Chennai, Apr 17 (PTI) Travel services firm Thomas Cook today said there is a growing interest among Indians to visit newer tourist destinations overseas as visa procedures have been simplified in many countries.

“With several countries offering simple procedures on visa process, there is a growing interest among people to go to newer markets, new destinations,” Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., Senior Vice President -Leisure Travel, Romil Pant said.

“We are seeing lot of new tourism happening to places like Japan, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and China”, he said.

On the domestic front, he said the emerging trend was to combine religious travel with a domestic trip. “If they go to Gujarat, they go to (pilgrimage place) Dwaraka and cover the entire Gujarat circuit”, Pant said.

He said Thomas Cook saw 23 per cent growth in outbound tourism from Tamil Nadu and they expected passenger growth to be in excess of 30-35 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017.

“Last year, approximately we have done about 6,000 passengers on the international side. This year we will certainly cross 11,000 seeing the trend in forward booking. In domestic, we are looking at 3,000 passengers from about 1,800 last year”, he told reporters here.

“One of the good thing is Indians have started to explore India again”, he said.

Demand from Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem continues to show impressive growth and was complemented by emerging potential witnessed from Madurai, Erode and Tiruchirapalli, he said.

He said Thomas Cook also enhanced its distribution network across 50 consumer access centres, 23 owned branches and 27 franchise outlets across 25 cities in the South Indian market.

“In Tamil Nadu, we have about 15 consumer access centres, seven owned branches and eight Gold Circle (franchise) outlets”, he said.

Noting that the state contributes about 10 per cent to overall business, he said given the strong Year-on-Year growth and high potential, “we have identified Tamil Nadu to be a key strategic focus market”.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.