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Travel agents told to offer cheaper travel packages
Published on 9 Jan. 2011 11:45 PM IST
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To boost domestic tourism, the tourism ministry has asked travel agencies to come out with cheaper travel packages.
“Domestic tourism needs a boost and that is why we have asked the agencies to find ways to offer cheaper domestic travel packages,” said a senior tourism ministry official, who did not want to be identified. Travel agencies, however, say it would be difficult to offer cheaper packages because of high air fares and hotel rates.
“Air fares are high because of high sales tax on jet fuel, and hotel rates are high as the owners want to recover their heavy investments. The government will have to come up with incentives to bring down costs,” said Subhash Goyal, chairman of STIC Travel Group.
The tourism ministry understands this but feels a balance can be struck.
“There are various constraints and something has to be worked out. We have also asked the agents’ association to form a federation to make it simpler for us to negotiate with them,” the official said.
The country saw a rise in foreign tourist arrivals in 2010. It went up 9.3 per cent to 5.58 million, which is better than the growth rate of five-six per cent projected for the world by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The industry is one of the main foreign exchange earners and contributes to the economy indirectly through its links with sectors like horticulture, agriculture, poultry, handicraft and construction. It has been estimated that the total direct employment in the sector is around 20 million.
Meanwhile, the ministry is talking to the airlines to show a short film on Incredible India on board international flights before they land in India.
“You go to any country and a film about the country’s tourism potential is shown before the plane lands. We want such films to be shown on the flights,” the official said.

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