Ex­pe­ri­ences>Shop­ping for In­di­ans

In­di­ans are known for be­ing shopa­holics and for the rev­enue they add to the source des­ti­na­tion. An in­creas­ing num­ber of trav­ellers are now choos­ing sight­see­ing over shop­ping and are im­mers­ing in lo­cal cul­ture and at­trac­tions.

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Dis­cov­er­ing new places has be­come a key driver for travel amongst In­di­ans lead­ing to sight­see­ing as a ma­jor ac­tiv­ity which mostly in­cludes high points of nat­u­ral beauty, an­i­mal sa­faris, tourist icons, and wildlife, says Guldeep Singh Sahni, Pres­i­dent, OTOAI. He says that while a few years back, shop­ping used to be an im­por­tant as­pect of an In­dian out­bound trav­eller’s itin­er­ary, now with al­most all in­ter­na­tional brands open­ing shop in In­dia, the charm of shop­ping abroad has dimmed. “The trav­eller to­day is seek­ing sight­see­ing and ad­ven­ture sports which are fas­ci­nat­ing abroad. The ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties abroad are draw­ing large num­ber of In­di­ans be­cause of a per­cep­tion that maybe they are safer and more dif­fi­cult than those avail­able in In­dia,” he says.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port ‘Out­bound Tourism from In­dia 2015,’ the top­most com­mon leisure ac­tiv­i­ties of In­dian trav­ellers abroad are shop­ping and sight­see­ing. Ap­prox­i­mately two in five In­dian trav­ellers made travel plans pri­mar­ily for shop­ping, al­lo­cat­ing a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of their to­tal ex­pen­di­ture to shop­ping when trav­el­ling abroad. A sur­vey con­ducted by VisitBri­tain in 2013 amongst In­dian trav­ellers to Bri­tain es­ti­mated that 42 per cent of trav­ellers had planned the travel pri­mar­ily for shop­ping. How­ever, what they shop dif­fers by in­di­vid­ual des­ti­na­tions.

Riaz Mun­shi, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, N. Chi­rag Trav­els, points out that In­di­ans have in the past and still do, travel to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions across the world to en­joy shop­ping as a ma­jor ac­tiv­ity. When compared to sight­see­ing as an ac­tiv­ity, the per­cent­age of trav­ellers who pre­fer to visit at­trac­tions is less. “Des­ti­na­tions like Italy and the UK, es­pe­cially Lon­don have wit­nessed a large share of In­dian trav­ellers flock­ing the mar­kets for shop­ping ex­pe­di­tions. East­ern Europe is now catch­ing the eye of the In­dian trav­ellers and soon these will also be­come hubs for Christ­mas mar­ket shop­ping,” he says. Dubai, Milan, the US, Canada, the Far East, Sin­ga­pore have been some of the most pop­u­lar shop­ping

des­ti­na­tions amongst In­di­ans. Though be­ing spend­thrift, an In­dian shop­per is both value and sta­tus con­scious even when shop­ping abroad. How­ever, with the chang­ing times, the in­dus­try claims that the charm of shop­ping tourism is wearing off. Ra­jan Se­h­gal, Chair­man-North­ern Re­gion, TAAI, says, “If I go back 10 years to iden­tify tourism trends amongst In­dian trav­ellers, then shop­ping was an in­te­gral part of the travel itin­er­ary. It was a sta­tus sym­bol for many to re­turn from for­eign des­ti­na­tions with a num­ber of bags full of ex­ploits. How­ever, to­day this is not the case nor is shop­ping a cri­te­ria in de­ci­sion mak­ing process amongst In­dian trav­ellers. When they de­cide a des­ti­na­tion, it is usu­ally and purely for ex­pe­ri­ence.”

C.P. Sharma, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Nep­tune Travco, says as the de­mo­graphic of the In­dian trav­eller is chang­ing, so is the choice be­tween shop­ping and sight­see­ing. “Grad­u­ally as young In­dian trav­ellers are trav­el­ling to far­away des­ti­na­tions, they are more drawn to the cul­ture, her­itage, at­trac­tions, and even ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties. Shop­ping is over­ruled by a large mar­gin. The plan­ning stage of an itin­er­ary in­cludes 80 per cent of ac­tiv­i­ties that can pro­vide the lo­cal flavour and ex­pe­ri­ence while 20 per cent of the trip is ei­ther re­served for shop­ping or some­times even skipped.” Shra­van Bhalla, CEO, High Flyer, adds to the change in travel pat­terns and ex­plains that whether In­dian trav­ellers pre­fer shop­ping or sight­see­ing de­pends on the type of trip they take; when on a family trip, or cou­ples, then shop­ping is a must do which could change for a solo trav­eller. “How­ever, by and large sight­see­ing and shop­ping are si­mul­ta­ne­ous ac­tiv­i­ties,” he says.

Sudesh Be­hal, Di­rec­tor, Indo Asia Tours, takes this a step fur­ther and ex­plains that once tourists ma­ture and be­come trav­ellers in the true sense, shop­ping doesn’t re­main pri­or­ity. “In­dian trav­ellers have moved on to ex­plore ex­pe­ri­ences, want to in­ter­act with lo­cal cul­ture and life­style. Food is also an area where In­dian trav­ellers are ex­per­i­ment­ing in.”

Riaz Mun­shi Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, N. Chi­rag Trav­els, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Ra­jan Se­h­gal Chair­man-North­ern Re­gion TAAI

Guldeep Singh Sahni DDP Trail­blazer 2016 & Pres­i­dent, OTOAI

C.P. Sharma Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Nep­tune Travco

Shra­van Bhalla CEO High Flyer

Sudesh Be­hal Di­rec­tor Indo Asia Tours

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