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Unwinding at tranquil properties in the hills of Himachal or at the sunny beaches of Goa, taking frequent short breaks has become a priority for city dwellers with travel firms witnessing an increase in bookings for long weekend breaks. Both online and offline travel operators witnessed 30 to 40% jump in bookings for the Republic Day long weekend over other weekends in January.

The preferred destinations remain road trips to driving destinations such as Lonavala, Uttarakhand, Jaipur, Rishikesh, Pondicherry, Coorg, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh around metros like Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru or Delhi-NCR.

"Bookings on MakeMyTrip indicates that couples, small group of friends and families with children have already started searching, planning and booking staycations for long-weekends in 2021 starting with the Republic Day long weekend. We are noticing a 30% increase in bookings for the upcoming Republic Day long weekend in comparison to the other weekends in January. As travel sentiment revives, we hope to see more takers for long weekend travel in the coming months," said Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer, MakeMyTrip.

Yatra.com said that travellers are enquiring about holiday packages as well as alternate accommodation options largely in four or five-star properties, homestays and villas among others, across offbeat locations.

"We have witnessed 30-40% rise in booking enquiries specifically for the Republic Day long weekend. In 2021, we can expect this trend to grow further in demand, as travellers plan their travel before or after the weekends," said Sabina Chopra, co-founder and COO, corporate travel & head industry relations, Yatra.com.

Booking.com is offering early 2021 deals to help travellers save 20% or more on their next booking for bookings made till 31 March, 2021.

"Overall, weekend trips seem to be an evolving trend in 2021, showing travellers’ desires to be able to escape reality, even for just a few days. With many travellers feeling apprehensive that future travel plans could be disrupted again, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see increased interest in taking more spontaneous, shorter trips this year," said Ritu Mehrotra, country manager - India, Sri Lanka & Maldives at Booking.com.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook India and SOTC are also running the India Holiday Festival from 20-31, January offering deals on stays and packages. As per SOTC's second Holiday Readiness report released in December 2020, 89% respondents said they are keen to resume travel. Longer stays in one resort/location, accommodation that offer hygiene and security with family based activities and are less crowded are most preferred by travellers.

Rajeev Kale, president & country head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd said that in 2021, India’s travellers are increasingly seeking, unique, non-standard experiences and we are observing this demand for the Republic Day weekend as well.

"Igloo stays in Manali, snowfall breaks in Gulmarg, water sports in Andamans, wildlife safaris in Kabini National Park, tea plantation stays in Darjeeling tea estates, a visit to the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, Rann Utsav in Kutch etc. are popular choices," he added.

"To encourage Indians to make the most of this opportunity we have launched India Holiday Festival that presents customers with a wide range of exciting options such as private villas with services of a chef & concierge; camping, trekking & biking trips, romantic getaways for honeymooners, wellness and spa with attractive offers," said Daniel D’souza, president & country head, leisure, SOTC Travel.


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