Is the charm of watching Sachin Tendulkar play for the last time prompting cricket lovers to flock to Mumbai from around the country?

Going by the trends shared by online travel portals such as Yatra, Goibibo and findmystay.com, Sachin’s fans are indeed flocking to Mumbai for a last look at their idol in action.

Travel firms have recorded a spike in Mumbai-specific hotel bookings, especially those in the southern part of the city, between November 14 and 18.

For instance, yatra.com has reported a 25-30 per cent jump in its November hotel bookings for Mumbai. The company attributes this to the frenzy around Sachin.

“Cricket fans will flock to Mumbai to watch him play live. We have mapped it and travel will be spread over the weekend, as this would also give travellers an opportunity to stay back and explore the city,” says Sharat Dhall, President of Yatra.

Ashish Kashyap, Chief Executive Officer of ibibo Group, agrees. In the last two days, bookings for hotels on Goibibo.com for the five days of the Test match have doubled, he says.

The Indian cricket team is staying at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel, which is the favoured destination for high-profile travellers who want to see the batting ace up close and personal, he says.

Generally, the week after Diwali tends to be a soft one for hotel bookings as customers are in winding-down mode, say travel experts. Moreover, demand for hotel rooms during the weekends comes down significantly in Mumbai, the financial capital.

However, this time around, a few South Mumbai hotels (especially those near the Wankhede stadium) are ‘sold out’ for the weekend while others have spiked rates by up to 20 per cent, says Rohit Khetrapal, co-founder, Findmystay.com.

“This is certainly attributable to the Sachin fever, as it is a weekend and Mumbai usually has a lot of inventory with lower hotel rates during the weekend. So, while cricket fans are willing to pay a premium, we have had a few business travellers shift their dates,’’ says Khetrapal.

However, not all travel agencies have reported an upsurge in hotel bookings. Spokespersons for Cox & Kings, Cleartrip and Makemytrip deny noticing a spike in demand.

With all the frenzy around him, Sachin certainly did not disappoint today. Those who landed in Mumbai to watch him will be on cloud nine if the Master Blaster manages to play a match-winning knock on Friday.

(This article was published on November 14, 2013)
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