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Mumbai: Indian travellers are opting for shorter overseas trips to destinations such as Thailand, Singapore and Dubai and have started booking in advance to avail cheaper rates to offset the impact of the weakening rupee, according to travel operators.

On Wednesday, the rupee plunged to a new low, surpassing the 68-a-dollar mark.

“There will not be a decrease in travel, rather a shift in the plans, the destination might be changed into domestic, the hotel category might be made more affordable etc," said Mohit Gupta, chief business officer (holidays) at online travel firm MakeMyTrip Ltd. The impact is felt in the nature of travel in the leisure sector and frequency in the business travel, said Gupta.

Thomas Cook India Ltd claimed it has seen an impressive 25% growth in early bookings.

Rajeev Wagle, managing director at Indian unit of travel firm Kuoni Travel Group, said overseas travel by Indians has not been affected because of the rupee depreciation. “But if the rupee stays in the same level until year end, we have to carefully plan what products we are bringing in the summer of 2014. Meanwhile, we expect some of the customers to want a reduced Europe trip, or shift their trip to Dubai or even a domestic tour," Wagle said.

He said the travel companies have worked hard over years to reduce package costs.

“On a real-term basis, much of the packages are much more cheaper as compared to what they were five years ago. The depreciation is making them look expensive. Secondly, the affluence of the middle class has reached a level where it doesn’t affect a large part of the community at what rate the rupee is trading. The people who are on the fringe are changing itineraries to suit their pocket," Wagle said.

Stuart Crighton, chief executive officer and co-founder of Cleartrip Pvt. Ltd, said his company has posted a profit in the month of August. “We expect to see consistency in profits when we enter the fourth quarter of this year," Crighton said.

The TripAdvisor survey said short-haul destinations are becoming favourite including Goa, Shimla and Kerala in domestic sector and Thailand, Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia in international sector.

Though the cost of an overseas travel is rising, operators say it hasn’t risen to an extent that will deter holidayers. The total cost of holiday would have gone up by 5-7% overall and this is not a big jump for a person planning an international holiday, said Anil Khandelwal, chief financial officer at travel company Cox & Kings Ltd.

“This also leads to a trend where people are booking and plan their holidays differently. Indian customers have moved to start planning and booking early and this itself leads to a savings of between 15-20%," Khandelwal said.

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