So if you’ve been putting off that long-planned India trip for a while now, then 2018 should definitely be when you strike this vast and beautiful country off your bucket list!
A lot has changed in India in the last few years but one of the biggest and most visible changes is the push towards digitalizing the country. If you’ve traveled to India before and rued the lack of easy digital processes, digital ticketing to cut long queues or even internet connectivity, you’d find that these facilities are available more than ever now and are set to become even more accessible in 2018 with the government’s push for a Digital India.
If you’ve seen the Taj Mahal, hiked in the Himalayas, spent time on a houseboat in Kerala, and think you’ve seen just about everything in India, well, you’re more wrong than ever. The country’s tourism industry is picking up like never before and 2018 is set to witness a great increase in offbeat tourism options such as rural cookouts or homestays. A number of new experiential tour operators such as Spiti United or Backpacker Co. coupled with new interesting packages from major players have come up in recent years and are set to make your trip to India all the more amazing in 2018.
Clean India Campaign
A major grouse that many visitors to India have is just how dirty tourist and regular destinations actually are. However, the government and the people are now rising to this challenge, with the government having actually set a deadline for making India a clean country. The Clean India or Swachh Bharath initiative has gathered steam in 2017 and is set to become even more rigorous in 2018 with the deadline approaching in the year after, on October 2, 2019, which is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Visiting India in 2018 will not only mean you will get to see an overall cleaner country, but will also allow you to participate in this mammoth and momentous journey.
Cheaper with more options
While 2018 is sure to have several more options for tourists than ever before, a major plus is that India’s inflation and currency rates have also stabilized in recent months and are set to continue through the year. India has always been a cheaper destination for tourists from the developed world but in 2018, not only will it be cheap, it will also allow you to do a lot more with your money.
No more cash hassles
Talking about money, another major change that tourists will witness in India in 2018 is that cash is no longer king in the country like it used to be. A major grouse for any tourist in the country has always been the dependence on cash. However, after a concerted push in late 2016 with the infamous demonetization move of the Modi government, cashless and digital transactions have reached never before heights in the country. The past year has been victim to the chaos that ensued after this swift change, but now the situation has stabilized and digital economy is all set to grow even more in 2018, so you can expect mobile payments, acceptance of cards and digital modes of transacting to be ubiquitous in the country when you visit.
Luxury hospitality will have more new addresses
Luxury hospitality in India has been consistently growing with new luxury hotels being added to the list every year. But even by usual standards, 2018 is all set to see several more five-star hotels and luxury resorts open up in the country across not just cities but also several unexplored destinations in luxury travel. Some of the most exciting new entrants expected to open shop in 2018 are Le Meridien Goa and Fairfield Inn properties in tier-II Indian cities such as Indore, Vizag, and Coimbatore.
Voluntourism and ecotourism
Voluntourism and ecotourism have been tourism buzzwords for a while across the world. But India has come out as one of the few countries to have championed this trend. A number of new voluntourism options and operators have set up shop in India in 2017, bringing destinations such as Orissa and Karnataka into the limelight. Even the government is giving a major fillip to ecotourism by setting up more stay and tourism options in India’s nature repositories such as national parks.
Spectacular new road trips
While road trips in India have always been synonymous with a few routes such as Delhi-Ladakh or Mumbai-Goa, recent years have seen several new scenic routes become popular among tourers. A large chunk of this development has actually come in North East India where there weren’t many roads suitable for road trips. Two new options that are set to become popular routes for road trips in the region are the new stretches of the IMT (India-Myanmar-Thailand) Corridor and India’s longest river route through the Dhola-Sadya Bridge that was inaugurated this year. Another promising development is the Delhi to Varanasi Ganga Expressway that has been announced by the government.
Major cities’ big strides in connectivity
Year after year, it is the cities, especially metros in India that attract the most foreign tourists. And while there is a certain charm to the chaos of commuting and experiencing travel in Indian cities, it is also a rather frustrating experience. Indeed, no one likes getting fleeced by rickshaw-wallahs or being crammed for hours in traffic inside a city bus. However, this has changed for the better in India in recent years, and anyone visiting the country in 2018 will experience the joy of riding Metro/Monorails and BRTS systems in Indian cities. As of now, all major metros in India have a functional metro system and several are mooting BRTS and monorail systems as well.
Festivals of India
While this isn’t an experience specific to any particular year, festivals in India are something people should experience at least once in their lives. But over recent years, just like the country itself, its festivals too are changing to adapt to modern trends, making them a confluence of energy, color, modernity, and tradition. From EDM music at Ganesh Visarjan to gluten-free delicacies for Pujo, there is a lot that is new (and ancient at the same time) about festivals in India.
The Mumbai-Goa Ferry
If we had to pick one thing about India that tourists ought to be excited about in 2018, it’s got to be the Mumbai-Goa ferry. The ferry was a popular mode of travel in the 60s before it was discontinued in the face of increasing road and air connectivity between Goa and Mumbai. However, the government has restarted the ferry this year and it is expected to be fully functional in 2018. Before it was discontinued, the ferry took just under seven hours for the journey and this is expected to be improved in the new ferry. Reports have also suggested that the government might even introduce a fully air-conditioned ferry, but nonetheless, this ride is one of the most exciting things about tourism in India in 2018.
New emerging and historical destinations
Much of India’s history has been a mystery to the world for a long time now. However, recent breakthroughs from excavations conducted at sleepy towns and rural tracts have not only answered several of the archaeological questions that experts had, but have also created a new niche in historical tourism with enthusiasts and those with a liking for history showing great interest in visiting these places. Most notable of such recent sites are Rakhigarhi, an Indus Valley site of great importance, and Keeladi, a Sangam-era site in Tamil Nadu that has attracted a lot of attention.
No matter what reason you visit India for, one of the biggest highlights of a holiday to India will always be its vibrant, colorful and fun-loving people. And unlike in earlier generations, the present Indian lot, especially the younger generation is well-versed with global culture and present a great mix of ethnic, traditional and international culture.