As COVID-19 restrictions are nearly gone, travellers have made plans to pack their bags and leave the country for something they have dearly missed for two years now — visiting new locations abroad. As the holiday season is just beginning, while some have already headed to destinations abroad to places such as West Asia and Europe, many more are chalking out plans with travel agencies to leave the city in May to locations like Turkey and Egypt.
Rajeev Kale, president and country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa - Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., said they were seeing a strong pent up demand and this was fueling booking pipeline from Tamil Nadu for the upcoming summer vacations.
“It is important to note an increase in international travel from Chennai and the State and we are looking at a significant surge for people showing interest travel to places like Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria and there has been a three-time growth in queries over the last year; Dubai and Abu Dhabi are seeing a 40% to 50% growth in demand compared to the same period last year,” he said.
S. Jeyasekaran of Travel Agents Association of India, Chennai Chapter, said apart from Europe and West Asia, some of the locations that travellers are willing to explore now is Turkey and Egypt. “This will cost them anywhere between ₹1.5 to ₹2 lakh. Many are willing to shell out quite a bit this time since they have been confined to home for two years. Apart from this, for nearly 6-8 months, Maldives has been the go-to destination and continues to be the favourite for those who want to spend time by the sea,” he said.
Interestingly, during the pre-COVID times South East Asia was at the top of the list as far as demand was concerned. “There are queries, but it has been a rather slow start this time. Perhaps, within a week or 10 days, we will see more interest in these locations as they are more affordable than the Europe, the U.S. or the U.K.,” Mr. Jayasekaran said.
Hari Ganapathy, co-founder of Pickyourtrail, said: “Queries have been increasing 30% month on month. A large part of this increase is because of the Indian government allowing flights for all destinations. Spending has been high and people are clearly seeking out experiences.”
There has been a new found interest in several people to fly to Turkey and Egypt this season, say travel experts. Those who have already been to West Asia and South East Asia, they are now planning a holiday in one of these two countries.
Sriharan Balan of Madura Travel said, “Much of this interest is fuelled by what they see on Instagram or YouTube. They want to spend time at Istanbul, then experience the hot air balloon concept at Cappadocia and enjoy the beaches at Antalya.”