Travel Predictions 2015
Where are Indians travelling? What are the trending or most favoured destinations among Indians? What kind of trips are Indians taking? Find out all this and more
►Rise in international travel, dip in domestic trips
According to TripBarometer–the biannual study conducted by Ipsos on behalf of TripAdvisor, based on responses from over trends 61,000 travellers (who are TripAdvisor website users) and hoteliers around the world, with 890 respondents from India–Indians are amongst the most likely to be planning international travel this year, along with South Africans, Chinese and New Zealanders.
95% Indian travellers are planning domestic holidays (down 1% compared to 2013) while 66% are planning to travel abroad (up 21% from last year). Despite relatively low optimism in the economy, 14% Indian respondents report spending more on travel because they feel more confident about the economy. But currency fluctuations are more likely to affect travel plans of Indians, with 63% indicating so, compared to 44% globally. A determining factor, say 59 percent Indians is the availability of a good deal or special offer.
Indian hoteliers perceive online reviews to have the biggest impact when travellers book accommodation, followed by recommendations from friends and family.
Top Destinations (General):
#1 New Zealand (33%)
#2 France (32%)
#3 Switzerland (31%)
►Travelling for marathons and expeditions to Antarctica
"Expeditions to Antarctica and trips for marathons will continue to gain popularity in 2015, but it will take a while for cycling trips to gain popularity,” says Gauri Jayaram, founder of Active Holiday Company. The reason is that cycling trips are considered ‘boys (or men) getaways’ and more travellers want to take up holidays that also interest their travelling companions or families. But trips for cycling will gain momentum once cycling becomes more popular across India.
Top Destinations 2015 (Adventure):
Indians will continue to popularise domestic adventure holidays in regions like Leh-Ladakh and the North East in 2015. Many of these are trekking and hiking based, as they don’t require ‘specialised’ or difficult adventure skills. On the international front, there’s an interest in Asia and Europe, where travellers are spending at least 25-30% of their holiday in adventure activities like hiking and cycling.
►Spurt in the number of solo women travellers
"You must be fearless to take the path less travelled.”
Armed with this mantra and taking a cue from Kangana Ranaut's character in Queen, the modern Indian woman is now marching into 2015 with zeal, vigour and feline panache to travel. The big fat travel trend for 2015 is the spurt in number of solo women travellers.
Though it isn't very new now, Hari Nair, CEO of over-24 lakh member community HolidayIQ.com, predicts, "2015 is the seminal year for solo women travellers. We have been tracking a fair rise in this segment in the last four years, but the big spurt from 0 to 10%, will be witnessed in 2015 for the first time.”
Hari also believes that this jump will significantly alter the tourism in India, just as the rise of couple travellers over the last decade did by giving rise to the concept of weekend getaways and jungle lodges across India. Perhaps, women-friendly concept hotels and specialised holiday packages will surface. Meanwhile, the tourism industry must note, when women plan a holiday, they spend 15 % more than men.
Giving us further insight about the women, Hari says, "There are young women who wish to feed her travel bug before and after marriage. And at the other end of the spectrum are 40-plus women whose family responsibilities have reduced. Not wanting travel to be an extension of the family, financial independence and the exposure that comes with it, have led to the rise of the solo woman traveller.”
Women wish to go backpacking, take a road trip and some also want leisure getaways to places like the Ananda Spa, solo travel can be liberating and self-assuring. It's actually a journey to the centre of yourself. No wonder urban women wish to seek the experience–mother never get a holiday and work and family commitments can tire a woman’s soul and spirit. Solo journeys offer a balm for the soul.
On one hand, travellers like the 69-year-old psychiatrist, Saranya Devanathan believe, "You are never actually solo. You always make acquaintances. In fact it makes for a more impressionable experience. It makes you believe, it makes you trust and solo travel is always unplanned and that is exciting.” On the other hand, crimes against women in India have pushed the topic of solo woman traveller to public dialogue.Young photographer and travel blogger, Rutavi Mehta says, "India is not very safe for solo women travellers, but south Indian states are much safer than the north Indian ones.” Rutavi is yet to be married, but plans to continue to travel solo at least once every six months even after tying the knot.
As someone put it well. "Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without travelling…” Time for some solo trip to the soul!
Top Destinations (Solo Women vs Women in Groups):
#1 The magnificent Himalayas, with Ladakh emerging as a favourite, but Mansarovar and the Valley of Flowers also boasting popularity.
#2 Hampi, Karnataka (it's a close second)
As for international destinations, solo women travellers plan to head to Cambodia and south-east Asian countries including Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. A closer look at this list reveals a preference for strong cultural and spiritual centres. Thus, the choice of destination seems to aims at self-discovery.
Women travelling with friends or family also prefer the above mentioned domestic destinations for 2015, but at the same time, look forward to Uttarakhand, Kibber and Dharamsala as well. They are allured by Lakshadweep's untouched beauty and professional diving courses and also want to explore Sikkim and Nagaland. Outside India, Africa and especially Masai Mara, wins hands down. Next come Australia and New Zealand for offering everything from the modern city life to nature, adventure and wildlife. The romantic Swizz Alps top Europe's chart, but they're also eyeing China, Japan and the exotic Istanbul.