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PATA Travel Mart 2008

Maturing Indian market looks east to Asia Pacific

The Indian outbound market is maturing. Among the new trends pointing to this is their inclination to look beyond traditional Western destinations. PATA and Nielsen research shows that Asian destinations have become the most travelled for Indian travellers…

The Indian outbound market is maturing. Among the new trends pointing to this is their inclination to look beyond traditional Western destinations. PATA and Nielsen research shows that Asian destinations have become the most travelled for Indian travellers.

The Nielsen India Outbound Travel Workshop, which took place at PATA Travel Mart 2008 in Hyderabad today, provided delegates with a deeper understanding of the much talked about Indian outbound travel market.

Senior-level experts, from world-class research firm Nielsen, led the workshop with a detailed presentation of the latest findings from the ‘Nielsen Indian Outbound Travel Monitor’. This just-released study, geared for use by tourism marketing and sales professionals, explored the behaviour and considerations of the ever-growing and changing outbound Indian traveller.

According to workshop lead presenter Vatsala Pant, who is Nielsen India Associate Director – Client Solutions: “Travellers from the small two-tier Indian cities are bigger spenders than those from first-tier cities.”

From 1996-2006, the Indian outbound market expanded by an unprecedented 10% annually, well above the world average. Latest figures put outbound growth at 16% in 2006. India is now acknowledged as a key global outbound travel market.

The Nielsen presentation was followed by a dynamic moderated discussion with executives from major Indian travel companies Cox and Kings, Jet Airways, Kuoni Travel, and Mercury Travels, sharing their insights into the challenges and opportunities in the Indian market.

“The Indian traveller is looking for new destinations and innovative experiences,”
said workshop moderator Mr Ashwini Kakkar, Executive Vice-Chairman, Mercury Travels, who gave the amazing statistic that there are “56 dollar-billionaires in India, and 126 000 dollar-millionaires!”

The size of the Indian middle class currently stands at somewhere over 350 million – roughly the size of the population of the US – and is growing at an estimated 40-50 million a year. It is estimated that more than half of these people are less than 35 years old, for whom travel is an exciting proposition. With the GDP in the country growing by 8% per annum, disposable incomes have increased rapidly. Indian outbound travellers, once considered low spenders, are now recognised as high-yield visitors.

Ms Pant said that the average Indian traveller spent US$1,700 dollar per trip, which amounts to a US$15 billion Indian outbound market. She said that most of the money came from their own pockets, and not from bank-loans.

Increased Internet access throughout India has facilitated strong growth in online bookings. While 60 million Indians had Internet access in 2007, that number is expected to more than double by 2010. There are also more than 70 million cell phone users in the country, with an additional 5 million being added every month.

Organised by PATA’s acclaimed Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), the workshop was much-appreciated by PATA Travel Mart sellers interested in tapping the vast Indian travel market

“We were extremely excited to host this workshop on the dynamic Indian outbound market,” said Mr Oliver Martin, PATA Associate Director – Strategic Intelligence Centre. “Mart delegates doubtless benefited from the wealth of experience shared by these tourism experts.”

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