W Power 2024

Time to travel: Upcoming long weekends fuel demand for domestic vacations

Online travel platforms are witnessing a five-fold increase in bookings and flight searches for Holi and Good Friday travel

Anubhuti Matta
Published: Mar 21, 2024 02:18:40 PM IST
Updated: Mar 22, 2024 10:26:44 AM IST

Time to travel: Upcoming long weekends fuel demand for domestic vacationsAdventure travel is seeing a surge in interest, particularly for unique experiences such the playful-yet-traditional Lathmar Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan for the upcoming long weekend due to Holi and Good Friday. Image: Saurabh Sirohiya/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The upcoming long weekends for Holi [March 25] and Good Friday [March 29] are seeing a noticeable uptick in travel across India. "Online travel platforms are witnessing a five-fold increase in bookings, highlighting a trend towards planning short vacations and weekend getaways," says Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip, an online travel aggregator (OTA).

According to Prahlad Krishnamurthi, chief business officer at OTA Cleartrip, the domestic flight category has witnessed 16 percent higher bookings as compared to the festive period in 2023.

OTA ixigo has registered a 46 percent increase in flight searches for Holi travel, while domestic fares for popular routes have shot up by 25 to 30 percent in the last week of March, notes Aloke Bajpai, chairman and managing director.

“Our data indicates a surge not only from metros and mini-metros but also from regional Tier II and III cities," says Daniel D’souza, president and country head of SOTC Travel, a tour and travel agency. “What is noteworthy is that we are seeing a surge in air-inclusive holidays; drivecations too are seeing a brisk business,” he adds.

Domestic destinations in demand

Consumer data released by Thomas Cook, a travel services company, and SOTC, reveal that this Holi, domestic travel is witnessing an uptick, enjoying a share of 70 percent compared to international destinations with 30 percent.

Adventure travel is seeing a surge in interest, particularly for unique experiences such as camel races and the playful-yet-traditional Lathmar Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan, says Pitti of EaseMyTrip. Additionally, emerging destinations such as Ahmedabad and Kodaikanal, alongside hill stations such as Mahabaleshwar and Ooty, are gaining popularity for their adventure offerings, showing a demand for new and exciting outdoor activities. Cultural experiences in places such as Jaipur and Anandpur Sahib are also drawing significant attention.

According to consumer data by Thomas Cook-SOTC, there is a 30 percent increase in interest in outdoor and adventure travel such as biking trips, camping, trekking and safaris.

Time to travel: Upcoming long weekends fuel demand for domestic vacations

For leisure trips, destinations such as Goa, Srinagar, Guwahati, and Port Blair continue to remain popular.

According to OTA MakeMyTrip (MMT), Udaipur and Jaipur, as well as Puri and Varanasi are witnessing the highest hotel bookings after Goa, especially since last year, emerging as the second-most preferred category after beaches. Srinagar, Katra, Coorg and Ooty are also emerging as popular destinations, exhibiting significant year-on-year growth.

“While mid-category rooms remain the most booked, the share of premium bookings is higher than usual by close to 10 percent,” says Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group CEO of MMT.

Also read: Where are travelers headed in 2024?

Overseas outlook

"This year, advanced fares for international destinations have shown a decreasing trend compared to last year, becoming a favoured choice for Indian travellers during the summer season,” says Bajpai of ixigo.

He adds that there has been a notable surge in travel searches for visa-free destinations among Indian travellers, signifying a heightened interest in travel to easy and hassle-free destinations this year.

Countries such as Iran, Malaysia, Kenya and Thailand have experienced up to 100 percent increase in travel searches since implementing visa-free policies, according to Bajpai.

Easy visa regimes for such as Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam-Cambodia, Abu Dhabi-Dubai and Oman are also fuelling demand for these destinations, while direct connectivity to places such as Baku and Vietnam are propelling impulse purchases, according to Thomas Cook-SOTC.

Also read: Hours in a day vs Days in a Year: Should India Inc re-think annual leaves?

Summer Vacations

OTAs are positive about a strong demand for summer travel and are already seeing signs. ixigo, for instance, has seen a 150 percent increase in searches for international travel in April and May compared to last year.

Pitti of EaseMyTrip says, “We anticipate the summer travel market to boom and expect a significant increase in summer travel bookings this season.”

While summer holidays are usually the peak season travel and tour companies look forward to that period, they are also foreseeing a demand-supply issue.  

“There is a tempered outlook on capacity expansion. Consequently, we anticipate a heightened fare environment for domestic travel, with aggregate fare levels projected to increase up to 10 percent for the April to June period compared to last year,” says Krishnamurthi of Cleartrip.

Time to travel: Upcoming long weekends fuel demand for domestic vacations

Pitti advises booking tickets in advance anticipating the high demand. However, he informs that airlines such as IndiGo are planning to add new domestic routes and Air India will operate 360 flights daily, indicating a 25 percent increase in domestic flights and a 20 percent increase in international flights compared to last year.

And the demand for international travel is expected to remain strong throughout the summer months. “Fare levels have been rationalised compared to 2023 and are expected to maintain moderate levels. International booking trends indicate a 50 percent growth compared to last year,” says Krishnamurthi.

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