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Alisha Shinde
Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The new age travellers are looking for meaningful and engaging experiences rather than ticking off destinations on their bucket list

A weekend getaway to Mahableshwar or Lonavala, which was de rigueur for Punekars and Mumbaikars a few years ago, is now passé. To travel now means to seek new pleasures, new experiences. The travel industry is gripped by those looking for enrichment, authentic experiences that give an insight into the culture, history, people and also food of a particular region. Be it a music festival, or watching a sporting tournament in a different country or signing up for a photography walk, people are game for it. We talk to a few people who are choosing to indulge in these experiences. 

“Tourism in India has witnessed a significant evolution over the past few years with a shift in customer preferences,” says Binny Sebastian, general manager, Alila Fort Bishangarh. Today, travellers of all age groups want to experience the journey in a manner which is wholly their own. “Travel is now more about rejuvenation, fulfillment and ‘being more of who you are’ than just ticking off places. This is happening because of the rise of social media,” he adds.  

Sebastian says that millennials emerge at the forefront of this trend. They are constantly shaping the future of travel and tourism. “The youngsters are looking at exploring off-beat destinations with unique experiences and personal enrichment. They want to get under the skin of their destination, eat at local joints, learn new skills and dive into a new culture.”

Nalini Gupta of Costa Cruises seconds him. “Travel is about creating memorable moments, adventure and exploration. With so much of travel data available, it has become more about exploration. While the process of planning is important, they also enjoy the sense of adventure and things happening on the spur of the moment.” 

Heena Akhtar, co- founder, tripXOXO, believes that the millennials are the new market for the travel industry. “The millennials are open to do something new every time they are planning a trip. We are witnessing an inclination where Indian travellers are far more open to explore and experiment with their choice of destinations,” Akhtar says, adding, 

“Be it a wine tour or a heritage walk or engaging with cultures, travellers are always doing something unique.” 

Anand Menon, brand leader, travel tours and leisure travel brand of FCM travel solutions, says that travellers now look forward to developing a deeper emotional connect with the country or the city they are visiting by getting in sync with the culture, heritage, history, people. Sampling the local experience becomes important to them. 

“Of late, adventure tourism has been gaining a lot of popularity. Be it visiting Queenstown, South Island for bungee jumping and zip lining, Sydney, Australia for bridge climbing or Borneo Islands for rainforest trekking, South Africa for windsurfing and shark cage diving and Spain for bull fighting and skydiving, people are game for all. If there are two things Indians love more than anything, they have to be sports and music — the experience of watching your favourite sports team or band in action is priceless. Therefore, cricket World Cup 2019, Tomorrowland and Coachella have become extremely popular,” adds Menon. 

Sameer Panchopar, a Pune-based photographer says that when he chooses a holiday destination, there are a couple of things that he takes into consideration. “As  a photographer, capturing a shot is extremely important for me. I usually prefer places where I can capture stories of places, people, food and culture, other than doing the cliched touristy stuff.”

Panchopar says that he likes going on heritage walks and photo walks which have a holistic approach towards the said destination. “What I like best about these walks is that they are slow paced. No one will rush me and more importantly, a local guide will tell me things that I would have not known had I gone about on my own. I not only get to see the destination with a new perspective but it is also an amazing way to meet different people and interact with them and learn new things,” he adds.

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