Chennai: Travel gets boost from cricket-cum-sight seeing fever

Hotel and flight bookings are up, with enthusiasts packing their bags to watch some live action.

Chennai: The ongoing IPL season and the upcoming World Cup in the UK have given a major fillip to travel during the summer season. Hotel and flight bookings are up, with enthusiasts packing their bags to watch some live action.

IPL matches, especially those played over the weekends, are attracting huge volume of bookings from cricket aficionados, who travel to watch their preferred team in action. With the summer holiday season already on, the matches held between March 23 and May 12 have become another reason to travel.

“Cox and Kings has witnessed a 30 per cent rise in the number of travellers booking their holidays where they combine a match experience with local sight-seeing. We are also seeing a spike in women-only travellers who have booked their hotels and sightseeing options. This has grown by 20 per cent,” said Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox and Kings.

The IPL matches are being played at Mohali, Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Tourist places within 250-300 km radius of the host cities have also observed an increase in the inflow of tourists. Chandigarh, Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Alibaug, Agra, Mysore and Puducherry are destinations which have benefitted from this trend.

Cricket enthusiasts are not discouraged by airfares going up by 10 to 20 per cent due to grounding of flights. With attempts being made to increase capacity, fares before mid- April and May matches are expected to dip.

Hotels also have seen their weekend occupancies climbing from a dismal 30 per cent to 80 per cent during the match days. According to ixigo, host cities are seeing an 18 per cent increase in hotel bookings during the IPL season.

A survey by ixigo relevaled that 61 per cent cricket fans from urban India are travelling to other cities to watch their favourite team play. Of them, 57 per cent are aged 25-34 years. Most travellers are opting for two-night/three-day trips and solo travellers are opting for single day packages to watch the final.

“IPL frenzy entices tens of thousands of fans to travel from one city to another, just to watch their cricket heroes live in action. We have seen a surge in demand for people booking flights and hotel accommodations through our platform this season. With 2019 running short on long weekends, travellers are planning their IPL trips as extended getaways, by combining their trip with local and cultural sightseeing. We expect traction in bookings to increase further, closer to the semi-final and final match dates,” Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-Founder, ixigo, said.

Similarly, the bookings and enquiries for the ICC World Cup in the UK, starting on May 30 and going on till mid-July, have already started. “We are receiving a good number of enquiries. We expect that there should be a 30 to 35 per cent rise in UK travel as the World Cup coincides with summer holidays,” said Anand.

While individuals and families have started their bookings, companies are also offering their top performers, dealers and distributors holiday trips to the UK as incentives. Typically, travellers are booking packages for 10–12 days, combining sight-seeing with the matches.

“As per estimates, more than 15,000 Indians had travelled to Australia and New Zealand to watch last World Cup matches. The UK being more attractive and convenient, we expect increase in the number of travelers,” added Anand.

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