Have holiday, will travel

Out to make the most of a 5-day extended weekend from Wednesday, hundreds of Delhiites bitten by the travel bug are planning to head off to popular tourist spots.

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Tour and travel operators said there is a surge in their bookings for the coming week.

The Holi festival is on Wednesday, followed by Good Friday (March 29) and Saturday, Sunday. Taking Thursday off results in a five-day extended weekend.

“There has been an increase of 40 to 50 per cent in bookings for different destinations and we expect further increase in demand over the next couple of days due to last minute bookings,” Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer – Holidays at MakeMyTrip.com, told IANS.

Richa Goyal Sikri of STIC Travels agreed, saying the pleasant weather and end of exams in most schools are also important factors that have added to the surge.

“The weather is pleasant, which has further encouraged people to travel to both hill stations and warmer beach destinations. People are spoilt for choice and are readily buying a trip for this period,” Sikri added.

While, the Southeast Asian region continues to be the favourite when it comes to holidaying abroad owing to its proximity and convenient visa on arrival schemes, Rajasthan, Goa, Kashmir, and Himalayan hill stations rule the roost when it comes to domestic holiday spots.

Off-beat spots even in crowded, popular destinations are definitely being preferred by travellers, according to Vikram Malhi, Country Head, Expedia.co.in.

“Locations like Koh Samui and Krabi islands in Thailand, Penang Island, Malacca and Johor Bahru in Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam are attracting a lot of tourists,” said Malhi.

Proximity plus value-for-money is the key when it comes to choosing a domestic destination, said Sharat Dhall, President of Yatra.com.

“Budget holidays to nearby places like the Jim Corbett sanctuary, Shimla and Rishikesh (for adventure sports) are quite popular as these places are close to Delhi and are cheap (in terms of accommodation),” said Dhall.

The travellers are a mixed bag of families, groups of friends and DINKS (double income no kids) couples, Sunil Hasija, Executive Director of TUI India, said.

The average holiday budget ranges from Rs.5,000-Rs.20,000 per person for domestic destinations and from Rs.25,000-Rs.60,000 for international holiday spots.

For 38-year-old Aribhav Kohli, who is headed to the Jim Corbett national park and Haridwar with his wife and two kids, such extended weekends are a godsend.

“Such a weekend is always welcome, the children are done with their exams and my wife and I too need a break from our daily routine,” Kohli, a bank executive, told IAN

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