As the Covid19 pandemic refuses to slow down anytime soon, the travel and tourism industry continues to face a record low in business. However, the good news is with new safety guidelines in place, travelling would soon see a surge and the return to normalcy won’t be too far. Post-pandemic, what will be the new world order in the industry? We ask the Director of Lonely Planet India , Sesh Seshadri, to elaborate the “new normal” for travellers and share his expertise on the subject.

1. Due to Covid19 the travel and hospitality industry has already suffered huge losses in 2020, and keeping in mind the next few months there would be restrictions in these segments. What is the best-case scenario that one can predict in such times of uncertainty?
SS: Road travel has already commenced in many countries that were also affected by the pandemic. The number of domestic flights operating will increase from the current rate of 33% to almost 100% in the next two weeks. Domestic travel will see a surge along with business travel. Despite the fear of health and safety everyone wants to get out of their homes and have a family holiday. Home stays will play an important role.

2. How soon do you predict about things returning to normal, and what can be done to make it happen faster? 
SS: There will be new regulations, health and safety protocols in place from tourism departments of state governments and allied stakeholders and we need to get used to the new travel gears. Hence it is difficult to say what is normal.  As the pandemic reduces, prevention medication is found, the revival and return to normalcy will be slow. May be 3 to 6 months from now. 

3. Post lockdown, what would be the new norms of travelling? Do you see a rise in digital trends in this segment? If yes, what kind of things are bound to pick up? 
SS: Digital is not new to travel. India has leapfrogged in digitizing most travel related engagements. The new norms are more about safe travel. Digital trends will have to grow due to the current situation. Airlines and train services are making it mandatory for the travellers to print their tickets, boarding pass, baggage tag for maintaining low levels of contact and the traveller has no choice but to adopt to this.  

Post Corona pandemic, Maldives will reopen to international tourism on 15 july, 2020 — (picture for representation)

4. As a travel expert, what is your take on the whole situation? Would you call it entirely unfortunate or do you see something positive coming out of this pandemic? 
SS: This has been a very challenging disease altering the travel and
hospitality industry, but I must add also disturbed all industries and
populations around the world. It has been one of the major disruptors of life in general.  History has shown that we as humans are capable of reinventing ourselves and in that sense. we will find newer ways of doing things. Travel is not going to go away, it is in our DNA, it will return to its reasonable levels under twelve months. Lonely Planet, the global leader in travel publication has been closely recording this unprecedented happening and its effects on travel and countries.

5. What would be your advice for those professionals who are related to the travel industry directly or indirectly and are going through a tough time currently? 
SS: Each one has to revisit their offering, business models, and approach to the traveller. One-size-fits-all will no longer work. You can set industry standards and best practices. Having said that I foresee that travel is going to be more personalised and local in the coming days.

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