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Indians' love for travel has not ebbed despite rising airfares.

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Nearly 92 percent Indians intend to explore domestic destinations during the summer, making coastal state Goa and Manali in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh as their top beach and hill vacation spots respectively, according to Oyo’s Summer Vacation Index 2023. “India’s favorite mountain destination is Manali, followed by Kashmir, Mcleod Ganj, Ooty and Coorg. Oyo hotels in Manali continue to see an uptick in demand as summer travel gains pace,” the company said in a statement. Respondents to the survey also showed a strong inclination towards exploring offbeat and lesser-known destinations. “Mawlynnong in Meghalaya and Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh stood out as the top offbeat choices. Following closely behind was Valiyaparamba in Kerala,” Oyo added. The survey also found that 13 percent of respondents wished to travel to pilgrimage destinations, with Kedarnath occupying the top spot followed by Vaishno Devi and Varanasi. “This surge in travel demand is a promising sign for the growth and development of the Indian travel and hospitality industry,” said Oyo’s Chief Service Officer Shreerang Godbole. A noticeable trend that emerged in the aftermath of Covid is the preference for shorter trips and rejuvenating staycations of 1-3 days, he said. The survey is based on responses of over 15,000 people across India via the Oyo app. 

Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has announced the signing of a 125-key SeleQtions branded hotel in Indore in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The currently operational property will be rebranded SeleQtions in partnership with Winway Group. “With the addition of this hotel, IHCL will have three of its brands in the city. The hotel is slated to open this fiscal after the quick conversion,” said Suma Venkatesh, executive vice president of real estate and development at IHCL. With this addition, IHCL has 10 hotels across all its four brands — Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta and Ginger — in the state including three under development. The Taj parent recently signed a franchise agreement with Chalet Hotels for its upcoming hotel at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3.

Indians booking Airbnb for international visits has more than doubled year-on-year in January-March this year, with the UK, U.S. and European countries emerging as the top destinations among domestic travelers, according to the short-term rental company’s latest data. “Goa takes the top spot among the most booked domestic destinations, followed by Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi and Kullu. Overall nights booked in India have grown by 70 percent when comparing full-year 2022 with pre-pandemic 2019, while domestic nights in India grew by almost 110 percent,” Airbnb stated. Airbnb’s General Manager for India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Amanpreet Singh Bajaj told news agency Press Trust of India that the platform is witnessing strong demand from Indian travelers for non-urban destinations like rural homestays.

Low-cost carrier IndiGo has introduced six direct flights between several Indian and Middle Eastern cities. The new routes include Bengaluru-Dubai, Kochi-Bahrain, Lucknow-Dammam commencing from June 1 and Ahmedabad-Jeddah, effective from August 11. The airline has also announced seasonal additional flights on the Chennai-Dammam and Kochi-Dammam routes due to the high demand for travel to the Middle East from India during the summer season. Currently, IndiGo provides connections to 11 destinations in the Middle East including Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Ras Al Khaimah, Riyadh, Sharjah, and Muscat. In another development, India, U.S. and the United Arab Emirates are mulling a joint infrastructure that connects Gulf and Arab countries via a railway network and also extends to India via shipping lanes.

India has decided to levy a 20 percent tax collected at source from 5 percent earlier on international card spends from July 1, potentially making overseas travel costlier. The amount collected at source can be claimed by individuals as refunds after filing income tax returns for the year, said a notification from the finance ministry. The new amendment brings such international payments under the Liberalized Remittance Scheme, which allows all resident individuals to freely transact up to $250,000 per financial year. Earlier this month, the Indian Association of Tour Operators urged a rollback of the 5-20 percent tax, insisting that it be brought back to 5 percent or lower.

India’s mid-market hotel chain Lemon Tree Hotels has signed a license agreement for an 82-room Lemon Tree Premier in Lucknow in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Carnation Hotels, a subsidiary and management arm of Lemon Tree Hotels, will manage the property which is set to be operational by August 2026. This is among the three upcoming properties in the state, which already houses five operational Lemon Tree hotels. Last month, the company signed franchise agreements for Lemon Tree Premier and Lemon Tree Resort, in Budhanilkantha and Lumbini in Nepal, respectively.

Seven religious sites around Guwahati in the northeast Indian state of Assam are set to be connected through a riverine tourism circuit, as part of India’s Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways’ commitment to developing inland waterways. A memorandum of understanding for the $5.4 million project has been signed among the Inland Waterways Authority of India, Sagarmala Development Corporation Limited, Assam Tourism Development Corporation and the Department of Inland Waterways Transport Assam, a statement from the ministry read. Under the ministry’s Sagarmala program, the project will connect seven religious sites, namely Kamakhya, Pandunath, Ashwalknata, Doul Govinda, Umananda, Chakreshwar and Auniati Satra.


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Tags: airbnb, india, Indian Hotels Company, indigo, oyo, river cruises, skift india report, summer travel, taxes

Photo credit: Goa continues to be India’s preferred choice among beach destinations. Pictured is an Oyo property Source: joegoauk1 /Flickr Oyo

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