Domestic travelers fuel India’s tourism sector

It’s projected that the Indian travelers will conduct five billion leisure trips by 2030 and 99 percent of this will be internal explorations. Photo: Shutterstock/CandyRetriever

In the vast and diverse landscape of India, a remarkable phenomenon unfolds every day, — Indians traversing the length and breadth of their country with an insatiable wanderlust. The allure of exploration, the tapestry of cultures, and the myriad landscapes have birthed a burgeoning travel culture, where Indians are not only exploring their roots but also fueling the economic engine of the nation’s tourism sector.

An increasing number of Indians are embarking on journeys as a way of life post the Covid era and are willing to spend big, resulting in domestic tourism growing at an amazing pace. The newfound appetite for exploration has also collectively propelled India to the forefront of the world tourism stage.

Official figures reveal that a majority of Indians prefer to explore the vast and diverse landscape of their country than visiting foreign destinations. While Indian travelers took 1.7 billion leisure trips in 2022, rarely left the country, and only about one percent travelled abroad.

It’s projected that the Indian travelers will conduct five billion leisure trips by 2030 and 99 percent of this will be internal explorations. The main factor contributing to this surge is the growing middle class with disposable income. The world’s most populous country is set to be the fourth largest global travel spenders by 2030 when they are expected to spend a whopping USD 410 billion for travel and tourism. It was just USD 150 billion in 2019 and the increase in spending in ten years will be over 170 per cent.

These are the findings of the report prepared by and McKinsey on ‘How India travels 2023’. Here are the top 10 destinations preferred by Indians travelling within their own country:

1)New Delhi

Out of these, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Chennai are the most preferred destinations of domestic travelers, while Dubai tops the chart of Indians flying out of the country. “India’s travel ecosystem has stabilized. The government, too, is striving hard to link various destinations and turn the country into a tourist hub,” Kanika Kalra, managing partner at McKinsey, Mumbai, told national and international media.

It's not just big cities but small towns are also wooing travellers. Photo: Shutterstock/Libin Jose

It’s not only the big cities, but the small towns have also started wooing travelers. More and more Indians are now looking to explore Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, Kalra said, adding Kochi too is a Tier 2 city now.  Tier 2 cities are those with a population between 50, 000 and 1,00,000, while Tier 3 are those having 20,000 to 50,000 residents.

The branded hotels have started expanding their business into Tier 2 cities. The government too is focusing on boosting the basic infrastructure facilities, including transportation, as part of its efforts to lure travelers to the smaller cities. Indian airlines have ordered over 1000 new aircraft, taking the total number of planes to between 1500 to 1700 by 2030. In short, domestic tourism propels India to new heights, and the world is witnessing the emergence of a tourism giant, celebrating the diversity, resilience, and unmatched beauty within its borders.

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