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Travel firms set to cash in on ‘election tourism’

NEW DELHI: It’s election season and it isn’t just the country’s netas breaking a sweat over ways to woo voters. It is also peak season for the country’s travel and tour operators, who are thinking of new ways to draw in tourists.

With Lok Sabha elections coinciding with vacation season in several states, travel companies are now tailoring their marketing campaigns around polls and going so far as to offer cash discounts to those who go to vote.

Travel major Thomas Cook, for instance, has announced a ‘Ghar Jao Vote Karo’ campaign starting from March 26 to May 19, in which the company is offering cash discounts to those who book return tickets to the nearest station where they are registered to vote by showing their voter ID cards or Aadhaar as proof.

The company will also roll out post-election holiday discounts for both domestic and international individual and group travel and discounts will be offered to those who display their inked fingers at any of Thomas Cook’s retail outlets across India.

Tour operators in Gujarat have also offered week-long election packages for foreigners visiting India, which entail getting a taste of Indian elections.

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Ahmedabad-based Election Tourism India, which works with more than 35 tour companies across India, said it has received nearly 3,500 bookings for election packages from outside India.

With several election dates falling on Mondays or Thursdays, Thomas Cook data suggests travel hungry Indians could be looking to extend their weekends, leading the travel company to think of travel products tailored around the trend of ‘Election Tourism’.

“We are keen to motivate consumers to cast their vote in their home towns, which led the company to device the Ghar Jao Vote Karo campaign. We look forward to engineering a new wave of proactive social consciousness across metros as well as Tier II and III regions of the country,” said Abraham Alapatt, president and group head -marketing, service quality, value added services and innovation at Thomas Cook India.

Thomas Cook India’s Ghar Jao Vote Karo campaign will extend from March 26 to May 19, 2019, the last day of polling for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

As part of the company’s pre-election offer, customers will be offered a cash discount of Rs 1,000 per adult on return air tickets on providing proof via any official document such as their Voter ID/ Aadhaar Card.

To incentivise voting, the company will also offer a special post-voting holiday discount — Rs 3,000 on domestic group tours and Rs 5,000 on international group tours, per family. The post-voting holiday offer will remain valid up to July 19, 2019.