By Pallavi Pasricha
For the first time, India has entered the ranks of the top ten countries sending visitors to the United States. As 1.4 million visitors headed out to the US in 2018, India climbed to the 10th position, up one spot from the previous year. The growing numbers are not the only reason that the US is looking at India as a country that is giving a fillip to its tourist market.
It might come as a surprise at a time when the economic slowdown is grabbing headlines, but Indians are also opening their wallets more freely than visitors from several other countries.
According to Brand USA, the destination marketing organisation for the United States, Indian visitors ranked fifth highest in spending last year, doubling the approximately $8 billion they spent in 2012.
"Indians' spend reached $15.78 billion in 2018 as compared to spends of $14.70 billion in 2017, more than several countries with higher arrival numbers to the USA," announced Jackie Ennis, Senior Director, global trade development for Brand USA, at a press conference in New Delhi.
The new age Indian travelers are not content with restricting their trips to typical tourist spots but are seeking more unusual experiences as they head out to game parks or take up driving holidays. "The Indian traveler is not just staying home and seeing the iconic things, they want more," according to Jason Pacheco, Global Trade Development Consultant, Brand USA. He adds, "The outdoor adventure market thanks to the millennial has really picked up. Hiking, trekking, motor biking and even skiing is getting popular."
That is partly because the profile of the visitors has expanded from those who headed out to meet family or went on business to include new segments such as leisure travelers and honeymooners.
Brand USA, which concluded its eighth annual India Travel Mission in Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi, hopes to woo even more Indian visitors, especially at a time when the political friendship between the two countries is growing. That is because despite the larger numbers, the US still captures only about 5.5 per cent of India's outbound market.
"With the 10-year visa our goal is to invite you once, invite you twice and if we can get you there once more it's great," says Jason Pacheco. The other countries sending the most visitors to the US include Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Japan, China and South Korea.
(The author is a well-known travel writer. Views expressed are personal.)