COVID-19 forces many to cancel travel plans

Visakhapatnam: Over 90 per cent of domestic travellers have cancelled travel plans, while others are waiting for the official cancellation of air services to save on ticket prices, say travel agents.

“Around 500 people had booked their tickets to travel between January 8 and January 16 to Srinagar, Leh, Darjeeling, Konark, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Of this, 90 per cent have cancelled their tickets and decided to stay at home in the wake of rising Covid cases in the country,” said K. Vijay Mohan, the president of the Tours and Travels Association of Andhra Pradesh and the promoter of Holiday World.

“Interestingly for the first time around 50 families booked tickets to travel to wildlife sanctuaries at Ranthambore in Rajasthan, Kanha in Madhya Pradesh and other places. All of them were cancelled as the government closed these sanctuaries to the public,’’ Vijay Mohan said.

Tourists have also cancelled short trips to Gopalpur and Konark due the Odisha government decision to impose Covid-related restrictions and the closure of Konark temple for the public.

During pre-pandemic days, he said around 15,000 people were travelling to domestic tourist destinations and 5,000 to Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Now the number has been reduced to less than 3,000 and it would reduce to double digits as the virus spreads across the nation, the travel agent said

Lokesh of Travel Leisure said he cancelled eight package tours to Andaman and Nicobar Islands that were scheduled during the last 10 days. Because of the cancellation, he said advance money of the agents was blocked by the hoteliers, which would take some time to get back their money.

“We hoped to do good business this season and recover the money lost in the last two pandemics. But all our hopes were dashed,’’ Lokesh said.

He said around 80 travel agents have a business of around 10 crore during winter and summer.

Another tour operator Sheikh Moulali said people were opting for short-distance travel to Chattisgarh and Odisha using their own vehicles.