KOLKATA: The Israel-Palestine conflict in West Asia; visa issues in the US, Canada and some Schengen countries like Germany, Italy and France; and holidays to the West becoming more expensive due to the currency exchange rates has led to emergence of Eurasian and East European destinations alongside evergreen tourist spots in South-East Asia.
Travel trade industry officials said Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan were hot picks for travel this winter with value-for-money packages that were easy on the pocket.
“These three countries, along with a few others in the neighbourhood, have emerged as economical Europe with seven-10 day holiday packages costing Rs 1.5-1.8 lakh per person. That is lower than a minimum of Rs 2.5-2.8 lakh per person that a holiday to any other place in Europe will cost,” said Travel Agents’ Association of India chairman (east) Manav Soni.

Easy connections to Tashkent, Almaty and Tbilisi following introduction of flights by private carrier IndiGo to these cities has also helped. Return fares to these destinations range from Rs 50,000 to around Rs 1 lakh.
Though the conflict in Israel is still confined to Palestine with sporadic involvement of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, travellers are unwilling to travel to the zone, including tourist hotspots like Jordan, Turkey and Egypt fearing escalation of the crisis that could see several other countries in the neighbourhood getting involved.
But it is countries in South-East Asia – Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore – that have the highest takers. “With multiple connections to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and holiday options at various price points, demand for travel to these destinations have soared,” said Travel Agents’ Federation of India chairman (east) Anil Punjabi.
Holiday packages in these countries range from Rs 75,000 per person to Rs 1 lakh. Return fare to Thailand is Rs 25,000 while those to Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia is around Rs 30,000.
Another factor that has come into play is easy availability of visas to these countries. While Indians now no longer require a visa to travel to Thailand, one does not need a visa to visit Cambodia (an approval is needed), e-visa is issued in three-five working days for Vietnam and Malaysia.

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