Sports travel has shown promise in India, with last year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia registering close to 4,500 travelling Indian supporters. India is gearing up for its de-facto national sport’s biggest competition, and premium options have emerged for those willing to spend the extra buck for a special experience.
“Being the official travel agent in India for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, we offer only the platinum and gold packages, and seating. It is luxury or nothing,” says Naveen Kundu, managing director at Mercury Travels, whose sports brand is Leisure Sports Travel. “We are hoping to close bookings for around 5,000 people for the tournament. We have already taken large bookings for corporates,” he adds. The World Cup is to be held between May 30 and July 14 in England and Wales.
“Our premium ticket and accommodation packages start at around Rs.250,000 per person and go up to Rs.650,000. We can also include air travel at the client’s request for an added cost. Our luxury hospitality packages are generally for two-nights stay in a five-star hotel and offer premium pavilion balcony seating, along with complimentary liquor and three-course lunches,” says Kundu. As the official partner, it also provides customers with accreditation for special events, access to practice sessions on the eve of the match and dinner with legends of the past and the present.
Delhi-based La Vacanza Travel has also made its way into the niche luxury sports tourism industry. “We have already booked around 120 packages for the upcoming Cricket World Cup. We expect booking for around 250-300 packages this season. Each package would be for two or more people,” says Shad Siddiqui, managing director at La Vacanza Travel. “India versus Pakistan, as always, is the hottest match of the season. The tickets are sold out.”
“We don’t take corporate bookings. We only take retail bookings for people who are really enthusiastic for the sport. A typical package that we offer is usually three nights, all inclusive of airfare, all transfers, match tickets and accommodation. Such packages are mostly priced between Rs.200,000 and Rs.400,000, and can go up to Rs.1 million,” adds Siddiqui.
“Since the World Cup this time will be during peak holiday season, leisure travellers don’t mind adding a cricket match to their list of activities. Also, those who go there for the World Cup like to visit landmarks and do some sightseeing, that’s why we keep our packages fully customisable. People sometimes even extend their three-night stay to a week,” says Siddiqui. “Inclusive in our packages are hop-on hop-off tours of London, Birmingham and Manchester, depending on the city the fans are travelling to, for their games.”
Apart from cricket, luxury tours for tennis and F1 have found footing in India. “We have takers for Abu Dhabi, Monaco, Singapore and Bahrain Grand Prix too. Wimbledon tours are also popular,” says Siddiqui.
“We are constantly exploring newer sports to take Indians closer to. We have a large network with sports agencies and affiliates around the world, and we are aiming to be India’s number one choice in this segment,” says Kundu.