Enamouring locales in Hollywood and world cinema, access to social media, availability of expendable incomes have increased wanderlust among people across the world. Where travel was a luxury once upon a time, today, travellers indulge in stimulating experiences based on their budget and preference. But most importantly, they travel to make memories

Travel, Splurge, Repeat

One of the famous quotes from yesteryears is by Saint Augustine who said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page. And in what seems to be an explosion of sorts, travel and wanderlust have become the new-age mantra for living a fulfilled and satisfied life. Exploring new places, meeting up with different people, sharing living spaces with total strangers thanks to social media groups, solo travelling, special focused groups for seeing the beauty the world has to offer has become quite normal in today’s world.

People might be busy, schedules could be hectic, still people find ways to squeeze in life-time experiences by going to exotic, remote and the most-travelled places in the world. Distances are no longer a concern, neither is money. From backpacking to super luxurious customised options, literally there is a world of options today for the travellers or those bitten by wanderlust. And in defence of these wandering souls, JRR Tolkien once said, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

And then there is the irresistible charm exuded by movies from Hollywood and other world cinema, which make even the quaintest of the places look and feel ‘ohhh so romantic’.

Today, the travel industry has become quite dynamic and provides a wide variety of options for discerning customers. From spending a night hanging from a cliff off a huge mountain to soaking in the dead sea to spending time in Antarctica or the Lapland which flaunts its Santa connect or spending a glitzy, glamourous vacay in hip places like London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Tokyo – there is a deal to suit the luxury lifestyles of the movers and shakers. The keyword for the travel industry in this decade is surely ‘customised’.

I don’t find the travel industry getting saturated. With increasing populations that come with the power to splurge, people are finding more time to visit their dream destinations. What’s more appealing to them is getting intricately customised packages that promise comfort, relaxation and high-end luxury all tossed into one big deal,” says corporate guru, business strategist, real estate consultant and astro-strategist, Hirav Shah.

Let’s check out some important questions related to the tourism industry at large and how it is going to fare in years to come…

1) How big is the tourism industry in India?

Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in India. It contributed $247 billion to the country’s GDP in 2018. So as per new data, Indian tourism and travel industry is likely to contribute $500 billion by the year 2029.
The industry supports a whole lot of people in terms of creating jobs, both directly and indirectly through supply chain and logistics.
Despite the slump, the travel industry has bounced back and is coming up with innovative options such as giving visas for remote workers.

2) What is the domestic expenditure on tourism and future prospects for the industry?

The domestic expenditure on tourism in India was around $200 billion in 2018. However, within a decade, the expenditure will shoot up to double the amount. “Like I said before, the craving for people to travel and explore places, both highly publicised and quaint hidden gems will be up. This will boost revenues,” opines Hirav Shah.

3) How can one differentiate between types of travel…

a) Solo travelling: This is on the rise these days. Enamoured by Hollywood flicks and world cinema, many prefer taking off to places on their itinerary. Solo travelling can be fun, as one explores a place at one’s ease and pick and choose places that truly excite or interest them. It’s about leisure, freedom and comfort. Solo travelling could be backpacking to enjoy the charm of roaming the world on a shoe-string budget or going for luxurious options, to the extent that money can offer. It’s the ideal way to imbibe new cultures and meet new people and make new friends.

b) Weekend break travelling: This is a little squeeze-in to pamper yourself. Just fly off or take off to a place that you have had on your bucket list and spend time all by yourself or with friends or family. Google and you will find various blogs that will help you plan with ease the dos and don’ts and tips on how to make the most of your trip. For example, there are blogs like 48 hour adventure, where the writer gives awesome write-ups about spending the best time between a Friday evening and a Sunday evening trip.

c) Package holiday: Backpacking is fun, but getting every detail perfect and having customised services is a luxury in itself. Even minute details are looked into while one embarks on a package holiday. However, the detailing increases with the amount you splurge, maintains Hirav Shah. There are package holidays to wine estates, tea and coffee estates, to eco-tourist spots. It’s your shot at enjoying a bit of paradise right here on earth.

d) Group tours: Well, of late there are websites which connect those with wanderlust via the internet. The people from such groups then meet up at a pre-decided location and enjoy their trip together.

Of course, the beauty of such trips is to pick a group that best suits your interests or tastes and simply go for it. From 20 year olds wanting to get wasted to groups of 80 year olds who might want to visit historical monuments, group travels cater to varied age groups and places. One could be interested in ghosts or the gnomes, there is a trip for all. Cheese making could interest some while fishing or green tourism or safaris could be of interest to others. Such tours offer itinerary packed with activities and also include free days for travellers to explore on their own. What else can one ask for, wonder Hirav Shah.

e) The caravan or road trip: Put on your seat belts, play your favourite music and just get on to the road. If you own a caravan or can borrow one, this is a good option for family holidays, more so with kids. It gives you the chance to enjoy nature and make memories along the way.

f) Volunteer travel: Termed as voluntourism, this could take you to a remote village in Africa or the vineyards of France, organic farming in Italy or working with an orphanage in some South American country. It gives one a tremendous sense of satisfaction and a sense of purpose contributing to the world around you. It is also a great way to form new connections in a different country.

g) Slow, long term travel: This one is not for the quaint hearted. This is for true, hardcore travellers, whose objective is to travel for long periods to enjoy and soak in the cultures of various places. One could take months or years travelling around. Such trips are usually done back-packer style and many work during their stay to earn money to keep travelling. It’s more of a lifestyle kind of travelling, where travelling becomes a way of life.

h) The Gap year: Yes, we saw that coming. Gap year immediately reminds one of university students taking a year off to figure what they want to do next, while travelling to the extent possible. But a gap year can be taken by anyone and at any age. A gap year is more about the amount of time you spend on travelling, than what you exactly do on the trip.
And if you can get a working holiday visa, then there is nothing like it. You can earn and spend on your travel. It’s a win-win situation.

i) Visiting friends or family: Another awesome way to travel as it gives you the luxury of staying with friends or relatives. Apart from spending quality time with them, you can explore new places and make new friends and connections.
Also, it gives the flavour of enjoying the local life, sights, sounds and food, because you are not part of a package deal.

j) Event travel: It could be jetting off to a place to enjoy and partake in sunburn festivals, carnivals at Rio or Venice, the Olympics, football league matches, Wimbledon matches or the World cup. It could also mean hopping over to a place where your favourite band is playing. It’s one hell of an experience and you are bound to enjoy the spirit, the mood and the togetherness of the moment.

k) Business travel: This is when your company foots the bill for your stay. Yes, you are paid to work, but you could add in a day or two, to enjoy the place and soak in the culture, says Hirav Shah.

l) Disaster tourism: Of late, it has become fashionable to visit abandoned or disaster zones as a travel destination. It suits a particular category of people and may not be everyone’s choice after all.

4) What are three types of travelling?

Experience, budget and luxury travelling.

5) Did you know what one who loves travelling is called?

A hodophile is one who loves to travel.

6) What are the types of tour packages?

Independent tours, escorted tours and hosted tours.

7) What does ‘FIT’ mean in the travel industry?

FIT originally meant foreign independent travel or leisure trips abroad without an escort or fixed package structure. However, nowadays, FIT means flexible independent travel. The components might resemble a package, but the itinerary is custom-build for the traveller.

8) What is the global tourism industry’s worth?

The global tourism industry was worth $7,581 billion in 2014. However, the global tourism industry is envisioned to expect a year on year growth of 3.9% and reach $11,382 by 2025.

9) What’s the overview of the tourism industry?

Travel industry products and services:
● Traveller accommodation
● Air transportation
● Travel arrangements and reservations
● Food and beverage establishments
● Other transport, including car rental
● Gasoline
● Recreation and entertainment
● Other retail activities
Industry activities
● Traveller accommodation services
● Airline operation
● Providing hospitality services to international tourists
● Automotive rental
● Travel agent and tour arrangement services

10) What is WTCC?

WTTC stands for World Travel & Tourism council. Its mission is to maximise the inclusive and sustainable growth potential of the Travel & Tourism sector by partnering with governments, destinations, communities, and other stakeholders to drive economic development, create jobs, reduce poverty, security, and understanding in the world.

Since the initial discussions between industry CEOs in the late 1980s about establishing a forum for business leaders in Travel & Tourism to the way it is today, WTTC has had many achievements, and its role and activities have grown significantly. But its core mission remains the same — to raise awareness of the full economic and social impact and potential of Travel & Tourism.