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Families are seeking to make up for lost time with new and exciting experiences. It’s time that brands and tour operators shift their focus to this segment, and understand their needs to make their trips more appealing.

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Airbnb hosts in India collectively made over $12 million from bookings with families last year. Indian family travel on the short-term rental site grew by over 90 percent in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic in 2019, according to a new report released by the company. Most families booked Airbnb listings because of the value and space compared to hotel rooms — with the top-booked categories being near a national park, a pool, near a beach and lake house. Goa, Bengaluru, Karnataka, Pune, Hyderabad, Dehradun, Jaipur, Raigarh, Ernakulam, New Delhi and Nainital were the most preferred family travel destinations in India. Globally, Indians have been traveling to London, Toronto and Dubai for a family getaway. “Families are spending more on domestic as well as international travel and are more willing to support local communities and small businesses. We are glad to see the multiplier effect Airbnb delivers on the local communities as it creates meaningful earning opportunities for those considering hosting on the platform,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, general manager for India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan for Airbnb. The company recently partnered with Sheroes — a New Delhi-based women’s networking and enabling platform — to grow its community of women hosts in India. Under the partnership, Airbnb will launch a digital content and training program for six months, which will be accessible on relevant Sheroes community channels. This collaboration will provide training to support members of the social platform who are interested in hosting on Airbnb to harness their passion for hospitality, as well as enable more women in India to travel the world independently. 

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of Ramada by Wyndham Goa Vagator under a franchise agreement with The Palace, a proprietary firm based out of India’s coastal state Goa. The hotel features 70 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. Located in the prime Anjuna-Vagator area, Ramada by Wyndham Goa Vagator is at a walking distance from Chapora Fort, a popular tourist point in the state. “We are delighted to announce the signing of Ramada by Wyndham in Vagator, Goa, further strengthening our mid-scale presence. With the first Wyndham-branded hotel in the state of Goa, we look forward to our partnership with The Palace,” said Nikhil Sharma, market managing director of Eurasia at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

Corporate travelers in India view business travel as a perk even though 70 percent of office goers in the country want to work from home and 64 percent of them would even prefer it over a pay raise, according to Skift Research’s ‘Business Travelers: A Multi-Country Survey Report. The report explores business travelers’ attitudes towards new ways of working and traveling for business in the evolving environment influenced by the pandemic. It delves into all major aspects of a business trip — purpose, frequency, duration, travel destination, booking methods, and booking behavior with a focus on flights and accommodation, including in-destination travel behavior. The study is based on findings from across four key business hubs — U.S., UK, Australia, and India.

The U.S. Department of State said it is increasing the visa prices of certain non-immigrant visa application (NIV) processing fees from $160 to $185 for tourists and students, effective from May 30. “The fee for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2s and BCCs), and other non-petition based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas, will increase from $160 to $185,” it said in a statement. The U.S. has also increased the price of certain petition-based non-immigrant visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) from $190 to $205, the statement added. The state department further added that other consular fees are not affected by this rule, including the waiver of the two-year residency required fee for certain exchange visitors.

The third G20 tourism working group meeting under India’s presidency will be held in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar between May 22 and 24. Apart from G20 members, delegates from guest countries and several international organizations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization and International Labour Organization will also participate at the event. A side-event will be held to highlight film tourism to showcase film shoot offerings with a focus on single-window clearance and other facilities to foreign crews. The first working group meeting on tourism — held at Rann of Kutch in the western state of Gujarat — in February, highlighted rural and archaeological tourism. The second meeting, at Siliguri in the eastern state of West Bengal, earlier this month put the spotlight on adventure tourism.  

Tata Group-owned Air India has completed the first phase of its five-year transformation plan Vihaan.AI, which was focused on addressing legacy issues of the airline at scale and laying the foundation for future growth. The second phase of transformation will focus on developing the platforms, processes and systems to put Air India on a path to sustained growth, profitability, and market leadership, it said in a statement. “Our record-setting aircraft order, the commitment of $400 million to completely refurbish existing aircraft, the investment of $200 million in new IT, and the recruitment of literally thousands of staff are but a few of the significant investments being made to restore Air India to the upper echelons of global aviation,” said Campbell Wilson, CEO and managing director of Air India.

Thomas Cook India and its group company SOTC Travel have signed a long-term memorandum of understanding with Singapore-based Mandai Wildlife Group (MWG) to drive visitations to the city’s Mandai Wildlife Reserve — home to the Night Safari, River Wonders and Singapore Zoo. The group’s latest wildlife park, Bird Paradise, opens on May 8, the company announced through an exchange filing. The partnership involves product development and marketing to offer Indians multi-attraction deals and meal-inclusive programs. “To inspire demand, our joint marketing campaign intends to leverage on special offers promoted across optimal media platforms,” said Rajeev Kale, president and country head of holidays, meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE), visa at Thomas Cook India.

As a step to reduce its carbon footprints and increase efficiency, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre has installed a dual solar power and water heater system for water heating reducing electricity consumption. The system will help control carbon dioxide emissions at the property. The technology will also help the hotel annually offset under a million liters of ground water. The hotel has also partnered with food waste fighting startup Orbisk to manage food waste. 

In a bid to boost the tourism sector, tourist destinations in India are being promoted, including the Sapta Moksha Puri (Seven Liberation destinations) — Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Ujjain, Puri and Dwarka — through campaigns in domestic and global markets. Earlier, the country’s finance minister had announced the promotion of tourism with active participation of states, the convergence of government programs and public-private partnerships. The focus would be on developing 50 tourist destinations as a complete package and setting up of tourism at border villages as well as encouraging the state capitals to set up a unity mall to promote and sell One District, One Product, along with other handicraft products. One District One Product is an initiative by the Government of Uttar Pradesh to encourage the state’s domestic production of handicrafts, readymade clothes and leather products. 

The $154 million new integrated terminal building (Phase-1) of Chennai Airport in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu was inaugurated recently to boost passenger handling. The new building can handle up to 30 million passengers per year from its earlier capacity of 23 million passengers, an official release said. In another development, Srinagar Airport in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is also sprucing up amenities — such as setting up more baggage checking machines and introducing electric vehicles to ferry passengers — to handle increased footfall ahead of G20 events and the tourist season. 


Skift India Report

The Skift India Report is your go-to newsletter for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.

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Tags: air india, airbnb, business travel, family travel, g20, india, novotel, skift india report, skift research, srinagar, student travel, thomas cook, tourists, u.s. visa, wyndham

Photo credit: Most families booked Airbnb listings because of the value and space compared to hotel rooms. mar2jeter / Flickr

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