New experiences, destinations driving the Indian outbound, says Neelu Singh

The Indian outbound was flying to exotic destinations with South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam, among others emerging as favourites, said Neelu Singh, CEO, She also believed that new entrants in the Indian aviation market, such as WOW air, would help address capacity constraints. Excerpts:

Neelu Singh

What are some of the big takeaways in terms of the outbound movement? What are some hot picks this season, within the continent and beyond?

It is exotic destinations such as South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam among others that are popular. Due to a favourable climate, Australia and New Zealand are also popular during this period.

The other destinations that hold a lot of promise are Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, which are considered all-year-round destinations.

The Gulf region has been a hotbed of activity, aimed at attracting the Indian outbound. Bahrain has opened a tourism office in India whereas Dubai has further diluted visa norms, making it simpler for families and group travellers to visit the Emirati city. Are these concerted efforts reflecting in the movement too? Are you witnessing a spike in tourism numbers into the Gulf region?

It was Dubai that led the way in promotions and was quickly followed by Oman – which positioned itself as a luxury destination. Others who have joined the fray are Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and now Bahrain. These destinations are in proximity to India and attract a sizeable Indian traffic. Travelling from a metro city to any of the Gulf points are under four hours and therefore it competes with our domestic destinations.

Visa norms are being simplified as these destinations understand the economic value that tourists contribute to their economy. Recently, Abu Dhabi has introduced a line of tours which caters to the experiential traveller. It provides an opportunity for Indians to understand the local Emirati culture and traditions.

The involvement of LCCs in long-haul operations is a relatively new development, with WOW air connecting the Icelandic capital and beyond, to Indian cities. IndiGo, too, will be flying to KL from Bengaluru and Delhi starting mid-November. Do you see these new entrants impacting how the Indian outbound moves?

Amongst the LCCs, it is only WOW air that has announced its intention of starting flights from December. It is too early to call them a disruptor, though it is welcome. As for IndiGo, they are flying to Asian destinations which are competitive enough. What it adds is capacity and will enable travellers to choose from multiple options.

There is a capacity issue in the Indian market and it is a constraint for the outbound travel. These will help the outbound business.

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