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Country cousins going places

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 01:20 IST

35 per cent of UP’s outbound tourists are from rural areas

FORGET THE highly educated urban back packers, this tourist season it’s the rural ‘dal millwalas’, ‘kiranawalas’ and grain merchants of Bahraich, Barabanki, Hardoi, Sitapur, Shahjehanpur and Pilibhit who are heading for foreign destinations. Believe it or not, they already comprise 35 per cent of the total outbound tourist traffic from Uttar Pradesh.

Surprised? The outbound tour operators in UP have developed a loyal base of typically rural clients during the past two years for whom English language is no barrier to enjoying a leisure trip abroad.

Travel trade analysts in Lucknow inform that the average spending per person per tourist season for an outbound leisure trip from a rural client is Rs 2 lakh, with half of them having already explored the entire south-east Asian circuit during the past two years.

“It’s not surprising for any outbound tour operator in Lucknow to be receiving a typically rural client walking into a travel house with loads of cash and demanding to travel with five other family members to say Sun City in South Africa,” Vivek Pandey, regional head (UP & Uttaranchal), Delhi Express Holidays, told Hindustan Times.

He said the background of most rural clients going on holiday trips abroad had surprise many in the travel trade.

They have little education but having plenty of awareness about global tourism markets — thanks to satellite television.

“A client walked into our office a few days back and surprised everybody by asking to design a package to Kenya with most of the cities and towns covered in the vicinity of the Nairobi belt,” Pandey said.

He said the rural clients want something new to explore every year like their sophisticated cousins in the urban areas. The most sought after tourist destinations for rural clients are South Africa, Sychelles, Australia, New Zealand and the Binton Island near Singapore.

There are rural clients who get together in groups of 10-15 members coming from fairly well off trading families pooling in Rs 12 to 18 lakh to plan a leisure trip abroad.

Tour operators vouch about the loyalty of their rural clients. “Once they choose a tour operator to plan their trips, most of them come back to the same agency to plan their next foreign jaunt,” he added.