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As daily infection cases decline and restrictions start to ease across the country, consumers stuck at home are back to planning travel. Even though travel and hospitality firms have seen limited bookings for June, they are flooded with enquiries and expect better business in July and August. Travel operators said that they have witnessed upto 50% jump in enquiries in the last ten days.

Varying travel guidelines across states are also leading to increase in enquiries. Goa, for instance, requires either a negative RT-PCR certificate or full covid vaccination certificate. To enter Himachal Pradesh, one needs a valid e-pass and a negative RT-PCR certificate. Uttarakhand, on the other hand, is conducting on-arrival covid test for passengers arriving from certain states with high number of covid cases like Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka among others.

SOTC said that there has been a 35-40% increase in week-on-week enquiries. “Customers are looking for guidance and handholding more than ever before. Our teams are working closely to support customers with our flexibility in rebooking/changes and free cancellation," said Daniel D’souza, president & country head, Leisure, SOTC Travel.

Thomas Cook India said visitor traffic on its website in June is already up by 33% over May and lead demand for holidays has seen a healthy jump of over 30% in the last week.

“Top searches and queries are for domestic favourites like Ladakh and Kashmir. Millennials, young working professionals and ad hoc groups of family/ friends are the segments driving demand currently. In addition to metros, mini metros and tier II source markets like Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow are also fuelling travel demand," said Rajeev Kale, president & country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

MakeMyTrip said that booking patterns indicate that confidence is building back in travel with cancellations being limited to only 10% of overall bookings being made on the platform for the month of June. This is equivalent to the number of cancellations that were made in February this year.

“Within a week since restrictions began to ease, we have seen a jump of nearly 200% in hotel bookings for the month of June – with majority of the bookings being made for states where lockdown restrictions have been relaxed considerably," said Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer, MakeMyTrip.

Rajiv Subramanian, vice-president, Cleartrip said that there are initial signs of recovery with reduced caseloads and relaxation of restrictions by several states.

“Traffic and booking volumes have almost doubled from a couple of weeks back. Share of round trips and advance bookings has also seen an uptick. Both these metrics have been good lead indicators of consumer confidence in the past 12 months. This recovery should continue with more cities seeing reduced caseloads and accelerated vaccination," he added.

Booking.com said that the impact of pent-up travel demand and travel intent beginning to build, particularly for domestic destinations. The most searched destinations in the months of June to August besides metros being destinations like Lonavala, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Manali and Jaipur.

“Staycations and workcations will continue to be a part of the travel agenda. Travellers are also looking at shorter booking windows and closer-to-home destinations. In terms of accommodation options, travellers are looking at resorts and villas, getaways with fewer crowds, more privacy and ability to gather with loved ones," said Ritu Mehrotra, regional manager - South Asia at Booking.com.

Hotels and resorts are doing their bit by creating special packages. ITC Hotels, for instance, has launched Rejuvenate & Recharge package which is a long-stay package which covers all major meals and internet. At select hotels, meals may be served in-room as packaged meals. Properties like Welcomhotel in Chail, Shimla, Mussoorie and Pahalgam, are also offering kids' activities and complimentary laundry to woo travellers.

“The penetration of the vaccine is helping bolster confidence in travel. We are expecting a resurgence of motorable getaways especially at Welcomhotels which is already generating a lot of queries. The hills and beaches are normally the quickest to recover, and this time again we are seeing a lot of interest being generated for these hotels," said an ITC spokesperson.

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