Pre-festive travel fever grips India; long weekends catalyst for growth, ET TravelWorld

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<p>If you're planning a getaway for the upcoming G20 long weekend and want to explore destinations near Delhi, here is a list of five places nearby that offer a blend of culture, history, natural beauty, and relaxation. </p>
If you’re planning a getaway for the upcoming G20 long weekend and want to explore destinations near Delhi, here is a list of five places nearby that offer a blend of culture, history, natural beauty, and relaxation.

As the joyous Diwali season approaches, travel fever is sweeping across India, with more and more Indians eager to embark on journeys during this festive period, according to an analysis by a couple of travel service providers.

According to consumer research by KAYAK, the world’s leading travel search engine and data shared by Simpl revealed that the travel industry in India is gearing up for a vibrant and festive season ahead, with travellers exploring a multitude of options and destinations. Whether it’s reconnecting with loved ones in their hometowns or discovering new international locales, Indians are poised to celebrate Diwali with travel and adventure.

With a series of extended weekends leading up to the festive season, an increasing number of travellers are opting for road trips using services provided by merchants like Zoomcar, DriveU, and QuickRide. Insights from Simpl, a leading payments solution provider, reveal that bookings on merchant platforms using its 1-tap checkout witnessed a twofold increase in demand in August 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Among the travel options, self-driven cars are emerging as a preferred choice, with Zoomcar experiencing an impressive threefold growth in transactions through Simpl’s 1-tap checkout. KAYAK’s consumer research, which surveyed 1,200 Indians, discovered that the upcoming festive season, starting with Navratris and Dussehra and culminating in Diwali and Bhai Dooj, has Indians enthusiastically preparing for travel. This time of year is when many people return to their hometowns, and the research found that a whopping 98 per cent of Indians surveyed are planning domestic travel during this festive period. Impressively, 3 out of 5 respondents (60 per cent) have their sights set on international travel during this festive travel window.

These insights align seamlessly with KAYAK’s search data, based on Indian outbound searches between January and August 2023, for travel between October and November. Domestic flight searches have surged by 29 per cent compared to the previous year, while searches for international flights have increased by a notable 14 per cent.

For Indians traveling within the country, a significant 54 per cent of respondents plan to take two or more domestic trips during the festive season. KAYAK’s data points to the top trending domestic destinations for flights during this period, including Madurai (with a remarkable 165 per cent increase in searches year-on-year), Bhubaneswar (105 per cent increase), and Ahmedabad (103 per cent increase). The top trending international destinations for flights encompass Colombo, Sri Lanka (340 per cent increase), Hong Kong (162 per cent increase), Seychelles (139 per cent increase), and Tokyo, Japan (128 per cent increase).

Schengen visa delays cloud Diwali holiday plans

Gujaratis planning to travel to Europe for Diwali holidays are facing uncertainty and delays in getting Schengen visa appointments. Travel operators estimate that those who have already made bookings are paying up to INR 10,000 per person for expedited visa services. Some travelers are considering changing their destination or paying extra for doorstep visa services.

While major metropolitan areas such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai are leading the surge in travel demand, tier-2 cities like Coimbatore, Jaipur, and Vizag are also witnessing a significant uptick in road travel. Additionally, the insights reveal a consistent trend of higher bookings from Thursday through Sunday, primarily due to the appeal of weekends.

Talking about travel demand in the hospitality industry, Sudeep Jain, MD, SWA, IHG Hotels and Resorts said they are optimistic about the robust surge in demand for leisure as well as business travel from domestic and international travellers for the remainder of the year.

“For the upcoming long weekend, we have seen an uptrend in the demand for leisure and tourist destinations such as Goa, Jaipur, Bangalore, Chennai, Kerala, and Agra. Our brands such as InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express in these cities are quite doing well. These destinations have recorded average occupancy rates of 80 – 90 per cent, driven by domestic leisure demand. This is a stark rise of 15 per cent from last year. The RevPar during this holiday period has grown by 30 per cent at leisure destinations, while city hotels display a stagnant demand. This is a pronounced surge as compared to FY 2022-23. Since the travel sentiment is all-time high, travellers are moving away from luxury accommodations and the demand is shifting more towards leisure getaways, heralding a noticeable change in travel trends. Reservations are on the rise, particularly in regions offering a blend of recreation and tourism.”

Commenting on this trend, Ashwini Ravindranath, Vice-President, Partner Success, Simpl, said, “In the midst of extended weekends and the surging pre-festive enthusiasm for road travel, our partner merchants are steadfast in their commitment to delivering unparalleled comfort to discerning travelers. At Simpl, we take immense pride in our pivotal role as facilitators, providing a seamless 1-tap checkout experience that is not only effortless but also distinguished by its refinement. This marks a significant milestone for us in empowering our merchants to elevate each traveler’s journey with poise and confidence, transforming every payment experience into an unforgettable one.”

Among the diverse demographic segments, our data reveals a noteworthy trend: a substantial 62 per cent of our users fall within the age bracket of 21-30 years. This finding provides valuable insights into the evolving preferences of the younger generation. It suggests that the age group, most commonly associated with dynamic and adventurous travel, is increasingly accessing services provided by Zoomcar, DriveU and QuickRide seamlessly through Simpl’s 1-tap Checkout.

Commenting on this Greg Moran, CEO & Co Founder Zoomcar said, “As an organisation, we have a nuanced understanding of consumers’ evolving preferences and have been at the forefront of making available the widest selection of cars across each of our markets for their convenience. The onset of the festive season marked with several long-weekends in August has led to a sharp uptick in the demand for self-drive cars. Here, an added convenience in the form of Simpl’s 1-tap checkout has played a crucial role in offering a seamless booking journey for the customer across the board.”

Trust issues hold Indians from booking online holidays

The Alike Survey results indicate that 40 per cent of respondents cited misleading information regarding destinations, accommodations, or prices as a major deterrent, eroding trust in online holiday brands. Another 26 per cent were dissuaded by past experiences of subpar customer service during travel planning, leaving them feeling unheard and unsupported.

  • Published On Sep 22, 2023 at 11:28 AM IST

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