After two wash outs, summer holiday travel is making a strong comeback this year. With international flights resuming after over two years, and the third wave behind us, Indians are packing their bags and heading to popular tourist destinations with a vengeance.

Those in the sector acknowledged that booking trends are positive. Vipul Prakash, COO, MakeMyTrip, said the travel sentiment is at an all-time high. “As per current data patterns on the MakeMyTrip platform, domestic travel bookings for leisure travel will hopefully surpass pre-COVID levels in the coming weeks. As the summer season approaches, we also believe that bookings will increase manifold as people will return to taking a summer holiday after a gap of two years. Preferred destinations include Goa, Srinagar, Dehradun and Kochi,” he said.

International travel too is gaining momentum, he said, with searches rising on the platform on a week-on-week basis. “Among destinations, UAE and Maldives have already seen a recovery of nearly 80% this month from pre-COVID days. On similar lines, flight bookings to USA, UK, Canada, Australia have already touched a recovery of 60% verses January 2020. Flight bookings to short-haul destinations including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are seeing a week-on-week growth. Furthermore, booking patterns indicate that travellers are increasingly willing to splurge on stays or accommodations and on hyperlocal experiences,” he added.

Cleartrip confirmed that there is a positive sentiment towards travel right now and said the next two to three years are set to witness “a dramatic shift in travel trends.”

“Since the government of India has announced the resumption of scheduled international flight operations from March 27, we have seen a steady increase in international bookings among our customers. Current international bookings have increased by 80% since January 2022. UAE, Maldives, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are popular international destinations for the upcoming summer travel season, whereas domestic destinations include Coimbatore, Dehradun, Srinagar, Bengaluru and Guwahati,” said a Cleartrip spokesperson.

In Karnataka, apart from Bengaluru and Mangaluru, the cities seeing increased volume in travel are Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Mysuru, Bandipur and Hampi, the company said.

Sri Lanka crisis

But all is not rosy, especially with the economic crisis in Sri Lanka – one of the most popular destinations for Indians – affecting plans of those who wanted to visit the island nation.

“To ensure safety of travellers visiting Sri Lanka in the near future, our teams are working round-the-clock to keep travellers abreast with latest developments including travel guidelines and standard travel protocols. We have also extended the option for a no-cost change of destination – depending on the travellers convenience,” said a MakeMyTrip spokesperson.

Long haul travel

Meanwhile, short haul travel, which had seen an uptick in recent times, will continue, Vikram Lalvani , Chief Operating Officer – Resort Operations, Customer Experience Management, Sterling Holiday Resorts Limited said, but added that there is a good probability of long haul travel picking up as well, particularly of five nights or more covering a series of destinations.

Unlike the previous two years, said Mr. Lalvani, people will take multiple short haul holidays in next three months and touch their needs of different holiday types – pilgrimage, heritage, adventure and hill stations, etc.

“We consider the holiday season to have already begun this year. The reflection of that has been in bookings for March. Apart from individual holiday goers, meetings and conferences and reunions took a large share of bookings from the market, thus lifting the occupancy by 20% to 30% better than March of pre-COVID period. We are confident this will further get an up-beat in April, with advance reservations kicking in, as travellers are showing interests in securing their holidays,” he said.


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