Long weekends, including Christmas and New Year’s, are expected to lead to a substantial increase of 20 per cent to 40 per cent in advance booking trends, signaling a surge in travel enthusiasm. Travel industry players indicate a 20 per cent rise in spending, accompanied by notable surge in hotel rates and airfares. As the year-end approaches, the travel industry is witnessing a robust uptick in winter travel, both domestically and internationally, with industry leaders shedding light on the emerging trends in this dynamic and resilient landscape.

Aloke Bajpai, co-founder & Group CEO of ixigo, noted a significant shift in travel choices, stating: “This year we have seen an increase in winter travel for both metros and non-metros. Indians are leaning towards domestic trips over international getaways this winter.” The popular picks for Christmas and New Year holidays include Goa, Jaipur, Pondicherry, Pune, and Coorg. Bajpai also highlighted a substantial rise in Indians opting for beachside holidays, with searches for travel to Malaysia and Thailand seeing more than a 100 per cent month-over-month increase, following visa policy changes allowing a 30-day visa-free stay for Indians.

International destinations continue to attract Indian travellers, with top bookings including Dubai, Bangkok, New York, Colombo, Bali, and Male. The ease of visa processes plays a pivotal role, as mentioned by the InterContinental Jaipur Tonk Road. “The allure of quick getaways to Bali, Thailand, Dubai, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, and Mauritius is evident, considering the hassle-free visa processes,” they stated. However, the surge in demand has led to a 40-50 per cent increase in airfares on these routes for those planning to travel in the next fortnight.

On the air travel segment, Gaurav Patwari, Vice-President, Air Category, Cleartrip, provided insights into the domestic travel trends, stating: “Christmas and New Year travel trends show an 8 per cent increase in bookings.” Non-metro destinations such as Kochi, Goa, Guwahati, Bagdogra, and Bhubaneswar are among the top choices.

Bharatt Malik, Senior VP – Flights and Hotel at Yatra.com, highlighted the early spike in occupancies, approaching 80 per cent before December. “We have over 18 per cent more occupancies, 12 per cent more revenue growth, and almost 13 per cent higher ADR, compared to the previous year,” Malik reported. This surge in demand is not only observed for leisure travel but also for bulk bookings, driven by the ongoing wedding season. Hotel room tariffs have increased 20-25 per cent, indicating a positive fervor for travel in the last quarter of the year.

On the international front, Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder of EaseMyTrip, emphasised the impact of on-arrival visa facilities on travel demand. “There has been a notable surge in travel demand for countries extending on-arrival visa facilities to Indian passport holders,” Pitti stated. Countries such as Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Indonesia are witnessing a 20-30 per cent spike in outbound travel from India. The recent introduction of a 30-day visa exemption for Indians in Malaysia is expected to further amplify outbound travel to the country.

diverse interests

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, highlighted the diverse interests of travellers. “Top domestic locales for the season include Andamans, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Goa, and Kerala,” Kale stated. Europe’s winter markets and festive displays are also among the top favourites. Notably, there’s growing interest in exceptional experiences, with customers willing to pay a premium for customized travel itineraries. Activities such as husky safaris in Finland, night sledding in Switzerland, and kayaking in Abu Dhabi are gaining traction.

“Indians are displaying increased interest to travel to their favorite destinations this holiday season,” D’Souza noted. Despite increased airfares and hotel rates, Indians are willing to increase spending on their holidays by 20-30 per cent. Unique accommodations, outdoor adventures, and cruise holidays, including domestic sailings, are witnessing high interest. Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head - Holidays at SOTC Travel, pointed out the increased interest across segments.