Indian tourists use marginally planes for domestic trips
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Buses and trains preferred and cheaper ways to travel
In a fast growing Indian tourism market, plane is more and more popular but still used by a minority, as most Indians still prefer to travel by bus or train and stay with their friends or relatives, for expenses to remain reasonable, as per the last National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO)’s comprehensive study on travel patterns.
Bharat Agarwal, 24, based in New Delhi, is desperate to visit Kashmir, one of his dreams. But he wants his trip to be at comparative low expenses, so he has planned to travel by bus and possibly to stay with his Kashmiri friends.
Bharat’s example matches the main conclusions of the latest National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO)’s study on travel habits, when it comes to means of transportation. The most commonly used transport for domestic travel purpose by both rural and urban people remains the bus.
In urban areas 33.5% of the people travel by bus where as in rural areas they are 49.9%. Then come train and hired transport. On the whole, the survey has not found a very big difference between rural and urban Indians when it comes to domestic travel transportation modes.
Even if domestic air transport witnesses a yearly double digit growth in India, it is still in a catch up process, from a low starting point, compared to countries like the US or European ones.
As per the survey, only 1.9% of Indian urban population and 0.1% or rural India use air transport for travel. But in a fast growing tourism market, there is room for progression for every mean of transport, in parallel upward trends.
Then, when it comes to travel motivations, the survey is also providing some interesting trends. Bharat wants to visit Kashmir to explore its natural beauties and come out of New Delhi’s stressed life. But leisure and recreation is not the first reason to travel across India.
The NSSO survey, carried out in 2014-15, has collected two types of responses. First, for trips made for the following purpose: “holidays-leisure-recreation”, “health and medical tourism”, and “shopping”, a recall period of 365 days has been used. Then, for trips made for “business”, “social”, “religious and pilgrimages”, “education and training” and others purposes, the recall period is 30-days.
In the last 365-days, the leading trip purpose was “health and medical” accounting for 40% of all travels both in rural and urban areas, followed by leisure (35%).
In the category of 30-day recall period, social visits were a massive travel purpose, accounting for 86.6% of all trips.
In both categories, about a fifth of households reported having gone on at least one overnight trip. Dr. Javid, 29, a researcher in genetics, based New Delhi, has booked his air tickets to visit his family on Eid, marking the end of the Muslim Ramzan month fast. He has been living out of his hometown the last 8 years and is a good example of these travellers motivated by “social” category trips. Social occasions, – like Eid or the wedding of a relative or a friend, – are by far the main reasons for him to visit his family and relatives back in Kashmir.
Not surprisingly, as Indians’ purchasing power is growing, especially in the middle-class, this survey also shows a major increase in all kinds of trips, since the last study, carried in 2008-2009. Shopping trips have increased by 313%, followed by 291% rise in health and medical tourism.
Kerala (South) is found to be the most active Indian state in terms of tourism. On an average, one out of two households (around 48.6%) has reported an overnight trip there in the last 365 days or last 30 days. As a destination, Kerala is followed by the Northern states of Himachal Pradesh (48%) and Jammu and Kashmir (47.8%).