Travel firms roll out discounts in domestic circuit to woo customers

Domestic air traffic is growing month on month though it remains half of 2019 level
Travel companies are launching new products and promotions to sustain growth in domestic market.

While Thomas Cook and SOTC are offering 40-50 per cent discount on packages in a limited period offer, Yatra.com said trips to hill stations are 20-30 per cent cheaper compared to last year. MakeMyTrip too plans to roll out special discounts and early bird offers for upcoming summer travel season.

International travel remains highly restricted and only a few destinations such as Dubai, Maldives and Oman are welcoming tourists. Seychelles and Sri Lanka too have opened their doors now for leisure travel. But overall outlook for international travel remains uncertain.

Therefore, companies like Thomas Cook are reorienting their business to cater to domestic travel. The tour operator drew bulk of its revenue from outbound travel in pre-Covid times and signed fresh contracts to curate new domestic itineraries this year.

"We are seeing demand for stays in private villas, havelis/forts with local experiences like jeep safari amidst lush plantations of Kolukkumalai, Munnar, hot air ballooning in Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve, magrove walks in Sundarbans etc," said Rajeev Kale, president and country head (holidays), Thomas Cook India.

"During the winter holiday season, we had 25 per cent month-on-month growth in bookings. We can expect a further rise in demand for domestic leisure travel in summer especially during the holiday season. As far as international travel is concerned it would resume to pre-Covid levels only with global efforts in vaccination and sucess in control of pandemic," said Sabina Chopra, co-founder and chief operating officer, Yatra.com. 

The uptick in domestic travel comes as airlines introduce new flights. Domestic air traffic is growing month on month though it remains half of 2019 level.  Goa airport for instance saw less than 15,000 passengers in June, the first full month since resumption of flights and in December the number increased to over 467,000. IndiGo is connecting Aurangabad and Ahmedabad from February 3 and will launch flights to Agra from March. 

States too are taking initiatives to encourage tourism.  While Maharashtra government is opening up prisons in the state to visitors and curating tours to film studios, Orissa is positioning itself as eco tourism destination. The state has set up luxury tent camps at tourist sites and promoting road trips within Orissa.

Vipul Prakash, MakeMyTrip chief operating officer said the portal saw 50 per cent month on month increase in hotel bookings in December. Within categories more than 60 per cent of bookings were made for three star and above rated properties, independent rentals and homestays which promised hygiene and safety, he added. Demand was high for Goa, Jaipur, Udaipur, Shimla, Manali, Coorg and other places. 

The pademic and uncertainty over travel restrictions has also brought about a change in customer booking patterns.

"Last year, there had been a change in booking patterns with 44 per cent growth in last minute booking received as compared to 2019. Travelers also explored alternate accommodation options such as homestays, cottages, luxury hotels, wherein 4 to 5-star hotels saw a rise in demand, Yatra.com's Chopra said.


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