- India’s travel landscape is changing as the country emerges as a powerhouse in the tourism sector.
- According to Booking.com and McKinsey, Indian travelers took 1.7 billion vacation trips in 2022, but most never left the country and only about 1% traveled abroad.
The world-famous Gateway of India Monument in Mumbai, India, was built in the 20th century to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. Located on the banks of the Apollo Bunder area in south Mumbai, it is the city’s main tourist attraction.
Darren Robb | The image database | Getty Images
India’s travel landscape is changing as the country emerges as a powerhouse in the tourism sector.
Their willingness to spend big while traveling is increasing, but research shows that most Indians travel domestically – not abroad.
According to Booking.com and McKinsey, Indian travelers took 1.7 billion vacation trips in 2022, but most never left the country and only about 1% traveled abroad.
It is estimated that Indian travelers will take 5 billion leisure trips by 2030, and 99% of these will also be within the country, said the report released in October.
The world’s most populous country is expected to be the fourth-largest travel-spending country in the world by 2030, largely due to its growing middle-income population, whose household income will increase by $35,000 per year by then.
In addition, the population is young, with the average age at 27.6 years, “more than ten years younger than that of most major economies,” McKinsey said on its website. “In addition, consumption of goods and services, including leisure and recreation, is expected to double by 2030.”
According to the report, travel and tourism spending is expected to reach $410 billion – an increase of more than 170% from $150 billion in 2019.
Here are the ten best places for Indians traveling within their own country, according to Booking.com and McKinsey.
According to the How India Travels 2023 report, around 2,000 Indians and 42,000 tourists from around the world aged between 18 and 54 booked vacations in 2022 and plan to do the same this year.
New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai retained the top four spots since the last study in 2015 – Kochi is the only new city on the list.
“India’s travel ecosystem is maturing and there are several government programs that will further connect the country and ensure that it emerges as a tourist hub,” Kanika Kalra, managing partner at McKinsey Mumbai, told CNBC.
The top 10 most visited cities are densely populated destinations, but that could soon change.
More and more Indians are now looking for smaller urban places, including those in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities, Kalra said, adding that Kochi is a Tier 2 city.
According to India Briefing, Tier 2 cities in India are cities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000 people, while cities with 20,000 to 50,000 people are classified as Tier 3 cities.
Tourists shop for clothes at a local street market in Jodhpur, India on November 22, 2022.
Mayur Cockade | moment | Getty Images
In addition to cosmopolitan cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, cities such as Jodhpur, Dharamshala, Bodhgaya, Bilaspur, Kodagu and Raipur are also attracting the attention of international hotel chains looking to gain market share in India’s booming travel industry.
“Branded hotels are currently focusing their expansion on Tier 2 cities as business opportunities increase and travelers are increasingly willing to pay for standard services,” Deepak Rao, director of revenue management at Hyatt Hotels in India and Southwest Asia, said in the report .
French hotel chain Novotel opened its doors to travelers in Jodhpur in May, while Radisson Hotel Group announced in June that it would welcome visitors to Raipur from 2025.
About half (52%) of hotels in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities will be branded hotels by the end of 2023 – an increase from 27% in 2015, the report shows.
The growing interest in travel to smaller Indian cities is largely due to the current expansion of transport infrastructure, said Mckinsey’s Kalra.
At its annual budget announcement in February, India’s finance ministry said it planned to increase capital spending by 33% to 10 trillion rupees ($120.96 billion) as the country aims to become the second-largest economy by 2075.
Indian airlines have ordered over 1,000 new aircraft, taking the total number of aircraft to 1,500-1,700 by 2030, the report said.
“So we’re going to see this landscape change pretty dramatically and we’re going to see a new wave of travelers to smaller cities,” Kalra said.
Of the 1% of Indian travelers who travel abroad, here are the 10 places they visit most often.