Content for decades with being renowned as a cultural destination, India is now throwing adventure into its marketing mix.
A long-neglected segment in India, adventure tourism, is finally being given new focus as the country’s tourism ministry declares 2018 the Year of Adventure Travel.
Apart from being an effort to boost arrivals, the move is expected to help change the perception of India as being just a cultural destination, according to tourism professionals TTG Asia spoke to.
“With India’s inbound arrivals growing by more than 10% last year, we believe that focus on potential segments like adventure tourism can help India to double its inbound tourist arrivals in a couple of years,” thinks Swadesh Kumar, president of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India.
There are no official statistics to show the size of the Indian inbound adventure tourism market, but the industry estimates the segment is growing by 5% to 7% a year, with about half a million adventure travellers arriving annually.
“At present the [perception of] India is a cultural destination, although 73% of the Himalayas are in India. Our counterparts in key inbound markets like the US are promoting places like Nepal and Bhutan for active holidays while India is promoted as a cultural destination,” observes Tejbir Singh Anand, managing director of Holiday Moods Adventures.
With the ministry’s new-found focus on adventure, Tejbir expects that more of India’s adventure travel opportunities will be on show at roadshows and exhibitions.
Sat phones and safety
The ministry is also taking steps such as allowing the use of satellite phones in far-flung areas – something travel industry players have long called for – and introducing safety guidelines for adventure tourism.
“One of the big things in adventure travel is risk management, so the government allowing adventure tour operators to use satellite phones in areas of wilderness will help us to improve our safety standards,” said Ajeet Bajaj, managing director at Snow Leopard Adventures.