World Tourism Day 2020: Workcations & quick escapes dominate travel plans
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An idyllic setting — a view of a deep blue sea, chirping birds and cool breeze — is so serene, describes Akansha. This makes the work from home experience, so much better, stated Akansha who along with her husband rented out a place in one of the beaches in Ratnagiri.

Akansha along with her husband, gave up their rented apartment in Pune to move back to Mumbai, after their respective offices introduced ‘work from home’ policy for the next eight months. But before they could go back to the bustling city, they decided to explore the concept of Workcation or Bleisure — combination of work and vacation.

“This concept is distinctive and not your regular vacation. Workcations offer short stays at attractive destinations located closer-to-home at easy drivable distances. In this case, the hotels are carefully handpicked to enable customers the convenience to continue working remotely with well-designed workspaces and Wi-Fi access for smooth connectivity,” stated Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

Adding to it, Daniel D’souza, President and Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel, said, “With the concept of work from home, there is a shift from vacation to remote working. There is clearly pent-up travel demand and added to this is the strong desire for a break due to lockdown restrictions.”

Many reputed travel agencies are getting queries of customers who are opting for places that are close to home, but away from crowded cities. “Seeing an uptick in enquiries for quick escapes like back to nature and beach destinations, workcations and drivecations are a popular first choice,” D’souza added.

This trend is going to surge further in the coming few months, after many states opt for lifting of COVID-19-induced lockdown. Understanding the demand for such short trips, SOTC has specifically launched packages for working people who might want to enjoy a break while on work at a nearby boutique property. “We see an uptick in staycations as well due to the rise in stress levels during lockdown,” D’souza said.

Going on a road trip with friends is usual for Sanjay, a Pune-based IT professional. He attempted that even now and took a road trip to Goa with his group of friends. He preferred Goa so that he could take a workcation. “While the ride to Goa was planned on our own, when it came to hotel stay, we decided to make bookings through a recognised travel agency,” claimed Sanjay. “This was because during the COVID-19 times, we have to be careful about the place we chose to stay.”

What Sanjay just mentioned was even reflected in a survey conducted by Thomas Cook. It was found that 75 per cent respondents preferred reputed brands across their journey — including tour operators, hotel chains, etc. The survey also pointed out that the key drivers in this new era of travel are health and safety with 75 per cent respondents posing that as a primary concern. However, only 35 per cent showed their willingness to increase their spending to ensure higher levels of hygiene and sanitation. This survey was conducted with over 2,500 customers across India’s metros and Tier 1 and 2 cities.

In addition, most of the reputed travel agencies are also offering travel insurance with COVID-19 cover that helps protect individuals while on holiday. Kale said, “This will mitigate the impact of several unforeseen circumstances such as illness, trip cancellations and interruptions, flight delays/ cancellations, etc. To benefit customers, we have introduced no cancellation charge, faster refunds, and free rescheduling as well.”

Tourism job searches see an uptick

Job searches for tourism-related roles have witnessed a rise since May 2020, stated Indeed, a job site. The data by the site also revealed that the hospitality and tourism sector is bouncing back which could be attributed to the fact that the job postings have improved marginally.

Searches by job seekers saw a 30% increase between May and August 2020, even as job postings during the same period saw a drop of 21%. The improvement in the sector was seen after the lockdown was eased across the country. Sashi Kumar, Managing Director, Indeed India, said, “Despite the setback the hospitality industry has faced in light of the pandemic and its repercussions, it is heartening to see positive jobseeker sentiment towards these roles. With one in every eight jobs in India related to tourism, directly or indirectly, the sector is a vital contributor to the nation’s economy.”

The job postings are down 58% in September 2020, as against the 69% drop in May this year from 2019 levels. The tourism industry saw job postings decrease by 49% between March and August 2020, as compared to 2019. Overall, job postings in August 2020 were down by 56%, as compared to 2019, with job searches for these roles down by 44%, as compared to 2019.

Thailand readies itself to welcome tourists

COVID-19 cases in Thailand are among the lowest, which is why the country is preparing to welcome tourists in the country. As part of the safety measure, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), in collaboration with the public and private sector partners, had introduced an “SHA” certification.

Cholada Siddhivarn Director Tourism Authority of Thailand Mumbai office, said, “Thailand has been quite successful in handling the situation within the country during the pandemic times. It has always focused on security, safety, and hygiene for its international guest or the locals.”

She went on to add that the certification is aimed at elevating the country’s tourism industry standards and developing confidence among international and domestic tourists. “The SHA certificate would now play a vital role in tourism.”

Siddhivarn added, “As we move towards the opening up phase, responsible tourism will be imperative. TAT strives to adhere to COVID-19 safety rules and would encourage local businesses to procure the SHA certificate to help grow the tourism industry.

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