THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s historic visit to India earlier this year has sparked an increase in holidaymakers booking trips to the country, according to travel firms.
TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals saw a 25 per cent rise in bookings after the royal couple visited Mumbai, New Delhi and posed for an iconic image outside the Taj Mahal.
Tourism has also been boosted by the introduction of online visas with new figures showing 1,15,677 tourists entered the country under the scheme in March, compared to 25,851 in March 2015.
In addition, the visit in mid-April, the first time Prince William and Catherine travelled to India and neighbouring Bhutan, led to a surge in enquiries about visiting the region by private jet.
Sean Tipton, spokesman for travel association ABTA, told Eastern Eye: “Over a quarter of a million UK holidaymakers travel to India each year, making it one of the most popular long-haul travel choices.
“The royal visit has been a great showcase for the country and visits like these always raise interest and boost bookings.
“The classic Indian destinations remain the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan, but increasingly India is seen as an alternative package holiday destination because the beaches of Goa and waterways of Kerala. Last-minute travel to India has recently been immensely simplified with the move to online visas.
“The royal couple also travelled to the idyllic country of Bhutan where access to foreign tourists is extremely limited, so visitors to India would do well to look to the northern province of Ladakh for a similar, but more accessible, experience.”
Private jet travel for the rich and famous has been boosted by the royals’ visit, according to UK firm Skytime Jets.
The company’s CEO James Shotton told Eastern Eye: “Outside of the main airports in the country, Skytime Jets see a large amount of interest to areas such as Udaipur to stay at the Leela Palace, a five-star luxury hotel 30 minutes from the airport.
“There are no direct flights between London to Udaipur, so a private aircraft removes the need for a stop enroute – a long-range private jet could fly directly from London in nine hours. In addition, shoppers won’t have to worry about baggage allowance as it’s unlimited when flying private.”
The boost in tourism continues the trend known as the ‘Kate effect’ where brands that she buys and wears see a spike in interest from wedding dresses to baby clothing.
Nikita Sud, an associate professor at Oxford University, said the royal visit had some successes. She said: “I think the visit was a boost for the monarchy. It needs to be seen as attuned to the times. India is an economy they cannot afford to ignore.”