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The imposing Taj Mahal in Agra, sandy beaches in

Goa, the sleepy backwaters of Kerala, trekking in the Himalayas: India serves

up an addictive mix, says Kathryn Liston

INDIA  Top Selling Tips...

• India is year-round... “While predominantly seen as a winter getaway, India can also be a year-round destination as certain areas of northern India, such as Shimla, can be very pleasant during the summer months”

COLIN CHAPMAN Product Manager Thomas Cook Signature

• Sell the add-ons… “The recent introduction of balloon flights in Rajasthan now allows visitors to experience some well-known sights from a new perspective. They are an exhilarating experience for all ages.”

NEIL SEALY, Business Development Manager Transindus

• Invest in videos… “Our free travel videos showcase the best the country has to offer and provide a great way for customers to experience locations and make that all-important holiday choice”

LESLEY WRIGHT International Sales Manager Travel Indochina

Virgin Atlantic will launch a new London-Heathrow to Mumbai service on October 28

in the current British comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, sums up India so very perceptively. The film, which follows a group of


retirees on an adventure through Jaipur, provides a fascinating snap-shot of the riotous sounds, smells and vibrant colours that greet all visitors to India. It’s the frantic pace of India that makes

it so addictive, but the rich culture, spiritual traditions and wonderful food leave a powerful impression, along with the poverty and bustling street scenes. Because of its sheer size, India offers a

wealth of cultural and adventure experiences: ornate palaces and pink forts in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur; fabulous trekking trails in the foothills of the

ame Judi Dench’s incisive one-liner – “India is an assault on all one’s senses” –

Himalayas; huge sandy beaches in Goa; wildlife and tiger-spotting in national parks; and cruising on a houseboat on the tranquil backwaters of Kerala. With the Golden Triangle of Delhi,

Agra and Jaipur a well-trodden path, the India Tourism Office is turning to the lesser-known regions like the unexplored north-east. Golf and polo is also being pushed, along with the opening of 107 ‘new peaks’ in the Himalayas, which will boost adventure tourism. Balaji Kandasamy, India Product Manager for Cox & Kings, says the company has seen growing interest in Sikkim in the north-east. “Formerly an independent kingdom, it

is influenced by Buddhism and the way of life is very different to the rest of India,” he said. “Remote villages give clients the opportunity to meet with the locals.” He added that more clients are looking for value-for-money options, such as home-stays or smaller owner-managed hotels with greater character.

Buddhist, tourism, clinics

Other key areas of promotion include rural and wellness

with Ayurveda and resorts

particularly popular in

Kerala. The Hodka Rural Tourism project in Gujarat, where guests stay in en-suite tents or mud huts alongside villagers, has received a PATA Gold Award for excellence. Yet the Golden Triangle remains the

most popular and price-competitive tour for first timers to India. Most clients add on a week in a beach resort in Goa or Kerala, while some opt for a luxury train tour – both excellent commission earners for agents. Travel Indochina, which sells its

small group tours through Travel 2, has a seven-day Taste of India journey

through Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan, that follows in the footsteps of Dame Judi and her co-stars trod for £780, excluding international flights.

Kerala offers a softer introduction for first-time visitors with its deserted

beaches, lush tea plantations and temples and palaces. The state has seen a huge dip in tourism since UK charters pulled out a few years ago.

However, Goa continues to thrive

thanks to Thomas Cook and Monarch charter flights in winter.


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