The ongoing festive season is seeing domestic destinations emerge as favourites among holidayers largely due to the falling value of the rupee.
Foreign travel is set to fall at least by 10-15% around this time compared to last year, say travel agents. Even the few who may opt to travel overseas are likely to prefer destinations in West or far East Asia to locales in Europe and United States, the traditional favourites among the Indian elite.
“People are cutting down their trips abroad. Europe and the US are out of budget for most Indian travellers,” says Iqbal Mulla, president of Travel Agents Association of India.
However, there has been a considerable increase in takers for Indian holiday packages to destinations in Kerala, the Northeast and North India apart from Puri and the Sunderbans, even as traditional favourites like Goa, Manali, Rajasthan and Agra continue to maintain their sway.
“We are expecting over 20% hike in the number of domestic holiday package this festive season,” says Mulla. “Of this, about 15-20% bookings are for the new locales,” he added.
Overall, the airline bookings at travel portals like yatra and makemytrip are expected to be 40-50% higher this year compared to last year, as per the recent data. Many of these bookings have been done much in advance.
Airfares have also gone up between 35-70%, depending on the sectors, this year against last year. For instance, the cheapest Delhi-Guwahati return ticket in the month of November is at R12,000 (as of October 7) from R5,000-6,000. The cheapest one-way ticket to Kochi from Mumbai for a trip in the first week of November is about R7,000 (as of October 7) as compared to R4,000-5,000 last year.
However, the high airfare is being offset by lower hotel prices as many properties are giving heavy discounts, says Sharat Dhall, president of online portal yatra.
“There has been a steep increase in the number of hotels at most popular holiday destinations across the country. This is the reason why the hotel prices are still very competitive,” adds Dhall.
The hotel prices at popular holiday destinations, which are mostly tier-2 cities and towns, during the upcoming holiday season, are somewhat flat as compared to last year, according to data compiled by yatra.
The high airfares have also led many to opt for railway travel and road transport for visiting close-by holiday spots.
“The bus and train bookings have risen by about 5% compared to last year. We expect this number to increase in the coming days,” added Mulla.