Destinations such as Maldives, Croatia, South Africa, Switzerland, Russia, Lebanon, Germany, Ukraine, UAE, Turkey and Iceland have started allowing non-essential travel, subject to vaccination or other conditions.
India’s biggest online travel portal, MakeMyTrip, has seen a 35% jump in searches for international leisure packages in July compared to that in the previous month, with the Maldives and Russia ranking high on the list of preferred destinations.
“As positivity rates drop, we hope it encourages more countries to open their borders to Indian travellers,” said Vinay Malhotra, regional group chief operating officer, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa and Americas at visa processing firm VFS Global.
Aloke Bajpai, group CEO at Ixigo, said search enquiries on the company’s platform for travel to overseas destinations have seen 80-85% increase in July as compared to last month. “With several countries easing travel restrictions, interest in leisure international travel to countries such as the Maldives, Switzerland, Germany, Qatar and Turkey is rising,” he said.
Some countries such as Qatar and Switzerland require a full vaccination certificate (Covishield) from Indian travellers. Iceland has given an option to travellers to either submit a full vaccination certificate or a Covid-19 recovery certificate. Unvaccinated travellers can travel to countries such as the Maldives, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Nepal and Ukraine by providing a negative RT-PCR report issued within 72 hours of departure.
To cash in on the increasing interest, SOTC Travel has introduced a range of offers such as ‘Buy One Get One Free – Get your Companion’s Holiday Free’ for overseas destinations. Daniel D’souza, country head for leisure at the company, said the most popular destinations in terms of enquiries include Dubai, the Maldives, Russia and Switzerland. The company has seen a 35-40% increase week-on-week in enquiries, he said.
Kanika TTekriwal, CEO, JetSetGo Aviation, said travellers are still conscious about the high likelihood of contracting the virus via regular flights. As a result, her private jet and helicopter services company has been seeing 10-12 booking queries each day since air travel suspension was lifted for the Maldives and some European countries.