The tourism industry has witnessed a rise in solo and group women travellers breaking away from the stereotypical norms of ‘family trips’ and exploring the world on their own. In a group discussion titled ‘The Perspective’ organised by Express TravelWorld, industry thought leaders including Neela Lad, regional director(western & central region), Ministry of Tourism; Nalini Udai Gupta, head India operations, Costa Cruises; Sunila Patil, founder & director, Veena World and Sonal Divekar, CEO, Mee Time HandCrafted Holidays expressed their perspectives on India being one of the safest destinations in the world and how the Indian woman is travelling now more than ever among various other associated topics.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, India, Lad said, “We recently invited 15 bloggers from all over the world like Europe, America, etc. to travel on the Deccan Odyssey in India out of which 13 were women and first timers to the country. When asked why they hadn’t visited India before, they all hailed the ‘unsafe’ tag for it. But by the end of the trip, they all echoed in one tune that how India is anything but unsafe. I would like to tell all the women out there that a helpine 1363 is available at all times in 12 foreign languages.”
Commenting further on the changing dynamics of women travellers, Gupta said, “The Indian woman traveller is no more feeling guilty to do something that makes her happy. And I specialise in cruise travel where all the facilities are available under one roof. We once had a group of Bori Muslim women travellers and for those few days, they literally let their hair down and enjoyed to the fullest. Whether one wanted go to the casino or discotheque or avail of any kind of entertainment, they didn’t have to worry or look out for each other, as their friends were just in the next room doing their thing.”
Not long ago, the travel scene was very different for women. Certain destinations like Thailand and Bali were termed as the mens’ holiday place for the entertainment available there. Shedding light on how the scene was back then, Patil said, “Before when women used to travel they were busy either looking out for the husband or taking care of the kids, and then if possible might enjoy a little ‘me time’. But the Indian women has evolved and we’ve noticed a major change in mindsets and attitudes. The tourism industry is also supporting the new Indian Woman by organising tours to Goa, North- East as well as international locations like Thailand, France, etc.”
Adding her view, Divekar said, “And it’s no longer limited to just the usual kind of travel but they are on the constant lookout for that something ‘more’. They want to explore avenues like wine tasting, cheese tasting, gourmet food, cultural arts, adventure trips, etc. We try as much to cater to such segments and we also see a significant rise in international women travellers coming to India. I’ve always believed that one should travel to learn things about themselves that they would otherwise never discover.”
The panel further discussed on the importance of experiential tourism, the need for special talks to raise awareness about the varied culture, handicrafts and authentic food preparations that India has to boost inbound tourism and how when the you travel, you learn making the Indian woman only smarter and better.