Discussions about resuming travel in Asia are still largely focused on the return of Chinese travelers.
But it’s Indian travelers who are seeking international travel faster than travelers from any other market in the world, Agoda CEO Omri Morgenshtern told CNBC Travel.
“The whole thing is booming,” he said. “India outgoing [travel] grows much faster than any other.”
The company’s data showed that while searches for outbound travel from most Asia-Pacific countries increased by 30% to 60% from 2019, searches for travelers to India jumped by 225%.
“India’s travel industry has rebounded strongly on the back of the country’s economic growth,” said Laalitya Dhavala, valuation consultant at travel analytics firm Cirium.
“The data shows a strong recovery in domestic and international traffic compared to 2019 with … positive capacity growth expected in the next quarter,” said.
Where are they traveling?
Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia are the best choices for Indian travelers.
From January 2019 to mid-May this year, hotel and flight searches by Indian travelers in Indonesia increased by 256%, Singapore by 215% and Thailand by 147%, according to Agoda data. .
But searches in Vietnam – a country long overlooked by Indian travelers – have increased further. Agoda data showed a 390% increase from 2019.
“Vietnam is in the top five destinations and it was never there in 2019,” Morgenshtern said.
Before 2019, there were no direct flights from India to Vietnam, so connectivity between the two countries is now better, said Vishal Suri, managing director of SOTC Travel.
“Vietnam is a destination that is not far from India and still in the ASEAN region. It’s just a four or five hour flight from most parts of the country,” Suri said. .
Southeast Asian destinations remain popular among Indian travellers, but Agoda data suggests their interest in East Asian destinations has declined, Agoda’s Morgenshtern said.
Searches for hotels and flights to Japan and Taiwan fell from 2019, according to data from Agoda. But searches for South Korea have increased since before the pandemic.
“Travel to Southeast Asia is completely exploding, but East Asian countries are much more expensive destinations,” Morgenshtern said.
But Morgenshtern expects interest in East Asia travel to increase soon. He also noted two other expensive markets that are popular among Indians – the United States and the United Kingdom.
“I don’t see why an Indian customer going to Europe wouldn’t have a lot of fun going to Japan or Taiwan.”
More purchasing power
Whether it’s a short getaway in Asia or a long vacation in Europe, Indians spend money. And they spend big.
“There’s this perception that the economic power of the Indian traveler is very low. That may be true domestically, but when it comes to overseas, I actually think it’s on par with the Chinese. when they visit other Asian countries,” Agoda’s Morgenshtern said.
Indian travelers spent around 30% more on accommodation for their international trips last year than before the pandemic, and 20% more than the average Chinese customer, according to Agoda data.
In Thailand, Chinese and Indian travelers spend about the same on hotels, he said.
“Indians like to stay in four- or five-star accommodations and in branded hotels with names that are familiar to them,” said SOTC’s Suri. “They are also exploring real restaurants instead of eating at fast food joints.”
Cirium’s Dhavala pointed out that the increase in international travel is limited to wealthier Indian travellers.
“The rest of the middle-class sector is focused on domestic travel, and India’s low-cost airlines are well placed to meet this demand,” she said.