The Oxford Economics findings underscore the resilience of India's tourism sector, largely buoyed by the enthusiasm of domestic travelers. Indian travelers have adapted ingeniously to post-pandemic shifts, leading to a more widespread distribution of tourism expenditure beyond the traditional hotspots.
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Airbnb contributed over $920 million (INR 72 billion) to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supported over 85,000 jobs in the country between April 2022-March 2023, according to research by Oxford Economics.
The GDP contribution and jobs supported in India has more than doubled since 2019, noted Oxford Economics.
Multiplier Effect: According to the report, Airbnb guests also reportedly spent a total of $815 million (INR 64 billion) in India on transportation, restaurants and retail stores, more than double of the fiscal year 2020 levels.
Domestic Angle: Domestic Airbnb guest spending totalled $670 million (INR 52.6 billion), and accounted for approximately 82% of total Airbnb guest spend in India, around a three-fold increase from 2019, the report noted.
Highest Spend by Airbnb Guests:
The report also touches upon the pandemic-driven shifts in travel patterns — the movement of tourism away from cities, and increase in demand for extended stays as workers can live and work anywhere.
This had also been highlighted by Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb’s country manager for India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, when he spoke about tourism spreading beyond the hotspots where only a few cities or neighborhoods would benefit from the tourism dollars.
Domestic travellers have been crucial to Indian tourism sector’s resilience over the past three years, said James Lambert, director for economic consulting in Asia for Oxford Economics.
“Indian guests saw opportunities in domestic travel as a substitute for international holidays, with self-drive and regional trips increasing in popularity which led to a wider dispersion of tourism spend outside the popular destinations in India,” said Lambert.
Booking.com Launches Cricket World Cup Campaign
Booking.com has launched an integrated campaign, ‘Howzat for your perfect stay,’ on the sidelines of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup taking place in India from Thursday.
Booking.com is also the official accommodation partner of the event.
Campaign Stars: The campaign features Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma along with international cricketers Jos Buttler, captain of the England team and Australia’s Glenn Maxwell.
Indians and Sports: According to the most-recent Booking.com APAC Travel Confidence Index, 56% of Indians said they are looking forward to attending a live or major event, including sports tournaments, this year.
Inbound Boost: Search data from Booking.com also reveals a surge in inbound travel with fans across the globe heading to India for the tournament between October 5 to November 19, 2023 with travellers from the UK, U.S., UAE, Germany and Australia topping the chart for inbound searches.
Travel Boom: Booking.com noted that prominent matches across India are fueling travel searches and triggering a travel boom. Beyond the event itself, travelers are looking to explore what the city has to offer, potentially leading to extended stays and repeat visits.
Top Searched Destinations in India are Cities Hosting Matches:
On specific match days such as the India vs. Pakistan match on October 14, Ahmedabad is the second highest searched destination, followed by Delhi.
Nearly 34% of Booking.com’s global total room nights came from the alternative accommodation segment during the April-June quarter, Santosh Kumar, Booking.com’s country head India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia, had said on the Skift India Travel Podcast.
United Delays Mumbai-Newark and Delhi-San Francisco Connections
United Airlines will now be delaying the resumption of its flights from Newark to Mumbai and San Francisco to Delhi, according to a report by aviation analytics firm Cirium.
When? The airline plans to resume these operations by March 28, 2024.
Earlier Operations: United operated flights from Newark to Mumbai through March 2020 before being cut for four months during Covid and resuming in August. The flights ceased operations in March 2022 following the war in Ukraine.
The San Francisco-Delhi route was resumed in July 2020 after the Covid disruption and continued through March 2022.
In February this year, United suspended its Delhi-Chicago connection leaving Delhi-Newark as the only flight being operated by the carrier from India.
Service Amped: From October 29, the airline plans to increase the frequency of its Delhi-Newark flight services to twice daily.
Other U.S. Airlines to India: American Airlines also flies a daily between Delhi and JFK, while Delta is yet to resume operations to India post March 2020.
Uttarakhand to Tap Into EaseMyTrip’s Reach
Online travel company EaseMyTrip has teamed up with the state of Uttarakhand in a significant partnership valued at over $31 million (INR 2500 million).
Announced through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed during the Global Investors Summit in London, the partnership aims to elevate Uttarakhand’s global tourism appeal.
Joint Campaigns: Leveraging EaseMyTrip’s extensive global reach, the partnership encompasses the launch of a series of joint marketing campaigns targeting various markets such as the UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia, U.S. and Canada.
The campaigns are poised to raise awareness and attract tourists and events to Uttarakhand.
Homestay Program: A crucial aspect of this collaboration is the development of a state-endorsed online homestay program, to help boost Uttarakhand’s growing tourism sector. This program aims to welcome travelers while simultaneously creating opportunities for local residents to actively participate in and benefit from the tourism industry.
Uganda Airlines Launches Direct Mumbai-Entebbe Service
Uganda Airlines, the country’s national carrier, has announced commencement of its India operations from October 7 with the introduction of a direct service, connecting Mumbai with Entebbe.
Historic: This will be the first non-stop flight service connecting India and Uganda in over 50 years.
Duration and Seat Configuration: The thrice weekly flight will be operated by an Airbus A330-800 neo aircraft. The airline said it would offer 20 seats in business class, 28 in premium economy and 210 in economy.
Fare and Flight Time: The return airfare in economy class for the inaugural flight is $600 (INR 49,000) from Mumbai and the flight time is said to be approximately 5.5 hours.
The airline is also in discussion to start a direct service connecting Delhi and Chennai to Uganda in the next three months, Lenny Malasi the airline’s country manager told Moneycontrol.
With a fleet of six aircraft, Uganda Airlines currently operates flights to Dubai, Johannesburg, Bujumbura, Nairobi, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Juba, Kinshasa and Mogadishu. Flights to Lagos in Nigeria are scheduled to start shortly.
Air India Launches Kolkata-Bangkok Direct
Air India has announced the introduction of a non-stop service between Kolkata and Bangkok from October 23.
Frequency: Operating six days a week from Monday to Saturday, the carrier will be flying a narrowbody Airbus family aircraft on the route offering Economy and Business Class.
Current services: Air India currently operates a total of 14 flights to Bangkok per week with daily non-stop flights from Delhi and Mumbai connecting the destination.
India Market for Thailand: India is one of the largest tourism source markets for Thailand and newly-elected Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin had talked about the fact that there aren’t enough flights between the two countries.
Thailand revised its target for Indian arrivals for 2023 from 1.4 million to 2 million.
Evoke Experiences Looks to Expand Portfolio
Event infrastructure and tourism projects company Evoke Experiences plans to incorporate eight new projects into its portfolio by the end of this year.
Along with its flagship project, the Rann Utsav, Evoke Experiences’ project portfolio includes Niraan, a tent city in Varanasi, Statue of Unity Tent City, Evoke Dholavira and Gandhisagar Floating Festival
Acquisitions: The company recently acquired two properties in Gujarat’s Sasan and ShivrajPur.
The company looks to explore untapped destinations in the country in collaboration with the tourism boards of state governments. The company has also partnered with Gujarat Tourism to offer unique, immersive experiences to travelers.
Further Expansion: Over the next five years, the company said it would focus on expanding its reach to a wider audience, with a particular emphasis on metropolitan cities, through events and roadshows.
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Photo credit: Spending by Airbnb guests in Goa amounted to nearly $190 million. Sumit Sourav / Unsplash