Indian travellers traditionally reserve foreign holidays for the end of April, when schools close for the summer.
This year, a festive long weekend for Holi and Good Friday is seeing a large number of them hopping on international flights to short haul destinations.
Travel bookings showed many families are clubbing the public holidays of March 24 and 25 - for Holi and Good Friday respectively - with the upcoming weekend to set off on their first foreign trip for this year.
Thomas Cook’s said it registered a 45% growth over 2015, with fewer seats left on flights to Thailand, Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia. “Indian travellers are opening up to intellectually and educationally enriching getaways, along with traditional sightseeing vacations,” said Rajeev Kale, president and chief operating officer, Leisure Travel, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.
Travel portal Yatra.com recorded a 126% rise in bookings to foreign destinations that are less than five hours from their homes.
“This is one of the longest weekends this year , and with Holi and Good Friday being holidays for almost everybody, many people are planning a quick getaway. Our bookings have seen a three-fold increase, with a majority of reservations coming in about three weeks prior to the four-day weekend,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.
Dhall said more than half the long weekend bookings chose budget destinations, and about a third picked premium stay.
Some travel companies said hefty discounts were being offered by hotels in Shimla, Goa, Sri Lanka and Thailand, which could have contributed to the unseasonal rush .
“The experiential travel segment has gone up by more than 35%, as people are increasingly choosing to celebrate Holi outside their city, in resorts,” said Manmeet Aluwalia, marketing head, Expedia.
He said some families also made bookings to experience traditional Holi celebrations at destinations such as Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Mathura, and Vrindavan.