NEW DELHI: Tired of being locked up inside their homes, Indians have now taken to “revenge travel to nearby destinations”, with a vengeance. Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) is back to 40-50% of pre-pandemic level, Rajesh Magow, MakeMyTrip (MMT) co-founder and group CEO, told TOI. Leisure travel, with hotels opening up in the past few months, is at 30-40%. Corporate travel, largely by small and medium enterprises, is just beginning to pick up and is at 10-20% of pre-pandemic times, according to Magow.
“Covid has been the mother of all crises we have faced in the past. The impact on business has been much more severe. This April-June saw revenues plunge by 94% over same period last fiscal,” the co-founder of India’s largest online travel conglomerate said.
With domestic flights allowed to resume on May 25 and overall reopening initiated from June, there are green shoots of recovery in the travel space. These are limited mainly to the domestic segment as international travel still remains highly regulated, given ever-changing restrictions and quarantine rules by different countries during the pandemic.
“Domestic flights, in terms of capacity, are now at 50% of pre-Covid level and at 40% in terms of demand. Hotels, which started opening later, are now seeing 50% capacity with demand at 30% of the pre-pandemic levels. They are also catching up now,” he said.
MMT has begun diversifying into non-travel areas like financial services, including offering insurance, to survive the downturn in the industry. It launched its app in Arabic in the UAE and will do the same for customers in Saudi Arabia.
The pandemic has seen lot of consumer complaints about refunds — delays, not getting the same or being asked to travel on later date using the blocked money — with all airlines and online travel agents (OTAs). “Every international airline came with its own policy on refund. We are working with all airlines to expedite this issue according to government guidelines. MMT has so far given Rs 675 crore in refunds since the start of lockdown,” he said.