The Champions Trophy is on, but it’s World Cup fever that’s already hit town. And tickets for next year’s February 8 to March 23 cricket showdown are on offer. With 1,500 allotted for India and 800 already sold, only about 600 are currently up for grabs. If Calcutta doesn’t snap them up, then some other city definitely will, warn tour operators, since all bookings are on a first-come-first-served basis.
The sole sales agent in the eastern region is Budget Tours, the conglomeration of five Calcutta-based operators — Vensimal World Travels, Victoria Travels, Gainwell Travel and Leisure, Marshall International and Discovery Tours and Travels. They have put together three tour packages, entitled Cricket Safari 2003 South Africa, with tickets for at least two matches.
The first package contains tickets to the India vs Australia and South Africa vs New Zealand games, and will cost US $1480. Tour B includes admission to the India vs England and India vs Pakistan matches, with a price tag of US $1890. Buying the third package will mean a chance to watch the two semi-finals and the finals, for US$ 2310.
Launched by Bengal wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta, the packages include return air tickets from Mumbai. Budget Tours is in the process of negotiating special return fares from Calcutta to Mumbai, with Sahara Airlines.
“In my opinion, South Africa is the best place to watch cricket,” assured Dasgupta, who is striving to reclaim his place in the Indian team. “We hope that a minimum of 200 seats will be booked from Calcutta,” said Manoj Saraf of Gainwell.