Encouraged by attractive tour packages and cheaper airfares, even middle class families in the state are now making a beeline to travel agencies here to chart out exotic summer holiday itineraries. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Kathmandu have become the most sought-after destinations.
Foreign travel is no longer a dream for the middle class. While a tour to Thailand for five days costs around Rs 18,000 per person, a four-day trip to Malaysia works out to Rs 22,000. The packages include airfare, hotel accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner and sightseeing. The packages have been specially designed for middle class families.
Yugabrat Kar of Heritage Tours, a Puri-based travel agency, said he would soon float outbound tour packages in view of the growing demand among tourists in Odisha. “Travelling to Thailand for five days has become cheaper than going to Delhi. It is not only enjoyable but it also gives a chance to go on a shopping spree,” Kar said.
While nearly 1,500 people from Odisha visited Thailand last year, travel professionals hope the figure will touch 2,000 this year. “We are receiving a large number of bookings for Thailand. For the convenience of Odias, we are arranging tourist groups comprising Odias only. Besides, we are sending Odia guides with them,” said chief executive officer of K-7 Holidays Debashis Mahapatra.
Keeping in mind summer vacation at schools in May and June, travel agencies have floated cheaper packages for high spending groups to cooler climes of Europe too. France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland can be toured for Rs 1,10,000 per person.
Upper middle class families in the state are experimenting a little more with holidays to China, Hong Kong and Macao, an 11 to 13 days tour to the places costing Rs 90,000-1,00,000 per person.
Nihar Ranjan Pattnaik, managing director of Travel Ad, said he is receiving the most number of bookings for Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. “There is a growing demand for this place because of snowfall. A four-night and five-day package can be availed for Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 per person,” Pattnaik said.
There is a growing demand among travelers to tour Kathmandu and Indonesia over the past few years as well. Nepal tourism has decided to hold a road show in Bhubaneswar on April 25 to attract tourists from Odisha to Kathmandu. Last month, Indonesia tourism held a road show here.
The tourism department, however, has no immediate plans of floating outbound tour packages. “We are at present focusing on floating packages in the state only,” said an officer of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation.