In a major red flag, 25% of citizens with booked summer travel plans may pose a considerable risk to India’s already massive second COVID-19 surge. As per a survey by Local Circles, though some have put their travel plans on hold, those who have booked tickets are likely to travel unless airlines, hotels, travel portals/agents accept cancellations and refund money.
Many had made their bookings in February and March this year after no travel for over a year.
The survey indicated that 50% of the citizens still plan to travel during April and June 2021. Since many of them are unable to cancel their bookings unless service providers co-operate, there is a significant risk of COVID-19 spread worsening in India.
While state/district level lockdowns will lead to some restrictions and cancellations, with some more people cancelling their travel given the rise in cases, a sizable percentage may still proceed with their travel plans.
The survey said the Central and State Governments must carefully study these inputs and bookings data for flights, hotels, trains and buses. The survey recommends that the government takes necessary action such that travel is restricted and only permitted in consultation with COVID-19 protocols. Testing, masking, social distancing, and hygiene are crucial to ensure that this travel does not further worsen the deteriorating health crisis that the country is currently experiencing.
Oblivious to what was about to unfold, many Indians started their travel planning for summer in February and March this year.
LocalCircles decided to conduct another survey in the last three days of March to understand how the rising caseloads had impacted people’s travel plans. The survey received more than 25,000 responses from citizens located in 305 districts of India.
As per the survey, 50% of citizens plan to travel during the next three months. The first question in the survey sought to understand what kind of travel citizens plan to undertake in the next three months of the summer season, from April to June. In response, 17% said “Holiday destination”, 24% said “visit family and friends”, and 9% said, “plan to do both of the above”. While 45% of the citizens said that they “will not be travelling, and would be staying home,” 5% of the citizens voted for “can’t say,” which suggests that they haven’t yet made any travel plans for the next three months. The aggregate responses from citizens surveyed indicate that 50% of citizens plan to travel during the three months of April, May and June 2021.
While summer travel may mean taking a flight and train/rental cars for upper-middle-class or middle-class families, many will be frequently travelling by sleeper class in trains or taking a bus.
Citizens who are planning to travel this summer were asked if they have made any bookings. In response, 25% said, “Yes, booked already,” while 12% of citizens said, “Not booked yet but will book soon.” Additionally, 25% of citizens responded “will do last minute and no need to book,” and 38% said, “had plans to book but putting it on hold for the time being.”
Moreover, the percentage of citizens who voted for “had plans to book but putting it on hold for the time being” has increased from nil in the February survey to 38% in the latest survey. This suggests that given the rise in the COVID-19 cases across the country, some have put a hold on their travel plans.
Thus, the findings indicated that the majority of travellers who had not booked their summer travel have put their plans on hold. However, those who have made their bookings still plan to travel.
This is a major area of concern given the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in India in the last 30 days. If 25% of Indians do proceed with their travel plans during summer, it could be extremely difficult to contain COVID-19 in India.
The above article has been published from a wire source with minimal modifications to the headline and text.