Rising costs and dipping economic sentiments appear to have dampened the spirits of festive travellers this year. Bookings seem to be low-key this festive season as travellers have shown preference for shorter getaways, budget hotels and domestic destinations, a survey conducted by travel site Yatra has revealed.
According to the survey, conducted among 2,700 customers of Yatra in September, 42 per cent travellers opted for 3-4 star hotels while 25 per cent chose budget hotels. Demand for luxury accommodation has been lukewarm post Goods and Service Tax (GST). While more than 40 per cent people are willing to spend between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,500 on accommodation per night, 33.6 per cent people are willing to spend between Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 for the same.
This comes even as the last-minute fares of flights connecting Mumbai to popular tourist destinations, including Delhi, have witnessed a dip. For example, the average airfare, a day ahead of Diwali, between Delhi and Mumbai was pegged at at Rs 3,412 this year compared to Rs 5,498 in 2016.
“Last-minute fares are on the lower side on popular routes compared to the previous years due to increased capacity. But higher on other routes where there has been no significant increase in capacity. Travellers from Mumbai can leverage the long weekend around Diwali and take a quick break to Lonavala, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Goa and Pune,” said Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com. Authorities from resort booking websites indicate that the number of people wanting to travel on budgeted tours is on the rise. Tourists have tightened their purse strings and are choosing to book resort accommodations three months prior to the travel date so as to avail of maximum discounts.
“Between passionate travellers and budget travellers, we have seen that there has been a rise of those wanting to travel on a budget. We are seeing a schedule where tourists are preferring to book the resorts much in advance which can help them avail the same in affordable rates. Among the destinations, sea-forts, including Mandwa, Alibaug and Sindhudurg, have witnessed more bookings this time for two-three day travel as they are pocket-friendly destinastions,” Aashutosh Rathod, the Joint Managing Director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, said.
At least 80 per cent of the Yatra survey respondents agreed that they were travelling for leisure and embarking on domestic travel for shorter trips, which are considerably more affordable. “While majority of travellers are headed home during Diwali, we have seen a significant uptick in leisure travellers who want to explore destinations closer to their current city for a short break rather than go home,” Dhall added.
Uday Somayajula, the Director and Co-founder, ePayLater, said: “Over the long weekend of Dussehra, we saw the largest single-day bookings on our portal on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in terms of numbers of transactions per day. There was a dip immediately afterward as we saw the number of transactions per day coming down steadily and settling around the average. Since the flight rates are exorbitantly high, especially during the festive season, people are preferring a cheaper mode of transport like railway.”
Tourists claim the dip in the economy and increased cost of leisure travel is holding them back from splurging. “Looking at the increased fuel rates and prices of commodities after the implementation of the GST, a short trip using public transportation seems more affordable than spending large sums on a luxurious travel,” Meena Ashnani, who is taking a trip to Kamshet near Lonavala by train, said.