Tourism Australia has been running a sustained high-voltage ad campaign on prime time TV for quite some time now, and the return on investment must have been stupendous. Here’s why: On average, an Indian tourist spends Rs 3.37 lakh on his Australian holiday. That's Rs 1 lakh more than what an average British or American tourist spend.
“The rich have not been impacted by the slowdown. They buy if they like”, says Lalit Choudhary, director of Infinity Group, which imports luxury cars such as BMW and Aston Martin. Choudhary should know, as he has sold 18 high-end Aston Martins this year, each costing above Rs 2 crore.
There’s more. Apartments costing Rs 30-50 crore in an under-construction residential project in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla complex was snapped up within days of its launch. Similarly, the Lodha Group’s 60-storey high twin residential tower in central Mumbai has seen sales of 200 units since its launch. Each apartment costs over Rs 3.3 crore.
Indians are indeed spending big on luxury cars, plush homes and taking more foreign trips than before. Kamal Khetan, managing director, Sunteck Realty says, "Buyers are bullish about future prospects”. That may be too sweeping a statement at a time when companies across sectors are seeing a demand slowdown, but the fact is India’s high net-worth individuals are still spending – and spending big.
For example, lifestyle luxury automotive brands like Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Harley Davidson, some of which are even custom made to a large extent are witnessing no let-up in demand.
Rolls Royce, which sells the Ghost salon for Rs 3 crore and its flagship model Phantom for around Rs 4.5 crore, sees the potential to sell 130-150 cars per annum in the next three years in India. "We can never say that our brand is immune to slowdowns. Yet, there always seems to be demand for super-luxury cars. Our recent announcements regarding dealership expansion indicate that demand is healthy – coming not just from Tier I metropolises but also Tier 2 cities", says Herfried Hasenoehrl, General Manager, Emerging Markets-Asia, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
A recent survey by Kotak Mahindra Bank and CRISIL on high net worth individuals reveals that the number of ultra high net worth individuals is set to triple over five eyars and their total worth will grow five-fold. Ultra HNIs as a class spend a significant portion of their overall expenditure on customised holiday packages, luxury watches, jewellery, diamonds and household electronics.
From castle stays in Europe and self drive tours in New Zealand , Indians are seeking luxury and indulgence in holidays too. Rising air fares or weak rupee have not deterred demand, say travel planners. Executives from portal MakeMyTrip say now there is demand for tours to Europe even in winter.
"Indian tourists are spending on luxury. A normal holiday package to South Africa costs above Rs 1 lakh but we have demand for customised holidays that cost over Rs 4 lakh. People want to experience hot air balloon rides and shark cage diving and are willing to pay for it,'' says Manjula Godia of Varun Worldwide Holidays
Vishal Suri, deputy chief operating officer Kuoni India says that on an industry wide basis the demand for luxury tours has increased by 12-15 per cent as compared to last year.