As countries ease border restrictions and India prepares to resume regular international flights from March 15, travel agencies are expecting a rush this summer. According to Thomas Cook India, tour operators have seen queries quadruple in the past 15 days.

Customers have started planning summer vacations, with Europe in particular seeing strong demand, the company said.

Rajiv Kale, President and Country Head, Holidays, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), Visa, Thomas Cook (India), said there were clear signs of a revival with international queries seeing a impressive increase. “The positive sentiment with the reopening of borders is translating into a huge upturn in activity in our corporate and MICE sectors,” he said.

“Sporting events are of particular value to this sector with growing interest in Formula 1 in Bahrain, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the T20 cricket tournament in Australia. The imminent announcement of the restart of international commercial aviation will further stimulate demand and help the sector at the start of its recovery,” he added.

Thomas Cook said the United States was popular with valid visa holders, while Dubai, Abu Dhabi, the Maldives and Sri Lanka were popular for special occasions and weekend getaways. Additionally, Australia is back on the radar with borders reopening from February 22, while Turkey, Mauritius and Egypt are also popular picks, he added.

Travel and vacation company Sterling Holidays expects this year to be a mixed bag for short trips and long vacations. The industry has not had a good season from April to June for two consecutive years. However, that should change this year, he said.

“Interest in international travel will continue. This will likely increase given the easing of travel restrictions between countries. But we are confident that at least one in-country stay will remain a preference for most travelers this year,” said Vikram Lalvani, Chief Operating Officer, Resort Operations and Guest Experience Management, Sterling Holidays.

According to a study by community social media platform LocalCircles, 59% of survey participants planned to travel between March and May. With covid-19 cases falling, 12% of respondents said they planned to travel in the next 90 days and had their tickets and holidays booked, while 18% said they intended to travel but had not yet booked. In addition, almost 29% said they wanted to travel but would decide closer to the travel date, while 29% had no plans for the next three months. LocalCircles surveyed 10,127 people.

Luxury Escapes, a tour operator, said destinations such as Sri Lanka and Thailand, which had been missing for the past two years, are back in the mix, accounting for 10% of their bookings. The United Arab Emirates continues to attract interest even in the summer months, as does the Maldives.

For domestic travel, Luxury Escapes secures bookings with a 40-60 day lead time, coinciding with the summer vacation period, for destinations like Shimla and Uttarakhand. “Summer 2022 is expected to be stronger than the past two years,” said Arun Ashok, Regional Manager, India and Middle East, Luxury Escapes.

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