Scenic Mahabaleshwar, a popular spot for road trips from Pune
Scenic Mahabaleshwar, a popular spot for road trips from Pune

After a tough year, the new coronavirus vaccine has come as a lifeboat for the travel industry drowning in a sea of despair. Although revival hopes have been strong in the last quarter of 2020, uncertainty continues to loom large on the horizon with the new mutated strain of the virus infecting people at Godspeed. While many are willing to join the boat and globetrot the world, others are just testing waters one foot at a time. So, what are going to be the major trends that will mark the first year of the new decade? Read on to find out!

Bleisure travel

Mixing business with leisure, aka Bleisure, is already a part of the new normal. Be it celebrities or just you and me, we are no longer risking compact group tours. Instead, the trend is to make the most out of each trip and couple work with pleasure. Sharing further details on the trend, Dr Dhananjay Sawalkar, Joint Director, Directorate Tourism, Maharashtra, says, “There is an increase in tourist footfall on weekends and destinations around major cities like Pune, Mumbai, and Nasik triangle. We are hopeful about the vaccine, and are waiting for things to return to normalcy. However, due to the new Covid-19 strain, inbound tourism won’t start before March, since the situation is still very uncertain.”

The Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel
The Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel

Airport Hotels and destination weddings

Today, nobody wants to risk traversing the downtown area of a new city if it can be avoided. Airport hotels (usually located on the airport property within a 3-km radius) come complete with fine dining options and luxurious rooms — a place to stay for the jet lagged traveler during long layovers between flights.

Pandemic or not, people are still getting married and the ‘big fat Indian wedding’ is adapting to the new normal. Says Rubin Cherian, General Manager of Novotel Hyderabad Airport, “There has been a rise in destination weddings this season. Unlike earlier where overseas guests or guests from different cities would stay at the residence of the bride and groom, the hosts now want their guests to come, attend and go back quickly.” This trend is echoed in other cities as well.

Sustainable tourism

Thanks to the pandemic, Mother Nature got a much-needed sabbatical in 2020 and people (especially millennials) realised the extent of damage we had previously done to our planet. In India, state governments are laying out ambitious plans for future projects as well. Maharashtra is case in point. Dr Sawalkar has been in talks with various stakeholders. “Going further, Maharashtra will be focusing on sustainable tourism by introducing green hotels and a new set of laws. Sensitization drives via social media will be soon started and compliance with these laws will become mandatory,” he said.

Over tourism is now getting replaced with conscious and sustainable travel, which is eco-friendly (think campervans, glamping and green hotels) and we are glad!

Road trips

With new border regulations, air bubbles and intermittent shutting and reopening of various countries, people are now worried about being stranded in their vacation destinations. 2020 has forced many to ditch the foreign trips and turn inwards. Says Sonam Lamba, a freelance graphic designer based in Pune, “I never knew my own country is so beautiful. Last year, when the lockdown was eased, I visited Matheran, Kamshet and Khandala. For 2021 I’m planning an ambitious road trip with 2 of my friends all the way to Kanyakumari.” Road trips are a great way to embrace and appreciate what’s right here in your own backyard. With No security check points or fear of shutting down of flights makes this a tension free choice as well!

Staycations and safety

The hop skip jump trip that jampacks a crazy itinerary spanning various cities is now getting replaced with long staycations in one place. However, corona virus is still very real and hotels are bucking up on their safety and sanitisation measures.

Kihavah huravalhi island, Maldives
Kihavah huravalhi island, Maldives

When all you need is a stable WiFi connection and electricity plug point to work, why not work in a picturesque hill station amidst the clouds? Or perhaps by the pristine blue beach that you always wanted to go? Says John Bendtsen, Cluster General Manager at Pullman Maldives Maamutaa & Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort, “In 2021, we expect people might want to travel differently, in a more responsible and safe way and to spend their time and consume differently, with a different mindset. We are working collectively to find — or even invent — the right answers to adapt to this new world. For example, we are offering a ‘Work from Paradise’ package where guests will have the opportunity to work remotely at this secluded island resort whilst balancing their performance and well-being with personalised fitness programmes and activities.”

Going Head

To jumpstart the country’s outbound commercial travel, India has established air bridges (aka air bubbles) with 13 countries — Japan being the newest addition to the list in December. These are the locales you can travel safely to. Here’s the complete list:

  1. Maldives

  2. Iraq

  3. Bangladesh

  4. Japan

  5. Canada

  6. Afghanistan

  7. Bahrain

  8. Qatar

  9. France

  10. Germany

  11. Ethiopia

  12. USA

  13. UAE

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