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NEW DELHI : Hotel occupancy in India touched 56-58% in October, the highest since the pandemic struck in early 2020, according to hospitality advisory service HVS Anarock.

The occupancy levels are however lower than the pre-covid levels of 61% in 2019. Nationwide occupancy stood at 77.01% in November 2019, while December saw 70.8% occupancy, the hospitality advisory service said in a report on Wednesday.

The average daily room rate in October this year is estimated at 4,700-4,900, 11-13% higher than in September. The hospitality consultancy said also that Goa has defied all odds with hotel room tariff 60% more than October last year.

Barring a few markets, India-wide revenue per available room or RevPAR—a performance measure calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate—ranged between 2,632 and 2,842 in October this year. The consultancy said the pace was 14-16% higher than September but lower than July and August.

“The Indian hotel sector has regained its optimism following a faster-than-expected recovery in travel demand in recent months. We predict the sector’s performance in the October-December 2021 quarter to be closer to pre-pandemic levels, with nationwide occupancy in the range of 62-64%, compared to 38% and 69% at the same time in 2020 and 2019 respectively," said Mandeep S Lamba, President (South Asia) at HVS Anarock.

He said a few markets such as Goa and Chandigarh are likely to exceed their pre-pandemic performance for the quarter.

The emergence of Omicron, a new, potentially more virulent strain of coronavirus, could lead to new travel curbs, and impede the sector’s recovery.

Bengaluru, according to HVS Anarock said, saw the highest improvement in occupancy with a 30% increase over October last year. During this month, domestic air passenger traffic grew more than 27% sequentially in October as airlines were allowed to operate at full capacity. Domestic leisure, weddings and social events segments have been driving nationwide hotel occupancies higher, which are inching towards the 60% mark.

Increasing domestic leisure travel is spurring a recovery in the hospitality sector, according to HVS Anarock. During the nine months ended September, the sector recorded a 3-5% increase in RevPAR from the year earlier. Nationwide occupancy grew around nine percentage points from the year earlier to 41-44% during this period.

However, with occupancies still ranging at less than pre-covid levels, hotels are struggling to raise tariffs, with average room rates falling more than 19% during the April-September period, compared to last year.

Growing demand for domestic leisure travel amid a ban on scheduled international flights helped Goa record the highest RevPAR in the country during the period, while Chandigarh had the highest RevPAR growth, according to HVS Anarock.

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