When it comes to attracting tourists, the Commonwealth Games seem to be losing out to the southern charm. Most of the tourists coming for the sporting event want to go to south to get a taste of India.
Air India, the official carrier for the Games, is providing special holiday packages for officials, delegates and tourists coming for the mega event. According to the national carrier, most of the bookings have been for Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.
This is followed by bookings for the popular 'Golden Triangle' circuit — Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, said an Air India spokesman. “Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is also high on the must-see list of tourists coming for the Games," he said.
The national carrier had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee in October last year, after which bookings were opened. The special packages being offered are for the limited period around the Games.
“Apart from these areas, there have some bookings for tourist places in the northeast also,” he said.
Air India would ferry all Games officials and athletes in special chartered flights instead of its scheduled commercial flights. For the holiday packages, Air India would provide road transport, transfers, accommodation, food and sightseeing trips.
The packages are available along with round trip air tickets to India during the Games. The airline is also considering re-routing and upgrading of aircraft depending on the size of foreign delegations.
Sources in the airline, however, said the response from tourists has been less than encouraging.
Senior airline officials, requesting anonymity, said instead of picking up now with the Games only a month away, the bookings have stagnated.