Have money, will travel: More Indians going off beaten track
A history lesson at the War Remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam, adventure sports in South Africa for an adrenaline rush or taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of Krabi in Thailand. An ever increasing number of Indians are exploring offbeat destinations around the world with rise in disposable incomes and lifestyle changes, travel experts say.
According to online travel portal Expedia India, 30 percent of holiday-goers in India are opting for offbeat destinations during the summer holidays this year, as compared to 20 percent last year. And over 13 million Indians - one of the largest groups of world travellers today - are expected to be travelling abroad this year.
Those with deep pockets and spare time are heading to Europe, Africa and Latin America, others continue to flock to short-haul destinations like Thailand and Singapore, but keep away from the general tourist spots.
"The less explored spots in Southeast Asia, like Koh Samui, Krabi in Thailand; Langkawi and Johor Bahru in Malaysia; and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam are now being chosen by Indian travelers at large," Vikram Malhi, Country Head, Expedia, told IANS.
"Europe has always been the favorite travel hub for Indians, destinations like Turkey and Greece which were earlier not chosen in large numbers are now being explored widely," he added.
Agreed Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, who said that while destinations in Europe and East Asia continue to be in demand, places like Macha Pichu in Peru and South Africa which offer adventure tours and trekking are becoming a hot favourite.
As far as domestic destinations are concerned, travellers may be opting for hill-stations but they make sure to choose the one which is an offbeat destination.
"We're seeing increased interest in hill-stations like Chail, Shogi, Ranikhet, in the north, Wayanad in Kerala and Tawang and Shillong towards the Northeast," Richa Goyal Sikri, Group Business Development Director, STIC Travel Group, told IANS.
"As summer break is a peak season, the usual destinations are packed and expensive. the very objective of a holiday - relaxation - is not met due to the rush," she added.
According to the experts, Indians are getting paid better and are venturing out more and don't mind spending on expensive international holiday packages.
However, summer travel which was primarily a family holiday, has completely changed over the years. "Travel is no longer a luxury but a routine now. If not long vacations, weekend getaways are definitely the latest trend among Indian travellers, especially among couples with no kids," said Malhi.
The discounts and special offers doled out by the travel and tour operators to woo as many travellers as possible help in sweetening the deal.
"The special offers definitely have a large role to play here. Everybody has something to pick for themselves irrespective of their budget or days available which help in luring travellers," Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer-Holidays at MakeMyTrip, told IANS.
The holiday budgets average anywhere between Rs. 5,000 and Rs 30,000 for domestic destinations and Rs 35,000 and Rs. 2 lakh for international destinations.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of Indians travelling abroad in 1991 was 1.9 million, which rose to 12.99 million in 2010 with a compound annual growth rate of 10.5 percent. The number of departures in 2010 registered a growth of nine percent over 2009 as compared to 1.8 percent growth in 2009 over 2008.