New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) The Indian tourism ministry said here Wednesday that it had developed a number of attractive travel packages that were sure to draw in the recession-hit tourists to the country.
Leena Nandan, joint secretary of the tourism ministry, responding to what European tour operators have to say about prohibitive hotel rates in India keeping recession hit tourists at bay, said: 'We have been evaluating the response of consumers and have in fact got a very good response to the road shows in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia'.
'Keeping the global meltdown in mind, and in a move with the service providers, a number of attractive travel and tour packages have been developed which will be available from April onwards,' Nandan told IANS.
Several European tour operators who attended the March 11-15 International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin lamented that the 'totally unrealistic and unacceptable' hotel rates are a bigger deterrent to international tourists coming to India than the fear of terrorism post the Mumbai carnage.
The 'Visit India' tour packages which, Nandan said, will also include incentives such as complimentary sight seeing, will be appealing to the recession-hit traveller.
'We understand that in times of recession everyone wants to travel and spend smartly. Therefore all tour operators who attended the roadshow promotions abroad stressed that all values will be incorporated in the packages and we have received a number of queries and a great feedback then on,' she said.
The Indian pavilion at the ITB - the world's biggest tourism show - made for a platform for many worried exchanges regarding high hotel prices between agents and service providers.
Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and director of Yatra.com, an online travel services company here however disagreed saying that the situation was grim until a year back, but not any longer.
'A year back, the hotel rates were high because there was less supply of three and five star hotels. So in winters, which is the peak season, the hotel rates were around 300-400 US dollars, while the same would be offered for 150 US dollars in Singapore.
'But the situation is changing now. There was a slowdown in the capacity in the last six months because of the recession but things are getting better. By 2010-11, I am sure that the prices offered here will be as competitive as anywhere else,' Shringi told IANS.
And although Bharat Bhushan, director of the Hotel Association of India, refused to comment immediately on the issue by simply saying that they have 'taken a note of it', some travel agencies like the Welcome travels agree with the European travel operators.
'You can't disagree that Indian hotel rates are steep. For the past few months that is the feedback that we have been getting from our customers. Of course the present meltdown has a role to play in it and we hope things improve in the future, especially with the Commonwealth Games around the corner,' Ashwin Dey of the agency said.