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Crash: Cheaper tickets cause stampede on travel portal  Jan 01, 2009, a travel-related portal, remained inaccessible for a large part of the day today owing to an unprecedented surge in traffic, after Air India and JetLite slashed fares yesterday.

“Our website can take around 100,000 hits per day but, we received more than 150,000 hits today”, said Keyur Joshi, COO, makemytrip.

Travel agents and portals say airlines bookings have surged by 20 per cent after aviation companies have cut fares. Air India has announced between 35 and 82 per cent cut in fares while Jet Airways has slashed basic fares by up to 40 per cent, giving the tourism industry a much-needed impetus.

Reflecting the positive sentiments in airlines, hotel bookings also rose by about 10 per cent as travel accounts for about 40 per cent of holiday cost.

“A lot of domestic travelers were anticipating airfare cuts. Air ticket bookings have now jumped 20 per cent,” said Dhruv Shringi, CEO and co-founder, “The rise in the number of hotel bookings has been up to 8 per cent.”

The ongoing economic slowdown, high air fares and terrorist attacks had subdued tourist enthusiasm resulting in lower occupancies in hotels and fewer passengers. Now with air fares dropping, the travel and tourism industry is hoping for a quick recovery.

“We estimate that the demand for air bookings will rise by about 25 per cent going forward,” said Arup Sen, executive director, Cox and Kings.

“We expect the number of hotel bookings to go up significantly in January as tourists will flock to take advantage of lower tour packages,” said Sen.

Not surprisingly, travel companies expect hotel bookings for destinations where travel costs account for the most of the holiday package, to register a sharp increase.

“Increase in hotel bookings to air destinations such as Kerala and the North East is expected to go up by 20-30 per cent in the next few weeks,” said Joshi.

Occupancy levels of hotels across segments have dropped to less than 65 per cent this winter as compared with more than 95 per cent occupancy last year. Reflecting the trend, average room rents have also declined by 30-50 per cent across the country, says Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC Travel.

“We have seen an increased number of bookings for domestic tickets, which will translate in the number of hotel bookings in the coming weeks,” said, Madhavan Menon, managing director, Thomas Cook India.

Crash: Cheaper tickets cause stampede on travel portal
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