In a year when India’s travel and hospitality business was hit badly by a sharp drop in the number of international tourist arrivals, and even after recession-hit corporate houses cut back on foreign travel by their executives, the number of outbound Indians jumped by a million in 2008-09 to cross the 10- million mark for the first time ever.
Figures released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the number of Indians travelling abroad in 2008-09 (April 1 to March 31) touched 10.8 million, which was up by a million over the 2007-08 figure of 9.8 million. And the global industry body is upbeat that the outbound India story is only going to get rosier.
“The Indian economy wasn’t as badly hit by recession as many of the economies elsewhere in the world that are still feeling its effect,” said co-chairman, Ficci tourism committee.
“As a result, India’s outbound travel pie is getting bigger and it is evident from the more than 25 countries and cities opening their tourism offices here in the past couple of years.” The WTTC report says India now is the third largest outbound travel market in the Asia Pacific region. It also predicts that the world’s travel and tourism economy’s size will contract by 3.6 per cent this year, but economies such as India, China and Brazil will still be drivers of growth.
Singapore, incidentally, has emerged as the most- visited country for Indians travelling abroad, followed by the UAE, UK and the US. Another reason for the dramatic rise in the number of outbound Indian travellers is the drop in airfares and hotel prices worldwide, which has made foreign vacations cheaper. “Hotel prices have come down by 25-40 per cent in south- east Asia and Europe, and air connectivity from various Indian cities is up considerably, making it cheaper to travel abroad.