Indians are gearing up for a vibrant Holi celebration this year. The confluence of Holi on March 25 and Good Friday on March 29 creates a unique five-day long weekend. This extended break drives a significant surge in travel demand, leading to price increases for flights, hotels, and even cruise bookings.

Travel companies are witnessing a significant increase in bookings compared to last year. “We have received 16 per cent higher bookings for domestic flights and a whopping 50 per cent increase in international bookings compared to last year,” said Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder of EaseMyTrip. Prahlad Krishnamurthi, Chief Business Officer at Cleartrip, confirmed similar trends, reporting, “Cleartrip has also seen a 16 per cent rise in domestic flight bookings and a 50 per cent jump in international bookings compared to the previous year.”

Travel demand

Travelers are seeking diverse experiences, with both domestic and international destinations witnessing a rise in popularity. “We are seeing a surge in bookings for Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi, and Amritsar,” highlighted Pitti. Agoda reports similar trends, with Goa, Mumbai, and Delhi topping the list, followed by Jaipur, Udaipur, Mathura, Vrindavan, and Varanasi. “The consecutive long weekends for Holi and Good Friday provide a unique window for Indians to plan extended trips,” stated Krishna Rathi, Senior Country Director India Subcontinent and Maldives at Agoda. “Whether people are looking to explore India or abroad, it’s a great opportunity to whet the travel appetite among Indians, which has only increased since the recent waiver of visa requirements.”

International travel is also picking up, with Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, and Bali emerging as the most popular choices, according to EaseMyTrip and Agoda. Recent visa relaxations, especially for Thailand likely contribute to this trend.

With demand outpacing supply, travel companies anticipate a rise in prices. “We expect domestic airfares to hover around Rs. 5400 and international fares to average Rs. 13000, with slight increases likely closer to the travel dates,” said a spokesperson for EaseMyTrip. Cleartrip echoes this sentiment with similar average fare estimates.

Hotel tariffs are also expected to rise, though specifics weren’t provided. “As more Indians look to expand their horizons, Agoda is committed to offering great value deals on accommodations, flights, and activities at home and abroad to help them see the world for less,” Rathi added.

While bus bookings haven’t significantly risen, EaseMyTrip anticipates a last-minute surge similar to previous long weekends. Fares are expected to climb by 8-10 per cent, with a growing preference for air-conditioned buses.

Sold-out cruises

Luxury cruise lines are capitalizing on the festive fervour, with Cordelia Cruises reporting sold-out sailings for the Holi and Maha Shivratri long weekends, as confirmed by Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO of Waterways Leisure Tourism pvt ltd, Cordelia Cruises.

Travel companies are preparing for the rush by offering discounted packages, but early booking is recommended to secure the best deals for summer travel and the rest of the year.