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Indians moving to ‘discovery vacations’

According to the research report ‘Travel Trends’ by Tata AIG General Insurance, the current number of Indian outbound travellers is around 11 million per year, and this is growing by five to eight per cent year on year. Madhav Pai, COO – Leisure Travel (Outbound), Thomas Cook (India), said, Indians are moving to leisurely experiential ‘discovery vacations’ via mono destination holidays.

“In the last two to three years, outbound travel has grown much faster, especially among corporate travellers, than inbound, owing to rising airfares in the domestic sector, cheaper hotel rates abroad and better MICE facilities and lower number of permissions and licences required to host events,” opined Iqbal Mulla, President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI). In contrast, Pai revealed that Thomas Cook has witnessed a significant rise in young travellers on the outlook for unique experiences with innovative activities, owing to a higher spending power.

“Travel has moved from the theoretical, to the emotional and personal domain. Exclusive and exceptional itineraries that call for active involvement and personal engagement are increasingly being demanded. The travel bug has truly bitten the Indian traveller and be it the exotic-unique quotient of destination, accommodation, transport or theme of the vacation,” said Pai.

Throwing light on the popular destinations among Indians, Mulla stated that the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia regions are most popular, with Turkey started receiving renewed interst from Indian outbound travellers. Echoing Mulla, Pai informed that, thanks to the depreciating rupee, the Indian traveller seems to have set his eyes on short haul destinations. “We are expecting a minimum growth of 10 per cent in 2012. This is due to the fact that a lot of young travellers are joining the outbound segment,” Surinder Dewan, MD, Dewan Holidays, said. While South East Asian destinations are still the favourite, destinations like Canada and some destinations in Europe have started drawing the attention of Indian travellers, Dewan added.

Speaking about the industry’s predictions for the trends in the coming years, Mulla stated that unless the government and the industry as a whole addresses issues of infrastructure, reduced taxes and lower airfares etc, outbound will continue to grow over the domestic sector. Pai opined that increased confidence and rather sophisticated palates seem to be the hallmark of the new age Indian traveller. “On the one hand strong volume based growth is expected from emerging Tier II and III regional markets, and on the other sharp focus on personalised experiential travel from the metros,” he concluded.

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