As the domestic travel industry in India begins to slowly recover, it turns out that several solo and family holidays are now centred on nature and spiritual destinations.
As many cautious travellers opt for relaxed itineraries on extended weekend getaways or long staycations, several prefer staying in offbeat small towns over expensive luxury hotels.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine is now available in India, most people still prefer to remain careful and are avoiding crowded and popular tourist spots.
Hyderabad-based travel enthusiast Savita Reddy recently went with her family to Kumarakom in Kerala. Sharing her experience, she says, “We chose Kumarakom for our much-awaited family vacation as it is a relatively less-crowded destination and has amazing natural flora and fauna around the backwaters. We saw some beautiful birds and relaxed in the lap of nature and enjoyed the wellness cuisines in a peaceful ambience.”
Savita tells us that she is soon setting off to the foothills of Kangchenjunga in the North-East next, to explore the natural beauty in that region.
Having spent a long time indoors, with at least a few experimenting with home remedies and Ayurveda treatments, many travellers now wish to discover the spiritual and wellness aspects during their travels.
In addition to the annual popular holy tours, even the demand for holistic wellness holidays has gone up. Vibhas Prasad, director at Leisure Hotels Group, confirms the trend of vacationers seeking yoga, meditation, and health holidays picking up.
“Post the pandemic, I believe we all will agree that there has been a big shift in wellness trends from self-care to community care,” says Vibhas, adding that 2021 will also see a continued rise in mindful and intuitive eating. “The recent awareness of people is a step toward a healthier, more sustainable and more conscious travel in the future. We have been receiving queries on spiritual and pilgrimage travel to the Char Dhams (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath) and places such as Rishikesh and Haridwar, where travellers can experience the spiritual side of life on a holiday.”
The rising environmental awareness is also bringing in another subtle change in 2021, for Indian tourists flocking to beaches, hill stations and holy cities are seeking sustainable options.
While popular spots such as Goa, Shimla, Mussoorie, Manali, Coorg, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Varanasi are still packed on extended weekends, many travellers are choosing to book destinations such as Ooty,Gokarna, Hampi, Chail, and Kufri, etc. for quiet homestays and secluded villas/bungalows for a peaceful me-time.
Travel professional Shiv Kumar Mehan, COO at Leisure Hotels, points to the interesting change in tourists. “Sustainability in hospitality has a lot of relevance in today’s age, and hoteliers want to ensure that hospitality doesn’t harm the environment. Tourists, as well as hoteliers, are making eco-friendly efforts and opting for eco-friendly practices on holidays,” he says.
“Additionally, experiential holidays are on the rise and people are seeking spiritual, nature, adventure, wildlife, and wellness vacations. Since travel was on a complete lockdown last year, now travel enthusiasts want revenge travel, and they want to explore more spots and unique things during their holiday. Our properties such as The Forrest (wildlife tented camp at Rajaji National Park) and The Bungalows Lighthouse Goa (an English-style villa located in Candolim) and homestays/resorts in Kasauli, Nainital Dharamshala and Ramgarh are already catering to responsible tourism practices since the lockdown.”
In the post-pandemic world, pro-minimalism and the idea of spending mindfully has also played a major role in deciding consumer behaviour.
According to industry experts, many people still want to take it easy and spend wisely on a vacation with pocket-friendly itineraries.
“Post pandemic, people feel safer going for holidays in their vehicles and they feel safer going to smaller destinations close to major metros. Families are choosing to stay for more than a week in a particular leisure location, with many tourists travelling in their vehicles from major urban cities for 200 to 400 km,”
Vibhas Prasad adds. “For solo and group travellers, hostels with COVID-19 guidelines are quite popular as they can safely have mutual social interactions and experience the local life.”