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Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 12 : 23 PM [IST]

‘Indians changing their travel patterns by exploring new destinations’

RCI, part of Wyndham Worldwide group, is one of the largest timeshare vacation exchange groups in the world. It has 60 affiliated resorts across the country with condominium-style accommodations offering an array of amenities. Aruna Jathar, Director, Marketing and Operations, RCI India, in conversation with Lucy Fernandes, speaks about the latest travel pattern of Indians, the importance in planning a hassle free summer vacation & the need to increase supply of resorts.

QHow has the concept of timeshare evolved in India? Do you see a significant demand for this segment?
Timeshare, also known as vacation ownership, offers the opportunity to own condominium-style accommodations at quality resorts, which typically offer an array of amenities in popular domestic and international destinations. In India, timeshare is becoming quite popular and is growing since the last few years. It is clearly a front runner in the country’s travel and hospitality industry when it comes to planning a hassle free summer vacation where the timeshare resort base has grown by over 50% in the last six years and as per All India Resort Development Association (AIRDA) figures, there are 3,50,000 families subscribed to timeshare in India and the estimated market exceeds 3.5 million. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the past several years has been 15 to 18% and is expected to display sustained growth in the near future. A huge pattern that has risen is that Indian RCI members are opting to travel to new international destinations like Greece, Mexico, Finland and Oklahoma, among various others. We are able to track their vacation patterns, guaranteeing that our contributions are synchronised with their evolving travel needs.

QWhich are the most popular domestic as well as international destinations for the Indian travellers? Have you seen trend or demand for any new destination?
The Indian traveller is constantly evolving and enriching their experiences. We at RCI, have seen a significant increase in holiday bookings, both domestic and international, on a year-on-year basis. With increased disposable income, factors like cheaper airfares and low tariffs for budget hotels, international travel plans have seen an exponential rise amongst the general Indian traveller. This helps us to tap an opportunity for helping our members get great experiences and memories with their family and friends. This year we saw a huge demand for destinations like Goa, Delhi and Kerala domestically, whereas Indians prefer Dubai, Thailand and Singapore for their international vacations. Also countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are been favoured amongst all the other South East Asian countries by Indian travellers. Following closely were Switzerland and Spain that came out to be the most preferred European countries that appeal to the general Indian travellers for their scenic beauty.

Maldives, Thailand and Singapore closely followed by the two European hotspots in terms of travel plans chosen by Indians. The RCI report states that Australia enamours Indian travellers as a destination for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and its beautiful coastal road trips followed by Finland, which marked its entry on the top 10 travel destinations for RCI members. It is intriguing to take note of the neighbouring nations of India like Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Burma, Maldives for growing as the preferred destinations by Indian. Indian domestic travel witnessed an increase of 8% in 2017 as compared to 2016. RCI cited that Goa has been the number one choice for domestic travel both in 2016 and 2017. Followed by Coorg for its breathtakingly exotic scenery and picturesque countryside. Munnar ranked number three for its lush greenery and waterfalls. Ooty and Kodaikanal made it to number four and five respectively, both being hill destinations of Tamil Nadu.

A tremendous travel increase is found for hill station such as Mussoorie, Manali and Shimla for its ravishing beauty in the Himalayan foothills. Number nine was Pondicherry highlighting its French colonial heritage and the list ends with Lonavla, a little hill station near Mumbai which is a preferred destination for weekend getaways.

QTell us about the latest travel pattern of Indians? How has the travel trends changed over the years?
The Indian travellers has evolved and is spreading his wings wide where out of the total number of trips booked by Indian members, 34% were international and 66% were domestic. Indians have changed their travel patterns and exploring new cities. Indian RCI members searched for vacations nearly 1 million times where they now want culinary holidays, landmark visits by self-driving holidays and luxury hotels and home stays. A lot of Indians are now looking beyond London, Paris and New York and exploring destinations like Latvia, Bahamas, Romania, Brazil, Panama and Cyprus. They have started looking at exploring destinations offering cruises, theme parks, snow-capped mountains, spa retreats, nature parks and safaris

QWhat is the USP of RCI India?
We offer members the opportunity to own condominium-style accommodations at quality resorts, which typically offer an array of amenities in popular domestic and international destinations. We’ve found that millions of owners enjoy a timeshare’s spacious floor plan and home-like amenities when compared with traditional hospitality products like hotels. RCI vacation owners also enjoy the peace of mind timeshare provides when traveling each year. They don’t have to deal with the stress of planning a vacation and booking accommodations. They know they have a place to return to each year. At the same time, through our exchange programme, owners can have the flexibility to vacation at resorts all over the world.

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