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Monday, 09 April, 2018, 11 : 45 AM [IST]


For long, the heritage trail has marked India’s USP to the world. Definitely, it is the nation’s crowning jewel. However, scratch the surface at any international travel show and the new buyer yearns for a more varied experience than what has been dished out for decades. The new traveller looks for adventure, novelty and off the beaten track experiences.

The Indian market is gearing up to offer that but one aspect at which the tourism industry still balks at, overtly at least, is the pink market and LGTB tourism which actually is worth 200 billion plus in USD.

Indeed, most companies are realising that LGBT travel is not sex tourism, as uninformed or jaundiced opinions might have inferred at other times, but the industry in general still remains iffy and shifty eyed to make a bold go at it. The key point is that pink travel is not different from any other travel niche in the mainstream circuit other than the orientation of its clients. The gay travellers visiting India do not wear their orientation on their sleeves; just as straight visiting couples do not exhibit PDA on Indian streets, conscious of local mores.

Pink travel is big money. It is also a big opportunity to tell the world that India is open, welcoming, tolerant and diverse. Perhaps the mandarins who are still sceptical can again read the facts.

Two months from now, a new show by Reeds exhibitions makes a debut in London. Called ‘Proud experiences’, it’s a serious attempt to focus on this market addressing topics such as the economics and value of LGBT travel, the importance of pride and circuit parties which incidentally are already happening in India for many years now.

The show will also include 10 ‘master classes’ for buyers on topics that will include understanding the transgender traveller and planning and selling the growing gay honeymoon market. Our next door neighbour China, despite its stratified and closed systems, has moved faster and is miles ahead. The show in June will focus on China as an emerging pink travel market.

Within the iron curtain, they are discovering their own pink dollar moment. As in India today, China had similar archaic laws till 1997. Twenty years later they have moved on to reap the benefits of common sense and forward looking policies. An increasing amount of Chinese startups are tailoring their products and services to capitalise on this change.

The Make in India and Start Up India season will do well to wake up to this market as well. The fears of policy makers and leaders are misplaced. Indian society is much more resilient, accepting than a few hotheads’ antics might seem to indicate. It’s not as if the change isn’t happening. It’s there. It’s time to officially use the moment to break from the past. If only to make a good living out of it!

Anurag Yadav
Industry Expert

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
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