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From 'Wed in India' and hosting the G20 Summit to high-end convention centers, India has been upping its efforts to attract international tourists. But what are these travelers looking for? We reached out to luxury boutique hotels to find out.

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India has been putting effort to attract international travelers to India. The Indian ministry of tourism and state tourism boards have been participating in several international travel trade events, including the Arabian Travel Market and IMEX, Frankfurt. 

There has also been a push towards promotion of unexplored destinations, such as Lakshadweep and Ladakh. 

Earlier this year, Indian tourism minister G Kishan Reddy shared that to facilitate foreign arrivals, the country has been making efforts to “liberalize, streamline, and simplify visa regime with a view to facilitate the legitimate foreign travelers.” 

E-visas for 7 sub-categories have been provided for over 160 countries by India, along with a substantial reduction in visa fees. 

To understand what international travelers are seeking in India, we reached out to some luxury boutique hotels with unique offerings. Here is what we learned:

Parikshit Rathore, Lodge Manager at Aramness Gir: This luxury property in Gujarat has been witnessing influx of nature enthusiasts as well as cultural explorers, be it families, solo travelers, honeymooners, or groups of friends. It has also hosted guests for retreats and corporate events. 

“We welcome a lot of guests from the U.S., UK, and Australia. In recent years, we’ve noticed a growing trend among international travelers towards seeking authentic and immersive experiences. Visitors are increasingly interested in connecting with local cultures, engaging in sustainable tourism practices, and exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations,” said Rathore. 

Udit Bagai, Associate Director Of Sales at Brij Hotels: “We attract a diverse range of international visitors, including eco-conscious travelers, cultural enthusiasts, and wellness seekers,” said Bagai. 

The boutique hotel chain has been witnessing a growing interest among international travelers in experiential and immersive travel, particularly seeking its wildlife safaris and cultural interactions.

Shelley Thayil, Chief Operating Officer at Paul John Resorts and Hotels: Paul John Resorts and Hotels has been hosting leisure travelers, business travelers, and families, along with those seeking adventures and cultural experiences. 

“In recent years, we’ve observed several trends among international travelers coming to India. There has been a significant increase in demand for experiential travel among international visitors to India. Travelers are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that allow them to connect with the local culture, traditions, and way of life,” Thayil shared. 

Apart from this, adventure and eco-tourism have gained popularity among international travelers looking to explore India’s diverse landscapes and outdoor attractions. There is also a growing demand for luxury and boutique accommodations.

Shilendran M, Vice President at CGH Earth: The biggest change that CGH Earth has witnessed in its international travelers pre- and post-Covid is that more travelers from the U.S. are visiting its properties. While the UK has continued to dominate the international traveler mix, pre-Covid, a combination of Germans, French, and Swiss travelers held the second spot. Post-pandemic, the U.S. accounts for the second biggest international source market for the environment-conscious hotel chain. 

“A big trend we have been witnessing in our international travelers is the emergence of younger couples. While there used to be fewer couples pre-Covid, we now see a balance between couples and families with children visiting our properties.”

Apart from this, wellness tourism is on the rise, with more international travelers seeking holistic wellness experiences during their visit to India. “The concept of Indian wellness therapies has been catching up and is an area that international travelers are looking at,” said Shilendran. 

Domestic Airfares Up 40% For Key Routes

The fares for domestic flights on key routes have surged by up to 40% in the last six quarters, a report by PTI cited aviation consultancy firm CAPA India as saying. Higher traffic as well as capacity constraints have led to the increase in prices. 

Mumbai-Delhi, Bengaluru-Delhi, Bengaluru-Mumbai, and Delhi-Hyderabad are among the routes which have witnessed a surge in airfares. The consultancy firm said that the average fares for top 20 domestic routes had not moved significantly for the last 20 years until six quarters ago. 

CAPA India further said that the trend of higher airfares is due to “serious capacity shortages”, as around150 aircraft are grounded due to issues in supply chain and other problems. It expects the high pricing to continue into the 2025-26 financial year. 

Entry Fee Imposed For Eco-Tourism Spots In Nainital

Uttarakhand has implemented an entry fee of INR 50 (60 cents) per person for Tiffin Top and China Peak eco-tourism spots in Nainital. The fee is expected to be utilized towards cleanliness and solid waste management efforts for these destinations, according to Nainital forest officials. 

The officials said that there have been complaints about garbage, including waste plastic, in these areas, leading to the decision of levying entry fee. 

Despite the nominal fee, former Uttarakhand chief secretary Indu Pandey has raised concerns about the fee discouraging nature lovers from visiting these locations.

IHCL Debuts Ginger Brand In Nagpur

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has debuted its budget Ginger brand in Nagpur with the opening of Ginger Nagpur Airport Road. With the addition of the 86-key hotel, the company has 23 operational hotels in the state of Maharashtra and another 11 in its development pipeline. 

“This opening aligns with IHCL’s strategic vision of establishing a presence in key commercial centers. As an emerging metropolis and the primary business hub of Central India, Nagpur holds significant potential,” said executive vice president Deepika Rao. 
IHCL is betting big on the Ginger brand. It is the second-largest hotel brand under IHCL, after Taj. While Taj has 109 hotels in its portfolio, there are 90 hotels under the Ginger brand.

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Photo credit: India has been actively promoting unexplored destinations in the country. (Image: Aramness Gir) Aramness Gir

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