Foreign vacation gets the blues
Outbound travel from India during this summer break is estimated to have fallen by 10 per cent in volume, compared to the same time last year. Economic downturn, rupee depreciation and a rise in air fare amid an aviation crisis are among the reasons that have triggered the drop in the number of travellers.
In contrast, the summer of 2011 had recorded growth of 12 to 15 per cent in outbound travel, over the same months in 2010.
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In all of 2011, the total of outbound travellers grew eight per cent to reach 33 million, from around 30.5 million in 2010. This year, given the economic climate, the industry is expecting a year on year growth of around 5.5 per cent in the outbound category. With travellers finding air fares too expensive ,coupled with the hike in airport charges, European and American destinations have failed to pull much crowd. But the traditional trio of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand still remains the top preference for first-time travellers. "While year on year we are seeing growth in outbound travel, the current crisis is bound to have an impact on the segment," said Vijay Sharma, former president of the Indian Association of Travel Operators. "The overall economic slowdown has been a downer for the industry."
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According to a study done by meta-search engine wego.co.in, Indians are still travelling but they are adjusting their options within the same category of accommodation and examining airlines for the smallest variances in fare, rather than cancelling plans.
Domestic tourism has not been able to benefit much from the fall in demand for international travel. The Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India noted that travelling to Far-East countries is way cheaper than flying domestic. "Our railways have a cleanliness issue, so people have not yet warmed up to the idea of long-distance travel by rail," said Kamlesh Barot, president of the body.
The period between April to June is the time when people take a summer holiday and the market is ripe for the leisure segment. "The good thing is with certain destinations not making the cut due to high cost, other newer options like Vietnam, Myanmar are opening up," said Stic Travel Group’s chairman, Subhash Goyal.