Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu December 10 2015

Young Travelers Driving India's Outbound Market

Destination & Tourism | Josh Lew | December 10, 2015

Young Travelers Driving India's Outbound Market

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

China’s outbound market has occupied the time and energy of tourist bureaus around the world for much of this year. The free-spending habits and huge numbers of potential visitors from the PRC could bring a windfall to any country that can put itself on China’s tourism radar. 

What about the world’s other billion-person-plus country? India also has a growing middle class and a wealth of younger travelers who have shown an interest in globetrotting. While China’s market commands a lot of attention because of spending habits and sheer numbers, focusing on India could pay off for some destinations, both in the near term and in the long run. 

Young travelers looking abroad 

The recent ICICI Millennial Travel Study asked more than 1,000 Indians born after 1980 about their travel habits and future travel plans. The respondents overwhelmingly expressed a desire to travel abroad, with most saying that they would like to go overseas at least once per year. Singapore, the US and UK were the “dream destinations” of choice for survey takers. Around 79 percent of the millennials, who were all from India’s largest cities, admitted that budget constraints kept them from visiting certain destinations, but that they had been able to save some of their income to fund overseas trips in the past. 

The press release announcing the ICICI’s findings also pointed out a stat that gives some insight into why India has not gained as much attention as China: 88 percent of older Indians (born before 1980), said that they were not interested in traveling abroad. This might explain why India falls into the “up and coming” category when it comes to its outbound market.  

Who can benefit right now

A few countries could really benefit from focusing on India. The first group consists of countries that are somehow at odds with China. Places like the Philippines and Vietnam fall into this category because of disputes in the South China Sea. When China issued travel warnings for Vietnam, for example, the country lost its biggest source of tourists. A short-lived slump followed the warnings.

With more Indian tourists, Vietnam's travel industry would not be so dependent on China in the future. The same is true in the Philippines. South Asians already make up one of this country’s biggest markets. These regional destinations are known for being cheaper than the U.S. or U.K. (and even Singapore), so they could take advantage of India’s millennial travelers right now instead of having to wait until they are able to increase their disposable income. 

Who can benefit in the future 

Some countries, including the U.K. and New Zealand, have used Bollywood stars to promote themselves to tourists on the Subcontinent. Others, like Thailand, have taken a more practical approach by changing visa rules or streamlining the visa application process so that it is easier for Indians to visit. 

Because of the youth of India’s outbound market, destinations that are able to gain traction will really be getting in on the ground floor of what could turn into a major boom in the near future. Low-cost carriers have made many regional destinations more accessible as well. These nearby countries, especially those who have experienced fluctuations in the number of Chinese visitors, could really benefit from more focus on the Indian market.  


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