Sparkling Diwali For Hotels, Tour Operators

‘Consumers are willing to increase travel spends by 20-30 per cent versus pre-pandemic.’

After years of being sequestered by the pandemic, some intrepid travellers are planning to settle their score with the novel coronavirus.

With fewer or no travel curbs, they are eager to get back on the road, again.

Hotels and tour operators, too, are eager to shed excess Covid baggage. And this year’s Diwali promises to add that extra layer sparkle with the introduction of new flights.

Staying home meant some people saved up money and can now splurge on a fancier hotel, a first-class airplane ticket or a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

While domestic tourism recovered quickly, international travel has begun to pick up as well.

Canada has lifted all pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Hong Kong has decided to do away with the mandatory hotel quarantine for all inbound travellers.

“Our demand pipeline is currently up 3x for the winter season, compared to last year,” said Rajeev Kale, president and country head (holidays), Thomas Cook India.

The easing of restrictions is also helping the growth of group tours which are at 65-70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Destinations in Southeast Asia, Egypt, and Turkey are seeing maximum group tours, he added.

The MICE segment (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions), too, has seen rebound.

“We expect to see an increase in MICE groups travelling to South Africa in the next six months,” said Neliswa Nkani, hub head, Middle East, India & South East Asia, South African Tourism.

Singapore is expecting 90,000 delegates from around the world for MICE events this week.

“We are seeing much higher demand for mono destination holidays this Diwali, with more direct flights to Switzerland. Indians are staying for longer duration in the country and exploring it. Flights have been full and demand for business and first class has been through the roof,” said Ritu Sharma, deputy director, Switzerland Tourism.

Demand has not been impacted despite inflationary pressure and rupee depreciation.

Salary increases this year are also helping travellers loosen their purse strings. An Aon survey released revealed that salaries rose 10.6 per cent in 2022.

“Notwithstanding supply constraints and cost escalation, our consumers are willing to increase travel spends by 20-30 per cent versus pre-pandemic. Another key trend is that travellers are now booking their trips well in advance to avail of better pricing and deals,” added Kale.

On the domestic side, hotels and travel firms are driving growth with discounts and special offers.

The Indian Hotels Company is offering special room rates with up to 20 per cent savings for suites and rooms and other benefits across its properties.

Tata Neu members can avail of a special 10 per cent discount, it said.

Hotels across the country saw demand pick up on Ganesh Chaturthi and Independence Day and are hoping to build on the momentum in the run-up to Diwali.

“We are seeing an uptick in staycations as travellers are choosing driveable destinations for Diwali,” said Kavinder Singh, managing director and CEO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts. The third quarter is already seeing 85 per cent occupancy, he added.

“Average daily rates (ADRs) in the top 10 cities across brands are up 20 per cent, compared to the pre-Covid period,” said Nandivardhan Jain, founder and CEO, Noesis Capital Advisors.

ADRs are expected to move sharply once bookings for the holiday season begin. They will be led by strong demand for leisure locations and weddings, he added.

Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Chennai will witness the highest travel demand during the upcoming peak travel months, Oyo said in its forecast.

Among leisure destinations, Jaipur, Goa, Dehradun, and Varanasi will benefit from the travel demand, observed the hospitality chain.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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