The World Travel and Tourism Council has stated that the tourism sector in India has generated around `15.24 lakh crore, which was 9.4% of India's total GDP the last year. As per the organisation, the sector created 41.622 million jobs which form 8% of the total generated employment. The sector is also one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the Indian economy.
The tourism sector is witnessing some new trends that are supplementing the established trends in the sector. These include solo trips, road trips, pocket-friendly travelling, and wellness tourism. These trends are expanding the horizon of the tourism industry in India and generating newer avenues for revenue creation.
Short weekend getaways
This is a prominent trend that is gaining popularity among a large section of new-age travellers. People are looking out for newer destinations for a short trip with minimum expenses. It is now much easier to travel as resources and connectivity has increased substantially. Today's travellers are increasingly looking for destinations within a 200-300 km radius and planning short vacations spanning across two to three days. With extended weekends, travel enthusiasts are increasingly making spontaneous plans to head out for nearby destinations for mini-vacations. Such short vacations are gaining momentum since it gives enough time to distress and rejuvenate oneself. Corporate houses are also planning such breaks in order to enhance the productivity of their often hackneyed employees. However, it is better to do a background check of these destinations as they are new and emerging. While travelling for longer vacations is always the favourite option heading out for week-ends is increasingly gaining popularity due to logistical and economic viability.
Modern life can throw its share of challenges. Increased stress and repetitiveness can lead individuals into distress. Solo travellers often reinvent themselves and their life goals by heading out for solo travel trips. Such trips are not merely meant to visit new places; it is also seen as a way to reconnect with one’s soul and explore life goals. Solo travellers meet new people, explore new places, overcome fears, and most significantly enjoy freedom by discovering themselves. Solo travellers can go anywhere. They are footloose in an exuberantly exclusive way.
India also has some popular solo travelling destinations. The Srinagar-Leh road trip in the North-Western Himalayas is popular among solo travellers. Alleppey in Kerala and Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu are two other popular solo travel destinations. Neha Kumari, a solo traveller and an IT professional, told BE, “I have travelled in groups before. But I prefer solo trips because it gives me the independence and flexibility to travel and see places as I wish.”
The concept of solo tourism is now being experimented with. Some travel companies are linking solo travellers and encouraging them to explore new destinations together. They are also facilitating solo trips. WOW Club has added their name to the list of companies that promote solo travel and is facilitating women solo travellers exclusively.
Those who love to travel but do not have enough office holidays, whose passion is to visit new places but have economic constraint, for them, taking up travelling as a profession might just work.
The new-age travel bloggers are doing exactly that and building their careers on it. A travel blogger can be a travel writer, a travel photographer or a videographer. They post their travel stories using various digital platforms. Once their pages start to become popular, they either get sponsorship or get paid through advertisements. Travel photographers often sell their photographs. Many travel writers are earning well by publishing their travel stories in several travel magazines.
A young traveller from Mumbai, Nikhil Sharma, made his mark by being a lifestyle YouTuber. He earned well from his travel blogs. The blog ‘Travel.See.Write.’ by Archana Singh is also quite popular. Shivya Nath, who has visited around 30 countries, has her blog called ‘The Shooting Star’. Venkat Ganesh, a motorbike-road-tripper, has named his blog as ‘India Backpack Motorbike’. Neelima Vallangi, who used to be a software engineer, left her job to be a travel blogger. Her blog ‘The Wandering Soul’s Wander Tale’ is enriched with exquisite photographs. There are many such travel bloggers and the trend is catching up fast.
Budget travel allows people to travel without being burdened by economic challenges. Budget travel options do not mean staying in shabby accommodations. It means planning the trip meticulously and setting a budget. One can search for online tips or conduct a plan themselves in order to have a perfect schedule. When one knows what one’s budget is going to be like, planning a trip is easier. Planning well ahead can also give one some early bird incentives.
India is a country that is largely diversified. There are so many places to visit, explore and travel. Travellers often look for some peace and relaxation. They look for a place that takes them away from their mundane routines. Exploring new destinations and spending vacations in lesser-known places is a gaining trend. The trend of offbeat tourism has also encouraged the industry to explore and expand its boundaries. Online travel platform ‘MakeMyTrip’ sees offbeat tourism as a way of “treading less travelled path and visit unique places within India and around the world.” They even provide elaborate information blogs promoting lesser known destinations. In this era of social media, it is not unusual for obscure locations to gain overnight popularity. Tourists start flowing in and the local tourism industry takes off. Some remarkable offbeat destinations are Khajojar and Tirthan Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, Chamber in Gujarat, Jhilimili and Garh Panchkot of West Bengal and Tranquebar of Tamil Nadu. There are many other such places that are waiting to be explored and with this trend gaining traction, it can be expected that tourism industry will expand to unlikely corners of India.
Wellness tourism of India
The concept of wellness tourism has taken off in a big way in India. At places, it is often linked to spiritual tourism. The main reason for its gaining popularity is the immense work pressure of modern life. However, the trend is not completely new. It has been well-chronicled in Bengali literature and was popularly known as hawabodol or change of air. Doctors often suggested this to ailing patients and the popular destinations near Bengal were Ghatshila, Giridih, McCluskieganj and the dry dills of Bankura and Purulia districts.
India has been ranked among the top 15 destinations for wellness tourism across Asia in 2015. The ancient healing art of Ayurveda has augmented wellness tourism. Kerala is a popular destination for travellers seeking Ayurveda. Similarly, the ancient exercise form of Yoga attracts a large number of tourists to India.
The Indian Ministry of Tourism has drafted a guideline for wellness tourism by addressing issues regarding available quality publicity material, training and capacity building for the service providers and participation in international and domestic wellness related events. The ministry also has taken the initiative to extend its Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme to wellness tourism service providers including accredited wellness centres. The Guideline for Accreditation of Wellness Centres has been developed by the National Board for Accreditation of Hospitals and Healthcare Services (NABH) in consultation and AYUSH and has been released. It will perform well in maintaining a certain quality in these wellness centres. Apart From Kerala, the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand receive a fair amount of domestic and international wellness tourists.