As the Diwali festival season approaches, the travel industry is experiencing an extraordinary surge in demand for both domestic and international destinations, despite significant increases in airfares and hotel tariffs.

Data from EaseMyTrip shows a remarkable increase in airfares, with some routes experiencing spikes of up to 72 per cent. However, this hasn’t deterred travellers. According to Indiver Rastogi, President and Group Head of Global Business Travel at Thomas Cook (India) and SOTC Travel, there has been a 90 per cent uptick in bookings year-on-year.

While the festive season, especially Diwali, is a period of massive travel, both for leisure and homebound trips, the surge in airfares also owes to a supply crunch, primarily in the international segment, and rising ATF (aviation turbine fuel) prices in the domestic segment, says Prahlad Krishnamurthi, CBO of Cleartrip.

In domestic travel, fares for popular destinations like Srinagar, Chandigarh, Bagdogra, Jaipur, Kochi, and Goa have risen approximately by 10 per cent. Port Blair fares from major hubs have surged by 20-25 per cent. Interestingly, however, airfares ahead of Diwali are about 10 per cent cheaper  compared to the summer months of May and June.

Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head of Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook (India) Limited, said, “We are seeing a strong travel demand of over 100 per cent during Diwali for domestic and international destinations from families, young professionals, and couples segments.”

Luxury destinations

Domestically, popular destinations include Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Leh Ladakh, Kerala, Goa, and Andamans. International travellers are setting their sights on Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Dubai-Abu Dhabi, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and more.

Aloke Bajpai, Co-founder and Group CEO of ixigo, emphasises the increasing demand for short-haul international travel, which is proving to be more economical given the higher domestic fares. For instance, Bengaluru-Jaipur one-way fare during Diwali costs around Rs 13,500, whereas Bengaluru-Colombo one-way flight will cost only Rs 8,000 on the same dates.

Other closer-to-home destinations, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Bangkok, are witnessing a 10 per cent increase in airfares, and Kuala Lumpur and Singapore about 15 per cent, according to SOTC. “As this vacation season is shorter compared to the school summer vacations, given the easy visa process, short-haul destinations are clearly in high demand, and this is reflected in the escalation in airfares,” Rastogi added.

Compared to last year, this year’s airfares to long-haul favourites like London are up by approximately 25 per cent; Zurich, Paris, and Milan by 20 per cent; Budapest and Athens by 10-15 per cent; South Africa and Sydney by 18-20 per cent; Turkiye by 10-12 per cent; and New Zealand by 10 per cent, according to SOTC data.

There is also a strong appetite for luxury travel experiences and a growing preference for eclectic stays, unique accommodations, outdoor adventures, cruise sailings, and spa-wellness getaways.

An EaseMyTrip spokesperson said there was an increase in last-minute bookings, contributing to the escalation in round-trip flight prices.

Destinations like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, and popular spots like Goa, Puducherry, and Kerala are experiencing strong bookings.

To cater to this demand, all industry players have introduced offers and discounts. Some players, like Cleartrip, owned by Flipkart, are also expecting 3x-4x volumes from the upcoming Big Billion Day.

Hotel rates

Alongside airfares, hotel tariffs are also on the rise. Bharatt Malik, Senior VP of Flights and Hotel Business at Yatra Online, notes, “Room tariffs during this year’s Diwali period are up by 20 per cent compared to the previous month.”