With yet another extended weekend round the corner, people from Mumbai are making plans to make the most of it. Travel booking figures show most trips begin from Friday (International Labour Day and Maharashtra Day) to Monday (Buddha Poornima).
But unlike previous long weekends this year, most travellers have picked destinations that are a drive away from home as domestic airfares are going through the roof.
Travel operators say tourist spots accessible by roads are in demand as the summer rush has made airfares unaffordable for last minute travellers. A Mumbai to Goa ticket, for instance, which is usually available for Rs 3,000 was priced between Rs 13,285 and Rs 33,546 on May 1. For May 7, ticket prices ranged between Rs 5,000 and Rs 18,000.
According to a travel portal, 93% of the preferred destinations for the upcoming weekend were within five to six hours driving distance.
“Travellers from Bengaluru are heading to places such as Coorg and Ooty, those travellers from Mumbai are going to Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and Goa,” said Ranjeet Oak, chief business officer, holidays, MakeMyTrip.
Previous long weekends had witnessed a surge in air ticket bookings, courtesy flash sales announced by many domestic airlines around that time. “As the airfares have risen, there is a surge in demand for destinations that are at a driving distance — Goa, Alibaug and Mahabaleshwar from Mumbai, Jaipur and Agra from Delhi, Pondicherry from Chennai and Coorg, Mysore and Munnar from Bangalore,” said Samyukth Sridharan, president and chief operating officer, Cleartrip, another travel portal.
A significant number of travellers are headed for short foreign trips, said travel operators.
“Our outbound bookings rose by an impressive 26%. While short hauls such as Dubai, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia continue to feature on travellers’ radar, we are seeing newer locales such as Korea, Turkey and Japan making a splash for Indians this summer,” said Jatinder Paul Singh, senior vice president and head of sales and distribution Leisure Travel (Outbound), Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.