Asia specialists see more interest from families

By Johanna Jainchill
India Mehrangarh Fort ZiplineFor Americans planning a kid-friendly vacation, Asia is hardly the first destination to come to mind, but Asia specialists say that is changing.

Geringer Global Travel, which specializes in outbound travel to India, recently introduced the India Family Odyssey, a trip geared toward grandparents, parents and children alike.

"We are seeing a growth in American families visiting India," said owner Susan Geringer. "Many European families already travel to India, and we have noticed an increase among American families as they search for more exotic places to take their children."

Geringer said that after doing a number of mother-daughter trips to India, expanding to a family itinerary was a natural progression. She said that while Indian-American families and Europeans bring babies to India, Americans are most comfortable traveling to India with teenagers, but some do come with younger children.

Geringer's new tour goes to India's most popular destinations and attractions, like Delhi, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, and includes kid-friendly activities like a kite-making lesson with a local family, wildlife spotting during a safari in Ranthambore National Park, a visit to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility and a camel cart ride in Samode.

Families with older children, Geringer said, can add on a hot-air balloon ride in Jaipur and the ziplining adventure at Mehrangarh Fort.

Staci Fialkoff, president of Source International Travel in Laguna Niguel, Calif., said that Asia now has many attractions geared toward younger travelers.

"In the past, Asia was known more for business, shopping and luxury hotels, but that has definitely changed in the last few years," she said. "Now you have animal attractions, like the Night Safari in Singapore, or Siam Ocean World aquarium in the middle of Bangkok's shopping district plus other remote areas, like visiting the fascinating elephant camps in the Chiang Mai area. Beyond being attractions, they also educate."

She also noted that Asia now has major theme parks such as Disney and Universal Studios in Japan.

"I wouldn't suggest that as a reason to go to those major cities, but it does give an added attraction for kids accompanying their parents," she said.

Fialkoff also noted that historical attractions like the Angkor Wat ruins in Cambodia or the Great Wall of China provide physically active sightseeing that appeals to children and adults.

"I look at it as an opportunity for the whole family to have fun experiences, while educating them on the interesting cultures you find in each Asian country."

For a family of four, Geringer's 14-day tour price per person is $3,158. Geringer pays travel agents 10% commission. Visit www.geringerglobaltravel.com.  

Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw. 
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