Now, travel and airline executives say that leisure demand is slowly returning, with an increase in bookings to popular weekend gateways this weekend.
“For the long weekend, we are noticing some leisure demand and better loads, which have been probably triggered because of the gradual streamlining of quarantine requirements and travel restrictions in most places across the country. Challenges around international travel in current times and a lack of scheduled services are also contributing factors. However, we have to closely observe, over a period of time, to find out if this is sustained trend,” said a Vistara
said it was now operating 100 daily flights ( 50 per cent of its pre-Covid capacity) and would be increasing this number to 110 this weekend onwards. IndiGo, too, is operating around 800 flights, which is over 50 per cent of its pre-Covid schedule, and its capacity deployed has increased by 15 per cent over the past month.
While airlines are seeing improved demand and industry-wide seat occupancy has increased to over 60 per cent, it is road trips which are generating higher traction.
Booking trends for long weekends, according to Yatra.com, show that customers are also choosing homestays or four- star and five-star accommodations, as hygiene and safety is a priority now.
“Over the long weekend, we expect 40 per cent higher check-ins in comparison to bookings made for weekend gateways in August. Within this segment, more than 70 per cent of the bookings are for drivable destinations or to places within 400 kms from the home city.
Goa, Shimla, Missouri, Nainital, Manali, Coorg, and Rishikesh have been high on the consideration list of travelers looking for a break over the long weekend,” said Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer of MakeMyTrip.
“We are all sold out this weekend,” said Vibhas Prasad, director of Leisure Hotels, which has properties in Nainital, Corbett National Park, Haridwar, and other places.
“After the state governments lifted travel restrictions, our properties have seen a sharp demand pick-up. On average, occupancy on the weekends in the current month is expected to touch 60-64 per cent, which is almost double of what it was in September,” Prasad said.
Another trend coming to the fore is customers opting for alternate accommodations. Booking.com said it had simplified its search experience and introduced filters for customers looking for private accommodation and properties that have implemented health and safety measures. The portal has also introduced weekly and monthly rate plans after search trends revealed that travelers are increasingly looking to stay in a single place for longer.
“Besides key metros, top-booked destinations by travelers within India from October 1-31 are Lonavala, Jaipur, Gurugram, Rishikesh, Digha, and Manali,” said Ritu Mehrotra, country manager — India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives at Booking.com.