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Long weekend, temple and weddings fan Kolkatans’ travel urge

Bookings show spike in Covid cases has failed to dampen spirit

Sanjay Mandal | Published 24.01.24, 06:13 AM
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Destination marriage in Jaipur, pilgrimage in Ayodhya and then onward journey to Delhi and other places, leisure travel to Thailand or a long drive to Purulia....

Kolkatans are travelling almost in every possible direction this week, thanks to the long weekend owing to Republic Day, which is a Friday, and a couple of other factors.


Reports of a fresh surge in Covid cases from several countries and also from within India had left the travel industry apprehensive, but hotel and flight bookings have shown that the virus has failed to curb the wanderlust of residents of the city, said tour operators.

The spate of travels have pushed up air fares in some sectors.

According to travel agents, round-trip air fares for Bangkok on some flights in the next couple of days was more than Rs 30,000 on Tuesday afternoon. The usual round-trip fare on the Kolkata-Bangkok route is Rs 20,000.

A one-way ticket from Kolkata to Delhi in the next two days cost more than Rs 8,000 on Tuesday afternoon. The usual fare varies between Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000.

Ishwar Ahuja, a businessman from Kolkata, will fly to Thailand on a week-long tour on Thursday with his wife and two sons.

“The first five days will be leisure travel. Then I will travel to Phuket for two days to plan my nephew’s destination wedding, which we want to organise there in March,” said Ahuja.

“I planned this travel because of the long weekend.”

Travel agents said waiver of visa fees for Indians by Thailand and Malaysia has also boosted travel from the city.

Apart from the long weekend, travel has received a boost from the ongoing wedding season.

City-based businessman Amardeep Singh Chandok has gone to Rajasthan to attend a destination marriage of a family friend.

“Around 100 people from Kolkata are attending the ceremony. Around 35 people of them have come by train and the rest by flight,” Chandok told The Telegraph from Jaipur over the phone on Tuesday.

The groom is from Kolkata and the bride from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.

On Tuesday, a group of 15 flew to Jaipur from the city to attend the wedding, which was taking place at a palace near Jaipur.

The consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya is another factor that is driving Kolkatans’ urge to travel. After the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of Ram Lalla on Monday, thousands of devotees thronged the Ayodhya temple on Tuesday.

“I have booked rooms in several hotels in Ayodhya for people who traveled there from Kolkata over the past few days. From Ayodhya, many will travel to Delhi and other places,” said a travel agent in Kolkata.

Air India Express is operating a daily flight between Kolkata and Ayodhya.

A spokesperson for the airline said the response was “very good” for the flight.

“We had apprehensions that if there is a fresh surge in Covid cases, travel would take a hit. But the huge number of people from Kolkata leaving for various destinations have made us feel hopeful,” said Anil Punjabi, a member of the national committee of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) representing the eastern region.

An official of a private airline said their flights this weekend were full for several destinations, including Bangkok, Delhi and Bagdogra.

Raktim Roy of Dolphin Travels said those who wanted to travel to nearby places opted for Purulia and Santiniketan.

“We have a high demand for booking hotels in these places,” he said.

Last updated on 24.01.24, 10:33 AM

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