West Asia has emerged among popular destinations for Indian travellers this holiday season with festival tourism being among key factors drawing them, tour operators say.“Festival tourism has today become a buzzword and a key growth driver with Indians optimising on such festival breaks to travel both within India and overseas. With experiential tourism gaining prominence, a significant number of Indian travellers prefer travelling to destinations during local festivals for a culturally enriching experience. We have observed a growing trend of new age travellers visiting Middle Eastern destinations during the holy month of Ramadan and for Eid celebrations,’’ said tour operator Thomas Cook (India)’s president and country head Rajeev Kale.He said Indian travellers this year have opted for destinations like Dubai, Abu Dhab, Istanbul , and Oman. “…customers [are] opting for such destinations to experience a vibrant intersection of culture, food, and the grandeur of the festivities,” said Kale.Also read: ‘Rape of minor is rape, but rape of married woman...’ : UP Minister’s shockerKale said night markets, culinary trails and special shopping offers make local festivals an ideal time to see destinations at their best. “Thomas Cook has witnessed an increase of 10% in queries [regarding West Asian destinations] compared to last year,” he said. Given the interest in the region, Dubai-based airline Emirates has offered Indian customers an option of using their boarding passes for discounts of up to 50% at over 500 leisure and retail outlet locations across the UAE from May 1 and August 31.Tour operators say Europe has always tended to be a preferred destination for Indian travellers, especially during summers because of its cooler climate. Thailand has also become a popular destination this season with the introduction of an eVisa programme. “With this, travellers are ensured a visa on arrival within 24 to 72 hours… [travellers] will not have to endure long immigration processes,” said travel and tourism company SOTC’s president and country head, Daniel D’souza.He said other popular destinations include Bhutan and Ladakh.