Skift Take

While 'cleanliness is next to godliness' may not consistently reflect India's outlook, the nation is recognizing its importance to attract both domestic and international tourists. Initiatives such as the rating framework hold significant value in evaluating and enhancing the cleanliness standards of tourism establishments.

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India is looking to institute a “Swachhata (Cleanliness) Rating Framework” designed to evaluate tourism businesses, such as hotels and homestays, according to Tourism Secretary V Vidyavathi.

This framework aligns with the “Travel for LiFE” principles, a key component of the Sustainable Tourism Policy, underscoring the imperative of clean and hygienic establishments, Vidyavathi said to reporters on the sidelines of a CII Tourism Summit.

The Travel for LiFE initiative supports the development of smart destinations that are responsible and sustainable.

Who Will Be Assessed? The impending framework will encompass businesses of all sizes and underscore the importance of maintaining cleanliness within establishments and surrounding areas. Ratings will be contingent on multiple criteria, encompassing waste disposal practices.

So Far… This initiative remains in the developmental phase, with the tourism ministry engaging in consultations with diverse departments and stakeholders.

India Prioritizing Cleanliness: The government of India has initiated several programs and campaigns aimed at improving cleanliness and sanitation in the country.

One of the most prominent initiatives is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign), launched in 2014. This campaign has made significant strides in promoting cleanliness and building millions of toilets across the country, particularly in rural areas. The program also aims to change people’s behavior towards sanitation and waste management.

In addition to the national campaign, many Indian cities have initiated their own cleanliness drives and waste management programs.

A Parliamentary standing committee had earlier recommended that the government start a cleanliness ranking of railway stations across the country.

India Set to be Among Fastest Growing Source Markets for San Francisco

India is expected to be the fastest-growing source markets for San Francisco. In 2022, the country ranked third among San Francisco’s top overseas visitor markets with 158,000 visitors. This is expected to grow by 34% in 2023, with a projected spending increase of 63%.

India visit: The San Francisco Travel Association and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) last week visited Mumbai and New Delhi on a sales mission.

Improved Connections: Indian full-service carrier Air India has recently expanded its network to San Francisco from three destinations in India – Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The carrier has almost doubled its operation to San Francisco from 9 flights a week to 17. The seat capacity has also doubled from 2,142 seats to 4,396 flights a week.

Traffic Jump: With 1,102 daily passengers from India to the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a 186% increase in traffic compared from pre-pandemic to the first half of this current year.

Positioning San Francisco as the premier gateway to the U.S. West Coast, San Francisco Travel and SFO were the first U.S. convention visitors’ bureaus and airports to have representation in India.

“San Francisco will see five new hotels open this year following the nine that debuted in 2023, including standout properties like the LUMA Hotel, 1 Hotel San Francisco, The Line SF, and Beacon Grand,” said Hubertus Funke, executive vice president & chief tourism officer at San Francisco Travel.

Indigo Co-Founder Said to be in Talks to Acquire Stake in SpiceJet

Shares of low-cost carrier SpiceJet surged last week following an ET Now report that Indigo co-founder Rakesh Gangwal is in negotiations to acquire a significant stake in the financially troubled domestic airline.

As of June-end, Rakesh Gangwal and his wife Shobha Gangwal owned 13.23% and 2.99% stakes in Indigo’s operator, InterGlobe Aviation, while their Chinkerpoo Family Trust held a 13.5% stake, as per exchange data. However, according to reports Gangwal is in process to exit the company.

Grappling with financial difficulties and striving to revive about a quarter of its grounded fleet amid intense competition in the aviation sector, SpiceJet has been seeking ways to secure funding.

SanKash Announces 0% Interest Loans to Travel Agents

Travel fintech firm SanKash announced its plans to disburse INR 100 crore ($12 million) in the next 6-9 months at 0% interest to travel agents.

Travel agents typically incur a high-interest cost ranging from 18-24%, SanKash said in a release.

How? SanKash offers plug-n-play API platform that allows merchants to embed a single ‘pay later’ button at checkout by aggregating multiple consumer financing providers.

The Aim: Through this Sankash said it intends to provide much-needed timely financial boost to travel agents, helping them grow their businesses.

Premise: A release from SanKash stated that travel agents can secure the funds they need without incurring any interest costs. Moreover, the program is designed to allow travel agents to use the working capital for various business needs, such as covering operational expenses, marketing efforts, or expanding their service offerings.

Loan Details: A travel agent can avail up to INR 50 lakh with no collaterals, security, or guarantors to qualify for the no-cost working capital program.

Sankash cited industry reports to note there are nearly 3 lakh travel agent businesses catering to the holidaymakers- scattered across categories of service providers such as travel packages, cab and bus bookings companies.

This segment will be worth an estimated $65 billion by 2027, according to SanKash.

Radisson’s New Hotel in Manali

Radisson Hotel Group has announced the opening of Palchan Hotel & Spa, a member of Radisson Individual Retreats in Manali.

Manali in Himachal Pradesh is a popular tourist destination in India.

Growth Plans: Radisson Hotel Group’s envisions its next phase of growth to be driven by key hotel openings in India’s leading leisure destinations, said Zubin Saxena, managing director & area senior vice president – South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group. “Radisson Individuals Retreats allows us the opportunity to enable and co-create unparalleled experiences for guests in every part of India, especially in tier-II and III cities,” Saxena said.

With this opening, the hotel group said it looks to make experience-driven hospitality accessible to a wider audience,

Hotel Count: Radisson Hotel Group has over 165 hotels in operation and development dotted across moer than 65 locations in India. More than 50% of its portfolio is in tier-2 and 3 markets where it has benefitted by being the first mover.

Radisson Portfolio: Its brands in India include Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Inn by Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn & Suites by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson and Radisson Individuals.

EaseMyTrip Launches Platform for Pilgrimage Packages

In a boost to spiritual travel in the country, has launched EasyDarshan – a dedicated platform to provide pilgrimage packages across India.

What? The platform offers specially curated packages for devotees and covers a wide spectrum of pilgrimage sites across the country, from the Himalayan shrines to the temples of South India.

Package Inclusions: The packages offered to the customers are inclusive of transportation, accommodation, guided tours and special pujas.

“Spiritual tourism holds a special place in the hearts of Indians, and people are now keen to visit vibrant religious and spiritual destinations more than ever before. We were aware this was an untapped territory and had immense potential for growth,” said Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.

Spiritual Tourism Is Big in India: Spiritual tourism is a key market in the Indian travel and tourism industry. According to the Indian government, religious tourism accounted for 13% of the country’s total tourism revenue in 2022, generating more than INR 1345 billion ($17 billion) in revenue. Around 1,433 million domestic tourists visited pilgrimage sites in the country.

India-Sri Lanka Ferry Service Resumes After 40 Years

An international, high-speed passenger ferry service was resumed between India and Sri Lanka this weekend after almost 4 decades.  The connectivity is expected to enhance trade and tourism between the two countries.

Where? Launched between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Kankesanthurai a resort hub in Jaffna district of northern Sri Lanka, the vessel can accommodate up to 150 passengers, apart from a 14-member crew.

Price and Baggage Details: A one-way ticket is priced at INR 7,670 ($95) for a 3-4-hour journey offering 50kg baggage allowance.

Indian outbound to Sri Lanka: In the first nine months of this year, over 200,000 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka. This accounts for around 20% of all tourist arrivals in the country.

Overall, Sri Lanka saw tourist arrivals cross the million-mark by the end of September. Earnings from tourism sector have risen to $1.5 billion in the period upto September this year.

Lakshwadeep’s Woes: However, the islanders of Lakshwadeep said that the ferry service launch has further worsened their transportation woes.

The islanders said that the ferry being launched for the India-Sri Lanka service has been taken from the fleet serving the archipelago.  The islanders of Lakshadweep have long been grappling with transportation issues, with a severe lack of passenger vessels available for inter-island commuting.


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Tags: easemytrip, ferry, india outbound, indigo, loans, radisson hotel group, religious travel, san francisco, skift india report, spicejet, sri lanka

Photo credit: India is planning a cleanliness rating framework for hotels and homestays. IHCL.

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