There is surge in demand for group tours for offbeat countries like Japan, Tanzania and Russia becoming popular among travellers
Have Indians cut down on traveling because of the slowdown?
Some may have. But most continue to and have turned smart by taking shorter and frequent holidays.
This has worked well for the industry and many of the companies, including SOTC, which continue to have good business.
According to Daniel D’Souza, President and Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel, “Families, couples, and millennials, especially from tier I and tier II cities, are opting for short getaways to destinations like Goa, Gokarna, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Khandala, Lonavala and Pondicherry to unwind.”
And, this is why SOTC’s domestic business has grown to about 15 percent this year as compared to 2018.
“We have observed an increase in demand for homestays as travelers, today, are looking for the most authentic domestic travel experience. They prefer good accommodation at affordable prices, added facilities, and convenience of the local regional flavour,” said D’Souza.
Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager – India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, said adding to this, “A key trend witnessed in this segment is their (Indian travelers) ability to take shorter and frequent holidays, planning much earlier (for every possible long weekend), and leveraging the sharing economy model and the low cost carrier (LCC) segment. Value-conscious Indians are now planning smartly by booking their trips well in advance and leveraging flash sales and discounts, instead of opting out of travel completely.”
In terms of international travel, D'Souza says that there is surge in demand for group tours for offbeat countries like Japan, Tanzania and Russia becoming popular among travellers.
While people have not completely opted out of international travel, there is a temporary slowdown in the Indian outbound travel industry. Kashikar listed down these factors ---
- Economic reforms such as demonetization, introduction of GST, etc.
- Reduction in aviation capacity due to closure of Jet Airways, right during the onset of the peak travel season of the year
- Timing of the general elections which also coincided during the peak outbound travel season
- Uncertainty due to the US-China trade wars, Brexit have also dampened consumer sentiments.
Currently, the situation is such that travel agents are getting inquiries but they are not turning into sales.
Due to Jet Airways shutting down, flight tickets became 50 percent more expensive. Even now, prices for air tickets are 20 percent higher as compared to the same time in 2018.
“The industry was affected as a result of significant capacity reduction due to Jet’s exit, which has also slowed down the growth of domestic and international aviation, in one of the fastest growing aviation and outbound travel markets in the world,” said Kashikar.
Hope in festive season
Now, the travel industry is banking on the festive season.
Kashikar said that, while the first five months of the year (Jan to May 2019) saw a single-digit growth of six per cent in arrivals from India to Australia, the visitation during the month of June and July 2019 had grown at an average of 15 per cent.
“A forward-booking trend and based on our citizen arrivals data, we should continue to see a healthy double-digit growth in visitation from India to Australia. The demand should see a further surge during the festive season of Diwali and the Christmas/New Year period, which is a traditional peak travel month from India to Australia,” he added.
Similarly, SOTC is seeing a surge in demand for destinations like Kerala, Kolkata, Gujarat, and Andaman, thanks to festivities like Onam, Durga Puja and Navratri.
SOTC is also seeing a significant demand from travelers to spiritual destinations.
Even Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman and MD – Sterling Holiday Resorts, pointed out that people were visiting heritage and pilgrim locations to discover the rich history and affluent cultures of these places.
"Locations like Jaipur, Mysore, Agra – are quite popular for this reason. Indians continue to visit pilgrimage destinations like Shirdi, Guruvayur. Hence, pilgrimage centres continue to be important," said Ramanathan.
Confident about India's travel space, Sterling has plans to launch six new resorts in Palavelli, Karjat and Igatpuri, Thekkaddy, Guruvayur and Mysore.
In addition, with Durga Puja, Dussehra and Diwali falling between October 3 and 27, SOTC is expecting customers to opt for short getaways due to the long weekend opportunity.
Then, there is the wedding season around the corner as well for which SOTC is expecting increased demand for honeymoon destinations.The Great Diwali Discount!
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