Express press service

KOCHI: The holidays have arrived and everyone is in the mood to soak up the outdoors. For nearly two years, domestic and national tourism is at a standstill. Now, with Covid restrictions eased, Keralites are busy exploring destinations across the country and beyond. Tour operators say there has been an increase in bookings and inquiries this season.

Booking.com, a popular travel and hospitality platform, recently released Travel Predictions 2022 Research, which stated that 83% of Indian travelers seek to go on holiday if their budget allows, while 65% would travel if the destination matches their preferences.

The platform also pointed out that this summer will mark the return of post-pandemic travel. User search trends on Booking.com put beach and mountain destinations at the top of the list of the country’s most favorite vacation spots. Goa, Srinagar, Manali, Ooty and Rishikesh are the favorite spots alongside metros like Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi for Indian travelers between April 1 and June 30.

Northern states favored
Tour operators claim that Jammu and Kashmir is preferred by most Malayali travelers this summer. Many backpackers have already returned from solo holidays in the hills while others will soon head there with family and friends.

“Now is the right time to enjoy Kashmir. It was a long awaited trip for me and I enjoyed it very much. The rates were affordable and I went with an all women travel group. I think traveling has become more affordable than in previous years,” said Meenu VR, a government employee, who recently visited Jammu and Kashmir. Meenu said that although she traveled out of season, Jammu was crowded with tourists from all over India.

Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, other destinations in the north and northeast are also preferred by travelers. Vineet Sanjeev, an IT worker from Kochi, is excited about his trip next week. It will cover much of northeast India for two weeks.

“I will hit Guwahati, Kohima, Imphal, Aizawl, Shillong, Chiranpunji and, weather permitting, Agartala. I’ve been planning this trip since 2020. It will be nice to finally cross it off my to-do list,” he says.

The Maldives are becoming popular
Like Jammu and Kashmir, the Maldives also welcomes many Malayali tourists, especially honeymooners, this season. “Malays prefer hill stations this summer. Although international travel has just resumed after the pandemic, many bookings are already being made in the Maldives,” said Anish Kumar PK, CEO of The Travel Planners. “Within the state, Malayalis travel to Wayanad and Ooty as opposed to Munnar and Thekkady which were in demand before the pandemic,” he added.

Slow and steady
Although the travel and tourism sector has picked up, travel agents say growth is slow. Airline ticket prices have risen by at least 50% lately due to high demand. “We think it will take another two years for the sector to fully recover and for tourism to return to its former glory. Now, as schools are also closed, ticket prices are very high. Previously, huge groups from the Kerala used to travel to Gulf countries during the summer, but this year very few such trips have taken place,” said KV Muraleedharan, Secretary of State of Kerala Travel Agents Association. also added that foreign airlines charge exorbitant fares, forcing people to research destinations within the country.

  • After two ‘staying at home’ summers, Malayalis are ready to get out and explore the world this year
  • Travelers from the state are heading to the northern states and even to places outside the country like the Maldives this season

Studies show
About 83% of Indian travelers are looking to go on vacation if their budget allows, according to the Travel Predictions 2022 study by Booking.com, a popular travel and hospitality platform. About 65% would travel if the destination matches their preferences.