By Ankita Shreeram posted Mar 31st 2017 at 1:27PM
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Call it the pangs of wanderlust or adventure, travelling, today seems to be the panacea everyone wants to try. From heartbreak to loss of direction to plain old ennui, a trip to an exotic locale promises to wipe the slate clean and infuse fresh inspiration in your jaded life. While conventional package tours and family vacations continue to have their appeal, the luxury travel space has made way for all kinds of boutique hotels ranging from glamping to treehouses and restored heritage buildings.
WHAT’S IN A PLAN?
Great travel experiences are all about flexibility and what better than a self-driving holiday to follow a whim on the spur of the moment? “Self-drive holidays have seen an upsurge with travellers wanting to explore their travel destinations more. These will continue to gain great traction as new age voyagers are constantly looking for raw and authentic experiences. Apart from being economical, self-drive breaks allow travellers to discover new and offbeat paths and create their own. They are also a hit with not just experienced travellers, but also youngsters. The most beautiful and exotic getaways to trend in 2017 are Europe, New Zealand and the UK with some breathtaking driveways. USA and Australia are expected to see a fair amount of takers, too,” opines Rakshit Desai, Managing Director, FCM Travel Solutions, India.
THE GASTRONOMIC TRAIL
The fascination with artisanal food and wine-making will pervade the travel industry in 2017 as well. “Food is going to play a very important role in how people perceive holidays. There is an emphasis on knowing its genesis; travellers want to be a part of experiences that let them see the whole process and, thereby, enjoy watching it come to their plates directly from the source,” explains Aditi Balbir, founder and CEO, V Resorts. She also feels that Indians are opening up to the charms of offseason travel. “Earlier, Indians took vacations either during the holiday season or only on weekends. That’s passé now. The genetic makeup of travellers is changing—there are the DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids), solo travellers and women—and this translates into breaks throughout the year, and even on weekdays,” she affirms.
TRAVEL ON AND OFF-DUTY
The lines between business and leisure travel are set to blur further in 2017 with many combining both. “The top travel trend for 2017 is going to be a perfect melange of both leisure and business travellers coming into the country. The current traveller is more than willing to explore the globe rather than be restricted to a single destination. With the Government introducing visa on arrival, the inflow of leisure travellers shall be on the positive side. There is also a major boom in business travellers with the new reforms and more projects being introduced,” says Gaurav Kapur, Executive Assistant Manager, Hotel The Royal Plaza. Demonetisation may have jolted the Indian economy, but not for the long term. Viren Batra, Co-founder and CEO of Nirvana Excursion, explains, “Unique experiences will be more in demand with travellers willing to experiment with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, such as homestays in Kashmir, cycling through Spiti Valley, running with the bulls in Spain, hiking the mountains in Nepal and so on.”
DESTINATIONS IN DEMAND
The European belt is expected to see an uptake of 12 to 15 per cent (year-over-year) in 2017, according to Desai. “The most popular trio— France, Switzerland and Austria—account for a large number of Indian travellers, as observed in 2016. From sports activities in the Alpine lakes to skiing holidays and tobogganing, cycling, paragliding and hiking amid the beautiful and fresh mountain ranges, Europe will attract more Indians in 2017. Scandinavian countries (Norway and the Nordic Finland) too will steal the limelight with their mesmerising Aurora Borealis, famously known as the Northern Lights, and Nordic walking. Lying under the magnificent Northern Lights is an experience for many and will continue to attract a lot of travellers,” he adds. With weekend travel and short trips gaining momentum, domestic destinations are also coming into their own. “South India, famous for its lush green hills and rich heritage, is expected to be a part of every group’s plan—honeymoon couples, families, group of friends, solo travellers, and so on. Places like Coorg also attract travellers owing to their rich wildlife and scenic locales. With activities like trekking, water sports, camping under the stars, and jeep safaris, Coorg is set to attract a large number of Indian travellers, especially between the months of November and April. Goa too will continue to be in trend in 2017,” says Desai. Given their proximity to India and relative affordability, Vietnam, Bali and Dubai are some of the popular destinations for 2017. “Vietnam is on every traveller’s list; particularly for those who choose to take the road less travelled. Unlike other holiday destinations, Vietnam is mostly popular as a stress-free destination with visa on arrival for Indians, improved flight connectivity, value-for-money packages and low exchange rates with a stronger rupee. Its top attractions include Halong Bay, Hanoi, Sapa, Nha Trang, and Mekong Delta. Another such trending destination is Bali. Bali doesn’t have a peak season, nor does it need any occasion, as the weather is always travel-friendly. The beautiful villas and resorts with breathtaking views of Seminyak and Kuta beaches are a complete game-changer for travellers looking for luxury accommodations,” explains Desai. So pack your bags, and get a head start on your travel bucket list
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