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Given travelers’ demand for exciting alternatives to the packed streets of tourist hotspots, India’s best kept secrets are now waiting for new stories to tell.

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

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Editor’s Note: Happy Independence Day, everyone! We will not be publishing our newsletter on Wednesday, in observance of Independence Day on August 15

MakeMyTrip has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism to develop the Traveler’s Map of India, a microsite that will showcase over 600 destinations beyond the country’s popular travel hotspots.

What it Offers: The microsite provides an interactive platform for travelers to discover destinations that lie within the country’s borders based on their preferences, the online travel company said in a statement. 

How it Works:

To arrive at the curated shortlist, MakeMyTrip looked through India’s travel search history. With millions of visitors using the platform every month, the company selected destinations that are lesser known or are only familiar to people in certain pockets of the country. 

The selections have been further categorized with tags like adventure, wildlife, heritage, mountains, and beaches. 

“We have always championed the diversity of India’s tourism offerings, and wanted to push the envelope of discovery further. What better way to do this than to empower every Indian to be a spokesperson for the country’s cultural, historic, natural and geographical marvels,” said Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group CEO of MakeMyTrip.  

Record Results: The company recently posted its highest-ever quarterly gross bookings at $1.98 billion, with all its travel segments having now grown past pre-pandemic levels.

Previous Partnerships: Earlier in June, Airbnb also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Tourism to showcase India’s heritage stays and promote cultural tourism.  

Hotel Occupancy Dips in April-June Quarter: JLL India

We read JLL’s Hotel Momentum India report for the second quarter and this is what we found out about the Indian hotel industry. 

Although the Indian hospitality industry registered a 15.4% year-on-year growth in revenue per available room in the second quarter of 2023, the quarter recorded a dip in occupancy levels. 

In a call with Skift, Jaideep Dang, Managing Director, Hotels and Hospitality Group, JLL India attributed this declining occupancy levels to three factors:

  • Harsh weather in the summer months.
  • Social events/weddings at an all-time low.
  • Reduced corporate travel. 
Q2 2023 Performance Trend Chart

Hotel Signings: 

  • 69 hotels comprising 7,010 rooms were signed in the quarter.
  • 16 hotels were signed as a result of conversions of other hotels, constituting 23% of the inventory signed. 

Other Observations: Hotel brands continue to be optimistic towards the Indian market not only in the mid-market space but also in the luxury space, with the signing of the first Radisson Collection and Waldorf Astoria hotels in Hyderabad and Jaipur respectively, the report noted.

“India’s G20 presidency, which has provided a fillip to the performance of the hospitality sector through the year, along with sustainable sources of demand such as business travel, social events, and leisure will continue to drive the sector in the months to come,” said Dang. 

Six More Airports to Get Biometrics-Enabled Airport Experience

The DigiYatra facility — which allows biometric boarding using facial recognition technology to establish the flier’s identity — will be launched at six more airports in August.

Which Airports? 

  • Mumbai
  • Ahmedabad
  • Kochi
  • Lucknow
  • Jaipur
  • Guwahati 

Current Operations: Launched in December last year, the facility is currently available at seven airports in Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Vijayawada, Hyderabad and Pune airports. 

How Does it Benefit Flyers? So far, 3.46 million passengers have used the service for contactless, seamless movement at various checkpoints at airports. The service doesn’t store passengers’ data centrally, it’s a piece of encrypted information shared only between the passenger and the airport of travel origin, where the passenger’s DigiYatra identity needs to be validated. The data is deleted from the airport’s system within 24 hours of flight departure.

The Great Indian Hotels and Resorts Signs Six New Properties

The Great Indian Hotels and Resorts (TGI) has signed six properties across brands in Sakleshpura, Bengaluru, Mandu, and Haridwar. 

Opening: The hotels are scheduled to open in September 2023. 

Current Operations: The group already operates 20 hotels across 15 locations in India.

New Signings: 

  • Sakleshpura- TGI Hotels signed its first property under the new brand ‘Trishvam’ at Sakleshpura in the south Indian state of Karnataka. The hotel will feature 42 cottages.
  • Bengaluru: TGI signed three hotels here totalling 210 keys as a cluster on the city’s Outer Ring Road.
  • Haridwar: The hotel is scheduled to open on September 1, with 32 rooms, a restaurant, and a banquet hall.
  • Mandu: The resort will open after renovation on October 1, with 23 rooms, a restaurant, a banquet hall, and a lawn for weddings.

Upcoming Hotels: TGI Hotels plans to launch hotels in destinations like Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai, Wayanad, Munnar, Alleppey, Mysore, Goa, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Amritsar, and Varanasi.

Russia Offers Visa-Free Entry for Group Tourists from India

Russia proposed a regime to India that will allow tourists from both nations to visit each other’s countries without visas if they travel in organized groups, said Economic Development Minister Maksim Reshetnikov

What is the Visa-Free Travel Agreement?

The deal applies to groups of at least five people traveling on a single itinerary and program. Russia and China reinstated a visa-free travel agreement for tourist groups that was first negotiated in 2000, but suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A similar arrangement was also reached between Russia and Iran.

Reshetnikov, in an interview with Russia 24 TV, disclosed talks are currently in progress through diplomatic channels to extend this agreement to India.

Latest Offering: Russia launched electronic visas for Indian passport holders from August 1. The e-visa will be processed in a maximum of four days and a $40 consular fee will be charged for the facility.

Super Oyo-Tagged Hotels Increase 5x to Reach 1,000 

Oyo’s ‘Super Oyo’ tagged hotels have surpassed the 1,000 mark, spread across over 140 Indian cities, it said in a statement. 

What is Super Oyo? Launched in December 2022 with 200 properties across 70 cities, the feature recognizes hotels that provide the most consistent and high-quality customer experience. 

Evaluation Process: Hotels are assessed based on customer ratings, keeping maximum rooms operational consistently, seamless check-in experiences, and other key performance indicators. 

City-wise Performance: Hyderabad has the highest number of Super Oyos at 82, followed by Bengaluru and Kolkata at 61 and 55 respectively.

Future Plans: Oyo aims to end the financial year 2024 with over 1500 Super Oyos.

“We have been encouraging more hotel owners on our platform to work towards achieving the Super Oyo tag. We will continue to work closely with our partners and invest in technology and processes that elevate the overall stay experience for our guests,” said Shreerang Godbole, chief service officer at Oyo.

Marriott Hotels Debuts in Coorg

Hotel Name: Coorg Marriott Resort & Spa. 

Number of Rooms: 108 villas and cottages.

India Plans: Marriott plans to have 250 properties across the country by 2025, including hotels that are open and in the pipeline. 

Strong Traction for Branded Residential Properties: Marriott International launched its apartment-style accommodations with Marriott Executive Apartments, Navi Mumbai in the western state of Maharashtra. This is the brand’s second such serviced apartments with upscale residential extended-stay units in the city after Lakeside Chalet

Earlier this year, Marriott International launched its Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy — a curated collection of home rentals — in the country for which the brand is in talks with professional management companies and is looking to launch about 500 units in 2023.

Domestic Carriers to Report Reduction in Net Losses in 2024

Indian airlines are expected to see a sharp drop in net losses to $6-8 billion this fiscal owing to robust growth in passenger traffic and improved revenue streams, according to credit ratings agency ICRA.

This anticipated net loss stands in stark contrast to the hefty $13-15 billion losses the aviation industry had incurred during the previous fiscal year, 2022-23. 

Domestic Passenger Growth and Passenger Load Factor

The outlook for the aviation sector is stable, it said, on the back of the following factors: 

  1. Passenger Traffic: For July 2023, domestic air passenger traffic stood at 12.2 million, against 9.7 million in July 2022, implying a growth of 26% on a year-on-year basis.  
  2. Capacity Deployment: The deployment for July was higher by 10% over July 2022 — 86,628 departures in July 2023 against 78,614 departures in July 2022.
  3. Domestic Passenger Load Factor: The domestic aviation industry operated at a passenger load factor of 89% in July 2023, against 78% in July 2022 and 86% in July 2019. 
  4. Aviation Turbine Fuel Prices: Prices in August 2023 declined by 19.6% on a year-on-year basis vis-à-vis August 2022. 


Signum Hotels & Resorts Launches Gujarat Property in Dahej

Hotel Name: Signum CityScapes Landmark, Dahej.

Number of Rooms: 48. 

Location: Signum CityScapes is located just 77 miles away from the Vadodara airport and 23 miles away from the Bharuch Railway Station.

About the Brand: Signum Hotels is a hotel management company operating hotels and resorts across the globe. 

Footprint: The company has already made its mark with 12 hotels across India, and more than 500 service apartments across Europe. 

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Tags: air traffic, airport technology, biometrics, group travel, hoteloccupancy, india, jet fuel, jll, makemytrip, marriott, oyo, russia, skift india report, visas

Photo credit: Travelers can filter destinations using tags like adventure, wildlife, mountains, beaches, etc. DreamLens Production / Pexels

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