With most airlines and hotels lowering prices to attract customers during what is known as the "off-period" for travel, a vacation during the monsoon season is slowly catching the fancy of travellers in India.
The monsoon period, which is usually considered a lean period of travel -- right after summer vacations and before the beginning of the festive season -- is slowly emerging as a preferred time to holiday due to cost benefits and lower rush, experts suggest.
"People opting for a vacation during the monsoon benefit due to lower rates for stay and travel. About 75 per cent of peak season traffic is still seen for a monsoon vacation," Aloke Bajpai, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of travel search engine ixigo, told IANS.
"Most airlines and hotels drop their rates during the lean period to ensure the fill rate doesn't dip below their viable/profitable levels," he added.
Bajpai added that the preferred domestic destinations for monsoon travel are Goa, Manali, Coorg, Sikkim, and Malshej (Pune district), while international destinations include Colombo, Krabi (Southern Thailand), Malacca, Dubai and Kathmandu.
As per the latest World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report, the Indian travel industry in 2016 generated over Rs 14 trillion (about $208 billion) -- approximately 9.6 per cent of India's gross domestic product.
The industry catered to about nine million foreign tourist arrivals last year.
"This gives us a fairer idea that people now enjoy exploring new places and experiences, and monsoon is no longer considered a gloomy season where people just sit inside and watch the rains," said Manmeet Ahluwalia, Market Head, Expedia in India.
"It has become an experience in itself to travel and explore places during the monsoon... We have seen a 30 per cent spike in travel bookings as tourists flock to quaint resorts nestled amid plantations and forests," Ahluwalia told IANS.
He said places like Cherrapunji, Mawsynram (Meghalaya), Kodaikanal and Araku Valley (Andhra Pradesh), as also the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Kerala, had become among the top preferences for domestic travel.
"When it comes to international destinations, Bali, Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka are the popular picks," he added.
For a better-planned holiday, these specialised search engines help travellers figure out the right destination by giving out personalised recommendations.
An interactive "Monsoon Planner" tool launched by Skyscanner, a global travel search engine, is one such instrument which features domestic and international destinations with lower rainfall than monsoon-hit cities in August.
"At Skyscanner it is our constant endeavor to assist travellers in overall vacation planning, right from destinations search to affordable deals of flights," said Reshmi Roy, Senior Growth Manager at Skyscanner for India.
(Porisma P. Gogoi can be contacted at email@example.com)