2023 was a year of mixed fortunes for the Indian tourism industry. While the industry was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, it also saw some positive developments. The Indian travel industry has recovered well from the pandemic and is back to pre-Covid levels, with some aspects even better.
Indians opting for more trips; shift towards mobile apps
India’s economic growth has been among the highest in the world in the past decade, and positive developments on the economic front should contribute to propelling the country’s tourism industry as an increasing number of Indians with rising disposable incomes make a greater number of domestic and international trips . The pandemic was a major challenge for the Indian tourism industry, but it was also an acquisition opportunity for stronger players as the industry consolidated .
The online travel industry in India is highly competitive and features several prominent players. In 2023, the industry saw a significant shift towards mobile apps as a channel for travel bookings. Many of the leading travel companies in India developed user-friendly mobile apps, allowing travellers to book tickets and accommodations on the go.
The pandemic also led to a rise in domestic tourism, with plenty of pent-up demand to support a relatively quick recovery.
India, a mature market for tourism
The year 2023 was very exciting and full of apprehension for the travel trade but surely there’s no looking back now. India acts as a mature market when it comes to tourism opportunities, and it continues to build new attractions and new destinations each time.
Though the G20 presidency to India for the year has given a plethora of opportunities to grow in terms of conferences, meetings, exhibitions and more, the eventual responsibility lies in the hands of the tourism stakeholders to make the most of this opportunity by stepping on the foundation stone and building their foundation on it.
A need to create the buzz among rising trends, opportunities
The trends have been impeccable, and the travel agents have played a significant role as sustainability took centre stage. They have been striving to design sustainable travel itineraries and promote awareness of environmentally responsible travel. However, there is no denying the fact that a lot more needs to be done in terms of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional practices with tireless efforts to gain the necessary momentum.
Social media is on the minds of people today; 30 seconds of reels are doing a miraculous job on the gram and therefore, with aggressive social media campaigns in place, the focus on developing vlogs and video messages and letting people know internationally that India is ready to welcome tourists can be a great idea for the approaching year.
There is a need to create a buzz while addressing the safety issues for women travellers to mention categorically. With the world opening in a phase-wise manner and wooing travellers, it is imperative to deliberate how India may facilitate a one-of-a-kind tourism experience to its admirers.
I also feel the travel industry today has many complex decisions to make and still relies on human expertise and outdated technology such as greenscreen or rudimentary interfaces. This leads to a best-guess approach, the risk of negative outcomes, and a steep learning curve. Travel companies are developing new tools for the frontline to process complex inputs and help guide “day-of” decision-making. For example, advanced simulation models such as digital twins allow companies to conduct rapid “what-if” analyses and provide real-time guidance to the frontline.
Focus on quality, reliability & credibility of service
India is positioning itself as a global leader in several sectors such as travel trade, cross border services, citizen services and more. As India marches towards a high momentum growth period, it will be critical to plan for factors that can impede progress and mitigate reputational and image risks. Hence the focus should be on quality, reliability, and credibility of the service providers it engages with, to ensure services are delivered effectively, efficiently, and in line with established standards, else failure in service levels can erode confidence and trust in the government’s capabilities, leading to public dissatisfaction. The focus on quality also indicates that public resources are utilised wisely and that citizens receive the best possible value for money.
As the President of TAAI, I would like to request each one of you to pledge this year to restructure tourism by effective marketing and thus promoting travel and tourism companies through continuous presentations, roadshows, and webinars. The travel trade and our industry have taken a big hit in the past two years and today at the revival stage, we are more than ready to cater to the needs of our customers in the best way possible.
Despite the positive developments, the industry still faces several challenges and loopholes, but it remains to be seen how it will adapt to the changing landscape.