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Despite the surge in airfares and visa delays, Indian travelers' enthusiasm remains unabated, and seems unlikely to diminish anytime soon.

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Take it easy, seems to be the mantra for Indian travelers as they plan their summer getaway for the upcoming holiday season. Shedding light on summer travel trends, online travel company MakeMyTrip observed that the average number of room nights per booking for the ongoing April-June quarter has increased for both domestic and outbound holiday packages, hinting at the fact that travelers prefer relaxed itineraries. “The average nights booked for outbound packages for the summer quarter is 27 percent higher than last year’s corresponding period, and almost 85 percent higher than the pre-pandemic average,” said Rajesh Magow, co-founder and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip. In domestic packages, too, MakeMyTrip observed a 54 percent increase in average room nights booked this year over the corresponding period in 2019. “The preference for relaxed itineraries has positively impacted average per-passenger spend. Travellers are seeking experience-led travel, resulting in more bookings with pre-booked activities,” Magow said. And even as international airfares from India have shot up, with some sectors witnessing an increase of over 50 percent compared to last year, Indian travelers are still considering summer travel. And then of course, there are the visa delays. MakeMyTrip notes that although Indians are interested in traveling to Europe, the top five destinations preferred by them are short-haul international locations — Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, and the United Arab Emirates. On the domestic travel front, Goa, Kochi, Srinagar, Dehradun and Leh are the most sought-after destinations for MakeMyTrip users. “India’s rainbow offering of diverse cultures and landscapes, offering varied destinations to travellers, is coming to the fore in our booking mix,” said Magow. MakeMyTrip has also been witnessing strong traction for pilgrimage destinations such as Puri, Varanasi, Rishikesh, and Vrindavan. A trend that Oyo had also noted last year based on its booking data

Hotel franchising company Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of Ramada Encore by Wyndham in the Indian city of Indore. Ramada Encore by Wyndham Indore, Nipania features 100 rooms, a lobby lounge, an all-day dining restaurant and bar, meetings and event spaces, a business center, wellness areas and an outdoor rooftop swimming pool. “Ramada Encore by Wyndham is rapidly expanding in India and this opening further strengthens our mid-scale brand presence across the country. This opening adds to our existing portfolio of Wyndham-branded hotels in Madhya Pradesh and reaffirms our commitment to continued growth in this important market. We look forward to our partnership and to adding an internationally recognized hotel brand to the city of Indore,” said Nikhil Sharma, market managing director Eurasia at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

Myanmar Airways International (MAI) is set to launch direct flights between Chennai and Yangon from May 6 every Saturday. The flight 8M 630 will depart Yangon at 08:00 hours and arrive Chennai at 10:15 hours. The flight 8M 631 will depart Chennai at 11:15 hours and arrive at Yangon at 15:15 hours. Myanmar Airways is offering a special one-way economy fare starting at $279 and one-way business class fare from $582. The airline allows 30 kilograms and 40 kilograms free registered baggage allowance to economy and business class passengers, respectively, in addition to 7 kilograms of hand luggage. The airline will be operating an Airbus A319/A320 or Embraer 190 aircraft on this route. 

India issued 1,27,999 regular tourist visas and 2,27,225 e-tourist visas from October 6, 2021 to March 31, 2022, Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy said. “E-tourist visa was initially available to nationals of 156 countries which has now been revised to 166 countries; whereas, regular tourist visa was available for most of the countries,” he said. When India announced the opening of borders for international tourists in 2021, the government had also announced exemption of visa fees for the first 500,000 tourists. The government allowed foreign nationals to enter India for tourism purposes on e-tourist visa/tourist visas through charter flights (for group tourism only) from October 15, 2021, the minister said. Individual foreign nationals were allowed to enter India for tourism purposes on e-tourist visa/tourist visa from November 15, 2021. 

India’s mid-market hotel chain Lemon Tree Hotels has signed a license agreement for a 88-room property, named Peninsula Suites, in the country’s tech hub Bengaluru. Set to be operational by October 2023, the property will feature a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, meeting rooms, fitness center and other public areas, the company said in a statement. The hotel will be located 23 miles away from the Bengaluru airport and 14.2 miles away from the railway station. “We are delighted to expand our bouquet of hotels in Karnataka with a new property in Whitefield, Bengaluru with our valued partner, Peninsula Projects. We already have six operational hotels in Karnataka out of which five are in Bengaluru and one in Coorg,” said Mahesh Aiyer, chief executive officer of Carnation Hotels, a subsidiary and management arm of Lemon Tree Hotels.

India’s newest airline Akasa Air has introduced departure lounge access for its customers across select airports in the country, in partnership with airport lounges access aggregator DreamFolks Services. Flyers can purchase lounge access up to 12 hours prior to departure on the airline’s website and mobile app. Lounge access rates per passenger will vary according to the city and are available at the time of booking. “The introduction of lounge access service allows our customers to enjoy the convenience and comfort of a lounge at a reasonable fee. We are delighted to partner with DreamFolks to offer this added layer of comfort and peace of mind to our valued customers,” said Belson Coutinho, co-founder and chief marketing and experience officer of Akasa Air.

Indian airports operator Airports Authority of India (AAI) has received $395 million as of February this year from the private partners of six leased out airports, according to news agency Press Trust of India. “Private partners of Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru airports have paid approximately $109 million to AAI as Per Passenger Fee (PPF) till February 2023 and approximately $286 million in the form of upfront fee towards the capital expenditure incurred by AAI at these airports,” said Civil Aviation Minister VK Singh. These airports were won by Indian conglomerate Adani Group through a competitive bidding process. Airports at Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru were leased out in 2020 while the remaining three were leased out in 2021.

Thomas Cook (India) has opened four foreign exchange outlets at the new Manohar International Airport, Mopa in coastal state Goa. The counters will enable foreign nationals with Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-enabled Indian Rupee (INR) transactions on arrival. Travelers can then access their INR wallet for digital payments across millions of merchant establishments equipped with the UPI Quick Response facility pan India. “With the new Manohar International Airport at Mopa (Goa), and its anticipated passenger loads of approximately 13.1 million in five years, we foresee a significant forex requirement in the region. We are hence delighted to announce Thomas Cook’s successful bid for a five-year contract at Goa’s Mopa airport,” said Deepesh Varma, executive vice-president of foreign exchange at Thomas Cook (India).

With as many as 30 hotels of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) running in losses, the government would be taking a call to lease these to private players. The government would take a policy decision to lease out the loss-making hotels of the corporation, informed the state’s deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri. These include hotels at prominent tourism destinations of Dharamshala, Manali, Shimla, Kullu, Chail, Kufri, Kalpa, Palampur, Keylong, Pong Dam, Parwanoo, Chamba, Nurpur, Chindi, Rampur, Fagu, Rohru, Paonta, Mandi and Kyarighat. The Heritage Anglers Bungalow Hotel at Katrain in Kullu district was leased out on April 8, 2021 and HPTDC has got more than $4316 as lease money, Agnihotri said. The minister also informed that the Asian Development Bank has approved a sum of $162 million for the tourism development plan for the state. 

Hemant Soren, chief minister of the Indian state of Jharkhand, appealed to Indian conglomerate Tata Group to invest in the state’s tourism sector. “The new industrial policy of our government has laid adequate focus on the promotion of the tourism industry, which has a huge potential in Jharkhand. We have also taken several new initiatives to promote the hospitality and tourism sectors,” said Soren. He also was appreciative about the company’s efforts to expand Tata-owned Indian Hotels Company Limited‘s (IHCL) presence in Jamshedpur with the signing of a Vivanta Hotel. “I would like them to work in the promotion of the tourism sector also,” he said. Soren was speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of a new unit of a Tata Steel subsidiary.

Editor’s Note: We will not be publishing our newsletter on Friday, April 7 because of Good Friday. 


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Tags: airports, akasa air, chennai, himachal pradesh, hotels, india, Indian Hotels Company, leases, makemytrip, myanmar, skift india report, Tata Group, thomas cook, tourism, visas, wyndham, yangon

Photo credit: Srinagar figures among the top domestic destinations for Indian travelers. Tauseef Khaliq / Pexels

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