Indian travellers have the world at their feet (Lifestyle Feature)
With the disposable income pocket gradually fattening and the zeal to splurge heading north while holidaying, Indian travellers are being wooed by countries around the world - from Canada to New Zealand - wanting a share of their money on travel and tourism.
Indians too are willing to experiment with new, lesser-known tourist places and therefore, destinations like Austria, Vietnam, Turkey, Oman, Egypt, South Korea and the Czech Republic have become the new hotspots for the travellers over the past few years.
"With an economic slowdown in the US and Europe, all eyes are on India and China that are the most populated nations. There has been a steady rise in the money that Indians can afford to binge on foreign locales," Yatra.com president Sharat Dhall told IANS.
"Thanks to lifestyle changes, Indians are ready to experiment and so want to visit new places rather than run-of-the-mill destinations," he added.
Countries like Turkey, New Zealand, Austria, Qatar and others have benefited the most, courtesy this new trend, said Dhall and tourist boards of lesser familiar countries are now advertising in Indian newspapers luring the Indian traveller.
According to Indian Association of Tour Operators executive director Gour Kanjilal, India's strength lies in its huge population that is alluring to countries looking for tourists.
"Even if such countries manage to attract 10 percent of the Indian population that travels regularly, the figure would suffice to fill coffers and support their economy. Everybody wants a share of the pie," Kanjilal told IANS.
Interestingly, people from even tier two and tier three cities too are now travelling abroad for vacations, he added.
However, the most important factor is that, contrary to their western counterparts, a majority of Indian travellers splurge while holidayingon food, accommodation and shopping.
"Unlike the many backpackers who come to India on a shoe-string budget, Indians plan lavish holidays," said Kanjilal.
Agreed Expedia India marketing head Manmeet Ahluwalia who added Indian travellers book their tickets months in advance to save money on expensive air tickets, and instead, go for extravagant spending on shopping and nightlife.
According to the experts, a majority of such travellers are young couples with double income and no kids, followed by families and newly-weds.
"Our focus is on young Indians with the propensity to spend money and willing to travel abroad," said Vienna Tourist Board Strategic Communications and PR Counsel Sanjiv Kataria.
A total of 25,000 Indians visited the Austrian capital of Vienna in 2012 and the tourist board is planning to increase this number to 50,000 in the next five years, said Kataria.
The change, though, hasn't come about easily and the countries which are befitting the most have put in a lot of effort to get noticed, said experts.
"Apart from the usual print and TV ads, promotion on social networking sites and Bollywood movies (shooting in the locales there) has helped these nations to catch eyeballs of Indians," said Dhall.
"Countries that have marketed themselves well are reaping the fruits of their labour," he added.
(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 22-12-2013)