A group of farmers from village near Nagpur in Maharashtra recently reached a Thomas Cook office. They carried a picture of what looked like Brussels. The task for the travel experts was to design an Europe trip for this farming community and families. The travel company, after seeing a rise in demand from such groups, has come up with special Europe packages called, ‘Avismarniya Europe’ for people from Gujarat or 'Satrangi Europe’ for the Hindi belt. Similarly such packages have been designed for Tamil and Kannada communities who have cultivated a penchant for travelling and want to learn new farming techniques. “This was not a segment that we were particularly targeting nor have we launched a formal study into studying this demand.
But we are hopeful that our wide network of offline stores will help us tap into this market,” said Suraj Nair, senior vice president- strategy and planning, Thomas Cook India.The community travel demand spans from trading community who wants to see the world to the religious group interested in doing “church tours” or the holy land packages. While it is not entirely a new phenomenon, industry estimates this segment to be growing at 20% year on year. “The demand is coming mainly from tier two and tier three cities of agrarian states and is increasing every year. Most farmers want to learn new techniques of farming and couple it with a vacation,” a Cox and Kings spokesperson said. The company has hosted farmer groups to Spain for learning ways to improve their yields and Israel for techniques like drip irrigation or to study soil varieties. Travel companies say that since farming community has a tax free income, there is more disposable money that they can spend. “Many of them come to us with cash wanting to go abroad. They don’t even know how to get there or have a passport,” a senior travel company executive said. Companies usually customise their group departure packages with visits to colleges and farms to serve their special purpose. Most of the demand comes from the states of Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat. “These geographies are more developed and open to more ideas,” the Cox and Kings official said.