Revenge tourism on the rise?


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Humans are naturally inclined to travel and explore the unknown. Breaking the tedium of daily routine and taking a vacation has become a prevalent practice in recent times. The increasingly stressful working conditions where people work for more than 40 hours per week with no time to spare for themselves perhaps adds to this desire for a change.

As per reports, the number of people choosing foreign locations for their vacations has been on the rise in recent years.The IT boom has enabled certain segments of people to afford foreign vacations and it also gives a job-flexibility to work from anywhere in the world, if needed. A report published by the Bureau of Immigration, Government of India in 2022, shows 21.09 million annual departures from India in 2022. India ranks 14th in the world in terms of tourism receipts (expenditure by inbound visitors). The highest departures from India are recorded in the months of September, October and November, coinciding with the festive holidays.

The top ten destination countries that Indians like to travel to are UAE, Saudi Arabia, U.S, Singapore and Thailand, the report states. Gujarat has the highest tourist departure while Kerala shares 4.02 percent of annual domestic departures with 0.35 million people travelling out of the country with tourist visas. As per UNWTO (United nations world tourism organisation, May 2023 statistics), the best performing destinations were Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Albania and Bulgaria. UNWTO statistics also state that there were overall 26915 departures from India to other countries in 2019. This number severely dwindled the following years due to Covid related restrictions.

Although the Covid pandemic undoubtedly affected the tourism sector world over, its aftermath also saw the prevalence of a ‘revenge tourism’ culture. Revenge tourism is like an outlet for people to take back the control that they lost during the pandemic. As the world shrunk to the four walls of a home and professional space entered the personal, many felt the need to escape from the tedium of work-from-home and sought out revenge travel where they could get back the mental peace lost by staying indoors for more than a year.

‘I think the majority would agree that COVID-19 pandemic disrupted people’s lives and emotions. As a result of this unforeseen change and upheaval in one’s lives, it led to several different behavioural engagements. One of them certainly has been an exponential increase in the volume of travel, and what we call revenge travel as a result of the 2 year long crisis. It is seen that disengagement was the main motivation to travel during the post pandemic period,” Licensed Clinical Psychologist (UK & India) and Certified Trauma Specialist, Shubhika Singh says.

”It depends on the individual plus their circumstances. If one is suffering in their current routine, then I suppose a break from it would be essential for their mental and social well being. However, there are many individuals who actually felt at ease during the Pandemic as the monotony or the lack of external stimulus ironically helped bring a sense of control in their personal life. Travel certainly can act as a stress buster for individuals but again we have to factor in the type of individual and their circumstances. ”

“I think the millennials are more prone to sharing their leisure activities like travel with the rest of the world as compared to the older generations. The experience of travel as a leisure activity was done more by the previous generations compared to the millennials who are more concerned about creating an image, a story or a narrative about themselves for the world to consume,” Shubhika points out.

”At the same time, in many cases, vacation only acts as a pause in their current stressors rather than as a redirection in understanding their struggles. Doing things such as opening up to family or friends on the trip, reflecting on their concerns with a new lens, engaging in healthy forms of distraction and laughter can make a positive difference on the vacation,’ Shubhika says.

VFS Global, is a visa outsourcing and technology service agent that specialises in making visa processing easier and faster. The company carries out all the paperwork related to visa processing in its various centres across the globe and sends out the filled applications to the various embassies for visa approvals. According to a VFS Global spokesperson ” Outbound travel from India rebounded faster than expected with a strong wave of revenge travel since the opening of international borders in mid-2021. The momentum continues to be extremely robust despite a gradual easing in pent-up demand. For two consecutive years – 2021 and 2022 — we observed that pent up travel demand led to extension of the peak summer travel period in India up to September and October. We expect this trend to taper down this year. ”

In terms of volume , India recorded more than 140% increase in visa applications in 2022 over 2021. The demand persists as we witnessed another 20% growth over last year in the first half of 2023. The travel outlook is extremely positive, and we are confident to touch the pre-pandemic (2019) volumes by year-end. Conventionally popular destinations such as Canada, Europe, UK, and the US continue to attract travellers. Destinations offering eVisa solutions such as Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and Thailand have also been extremely popular. One of the major defining trends has been the growing preference for personalised services such as Visa At Your Doorstep (VAYD). With an increasing number of travellers prioritising safe travel, VAYD applications in 2022 were around 5 times higher than 2019 (pre-pandemic times). In 2022, the volumes more than doubled from 2021. The trend continues this year as well. VAYD is a great initiative for visa applicants from tier-2 and tier-3 cities. It saves them time and money as they no longer need to travel to a centre in a metro city for their visa application process.

The rise in outbound travel from India was earlier than expected driven by unprecedented pent-up demand. At the same time limited visa appointment slots have opened up an opportunity for fraudulent entities. Applicants are advised to beware of scammers and fraudulent entities who prey on the aspirations of those wishing to travel abroad for leisure, work, or study by selling fake appointments or guaranteeing positive visa decisions using VFS Global’s name or independently.

”VFS Global manages only the non-judgmental aspects of the visa application process and our role is limited to front-end administrative tasks only, which include collecting visa application forms, required documentation as per the checklist, and enrol biometrics, if applicable. VFS Global has no role in the decision-making process of granting or refusing a visa. Visa appointments are free and available on a first-come, first-serve basis only at www.vfsglobal.com. In some cases, customers may have to prepay an approved VFS Global service fee for select countries,’ clarifies the spokesperson.

So how has revenge tourism affected the global travel market? With more people opting to travel, airfare and lodging costs boomed in the 2021-2022 period. However, as per reports, the prices are fluctuating ever so often that travellers are often led to believe that travel is becoming an increasingly expensive affair. Travel experts say that this sudden surge in revenge travel could as easily go down as it surged. With people adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and Covid restrictions becoming almost non-existent, many believe that this ‘wish’ to escape could soon die down.

One can say without doubt that travel takes the top spot in the bucket list of various individuals. However, factors like cost, unavailability of leaves and the difficulty of procuring visas are some factors that deter people from engaging in this common leisure activity. Nevertheless, with many Indian nationals moving abroad for job and study purposes, a new travel trend of parents visiting children in foreign locations and family foreign trips are becoming more prevalent than ever.



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