Easy visas, affordable fares: Impromptu international jaunts on the rise

This trend has started over the last 12 months as the visa-related restrictions have started to ease.  (Bloomberg)
This trend has started over the last 12 months as the visa-related restrictions have started to ease. (Bloomberg)


  • Ease in obtaining visas for some countries and affordable fares plus increased connectivity are some reasons for travellers planning last-minute strips

Travel portals are seeing an increase in the tendency among Indian travellers to book last-minute international jaunts on short-haul destinations as visa facilities ease for some countries and fares become more affordable thanks to increased connectivity.

“Bookings for short-haul international destinations are increasing, with a notable surge of around 25-30% in last-minute bookings since January 2024," Rikant Pittie, co-founder, EaseMyTrip, said. Interestingly, there's a growing trend of booking closer to travel dates, especially for destinations that don't demand extensive planning. 

The demand is also evident in the data for nearby overseas destinations. The total passenger traffic to and from Vietnam has increased by 152% on year to 186,812 passengers, as per latest data which is for Oct-Dec from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Similarly, the total overseas traffic for India for the quarter from Singapore and Malaysia has surged by 18% and 22%, as compared to the same period a year ago. Similarly, Azerbaijan has seen a 375% surge in air traffic on year in the October-December quarter, traffic for Thailand has risen by 3% to 1 million travellers.

Read more: For international travellers, India remains a distant destination

Direct flights between India and Indonesia commenced in August with IndiGo's Mumbai-Jakarta flight and the air traffic between India and Indonesia has increased by 123% on quarter to 34,493 passengers in Oct-Dec from 15,482 in July-September following increased connectivity by other airlines as well. For example, Vistara which is currently the sole carrier on the Delhi-Bali route had to upgrade to a wide-body Boeing B787 on the route on the back of higher demand as compared to an Airbus A321 used earlier.

“This trend has started over the last 12 months as the visa-related restrictions have started to ease. In short-haul air travel, the booking window has significantly shortened to around 15-20 days on an average as compared to 30-60 days earlier. But, in some cases where visa is available on arrival, passengers are also making sudden plans and sometimes booking a day prior," Aditya Agarwal, chief financial officer, Cleartrip said.

Countries such as Thailand, Mauritius, and Indonesia offer visa on arrival for Indian travellers, and other countries like such as Azerbaijan, Vietnam, and Georgia compete by offering a hassle-free visa application process with quick approvals. Not to be left out, Malaysia has come up visa-free entry to Indian travellers until December.

Vietnam Airlines said that it has been observing a very unique booking pattern from India.

“Unlike Europeans, who usually book 4-6 months in advance, Indian travelers tend to finalize their plans closer to departure, often within 30 days of departure," Abhishek Goyal, executive director, Aeroprime Group, said. This trend is especially evident for Vietnam, a short-haul destination where there's a growing tendency for shorter booking times. Aeroprime is an aviation and travel services group based in India, according to the company's website.

There has been a 30-50% increase in consumer demand for easy-visa, short-haul destinations in the upcoming summer season as well with a a 50-400% increase in bookings for visa-free countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand and a booking window of 7-10 days in several cases, Daniel D’Souza, president & country head—Holidays, SOTC Travel, said.

Stable air fares for Malaysia, Mauritius, and Indonesia among others have also aided the sustained demand, D’souza said.

Omni-channel travel platform Thomas Cook has also witnessed a surge of up to 550% in bookings for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia.

“Airfares for April-May are on par with, or marginally higher than last year and this is further fuelling consumer demand for short haul destinations," Rajeev Kale, president & country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa - Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, said. While airfares to destinations like Baku and Almaty have increased by approximately 7-10% as compared to last year, Thailand and Indonesia have increased by 3%; Malaysia and Mauritius have seen no increase. Singapore airfares have decreased by 3% and this is seeing uplift in demand by 23%, he said. 

Catch all the Corporate news and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.