03-09 Sep, 2013
small world
The Rupeenomics of Recession Travel
The struggling rupee has clipped the wings of Indian travellers but has boosted inbound tourism

NEW DELHI An estimated 14 million Indians travel abroad every year. But as the rupee slides, many who were headed to Europe or the United States are instead travelling to cheaper destinations like South-east Asia or Australia.

Since late April, the Indian rupee has lost a fifth of its dollar value. Travel agents say that countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia have become popular destinations for short holidays. “People are switching from long-haul holidays in Europe and the US to short-haul ones in these countries,” says Vinay Gupta, who heads the Northern Division of the Travel Agents Association of India. Philippines is an emerging choice for Indians looking for honeymoon or family holiday destinations. “It is a critical period for us till the rupee stabilises,” he says.

However, there are travellers who, instead of cancelling their trips to the West, plan to shorten itineraries and scale back on accommodation. “We have noted some postponement in travel plans but not cancellations,” says Rajesh Magow, co-founder and CEO of Makemytrip.com. “Most of the bookings were made in advance [when the dollar was not so expensive] and so not much has been affected yet.”

Kanjilal Gour, President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, says the sliding rupee has a positive side too. “Many foreign tourists have been extending their trips to other cities like Udaipur, Gwalior, Mumbai and even Orissa. These aren’t on the regular tourist map for foreign travellers,” he says. “Shopping is an added attraction now.”

Gour sees this as an opportunity to increase travel within India, but the positive impact will only be visible next year. “India is an exotic destination, so foreign travellers plan in advance. The upcoming season (between October and February) looks promising,” he says. Magow feels there is a market for short-haul trips, activity-based holidays and off-beat destinations in India. When it’s not possible to go around the world in $8 like Raj Kapoor, it makes sense to go around India in a little more.

When NYT Dropped the F Bomb

The New York Times, that paragon of enduring virtue in the grim world of contemporary newspaper journalism, which tolerates no expletives or profanities in its copy, recently dropped its first ‘F’ bomb. The website Salon reported Monday that this was the first ever instance of the paper printing the word ‘fuck’. As part of a feature on the rooms where writers work, the 25 August 2013 issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine carried the opening lines of four new books, among which was Jonathan Lethem’s new novel Dissident Gardens, which opens: ‘Quit fucking black cops or get booted from the Communist party.’ Salon later added a correction to the piece, acknowledging that—as several tweeters and a piece on Slate had already pointed out—the NYT had, in fact, printed the word once before. This was in 1998, when the paper reproduced the entire text of the Starr Report—an investigative report on then US President Bill Clinton. The word ‘fuck’ had then been printed as part of a quote from Monica Lewinsky in the report.

Tribute to Ray

After 50 years as the film critic for The Observer, around his 80th birthday, Philip French is about to retire. In a wide-ranging interview to The Guardian, which also covered his favourite films, French spoke in glowing terms about Satyajit Ray’s films. Asked which eight reels he’d take on a deserted island, he replied, “It changes all the time, but I would definitely take Singin’ in the Rain (directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly), Stagecoach by John Ford, either Hitchcock’s North by Northwest or The Lady Vanishes, Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, and at least one of Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy—he’s one of my great heroes, Ray, and one of the most impressive directors or men that I’ve ever met.”