Rakshit Hegde’s jaw dropped when his travel agent told him the Mumbai-Singapore return airfare during the Diwali week [November 6-14] is Rs 25,000.
“That is at least Rs 8,000 more than usual,” said the marketing manager. With most nearby foreign shopping destinations exceeding his budget, the 32-year-old has settled for a four-day trip to Coorg.
Despite a month left for the festival, flights to shopping and leisure destinations such as Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are full, and fares have shot up between Rs 8,000 and Rs 14,000 across four airlines: Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Air India and Singapore Airlines.
A Mumbai-Dubai return ticket, normally available for Rs 16,000, is selling for Rs 24,000. Of these, Singapore is the most expensive destination on the Diwali week, with fares having almost doubled.
It’s all about high demand, said travel agents. “Laxmi Puja is on November 5. People are leaving for vacations the next day and schools re-open only after November 15,” said Anup Kanuga, owner Bhatija Travels.
Tour managers said the demand to these destinations peak during Diwali because people flock there to shop.
“Shopping in Bangkok during Diwali has become a ritual for us,” said Lovely Bhumra, a homemaker from Andheri who booked a five-day package tour in August.
“The later you book the more you spend,” said Rajesh Rateria, western region chairman with the Travel Agents Association of India.