Slowdown puts brakes on tourism

With the summer schedule of the Mumbai airport beginning on April 1,it is that time of the year when the travel fraternity gears up for a spurt in the sector owing to the summer vacations.

Written by Shashank Shekhar | Mumbai | Published:March 29, 2009 4:05 am

With the summer schedule of the Mumbai airport beginning on April 1,it is that time of the year when the travel fraternity gears up for a spurt in the sector owing to the summer vacations. However,the economic slowdown has taken a toll on the city’s travel business that has witnessed a dip of about 25 per cent,especially in corporate travel,according to agents.

Giving an overall picture,Vasuki Sundaram,secretary (Western Region),Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI),said barring corporate travel,the business is alive and kicking,but not at a scale expected by agents at this time of the year.

Even at the Mumbai airport,the domestic summer slots are still the same as the winter schedule whereas there has been some minor changes in the international summer slots. While the airport has already reported a fall of about 12 per cent in its passenger traffic forecasts for 2008-09,according to Sundaram,agents are not expecting any growth in numbers,but are trying maintain the numbers by working out innovative packages to suit customers’ pockets.

“I take a vacation every year around this time with my family,but this year we have decided against it as salary hikes have been put on hold,” said C.S. Singh,55,who works with a bank.

Another trend among this year’s vacationers is that they have opted for cheaper destinations like Malaysia,Thailand and Singapore,rather than those far-off exotic locales. “Overall,travel is happening with schoolchildren and families taking trips to the US and Europe,but Thailand has become the season’s flavour because of the way they are marketing the destination,” Sundaram said.

There has also been an increase in the number of people travelling from the hinterlands. “We have a branch in Nagpur to cater to the markets of Kolhapur,Satara and surrounding areas and the fact is that people from semi-urban areas are travelling like never before,” he said.

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