COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact of Government Shutdown on Travel Industry

The spread of coronavirus led to government restrictions and shutdowns all over the world. This also resulted in certain restrictions on domestic and international travel resulting in an unexpected crunch in the travel industry.

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Moreover, with the nationwide shutdown, everything came to a halt including the tourism industry. Let’s read further to know more about the impact of the government shutdown on the travel industry.

Response of the Indian Government to the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in January 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has so far affected almost every country in the world. Similarly, it also disrupted the Indian economy, including the tourism industry of India.

In India, the first step to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic involved thermal screenings of passengers arriving from China and other affected countries. As the pandemic started spreading, the Government suggested social distancing among the public along with initiating travel and entry restrictions.

By the end of March 2020, the Government also ordered a national lockdown resulting in the suspension of all domestic and international travel throughout the country. However, as things again started to come back to normal, the second wave of the pandemic in April 2021 again brought things to a halt, including overseas travel. State governments imposed lockdowns and curfews, thereby, restricting travel across the country.

Impact of Government Shutdown on Indian Travel Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the worldwide tourism industry including India's. In the third week of March 2020, the hotel sector faced a reduction of more than 65% in occupancy levels than in the year 2018. Here is how the Government shutdown impacted the travel industry:

  1. The Government shutdown resulted in intermittent closing of country borders, thus, bringing international travel to a standstill.
  2. There was also a significant decrease in business travels due to partial as well as complete shutdowns in India and other countries.
  3. Not just business travels, there has also been a significant decrease in group and leisure travels due to the fear of being infected.
  4. The travel industry, including airlines, hotels and restaurants, was also estimated to shrink by 50% in 2021, which meant a substantial loss of jobs and revenue across the sector.
  5. Moreover, inbound and outbound travel witnessed a significant low due to the Government shutdown in the country.

The government shutdowns followed by multiple restrictions have also changed the experience of travelling for travellers. With testing, thermal screenings, social distancing and masking, the new normal has brought a different routine for travellers all over the world.

Impact of Government Shutdown on Travel Insurance

A travel health insurance policy now covers COVID-19 in all its variants, including omicron, like any other illness. However, most travel policies do not offer coverage in case you travel despite Government shutdowns and test positive for COVID-19.

This is because travelling despite a government shutdown is considered a deliberate action to put yourself at risk. As a result, any resultant claim is not covered under your overseas or domestic travel insurance policy.

However, your travel insurance policy can cover you in case of a cancelled or delayed flight during a shutdown. It may also be automatically extended up to the mentioned period of shutdown in the destination country.

Ways to Travel Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the Government shutdown was quite hard on the travel industry, things are getting better now. Both domestic and international travel has opened with multiple measures, such as masking, testing, vaccination, giving a new ray of hope to the travel industry.

If you had also cancelled your plans due to coronavirus earlier, now is the time to make that journey. However, make sure to take proper measures to protect yourself from coronavirus, such as taking travel health insurance before starting your journey. Here is a checklist that you can follow to travel safely during the pandemic:

  • Research about all the travel-related restrictions of your destination so that you can accordingly plan your trip.
  • Make sure to obey social distancing rules while you are travelling.
  • Mask up along your journey and take sanitiser wherever you go.
  • Get yourself tested before and after the trip.
  • Get a double dose of vaccination against coronavirus.
  • Buy domestic travel insurance as it can protect you financially in case you get infected with coronavirus while travelling within India.

Heading Back to Normalcy

Now that the Government restrictions are being lifted, the travel industry is observing some growth. The airlines and the hospitality sector are making sure that their guests are safe by following the required safety measures.

But as a traveller, you should also follow all the travel rules to stay safe during this pandemic. Also, do not forget to buy domestic or overseas travel insurance before you start your journey.

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