NEW DELHI, India – The popularity of India as a driving destination seems to be on the rise, with car rental firm Avis citing a 60 per cent rise in foreign tourist arrivals with self-drive packages in 2011.
Avis, the only such agency with a self-drive car fleet in India, says that the segment has doubled to around 10,000 bookings this year. Up to 40 per cent of the demand is from inbound tourists.
“Around two-thirds of the inbound tourists are foreigners, while the rest are non-resident Indians. People are taking longer trips now, with most of the higher demand coming from the cities of Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore,” Sunil Gupta, CEO, Avis India, told Business Line.
The company is present in 17 cities and has 1,400 vehicles, most of which are available for self-drive.
An industry expert said that overseas tourist arrivals with plans to drive could have risen as road infrastructure has improved in the country and many routes are now mapped on GPS-based navigation devices.
Also, the variety of holiday options in India makes it an exotic destination for foreigners with tight budgets, especially when the rupee is weak.
Avis’ advantage is its global network and presence in the European and North American markets (170 countries in all).
This makes it easier for tourists from these regions to book vehicles in India through their local branch. Also, through global tie-ups with hotel chains and travel agents, it can offer complete holiday packages.
“Oberoi (joint venture partners) is a high quality brand, as viewed by corporates, and they offer exotic vacation packages. So we have a strong clientele stream coming from there. With travel agents like Yatra.com, we have the whole chain working with us.
The Avis brand is also well recognised globally, which helps,” Gupta said.
However, Gupta lamented that the overall inbound leisure traffic is yet to come back to 2008 levels because of the global slowdown.