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Business News/ Companies / News/  Hospitality firms do brisk business amid influx of tourists
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Hospitality firms do brisk business amid influx of tourists

Himachal Pradesh has witnessed an influx of 600,000-700,000 tourists in less than a month since June, prompting CM Jai Ram Thakur to order hotels to follow all covid-19 protocols
  • Meanwhile, luxury holiday home rental and private stay chains have also managed to clock good business
  • Tourists in Shimla on TuesdayPremium
    Tourists in Shimla on Tuesday

    Hospitality firms across segments are witnessing a surge in demand—the flip side of the alarming rush by tourists to popular destinations.

    Himachal Pradesh has witnessed an influx of 600,000-700,000 tourists in less than a month since June, prompting chief minister Jai Ram Thakur to order hotels to follow all covid-19 protocols.

    After locals captured the mad rush to mountain destinations on photos and videos which have gone viral, the Union health ministry on Tuesday termed the heavy footfall of people in tourist destinations “frightening".

    The ministry asked the Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh governments to ensure people don’t flout covid protocols and maintain social distancing, respiratory hygiene and wear masks.

    However, for hospitality firms, the tourist influx has come as a respite after losing two consecutive peak summer seasons to covid restrictions in 2020 and 2021. The easing of state-level restrictions, including removal of the requirement for RT-PCR tests, has boosted traveller confidence, already high because of the vaccination drive.

    Online travel agent Yatra.com said it saw a “healthy surge" in bookings post the second wave for North Indian hill stations such as Mussoorie, Shimla and Leh.

    “Additionally, destinations like Kasauli, Uttarakhand, Lonavala, Shimla, Agra, Manali and Saputara have seen a rise in queries. We have also seen an uptick in booking enquiries of 50-60% with the luxury hotels in big cities also seeing a steady increase in city breaks," said Sabina Chopra, co-founder and chief operating officer, corporate travel and head industry relations, Yatra.com.

    ITC Hotels, which has recently launched two new properties in Himachal Pradesh (Chail and Shimla), also saw brisk business.

    The hotel chain said that it has no rooms available any longer at ITC Grand Goa, ITC Grand Bharat, ITC Rajputana and ITC Mughal, Welcomhotel The Savoy in Mussoorie, Welcomhotel Coimbatore, Welcomhotel Shimla, Welcomhotel Chail and Welcomhotel Pine ’n Peak.

    “There is definitely a resurgence of motorable getaways, especially at Welcomhotels. The hills and beaches are normally the quickest to recover, and this time again, we are seeing a lot of interest being generated for these properties," said Anil Chadha, chief operating officer, ITC Hotels.

    Kerrie Hannaford, vice-president-commercial, Accor India and South Asia, said, “Last-minute bookings are driving demand for our hotels. We anticipate the last week of July and the first week of August to see an even further uplift in occupancy."

    Yatish Jain, chief growth officer, OYO INSEA, said demand is steadily growing for leisure destinations, particularly Jaipur, Visakhapatnam and Agra, apart from hill stations that are close to metros—such as Manali, Shimla, Nainital, Mussoorie, Lonavala and Mysore.

    “As restrictions continue to ease, domestic tourism will continue to bring relief to business, with demand mainly stemming from road trips to local destinations, staycations and workcations," he added.

    Club Mahindra said that travellers are showing a preference for spacious rooms and open areas when booking leisure holidays.

    “We have reopened some of our resorts across the country as well. While there is a visible demand for our newly launched resort in Netrang (Gujarat) and Alibaug (Maharashtra), our resorts in Himachal and Uttarakhand remain popular in the North," said Pratik Mazumder, chief marketing officer, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Ltd.

    Sterling Holiday Resorts Ltd, which operates 35 forest, beach, river and mountain resorts, and caters to heritage and pilgrimage destinations, said bookings for July are healthy.

    “The lead time has shortened (people are not booking much in advance). To that extent, July is seeing a faster pace of pick-up. August shall pick up soon, given the shortened lead times," said Vikram Lalvani, chief of revenue, sales and destinations, Sterling Holiday Resorts Ltd.

    Demand patterns, Lalvani said, vary between weekdays and weekends.

    “There are a lot of guests choosing to stay over weekdays this time looking for a quieter holiday," he added.

    Meanwhile, luxury holiday home rental and private stay chains have also managed to clock good business.

    Luxury holiday home rental chain Saffronstays said most of its holiday homes in Maharashtra are fully booked for the weekends.

    “Each Wednesday, when we look at our booking calendars at the end of the day, we barely have availability—maybe 4-5 homes that again get booked by Friday. It’s mostly people who are planning a celebration who book in advance, say maybe a month or so. The others are mostly booking two to three weeks prior to their stay," said Devendra Parulekar, the founder of SaffronStays.

    Vista Rooms, a hospitality brand managing a network of curated holiday home rentals, said that July is more or less sold out in Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. From May onwards, there is hardly any cancellation.

    “In fact, due to the lockdown in Goa and some parts in south India, our guests are shifting their bookings to other places. Goa bookings are now being shifted to properties in Pune, Maharashtra and even in newer destinations such as Wada, Khapoli. Towards the North, exceptionally high demand has been for destinations such as Bhimtal, Manali, Kullu, Mussorie, Nainital, Dharamsala, where most of our properties are booked till mid-August. We have seen guests staying for over a month, representing over 25% of our demand, which was more or less non-existent prior to the pandemic," said Ankita Sheth, co-founder of Vista Rooms.

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    Published: 07 Jul 2021, 08:56 PM IST
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