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Indian travellers spending more on experiences, travel budgets have shifted towards recreational activities: Mastercard, ET TravelWorld


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Travel is a key passion point for Indians. According to reports, this year, Indian travellers are set to spend twice as much as they did in the entire 2021-22 financial year. As Indians increasingly embark on domestic and foreign trips, there are some exciting trends that have emerged.

For instance, Mastercard data suggests that 77 per cent of travellers prefer to spend time with ‘their self’ when on holiday. Further, 92 per cent are focused on introspection and reinventing their lives, while 93 per cent are focused on mental health. Targeting rejuvenation and wellness, 94 per cent of travellers intend to restore their energy before they get back to their daily routine.

After over two years of restrictions on where to travel, people are booking new and different itineraries. With easing travel restrictions and economic recovery, there has been a rise in both tourists from and to India. While the number of international departures grew by 172 per cent (11 million) in 2022, the domestic arrivals too saw a 75 per cent increase (2.5 million).

The Mastercard Economics Institute’s third-annual travel report reveals several significant travel recovery trends, including:

  • For the first time since the pandemic, business flight bookings have exceeded 2019 levels.
  • Destinations are evolving as people have started booking travel farther from home. Long-haul leisure travel has gone up.
  • Throughout 2021, traveling by car was the preferred mode of transportation but now buses, cruises and trains are seeing an uptick in bookings.
  • If flight bookings continue at their current pace, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers globally will fly in 2022 compared to last year.

Spending more on experiences
Sharing insights and data on travellers’ spending patterns, Mukul Sukhani, Senior Vice President – South Asia, Mastercard in conversation with ET TravelWorld revealed that travel is increasingly becoming focused around experiences and travellers have begun spending more on experiences than material things since July 2021. “As per a Mastercard Economic Institute report titled ‘Travel 2022: Trends & Transitions’, travellers have begun spending more on experiences than material things since July 2021. In fact, the resurgence of the experience economy has become a global trend.

Considering the boom in experiential travel, Mastercard has been actively working on providing unique and exciting experiences to its cardholders. Experiential travel focuses on engaging with a place through its people, culture, food, and environment. Hence, we have not only tapped into the experiential travel segment but have also incentivized travel. Our flagship Priceless program aims to address these needs to the experiential traveller,” Sukhani stated.

Key trends revolutionising the travel space

The new trends are shaping travelers’ experiences and vacation choices. New trends and technological advancements while exhibiting such trends promise an even more interactive and exciting experience which has changed the way we travel in this era. According to Sabina Chopra, millennials have also played a substantial role in this paradigm shift.

Dominant shifts in travel
According to Sukhani, the increase in ‘optimistic travel’ after the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly been a big shift, though there have been several other shifts.

“Since local travel was safer and more accessible, we saw millennials increasingly opting for ‘staycations’ to get a break from their usual home setting and enjoy the calming views of nature. In fact, 61 per cent of Indians favored domestic over international travel in 2022. The trend of exploring domestic destinations is here to stay,” Sukhani informed.

He also mentioned that there has been a shift towards ‘staycation’ and ‘worcation’ leading to big hotel chains launching special ‘staycation’ deals for Gen Z. “Similarly, 60 per cent of Indian millennials expressed their desire to travel domestically to better understand the heritage and culture of the country. Through the PRASAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme, the government has been investing in the infrastructure and development of heritage sites. Travel is increasingly becoming focused around experiences and wellness is also an essential component of these experiences.”

Mastercard’s Priceless program
Exclusive to Mastercard cardholders, the Mastercard Priceless program provides people access to specially curated experiences both in their home city and overseas. Sharing more details about the program, Sukhani said that Mastercard aim is to provide travellers the opportunity to experience memorable moments with their loved ones. “From baking one’s own chou pastry in a small French town to taking a yoga class while sailing around the Statue of Liberty, the unique activities on offer are designed to mesmerize our cardholders and ensure that they own such experiences forever,” he mentioned.

The program aims to unlock several unique experiences for Mastercard cardholders all over the world. Currently, it is available in over 40 destinations and Mastercard has plans to expand it in the future.

The company has recently extended the Priceless program to Maldives. Under the program, Mastercard offer exclusive access to specially curated experiences across five atolls of the island nation. “These experiences are customizable and allow the travellers to learn the authentic Maldivian way of fishing, cooking, surfing and a lot more. To curate these unique local experiences, Mastercard collaborated with the Government of Maldives, merchants, and other partners,” said Sukhani.

India will become one of the biggest cruising hubs globally over next 5-10 years: Jurgen Bailom

After two successful years of operating domestic cruises across India, premium cruise liner Cordelia Cruises is all set to begin sailing to Sri Lanka, its first international sailing outside Indian shores. Sharing highlights of the journey since inception, Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO said that they have welcomed over 3 lakh guests on The Empress by Cordelia Cruises.

  • Published On Apr 3, 2023 at 03:11 PM IST

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