A week after the resumption of scheduled International commercial air operations from India, demand for international travel has shown a “definite acceleration”, encouraging travel services providers.
People are desperate to travel following a two-year lull, and demand and enquiries are soaring despite rising airfares, said some industry players.
Short-haul destinations were currently seeing the maximum uptick, with booking to Thailand up by three times week on week, followed by Singapore and Indonesia besides island destinations such as the Maldives and Mauritius for which demand has grown 30-35%.said Indiver Rastogi, president and group head for global business travel at Thomas Cook (India) and SOTC.
Also, enquiries in Western Europe (Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria) have increased four times over last year.
“Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also seeing 40-50% growth in interest compared to the same period last year; Turkey and Egypt are up by 40% and USA by 100% (for customers holding valid visas).”he added
A Cleartrip spokesperson said international bookings since the Indian government announced the resumption of scheduled international flight operations from March 27, had increased by 80% compared with January this year.
“The UAE, Maldives and Thailand are popular destinations for the upcoming summer travel season,”the spokesperson added.
Benzy Nazar, CEO of Akbar Holidays, said revenge travel was back, and people were booking despite high airfares.
“People don’t seem to have the Covid fears anymore. With the school summer breaks starting, those with school children are looking at European destinations,”she said.
“Those who have not booked in advance are looking at the Far East. With Thailand opening, the four-nights-five-days packages are doing well. Singapore is seeing a lot of traction and Dubai is doing really well despite Ramzan.”
As per RateGain, the UAE, Thailand and Nepal seem to be the most popular destinations for bookings on Indian online travel platforms.
Booking.com said with regular international flights resuming in India, London, Paris, Dubai, Toronto and Amsterdam feature among the most popular international destinations for Indian travellers from April 1 to June 30.
Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer at MakeMyTrip, said the UAE and the Maldives had already seen a recovery of nearly 80% this month compared with pre-Covid days.
“On similar lines, flight bookings to the US, UK, Canada and Australia have already touched a recovery of 60% versus January 2020. Flight bookings to short-haul destinations including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are seeing a week-on-week growth,”Prakash added.
But, despite travel service providers pointing to encouraging demand and rising bookings, an airline executive said long-haul flights had been doing well for his company (in terms of passenger demand) but, it needs to be seen in the context of many more airlines entering the market.
Rastogi from Thomas Cook India and SOTC said sporting events are also driving travel intent with corporate interest in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
Business travel has seen a surge, doubling month-on-month since January, and was currently at three times that of last month.
“A strong uptick in corporate sentiment with the restart of scheduled international aviation has resulted in the closure of March at 90% of our 2019 levels, led by IT, consultancy, banking and finance, global accounts and SMEs fuelling demand. Destinations displaying strong demand include the USA, Canada and the UK,”Rastogi added.
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