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.
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