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...
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