There has been a fundamental change in the way Indians perceive and engage with travel. As India continues to be a significant source of outbound tourism, destinations worldwide must recognize this changing landscape and adapt their offerings accordingly.
Indians say they still plan on traveling — but 9 in 10 in a recent survey said the increased costs of living will influence their plans for 2023. That might mean choosing cheaper destinations or non-peak travel periods.
The findings come from a recent report by flight-search engine Skyscanner, which relied on its own search and booking data, as well as a study of consumer behavior.
Another finding: While Indian travelers seek value, around 63% of survey respondents said they prefer to travel in comfort.
Mohit Joshi, Skyscanner’s travel trends and destination expert, emphasizes that although travel patterns have evolved in recent years, the desire for vacations remains strong.
In fact, the Indian travel market is projected to reach $125 billion by 2027, a substantial increase from the estimated $75 billion in fiscal 2020, as stated by an industry report from Ficci.
This growth in the travel sector is expected to lead to a rise in employment opportunities, with an estimated increase from 31.8 million jobs in 2020 to 53 million by 2029.
The Skyscanner report also offers several key takeaways.
1. Immersive Experiences
One noteworthy trend is the rise of “slow travel,” a concept relatively new to Indian travelers who were previously focused on visiting as many must-see attractions as possible. Skyscanner reveals that 46% of Indians now opt for immersive travel experiences, while 40% still prefer fast-paced travel.
Gone are the days when Indian tourists were content with visiting popular landmarks and capturing photographs for their albums. Today, they are seeking more meaningful and immersive encounters. In fact, the Skyscanner data shows that over 38% of Indian travelers spend more than a month on single-destination trips, both domestically and internationally.
2. Cricket Fever
Cricket, being deeply ingrained in Indian culture, holds a special place in the hearts of Indians. With the upcoming cricket World Cup in India, 75% of travelers express their willingness to increase their travel budget to witness live cricket matches.
Skyscanner notes a surge in searches for Ahmedabad, one of the host cities, with a 46% increase in search volume from within India, a testament to the deep-rooted passion for the sport.
Online travel agency MakemyTrip has also extended an invitation to residents across prominent Indian cricket centers, urging them to list their properties on their platform. The OTA aims to bolster its inventory of homestay accommodations, targeting select metros and cities that are bound to experience a surge in demand during the World Cup.
Hospitality platform Oyo also plans to add 500 hotels in host cities to meet demand for the cricket World Cup.
3. Journeys With a Purpose
Furthermore, Indian travelers are increasingly motivated to embark on purposeful journeys that offer physical, mental, and spiritual enrichment. This shift in mindset has led them to view travel as an opportunity for personal growth, self-improvement, and the pursuit of new experiences.
Activities such as scuba diving, jewelry shopping, yoga, and wellness retreats are driving Indian travelers to engage in purpose-related domestic travel.
4. Faith-Based Tourism
Faith-based tourism and pilgrimage play a significant role in this context, with half of the surveyed Indians actively planning visits to holy sites within the next six months. Religious tourism is a major industry in India, contributing billions of dollars in revenue annually.
According to the Indian government, religious tourism accounted for 13% of the country’s total tourism revenue in 2022, generating more than Rs 1345 billion ($17 billion) in revenue. Around 1,433 million domestic tourists visited pilgrimage sites in the country.
To enhance the religious tourism experience, the Indian government has approved 45 projects under the Prashad Scheme, allocating a budget of 1586.10 crore ($21 million) thus far. Launched in 2014-2015, this scheme aims to develop and identify pilgrimage sites across India.
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Photo credit: The budget conscious Indian traveler. Bhavitya Indora / Pexels