Good times are back

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India’s travel industry is seeing a surge in outbound tourists to destinations outside India

Good times are back
After a decline in the past few months when the rupee hit through the roof, outbound leisure travel is showing signs of steadiness with industry seeing demand from prospective outbound travellers, who earlier either cancelled or postponed plans.

The rupee is at Rs 62-level against the US dollar for the past one month. According to industry experts, even if people are not expecting rupee to go down below Rs 60-level, a lot of them have started making outbound travel plans.

“Outbound is more of an aspiration and it is now fairly steady after months when people really chose not to travel unless it’s a necessity since the rupee depreciation along with the economic slowdown. But people have started to think about travel again although not too many enquiries or interest for long-haul destinations such as western Europe or the US. This could be because the airfares and hotels are expensive in these destinations,” said Ajay Prakash, past president, Travel Agents’ Federation of India (Tafi).

Shibani Phadkar, senior vice-president & head —leisure travel (outbound) products, contracting, operations and tour management, Thomas Cook (India), said, “While the falling rupee and a sluggish economy have created a challenging backdrop for outbound travel, Indian consumers have chosen to alter the destination of choice rather than eliminate the possibility of travelling.” Thomas Cook had witnessed 20 per cent growth in its leisure outbound travel compared with 2012.

“Our luxury brand ‘Indulgence’ notched up a growth of above 25 per cent. We are extremely delightful given the unpredictable economic environment, spiralling airfares and fluctuating rupee,” added Phadkar.

According to Karan Anand, head-relationships, Cox & Kings, “The outbound market is buoyant and the number of Indians travelling to the overseas destinations continues to climb.”

Rajesh Rateria, owner of a Mumbai-based travel agency, Cirrus Travels, said, “Outbound is affected marginally but enquiries are happening again. Southeast Asia and Dubai are not really affected, but overall sentiment is still a little gloomy. People are still refraining from making long-haul travel.”

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