Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Diwali is no longer just a holiday, it is a vacation

This year the number of people taking overseas vacations during Diwali holidays has grown by 25% since last year, while domestic bookings have gone up by 35%

Diwali has always been a festival for families to get together and bond. But in the past few years, a growing number of people have been planning holidays around this time and prefer spending quality time at a destination away from home.

According to a report by travel and tour operator Cox & Kings, this year the number of people taking overseas vacations during Diwali holidays has grown by 25% since last year, while domestic bookings have gone up by 35%.

“The custom still prevails, but instead of celebrating the festival at home, all the family members congregate at a serene destination—domestic or international—away from home and enjoy the festival and a vacation both at the same time. Even for other festivals, Indian travellers combine festival holidays with weekends to take short breaks," said Karan Anand, head-relationship, Cox & Kings.

Experts say that most Indians have a cheerful spirit during the festive season. Also, a lot of people receive bonuses during this time. This additional money give them the opportunity to spend more.

“Spurred by a burgeoning economy that has vastly improved travellers’ spending power, along with declining airfares and great travel deals for festivals like Durga Puja, Diwali and Christmas, Indians have emerged as the newest globetrotters in the world," said Rajeev D. Kale, president and country head-leisure travel, MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

While most of the Diwali vacation planning and booking is done well in advance, the extra bonus encourages people to spend more on food, shopping and sightseeing while on a vacation, said Neelu Singh, chief executive office and director, Ezeego1, an online travel portal.

“As part of the festive bonus, (some) employers also offer incentives like two-night stays at 5-star properties or dinner vouchers at restaurants that can be availed across cities, further encouraging people to plan their holiday around these incentives," she added.

More travellers

Till a few years ago, the trend of travelling during festivals was more prevalent in the metro cities. But now, it is catching up in tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well.

“Travellers from smaller cities are bigger spenders than those from metro cities. Also, budget-friendly hotels, cheap flights and better road or air connectivity has increased the appetite of small town travellers," said Singh.

According to the Cox & Kings report, close to 70% of those travelling during Diwali, travel for six to seven nights. The average cost of a holiday during this period for a domestic destination is Rs1,000 per person per night, and for overseas destination it is Rs3,500 per person per night. This is for stay only, it added.

Getting a good deal

To get a sweet deal on travelling during festivals and the upcoming winter vacations, as a thumb rule always plan in advance to get better packages. “Most hotels offer early-bird schemes to inspire demand much in advance of the traditional booking season, when supply is at its peak, to ensure they fill up their inventory. Offers like upgrades on room categories, as also free breakfast or transfers, are available to early bookers," said Kale.

Travellers can also take the benefits of off-season deals during this time, especially for European destinations, if your travel dates are in October and November, said Anand.

“If booking through a travel portal, always look for flight plus hotel options instead of booking separately to avail better discounts," said Singh.

Holidays during festive season are more pocket friendly because of various discounts and exclusive offers available during this time, said Anand.

So, this Diwali even if you plan to celebrate it at a faraway place from home, the brightness can remain the same.