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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

As the pandemic pushed Indians to explore domestic destinations, cultural travel has witnessed its biggest boom in the past two years. Tracking consumer travel sentiment across India, global travel technology company, OYO, today has published 'India's Treasure Trove of Cultural Travel 2022' report. As per the report, with over 3.5 times growth over the past year, Srinagar clocked the highest growth in bookings among cultural destinations in 2022. Besides Srinagar, Pahalgam and Jammu in J&K also rank among the top 5 cultural destinations in India, citing increasing travel interest in the region.

As per OYO’s booking data analyzed between January to April 2022, Srinagar, Pahalgam, Bodhgaya, Shirdi and Jammu are among India’s top 5 cultural destinations in order of ranking. India is known for its spirituality around the world. Within the culture-travel category, OYO’s data highlights rising consumer interest in pilgrimage and heritage destinations. Varanasi, seen by many as the spiritual hub, tops the charts as the most popular pilgrimage destination in India in 2022. This is followed by Tirupati, Puri, Amritsar and Shirdi. Besides this, OYO’s Mid-Summer Vacation Index also highlights keen consumer interest in visiting Vaishno Devi this summer.

Top Pilgrimage Destinations - Zone Wise : East - Varanasi, West - Shirdi, North - Amritsar and South - Tirupati. 

 

As per the report, when it comes to heritage sites, with 25% votes each, Ajanta & Ellora caves in Aurangabad and Taj Mahal in Agra tied for the top spot. Hampi, Khajurao and Mahabalipuram round up the balance of the top 5 heritage sites.

Commenting on the rise in cultural tourism, Shreerang Godbole, SVP - Product & Chief Service Officer - OYO said, “Cultural tourism has always been a huge contributor to India’s tourism economy. With an increase in domestic travel across India, people are looking forward to exploring rich cultural destinations over the past few years. We’re seeing many more young people opting for hidden gems, historical destinations, holy sites and spiritual or wellness destinations. Varanasi, Shirdi, Rajasthan and Kerala have consistently shown up as top booked cities for this purpose, since 2021. As India’s appetite for cultural and spiritual travel strengthens, we continually support locally run hotels and homeowners to create self-employment opportunities while boosting the local economy. Like we did with our local homestays’ initiative in Kevadia and Pahalgam in J&K. We are also offering consumers flexible cancellation and modification of bookings, Pay at Hotel option to enable higher influx of tourists across such prominent destinations.”

Interestingly, the survey highlights that approx. 7% tend to make a pit stop at a famous local pilgrimage site. This means that pilgrimage destinations have the potential to attract other destination-bound travellers, opening up vast opportunities for small local businesses. OYO has also observed that during festivals and long weekends, there’s a clear upswing in demand for spiritual destinations. For instance, during the festive long weekend in April on account of Vishu & Baisakhi, OYO witnessed a surge in bookings for pilgrimage destinations such as Haridwar and Amritsar, among others.

GO FIRST (formerly known as GoAir) announced the commencement of daily direct flights from Kochi to Kuwait and Kochi to Muscat starting 1st June 2022. The new flights to Kuwait and Musact from Kochi will offer connectivity and convenient travel options to blue collar workers/migrant working class flying abroad for employment.

Speaking on the development, Kaushik Khona, Chief Executive Officer, GO FIRST, said: “As we eventually come out of the pandemic, we are pleased to strengthen our international presence and commence operations between Kochi to Kuwait and Kochi to Muscat. We believe that the situation is improving, and we are hopeful that this will further ease travel between India and Middle East.”

Turkiye has relaxed all the conditions for Indian travellers entering the country effective June 1, 2022. 

Earlier, they were required to submit either a vaccination certificate of both the doses or an RT PCR test report to visit the country. Now, arriving Indian travellers no longer have to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus or proof of recovery from the disease or a negative PCR test result.  

With both Indigo as well as Turkish Airlines resuming direct international flights to Turkiye, the country is expecting to welcome the highest ever number of Indian tourists this year. 

With its tourism revenues doubling-up last year to almost USD 25 billion, recording 103% growth since the emergence of the pandemic, Turkiye is set to create a whole new record in 2022. It emerged as one of the top destinations for FIT and MICE tourists from around the world last year, having welcomed over 30 million international visitors in 2021.  

Of these, 50 thousand were Indian tourists, which was a sizable number taking the pandemic into consideration. Thus, the country is expecting full recovery in tourism for the year 2022 and is aiming to reach the pre Covid numbers in terms of international visitors including Indians.

Recently, Turkiye has also been a hot vacation destination for A-list Bollywood celebrities, with film actor Sara Ali Khan and Malaika Arora Khan being the latest to visit the country. 

 

Turkiye ranks as the 6th highest country in the world to host international visitors annually. The country welcomed 52 million travellers in the pre-pandemic period of 2019, touching a whopping USD 34.5 billion in tourism revenue. By the end of year 2022, Turkiye is expecting its tourist numbers to return to 2019 level as international travel demand is rebounding and people are willing to travel and experience new destinations.

The waning Covid-19 infections resulted in Y-o-Y growth of 4.4 times in domestic air passenger traffic to ~11.4 million in May 2022 (2.1 million in May 2021) and was just ~7% lower compared to ~12.2 million in May 2019 (pre-Covid level).

Sequentially, the domestic air passenger traffic in May 2022 was ~5% higher compared to ~10.9 million in April 2022. The airlines’ capacity deployment for May 2022 was 2.1 times higher than in May 2021 (86,289 departures in May 2022 against 27,725 departures in May 2021).

On a sequential basis, the number of departures in May 2022 was higher by around 6%, given the near normalcy seen in business operations.

Commenting further, Suprio Banerjee, Vice President & Sector Head, ICRA said, “For May 2022, the average daily departures were at ~2,784, notably higher than the average daily departures of ~894 in May 2021, and higher compared to ~2,726 in April 2022. The average number of passengers per flight during May 2022 was 132, against an average of 133 passengers per flight in April 2022 and lower than an average of 139 passengers per flight in May 2019.

“Though recovery in passenger traffic is expected to be relatively fast paced in FY2023, given the near normalcy situation seen in domestic airline operations, the overhang of any further Covid wave looms on the sector. Elevated ATF prices aggravated by geo-political issues will remain a near term challenge for the industry and will continue to weigh on the profitability of Indian carriers. It is estimated that the yields^ for domestic routes have moved up on an average between 18-20% over the past 12 months.”

With the resumption of scheduled international operations since March 27, 2022, and reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements, the international passenger traffic for Indian carriers is on a growth trajectory and surged to ~2.2 million in May 2022, which has notably surpassed the international passenger traffic of ~1.8 million witnessed in May 2019 (pre-Covid level) by ~24%.

ATF prices have surged by 89.7% on a Y-o-Y basis in June 2022, given the elevated crude oil prices, due to geo-political issues arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The rising ATF prices will pose a serious threat to the industry earnings in FY2023. On an aggregate basis, a return to normalcy will lead to recovery in passenger load factors, which in turn will aid revenues; however, elevated ATF prices will continue to weigh on the earnings of Indian carriers in FY2023.

Hideaway and The Signature Collection, a luxury island resort located in the pristine Haa Alifu Atoll of Maldives, upgrades its seaplane transfers to and fro the resort. 

From June 1st onwards, two Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplane flights a day will be operating instead of the current single seaplane transfer. The flight duration for the seaplane transfers is around 75 minutes from the airport directly to the resort. 

Desislav Gospodinov, Group Director of Sales & Marketing, says, “The newly launched service of two seaplane transfers per day will help guest arrivals and departures with the added comfort of enjoying more freedom, lesser hassles, and better connectivity to and from their respective hideaways at Hideaway and The Signature Collection. It is our goal and vision to make connectivity to our beautiful slice of paradise as seamless as possible so that guests can enjoy the great experiences that we have like no other in the Maldives without worrying too much about getting to the property”. 

Currently, the alternative route from Malé International Airport to the resort is via domestic flight to Hanimadhoo Airport, followed by speedboat transfers. The seaplane transfers are subject to availability basis and the resort will assist in booking and coordinating the transfers from and to Velana International Airport. 

 

Vietjet has inaugurated the direct flights connecting Mumbai with Vietnam’s capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest city.  

The inaugural ceremony of the two direct routes took place at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Mumbai with the attendance of Consulate General of Vietnam in Mumbai, the airport authorities, Vietjet’s management representatives and hundreds of passengers onboard the debut flights.

Do Xuan Quang, Vice President, Vietjet said, “Following our launch of New Delhi – Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi services, we are delighted to launch two more direct routes between Vietnam and Mumbai. We believe that the two services from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Mumbai as well as the coming Phu Quoc – Mumbai route will strengthen the on-going relationship of Vietnam’s two biggest cities with Mumbai. The services launched between Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi and Mumbai operate four and thrice weekly flights respectively and we expect to increase the frequency in coming time to meet customer’s demand.”

Speaking about Vietjet’s launching its network from Mumbai, CSMIA Spokesperson said, “These services by Vietjet will offer diversified travel destinations and flight schedules, as well as add direct flight options to CSMIA’s route network from Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to further boost travel opportunities between the two countries.”

To promote these services, Vietjet will offer 19,999 super-saver tickets applied to all flights between Vietnam and India with travel duration from July 1 to December 31, 2022.

Besides the Mumbai - Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi services, Vietjet’s direct routes between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi currently operate thrice weekly flights on each route. From September 9, 2022, the Mumbai - Phu Quoc route will commence operation with four round trips per week while the New Delhi – Phu Quoc will operate with a frequency of three round trips per week.

The Department of Tourism, Govt. of West Bengal and Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) recently held a day-long workshop to formulate a tourism development strategy aiming at creation of livelihood and job opportunities at ITC, Royal Bengal Hotel on the development of a tourism strategic roadmap for West Bengal.

The day-long workshop, the first in series in pursuance to the Memorandum of Agreement signed between the FAITH and Govt of West Bengal on 21st April 2022, held discussions on multiple issues relating to strategy roadmap for tourism development for the state of West Bengal.

There was a consensus to evaluate in detail many of the issues concerning tourism, travel and hospitality industry including policy for heritage tourism, direct and last mile connectivity for tourist destinations, strengthening single window clearance mechanism for tourism, seamless tourist transportation, adventure and eco-tourism policy, prioritization of top 10 tourism products & segments, marketing & awareness campaign, development of district-wise tourism inventory and tourism calendars.

The workshop discussed ways to evolve an eclectic and holistic tourism strategy for tapping the immense tourism potential of the state, connecting tourism with the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the state thereby promoting and protecting folk art, craft and folk genres. It was decided to constitute sub-groups for more focused attention on niche tourism sectors including Heritage Tourism, Rural Tourism, Film Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Eco Tourism, River Tourism and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) Tourism.

The evolving strategy shall be expected to focus on skilling, re-skilling and upskilling of different professionals and stakeholders engaged in the travel and tourism industry with a view to unlock the huge employment opportunities, while also ensuring seamless delivery of services for all the sectoral stakeholders and end-beneficiaries i.e. tourists intending to visit West Bengal from different parts of the country.

For Govt. of West Bengal, the day-long workshop was attended by Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and District Magistrates, Commissioner/ Superintendent of Police under the leadership of Chief Secretary, H. K Dwivedi while from FAITH (Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality), the session was attended by presidents of its member associations and their key West Bengal representatives under the leadership of Nakul Anand, Chairman, FAITH. Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group and Nazib Arif, EVP Corporate Communication ITC were also present as members of the State Sectoral Task Force on Tourism.

A detailed ideation on the above was subsequently undertaken with officials of Department of Tourism led by Tourism Secretary Saumitra Mohan. A milestone and timeline-based implementation roadmap will be put in place by the joint task force for subsequent consideration by the Government of West Bengal.

IndiGo is implementing innovative measures to reduce water and fuel consumption on flights, on the occasion of world environment day. The airline has successfully conducted trials with a new water faucet in 200 flights which reduced water consumption by 5.4 ltr/hr. For an average length 138 min flight (as per our trials conducted onboard), we saved 12.42 Ltr of water per flight.

IndiGo currently operates 1500 daily flights with an average flight duration of 98min. This new installation will reduce water consumption by 8.82 ltr/ flight, enabling overall water savings of 13230 Ltr/ Day.

This modification will also solve the challenge of water quantity in long flights. The reduced need for uplifting water in shorter flights will also contribute to fuel savings during operations, reducing carbon emissions by 930.75 Kg CO2/m3 per year. The airline has been working towards an integrated sustainable approach which can help them with day- to- day operations. IndiGo will be the first airline globally to make these changes for water conservation on board the aircraft.

Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, President & Chief Operating Officer, IndiGo said, "As a leading airline, we have a special responsibility towards the environment and ESG is therefore one of our top corporate goals. We are in the process of institutionalising a sustainable approach to operations over the last few years, where-in sustainability is being integrated with day-to-day operations. With this new initiative, we aim to conserve water and significantly reduce carbon emissions through fuel savings. These consistent initiatives will contribute to a healthy ecosystem for our future generations."

Recently, IndiGo published its first ESG Report, IndiGo Green, to share company's outlook towards good governance and an overview of the environmental and social performance. IndiGo is the first airline in India to work towards good governance and an overall improvement in environmental and social performance. The airline has already registered a reduction of 1,478,359 tonnes of carbon emissions from FY '15 to FY '21. In FY '23, the airline aims to reduce CO2 emission by 18% per ASK when compared to FY '16. IndiGo is determined to be a leading airline in the world, focussed on enhancing sustainability.

The recently con7th Global Hospitality Conclave (GHC) at The Oberoi, New Delhi, discussed and debated the way forward in a post Covid scenario in the travel and tourism sector with focus on Business in a world between orders, Permanent changes after Covid, Empowering your business and Digital disruption. Oberoi alumni as well as guest speakers from across industries shared their expertise and knowledge on these issues.

The keynote address was delivered by diplomat and Former Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. Sanjeev Bhikchandani, Founder of InfoEdge spoke on Empowering your Business.

Oberoi Alumni and industry stalwarts Ranju Alex, Area Vice President South Asia, Marriott International; Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts; Kapil Chopra, Founder - EazyDiner and The Postcard Hotel, and Ashish Vohra, Founder & CEO, Justa Hotels and Resorts, discussed their journeys and experiences. 

Invited panelists from across sectors such as Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Commercial Director - APAC, China & Oceania at Booking.com; Manoj Adlakha, SVP & CEO, American Express Banking Corp India; Natwar Nagar, Founder & CEO, The People Network, also shared their views on What is the new Normal.

Sandeep Bhushan, Director, Meta Business Group India, Neetan Chopra, Chief Digital & Information Officer, Indigo; Vipul Prakash, Chief Commercial Officer, Make My Trip spoke about digital disruption. Shukla Bose, Founder and head of Parikrama Humanity Foundation spoke on the importance of CSR in today’s world.

Dilip Puri, Founder & CEO Indian School of Hospitality; Ajay Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts and Rattan Keswani, Industry Expert moderated the panel discussions and sessions

Global Hospitality Conclave was started and steered by the alumni of the erstwhile Oberoi School of Hotel Management (OSHM), now The Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development (OCLD) to share and gain knowledge and an enviable opportunity to network with the best in business.

GHC over the years has grown in representation and credibility into a powerful forum seeking to bring together professionals from different areas of the service and hospitality industry, encouraging interactions and debates.

The Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India, in partnership with United Environment Program (UNEP) and Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) organized National Summit on Developing Sustainable & Responsible Tourist Destinations in New Delhi. On the occasion, the Ministry launched the National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Traveller Campaign.

The Strategy document has identified the strategic pillars for development of sustainable tourism like Promoting Environmental Sustainability, Protecting Biodiversity, Promoting Economic Sustainability, Promoting Socio-Cultural Sustainability, Scheme for Certification of Sustainable Tourism, IEC and Capacity Building and Governance.

Speaking on the occasion Secretary Tourism Arvind Singh said that Tourism and Environment share a Special Relationship. Their interaction with each other is a two-way process. On the one hand environmental resources constitute one of the basic ingredients of tourism. The natural and manmade setting form the tourism products which the tourist enjoys, live in, and relax. On the other hand, the close and direct relationship between visitors, host communities and local environment creates a sensitive situation, whereby tourism can be both very damaging but also very positive for sustainable development. The COVID-19 pandemic has further forced the tourism sector to shift its focus to resiliency, sustainability and interconnectedness among diverse stakeholders in the sector.

Singh further said that we need to make use of cleaner fuels. Prime Minister has also announced that India will increase its capacity of non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW and meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements through renewable energy by 2030. “State tourism policies should recognise sustainability principles and the Sustainable Development Goals in their vision and strategic direction for tourism. With the vision to create a sustainable future for tourism, the Ministry of Tourism has also taken various steps in this direction”, he added.

He said that Ministry of Tourism with the objective to provide experience to the tourists launched Swadesh Darshan Scheme and has till now sanctioned 76 Projects. With the learnings of this scheme, we have now revamped the Swadesh Darshan Scheme as Swadesh Darshan 2.0. “The idea of Swadesh Darshan 2.0 is to undertake holistic development with the vision to develop Sustainable and Responsible Tourist Destinations. While formulating the guidelines for SD 2.0 we have kept various elements in mind in order to undertake destination development in a sustainable and responsible manner. Through the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 sustainable and responsible tourism practices will be implemented in various projects and initiatives. The Scheme will encourage adoption of principles of sutainable tourism including environmental, socio-cultural and economic sustainability,” he added. 

Apart from Singh, Shombi Sharp, Head of UN in India and Rakesh Mathur, President, RTSOI, various eminent Speakers working in the field of Sustainable Tourism & Responsible Travel and from State Governments addressed the participants in different sessions during the One Day National Summit. The Summit was attended by senior officers of different Central Ministries, State Governments/UT Administrations and various Tourism & Hospitality Industry Associations.

A Pledge was also administered by Singh to the participants to become responsible travellers and be advocates of responsible tourism.

 

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