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Festive season bookings spike spells hope for return to normalcy

Lockdown fatigue is very real. And when combined with a surge in confidence and the draw of meeting family, the travel bug is bound to bite.

With the second wave behind India and a third wave not seeming imminent, travel sentiment has picked up. Month on month travel bookings have spiked five-six times for many travel operators. Year on year numbers are growing at an impressive rate too.

During Durga Puja, many people travel to Kolkata to celebrate with their families. Image: Shutterstock/Pralay Pal.

The upcoming festive season and winter are emerging as a big draw for advance bookings. While many are travelling to their hometowns, others are opting for hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir, all-weather favourites Ooty and Mahabaleshwar and Goa, as also touristy cities Jaipur, Udaipur, and Chandigarh. Lockdown-weary people are frequently booking week-long breaks in these haunts.

Diwali and other Indian festivals bring multi-generational families together, either at home or on vacation. Image: Shutterstock/StockImageFactory.

Depending on whether they seek to escape or celebrate, these prospective travellers display a wide variety of travel needs while booking. So, choices range from marquee properties to quaint homestays, staycations and even tents. Not surprisingly, tourism sector stakeholders expect festive season business to be quite proximate to that in pre-pandemic 2019.

Amid this emerging trend, people continue to enjoy staycations or drive to nearby destinations on impulse. Therefore, average realisations for hotel rooms in prominent cities have nearly doubled from bookings a year ago.

Some travel to celebrate, and others to escape. Chandratal Lake in the Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, is a beautiful place to find immense peace. Image: Shutterstock/ImagesofIndia.

ixigo’s travel trends report

According to the report brought out by travel aggregator ixigo, train travel in India is seeing a faster recovery than flight travel, with a swift recovery of reserved train ticketing. Passengers are preferring to travel to nearby locations. This explains heavy traffic along routes like Delhi-Kanpur, Surat-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Coimbatore, and New-Delhi-Chandigarh.

Due to the relaxation of restrictions by several states and normalisation of activities, metro-metro and non-metro to metro travel is bouncing back. Bookings from cities like Varanasi, Darbhanga, Patna, Gorakhpur to metros have seen a jump of 30-35 per cent during the last month.

The latest data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also indicates strong signs of month-on-month growth with a 61 per cent jump in air passenger traffic in July 2021 as compared to June 2021. Metro cities Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Kolkata emerged as key hubs for air travel bookings.

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