Short-haul destinations turn hot this summer season
Short-haul, visa-onarrival destinations are gaining traction this summer as airfares and holiday packages to the US and Europe stay expensive due to the Jet Airways crisis and closure of Pakistani airspace.
Travel to destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius, Cambodia and the Maldives is picking up with the airlines of some of these countries also enticing travellers with attractive offers, online travel agencies and tour operators said.
“Summer travel has been impacted over the past few months because of issues ranging from capacity constraint due to the grounding of Jet Airways to the closure of airspace over Pakistan that has led to an increase in airfares. We have noticed travellers favouring short-haul destinations, especially those that offer visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival to Indians, like Bhutan, the Maldives, Bali, Thailand and Macau,” said Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer at MakeMyTrip.
East-bound travel to these locations has grown by over 18% from last year, as airfares for Europe and the US have risen by 20-25%, Prakash said. “This has obviously shown some trickledown effect on long-haul destination holiday packages as about 40-50% price of the package is governed by the airfare cost,” he added.
Pakistan extended the closure of its airspace to overflying aircraft till 5.30 am on June 15. The restriction, imposed since February 27, was expected to be lifted by end of this month.
An Air India official said flights to the US had registered a 15% decline in passenger carriage over last year, in part due to the fare increase following the Jet Airways crisis and the airspace closure by Pakistan. Fares have also increased in the range of 20% to the Gulf and around 22% to Europe, the official added.
“Along with the issues of airline grounding and airspace closure, the shift towards the East has also got a push with airlines like AirAsia offering direct international connectivity from various small towns like Bhubaneswar and Vizag,” said Suresh Nair, head of AirAsia Berhad in India.
“On top of it, a push from the tourism boards of countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and free visa on arrival to Thailand and Indonesia, have contributed towards people shifting towards East of India.”
Debt-ridden Jet Airways, which had been cutting down on services since the end of last year, announced in April the grounding of its remaining overseas flights to Amsterdam, Paris and London. This has unsettled the plans of holiday travellers who had booked months in advance.