Independence Day followed by Janmasthami on August 22 — two long weekends ideal for a short holiday to Goa. That is what Arup Goswami, 37, a call centre executive, thought before he called a tour operator to book two tickets.
“The travel agent said only business-class tickets were available for a 5.40 am flight on August 12,” said the Bhayender resident. “I think I’ll drive down to Lonavla instead.”
With two long weekends coming up, flights and hotels at domestic tourism spots such as Goa, Thiruvananthapuram and Jaipur are either sold out or unaffordable. According to travel experts, many people had planned their trip in advance, thus leaving late-minute planners with few options.
“We started getting booking and enquiries three weeks ago. In fact, the traffic on our website has risen by 50% since then,” said Sabina Chopra, co-founder and executive vice-president (operations) with Yatra.com.
One-way economy-class tickets from Mumbai to Goa, which normally cost about Rs 2,500, are now only available for Rs 8,500. Similarly, flights to Thiruvananthapuram cost Rs 14,000, nearly double the normal rate.
Budget travellers, meanwhile, are making the best of the off-season rates for nearby countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. “Some people are taking three days’ leave and combining the two weekends,” said Subhash Motwani, director, Compact Travels.
These foreign countries are offering all-inclusive packages starting at Rs 21,000 per person, including airfare and accommodation. Tourists are also flocking to hills stations such as Lonavla and Mahabaleshwar.
“We will do a day trip to Lonavla because our kids have exams later this week,” said Sapna Mutha, a homemaker from Nerul.