East/West Takeaway – India Outbound Tourism Update
The COVID-19 numbers in India have reduced tremendously. As of Jan 22nd, there are 185,844 active cases in the whole country. With vaccine distribution well underway and healthcare workers receiving doses, the mood in India is buoyant. Dubai and Maldives remain the two most popular destinations for India outbound tourism. Once the quarantine rule is relaxed for passengers returning from Dubai, the destination is expected to gain even more popularity. We hope to have a better picture of the India outbound travel scenario by March 2021.
Which destinations are benefiting from India outbound tourism?
Short-haul destinations like the Maldives and Dubai are very popular with travellers across India. The Maldives have no quarantine restrictions and is relatively Covid free. While Dubai remains a favourite, there is a 7-14 day institutional quarantine for passengers flying from UAE to Maharashtra. This makes the trip less appealing for those looking to travel from Mumbai.
What advice would you give travel brands who are thinking about entering (or re-entering) the India market in 2021? What will make the biggest difference?
India has a huge population just waiting to travel. The moment travel restrictions open up, India outbound tourism will be back with a bang. All those destinations wanting to get a foothold in India should start making themselves visible with the Indian travel trade now. For example, once outbound travel resumes, destinations should host FAM trips, conduct roadshows and connect travel agents with their suppliers. Those who have remained in the market have a distinct advantage as they are strengthening their presence and are going all out with marketing initiatives.
In addition, travel brands should consider Indian travellers visiting friends and/or relatives (VFR) as part of its recovery strategy. While international flights are still limited, VFR is driving demand for India to expand its air bubble agreements.