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JUST AS summer hits its peak, everyone starts to talk about getting away from the scorching heat even if it is for a few days. Some have been planning this for a few months, while others toss and turn these ideas as they burn, and pack and leave in a blink.

Encouraging this trend are the travel portals. "The response for summer bookings has been good till now.

Back- to- back airfare wars have triggered the demand for summer travel. Also, demand for tier- II cities such as Pune and Hyderabad has surged as people have utilised the special discounts by airlines to visit their hometown," says Vikram Malhi, GM, Expedia.

"With summer vacations around the corner, we have seen almost a 20 per cent upsurge in travel queries and this number is only increasing. Coorg, Manali, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Venice, Paris and Amsterdam are some of the trending destinations. Some of the offbeat destinations people could look to explore this summer include Shoja and Alchi in the Himalayas, Kalimpong in West Bengal, Gokarna in Karnataka, Lantau Island in Hong Kong, Pointe d'Esny in Mauritius and Manado in Indonesia," says Saurabh Srivastava, VP, Ixigo.

"There has been a shift in demand from relaxed vacations to activity- oriented trips and experiential travel to offbeat and exotic locations. Last year we saw robust growth in bookings for holidays involving experiential travel ( with components such as adventure activities, trekking, rafting and safari). Within India, travellers are opting for Manali and Naldehra over Shimla, Bekal, Wayanad and Munnar over Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, and Gulmarg and Pahalgam over Srinagar," says Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer, MakeMyTrip.

"While the bookings for regular destinations are still high, there is definitely a surge in bookings for offbeat destinations. At least 30 per cent of the holidayers are opting for offbeat destinations as compared to 20 per cent last year.

The less explored spots in South- East Asia, like Koh Samui, Krabi, Hua Hin, Phi- Phi Islands in Thailand; Langkawi, Penang Island, Malacca and Johor Bahru in Malaysia; Bali, Banda Islands, Yogyakarta and Surabaya in Indonesia; and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam are now being opted by Indian travellers at large," adds Malhi.

Supporting this trend is the TripAdvisor survey.

According to the recent TripBarometer survey, nearly seven out of 10 Indians surveyed are planning to travel abroad in 2014, up by 21 per cent compared to last year, whereas 95 per cent are planning to travel domestically ( down one per cent compared to 2013). New Zealand is the top 'dream' destination for Indians to visit in the next 24 months, followed by France and Switzerland.

Europe does seem to be trending this summer. "Switzerland and the UK are the most popular.

Other destinations include British Columbia, Israel, South Africa, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. The packages begin at ` 1.05 lakh per person for a week in Switzerland or Italy, ` 63,000 for a week- long holiday in British Columbia and ` 2,65,000 to see the best of the United Kingdom in 10 days," says Karan Anand, Head- Relationships, Cox & Kings.

If you have not decided where to escape to, it's about time you did.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:May 8, 2014
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