Travel Trade Journal
India is travelling!
India is a huge market for countries worldwide when it comes to travel and tourism. Tourism Boards worldwide need to go beyond their reach to travel agents to strike a chord with the travellers directly. It is time for International Tourism Boards and National Tourist Offices to communicate with Indian travellers differently.
Tourism worldwide has been through a rough patch. It started with COVID-19 in 2020 and though showed signs of recovery in the past two years; it was further hit by the negative sentiment towards travel to Eastern Europe, thanks to the Ukraine-Russia face-off!
As many tourism boards like Maldives struggle to fill the gap of lost travellers from Russia amidst the war, most South Asian countries have realised the immense potential of India as a fertile ground for global tourism boards. As the demand for new experiences spikes back home from the highly savvy younger generation of Indian travellers, the tour operators need to mirror their aspirations.
Indian traveller is not just limiting themselves to the usual International destinations, but are willing to explore new experiences and new destinations abroad.
Riding on this demand, in June 2022, Turkiye (formerly Turkey) hosted the highest ever number of travellers from India (more than 27,300 tourists from India) in one month alone, breaking all previous inbound travel records from India. This was enabled by the ease of visas and direct flights other than the efforts made by the Turkiye Tourism Board (TTB).
As travel exhibitions and roadshows are back post-pandemic, the Azerbaijan Tourism Board and Singapore have also been investing in advertising in India to entice Indian travellers. The Azerbaijan Tourism Board has been eyeing Indian travellers as a wedding and conference destination.
Maldives saw India as its top sources market with nearly 3, 00,000 Indians that visited Maldives last year. Seeing this potential, Maldives is further looking to build upon its credentials, especially in tier I and tier II cities in India.
South African Tourism has done multiple multi-city roadshows in India. South African Tourism is not just offering discounted fares, but also peculiar experiences like glamping and snorkelling with sharks.
Qatar Tourism too has been actively working to tap the Indian outbound market by conducting roadshows and rolling out special offers to Indian tourists for the FIFA World cup and other segments like MICE, wedding destinations, and leisure.
Global destinations are viewing tourism as key to the revival of their economies. Hence, governments worldwide are laying out the red carpet for inbound tourists. This includes not just the destinations whose economies depend on tourism but new to inbound tourism countries too.
With India’s mammoth scope, as one of the fastest growing and largest outbound travel markets globally, with approximately 80 million passport level of purchasing power, among the middle class and poised to grow to $42 billion by 2024, it’s only logical for these tourism boards to woo the Indian travellers.
This could have a cascading impact on their economies. Closer home, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nepal are examples of how dependence on tourism has impacted their economies.
However, as the landscape of the Indian traveller changes and International tourism boards are eager to leverage this opportunity by reconnecting with their Indian partners and agents. However, the old-school method of approaching demand through travel agents alone would not work. It’s time that the International Tourism Boards start to reinvent and reimagine. It is always the early bird who catches the worm. Along with travel trade partners, they also need to look at other opportunities to enhance their reach.
The Tourism Boards will also have to devise strategies to create a pull directly through D2C marketing initiatives and roll out some red carpet for D2C products and offerings. Though the travel agents cannot be surpassed completely, the Tourism Boards can work on attracting the much savvy and ‘ready to experiment’ travellers directly through their product offerings.