The world may be converging on Delhi next month— or so the authorities hope— but droves of Delhiites are looking to give the Commonwealth Games (CWG) a miss. Commuting woes and slow business are just two of the reasons they want to get away from the city. Happily for them, the Delhi government has decided to close schools from 1-17 October, taking care of the one major factor that could have caused many parents to stay put. Some offices too will be closed.
Travel companies, quick to spot business opportunities, have laid out an array of CWG getaways to domestic and foreign destinations, all at attractive prices. “We are offering these holidays as many people are moving out of the city to avoid the Games rush,” says Vivek Awasthi, managing director, Hamara Holiday Pvt. Ltd.
Top draws: (clockwise from left) Nainital, Kerala (Manoj Madhavan/Mint (and Singapore are among the preferred destinations for Delhiites looking to escape the Commonwealth Games.
Popular travel portal Yatra also has Games-special holidays on offer, as does MakeMyTrip (MMT). “These packages were created keeping in mind the holidays during the CWG,” says the firm’s co-founder and COO, Keyur Joshi. Launched in mid-August, the packages range from four days to two weeks, to suit the different holiday needs of travellers.
Travel businesses say interest in holiday packages is significantly high this time of the year. “Traffic is up by 40% for the September-October period as compared to previous years,” says Krishan Singh, general manager and business head at Yatra.com. In other years, the holiday rush in these months has been because of the Durga Puja-Dussehra festivities.
Naveen Joshi, a product manager with Bharti Airtel, has booked a week-long holiday in Manali with Hamara Travels to escape the nightmare he believes his commute will be. “It takes me 2.5-3 hours to commute one way from my home in Mayur Vihar to my office in Gurgaon. I really don’t know how much worse it will be during the Games,” he says. “That’s why I’m heading out of the city from 5-12 October.”
Businessmen, on their part, foresee a slowdown in the first half of October. “I expect business to be slower than usual. That, coupled with the fact that my daughter has school holidays during that period, prompted me to book a holiday away from Delhi,” says Mayank Pandey, who runs a plywood business in Gagan Vihar.
The popular destinations for this bonus travel season are those that offer flexibility and a good range of price options. “We have longer trips to places like Goa, Kerala, the North-East and the Andamans, as well as weekend getaways to places close to the capital like Jaipur, Dharamsala, Manali, Kasauli, Shimla, Dalhousie, Amritsar, Nainital,” says Singh.
Retired Vasant Kunj resident Janak Raj is planning a holiday with his wife and grandson. “My son and daughter-in-law are both working professionals, and won’t get leave during the period. So we decided to go away to the Andamans on an eight-day holiday with our six-year-old grandson,” says the 77-year-old.
According to Joshi, however, most of the prospective holiday makers are government employees. “Enquiries have gone up by approximately 25%,” he says, adding that potential travellers are interested in both week-long breaks as well as longer holidays.
Bargain holidays are still available. “The three-day/two-night holiday package I bought from Hamara Travels for two adults and a child at Corbett National Park cost me about Rs 10,555,” says Pandey. “The regular price is Rs 15,000.”
MMT has tax-free holidays for South-East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong) as a special offer this season till October-end. “Our charter flight holiday packages to the Andamans are much cheaper than anything else available in the market. Plus we have a child-travels-free deal for the period for Kerala and other domestic destinations,” says Joshi.
About 100,000 tourists were expected to hit the Capital during the Games, according to a March estimate by the tourism ministry—but that doesn’t seem likely. Nevertheless, Delhiites are not taking any chances—they are all set to escape the Games frenzy.