Trends shaping the tourism industry in 2020: Daniel D’souza, President and Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel

Travellers in India have begun stepping away from the same-old “long-term vacations during traditional holiday periods” and are seeking a varied portfolio of attractive tourism products.

Daniel D’souza, President and Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel

2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for tourism. With the economic boom and the dynamic changes in socio-cultural ecosystem, India is emerging as a diverse centre for tourism, with equally diverse travellers. Travellers in India have begun stepping away from the same-old “long-term vacations during traditional holiday periods” and are seeking a varied portfolio of attractive tourism products such as cruises, adventure, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism all year round. And with the Government of India making strides towards improvements in infrastructure, domestic tourism is also getting much traction. Every year different trends emerge in the travel and tourism industry which define the desires of the tourists. The trends that are set to revolutionise the tourism industry in 2020, as compiled by data from the above factors, along with the insights gained from the SOTC Holiday Report 2019 are as follows:

Boom in Undertourism:

Travellers in India have become extremely conscious about the growing number of issues that come with Overtourism (congestion caused due to overcrowding of tourists) and are eager to explore more off-beat destinations with a focus on sustainable travel. This will introduce the intrepid travellers to never-seen-before destinations and will bring much-needed income for the people living there. According to the SOTC Holiday Report 2019, destination is the biggest holiday influencer for people across all age groups. With travellers actively looking to travel to new and unexplored destinations, undertourism is a trend that will grow increasingly popular in 2020.

Growing options for value seeking travellers:

Indian travellers are the ultimate value-for-money seekers and crave the travel. Introduction of accommodation services such as house shares, hostels and boutique hotels have made travel value for money, prompting more people to become adventurous in their travel, and with greater frequency. This has given rise to the traveller archetype – The Budget Traveller.

Rise of the Mellow Vacationer:

With relaxation and importance of taking multiple short breaks being the biggest reason for travellers to go on holiday across age groups, Indian travellers have become more focussed on wellness and are actively looking for travel options where they can unwind. The concept of vacationing with friends and extended families is also on the rise.

Increased demand for personalisation and customisation:

Personalisation of travel plans has kicked up in a large way. Indian travellers are actively moving away from the rigid travel itinerary structures of old, and with the increased internet penetration in the country, they are fervently looking for unique experiences that they wish to explore. According to the SOTC India Holiday report, 88% of Gen Z, 86% of Gen Y, 91% of Gen X and 86% of Senior Citizen Indian travellers’ value the personalisation, flexibility and customisation of booking their activities and sightseeing plans while on holiday. Customisation of travel plans helps them make decisions about the holiday on-the-go, and include a variety of activities on the fly. Personalisation and customisation of travel plans is thus a trend that will power through 2020 with user preferences giving rise to more memorable holidays.

Rising demand for adventure tourism:

According to the SOTC Holiday Report 2019, 50% of Gen Y travellers and 42% of Gen X travellers have revealed that adventure and exploration are the reasons they go on holiday for.

The response has been considerable as a major segment of Indian Travellers choose to experience a destination through adventurous ways.

A number of our customers opt for skiing in Gulmarg, Scuba Diving in the Andaman’s or Camel and Jeep Safari in the deserts of Rajasthan. Wind surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving in the Lakshadweep Islands is also popular.

Indians keen to explore different cuisines:

Indian travellers are beginning to seek out new cuisines to sample during their vacations. As the travellers are seeking immersive experiences and are keen to gain cultural enrichment, they are open to trying out the local cuisine.

According to the Holiday Report, 65% - Gen Z, 32% - Gen Y, 57%- Gen X and 49% Senior citizen travellers are open to explore local cuisines.

Indians keen to combine Leisure with Spiritual Tours

Leisure combined with Spiritual journeys is witnessing an interesting trend. Destinations such as Madurai, Rameshwaram, Dwarka, Shirdi, Pushkar, Mathura, Ujjain & Varanasi featured in SOTC’s Darshans have seen significant growth. Spiritual tourism is becoming a major growth area of the Indian travel market with more Indians opting to go on pilgrimage to popular religious cities this will gain traction in 2020 as well.

2020 will continue to be another experimental year for Indian travellers. Among the trends that witnessed spike in 2019 were solo travelling and travelling to offbeat locations etc. These will continue to see some more traction in 2020 as well.

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