An increasing number of Indians are travelling abroad for business and leisure -- and Asian countries are their favourite destinations. Several factors are driving this boom, not least the emergence of low budget airlines.
An estimated 400,000 Indian tourists visited Dubai in 2007
The number of Indians holidaying abroad is set to double, thanks to cheaper air travel, affordable holiday options and rising incomes. Even the first-time traveller, emerging on the back of India’s economic boom and an inhabitant of one of India's smaller cities is looking to see places in the world.
Leading business and market intelligence provider Euromonitor International has projected that the number of tourists travelling from India will be more than double by 2011, with the number set to touch the 16 million mark. Tour operators are preparing to take advantage of this boom in view of the swelling number of outbound Indians.
Vikram Kapoor, a leading tour operator in New Delhi, adds that the Far East has become an increasingly popular destination. “You go there and spend 10 days and you can have a real ball. What you spend in Europe on the fare and visas is the amount you spend on the total trip to the Far East. That’s the trend of the last six months.”
Increasing outbound travel
Even the new generation traveller, who is young, educated and wants to see the world on his own terms has wandered off the beaten path to Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica. But at the same time, the stereotype prevails, where tourists still prefer to go for package tours to Singapore and Dubai with delightful Indian meals thrown in every night.
Sashikant Behal, a stockbroker who travels at least twice abroad every year says the globetrotting Indian tourist has arrived.
“Because the economy is growing there is a propensity to consume and a lot of people want to go abroad for vacations. Moreover apart from that a lot of young people who are working in private sector companies find foreign travel very attractive. So that is why we see a spurt in overseas travel.”
For the moment South East Asia is benefiting from the bulk of Indian outbound tourism but as foreign travel becomes more and more affordable many Indian holidaymakers will be ready to fly beyond.
Changing Indian tourists
The US is predicted to be the most preferred destination for Indian travellers in years to come and is soon set to receive 10.2% of outbound tourists from India, says Euromonitor Travel. It also forecasts that outgoing tourism expenditure from India will grow by over 25% between 2006 and 2011 to reach a value of $21 billion.
Kapoor also points out that the profile of the Indian tourist has changed within India itself. “Indians have always had the money power. Earlier they never spent money on tourism. Now they have started spending a lot. A recent example I recall: I was in Goa in the month of June and the hotel was packed and this was the upper class hotel Leela Penta, packed with Indians. Now Indians have started spending money - which is a great thing for tourism!”