With the pandemic putting international flights on hold, local tourism is reaping the benefits

Tourist destinations such as Goa, Port Blair and Bagdogra registered a huge uptick in demand in September, and airlines and travel industry insiders see business rolling in the coming days as the festive season begins and states ease entry and qua...

NEW DELHI|MUMBAI: India’s decision to extend the ban on international passenger flights is proving to be a blessing in disguise for the domestic tourism industry.

With no international flights to board, people are rushing to tourist hubs within the country to beat the boredom brought on by the pandemic, giving the sector a reason to cheer amid the crisis.

Tourist destinations such as Goa, Port Blair and Bagdogra registered a huge uptick in demand in September, and airlines and travel industry insiders see business rolling in the coming days as the festive season begins and states ease entry and quarantine norms.


“Clearly (the increase is) hinting that people are adapting to the new life,” Nishant Pitti, CEO of easemytrip. com, told ET.

Average per day bookings for these tourist destinations soared up to 342% in September over the previous month, according to easemytrip. com data.

Though average bookings in September were still much lower than the same month last year, the industry sees numbers rising in the coming days as the festive season kicks in.
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India banned regular international flights in March to control the spread of Covid-19. Though limited international flights resumed in May, regular flights are unlikely to resume any time soon.

Flights to some of the domestic destinations are going full. “There has been an increase in demand for flights to Goa, Cochin and Bagdogra,” says Shilpa Bhatia, chief com-mercial officer at SpiceJet. “The demand is basically due to tourist and leisure travellers, which is very encouraging. Flights to these destinations are getting over 80% plus occupancy.”

There is an uptick in demand during long weekends. “For long weekends, we are noticing some leisure demand and better loads, which have probably been due to gradual streamlining of quarantine requirements and travel restrictions in most places across the country,” Vistara said in an email response.

“Challenges around international travel in current times and lack of scheduled services are also the contributing factors.”
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