Despite slowdown, US and UK continue to attract Indian visitors

Tourism bodies such as Brand USA, America’s national tourism marketing agency, are bullish on tourist inflows from India.

“Despite challenges with the economy here, we project to close 2013 with 800,000 arrivals from India. We believe we are on target on our original goal of a million travellers in 2017,” said Jay Gray, Vice-President (Global Partnership Development), Brand USA.

Indians, he said, spend a lot on shopping and also stay for longer periods in the US. Also, interestingly, while there has been a fall in the growth of the traditional segment, which is those coming to visit friends and relatives,, the leisure and business segments have grown.

“India remains in the top 10 source markets for us. While we expect the Chinese market to become our top source market by 2018, we believe there will be rapid growth in travellers from emerging markets such as India and Brazil,” he added.

According to Neelu Singh, COO Ezeego1, part of the Cox & Kings Group, “The outbound market grew in double digits last year and long-haul destinations such as Europe and the US beat our expectations. We expect to see similar demand this year.”

The US is not the only country that witnessed growth in travellers from India. According to VisitBritain, visitors from India to the UK were up 9 per cent in the first three quarters of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, touching a new record 306,000.

VisitBritain is looking to attract 425,000 visitors from India by 2016. It also saw a drop in the ‘visiting family and relatives’ category, which was down 4 per cent, while holiday and business travellers rose 11 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.

In 2013, India’s outbound traveller market is estimated to have touched 16 million.

Richa Goyal Sikhri, Director STIC Travel Group, said: “We have not seen a slowdown in outbound travel from India. When economic sentiment is weak, Indian travellers tend to downgrade hotel options and reduce the duration of their stay. They work on their budgets but never back out once they decide to go.”

(This article was published on January 29, 2014)
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