The Far East is proving to be the Promised Land for many Indian travelers nowadays. After decades of fascination with North American and European destinations, travelers from the Sub Continent are now turning their attentions to Southeast Asia, lured by the pull of perfect weather, low cost flights and straightforward visa rules.
Recent figures released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) show that the triumvirate of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore has emerged as Indian tourists’ most popular destination, and this growth looks set to continue in the years to come as the ever increasing Indian middle class becomes accustomed to the pleasures of travel.
In 2010, around 830,000 Indian visitors traveled to Singapore, according to PhoCusWright, the leading travel industry research firm, while this was closely followed by Thailand with 791,000 visitors and Malaysia with 691,000.
Contrast that with the old favorite USA, which numbered just 651,000 Indian tourists in 2010. Indeed, the North American country is the only non-Asian destination in the top five most popular Indian tourist destinations.
China is another growing destination too. While no figures are available for last year, 2009 saw almost half a million Indian passport holders pass through the Asia’s biggest country. Chinese tourism officials have predicted that this number will grow by 12% annually over the next few years.
Perhaps most significantly, these figures also underline intra-Asian travels continual strengthening, building on some already impressive recent years. Tourist arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole gave grown by 11% in the last year according to PATA, with Southeast Asia showing a growth rate of 12%.
During the same period, the global travel industry has risen by just 4%.