Current data indicates that this festive travel season will “hopefully” witness one of the highest increases in bookings since the pandemic, said Vipul Prakash, COO of MakeMyTrip and Goibibo.
“And this confidence is driven by advance bookings that have already surpassed (advance) bookings for the 2019 festive season by more than 12%. Growth in bookings for leisure and visiting friends and family can be expected,” Prakash said. “Currently, we are seeing a 40% growth in bookings to leisure destinations like Goa, Port Blair, Udaipur and at the same time, travel to tier 2 and 3 cities are seeing growth of about 26% compared to days prior to the pandemic.”
Profitability has been restored and domestic business is well over 100% of pre-pandemic levels, SOTC Travel Managing Director Vishal Suri said.
“Leisure travel abroad would be about 55-60%. We believe much of this growth is sustainable,” he said. “Although there are some supply-side constraints for international travel and airfares are high, the desire to travel is very strong. Short-haul travel has become quite important.”
Destinations like Vietnam are now trying to attract Indian travelers with better connectivity, he said. The Chinese don’t travel and India is being seen as a big source market, while companies have revived year-end reward and recognition programs, he said.
“We have large group bookings for 1,700-1,800 people (to travel) outside India,” Suri said. “There is demand for destinations in Europe, Australia and Qatar for the FIFA World Cup (in November and December). Companies want to take both employees and channel partners.”
Flight searches in India between September 1 and November 30 increased by 118% compared to the same period in 2019, despite a 62% increase in prices, according to a recent report by travel search engine Kayak.
Tarun Tahiliani, Kayak’s India country manager, said it appears Indians are making up for lost time and are more willing to travel than before the pandemic, based on the number of searches.
“In addition to flight interest surpassing pre-pandemic levels, we also saw hotel searches surpass 2019,” he said.
Kavinder Singh, MD and CEO of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India, which operates timeshare properties, said occupancy for the December quarter was over 85% based on business on the books.
Vibhas Prasad, director of Leisure Hotels Group, which operates Aloha no Ganges in Rishikesh, Sun n Snow Inn in Kausani, Riverview Retreat in Corbett and other properties in Dharamshala, Goa and Nainital, said 50% of the portfolio is sold out. for October
“We operate resorts, hotels, camps, bungalows and villas and this is somewhat rare considering our destinations have a much shorter booking period,” he said. “People want to create lifelong memories and traveling is one way to achieve that.”
Kush Kapoor, CEO of Roseate Hotels & Resorts, said he expects a minimum 15% increase in revenue for the October-December period from the same period in 2019.
The Taj Hotel & Convention Center in Agra is also seeing a “huge” booking funnel for the coming months, said Paritosh Ladhani, joint managing director of Sincere Developers, which owns the property.
“Pre-bookings for room nights from October to December are up about 30% compared to last year, and revenue per room is up 40%,” he said. “We expect international travel, which has been a large part of our business mix, to return to at least 50% of pre-Covid capacity.”