This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/27/2017

India is now one of the fastest growing outbound tourism markets in the world, second only to China. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Despite the slowdown due to rupee fluctuations, the Indian outbound numbers have been growing with an average 10-12% annual growth over the last seven years. The market for travel and tourism in India is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 7.23% during 2016-2021.

A growing, consumption-driven economy, a large and increasingly affluent middle class, and the ongoing liberalization of air transportation have contributed significantly to this growth in international outbound travel. Additional interest in niche tourism sectors such as the medical, wellness and adventure tourism has also contributed to this growth.  Increased smartphone and internet penetration have also contributed to an increased number of online bookings. 

Indian spending outside the country while traveling abroad has doubled in the past 10 years, from $7.5 billion in 2004 to nearly $15 billion in 2014. The figures below illustrate the recent growth in this sector. (2017?)

(In  USD billions)




2016 (estimated)

Total domestic travel spending (US$ in Billion)





Total foreign inbound visitor spending (US$ in Billion)





Total outbound spending (US$ in Billion)





Total Market Size
(No. of outbound travelers in millions)





Total travel to the United States from India (in thousands)






Recognizing this immense potential in outbound travel from India, more than 70 National Tourist Organizations (NTOs) from around the world have set up local offices in India and are aggressively marketing their destinations.         For volume growth, the top five destinations are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, United States and Singapore.  Australia and France are good examples of destinations that are succeeding in their promotional efforts. For France, a key strategy has been the launch of the campaign “France Celebrates India,” which offered Indian travelers an array of travel services. It is not surprising that even destinations like South Africa and Dubai have stepped up their efforts to push Indian outbound numbers to their respective countries.
The United States is quickly becoming a top destination for Indian travelers. In 2015, the United States welcomed over 1 million visitors from India, a new record. At this rate, India is now poised to become one of the top 10 countries sending travelers to the United States, and is expected to cross the 1.5 million visitor mark soon. Preliminary 2015-2016 Indian visitor data has shown year over year growth of 10%.

In regard to receipts, the United States is ahead of its rivals, receiving more than a 30% share of total Indian outbound tourist spending. For perspective, Indian tourists’ gross spending share in the United States is nearly five times more than its closest rival, Australia, which is followed by Singapore, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. In 2015, Indians spent nearly $11.8 billion in the United States, a growth of 18% as compared to 2014, with shopping being their top activity when traveling in the United States.

While in the past many Indians have preferred regional outbound travel as their first overseas tourism experience, many are starting to list the United States as among their first “aspirational” destinations to visit.  With a significant Indian diaspora in the United States, there are increasing familial, educational, and commercial reasons for Indians to consider traveling to the United States.

Additionally, Commercial Service (CS) India has noticed an increase in demand among Indian travelers for unique experiences when they visit the United States. Many travel agents indicate that their clients have already visited the best known attractions in the United States, and are now desiring to experience new U.S. attractions. This could include sports or adventure packages, food/cultural festivals, and more niche market activities. Destinations that have not traditionally drawn large numbers of Indian travelers may find success in catering to the growing number of travelers seeking new experiences.

In summary, India provides a large opportunity for U.S. destinations and there is much more that can be done to gain market share and become the destination of choice for Indian travelers.  As there is increased competition from tourism promotion organizations, CS India highly recommends that U.S. destinations and attractions, as well as Convention Visitors Bureaus and service providers, include India in their marketing and outreach strategies.

Leading Sub-Sectors
MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) including small intimate corporate groups, is one of the fastest growing segments of Indian outbound travel. Companies in India are realizing the benefits that accrue to their businesses from organizing MICE trips, which involve large or small groups of employees from their companies, or industry meetings at desirable foreign destinations. These MICE trips can include conferences, trade exhibitions, focused business meetings or just recreation. In addition, with Indian corporates expanding their global footprint, business executives traveling overseas are incorporating work with pleasure by taking their families with them on business trips.

According to Mercury Travel, between 1.2 to 1.5 million Indians will travel for MICE purposes all over the world in the years ahead, and will spend around $1.5 billion. While this figure may seem small compared to developed markets, the Indian market for outbound MICE is growing at 15-16% each year.
Recognizing this immense potential in MICE, Mission India promotes the United States as a top MICE destination. However, there continues to be misperceptions among Indian corporations that MICE travel to the United States is not feasible due to concerns about visa, costs and distance.  To counter these perceptions and to stimulate the selection of the United States as their top choice for MICE groups, Mission India, the Visit USA Committee (VUSACOM), Brand USA, destination representatives as well as hotel and airline representatives have made a concerted effort to provide accurate information to Indian travel agents and corporate travel planners about the options that are available to them as they make their MICE travel plans. 

The Brand USA Mission to India is planned for September 10-15, 2017 in specific Indian cities. Destinations desiring to participate in the Mission should contact Brand USA.

SATTE: SATTE (South Asia Travel and Tourism Expo) is India’s largest travel trade event, scheduled for January 31 - February 2, 2018, in New Delhi. This show draws hundreds of travel agents, and is a good venue for U.S. participants to reach out to a quality target audience. Brand USA is the organizer of the U.S. Pavilion at SATTE.

USA to Go: Mission India has partnered with the Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) to conduct outreach sessions called “USA to Go” in tier two cities throughout India. The “USA to Go” initiative is focused on increasing awareness about opportunities for tourism, education and investment in the United States. Brand USA is a supporter of these events, and specific destinations in the United States can have an opportunity to be featured at USA to Go events.

ITB Berlin and ITB Asia have typically drawn many key stakeholders in the Indian travel and trade sector.  Additional information can be found online.

Publicity: Conde Nast Traveller, Today’s Traveller, airline magazines, and other Indian travel/trade oriented publications often highlight the United States as a top destination, and have shown a strong willingness to publish articles about the United States. Brand USA in India coordinates the content and placement of those pieces, and CS India is willing to facilitate communication with specific publications. 

Web Resources:
U.S. Department of Commerce, ITA, National Travel and Tourism Office
Visit USA Committee–India Chapter
Travel Agents Association of India
Outbound Tour Operators Association of India
Travel Agents Federation of India
The World Travel and Tourism Council
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTO)
The Indian Ministry of Tourism

For more information about opportunities in this sector contact U.S. Commercial Service Industry Specialist: Shibu Mathews at  

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

India Travel and Tourism Trade Development and Promotion