Mumbai: With disposable income in India growing, self-drive holidays are gaining popularity and are expected to grow 35 per cent annually, giving people freedom to explore offbeat destinations, say experts.
"The liberty to stop anywhere for meals or sightseeing empowers travellers," FCM Travel Solutions - Indian subsidiary of Flight Centre Travel Group, Australia, Managing Director Rakshit Desai told PTI here.
It also adds a new perspective to the whole self-exploration experience, which is overlooked in group tours with fixed itineraries. Besides, it gives travellers freedom to explore off-beat locations as per their interest, he added. He said, his company has witnessed 35 per cent year-on-year growth in the self-drive segment.
"We are confident this trend going to increase from here." Most travellers prefer picturesque or adventurous routes in the country like the coastal belts in the Konkan and hill stations such as Shimla and Manali in the north, especially during summers, he said.
"Internationally, most of our Indian travellers prefer the US, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Ireland," he added. Young travellers, in age group of 25-35 years, are keen to opt for flexible travel lifestyle and have desire for experiential travel, he said. "We see huge opportunity in this and expect a potential of double-digit growth in this segment," he added.
Echoing a similar view, Head of Self-Drive 365 at Cox and Kings, Debolin Sen, said, this segment is likely to grow by 15-20 per cent till 2022, as new highways and expressways have given people an avenue to drive around in their cars and experience the local flavour and enjoy the landscape.
"Self-drive holidays is very popular overseas. In fact, Indians who travel to overseas destinations opt for self-drive vacations in New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland among others. In India, it is still in its infancy," he added.
Initially, a lot of youngsters opt self-drive within the country and then graduate to longer holidays overseas. So, 25-30 year-old travellers are the main target segment in the domestic market, while 30-50 year-old travellers opt for self-drive overseas with a bit of experience, he added.
Expedia India Marketing Head, Brand, Manmeet Ahluwalia said the increased preference for road trips is due to decent GPS navigation systems, proliferation of internet connectivity and good roads. "It is also gaining popularity in the metro cities as the best weekend gateway option," he added.
Experiential travellers, mostly professionally qualified ones who have already explored India, move to exploring international destinations in Europe, Australia and the US through self-drive, he said.
"People look for destinations which allow left side driving- which is the same as India like New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Maldives, Scotland and South Africa," he added....