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Hotel room glut makes Southeast Asian tourist hubs cheaper

  1. Indian

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    NEW DELHI: If you couldn't find a ticket to Singapore or Bangkok during the Independence Day weekend, don't worry — overseas travel package prices have fallen 15-20% and could drop further.

    A hotel room glut in Southeast Asian tourist hubs such as Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, besides Dubai, has led to a dip in hotel tariffs in these cities, helping travel agents offer attractive deals — among the best in more than a year despite airfares not changing much.

    "We have very good hotel inventory in Thailand, where prices have dropped, which allows us to offer up to 70% discounts on hotels," said Vikram Malhi, managing director of online travel agent Expedia Asia. "In Singapore, we are able to get up to 30% discount on hotel stays and between 45% and 50% in Malaysia. A flight and hotel package combo will therefore become cheaper for the next few months."


    Thomas Cook is offering a discount of up to 25% on trips to Turkey. Makemytrip's Hong Kong packages start at about Rs 12,500 per night per person, including airfare. Airline companies too have jumped on the bandwagon. Through September and October, Indigo is offering four-night packages for Bangkok and Pattaya for Rs 22,500 to Rs 25,000, including airfare, taxes, stay, transfers, sightseeing tours, hotel air balloon ride and a topped up SIM card.

    "Airfares to Southeast Asian destinations are already very low, and combined with cheap hotel tariffs the overall packages have become extremely attractive," said a senior airline executive who did not want to be named.

    Travel agents say prices of holiday packages have come down in the past two-three years, despite a weakening rupee, as airfares have dropped due to increasing competition led by a few budget carriers. But the impact of airfares is minimal compared with the drop in hotel prices.

    Expedia said that travel costs for Indian tourists this year are down 15-20% from last year, mainly because of airfare sales and hotel discounts. Apart from that travellers have become savvy enough to get good deals, especially through online channels.

    Many holidaymakers are choosing to travel in August and September, avoiding the summer rush and getting discounts of about 20% from peak prices. Karan Anand, relationships head at Cox & Kings, said the travel agency has seen a pickup of at least 15% in bookings for the July-September period from the year earlier.

    "Our hotel packages to destinations like Thailand, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia start in the range of Rs 3,000-Rs 4,500 ($50 to $75) per night in superior four-star properties and that makes them exciting for customers," he said. Travel portal Yatra.com said that despite an incremental increase in no-frills carrier fares, Indians still prefer going overseas, partly because most popular destinations within the country are far more expensive.

    "Three to five-star hotels in Goa and Kerala are obnoxiously expensive. Similar properties in Southeast Asian cities, with better service quality, are up to 50% cheaper, which makes travelling to locations such as Thailand or Malaysia cheaper," said Sabiha Chopra, cofounder of Yatra.com.

    Shibani Phadkar, senior vice-president and head of outbound leisure travel at Thomas Cook, said the rupee's stabilisation in recent months has also helped. "Customers are value conscious and are increasingly driven by the content of the package instead of the basic essentials," she said. According to a study by international booking website hotels.com, the favourite destinations for Indians this year include Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, London and New York.
    Hotel room glut makes Southeast Asian tourist hubs cheaper - The Times of India