India is one of the fastest emerging tourist destinations in the world. With beautiful varying landscapes from beaches to snowclad mountains with diverse culture, traditions and cuisines, the country has plenty to offer for international and domestic tourists alike. Moreover, awareness and marketing initiatives such as the Incredible India campaign along with the newly introduced e-visa options, help make travelling to India more accessible for international tourists. This has dramatically increased the inflow of foreign tourists between 2000 and 2018. The country welcomed over ten million foreign tourists in 2018, out of which Bangladeshi tourists made up the largest share, followed by American and British tourists.
On the domestic front, the government has recently come up with the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ scheme to persuade citizens to explore the country. As an incentive, travel expenses will be covered by the Ministry of Tourism for any person who visits and documents 15 domestic tourist destinations within a year. One of the biggest target audience for this initiative is the country’s rapidly growing middle class with rising disposable incomes and a newfound passion to travel. This is clearly seen when one looks at the domestic tourism numbers. In 2018 alone, over 1,854 million domestic tourist visits were made across all Indian states and union territories, resulting in the highest flow of domestic tourism in over a decade.
Domestic tourists have always been the driving force behind Indian tourism and hospitality industry. Many travel companies tap in on this potential by offering low fares and budget-friendly tour packages, especially for air-travel. Currently, the country has over 125 functional airports, and many low-cost airline operators have dominated the domestic aviation industry. India is expected to become the third-largest aviation market by 2024, behind China and the United States.
Even the hospitality industry in India has seen strong and consistent growth over recent years. In 2016, the average daily rate of hotels was at its lowest in a decade at around 85 U.S. dollars. Despite the falling average daily rate, the occupancy rate of the hotel industry in India has remained stable over the last few years at around 60 percent annually. With the advent of non-traditional accommodation like homestays, hostels, serviced apartments, Airbnb and OYO Rooms, there has been a shift in dependency from traditional hotel room occupancy. Furthermore, the travel and tourism industry in India is witnessing a new wave of development in terms of infrastructural provisions, connectivity and safety for travelers.