Malayalis are putting on their travelling shoes to discover places old and new
The Malayali is packing his bags more frequently than ever before to discover places and people and new experiences. And many of them are not footloose, lonely travellers. Like the great Indian family, the Indian traveller enjoys travelling with his family and friends in tow. Akin to his tastes in food, the first-time Malayali traveller wants his tour to include a variety of flavours. So, there has to be sightseeing and shopping. Throw in a little bit of adventure and some activities for the children, and voila! you have an ideal itinerary for the average traveller.
The destination depends on the kind of experience the traveller is looking for. “There are various categories of travellers now. First-timers still stick to Singapore, Malaysia or Dubai. Others try out European combinations or Australia. Seasoned travellers are now looking for something more – either a new twist to an old destination or a completely new place. Such folks are looking at South America and little-explored Eastern European countries such as Croatia and Estonia. Recently, we had a traveller to Myanmar as well,” says Geethika Sudip, joint managing director of Kerala Travels.
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Dubai and Sri Lanka remain hot destinations but the globe is shrinking for eager travellers, thanks to the media and the net. “Travel shows on television and photographs tempt travellers to visit places like Australia and New Zealand too,” says Sabu Paul, vice-president of Great India Tour Company.
The age profile of the modern-day explorers ranges between 25 and 55. “Disposable incomes have gone up and youngsters earn five-figure salaries in their twenties. So there are many who spend a good amount on travel. But most of our customers are in their mid-thirties and late forties,” he adds.
Even pensioners and senior citizens are not armchair travellers. Their destinations are not the same as the family that travels on vacation. “We have a popular package called ‘The Holy Land’, which covers Egypt, Jordan and Israel. This package draws pilgrims from all age groups, but the majority are those above 50. It is one of our most in-demand tours,” says Dinesh Balakrishnan, senior head of Tour Division, Riya Travels.
Travel pundits point out that one of the currents trends is of professionals travelling together with families to see places of interest to them.
“Many travellers are not just sightseers only. We have niche groups who ask to see certain destinations that have something more to offer than the regular tourist itinerary,” says Sabu.
For instance, there are architects who want to travel to Italy and Greece to marvel at the built heritage of those countries. Then there are students who want to study subjects that are of interest to them. “Specialised groups comprising architects, doctors, chartered accountants and other affinity groups are quite a trend in the travel industry. We customise their tours to suit their interests and preferences. Having a global reach via the Interserve network aids this process immensely. We even have a womens’ only group of school teachers from the city who holiday abroad once every year,” says Geethika.
Sabu says that recently there was a group of MBA students who wanted to go to Dubai to study the port and its logistics. Similarly, architects are not satisfied with a view of the Sydney Bridge or Burj Khalifa. “They want to know the architecture behind it, materials used and so on,” says Sabu.
Dinesh points out that it’s sharing of experience and word of mouth publicity that make places popular. So when Mohanlal blogs and posts pictures of Macchu Picchu, naturally there would be a lot of interest in that particular destination.
“Our Arctic-Antarctic voyages are literally the last word in adventure travel. We have a steady stream of enquiries for these. And the average age is 55-plus! In fact the enquiries pour in from all over India. The Arctic season is June-September and Antarctic is October-March. Many prefer to take the Antarctic expedition along with a tour of South America including Macchu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the rest,” says Geethika.
Hot destinations are Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai.
Frequent travellers want to explore places in East Europe, Australia and New Zealand
Honeymooners make a beeline to Switzerland, Italy or Austria.