2016 saw a growing number of people going solo, travel getting cheaper and an increase in the number of online bookings, particularly on mobile phones, revealed studies conducted by different travel portals.
Backpackers across the country decided to take to the road alone, with the year witnessing a rise in the number of "new age" travellers who believe in "experiencing the unknown, encountering different people and cultures, and testing new limits".
According to a recent survey conducted by travelling portal Yatra.com, "11 per cent travelers opted to be their own travel companion on their next holiday".
The year also saw globetrotters choosing short haul travel concentrated around long weekends and holiday seasons, rather than going for customary yearly vacations. Extended weekends served as opportunities for people to escape their monotonous city routines and indulge in short getaways.
"Approximately 40 per cent of our domestic holiday bookings this year happened for the shorter breaks. Most of our weekend packages to destinations close to metros were sold out during the long weekends, leading us to increase our inventory and provide more options to last minute travelers," the study said.
Owing to the evident preference of Indian travelers for shorter, but more frequent breaks during the year, Yatra.com noted that the trend is likely to continue in the coming year. Travel, both domestic and international, became easier in 2016, particularly because of low and discounted air fares.
A study by global travel search engine Skyscanner revealed that Singapore and Bali continued to remain favourite international destinations, with the Lion-city-state recording the highest growth with a whopping 202 per cent average increase in searches since 2013, followed by Bali with 35 per cent average growth in searches in the past three years.
"Singapore draws the attention of travellers from across India, thanks to relaxed visa regulations, diverse culture, and its multitude of tourist attractions. "Whether a solo trip or a family holiday, we anticipate Bali to remain on top due to relaxed visa-regulations introduced in 2016," the study by Skyscanner noted.
While destinations like Europe, the US, Dubai and South East Asia continue to attract the bulk of tourists from across the country, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius are some more niche destinations that have seen excellent traction. At home, southern India and the south-western coast saw an impressive influx of tourists.
Coorg, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Goa and Kerala witnessed a persistent interest from enthusiastic Indian travelers, throughout the year. Travel was encouraged in 2016, due to the convenience rendered by online and mobile bookings.
The year saw large number of travellers adopting the emerging trends in technology, indicating that a majority of bookings in the next few years will be made on mobile phones. "We have seen close to 40 per cent of our bookings and 67 per cent of our traffic is coming via the mobile website and mobile applications," Yatra.com said.
The ban on old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes further led to a significant 57.9 per cent travellers booking through desktops and smartphones and a drastic dip in booking through offline agents. Yatra.com said that the trend of Indian travellers to use credit or debit card over cash, is likely to continue in 2017, with the portal witnessing 37.4 per cent travellers choosing plastic money for making bookings as well as while travelling in 2016.
However, the portal noted that demonetisation had a slightly downward impact on inbound travel initially, but things bounced back with an inbound growth at over 9 per cent this year. "With the continued low airfares, cheap hotel options and improving infrastructure in the country, we expect the inbound demand to remain strong in 2017," the study by Yatra.com said.