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Outbound travel to grow further in 2014

While the Rupee depreciation did cause a dip in outbound travel, it did not deter Indians from taking their international vacations. It just meant expenditure was lower while on it. Numbers to most of the popular destinations continued to rise from the country. 2013 was a fruitful year for Dubai. The destination notched 15 per cent growth from January – September over the same three quarters in 2012. According to Carl Vaz, Director, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) India, they aim to maintain double digit growth in 2014, and welcome over one million tourists to Dubai in 2015.
 
Indian footfall to Spain has increased approximately 20 per cent from the last year, although the growth was slower than the last few years. From January to October 2013, Indian arrivals to New Zealand increased 2 per cent compared to the same period in 2012. As of July 2013, 67,096 Indian tourists visited South Africa between January to July 2013 which is an increase of 8.2 per cent vis-à-vis the same period last year. Even Thailand, which has been embroiled in a political turmoil of its own, welcomed 958,921 Indian travellers, representing a 4.07 per cent increase over 2012.

Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia India called the Indian market is a significant contributor in visitor arrivals and has proven to be a strong and viable venture for Malaysia. In 2014, Malaysia will celebrate its fourth Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) with the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia”. Indonesia started the year 2013 with an expectation of 200,000 Indians in 2013, and has notched a significant growth through the year. India is currently Indonesia’s 11th largest source market, with Malaysia, Singapore and Australia leading the list. With Garuda Indonesia set to start India operations in 2014, they have an optimistic outlook for the year.

Oman has recorded enough of an increase from India to move its sights to tier II cities to woo travellers. Abu Dhabi, which recorded India as its largest source market halfway through 2013, organised its largest roadshow in India last year to woo more travellers.
 
VisitBritain, which receives over 330,000 Indian visitors annually now, aims to attract 425,000 visits from India by 2016. According to Shivali Suri, Country Manager, Visit Britain India, the aim is to identify the high-yield travel segments and tap their potential through B2B engagement and tactical partnerships, reaching out to tier II cities and creating aspiration through Bollywood connections. Even Brand USA , the public-private partnership responsible for promoting the United States as a premier travel destination, has launched a series of travel agency educational programs at major Indian metropolitan and tier II cities.

It is hence little surprise that these destinations are quite optimistic about the year to come. For 2014, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) will focus on the young Indian travellers and educate the travel organisers on how to package and sell the destination. Between January and October 2013, Mauritius received 60,000 Indian visitors, reflecting a 7.8 per cent increase in Indian footfall compared to the corresponding period last year. Their target is to increase the growth rate to 10 - 15 per cent per year, Vijaye Haulder, Deputy Director, MTPA informed.

“2014 is a positive year for us, we expect to grow this year as well, and also maintain our double-digits in terms of Indian arrivals. We also foresee a direct flight connection to Spain in 2014, Air India and Jet Airways already have permissions to have direct flight to Spain. However, this is foreseen to be commissioned into service in the coming year since a final decision about this is yet pending,” said Arturo Ortiz Arduán, Tourism Counselor, Tourism Office of Spain – Mumbai (India).

Ozgur Ayturk, Culture and Tourism Counselor, Turkish Embassy in India revealed that the mutual exchange of tourism between the two countries has been steadily increasing in the past few years. Last year. more than 90,000 Indian tourists visited Turkey while approximately 20,000 Turkish tourists visited India. This year the destination is expecting far better figures and to easily cross the 1,00,000 mark. “This year, we even introduced an e-visa system for the Indian citizens, this is available for those that hold a valid Schengen visa or a valid visa or residence permit in any of the OECD member countries, where they can get their e-visa by using without going to the Embassy or the Consulate,” Ayturk added.

Setting their eyes on markets beyond the metros, Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, South African Tourism (SAT) stated that the destination expects tremendous growth in Indian arrival figures, not just from metro cities, but also from tier II and tier III markets in India. Taking that into consideration, SAT has aligned its key marketing and communication strategy for next year in these markets as well, she added.
 
“In 2014, in terms of product evolution, we expect a rise in the demand for customised FIT packages to outbound destinations. Over the last few years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of Indian visitors opting for a tailor made holiday package customised to their preferences. We foresee a rise in the demand for outbound MICE travel as well as experiential and luxury travel. With reference to France, we hope to have an augmentation in the number of Indian tourist arrivals in the coming year. This will of course depend on the economic situations prevailing then. One positive factor that could pave the way for an increase in arrivals is the temporary suspension of biometrics for all visa applications,” said Catherine Oden, Director, France Tourism Development Agency.

Having benefited greatly from Air India’s direct air connectivity to two major cities, Australia estimates arrivals from India to Australia to be 179,000 for the year 2013-14. Arrivals from India, over the 10-year period (2011-12 to 2021-22) are expected to perform well, with an average annual financial year growth rate of 7.2 per cent through to the financial year 2020-21. “For 2014, we will be joining hands with key airline and distribution partners for co-op campaigns presenting potential travellers with a variety of exciting offers,” said Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager India & Gulf, Tourism Australia.

Undeterred by the political unsettlement in Thailand, Indian numbers have continued to move up to the destination. According to Runjuan Tongrut, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) – New Delhi Office, the destination is expecting over 10 lakhs by the end of the year. Agreeing with her, Sethaphan Buddhani, Director, TAT – Mumbai Office stated that the destination saw nearly one lakh Indian tourists every month during the peak season.

Mischa Mannix-Opie, Regional Manager, South and South East Asia – Tourism New Zealand expects that the India team touring New Zealand in 2014, and New Zealand co-hosting the World Cup in 2015, we will be focusing on actively promoting tourism through cricket. “Tourism New Zealand will remain committed to growing the India inbound market to New Zealand. Partnerships with travel trade and airlines will continue to be a crucial part of Tourism New Zealand’s ongoing strategy in India, and we continue to look for creative ways through marketing, PR and trade partnerships to engage Indian consumers and potential travellers,” she concluded.

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