Chandigarh: Although India has issued an advisory to its nationals to defer all non-essential travel to Maldives given the political unrest in the island nation, most travellers from Punjab and Chandigarh, who have already made bookings, are adopting a wait-and-watch approach.
Not too many couples from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Chandigarh have cancelled their bookings for the luxurious beach vacation. With the wedding season on, Maldives remain a top priority for most honeymooners from Punjab for its turquoise waters and exotic resorts.
“We have witnessed no cancellation from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The bookings from Punjab and Himachal account for approximately 22%. Chandigarh contributes to nearly 11% of the bookings and the cancellation is under control after assurance from the Maldives government that safety of people is its utmost priority. Airports, hotels and resorts are fully operational,” said Manheer Singh Sethi, co-founder, Travkart, an online company offering holiday packages.
According to Neharika Bhutani, founder of travel firm Pack Your Bags, Chandigarh, the honeymooners have expressed concern over the political turmoil. But none of the couples has cancelled their tour to this small archipelago.
“Honeymooners from Chandigarh prefer Maldives for its quaint and luxurious ambience. Yes, the unrest has made a lot of couples anxious about their travel plans, but we have had no cancellations so far. We are in touch with the travellers who are already at the destination and are keeping a close watch on the situation. For February, we have had nearly 25% bookings for Maldives from Chandigarh. The island nation is heavily dependent on tourism sector for its economy, so the government is taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of tourists,” said Bhutani.
Sartaj Lamba, who owns a travel firm in Mohali, said they have received nearly 21% bookings for Maldives from UT. “Only 2% have opted to shift their destination from Maldives to Mauritius,” said Lamba. In fact, travellers who are not settling for Maldives are looking to travel to Bali, Seychelles, Ko Samui, Phuket and Sri Lanka.
According to Bhutani, Seychelles has witnessed a rise of 10% in bookings this year. However, it is Bali, one of the most sought-after locations for beach lovers, which has recorded nearly 30% bookings from couples this season. Malaysia and Singapore have also seen nearly 10-15% booking. Travel firms have also received queries on European destinations, especially Switzerland, France and Paris.