This month is India month

  • 05 May 2015 | Sarah Came

India is on its way to becoming one of the largest economies in the world, and is a fast-growing travel market for South Africa. Make sure that you capitalise on this growth and encourage Indian tourists to visit our stunning country.

Who are your Indian visitors?

The majority of Indian guests speak Hindu, in which the greeting is 'Namaste' (naa-maas-tay), but a large percentage of Indian travellers also speak English.

Fortunately, according to the City of Cape Town’s official website, many Indian travellers visit South Africa during our low season (as this is when their school holidays are). This helps to tide the tourism industry stakeholders over in the quieter months.

Family adventures are popular with Indian tourists

Indian tourists usually spend most of their time in Gauteng and the Western Cape, and they typically stay in South Africa for 10 days. Johannesburg, Sun City, the Kruger National Park, the Garden Route and Cape Town are favourite destinations. Family groups – sometimes up to 14 in one group – honeymooners and independent travellers all frequent South Africa. There is also a growing interest among Indians in having their weddings here.

India’s major cities are Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, so it is likely that your guests will come from one of these places.

Rather than use the Internet, many Indian travellers rely on travel agents to book their flights, accommodation and activities for them. Usually the activities they are looking for are wildlife experiences or simply exploring a new country.

Why should you impress them?

Although Indians’ interest in South Africa has increased in recent years and increasing numbers of Indian travellers are visiting the country, it is still important to ensure that they have the best possible experience as, according to the City of Cape Town’s official website, many Indian tourists' decisions on where to go rely greatly on recommendations from friends and family members.

The Indian economy is one of the fastest growing in the world and is expected to be about the third-largest economy by 2030. Not only that, but India is the second most populous country in the world, with a recorded 1.19-billion people in 2010.

It is important to capitalise on this market as Indian tourists who visit South Africa usually have generous budgets to spend on their holiday. These guests uplift our economy and job creation as a whole, as well as generate income for those who entertain and host them.

How to impress them

As many Indian tourists use travel agencies to book their holidays, it is important that, whatever you offer, travel agents know about you and have an incentive to book you for their clients’ trips.

Indian tourists can often be discerning diners 

For example, providing special rates for travel agencies and having prearranged packages and tours or special offers can make your services or establishment more appealing. In addition, Indian travellers are usually quite money-savvy, and are looking for good value for money.

Considering the growing interest in South Africa as a wedding and honeymoon destination, couples and wedding packages at discounted rates could be a good idea, as could putting together family packages and group deals that include adventure activities or trips to theme parks.

According to the City of Cape Town, cultural travel is usually not high on Indian travellers' lists of things to do, but they do enjoy visiting major tourist sites such as historical and natural landmarks. Some of the activities that Indian tourists are usually interested in include going shopping, experiencing the country’s nightlife, and seeing nature and wildlife.

Traffic in India is often chaotic and congested, and because of this Indian tourists prefer not to drive while on holiday. If you can, include transport in a package deal, or at least be able to provide information about where they can get affordable transport. 

As with all other tourists, the little touches never go amiss. A finger bowl at a meal might be appreciated as many Indians eat with their hands. You should also make sure that you have vegetarian options for any food served, as a large number of Indians are vegetarian.

Manners are also very important to many Indian tourists. Always address an Indian guest by his or her title (Doctor, Professor, Mr, Mrs or Miss) until you are invited to use their first name.

For more information on Indian tourists, have a look at our 'Know your tourist' section.