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Puneites flock to Goa, Dubai to celebrate five-day long weekend

Puneites flock to Goa, Dubai to celebrate five-day long weekend

The five-day long weekend starting with Holi on Wednesday, has sent cash registers ringing at many travel firms across the city during the end of the current fiscal year a period that is otherwise the quietest time of the year.

Despite the exam season, there are a large number of bookings, say tour operators. Many families with older children and corporate groups have planned vacations to not only domestic destinations but also international getaways such as Dubai, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

“This is the end of the financial year and also exam time; usually we get almost no bookings at this time. But this year, due to the combined festival dates and the long weekend, it is almost like season time,” Sujit Katre, general manager of Guardian Holidays, said.

Katre added, “To escape the heat this year, people are travelling to hill stations and higher altitude areas and there is almost no interest for beaches. People from the city are also looking at places that have direct flight connectivity from here to save time on travelling”.

In India, places like Uttaranchal, Dalhousie and Dharamsala are popular interests, internationally, destinations like Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand are preferred. “Some groups have also gone ahead and taken two more days off and booked Europe and UK tours with us,” Katre said.

Karan Anand, head of relationships at Cox & Kings, said that there has been a 28% hike in bookings. “A segment of people preferr destinations where you can get visas quickly, such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai, or countries that have visa on arrival for Indians, such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mauritius and Maldives”. Anand observed that in India, people are looking to travel closer home with many from Mumbai and Pune booking mostly to Lonavla, Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Ganpatipule and Goa. Those staying in Delhi prefer to drive down to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kulu Manali.

Officials of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation also said that all destinations in Maharashtra are fully booked, with enquiries still pouring in. “The most popular are the tourist spots on the Konkan coast. This time, we have seen all resorts, houseboats and even scuba sessions fully booked. Places which are popular are Mahabaleshwar, Harihareshwar and Tarkarli. Even though it is exam time, it is not reflecting in the bookings,” an official from MTDC said.

“Smart travellers started to book during the end of January and early February itself, but queries and bookings are still coming in,” said Kapil Goswamy, founder and managing director, BigBreaks.com. “We even got bookings as early as August last year, and almost 49% increase has been recorded in bookings” added Ashwin Jayasankar, country head of Wego India, a travel search engine.

While train and bus bookings are full, travellers are also taking to self-drive cars and cabs. “We have bookings from three days to five days and people have planned to head out to Kolad for river rafting and even Nashik to explore vineyards. It is interesting to see that some have even booked cars to Kerala and Kanyakumari. More than 70% of our inventory is already booked,” Sakshi Vij, chief executive officer and founder of self-drive car provider Mylescars.com, said.

Rajiv Vij, chief executive officer and managing director, Carzonrent.com said, “More than 90% of our fleet has been booked, with most booking round-trips. In fact, looking at the trend, we expect bookings to keep flowing in up to four hours from pickup time.”

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