Written by PADI Regional Training Consultant Robert Scammell
Starting from October 2018, GoAir India have opened two direct routes to Phuket from Delhi and Mumbai. GoAir will operate three direct flights per week between Mumbai and Phuket and two direct flights between Delhi and Phuket. This opens a new gateway for travelers to and from India, as previously the only option was to connect via Bangkok. These new flights will offer consumers a lot more convenience and opportunities in their travel.
Conversely, given Phuket’s tourism and ex-pat community this also opens new gateways for those wishing to explore India itself. India already plays host to approximately 120,000 Thai tourists a year (mostly Buddhist pilgrimages) providing a fantastic opportunity for PADI Dive Centers in India to attract foreign tourism. While other destinations such as Malaysia and Bali have been enjoying direct flights from India for some time.
As Industry professionals there are great opportunities with this emerging market, as many Indian nationals are traveling to South East Asia with a specific goal to experience Scuba Diving. India already has a growing outbound tourism diving market with many Indians completing referral training in Indian cities and traveling to South East Asia to complete training. Many businesses are already enjoying Indian nationals travelling to them to further their diver education whilst also experiencing a new destination.
Forecasters are already predicting the number of Indians holidaying abroad is likely to treble 2025 and may account for 40 per cent of the international air trips from the country, according to an aviation think-tank reports. In 2016, there were 21.9 million foreign departures from India, of which 4.8 million were leisure trips. According to reports, in 2025 there will be 13.9 million international leisure departures from India, accounting for 40.3 per cent of the total projected 34.5 million international departures.
Those who travel abroad are a mere 8 per cent of the high-income group population of 55 million, which is expected to exceed 100 million people by 2025, according to the report titled ‘Inflection point for India Outbound Leisure travel’. While in 2017 Thailand had 1,411,942 Indian visitors, a growth of 18.2% from 2016. While other destinations, such as Indonesia, have enjoyed a growth of 190% since 2016. Holiday makers from tier-2 cities in India are expected to play a key role in international travel with the size of high-income and upper-middle class income households growing faster there than in metropolitan areas. The expanding middle-income segment in India will see an increase in demand for domestic and international travel, according to reports.
Research indicates that the most popular leisure destinations for Indian travelers are Dubai, Thailand, France, Singapore and Malaysia. In fact, these five destinations alone accounted for just over 50 per cent of Indian leisure arrivals overseas in 2017. These holiday spots were followed by Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia (primarily Bali), the US and Switzerland. Millennials who are more adventurous than their predecessors are generally more inclined to spend money on travel rather than save and therefore, will drive the growth in outbound tourism, according to reports. This is also likely to change travel patterns as millennials start to travel with a group of friends or even solo rather than with their large family from India.
The growing India outbound tourism market is a big opportunity for the Scuba Diving Industry, especially in Asian countries, to attract a new customer base and forge links with a rapidly expanding market. As these new Gateways open there is great chance for the PADI Dive Centers to jump on board by building connections with an already established businesses in India. Through tools such as the PADI Travel affiliate program, you will be able to start attracting new customers and see the benefits from the emerging market that is India.
For more information on this market you can contact Robert Scammell, PADI Regional Training Consultant for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – firstname.lastname@example.org.