Demand for ‘offbeat destinations’ or ‘hidden gems’ has gone up dramatically in the travel industry. Weeks after the Prime Minister put Lakswadeep on the global travel map, travellers are hunting for similar unexplored destinations. Players have witnessed an uptick of at least 20-25 per cent in searches.

Aloke Bajpai, Co-founder & Group CEO, ixigo said that while the company had seen a multifold increase in demand for Lakshadweep. “The government’s call to explore India’s gems has sparked a tremendous wave of interest and this remarkable spike resonates with the nation’s eagerness to explore the hidden treasures of India, showcasing the vibrant potential within our own borders as well,” he said. 

businessline had reported, earlier this month, that industry players had said they were looking at this as an emerging trend. said that 58 per cent of the people it surveyed, said that they were looking at destinations where travellers can unlock rewards such as unique experiences with locals in off-the-beaten-path areas. According to Skyscanner’s data, 98% of Indian travellers are keen to try ‘hidden destinations’ in 2024.

Players like Cleartrip have witnessed a surge of 12 per cent in booking demand in January compared to December, whereas SOTC has witnessed a 20 per cent hike. Thomas Cook has seen an uptick of 25 per cent in booking requests compared to last month.

Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head - Holidays, SOTC Travel, said: “Having catered to Indians for 75 years, we have witnessed a significant shift in consumer preferences. Our customers are displaying increased preference for unusual destinations away from the crowds of a mainstream tourist destination - offbeat and rugged holidays and in-depth exploration of locales.”

According to SOTC’s data, from a domestic perspective, Kashmir’s Gurez Valley - one of the most enchanting and charming destinations owing to meadows, pastures, forests and mountains, has witnessed a significant uptick. Dakshum is another another hidden gem of Kashmir. Dakshum is enclosed by the snow-covered Pir Panjal range, verdant coniferous forests, nomadic shepherd cottages, grassy meadows and the Bhringi River. The destination is ideal for trekking and fishing enthusiasts, also someone seeking solitude amidst nature, according to the brick and mortar travel company. 

Arunachal Pradesh’s Damro - the base to the longest hanging bridge (1,000 feet) that sways gently over the River Yamne and charms with thatched bamboo houses, swaying suspended bridges, and laid-back lifestyle of the locals. Destinations like Pelling and Dharamkot have also made it to the list. 

Industry players are also leveraging this opportunity to expand their presence further.Airbnb has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB), to build host capacity in untapped destinations, thereby redirecting travelers from the state’s traditionally popular spots to lesser-explored gems.

On the international segment, Thomas Cook said that destinations witnessing high interest include Switzerland’s Bachalpsee - one of the most picturesque locales, located in the Bernese Oberland at a height of 2200 m, amidst lush Alpine greenery and stunning vistas. Another destination that has been in demand is Thailand’s Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood - scenic islands ideal for adventure activities including snorkeling, zip-lining, swinging and biking. 

“Indians are becoming increasingly discerning travellers and the YOLO (you only live once) mindset is creating strong demand for offbeat locales as opposed to traditional destinations,” Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited told businessline.

While Vietnam continues to be a top pick, the country’s, Ba Vi National Park is the popular choice for its natural landscapes and trekking trails. Za’abal Castle in Saudi Arabia - a mud and stone fortress on a mountain top consisting of a wall guarded with fourwatch towers and a water reservoir, located at the highest point in the area, offers spectacular views of the city.