Indians as intrepid travellers and India as a favoured destination both saw a steady climb in 2014. If it wasn't a great year for travel industry it wasn't bad either. Maintaining a steady flow was the order of the day.
The table below shows the consistent inbound tourists figures in the last two years.
@Growth rate over Jan-June 2013
Bureau of Immigration, Govt of India for 2013
Ministry of Tourism, GOI, for Jan-June 2014
As per data gathered from state and union territories (Source: tourism.gov.in), number of domestic tourist visits to states/UTs in 2013 stood at 1145.28 million. While data for 2014 wasn't available, the India report (Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2014 India) of World Travel and Tourism Council put the domestic travel spendings' expected growth at 8.2% for 2014.
Both the data specs indicate then that the inbound and domestic travel for 2014 saw a steady increase, as against exponential growth.
In the outbound travel segment too, consistency was the norm.
As per the economic contribution of Travel and Tourism: Real 2013 prices segment of the above mentioned report of World Travel and Tourism Council, expenditure on outbound travel in 2013 stood at Rs 750.2 billion while in 2014 the figure had improved to Rs 835.3 billion (estimate).
As per random reports, in the domestic circuit, northeast and Gujarat were new destinations explored while eternal favourites like Rajasthan and Ladakh maintained their preferred positions with travellers.
In the international sector, Australia which has been high on Indian travelers' radar in the last couple of years, maintained its positive growth in 2014. Of course, the old haunts like Bali, Hong Kong and Dubai remained most preferred getaways.Top 10 destinations in India
This one's an eternal favourite for both in-bound travellers as well as domestic holiday-makers, with its gorgeous beaches, rich culture, happening party scene and nightlife.
Northeast (Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimpong)
Making a surprise entry was the north-east - Kalimpong town in north Bengal with its spectacular Himalayan vistas, orchids, Buddhist monasteries, quaint hill town character and salubrious climate found favour with travellers. Darjeeling and Sikkim too offer similar retreats with more heritage was pretty high on the radar of Indian travellers. Gujarat (Rann of Kutch)
Call it the Modi effect or a result of the Amitabh Bachchan starring Gujarat Tourism campaign, 2014 did see a spike in people travelling to Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Its white salt desert, exquisite art and craft, flamingos and migratory birds, the place has lots to offer. Gujarat, despite tremendous potential, has always been ignored by travelers in favour of the neighbouring Rajasthan. Shimla-Manali
The old favourites remain - the Shimla and Manali circuit was a safe bet through the year, getting both the summer tourists and the Christmas visitors, though the intense cold wave in the dying days of December have dampened the spirits a bit. Rajasthan (Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Mt Abu, Sawai Madhopur, Bikaner)
Another classic destination, Rajasthan remained a hot favourite with its palaces, heritage, desert tunes, cuisine, touch of royalty, temples and lakes… Ladakh (Leh, Nubra valley, Pangong, Alchi)
A hot favourite with both inbound and outbound travellers, this stark landscape has been a trekker's paradise for a while now. This year too it retained its 'best destination' tag. It's spectacularly barren landscape, gentle people, a rich culture and swiftly flowing rivers (Indus and Zanskar) remained 'tourist-y' best bet. Kerala (Kochi, Munnar, Alappuzha, Kumarakom, Varkala)
A regular with the tourists from here and abroad, Kerala was on the travellers' itinerary this year too. This ancient harbour city of Kochi which was at the cross roads of the spice route with its amalgamation of cultures from synagogues, churches and temples was a safe bet. Kochi is also the gateway to the wondrous coffee plantations of Munnar, Alappuzha with its canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons, Kumarakom with its backwater tourism and Varkala with its lure of virgin beaches. Maharashtra (Panchgani, Lonavala, Ganapatipule)
A popular destination in the domestic circuit, the verdant hills of the western ghats have always got visitors flocking. Off late Ganapatipule has come up in the tourist map for its beaches. Golden triangle (New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra)
Among the most visited circuit in the country, the many cities of Delhi and her many monuments are always a hit. Neighbouring Jaipur with its palaces and Agra with the Taj Mahal never fail to score a point with visitors. J&K (Srinagar, Gulmerg, Pahalgaum)
After years of unrest and instability, Jammu & Kashmir saw its once insurgency-hit floundering tourism industry sprint up again in the last five odd years. However, this year's devastating floods in the state seem to have dampened the spirits. But despite the slowdown, Srinagar with its gardens, ski hub Gulmarg and Pahalgam with its valley did attract visitors.
Top 10 international destinations
A new entrant into the international travel segment was Australia and New Zealand. Apart from its cities and cafes, the Australian outback too has been a lure to Indian travellers eager to taste something new and certainly more adventurous. Coming as a package was picture-perfect New Zealand, not to forget that some of most spectacular Hollywood fantasy flicks have been shot here. Hong Kong-Macau
The bustling city with its chief attraction, Disneyland, was a huge attraction for family travellers. Not to forget Macau with its gondolas, cityscapes and shopping which ensured that it was a preferred holiday destination for many.
The romance of Europe can never end. Her history with its churches, museums, town halls, street arcades, cafes, canals of the 50-odd countries that constitute Europe and the convenience of travelling within 24 countries without visa is an absolute delight.
Oh that favourite honeymoon destination for so many Indians! The 'Eat, Pray, Love' country with its beaches, culture, nightlife and marine life is a perfect haunt for honeymooners. Always high on list of Indians and this year too was no different.
Like always, this year too saw a steady rush of people travelling to the city state in our neighbourhood. The convenience of travel given the short distance, first-world experience, shopping, family oriented entertainment industry - all ensured that this year too Singapore saw a major Indian footfall.
Malaysia and her proximity to India, multiculturalism, beaches, Hindu legacy and oil wealth have meant that Indians have always been interested in the country. Though the second half of 2014 wasn't as good as it ought to have been, thanks to MH 370 tragedy, the Malay nation still saw a steady flow of visitors from India. Dubai
The razzmatazz of the desert oasis never fails to dazzle the Indian traveller. Shopping delights, attraction of gold, desert safari, buzzing city life and convenience of travel (takes about 3-4 hours from India) and the ease with which one gets Indian food have meant that Indians love to flock the city.
That haven for adult fun has always been a hot pick for Indians, especially young men and honeymooners. But the place is also famous of its gorgeous beaches, resorts and itS thriving yoga industry.
The Indian Ocean nation is the latest entrant into the Indian travellers' calendar in 2014. With its sun-sand-beaches as its calling card, stunning vistas, rich marine life, world-class resorts and gentle people have all made it a very attractive destination for Indians. Bhutan
This quaint little Himalayan kingdom with its stupas, unique flora and fauna, natural beauty, mountains and rivers is all too fresh for Indians. Though it has been talked about for a couple of years now, it is only recently that Indians started to explore the country.
(Photos from Shutterstock)