India is the fastest growing outbound market, ranked next to China with a prediction to grow 50 million by 2020 as per the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), despite the hurdles and challenges.
Travel and tourism is a globally lucrative market with lessened restrictions and increased connectivity for inbound tourists. For example, India has adopted several measures to welcome inbound tourists which are witnessing visible results. The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in April 2017 was 0.74 million as compared to FTAs of 0.59 million in April 2016 and 0.54 million in April 2015.
According to UNTWO, Indian outbound has potential to grow to 50 million by 2020. According to the Ministry of Tourism and World Bank, 18.33 million Indians travelled overseas in 2014 compared to around 16 million in 2013. According to statistics, Dubai, USA, Thailand, and Singapore are the top choices for Indian outbound tourists. The UK, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey, Oman, Sri Lanka and Maldives are the other conventionally most visited countries by Indian travellers. In recent times, countries such as Canada, Philippines, Mauritius, Jordan, Taiwan and Kenya are also showcasing an increase in Indian tourists rush. The Philippines has witnessed a growth of 28 pc in Indian tourist arrivals during January-February, 2017, compared to the same period last year. As per the official data released by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippines, more than 19,000 Indians visited the Philippines in the first two months of 2017. An official from the Philippines Tourism Marketing Office India, stated, “Over the years, we have seen a steady growth in Indian tourists to the Philippines and are confident that this trend will continue. We are extremely delighted that the year 2017 is giving us a good start and our continued efforts in targeting the Indian holiday planners through aggressive marketing initiatives will yield even better results by the year end. We want to leverage on our tourism product offerings and attract the Indian traveller to soon achieve our target of 100,000 tourist arrivals to the Philippines.”
The German National Tourist Office (GNTO) has recorded a consistent growth between 4 to 7 pc in overnight stays of Indian visitors encouraging them to organise a three-city roadshow in India in September.
Reunion Island has registered a substantial growth of 175.5 pc from the Indian market in the first quarter of 2017 as compared to the same period last year, according to the official statistics shared by Airport Roland Garros, Reunion Island. “We have experienced the zeal of Indian travellers to explore new destinations which have unique offerings and have a diversity of climate, nature, food, tourism products, like Reunion Island,” commented William Techer, Head-Promotion & Marketing, India and the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island Tourism Board.
Why the sudden boom?
In terms of market size, World Travel & Tourism Council’s Travel & Tourism Economic Impact the total expenditure on outbound travel in India is projected to be INR 1605 billion in 2024.
A number of factors have contributed towards the growth of outbound Indian tourism and travel industry, the most prevalent being: an increase in GDP over 7 pc, growing air connectivity due to low-cost carriers (LCCs), an increase in the expanding urban middle class and growth of woman and senior travellers. An Indian tour operator commented, “Indians have developed a knack for travelling abroad. A few of my clients have come up to me and requested for specific foreign destinations after watching a certain Bollywood film or seeing a travel show. Then there are some who specifically ask for adventure foreign destinations. In short, Indians have now found several reasons to travel abroad as opposed to not travelling abroad. They now have proper access to information and resources to do so; hence they don’t bat an eye before travelling abroad.” National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) have also adopted aggressive strategies for attracting Indian travellers by two-folds.
India announced as being one of the leading world economies, the integration of the Indian economy with the rest of the world will only boost the presence of Indian tourists in foreign countries. However, Indian agencies need to be better equipped and trained to handle the pressure of both inbound and outbound tourism successfully.