Travel desire in India remains strong

Having restrained their wanderlust for more than two years, Indian consumers are leveraging every opportunity to leave home and explore new destinations, with travel demand surging over long weekends, festive holidays, and summer and winter breaks.

According to Indian travel specialists, this pent-up travel demand will fuel business recovery and growth through 2023.

European destinations remain a hot favourite among Indian travellers; streets of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland pictured

While Indian travellers’ hunger for European holidays are met with visa application delays this year, travel consultants are certain that the region will remain a hot favourite.

Daniel D’Souza, president & country head – holidays with SOTC Travel, expects visa conditions to improve soon, allowing more Indians to travel to their favourite destinations in Europe and the UK.

Rajeev Kale, president & country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa with Thomas Cook (India), shared that his company’s 2023 pipeline indicates strong international travel demand, with Europe topping the charts. Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy are hot favourites, followed closely by Turkey, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

However, the world is truly every Indian traveller’s oyster, according to Kale, who said customers are also favouring “closer-to-home destinations” like Singapore and Thailand; Japan for its cherry blossom season; and more exotic options like Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia.

When asked to identify key travel motivations, travel consultants offered TTG Asia a wide-ranging response.

D’Souza observes a “comeback of slow travel and immersive experiences”, with his customers favouring community-based activities.

Kale reports a “strong focus on celebration travel”, where his customers are marking special occasions, milestones and reunions with a precious travel memory.

“Travel desire for the unusual will also witness a healthy uptick, such as stays in Egypt’s white desert or Finland’s glass igloos, fissure snorkelling among the fjords in Iceland, and ice-breaker cruises in Antarctica, among others,” Kale added.

Agents also pointed to strong cruise interest among their customers.

Destination marketers around the world have been quick to spot India’s strong outbound travel potential – an especially important source market in the continued absence of Chinese travellers.

Several tourism boards have held roadshows in India this year – Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Kyrgyz Republic, Tourism New Zealand, and Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Visit Iceland, which led a roadshow to Mumbai and New Delhi last month, is in talks with major production houses in India to promote Iceland for film shoots, and will refund up to 35 per cent of production cost if certain criteria are met.

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