The Rapid Return of the Indian Traveler

Travelers from India are discovering experiences and doing more on their vacations. CEO of India-based OTA Thrillophilia shares insights on this large traveler market.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 14 seconds

While it seems all eyes are on China’s return to international travel, another major market also hit hard by the pandemic is already making a mark: India.

“The Indian traveler is doing a lot more travel than he or she was doing a few years ago pre-Covid,” notes Chitra Gurnari Daga, CEO and co-founder of Thrillophilia, an India-based online travel agency (OTA). And they are not just traveling more: they are doing more in-destination, which is good news for operators of tours, activities and attractions.

Daga – who will be speaking at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023 in June — offers insights on the emerging Indian traveler market and tips for the tour, activity and experience operators hosting them. 

Indian Travelers Spending More on Experiences

As travel ramps up for the India market, Daga has noticed a significant difference in their booking habits: Indian travelers want to do more things. They have a greater appetite for booking experiences, activities, tours on their holidays — and taking more holidays in general.

While the average pre-Covid Indian traveler might have taken one holiday a year, Daga shares Thrillophilia is seeing people now booking one to two long holidays a year and three to four short weekend breaks to a wide variety of popular and emerging destinations around India and abroad. 

And where previously most of their spend would be on flights and hotels, “now the large part of the spend of the holiday is on activities and experiences.”

“People in India have started understanding experiences, and have started spending on experiences,” says Daga. “This is a major shift. Earlier people used to travel, do a city tour… now people are spending a good amount of money and experiencing the city, the destination.” Daga says she has seen people booking 20 experiences in a trip of seven days, as diverse as skydiving to museums.

Indian travelers are booking multiple experiences per trip ranging widely from skydiving to museums | Image: Otra Ruta / Pexels

Millennial Indian travelers in particular are opting for more group tours, and a lot more traveling abroad, Daga observes. “Five years ago, Millennials were not traveling outside of India.” Now, even Millennials with modest means are finding ways to book with cheap flights and hostels.

Luxury travel is growing as well, both for Millennials in the middle-income bracket, as well as less active older travelers and families traveling with kids and grandparents.

The size of the budget does not necessarily affect the number of experiences Indian travelers are booking, though: “when people have less money they will choose a destination which is cheaper, when they have money they will pick a destination which is a little more heavy on the pocket,” Daga explains, “but both travelers will do enough activities.”


23-25 NOVEMBER 2024

Insider Pro Access Members Save 20%

THE event of the year for solutions-focused In-Destination Experience
creators and sellers

Save up to £440 with the Super Early Bird ticket

Learn More

Understanding the Indian Traveler: Food, Families and Millennials

For suppliers of tours, activities and experiences who may want to attract or are already seeing more Indian travelers, Daga offers some insights to understanding this emerging market.

1.   Food is a High Priority

“I think the Indian traveler has a very important habit and that is food.” Daga advises suppliers hosting Indian travelers to understand their meal preferences, and ensure they are provided options for the right place to eat. “The Indian traveler loves food, and the Indian traveler loves Indian food when he or she goes out also.”

Being able to eat Indian food while traveling is important for many Indian travelers | Photo: Yan Krukau / Pexels

2.   Family, Older Travelers Focus on Luxury

Families as well as older Indian travelers are looking for luxury. “When an Indian family travels with kids (and often grandparents), what they’re looking for is comfort and luxury,” shares Daga. “Indian travelers who are beyond 45 years of age are not very active, they don’t want to hike a lot.”

3.   Millennials: Party All Night, Activities All Day

In contrast to luxury-oriented family travelers, “the Indian Millennial wants to party all night, do activities all day: they want to do everything,” shares Daga. Also, Indian Millennials “are very internet-conscious, they will read a lot on the internet… they would gather their knowledge and only then come and move forward.” Having good reviews and clear tour descriptions are important factors to attracting Indian Millennials who prioritize researching online before booking.

Learn More at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023

Join us at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023 where Thrillophilia CEO and Co-founder Chitra Gurnari Daga will be speaking in two sessions: one on The New and Future Indian Traveler and another on Navigating the Storm: How Our Businesses Thrived During Covid

Become an Insider Pro Access member today and get access to the full library of Arival research, plus many other benefits such as free consulting sessions, special discounts and 20% off in-person events, starting from $179 per year.


Sign up to receive insights tailored for the in-destination industry as well as updates on Arival.

Sign Up

Header image: Pexels / Bhavitya Indora

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


already a member?

Lost your password?


Become an Arival Insider

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021. articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].