The Indian Cricket team folded up well short of its target in the opening match against New Zealand in the ongoing T20 World Cup, but airlines and hotels have exceeded their targets and are riding high on the high demand for tickets and rooms in cities hosting India matches.
Data from travel companies showed airfares to Kolkata, Bangalore and Chandigarh — the three cities hosting India matches — has almost doubled, courtesy a healthy two digit percentage rise in flight bookings to these destinations.
The current airfare from Delhi to Kolkata, for instance, is 70% higher than how much an average ticket would cost this time of the year.
Until Thursday evening — two days ahead of the big India-Pakistan clash at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens — travel portal Makemytrip.com recorded a week-on-week rise of 40% in flight bookings to Kolkata.
“The rise in bookings has whipped up airfares on the route. A Delhi-Kolkata air ticket that costs Rs5,600 this time of the year is now going at Rs9,500,” said Diwakar Pareek, vice-president (online revenue), Makemytrip.com.
Domestic air fares until March are usually low, as the travel season begins from mid-April after final exams in many schools, experts said.
Other portals reported similar trends too.
“We see a 20% increase in air bookings and accommodation from Mumbai and Delhi to Kolkata for the India-Pakistan match scheduled for Saturday,’’ said Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox & Kings.
A large section of people taking flights to watch the games planned the trips on an impulse, according to data trends.
“Bookings to Kolkata for the weekend of 18-19 March made through Cleartrip Mobile, our mobile app, have jumped to 52%, with many travellers making impulse purchases from the palm of their hand,” said Amit Taneja, chief revenue officer, Cleartrip.
There are also those cricket followers who prefer short road trips and budget stays, travel experts said.
If Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, for instance, is hosting a match, it will have cricket enthusiasts driving in from Delhi, Chandigarh and other cities.
“We have seen a jump of 267% in bookings for budget accommodation in Kolkata for the upcoming weekend.
Budget accommodation is clearly the top choice across all destinations and we are expecting a surge of last minute bookings,” said Sharat Dhall, president Yatra.com.