Indian and South Korean travel trends

As we get ready to welcome the year 2020, there is growing awareness regarding climate change and our carbon footprint. A new generation of travellers are coming of age, and as uncertainty over Brexit increases, more people are re-evaluating how and where they travel to, choosing less familiar destinations and cultural exploration over the crowded hotspots in Europe. 

The Condé Nast Traveller predicts that in 2020, naked holidays will become popular with more people choosing nude hikes, camping, cruising, wild swimming and yoga. Vegan hotels are another trend that’s on the rise. Luxury bunks and Spartan holidays that combine a digital detox with minimalist living are predicted to be trendy next year, as well as nomadic hotels and hipster cruises.

Younger generations are choosing adventure and experiential travel over the traditional beach vacations. They are also thinking more carefully about how often and where they fly to. 

Here, we look at the travel preferences of Indians and Koreans, two major arrival markets to the Maldives that have been performing well over the last few years. 

Indians prefer experiential travel

India is one of the fastest growing outbound travel markets in the world. The UNWTO estimates that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Smart phones, internet access, affordable airfare and an increasingly affluent middle class have contributed to the rapid growth. Indian travellers appear to crave authentic experiences over luxury, opting for cheaper accommodation to invest more in soaking up a destination’s culture.

According to a survey conducted by yatra.com, more travellers are looking for budget-friendly holidays at unexplored destinations such as Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia and Ethiopia.

In lieu of booking tour packages, younger travellers often choose to curate their own experiences – on cultural expeditions, culinary tours, wellness journeys and adventure trips. India has seen a rise in the female solo travellers as well.

Older generations have also embraced smart phones and the net, booking trips online and choosing to explore other countries and cultures instead of sticking to travel within the sub-continent.

On arrival-visa and short-haul flights are another draw. According to industry experts, there has been a significant increase in outbound travel to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Thailand and the Maldives in the recent years. Short-haul tour packages are popular with millennials who choose to travel on long weekends, tour operators say. Destinations off the beaten track are gaining popularity among this group of travellers, along with personalised itineraries.

‘Four square travel’ is another emerging trend. Tour packages tailor-made to include experiences catered to each member of the family are popular with this group of holiday-makers. A seaside holiday package could also include pub crawls, heritage tours or a visit to a theme park.

Destination weddings and honeymoons have always been popular, however, destination bachelor and bachelorette party trips are a new trend for Indian travellers.

Football fans choose to plan their vacations around the World Cup, choosing to watch the event and to travel around the host country. Thanks to international direct flights and the increase in low-cost airlines, there is a surge in outbound travellers during this season. According to travel agents, sports tourism is on the rise in India.

Social media is a significant influencer. The Maldives is becoming increasingly popular among Indian holiday-makers. More than 90,000 tourists visited last year. The number of tourists from India increased by 85 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. Tourism industry experts attribute this hike to the country’s popularity among Bollywood celebrities.

Spontaneous travel is another emerging trend. Last year, 45 percent of bookings were last-minute with 7 days of travel.

South Koreans want hassle-free relaxation

Outbound travel from South Korea is booming. In 2018, over 28.7 million Koreans travelled abroad, compared to 26.5 million the previous year.

The majority of travellers opt for tour packages, choosing travel packages for tours around South East Asia. However, “free travel” is gaining popularity among modern, tech-savvy travellers with spending power. The majority of these travellers are gen x and gen z travellers.

According to a market insights report by the Singapore Tourism Board, South Koreans regard traveling as a way of healing; an opportunity to rest and recuperate. They also see travelling as a form of personal enrichment. Their ideal destinations are ones that are considered relaxing, such as beaches, yet still close enough to the city centre where they can enjoy activities like shopping and sightseeing.

The most popular activities are enjoying nature, relaxation and recreation, and gourmet tours, followed by visits to historical sites, shopping and city tours. South Koreans usually travel during Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Luna New Year holidays. As they normally get 5 consecutive days off per year, Korean travellers spend an average of 4.6 days abroad. As such, these travellers like to plan everything in detail beforehand, choosing to read reviews on portal sites. Travel agencies are not a popular source for information; just 30 percent of holiday-makers are reported to use them while over 76 percent of travellers use sites like Naver and Daum to gather information, followed by Google and Facebook. Although fluent in English, South Koreans prefer information in their native language.

The most popular destinations for outbound travel are in South East Asia. According to trip.com, the top destinations for outbound travel include Kalibo, Cebu, Bangkok, Danang, Bali, Taipei, Tokyo and Hong Kong.