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Indians eye exotic destinations

September 14, 2007 09:10 IST

That there is a growing Indian populace with disposable income is well known. Disposable incomes have been growing for the last few years and people are using a growing part of it to travel.

Your first-time traveller is now an almost seasoned traveller, who is itching to explore newer destinations, be it for short or long holidays. People are getting adventurous even for their honeymoons.

From the staid 10-country trip across Europe and the mundane family destinations in South-East Asia, people have started opting for more exotic and interesting and sometimes offbeat locations.

Egypt has suddenly become a favourite, so much so that cynics predict that it will be another run-of-the-mill destination for Indians soon. In Egypt, apart from Cairo and the Nile cruise, people are now heading to the very expensive Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh for Red Sea diving, water sports and historic cultural tours.

Similarly, the Canadian Rockies, in British Columbia, has suddenly become popular. Ashish Chadha, managing director, Leisure Ways, says he has received quite a few requests for the destination and the company has sent quite a few families to the new destination already.

What makes it even more interesting is that till last year, not many had even thought about these places. People would go on an Alaskan cruise, which is turning out to be another hot option, from Vancouver.

As for the great Canadian Rockies, people are opting for a seven-night cruise tour package with a land tour to Banff and Jasper national parks, Lake Louise, and the cities of Vancouver and Calgary.

Turkey, says another tour operator, is selling like hot cakes with the Indians, and it's not just plain vanilla Istanbul, Antalia and Kusadasi that people are asking for. People are asking for newer places like Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Bodrum.

They don't think twice before spending $3,000 for a seven-nights trip covering Istanbul, Cappadocia (for its monolithic rock formations), Pamukkale (for its hot springs, thermal spas and salt formations called cotton castles!), and Bodrum (for its splendid beaches).

The country head for New Zealand Tourism, Kiran Nambiar, tells us that more and more Indians are exploring New Zealand. They are spending on high-end luxury lodges, which sometimes cost upwards of Rs 60,000 a night, and are hiring yachts for their holiday.

"A majority of Indians no longer travel in large groups like in the past. The traveller has matured," he says, adding, "The kind of Indians who travel to New Zealand are not first time travellers. They are more confident, spend more and know what they are looking for."

Exclusivity is what they are seeking. Some of them go all out and hire whole islands in the Caribbean or the others off the coast of Dubai, Australia, the Bahamas, Fiji, The Philippines, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and a host of others — one even on the Indian coast, called the Kerala Island Resort.

This one costs $485 per week to hire but there are others that cost up to $30,000 a night.

Luxury holidays in Tahiti and Bora Bora are getting common, says Ankush Nijhawan, managing director, Nijhawan Group. A one-week trip could cost upwards of Rs 500,000 per person.

As for the honeymooners, a self-drive on the garden route in South Africa or in New Zealand is preferred over Swiss Alps, says a tour operator. Recently, he got a request from a couple for a trip to Rio during the carnival period in February. People are also renting fully staffed honeymoon villas in Barbados for $2,500-5,000 a day.

Another exclusive destination for honeymooners is the couples only Sandals Resort in Acapulco in Mexico, which costs $700 per night. The Versace-owned Palazzo Versace at the Gold Coast in Australia costs $1,000 a night but that doesn't stop people from spending a night or two there.

The list of exotic destinations that the new Indian is exploring is endless.... Wilderness in South Africa, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, Botswana for more wildlife. . . So where are you headed?

Ravi Teja Sharma in New Delhi
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