India is a land of festivals. A country as diverse as India is home to small and large festivals, be it the Kumbh Mela or the 10-day Ganesh festival that’s celebrated with enthusiasm across different strata of society.
Festivals provide people with an opportunity to learn and understand cultures and traditions alien to them and also help in relating to them and understanding a different point of view.
Globally, countries have realized the need to promote such festivals and many National Tourism Organisations promote them extensively in India.
If one recalls, the first to do so long ago was Singapore with its food festival over 25 years ago and that kindled interest amongst Indians in the various aspects of Singapore. Then came the shopping festival and so on and so forth. Other destinations such as Dubai, Thailand and Malaysia followed suit and it was part of the tourism calendar for these destinations.
Not to be outdone other destinations also followed suit. For example, Oktoberfest, the annual festival held in Munich, Germany in October has gradually caught the attention of the Indian outbound market.
With Covid-19 receding in the background, festivals on food, shopping or culture have emerged as a major tourist attraction for a large number of Indians. The Indian outbound travel industry is marketing such tourist programmes extensively in India and there is a huge market for the same. Festivals are the time when travellers visit destinations in large numbers and this is focused more on Double Income No Kids (DINKS), and the millennials who have time with them. Most of these festivals are held during the off-season overseas and this generally discourages families with children, but the potential is huge to be ignored.
The selling point of National Tourism Organisations is to position these are valuable additions to the regular tourist circuit. It is also a time when Indians get huge bargains at retail outlets and this has been exemplified by the huge success of the Dubai Shopping Festival.
In a world driven by divisions, such tourism activities are platforms to showcase the myriad offerings and educate and correct perceptions on various activities of the host country. One gets to learn more and understand the other viewpoint.
Covid-19 had paused many of these events and the revival of festival tourism in the last two years has led to a growth in the number of Indians travelling overseas for such festivals. It also provides tour operators and MICE companies to showcase the destination.
This new revenue stream for tour operators can act as a catalyst in promoting the country and also help tour operators in India to diversify their revenue streams as they emerge from the brutal impact of Covid-19.