The celebrations themselves can take various different forms.
Fewer Indians are traveling for the New Year this time, as compared to 2019. There are no surprises here. But, there is a last-minute surge in travelers as one got closer to January 1, 2021, much higher than the usual spot bookings seen, including in 2019.
Online travel agencies say there has been a change in the booking pattern. The last-minute surge has been 44 percent higher from 2019, says Yatra.com. "Overall, we have witnessed 25 percent month-on-month growth in bookings as travellers pack their bags for the year end trips," said Sabina Chopra, Co-Founder and COO, Corporate Travel and Head Industry Relations.
The surge has been pronounced particularly for a few destinations. For instance, bookings for Goa and Andaman and Nicobar, the two most popular destinations on online travel agency Ixigo, saw a 26 percent increase in bookings for travel in the last week of December.
Which are the preferred destinations?
Apart from Goa and the Andaman islands, leisure travel has also soared to Jaipur, Udaipur and hill stations in December, said Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder and CTO, ixigo.
The preference is for short getaways with road trips and visiting destinations that are accessible by road, adds Chopra from Yatra.com. So while the hill stations are the go-to places for those in Delhi, Mumbaikkars are headed to traditional favourites including Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. Kolkata travelers prefer Shantiniketan and Roopark Village, and those in Chennai are driving to Puducherry, Mahabalipuram and Sadras Town.
While the destinations are familiar, the holiday-makers are being more judicial on choosing their stay.
Travelers are exploring options such as home-stays, cottages, luxury hotels. The demand for 4 to 5-star hotels has seen a rise, she added.
International travel has been restricted, especially with the new strain of COVID-19 increasing concerns again. But here too, some destinations have received heightened interest. One is Maldives, possibly because it offers visa on arrival. Another destination is Dubai, even though some airlines have truncated their operations to the Emirate, with concerns over the new virus variant.
"We have seen a 30-35 percent year-on-year increase in search inquiries for destinations like Maldives. Bookings from Mumbai to Dubai have also seen a significant jump for travel in the last week of December," said Kumar of ixigo.
Lower fares have helped. Kumar says ticket prices are 15-20 percent lower on popular routes, from last year. For instance, a Delhi-Goa ticket comes at Rs 8,521 one way, as compared to Rs 10,242 in the last week of December 2019.
At the same time, the last-minute surge in bookings has led to fares going higher on some routes, compared to last year. Hyderabad-Goa route for instance, the ticket was at Rs 9914, as compared to Rs 5534 last year. Similarly, fares are higher on Patna-Bengaluru and Bubhaneshwar-Bengaluru routes.
Internationally, tickets to Dubai from Mumbai are over 20 percent higher.
Overall, the New Year festivities have given a push to the travel industry, which nearly buckled down under the COVID-19 impact.