Sharat Dhall, President, Yatra.com remained optimistic about the future of travel and tourism in the coming months, arguing that despite the note ban, air traffic and international footfalls, both, have showed promising signs. Attributing growing numbers to a gamut of budget accommodation option and the presence of LCCs, he believed that demonetisation would expedite the shift of offline users onto the online platform.
While many have expressed concern over the impact of the government’s decision of demonetisation on travel and tourism, Sharat Dhall left nothing in the realm of ambiguity when he emphatically asserted that their transactions remained robust, and there was no setback in business as far as Yatra was concerned. “There were initial signs of hiccups, but talking about our perspective, business has been picking up across the spectrum. In fact, we have seen robust growth,” he said.
He noted that much of this growth could be attributed to the fact that their consumers were, anyways, used to the online mediums of payment, and used credit cards, debit cards and internet banking to process their purchase. “So, I do not think there will be any impact on them,” he said.
Pointing towards the slump in oil prices which has led to highly “subdued” airfares, he said “If I look at the December base, compared to the last year, air fares are down by 20%, or so.” Another reason for the consistent growth in numbers had been the rise in budget hotel accommodation, especially in the online space, he maintained. “All of these factors have had a collective impact in bringing down the overall cost of foreign holidays to a significant degree,” he said.
Supplementing his argument, he said “the bigger trend, which might have been partially fuelled by demonetisation, has been the gradual shift towards budget accommodation and opting for LCCs.” “Travellers are, in a way, compromising to reduce their overall expenditure,” added Sharat Dhall.
The cumulative effect of these developments has led to a growing interest in Southeast Asian destinations among travellers. “People are travelling to Dubai, Vietnam, Cambodia and others. Europe is not being looked at with the same vigour right now. I think it is also to do with the fact that it is winters, requiring longer stay and, by the virtue of being a long-haul getaway, are traditionally more expensive.” Sharat Dhall said.
Reflecting on the impact of demonetisation in the coming months, Sharat Dhall remained “truly optimistic” that, in the medium to long-run, demonetization would expedite the shift from offline to online travel space. “It is the understanding that convenience, transparency in pricing and availability of plethora of options would remove the need for transacting from offline sources,” he said.
He cited growing air traffic numbers and international footfalls to allay fears that have created uncertainty in the market. He contested that despite the announcement of banning notes in November, “domestic air traffic increased by 20 percent during the same period.” “Inbound numbers are doing fairly well, too. I believe that the current scenario is a temporary blip and nothing else,” he reiterated.