A report released by the industry body, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in association with consulting agency Nangia-Andersen on the state of Outbound Tourism from India, released at the Outbound Tourism Summit organised by FICCI in New Delhi, says that the Indian outbound travel market has recovered strongly from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and that the total value of the market is likely to reach USD 42 billion by end of 2024.
The report goes on to say that with India remaining one of the fastest growing economies in the world and with over 80 million passport-holders in India, the outbound sector growth is likely to continue for years to come. A growing population that is mainly young and has a rising level of purchasing power, especially amongst the middle class, the outbound tourism from India is set to record exponential growth, especially as Indians begin to incorporate travel in their lifestyle.
The Summit was attended by various stakeholders of the outbound travel industry, including high level representatives from many countries keen to enhance their market share in the lucrative outbound tourism market in India.
On the occasion, CMD of Lalit Hotels, Jyotsna Suri, who is also a past President of FICCI and Chairperson of FICCI Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Committee addressed the gathering about the pandemic and its impact on travel sector. “We survived this entire pandemic on domestic tourism. But that is not sufficient. We have to have a healthy inbound and outbound to be a complete tourism destination,’’ Suri said. “There were almost 27 million Indians who travelled outside of India, which is double the tourists that came into India,” she added.
Ankush Nijhawan, co-founder of travel firm TBO.com and MD of Nijhawan Group, who is also chairman of the FICCI Outbound Tourism Committee confirmed the findings of the report and seconding Suri in her sentiments about the current state of industry. “During the past few months, Indian travel operators have recorded excellent business. Industry participants state that there is a positive mood in the sector. Revival in tourism is behind us now, let’s talk about growth, or how the opportunity will unfold,’’ Nijhawan said.
Besides Nijhawan, high-level representatives of several destinations present on the occasion, underlined the importance that India held for their countries. “Vietnam issued around 250 visas per day before that pandemic. Yesterday, the immigration authority told me that India came first in the world with 6000 visas issued per day,” Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau, said.
Highlighting the reasons behind the increase, he cited “proximity” and “opening of direct flights“ as possible reasons. “Now there will be 17 direct flights between major cities of India and Vietnam,” he said, adding ‘‘Vietnam is a new destination; it is a new experience for you.”
Also present on the occasion, ambassadors and diplomats from Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Germany also spoke on issues and opportunities concerning tourism in their countries. Cuban Ambassador Alejandro Simancas Marin spoke of numerous investment opportunities in the Cuban tourism sector. ‘‘Cuban tourism sector is open to foreign investment and the Cuban Ministry of Tourism has a portfolio of 176 different products that are offered for foreign investment,’’ Marin said. However, he averred that not many Indians visited Cuba, citing a lack of direct flights between Indian cities and Cuban cities as a possible reason.
Ambassador, Embassy of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Muhamed Cengic spoke of experiential travel. ‘‘Bosnia has more waterfalls than France and Spain combined,’’ Cengic said. He added that he was aware that Bosnia was not much known among Indian tourists. ‘‘However, it is part of the Balkans, which is becoming popular among Indian tourists. If you are travelling to the Balkans, you travel to at least three countries that are very diverse, by nature, by culture, by history,’’ Cengic added.
Representing Germany on the occasion was Stephan Hesselmann, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head, Department for Economical & Global Affairs. Hesselmann noted tourism as a source for creating business opportunities. On the recently launched free trade negotiations between the EU and India, he said, ‘‘We want to increase our economic relations, and tourism is one significant economic factor.’’ He referred to the huge demand for German visa at the moment, saying it was impossible to get a visa in the short term and travellers should apply early enough for their travels.
On the state of the global tourism sector, Nijhawan said that between FY 16-19, there were more than 1.5 trillion outbound trips, and 135 destinations received more than a million arrivals. However, he averred, not many realised the size of the global tourism market. “Tourists spent USD 9 trillion in 2019. It grew by about 5 pc from 2016 and are expected to have USD 11.5 trillion to be spent in the FY24,’’ said Nijhawan.
He added that the market has recovered faster than most experts had predicted. ‘‘Market has come back faster than what the experts thought. When we see all these pieces of baggage being lost at Heathrow, checkin issues at Europe, challenges with visa, it is because we never realised how quickly the market will recover,’’ he said.