Long August weekends have Indians globetrotting

The longer weekends in August, with one stretching to nine days if one takes two working days off, have got the Indian travellers looking for getaways. Countries offering visa-on-arrival and Europe’s packed cultural calendar have attracted the maximum bookings.
The most demand is coming for countries like Mauritius, Maldives, Thailand, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, which are connected by short and medium-haul flights.
“We are also getting good response for the new upcoming destinations such as Japan and South Korea,” travel firm Cox & Kings said.
Among the European countries, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Greece are getting most queries from travellers. The demand, however, varies from week to week. Several cultural extravaganzas such as La Tomatina (Spain), Edinburgh Festival (Scotland), Notting Hill Carnival (London) and Salzburg Festival (Austria) organised in the month of August are big excitement for holidaymakers.
“Many Indian travellers look forward to attending these carnivals and even combine 2-3 European destinations together to enjoy these cultural shows to the fullest,” the travel firm said.
Festivals such as Raksha Bandhan, Narli Poornima, Ganesh Chaturthi and Independence Day falling on the last or first working day of the week have made weekends longer this time. A working executive can opt for a big monsoon break during August 12-20 by just taking two days off from work.
In a bid to cash in on the demand, travel planners have been offering special packages for Europe and other foreign destinations.
Rajji Rai, chairman, Swift Travels said that bookings have not only gone up for the month of August, but for the entire calendar year as there are longer weekends all through. Besides companies, especially MNCs, want their executives to take 2-3 holidays in a year instead of only one as this brings new vigour among staff to work. In addition, the tax incidence under goods and services tax (GST) on travel packages is not as high as was feared earlier. “There are excellent weekends in all the coming months. There are more matches than mis-matches with holidays getting aligned with the last or first working day of the week. Also, because of the new feeling of GST not being as worrying as it was thought to be, there is new euphoria,” Rai said.
The demand for travel packages has also picked up momentum because people now are conscious of family holidays with short weekends. Travel firms KAYAK, GoFro and MakeMyTrip have seen up to 60 per cent jump in flight queries and holiday packages during the ongoing monsoon season. Both domestic and foreign destinations are in demand. “The fastest growing international destinations during the monsoon is a mix of short and long haul destinations with the highest growth seen for Bali (3.2x), Krabi (1.5x), Toronto (1.5x), Seychelles (1.4x) and Seoul (1.4x),” a MakeMyTrip exective said.

Nirbhay Kumar