Perhaps the 300 or so delegates at the marketing update session organized by Brand USA at this year’s IPW had a sense that, of the country and regional markets covered—the UK and Ireland; Europe; and India—India is “where it’s at.” One indication of this was the announcement by Brand USA just before IPW took place, of a Brand USA Week in India (similar to the Brand USA Week for Europe this September in London) scheduled to take place in October 2020.
While there are key country markets that produce more arrivals in the U.S. India, the world’s second most populous nation (it is expected to surpass China for the number one position by 2022), seems to be registering positive numbers for all the key metrics (travel-able population; English-speaking population; growing airline lift capacity; and expanding in-market promotion and programs by Brand USA, etc.) in order to increase its standing and ability to produce visitor numbers to the USA.
In the last decade, with the exception of 2009, which was the trough year of the 2008-2009 Great Economic Recession, the number of arrivals to the USA has increased every year—a feat not matched by any other major overseas source market for inbound tourism. Overall, the number of visitors from India to the United States grew by 125 percent from 2009 to 2018 and has moved it up to Number 7 on the list of top source markets. In 2009, it didn’t register on the Top 10.
Brand USA’s Sheema Vohra, managing director, India, whose New Delhi-based Sartha Global Marketing represents the agency, walked her audience through two dozen slides illustrating some basic information on the India market, adding a wry comment here and there (Sample: alluding to the tendency of Indian travelers to be informal when it comes to itineraries: “We take it to another level; we are not morning people.”) as she presented tables, graphs and charts illustrating the profile of the Indian market. Following are some of those, as prepared by INBOUND.
—India now has a population of 1.3 billion.
—It has the fastest growing economy in the world.
—It will have the third-largest economy by 2025.
—It has the youngest population globally; Indians have an average age of 27 years.
—India now accounts for 19 percent of the total world population in the 20-to-34-year-old age group.
—It has a regional diversity (North/South/East/West India)
—It has growing and affluent classes.
Source(s): International Monetary Fund; Boston Consulting Group; Expedia CAPA India Outbound Travel 2018
Indian Gateways: Delhi-Mumbai air route was ranked as the third busiest in the world where 47,462 flights operated between the two airports—130 flights every day.
—India has 32 National Airports and 105 regional and local airports
—Its airports serve more than 183.9 million passengers
Source: OAG Aviation Worldwide “Busiest Routes 2019” Report; Airport Authority of India, Directorate General of Civil Aviation-India
Key Travel Motivators:
—Ecotourism and nature
Source: 2018 Brand USA Market Intelligence Study
Indian Travel Profile (Comprises):
—Special interest, culinary, events, outdoor activities
Source: Expedia CAPA India Outbound Travel 2018, Amadeus- Future Traveler Tribes 2030; U.S. Department of Commerce, ITA, National Travel and Tourism Office
Top Ten Popular US States among Indians:
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Source: 2018 Brand USA Market Intelligence Study
—Indian travelers are well informed, sophisticated and educated.
—High End Travelers – over the top luxury, experiences beyond hotels.
—There is growth in all market segments.
—They spend more on quality.
—Bleisure-Growing Opportunity: beyond gateways, road trips, culinary, shopping.
—Baby Boomers comprise a fast-growing market.
—Curated local experiences.
Source(s): B2C/B2B surveys in collaboration with travel trade media partners/tour operators/pan India travel trade database; UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Traveler Trends, Continued:
—Millennials-traveling with friends/solo trips/family. Immersive local experiences, outdoor, road-trips, consider non-hotel lodging options (e.g. Airbnb).
—Growth in affluence.
—VFR profile is changing.
—Mobile connectivity and eCommerce.
—Change in social structure.
—Social media ranks high as a travel influencer.
—Evolving spending patterns-big spenders.
Source(s): B2C/B2B surveys in collaboration with travel trade media partners/tour operators/pan India travel trade database, E&Y Report, ASSOCHAM 2018
Source : Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Hootsuite.
Increasing Airline Lift—Especially through Connections out of the Middle East: As per Expedia CAPA India Outbound Travel 2018 report, 34.5 million outbound departures are projected from India in 2025.
Increasing Airline Lift II: As per IATA’s 20-year Air Passenger Forecast in October 2018, India will be the third largest aviation market by 2024
Major Gateways (no ranking):
Boston, New York, Newark, Washington DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Francisco, Seattle
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, ITA, National Travel and Tourism Office India Market Profile
Working with the Travel Trade: Something to consider is the fact that the tour/travel sector is unorganized. No licenses are required to conduct business. Other realities include:
—There are regional companies that are aggressive in their marketing and advertising;
—The major companies in the trade are pan-Indian in their presence, and are the trend setters.
—The decision makers in the trade comprise senior managers/owners for most regional and mid-size companies.
—They prefer working through land operators and DMCs.
—Be prepared for multiple quotations.
—They have limited destination knowledge.
—Expect to receive extraordinary requests
—Be prepared to change set programs.
Cultural Nuances: Everyone’s heard the admonition that travelers from India prefer vegetarian cuisine. While it is true that many Indians are vegetarians, there are many travelers from the country who will enjoy beef or pork. Here are some other points to think about.
Finally, and Very Important to Know: The future potential of the Indian market is enormous because …
- It has the largest young population of any major nation;
- It is already one of the world’s fastest growing outbound markets;
- India’s Millennials are geared to pleasure, rather than possessions.
- It is experiencing an increase in ultra high net worth individuals (UHNIs) with high disposable income.
- There is huge depth and potential across the country.
- U.S. visas to Indian travelers are good for 10 years.
- It is culturally similar to the USA, and is the world’s largest democracy. It has a similar ideology, way of working and empathy as does the USA.
Source: UNWTO; Boston Consulting Group; FICCI-Deloitte Report ”Consumer LEADS” October 2018