Cairo, Petra or Dubai? Where are the millennials heading this summer?
Summer brings with it the promise of holiday fun and who can resist the lure of the cool sea breeze or the fresh air of the hills when the vacation season rolls around?
Where are people going this year? Are tourists looking for new destinations? YS Weekender caught up with Cameron Holland, CEO and Arun Ashok, Country Manager, Luxury Escapes, to find out about the best getaways for the summer.
Cameron’s company is an Australian travel agency with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Bengaluru and Singapore, catering to customers from across the world. Arun is the head of the Escapes Club, the Indian wing of the company that focuses on providing luxurious travel experiences to Indians.
Experience is king
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According to Cameron, India is a leading market for the tourism industry but most Indian tourists look for affordable travel plans and easy access to the countries they plan to visit.
“Indians travelling abroad are looking for meaningful experiences as they want to enjoy the local culture and spend time on recreational activities,” he says.
However, is it possible to really experience the culture of a place while staying in a luxury hotel? Cameron claims that it’s possible.
“We invite our guests to live like VIPs in our partner hotels and spend time connecting with the local culture through interesting activities we curate. You can spend your time exploring the area and taking part in adventure sports,” he explains.
He adds, ‘Luxury that’s affordable’ is our USP. The company has managed to partner with many hotels around the world to create unique travel packages.
Popular holiday destinations
When asked which countries are on top of everyone’s vacation itinerary, Cameron says, “Destinations in Thailand, Malaysia and Dubai are the most popular among Indian travellers. People also prefer Europe during the summer months, from April to June. From June to September, there is an increase in travel to North America.”
Arun says that the Maldives is highly sought after by Indian tourists. “A vacation to Maldives is viewed as an expensive affair by many people but we offer many affordable packages to tourists. We try to stick to what our Co-founder Adam Schwabb often says, “offering champagne experiences at beer prices.”
In recent years, there has been a resurgence in tourism in the Middle East, according to Cameron. Destinations like Istanbul, Cairo, Petra and Dubai have reclaimed their spots as tourist hubs.
“Earlier Dubai was only a shopping destination for the rich, but now a lot of Indians visit for adventure sports and beach holidays,” says Arun.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai
“Palm Jumeirah is a very popular destination. In fact, any hotel on the island gets a lot of attention. Abu Dhabi is also an important vacation destination in the Middle East.”
Travelling abroad is not as easy as the Instagram-enthusiasts and fun-loving tourists make it seem. Indians can enter only a few regions without a visa and some countries allow Visa-on-arrival too.
Since India is a treasure trove of culture and beauty, there are innumerable holiday options within the country too.
For domestic travel, Cameron says that the Golden Triangle route is very popular. “It is a tourist circuit that connects Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. People visit this area to experience the royal heritage of India,” he says.
Goa is one of the most loved holiday destinations in India
Arun finds that among the destinations that are close by, Coorg and Ooty are the most popular. “It’s not just the Bengaluru and Hyderabad crowd that’s considering this destination anymore; travellers from Mumbai and Delhi are also showing interest in these holiday spots,” he adds.
“Goa will always remain an evergreen holiday destination for tourists. We offer packages to Goa all through the year. Shimla and Manali are very popular during the summer months.”
Younger travellers prefer trips to Cambodia and Vietnam as compared to other destinations in the Asia-Pacific, especially since it is affordable. “Cambodia is a perfect destination for young travellers who want a budget trip. They can visit exotic beaches and also have a spiritual experience,” explains Arun.
Another trendy travel destination is Croatia, and Arun says their company offers an eight-day package for tourists. Strangely enough, simple holiday packages don’t attract tourists anymore. They want activities on their holidays that will help them experience something new in every country. Theme holidays and sports-based trips do well with the Indian crowd.
Vacations are really important to maintain a balance in life.
“Travelling to places that excite you and learning about different cultures will build character,” Arun observes, adding that many countries are happy to host Indian tourists nowadays as they are big spenders.
“Indians are spending more and more on travel. A generation ago, a vacation from work meant visiting your ancestral homes and staying with family. But now, people want to explore other parts of the world with their loved ones,” he adds.