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Tuesday, 31 December, 2019, 15 : 50 PM [IST]

Forecast 2020: Mood of Cautious Optimism

The year 2019 was tumultuous for the tourism industry! It began with the closure of Jet Airways, followed by a series of setbacks like grounding of Boeing 737 Max, unprecedented debt crisis of Cox & Kings, collapse of Thomas Cook UK, and overall economic slowdown curtailing consumer spending. Perhaps, the tourism industry, in its history, has never witnessed setbacks of such magnitudes in a calendar year. Moreover, at the fag-end of the year, the country witnessed unprecedented violent protests over the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), and the travel advisories that followed, clearly demonstrates how India's image has dented in front of the global audience. At this critical juncture, TravelBiz Monitor ascertains the views of the industry stakeholders on the outlook for 2020.

Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global Group

As international travel continues to grow fueled by higher disposable incomes, organisations will need to be flexible, adapt and keep customer needs at the forefront. With the UNWTO forecasting over 50 million outbound Indian tourists by 2020, I believe we are contributing with our services and solutions to bring value to the ever-rising numbers of outbound travellers.

Vishal Suri, MD, SOTC Travel

Despite the challenges, there has been a substantial progress. The interest for exploring new destinations, the rise in purchasing power, availability of direct and low fare international flights are the key drivers for the growth of the Indian travel segment. With so many avenues 2020 looks a promising year for the travel industry.

T C Guruprasad, MD, EbixCash

Hopefully, 2020 will see a turnaround considering that the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to take place in July and the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in October in Australia, which should see a section of the population experience a once-in-a-lifetime event. We should also see a lot of people club business and leisure trips to create extended holidays.

Rajeev Kohli, Joint MD, Creative Travel

2020 is going to be a year of shake-ups. Those who adapt and reinvent themselves will survive. The rest will fall to the side. The industry needs to set aside differences and take on the challenges —government and externalities head — on as a single team. We are a resilient lot that will survive if we want to.

Ankush Nijhawan, MD, Nijhawan Group of Companies

2019 has been a difficult year for the industry, and the economic downturn and political situation have adversely impacted the sentiment, especially in December. However, I am hopeful that the economy will improve in 2020, and the second half of the year will bring positive development in the overall business scenario.

Ashish Kishore, MD, American Express Global Business Travel India

India's expanding economy is fueling the demand for domestic and international travel, despite the challenges of 2019. While grounding of Jet Airways have reduced capacity and pushed prices up, airlines including Air France-KLM, Virgin, Delta and British Airways are looking to boost their capacity. This paints a positive overall picture for business travel in 2020.


Pankaj Nagpal, MD, Travstarz Global Group

2019 was one of the most difficult years, and I don't see strong revival in 2020. The situation in the country is adverse and unfortunately the government is busy fire-fighting non-core issues rather than focussing on urgent steps to revive the economy. The limited liquidity and credit squeeze, and the collapse of some major names not only in travel, but other industries too have added to the problem, overall affecting the sentiment negatively.

Rajiv Duggal, Director – Travel Specialist LLP

2019 has been tough, and there have been upsetting trends across the world. Travellers will continue discovering destinations; however, the sensitive part will be Budget. Travel trade has to gear up with short-haul getaways both domestically and internationally. Long-haul holidays and summer travel will be challenging; it will take up to mid-2020 to bounce back.

Dipak Deva, MD, TCI (Travel Corporation India)

Our bookings from our overseas travellers are done well in advance and while we have not seen cancellations, we have been receiving concerns from our customers on their safety and security and this is given the advisories from their governments and in light of media reportage. We are in close touch with all our customers to reassure them and do all possible to ensure their safety.

Vasudha Sondhi, MD, Outbound Marketing Pvt. Ltd.

At times there are periods of great change, and this is what we are witnessing. We will definitely see more closures, consolidation and technology-powered solutions. Our lead generation for Q1 has been strong. Corporate MICE travel is going strong, but they could cut number of trips. Domestic leisure is seeking bigger discounts, but the HNWI segment is still buying luxury holidays, roughly 80/20.

Sudhir Patil, Founder & Director, Veena World

Since the last two years have been steady owing to the prevailing socio-economic-political conditions, we are optimistic and expect 2020 to be a year of growth. The airline inventory is on the rise on various old and new routes from India. We foresee growth in inbound tourism due to the ease in visa processing and due to better air connectivity to various destinations.

Sabina Chopra, Co-Founder and COO, Corporate Travel & Head Industry Relations,

In 2019, the grounding of 737 Max and closure of Jet Airways did cause turbulence impacting fares. However, with the induction of new aircraft, filling up of the empty slots with discounts have helped combat high fares and lifted passenger traffic. In terms of luxury travel, couples visiting country houses, homestays, villas and heritage properties shall gain popularity across all age groups.

Dev Karvat, Founder & CEO – India & Emerging Markets, TrawellTag Cover-More

2019 was a challenging year for the industry. The collapse of international travel aggregators and century-old organisations have surely had an impact on the industry. With every change comes opportunities to fill the gaps and resurrect ourselves with an appetite for excellence. Innovating products as per travellers demands is and will remain our prime imperative.

Jaal Shah, Group MD,

Indeed 2019 has been a difficult year for the industry, but I expect 2020 will bring more opportunities for outbound travel. With Indian LCCs expanding their international destinations, the short-haul travel will rise from India. With new routes and destinations on offer, Indian outbound travellers will have more choices for their travel.

Sandeep Dwivedi, COO, InterGlobe Technology Quotient

2020 is expected to bring an upsurge in outbound luxury travel and deeper diversification of products to the Indian aviation market. As the market evolves together with mass traveller mind-set, we are expecting technology advancements such as AI integration into APIs and utilising big data to offer personalised travel offers with a focus on CX.

Todd Arthur, VP, Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific

The rapidly evolving consumer expectations have created a harsh "make it or break it" environment where innovation is essential to a company's very existence. As the industry reinvents itself, where every sector develops catered strategies for each market, segment, and customer they serve, we can expect to see a heightened transformation of travel as we move into the new decade.


Darshan Maheshwari, Country Manager, India - The Travel Corporation

We are optimistic for 2020 as forward sales for our travel brands including Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Uniworld, Costsaver and Contiki are up by an average of 35% compared to 2019. Savvy customers have chosen to book earlier to take advantage of airfare deals and that has definitely helped to drive growth for our guided holidays and river cruising business.

Nalini Gupta, Head, Costa Cruises – India

Cruise tourism is growing in India, and despite the recessionary trends, we have witnessed a growth of around 30% for the 4th season. After an overwhelming response from millennials, senior citizens, families and MICE travellers we look forward to a successful 2020.

Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Jalesh Cruises

Although growth momentum was lower than expected, tourism sector still remains one of the fastest growing. Several initiatives of the government to promote tourism have helped increase both international and domestic traffic which has led to India moving up six places to 34th position in a global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 by World Economic Forum. These factors will surely bolster growth in the medium term.

Naresh Rawal, VP – Sales & Marketing, Genting Cruise Lines

It is never easy for travellers to endure an economic slowdown. However, despite this, Dream Cruises witnessed a significant number of Indian travellers patronising our services in 2019. Owing to the increasingly affluent middle class and rise of internet penetration in the country, we expect to see a continued growth in international outbound travel through 2020.

Manoj Singh, Country Head - India, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

Despite economic hurdles, the Indian travel industry has continued to be one of the country's growth sectors. Indians are experimenting with travel choices and opting for cruise vacations that offer them a multi-destination experience with new and exciting itineraries. For 2020, the trend for sustainable and eco travel will continue to grow, as will the market for solo travellers, and cruise tours.

Pradeep Saboo, CMD, Guideline Travels LLP

2019 hasn't been the best year for the travel trade. Demands fell, liquidity crunch led to change in destinations, eventually resulting in a mixed bag year. However, 2020 looks promising. Traditionally, every not so good business year is followed up by a fruitful business year.

Kishan Biyani, MD, Ark Travels Pvt. Ltd.

We anticipate demand and supply gap, particularly for the Singapore sector. Major cruise players will look forward to encash on vacationers and fill the gap which is growing at 15-18% CAGR. It will be quite interesting to see how cruise conglomerates take care of the Indian MNCs and corporate entities taking on the high-seas.

Dipti Adhia, Director - Sales & Product Head Cruises,Discover the world India

India is one of the fastest growing outbound markets in the world. Despite of all the challenges, the Indian outbound has been growing at an average rate of 8-10% over the last seven years. Recognising the huge potential in outbound travel from India, stakeholders are constantly investing here. I foresee 2020 to be a good year.

Tadesse Tilahun, Regional Director - Indian subcontinent, Ethiopian Airways

As one ponders over the scenario during 2019, one would tend to feel deflated and imagine this year as bleak. Big entities have literally crashed. But I am confident that India with its "never say die" attitude will overcome these challenges. The market is huge and there will be many new players to make 2020 a year of aspiration and hope.

Sheetal Munshaw – Director, Atout France India

2019 has been a Grand Cru vintage in terms of challenges. However, with the shift in mindset over the last few years where travel has become a way of life and is no longer a luxury for the Indian globetrotters, we are hopeful that the resilience and wanderlust in India will enable us to stay stable if not augment our tourism footprint ex-India.

Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head - MEISEA, South African Tourism

With the rise of millennials, who seek to invest in experiences, the demand for immersive travel is at an all time high. Travel trends and patterns may change depending on economic conditions, purchasing power, connectivity and ease of travel. Intent to travel will hold strong with travellers opting for destinations that will give them the most value for their money.


Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager (India and Gulf), Tourism Australia

While organisations across segments have been highlighting the negative consumer sentiment, we have seen arrivals into Australia growing at 12% for the year ending October 2019. This makes us believe that that 2020 is going to be yet another momentous year, as we will be hosting Womens' and Mens' T20 World Cups.

Vishal Bhatia, Country Manager - India, VisitBritain

According to the International Passenger Survey results for Q2 2019, visitors from India to the UK set new records for nights and spend. India was Britain's 17th largest source market in terms of visits and 12th most valuable for visitor spending in 2018. Visitors from India have evolved from taking multi country trips to mono-country ones, and spend more time on local experiences.

Elisa Robles Fraga, Director-Tourism Office of Spain in India (Mumbai)

Despite an economic slowdown in India and a difficult year for stakeholders because of higher GST on certain segments, we find the interest to travel to Spain very favourable in an emerging, potential market like India. We are maintaining a double-digit growth in terms of Indian arrivals to Spain, and expect to positively grow even further.

GB Srithar, Regional Director – India, Middle East and South Asia (IMESA), Singapore Tourism Board

It was a tough 2019 for many of us in the Indian outbound tourism sector. 2020 should be a much better year, especially given the increasing importance that Indian consumers place on holidays and pursuit of their passions.

Hector D'souza, India Representative - SouthWest German Tourism

Outbound fixed, escorted and individual departures will recird a double digit growth; hotel rates worldwide will remain constant due to higher inventory. Airfares will increase due to capacity constraints, and aggregators will propel demand while absorbing costs. Inbound could have a tepid growth, while domestic tourism and local MICE incentives will help domestic travel market.

Pranav Kapadia, Founder, Global Destinations

2019 marked the survival of the fittest, and Global Destinations over 11 years has weathered many such storms. In 2019, we ventured into newer smaller cities wherein agents are looking for trust-worthy overseas partners. 2020 definitely looks promising.
we expect growth from the newer markets and trade partners we have invested in.

Joseph Fernandes, General Manager India, AVIAREPS

The year was a difficult one, mainly due to the economic slowdown resulting in consumers curtailing travel expenditure. We just can't highlight the examples of C&K and Jet; the year also witnessed a slew of takeovers by international investment groups like Ebix which shows that the world is still quite bullish on India. 2020 looks to be promising, but a lot depends on the Indian economy and its impact on the per capita income.

Aashish Gupta, Consulting CEO, FAITH

2020 looks to be a mixed year. There will be tailwinds to Indian tourism through the pass through of the reduced GST and E-visa rates and an increased tendency of Indian millennials for DIY shorter and impulse purchase holidays driven by digitisation. However, there will be headwinds in India from declining Indian economic conditions and turbulent political climate due to state elections in India and the presidential elections in the USA.

Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI

2019 has been a struggling year for the industry and the biggest catastrophe was the closure of Jet Airways which resulted in surging airfares and less capacity. Besides this, collapse of Thomas Cook UK and Cox & Kings, further aggravated the situation. However, I hope that with concerted efforts and right focus the tourism industry will register growth in 2020.

Gaurav Sundaram, Regional Director, GBTA India

The 2020 outlook for the Indian travel & tourism industry is grim. The economic slowdown combined with the recent unrest post the CAA, point to civil disturbances. The domestic aviation industry is deeply troubled with crisis at Air India and now SpiceJet. There is limited policy direction from the government and the possibility of global sanctions is imminent.

PP Khanna, President, ADTOI

Over 1.65 billion domestic travellers are estimated to travel on leisure holidays shall keep travelling and the effect of economic slowdown will be felt only in the long run. We feel that there would not be much dent in the growth of domestic tourism, and the segment will continue to register its normal growth in 2020 as well.

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