India e-visas, new flights open doors for custom adventure packages

India e-visas, new flights open doors for custom adventure packages

VANCOUVER — Easily available e-visas and new Air Canada flights to New Delhi beginning in November are opening new opportunities for Canadian travel agents who have soft adventure clients.

India’s diverse topography is able to offer a broad range off-the-beaten soft adventure packages ranging from safari trips through game reserves to heli-skiing, a delegation of Indian adventure tour operators association members said at a meet-and-greet agent session held in Vancouver recently.

The destination planners,  participating in a U.S. and Canadian road show, assemble custom packages for travel agents with clients or groups with special interests who want to experience soft adventure outside the major cities. They work on a net basis with the Canadian agent.

“It is mainly travellers who are not from India,” said Anindye Biswas, manager of India Outskirt, a destination management company. Biswas said first and second generation Indians are not the target clientele as they have roots in the country and use friends and relatives to plan trips.

Biswas said he and other tour operators are looking to the new Air Canada connection to New Delphi out of Toronto Pearson which begins Nov. 16 to create new opportunities to bring the Canadian soft adventure traveller.

Air Canada withdrew from the India market in 2006 and from Zurich in 2007 after it found its current aircraft (284-seat Airbus A340 and the 211-seat Boeing 767) could not supply the load factors needed to generated needed revenues. Air Canada now plans to introduce the new 787 Dreamliner on its nonstop flight.

Biswas said that those travelling to India can now also apply for an e-visa online and that makes visiting the country easier. “Those two things – flights and visa – were the major hurdles,” he said.

“The outdoors adventure market in India is not very well known,” he said, adding there’s a range of activities that can be planned from visiting a game reserve and travelling by jeep to seeing rhino and Asian lions to trekking in the Himalayas.

There’s also surfing holidays in the south-western portion of India and diving on some of the islands off the coast. Cycling tours can also be arranged.

For more information on Indian Outskirts e-mail to anindya@indianoutskirts.com or visit the website at indianoutskirts.com.

Others companies participating in the Vancouver road trip included:

  • Mercury Himalayan Explorations Ltd. – The company was one of the pioneers of adventure travel beginning in the early 1980s. The company also plans trips for groups, if a Canadian travel agent wants to assemble a group or has a corporate group travelling to India. The company does jeep tours, skiing and snowboarding in Gulmarg, white water rafting, camping and trekking and has done longer 60-day excursions following the Ganges from source to sea. “We try to personalize the action holiday for the client,” said Akshay Kumar, the company CEO. The company works with a range of ages. “We took an 86-year-old client to the Everest Base Camp,” he said. The company also works with a string of boutique hotels. Contact Aksay at AKSHAY@MHE.CO.IN or visit mheadventures.com.
  • Himalayan Outdoors Pvt. Ltd. – The company offers Himalayan treks, beach and forest camping, jungle safaris, multi-day rafting and kayak expeditions, horseback riding in the desert, fishing trips, mountain biking in the Himalayas, desert and mountains, climb expeditions and youth development outdoor programs. Reach its managing director Prateek Kalia at prateek@igaindia.com or visit himalayaoutdoors.com.
  • Welcome Travels – Welcome Travel is part of Welcome Destinations Pvt. Ltd. It originally opened in the UK said managing director Ramesh Wattal. The company provides wildlife, cycle, adventure, tribal, photography, spiritual, spa and festival tours. One of the more unusual trips the company can arrange is camel trekking in the desert, he said. Contact him at rwattal@welcometravels.com or visit welcometravels.com.
  • Travel Inn – The company is a member of PATA, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Travel Operators For Tigers and the Eco Tourism Society of India. It offers wildlife safaris, bird watching, luxury travel, trekking and cultural holidays. Safaris can be provided on elephant or jeep but bird watching is also drawing in clients. “We have 1,200 different species of birds,” said Ravi Kalra, managing director of the company. He said the Canadian dollar buys good value in India and on average, the travel agents mark up the company’s itinerary by 25%. “That is still cheaper than a wholesale all-inclusive.”  Contact him at ravi.kalra@travelinn.in or visit travelinn.in.
  • KVT (Kash’ Venture Travels Pvt. Ltd.) was founded in 1985 by managing director Mohan Tickoo. The company has extensive experience in soft adventure and recreational tours and it can customize for any group or interests, said Tickoo. It offers tours for yoga, cultural and discovery, trekking and walking, family or groups, tiger spotting and wildlife safaris. The company received national awards for the 2012-2013 period as the Best Adventure Tour Operator. Contact Tickoo at mohan@kvtindia.com or visit kvtholidays.com for further information.
  • Shikhar Travel Pvt. Ltd. was founded by Capt. Swadesh Kumar, a professional pilot and mountaineer, in 1979 and adventure travel is the company’s primary focus. It offers mountaineering and trekking, cycling tours, wildlife and eco-tours, tribal tours and trips into more remote areas, yoga and meditation tours as well as camping holidays. It also can put together educational trips for schools and universities. Contact Kumar at swadesh@shikhar.com or visit shikharindiaadventuretour.com.
  • Banjara Camps and Retreats Pvt. Ltd. operates and owns three camps and retreats in off the beaten path locations in the Eastern Himachal Himalayas. It has over two decades of operating experience and offers relaxed travel. Contact director Rajesh Ojha at ojha@banjaracamps.com or visit banjaracamps.com.

For more information on destination managers or tours available, contact the India Tourism Toronto office at info@indiatourismcanada.ca.