[sbinews] Tourism booming

  • From: sbistcbangalore@xxxxxxxx
  • To: sbinews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 07:48:26 +0500

Tourism's booming, and so are retail forex deals 

MUMBAI: Foreign exchange and travellers cheques’ disbursements have been going 
through the roof in the past three months due to strong inbound tourist 

Leading foreign exchange companies, Thomas Cook and LKP Forex, say there has 
been an over 40% jump in business in the month of November. Forex agents in the 
city say they have not seen growth of this kind in the past several years. 
“Business has been on the upswing since the inbound season began this October 
and is expected to do well in the new year,” says Ashwani Kakkar, CEO of Thomas 
Cook India . The company has recorded a month-on-month growth of 41% in its 
forex business for November, he said. The average annualised growth for the 
company was about 10% last year. Not only have the number of inbound tourists 
risen this year, the quality has also gone up. 

Though, no figures are available, Mr Kakkar says the average spend per tourist 
has gone up. This is in keeping with attempts being made by Indian tourism 
authorities, who have targeted the ‘Incredible India’ campaign at the high-end 
global tourist. 

Amit Soni of LKP finance says, encashments have grown by over 40% in the last 
two months. LKP has the largest reach with a network of 55 branches all over 
the country. 

Forex players expect the growth to continue with increased number of outbound 
travellers in the new year. 

Buoyed by the general improvement in the economy and the bull-run in the stock 
exchange, the travel industry is expecting a boom in the market. The past three 
years have been bad for the travel industry with terrorism and Sars spoiling 
the party. 

Business travellers are also drawing more foreign exchange than before. 

The liberalised forex norms now allow business travellers to take up to $25,000 
in a calendar year, irrespective of their designation or the length of their 
stay abroad. 

They were earlier allowed only $10,000 with only senior managers being given 
permission to draw over $500 a day. The RBI also hiked the basic travel quota 
for leisure travellers from $5,000 to $10,000 in a calendar year. 

“Grey market operations such as hawala have come down as a result of the 
increased forex quota,” Mr Soni said. 

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