Its beaches and nightlife may still be attractive, but Bangkok’s lure seems to have been replaced by Dubai’s gold.
According to the hotel price index survey by for the first half of 2014, Indian travellers prefer Dubai over Bangkok, pushing Thailand’s capital to the third spot, after Singapore.
Bangkok had held the top spot for two consecutive years, in the first half of 2012 and 2013.
Travel agents said this is in line with recent trends in the city. As a hot spot and especially as a shopping destination for gold, Dubai has seen a surge of travellers, with many low-cost carriers such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India Express increasingly flying to West Asia.
In the past year alone, has seen a 74 per cent increase in holiday packages to Dubai, from across the country, and doubling of bookings from Chennai, said president Sharat Dhall.
“It has become a haven for Indians interested in investing in gold,” he said.
“Over the past few years, Bangkok has not had much that is new on offer, whereas Dubai has promoted a host of attractions. Apart from Burj Khalifa and the shopping festival, there is Atlantis hotel, skydiving, and most importantly, the gold souks — travellers now want to spend at least half a day there,” said Charanya Ramesh, CEO of city-based Shakthi Tours and Travels.
With attractive discounts of 40 to 50 per cent, and offers such as ‘no-making charges’, travellers do not mind paying duty, said Ms. Ramesh. Also, travellers now extend their Dubai trips to about a week as they enjoy visiting Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World and going to Sharjah too.
“Last year, we sent around 700 persons to Dubai — the maximum number to any destination,” said Tushar Jain, director, in Chennai. “There is something for everybody there – for adults and children,” he said.
Thomas Cook vice president Jatinder Paul Singh said Dubai had witnessed a growth trend of over 35 per cent.
According to the World Travel Market’s 2012 global trends report, Dubai is benefiting the most from Indians shopping for gold, with the first quarter of 2012 seeing gold worth USD five billion exported from Dubai to India. Also, inbound trips from India to Gulf countries are forecast to post a compound annual growth rate of almost seven per cent from 2012 to 2016, fuelled by growing disposable incomes.