New Delhi : Micro light flying in Mysore, heli-skiing in Auli, scuba diving in Netrani Island, dune bashing in Jaisalmer, zip lining at Neemrana Fort, spelunking in Meghalaya, bunjee jumping in Rishikesh... All this and more! The harsh winter is no more an impediment to a great holiday.
Tourism industry comes alive in winters, offering a wide range of adventure activities for those who do not shy away from experimenting.
Film editor Sandeep Singh finds snow-capped landscape and cold winds exhilarating. For this travel junkie, winter is best suited to pack bags and set off to a new destination.
“I love travelling during the winter. I take off to the mountains. The biting cold seems to open up all my senses and makes them sharper,” Singh, an avid traveller, told IANS.
“Be it para-gliding, trekking or bunjee jumping, I do it all. My wife and friends are game for it. Winter certainly is the best time for such adventure."
Winter travellers are by no means rare species any more.
More Indians are finding winter travel exciting. That is perhaps the reason why men and women, with children in tow, make a beeline for the Himalayan spots for a glimpse of the first snowfall, or just to brave the chill.
The travel industry is exploiting the season with attractive packages.
“A winter break has become almost as mandatory for Indians as vacationing in the summer. In fact, Indians have started exploring not only domestic but also international destinations during the shorter winter break,” Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, told IANS.
The popular travel portal claimed that its bookings were 132 percent higher than the previous year in the winter season.
Added Ranjeet Oak, Chief Business Officer-Holidays, MakeMyTrip.com, India’s leading online travel company: “Winter tourism as a concept has picked up in India.
“With the growing popularity of adventure tourism in India, winter snow sports have become a hot tourist attraction. Gulmarg (Kashmir) is considered one of the best skiing destinations in the world.”
Yatra.com offers special packages like “Alluring Gangtok” (starting from Rs.10,650) to “Manali Super Saver” (starting from Rs.5,999) and “Hilly Escapades in Himachal” (starting from Rs.10,900) to woo travellers.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) acknowledges that winter is the best season for the tourism industry's growth.
Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat told IANS that winters were ideally the best season across India.
As per Assocham estimates, over 15 lakh domestic and foreign travellers would have visited tourist attractions across India in the winter (December-February).
Most demand has been for Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
Those going abroad prefer Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore and other affordable destinations.
Hari Nair, founder and CEO of Holiday IQ, told IANS that Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore were among the popular international destinations for Indians in winter.
Indians on an average spent Rs.82,000 in 2014. This rose to Rs.100,000 in 2015, said Nair, adding that average trip length of an international destination has gone up by 14 days.
Adventure travel is the biggest attraction among couples.
Nair said 52 percent of adventure travel business goes to couple-travellers. Families comprise 21 percent and only nine percent are single tourists.
He said the top 10 winter activities included trekking, wildlife safaris, paragliding, skiing, rock climbing, jet skiing, river rafting and surfing.
So get ready and strap your boots!
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