Domestic tourists are from Mars, Inbound tourists are from Venus – Part I

Just saw a post on Quartz titled ‘Foreign tourists are seeing a different India than locals‘. Arguably having been the keenest watcher of Indian tourism & particularly Indian domestic tourism over the last 10 years, I can say this with confidence – the article gets its basic premise right but does not go anywhere near enough in exploring the fundamental differences between the two. So let me give it a whirl & explore one big difference in this post.

Indians take vacations to get way from crowded & dirty cities as often as possible. This quest more often that not compels us to take short weekend breaks to nearby destinations. Data of traveller behaviour on HolidayIQ.com (every month almost 5 million Indian travellers plan breaks using travellers reviews shared on HolidayIQ.com) suggests that weekend getaways number more than 10x of long vacations in India. Such weekend getaways, are therefore by definition,  not to the great big tourist attractions of the nation but to the small peaceful enclaves near cities with some greenery left. This includes places like Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh where hordes of people from Hyderabad, Vizag and Bhubaneshwar run to on weekends, Tarkarli in the south konkan coast of Maharashra, a favourite of people from Mumbai & Pune, Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh which offers respite to travellers from Nagpur, Bhopal & Indore and Mandarmani, the beach to which people from Kolkata flee regularly. Contrast this with the behavior of foreign (inbound) tourists. There are two dominant categories of foreign tourists to India Р(1) the backpackers and (2) the geriatrics. The backpackers are youngsters mostly from Israel & the west who come looking for instant spirituality, undiscovered beaches and great weed, although not necessarily in that order. Most of them end up in Goa, Gokarna, Manali, & Rishikesh. The geriatircs are retired folk, mostly from Europe  who come to India as a once-in-a lifetime experience to either do the golden triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) or over the last decade, Kerala.

So the biggest difference lies in the fact that the core motivation of domestic & inbound tourists are quite different which leads them to drastically different destinations in India. But there is one place in India that both domestic & inbound tourists go to in large numbers – click here to find out :)

HolidayIQ in Indonesia

HolidayIQ launched its Indonesia website today, our first real foray outside India. The soft launch is designed to allow domestic Indonesian travellers to add their photos, hotel reviews and the like. What a journey this has been!

A few years ago the only thing one had was this passion for travel and a desire to do something unique around it (read: not become a travel agent). And from an idea sparked off by reading an article about Zagat Survey to a 2-person team in a little room to now 150+ people across three countries, the journey has been a lot of fun and of course an ulcer or two.

HolidayIQ merges with Wego

Wego.com and HolidayIQ.com Announce Merger;

Close Series B Funding Round

Wego Pte Ltd, operators of the Singapore based travel search engine www.wego.com, and Leisure & Lifestyle Information Services Pvt Ltd, operators of the Indian travel content and community site www.holidayiq.com announce a merger of their operations.

The combined entity has also completed a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global, the New York based growth capital fund.

Do Indians share useful content?

I get asked this question by all kinds of people, mostly by those who have not yet had a chance to use HolidayIQ.com. Obviously I tell them many wonderful things about the hotel reviews we get on the site and the travel photos and videos and…

Here is excellent thread I found on the HolidayIQ forum which I guess answers this question better than any guff I might dish out :)

tour to Sringar and surroundings from Jammu

Postby Kripa Shankar Mani on Thu May 06, 2010 9:13 am

We my wife son daughter-inlaw and two grandsons aged 5 and 3 years) are planning to have a vacation in Srinagar (Kashmir). 

We are planning to start our Journey from Jammu Tawi on 14th June and from there we would head to Srinager by road.

As this is the 1st time we are going to kashmir we would like to visit all the major places of interest there.

Initially I thougth to go to srinagar by my own self driven car but it seems that the journey would be too long and that we would also waste 2 days one reaching to Jammu and One Coming Back From Jammu.

Do not wish to Catch flight directly to Srinager as we would miss the scenic beauty of the area.

Please help me in finalising my plans :

1. Days in Hand between 8 to 12
2. Budget No as such Budget allocated as yet
3. Hotel Preference : No Hi Fi Hotel, Just nice Bed and Breakfast Type.
4. Travelling – by car which should be on our disposal throught from pick up to dropping at Jammu Railway Station.

Would also like to have an idea from fellow imer’s that what should be my Travel Schedule so that the trip could be a memorable one.

Some further questions are :

1. What budget should I consider for the Trip.

2. Are plenty of Taxis available, is there a relaible type of a car rental provider in Jammu or Srinager who can be contacted. what would be the approximate cost of hiring a Taxi for a day.

3. What should be our Travel plans for Road Trip from Jammu to Srinager, where to stop, where to eat and which Hotel to Stay.

4. Which all destination should we go. and which area are safe in Srinagar.

5. Can someone provide the telephone number of some good hotel in Patni top, Srinager, Jammu, Pahagaon, Gulmarg, Boat House, Driver/ Taxi wala, and ofcourse a guide, to get best of the rip.

Any Suggestions/ Amendment and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Regards
K.S. Mani Tripathi

Kripa Shankar Mani
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:00 am

Re: tour to Sringar and surroundings from Jammu

Postby vasudevan on Thu May 06, 2010 10:37 am

dear mani tripathy,let me give some info.
1)budget i wud put aside rs 1500/- per day for food, rs 5000/-for two rooms per night,
2)taxis r plenty available ,it wud be best to hire a SUV from jammu itself for the entire trip.try ur local contacts.
3) yes it wud be foolish to go by air ,the NH1 to srinagar includung the jawahar tunnel is not be missed’
4)i suggest following itenary day 1)drive down to srinagar takes 12 hrs, try reaching b4 8pm.
day2/3/4 ) stay at a boathouse the local people/ houseboat owner will giude u .
day5/6 stay at a nearby lodge in nehru park area visit gulmarg n saffron gardens’
day7) drive down to patni top for a overnight stay unwind with the sheer majestic trees
day8) drive to katra ,walk up to vaishnow devi, evenings r better as day is too hot,TIP-DO NOT LINGER ON TOP TO CATCH UR BREATH,just walk down immedtly and relax in your room’ 

re room bookings try to do it at jktdc cottages etc ,they r ok n easy on d wallet the patni top cottages were simply superb we stayed at at boathouse called ZIGMALAY . and had a lovely time.

throuhout the only jarring note for our 10 day holiday was the abbysymal hygiene at the roadside dhabas. u will need delhi winter clothing during nights

vasudevan
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:00 am

Hotel & Resort Chains in India

One of the problems facing travellers in India is the absence of well-known branded Hotel Chains across the country. Even though HolidayIQ has been able to find about 75 odd ‘chains’ (and I must admit, our definition of Chains is quite loose, since any organisation with 2 or more properties under its management is defined as a Chain), all of these between them control a negligible portion of the total number of leisure accommodation options there are.

Take a look at the list here.

I wish the more prominent ones such as Taj Hotels, Fortune Park Hotels, ITC Hotels, Lemon Tree, Club Mahindra etc would rapidly expand and get more Indian hotels and resorts under their wing. It is needed for India’s tourism to go to the next level.

Legship, Sikkim

The gang at HolidayIQ has been busy discovering little-known tourism destinations across India. Amazingly, we have almost 500 Indian tourism destinations now and most of the small, new ones have been discovered by travellers who have asked us to add these destinations to the site.

Consequently, I have now discovered a new game for myself. Everyday I give myself an unlikely alphabet and find destinations I never knew about. It is a lot of fun actually.

My alphabet for today was ‘L’ and discovered ‘Legship’, which is quite an intriguing name anywhere & in India, is pretty crazy. Evidently, it is a small village near Pelling in Sikkim and you go there for the Kirateshwara Mahadev mandir, Phur Cha Chu sulphur baths & the Rangit Water World.

However, there is no word on how it acquired such a fancy name for itself.

Read more here.

India’s biggest tourism promotion website

Have been wondering which website is doing most for marketing Indian tourism. So, I did a quick check of recent Alexa numbers (see chart above) for Incredible India (the official promotion website of India’s tourism ministry) and the sites of two of India’s premier tourism states, kerala Tourism and Rajasthan Tourism.

Surprisingly, the Kerala Tourism site gets more traffic than the Incredible India site, which is a bit for a shame for the Incredible India guys. Incredible India however did get a huge spike in traffic (a few months before the beginning of period I have taken this chart for) when had a massive ad campaign underway – obviously, they were not able to hold on to the audiences after the campaign got over, which seems a real pity.

And since I couldn’t resist it, I also compared these 3 sites wth HolidayIQ which at the moment also exclusively contains tourism information on India. HolidayIQ beat all these sites by a huge distance. Of course, this is a slightly unfair comparison, since HolidayIQ is not a tourism promotion site but a site for India’s domestic holiday-goers to plan vacations. Which, come of to think of it, is probably not very different from what these sites ought to be doing.