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It's never been cheaper to fly to Europe, SE Asia
Prabodh Chandrasekhar in Mumbai
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September 15, 2005

The growing demand from Indian tourists for destinations such as South-East Asia and Europe, and availability of more flights to these locations have brought down tour package rates by 10-15 per cent for this winter season (September-January) compared with the previous corresponding season, said leading tour operators of the country.

Further, to cash in on the demand, companies are offering special discount schemes to attract more travellers to these places.

"Positives such as a larger number of air flights and increased demand have cut down negatives such as increase in oil prices. Welcoming the demand, SOTC has brought down its package rates by 15 per cent for trips to south-east Asian countries and by 10 per cent to Europe," said Frederick Divecha, senior vice-president - marketing, SOTC.

SOTC has brought down its winter package per person from Delhi to south-east Asian countries (Hong Kong, Bangkok, Pattaya, Kuala Lumpur, Genting Island, Singapore) for 15 days and 14 nights to Rs 68,900. Last winter, the company was charging Rs 79,000 for the same package. An eight-day package from Delhi covering Malaysia and Singapore was pegged at Rs 43,900 (Rs 50,000).

Officials at Cox & Kings (C&K) said tour packages to South-east Asia and Europe have become more attractive in terms of prices and discounts offered by both tour operators and airlines. C&K has come up with a 50 per cent discount scheme for couples.

"Cox & Kings will charge Rs 66,900 per person for a 14-day-and-13-night trip to South-east Asia. However, if the person is open to adding another person, the entire tour package will cost him only Rs 1 lakh. For a 10-day package to Europe, C&K will be charging Rs 59,900 per person but only Rs 90,000 for a couple," said Arup Sen, executive director, Cox & Kings India.

SOTC's eight-day package from Mumbai, covering Germany, France and England, and four days in Switzerland will now be charged at Rs 59,900, compared to Rs 66,000 last winter.

SOTC's 14-day grand tour package covering Italy, Austria, France, Holland, Belgium and England, and four days in Switzerland has come down to Rs 79,900 (Rs 88,000).

The number of flights to South-east Asia and Europe has also increased substantially over the last 12 months. Air-India has started flying 47 additional flights a week to South-east Asian countries like Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Seoul, making the flight costs more competitive.

This year, around 7.6 million Indian tourists are expected to visit other countries, which is 20 per cent higher than the 2004 figure of 6.4 million tourists. Europe and South-East Asia form about 90 per cent of the destinations that Indians visit every year.

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