With the festive season around the corner, the trend of Visiting Family and Relatives (VFR) travel has picked up the pace. Though it is a yearly phenomenon – at least in the pre-Covid times, the surge this year has been exceptional given the fact that people are in a rush to celebrate every little occasion with their near and dear ones.
According to the Expedia Traveller Insights Report for Q2, there is a strong revival in family travel in the world after two years of a lull in the travel segment.
The travellers are additionally seeking to explore a destination even more during their trips, making them extend the visit a little longer than before.
This, says the report, has resulted in a significant increase in demand for long-haul flights. According to the report, there was more than a 50 per cent year-over-year increase in global traveller demand for long-haul flights. What makes it unique is that the rise in global travel demand is happening despite the fluctuations in airfares.
If the reports are to be believed, the US-India sector has been a particularly busy one but is yet to touch the 2019 levels.
According to the US travel agency Trevolution Group, the recent sales indicate that traffic volumes on US-India flights in September have been lower than the pre-pandemic 2019. A reason for this could be that India was late to resume overseas flights and open its borders to tourists. The market, feels the company, may take some more time to recover.
According to Dyninno Travel data, the number of bookings made by travellers (between September till today) who are travelling to India for the festive season is over 12,000 tickets. And according to the research by Trevolution Group, over 1,44,000 tickets were sold to India for this period.While the companies continue to have the discounts in place, for now, the ticket prices are expected to grow as the year-end holiday season approaches.
Peter Vazan, CEO of Trevolution Group explained that while airfare ticket prices in 2022 have increased across the globe, the same can’t be said about the US-India market. Compared to pre-pandemic 2019, the average ticket price during Diwali has decreased by 14 per cent.
“We see that there are more affordable options available now. While many passengers still delay purchasing tickets until the very last moment due to uncertainty of the pandemic, there is more to gain for those who opt to book their travel well in advance. Simply said, the ticket prices are significantly cheaper,” Vazan shared.
Currently, the top five most popular destinations are Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, with most travellers originating from the major US cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco as well as New York, and Dallas.
“It is clear that in contrast to other regions of the world, US-India airfares are still cheaper, which naturally translates into more people deciding to travel to visit their friends and family members, especially for the upcoming festivities,” said Mercedes Zach, Travel Expert at ASAP Tickets, part of Trevolution Group.
“I also notice a significant increase in demand for travel between the United States and India. The prices now are around 15 per cent lower than pre-pandemic, and a lot of people are taking benefit of that,” Zach said, highlighting how VFR travel is not about selling the flights, but about opportunities and family reunions.
As per Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder of EaseMyTrip, the travel agency has recorded over 80 per cent of bookings from the US to India for the dates October 21-28 till now as compared with last year.
“The numbers are bound to increase in the coming days, especially closer to Diwali,” added Pittie.
The reported bookings by EaseMyTrip are mostly from people who are Indians residing in the USA and planning to visit their homes for festivals.