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Expensive shot

Ravi Teja Sharma  |  New Delhi 

TRAVEL: Luring fans to the may prove to be tall task with complicated visa schedules, no direct flights and expensive lodging "" and the poor team performance isn't helping any!
With each passing day, the Indian cricket team seems to be sinking deeper into the sticky wicket. The indecision over the selection of players for the World Cup and their extended bad form is leading to confusion among Indian fans.
Going by the present state of affairs, it seems that most of Indian fans would be watching World Cup matches on their televisions sets, unlike in the past when Indian supporters could be found thronging the World Cup venues.
In 2003, over 20,000 Indians travelled to South Africa for the ICC This time, the number of Indians travelling to the is not even expected to cross 5,000 (unless many decide to do so at the last moment and their agents can find a way to teleport them on to the stands instantly!)
"Besides issues like the Indian team's performance, people are finding the trip very expensive. Adding to the disadvantage is the fact that it's difficult to get there as well. The part is a bit too tedious," says Shankar Viswanathan, director Sports Services, based in Bangalore.
For your information, one would have to shell out at least Rs 2.5 lakh for a week and the cost could go up to Rs 5-6 lakh, depending upon the luxury one seeks. At Rs 2.5 lakh for a week per person, a family of four would be spending Rs 10 lakh.
According to Viswanathan, traditionally, the Indian market is known to be a last minute market. Though many Indians might just decide to "pay a visit" at the last moment, a big hindrance would be getting seats on flights to the and also securing a visa to either the UK or the US (for a stopover) and a Carricom visa. For first time travellers, it might take up to a month to get these visas!
Besides visas, getting tickets to the Caribbean might be the other problem for last minute travellers. "Seats out of India to Europe or the US will be difficult to get, and so will be connecting flights from these places, where the whole world will converge to get to the islands," explains Garg.
Match tickets, however, are available in plenty, says Viswanathan. And a lot of corporates are eyeing this as an opportunity to send their staff on an incentive trip to the Caribbean "" albeit on a very selective basis. According to estimates, the trip would cost a company at least Rs 3-4 lakh a person (who would be out for at least eight to nine days).
"We have got a lot of enquires from corporates. While some are looking at sending 200 people, others are saying 50, but none have finalised their plans," says Sankalp Garg, head (India marketing and business strategies), FCM Solutions, one of the official travel agents for the ICC 2007.
Then there are others who plan to use this opportunity to take a long vacation in the US and then carry on to the West Indies. These people, of course, have booked well in advance.
But not all hope is lost. A hardcore cricket fan reportedly sent out 155 e-mails to various hotels in Barbados to get accommodation, bought March tickets online at the ICC website, and since he is so bent on getting to the Caribbean, he booked a crazy flight route to get the cheapest deal "" Mumbai-Bangalore-London-Miami-St Lucia-Barbados. So, there...

First Published: Tue, January 30 2007. 00:00 IST