How Indians Are Traveling Now: Takeaways From MakeMyTrip’s First Trend Report

Travel trends MMT

Skift Take

MakeMyTrip shares insights into changing preferences of Indian travelers as the Indian tourism industry is poised for significant growth in 2024.

Indian travelers have an increased interest in weekend getaways and spiritual tourism, according to online travel agency MakeMyTrip’s first-ever travel trends report. Searches for destinations with or around religious spots increased by 97% in the last two years, the platform stated in the report, which was released on Monday.

Spiritual tourism is also leading the growth of tourism in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. MakeMyTrip recorded a 585% increase in searches for Ayodhya in 2023. Gains were 343% for Badrinath, and 359% for Ujjain. 

In the domestic hotels category, weekend getaways have seen the highest growth. Popular travel destination Jim Corbett has seen an year-on-year increase of 131% in terms of search volumes, followed by Ooty and Munnar. “A large number of travelers are driving to these destinations from nearby metros,” MakeMyTrip stated in the report. 

Skift’s earlier report had mentioned how the Indian tourism industry is poised for significant growth, with estimates projecting a revenue of $24 billion in 2024.

Increased Discretionary Spend on Travel

The number of travelers taking more than three trips a year in 2023 has grown by 25% as compared to 2019. Indians are also spending more discretionary income on travel, MakeMyTrip said. There has also been an increased interest in domestic travel and travel to unexplored destinations in the country, especially because of the country’s improved infrastructure. 

Staycations and experience travel increased in 2023. Family travel bookings witnessed a 64% year-on-year increase, while solo travel bookings increased by 23%. Two people traveling together accounted for 50% of all bookings, MakeMyTrip shared. It also recorded December and May as the most preferred months for travel. 

Spontaneous Domestic Trips, But Planned International Travels

According to the report, Indians are spontaneous travelers when it comes to domestic bookings. As much as 46% of domestic flight bookings were done in less than a week before the date of travel, it stated. 

International bookings, however, witnessed a longer planning period, with 51% of the international flight bookings having been done at least 15 days before departure. One-third of all international bookings were made more than a month in advance. 

MakeMyTrip observed the same pattern in hotel bookings. More than 50% of the domestic hotel bookings for leisure were made less than a week before travel. One-third of international hotel bookings were made at least 30 days in advance. 

Preferences of Indian Travelers

As much as 30% of all international travel searches from India were for Dubai, Bangkok, and Singapore. “London, Toronto, and New York were the most searched long-haul destinations,” MakeMyTrip stated in the report. There has also been an interest in international travel during long weekends, as the platform recorded a surge in searches for Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, and Singapore. 

When it comes to domestic travel, two-thirds of the travelers prefer to pre-select their flight seats. During international travel, this figure drops to 40%, the platform shared. Additionally, indigenously developed unified payments interface (UPI) is the most preferred mode of payment for Indian travelers and accounts for 36% of all transactions. 

India is also witnessing an increase in the popularity of travel gift cards. Half of the travel gift cards are gifted on the occasion of weddings, while the other 50% are gifted on occasions such as birthdays and festivals.

Hotels continue to be the most popular type of accommodation, with searches for hotels increasing by 39% year-on-year in 2023. Couples and family travelers formed the majority of the guests booking for hotels. 

Alternate accommodations witnessed a 24% increase in searches. Friends and larger groups preferred to book homestays, apartments, and villas, while more solo travelers favored hostels. 

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