Mulund resident Vikram Pandey wrapped up his New Year’s vacation in Kerala on January 2. Less than three weeks later, the senior accounts executive with a consumer goods firm will set off for another trip, this time to Goa.
Like Pandey, hundreds of Mumbai residents are planning short trips for the long weekend starting January 24. With Republic Day falling on a Monday, flights on popular domestic routes and hotels are packed with travellers making use of the year’s first long weekend, said travel operators.
“Flight and hotel bookings in metros and tourists’ hubs such as Goa and Mahabaleshwar are up by more than 30% over the previous long weekend, in October last year,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, a travel portal.
He said that the recent flash sales by Air India and Jet Airways played a pivotal role in whipping up bookings.
Travel companies also saw new domestic destinations emerge among the popular ones during the long weekend. “We are seeing places such as Pondicherry, Puri and Gangtok debut among the top 10 destinations for this month,” said Samyukth Sridharan, president and chief operating officer, Cleartrip. He said 82% bookings for the Republic
Day long weekend were made more than a month in advance.
A section of tourists exploring short-haul foreign destinations have also taken leave to extend the three-day-long break. “For travel to destinations such as Dubai, Thailand and Bangkok, we have observed longer itineraries,” said Vicki Parris, national brand leader (India) with travel company Flight Shop.
The upcoming long weekend has however, turned into a dampener for nuclear families with school-going children. “The bookings are not choc-a-bloc owing to school examinations,” said Jay Bhatia, co-chairman, the airline council with the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI).