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There has been around a 40% increase in bookings on travel portals ahead of the long weekend starting Friday and brought rare cheer to the industry that has been among the worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, people aware of the matter said. Travellers have begun to opt for homestays and travelling to nearby places since the government began easing restrictions imposed on movement to check the pandemic spread, they added. This has reflected in the number of bookings made since September. More bookings were expected as people are slowly moving from essential to leisure travel.

Over the years, long weekends have been the most lucrative for the travel industry. While 2020 has had more long weekends compared to 2019, travel had come to a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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According to online travel agency yatra.com, there has been a demand for homestays and cottages this weekend beginning with Gandhi Jayanti on Friday. Travellers are preferring holidaying in secluded areas at drivable distances.

“In the Unlock [easing of restrictions] phase, more travellers are looking for short-haul destinations having proper safety and sanitisation,” said yatra.com co-founder Sabina Chopra. She added ahead of this weekend, they have seen a 32% increase in booking inquiries and growth in demand for accommodation like homestays, 4-star, 5-star hotels, cottages, etc. She added with customer confidence going up, they expect better demand.

Travellers from Delhi were preferring to drive to places like Jaipur, Nainital, Rishikesh, Manesar, Mussoorie and Lansdowne while those from Mumbai were heading to Panchgani, Lonavala, Alibaug, Lavasa and Mahabaleshwar.

Goibibo’s chief operating officer, Vipul Prakash, said over the past few weeks, they have noticed a significant increase in bookings for weekend getaways. “Over the coming long weekend, we expect over 40% higher check-ins in comparison to bookings made for weekend getaways in August. Within this segment, over 70% of the bookings are for drivable destinations or to places within 400 km.”

Goibibo bookings suggest Goa, Shimla, Mussoorie, Nainital, Manali, Coorg and Rishikesh have been the most popular destinations this weekend.

Cleartrip’s corporate strategy head, Aditya Agarwal, said since September, bookings are in the range of 20%-30% of last year levels for Rajasthan and Kerala and around 18% for Goa. “…which signal the return in confidence to travel.” Agarwal said Cleartrip expects this trend to continue over the last quarter. “We saw a substantial increase in traffic volumes on our platform two to seven days prior to the long weekend and therefore this duration contributes to a higher share of bookings. Additionally, we are also seeing an increase in metro to non-metro travel over the long weekend indicating that people have headed back home to spend time with their families.”

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