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Abhishek Law | New Delhi, May 9 | Updated on: May 09, 2022

Weekend destinations in North India almost sold out in May-June 

Rising temperatures in the central and north Indian plains this summer have sent tourists rushing to the cooler climes in the hills or even to the far away beaches, with hotels and transport services registering a higher than ever demand . One out of two Indians wants to travel this summer and a majority of them prefer leisure travel with stays at a hotel, a survey by OYO said. It added that over 61 per cent of Indian travellers plan to take vacations this summer, and 94 per cent prefer domestic travel.

According to booking trends available from different online portals and hotels, long weekends have come as a boon with places like Rishikesh, Haridwar, Shimla, Mussoorie and Dehradun in North India witnessing almost “sold out properties” with the average room tariffs “comfortably breaching” pre-Pandemic numbers by “10-15 per cent at least”.

“Almost all international or branded hotels in Rishikesh – Haridwar region were sold out over the last two to three weekends; and booking trends suggest so at least till May and June,” said an international hotel brand.

According to Akhil Arora, Chief Operating Officer, Espire Hospitality Group, occupancy this year is at par with the pre-Covid time; while the average rooms rates are 10 per cent higher. The group has properties located in Bhimtal and Jim Corbett.

Even with the rise in Covid-19 cases, the business is hectic. “We are not seeing a dip in travel at the moment,” he told BusinessLine.

Bookings pick up

Summer bookings are skewed towards Kashmir, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and destinations in the North East – Arunachal, Manipur and Tripura – as the now popular destinations; while among international destinations Dubai, Maldives, Thailand and the US are in demand.

“We have seen a significant jump in forward bookings for domestic and international travel for May and June as people are travelling for longer vacations,” Himank Tripathi, President – External Affairs, EaseMyTrip, amongst the country’s largest online travel portals, said.

Rajesh Magow, CoFounder and CEO at MakeMyTrip, the country’s largest online travel portal, said recently “flight bookings are back at pre-Covid levels” while availability of easy finance options (EMIs, Buy Now – Pay Later, etc) is driving demand in many cases.

Indians are booking long holidays at short notice, of maximum 30 days in advance, as compared to previous bookings spread over 45-60 days; while weekend trips are being booked in the earlier part of the same week.

Strong recovery

For April 2022, the average daily flight departures were at 2,726, higher than the 2,000-odd average daily departures recorded in the period of April 2021; and up by over 5 per cent from the 2,588 average daily departures reported in March 2022.

Indian carriers (airlines) capacity deployment for April 2022 was 36 per cent higher than April 2021 (81,777 departures in April 2022 versus 59,967 departures in April 2021).

The average number of passengers per flight during April 2022 was at 128, slightly lower than the pre-pandemic number of 135 passengers per flight in April 2019.

The domestic passenger traffic has grown 83 per cent on Y-o-Y basis to 10.5 million in April 2022 and is only 5 per cent lower (11.0 million in April 2019 ) than the pre-Covid level, ICRA said in a report.

Pent-up demand

Pent-up demand in travel continues to be strong and this has been the trend in India since the Good Friday weekend in April this year.

According to Sheerang Godbole, SVP – Product and Chief Service Officer, OYO, over the Good Friday and Vishu week, the company received 8 lakh bookings – the highest ever in 2022, surpassing New Year’s numbers.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we expect this demand to further rise across destinations. People are much more open to taking smaller breaks or even making their travel bookings at the very last minute,” he said.

Published on May 09, 2022