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New destinations gaining ground among Indians

The growth in travel and leisure sectors has been phenomenal as travel abroad has come within reach for a large sections of Indians. “There has been a considerable shift in demands and expectations of the travellers from a holiday. They seek to explore the cultural heritage of the destinations they visit apart from the usual sightseeing,” said Vishal Suri, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Tour Operating, Kuoni India. Madhav Pai, COO – Leisure Travel (Outbound), Thomas Cook (India), believes that exclusive and exceptional itineraries that call for active involvement and personal engagement are increasingly being demanded.

One of the emerging trends among outbound travellers is that they are leaning towards niche travel like sports tourism, spa excursions, luxury cruises and self drive holidays. “Travellers today increasingly prefer customised trips which allow them to choose the places they would like to visit and the activities that they would like to indulge in,” Suri said. Another emerging trend is that Indian tourists now travel in winter also. “Earlier, Indians would not travel to Europe during winter. Today a sizeable number of tourists travel to Europe to experience winter there,” said Karan Anand—Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings. Moreover new destinations are also becoming popular among outbound travellers. “People travel to niche destinations such as Oman and Vietnam, and lesser known destinations in Malaysia, Australia and South Africa, just to name a few. Thailand is also very popular during the peak holiday seasons,” he added.

Sudhir Patil, Director, Kesari Tours, shares a similar opinion. “Destinations such as Japan, Oman and Greece are becoming popular in the Indian market,” he said and added that the ongoing season is good for South East Asia, Dubai, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Suri informed that some of the popular outbound destinations include Bali, Phuket, Jumeirah, Philadelphia, Korea, Austria, Vienna, Scotland, Cambodia and Vietnam amongst others. “Emerging destinations are Oman, South Africa and Turkey. Even Singapore with its new attractions is back in the limelight,” said Anand. Thomas Cook (India)’s trends and data predict that some of the offbeat destinations like Israel, South America, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, Bora-Bora, Mediterranean and Italy will be the top favourites of travellers in the coming years.

Experts believe that several factors such as the increase in disposable income, innovative packages, destination promotion with support from the aviation and hospitality industry are the principal factors behind this evolution of travellers in India. “Increase in the number of young travellers looking for adventure activities is opening up new doors to this segment. Travellers in tier II and III cities are graduating from exploring domestic destinations to discovering international destinations,” said Suri, adding that there has also been a substantial increase in the number of women travellers and senior citizens seeking to explore various holiday destinations on their own and in their own ways.”

Commenting on their outbound bookings in the recent years Suri said, “Outbound travel from India is growing at 15 per cent CAGR over the last five years. Kuoni India has been performing significantly well in the Indian market.” Anand further added that Cox and Kings has witnessed a 30 per cent year-on-year growth after launching various packages to newer destinations specially designed to suit the Indian traveller. Kesari Tours expects 10-15 per growth in the business for the fiscal ending March 2013.

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