The Transcending Indian Outbound Travel Market

Recently, Indian economy portrayed a boom demonstrating a growth in the rising middle class and disposable income of the Indian population. The trend emulated a growth in the Indian outbound travel market and further expected to grow from 2016 to 2020. The UNWTO also predicts India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. According to the PATA Annual Tourism Monitor 2015, Early Edition, Indian arrivals into Asia Pacific region were growing at extremely strong rate during the last five years. In the same period, South Asia recorded over 400 thousand arrivals from India. Renab Research values the outbound India travel market over $40 billion. This shows great potential to international hoteliers and tourism suppliers.

Growth accounts to a number of factors of rising income levels and changing lifestyles and varieties of tourism offerings. It also accounts to policy and regulatory support by the Indian government. Additionally, the cost of international airfares, availability of affordable travel packages and the rise of low-cost carriers (LCCs) has influenced the behaviors of Indian travelers. Finally, the proliferation of internet has a significant impact on the travelers to plan and book trips their trips, while instilling confidence to go farther beyond the usual boundaries of travel.

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To further review the scenario, a close monitoring process retrieved the key contributions of the outbound travel market as: personal or official travel, luxury travel, VFR trip, sport tourism, business and MICE tourism, honeymoon and cruises. This triggered national tourism boards and many of the National Tourism Organisations to gear-up and setup offices in India while others engaged through representations and embassies.

Majority Indian travelers take Thailand, Singapore, United States, and Malaysia as top destinations, albeit a significant segment of the outbound market explore new destinations as Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Japan and South Africa. Japan has strategized new measures to target Indian tourists to triple the number by 2020. Likewise, Indonesia, Philippines, Mauritius and Egypt have bolstered their tourism strategies.

Bollywood has always been recognized as having the strongest influence for potential Indian travelers and recent figures indicated some 14 million Indians enjoy Bollywood movies on a regular basis. For instance, Bollywood films such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kabhi Khushi Khabhie Gham and Mujhse Dosti Karogi have all presented Switzerland in a new light to Indian tourists. Another example being that with the popularity of Bollywood blockbuster Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD), Spain witnessed a surge in the number of India tourist arrivals in 2012 and 2013. ‘Promote Iceland’, is a body which promotes Iceland as a tourist destination. It even conducted its maiden roadshow in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai to reach out to Indian travelers in association to the movie Dilwale.

Gerua song from the movie Dilwale filmed in the south coast of Iceland. Photo: Guide to Iceland

As the world witnessed a surge of Indian travelers, it is now important to review the perspective of Indian travelers to Maldives. The annual publication of the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Yearbook 2015, indicated that the Indian market stepped up to the 7th position with a slight increment to its shares from 3.4% in 2013 to 3.8% by 2014.

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Moreover, India has remained as one of the top ten source markets to the Maldives over the years. The Indian market which was the 8th largest market to the Maldives in 2013, performed well in 2014 overtaking Japan to step up to the 7th position at the end of 2014. The quarterly statistics of 2016 published by the Ministry indicated Chinese and French market showed negative growths while UK, India and USA showed a significant growth in arrivals.

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Quarterly Tourism Update – First Quarter 2016, Ministry of Tourism

Subsequently, a number engagements has been made by Maldives in terms of marketing and promotion. For instance, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) participates on the annual India’s biggest travel trade show, OTM Mumbai and South Asian’s Leading Travel Show (SATTE). In addition, MMPRC has showcased in a handful of roadshows in various cities of India early this year. Prateik Babbar, son of famous Bollywood actor turned politician Raj Babbar, has been appointed as Goodwill Ambassador of Maldives according to Shalin Tandon, Honorary Consul, Republic of Maldives MUMBAI.

Prateik Babbar , goodwill ambassador for tourism in Maldives. Photo: Hindustan Times.

Given the vast size of the Indian outbound travel market, Maldives is not witnessing a sizable portion of the market. This calls for aggressive marketing and promotion activities from the entire industry.


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