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Sunset in Goa

Sunset in Goa

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A diplomatic row may mean the New Year is a great time to pick up a bargain holiday in India says Jeremy Gates.

A sharp rise in the cost of a visa for British visitors to India is hitting the sales of holidays there and could see package prices falling in 2014.

Platon Loizou at Jewel in the Crown, an operator specialising in winter breaks to Goa, says: “An unfortunate diplomatic tiff is producing a difficult situation. Firstly the British Government sharply increased the cost of a visa for applicants from the India sub-continent to come to Britain, following criticism of the number people coming to this country to marry partners already here. India then sharply increased visa charges in retaliation.”

The total cost of a visa has now leapt up to £112, which comes as quite a blow for the many tourists.

But there is a flip-side to all this, and as rising visa costs put people off travelling to the area, tour operators try to entice them back with lower prices.

Loizou predicts that packages early in 2014 could become particularly attractive if bookings remain at their slow rate. For example, departing from Manchester, flight-onlys in early January start at £429 return, with two weeks’ B&B from £469 and four weeks’ B&B from £963. Jewel in the Crown’s winter programme to Goa also flies from Gatwick.

And it seems change is also afoot in trends for young holidaymakers. After a spate of TV documentaries showing British youngsters terrorising locals in popular Spanish and Greek holiday resorts, has the penny finally dropped for our twenty and thirty-somethings?

In a major departure from the high jinks of Club 18-30 style breaks, Britain’s biggest tour operator is now offering clubbers the prospect of a quiet, stylish hotel where they can actually get some sleep. Thomson Holidays’s new hotel concept is called Thomson Scene, and is aimed at 25 to 35-year-olds looking for a vibrant nightlife, but also looking for stays in sophisticated hotels in quieter parts of the resort.

The nine hotels in the scene programme – in destinations including Corfu, Cancun, Rhodes Mykonos, Marmaris and Santorini – promise “cool and contemporary surroundings”. They will serve late breakfasts until noon, meaning guests can sleep well into the morning after a lively night out, and will also boast stylish, chilled-out pool areas and free Wi-Fi, ensuring guests can browse the web from their sun-beds and brag about their holiday in real time.

Lead-in price for the programme is £535, for seven nights’ B&B at the four-star Thomson Scene Hotel on Corfu in early May, with return flights ex-Manchester.

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