Six million Indians to travel abroad

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, May 5:

A growing wanderlust among an expanding breed of cash-flush Indians is seeing an unprecedented number of them visiting destinations from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean, sparking a boom in outward tourism and spreading cheer in the travel industry. Exotic destinations with tempting offers ranging from free sightseeing tours to gifts and perks are increasingly luring Indians this summer, with many already leaving for foreign shores notwithstanding the general election.

"The outbound travel from India is really booming," gloated Subhash Goyal, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and chairman of New Delhi-based Stik Travels, "It is expected to go up from around 4.8 million couple of years back to 5.5 million, or even six million, with air capacities going up and the new charter policy allowing Indian nationals to fly more economically."

Though not in large numbers yet, the middle class has been joining the well-heeled and high-flying executives to enjoy a break overseas and it is becoming impossible to get seats for several destinations, he added. Little wonder countries like South Australia, Austria, Singapore and South Africa have unleashed a series of advertisements in both print and visual media to lure Indians with packages tailored for varying budgets. Even a relatively unfamiliar destination for Indians like Genting, an amusement resort in Malaysia, had a glossy four-page supplement in a leading daily in seeking to attract Indian holidaymakers.