Indian travel companies are seeing huge growth in bookings on a year-on-year basis ahead of the festive season. The pent-up demand for travel is so high that online and offline travel companies are expecting a 60-70 per cent rise in flight and hotel bookings this fiscal year compared to the same time last year.

BusinessLine spoke to multiple players, including EaseMyTrip, MakeMyTrip, Thomas Cook India, and SOTC. All the players said that the demand and sentiment are way better than last year. In the backdrop of more and more Indians getting vaccinated, players, including SOTC, said that they have noticed a 100 per cent increase in demand while its month on month bookings are at 60—70 per cent.

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Thomas Cook, too, has seen a whopping 200 per cent month-on-month rise in bookings.

Rajeev Kale - President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa - Thomas Cook (India) Limited said “with a robust forward pipeline of queries across both India and international destinations, we expect to close at 4x over the festive season of 2020,” he added.

Pent-up demand

Speaking about the pent-up demand and its impact, Prashant Pitti- Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip said that it has resulted in a significant increase in bookings this year, “not just for domestic, but also international destinations that are opening for Indian travellers. Travel bookings are picking up for the festive season as well. We have also seen a 400 per cent growth in forwarding bookings for December.” The company has also seen a five per cent rise in flight bookings and a 20 per cent rise in inventory.

In the past two years, not only had the inventory taken a hit for the travel companies, but the way the world travelled too had changed, a MakeMyTrip spokesperson said, that “the new pattern reflects more confidence, willingness and comfort among travellers to venture out for leisure or work-related travel.

For MakeMyTrip, as compared to bookings in the same period last year, hotel bookings for stays more than two days have increased by 20 per cent. Near-term leisure travel bookings are up by 20 per cent, with bookings for travel during the festive dates already seeing a jump of 35 per cent. Whereas MakeMyTrip has seen a jump in family travel with more than two members has witnessed growth by over seven times.

MakeMyTrip isn’t the only company to spot the family travel trend. SOTC and EaseMyTrip too have spotted a hike in bookings from this segment.

But where are people travelling to?

MakeMyTrip is anticipating a significant increase in group or family travel to leisure travel spots in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir, Mahabaleshwar, Ooty, Digha, Pondicherry and Goa in the coming months. Thomas Cook has spotted a similar trend whereas SOTC sees a rise in bookings towards the tier 2 and 3 cities. On the other hand, EaseMyTrip is seeing bookings increasing in Rajasthan and Leh Ladakh too.

Speaking about international travel, Kale of Thomas Cook said that MICE travel is seeing a gradual uptick as far as outbound travel is concerned. With places like Dubai hosting the expo and the IPL, the company has seen a huge uptick in bookings to Dubai.

Besides these, while Maldives, Russia and Egypt had been topping our booking list, positive announcements from both the destination and consular authorities have given a fillip to bookings for Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany, he added.

So is the travel sector out of the woods yet?

EaseMyTrip’s Pitti said that while there was an initial disruption due to the pandemic, but “the industry is now bouncing its way back to pre-covid levels on the back of a growing tendency for leisure travel. In Q1FY22, EaseMyTrip grew its profits by six-fold as compared to the quarter of the corresponding year, which is a testament to the recovering travel demand.”