The steep rise in domestic airfares since November this year has Mumbaiites increasingly choosing foreign holidays that cost marginally higher.
Despite the hike in fares to foreign destinations, there has been a 30% increase in the number of bookings to places like Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia from December 20 to 31. The same trend was witnessed during the Diwali weekend.
“Fares are high because flights to these destinations are packed,” said Anup Kanuga, owner of Bathija Travels.
Domestic airfares have doubled since the second week of November, making the difference in fares between domestic and foreign locales marginal. “This has provided an added impetus to short-haul international destinations like Maldives, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai,” said Manmeet Ahluwalia, the India marketing head of travel portal, Expedia.
Travel portals are compensating for the high airfares by offering up to 50% discounts on food, stay and sightseeing. For instance, a stay at a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur is available for Rs 1,769 per night, which is 36% less than the hotel’s normal rate. “I got a four-day trip to Thailand for the price of Kerala,” said Vishal Bhargav, a Khar-based entrepreneur.
Some tour operators are also helping tourists get reasonable deals from airlines.
“We have got comparitively cheaper deals to those visiting our offices personally because it is difficult to simultaneously negotiate with customers and the airline over the phone,” said Lalit Seth, managing director, Raj Travels.
West-bound travel has been limited barring “a few travellers to the US”.