The lure of India for Middle East

While India hasn’t traditionally been a luxury destination for the Middle East travellers, it is coming up as an exotic one with its vibrant culture, ancient traditions, and new bespoke experiences such as private dining and tours. India’s transformation into a luxury escape may not be complete just yet, but it has definitely begun this journey.

Rajiv Mehra, President, IATO
India has been experiencing rapid economic growth in recent years, leading to an expanding middle class with a growing appetite for luxury goods services and experiences. Luxury brands in the hospitality industry, be it hotels, ayurvedic resorts, spas, destination weddings, presence of forts and palaces seeped in luxury for a niche segment of customers, have been increasingly targeting consumers, both within the country and abroad. Countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have high levels of disposable income and a strong appetite for luxury products.

Rajnish Kaistha, Sr. Vice President, IATO
Middle East has been a good source market for India in last two decades. Higher numbers of tourists are travelling from the Middle East and post-COVID the numbers have been picking up again. It’s not only petrodollars but the robust transformation with changing times and technology has further made Middle East more attractive source markets. The purchasing power of people from this region has increased and that is why we need stronger marketing efforts. So, the Middle East is definitely a new luxury source market for India.

Ravi Gosain, Vice President, IATO
Middle East has lots of potential for India on luxury segment not only among locals but large community of expats working there. Indian stakeholders need to showcase high-end products to right consumers. Middle East, due to its proximity and good flight connectivity, can be a lucrative luxury source market for India. Apart from culture and heritage, its natural beauty and wellness can be used for promotion.

Manish Sharma, Managing Director, Akshar Travels
We do see a pick-up in inquiries from the Middle East market. This is especially true for our new package called Election Tourism and we get a lot of people from the Middle East region booking these packages. They are keen on understanding how democracy works and want to see it firsthand. This is a new experience for them. In a sense this is a combination package of election tourism with rural tourism.

Panos Loupasis, Market Managing Director – TMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Over the past few years, India has witnessed a notable expansion in its tourism sector. This growth is attributed to its array of breathtaking attractions and substantial investments in infrastructure, resulting in a significant increase in inbound tourism. Travellers from across the globe, including the Middle East, are flocking to India to immerse themselves in its rich cultural tapestry and explore its myriad attractions.

Chirag Agrawal, Co-Founder, TravClan
The Middle East stands out as a crucial luxury source market for India. Unlike backpackers from Europe, who often seek budget-friendly experiences, Middle Eastern travellers are more inclined to indulge in opulent offerings. India’s transformation into a luxury destination perfectly complements the desires of ME jet-setters – a blend of rich heritage, lavish experiences, and unforgettable adventures.

Dharmendra Singh, Director, Plaisir Hospitality Services
Since the last two to three years, India has been carefully developed as a luxury destination and now travellers from the Middle East are visiting India due to value for money, and good air connectivity to all the major airports. We do see a lot of travellers from the Middle East visit India now; you can say about 30 per cent inbound travellers are from the Middle East. A majority of tourists are from Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.

Prabhakar Kamat, Vice-President, Red Dot Representations
Indian tourist market share in the international travel market has grown exponentially in the recent past on the back of a strengthening middle class with affluent spending power and more aspirational international destinations opening up for diverse needs, including M!CE, weddings, and group tours. Reportedly, India’s consolidated travel expense is set to touch US$410 bn in 2030.

Compiled by TT Bureau

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