Travel start-ups changing face of Indian tourism

Published on : Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hands touching a globeStartups with the help of technology enabling new services have sniffed out new opportunities and transformed the face of travel. From that seed of a thought on going somewhere, to returning safe and sound, every step of travelling has changed drastically.


With all the information and recommendations available at a click, Indians have become globetrotters.


Seema Kothari, a 45-year-old corporate lawyer is ready to set off on a 10-day trip to Iceland, in June with her husband and two children. “We diligently take a trip abroad every summer and we love to discover uncommon places,” she says. “We are enamoured with the idea of travelling. We started reading up on the Internet about six months ago on the probable countries we could visit and that’s where Iceland happened to us,” she says. Kothari planned the trip all by herself online — without the help of a travel agent.


About 40 per cent travellers have moved away from the “physical” travel agent. Booking today is a matter of a few clicks. Other aspects of travel have become so much easier that the number of outbound tourists has gone up significantly over the past few years.


According to The World Bank, the number of outbound tourists from India went up to 18.33 million in 2014 from 16.62 million in 2013. In 2012, the number stood at 14.92 million.


India today is emerging as the world’s fastest–growing outbound market, and in absolute numbers, it is currently second only to China.


In 1991, the year India opened to reforms, there were just 1.94 million Indians who travelled abroad, according to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). In 2014, the figure stood at 18.33 million, a CAGR of 10.25 per cent.


Tourism has become a significant contributor to the domestic economy, almost on par with the IT sector. While the former contributes over 6 per cent to the country’s GDP, the latter around 7.5 per cent.


According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020.


According to travel search engine ixigo, travel startups have grown from about 50 in 2011 to over 250 in 2015. It also says that the Indian airlines industry, which is a big beneficiary of the travel booking ecosystem, is growing at a CAGR of 24 per cent and the momentum is expected to continue over the next four to five years. Today, India has about 12 domestic airlines, of which six fly international. Besides, there are over 35,000 hotels, guesthouses, dorms across the country. In terms of hotel rooms, the number stands close to 1.2 lakh as of 2015.

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