Rush for leisure destinations likely during Diwali weekend

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd expects demand for travel to be three times higher than last year for the long weekend with Diwali, Bhai Dooj and Govardhan Puja. According to the company, the Indian tourism industry is seeing a surge in demand during the 5-9 day travel opportunities surrounding the holiday season.

“Diwali is an important festival and migrant workers travel back to their hometowns to celebrate Diwali with their families,” said Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Public Holidays, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), Visa, Thomas Cook (India ).

Domestic travel demand saw a 25% year-on-year increase in on-going bookings, primarily to places such as Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Kerala, Goa, Andaman, Rajasthan, Gujarat and the Northeast. There’s a 15-20% increase for outdoor adventure camping, biking, trekking and private villa stays, the company said. For Thomas Cook, short-haul overseas destinations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Indonesia are also seeing a 30% increase in demand.

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SOTC Travel, a Stepdown subsidiary of Thomas Cook, has seen holiday bookings 7 to 10 days in advance for the Diwali long weekend compared to other weekends in October-November and last minute bookings have increased by over 70%.

“Indians of all segments are showing increasing interest in traveling to their favorite destinations – domestically and internationally. Customers are keen to take advantage of the upcoming bank holiday weekend and we have a strong pipeline of customers planning short-term travel. Our demand trends point to an increase of over 100% from pre-pandemic levels in certain winter and holiday travel markets and our advance booking position looks healthy. We’re up about 55% over the October-December period compared to 2019,” said Daniel D’Souza, President and Country Head, Holidays, SOTC Travel.

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Travel technology solutions provider RateGain, which processes electronic transactions for travel and hospitality businesses, saw 15% more bookings for Diwali week compared to the same period last year and an increase of around 10% compared to the same period in 2019. People are looking to travel destinations such as Goa, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, RateGain added.

Leisure Hotels Group, which operates hotels in Nainital, Naukuchiatal, Bhimtal, Jim Corbett National Park, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi and Kausani, said it was seeing 60% occupancy over the bank holiday weekend.

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Tarun Tahiliani, country manager of travel search platform Kayak India, said higher airfares will not deter Indian tourists from traveling to domestic and international destinations during Diwali. “Findings from the domestic search suggest that October 21 will be the busiest day at airports during the festive Diwali period, so those hoping for a smooth journey to their destination may prefer to travel a little earlier or later date.”

According to flight search data, the top five most searched destinations during Diwali are New Delhi, Goa, Mysore, Mumbai and Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands).

Lemon Tree Hotels President Vikramjit Singh said its resort locations in Goa, Alleppey, Udaipur, Coorg and Rishikesh, among others, are expected to sell out during the long weekend.

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