Madhavan Menon, Executive Chairman of Thomas Cook India, shared insights and reflections on the travel industry during a recent industry overview cum fireside chat on the sidelines of the 2nd ET Travel & Tourism Annual Conclave & Awards in New Delhi on November 30. Menon expressed optimism about the industry’s ability to transform challenges into opportunities over the last two years.
In the retrospective view, Menon emphasised that the disruption caused by the pandemic had served as an opportunity for the travel industry. Despite the challenges, travel companies showcased outstanding performance by reengineering costs and adapting to changing circumstances.
“I think we’ve come up with as an industry, despite all the challenges, despite everything, if you look at the performance of the travel companies, it has been outstanding,” he mentioned.
Opportunity in disruption
Menon acknowledged that the industry now faces a new set of challenges, including disruptions in the supply chain, resulting in higher costs, geopolitical issues, and other unforeseen obstacles. However, he highlighted a McKinsey study, indicating a positive outlook for tourism, predicting a significant rebound despite the challenges.
Consumer behavior & sustainable travel
Menon discussed the shift in consumer behavior, moving from revenge travel to sustainable travel. He noted the sustained growth in the number of people traveling, emphasizing the long-term trend. Menon also pointed out the positive impact of consumer behavior changes on the industry, contributing to its recovery.
“These are numbers that sort of things inspire us to believe that this is a long-term trend, that we go back to the India growth story and talk of whether we were altered and memoving towards the USD 5 trillion economy number,” he mentioned while talking about rising demand despite rising prices and other challenges.
Domestic tourism & new destinations
Regarding domestic tourism, Menon emphasised the growth across various forms, including road transport, cruises, and resorts. He noted the success of cruises, citing a significant increase in people driving to resorts. Menon highlighted that new destinations, including Kashmir and the Northeast, are witnessing increased tourism due to improved accessibility.
Inbound tourism recovery
While inbound tourism faced challenges earlier in the year, Menon expressed optimism about its recovery. He attributed the rebound to India’s visibility on the global stage, benefiting from the G20 and the positive perception of India as a tourist destination.
Menon acknowledged the collaboration between the travel industry and the government but emphasized the different objectives. He suggested that while the government could focus on attracting tourism into India, the industry’s role is to ensure sustainability and visibility to maintain growth.
In conclusion, Menon highlighted the sustained trend in the travel industry, driven by changes in consumer behavior and a focus on sustainability. He stressed the importance of continued efforts to ensure the industry’s growth and sustainability.