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Thomas Cook and SOTC unveil exclusive charter flights for Bhutan

In the post-pandemic era, with a rising trend of Indians becoming more discerning travelers and seeking novel destinations, Bhutan is rapidly gaining attention, experiencing a 25% growth in demand compared to the previous year. Recognizing this lucrative opportunity, Thomas Cook (India) Limited, the leading omnichannel travel services company in India, along with its Group Company, SOTC Travel, has introduced an innovative initiative – exclusive charter flights to Paro (Bhutan) from Bengaluru, commencing in April 2024.

South India holds strategic importance for Thomas Cook & SOTC Travel, currently contributing over 45% to the companies’ business towards the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, and this share is expanding. However, a significant challenge lies in the absence of direct air connectivity from India’s southern region, leading to increased costs (approximately 15%) and inconvenience due to multiple flights, airport/terminal changes, and various check-ins and baggage handling processes. This challenge has spurred the companies to adopt a Blue Ocean strategy, addressing the gap with the launch of special charters to Bhutan from Bengaluru.

Bengaluru serves as a pivotal gateway, providing Thomas Cook and SOTC with enhanced access through a hub-and-spoke model to not only Karnataka but also the broader Southern region’s potent and growing source markets.
The Bhutan charters by Thomas Cook and SOTC cater to group tours (GIT), individual travel (FIT), and ad-hoc groups, targeting diverse segments such as multigenerational families, groups of friends, couples/honeymooners, and Young India.

The companies’ Bhutan Charter product incorporates curated experiences, including visits to Bhutan’s sought-after monasteries like Taktsang Palphug, Rinpung Dzong, and the ancient Punakha Dzong. Other highlights include exploring the weekend market in Thimphu, learning archery, experiencing hot stone therapy at natural hot springs, and sightseeing near Bhutan’s oldest walking suspension bridge – the Punakha Suspension Bridge. The tour also encompasses local Bhutanese meals, farmhouse lunches, beer tasting with snacks at Paro, and a local Bhutanese guide accompanying the tour.

To ensure customer confidence and support, all charters to Bhutan by Thomas Cook and SOTC will be led by the companies’ expert tour managers from Bengaluru.

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said, “Innovation is in our DNA, and the launch of our exclusive charters from Bengaluru is a smart strategy to leverage the growing interest towards the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. South India has contributed the largest share to Bhutan and is a significant and growing market that we intend to tap via the launch of our charter departures. To inspire customers from this high growth market, we have designed a unique portfolio of products that offer the best of Bhutan. Bengaluru was chosen due to its central location and ease in connectivity across key source markets of South India.

Daniel D’souza President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel Limited, said, “2024 marks the 75th anniversary of SOTC, and our announcement of charter departures to Bhutan is a first mover to capitalise on the uptick in demand. Our newly launched charter departures to Bhutan with Bengaluru as the gateway, offers our travellers from South India the benefits of ease and convenience with direct and exclusive flights to the destination.
Based on customer feedback, we have included experiences that are different from our traditional products.
We are working closely with Bhutan Tourism and key local partners and will continue to enrich our products to delight Indian customers.”

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