Effects of Covid-19 on us and our tours of India and what we are doing about it.
There’s no doubt that covid-19 crisis has made a huge impact on the tourism industry among other businesses. Tourism in India is no exception too. In these clouds of uncertainty, no one is sure when the life would be back to normal and doors for international travel would be open again. As for as it concerns your travel to India, I would say that not much would be missed especially if you are planning for a tour to Northern India. The reason is the start of summer in April. The summer starts in April in India and stays till late July until the monsoon hits in August. This season in India is called ‘Off Season’ in terms of tourism. Things could have been a lot worst if this disaster would have happened in the winter when the tourism in India is at its peak.
Future Planning – Many travel companies and tour operators might have stopped advertising or working on their businesses at the moment. But we are considering this time as an opportunity to work on our tours and future plans and be prepared. So when many companies will start working on their things so we can be ready at the other end. So what we are doing is planning 6 months down the line. The things which we are doing and would suggest doing anyone else are:
- Communicate with the previous guests. Check on them how they are doing and make the relationships stronger. Offer any possible support they needed or future deals if possible.
- Work on SEO for 6 months down the line. Work on the virtual properties like your website (or websites in our case), Facebook pages, Twitter or Instagram account, write blogs etc.
- Sort out any pending tax accounts or GST.
- Think out of the box, Work on your tours. Think about how you can make it better, your marketing plan for the future, any future deals, discount or new tours which can be added.
- Don’t cancel any future tours but postpone.
- And most importantly don’t lose any hope and keep a positive attitude.
- Check on your staff especially tour guides and drivers – Our tour guides and drivers are our biggest asset and no surprise that they will be out of the work during this period so we are in constant touch with them and we’ll do our best to be supportive.
Recent Changes – The announcement was made on 11th March 2020 that all the e-visas will be cancelled and no tourists will be allowed entry in India from 13th March 2020 onwards. All the monuments were also closed immediately including the iconic Taj Mahal. No international flights were allowed to land at any Indian airport after 20th March which directly means that no international flights would be available for the international travellers to go back to their country unless it is specially arranged.
Many tour operators and travel companies acted wisely and quickly made changes to their clients travel plans to India. ‘Kiwi N Tiger’ also without any exceptions took the appropriate steps to stop receiving any further bookings. Surprisingly there were some travel operators who overlooked all the circumstances and kept on operating their tours and sent their clients to India. Recent news at ‘Seven Sharp’ on TV one showed that a tour operator from New Zealand operated a group tour to India during this crisis and as expected by others, everything went wrong just in the first week of their travel, with monuments been shut, lockdown approaching and uncertainty with the flight options back to New Zealand.
The tour operator who didn’t act so smartly about their guests to start making a smart move to leave their guests stranded at a hotel at Delhi airport and managed to fly back to New Zealand a night before the last flight took off from India. The group tried to book that flight but ran out of luck due to last moment reservations and left alone to manage everything on their own! It didn’t make any sense to us that why the tour operator decided to send the group at the first place when a country to which you are going to is cancelling the tourist visas. That was a big chance they took. Few of us would also blame the travellers that they should have decided not to travel but we believe if they would have been advised in the right way and made aware of the situation then the current sufferings to them could have been avoided. As a tour operator, we strongly believe that it is entirely our responsibility to advise our customers in the right direction and especially when you are operating tours to a country with a completely different culture, language and life.-At the time of writing this blog, the group was still under lockdown in the Delhi hotel and good news came that a chartered flight will be sent from New Zealand government for the Kiwis in India.
We also had a couple travelling through us at that time. They flew from Christchurch on 1st March and were travelling in India with us since that date. With things changing so fast we made sure well in advance that they surely manage to board the flight on 22nd March which they did and landed safely in Christchurch on 23rd.