Goa, Bali, Sri Lanka and Udaipur in the winter and the hills in the summers, but when it’s raining, stay put at home—that’s been the holiday mantra. However, thanks to discounted flight tickets and cheap hotels, the dynamics are shifting.
Travel agents and tour operators say the so-called offseason, going on right now and concurrent with the monsoon, has witnessed a rise in tourist numbers this year, with people looking at travelling practically all times of the year.
India’s largest travel agency MakeMyTrip said it’s seeing considerable year-on-year growth in travel to Dubai (35%), the Maldives (50%), Sri Lanka (30%) and Mauritius (20%). Within India, bookings for travel to the Andaman islands, Goa and Kerala are 25% higher than last year.
MakeMyTrip ran a Goa Hotel sale along with offers on IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air Asia last week that promised up to 40% off on select hotels if customers booked on July 11-13. Airfares started at Rs 999 on domestic routes if booked by July 13. It’s currently offering up to 25% instant discount on four and five-star international hotel bookings for a limited period.
Tour operators said many high-end hotels in India are offering discounts of as much as 35-50%.
Destinations such as Udaipur and Goa are seeing low-season hotel rates that are 35-40% less than the peak season. Airfares currently are about 25% cheaper to cities such as Udaipur.
“Even for international travel, rates during the low season are significantly lesser. In addition to cost, another big advantage of travelling during the offseason is lesser crowds and lesser queues at attractions and monuments as well as theme parks,” said Kapil Goswamy, chairman and managing director of tour company BigBreaks.
According to Karan Anand, head of relationships at Cox & Kings, offseason travel to destinations such as Australia and New Zealand is of great value to customers and airfares are attractive and reasonable for destinations like China, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.
Beach destinations, usually not considered optimum for this time of the year, are also gaining traction. A spokesperson of the Seychelles Tourism Board said the archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean was witnessing growth in tourists from India all through the year, regardless of the season.
“By June 2018, India surpassed many major markets and now ranks as the sixth source market for the Seychelles, marking over 8,000 visitors in the first half of 2018,” said Sherin Francis, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. Besides Air Seychelles, which has five direct flights a week from Mumbai, others such as Ethiopian Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Etihad and Emirates also fly to the Seychelles from several cities in India via their hubs, offering multiple fare options.
Flights from cities such as Bengaluru to Goa and New Delhi to Udaipur are available for as low as Rs 1,600 and Rs 1,660, respectively, on Cleartrip for select dates in July.
“Bali, Colombo and Bangkok have clocked over 50% year-on-year growth in bookings. Sydney and Melbourne are the other beach destinations that have witnessed acute spikes in travel and have registered a record year-on-year growth of over 100% this monsoon,” said Balu Ramachandran, head of air and distribution at Cleartrip.
Beach monsoon is the trend across the globe for travellers, said Manheer Singh Sethi, cofounder of Travkart. With the fall in flight and hotel rates, places that are considered offbeat during monsoons are earning fair business this year, Sethi said.