The only species found all over the world…
By Taazakhabar News Bureau
Go east; go west… You are sure to find an Indian – trying to make a home and a nest. The other day someone jokingly asked – which species are found all over the globe -including the north and pole- pat came the reply– Sardar ji. Jokes apart, the fact is, that today you may go to any part of planet earth but cannot come back without meeting a Sharma, Verma, Singh, Ghosh, Patel or Iyer.
From Kremlin overlooking Moskva River, in the heart of Moscow to Kazakhstan, Kenya, or Kuwait and from Singapore to Somalia, Shanghai, Sweden and Swiss Alps- Indians are familiar sights everywhere!!
According to one estimate, over 20 million Indians –including NRIs and PIO’s in different parts of the world. Myanmar alone has over 2.9 million Indians-the largest population of Indians outside India. USA and Malaysia 1.7 million Indians each. Saudi Arabia accommodates 1.5 million Indians. UK 1.2 million, South Africa 1.2 million, UAE 1.0 million and Canada 0.9 million – first, second or third generation Indian settlers.
That’s not all-there are an equally large number of Indian nationals traveling all over the world – in different seasons and reasons ranging from Business, Study, Sightseeing, Shopping or Honeymoon. Indians today are among the most hi-flying, frequent foreign travelers in the world. Every year, more than 5,350,896 Indians go abroad – that is for every two tourists coming to India, three Indians go abroad.
India is rapidly climbing the world rankings for outbound tourism. According to industry estimates, the number of outbound tourists has been increasing at a rate of 25% – higher than for any other country in the world in the last few years. This implies a growth of nearly one million Indian tourists per year. And if this trend continues, India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020.
Indian travelers prefer Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Europe is slowly picking up while Dubai, China, Bhutan, and Nepal are all time favorites among holiday travelers. Mauritius and Maldives fascinate the honeymooners. These preferences keep changing.
Till a few years back, Singapore, USA, Thailand, China (PRC) and Hong Kong were the five most popular destinations for Indian travelers. Today Cambodia, Hong Kong, Australia, Macau and Pakistan are gaining popularity.
For those with disposable income, a foreign trip is a great ego booster and opportunity to show-off.
A number of airlines are operating international flights from India. Many international tourism promotion boards have established offices in India. Entry of a few low-cost airlines has intensified the price war. As a result, the international fares have become 10 to 15 per cent lower than many domestic routes. Consequently, Indians are finding it cheaper to travel abroad than within India. Hotels too are offering big discounts. Travel loans are also available in easy installments – making it all the easier for Indians to splurge more freely abroad.
One of the main reason behind all this is the 350 million strong Indian middle class- bigger than the entire US population! A number of rich and affluent Indians have a net worth– more than US$ 1 million.
Today, 180 million Indians — three times the population size of UK speaks English. Many of them own cars, credit cards, and cell phones.
Shopping is the main preoccupation for Indians. Indians love shopping in foreign countries. Half the India travelers go abroad only for shopping. Almost 73% buy branded duty-free goods. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Indians spend over $5.52 billion while traveling abroad. The fact that quite a few credit cards issued by Indian banks these days are valid internationally allows this to happen.
Indians are among the most lavish spenders in the world. An average Indian spends around US $ 1,200 per visit. In contrast a an American spends US $700 and British $500. The purchasing power or let’s say the spending power of Indians is four times more the Chinese and Japanese travelers.
An average Indian spends between $75 and $200, per day on a trip abroad.
Traditionally Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore accounted for most globe travelers. Lately smaller cities like Nagpur, Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, Nasik, Jaipur, Amritsar, and Ludhiana too are catching up fast. Not just one trip abroad; many families take two-three vacations a year.
Today, many Indian students are studying in other countries. The number of Indian nationals applying for US visa has doubled.
Bulk of Indian outbound travelers prefers Asia, Middle East, Europe, Americas, Africa, and Australasia. Middle East, particularly attracts business travelers and workers.
Business travel accounts for 40%, while 20% people travel abroad to visit friends and relatives. In countries like the UK, where large numbers of Indians are settled or expatriates, and Australia, where large numbers of Indians are studying– there could be many visitors from home. On the contrary, Thailand and Switzerland are primarily leisure destinations.
Interestingly, there is nothing like pure business or leisure. Most business and VFR trips have leisure and shopping components.
Indian particularly prefers Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Europe is slowly gaining popularity, but Dubai, China, Bhutan, and Nepal remain the most popular with travelers. Mauritius and Maldives fascinate honeymooners
An average Indian traveler stays for 12-15 days abroad though it may vary according to the destination. A trip to Southeast Asia is a maximum five days. The average VFR visit to Australia lasts 5-6 weeks. Business trips could last up to three weeks while holiday trips could last around two weeks. The length of stay in the UK has risen from 20 to 27 days in the recent past. The average trips to the UK may be about 39 days for VFR, 20 days for business and ten days for holidays.
First-time outbound travelers prefer to take package tours. Otherwise, most Indians prefer independently organized trips. According to an ACNielsen survey leisure trip to Australia and Africa, are predominantly package tours. The share of package tours is much lower in Asia (41%), Europe (33%) and America (32%).
May-July and October-December are the peak months for travel to Europe. In the recent years the UK has been observing an erratic pattern, with a peak in April-June coinciding with the long summer holidays. Similarly, Switzerland has been witnessing a peak inflow of Indians in May-June, followed by a slump between Dec- Feb.
During their stay abroad, Indians engage in a wide range of activities. Shopping in Europe is confined to souvenirs and gifts for family and friends back home. UK is popular among the Indians for historical and cultural reasons as well as for being the home of cricket. Many Indians stay with their friends and relatives in the UK.
In recent times, a number of Bollywood films have been shot in picturesque foreign locations. Apart from this “Uniquely Singapore”, “Malaysia– Truly Asia” and “Fly-Buy-Dubai” – three very imaginative campaigns have captured the imagination of the Indian tourists and moneybags.
Many countries like Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia are offering incentives to Indian film and TV producers to shoot on their locations. This way they can at least be sure to make the footage of their exotic tourism destinations available to millions of viewers in that country – without paying the hefty advertisement charges.