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Last-minute holidays not costly

You will have to pay more for a holiday in India but foreign packages are still going without the last-minute premium, reports Lalatendu Mishra.
Hindustan Times | By Lalatendu Mishra, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2008 09:23 PM IST

If you have not planned your trip in advance for the summer vacation and your child is grumbling do not fret, travel packages are still available.

You will have to pay more for a holiday in India but foreign tour packages are still going without the last-minute premium.

“You can even pack tomorrow. The visa will take time. We are fully geared to meet any last-minute rush,” says Veena Patil, managing director, Kesari Tours. “For overseas travel we have blocked airline seats and hotel rooms well in advance and inventories are available,” she adds.

For domestic holidays, travel companies do not include air or train fares in packages. Since the jet fuel surcharge is set to go up, a family of four will have to spend at least Rs 3,000 extra for plane tickets.

Booking on your own for a holiday abroad may be a disadvantage. Last-minute airline and hotel bookings are fairly costly. An advance booking to, say, Malaysia by air could have cost Rs 12,000. The next slab starts at Rs 20,000. Similarly, a five star hotel room could cost $300 a day against $150-200 in advance booking.

“Big travel companies like us have the ability to accommodate last-minute travelers without charging extra because of our long-term arrangements with airlines and hotels,” says Vishal Suri, chief operating officer (leisure outbound), Thomas Cook (India). “We typically see 70 per cent of our travellers booking at least two weeks before the date of departure,” he adds.

“We have not increased our rates and all our value additions were designed keeping in mind the last-minute demand,’’ says Arup Sen, executive director, Cox and Kings India. According to Sen, people wait for the financial year to get over so that the expense falls in the next year’s tax calculations.

Last-minute travelers can go to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius and the Maldives, where visa is issued on arrival. Inside India, the preferred destinations include Kashmir, Goa, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Leh and Ladhak, say tour operators.

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