Holiday packages to Thailand with even Jain food if you desire

June 3rd, 2011 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Tourism Authority of Thailand Patong (Thailand), June 3 (IANS) To tap the growing wanderlust among Indians, the Thai hospitality industry has joined hands with Indian firms with packages to suit their pockets and palettes that even have options of regional Indian vegetarian cuisine.”We are forming new partnerships with Indian companies so that this trend of growth in the tourism sector continues even further,” Bangornrat Chinaprayoon, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, told IANS in this southern island province of Thailand.

“We cannot ignore a country like India. We understand the needs of people from various Indian states and the religious sentiments. So we have encouraged our tourism industry to draw up packages accordingly,” Chinaprayoon said.

“Last year we had 30,000 Indians in Phuket, while Thailand as a whole received nearly a million. This year, thanks to these new initiatives, we expect this number in Phuket to double, and overall in Thailand to increase by 25 percent.”

According to Chinaprayoon, the Thai government has been taking keen interest since 2009 to promote regional tourism from Asia, and India is one of the key markets.

Her sentiments were shared by senior government functionaries like Deputy Governor of Phuket Wirawat Chanphen, who told IANS that the coming together of Indian firms and their Thai counterparts would become a recipe for success for both sides.

One such collaboration has been forged by online travel trade major MakeMyTrip.com that has launched packages to Thailand on chartered flights, where clients also get to pick their food — from normal Punjabi cuisine to Jain vegeratian without onions and garlic.

According to the company, the twice-a-week flight service to Phuket and Bangkok from New Delhi on all Saturdays and Tuesdays on hired Kingfisher Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft has attracted 100 percent bookings till mid-June.

“Our services are inclusive of economy ticket, stay, excursions and food, which includes any type of Indian food the traveller may desire,” said Keyur Joshi, the chief operating officer and co-founder of MakeMyTrip.com.

“We have received tremendous amount of interest. Increasing number of Indian people are now demanding affordable travel with comforts abroad. With packages like ours, all their needs — from food and stay to excursions and shopping — are taken care of,” Joshi added.

He said the company is currently offering five travel packages inclusive of flight tickets from New Delhi to Thailand starting from Rs.33,000 per person to Rs. 44,000 per person, with stays at four-star to five-star hotels.

Chinaprayoon said steps like visa on arrival, complimentary Sim cards that just have to be topped up for the denomination desired and training to hospitality industry staff to cook Indian fare and speak English have gone a long way in promoting Thailand.

“An Indian traveller can now also get hassle-free travel experience directly to Phuket, which is a far more affordable destination than other options. Our local industry also is happy as it gets assured footfalls and customers from packages,” she added.

This is corroborated by David Lance, operations director of Courtyard Marriot in Patong. “We have a huge variety of Indian food — we can even cater to Jains, Buddhists, south Indians. We also include a lot of Thai vegetarian food.”

(Rohit Vaid can be reached at rohit.v@iansin and biz@ians.in)

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