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The Indian hospitality segment is highly undersupplied, especially in terms of quality accommodation. International hotel chains are well-positioned to cater to this demand.

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Marriott plans to have 250 properties across India by 2025, including hotels that are open and in the pipeline. “We’re in 40 cities today, that should be 50 cities or more by 2025,” said Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano, adding that this would help create 10,000 new jobs in the country. Capuano, who was visiting India last week, spoke about his meeting with the Indian tourism minister during which they discussed the importance of continuing to tell the story about the rich and diverse set of experiences that the country offers. “And we want to make sure we have lodging options in all of those diverse destinations,” Capuano said. Reiterating Marriott’s “relatively simple” development strategy of providing the right product in every market the travelers want to visit for any type of trips, Capuano said the hotel group would continue to stay focused on India’s “strong and growing” domestic market. However, he did mention that the hotel group is a long way off as far as opportunity for luxury in India is concerned. “I think we’re in our infancy of growing our industry portfolio in luxury. That’s probably an area where we’ll continue to focus on,” Capuano said. True to Capuano’s statements, global hotels brands have been exploring the potential of India’s luxury market with Hilton’s last week announcement of the debut of the Waldorf Astoria brand in India and Radisson announcing the launch of its Radisson Collection in the country. Capuano also went to to talk about India witnessing a strong traction for branded residential properties, which Marriott launched in the country early this year. While 2020 and 2021 were the two most challenging years in the history of the hospitality business, interestingly, these were the two strongest years in the history of Marriott’s branded residential business, said Capuano. “The launch of Homes & Villas, allowed us to keep our customers within the Bonvoy ecosystem and it’s not coincidental that we saw our volume of listings grow more than 20-fold over the two years of the pandemic,” Capuano said. And when asked to choose his favorite India-based hotel brand, Capuano couldn’t resist naming the Taj. “Taj is an iconic brand on a global basis. They have generated some of the world’s most extraordinary leaders who have taken their expertise global,” Capuano said.

Tata Group-owned Air India will start taxibot operations for its A320 aircraft fleet at Delhi and Bengaluru airports, a move that has the potential to save up to 15,000 tons of jet fuel over three years. The airline has entered into an agreement with New Delhi-based company KSU Aviation to launch the operations, the airline said in a statement. A semi-robotic equipment, the taxibot, once attached to the aircraft, acts as an extension of the aircraft’s nose landing gear. It is used to tow aircraft from the airport terminal gate to the taxi-out point and tow aircraft from the terminal gate after landing (taxi-in phase) without utilizing the aircraft’s engines, thus saving jet fuel. The technology curbs fuel consumption, carbon emissions, noise levels, as well as costs for airlines.

India’s mid-market hotel chain Lemon Tree Hotels has signed franchise agreements for two hotels Lemon Tree Premier and Lemon Tree Resort, in Budhanilkantha and Lumbini in Nepal, respectively. Scheduled to open in or before January 2024, Lemon Tree Premier in Kathmandu will feature 102 rooms, two restaurants, one restobar, a private dining room, three meeting rooms, banquet hall, outdoor venues for events, swimming pool, fitness center, spa, casino and other public areas. Lemon Tree Resort, Lumbini is expected to open in or before October this year. The 81-key hotel will feature a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, an outdoor event venue, a private dining room and other public areas. “We are gradually making forays in the international market and expanding our portfolio in Nepal to strengthen our regional presence,” said Vilas Pawar, chief executive officer of franchise business at Lemon Tree Hotels.

Domestic air traffic was only 4 percent shorter in fiscal year 2023 as compared to pre-pandemic levels, credit rating agency ICRA said in a report. “For fiscal year 2023, domestic passenger traffic is estimated at around 136 million, a year over year growth analysis of around 60 percent over 85.2 million in fiscal year 2022, and only short of around 4 percent, compared to pre-Covid levels of 141.5 million in fiscal year 2020,” said Suprio Banerjee, vice president and sector head of corporate ratings at ICRA. Meanwhile, domestic air traffic has again picked up pace during the current financial year 2022-23, and is expected to reach around 97 percent of the pre-Covid level, according to Civil Aviation Minister VK Singh.

Indian Railways will run 217 special trains to make 4,010 trips during this summer to handle the extra rush, the ministry of railways said in a statement. The special trains have been planned to connect major destinations across the country on railway routes, it said. While the south western railway and south central railway have notified the highest number of 69 and 48 special trains, respectively, the western railway and southern railway have notified 40 and 20 such trains. Zones like the east central railway and central railway have notified 10 special trains each, while north western Railway has notified 16. The summer season usually sees an increase in railway passengers, and the special trains aim to reduce the crowd and provide ease of travel.

Tata Group’s Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) will operate its luxury hotel brand Taj at Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) in the south Indian state of Kerala at an estimated investment of $12.2 million. Scheduled to be launched by mid-2024, the 112-key hotel will feature a 440 square meter banquet hall, two boardrooms, and a terrace dining area offering a panoramic view of the airport. The hotel, located near the airport’s entrance, was constructed as part of CIAL’s land utilization programme and to provide passengers with hospitality services on par with international standards, a statement by CIAL read. CIAL has completed the civil and allied works of the hotel, which will be handed over to IHCL soon for the development of the interiors. As per the contract, IHCL will share a percentage of the gross revenue generated from its operation with CIAL.

Indian airports operator Airports Authority of India (AAI) has achieved its highest ever capital expenditure of $634.2 million in the fiscal year 2022-23, it said in a tweet. AAI is investing the amount to expand and enhance airport facilities, upgrade technology and improve operational efficiency, it added. This investment is expected to bring about a transformation in the Indian aviation industry, as it aims to enhance passenger experience and increase airport capacity. India will invest around $12 billion over the next two years in airports, aircraft and recruitment to meet the booming demand for air travel. The country aims to increase the number of airports from the present 148 to 220 by 2025, for which private builders will contribute roughly $9 billion, with the balance coming from AAI.

Indian hospitality chain Cygnett Hotels & Resorts has announced the signing of their first property in Sonipat in the north Indian state of Haryana. Set to open in the coming months, the hotel will offer 42 rooms, a restaurant, multiple banqueting and conferencing facilities, capable of accommodating up to 900 guests. “This hotel is a significant addition to our rapidly expanding portfolio of hotels in the country. We are confident that it will create a niche market for itself in the region,” said Sarbendra Sarkar, founder and managing director of Cygnett Hotels & Resorts.    

Mumbai airport is witnessing 14 percent more weekly flights this summer compared to last year. Airlines currently operate 966 daily flights to and from the airport, as against 820 in the previous summer schedule of 2022. This year the summer schedule runs from March 26 to October 28. “Increased demand for domestic and international travel movement from CSMIA has fueled the rise in the overall flight operations, which in turn will benefit the travelers from Mumbai and neighboring cities. Moreover, the summer schedule will have additional services to 24 destinations,” a Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson said. IndiGo caters to 47 percent of weekly movements, followed by Air India with 17 percent and Vistara with 14 percent of the weekly flight movements.

The Delhi government is likely to make a fresh move for reopening liquor vends at Delhi airport’s domestic terminal, closed since September last year, according to a report by news agency Press Trust of India. Officials of the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC) authorized to run liquor stores in the capital said earlier talks were held with the airport authorities but the shops could not be opened. “We had held talks with airport authorities concerned in the past but the rentals quoted by them were too steep. It could have turned the whole exercise of running liquor stores at the domestic terminal into a loss making venture,” said a senior officer. “We will soon approach the airport authorities, hoping to find a solution with a reasonable rent for the shops,” the officer added.

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Tags: air india, air traffic, hilton, hotels, india, Indian Hotels Company, indian railways, jet fuel, kerala, marriott, marriott bonvoy, mumbai, nepal, skift india report, taj hotels

Photo credit: The lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott Madurai. Source: Source: TID International (India) Marriott International

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