Srinagar: Tourism players have a reason to rejoice as Kashmir has been chosen as the most preferred destination of 2021.
Leading travel firm Thomas Cook India and SOTC Travel has surveyed over 4,000 customers across more than a dozen Indian cities to identify emerging consumer behavior and trends that will drive travel preferences in the COVID era.
The consumers were surveyed after the government’s announcement of unlocking or easing of travel restrictions.
The international travel firm surveyed consumers of India’s top 8 metros, mini-metros like Pune, and key Tier 2/3 markets of Jaipur, Indore, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Nagpur, Surat, Baroda, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Mysore, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Guwahati, Patna, etc.
The findings in the survey showed that Kashmir is the most preferred destination of travelers in the domestic tourism category.
Kashmir, which was packed before the second wave of pandemic hit the country, according to the survey is still the most sought destination by tourists in India to spend their vacation in the coming months.
The other preferred destinations include Leh-Ladakh, Himachal, the Andamans, Goa, and Kerala. The survey said that Dubai-Abu Dhabi, the Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, and Europe are popular choices abroad.
The survey said that a significant 69 percent of respondents indicated keen interest to travel after relaxation in curbs with 18% ready to travel immediately post unlock and 51% within 3-6 months.
Seventy percent of respondents ranked health and safety as a key consideration in the survey while 66% of respondents are willing to increase spends to ensure higher levels of health and safety on their holiday.
Re-sanitation of rooms’ was selected by 52% of respondents as a key requirement and fully vaccinated hotel staff and drivers by 48% and 34% respondents, respectively
As for the duration, 35% of respondents chose holidays between 3-5 days; 52% for 6-12 days; 13% for a holiday of over 12 days.
Sixty-two percent respondents preferred to travel with family/friends; 20% as couples/solo and 18% in a vaccinated group.
As far as preferred mode of booking is concerned, 77 per cent choose expert guidance, 27% opted to purchase holidays through retail outlets; 17% for home service; 33% preferred a contactless experience of a virtual store/video chat, 23% opted for bookings via Web site/app.
Currently, tourism in Kashmir is in its revival mode as more than 1000 visitors visit the valley on an average daily.
While inquiries and bookings started picking up, the tourism department has gone into overdrive to vaccinate stakeholders.
Stakeholders claim that tourists from three states- Maharashtra, West Bengal, and New Delhi mostly visit Kashmir.