The festival season is well and truly here. After a hiatus of two years, this year’s festive season will be the first one with minimum level of travel restrictions post easing of Covid travel norms. The tourism activity has picked up and is expected to reach its peak this festive season as travellers are waiting to throng new destinations once again. Travel and events during the festive period have always been key demand drivers for different destinations in India. This year, it is expected to grow and hence has become more important for travel and hospitality in terms of business. Traveling will be up during the festive period after a long gap, making travellers’ expectations even more focused on experience and indulgence.
The Festive Rush
Travel search engine Kayak released its data recently based on analysis of flight searches for the festive season in 2022. It revealed that flight searches from Indian airports are up by 118% compared to pre-Covid pandemic level. Searches for international flights increased by 143% and searches for domestic flights were also up 91%.
MakeMyTrip and Goibibo also registered increase in travel during the festive season. Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, MakeMyTrip and Goibibo told Financialexpress.com that travel sentiment is at an all-time high as people look forward to celebrating the upcoming festive and winter holiday season like good old days. “Current data indicates that this festive travel season will hopefully witness one of the highest spikes in bookings since the pandemic happened. And this confidence comes at the back of advance bookings that have already surpassed (advance) bookings for the festive season in 2019 by over 12%. As we inch closer to the festive dates, we expect the numbers to move swiftly. Data on MakeMyTrip indicates that growth in bookings can be expected on both, leisure and VFR fronts – with many visiting home to celebrate the festive period with their family and friends.”
OYO Spokesperson said, “Travel sentiment is at its peak this festive season. Going by the Independence Day weekend surges, we are positive that people are looking forward to travelling during the upcoming holidays. We’re already seeing a healthy rise in booking enquiries by 90-100% for the festive season this year as compared to 2021. We expect the highest demand to stem from Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Chennai. Among leisure destinations, there is a significant uptick in cities like Goa, Puri and Visakhapatnam. The confidence comes at the back of significant demand for forward bookings that we have been receiving ahead of the Durga Puja and Diwali holidays.”
“As we gear up to celebrate festivities, travel demand is bouncing back as the festive season is an opportune time for the revival of the travel and hospitality sector. At Yatra.com, we have witnessed an increase in booking enquiries by 50-60% for festive season this year as compared to last year (2021). Additionally, there has been a 70% increase in booking enquiries specifically for hotels as compared to last year. Travelers are exploring various accommodation options with unique experiences such as homestays, resorts and heritage properties.” Aditya Gupta, Senior Vice President, Hotels and Holidays, Yatra.com said.
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Are Hotels Ready?
International prices for one night in a double room in 3-4 star hotel international hotel rooms have increased by about 22% compared to 2019 for Indian KAYAK users, and for domestic hotel rooms by about 25%.
Talking to FinancialExpress.com Aloke Bajpai, Co-founder & Group CEO of ixigo, said, “With Dussehra and Durga Puja just around the corner, excitement for the festive season is at its peak. Flight searches have risen 25-30% for leisure travel for Dussehra week as compared to last year. Last-minute fares for popular routes will see a steep jump in airfares due to high travel demand.”
When asked how are hotels gearing up to brace for the festive rush, Sunishchal Parasnis, Director of Sales and Marketing, Hyatt Regency Dehradun, said, Demand from the domestic market continues to be strong through this year and it is expected to grow further during the festive period in the coming months, especially around Diwali, Christmas and New Year holidays. Many travelers missed opportunities to celebrate festivals in different destinations along with friends and relatives or even take a break during the festive season in the last 2 years due to the restrictions of COVID-19. The sentiment of meeting each other & traveling together is slated to be stronger this year and we are already receiving pre-bookings at a rapid rate for the upcoming festive holidays.”
Shreyas Kudalkar, Owner of Kings Hotel & Resort quoted, “It is anticipated that occupancy levels would climb from the non-festive season to the festive season by a respectable 85% to 90%. We believe that weddings will add to demand in the following months in addition to the business and leisure sectors. There will be a reasonable gain of 20% in sales for the approaching months because the Christmas season is followed by the new year, when people want to travel more for excursions, staycations, or daytrips. People want to travel more this year because it will be their first trip post pandemic, and they want to make the most of it.”
Frans Westraadt, General Manager, Six Senses Fort Barwara, said, “We have seen the advent of domestic travellers coming from all over the country. The reservation enquiries are increasing with the Rajasthan travel peak season starting from October onwards. We will continue to ride on intimate gatherings from social events and plan to ramp up the occupancies with occasional buyouts.”
How are Indians Travelling?
Higher flight prices have failed to deter Indian travellers from flying. Compared to 2019 flight searches on Kayak increased by about 38% for international flights and by about 39% for domestic flights for the festive period. The average cost of a return economy domestic flight during the festive period is about Rs 8,585, and about Rs 56,332 for a return international economy flight as per analysis by Kayak.
Ixigo’s Aloke Bajpai informed that one-way fares for air routes like New Delhi to Patna which are normally around Rs 5000 are going as high as Rs.8000-Rs.13000 on travel dates just before Diwali. He informed that train travel trends also show an upward trajectory. “We are seeing high train search volumes for Dussehra, Deepawali, and Chhath travel in the first and the last two weeks of October. Most trains are getting fully booked a month in advance. Waitlist numbers are increasing for popular train routes witnessing a high demand for travel including Patna, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Darbhanga, Kanpur and Varanasi.”
|Top International routes searched for flights||Top domestic routes searched for flights||Top Train routes booked/searched|
|Bengaluru-Dubai||Hyderabad – New Delhi||New Delhi – Patna|
|Delhi-Vietnam||Chennai- Mumbai||Patna – New Delhi|
|New Delhi-London||Leh-New Delhi||New Delhi – Jammu|
|Chennai-Singapore||Guwahati-Kolkata||Jammu – New Delhi|
|Mumbai-Dubai||Bengaluru-Mumbai||Kanpur – New Delhi|
|New Delhi – Prayagraj|
|New Delhi-Bali||New Delhi-Raipur||New Delhi – Lucknow|
|Hyderabad-Bengaluru||New Delhi – Kanpur|
|Ahmedabad-New Delhi||Prayagraj – New delhi|
Airfare comparison: The table below from ixigo shows slight decrease in fare on some routes but a sharp increase in air fare on many routes.
|Route||Avg. one way airfare* for travel during Diwali 2021 -between Nov 4-7 2021 (APD 30) (Rs. )||Avg. one way airfare* for travel during Diwali 2022 between 2022- 20th-24th October 2022 (APD 30) (Rs. )||% increase/decrease|
|Mumbai -New Delhi||5950||7150||⇧20%|
|*Please note above are average fares for the time period and not the cheapest. Fares of different dates may wary.|
Top routes Fare Comparison for Diwali travel 2021 vs 2022
Where are Indians going?
Travelers are heading home or planning a leisure getaway for the festival-packed month of October. Domestic travel to destinations like Srinagar, Goa, Dehradun, Kochi, Jodhpur, and Jaipur is on the cards for most leisure travelers this festive season. For international travel, budget-friendly destinations like Vietnam are becoming a popular pick for Indians. Bali is another popular option with Indonesia opening up international travel after a long time, said ixigo’s Bajpai.
Kayak data revealed the travel destinations Indians are searching for to visit this festive season period. Dubai remains the most searched destination for festive season travel, while Bangkok, London and Singapore also feature high on the list. Goa was the most searched domestic destination followed by New Delhi and Mumbai.
|10 most searched flight destinations on KAYAK.co.in for the festive season||Average % increase in international flight searches during the festive travel period compared to the same period in 2019||Average price for return international economy flight in the travel period||Average % price increase for return economy flight for the travel period compared to the same period in 2019|
|Dubai, United Arab Emirates||765%||₹ 26,019||33%|
|Bangkok, Thailand||164%||₹ 23,798||38%|
|Goa, India||191%||₹ 10,709||41%|
|New Delhi, India||85%||₹ 10,586||32%|
|London, United Kingdom||180%||₹ 80,679||57%|
|Singapore, Singapore||167%||₹ 25,414||18%|
|Bali, Indonesia||113%||₹ 39,808||38%|
|Malé, the Maldives||334%||₹ 24,887||37%|
|New York, United States||157%||₹ 105,661||54%|
|Mumbai, India||92%||₹ 8,252||24%|
There is significant interest in Indian travellers visiting domestic locations, with six out of the top 10 most searched hotel destinations, in India.
|10 most searched hotel destinations for the festive season||Average % search increase for 3-4 star hotel rooms over the festive travel period compared to the same period in 2019||Average price for 1 night in a double room in 3-4 star hotel during the travel period||Average % price change in a double room in 3-4 star hotel travel period compared to the same period in 2019|
|New Delhi, India||17%||₹ 8,975||42%|
|Dubai, United Arab Emirates||100%||₹ 19,958||51%|
|Mumbai, India||6%||₹ 7,039||-10%|
|Panaji, India||156%||₹ 7,174||-7%|
|London, United Kingdom||25%||₹ 15,435||-10%|
|Bengaluru, India||70%||₹ 4,916||-18%|
|Singapore, Singapore||32%||₹ 13,686||12%|
|Bangkok, Thailand||11%||₹ 6,282||13%|
|Kolkata, India||116%||₹ 4,389||40%|
|Chennai, India||35%||₹ 6,442||45%|
Ixigo’s data meanwhile paints a different picture as Patna leads the list of travel searches due to Diwali and Chhath rush followed by Mumbai and Jaipur.
|Top 10 leisure destination searched for travel during Diwali 2022- 20th-24th October 2022|
As per AbhiBus’ data tourist destinations like Tirupati, Goa, and Manali have shown more than 100% growth in bus travel searches compared to the same time last year. Popular destinations like Manali typically see peak travel in December &, January so we can expect a further surge in bus travel demand for these routes in the next 2-3 months.
Aditya Gupta, Senior Vice President, Hotels and Holidays, Yatra.com said, “The top domestic destinations seeing a traction this festive season are Kashmir, Jaipur, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and religious destinations such as Tirupati and Shirdi as well. Thailand, Mauritius, Dubai, Maldives, and Australia are some of the international destinations witnessing an uptick in demand. We are also witnessing significant demand for forward bookings with thepopular domestic air travel routes being from Tier 1 to Tier 2 cities- Delhi – Patna, Mumbai – Jaipur among others.”
The world is coming to India – domestic travel boom
The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Qatar, New Zealand, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia are the top nations that support inbound tourism to India according to Kayak flight searches data. Inbound travellers have shown a preference for major Indian cities, with the most searched hotels being New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Inbound tourists can expect about a 31% increase in return economy flight costs to India compared to the same period in 2019, and to find hotels in India for about 10% more per night in a double room in a 3-4 star hotel during the travel period.
What’s fuelling the travel engine?
According to Aloke Bajpai of ixigo the pent-up travel demand and re-opening of international borders this yearare causing a surge in tourism. “Travelers are showcasing a desire to experience new destinations and tick off destinations from their travel bucket lists that were on hold for a long time. Traveling with family and friends in large groups is also picking up with the global relaxation of travel restrictions.”
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Not just flights and trains, Indians are also thronging luxury buses to reach their favorite destinations. “The recent airfare hike which saw fares rise 30-40% on some routes due to rising oil prices has driven customers towards trains and buses, which have shown phenomenal growth during the last two years. Bus travel demand to leisure destinations like Goa, Ooty, Manali and Vizag has already bounced back to pre-COVID levels by August this year. Pilgrimage destination travel demand to destinations like Tirupati, Shirdi, and Vaishno Devi is also is expected to grow further this winter,” Rohit Sharma, COO of AbhiBus said.