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Emerging segments

Golf tourism, whisky trails, casino tourism and adventure travel cater to the Indian traveller who doesn’t mind spending on his or her indulgence

india Updated: Jan 07, 2012 22:46 IST

The golfer tourist
Head to Thailand for pocket-friendly golf tourism packages says Farzan Heerji, 49, executive officer in the MD’s office at Tata Steel and self-proclaimed golf junkie. “I visit the country at least three times a year to play golf. My favourite course is the Laem Chabang, an hour’s drive from Bangkok Airport. Europe has old world charm but Thailand’s world class courses are great value for money.”

A standard four-day golf tour to Thailand that includes airfare, accommodation and two rounds of golf at the Bangkok Golf Club and the Royal Gems Golf Club costs about Rs 39,000, says Vipin Sharma of Indian Golf Connexions.

Wildlife enthusiast
Executives who lead stressful work lives want to escape the urban jungle and see what the wild is actually like. The interest for safari holidays is growing among discerning travellers, affirms Amit Kalsi, vice president, Abercrombie &Kent India. For nature photographer and travel professional Abhishek Hajela, 26, for instance, travel means an opportunity to watch nature at close quarters. “I look to stay in good properties and shoot animals. With social networking and the popularity of the ASL Tiger protest for instance, the exposure to wildlife is rising,” says the travel professional and wildlife photographer, who spent Rs 18,000 per night when he stayed at Jim’s Jungle Retreat on
his last visit to Corbett.

On the whisky trail
“A number of distilleries close to each other (like in Speyside and in Islay) make whisky trail travel in Scotland worth the visit,” says Keshav Prakash founder of The Oak League, a world whisky fellowship based in Mumbai. “Also, the country is easy to drive around, has loads of whisky and affordable bed and breakfast options, besides being inhabited by some of the warmest people on the planet.”

The river cruiser
Jayavanth Rao, 70, who retired from a French power company a few years back and his wife Lalit Rao, 68, recently took an Avalon river cruise boat from Basel in Switzerland. “At $500 per day per person it was money worth spent,” he says. “Unlike a cruise ship, the experience was much more intimate: we became friends with the crew and got a slice of German life when we de-boarded at Heidelberg and Cologne.”

The gambler
Macau is the new gambling capital of the world after Las Vegas, says Mumbai-based travel agent Jinal Shah of Zenith Holidays. Business executive Varun Chimwal, 29, recently recently returned to the island for its night life, Indian food and of course, the gambling. “On my second visit with200 colleagues, we spent two nights from 8 pm to 5 am at The Venetian Macau.”
Chimwal says once one gets a hang of the place, the confidence to play for high stakes comes naturally. “On my second trip, I ended up spending close to 5000 dollars on roulette, slot machines and card games. Around me, Chinese businessmen were coming in with wads of cash and playing really high stakes.”

The adventurer
Trekking enthusiast Suranjan Das, 34, regional manager, with DHL India, believes the best team-building exercises are done in the hills. “This year we stayed at log cabins in the Giri Camp in Himachal Pradesh for an off-site. In the rugged terrain, cut off from the world without a mobile signal, one ends up helping each other.”
The share of the adventure tourism industry in the country is minuscule in the Indian travel segment, yet, growing at 25%, it will soon gain critical mass, says Tejbir Singh Anand, president, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India.