the un-lockdown process in place, people are making beelines to their favourite hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, and others. Many states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, and the union territory of Chandigarh have allowed vaccinated travelers to be exempt from the RT-PCR certificate requirement though subject to certain conditions.
The Central government is working on issuing a set of guidelines for vaccinated passengers to be exempt from RT-PCR requirements. The state tourism department is promoting short safe stays in consideration of public health and vacation needs. All hotels, restaurants, and other concerned departments have already been sanitised to ensure COVID protection.
Each state has its own guidelines. Rajasthan has allowed only tourists who are fully vaccinated and carry digital vaccination certificates and have completed 28 days after the second dose. For traveling to Punjab and Chandigarh, the passengers need to be in possession of a vaccination certificate of at least one dose, which is over two weeks old. For Odisha, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, passengers need a final vaccination certificate.
Various industry operators and also airlines have welcomed these steps. Industry aviation stalwarts say that they are hopeful that with the reducing trend in COVID cases and the increased pace of vaccination, passenger confidence and airline traffic will gain further momentum by early July. On June 12, the number of daily passengers traveling on domestic flights exceeded the hundred thousand mark for the first time since May, indicating a gradual rise in passenger numbers.
International travel from India
Of late, there is good news for the international travel industry too, as 9 countries have started taking visa applications from Indian tourists right now. These countries, namely South Africa, Turkey, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Armenia, and Tanzania are slated to open their borders in July.