India's tourism industry, be it inbound, outbound or domestic - every segment has witnessed rapid changes especially in the last eight years. Indian outbound tourism is growing at a rapid pace surpassing all other segments in the travel and tourism industry. Outbound tourism can hardly diminish as a product or an experience since the discerning global traveler will always have the choice of new destinations and experiences. Now countries and destinations worldwide are looking to grab a share of this ever-expanding market. Indians are globetrotting the world like never before. The Indian outbound tourist’s number was mere 4.6 Million in 2001 and it reached to nearly 20 Million in 2014. In terms of percentage growth, India is the fastest growing outbound market in the world; in terms of numbers, it’s second fastest after China. India Outbound tourism market will surpass the figure of US$ 40 Billion by 2020. In terms of spending by Indian tourists, United States is the leading country with over 30% of spending in 2014. Indian tourists spending share in United States is higher as compared to the combined share of top 9 tourism destination.
Thailand is the most popular tourist destination for Indian travelers. However the number of tourists visit to Thailand tumbled down in 2014 due to the political crisis and on road protests in Thailand. As a result Singapore replaced Thailand to grab the number one position in 2014. Singapore is expected to maintain its leading position for a year or two, but in the long term Thailand is likely to emerge as a leading player. United States and China are standing at the third and fourth popular destination for Indian travelers.
The major factors that influence destination selection for Indians are safety and security; variety of things to explore; image of holiday destination; good tourism facilities and infrastructure; and the ease of obtaining visas. The increasing image of Indians as globetrotters has encouraged even lesser known economies to jump into the booming Indian tourism market. The growth in Indian outbound tourists can be attributed to liberalization of air transport, English language fluency and level of comfort with international travel, greater segmentation in the market and a high demand for travel among families, young people and women. With the growth in Indian Outbound Tourism, many countries — including Spain, Ireland, South Korea, Macau (China), Indonesia, and Poland — have opened tourist offices in India.
Bollywood has always been recognized as having the strongest influence for potential Indian travellers. Most National Tourism Organisation’s and Film Commissions have been working closely with the Bollywood segment to bring Bollywood films to their respective destinations. With a population of more than 1.2 Billion, the country offers huge potential for growth in outbound travel. While business travel, holiday and VFR trips still dominates outbound volumes, tourists are also opting for niche products like luxury travels, sports tourism, honeymoon packages and cruises.