Three weeks ago, when city-based HR professional Vinay Shastri (34) learned that a long weekend was coming up around Independence day, he called two of his close friends and they made a plan to go on a trip to Thailand. The trio left on the second half of Friday and are joining their respective offices only on August 22. “It’s very rare that one gets such a long weekend, with another holiday in the middle of the week (Thursday for Rakshabandhan). Hence, we planned this quick vacation,” said Shastri.
Like Shastri, many Puneites are making the most of the long weekend. With the Independence Day falling on a Monday followed by Rakshabandhan on Thursday, travel enthusiasts are opting for short trips in the country as well as abroad.
Manmeet Ahluwalia, Marketing Head, Expedia, said, “Indians love utilizing long weekends for short breaks and the trend has been catching up with young couples, working singles for years. Earlier, the bookings for extended weekends used to close up to one or two weeks prior to the holiday season but in the last few years we have seen a shift with rooms getting sold out at a minimum of a month or two in advance, as people have started to plan ahead of these weekends. The rise in the number of bookings and queries has increased by 37 to 40 per cent as the extended weekend approached.” Ahluwalia added that this August the long weekends include Independence day and Raksha Bandhan in the same week, where people will prefer either to work from home or plan a one-day leave to enjoy the whole week. Expedia has seen a 33 to 37 per cent surge in travel booking and seen a growth of over 45 per cent this year in experiential travellers. “Indians are shunning the usual celebrations to venture out on these weekends,” said Ahluwalia, adding that hence, Expedia is offering up to 50 per cent off on the long weekend for hotels in Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala and internationally to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Vietnam.
Ketaki S Kumar, who works for a private firm in Kalyaninagar, is making a week-long trip to Rajasthan with her husband and two children where they plan t cover Jaipur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer.
Rajeev D Kale, President and Country Head, Leisure Travel, MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, said, “Spurred by a burgeoning economy that has vastly improved travellers’ spending power along with declining airfare and great travel deals for the Independence Day weekend, Indians have emerged as the newest globetrotters in the world. Sentiment among Indians continues to remain robust for the upcoming I-Day with our research revealing that increasing number of travellers are extending their long weekend as a result of additional holidays due Pateti and Raksha Bandhan falling in the same week.” At Thomas Cook India, a shift in travel behaviour is witnessed across segments where young professionals are driving significant demand for more experiential and adventurous travel options. With increasing use of technology in the travel space, India’s tech-savvy consumers are now using holiday apps and websites to make their travel bookings. “Hotel bookings to drive-down destinations are sold and tariffs for hotels are up by 100 per cent for the upcoming long weekend. While domestic uptake is up by 45 per cent, international is by 35 per cent,” said Kale, adding that e-Visas have proven to be a huge boon to travellers. He said that e-visas and visa-on-arrival options are resulting in significant outbound uptake and for ‘last minute’ travel and long weekend holidays.