Holidays for Non-Resident Indians have usually meant travelling only to meet family. But that mindset has shifted considerably in recent years with a large number of Indians now following a “live it up grasshopper” attitude over the “save for winter ant” one. Or to put it in millennial-friendly terms, #YOLO.
When one is settled abroad with the family back in India, it makes perfect sense to combine family visits with destination holidays there. And a growing number of international airports across India with direct or connecting flights to exotic destinations encourages this trend.
“There is so much to explore within India, from the coastal and historical places to snow-covered mountains,” says Sharjah-based Tejashree Padmanabhan, who goes home to visit family in India with her husband Dinesh. “We also headed to Goa for our honeymoon.”
When it comes to planning a vacation in India, NRIs seem to look for destinations that allow them to connect with their roots, while enjoying some quiet time with the family. “Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan, Shimla, Manali and more recently, the Andamans are some of the destinations popular with NRIs,” says Narayana Menon K., Co-founder and CMO at Wandertrails, an experiential travel brand in India that organises trips around the country for Gulf-based NRIs. “We combine the known with the lesser known to create an experience of a lifetime.”
In each of these places, there are different things to do, he says, such as houseboat getaways in Kerala, adventure trails in Manali and cycling and monastery trails in Shimla. “A Kuwait-based client recently booked a heritage holiday in Rajasthan,” Menon adds.
Travel options are fast expanding, particularly for Gulf-based NRIs who enjoy easy connectivity to a variety of places across India. “Other than the metros, there are direct flights from the Gulf to Kozhikode, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Vizag, Amritsar, Lucknow, Goa and Hyderabad.
These are tourist destinations in their own right, and many other places can be accessed from these airports,” says Alankar Chandra, CEO of Wild Voyager, an experiential travel start-up. “What is important to NRIs seems to be an opportunity to connect back with their roots and refresh memories of home, spending some laidback time with immediate and extended family along with hassle-free planning with quality assurance.”
Hotel groups now also cater specifically to NRIs. Last year, budget hotel network OYO Rooms launched a mid-market brand of neighbourhood hotels, OYO Townhouse, to cater to just this segment. “We have seen a major trend of OYOs being used to cater to relatives and guests who visit a city to attend a wedding, especially from overseas,” says Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO of OYO, speaking about the new brand.
While commening on what essentially appeals to NRI travellers, Vijay Jaiswal, Senior VP — Sales and Marketing at Sarovar Hotels and Resorts, one of India’s largest hotel chains, says, “Our leisure hotels in Kerala are quite popular with NRIs. We have a backwater resort located in a virgin and unexplored region of Vayalar (near Allepey) and another resort located near the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady, an experiential eco-resort popular with wildlife enthusiasts. We also host a lot of NRI guests at our property in Goa and across our hotels in Punjab and Jaipur,” he adds.
With the array of destinations and experiences available across India, a holiday back home no longer needs to be literally just at home.