As Indians open up to the idea of unconventional vacations, the word ‘travel’ redefines itself, and how!
The definition of travel has changed tremendously over the years — from newly married couples going sightseeing and clicking lovey-dovey pictures to explorers treading unconventional terrains. While families take vacations to spend quality time with each other, singles spend most of their earnings to travel to forlorn places, learn about cultures and indulge in gluttony.
Paramjeet Bawa, country head, Tourism, New South Wales, says, “Two factors have contributed to igniting keen interest in travel — travel channels and Bollywood films. The entry of many MNCs to India has also given youngsters a lot of exposure. An average urban youngster spends about 90% of his salary on food, clothes and travel today.”
Adding to it, Ryna, country head, Tourism, Queensland, says, “We see the upper class as well as the middle class taking interest in travel. Besides tier I cities, we have also started focusing on tier II cities such as Ludhiana, Jaipur, Kochin, Hyderabad, Pune, Indore, Soorat, Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore. Australia, in particular, is very popular with locals, as it offers various activities for tourists. Sunshine Coast, Wolgan, Hamilton, Whitsundays, Port Stephen are a few exclusive places people opt to visit.”
The hype also proves beneficial for travel companies. Chandigarh-based Kapil Malhotra of Ekido Holidays says, “Online travel companies may provide the basic knowledge, but Indians always look for verbal assurance. That’s where we come in. We also assist travellers during their trip — from providing them with restaurant guides to road routes.”
“While first timers are interested in sightseeing, more frequent travellers have now become open to experimentation. The segment of people visiting friends and relatives abroad is also high in number. The up-market segment usually prefers Europe, US and Canada, while the middle-class still sticks to the likes of Singapore, Bangkok and Thailand. Long-haul destinations are popular with either seasoned travellers or greedy travellers (those who want to wander to various places over a short span of time). These days, most of the families also opt for offbeat destinations, to be able to spend some quite time with each other. Run-of-the-mill destinations are out of the picture now,” adds Malhotra.
About the destinations gaining popularity with locals, Rajeev Nangia, chief operating officer, Trac Representations, says, “Mauritius has experienced a robust growth in the past few years. From 2000 to 2009, the percentage of Indian arrivals in Mauritius increased by 14%; from 2009 to 2011, the growth was 19%. And this was despite the recession and slow economic growth. In 2012, Mauritius received a total of 55,197 Indian arrivals, as the destination is popular for its beaches and adventure activities such as skydiving, underwater walking and submarine drive. It’s also becoming the hotspot for Indian destination weddings. Last year, we did about 10 such weddings. Another popular place is Kenya, best known for its safari-oriented beaches and Monaco.”
Back from a recent trip from South Africa, jeweller Amit Talwar, who has travelled to 58 countries so far, shares his travel experience, “I went for an 83-day honeymoon to Europe, where we tried our hand at everything unusual. I think I’m the only 50-year-old who has a 6.5-hour long video recording from his honeymoon. I always told my father that I will give my best to the store, but that won’t stop me ever from holidaying. Not many people understand partying hard is as important as working hard.”