Indian travellers are spoilt for choice

The lazy beaches of Pattaya in Thailand or treacherous trekking trails back home in Ladakh – what would it be for you this summer? The “wallet share” of holiday travel has gone up for Indians who are game for new destinations, say experts.

Traditional hot spots in the plains too are exerting a pull – despite the heat – due to delicious discounts.

“Indians have enough choice and their criteria for selecting destinations are different,” Arafat Abdullah, director of Care Plus, a hotel reservation company, said.
“People travel to places like Jaipur, Jodhpur or Agra in summer because during off-eason they can enjoy a stay in five-star resorts or heritage hotels at much cheaper prices.”

With travelling becoming an integral part of the Indian lifestyle, travel sites and agencies are adding new destinations. An online survey by MakeMyTrip reveals that people are ready to look beyond obvious choices and this increases 35 percent during summer vacations.

“We have seen an increase in the wallet share of holidays. Three to four years back customers wanted one big holiday a year, but now it’s that plus one or two smaller holidays as well,” Keyur Joshi, COO and co-founder, MakeMyTrip said.
“Indian travellers have developed a keen sense of adventure. We also see more and more Indian travellers warming up to the idea of purchasing holiday deals online which provide them unlimited experiences and are value for money,” he added.
This summer around 18,000 people have booked trips to Srinagar and Ladakh through MakeMyTrip, a source with the online travel portal said. Last year the figure for 13,000.

If snow-capped mountains lure tourists to Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, people are equally fascinated by the natural beauty of the northeast, the forts and palaces of Rajasthan, the backwaters of Kerala and the beaches of Goa.
Among international destinations, travellers love places in Thailand and Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau. Those with a bigger purse and a yen for history explore European countries.

“For most customers, Southeast Asia is the first international holiday. Having said that, the importance of popular holiday locations in India can’t be questioned. Indian destinations are more easily accessible and cheaper too.

There has been growth in the domestic as well as international travel segments. According to the ITB World Travel Trends report, the 2011 outlook for Asian outbound travel is positive and they are expecting around 14 percent growth this year. In particular, India appears set for strong growth, with 43 percent planning more outbound travel next year.

“We are headed for Sri Lanka because of its pretty beaches. This is the best time to travel with children as schools are closed,” said Neena Bhatia, a journalist who is going for a family holiday abroad after eight years.

The number of people travelling abroad during holidays has gone up mainly because travel sites and tour operators like SOTC, Cox and Kings, Sita World Travel and have made flying to foreign shores easier by offering hassle-free and economical packages.

Monika Chadha, senior executive for international ticketing counter at Prime Travels, said: “Travelling has become quite easy and convenient now, air fares have become cheap, visas are easier to get. Also, the spending power of people has increased, which has made a lot of difference. People give us their budgets, we book flights, arrange visa, hotels and everything.”
“So you don’t have to plan, you just have to choose a destination, the rest is taken care of,” she added.

Joshi said: “Package tours are a conventional way of travelling and the reason for its success is the hassle-free experience,” he said.
“Families are inclined to package tours. They don’t mind paying extra for the comfort of their families. Individuals, singles, couples choose independent tours,” he added. is offering a six night-seven day Ladakh package, which includes Leh-Nubra Valley-Pangong Lake, at Rs.25,999 and Himachal tour for Rs.14,999.

Travel Spirit International lists a package of five night-six day in Malaysia for Rs.41,000 and four night-five-day for Rs.46,100.
The price of the package depends upon factors like accommodation and air fare.
A seven-night package to Singapore or Malaysia can cost you Rs.30,000, seven days in Mauritius will come for Rs.60,000 and four days in Goa for Rs.13,000.

MakeMyTrip also has special direct chartered flights to popular destinations in Thailand and Bhutan.
By Shilpa Raina