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Recession leads to great holiday deals

May 04, 2009 14:53 IST

For someone who has been suffering at the hands of economic downturn, Aditya Sen is surprisingly upbeat. The 29-year-old banker is heading for Singapore and Malaysia for his annual vacation despite being handed no increments this year.

"There are some great deals on offer and what better way to drown the recession blues than taking a holiday," says Sen. He has a valid point and there are many like him who are opting for vacations as online travel agencies are going all out to woo more and more travellers.

The travel industry has been impacted by the current economic situation but things are on the mend.

Mayur Oberoi, makemytrip.com's associate vice president, outbound tour, says they are seeing some good traction this summer season despite the slowdown. "This year we have seen short-haul destinations do considerably well in our international section, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bali, Hong Kong and Macau."

In fact, Macau has become one of the most popular destinations for people as it has seen a 90% growth in tourist traffic from India over last year, says Oberoi.

However, experts feel that discretionary travel has been impacted by the economic slowdown. But Dhruv Shiringi, chief executive officer, Yatra.com, says people are now opting for shorter vacations and to destinations closer to the country. As a result, there is also a marked reduction in long-haul destinations, especially Europe and the US.

However, Oberoi says his portal has witnessed growth in both outbound and inbound sections of makemytrip's holiday offerings. Apart from Macau, other short-haul destinations in Asia are finding favour with Indian tourists.

Among domestic destinations, the usual suspects like Manali, Goa and Shimla are as popular as ever. Ooty, Coorg and Kodaikanal are sold out already, according to Oberoi.

A recent study conducted in the UK by a leading travel portal kayak suggests that over 90 per cent of people opt for online deals and do thorough research before zeroing in on a holiday destination and package.

According to Vikas Gulati, vice president, Sprice.com, a travel search engine, customers this time round are looking for much shorter duration. The online consumer is a lot more active when it comes to research, he adds.

According to industry estimates, a consumer conducts at least 11 searches on an average before deciding on the best deal.

Similarly, travel community site Tripadvisor claims that nearly half a million Indians visit their portal every month. The company recently launched its domain in India and Sharat Dhall, managing director, Trip Advisor India, claims that they have "around 10,000 registered members in India, who contribute to the community through reviews, recommendations, photos and videos."

Another report by PhoCusWright suggests that the online travel industry has grown by 126 per cent from a base of $295 million in 2005 to $796 in 2006. In 2007, it recorded a 66 per cent growth to be a $1,325 million industry and by 2008, it grew further by 51 per cent to be a $2,004 million (around $2 billion) industry.

As far as destinations are concerned, the other trend which has emerged is that more people are opting for mono-country, multi-destination trips.

Of course, the reduction in prices of packages in the industry has been significant. For instance, makemytrip has reduced the prices by 10-15 per cent for their outbound packages. So, Oriental Escape, a package from makemytrip, which includes Singapore and Malaysia, will now cost you Rs 37,999 for 7N/8D.

It's always a good time to take a holiday, but this summer the deals offered might just make this season the best time for a much-needed break!

Aabhas Sharma in New Delhi