February 16, 2018
 

Discerning Indian travellers no longer want to be part of a run-of-the-mill tour to discover attractions of a destination; they are actually keen to be part of the real stories and real experiences in a report by Irene Susan Eapen

The Indian outbound industry is undergoing a shift with various niche segments coming forth, experiential travel being one of them. Experiential tourism is a segment that seeks to offer travellers a different perception of the destination that
they are visiting through exploration of the local culture, traditions, food and wine and the people. Discerning
Indian travellers no longer want to be part of a run-of-the-mill tour to discover attractions of a destination; they are actually keen to be part of the real stories and real experiences.

Travellers who seek these kinds of tours mainly comprise the millennials, solo traveller, youngsters, family people, senior citizens and backpackers. Spokespersons representing various National Tourist Organisations (NTOs) in the country share their
views on the trends.

Experiential Tourism

Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, says, “The concept of experiential tourism highlights on talking about real stories and sharing real experiences. We also have a programme called ‘Friend of Australia’ to foster
mutually beneficial and long-term ‘friendship’ with those that we regard as positive and influential storytellers.

As part of this programme, we appointed Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra to showcase the best of tourism attractions and
experiences there by encouraging Indians to visit Australia. Besides this, we regularly engage with influencers such as famous Indian chefs, food connoisseurs and critics, travel influencers, amongst others who showcase different experiences
of the destination. We have also collaborated with top television channels for content integration to showcase Australia to the potential Indian travellers.”

Steven Dixon, Regional Manager, South and South-East Asia, Tourism New Zealand, states, “Our latest campaign talks about New Zealand’s unique visitor experience and explores the country through a more regional lens. This campaign also describes a journey enriched by local people, places and experiences. Some of the main locations promoted in the TVC are
Abel Tasman National Park – Nelson, Bowen Falls – Fiordland, Franz Josef Glacier – West Coast, Haast Blue Pools – Wanaka, Hobbiton -Waikato , Kepler Track – TeAnau, Paihia Farmers Market – Bay of Islands, Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve – Northland, Polynesian Spa – Rotorua and Waitangi Treaty Grounds – Northland.”

According to Rajeev Nangia, India Director, Monaco Government Tourist Bureau, “Monaco is a home for some of the best gastronomic delights, pubs and casinos and a nightlife haven for enriched experiential tourism experiences. One can experience the many attractions of the Principality in an Aston Martin and you can also relax with a duo massage for either a
retreat or rejuvenation.”

Seema Datt, Vice President, Philippines Department of Tourism Office, India, remarks, “Some of the unique locations for experiential travel are Puerto Princesa and EL Nido in Palawan, Bohol, Boracay etc.”

Pooja Sabharwal, Account Director, Destination Holland –India says that all the experiential locations in Holland are being
promoted through digital marketing and familiarization trips – trade and media. “The locations are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Kaatsheuvel and more.”

“Israel is a destination that offers unique experiences for all kinds of travellers, be it luxury, leisure, honeymooners, food and
wine aficionados or adventure enthusiasts. Some of the places we have been promoting are the cities of Tel Aviv- Yafo, Jerusalem, Eilat and the surrounding area, the Dead Sea and the Galilee Regions and the Negev Desert,” says Hassan Madah,
Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism India & Philippines explains.”

Ignacio Ducasse, Director, Tourism Office of Spain, states, “We believe experiential tourism is about experiencing something different. Sometimes known as immersion travel, you are not talking tourism with the express intent of not just seeing a new place, but somehow getting involved with its culture or tradition. For us, experiential tourism is an integral part of luxury travel which goes beyond staying in luxury villas and hotels. Luxury travel is the focus for our tourism boards and convention bureaus. The Barcelona Tourism Board, in fact, has a dedicated department ‘Barcelona Premium’ promoting unique concepts of seeing the city and its surrounds. Our unique festivals are experiences itself, visiting Valencia Region during Las Fallas or La
Tomatina; Pamplona during San Fermin and many more. Attending annual gastronomical events such San Sebastian Gastronomika in the Basque Region or Madrid Fusion in the city of Madrid are rewarding experiences to those associated in
the culinary field.”

Statistics

Nishant says, “India achieved the fastest growing market status in 2017. We witnessed arrivals growing by 15% till October 2017 from India to Australia, with an influx of 294,000 visitors, compared to the same period last year. We are hoping
in achieving our Tourism 2020 goal of 300,000 visitors annually, by the first quarter of 2018.”

The Indian arrivals to New Zealand are steadily growing and for the year ending November 2017, total arrivals from India were up by 16.7% (59,392 arrivals), while holiday arrivals are up by 7.9% (27,680).

Steve says, “Tourism growth is increasing and we are confident to continue with this progress for our new fiscal year as well. We see an increase in the number of Indians opting for self-drive tours and the trend of Indian travellers preferring experiential travel is growing substantially than sight-seeing. We expect to see a double-digit arrival growth in FY18.”

Rajeev expects Monaco to have more Indian travellers and is focusing more on responsible luxury. The Philippines has seen a
consistent growth of 22% from India in 2017. It is targeting to close this year with 100,000 arrivals from India market. It is expecting to grow at a much higher rate and that will go beyond the 100,000 mark. Holland has noticed a remarkable
growth of 23% in Indian arrivals to Holland till September 2017. The destination would continue to look for a good growth from the Indian market with the objective of promoting the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam. It looks forward to sustaining and adding further on the double-digit growth in the year 2018.

Ignacio Ducasse,Director, Tourism Office of Spain says, “ We witnessed an optimistic growth in 2017 that exceeded 100.000 tourists in the month of October. The MICE segment has also experienced a good growth so we are expecting a positive
growth of around 15-20% in 2018. We will be conducting presentations in new cities like Raipur, Lucknow, Amritsar and Jaipur.”

For Israel, 2017 has been a great year with over 58,000 Indian tourist arrivals and also for setting a record in arrivals from India, a 31% increase over 2016. “Based on this trend, we are optimistic of our growth in arrivals from India in 2018,” says Hassan. “We have recently also announced relaxed visa rules for Indian tourists who have travelled to any of the Schengen countries, USA, Canada, Australia or Israel mainly to boost tourist arrivals. Air India and Arkia will be introducing their flights between India and Israel that will increase connectivity from India to Israel.”

“Besides that with our marketing activities we are expecting around one lakh Indian tourists to travel to Israel in 2018.We are also looking forward for the release of the Bollywood Movie ‘Drive’, starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez, as the first Indo Israeli movie collabration and the movie features a song that was shot in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv,”
he added.

Activities

“In terms of experiential activities, we offer varied experiences for all age groups as Australia is known for its aquatic and coastal, nature and wildlife as well as food and wine. Some of the iconic destinations are at the heart of Australia's aquatic
and coastal experiences like the Great Barrier Reef which is the largest coral reef system in the world and experiencing the reef is a life-changing adventure for travellers,” Nishant informs. “Apart from this, travellers can also get to explore the marine life, swim with the world’s largest fish, watch the world’s smallest penguins waddle along the beach, surfing big waves. They can experience world class restaurants in unique locations of the destination. One can explore the ancient rain forests on the fringe of modern cities.”

Steven says, “Travellers prefer to create their own itineraries which help them to be experiential and adventurous. The self drive tours are also a great option for them to explore the destination.”

Seema says, “Some of the great experiential experiences like shark diving, underground river, jack fish feeding and coral reefs exploration during snorkeling, yellow submarine and scuba diving.”

Pooja explains, “Zip Holland attracts adventure seekers. It is the most unique zip line in The Netherlands, covering a distance of 350 meter from the top of Bungy Tower, with a speed over 70 km/h besides the het Ferris wheel, over sea and the
beach en stops above the terraces on the Scheveningse Pier. Efteling, a fantasy-themed amusement park in Kaatsheuvel in the Netherlands, is now being promoted extensively among Indian travellers. The attractions there are based on elements from ancient myths and legends, fairy tales, fables, and folklore. One can visit Madurodam:Nieuw Amsterdam. In the immersive
attraction, you go back in time and experience New Amsterdam in the 17th century. One can experience the Dutch roots of New York at Maduro In the opinion of Ignacio, “You get to be part of a gastronomy journey by exploring the region in Northern
Spain. The St James Way offers an original and different way of sightseeing in northern Spain.”

Some of the activities in Israel are the Sound and Light Night Spectacular at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea region with historical sites, outdoor trails, unique accommodation and personal care products or the thriving nightlife of Tel Aviv. Hassan explains, “You can go on wine and cheese tours and also go for a mud spa treatment at Dead Sea or even
swim with the dolphins in Eilat. For those who are adventurous they can experience the Tandem Sky Diving in Eilat and the Luxury Desert Camping at Mitzpe Ramon. Mount Hermon offers as the best spot for skiers during winters.”

“For Experiential tourism, Israel has multiple indoor and outdoor activities. Besides that, there are AirBNB, like Bedouin hospitality experiences and Zimmers a guest house in the Galilee region or at wineries in the Negev Desert, or the sunrise in the Old City of Jerusalem and sunset in Jaffa on the Mediterranean Sea.

Some of the Outdoor activities including hiking, biking or jeeping in the Ramon Crater, water sports and adventures like snorkeling to explore the coral reef or swim with dolphins, exploring ancient history at the underwater museum
Caesarea or floating in the Dead Sea,” he added.

Travellers

Nishant says, “We have seen 68% of Indian visitors visiting Australia for leisure which is either for a holiday or visiting friends and relatives. Apart from this, business travellers also play a significant role as they indulge in a few leisure activities.”
Steven explains, “Self-drive holidays are popular with Indian outbound travelers and the number has been on a rise and will only increase as Indians are opting for more flexibility in their itineraries.”

Monaco has been visited by all kinds of travellers and vacationers, right from families to bleisure traveler to couple getaways and celebrities. Seema observes, “Our travellers have mostly been small groups, back-packers and millennials.”

Pooja says, “The target audience for experiential tourism comprises millennials, solo-traveller, youngsters, family people and senior citizens.”

Ignacio observes several profiles of travellers who are interested in experiential tourism. “Young, unconventional Indians in the age bracket of 18-35 years are looking for offbeat experiences. Also known as the millennials, these travellers are
very keen on active tourism, culture, gastronomy, road trips, outdoor activities and experiencing festivals.

Repeat travellers are increasingly important as they have an interest in exploring and experiencing new destinations. While luxury travellers are looking for refined and sophisticated experiences such as an extravagant party on a yacht in
Marbella or sleeping in a cave in the South of Spain.

We have witnessed an important growth of social influencers that attract a huge fan following who create the buzz around a new product or experience and promote it in their blogs and social media accounts. The FITs and high end corporate groups are looking at experiencing something unique, distinct and unconventional.”

Promotional Plans

Tourism Australia’s marketing plans are focused on media promotions, digital and PR Play. It will be leveraging the ‘Friend of Australia’ programme and partnering with our Key Distribution Partners as well as Aussie Specialist Agents.

Steven says, “We are working on our marketing campaigns to target more Indian visitors with a focus on North India and have also partnered with several travel agents to increase our business and trade activities for the coming year. We have regular
training sessions with the Indian travel trade which includes a focus on the 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Programme, in-market trade training and hosting Tourism New Zealand led events, such as Kiwi Link India that helps connect the New Zealand industry with the Indian travel trade.”

Israel will continue to have its joint marketing agreements with the travel trade partners. Monaco is promoting a new strategy that will focus on the slogan ‘Green is the New Glam’ to showcase Monaco as an eco-friendly destination.

In the opinion of Seema, “We will participate in trade shows, business and wedding shows, tactical joint promotions with the trade partners, roadshows with prominent trade partners from The Philippines, trade conventions, organize Fam trips for
trade and media, press meets to announce new developments.”

Pooja states, “Our objective for 2018 is to ensure consistent and sustained growth with respect to Indian arrivals in the Netherlands. We will increase partner revenue and partner participation through collaborative marketing campaigns in which airlines, destinations and attractions can come together to transact business. “

Spain Tourism’s marketing plans will highlight new products that are expected to boost travel to Spain besides the traditional products promoted in the Indian market. It is also targeting cosmopolitan tourists with a high spending power who can spend more on upgrading hotel rooms, shopping luxury items and dining at high end restaurants.”

Experiential tourism is only anticipated to gain increased foothold in the niche travel segment in the country as social media,
increased exposure to international travel and the need for unique experiences prod the new age traveler to take the road less travelled.

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