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My big fat villa
The Indian family on vacation is a large one. And today it would rather not disintegrate into fractions and hotel rooms. It checks itself instead into large villas, whether on the beaches of Goa or Nice. If the villa was the erstwhile seat of a colourful French aristocrat, that just adds to the fun. Kashmira Commissariat, COO Outbound Division at Kuoni India, says that the increasing popularity of villa and castle stays among Indians is a manifestation of the desire to move up the social ladder. "Villas offer luxury which makes travellers feel pampered and special, " she says. Luxury travellers, says Commissariat, do not desire to have the latest luxury experience but opt for the 'me' experience - totally customised. Villas and castles in Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England and France are the most sought-after. "People hope to enjoy a slice of royal living, " says Commissariat. Mitali Sharma, a young Mumbai fashion student who recently returned from a grand trip to Rajasthan with her family, would agree. The Sharma family stayed in a Rajasthani haveli, complete with a vintage car adorned with a crest and parked in a sweeping porch. Impressively mustachioed men in breeches wheeled in dinner trolleys, collected laundry and also rattle off the royal lineage of the haveli.
They even spent an evening playing polo with the erstwhile royalty. "We would play cards and antakshari well into the night, screaming and laughing without worrying about upsetting neighbours. We didn't need to wake up in time to make it for the hotel breakfast or share our swimming pool with unknown travellers, " she says.
Indians love villas, but they insist on being serviced. "There's no point going on a vacation and doing housework as well, " says homemaker Deepali Shah, who was tempted by grand photos of a Moroccan villa on the internet only to find that it has no cleaning or cooking arrangements.
Several business families that treat London as their summer home rent serviced apartments situated comfortably close to shopping districts for months together. They travel with their maharaj who whips up good Marwari/Gujarati meals with exotic vegetables in the heart of south Kensington. The baby's nanny and the pre-teen's tuition teacher travel along to make life easy for the 'yummy mummy'.
Frangelica Flook, spokesperson for UK-based luxury travel agency Abercrombie & Kent, which ushers travellers into Greek luxury villas, ski chalets nestled in the French Alps - complete with ski hosts, chefs, chauffeurs and housekeepers - as well as mountain lodges in Wyoming, says Indians are increasingly demanding villa stays. The clamour is particularly high among those traveling to the south of France and Italy.
"Indian families travel with multiple generations so we suggest villas which suit multi-generational use: those with areas suitable for children and private annexes for grandparents who might want a degree of privacy. Local chefs are often requested for occasional meals, especially those familiar with providing high quality Indian cuisine, " says Flook.
More than 11 million tourists travelled out of India in 2009-2010
India recorded a total of 5. 4 million tourists coming in. Of the inbound tourists more than 2 million are returning NRIs
The largest number of visitors to India is from the US followed by the UK, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Canada
India is a big draw for middle aged tourists. Age-segregated data of foreign tourist arrivals shows that about 17% OF TOURISTS WERE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 35-44 followed by 16% who were between 45-54 years of age
About 89% of foreign tourists enter India by air while 10. 2% use the land route and only 0. 7% use the sea route
Gender-segregated data of foreign tourist arrivals in 2008 showed that the average number of women tourist arrivals was the lowest from West Asia (21%) while it was the highest from Central and South America (44%)
Tourism industry contributes almost 6% TO GDP AND EMPLOYS 9% OF THE EMPLOYED. For every Rs 1 million of investment, the number of jobs created by industry is 18, by agriculture 45 and by travel and tourism 78
Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner, after IT. It earned Rs 64, 000 crore in 2010
The most popular monument for domestic and foreign tourists in India is the Taj Mahal, Agra. IN 2008, THE TAJ RECEIVED 28 LAKH DOMESTIC TOURISTS AND ABOUT 6 LAKH FOREIGN TOURISTS. The other popular monuments for domestic tourists include Red Fort (Delhi), Qutub Minar (Delhi), Sun Temple (Konarak), Charminar (Hyderabad). For foreign tourists, Agra Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb and Fatehpur Sikri are among the top five monuments
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