Economic slowdown changing travel trends, say experts

April 23rd, 2009 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The economic downturn is unlikely to affect the Indian tourism industry but only trigger a change of travel trends and preferences in the market, according to industry experts.
“Now travellers lay more emphasis on the location choice as compared to the brand,” ITC hotels division chief executive Nakul Anand said at a tourism conclave held Thursday ahead of India’s oldest travel and tourism mart, SATTE 2009.

“People want guilt-free holidays these days, due to recession and other such factors. The concept of volun-tourism has also come up, wherein people go to new places and voluntarily associate themselves with a social cause while enjoying their stay and travel,” Anand added.

Richard Bangs, co-founder of the US-based adventure travel operator Mountain Travel, stressed that while the slowdown had left many jobless, there was still a large segment which had time and money to invest in travel.

“Conventionally, there were two types of travellers - time rich, cash poor and cash rich, time poor. After the recession there are people who are time and cash rich,” said Bangs, considered one of the founders of adventure tourism.

“Many of them invest their time and money in safaris in the African continent. India is a new potential market segment to tap,” he stressed while speaking at a session on the significance of niche and luxury tourism.

Deep Kalra, chief executive of popular travel portal, said the industry had to also focus on the market demand.

“During this economic slowdown, people haven’t really cut down on their travelling. Their way of travelling has changed. Now most people prefer shorter but frequent trips instead of taking really long breaks at once. So the industry needs to work on this.”

The two-day SATTE 2009 mart starting Friday is the 16th edition of the event that over the years has grown to become a leading travel exchange platform in Asia. Organisers estimate a 20 percent increase in overseas buyers, interested in promoting the rich heritage of “Incredible India” abroad, this year.

Summing up India’s position in the industry, Naveen Berry, chief coordinator of SATTE said: “A recently released report by a leading global audit and consulting firm pegs the worth of the Indian tourism business at $42.8 billion annually by 2017 (from the present level of $27 billion).”

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