Travel bug hits small town India: Tourism demand sees spurt in Tier 2, 3 cities


NEW DELHI: If you are familiar with the remarkable story of Vijayan, the 69-year-old tea stall owner from Kochi who has travelled to over 20 countries with his wife despite his meagre means, youll know travel and wanderlust is no longer the domain of the privileged few.
As more Indians hit the road to explore uncharted territories for work or holiday, it is travellers from the farthest corners of the country who want to be out and about. Whats more, travel companies have spotted this fast-growing market and are rolling out the red carpet to woo the backpacker and the budget traveller, the adventure enthusiast and well as the luxury vacationer.
Take VFS Global for instance. The worlds largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide kick-started its doorstep delivery for visa services in 2016. In one year, the demand for doorstep delivery of visas across India grew by 144%, with the highest demand coming from Goa, Lucknow, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Mangaluru and Gurgaon.
Even as applications from metro cities increased, first-time demand for doorstep visa services came from cities like Allahabad, Amravati, Thiruvananthapuram, Erode, Surat, Nagercoil, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Tiruppur, Muzaffarpur, Palakkad, Indore, Guwahati, Jodhpur and Chattarpur (MP). The highest number of visa applications, VFS Global said, was processed in Nagpur, followed by Indore. In Shillong, doorstep visa applications grew from two in 2017 to 150 in 2018.
“More Indians from smaller cities are travelling abroad than ever before and are keen to explore offbeat destinations,” said Vinay Malhotra, regional group chief operating officer (Middle East, South Asia, and China) of VFS Global.

Tourism boards too are tapping smaller cities to woo the first-time traveller. The Seychelles Tourism Board, for instance, travelled to Lucknow, among other cities, to offer immersive experiences and holidays tailored to the size of the tourists budget.
Thomas Cook India, a separate entity from Thomas Cook UK after it was acquired in 2012, said it had seen a strong shift in source markets to Indias regional Tier 2 and 3 cities with Amritsar, Karnal, Guwahati, Ranchi, Aurangabad, Visakhapatnam, Hubli, Udaipur and Vijaywada registering higher demand for travel offerings than metro cities.
“Indians are no longer shying away from spending, wOriginal Article