Travel operators are reporting a double-digit increase in flight and train bookings and the hotel industry is eyeing a 15-20 percent increase in occupancy.
There is a huge pent-up demand that is created due to the two-year halt during COVID and there is an uptick in festival bookings which is allowing a V-shaped recovery of the business, said Rikant Pittie, co-founder of EaseMyTrip.
He said that till October the company is expecting a rise in the bookings by over 40 percent.
"With Dussehra and Durga Puja just around the corner, flight searches have risen 25-30 percent for leisure travel for Dussehra week as compared to last year," said Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO and co-founder, ixigo.
The platform is also seeing high train search volumes for Dussehra, Deepawali, and Chhath travel in the first and the last two weeks of October. "Most trains are getting fully booked a month in advance. Waitlist numbers are increasing for popular train routes witnessing a high demand for travel including Patna, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Darbhanga, Kanpur and Varanasi," he said.
Advance bookings have surpassed forward bookings of the festive season in 2019 by over 12 percent, said Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, MakeMyTrip and Goibibo.
"Currently, we are looking at 40 percent growth in bookings to leisure destinations such as Goa, Port Blair, and Udaipur. Travel-to tier II and III cities is seeing about 26 percent growth versus the pre-pandemic period. On the international front, Dubai, Maldives, Greece and Turkey continue to gain traction as the preferred short-haul destinations," he added.
Travel search engine KAYAK, as per data released recently, saw flight searches from airports in India increase by about 118 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. International flight searches have increased by about 143 percent and domestic flight searches have increased by about 91 percent.
KAYAK data also pointed out that currently, Indians are cutting down the number of travel days. Duration of vacations is shorter as compared to 2019 for international travel at 24 days, decreasing about 13 percent compared to 2019, based on flight search data. But there is a marginal increase when it comes to domestic trips. The average trip duration within India according to flight search data is about six days in 2022, increasing by a day compared to 2019.
With high demand for travel, prices have also gone up. "Last-minute fares for popular routes will see a steep jump in airfares due to high travel demand. One-way fares for routes like New Delhi to Patna which are normally around Rs 5,000 are going as high as Rs 8,000-Rs 13,000 on travel dates just before Diwali," said Bajpai.
Flight prices have increased by about 38 percent for international flights and by about 39 percent for domestic flights versus 2019, said Tarun Tahiliani, India Country Manager, KAYAK.
"The average cost of a return economy domestic flight during the festive period is about Rs 8,585, and about Rs 56,332 for a return international economy flight. But Indian travellers do not appear to be deterred by higher prices, he added.
Hotel searches by Indian travellers have also increased by about 34 percent compared to 2019, with domestic hotel searches increased by about 98 percent, revealed KAYAK data.
“The second quarter of FY23 is doing well and we expect to finish the quarter at about 80 percent occupancy. Q3FY23 business is presently over 85 percent on the books," said Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited.
Most of the demand is coming from leisure and wedding segments. However, there is a decline in corporate bookings, said Mehul Sharma, Founder & CEO, Signum Hotels & Resorts.
"We see approximately 35 percent rise in demand. Our month-to-date occupancy is around 75 percent and we expect to cross 90 percent between October and March (2023), said Sharma. He is expecting a 35-40 percent increase in revenue during the festive season.
Karma Lakelands, a resort in Gurgaon, is seeing a steady rise in leisure and corporate bookings. Bhisham Chawla, Sales Director of the company said: "If I compare it to last year there has been a rise of 1.35 times in occupancy."In September, occupancy ranges from 85 percent to 90 percent which is a good increase from the non-festive season to the festive period, said Shreyas Kudalkar, Owner of Kings Hotel & Resort. "In addition to the corporate and leisure sectors, we anticipate that weddings will also contribute to demand in the upcoming months. There will be an increase of 20 percent in sales for the upcoming months," he said.