This year will end — and 2007 will begin — in a rush for the Great Indian Traveller. Both Christmas and New Year’s Day (also Id-ul-Zuha) fall on Mondays. Result? Two extended holiday weekends. But if you have not already made your travel bookings, it may well be too late — you may have to end up renting a DVD and staying at home.
There is a 30 per cent increase in tourist traffic over the same period last year, despite the price of travel packages having gone up, says Karan Anand of tour operators Cox and Kings.
A return ticket to Bali, which is normally available for Rs 20,000, is going for Rs 40,000. “Fares are at their highest levels,” says Deep Kalra of makemytrip.com. “Airline bookings are full up for Singapore, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Malaysia.”
Ankur Bhatia of the Bird Group, a conglomerate of travel companies, agrees, “For these two weekends, airlines are only offering full-economy rates, as the demand is huge.”
Carl Vaz of Dubai’s Department of Tourism says market queries for Dubai increased by over 150 per cent. “One reason is the shopping festival from December to February,” he says.
Within the country, people are heading for Goa, Kerala, Shimla, Kodaikanal and Ooty. The cost of package deals for these destinations has gone up by 15 per cent over last year, says Kalra. Anand says a marked trend of these weekends is “the increase in the number of people opting for five-star accommodation”.