Bitten by travel bug, Bengalureans fly to exotic locales across the globe
BENGALURU: Following a relatively lean spell for the tourist industry during the Chirstmas season, when demonetisation resulted in many vacation plans being shelved, Bengalureans have their bags packed to explore places on the edges of the map and beyond. While popular holiday destinations such as London, Spain, Switzerland have not disappeared from the wish lists of the city’s travelers, tour operators point out that there has been an increase in the number of people keen on visiting exotic locales such as the archaeological site in Petra in Jordan and the geoglyphs in Peru.
Chairperson of the Bengaluru chapter of the Indian Association of Tour Operators S Mahalingaiah said, “Around five lakh people from the city are travelling between March and June, of whom two lakh are travelling abroad, mainly Europe.” Pointing to a surge among Bengalureans who are keen on exploring places that are little more than specks on the map, Mahalingaiah added, “Compared to neighbouring countries, air fares in India are lower, creating a favourable environment for travel to foreign countries. Also, people plan meticulously to get their visa soon.”
Mahalingaiah’s own agency is arranging holidays of more than 800 Bengalureans to Europe, Leh, Manali and Ooty among other locations this summer.
While Prerna Prakash, 33, a travel designer, wants to go to Peru and see the Nazca lines – pre-Columbian geoglyphs on the deser — Nilotple Samantha, who had promised to take his wife Supriya for a vacation in Fifi and Krabi islands in Thailand, will be able to fulfil his promise this May. However, Nilotple and Supriya made all their arrangements by themselves and did not approach a tour operator.
Rajeev Kale, president and country head for leisure travel at Thomas Cook holidays, told TOI, “We’ve noted a 32% increase, compared to last year, among Bengalureans for destinations such as Japan and for long jaunts in Australia and New Zealand. Europe is still a favoured destination. Also, there are a lot more takers for our Karnataka tours.”
For 26-year-old Ankita Agarwal, her first international tour had to be special. “I’m travelling alone. Last year, a friend’s relative went to Jordan, and listening to her experiences was thrilling. I want to explore a less-travelled place. I have done some research, and know it’s an exotic destination in the Middle East, and a safe place,” said the content writer from the city.
Head of customer relations with Cox and Kings, a leading travel agency, pointed to the rising interest among Bengalureans to visit places such as Seychelles off the African coast. “Compred to last year, there’s a 20% rise in the bookings we’ve received for international destinations. In the domestic sector, people still want to visit hill stations such as Ooty and Kulu-Manali,” he added.
Guneet Singh Chadha, a businessman who recently returned from Vietnam, was mighty impressed with progress the country has made despite its troubled past. “I was amazed to see planned roads, wide footpaths, synchronized traffic lights and clean cities. We travelled in Hanoi, and explored the night market, which is 50 times bigger than Commercial Street. We also explored Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Long Bay where the movie ‘King Kong’ was shot,” he told TOI.
Founder of Byond Travels, a niche tour operator in Bengaluru, Vikram Ahuja said that many people were travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia despite the humid conditions in those places. “People also want to visit China and Macau, since they have already travelled to Singapore and Hong Kong. Greece, Peru, Jordan are the other countries that Bengalureans are travelling to,” he said.
But tour operators admitted that Europe remained the most favoured destination for families and group of friends. “My parents have been to Europe many times, but this will be the first time for me, my brother and my sister. We live in different cities, and eagerly await the summer holidays,” said Nayantara A, a college student who is travelling to Italy and Greece with her family.
Kale also pointed to an increased interest among people of the city to visit Bhutan.