The world has been at war with Covid- 19 for more than a year now. Uncertainty, anxiety, and unemployment have been on peak ever since. India is one of the many countries that have been affected greatly due to the ongoing pandemic. This led to countless restrictions and lockdowns, which greatly impacted the economy of the country. However, the Travel and Tourism industry by and large encountered numerous hurdles as the virus gripped India in a headlock. Now, people are surrounded by four walls with wanderlust invading their minds. Therefore, instead of booking vaccination slots, travel enthusiasts booked hotel rooms and flight tickets to “revenge travel”.
Things were just starting to get better when the second wave hit the country. It proved to be deadlier than the first one in all sectors. Oxygen cylinders and beds were unavailable, and the healthcare system collapsed to a point where we had to rely on other countries to extend their support by sending supplies to India. Family members were forbidden to perform last rites, leaving them devastated.
However, even after seeing a surge in cases caused by the second wave in March-April, Indian citizens still haven't learned their lessons. Anxiety, frustration, and motivation levels seem to be at an all-time low, as everyone is cooped up at home. To cope with their monotonous lifestyle, revenge travel patterns emerged. Revenge travel or revenge tourism is a result of an additional occurrence known as ‘lockdown-fatigue’ or wanting to break free from lockdowns.
Rohit Garg, senior consultant at Mind Vriksh in Delhi explains, “Just as a car, if not driven, runs out of battery, humans face fatigue if they don’t move around. It’s actually mental fatigue and not really physical fatigue.”
Revenge travel is not as menacing as it sounds and it doesn’t mean avenging something or someone. Revenge travel or tourism is used to gratify one’s desire of travelling to take a breather. This word, however, is not new, it goes back a long time when customer spending escalated in China and citizens were yearning to buy things. It’s been derived from the term “revenge spending” or “revenge buying”.
Revenge buying is an astounding name that was developed in China after a recent actuality, bulimic buying which was applicable to both, online and in-store shopping. This occurrence was observed in many sectors in China after they relieved covid 19 restrictions. Citizens splurged extravagantly and stood outside stores in long queues to satisfy their shopping needs after months of confinement.
People from all sections of society are tremendously exhausted by their mundane lifestyles. They are extremely restless, anxious, and in desperate need of a vacation. For that reason, revenge tourism is catching their eye. As soon as there were talks about the five-level unlock, in no time, the country witnessed a shortage of hotel beds as opposed to a shortage of hospital beds.
School-going and college students are spending all their time glued in front of the computer screen. Students, who normally are accustomed to offline learning are now stuck in a confined space, burdened with assignments and tests, due to which their mental health is severely impacted. Not only this, but online school also causes increased headaches and eyesight problems. To get away from this pressure, many groups of friends make sudden trips to these tourist spots engaging in revenge travel.
Employees in Several organizations and companies were barely making any profits. In order for the companies to bring some income, the workload on employees started increasing. Working from Monday to Saturday for more than eight hours has led to employees, all over the country, being completely drained and burnt out.
Families, from parents to children are facing challenges, even so, the pandemic has made it more gruelling and strenuous. Homemakers not only look after the children who need constant care but also look after household chores. They never truly get a break, and hence to get away from their spouses and children, they begin planning vacations, despite the danger surrounding them. Although, by doing so, they escape the bear and fall to the lion.
India’s Federal Health Ministry during a press interview made a statement saying that everything the country has overcome after the second wave, would be null and void if citizens indulged in revenge travel.
The desire to seize even the tiniest window of opportunity to make up for lost time has been seen in other nations and countries as well. There is also a significant percentage of change in travel trends in the United States. Rising travel prices play a pivotal role in this shift from urban city travel to small-town bookings, even though international tourist spots are reopening. Anand Mahindra, the chairman of the Mahindra Group, remarked that the hastiness for freedom is a universal phenomenon.
This isn’t the first time Anand Mahindra has shared his thoughts on revenge travel progressing in India. Before, he had shared a viral picture of a tourist spot in Manali and described it as “alarming”.
Lakhs of tourists rushed to hill stations like Manali, Ooty, Himachal Pradesh, and Lonavala since June, when the border restrictions were relaxed. Viral images and videos of overcrowded markets with a complete disregard for masks, sanitization stations, and social distancing became a cause of concern for the country pointing to a potential third wave.
Revenge Travel emphasizes what everyone has been saying since we were hit by the pandemic; that we should not and cannot toss caution to the wind. Even a single mistake made could shake us up and rock our foundations.
Immediately after the government eases certain restrictions, people start booking hotels and restaurants in bulk. As a result, managers reinstate employees that they let go of, from villages, as a means of coping with the innumerable tourists. These tourists then act as carriers and infect these tourist hotspots which, yet again, lead to lockdowns and restrictions. This gives rise to unemployment. The people that were hired temporarily are not only then forced to return to their villages, but also carry variants of covid that could infect their respective villages.
Hence, a vicious cycle of unemployment and lockdowns is an inevitable consequence of revenge travel.
People battling mental health issues may find revenge travel to be a therapeutic way of distressing and disconnecting from the world for a while but the virus is still very contagious. They are relying on the phrase “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger” by risking it all and bursting to get out during the pandemic. But is this going to save them? We cannot afford to let our guards down until state-wise positivity rates drop to less than 2%. Just as the circumstances begin to improve, COVID-appropriate behaviour becomes as rare as a hen’s teeth.
Although travel prices and Airbnbs are at an all-time low with incentives such as tax reductions, and discounts with refunds, this is a cause for concern due to the expectancy of remarkably high carbon emissions. Therefore, engaging in revenge travel by rebooking flight tickets and accommodation to pick up travel plans from where they left off will speed up global warming by slowing down global recovery. However, according to an article by OutlookTraveller, there's expected to be a ‘corona hangover’ where popular, overcrowded destinations brimming with over-tourism can get a breather. For now.
Despite the decline in the number of cases, around half a lakh cases are still being reported in the country on a daily basis. Social distancing, wearing masks, and staying indoors are the only weapons at our disposal to fight the pandemic till everyone is vaccinated. According to a survey that was conducted recently, 83% of people have not complied with COVID-appropriate behaviours.
"Yes, it has been a tough time. However, we cannot let our guard down. We should not be mingling with groups. It is not advisable at all. We need to stay cautious for the next two to three months...," said Dr Vikas Maurya, director and Hod, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh.