Reck­on­ing power of In­dian out­bound

Con­sid­er­ing that In­dian out­bound trav­ellers are now a ‘world force’ to reckon with in terms of busi­ness pro­vided, should they not lever­age it to get a bet­ter over­all deal from the host coun­tries? We ask some in­dus­try lead­ers...

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Coun­tries world­wide are aware of In­dia’s enor­mous out­bound tourism po­ten­tial, and are gear­ing up to en­sure they get a share of this lu­cra­tive pie. In­dia doesn’t just gen­er­ate num­bers, but also huge spend­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the MICE and wed­ding busi­ness. Host coun­tries need to ed­u­cate their staff about In­dian pref­er­ences. They have to ac­cept the fact that In­dian trav­ellers at­tach im­por­tance to is­sues such as lan­guage, food pref­er­ences in­clud­ing veg­e­tar­ian and Jain food, time sched­ules, in­for­ma­tion about In­dian Em­bassy/as­so­ci­a­tions, etc.

With the phe­nom­e­nal growth of In­dian out­bound traf­fic over the years, In­dian trav­ellers have be­come a force to reckon with. The host coun­tries should do much more for In­dian vis­i­tors. Ho­tel rates is one im­por­tant area, both for leisure and MICE trav­ellers. With in­crease in traf­fic, more room nights are be­ing gen­er­ated by In­dian trav­ellers, and ac­cord­ingly, ho­tels should of­fer bet­ter rates. The time has come when host coun­tries re­alise that In­di­ans need spe­cial at­ten­tion.

In­dia is be­com­ing a huge out­bound mar­ket for many coun­tries, and with the num­bers con­stantly in­creas­ing, a lot of sup­port is com­ing in for tour op­er­a­tors from many part­ner coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly in the MICE/in­cen­tive sec­tors. Some coun­tries come for­ward to help in visa fa­cil­i­ta­tion as well as fi­nan­cial sup­port for the cor­po­rate houses. There are ‘tourism friendly coun­tries’ that spon­sor gala din­ners or sub­sidise their costs. Many coun­tries part­ner in ad­ver­tis­ing pro­mo­tion cam­paign, and share the ex­penses, thereby help­ing in in­creas­ing the num­bers.

The In­dian out­bound mar­ket is grow­ing rapidly and it def­i­nitely needs proper and per­son­alised at­ten­tion from the host coun­tries. While al­most all travel seg­ments are in­creas­ing, In­di­ans now seek ex­pe­ri­en­tial hol­i­days. Some host coun­tries have come for­ward and are pay­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to In­di­ans. One ma­jor area is the food depart­ment. In­dian food is now read­ily avail­able, and tra­di­tional In­dian-style wel­comes are also in use. How­ever, much more needs to be done in terms of of­fer­ing ‘spe­cial’ pack­ages and in­cen­tives to In­dian vis­i­tors.

With the In­dian ar­rival fig­ure to the Philip­pines nearly touch­ing the 100,000 mark last year (99,088 In­dian tourists vis­ited Philip­pines till Novem­ber 2017), the DOT Philip­pines is fo­cus­ing strongly on In­dian trav­ellers. In­dian restau­rants for dif­fer­ent In­dian cuisines, friendly English-speak­ing Filipinos, and the AJACSS UK visa re­lax­ation rules at all in­ter­na­tional air­ports, is fur­ther boost­ing In­dian traf­fic to the Philip­pines. The Philip­pines Tourism’s road­shows in In­dia are also an in­di­ca­tion of the in­creas­ing im­por­tance be­ing at­tached to the In­dian mar­ket.

While most coun­tries with high In­dian traf­fic do ac­knowl­edge the grow­ing pres­ence of In­dian trav­ellers, it isn’t al­ways easy to give spe­cial con­tracted rates to a par­tic­u­lar na­tion­al­ity. This is the func­tion of the tour com­pany - to drive cus­tomers to a par­tic­u­lar desti­na­tion and ho­tel. Sev­eral over­seas ho­tels are at­tract­ing In­dian trav­ellers with ‘In­dian Stan­dards,’ of­fer­ing In­di­anstyle break­fasts, In­dian greetings, etc. The tour op­er­at­ing com­pa­nies have to ne­go­ti­ate pric­ing for ho­tels, meals, trans­porta­tion and sight­see­ing. What can be done fur­ther is the cre­ation of air­port and gov­ern­ment mu­se­ums, along with In­dian trav­eller friendly op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In­dia is the fastest grow­ing tourism econ­omy in the world, and it should use this clout with other coun­tries to get spe­cial ben­e­fits for its trav­ellers. Many coun­tries have al­ready no­ticed this and taken ini­tia­tives like ‘visa on ar­rival’ for In­di­ans, but we can ne­go­ti­ate for much more, es­pe­cially for sec­tors like MICE and ‘desti­na­tion wed­dings’ where spend­ing is very high. Gov­ern­ment must work closely with trade as­so­ci­a­tions like OTOAI, to un­der­stand ex­actly how In­dian trav­ellers can ben­e­fit by ne­go­ti­at­ing with host coun­tries.

In­di­ans are get­ting more recog­ni­tion and at­ten­tion in Hol­land. A case in point is the fact that the coun­try now of­fers a much wider din­ing choice, with In­dian food more read­ily avail­able. The In­dian mar­ket is very im­por­tant for Hol­land and has also grown over the years. While ser­vice providers, par­tic­u­larly in Am­s­ter­dam give the op­tion of au­dio guides in Hindi lan­guage, oth­ers en­sure that In­dian tourists are served a meal of their choice - such as a Hindu, Jain or a veg­e­tar­ian meal.

Mu­nich has done a lot to make In­dian vis­i­tors feel wel­come. The city has sev­eral restau­rants, such as ‘The In­dian Af­fair’, ‘In­dian Vil­lage’ and ‘Bol­ly­wood’, which are of­fer­ing amaz­ing food op­tions to In­di­ans and mak­ing them feel at home. The In­dian mar­ket is emerg­ing as a strong and im­por­tant one for Mu­nich con­sid­er­ing the grow­ing power of the In­dian tourist.

Given the fact that In­di­ans are high spenders, and con­tribute enor­mously to var­i­ous seg­ments, es­pe­cially shop­ping, they cer­tainly de­serve the best from the host coun­tries. While pric­ing is all right, the gen­eral treat­ment meted out to In­di­ans is not good enough. The treat­ment meted out to tourists should not be based on skin colour. In­di­ans should be treated on par with Euro­pean and Amer­i­can vis­i­tors. In­dian vis­i­tors have earned re­spect and should be given that.

Seema Datt Vice Pres­i­dent In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Eckard Kre­mer Asia Head

So­nia Prakash Desti­na­tion Vice Pres­i­dent

Hi­man­shu Patil In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Di­rec­tor, Ke­sari Tours

Homa Mistry In­dia Travel Award win­ner Trail Blazer Tours In­dia

Nikhil Dho­dap­kar In­dia Travel Award win­ner TUI In­dia

Pankaj Nag­pal In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Travs­tarz Global Group

Ma­hen­dra Vakharia In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Pres­i­dent, OTOAI

Chi­tra Bha­tia Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Aash­man Travel

CP Sharma Pres­i­dent Nep­tune Travco

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