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Hello Thailand, here we come

The average Indian middle class in Ranchi is avidly eyeing vacations in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

The Oriental interest was strongly evident at Travel Tourism Mart, the three-day tourism fair that began at Ranchi Club complex on August 16, Saturday.

Though footfall was “lower than expected” on Sunday, Day Two, possibly due to Janmashtami engagements, the visitors made “serious queries” on tours abroad, Thailand and Malaysia being the top draws.

“Within the first two hours itself, about 15 persons visited our stall and enquired about Thailand,” said Sweta Patel manning the kiosk of Tourism Authority of Thailand.

“About a dozen visited our kiosk during the same period,” said Sarwar Ansari at the Malaysian kiosk.

“We expected more footfall during the extended weekend but the fair is open till tomorrow (Monday),” said Vikas Sarawgi, CEO of Mega Event Pvt. Ltd of Calcutta, which organised the tourism fair. “But, those who are dropping in are doing so as they are keen. Many go abroad regularly.”

He added package tours were convenient and tourists get discounts of up to 25 per cent.

“Even those earning about Rs 50,000 a month now go abroad at least once every two or three years. Lifestyle aspirations have changed.”

And why not, argued Soumya Das of Neptune Tours & Travels, which offers tour packages for Singapore, Malaysia and Bali. “When tourists travel in groups, cost comes down,” he pointed out.

Leaflets and brochures distributed by travel agents said expenses for seven-eight-day tour to China, Turkey, Egypt, Kenya and Mauritius varied between Rs 53,000 and Rs 85,000 per head.

“The cost may vary slightly depending on air ticket rates,” said Sudipto Sar of Raj Yatayat (P) Ltd of Calcutta.

The spurt in tourism abroad was fuelled by the realisation among travel buffs that going to say, Kerala, was costlier than flying to Thailand.

“There are many places in India where travel is costlier than visiting Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya in Thailand,” said Ranchi-based businessman Charanjit Singh.

“Planned in advance, one can get to and fro air tickets to Thailand at Rs 10,000, ex-Calcutta price, and book hotel rooms at Rs 2,500-3,000 per day,” Singh added. “Hotel stay could be more costly in some Indian tourist hotspots.”

Is domestic tourism losing out? “No, not at all,” said Rajesh Salvi of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation. “We are getting serious queries, too.”