Skift Take

Religious travel is a significant aspect of tourism in India. However, overcrowding at key religious destinations often leads to potential dangerous situations such as stampedes. Uttarakhand has taken its first step to solve this issue, and Madhya Pradesh is now likely to follow.

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The central state of Madhya Pradesh could introduce a tourist registration system for its religious sites, including the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Skift has learnt from sources. The move aims to tackle the issue of overtourism and overcrowding at the state’s top tourist destinations. 

The registration system is in line with Uttarakhand’s mandatory registration for pilgrimage to the temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, or Hemkund Sahib. 

“We want to ensure that we cap the number of tourists according to our infrastructure capabilities, so that we can provide visitors with a good experience,” according to sources. However, this is still in the planning stage and the details are yet to be finalized.

Tourism Boom in Madhya Pradesh: The government of Madhya Pradesh last week revealed that it received over 112 million tourists in 2023, surpassing pre-Covid levels. 

This was significantly higher than the 34.1 million visitors recorded in 2022, an increase of nearly 230%. 

Places of religious significance are often visited by a lot of people, especially during festivals and religious events, leading to overcrowding and overtourism. This has led the state to explore measures such as mandatory registration of tourists for these destinations, sources added.

Religious Travel and Its Impact: Nearly 50% of the tourists that visited the state last year visited Ujjain, mostly due to its religious significance. The second most-visited city in Madhya Pradesh was Maihar, another destination of religious importance. Omkareshwar was also a popular tourist destination with nearly 3.5 million pilgrims visiting the city. 

Places of religious travel in India witness significant pilgrimage. In the first two months after the revamp of Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya and the opening of a controversial Hindu temple, the city witnessed over 11 million tourists. A report by brokerage firm Jeffries estimates that the city could attract over 50 million visitors annually. 

Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh received an upgrade with the Kashi-Vishwanath corridor in December 2021. Post that, in 2022 and 2023, a cumulative 130 million tourists visited the pilgrim town, Skift earlier reported

Data released by India’s ministry of tourism showed that in 2022, over 1.4 billion tourists visited religious sites across the country. Moreover, places of religious tourism earned INR 1340 billion (over $16 billion) during the year. 

MakeMyTrip Introduces New Features for Train Bookings

India’s largest online travel company MakeMyTrip has introduced new features for passengers booking their train journeys using the platform. 

Seat Lock Feature: This feature aims to allow passengers to secure a confirmed ticket by paying a quarter of the fee at the time of booking, with the remaining payable up to 24 hours before the journey. This, the company said, would allow passengers with unsure plans to have an assured ticket in case they decide to travel. 

Connected Travel: This helps travelers combine bus and train journeys and provides multiple combinations while considering layover time and overall travel duration to present the customer with various options. Confirmed tickets are not always available on direct trains or trains of choice for the preferred date of travel, MakeMyTrip said this feature offers more options to travelers.

Apart from these the other new features are: Route Extension Assistance, Nearby Stations Recommendations, Free Cancellation, Food in Train, and Train Tracking and Platform Locator. 

Co-Founder and Group CEO Rajesh Magow said the new features serve the entire thread of train travel — from planning and identifying the right train, to the actual purchase experience and all the way through to pre-arrival stages.

Cygnett Hotels to Open 15 Hotels Over Next Year

Cygnett Hotels and Resorts is set to open 15 hotels comprising 1,200 keys over the next year, the company revealed during its annual meet. Currently, the company has 10 properties under development and in the pre-opening stage. 

In the next three months, the group will be opening new hotels in Sonipat (near Delhi), Mahad in Maharashtra, and Jaipur. The company cited a report released by HVS, saying that it was ranked second in new hotel signings in 2023.

At present, Cygnett has about 20 operational properties across India and Nepal, and plans to increase this number to 33 by the end of 2024. It is especially looking at northern and northeastern regions in India to expand its presence.

55% Surge in Bus Ticket Demands in Delhi

There has been a 55% increase in the demand for bus tickets in Delhi, according to online bus ticketing platform redBus. This is in line with the summer vacations in the Indian capital city. 

In order to cater to the increased demand, private bus operators are running more than 1,400 daily services from Delhi, the company said. 

Nearby destinations such as Manali, Kasol, Shimla, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Nainital, and Agra are witnessing the most significant demand for bus travel this summer. 

“The data underscores the critical necessity of bus travel to meet the increased demand during this important period and the growing trend of Indians indulging in leisure travel,” said redBus CEO Prakash Sangam.

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Tags: bus, buses, hospitality news, hotels, india, india travel, madhya pradesh, makemytrip, online booking, online booking tools, online travel, online travel agencies, online travel companies, overtourism, religious travel, skift india report, tourism, train stations, trains, Travel Trends, uttarakhand

Photo credit: Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain. Nearly 50% of the tourists that visited Madhya Pradesh in 2023 went to Ujjain. Incredible India

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