This year will end - and 2007 will begin – in a rush for the Great Indian Traveller. Both Christmas and the first day of the New Year (also Id-ul-Zuha) are Mondays and holidays. Result? An extended holiday weekend.
But if you haven’t already done your bookings, you might have to end up renting a DVD and staying home. While there is a 30 per cent increase in traffic over the same period last year, according to Cox & Kings’ Karan Anand, the price of travel packages has also gone up.
A return ticket to Bali, for instance, that is normally available for Rs 20,000, is now going for Rs 40,000. Tickets to Singapore, another favourite holiday destination, are for upward of Rs 30,000.
“For these two weekends, airlines are offering only full-economy rates, as demand is far outstripping supply,” says Ankur Bhatia of the Bird Group, India’s largest conglomerate of travel and tourism.
“Fares are at their highest IATA levels,” agrees Deep Kalra of makemytrip.com. “Tickets are full up for destinations like Singapore, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Bangkok, and Malaysia.”
Market queries for Dubai, for instance, says Dubai’s Department of Tourism’s Carl Vaz, increased by over 150 per cent while conversions doubled: "One reason being the Dubai Shopping Festival scheduled between December 20 and February 2," he points out.
In the domestic sector, people are heading out to Goa, Kerala, Shimla, Corbett, Kodaikanal and Ooty. Package deals for these destinations have gone up by 15 per cent over the last year says Kalra.
Anand says that one trend that is emerging in the Christmas and New Year weekend travel is, “the significant increase in the number of people opting for five-star accommodation.” Travelguru's Amit Kapoor feels that Indians are finally moving on from the ‘summer holiday’ concept.
“The entire family is travelling for short-haul weekend trips – as the two upcoming weekends prove.” Travelguru, he claims, purchased tickets well in advance to pre-empt the rush.
“South East Asian airlines, which normally sell tickets for a steal through the year, have stripped all discounts for this period.”