BANGALORE, India - The days of family vacations in India at a nice hill station, with shopping on mall roads, and taking back souvenirs for friends back home seem to be changing.
Recent studies in the travel segment in India seem to suggest that Indians are taking to adventure travel in a big way.
Indian adventure travel operator Thrillophilia has registered a 400% growth in its numbers on a year-on-year basis. Thrillophilia was founded in 2010, and for the second consecutive year the company has posted a 400% annual growth.
When asked about a plausible reason behind the shift in Indian travel tastes, Abhishek Daga, Co-Founder of Thrillophilia, said, "The Indian travel industry is following global cues. In the last decade, adventure travel has been the fastest growing travel segment globally. In 2000, adventure travel accounted for just 7% of global tourism. In 2009, the number had risen to 20%."
Indian vendors in the travel space too have started waking up to the potential the segment holds. Globally, the adventure travel space is worth 142 billion dollars, of which India accounts for 2 billion dollars.
Seeing the change in trends and looking to make a niche in the segment, resorts around India have started offering adventure activities in and around the destinations they are located in. For example, when you plan to go on a Himachal tour and book a stay in a Manali resort, your package is most likely to include paragliding, zorbing and other adventure activities possible in and around Manali.
The case of rising interest in adventure travel in India is further strengthened by vendors in other not-so-popular destinations of India reporting a surge in traffic. Stanzin Tsering, the owner of a guesthouse in Ladakh, says, "In the last two years or so, we have seen more number of tourists visiting Ladakh than ever before. The rise in numbers is as much as 200%. I guess people have become bored of the usual holiday experiences, and it also has the effect of Bollywood and Hollywood movies to some extent."
About 5 years ago, nobody would have thought of Ladakh as a destination for holiday, but today, people are ready to explore more offbeat destinations in India.
Abhishek Daga quips, "In the near future, adventure will not only be limited to Rishikesh rafting or a scuba diving trip of Andaman Islands, but it will diversify into different streams. Already, we are seeing a surge in luxury adventure travel, and as people get more comfortable with the idea, they are bound to explore other segments too within the segment."
Given the fact that the Indian travel industry is still in its infancy, with online travel industry growing at 32% annually, the opportunities for businesses in the adventure travel space are huge.
As a dedicated employee of the largest adventure travel organizer in India, Daga says, "Catering to the adventure needs of clients is our foremost priority. If we give them a good experience, we are sure to catch hold of this lucrative pie that's known as adventure travel."