The anticipation of the Cricket World Cup has sparked a surge in travel demand in India. By raising rates and expanding inventory, companies look to cash in on the cricket frenzy.
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Cricket is the most popular sport in India and has a huge fan base. Beyond just being a sport, it is deeply embedded in the nation’s culture, evoking intense emotions from the masses over the victories and losses of their favorite teams: 90% of the global cricket fandom consists of Indians, highlighting the cricket craze in the country.
India is set to host the Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 after 12 years, from October 5 to November 19, 2023. The World Cup will be hosted in 10 cities and showcase the best of cricket with 48 one-day matches between the competing nations: Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands.
The event will start off with a repeat of the 2019 final between England and New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the largest cricket stadium in the world. With a capacity of 110,000 spectators, the stadium is located in the city of Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Cricket World Cup 2023 Venues
|Name of Stadium
|Size of Stadium (No. of Spectators)
|No. of Matches to be Held
|Narendra Modi Stadium
|Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium
|Arun Jaitley Stadium
|Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium
|Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium
|MA Chidambaram Stadium
|Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium
Cricket Fever Drives Travel Demand
The travel industry is benefiting from the cricket fever. Accommodation searches in host cities for match days have, on average, grown by 237% over the past year. The much-awaited India vs. Pakistan match and the World Cup Finals are to be held in Ahmedabad. As a result, the city has emerged as the frontrunner, with a 1,702% surge in stay searches.
The UK, U.S., Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia have topped the charts for inbound searches during the period. According to inbound flight search data from OTA Insight for the period from October to November 2023, flight searches have grown significantly relative to 2022 in the months leading up to the World Cup. These statistics highlight that it’s not just domestic travel that will boom; there will be an influx of fans from all around the world during the tournament.
Capitalizing on the Travel Boom
Hotel rates across the host cities are witnessing a dramatic rise as October 5 draws near. Insights provided by RateGain reveal that from October to November, hotel rates across most cities are two to three times higher than the same period in 2022. Hotels in Pune, Ahmedabad, and Dharamshala are at the top, with prices up more than 300% over last year. These cities have considerably smaller hotel inventories in comparison to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru, which has resulted in highly inflated hotel rates.
Many travelers are expected to extend their stay to explore host cities. Industry players such as Oyo are expected to add 500 new hotels before the tournament starts to capture this demand.
Airfares for top venues like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata have grown 40%-60% over the past year. Other host cities are also seeing 20%-30% increases in flight prices. This pricing surge emphasizes the tremendous growth in travel demand.
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A Lasting Impact?
The impact of major sporting and cultural events on travel demand is a phenomenon observed globally. Recently, events such as the Champions League Final have seen thousands of visitors flock to Istanbul. Similarly, music tours such as Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour have led to significant demand and room rate spikes as they pass through cities.
Capitalizing on the exposure that these events bring to host cities is a strategic move that holds immense potential for boosting tourism. Beyond the event itself, visitors can explore what the city has to offer, potentially leading to extended stays and repeat visits.
Sports tourism is a rapidly growing sector in India with a substantial impact on domestic and international travel. Skift Research’s recent survey shows that Indians intend to travel to experience sports events live, even if travel prices are higher during event days. They are also among the top buyers of tickets for sports tournaments. Indian sports enthusiasts are willing to travel cross country or abroad to attend sporting events. India’s position as a significant source market for sports travel is poised to strengthen further.
The lure of seeing top cricketing nations out on the field during the Cricket World Cup later this year is proving to be a powerful motivator, triggering a travel boom in India. Hosting the Cricket World Cup is a great opportunity for India to showcase its hospitality, culture, and ability to successfully host global events. For Indian travelers, this tournament might be a stepping stone to attending more sporting events in foreign countries in the years to come, as international travel becomes more attainable for the Indian masses.
Saniya Zanpure is a research analyst for Skift Research. Subscribe to Skift Research to read more of her tourism analysis.
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Photo credit: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India. AaDil / unsplash.com