An overwhelming majority of Indians intend to avoid traveling during the festive season, which begins in October, with the coronavirus tally crossing the four million mark and daily cases around 85,000, according to a survey of 25,000 people in 239 districts conducted by social media and community platform LocalCircles.
August and September are the favorite travel booking months for Indians. Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Chhath festivals all typically fall in October-November and people in many parts of India plan their travel home or vacation during these months, all the more so as this is the time that schoolchildren also enjoy a holiday.
However, 69% of the people said they will not travel this year and would rather stay at home. Another 3% said they will travel to a holiday destination, 13% said they will visit family and friends, and 3% said they will do both. Another 12% were unsure about what they would do.
This means that only 19% of citizens said they will travel in the upcoming festive season. Even with those who wish to travel, uncertainty still looms over bookings, with 68% of them saying they will not book till closer to the travel date. Only 16% said they will book soon, while another 16% were unsure.
Cars and taxis emerged as the most preferred mode of travel for 38%, followed by flights (23%) and multiple modes of transport (18%), while 15% were unsure.
The pandemic has seen millions of people either confined to their homes or working from home for the past six months. Many among them are desperate to get out and travel, but the fear of contracting the virus is holding them back.
India resumed domestic air and train travel in June. However, the daily caseload has grown by 10 times since then. Unlock 4.0 came into effect on 1 September with quarantine restrictions removed by most states, making many people cautious and unwilling to travel.
Based on the survey findings, service providers in the road transportation sector may want to build capacity, experts said. Similarly, online travel portals may want to consider more providers for outstation rental cars and taxi services.