As the travel industry eagerly anticipates the dawn of the New Year and steps into 2024, key industry players Thomas Cook India and SOTC Travel have shared insights from their leaders, offering a comprehensive overview of the diverse travel preferences that will shape the journeys of Indian travellers this year.
In an overview on emerging travel trends and expectations, Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head of Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook (India) Limited, and Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head – Holidays at SOTC Travel share their thoughts anticipating a sustained surge in demand from the dynamic Indian market.
Event-based Travel on the Rise
Thomas Cook India anticipates a surge in event-based travel in 2024, driven by the enthusiasm of millennials, young professionals, and Gen Z. The focus on live concerts, events, and cultural immersion reflects a desire for dynamic and culturally rich journeys. This trend is expected to persist and evolve, shaping the choices of contemporary Indian travellers.
Sleep Tourism and Wellness Retreats
Kale feels that young Indians are moving away from traditional sightseeing holidays towards more relaxed vacations. Trends like sleep tourism, encompassing activities like yoga, swimming, and spa wellness therapy, are gaining popularity. Destinations like Goa, Coorg, and Puducherry are experiencing a surge in demand for accommodations offering sleep-centric amenities.
Personalised and Curated Travel
There is a growing demand for fully customisable private holidays, especially among discerning travellers. High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs), multigenerational families, ad-hoc groups of friends, and honeymooners/couples are seeking exclusive and tailored travel adventures. This trend caters to those looking for premium, experience-led travel.
Recent announcements of free visa travel to countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Kenya are expected to ignite interest among Indian travelers. According to Kale, accessibility of easy-visa and visa-on-arrival options contributes to the growing appeal for hassle-free international travel.
Top Destinations Overview
Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Finland are anticipated to be top choices for long-haul journeys. Shorter getaways are likely to favor bustling locations such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Maldives, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Ras Al Khaimah, Oman, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Bhutan. Mid-way destinations like South Korea, Japan, and Turkey also offer compelling options.
According to D’Souza, travel trends in India continue to evolve with a growing appetite for unique and offbeat destinations like Meghalaya, Ziro, Gokarna, Halebidu, and Tawang. Adventure tourism is also on the rise, with places like Rishikesh, Manali, Goa, and Auli catering to the demand for trekking, wildlife safaris, and adrenaline-pumping activities. Sports enthusiasts continue to travel globally to witness major sporting events, tournaments, and championships. Festivals are also a major draw for travellers, with cultural celebrations offering immersive experiences in diverse traditions. The interest in luxury travel experiences persists, with a focus on exclusive accommodations, personalised services, and opulent amenities. Culinary exploration remains a key trend, with travellers keen on discovering local cuisines, street food, and culinary traditions. Cruises continue to be a popular choice, offering luxury, entertainment, and the chance to explore multiple destinations.
D’Souza also shed light on various, exciting travel trends emerging in recent years. One such trend is Astro Tourism, which offers experiences centered around stargazing and astronomical wonders. Another trend is Travel During Shoulder Season, which involves embracing off-season travel for a serene and economical exploration of destinations. For those with fast-paced lifestyles, Instant Holidays is a popular trend that involves spontaneous bookings with short planning windows.
Skip-Gen Travel is another trend that has been gaining popularity where grandparents create travel memories with their grandchildren, fostering intergenerational bonds. Plan-Free Travel is another trend that emphasises spontaneity and flexibility, allowing on-the-go decision-making.
Lastly, Religious Tourism is a trend that has always been popular where people embark on spiritual journeys to sacred destinations such as Vaishno Devi Temple, Vrindavan, Rameshwaram, Shirdi, Hemkund Sahib, Jagannath Temple, and the Golden Temple.