Weak rupee add to desi globetrotters’ woes

NEW DELHI: The Indian Rupee‘s sharp fall is proving to be the latest hurdle in the desi globetrotters’ travel plans post Omicron. While current international airfares are anyway more than double pre-Covid levels, all dollar-denominated costs like hotel stays, local travel, sightseeing, and food and beverages abroad now have got pricier due to the exchange rate shocks.
“The fluctuations in exchange rates of dollar vis-à-vis rupee has a direct impact on various sectors across the country. While the travel industry struggles to find a steady ground today, this depreciating value of the rupee clubbed with hike in crude oil prices have impacted the price point of travel components such as airfares, accommodation options, sightseeing among others. Our travel packages for the US and Australia have witnessed an increase in pricing by about 8-10% in June in comparison to May. We can anticipate a similar impact on prices in the upcoming months in case there is no relief for the rupee valuation,” Aditya Gupta, travel portal Yatra senior VP (hotels and holidays), told TOI.

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Since the peak summer travel season is over, the rupee’s freefall is as of now impacting families sending their children abroad for studies this fall, says leading Delhi-based travel agent Anil Kalsi. “In a very short period, the rupee has fallen from 75 to 80 vis-a-vis the US dollar. Families have taken loans and the cost of stay abroad has gone up significantly,” he said.
The dollar shock comes on top of astronomical airfares. “Average return economy airfares on India-London and India-New York, for instance, used to be Rs 45-50,000 and Rs 75-80,000 same time 2019. Now a London and NY return cost over Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh. Still the pent up demand far outstrips the supply and there are no seats available on most routes,” Kalsi said.
Will India become a cheaper destination for foreign inbound this coming winter due to the weaker Rupee? “Inflation is surging in India also. Input costs for travel industry service providers have gone up. So we won’t be a cheap destination for foreigners. Forget that, today middle class families in India find it cheaper to fly to Thailand for a holiday then go to, say, our pristine destination like Andamans or Goa,” said a leading travel agent who did not want to be named.
The rupee shocker comes on top of unending woes after the post Omicron reopening like massive visa delays, constantly changing testing and quarantine norms globally and high airfares.