A firm believer in technology, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has introduced a number of bold reforms since assuming office in 2014. Tourism is one of the sectors that’s been marked for revival.
India’s tourism industry is huge and like many of the country’s other sectors, is growing at a rapid pace. In 2015, some 8 million foreign tourists visited India, an increase of 4.4 percent from the previous year. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the contribution of travel and tourism to India’s GDP is expected to grow by 7 percent every year from 2015 to 2025.
India however, has had to battle negative perceptions, especially among those interested to visit the country. Widely publicized incidents of violence against women have led to a decline in the number of female tourists, and unsurprisingly so. Large areas still have little or no access to clean water, electricity or sewage systems, and poor infrastructure such as broken roads makes traveling between regions difficult.
Beleaguered by these problems, Modi and his ministers have wasted no time. Both financial investment and technological innovations are being tapped into to make the tourism industry thrive more than ever.
One of these initiatives under Modi’s plan is a travel app called Tripigator.
Getting Inside the Minds of Travellers
Launched in partnership with the ministry, Tripigator is an app that helps tourists build a travel itinerary with less fuss and reduce the likelihood of disappointment from mulling over unreliable and content-heavy tourist websites.
This is how it works. You punch in your travel destination, length of stay, and what you’re interested to see (such as culture, wildlife, adventure and spirituality). The app then offers specific recommendations on where to go, in what sequence and what form of transportation you need to get there. There’s also information on health amenities in the case of an emergency and – dig this – price guides on how much you should expect to pay for accommodation and food.
“Tripigator is built on context-aware technology, which thinks about holidays the way our mind thinks. It understands your travel taste and history,” said the company’s co-founder and CEO Mukul Garg.
He added that the app sifts through “trillions of possible combinations” to customize an itinerary, even creating multiple plans for travelers to choose from.
Garg said although 80 percent of the app’s users are domestic travelers, it is also being accessed by around 96,000 travelers from over 40 different countries.
It’s not the first time a government is investing in an app to boost tourism. It’s a move that countries such as Canada, Malaysia and South Korea have all also done so – harnessing the power of mobile apps to boost tourism.
Disrupting the Travel Booking Space
Garg hopes that Tripigator will be to the travel industry what Uber is to taxis: a disruptor. “The leisure holiday experience is broken,” he said, blaming it on outdated technology and intermediaries such as travel agents.
“Our end goal is to disrupt the search-online-book-offline leisure market in key geographies and become a market leader by 2018.”
So confident is Tripigator in its ability to craft holidays, it promises refunds for errors such as booking users and their travel partners in separate hotels, or pairing travelers with an unreliable or unsafe driver.
Currently, the app is only available on Android. Garg said the company is working on a version for iOS devices, estimating that this will be available in “four to five months”.
So can an app propel India’s blossoming tourism industry to where it should be? While the near future will tell, it appears certain that Tripigator has a strong chance of making a difference.