Travel and tour operators are dishing out lucrative offers to maintain a steady outbound tourist flow amid the rupee slide.
Some operators have cut down on commission to offer lucrative packages, while a few are offering freebies. Cox and Kings is offering free spa, lunch, barbecue and island tours under its new packages.
“As the rupee has shown a sharp decline against US$ and major European currencies over the past few weeks, we have designed several offers to maintain the outbound tourist business in the upcoming season from October. The upcoming Puja vacation also prompted us to announce the freebies,” said a senior executive of Cox and Kings in the city.
The travel industry has been reeling from the blow of the dollar, pound and euro’s steady climb against the rupee.
Sources said international leisure travel bookings had dropped 20 per cent over the past two months. Tourists are either cancelling their bookings to the US, UK and Europe or putting plans for the holiday season on hold.
Tour operators of the city claimed that they were cutting down on their commission to maintain the flow of outbound foreign tourists from the state.
“Travel and tour operators normally get 15 to 35 per cent of the package cost as commission. But at times like these, when there is a lull in a particular sector, say outbound foreign tourists, many travel agents cut down on their commission. This is done to maintain the normal business cycle,” said a city-based travel and tour operator.
Common foreign tourist destinations for outbound tourists from Bihar at this time of the year are Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mauritius and few other Asian countries.
“Tourists prefer to go to Europe from April to September. As the temperature starts dropping in Europe from October, Indians avoid going to those countries,” said Shailesh Kumar, the chief executive of the city-based Nalanda Travels.
Tour operators are also promoting South Africa and Australia as alternative destinations, citing their “steady” exchange rates against the rupee. A South African rand is Rs 6.17, while an Australian dollar is equivalent to Rs 57.09.
“A five-day trip to South Africa comes for Rs 88,000 per head and is likely to remain the same given the steady rate of exchange. Same is the case for Australia, which costs about Rs 1 lakh a person for a 11-day package,” said Alok Kumar, the director of city-based Connect India.
The lucrative offers of travel operators are of no help to tourists who have already finalised their travel plans. They are simply feeling helpless.
“I shall go to Stockholm in the last week of September. Though it is a sponsored education trip, I shall have to curtail my expenses a lot because of the steep hike in the value of euro against the rupee. For instance, I may not able to buy good Swedish gifts for my wife and others in the family back home,” said Ashok Ghosh, professor-in-charge, department of environment and water management, AN College.