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Costly foreign trips out of Diwali plans

Koparkhairne resident Sabrish Pillai was tired of evading his six-year-old son’s questions about a foreign trip this Diwali.

business Updated: Sep 02, 2013 00:46 IST
Soubhik Mitra

Koparkhairne resident Sabrish Pillai was tired of evading his six-year-old son’s questions about a foreign trip this Diwali.

Last week, Pillai finally booked a family holiday in Goa. “My son was a bit upset, but he was satisfied that we are going on a vacation,” said the mid-level executive with a consumer goods company.

The Pillais were planning to go to Singapore when the Singapore dollar (pegged on the US dollar) was Rs48. But a few days later, it rose up to Rs54, and the room tariff at a 3-star property increased by nearly 10% a night. “The cost difference in local transport, meals and most importantly forex for shopping made it unaffordable,” said Pillai.

Several Mumbaiites are being forced to keep their holiday plans on hold or switch to domestic destinations because of the rapidly fluctuating value of the rupee.

“The currency fluctuation is making travellers jittery,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, a travel portal.

A recent survey polling 1,500 travellers by TripAdvisor found that almost one out of five respondents had replaced their foreign holiday with a domestic trip. “Normally vacations bookings for Diwali start coming in around this time of the year. But despite discounted airfares, travellers aren’t opting for foreign trips,” said Anup Kanuga, owner Bathija Travels, adding that most bookings this year were for places such as Goa and Rajasthan.

Habitual leisure travellers going abroad are either switching to cheaper destinations such as Sri Lanka or cutting down the duration of their trip, said tour operators.

“Regular vacationers are waiting for the US dollar to stabalise. If the value of the dollar continues to exceed, they are likely to cut down their trips by three days,” said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of Travel Agents Association of India.

Some vacationers might cut corners in the itinerary to suit their pockets. “People tend to settle for cheaper hotels or cut down on sight-seeing to get a holiday package that will fit their budget,” said Dhall.