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India Market Profile

As California’s global footprint continues to expand, Visit California has been planting roots and cultivating relationships in this high-opportunity market. California welcomed its first direct, nonstop flight from India in 2016. With an additional airlift opportunities and growing affluence, India is primed for significant growth, especially in the luxury travel market. Data updated as of February 2020.

Market Profile

$1.167 Billion
Preliminary Visitor Spending, 2019
$1.470 Billion*
Forecasted Visitor Spending, 2023
*Reflects pre-coronavirus forecast.
Market Share (U.S. Spend), 2018

Travel & Planning

Airlift (2019)

  • 10 weekly nonstop flights
  • 2,300 weekly nonstop seats
  • 1 entry point (San Francisco)


  • Average planning timeframe: 2 to 3 months
  • Average booking timeframe: 1 to 2 months
  • Travelers book with tour operators, travel agents and OTAs
  • International OTAs like, Expedia and are most popular
  • Peak travel months: April–July while school is out, however FIT and additional group travel occurs year round
  • The long wait time for visas have impacted the timeframe to travel to the U.S.

Visitor Characteristics

Sought-After Travel Experiences

  • Local experiences: Indian travelers seek local experiences that are activity driven, such as traveling overseas to watch sports, exploring new places and experiencing the local culture.
  • Event driven: Millennial travelers tend to plan holidays around specific events like music, festivals and sports and have a strong desire to post on social media about attending these events.
  • The Hollywood experience: Movies, both Western and Indian, TV series and social media are the key drivers of interest and inspiration across all segments. Indians often visit movie sets and destinations known to have been featured in film and TV production.

How to reach Indian Travelers

  • Digital Media
  • Social Media

Market Conditions

Among major global economies, India has had the highest continued growth over the last five years. While the single-party majority mandate created the foundation for a stable central government for another five years, significant headwinds to growth may be ahead. Domestic risks, such as slowing demand and the banking sector’s poor health, coupled with external risks from uncertainties around global trade will likely impact business investment and credit growth. Despite the slowdown, Indians continue to buy luxury products during overseas trips and luxury brands are now betting big on the “high earners, not rich yet” consumers who have discretionary income and a strong chance of being wealthy in the future.

Competitive Landscape

California faces key competition from destinations such as Australia, U.K., Germany, Canada and Western Europe to name a few where the flights are shorter, the packages are more affordable and it is easier to obtain a Visa. Among U.S. destinations, New York, Washington DC, Florida and Las Vegas rank highest as competitors for California.

The U.S. is the leading aspirational destination for new and experienced travelers with its abundance of experiences to choose from. Additionally, India’s airline industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, with potential for increased flight options to California. This market is also rapidly growing in luxury travel with an expected 70% increase in the next five years.

Long-haul destinations such as Australia, U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Canada, South Africa and Western Europe are California’s top competitors due to the ease of securing travel Visas, non-stop airlift, shorter flights and affordable packages. Notably, the lengthy 78-day wait for a U.S. visa during peak travel season causes many to make other plans.


  • Finance Ministry of India Report
  • Deloitte ‘Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2019’
  • DIIO
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis, NTTO, Dean Runyan, Tourism Economics
  • U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office, “Survey of International Air Travelers”, CIC Research