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Tour operators take diversion as South turns big draw

Nivedita Ganguly Mumbai | Updated on August 26, 2013 Published on August 26, 2013

The increase in tourist traffic to the South is not restricted to domestic travellers alone. — K.R. Deepak

While the depreciating rupee has made outbound travel costlier, recent floods in Uttarakhand and the unrest in Kashmir have affected certain pockets for domestic travel. To offset this, tour operators and travel agents are now focusing on the south.

According to industry estimates, bookings for South Indian destinations have gone up by nearly 40 per cent in the past two months on a year-on-year basis.

religious tour

Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer, Holidays, MakeMyTrip, said, “South India is becoming an increasingly popular destination among domestic travellers. Our booking numbers are growing at an average of 40-50 per cent y-o-y for various South Indian destinations. Compared to last year, the peak travel season bookings have increased by 120 per cent this year. Apart from holiday packages, we have also seen the South Indian religious tour packages gaining popularity, more so in the light of the recent natural calamity in Uttarakhand.”

Bookings for destinations such as Madurai, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Tirupati and Kanchipuram are picking up, according to tour operators. Online travel portal MakeMyTrip expects 50 per cent growth for pilgrimage tour bookings for its South Indian destinations in the coming months.

Interestingly, the increase in tourist traffic to the south is not restricted to domestic travellers alone. “Even inbound tourists are opting for southern States. We have witnessed a rise of about 30-35 per cent in bookings for south Indian States,” said Vikram Malhi, GM, South and South-east Asia, Expedia.

Thomas Cook India has also seen a strong uptake for destinations such as Coorg, Ooty, Kabini, Chikmagalur, Kodaikanal, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tirupati and Rameshwaram. “In fact, newer destinations such as Vishakhapatnam, Bekal, Hassan, Hampi and Badami have caught the Indian traveller’s eye in recent times and are fast emerging as popular getaway options,” said Rajeev Kale, COO, MICE, Domestic, Sports and Cruises, Thomas Cook (India).

Keeping in mind the increasing popularity of these destinations, MakeMyTrip has introduced its first fixed departure series for South India covering Ooty, Kodaikanal, Mysore, Coorg and offbeat packages such as the tea-tour of Coonoor, rafting tour of Dandeli and coffee plantation tour of Coorg.

Indulgence experiences

Thomas Cook India has introduced ‘Indian Indulgence experiences’ for the high net worth individual segment, which include holidays at Nilgiris covering Mysore, Coorg, Kabini and Wayanad and Kerala. The tour operator has also launched ‘Kaapi Trails’ in collaboration with Bangalore International Airport and the Ministry of Karnataka Tourism for experiential travel that offer a flavour of the coffee culture of South India and plantation home-stays, along with cooking programmes, jeep safaris and bike treks and heritage walks.

nivedita.ganguly@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 26, 2013
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