About 7 million international travelers came to the U.S in August, which was 86% of their pre-pandemic level, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data. About 3.3 million of international travelers came from outside North America.
India was the U.S.’s second top traveler market outside North America in August. The U.S. welcomed 221,000 travelers from India. Only the UK surpassed India with 396,000 travelers.
This year, India has been the U.S.’s second largest traveler market outside North America. From January to August, nearly 1.2 million Indian travelers visited the U.S. The UK held the top spot with 2.5 million travelers.
Over 2.7 million travelers came to the U.S. with a tourist visa in August. Nearly 240,000 came with a business visa.
Nearly 8.9 million Americans traveled abroad in August, which was 94% of their 2019 pre-pandemic level. To date, over 66 million Americans have traveled abroad.
The “Meaningful Relationship” campaign seeks to tap into this shift, inspiring travelers to form connections that transcend the ordinary and ultimately foster a bond with oneself.
The advertising film features tourists from Korea, France, and Portugal, showcasing the attractions of Kanchanaburi, Chumphon, Nakhon Phanom, and the vibrant metropolis of Bangkok.
Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, shared the campaign’s vision, stating, “The new ‘Meaningful Relationship’ marketing communication concept is designed to encourage travelers to engage in a meaningful connection, whether it is with themselves, the local people, the community, nature, or even with Thailand. When travelers form a relationship with the people they meet and the place they visit, they will have an opportunity to create lifelong friends, cherished recollections, and enjoyable moments.”
Moreover, December will also witness the launch of the “Thailand Always Cares” campaign, emphasizing Thailand’s commitment to ensuring a memorable experience for tourists.
Latest Tourism Figures from Thailand
Thailand’s ambitious goal is to attract 25-30 million tourists and generate THB 1.5 trillion ($43 billion) in revenue by the end of this year.
According to the latest available data, in the first 10 months of 2023 (January 1-October 31), Thailand recorded over 21.6 million arrivals and generated over THB 927 billion ($26 billion) in tourism revenue. The top five source markets being Malaysia, China, South Korea, India and Russia.
The 2024 target is set at total revenue of THB 3 trillion ($84 billion) with THB 1.92 trillion ($54 billion) coming from the international market.
After granting visa free entry to Chinese tourists from September onwards, Thailand announced last week that it would grant visa-free entry to citizens from India and Taiwan from November 10 till May 2024.
Himmat Anand had led the Tree of Life for about 15 years. Ambuja Neotia has named Vinoth Ram as the new CEO.
“The Tree of Life brand architecture is perfectly poised to cater to the discernible shift in leisure travel trends, said CEO Vinoth Ram. “My primary objective is to expand the brand’s presence throughout this vast and diverse country, providing an array of unique and exceptional experiences.”
South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille hosted a BRICS Tourism Ministers Meeting on Tuesday focusing on tourism recovery between the bloc of nations.
Tourism growth related to direct flights among Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa was discussed as a follow-up to the BRICS Summit the country hosted in August.
From January to August, the latest international visitor figures for South Africa rose to 5.5 million international tourists, a 70.6% increase compared to the same period in 2022. However, these figures are still 19% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
The Skift Travel Health Index, which assesses performance in key sectors such as aviation and hotels, shows that while India and Brazil’s travel recovery has seen steady gains in 2023, China‘s full recovery hasn’t been as clearcut as most of the global markets had expected. Russia’s war with Ukraine has significantly affected its tourism recovery, with the country continuing to see sanctions imposed against it.
India was the U.S.’ s second top market for travelers outside of North America between April and June, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s data released Monday. Over 500,000 Indian travelers came to the America in the those three months, up from 392,000 and 498,000 for the same period in 2022 and pre-pandemic 2019, respectively.
In the first six months of 2023, over 800, 000 Indian travelers came to the U.S., making it America’s second largest’s non-North American market after the UK this year.
Nearly 60% of Indian travelers came to the U.S. for vacation, business or a conference in the first six months of this year, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. On average, Indian travelers spent $3,500 per trip in the U.S. The states they visited the most were California, New York and Texas.
In 2023, the U.S. is expected to welcome 1.4 million Indian travelers, which is 97% of their pre-pandemic volume, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. It will be the U.S.’s sixth top source overseas market in 2023, after the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Brazil. In 2019, India was the U.S. eighth-largest market.
It’s notable is that India has recovered so quickly and is rising as top source market for the U.S. despite long visa wait times at U.S. embassies, which suggests inbound travel from the country has been heavily restrained.
While the number of visitor visa approvals for Indians has “outperformed” 2019 levels, they remain over 400 days on average, said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at Skift Global Forum. In New Delhi, for example, an Indian national would have to wait 542 days for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.
The visa wait times deter Indian travel into the U.S. “The message to that traveler is all but go away. This is anything but a welcoming environment,” said Freeman.
“We’ve invested heavily in India,” said NYC Tourism + Conventions CEO and President Fred Dixon at Skift Global Forum. “I was just there in January, we’ll be back again next January. We see a huge opportunity in the future from India. We’re excited about the airlift opportunities.”
The amount of time a first-time visitor visa applicant in India has to wait for an interview has fallen from an average of 669 days in mid-March to 337 days in early April, a 50 percent drop, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
The industry lobby group attributed the wait time reduction to the State Department’s initiatives this year to reduce the visa backlog. In India, it has put in place a number of initiatives, such as bringing processing staff in on weekends, making embassies available to Indian nationals in other countries and hiring more staff.
“The results we’re seeing in India are proof that—with the right tools—State can make significant progress on this issue,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman in a statement. “However, there is clearly more work ahead to lower wait times worldwide.”
U.S. Travel encouraged the State Department to continue the initiatives that have proven effective in India in other countries. It also pointed out that competitors are taking away U.S. global travel market share by allowing visa-free travel from the visa backlogged markets. The European Union, for example, allows travelers from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Israel and Venezuela to visit without a visa.
“No one will wait years for a visa to visit the U.S. when so many other countries welcome global travelers with open arms,” said Freeman. “The State Department must continue to make international visitors an economic priority before we lose them to other destinations.”
India-based hotel ownership and asset management platform Samhi Hotels has refiled draft papers with the Indian stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to raise an initial public offering (IPO) of around $120 million.
The Goldman Sachs-backed company that operates hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt and IHG in India, had earlier filed a draft red herring prospectus with SEBI in September 2019 to raise around $238 million.
Samhi had obtained the markets regulator approval in November 2019, to float the initial share-sale, but the company at that time did not go ahead with the launch.
Last week, while reporting the Yatra earnings, Skift had talked about the subdued sentiments in the Indian stock market, as a result of which many companies wanting to launch their IPOs were said to be in a “wait-and-watch” mode.
Hospitality platform Oyo too disclosed last week that it is reducing the size of its proposed initial public offering to between $400-$600 million, a steep reduction from its earlier plan of $1.1 billion.
The company would be using net proceeds from the IPO towards the repayment of debt of the firm and its subsidiaries, payment of interest and other general corporate purposes.
As of February 2023, Samhi Hotels has the third-largest inventory of operational keys (owned and leased) in India. The company has a portfolio of 3,839 keys across 25 operating hotels in 12 cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, National Capital Region, Pune, Chennai and Ahmedabad.
The company is also the largest owner of the Fairfield by Marriott and Holiday Inn Express brands in India. For the financial year ended March 2022, the company reported an increase of 90 percent in revenue to $40 million, as against $21 million in the previous fiscal.
The U.S. will receive 62.8 million international visitors in 2023, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. That’s a 21.2 percent rise from 51.8 million in 2022, but it’s still below its 2019 level of 79.4 million.
Next year, international visitor volume will be around its pre-pandemic level. The National Travel and Tourism Office forecasts it will hit 79.9 million in 2024, slightly up from its pre-pandemic 2019. Volume will surpass 2019 levels and be fully recovered with 82.4 million in 2025. By 2027, the total will reach 91 million.
At its current recovery pace, the Commerce Department will exceed its strategic goal to have 90 million international visitors by 2027. The National Travel and Tourism Office sits under the Commerce Department.
Inbound travel from the U.S.’s overseas markets, which excludes Canada and Mexico, will be 29.2 million in 2023, down from 40.4 million in 2019. Overseas volume won’t reach its pre-pandemic volume of 40.3 million until 2027.
The U.S.’s top inbound market recovery speeds will vary. Canada’s, the U.S.’s top inbound market in 2019, for example, won’t exceed its 2019 level of 20.7 million until 2025. India, in contrast, will exceed its 2019 volume next year with 1.5 million, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.
Tek Travels, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Indian travel distribution platform TBO.com, has fully acquired BookaBed, a business-to-business (B2B) accommodation wholesaler for an undisclosed amount.
Last year in April, Tek Travels had acquired a 51 percent stake in BookaBed.
Headquartered in Switzerland’s Zug, Bookabed is said to be one of the largest online business-to-business booking engine in Ireland.
With this acquisition, TBO further deepens its European footprint into Ireland and UK, the company said in a statement.
BookABed now becomes TBO Ireland & UK and Karl Tyrell, the CEO of BookaBed, will continue in his role.
Over the course of the year, the breadth and depth of BookaBed will be fully integrated into the TBO platform which today lists over one million properties worldwide, a statement read.
BookaBed had said last year that it would increase its market share in Ireland and the UK by leveraging TBO’s global application programming interfaces (API) business, and TBO Academy that trains and educates travel agents and travel trade partners.
“Since integrating with TBO, we’ve had greater ability to engage the Irish and UK markets stronger and deliver increased value to our customers. We will continue to service our customers and will advise our customers on how the new brand will roll out over the coming months,” Tyrell said.
TBO said the development reflects the aggressive growth plans it has set globally. The company said it would continue to step up investments and look at partnerships to expand, hire and improve customer experience in an effort to simplify and empower the travel ecosystem.
In 2021, TBO had submitted draft papers with the Indian market regulator to raise $253 million through an initial public offering (IPO) of shares and has received the go ahead to raise funds.
Indian online travel agency EaseMyTrip announced this week that it has acquired a 55 percent stake in hotel booking marketplace cheQin, owned by Gleego Innovations, for around $370,000.
The online travel agency said the acquisition would help strengthen its hotel channel.
“With this, EaseMyTrip is in a great position to give its customers a wide range of innovative hotel booking options at the most competitive prices,” the company said.
In a stock exchange filing, EaseMyTrip called cheQin a marketplace which connects travellers and hoteliers in real time and empowers hoteliers to have an access to live booking requests and manage bookings.
Speaking to Skift earlier, Prashant Pitti, the co-founder of EaseMyTrip, had said that the company is now looking to grow its non-air business by acquiring companies that are profitable, tech driven, asset-light and disruptive.
EaseMyTrip will diversify its hotel booking experience through technology support, said Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-Founder of EaseMyTrip. “cheQin provides unparalleled options in all segments and has the potential to scale and strengthen cross-selling.”
In December, the company had acquired a 75 percent stake in Nutana Aviation Capital for around $185,000.
Nutana Aviation Capital leases charter aircraft and provides charter services both within India and outside .
While the company has not yet shared its earnings for the October-December quarter, in the July-September quarter, EaseMyTrip posted gross booking revenue of $243 million, which the company said was its highest-ever in any quarter.
The company posted a profit before tax of $5 million.
This week, EaseMyTrip also announced the launch of its franchise business through which it aims to provide a retail store experience to its customers.
With EaseMyTrip Franchise, the company is tapping a new set of offline customers to expand its reach.
The business model will allow customers to have an in-store retail experience, the company said in a statement.