KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Mumbai
Though, the prevalent scenario of high airfare and economic slowdown is proving to be rather challenging for the tourism industry, it is not an impediment for the Indian traveller. As per a latest survey conducted by an online travel company, there has been a significant change in the travel patterns of Indians. And with the travel season around the corner and the current festive season bookings, major players in the online travel segment are expecting the market sentiment to pick by up to 70-80 per cent in the coming months. “The current trend of travelling amongst Indians is likely to transform as they might plan holidays a few more weeks in advance. With a slew of economic reforms announced and the sensex back to last year numbers, there is a definitive sense of positive outlook,” said Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and CEO, Yatra.com to Express TravelWorld.
The survey done by Wego India states that eight in every ten hotel searches are for domestic accommodation, up from half at this time in 2011 and it is stimulating fresh demand for a much wider range of travel experiences. This festive season airlines like Air India and Jet Airways have also launched schemes wherein one can avail of significant discount on the bookings made in advance.
Giving a perspective on the same, Noel Swain, executive vice president, supplier relations, Cleartrip added, “There has been a stimulated market demand with regards to travel planning. No doubt there has been 25 per cent increase in airfare due to increase in service tax, ADF, UDF and fares, but with the benefit of airlines offering 30 days advance fare bookings we have seen an increase of up to 30 per cent in bookings this month. On the hotel booking segment, we have got an increase of 60 per cent this year apart from the fact that we have added new inventories.”
“Given the price sensitivity of the market in light of the depreciating rupee and repeated fare hikes, ‘value’ is now of key significance to the Indian traveller; be it luxury or otherwise. Travellers see value for money with complimentary services, discounts and offers. We expect a percolation of the customisation trend to the tier II – III regional markets,” opined Madhav Pai, chief operating officer, leisure outbound, Thomas Cook (India).
For Thomas Cook India, out of the total bookings received for the upcoming festive season, 70 per cent travellers chose to fly and 30 per cent chose to travel by rail and buses. While for Yatra, major chunk of the bookings were seen for air tickets i.e., 80 per cent and 20 per cent on rail tickets. “During these festive season, we have been witnessing a margin of around 10 per cent for holiday packages and between one-two per cent for flights,” added Shringi.
“The festive season is a peak travel season in India and we always see a good growth in bookings during this period. This year too, our holidays and hotels business is growing at a very healthy pace. Air contributes to around 70 per cent of our revenue mix but we are looking to steadily increase the hotels and holidays share of the pie,”said Mohit Gupta, chief business officer, MakeMyTrip.
As per these major OTA’s on the domestic side, Kashmir, Kerala, Bengaluru, Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and North-East continue to be popular travel destinations, while Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, Kathmandu are the big draws for short-haul outbound holidays.