October is likely to witness a surprising surge in travel demand, even though Diwali usually falls in November. Online travel agents (OTAs) report a significant increase in October travel searches, alongside elevated airfares. This phenomenon raises questions about the factors driving this unexpected October travel boom.

Cleartrip data reveals that travel demand in October 2023 is lower than October 2022 due to Diwali’s shift to November this year. Seats booked are down by 12 per cent, with fares 4 per cent lower compared to the same period in 2022 when bookings made by August 31 in both years are considered. In 2022, Dussehra and Diwali in October led to slightly higher fares.

However, Aloke Bajpai, Co-founder and Group CEO of Ixigo , anticipates a surge in travel demand for October and November this year. He believes, “Keeping in line with the trend of growth in the previous months, we anticipate a surge in travel demand for October and November this year.” He points to a sequence of events and festivals, including Gandhi Jayanti, Navratri, ICC World Cup 2023, and Diwali, driving this surge.

Bharatt Malik, Senior VP – Flights and Hotel Business at Yatra Online, notes booking searches for October have surged by 10 per cent to 15 per cent. He says, “We anticipate a big increase in October travel reservations by the end of September.”

Airfares on the rise

Airfares from cities like Mumbai and Delhi to popular holiday destinations are surging by 30-60 per cent in October, according to travel industry data.

Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook (India) Limited, reports strong demand of over 100 per cent in October due to the festive season and cricket bonanza. This demand isn’t just from families but also from young professionals, millennials, and couples.

Indians are increasingly taking multiple short-duration holidays to destinations like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Dubai-Abu Dhabi, Mauritius, Maldives, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. In October, domestic destinations include Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Leh, Kerala, Goa, and the Andaman Islands. Cruises are also high in demand for the festive season.

Travel searches for October 2023 are already up by 26 per cent year-over-year, despite Diwali falling in November. This trend is also because of two long weekends as well as Durga Pooja,v players explained.

The hotel segment is experiencing a similar uptick. Data from Ixigo reveals travel searches for October 2023 have increased by 26 per cent y-o-y , driven in part by cricket tourism. This is evident from increased bookings and search queries for October in match venues like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata, despite higher airfares and hotel prices.

Premium hotels report occupancy rates of 80-100 per cent, with room rates surging by 20-30 per cent across destinations.

Due to heightened demand and limited capacity, advance booking fares for Diwali in November are already exceeding last year’s rates. Travellers are eager to secure their plans in advance, driven by festive enthusiasm and upcoming events.

In summary, the surge in October travel demand, despite Diwali being in November, reflects the travel industry’s dynamic response to various festivals and events. Travellers are seizing the opportunity to explore diverse destinations and experiences during this festive season, leading to a noticeable boost in airfares and hotel bookings.

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