Thomas Cook India’s trend report reveals an “extended summer” this year

  • School boards mid-term vacation contributing to this millennial trend
  • No Visa/ Visa on arrival destinations preferred this summer
  • Experiential is the new mantra – fresh new and unconventional locales and stays

Thomas Cook India Ltd, India’s leading integrated travel and travel related financial services company has commissioned and released its 2016 Indian Summer Travel Report Card (ISTRC’16). This in-depth study provides interesting insights into how Indians travelled this summer – the new trends observed, new destinations which came up on the travellers’ radar, which destinations trended the most! According to ISTRC’16:

  1. Seasonality trends- Extended Summer: A unique trend specific to Summer 2016 was that of an extended summer season across source markets. Typically, India’s peak summer travel season for West and South India covers April and May. However, this season, saw demand extending into the months of June and July courtesy varying vacation periods across school boards- starting as early as mid-March. This has seen cascading demand into of the months of June, July & August. Key markets such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad & Kolkata contributed significantly to this trend along with mini metros – Pune, Indore & Ahmedabad
  1. Early Bookers: More than 39% Indian travellers were early planners this year, planning almost 120 -180 days prior to departure and opting for long haul destinations such as Australia, South Africa, USA & New Zealand. Considering a number of long weekends in 2016, more than 66% of Indian travellers preferred clubbing publicholidays with personal leave. While 65% of our customers opted for International tours, 35% preferred domestic holidays.
  1. Slow Travel: Another interesting observation this season was the emergence of Slow Travel with options like ‘walking tours’ seeing uptake. Slow Travel is intended for travellers who appreciate the journey (as against merely the destination), are curious to learn via travel and absorb myriad experiences enroute. Village/farm stays in Switzerland and leisurely hiking, cycling tours in Europe also saw growth, Slow Travel seemed to offer work weary Corporate India a neat outlet for rest and rejuvenation, to bond with loved ones and reconnect with their inner self for a spiritual refresh. India’s GenY see in Slow Travel, an opportunity to undertake courses while holidaying; for instance a one-month course in trekking in the Himalayas, scuba diving in Seychelles, or kick-boxing in Thailand!
  1. Destination Favourites: This summer witnessed high demand for Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, UK, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia. Short hauls were a clear flavour of the season with Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong-Macau and Bali trending; with newer entrants like Korea, Japan, China emerging. USA saw strong interest with marked uptake for New York, San Francisco and LA (extension of VFR travel); also Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Florida.
  1. Visa on Arrival/ No Visa destinations saw uptake
    Over 31% Indians were last minute travellers  this season and in an attempt to expedite the planning-booking process, opted for no-visa destinations or those that offered visa-on-arrival (VoA) like Maldives, Hong Kong, Bali, Mauritius, Cambodia, Jordan, Kenya, Thailand. Also interesting is that increasing long weekends coupled with simple visa regimes of destinations like Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka gave domestic tourism strong competition. Travellers displayed a strong interest in short haul e-visa favourites like Singapore, Malaysia & UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah) as per trend analysis this summer.
  1. Growing Demand for Soft Adventure/ Experiential Travel
    Original and immersive experiences were high on the travel agenda; Indians seemed curious and raring to go on an adventure whether it was experiencing soft adventure such as snorkeling, hiking/mountain biking, going volcano climbing, sampling new cuisines or cooking with local chefs and shopping for fresh produce and wines in destinations as varied Italy, France, Malaysia or Spain. Unconventional locales and unique stay accommodation ranging from chateaus, tree house, castles, home stays, light houses, luxury tents clearly saw new interest; with Airbnb trending strongly
  1. New Travel Segments – Ad-hoc groups ruling the roost, emergence of Common Interest Groups; opting for Van Tours
    Significant and growing demand (35%) was evident for ad hoc groups of friends/colleagues – especially in the young professional segment (25-35 years). Theseextended groups/ like-minded people/ alumini groups connected via social media, travelled for common interest tours such as cycling in Scandinavia & Amsterdam, marathons in Boston, Berlin etc, and wildlife expeditions to South Africa, women-only tours to Thailand, Malaysia for culinary experiences. What also featured strongly was preference for Van Tours especially in Europe, covering popular options of Switzerland, Germany & Austria, (18%) especially from family/ extended family also ad-hoc groups of friends. Self-Drives emerged as a favourite option, especially for honeymooners and DINKS, with destinations such as New Zealand USA, UK, Scotland & New Zealand topping the list.
  • Average holiday stay for Summer 2016: 6-10 days for short hauls & 14-20+ days for long hauls. Average travel budget allocated by Indians this year for domestic travel wasINR 35000 per person; INR 60,000 upwards per person for short haul international getaways and INR 1.5-3 lac per person for international long haul vacations.
  1. Indians are increasingly preferring the use of technology/ smartphones for research and booking of holidays.

The Thomas Cook Holiday mobile app saw a growth of over 50% month-on-month. Leads for Foreign exchange App saw a 100% uptake. A significant highlight was theconsumer behaviour to opt for visas online – with a growth of over 300%

Commenting on the results of the survey, Mr. Rajeev D. Kale, President & Country Head – Leisure Travel, MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, said, “Spurred by a burgeoning economy that has vastly improved their spending power, coupled with declining airfares, Indians have emerged as the world’s newest globetrotters. Despite a depreciating Rupee, the Indian travel sentiment remained highly upbeat with focus on early planning and maximising savings. Our Thomas Cook India 2016 Indian Summer Travel Report Card saw exciting new  trends including,  an Extended Summer and Slow Travel – with increasing uptake from discerning travellers and young professionals who believe in being a true traveller and not merely a tourist.”

Mr. Kale added, “We saw strong uptake for Visa on Arrival and evisas- a smart strategy deployed by short haul destinations like Malaysia and Singapore and newer tourism entrants like Seychelles and valuable in inspiring demand. Experiential Travel is now India’s travel mantra and the surge in demand this summer was significant with authentic local elements that included stays in Airbnb accommodation- a trend that we believe is here to stay!”

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