Single, women travellers are the new darlings of tour operators all over

Meghna Datta, a 38-year-old gynaecologist, loves travelling alone. “There are certain things you want to do your way,” she says. “At times, a companion or your family may not want to explore a destination the way you want to, so it is incredibly convenient to just pack a bag and venture out on your own.”

Meghna, who has travelled most of Western Europe on her own, is part of the fast-growing segment of single women travellers for which travel players are curating and customising value-driven packages.

Shibani Phadkar, Senior VP, Leisure Travel (Outbound), Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, says, “Our internal research shows a powerful emerging segment in the Indian woman traveller, who has rapidly moved from the ‘mother figure’ in family vacations to an ‘influencer’ and now clearly a ‘decision maker’, and she covers the gamut from a ‘girl groups’, home maker to entrepreneur-corporate executive and the highly discerning affluent woman traveller.” Thomas Cook India has witnessed a 15 per cent increase in the number of single Indian women travellers.

“Spa and wellness getaways are top favourites and an encouraging demand is emerging from our tier-II markets,” Phadkar adds. MakeMyTrip, too, conducted a survey last year to identify the favourite destinations for women travellers. “Spain, Goa and Thailand topped the charts. Paris is also a favourite for Indian ladies,” says Mohit Gupta, Chief Business Officer- Holidays, MakeMyTrip. The travel portal is planning to increase the number of destinations being offered under its Women Holiday packages.

Travel players say women are interested in a variety of itineraries, such as adventure (diving, alpine and glacier walks, cycle tours), clubbing, sight-seeing, wine-cheese-chocolatier programme, and, of course, retail therapy. Phadkar says, “Eco-tourism is also seeing strong uptake, especially our tours that offer home-stays and eco villages.” Safety and security is a key element while planning women travel groups. Travel players say the destination, hotels and tour inclusions are carefully chosen. Women-only floors at hotels are one such measure.

Megha says, “Countries have cultural differences and one must realise that limitation. Research well about the language, cultural practices before heading for a destination.”

Trafalgar, too, has witnessed a 22 per cent rise in bookings by women groups and single-lady travellers on holidays. Darshan Maheshwari, Country Manager, Trafalgar India, says, “While this is definitely an upward trend, we still have a long way to go before we catch up to the West.”

(This article was published on March 9, 2014)
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