Travel and tourism industry in India is on record breaking heights and is modifying every day with innovative ideas. The new stride in the Indian tourism market is creating a leap resulting in a ‘New India’. Travel Turtle spoke to some of the industry veterans to understand their take on this ‘New India’.
China and India both have extremely distinct markets. Since both countries have enormous populations, destinations all over the world view them as viable markets for their products. India has the advantage of a younger, expanding market that is quickly developing into a compulsive traveller-friendly zone and is exploring not only new areas but also being loyal and repetitive to a few destinations.
Glorious future for outbound and inbound tourism
India is undoubtedly emerging as the strongest outbound market, This explains why India is home to a large number of NTO offices, such as Thailand, Utah, The Great Britain, New Zealand Switzerland, South Africa are actively promoting travel to India and the list continues.
Ankush Nijhawan, Co-Founder and CEO, TBO.com gave us insights on India becoming an economic superpower. As he told us “India is at a very sweet spot in terms of tourism, with both inbound and outbound receiving immense recognition. India is expected to see a huge influx of foreign tourists from all over the world. The past few years have allowed us to look back and analyse the pitfalls as well as the boosting agents for the industry. In terms of outbound tourism, India will experience an upsurge in the cruise industry and MICE amongst others. Under the G20 presidency along with the ICC World cup this year inbound tourism is on a journey to become the next economic superpower.”
Though it is anticipated that inbound will take time till December 2023 to recover partially if the momentum generated is maintained and there are no Macro Socio-Economic hazards. Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators shares his views on the future of Inbound and Outbound tourism, “The important aspect for the tourism industry going forward should be marketing and promotion. The National Tourism Board and marketing representatives are working along with 20 Officers at the missions across the globe and need to start at the earliest. The Outbound market was growing around 20 per cent on a y-o-y basis in the pre-covid era. With International connectivity and hotel rates and airfares within India reaching the sky, destination abroad and packages are likely to be found relatively cheaper by the discerning travellers.”
India is poised perfectly for growth in both inbound and outbound tourism in the coming two decades. Indian tourists are gradually becoming the dominant traveller population globally. Mr Amit Aggarwal, Co-Founder and COO, TripFactory said, “The growing middle class and growing disposable incoming amongst the youth will create higher spending starting with domestic tourism first and gradually leading into outbound. The announcement by the government regarding 20 airports to be operationalised in India, better air connectivity will result in more traffic from the heartland and consumers exploring all regions in India. At the same time, we believe that even outbound traffic from India should grow at least five times over the next 20 years, with about 100 million outbound passengers annually.”
India’s size and diversity are humongous and so is its tourism potential. Prateek Hira, President and CEO, Tornos enlightened us on the potential of the Indian tourism market, “We have only tapped a minuscule fraction of this potential and India is still a greenfield destination for the inbound, domestic and the outbound travellers. With its ever-increasing paying capacity, lifestyle enhancement and population exposure, it is a lucrative market and a tourism avenue.”
An Avant-Garde approach!
An aspect that keeps the Indian tourism market going is the constant urge for people to travel and explore destinations and much more. Amit added, “India is doing well as an economy with seven to eight per cent growth consistently year on year. Also, the per capita spending by Indian tourists abroad is one of the highest. Today’s Indian traveller is looking for new ideas and new destinations to travel to every few months. It’s but natural that more and more new destinations will find opportunities to market themselves and drive traffic.”
India’s tourism industry should be viewed as both a source of economic growth and a powerful tool for the country to project its soft power internationally. This can only happen if the Indian government prioritises the tourist industry and views it as a reliable alternative to other sources of revenue. “Any country wanting to leverage its tourism potential just cannot afford to overlook India due to its market size and diversified interests of the Indian travellers. Inbound, Domestic and Outbound may be three different domains of tourism but complement each other by way of being a market motivator. More Indians travelling abroad evince host population’s interest in India and similarly, more foreign nationals coming into India, motivate us to travel abroad,” shared Prateek.
Two very different peas in a pod
One of the most rewarding and challenging industries in the world is the tourism industry. Being one of the key factors adding to a country’s economy, it is the industry that deserves due diligence and the focus of the world. It ranks among the highest earners in the service sector globally. The constant comparison between India and China is no news, Indian destinations and experiences are uniquely structured for travellers for an untethered experience.
Rajiv spoke about the constant change in the industry, “Both India and China are very strong outbound markets, India being vocal in its promotion of tourism within India and abroad is a great strength. China is welcoming tourists from across the world. India has attracted Chinese tourists for Business and Buddhist Tourism. China on the other hand has attracted Indian tourists and tour operators in the leisure and promotion segments respectively. Buddhism spread across Asia through networks of overland and maritime routes between India, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and China.”
Amit had a different viewpoint on the topic when he added, “I believe we shouldn’t compare, while both countries are similar in terms of population and size the demographics and travel behaviour are very different. China before the pandemic was at least 10 times bigger than India both in terms of domestic and outbound travel. But things are changing in the last 2 years. Suddenly India is exploding and what we will see going forward is faster growth in tourism from India compared to any other country in the world.”
The ever-increasing purchasing power and the spending pattern of Indians are much better than many other markets, especially the spent on shopping, accommodation and on food and beverage. “Indians are adaptive in nature and love to experiment with new cultures whereas Chinese travellers are quite stubborn to even temporarily adapt to new cultures and customs. This puts pressure on the destinations intending to cater to the Chinese travellers whereas Indians put less pressure on the host to create any inviting turfs. Countries in Europe, the Americas and many from Asia due to geopolitical issues may not be so keen on two large markets, China and Russia, this can be yet another opportunity for India to leverage its inbound and outbound tourism and take India’s tourism to the next level,” explained Prateek by highlighting the different aspects for both the countries.