With most news spelling out facts and forecast of economic gloom, a Mid Year Traveller Sentiment Barometer survey by TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, resonates a similar sentiment among travellers but delivers a refreshingly positive verdict on its effect on overall travel plans. The survey highlights positive cues despite an overall discouraging economic and budgetary impression.
60% of those surveyed believe the economy will remain in the current state or weaken further in the coming 6 months. In a survey issued in December 2011, only 7% respondents thought they would cut down their travel next year, compared to 2011. However, mid year results show that now actually 24% are looking at cutting down travel plans in 2012 compared to last.
Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India elaborates, “Budgetary concerns are having a definite impact on overall travel plans this year, particularly international travel seems to have taken a hit”. He further adds, “However the appetite for travel displays resilience, with travellers instead of abandoning travel plans are simply opting for domestic destinations, shorter trips or destinations like South East Asia where the Rupee can deliver more on holiday.”
Impeding the Journey
International holiday plans for 51% respondents were affected with the free fall in the Indian Rupee over the last 6 months with 9% among them having cancelled a foreign holiday and the rest 43% changing their holiday destination.
With consistently high inflation burning a hole in the pocket of consumers, vacation budgets fall under pressure as well. This is evident as 66% survey respondents said they will be looking at changing their holiday plans due to budgetary constraints.
71% respondents claimed they will end up spending more, with 41% among them saying they will end up spending significantly more on holiday this year compared to 2011.
Those who said they will end up spending significantly more this year cited the following top 4 reasons for the strain on their purse strings.
69% - significantly higher air fares
52% - higher hotel room costs
45% - cost of eating out on holiday
36% - higher fuel prices leading to higher cost of road trips
In spite of the grey sentiment echoed above , the holiday spirit is not completely dulled as 36% respondents claim that their leisure travel is more this year compared to 2011, with another 40% travelling as much as last year.
The Indian traveller loses no momentum in the face of slowdown
84% respondents travelled within India between January to July this year.
The travel impetus continues well into the second half of the year with 79% respondents looking at more holidays from August to December. Only 6% respondents were certain of not travelling in the second half of 2012.
62% plan to take 2-4 holidays by the end of 2012, a healthy 29% have plans for 5 or more holidays. A meager 5% are planning only 1 holiday and a negligible 0.4% are taking no holidays this year.
While planning for holidays so far in 2012, 43% respondents found either heavily booked hotels or flights for their chosen destination. 32% had to compromise on hotel choice because their chosen hotel was not available or had to change travel dates or choice of airline due to flight non-availability, clearly indicating the volume of travel being undertaken.
‘Domestic’, ‘value-for-money foreign destinations closer to home’ & ‘shorter breaks’ ensure travel plans don’t derail.
While travellers have altered vacation options owing to budget strains and rupee depreciation, they have not given up on their holiday plans.
45% respondents said they are looking at more domestic than international holidays, or only domestic holidays due to budgetary constraints. 21% also said they are looking at taking same holidays but of shorter duration to accommodate tightening budgets.
21% respondents are replacing their international holiday with a domestic destination and 22% are looking at alternative foreign shores where the rupee can go further like South East Asia, over their original international destination of choice, due to the Rupee fall.