You had to cancel that Europe trip as the rupee tanked. And, just when you thought of flying to Kerala instead, the airfares zoomed almost 30 per cent. Add to that the eight per cent increase in hotel tariffs for the festive season starting October. Holidayers’ plans have gone topsy-turvy of late and the options have got limited.
Travel companies expect these factors to lower demand at least 10 per cent. To counter this and spur travel demand, these firms are now putting their buck on ‘fixed departure packages’.
Yatra, for instance, is offering packaged tours for Andaman & Nicobar Islands at Rs 35,000 or a four-day holiday in Goa for Rs 10,000. Several such options are available for Kashmir, Kerala and even international destinations such as Thailand and Mauritius. “We are able to give affordable options through the inventory we booked much in advance, so the price remains unaffected by the current crisis,” says Yatra.com President Sharat Dhall.
Cox & Kings, too, is advertising packages for which fares had been frozen much in advance to protect against increases. One can even go for ‘Super Saver Andaman’ with airfares of Rs 36,199 a person or ‘Kerala Delight’ for Rs 25,999 for six days, inclusive of air fare, accommodation and sightseeing.
Packages for destinations such as Seychelles, Dubai, Greece and Turkey have also been aggregated by travel companies.
After the rupee’s weakening spell against the dollar, an increase in airfares — for both international and domestic flights — had dealt a heavy blow to travellers. Air travel had become 15-30 per cent more expensive as oil companies increased the price of aviation turbine fuel. “This rise in airfares will certainly be a big blow to demand in the coming festive and leisure travel season,” Dhall adds.
The cost of flying from Delhi to Mumbai, for example, has risen to Rs 10,000 from Rs 6,000-7,000 before the increrase. There have been similar increases on Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai routes, too. “The short-period discounted promotions run by SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Air India had helped the holidaymaker segment block their tickets much in advance. Due to the comparatively low airfares, domestic air traffic was slowly picking up after many months of decline,” says Vikram Malhi, general manager (South and Southeast Asia), Expedia.
Hotels, especially in leisure desinations, such as Jaipur, Goa and Kerala, are expected to increase room rates due to the peak-season demand. “We are planning to raise rates five to eight per cent. There is a lot of inflationary pressure. The prices have to be increased,” says Rajeev Menon, area vice-president (South Asia and Australia), Marriott International.
Travel companies hope to make up for the surge in airfares by offering cheaper deals on hotels. Expedia claims to be offering up to 70 per cent off on room rates across 205,000 hotels to spur travel demand.