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Already a preferred destination, Sri Lanka is set to benefit more now that it has made tourist visa free for Indians. This is good news for the country's cash-strapped economy.

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Even before Sri Lanka included India in the list of nations that will get free visas, it was among the most preferred destinations for Indian families, along with Sharjah in United Arab Emirates. A report from online travel agency Cleartrip chronicles what, how and which destinations were trending between July and September 2023. Domestically, Goa, Gurugram, and Chandigarh were the preferred non-metro destinations. 

Other trends include: 

  • Top three hotels (domestic): Tropical Retreat, Igatpuri, Kaldan Samudhra Palace, Mahabalipuram, and  The Dukes Retreat, Lonavala 
  • Top three hotels (international): Hotel Der Schutthof, Zell am See, Austria, Premier Inn, Dubai, and Hotel Boss, Singapore
  • Domestic Flights: 18% more general travelers compared to the second quarter. 
  • Average length of hotel stays: Domestic was 9% more than in 2022 whereas international was 20% more than last year. 

Solo Women Travelers: The July-September period saw a 6% increase in solo women travelers when compared to second quarter. Bangkok emerged as the preferred destination and Sri Lankan Airlines as the preferred aircraft. Bhubaneshwar emerged as the new preferred non-metro destination.

Bus Operators: The five top preferred bus operators include Orange, OrbitBus, NueGO, Sahu Travel, and Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation. In the buses, of the total number of, 16.6% were solo women travelers. 

Top destination for travel agents: 

  • Domestic: Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Goa, Kolkata, Agartala, Ahmedabad, and  Hyderabad.
  • International: London, Paris, Toronto, Dubai, Bangkok, Los Angeles, and Melbourne

India Is Top-Performing Region for Independent Travel Managers

Trevolution Group, a company focused on agency sales of airline tickets and travel services, has announced India as the top-performing market for its new travel platform Dreamport.

Introduced in India in April of this year, Dreamport’s purpose is to support and bring together independent travel managers. In the first seven months since Dreamport’s launch, more than 51,000 freelancers from various parts of the country have registered to use the platform for their daily earnings. The main cities where travel agents come from are Delhi, Mumbai, Muzaffarnagar, Hoshiarpur, and Bhadrak. As for international travel, Dreamport customers from around the world prefer flying to the United States, Nigeria, the Philippines, and India.

India and Uzbekistan were strategically chosen as the first launch markets for the platform, and since September, it is also available across Moldova, with more than 56,000 unique applications up to date. Over 30% of travel agents have also passed the assessment process.

What Trends Say: According to the Trevolution Group’s report, India has always been a top choice for American and Canadian travelers. Currently, the demand for flights from these countries to India is higher than before the pandemic. This trend is evident in the sales made by Dreamport agents in the initial months of the platform’s launch, with over 15,000 flights sold to popular global destinations. These destinations cover both traditional leisure tourism and the growing segment of visiting friends and relatives.

What does Dreamport Offer? The group said that Dreamport offers a free training program to individuals, including freshers, covering topics such as marketing, sales, customer service, travel industry standards and tools. Additionally, the platform provides customer leads to its travel managers to initiate sales. Through Dreamport, users receive travel requests from other Trevolution travel services such as Asaptickets and Skyluxtravel and earn a commission on each sale. Dreamport enables “gig workers” to get contracted as independent travel managers regardless of their physical location. 

Who are ‘gig workers’? India’s NITI Aayog defines “gig workers” as those engaged in work outside of the traditional employer-employee arrangement. In 2020-21, the Indian gig economy was estimated to employ 7.7 million workers, with a projected workforce of 23.5 million by 2029-30.

Aviation Ministry Seeks 25-30% Budget Increase for RCS-UDAN in FY25.

With more people flying within the country, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are working on increasing passenger traffic and routes. This is part of the government’s regional air connectivity scheme called UDAN, or Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik, according to Moneycontrol.

What has been asked? To improve airports and speed up the launch of new routes, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has requested a budget of Rs INR 15,000 million for the UDAN regional connectivity scheme in the fiscal year 2024–25. This marks a 25% increase from the previous year. If approved by the finance ministry, this budget would be the highest ever, more than doubling the INR 4800 million allocated in 2019–20, Moneycontrol found.

What was promised during the budget? In the 2023–24 budget, the government allotted INR 1,2440 million for the UDAN scheme, twice the amount allocated in 2022–23. The government aimed to revive 22 airports and start operations on 100 RCS routes. Up to now in 2023–24, the government has initiated operations on approximately 40 new RCS routes and revived three new airports, as per Moneycontrol data.  

UDAN Routes Status as of October 3, 2023: Routes initiated on paper include 493 routes connecting 70 destinations, including two water aerodromes and nine heliports.

Actual Operational Routes: Only 225 routes were operational based on flight schedules, airline data, and information from travel agents.

DreamFolks Collaborates With Russian Lounge Operator Grey Wall

DreamFolks, India’s airport and travel services aggregator, has partnered with Grey Wall, a significant airport and lounge service aggregator in Russia.

Partnership Details: Through this collaboration, DreamFolks and Grey Wall aim to improve the travel experience for passengers crossing borders. DreamFolks’ clients and their end consumers will now have access to Grey Wall’s extensive network of lounges and services in Russia. DreamFolks’ proprietary tech platform will facilitate seamless access to approximately 100 lounges in key airports and railway stations across Russia, ensuring a smooth experience for travelers seeking lounge access.

Benefits of the Partnership: Grey Wall stands to leverage DreamFolks’ vast client network, providing a strategic opportunity to increase footfall at their lounges. This collaboration promises a combination of essential amenities and efficient services, marking the beginning of a new era in travel excellence.

AirAsia Expands Capacity on India-Malaysia Routes in 2024

In response to the Malaysian government’s introduction of a 30-day visa-free entry for Indian travelers starting December 1, 2023, AirAsia has announced a significant increase in services between Malaysia and India.

AirAsia plans to add an impressive 69 weekly flights in the first quarter of 2024, providing over 1.5 million seats annually for the India-Malaysia route.

Visa-Free Travel Impact: The capacity boost is anticipated to meet the expected surge in travel demand following the Malaysian government’s visa-free entry initiative for Indian travelers.

Regional Travel Opportunities: The announcement coincides with recent initiatives by Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam to offer visa-free entry for Indian visitors. AirAsia’s expanded services allow Indian travelers to access other Southeast Asian nations affordably, utilizing the Fly-Thru service with a one-stop in Kuala Lumpur and connecting to destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and more seamlessly.

IHG Expands Essentials Portfolio in Chennai with Holiday Inn Egmore

IHG Hotels & Resorts has signed a management agreement with Abu Estate Private Limited to open Holiday Inn Chennai Egmore. The 92-keys conversion hotel is set to open in Q1 of 2025.

Opening and Features: Holiday Inn Chennai Egmore is scheduled to open in Q1 2025, offering 92 modern guest rooms, a health club, an all-day dining restaurant, a bar, and a lobby lounge. 

Facilities: The hotel will feature banqueting spaces, including a grand ballroom and versatile breakaway rooms, suitable for both large and intimate gatherings.

Leisure Hotels Group Signs ‘Bedzzz’ in Goa, Set to Launch Early Next Year

Leisure Hotels Group (LHG), an experiential resort chain in North India and the largest in Uttarakhand, announces the signing of its latest “Bedzzz” property in Goa, India’s popular holiday destination. This marks LHG’s third Bedzzz property in the country, following the success of similar properties in Varanasi and Rishikesh.

Property Details: Bedzzz, a distinctive lifestyle concept accommodation, caters to budget travelers seeking premium stays and modern travelers desiring social interactions. Both segments receive Leisure Hotels Group’s personalized service, hospitality, and curated hyperlocal activities, which are offered through both do-it-yourself (DIY) options and hotel-led initiatives.

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Tags: air asia, asia monthly, cleartrip, domestic tourism, family travel, ihg, indian airlines, online travel agencies, skift india report, solo travel, sri lanka, travel managers

Photo credit: Sri Lanka emerged as a popular destination for Indian families. vined mind / pixabay

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