Telangana: Coronavirus hits travel industry

Air travel industry and allied segments see a lot of cancellations

By Author  |  Published: 4th Mar 2020  12:08 amUpdated: 3rd Mar 2020  11:49 pm
Vijay Mohan Raj, Director, Skal International

Hyderabad: Even as Telangana has recorded its first instance of Coronavirus, air travel industry said the virus has dealt a solid blow as it is seeing many cancellations. In addition, to current cancellations, many are not inclined for travel for the next three to four months, said Vijay Mohan Raj, Director, Skal International, the industry body promoting global tourism.

Skal, founded in 1934, Skal International, embraces all sectors of the tourism industry. It has more than 15,000 members and is present in more than 100 countries through 365 Skal Clubs.

“For aviation and tourism segment, the coronavirus is a great blow. There cannot be an absolute number of cancellations as of now. But we guess that Rs 50 to 100 crore business from and to Telangana is being affected per day. The situation is getting worse now. Domestic travel is also impacted severely. Many have developed a perception that it is better not to travel during this period,” he said.

“We have seen a drop in travel in February both in the international and domestic segments. Corporates are hinting to put travel on hold. Of course, there is no official advisory from them. Now, the communication is through technology-enabled tools like video conference,” he said.

India, more so South India, has a large set of people who visit their friends and families living abroad. NRIs also come here around this time due to the marriage season in April-May. This travel will be affected. “Destination weddings will also be affected if things do not improve soon,” he said.

The impact is felt by as many as 36 segments like agents, hospitality, restaurants, guides, car rentals, event managements, meetings, destination wedding managers and others associated, the official said.

“One out of the every five jobs created in the world is from one of these 36 segments. You can imagine the huge impact travel and tourism has on employment. I am worried that there will be some loss of jobs too. Freelancers will find it difficult,” he said.

“In normal times, China is among the most favoured destinations for Hyderabadis. Thailand is a favourite too. A lot of travel happens to and from the US, Middle East. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are in one category. For first timers, particularly those from rural areas, Thailand and Kaula Lumpur are key locations. The average spend from these is be Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 and this includes tickers, a three-day stay, visa charges and others,” he said adding all these are hit now.

People are planning a holiday to Turkey, to Scandinavian countries, Europe and the US continue to be popular, he said.

“A lot of misinformation is being spread on Facebook and Whatsapp. We earlier had the SARS, HINI, Swine and others. We as an industry do not scare people and take care to provide them the right information,” Some of it is being fabricated to create sensation,” said Raj, who is also the Managing Director of city-based Sameera Travels and Tours.

There are 130 agents in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh who are recognsied by the International Air Transport Association. However, number of sub-agents is huge.

“Many airlines are working at 80 per cent occupancy. The realistic occupancy is around 70-75 per cent. There is a price war going on and the fares are not able to cover costs. As a result, margins to agents and ancillaries have come down,” he said.

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