Today's Traveller Interviews

Naveen Kundu: Build a hybrid business model to sustain, thrive and succeed in times to come

#ReviveRebuild | Today’s Traveller initiative “Revive and Rebuild the Travel and Tourism Industry” invites Naveen Kundu, Managing Director, Ebixcash, Travel and Holidays to share insights on new challenges in the wake of the second Covid wave and mapping a strategic way forward …

Naveen Kundu, EbixCash, Travel and Holidays
Naveen Kundu, Managing Director, Ebixcash, Travel & Holidays

Today’s Traveller: How do you assess the current situation?

Naveen Kundu: These are unprecedented times, none of us thought we could have encountered anything like this. Just a couple of months ago we were sure we are staying ahead of this virus, the vaccinations process had kick-started and the number of cases was on a constant decline and it seemed things were almost back to normal. Everyone thought that in a few months all will be back to a pre-covid state and the confidence was largely because of the vaccination rollout. It was not to be and the virus had other plans.

Today’s Traveller: Were you prepared for a second Covid wave scenario and the likelihood of a further setback?

Naveen Kundu: No one expected it would get to this and everyone has been caught by total surprise. Things are grim not only for the business of travel and tourism but for the human race at large. The focus has completely shifted to staying safe and saving lives … people are focused on making groups and trying to source aid and facilities for family and friends as every system is overwhelmed, rightly so, as the caseload has increased.

Today’s Traveller: What new challenges are likely to take shape?

Naveen Kundu: The situation was challenging for our sector and continues to be challenging. While domestic leisure business had started crawling back and revival was looking possible, we have now been hit by something where recovery seems to be a distant truth. The inbound business even for the 2021 season seems to be out of the base and may not recover before October next year which is 2022.

The way media internationally has projected us, it seems nothing is going right for India and as the picture painted is bleak, it will take a long time for an incoming business to revive. The outbound business was looking up since most of the European countries and Americans were planning to open by the end of June/ early July as their vaccination process was in line with their projections and assumptions.

However, it will only come back when the airlines start operating and the world starts opening up on us, but here again, the way we have been blocked recently by all countries, this seems to be not happening anytime soon. 

Today’s Traveller: The way forward with strategies to rebuild the travel and tourism industry

Naveen Kundu: The situation leaves us with self-reliant domestic tourism and this will remain as our only hope, but unlike last time where we saw a V-shaped recovery, this time around it looks to be a more U-shaped recovery and this holds good for the domestic airlines and hotels segment. 

This is the time when we have to keep ourselves and our teams and our industry safe and fight the virus and beat the stress, nothing much that we can do other than keep ourselves and our hopes alive. 

However this an opportunity for us to come together as one industry, to learn together, to support each other, and work together. This is the time larger companies lead the way and help small and medium travel companies to stay alive and show the way to create and build a hybrid business model to sustain, thrive and succeed in times to come. 

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