COVID-19 surge has not yet dented domestic travel plans: Cleartrip CEO Ayyappan Rajagopal

A child wearing a protection mask and gloves is seen at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport (Representative image: Reuters)

A child wearing a protection mask and gloves is seen at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport (Representative image: Reuters)

The surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the new Omicron variant, has not dented overall demand for tickets during the busy winter travel season, according to Cleartrip Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ayyappan Rajagopal.

In talks with CNBC-TV18, Rajagopal said there used to be around 4.2 lakh travellers in November and December before the COVID-19 outbreak. In the same period in 2021, it was around 3.35 lakh – almost 85 percent of the pre-pandemic time, he said.

Talking about the impact of surging Omicron variant of novel coronavirus infection on the travelers, the CEO said the numbers have still not crashed.

“If we talk about domestic travelers, the bookings that they are doing at this point of time is a lot more for the near term rather than planning for two-three months ahead,” he said.

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Even international travelers are still thinking about carrying on with their plans. They are not postponing or cancelling their travels. They are going ahead, but it is most dependent on whether the airlines are operating, or the government coming up with new restrictions, he said.

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the Omicron varaint of coronavirus

“So, largely, the numbers have remained at par with what November and December saw. We saw a huge uptick in the two months in domestic travelers. The New Year saw a dip but it has been broadly flat,” he said.

The search trends have gone down 15-20 percent Month-on-Month, Rajagopal shared.

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“People mostly search when they are still not clear, whereas direct booking happens when people are clear about their travel plans. At present, bookings are a lot more for the near term than two-three months into the future,” he added.

India has seen a massive surge in new COVID-19 cases as it reported 90,928 fresh infections in the 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry’s data updated on January 6 at 8 am . On the previous day, there were 58,097 fresh cases reported.