Indian tourists are streaming into Southeast Asia, cementing the world’s most populous country’s position as a key growth market for the travel and tourism sector.
From airlines like IndiGo and Thai Airways to hospitality chains offering thousands of rooms, executives and analysts say companies are tapping into India’s burgeoning middle-class and growing spending power.
A long-term increase in Indian tourists would lead to a recalibration of airline capacity, hospitality offerings, and tourism operators – early signs of which are underway, according to industry members.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a May report that India could emerge as the next China “in terms of outbound tourism growth” over the next decade, though connectivity would be constrained by fewer airports there.
In Thailand, the number of Indian tourists – though fewer than Chinese in absolute terms – is only about 14% lower than it was in 2019.
In 2019, Chinese visitors spent about US$197 a day in Thailand and Indians spent about $180, with both visiting for about a week, according to Thai government data.
Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said 1.6 million Indians are expected to visit the kingdom this year.