India demand for SE Asian vacays stay strong

South-east Asia’s myriad destination appeals and close proximity to India are keeping Indian holidaymakers spell-bound, travel agents told TTG Asia.

In fact, many expect buoyant demand for South-east Asia to play a critical role in reviving India’s outbound tourism business.

Interest in South-east Asian destinations among Indian travellers remain strong; Indian tourists outside Universal Studios Singapore pictured 

Bookings rebound hinges on the resumption of commercial flights, opined Rajeev Kale, president & country head – holidays, MICE, visa with Thomas Cook (India).

“Our data indicates high interest across a range of consumers – both the small and multi-generational family segment, couples and honeymooners, young working professionals/millennials, and those seeking ‘bleisure’ trips, said Kale.

Counting the region’s many appeals, which include gastronomic variety, wide range of outdoor activities including water sports and jungle adventures, and excellent diving locations, Kale said cruising is another strong business opportunity for Indian outbound specialists.

Other Indian travel consultants expect South-east Asian demand to return with the onset of the summer holidays.

Aditya Tyagi, founder of Luxe Escape, is confident of a good summer showing, as the current Omicron variant has had a less fatal and severe impact on communities compared to earlier variants.

Although Tyagi expects favourable leisure demand, he is less optimistic of destination weddings.

“As far as weddings are concerned, I think Indians will not choose South-east Asian destinations, as that involves charter flights and we don’t have many options due to restrictions on international services,” he explained.

Offering an alternative view, Meera Charnalia, senior vice president & head of MICE & events, Thomas Cook (India), said there has been pent-up demand for destination weddings, along with pre- and post-wedding ceremonies and celebrations. Such celebrations have so far been taking place in India, but clients are looking forward to hosting their life’s milestone in South-east Asia, particularly Thailand and Malaysia.

Given the large expenditure on destination weddings, Charnalia said the return of such overseas events is vital to the revival of India’s outbound tourism sector.

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