The pandemic has turned the tourism industry completely upside down and even though the travel sector is crawling back to normal, the way we travel and holiday has completely changed.
Maintaining safety measures and precautions has become the base for operating all travel and hospitality businesses. But how are things on the consumer front? Priyanka Nijhawan, Director-Representations, Nijhawan Group; a seasoned professional with 12 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry, sheds light on the travel trends and preferred destinations.
What is the current sentiment in the travel industry?
Dubai was one of the first cities in the world to kick-start tourism during the early months of lockdown on July 7, 2020. The Emirate is following all safety and health measures with strict enforcement of rules to welcome tourists. We are already seeing a growth in numbers of outbound tourists to Dubai from India. I also travelled to Dubai post the COVID-19 lockdown and it is safe for me to say that the city indeed needs to be commended for its great efforts in implementing hygiene measures.
Which countries are Indian luxe travellers going to?
Considering the current economic challenges, Dubai and the Maldives are the two destinations that are paving the path for recovery of Indian tourism. HNI’s and the UHNI’s favourite pick at the moment is definitely Dubai. With all safety and hygiene measures in place, Dubai’s extravagant lifestyle, gastronomical experiences and high-end shopping experiences are picking up the pace.
Which travel trends will rule 2021?
Safety and hygiene and social distancing at every point of the journey will be the highest priority while designing new plans for 2021. Staycation with the new coined word ‘Workcations’ will boom i.e. working remotely while being on a vacation along with wellness and intimate retreats.
According to you, what does ‘new normal’ for the travel industry look like?
COVID-19 has redirected the whole world to adapt to a ‘New Normal’. The pandemic has put our whole industry under scrutiny and has created economic hardships for millions, but the only ray of hope is that it has brought out the best in us. With constant innovation and continuous improvement, we have paved a way to recovery.
Which is your favourite travel destination? Why?
Dubai definitely tops the charts of my favourite travel destinations list around the globe. The Emirate is vibrant and full of exuberance. It has something for all, be it a family vacation or a shopping spree with your girlfriends. As more and more attractions open up in Dubai, there are new surprises every time you visit the city.
When do you think things will get back to as they were before COVID-19?
The tourism industry is on its road to recovery. We are hoping for a speedy recovery by Q1 of 2021. Millennials will be the first ones to travel, especially to nearby destinations. Europe might still see some setbacks, but the Gulf countries, East Africa and the Maldives may attract a good number of tourists from India.
How has the company adapted to the ongoing crisis?
As every organisation in the travel trade, we too have suffered. In the initial months of the lockdown we’ve had to take some stringent measures, which have now been reversed. With the tenacious restart of tourism, we are optimistic that tourism is on the road to speedy recovery. It is still a few months away to be back to its full potential, but as countries open their international borders for India, the sector will bloom.