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Boom in foreign travel this season

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 15:36 IST
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RISING INCOMES coupled with falling air fares seems to have led to steep rise in number of people going on foreign holidays from the City. Lack of quality hotel space in popular domestic destinations during the holiday season has also contributed to this trend.

Going by initial bookings, leading tour operators here expect 20-25 per cent growth in outbound travel as compared to last year in November-to-February period, traditionally considered to be the peak season for foreign travel. This is over and above a 50 per cent growth registered last year.

Frequent Travels Managing Director Jaswinder Walia told the Hindustan Times that all four and five star hotels in popular destinations like Goa and Kerala are packed for the next few months. “All the good hotels have been booked, mostly by the foreign tourists, making foreign holidays a better option.”

Another factor, he said, is that foreign destinations have now become more affordable for the upper middle class. “An all-inclusive holiday package to Thailand is actually cheaper than a similar trip to Kerala. A couple can now enjoy holidaying in Singapore or Malaysia for just Rs 70,000.”

Fierce competition between the airlines has brought down the travel cost in the past two years. Airlines generally tend to raise fares by 10-15 per cent in November, but have refrained from doing so this year. “Most international airlines have not hiked fares for popular destinations this peak season, and in fact, fares in some cases have come down,” says Walia.

A booming stock market has also contributed to the rise in overseas travel. “It has definitely had a positive impact,” feels Shibu George, Partner, Fairsky Travel House. Most of the tour operators feel that the growth has come from upper middle class whose income levels have gone up in the recent years.

“It is not just the stock market, but the economy as a whole has grown in the recent years increasing the customer base, says C S Singh, Managing Director, Purusharth Tours and Travels.

Nearly 3000 people from Indore took international holiday packages in the last 12 months. Dubai and Thailand in Asia continue to be popular destinations for City travellers, but the US and Europe still remain out of bounds for most. Tour operators attribute this to high costs and visa hassles. The per-day cost for a vacationer in the US is nearly Rs 17000, a bit too steep even for higher income groups.

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