Good time to sell packages to India


Travel agents looking to sell India packages in what is normally a peak vacation season should actually be able to deliver some attractive packages for tourists bound for India’s golden triangle area of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
Rising fuel prices and an economic slowdown have made the Indian capital area a very attractive place for tourists this season. The two factors have combined to make corporate travel expensive again, thus driving hotel tariffs downwards in the otherwise booming capital region, and reports say the decline has been as much as 50 per cent in some cases.
Consequently, several hotels have deployed summer rates for the first time in about two years, with rates between $117 and $187.
Experts quoted by the country’s business daily, The Economic Times, expected the trend to continue over the next 12 months as India’s overheated economy lets off steam. During this period, room rates are expected to decline some 10 per cent, according to consultants.
Rajendra Kumar, head of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India was quoted by the paper as saying “Rooms that were in the range of $281 to $468 are  now going for $140 to $210.”
And demand and rates could perhaps stay at present levels even through the peak winter season, he added. “Demand and rates could pick up once the travel season begins later this year.”
This means Delhi’s twin contradictions of British colonial era bungalows and crowded old city bylines (dwellings) are a particularly attractive destination. About 200 km south – a day trip away – is Agra, home to the stupendous 17th Century Taj Mahal, which welcomes some three million tourists each year.
Rajasthan, slightly further away, is famous for its medieval forts, ancient temples and camel safaris, and for a host of old palaces now converted into luxury hotels. The state is in the news for a different sort of tourism: bandit tourism. The state’s tourist board is currently bringing together ex-bandits from its jungles to offer tourists a new sort of adventure. Krishna Chandra Pal, chairman, Dang Area Development Board (DADB) told media, “The Bandits will now play the role of local tourist guides and tell tourists about their true life experiences over a campfire. Bandit Tourism will prove to be a good source of income for the bandits, as well as villagers.”
India is all the more attractive now with a fuel linked rise in airfares of low cost carriers causing a decline domestic leisure travel. Consequently, a low rupee leaves international tourists to benefit from a favourable exchange rate.
Whether the situation only lasts up until the onset of winter in December, as some expect, remains to be seen. But for now and over the next few months, Middle Eastern agents selling India’s Taj Mahal and other fabled attractions could certainly tap into the increased market liquidity generated by the high oil prices to move more products. 
by Clark Kelly