Some opportunities for an overnight trip came up only once in a year, like annual holidays or a serious illness in the family. These, when counted separately, added up to another 56 million trips over a year, with holidaying, leisure and recreation the purpose for 34% of such visits and health reasons for 65%.
These intriguing details of how India travels and why, emerge from a recent National Sample Survey Organisation report on domestic tourism, based on a survey between July 2014 and June 2015.
The surveyors distinguished between more frequently occurring trips and annual or sudden trips because they involved different numbers of people and it was more difficult for people to recall frequent trips over a whole year.
Business, education and religious trips were recorded for the previous month, besides the widely prevalent social trips.
Religious trips and pilgrimages made up 8% of overnight trips while education accounted for 6%.
Among the trips made by families over the past year, those made for health and medical purposes totted up to nearly 37 million, the largest in the annual category and the second largest, after social, overall. Also, spending on such trips was the highest, at Rs 15,336 per trip. This indicates the growing need of families to seek specialised healthcare and medical assistance which is usually available only in the bigger cities. Such expenses have shot up almost four times as compared to 2008-09, when the average spend on a health-related overnight trip was Rs 3,918.
Shopping trips involving overnight stays were undertaken by about 1% of families. Average expenditure involved in such trips was Rs 13,902 -the second highest after health-related trips.Shopping trips do not pertain to just high-end shopping in metropolises and abroad. Many families go to nearby towns and second-tier cities to shop for a range of goods, from agricultural inputs and retail stocks to wedding paraphernalia and consumer durables.
Spending on this count, too, has shot up by over four times since 2008-09.