The off-beat locations trending on the list are Japan, Jordon, Egypt, Israel, Finland, South Korea and Croatia, along with South Africa, Philippines, Seychelles, Maldives, Vietnam, China and Cambodia.
Celebrating 260 years, Cox & Kings, the oldest and leading tour operator with operations in 22 countries across continents has observed a considerable demand from West Bengal travellers for exotic destinations this Durga Puja season that begins in October. The off-beat locations trending on the list are Japan, Jordon, Egypt, Israel, Finland, South Korea and Croatia. Others that are trending are South Africa, Philippines, Seychelles, Maldives, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. The demand for these destinations has grown by about 30 per cent in the West Bengal market compared to the same period last year.
This is in addition to European destinations such as the UK, France, Switzerland and Germany which are amongst the all-time favourites. We see a 20 per cent increase in demand to these destinations compared to the same period last year.
Karan Anand, head-Relationships, Cox & Kings said, “Travel is significant in the lives of people in West Bengal and Durga Puja is a favourable time to pack the travel bags. One of the primary factors causing the shift to exotic destinations during this period is the much significant voice of the new generation. While the families continue to travel in groups, the millennials in them seem to be explorers and demand something new.”
The shift in interest can also be attributed to better accessibility. Kolkata is conveniently connected with major South East Asian hubs including Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai and Qatar that offers them an easy gateway to all the exotic and off-beat destinations in Eastern and Central Europe. WB is well connected to the rest of the world, thanks to airlines including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Thai Airways, Dragon Air (Hong Kong), Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, China Eastern Air, etc.
The basic parameter to decide a location still remains its ‘experiential’ aspect for the Bengalis. They are fine with changing their routes and ultimate destinations to seek valuable experience. How immersive is a holiday, remains the deciding factor for a Bengali traveller. They wish to step out and witness the local culture, enjoy the local cuisine and meet the local people. This is yet another factor fuelling the exotic travel trend.
Anand further added, “While Kolkata remains the main hub for demand for outbound travel, other cities including Durgapur and Siliguri have also started contributing considerably. An interesting new trend is the increased demand from the North East, especially Guwahati in Assam. We have seen a growth of between 15-18 per cent from this region compared to the same period last time.”
About 85 per cent of the bookings for international holidays happen in August every year; the trend remains unchanged in 2018 as well.
West Bengal is also one of the top source markets for domestic tourism in India. While, Goa, Rajasthan, Kashmir, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and the Andaman Islands are all destinations that continue to woo Bengali travellers, the North East destinations including Gangtok, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Manipur are also attracting the West Bengal travellers. “We have also observed an increased traffic to destinations including Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, thanks for easy flying options by Druk Air, Sri Lankan Airlines and Air India,” mentioned Anand.
All-inclusive holiday packages top the list of product preference for the West Bengal travellers. We have also observed that families with children mostly prefer group tours whereas, youngsters and people with Double Income No Kids (DINKS), prefer Free Individual Travel (FIT). It isn’t only city-tour anymore but adventure and cruising that are fast-picking up for Bengali travellers among the top experiences list for the Bengali travellers.
An average spend on an international holiday by a traveller from WB is about Rs 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh, whereas they would spend between Rs 30,000-40,000 for a domestic holiday. The average international holiday span is about 8-10 days and 3-4 days for domestic holidays.