By Riaz Munshi, President at OTOAI – Outbound Tour Operators Association of India
The travel industry has been incredibly resilient for the last two years. The courage and solidarity shown during these difficult times make me confident that our industry will grow out of this and will bounce back stronger than ever before.
We have all adjusted our businesses to fit into this new setting. The learning that has come from this is that we need to rethink old processes and constantly adapt, innovate and map out the growing needs of a new era of travel.
With different government rules, travel restrictions and dynamic policies, more information is required than ever before. Consistent trainings and networking events are crucial to act fast and ensure a seamless experience for the travellers.
COVID numbers have started dropping, countries are opening their borders and airlines are resuming their flights. Let’s cross our fingers for no more waves and we will be back on track soon.
I am personally very bullish about India’s outbound market as there is a huge potential to grow. Although tourism is going to be flourishing all across the world, India will have an edge and that is because of our social and family connections and social media influence. We have a large population of Millennials and Generation Z and they all have the desire to travel abroad. Most importantly, our country has a great number of aspirational travellers. Even if we register least expected growth of small percentage, it becomes a significant number.
Tourism is truly a way of life. It is the most discussed topic in schools, universities and in social gatherings. Whether you talk to a seven-year-old child or a 75-year-old man, they all want to travel and explore the world.
You can mark my word that India is heading towards 100 million travellers market in the time to come and would be the top source market for many countries.
Also we have noticed significant changes in travel patterns. Travellers will now be much more cognisant of their travel choices and the market is shifting towards luxury and experiential travel. The demand for luxury stays would increase significantly. Travellers would like to go for more number of days and they would like to explore newer destinations.
Wellness travel will also be pushed to the forefront as consumers want to renew their mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing.
I now see more consideration into embracing slow and sustainable travel, and focus will be on creating new itineraries that are impactful, purposeful and responsible.
It is also encouraging to see that people are now planning to take multiple trips during the year and would like to explore new places like a local.
I would like to request all trade partners to gear up and start preparing for the game to begin.
Adopt good business practices, enhance your knowledge, develop relationships and partnerships with your suppliers, create interesting products and remain steps ahead of your customers in terms of information and suggestions. Give value add-ons and create experiences to cherish.
India is going to emerge as one of the leading outbound markets of the world and I am optimistic that 2022 and the years ahead will shine new light and prove to be a breakthrough one for travel.