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Monday, 02 December, 2013, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

TRENDS 2014: Part I: Outbound

This year has been a mixed bag for the travel industry in India, considering the devaluation of the rupee against the US dollar, taxation issues and announcements at the policy level. In a first of the three-part series, TravelBiz Monitor spoke to industry experts on expectations for the next year across various industry segments. Here’s taking a close look at the scope of Outbound Tourism in 2014

Global economic slowdown, a weakening Indian rupee and negative sentiments across most sectors have so far been major impediments for outbound travel from India, especially to long-haul destinations. In light of little improvement in the dollar-rupee exchange rate and overall economic scenario, what prospects does the year 2014 hold for the Indian outbound market? Some industry experts expect the outbound market of the country to grow next year, notwithstanding the falling rupee, while some believe there is little scope for improvement in the Indian outbound travel situation. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts the number of Indian outbound travellers to touch 50 million by 2020. Those optimistic about the growth in the segment believe that a significant contribution will come from business travellers, adventure travellers and the youth. There is also a growing consensus that emerging destinations will be on the must-visit list of holidaymakers, and that short-haul destinations will also continue to see good demand. Following are the views of tour operators, travel trade associations, NTOs and DMCs on the prospects of growth of the Indian outbound segment in the year ahead

guldeep_singh_sahni_id.jpgGuldeep Singh Sahni
President, OTOAI
There will be a lot happening in the outbound segment in 2014. Tourists will prefer long-haul destinations, and there will be demand for new destinations and new attractions at existing destinations. Emerging destinations such as South America, the Philippines, Korea, Pacific Islands, USA, Canada and Eastern Europe will largely attract Indian tourists. Canada and USA will attract more Indian holidaymakers and VFRs.
rajesh_sethi_id.jpgRajesh Sethi
President, Society of Foreign Tour  Operators and Managing Director, Carnation Travel Services Pvt. Ltd
Outbound Tourism is not at all picking up pace. Therefore, outbound tourist numbers from India will not increase in 2014. The numbers will be the same as it was this year. Some of the reasons for this are economic slowdown and Indian rupee devaluation. However, high-end travellers are still opting for international trips, and this may continue next year.
shivali_suri_id_new_1.jpgShivali Suri
Country Manager, VisitBritain India
By 2020, it is anticipated that 65 per cent of the population will be under 30 years of age, so it is quite obvious that the trends emerging in the coming years will be defined by the younger Indians. In 2014, we anticipate a trend of experiential travel, exploring newer destinations and staying longer at single destinations rather than destination hopping. Sports-oriented travel, travel around special events/festivals are emerging for Britain. The family and luxury segments will continue to grow.
vikram_madhok_id.jpgVikram Madhok
Managing Director, Abercrombie & Kent India Pvt. Ltd
Notwithstanding the dollar-rupee exchange rate, the outbound market will have a robust growth in the coming year. Indian tourists are more interested to spend on vacations closer to home, therefore there will be higher demand for short-haul destinations. There is demand for new activities and destinations. South Africa and Morocco, and similar destinations are drawing more interest from the Indian market.
iqbal_mulla_id_new_1.jpgIqbal Mulla
President, TAAI
The fate of Outbound Tourism will depend a lot on the fluctuations of the Indian rupee. However, despite the problems faced, I feel India will be one of the emerging outbound markets. With the entry of new airlines into the Indian market, Outbound Tourism is going to scale upwards. Also, the market will witness higher participation of young travellers. MICE and business travel will be the segments that will drive outbound travel from India.
harmandeep_singh_anand_id.jpgHarmandeep Singh Anand
Managing Director, Jagsons Travels Pvt. Ltd
Leisure travel is likely to witness a dip in the coming travel season (summer holidays) due to high package prices on account of increase in airfares, room rates and depreciation of the rupee. Airfares are up by 30-35 per cent, room rates by about seven to eight per cent. Group departure has witnessed a slump and is likely to dip further due to high package price. Cost of package to Europe today has almost doubled. People are more likely to opt for short-haul destinations and will look at reducing the number of days if they are considering a vacation in a long-haul destination. Also single destination holidays instead of multiple-destination ones will be preferred. Destinations like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, will continue to be popular with Indian travellers. On the other hand the luxury or high-end segment of outbound market will not be affected.  In this segment the emphasis will be more on experiential travel.
catherine_oden_id.jpgCatherine Oden
Director, Atout France India
The global economic condition and the valuation of the rupee vis-a-vis its foreign counterparts might still influence tourism trends to some extent. In addition, the upcoming elections and policy decisions that could possibly influence Outbound Tourism may also be key factors which determine the growth of outbound tourists in India.  We believe that the demand for experiential travel will continue its augmentation. The discerning Indian traveller is ready to add novelty to his holiday experience and is looking to explore newer destinations. As an experiential holiday destination, France has a variety of experiences to offer and is very interested in establishing and furthering a channel of communication with this breed of enthusiastic explorers cum vacationers.

We have had requests from our industry colleagues on promoting self-drive holidays, wine trails and active holiday itineraries for their clients which is an encouraging sign. We will also increase our presence in the domain of youth travel as we believe that this segment has a tremendous potential for France.
manoj_gursahani_id.jpgManoj Gursahani
President, VUSACOM
The Indian outbound market will continue to grow next year, though the growth may slow down a bit, despite the current scenario of the depreciation of the rupee. Luxury segment will increase rapidly and the trend of experiential travel and exploring individual destinations will dominate, especially among FIT segment. Offbeat destinations both short haul and long haul like Vietnam, Cambodia, Morocco, Argentina, etc. will generate greater interest. Discerning travellers will increasingly opt for niche and theme-based holidays like gastronomy and wine tours, culture tours, self-drive holidays, etc.

USA will continue to attract visitors from the business and leisure segments and we are confident that we will achieve the target of one million Indian visitors by 2015. While big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Las Vegas, San Francisco, etc. are popular with Indians, the recent trend to explore the surrounding region as well will continue next year. Self-drive holidays are also getting popular among Indian visitors to the USA.
manoharan_periasamy_id.jpgManoharan Periasamy
Director - India, Tourism Malaysia
The first quarter of 2014 will not see any drastic change in the outbound travel segment owing to the elections during the months, and this will result in a slight dip in business travel during the period. However, domestic and short-haul travel will gain momentum with outbound and business travellers choosing destinations that require a maximum of five to six hours of flying time. Off-season travel will be determined by the rupee value as well as inflation rate.
sethaphan_buddhani_id.jpgSethaphan Buddhani
Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mumbai
I see the luxury segment picking up next year. TAT this year held luxury showcase roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi, and in February next year, we will conduct roadshows in Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. At least two per cent of the one-million-strong Indian market should be luxury tourists i.e. top spenders. I foresee this trend panning out in 2014. Volunteer Tourism or Voluntourism is another segment that is showing emerging signs next year.
shibani_phadkar_id.jpgShibani Phadkar
Sr. VP & Head - Leisure Travel (Outbound) Products, Contracting, Operations & Tour Management, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.
Our consumer research has revealed that for India’s rapidly evolving holidaymaker, travel is today a voyage of discovery – of new places and importantly - different, exciting non-traditional experiences. The new-age discerning Indian traveller’s “Bucket List” now comprises an eclectic blend of engaging experiences and experimental offbeat journeys - that translate into a magical dream holiday. 2014 is going to be all about exploring the unexplored. Experiences like a biking tour in Penang, Malaysia, paragliding, mountain biking and alpine trekking in Switzerland, Hoerikwaggo trail in South Africa, volcano climbing in the Philippines fissure snorkelling in Iceland, Egypt and Canada’s stunning Northern Lights tour will feature extensively on the Indian travellers’ itineraries.

Luxury travel will reiterate it’s resilience. For the Tier-II and III markets, value will continue to be of top significance. Our ‘Holiday Pe Holiday FREE’ marketing campaign for Summer Group Tours 2014 launched recently has received great response. This campaign offers an international holiday free on the purchase of one international holiday. Our regional tours for Marathi (Avismarniya Europe), Hindi (Satrangi Europe) and South India have shown incredible demand. Top international destinations for 2014 will be USA, Canada, Turkey, New Zealand, Thailand, Australia, UK, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Spain and South Africa.
romit_theophilus_id.jpgRomit Theophilus
Director - Sales & Marketing, German National Tourist Office
In 2014, we expect a rising interest in MICE and incentive trips. There will be an increase in FIT travel, and leisure trips by families, especially from Northern and Western regions of India. We also see a lot of potential in niche segments, wherein visitors indulge in self drives, explore wine regions, experience culinary events and festivals. We expect these segments to grow in 2014. For Germany, India is a critical market not only in business but also in leisure travel. GNTO with its India Pool will invest over EUR 500,000 this year in marketing and communication activities to enhance the visibility of the country. More Indians are vacationing in Germany. However, the destination will always be a leader in Indian MICE arrivals to Europe.
kunal_kothari_id.jpgKunal Kothari
Executive Director, Rail Europe India Pvt. Ltd.
I don’t foresee any major changes in the trends in 2014 if the rupee stabilises at a fixed value against the dollar and euro. Yes, there will be minor fluctuations around peak summer but that happens every year as demand for the currencies goes up. Barring that, if the rupee is stable, travel trend will continue in the same vein as 2013. Having said that, 2013 wasn’t a bumper year but then, we have had an extremely volatile situation with the rupee for second half of the year. The only worrying part is that elections will be held in 2014 around the peak summer months. At Rail Europe, we believe Switzerland will continue to be popular as always and will still figure amongst the top destinations for us. We are introducing a new product for 2014 for Switzerland and are sure it will help boost sales. I also feel the popularity of the high-speed trains will continue to grow, as has been the case this year. The only trend that I hope changes is people to start booking early.
karan_anand_id.jpgKaran Anand
Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings Ltd.
Outbound travel will continue on its growth trajectory in 2014 with customers adapting their holidays to derive value from their trips. We expect growth in GIT holidays especially to long-haul and mid-haul destinations. Among long-haul destinations, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will receive its fair share of tourists. Group holidays tend to be cost effective and we feel that in the current environment, customers will prefer it.  Mid-haul destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, will attract the experienced traveller who is looking for culture and wildlife. However, FIT will also continue to grow with the discerning traveller.

Cruise is another segment that we believe has matured and will grow in 2014. Cruising holidays as they are all inclusive will be a good segment to watch out for in the year to come. Finally, ‘Instant Holidays,’ to destinations which offer Visa-on-Arrival or grant visa in 24-36 hours will be popular amongst Indians—Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and Dubai fall under this category. These ‘Instant Holidays’ will be popular for those intending to go on weekend breaks.
munnmunn_marwah_id_new.jpgMunnMunn Marwah
General Manager, Think Strawberries
The Indian outbound segment is poised for a positive growth next year. New destinations will be in demand as the experienced and seasoned Indian travellers are keen to explore and are now experiential travellers in the true sense. They are looking at different experiences such as varied cuisine and destinations that open their eyes to a sense of history and its various cultural aspects.

With aggressive media advertising, outdoor branding, trade workshops and FAM trips, I am confident that 2014 will be the year for Jordan and Taiwan. Both the destinations will be in huge demand as we are doing extensive brand campaigns for trade and consumer highlighting the offering of Jordan and Taiwan. Both the destinations cater to all the segments of outbound travel – be it family, honeymooners, couples or MICE. With new airlines and mergers in the market, air routes are also in favour of the Indian traveller as they will have many more options and flights to choose from. Also more and more destinations are offering incentive and many other plans to encourage Indians to visit their countries and that will really be a positive factor in encouraging outbound travel from India in 2014.
lubaina_sheerazi_id.jpgLubaina Sheerazi
India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman
With the rising economic status of the middle class and affluent population, outbound travel is expected to increase in 2014. We have noticed a growing interest in offbeat destinations with fascinating cultures and traditions like Oman. India is set to have a huge youth population and this is a quickly growing segment of travellers. For such a segment, Oman is of great value as it offers several adventure activities to choose from. We also foresee the luxury travel segment recovering from the financial crisis and expect the segment to grow. MICE traffic will continue to grow to Oman as corporate houses will be on the lookout for new destinations. By 2015, Indian outbound tourist departure should touch 20.5 million.
vineet_gopal_id.jpgVineet Gopal
Managing Director, Engee Holidays LLP
Indian outbound travel will definitely grow despite devaluation of the Indian rupee People are exploring international destinations, so demand and interest among travellers is definitely there. This demand and interest will increase next year. Tourists are interested in long-haul holidays. Destinations such as Canada and USA will have more demand in the future. I am expecting 2014 to be a positive year for Outbound Tourism in India.
sanjay_sondhi_id.jpgSanjay Sondhi
CEO, OM Tourism
Next year, we expect to see a bigger growth for Indonesia. Indonesia continues to show double digit growth and is inspiring the traveller to return to see newer destinations. For 2014 we are seeing an increased interest from the weddings segment. We expect to see a bigger growth from adventure seekers, especially from womens’ groups. We are looking at growth in the corporate segment as well, mainly from SMEs’. Tier-II and III cities are performing better and will have surprises in store for a lot of our destinations and hotels in 2014. Growth in luxury travel is expected, which was a bit slow in 2013. Medical Tourism is also a trend which will only go northwards. There is currently no facility in India to analyse body performance of athletes or sporty persons. Such people will travel overseas for such analysis. Maldives is a popular destination in India and will also show a high growth in numbers due to the unique one island, one resort experience and high product quality.
nishant_kashikar_id_new.jpgNishant Kashikar
Country Manager - India, Tourism Australia
India is globally recognised as one of the fastest growing outbound markets, with the propensity for outbound travel increasing among the upwardly mobile audience, given their changing lifestyles. India offers enormous potential for future growth in terms of visitor arrivals and spends. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has predicted 50 million outbound travellers from India by 2020. For 2014, Tourism Australia will continue to build on the ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ campaign with a focus on showcasing ‘Best of Australia’ destinations and experiences through our consumer focused activities. The Tourism Forecasting Committee (Forecast 2013 Issue 1), estimates arrivals from India to Australia to be 176,000 for 2013-14. Arrivals from India, over the ten-year period (2011-12 to 2021-22) are expected to perform well, with an average annual financial year growth rate of 7.2 per cent through to the financial year 2020-21.
kavi_ghei_id.jpgKavi Ghei
Managing Director, TRAC Representations (India) Pvt. Ltd
Outbound Tourism from India will continue to grow despite various challenges being faced by the country. Indian wanderlust and globetrotting will continue to see an upswing next year, notwithstanding the economic issues. However, we have noticed MICE activities being deferred and hope the corporate sector will swing back to action in 2014. Also, the niche and high-end travel segments will give a boost to the Indian outbound market next year.
arturo_ortiz_arduan_id.jpgArturo Ortiz Arduan
Tourism Counselor, Embassy of Spain – Tourism Department, Tourism Office of Spain – Mumbai
The Indian outbound market in 2014 will be marked by the weakness of the rupee, which, however, does not affect much the European destinations since the prices there are very competitive, as in the case of Spain. We see and increase in the FIT and Incentives segments. We may see a Spain-India direct flight in 2014. Increase in airline capacities of Persian Gulf companies makes us very optimistic about the market. The Indian traveller to Spain is already arriving at the two classical destinations, Madrid and Barcelona, due to easy air connectivity. They are also visiting Valencia, Andalusia and Ibiza and one of the 13 World Heritage Cities in Spain. The train travel between Paris and Barcelona will soon be reduced to six hours by high-speed trains, which will bring the two cities closer.
hanneli_slabber_id_new.jpgHanneli Slabber
Country Manager-India, South African Tourism (SAT)
More Indian travellers will opt for adventure tours in 2014. South Africa’s USP lies in its multitude of adventure options, making it easier for Indian tourists to plan their holidays in the country. The concept of self-drive holidays is also catching up among Indian tourists and we foresee growth in this segment. Tourists are also expressing interest in newer regions and experiences. Apart from visiting Cape Town, Garden Route, Johannesburg and Durban, we will see Indian tourists exploring newer regions in South Africa. MICE is another segment that will continue to grow in the coming year. On the conferences and events side, the South African National Convention Bureau has been successful in securing for the country 106 major bids for the period 2013-17. Additionally experiences like exploring the city through running tours and partaking in Voluntourism activities are initiatives that we expect Indians to increasingly adapt in the coming times. We are expecting tremendous growth from mini metros and Tier-II markets in India. In the coming year, SAT will roll out a global hub strategy to effectively deliver the destination marketing message, with a wider reach than ever before. 
nagsri_prasad_sashidhar_id.jpgNagsri Prasad Sashidhar
Head Outbound, Mercury Travels
Coming year will pose a number of challenges. Devaluation of the rupee (stability is needed), airlines increasing airfare, government increasing taxes, greater segmentation of the market with increasing number of players and competition from OTAs. Having said that FIT segment will grow and also ad hoc or small groups. FITs are trying out new destinations but the focus will be more on exploring either one or two destinations. Experiential travel will also pick up in a big way with people opting for soft adventure and lifestyle experiences. As far as destinations go, Eastern Europe is opening up, different areas in Italy and France will generate interest and Spain will also be a popular choice in the coming summer season. The other trend will be one of people cutting down on the duration of their holiday but will not compromise on the quality. In such a scenario short-haul destinations like Vietnam, Cambodia and different areas of Indonesia are likely to find favour with Indian travellers.
vishal_suri_id_new_1.jpgVishal Suri
CEO, Tour Operating, Kuoni India
The FIT segment is growing and comprises evolved customers looking at exotic destinations. They seek style, privacy and quality of service with exclusive and unique experiences. Indians are leaning towards niche travel like luxury, spa excursions, cruises, etc. There has been a considerable shift in demands and expectations of the travellers from a holiday. They seek to explore the cultural heritage of the destinations they visit apart from the usual sightseeing. They prefer destinations that highlight history, art and culture or offer unique experiences to indulge in. Single destination holidays are gaining popularity with Indian travellers wherein they prefer to explore one destination at leisure instead of clubbing multiple destinations.

The luxury travel segment has grown substantially along with MICE. Destinations like Vietnam, Croatia, Turkey and China are gradually emerging as preferred choice for hosting meetings and conferences. Experiential Tourism is gaining popularity with Indian travellers. More and more travelers are seeking off-beat journey and prefer to be a part of something unique. With the inflation in the Dollar, Indian travellers will prefer short getaways.
richa_goyal_sikri_id.jpgRicha Goyal Sikri
Director – Group Business Development, STIC Travel Group
Outbound is a bit slow because of rupee depreciation against the US dollar, but the demand for outbound travel is progressively increasingly mainly for South East Asia, Sri Lanka, UAE and China. The overseas tourist offices set up in India are aggressively promoting their own destinations and have worked out special packages by teaming up with national airlines, the hotel trade, relaxed visa norms and are giving an affordable package to give a feeling that rupee depreciation against the US dollar is balanced by the concessions in the package deals on offer. Unfortunately in India, we could not offer a matching price. So outbound will continue to grow by 15 per cent even in 2014. We need to learn from Turkey, China, Thailand and Singapore how to boost tourism in the destinations. Low priority to tourism is the root cause for our pathetic growth.
pradip_lulla_id.jpgPradip Lulla
National General Secretary, TAFI
The preference next year will be for new destinations. Among long-haul destinations, Brazil is likely to generate interest and demand on account of the FIFA World Cup, especially from those who can get tickets. South Africa has become quite a popular in Indian market as a leisure destination and will continue to attract good numbers from India next year. Destinations in Eastern Europe will be explored by Indians looking for new experiences. In South East Asia, new destinations on the Indian traveller's radar will be Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali in Indonesia. Macau, Hong Kong and China combination will also gain popularity in Indian market. Apart from this Thailand, one of the evergreen destinations for the Indian market will do well with its value-for-money proposition.
pranav_kapadia_id_new.jpgPranav Kapadia
Co-Founder and Director, Global Destinations
The well travelled Indian will prefer niche products and activity based holidays like diving, wine tasting tours, etc. The demand for new destinations will also increase from this segment. While FIT and luxury segment will grow, budget and MICE segments are likely to witness a dip. The continued devaluation of the rupee is going to hit the budget traveller and corporate entities are also cutting down on expenditure. Overall, the coming year is likely to be more challenging for agents. They will have to be more innovative, offer greater value and will have to start charging a service fee as clients are now more informed, shop around and finally book themselves online directly after getting the information form agents. This will happen for the more established and popular destinations.
kanwer_deep_singh_id.jpgKanwer Deep Singh
Managing Director, Travel Bullz
Despite rupee devaluation, Outbound Tourism from India will definitely grow next year. However, travellers may choose more economical packages. There will be larger demand for short-haul and multi-purpose holidays. There will be demand for South East Asian countries.
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