Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kashmir : Countdown begins

Just 3 more days to go for my Kashmir trip.

Excited? Yes. But, there also is a sense of fear and apprehension somewhere lurking inside.

Two years back on our trip to the beautiful Lakshadweep, when we were being ferried from our mother ship by a small boat to the turquoise lagoon of our resort, we were all unanimous in exclaiming WOW! This is a heaven on earth. Not many had exclaimed Lakshadweep as heaven, but then not many have been to that place either. But Kashmir is a place exclaimed by many as a heaven on earth. I will be able to see this so called heaven in next one week, and if come back safely, will be able to share my experiences and photos.

The estimated cost of the trip is about 16000 per family. One of my colleagues will be accompanying. Both families are of 3 pax including a kid each. Leaving out the child, the cost will be about 8000 per head ex-Delhi. Now compare this with what is on offer with any travel agent. The cost will be 75-100% more per head, and that too ex-Srinagar. We will be travelling to Jammu by Rajdhani 3AC. Then hire a Sumo / Qualis type vehicle from Jammu and keep it for the entire 7 days of trip till return to Jammu. 4 days of confirmed accommodation booking with JKTDC resorts / hotels. No accommodation booking made for last 2 days to ensure little flexibility so that we can stay the last day either at Srinagar or Pahalgam.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Economic slowdown hits Indian tourism industry

Temperature in Delhi has been slowly rising in last few days and is currently slightly above comfortable range. February normally sees maximum number of tourist because of the pleasant temperature. But this year number of foreign tourist arrival has seen a negative growth. The global economic slowdown, coupled with the Mumbai terror attack had dealt a back breaking blow to the tourism industry.
Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) on the basis of data received from major airports. Following are the important highlights as regards these two important indicators of tourism sector.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):
· FTAs during the year 2008 were 5.37 million as compared to FTAs of 5.08 million during the year 2007. Therefore, in spite of global financial meltdown and terrorist activities, number of FTAs has increased in 2008 as compared to 2007. UNWTO has predicted a growth rate of 2-3% for international tourist arrivals in the world during 2008. Therefore, Indian Scenario (growth rate of 5.6%) is much better than world scenario.
· The number of FTAs in December 2008 has risen to 5.22 lakhs as compared to 5.21 lakhs in November 2008.

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) from Tourism in Indian rupee terms and US $ terms :
· FEE during the year 2008 were Rs. 50730 crore as compared to Rs. 44360 crore in 2007.
· FEE in US $ terms during for the year 2008 were US $ 11747 million as compared to FEE of US $ 10729 during 2007. The lower growth rate in 2008 as compared to 2007 may be mainly due to lower growth rate of FTAs in 2008 as compared to 2007 and exchange rate variation.
· FEE from tourism in December 2008 were Rs. 5083 crore as compared to Rs. 4935 crore in November 2008 and Rs. 5079 crore in December 2007.
· FEE in US $ terms during the year 2008 were US $ 1046 million as compared to US $ 1005 million in November 2008 and US $ 1287 million in December 2007. The decline in the FEE in US $ term during December 2008 vis-à-vis December 2007 is mainly due to the foreign exchange variations in these months.
[Source: Ministry of Tourism & TOI]

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kashmir : I am going there

I am yet to digest the fact that I am actually going to Kashmir! That is happening in next 30 days.

Till last year, I was of the opinion that one has many other choices of places to visit rather than risking going to Kashmir. But somehow my opinion changed after one of my colleague had a trip to Kashmir couple of months back.

Tickets have been booked. The trip will cover Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonmarg and may be Pahalgam over 7 days. Planning to stay at JKTDC accommodation at all these places. According to my colleague JKTDC facilities provide comfortable stay at very reasonable price. Looking to hire a cab from Jammu for the entire trip.

My last long trip was to the VOF almost 1 ½ year ago. But at times it seems like ages. I had been to Goa, Corbett, Bangaluru and Hampi in 2008. But all these trips had been brief trip of 2-3 days. The exception was Bangaluru where I spent about a month for training. Thus I am looking forward to this trip which I expect to be one more trip of lifetime. We have less than a month to do some serious planning and homework.

Suggestions from experienced fellow travelers to Kashmir are welcome.