18 SEP 2015: The big takeaway from India’s recent tradeshow: Incredible India is open for exploration; and, to boot it’s a beacon for active travel that can be added to clients’ standard itineraries.  

Sure there’s the Taj Mahal in Agra, the buzz of Delhi and the majesty of Jaipur, all of which encompass the legendary Golden Triangle but there’s so much more.

India is turning to its own backyard, to its vast wilderness and big nature products as a way to entice Canadian arrivals. There’s lots of outdoor adventure and of course, the great Himalayan mountain range, of which 73 percent lies within India, is a huge attraction.

With the surge in millennial travel and the trend toward experiential travel, the country that brought us Bollywood, yoga, and curry is set to deliver an out-of-this-world experience.

Outdoor Adventure Tour Operators

At the India Tourism tradeshow held in Toronto, seven tour operators which reportedly are the best in India showcased the newest, most exotic ways to experience their country. The marketplace was followed by dinner presentations from the Consul General of India, Akhilesh Mishra, and the director of the India Tourism Office in Canada, Anil Oraw.

Guests heard that findings from a joint study from ATTA and the UNWTO indicate 41 percent of outbound travel from North America is adventure travel-related, and as one India tourism insider noted, “within that segment the fastest growing segment is soft family adventure activities.”

Now for more on India’s big adventures:

Mercury Himalayan Explorations Ltd (www.mheadventures.com)

Regarded as India’s largest adventure travel company it offers luxury camps, white-water rafting, self-drive tours, skiing trips, and trekking and climbing expeditions.

You know your clients will be in good hands when you meet Akshay Kumar, the humble CEO who hails from India’s outdoor adventure family dynasty. His dad Colonel Narendra “Bull” Kumar reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1965. He is India’s most celebrated mountaineer, and his sister was India’s first Winter Olympiad. She competed with alpine skiers at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

“We had no choice,” he smiles of his career path and reveals he’s also the president of the Adventure Travel Association of India (ATOAI).

The other outdoor cool not typically associated with India is hockey. Akshay is such an avid ice hockey fan he’s the founder and director of the Ice Hockey Association of India; and, he had the head coach of India’s National Hockey Team, an expat New Yorker with him discussing another fun outdoor product: ice hockey trips.

Adam Sherlip, the head coach of Team India for the upcoming game with the Brampton Beasts says, “We do hockey trips in Ladakh in northern India,” and noted “We announced Team India will be in Brampton in two weeks.”

That is an historic event says Sherlip, as it’s the first time Team India will travel to Canada.

Picture hockey camps sandwiched between Tibet and Pakistan. This little Tibetan Buddhist region on the rugged, high altitude desert lies on the legendary Silk Road route.

For more hockey details contact the Hockey Foundation on Facebook or adam@hockeyfoundation.org

Banjara Camps and Retreats

http://www.banjaracamps.com/

Is it possible to trek the Himalayas? With this leading adventure travel company and its Swiss-style cottages - yes, it is.

Rajesh Ojha is the founder of Banjara meaning nomad, the travel company that pioneered Himalayan retreats in India. After completing his Masters Degree in Philosophy he wound up in the storied region, created a lodge in a heavenly valley and realized others would be inspired by this magnificent place.

“I call myself a super specialist of India,” he grins, admitting that he has survived the rigors of to Base Camp three times, and explains his company is Himalayan-only adventure with its epic 67-day route that traipses along the 3,500 km Great Himalayan Traverse. Of course clients don’t always have 67 days so this route he notes is often done as separate trips four to five times.

His company can tailor-make itineraries and is popular with families who wish to breathe some fresh respite during the annual Indian summers.

The fully escorted tours go into remote areas for life altering experiences.

“We started with unknown stand alone properties in the deep Himalayas then we started to organize trips then a few hundred became a few thousand, then we started tours to Ladakh,” Ojha says on the spiralling growth to a product that once was a small niche which he describes is now, “small mainstream for a particular set of people.”

KVT

http://www.kvtholidays.com

Often revered as the guiding light of India’s outdoor travel industry, Mohan Tickoo, the founder of KVT Holidays, is surrounded by agents listening to his every word as he describes how clients can explore India via experiential travel.

The niche adventure trips his award-winning active travel company organizes include a heavy sustainable component with various community programmes. For instance, clients can enjoy tiger viewing at such national parks as Bandhavgarh, Kanha and the Pench Tiger Reserve and later visit a local school in a small nearby village to interact with students and observe a cricket match.

His company works with charities like the Friends of Conservation India UK where clients can make a donation to help fund sustainable initiatives and ongoing school programmes in India.

Extra Travel Points

The India Tourism Office recently introduced seamless online visa applications and judging by all accounts the process appears to be fast and efficient. Guests heard during the dinner presentation how one client received his visa in roughly 24 hours.

Visa application forms can be downloaded at

http://www.cgitoronto.ca/

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

Expect more lift

Air Canada will start a new YYZ-DEL direct route starting November 01, with four times weekly service aboard the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

End Note: From new jungle trips to heading into a national park in search of the illusive tiger to challenging the longest rivers to skiing 30,000 feet above sea level or experiencing the world’s longest coastline, agents have come across a treasure trove of outdoor travel possibilities and thankfully there are leading tour operators based on the ground in India that can help assist you.

 

INCREDIBLE INDIA

author

Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

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