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As air fares soar, Indians decide to holiday near home

There’s been a 15-20% jump in advance bookings for destinations such as Goa, Udaipur and Jaipur from the year earlier as an increase in winter schedule capacity has resulted in a decline in some domestic fares. Advance bookings for international destinations like Singapore, Colombo, Bangkok, Dubai, Mauritius and Malaysia are up 10-12%.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2019, 10.29 AM IST|Original: Dec 09, 2019, 08.27 AM IST
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Agencies
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Fares on key routes to the US and Europe are up almost threefold following the grounding of Jet Airways, which was the second-largest international carrier from India until it stopped flying in April. (Representative Image)
NEW DELHI: Indians dismayed by the year-end surge in ticket prices for international air travel aren’t cancelling holiday travel plans—they’re just not going too far away. Most are opting for domestic and short-haul overseas destinations, according to online travel agencies and operators.

There’s been a 15-20% jump in advance bookings for destinations such as Goa, Udaipur and Jaipur from the year earlier as an increase in winter schedule capacity has resulted in a decline in some domestic fares. Advance bookings for international destinations such as Singapore, Colombo, Bangkok, Dubai, Mauritius and Malaysia are up 10-12%. Meanwhile, operators said homestays and villas have gained in popularity over top hotels this holiday season with travellers looking to save on costs amid a slowdown.

Goa, Dubai, Udaipur, Jaipur, Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are the top trending holiday destinations, according to ixigo, while destinations such as Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Colombo are receiving maximum bookings on Paytm Travel.

“With Christmas and New Year vacations right around the corner, we have witnessed a 15-20% jump in advance bookings for domestic destinations,” said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and CEO, ixigo. "An increase in capacity for the winter schedule has resulted in a 20% decline in domestic airfares. This has encouraged families, couples, and millennials to opt for short domestic getaways over international vacations this year.”

Fares on key routes to the US and Europe are up almost threefold following the grounding of Jet Airways, which was the second-largest international carrier from India until it stopped flying in April, ET had reported on Dec 3. Compared with this, average fares to short-haul international destinations are up just 10-12%, according to ixigo.

Some routes are actually cheaper--average one-way fares to destinations such as Dubai and Kuala Lumpur are down to Rs 16,695 and Rs 11,381 from Rs 16818 and Rs 15,163, respectively, at the same time last year.

“We have seen an uptick in demand for short-haul international destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Bali, Dubai among others,” said Sabina Chopra, cofounder and COO, corporate travel and head of industry relations at Yatra.com. “Compared to last year, there is a 63% growth in booking enquires for domestic destinations like Goa, Kerala, Coorg, Pondicherry, Orchha among others. In terms of accommodation, there is an increase in enquiries for budget hotels. However, homestays, resorts and villas are also a popular choice amongst travellers this holiday season.”

Airports will remain busy this winter holiday season as well, dominated as it is by group and family bookings, said Balu Ramachandran, senior vice president, Cleartrip.

“Winter travel has grown big for the metro as well as non-metro-based travellers this year,” he said. “Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are continuing to show strong booking trends. Port Blair, Jaipur, Goa and Guwahati are popular within India.”

Ritu Mehrotra, country manager, India, Sri Lanka and Maldives at Booking.com said top domestic destinations for Booking.com in the first half of December include New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad. Top international ones are Bangkok, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Phuket.

“Tourist destinations like Goa, Manali and Udaipur continue to attract a lot of travellers during the new year period and we are seeing strong growth this year as well for these destinations,” a Paytm Travel spokesperson said.

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