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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

US shutdown unlikely to affect Indians’ holiday plans, say agents

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, October 02, 2013
First Published: 08:38 IST(2/10/2013) | Last Updated: 08:43 IST(2/10/2013)

Holidays and business trips to the United States are unlikely to get affected by the partial shutdown initiated by the US government on Tuesday, travel agents in the city said.

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The Obama administration had to shut down national parks and medical research projects as well as other non-essential services after the country’s politicians failed to agree on a budget for the 2013-2014 financial year.

But while the administration behind the world’s largest economy has cut back on services, tour operators in the city believe that those relevant to the travel industry will not be affected.

“Most of the relevant services are functioning normally. Obtaining a visa for the US will not be a problem because consular services at US embassies and consulates around the world are largely funded by application fees and not annual appropriations,” said Karan Anand, head (relationships) with travel company Cox and Kings Ltd.

He added that even the closing down of more than 400 national parks that witness about 7.15 lakh visitors a day in October would not affect the itineraries of Indian travellers.

“Indian customers prefer going to theme parks such as Universal Studios and Disney World in Los Angeles. They like shopping extensively. Our travellers rarely frequent national parks,” Anand said.

Trade insiders said that advance bookings for US holidays continued to stay healthy. “The advance holiday bookings to the US are up by 40%. We see this [the US government shutdown] as a temporary problem that will be resolved soon,” said Madhavan Menon, managing director, Thomas Cook (India).

The shutdown, however, did cause some panic among travellers scheduled to travel next week. “Some travellers were worried if the shutdown would affect their sightseeing plans around the country. But we explained the situation and what it implies to them,” said a Fort-based travel agent, requesting anonymity.

Travel bookings to the US were delayed this year, compared with previous years, as most vacationers had put travel plans on hold because of currency fluctuations caused by the weakening Rupee.

Bookings began pouring in only after the US dollar settled around the Rs65 mark, travel agents said.


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