Aiming At The Hindi Speaking Tourist

Updated: Jan 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
Imagine yourself on a tour in the midst of Europe, guided not by an English speaking tour manager, but by a Hindi speaking margdarshak. Instead of pasta and other alien continental food, what if your hunger pangs are being assuaged by aloo gobi ke pakore, desi ghee ka halwa paan, lassi and chai And you are being guided in your choices by bilingual brochures in Hindi and English. Sounds like a flight of fancy Well, not really, because SOTCs recently launched Vishwa Darpan outbound tour division gives you all this and more.

Aimed at the Hindi belt of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, Vishwa Darpan aims at tapping the main travel season between April and July 2003 with daily departures to Europe and the Far East. This offering is close on heels of the Brahmanmandal division tour, which was launched last year for the Marathi speaking population of the country.

Customers on SOTCS Vishwa Darpan will experience the feeling of a home away from home in the company of a Hindi speaking tour manager plus travel in the company of other north Indians, says Frederick Divecha, vice-president, Marketing, SOTC. The menu of the meals to be offered on the tours have been prepared by Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana fame. The emphasis is on north Indian food, with special vegetarian food prepared by chefs specifically flown out of India for this purpose.

The burgeoning Indian middle class population, with greater disposable incomes in their hands, has been having a huge impact on overseas travel in the last few years. This package is mainly aimed at those people who felt uncomfortable travelling abroad, who were afraid that their shortcomings in English would embarrass them. With this package, they will be more comfortable, travelling with Hindi speaking companions, says Mr Divecha. This is an attempt to make the Hindi speaking tourist more comfortable. From our research, we have found that a large segment of this population wants to travel abroad, but are not travelling because they feel hampered by their lack of English.

Under Vishwa Darpan, SOTC is offering four major European packages this summer. The 14-day European Delight (US$ 1,749) offers visits to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland and England. Best Of Europe (US$ 2,099), a 19-day tour, allows you to visit Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, England and Dubai. Then there is Wonders Of Europe, a 22-day trip costing US$ 2,499, which takes you to Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Holland, Scotland and England. This package also includes an overnight cruise on DFDS Cruises. Finally, the Scenic Switzerland Package, which is an eight day package costing US$ 999.

In addition, there are early bird offers in which a special discount worth Rs 10,000 per person is offered to the first 1,000 customers who book on any of these tours.

Each tour is well planned keeping in mind the most popular destinations in Europe. In European Delight, for example, you get to visit the Cologne Cathedral, the famed Black Forest and the Rhine falls. Then you get to spend two days in the scenic Alps. On day five, you move to Venice and then to Rome. Your visit would not be complete without a trip to the Vatican State, after which you go to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Paris, Antwerp, Brussels and London are the other stops on this tour.

Vishwa Darpan also offers packaged tours to South East Asia. According to Mr Divecha, the destinations and prices for this region are still being worked out.

SOTC expects 5,000 passengers to to travel on the Vishwa Darpan packages this year. It plans to market them aggressively via Hindi newspapers and hoardings. Nearly 2,000 people travelled on the Brahmanmandal package and this was what prompted the SOTC officials to launch the Vishwa Darpan division this year. Mr Divecha reveals that a number of people from the Gujarati and Jain communities travel on SOTCs packages. Nearly 70 per cent of our clients come from these communities, he says. So will there be specialised tours targeting these communities in the near future Mr Divecha is unwilling to confirm this.

You can book for the tours from Vishwa Darpans branch offices in Delhi and Mumbai, its associate sales offices in Chandigarh, Jaipur and Lucknow or from privilege sales agents at no additional charge. At the time of booking, you would need to deposit a non-refundable Rs 10,000 per person (adult/ child), which will be later adjusted towards the cost of the package tour. But remember that in the event of cancellation after the payment of the non-refundable deposits for any reason whatsoever, your deposit will stand forfeited.