Published By: Puja Sinha

The Booming Experiential Tourism in India

The spur in exploratory and mindful trips vested with a greater purpose—establish the parameters of ethical tourism

The offbeat, unconventional, and singular has evolved into experiential tourism which promises a niche, spiritual, and immersive travel experience to those who are carefully unravelling the multi-layered significance of living and knowing a place.

Today, Varanasi, Jaisalmer, Kerala Backwaters, and Spiti easily come to mind when one dwells on the endless possibilities of such a tour. Such a tour package falls outside the periphery of usual hopping at tourist spots and engaging in mainstream activities. In fact, these tours have rich versatility and sometimes include a queer blend of luxurious retreats, heritage walks, volunteering, climate-resistant fashion, environment and wildlife, conservation works, historical trails, and rendezvous with artists and people belonging to different walks of life.

 Why Experiential Tourism?

The sole purpose of experiential tourism is to promote keen insight and inspiration among travellers. This nuanced experience of a tour, as a concept, is primarily championed by independent travellers in a bid to free tours and travel from a capitalist-consumerist grip. Nonetheless, with time, tour companies and non-profits have embraced the philosophy adding their bit to the transformative experience.

 It Supports the Wellness Travel Market

The financial boom of the wellness travel market is undeniable and a consequence of experiential tourism. Be it resorts or indigenous lands, the concept has extended its grip far and wide. Resorts and hotels are offering well-curated packages with yoga, ritualistic cleansing of negative energy, meditation, and retreat into lush jungles—an opportunity that has been aptly capitalised. 

 A Dive into the Unknown 

Today, many are no longer interested in simply ticking off things from the bucket list. The trend supports grassroots efforts and off-the-radar places to develop into full-fledged and accessible locations. Many tourist hubs are doing away with cliched and populist notions to showcase their authenticity and natural elements. The focus has shifted to adventure and culture with the locals and regional elements at the centre. This translates to a revamp of the personal and inventive experience each will enjoy. 

 A Trend Rooted in Pop Culture 

Undeniably, popular culture has played a crucial part in curating this non-populist notion of experiential travelling, and, irrespective of the irony, it has been a whopping success! While television and theatre have piqued people’s interest in the concept, social media has been fundamental in sustaining it. Influencers have concomitantly emphasised the larger significance of culture, people, and food allowing many a reality that is different from passively vising monuments and landmarks. Owing to social media connectivity, many groups have sprung up with the goal of arranging small trips to residential units of different professionals dwelling in distant villages and fringes of the city and arranging impromptu baithaks. 

 Sustainability and Knowledge Packed into One

Mostly, these tours are centred around workshops and face-to-face interaction. Experiential tourism seeks to impart knowledge through the interactions between locals and tourists, and, in the process, a greater awareness of local issues, lifestyle, history, culture, and traditions is achieved. It strengthens the visibility of a place and contributes to its value and sustainability. Visitors are granted the pleasantness of interactions and are expected to be cognizant of the minor details that appeal to the five senses and make experiential tourism a concrete reality. Many packages offer visitors the opportunity to volunteer and learn about ethical tourism first-hand. While some work in organic farms, others engage with staff to participate in rescue operations.

The pandemic has charted a spike in such exploratory, special-interest, and purposeful plunge into the unknown – a travel experience that strays from conventional and instant gratification. r6