India travellers zoom in on Thailand

DEMAND for Thailand from the burgeoning India outbound market is set to grow even further this year, according to some Indian buyers at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2011 in Bangkok.

Increased access between the two countries and relative proximity mean that airfares for international flights to Thailand are cheaper than even those for domestic destinations such as Goa, said Kolkatta-based Vensimal Leisure Holidays managing director, Bhagwan Ramnani.

Return airfares to Thailand range between 8,000 and 12,000 rupees (US$179-268), while return airfares to Goa cost more than 20,000 rupees.

“The Thai tourism authorities are also aggressive in marketing Thailand to India,” Ramnani said. “With all this hype, we are looking at a 25 per cent increase on outbound Indian tourism business to Thailand.”

Cochin-based Riya Holidays regional manager for Southern India, Saji Kurian T, agreed with Ramnani, saying that Thailand was the top South-east Asian destination for Indian travellers, ahead of Malaysia and Singapore, due to its relatively low prices, and the increasing number of direct flight connections.

Kurian added that the outbound India market to all destinations was expected to grow by some 20 to 30 per cent this year.

New Delhi-based Regency Tours director, Neeraj Rustagi, said the growth in India outbound travel was not just in the number of tourists, but also in their spending power.

“From predominantly budget-conscious tourists, we are slowly seeing more demand from the high-end segment,” he said.

While first-time Indian visitors continue to request for Bangkok and Pattaya, repeat visitors have turned to new destinations such as Phuket, Krabi, Hua Hin and Koh Samui, he added.

By Sirima Eamtako

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