Covid booster shots to impact India outbound travel

The booster shots will ensure hassle-free travel.

India outbound might partially bounce back this year. Thanks to the Covid booster shots now available in India, those administered with the dose will be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ and can now visit all-time favourite destinations like Spain, Switzerland, France, Greece, Netherlands, Croatia, and Austria —countries that have made the booster shot a requirement for entry.

“I believe that we have lost some time due to the uncertainties around the boosters. Nevertheless, even though a bit late, it is good news after all,” says Varesh Chopra, Regional Director – India & Southeast Asia, Globus Family of Brands.

The volume of arrivals from india to central and eastern europe decreased from around 1. 8 million in 2019 to 474 thousand in 2020.
The volume of arrivals from India to Central and Eastern Europe decreased from around 1.8 million in 2019 to 474 thousand in 2020.

Chopra added that the move impacts the traveling decision in a reassuring and positive manner. “It opens up the possibilities to consider more countries on your dreaming and planning list and, of course, covers one up for any booster mandates announced by destinations in the near future as well,” adds Chopra.

Indians eager to travel

Indians are ready and have been ready to travel for a long time now. The announcement of a booster dose is timely, says travel curator Nagsri Prasad Sashidhar, Chief Happiness Officer of NAGSRI-Creating Special Memories.

She added that this is also great news for travel curators who are planning European trips for their clients, thus giving the much-needed boost to their business. 

“Having travelled multiple times within the country, people are now itching to travel overseas. Considering we are looking at the summer months, the place they would like to travel to is Europe. However, lately the bummer has been that Europe has put forth a rule that one needs to have either taken the booster shot or be double vaccinated within 270 days of intended travel into the Schengen states. This has forced people to abort their plans. The announcement of a booster dose is timely and a blessing indeed because this will mean that we automatically will qualify for travel to Europe and that Indians can keep up with their plans,” she says.  

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Vaccination story a success

The Indian vaccination story has been a great success, and it goes to show anything is possible with the right political will, says Rohit Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel Group.

“India is now catching up with the developed world with the booster or precautionary doses now being available to all. Like the rest of the world, India too will have to learn to live with Covid. For tourism, being not ‘fully’ vaccinated was the last hurdle for entry into a few key destinations. With the rules being so dynamic and the virus itself mutating, having a protected population is the only way forward. The Indian traveller will now not have to worry about not being allowed into certain countries, and this will immediately open the world to welcome Indians like before,” says Kohli.

Amit Kalsi, Founder & CEO of Experiential Travel Journeys, says that the availability of booster shots in India is a step forward to making international travel accessible.

“While I am glad that the Indian government has recognised the need for opening booster doses for everyone 18+, I also wish we have a WHO/EU vaccine in India that covers population between 12-18 years to complete the process so the Indian families do not have to worry if the vaccines given to their kids are recognised globally and will not create hurdles when they travel as a family. Currently, those aged 12-15 years are given Corbevax, which is not WHO/EU-approved and process can take months,” says Kalsi.

Swiss mountain train bernina express crossing the alps.
Swiss mountain train Bernina Express crossing the Alps.

Chhavi Chadha, CEO of Bespoke Tailormade Experiences, said that the booster shots would ensure a hassle-free travel, which luxury tourists seek.

“Travelling without the booster dose to Europe was challenging as it meant getting a RTPCR before entering most countries and then getting tested again to get a green pass. All Eu countries did not have a consistent rule. Therefore, it meant dealing with different rules for different countries. The announcement of the booster dose being available for under 60 would simplify travelling to Europe. We now expect people flocking to Europe, a destination that has been out of bounds for the last two years. It is a much-awaited respite,” says Chaddha.

Jyoti Mayal, President of Travel Agents Association of India, stated that the tourism business has been the most affected by the pandemic, and hence such measures should be drawn and developed to promote travel.

“Countries such as France, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Netherlands, Spain etc have been the front runners to restart tourism and floated the opportunity for travellers with a booster shot to enter the EU freely. We at TAAI have been pushing since more than a year that, be it in India or abroad, similar policies/ protocols should be put in place to facilitate travel and tourism. Now, with a standard travel protocol, travellers – be it business, education, or leisure will travel without the hassle and with confidence,” says Mayal.

The announcement of booster shots coincides with the peak booking season for the upcoming summer vacations.

“The precaution dose opens up the travel opportunity to a far wider selection of international destinations, especially long-haul, and this will serve to boost business across leisure, business travel, and the powerful corporate MICE group segments,” says Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India)..

Daniel D’souza, President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel, added that the booster shot will certainly be advantageous to the European sector with the added assurance of a hassle-free travel experience, thus adding thrust to the recovery process for the industry.

As per recent data released by the health ministry, a total of 27,401 precaution doses were administered to people above 18 years of age. Of which, 6,190 booster doses were given to population between the age of 18-44 years, and a total of 21,211 people in the age group of 45-59 years received their booster shots.

If all goes well, India outbound will bounce back this year.

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