Religious tourism has been experiencing a resurgence in India, and Oyo recognizes the importance of securing the first-mover advantage in this growing trend.
The Skift India Newsletter is your go-to platform for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.
IPO-bound hospitality and travel technology company Oyo has announced that it would open around 400 properties in popular spiritual destinations by year end.
The expansion will focus on destinations such as Ayodhya, Puri, Shirdi, Varanasi, Amritsar, Tirupati, Haridwar, Katra-Vaishno Devi, and the Char Dham route.
Oyo reported witnessing a staggering 350% increase in searches for Ayodhya, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh over the past year, driven by the upcoming opening of the grand Ram Mandir on January 22.
In April last year, Oyo had announced its plans to add 50 properties in Ayodhya. To cater to the influx of pilgrims in Ayodhya, OYO has launched 50 homestays, offering a total of approximately 1,000 rooms, a release from the company stated.
Oyo has also partnered with the Ayodhya Development Authority and the Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation for smooth operations.
Founder and Group CEO Ritesh Aggarwal had earlier tweeted that on New Year’s Eve, Ayodhya witnessed a 70% surge in search among Oyo app users, surpassing popular leisure destinations such as Goa and Nainital.
The company has reported witnessing a consistent increase in spiritual tourism over the last couple of years with Ayodhya consistently holding the top position in searches on the Oyo app over the past year.
“Spiritual tourism in India is on the precipice of a monumental surge, poised to be one of the biggest growth drivers of our industry in the coming five years,” Agarwal said in a release.
Sabre Appoints Sam Machado as India Head
Travel technology provider Sabre Corporation has announced the appointment of Samual Machado as managing director to oversee Sabre’s agency business across India and South Asia.
Machado will be returning to Sabre, having previously joined Sabre Hospitality Solutions in 2011 and then moving to Singapore to drive sales for the Asia Pacific region. Most recently, Machado was senior vice president, business development, travel and hospitality (Asia Pacific), at global digital business services company Teleperformance.
Calling India one of the world’s fastest-growing travel markets, Brett Thorstad, vice president of Sabre Travel Solutions, agency sales, Asia Pacific, said, “We’re paving the way for accelerated growth across India and South Asia, and Sam’s (Machado’s) strategic vision and relentless
focus on customer success and innovative technology solutions will differentiate Sabre in the marketplace.”
Machado will be based in Mumbai.
Record High Domestic Air Travel in 2023
In 2023, India witnessed 8% growth in domestic air passenger traffic, reaching 152 million passengers, as per the data released by Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
December alone showed a notable increase of 23%, totaling 13.7 million passengers compared to the 12.7 million in 2022.
Indigo led with 60% market share, transporting 92 million passengers, followed by Air India with 15 million passengers. Vistara held a 9% market share with 14 million passengers, followed by SpiceJet with a 5.5% market share, carrying 8.4 million passengers.
Akasa Air, with a 4% market share, achieved the highest on-time performance (73%) from key metro airports. SpiceJet received the most complaints, with 422 out of 712 total complaints reported.
JW Marriott to Debut in Surat
Marriott will be bringing JW Marriott to Surat in Gujarat in collaboration with Gujarat JHM Hotels and U.S.-based Auro Hotels.
The JW Marriott Surat Resort & Spa will be Gujarat JHM’s third Marriott International hotel in Surat, following the Surat Marriott Hotel and the Courtyard by Marriott Surat.
With over 300 guestrooms and villas, the JW Marriott Surat Resort and Spa will also feature a 10,000-square feet meeting and ballroom space.
Talking about the launch of JW Marriott in Surat, Rajeev Menon, president Asia Pacific excluding China of Marriott International, said the hospitality market in the city has been witnessing substantial growth and development.
The new JW Marriott Surat Resort and Spa will be built on the Earthspace campus where Auro University — the Sri Aurobindo Integral Life Center and the Courtyard by Marriott Surat are currently located.
On Monday, Marriott unveiled its inaugural Moxy brand in Bengaluru, marking the brand’s debut in India.
BLS International to Acquire Turkey’s iDATA
BLS International Services, a visa facilitation company based in India, is set to acquire a full ownership stake in Turkey’s visa and consular services provider, iDATA, along with its subsidiaries. The acquisition is valued at an enterprise amount of INR 450 crore ($54 million), supplemented by payments based on achieving specified milestones.
iDATA currently operates more than 37 visa application centers across more than 15 countries, serving diplomatic missions of Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.
The acquisition will be funded mainly through internal accruals and is anticipated to be completed in the current financial year subject to Government & Regulatory approvals.
Following the news, shares of BLS International Services listed on the Indian stock exchange surged to a 52-week high in early trade on Tuesday.
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Photo credit: Oyo plans to open around 400 properties in popular spiritual destinations this year. Oyo