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80,000 Indians to head for World Cup

May 13, 2019 10:09 IST

The demand is the highest for the India-Pakistan match at Old Trafford in Manchester on June 16 and also for the final at Lords on July 14.
Aneesh Phadnis reports.

IMAGE: Indian cricket fans cheer during the ICC Champions Trophy match between India and Pakistan at Edgbaston, June 4, 2017. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

When India take on South Africa in its first World Cup fixture at Southampton on June 5, there will be a sea of people dressed in blue to cheer the team.

The one-and-a-half-month long cricket carnival kicks off from May end and cricket fans and corporate groups will head to England to watch all the action.

'Our rough estimate is around 80,000 Indians may travel for the World Cup. This is based on previous India-UK travel trends and the numbers of Indians travelling for previous tournaments,' the British high commission, New Delhi, said in an e-mail response..

'We do not have a global estimate for how many people in total will travel but is extremely likely that Indians will be the highest -- given the size of the market and passion for sport in India and the great flight connections between India and UK,' the high commission added.


The demand is the highest for the India-Pakistan match at Old Trafford in Manchester on June 16 and also for the final at Lords on July 14.

The cricket World Cup final coincides with two other major sporting events in England -- the Wimbledon men's tennis final and the F1 Grand Prix final at Silverstone.

"We expect the demand for UK as a destination to increase by at least 35 per cent in summer, keeping in mind the rush for the World Cup," says Karan Anand, head-relationships, Cox & Kings.

Thomas Cook said travel demand is led by the corporate segment.

"We have a series of confirmed groups across industries travelling for the World Cup with the June 16 India-Pakistan match a mandatory inclusion," says Rajeev Kale, president and country head (holiday), Thomas Cook India.

Over 515,000 Indians visited the UK in the 12 months ending September 2018.

Arrivals declined 2% in that period, but are expected to see a boost with the World Cup.

Indians are taking self drive holidays and train rides to visit attractions in northern England and Scotland, say sources in the travel industry.

The suspension of Jet Airways operations has pushed up fares (Jet flew five flights daily between India and the UK) but has not dented demand, they added.

Demand for visas is higher than usual because of the World Cup, with 3,500 applications received each day.

'Our visa services partner VFS Global has already processed over 200,000 visa applications in India during January-April,' the high commission said.

The UK visa and immigration department has been carrying out marketing campaigns across India since February to encourage more Indians to travel to the country.

From now to the end of the tournament it will implement the second phase of campaign -- to encourage late applicants to use the priority visa facility.

'This will get a decision in five working days (rather than the standard 15) and means everyone can get a decision in time for the match they want to see,' the high commission said.

Aneesh Phadnis
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