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3 trends I'm most excited for in 2024

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Published in the Sunday Indian Express Magazine - Eye on 31 December, 2023

All of us will do our goal-setting for the year tomorrow. So today, I didn’t want to talk about individual resolutions, but, I wanted to discuss 3 trends I’m excited for in 2024.

As I boarded my last flight of 2023 from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Airport to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, I decided to check my travel stats for the year (yes, I track things like that): 95 days spent on the road, 17 trips, 8 countries and 17 cities visited. Also, 40 flights taken, 97136 km flown and a cumulative of 148 hours (more than 6 full days) in the air. You have mine now, but what were yours? Listing these travel stats down can give one good benchmark to set travel resolutions for the upcoming year.
My wife, Heta, and I are going to be doing exactly this tomorrow. On the 1st day of 2024, which we have now termed ‘Resolution and Goal setting day’, we spend over half a day setting resolutions and goals for the year, both individually and as a couple. So our travel goal-setting will be decided on a series of questions such as:
• Which states of India should we try to visit this year?
• Which new countries do we want to cross off our bucket list?
• What food experiences are on our 2024 list? Sporting events or music shows or cultural events we want to check out?
• Where should this year’s scuba diving trip be to? or should we go skiing this year?
• Which luxury experience do we want to try out in India?
• What holidays can we take with our family this year?
• Where are we going to meet our overseas friends in 2024?
Answering these questions gives us a good outline to set realistic and achievable travel goals. For example, this year we put Japan on our list to check-off both skiing and family holiday in 2023, and we managed to achieve that. Watching a Formula 1 race was on the cards, and we managed it with the last race of the F1 season in Abu Dhabi. We selected a luxury experience in Himachal Pradesh which we ticked off for our anniversary. We have realised that setting travel goals each year makes them more achievable to plan around leaves and finances in advance. And we certainly feel that such travel goals are better than setting them when you get Instagram FOMO (fear of missing out) after seeing someone’s travel posts.
So with that background, let’s come to my theme today: Travel in 2024!
All of us will do our goal setting on the first day of the year, but instead of talking about my individual resolutions, I want to discuss 3 travel trends for us that I am excited for in 2024. Us being the Indian travel community, you, me, your loved ones and everyone who desires to get out and celebrate life in 2024. So let’s look at three themes that I think will be super popular going into 2024.
DigiYatra
If you have recently travelled through airports at Mumbai, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Delhi, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Pune, Vijayawada or Chennai, I’m sure you have availed of or at least seen Digiyatra signage. So what is Digiyatra? One of the Indian Government’s Digital India initiatives, it seeks to enable exactly what the name suggests, a completely "Digital" Yatra (Sanskrit for ‘journey’). The DigiYatra initiative brings a host of benefits for both passengers and airport authorities. For passengers like you and me, this means (1) Enhanced Convenience: Passengers can enjoy a hands-free travel experience by reducing the need to carry and show your ID and boarding pass at different parts of the airport. (2) Time Savings: The digitalisation of various procedures, including entry and security checks, significantly reduces waiting times, allowing passengers to spend more time relaxing or exploring the airport's amenities. (3) Enhanced Passenger Satisfaction: Ultimately, DigiYatra aims to create a more satisfying and enjoyable travel experience, boosting passenger satisfaction. Along with this, for airports, it means: (1) Improved Security: Biometric authentication enhances security measures, making it more challenging for unauthorized individuals to access restricted areas,(2) Cost Efficiency: By reducing the reliance on manually checking paper documents, airports can achieve cost savings and improve their overall efficiency, and (3) Environmental Impact: The reduction in paper usage and the adoption of eco-friendly practices contribute to a more sustainable aviation industry.
DigiYatra streamlines the entire passenger journey through an airport, all the way from entering the airport to security check and boarding gates. Passengers often have to wait in long queues to go through each of these steps, which can take hours. And if you are a frequent flyer, these wait times can quickly start adding up. For example, if you can save 30 minutes every time at the airport using DigiYatra and if like me, you are someone who takes 40-odd flights in a year, that means 1200 minutes or 20 hours easily saved. The benefits here are tremendous.
So in a phase-wise rollout, DigiYatra is introducing technology -enabled initiatives at airports to promote paperless travel. And I love it! The setup is straightforward - download the DigiYatra app, upload your identification and give it a couple of hours to verify. Now, every time I am traveling domestically through one of these airports, all I have to do is upload my boarding pass on the DigiYatra app a few minutes before getting to the airport; once I arrive, I just follow the DigiYatra signage: stand where the signs instruct you, smile at the camera, and just walk straight through. No more long lines with people digging through their bags for ID or swiping through their phones looking for their boarding pass. It’s just walk up to the scanner, and you are through in a second. Pro Tip: At Mumbai’s CSMIA, the DigiYatra scanners I use are at Entry Gate 2, so if you are flying anytime soon, make sure you use these.
In 2024, DigiYatra is expected to be introduced at even more airports across India, with more and more passengers being onboarded through the DigiYatra apps. This will not only save time for you and me, but will make the airport experience for everyone more efficient and seamless.
Self Bag Drop
My next point, is very very closely linked to DigiYatra. And that is something that I just witnessed at Bengaluru airport: Self Drop counters for check-in baggage. All of us have become pros at going to the electronic check-in kiosks at airports now. Self Baggage Drop takes this to the next level. Again, I feel as this initiative is launched at more and more airports around India, queues will drastically reduce. So how does Self Baggage Drop work? I like to think of it as a simple seven step process: check-in online or at the Kiosk, print bag tags, proceed to Self-Baggage Drop Counter, attach baggage tag to check-in luggage and scan boarding pass, place & weigh luggage, collect baggage receipt and it’s all done.
Along with DigiYatra, I honestly feel that 2024 will be the year where Self Drop-off for baggage will be a trending thing as it gets introduced at more and more airports around India. And again, this will not only improve the passenger experience but will also enhance the overall efficiency of airport operations.
Now that we have spoken of two things that will no doubt redefine air travel in India, let’s get on the road then.
Road Trips
I believe 2024 will also be the year of the Great Indian Road trip: a journey where many of us will truly celebrate life travelling through the length and breadth of Incredible India. So here are three amazing road trip bucket list items that I’d like to consider for your new year travel goals:
1. Kashmir to Kanyakumari Road Trip: Our research tells us that the best route for this road trip is through 32 fascinating cities! From the majestic mountains of Kashmir, through the heart of India all the way to the southernmost tip on mainland India - Kanyakumari.
2. Gujarat to Guwahati Road Trip: If you map this one out, the best route is through 27 incredible cities! Begins in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and ends in Guwahati, Assam. Stepwells, temples, forts, boat rides, monastery visits, rafting!
3. The Great Indian Peninsula Road Trip: And then, the final one through 45 vibrant cities! Starting the road trip in Rajkot and ending the tour in Kolkata, this is a popular route where you go through highlights like the Sunderbans - the largest single block mangrove forest in the world, Dwarka: the home to Lord Krishna's Sacred Kingdom, Kanyakumari: the southernmost tip of mainland India.
I know not all of us can do these trips in one go, but I certainly feel that many in the travel community will be doing many road trips ticking off many of these things entirely or partly through 2024. I certainly will be, what about you? Let me know by writing to me at neil@veenaworld.com Until the next time, as we always say at Veena World, keep Celebrating Life!
Here’s to a happy 2024! Happy New Year!

December 27, 2023

Author

Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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