Beijing games fail to lure Indians


Indians might have emerged as the new hope for the world travel and tourism industry, but they seem to be giving a miss to the month-long Beijing Olympics slated to begin next month.

Not many tour operators have received a great response for the mega event. There have been stray enquiries and the numbers have been anything but encouraging, several tour operators told Business Standard.

The visit, mind you, is not too expensive. Hotels in Beijing have slashed rates for the Olympics and availability of rooms wouldn’t be a problem if one does land up at Beijing. The room rates start from $40 per night, depending on the type of hotel you want to stay in.

Getting the visa doesn’t seem to be too much of a trouble as well. If one is planning on coming to China to watch the Games, you will need a tourist/ family visit (L) visa. Depending on your nationality and the time you intend to stay, this visa will cost between $30 and $90. It takes about four days for this visa to be processed.

Flight tickets are relatively cheap if one intends to travel to Beijing. A return trip would be available from Rs 40,000 going up to Rs 75,000.

The hitch, said tour operators, is in getting the tickets for the sporting events. Tickets are available online and one can take a punt on getting it at the venue as well but chances of that happening are slim. China is expecting a large number of visitors during the Olympics from all over the world. The number of Indians, though, would be quite less.

“The idea of not getting to see your desired sporting event deters people from going to Olympics,” said Zakir Ahmed of Trust Travel. As a result, he added, enquiries have been far and few. “Though it might rise close to the event,” he adds.

Still, to imbibe the Olympic mood and take a chance on the tickets, there are plenty of packages available. Take SOTC’s suggested four-day-three-night trip to Beijing during the Olympics, which costs Rs 136,050 ex-Mumbai on a twin-sharing basis. This includes air fare, visa, stay in a four-star hotel and sightseeing. Taking a chance on the tickets is quite a big risk.

According to P Srinivas, senior vice-president (special tours) SOTC, the response for such events has not been bad: “It is largely groups of friends and family travelling to catch a sports event who form the majority here.”