Mumbai: Today, September 27, is World Tourism Day and it could well be the Indian tourist’s day.
According to a World Tourism Organisation (WTO) report, India is the fastest-growing outbound travel market in the world, now accounting for over 12 million tourists annually – a growth of over 100% from less than 6 million in 2004.
Boosted by the buoyant economy, affluent Indians are travelling like never before, with Mumbai alone accounting for nearly 25% of outbound tourists. “It’s exciting to see the increasing affluence of the Indian traveller and the growth of the country’s outbound market. I travel around the world and it’s amazing to see Indians all over,” says Simon Turner, president – Global Development, Starwood Hotels, adding that the Indian traveller has come of age.
“Once you have a good house, two cars and worldly possessions, then you want to travel and accumulate experiences. That time has come for the affluent Indians,” said Turner.
Thailand is the most popular destination for Indian tourists, with nearly one million flying to the land of temples and therapies. “Indians are value conscious travellers and Thailand is the ultimate value-for-money destination,” says Sethaphan Buddhani, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand.
He added that the Indian market is maturing and new niches such as golf, luxury holidays, weddings, medical and Bollywood tourism are increasingly heading to Thailand. While 28% of the outbound Indian tourists go abroad to visit friends and relatives, a good 20% fly out exclusively for leisure activities.
“Inbound tourism from India has been on a consistent rise,” said Celia Ho, regional manager, South East Asia, Tourism Victoria, adding that the VFR segment registered a 20% growth compared to last year and continued to account for the largest volume of Indian visitors to Victoria in the year till June. Europe continues to be the top destination for the aspiring Indian tourists, with Switzerland topping the list. “We have registered a 100% increase in the number of Indian tourists in the past five years and are still aiming for more,” says Ritu Sharma, deputy director, Switzerland Tourism. While 51% of Indians go on self-organised foreign holidays, 33% go for package tours and the rest opt for customised travel packages.