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Thomas Cook India releases its summer report 2019

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MUMBAI: Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., India’s leading integrated travel and travel related financial services company, has observed a vibrant 22% growth this summer with emergence of significant trends. With holidays becoming a necessity, a key trend has been the rise of India’s spenders economy with cash rich-time poor Indians displaying increased appetite for bonding trips with their families.

Spender’s Economy: Indian’s seeking family bonding experiences through travel

India has grown into a spender’s economy and with travel being leveraged as a clear status symbol, holidays are on the rise. Thomas Cook India has witnessed a definitive growth of over 25% with today’s cash rich, but time poor generation opting for travel to bond with their families. Parent-Child bonding tours are in high demand resulting in a surge of Thomas Cook India’s Theme Park Holidays, outdoors-adventure, music and culture tourism; sports tourism being a significant driver.

The resultant demand has seen growth in destinations like Singapore, Dubai-Abu Dhabi, France, Hong Kong, UK, Orlando (USA), New Zealand; also newer destinations like Seychelles.

Rise of millennial travellers sees a shift towards experiential holidays

India’s millennials have pushed the envelope in their demand for adventure travel and Thomas Cook India’s internal data reveals a surge of approx. 28% for experiences like white/black water rafting (New Zealand), scuba diving (Andamans/Malaysia), fissure snorkelling (Iceland); alpine treks/glacier climbs (Switzerland/ Germany/ Canada/Scandinavia); additionally, adrenalin highs of sky diving/bungee jumping/zorbing/abseiling (Australia-New Zealand and South Africa) are in demand for their brag worthiness.

Offbeat destinations and exclusive experiences are growing in popularity and hence a rise in millennials demanding unique experiences like Vespa tours in Singapore or Segway rides in Spain, horseback trails and shark cage diving in South Africa, and more. In fact, most millennials prioritise experiences over luxury and economise on transport and accommodation (hostels/apartments over hotels, trains and self-drives over flights), and splurge on local and interest/passions based experiences.

Work weary-vacation deprived Corporate India driving growth of travel getaways

A report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)'s first periodic labour force survey (PLFS) reveals that Indians spend the longest hours at work as compared to their global peers. India’s work weary business travellers are increasingly opting for short travel breaks to relax and rejuvenate, leading to a strong 33% jump in such trips. Destinations in demand include Goa, Kerala, Andamans, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya (domestic); Mauritius, Maldives, Singapore, Thailand, Dubai-Abu Dhabi, Turkey, Indonesia (international).

Micro–Breaks: An emerging trend

Indian travellers are leap frogging the transition from a single long annual vacation to multiple short recurring holidays or micro-breaks. Covering a gamut of destinations, each spanning 3-7 days, travellers are availing such frequent micro–itineraries to fuel their travel goals and tick off their bucket-lists.

The micro-break trend has also seen the rise in last minute travellers (up by 30%). Indian travellers are gravitating towards on–the–go travel planning and seizing every opportunity to set off on a mini-break. ‘Smart weekend’ destinations on the Indian travellers’ radar are Goa, Pondicherry, Coorg, Alleppey, Hampi, Udaipur, Manali, Nainital and Dharmshala among others; equally short-haul or visa friendly international destinations such as Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Hong Kong-Macau.

Experiential luxury travel on the rise

Experiential luxury travel has also grown by 15-20% and has expanded to include exotic destinations like Iceland, Kenya, Tasmania, Korea and Japan and along with eclectic experiences. A classic vintage car drive along the French Riviera or Ferrari self-drives in Maranello, Italy, private wine tasting experiences in South Africa, a private yachting/speedboat experience on Italy’s Lake Como, breakfast in a hot air balloon/private island dining in Australia, volcano caving tours in Iceland, top-of-the-line spa experiences in Switzerland and an uber-luxe Michelin restaurant chase in Europe, were observed to be amongst some of the new experiences defining the Indian HNI-UHNI segment. Luxury backpacking also displayed a strong demand from India’s luxury travellers.

Travel Loans

India’s growing appetite for travel is witnessing a 50-60% growth in travel loans; loans no longer being perceived as a taboo for travel. Thomas Cook India’s data has further highlighted a surge, especially from young travellers between the age group of 25–35 years, who believe in instant gratification. Thomas Cook India’s data indicates an average transaction of 20-25 loans per month for an average loan of Rs. 1 lakh. Some of the factors driving the demand are diverse offerings, ease/convenience and children-centricity, novelty and unique experiences along with social media, discounts and easy visa/visa-on-arrival facilities.

Travel wave shifts from India to Bharat

Thomas Cook India’s data reiterates a strong shift in source markets to Bharat’s regional Tier 2 and 3 cities/towns. While metro/mini-metro cities (such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Chennai) continue to witness an increase in demand with 20% growth over last year, Tier 2 and 3 markets (Amritsar, Karnal, Guwahati, Ranchi, Aurangabad, Vishakapatnam, Hubli, Udaipur and Vijaywada) have showcased a high growth in demand upwards of 30%.

Speaking about the strong growth in summer holiday bookings, Mr. Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., said, “While summer has always been a peak travel season, this year, we have noticed a significant growth in bookings of 22% as compared to the previous year. Amongst others, one of the key highlights of this season there has been a definitive increase in the range of traveller segments, each one unique and clear about what they seek from their holidays. Indians are no longer shying away from spending, with an increased demand observed for travel loans to fulfil their travel aspirations. A key highlight has been the shift from a saver’s economy to a spender’s economy with the rise in the number of vacations Indians take as a family each year. Combined with their willingness to explore unchartered territories, and a demand for immersive experiences, travel brands and services are being pushed to reinvent the wheel even during the peak season to capture consumer attention. This is a positive development not just for consumers, but the industry as a whole.”

“To help our customers plan a perfect summer holiday, this year Thomas Cook India launched over 100 road shows across metros and mini metros showcasing handpicked product offerings catering to the distinct audience in every source market,” he added.

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