Greener BeeGreen HolidaysBags packed, citizens head for a quick retreat

PUNE: The long weekend this Independence Day may well extend to next Sunday for some who planned early and smartly.

The three consecutive holidays (Saturday, Sunday and Monday which is Independence Day) will be followed by Pateti on Wednesday (a Parsi festival) and Rakshabandhan on Thursday. Taking a leave on Tuesday and Friday can stretch your long weekend to actually a week.

Software professional Suruchi Nagpal has a short plan though. She had her travel bags packed on Friday morning itself. After office, she boarded a flight with her husband for a getaway to Coorg for three days. Nagpal had sealed her travel plans almost two months ago by availing of an attractive discount package.

The long weekend has spurred many travel loving citizens to head out of the city for a quick holiday. Many have indeed combined the optional holidays of ‘Pateti’ (August 17) and Rakshabandhan (August 18) with the Independence Day weekend (by clubbing them with two paid leaves from office) for a 10-day break. Some even took off to international destinations. Off season discounts and offers from hotels and airlines, besides the prospect of enjoying lush green surroundings in the rains, have only made the prospect of a mid-year break more lucrative.

Besides nearby destinations like Lonavla, Alibaug, Mahabaleshwar, Bhandardara and Malshej Ghat, travellers are heading for spots that provide trekking and even river rafting. Those on an extended break are exploring destinations in Kerala in the south and even foreign favourites like Dubai, Singapore and Thailand.

The long weekend presents an ideal opportunity to take a break from the hectic city life and unwind in a more laidback environment, said Nikhil Ganju, country manager of TripAdvisor India. “With the frantic and fast-paced city life leaving hardly any time for relaxation, the long weekend is a great opportunity to escape somewhere nearby,” he said.

Describing the general trend among tourists at this time of the year, Rajeev D Kale, president and country head – leisure travel, MICE at Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. said, “Indians have emerged as the newest globetrotters in the world. This trend is spurred by a burgeoning economy that has vastly improved travellers’ spending power along with declining airfares and great travel deals for the Independence Day long weekend. We are witnessing a shift in travel behaviour- across segments where boomers and young professionals are driving significant demand for more experiential and adventurous travel options. On our portal, hotel bookings to drive-down destinations are almost sold out. Hotel tariffs over the long weekend have now doubled. Domestic uptake is up by 45% and international by 35%.”

Interestingly, cruise tourism for round trips to South East Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong) too has seen a strong demand for this ongoing weekend, Kale said.

Kale said the e-visa facility has proved to be a huge boon for travellers and has provided impetus to destinations like Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras-Al- Khaimah). “Besides, the visa-on-arrival option for Indians in Maldives, Mauritius, Cambodia, Jordan, Kenya, Thailand are resulting in significant outbound uptake and for last minute travel and long weekend holidays,” he said.

Travellers are choosing destinations that offer fun-filled family offerings, adventure packed itineraries and overall travel experiences, said Vishal Suri, managing director of SOTC Travel. “A substantial number of travellers has opted for customized vacations. We registered a 20% rise in bookings only for the long August holiday week from a mix of tourists – those travelling with families, first-time travellers and even repeat tourists,” he said.

Sharing his excitement about travelling to Kerala, Sunil Adhikari said, “We got a good deal too as visiting such a nice place for just two days would not have made senseWe have been told its nice and green, so its going to be a relaxed vacation for me and my wife.”

Hena Sodhi, who got married recently, said, “We have been following the news of rains and its devastation. We were a little vary of travelling because of that. But now that the sun is out, my husband and I will probably just drive down on Sunday morning. We can return by Monday evening and then head to office on Tuesday.”

Domestic Destinations

Goa, Nashik, Aurangabad, Coorg, Ooty, Mysore, Kerala, Andamans, Kodaikanal, Shimla, Leh Ladakh Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur)

International Flavour

Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, UAE, Maldives, Mauritius, Cambodia, Jordan, Kenya, Thailand Hong Kong

7-day-long ‘weekend’?

The three consecutive holidays (Saturday, Sunday and Monday which is Independence Day) will be followed by Pateti on Wednesday (a Parsi festival) and Rakshabandhan on Thursday. Taking a leave on Tuesday and Friday can extend your long weekend to actually a week

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