France and Turkey may have been hit by multiple terror strikes, but continue to remain favourite destinations with Indians bound for Europe, according to travel operators. There were a few nervous phone calls after the recent attacks, but no cancellations so far.
Industry estimates showed that Indian travellers to France grew from 3.65 lakh in 2014 to approximately 5 lakh in 2015. Projections indicate an 18% increase in numbers this year. Similarly Turkey saw 1.32 lakh Indian tourists in 2015 up from 1.19 lakh the year before. It might touch 1.50 lakh by the year-end, added travel experts.
“As an industry we clocked 20 million total overseas Indian tourists in 2015 and this has not slowed down. Our experience does not lead us to believe that travel is severely affected by incidents in a few locations. For example, we have seen more people travelling to France this year and it is one of the most sought after destinations in the world,” said Karan Anand, head of relationships with travel company Cox and Kings.
Other travel operators concurred that a section of vacationers might make small changes to the itinerary but nobody had called off their holiday bookings to Europe.
Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel, said, “The recent terror attack may have a short-term impact. Europe is the must-visit destination among the Indian travellers and they prefer to visit France during their Europe tour.” He added, “Travellers might shift their destination for a certain period but it wouldn’t stop them visiting France in the long run. Fortunately, we have not yet received any cancellation request from our customers or drops in fresh bookings.”
Rajeev Kale, president and country head for leisure travel at Thomas Cook said that they had received a few queries following the attacks but there were no cancellations.
A report released by Hotels.com in May had shown that terror-hit big European destinations had slashed hotel prices to draw tourists.
The Hotels Price Index report an annual comparison of actual travellers’ spends on stay by travel portal Hotels.com showed that hotels at tourists’ hubs such as Paris and Istanbul recorded healthy double digit fall in 2015 over the previous year. For instance, the average per night room tariff at Paris fell from Rs 13,068 in 2014 to Rs 10,993 in 2015, a drop of 16%, the report stated. While Brussels (16%), Istanbul (15%) saw similar price cuts, Berlin recorded the highest slash - 27% in room rates. From average per night room tariff of Rs 9,440 in 2014 the rates fell to Rs 6,873 last year, the peak season price tourists usually pay at cheaper Southeast Asian destinations such as Thailand.