Festival Tourism : Smart Weekend
Hospitality majors are also ready and armed with special offers this March. For instance Taj Group wish guests experience the festival of Holi which celebrates the triumph of good over evil and accentuates the change of season with the onset of spring at leading destination at their property be it at Pink city of Jaipur, city of lakes Udaipur, or Jodhpur.

From Khumb Mela to Holi- Festival Tourism driving India’s new age travellers demand

Thomas Cook India, India’s leading integrated travel and related financial services company, has reported a strong growth in ‘Festival Tourism’ as the Indian traveller seeks to combine spiritual elements with unique cultural experiences. This year, the Kumbh Mela and Holi have proved to be significant drivers, with over 20% growth from the previous year. The company has also recognized that a ‘smart weekend holiday’ concept (taking a day off from work to extend festival holidays) is creating a distinctive boost to travel demand.

This year, Holi has reiterated the trend of Festival Tourism and this has been a boon to Thomas Cook India’s domestic travel business, with demand up by over 12%. Indians are showing significant interest in the celebrations at Vrindavan’s famous Banke-Bihari temple and Gulal Kund’s re-enactment of Holi by local Krisha-leela drama troupes in Brar; equally Mathura-Dwarka; or joining in Shantiniketan’s cultural events started by Tagore.

Thomas Cook India’s customer data and analytics also reveal that Festival Tourism is no longer restricted to India, with the country’s new age travellers opening up to cultural experiences globally, and an increase in demand of approximately 20% for experiences including the water festival/ Songkran in Thailand, the lantern festival in Taiwan, Chinese New Year in Singapore, the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong, the colourful Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Venice, Italy, Mardi Gras festivities in Louisiana, USA, the famed tomato festival/ La Tomatina in Spain, a colourful display of costume and culture – Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, and the Boryeong Mud Festival in Korea, amongst others.

The concept of ‘smart weekend holidays’ is another significant trend being witnessed this Holi weekend, with work-weary millennials taking a Friday off to create an extended weekend from Thursday to Sunday. Short haul, no-visa or easy visa regime destinations are in high demand, with an increase of over 25% to destinations like Dubai-Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka; also off-roading and adventure getaways to Uttarakhand, Corbett, Kufri, Neemrana, Kolad/Dandeli in Maharashtra, Andamans, Mysore-Coorg, and more. Growth is being witnessed predominantly from millennials/the DINKs-SINKs segment and ad-hoc groups of friends and families.

Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Leisure Travel, MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. said, “Festival Tourism is the new trend, with India’s new age travellers rediscovering their roots and joining in the celebrations of festivals like Holi in India’s Vrindavan, Mathura-Dwarka; also Mardi Grass, Songkran, and several others in international locations. Extending the weekend by taking a day off from work, is giving rise to an interesting concept of ‘smart weekend holidays’. Both are catalysing our travel demand this year, and clearly trends that we are looking forward to!”

Likewise, Karan Anand, head, Relationships, Cox & Kings, said –“Since Holi holiday is falling on Thursday this year, travel enthusiasts are planning to celebrate the festival of colours at some of the most vibrant destinations by taking a day off on Friday. As a result, the weekend has attracted large number of domestic and international travel booking with 15% surge in demand.

“Those travelling exclusively to witness the Holi celebrations are choosing Punjab, West Bengal, Lucknow, Karnataka, Delhi and Mumbai to catch a glimpse of the unique Holi festivities in these cities.* Many travellers mainly solo, couples and DINKs are also set to take up overseas journeys as March is a cost-saving month with cheaper hotels rates as compared to April-May. Among international destinations Bhutan, Maldives, Thailand, Dubai and Nepal are attracting more weekend travellers,” he added.

 

Holi festivities at different destinations in India that are finding favour with Travellers as compiled by C&K:

Punjab: The key attraction of Punjab is he Hola Mahalla, observed a day after Holi in Anandpur Sahib. An elaborate display of martial arts and skills by the warrior Nihang Sikhs along with creative contests at other places, grace this, one of the largest gatherings of Sikhs in the world.

West Bengal: Holi is celebrated as Dol Purnima in Bengal. Rabindra sangeet, prayer offerings to Lord Krishna and spring swings can be seen all around. Basant Utsav is celebrated to welcome the new season wherein women wear beautiful yellow or green sarees and apply colour to each other gracefully.

Karnataka: In Karnataka Holika-Dahan is called ‘Kaamadahana’, a public bonfire which signifies the victory of yogic bliss over lust. In Hubli, Rangpanchmi holds a lot of importance which is celebrated by playing with colours. Subtle and subdued, it is the gentlemen’s version of Holi.

Mumbai: Mumbai is a melting pot of many cultures. Young children position themselves on rooftops with buckets full of water-balloons to be thrown on unsuspecting passers-by. Their last form of stress busting revelry before the annual school exams begin. People are invited to join in and be part of the merry-making in Holi parties.

Delhi: Nothing is subtle or subdued about the way Holi is played in Delhi. There are a lot of well-maintained open spaces in Delhi where people play Holi. Pilgrimage trip to India Gate is a must. Garden or terrace barbecue get-togethers are a norm here.

 

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