Neelu Singh, CEO, Ezeego1.com

With the summer vacations not too far away, it is a good time to take stock of trends in the Indian outbound. The USA, despite all the negative publicity around it, continues to attract large numbers of Indian travellers, says Neelu Singh, CEO, Ezeego1.com. She shares that while Europe as a whole remains a strong market, Indians are taking to newer regions, including Eastern and Southern Europe, besides taking to Scandinavian countries. Excerpts from the interview.

Outbound to the USA remains strong despite Trump administration’s rhetoric

Despite Trump administration’s rhetoric around visa regulation and immigration policy, outbound to the Americas has not only remained strong but has registered growth in the past months, says Neelu Singh. Sharing her insight on trends in footfalls, she notes that “the total number of Indians travelling to the USA has been on a growth trajectory in the last few years.” She argues that Indians travelling to the USA for leisure or business are “not perturbed as they are only going there for a few days or weeks on a holiday and return.” “Indians are open and have a positive mindset when they plan a holiday. In fact, we are seeing the number of Indians travelling to the USA growing year after year, and this year will not be any different,” she reasons. She stresses that Indians are “opening up to new experiences when visiting the USA.” Listing out some of the more taken to activities by the Indian outbound, she shares that self-drive vacations, cruise holidays, culinary vacations are in vogue. “Even the number of days spent by Indians in the USA have gone up,” she says.

Israel has gained popularity as a destination in the past few years, especially with the PM’s visit to the country. Air India’s direct flight to Tel Aviv has boosted bilateral connect like never before.

Outbound to Israel on the rise

If we take stock of developments in the past months, Israel has seen unprecedented publicity in the Indian media, thanks to PM’s well-publicised visit.  Air India’s direct flights to Tel Aviv has also added lustre. All of these developments have had a cumulative impact on Israel’s fortunes in attracting travellers from India. Neelu Singh notes that Israel has been on the travel map of many Indians, “especially for religious tours and visiting farms to understand drip irrigation.” “In fact, for the last 10 to 15 years, farmer associations in Maharashtra have been going on tours to understand techniques of farming from Israel,” she shares.

She notes that EL AL has a direct daily service from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and with Air India in the fray, these are expected to only get better.  “The second flight from Delhi to Tel Aviv will help open up the North India market for tourism. We will definitely see an increase in the number of Indians travelling to Israel, not only for religious tours but also leisure. Indians always like to explore new destinations and the Israel tourism board in India are very proactive in promoting the destination,” she explains. Giving her take on the road ahead, she says that a hitherto untapped segment – Incentives – is also expected to drive more movement to Israeli shores. “We also see this as an opportunity for more Israelis to visit India. There is a lot of interest amongst Israelis to visit India and we believe that this publicity around the PM Modi’s visit will translate in mutual benefit for both the countries,” she says, reflecting on churning in bilateral footfalls.  

Indian outbound taking to Southern Europe, Scandinavian nations

With the summers around the corner, it is a good time to take stock of emerging destinations among Indian outbound travellers. While Europe continues to be the top draw, newer regions in the European continent are finding more traction than before. “Earlier, it was confined to Western Europe, but now the demand is more for Eastern Europe and new destinations in Southern Europe,” she tells us.  “We see a rise in demand for Scandinavian countries, new African destinations such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.  We are also witnessing an increase in tourists to South America,” she shares, giving an overview.