NEW DELHI: Tour operators and OTAs are expecting a bumper quarter this festive season as bookings for festivals like Dussehra, Durga Puja and Diwali register a significant uptick compared to last year with cheaper deals and offers sidestepping a spike in oil prices that promised to dent air carriers’ margins.

Portals like Cleartrip, Expedia.com, BigBreaks, Yatra and train ticketing platform Confirmtkt said bookings across cities demonstrate robust travel in the upcoming festival dates.

Karan Anand, head of relationships at Cox & Kings, said interest in domestic destinations is growing with people travelling mainly to witness celebrations in different parts of the country like the extravagant Dussehra celebrations at Mysore Palace, Ramlila shows in Delhi, dandiya and garba nights in Gujarat and Durga Puja, Sindur Khela and the Dhaak and Dhunuchi shows in Kolkata.

“Festivities are in full swing in India and travellers are looking ready to make the most of it. The upcoming Dussehra in a long weekend presents a good opportunity to take short trips and bookings for the weekend have gone up by 15-20%. Diwali bookings are also quite strong and are seeing similar growth. There is an increase in demand for hill stations around Diwali as a section of the people want to escape the pollution,” said Anand.

Bookings for the coming Dussehra long weekend have grown by 40-42% for destinations like Kolkata, Mysore, Ahmedabad, Rajasthan, Delhi and Goa on Expedia.com

“October, November are the festive months in India and people are looking forward to travelling around this time. We have also seen an increase in inbound travel as people travel back home while some enthusiastic foreigners want to experience the Indian culture at the peak of festive season,” said Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head of Expedia.

Even global portals like Skyscanner are betting on travel around festivals in India and guiding travellers on how to find the best deals on Diwali travel for return, one way or multi city flight tickets.

Yatra.com is planning to start its festive sale offers in a few weeks and will extend its Flexi Stay offers to more cities like Kolkata and Hyderabad this quarter. Yatra’s Flexi Stay option launched this week will allow customers to book mid-budget and premium (4/5 star) hotels with anytime check ins and check outs and customers are expected to pay only for the few hours of actually using the room.

“This is the heaviest quarter as far as travel is concerned. Dussehra fares are lower than last year on most routes. Market continues to grow at 20% on the domestic demand side. A lot of bookings are flowing into the key metros and destinations around them. Places like Agra, Jaipur around Delhi are seeing good bookings,” said Sharat Dhall, COO, (B2C) at Yatra.com.

Mahabaleshwar, Matheran or Lonavala are popular touring destinations from Mumbai. People visiting Bangalore-Mysore are including Coorg, Kabini and Ooty in their weekend itinerary.

Dinesh Kumar Kotha, co founder and CEO of train discovery and booking app Confirmtkt, said there has been a 28% growth in the ongoing Navratri season compared to last year. On a daily basis, around 6 Lakh tickets are booked online on IRCTC, of which about 60,000 tickets are predicted for the Confirmtkt platform. Delhi (22%), Howrah (27.77%), Secunderabad (21%) and Chennai (18%) are the stations seeing the maximum uptick in bookings currently on the platform.

Kapil Goswamy, chairman and managing director of BigBreaks.com, said holiday-goers are already planning ahead for Diwali to reduce complexity and avoid last-minute rush in travel bookings.

“Till September, BigBreaks has received a huge spike in website traffic from all over the country, mainly directed from Kolkata, Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. The Dussehra long weekend has seen a good spike in bookings for short haul destinations such as Delhi-Udaipur, Mumbai to Goa, Kolkata to Darjeeling, Chennai to Pondicherry etc. This is despite the fact that ticket prices having gone up a little for some routes.”

Balu Ramachandran, head of Air and Distribution at Cleartrip, said early trends indicate a healthy growth of around 10% for Diwali bookings.

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