It isn’t just about the number of people traveling, but also a series of bold investments India is making in infrastructure and expansion of its aviation sector. And the global travel industry must take note if it wants to capture a share of the market.
The Skift India Newsletter is your go-to platform for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.
India’s outbound tourism is expected to reach $44.7 billion by 2032, according to a report titled ‘Unlock the Potential: A Look into Outbound Tourism’ by Nangia Andersen, in association with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The report also highlighted the recommendations for growing the future of outbound tourism, which include tax rebates, collaboration with destinations and airlines, streamlining visa processes, among other ideas.
International leisure flight bookings from India have increased by 40% for trips between June and August compared to the same period in 2022, according to travel solutions provider RateGain. The company said this represents the highest level of outbound leisure flight bookings from India in the post-Covid years.
Singapore received the highest flight bookings from India, followed by San Francisco, Melbourne, Toronto, and Bali, according to the report. U.S., Canada and UK are the most booked destinations for the period while Bali and Singapore are the most popular choices in Asia.
A report published by tourism consultancy and research firm IPK International had highlighted that India had generated Asia’s highest outbound travel volume for the first time in 2022, with foreign trips exceeding those of China, South Korea, and Japan.
Agoda CEO Omri Morgenshtern during his visit to India in March had said that India could rank among the top three markets for outbound travel in the coming years. That’s a sentiment echoed in Skift Megatrends 2023, in which we reported “India could become the new China.” for outbound tourism.
Air India to Upgrade its Wide-Body Fleet by March 2024
Tata Group-owned Air India, which has embarked on a mega transformation plan, said that its wide-body fleet will increase 30% by March 2024 as the airline plans to add six new A350 aircraft, five leased B777-200LR planes and nine B777-300ER aircraft during this fiscal year. A third of its wide-body fleet will also feature modern, plush seats and hi-tech inflight entertainment systems, said Air India CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson.
Earlier in February, Air India placed orders for 470 aircraft, 250 with European planemaker Airbus and 220 with American giant Boeing. Last week, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued the Letter of Type Acceptance for the airline’s Rolls Royce-powered A350s.
Meanwhile, Air India finalized a deal with U.S.-based CFM International for Leap engines that will power 400 of its aircraft. The engine assures 15-20% better fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions.
The airline is also exploring collaboration opportunities with tech giant Apple and Stanford University.
DS Group Acquires Viceroy Bangalore Hotels And Expands Hospitality Business to Southern India
Fast-moving consumer goods conglomerate Dharampal Satyapal Group (DS Group) has acquired the Viceroy Bangalore Hotels, following a bidding process. This marks the over billion dollar group’s expansion in the hospitality segment in southern India.
Viceroy Hotels owns the Marriott-managed 275-room Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel. The Hyderabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal had approved the group’s resolution plan for Viceroy Bangalore Hotels in June. The company said it is now actively strategizing approaches to elevate the hotel’s appeal and align it to its standards.
The DS Group, which has been in the hospitality business since 2000, includes properties such as the Manu Maharani in Nainital and Namah in Jim Corbett National Park, which are both members of Radisson Individuals. It also owns Radisson Blu Hotel Guwahati, Crowne Plaza Jaipur and Holiday Inn Express at Kolkata Airport.
Kerala Launches Social Media Bidding Game to Boost Tourism
Kerala Tourism has launched a unique bidding game called ‘Holiday Heist’ to woo tourists from across the country and abroad. The game offers tourists a chance to win vacation packages at “unbelievably low prices.”
“Powered by WhatsApp, the unique game offers the participants an exciting bidding experience, where they can effectively win tour packages showcasing Kerala’s globally acclaimed captivating destinations,” a release issued by Kerala Tourism said.
The game is based on the concept of ‘lowest unique bidding,’ in which participants can compete to secure tour packages with their lowest bids in a most unique manner. Compared to traditional auctions, strategic thinking and creativity are the hallmarks of this bidding game, which will indicate each player’s distinctiveness.
To participate in the game, one has to send the message ‘Holiday Heist’ to Kerala Tourism’s official WhatsApp chatbot, select the package of the day and start bidding, it said. The winning bid will be announced every day after 3 p.m., it added.
Foreign Exchange Earnings from Tourism Could Return to Pre-Covid Levels
India’s foreign exchange earnings from tourism during January- April this year were at $8.667 billion compared with $3.115 billion in the same period in 2022, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism. For perspective, India earned a total of $25.6 billion in foreign exchange from tourism in 2019, an increase of 8.3%.
Foreign tourist arrivals in India stood at 3.13 million during the four-month period, up from 1.17 million arrivals in the year-ago period, as per the ministry. India saw about 21.9% of foreign tourist arrivals from Bangladesh, followed by the U.S., from where 16.3% of total travelers came, another 10.3% from the UK, 5% from Canada, and 4.5% from Australia.
Go First Receives Claims Worth $2.9 Billion from Creditors
Cash-strapped Go First, amid its ongoing insolvency proceedings, has received claims worth $2.9 billion from both operational and financial creditors, two banking sources told Reuters. The process is in line with procedural requirements under Indian law, which allow every creditor a right to payment and remedy by submitting claims if a company is under bankruptcy. Once the claims are filed, the resolution professional has to check its authenticity.
Go First filed for bankruptcy protection in May blaming “faulty” Pratt & Whitney engines for the grounding of about half its 54 Airbus A320neos. The company earlier this month invited investor interest through a court-appointed administrator. The last date to submit an expression of interest is August 9. The airline has reportedly received 40 queries from potential bidders, but no formal submissions have been made as of yet.
Pride Hotels Group Signs a Pride Hotel in Dwarka
Indian hospitality brand Pride Hotels Group has signed Pride Express in Dwarka in the western state of Gujarat. The property is expected to be operational from October 2023. Earlier this month, the company also signed Pride Hotel Rajkot in the state.
As part of its expansion plans, Pride Hotels will have 100 properties and over 10,000 keys by the end of 2030 across the country. Hoping to cash in on business travelers, the company is scaling its operations to focus more on its Pride Biznotel brand, a mid-market hotels segment primarily spread across tier 1 and tier 2 markets.
Madurai, Auckland Top Kayak’s Flight Search List
Domestic flight searches in July have increased by around 42% and international searches by 7% compared to the year before, according to Kayak’s latest insights.
While Madurai, Varanasi and Bhubaneswar were the most searched domestic destinations for flights, Auckland, Jeddah and Colombo emerged as the most searched overseas destinations. Travelers from India are also eyeing Asian destinations such as Hong Kong and Tokyo, reducing their flight budget by up to one-fourth.
“Our data reveals the possibility of enjoying lower flight prices, as certain international destinations have witnessed a drop in flight costs compared to last year,” said Kayak’s India Country Manager Tarun Tahiliani.
The report is based on the flight searches made on Kayak website and associated brands between April 1 to June 30 for travel between July 1-31.
Surge in International Traffic And Rise in UDAN Travelers Fuel Aviation Recovery
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has reported an 88% increase in the flow of international passengers during the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period last year, indicating a robust recovery for the aviation sector.
India has open sky arrangements with 23 countries which has facilitated unlimited operations between India and these countries.
Additionally, more than 12.3 million passengers have traveled on regional connectivity scheme Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (Udan) flights since the inception of the scheme. A total of 148 airports, including nine heliports and two water aerodromes have been developed and operationalised, offering improved connectivity to various parts of the country.
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Photo credit: Singapore received the highest flight bookings from India. Danon / Adobe Stock Image