20% increase in outbound tourism likely; Australia, New Zealand are hotspots

This May, just when it will be almost too hot to bear, Deepa Ravi will be in France, possibly showing her 10-year-old daughter the Eiffel Tower.

The 42-year-old advertising professional has planned a holiday in Europe with her family, and is looking forward to the 16-day break.

While Europe — mostly France, Spain and Greece — is a hot destination for Chennaiites planning vacations abroad this year, some newer holiday spots too are becoming popular.

Ms. Ravi for instance, had originally planned a trip to Bhutan – “It’s supposed to be the happiest country in the world and I want to go there,” she said. In 2012, she had vacationed in Tanzania.

“Europe this time is an impromptu trip – it happened, because originally, my husband had a conference in Brussels,” she said.

For others in the city, Australia and New Zealand beckon. The Lord of the Rings Tour in New Zealand especially, is a huge draw – a city-based media professional said she had turned down a package tour to the country in April, as it did not include the tour, and has opted to plan the trip with her family.

Some holidayers are planning smart – factoring in places where recent unrest has pushed hotel rates down.

A techie in the city and his friends are planning to go to Egypt in the first week of May, as even luxury hotel rates there have plummeted. Travel agents however, say that first-time international flyers have stuck to the standard southeast Asian countries, while niche travellers have opted for destinations like Australia and New Zealand.

“Singapore and Malaysia have always remained favourites among first-time flyers for reasons including shopping and affordability. But it is interesting that a certain section wants to experiment with destinations like Australia, Paris, Amsterdam and even Portugal this time,” said Krishna Rao of R.K. World Tours and Travels.

This time, there aren’t too many takers for Thailand though owing to the political unrest there.

There may be at least a 20 per cent increase in outbound tourism from Chennai this year, said S. Baskar of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Tamil Nadu chapter.

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