According to Thomas Cook (India) Chairman and Managing Director Madhavan Menon, India's internal tourism development would continue to be strong and will be fueled further by inbound travels from the country's G20 chairmanship, conferences, and exhibitions that are increasingly being conducted here. Long-haul outbound travel from India, on the other hand, is projected to increase with the arrival of summer in Europe and the United States, he said.
"Domestic tourism is here to stay, and the reality is that we're going to see more and more activity in the domestic space, without a doubt," Menon said when asked if the robust growth in domestic tourism seen following COVID would continue.
One of the key reasons for the increase in domestic tourism is a shift in consumer behavior following the epidemic, with people believing in living for today and not worrying about tomorrow, combined with their great faith in the economy, he noted. "The pandemic has caused a shift in human behavior." More and more people are working from home.
The desire to spend more time with family has increased, and as a result, the domestic market is driving the need for regular breaks," Menon explained.
"Now, my expectation is that people would have done one international trip and possibly another domestic trip," he added. It's absolutely different now. We're now talking about many domestic travels, even short weekend excursions."
"But that doesn't take away from the fact that you will see Indians traveling both short-haul and long-haul," Menon added. Another significant development is that I believe we are witnessing the so-called saver becoming a spender."
"It all stems from one fact: their confidence in the economy," he remarked. This doesn't come from anywhere. It is not solely due to a pandemic. People are also convinced that the economy is developing, that their jobs are secure, and that things will improve from here." Menon noted that the rapid expansion of infrastructure, including the construction of additional airports and hotels around the country, is also fueling growth.
Another element driving India's tourism is the country's growth as an economic power and hosting of major global events. "The G20 is just another government event, and as India emerges as the economic power that it is positioning itself to be, there will be more travel to India." That, I believe, will be significant. "India will be in the spotlight, and this will attract more tourists to India," Menon said.
International travel to India to attend government conferences and exhibitions is another key market with a lot of activity, he added. "Previously, the majority of individuals flew to foreign countries to attend exhibitions. "These exhibitions are now being held in India as well because we have the infrastructure," Menon added, mentioning Pragati Maidan in the national capital and the Jio World Centre in Mumbai as examples.
When asked about outward travel from India, he stated that there have been many short-haul flights of up to three and a half hours to places such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Thailand. "The longer-haul is only starting now because it was winter in Europe from January to March and visas were difficult to obtain," Menon explained, adding that a surge in long-haul travel was expected in the current quarter.
"Travels to Japan and Korea were an outlier in the first quarter." We used to send 200 passengers to Japan on average every year. This year, we had about 1,300 travellers fly to Japan over the course of a month. As a result, we're seeing a variety of tendencies," he noted. Overall, he stated that group travel, which had been hesitant to take off, is now gaining up, and tailored travel is rising in all sectors.