As the world focuses on China’s resurgence in international travel, another primary market is making its presence known: India. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Indian travel market has been experiencing a rapid recovery since last year and is projected to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2024. Baidi Li, the Senior Vice President of Commercial for APAC at Go City®, the world’s largest multi-attraction pass business, predicts that by 2025, India will have 29 million outbound travellers, accounting for 6% of the country’s urban population.
The Indian traveller has embraced a new travel mindset, venturing out on more frequent vacations and seeking unique experiences. According to Chitra Gurnari Daga, CEO and co-founder of Thrillophilia, an India-based online travel agency (OTA), “The Indian traveler is doing a lot more travel than he or she was doing a few years ago pre-Covid.” This surge in travel is not limited to just increased frequency but also extends to in-destination activities, benefiting tour operators, activity providers, and attractions.
Thrillophilia and Go City® are set to share valuable insights on the emerging Indian traveller market at the June event of the highly anticipated Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023. Their expertise will provide essential tips for tours, activities, and experienced operators.
Indian Travelers Crave Experiences and Adventure.
A notable shift in Indian travellers’ booking habits has been observed as travel resumes in the Indian market. Indian travellers seek broader activities and experiences to enrich their holidays. The pandemic has failed to dampen their curiosity, as the number of attractions visited by Indian tourists has surged by an impressive 40% since 2019.
The Indian travel landscape is witnessing an increase in the frequency and duration of vacations. Previously, the average pre-Covid Indian traveller embarked on one holiday per year. However, Thrillophilia reports a rise in people booking one to two extended holidays per year and three to four short weekend breaks to diverse domestic and international destinations.
Moreover, Indian travellers are spending more time at each destination. Go City® data reveals that visitors to London in 2019 typically opted for three-day passes. Their passes are extended to an average of nearly five days, indicating a desire to immerse themselves fully in the local culture and attractions.
Millennial Indian Travelers: Exploring the World Together.
Millennials, in particular, are driving the demand for group tours and exploring destinations beyond India’s borders. Daga notes, “Five years ago, Millennials were not traveling outside India.” However, with affordable flights and accommodations, even Millennials with modest means are now venturing abroad.
Luxury travel is also gaining traction among Indian travellers, including Millennials in the middle-income bracket, less active older travellers and families with children and grandparents. Regardless of the budget, Indian travellers are driven by the desire to partake in activities and experiences. As Daga explains, “When people have less money, they will choose a cheaper destination. When they have more money, they will opt for a slightly more expensive one, but both travelers will engage in ample activities.”
The Role of Trust and Understanding Indian Travelers.
Trust plays a significant role in influencing the booking behaviour of Indian travellers. Many prefer to book through OTAs they trust, ensuring they receive the best value for their money. This underscores the importance of building and maintaining trust among Indian travellers.
To attract and cater to the emerging Indian market, tours, activities, and experiences, suppliers should consider specific preferences and trends. Daga offers insights into understanding Indian travellers:
- Food Takes Center Stage: The Indian traveller’s love for food is undeniable. Suppliers are advised to understand their meal preferences and offer options for authentic Indian cuisine, as Indian travellers tend to seek out Indian food even while travelling abroad.
- Luxury for Families and Older Travelers: Indian families travelling with children and often grandparents prioritize comfort and luxury. Older Indian travellers beyond 45 are less active and prefer less physically demanding activities.
- Millennial Mindset: Indian Millennials seek adventure, enjoy the vibrant nightlife, and prioritize researching online before making bookings. Positive reviews and comprehensive tour descriptions are crucial in attracting this tech-savvy segment.
In conclusion, the rapid return of Indian travellers presents an exciting opportunity for the travel industry. As Indian travellers increasingly embrace new experiences, suppliers and operators can adapt and cater to their evolving preferences. By understanding their unique requirements, offering diverse activities, and building trust, the travel industry can thrive in the wake of the Indian traveller’s resurgence.
Written by: Supaporn Pholrach (Joom)