Mumbai: Online portals see high bookings, expect more travel
As summer vacations are round the corner and vaccination roll-out gains momentum, online travel portals are expecting a substantial number of bookings, with some terming the response to advance bookings as “encouraging”.
Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer of MakeMyTrip, said, “While travel to drivable destinations will continue to be preferred by leisure travellers, we are noticing an increase in searches and bookings to some of the lesser-known hot spots in Assam, Daman and Diu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, among others. In comparison to advance bookings for summer travel in 2019, we are seeing traction build gradually for the upcoming season. However, as summer sets in and vaccination roll-out picks up pace, we are hopeful we will see it reflect in travel bookings.”
As per the portal, compared to bookings made for the winter season in 2020, they are already noticing a 70% increase in daily holiday bookings for the upcoming summer season.
“Within India, apart from unexplored destinations, people will be seen traveling to Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, North-east and to hills located down south. International leisure destinations such as Maldives, Seychelles and Russia are seeing a sudden rise in demand for the summer travel season,” Prakash added.
International destinations that have opened their borders for India are seeing Indians travelling to those places. One such place is Seychelles which is a short-haul, visa-free destination for Indians, and therefore, does not entail planning much in advance.
Lubaina Sheerazi, chief executive officer, BRANDit, the marketing and PR office for Seychelles Tourism Board in India, said, “With Seychelles opening up for tourism, and Indians having access to a new international travel destination, the response has been overwhelming among both consumers and the travel trade fraternity. We have forward bookings confirmed for April and foresee many more confirmations in the coming weeks.”
According to travel app ixigo, there has been an increase in flight search queries for summer travel to destinations such as Goa, Andaman and Nicobar, Coorg, Varanasi, Guwahati and Patna.
“We are seeing a new trend of ‘vaxications’ picking up with travellers between the age group of 45-65 who are eager to travel post getting vaccinated. Enquiries for international travel is also picking up for destinations like Seychelles starting flights April onwards,” said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder, ixigo. He also said that they have witnessed 90% jump in train traffic with people overcoming anxieties of the pandemic and vaccine roll out.
Thomas Cook (India) Lts said their Holiday Readiness Report (December 2020) revealed that health and safety continues to take top priority in travel decisions with 93% respondents highlighting this as the most important factor while deciding a holiday.
“The visible preference for reputed brands is understandable with customers seeking reassurance from a health and safety perspective. So our packages with leaders in hospitality space such as Marriott, Accor, Taj, WelcomHeritage, Sterling Holidays and other branded regional chain hotels etc. are doing well for us,” Rajeev Kale, president and country head-holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook.
Similarly, SOTC said they have received an encouraging response from Indian travellers for summer holidays. “Providing a safe customer travel experience has been possible with the esteemed partnership and support from our partners (hospitality, cruises etc). We have forged partnerships with leaders in the travel ecosystem to build customer confidence and momentum in travel. We have associated with Accor Group, Marriott International, Taj Hotels, WelcomHeritage Hotels to offer safe holidays. And these packages have received a good response,” said Daniel D’Souza, president and country head, Leisure, SOTC Travel.