— Amrita Ghosh
Nearly 97 percent of Indian travelers intend to make greener travel decisions over the coming 12 months, according to Booking.com’s annual Sustainable Travel Report. Amid rising climate anxiety, Indian travelers say they are making conscious accommodation and transport choices with 83 percent of respondents feeling that doing so would help protect the planet for future generations. Now in its eighth year, the research highlights a dilemma where people are forced to choose between affordability and making sustainable travel choices. Around 84 percent of Indians think the global energy crisis and rising cost of living are impacting their spending plans. Nearly two-thirds of them (66 percent) believe sustainable travel options are too expensive, while 80 percent are willing to pay more for sustainable travel options to feel reassured they are driving impact. “India has emerged as one of the top 10 countries with 20,000 properties now being recognized for their sustainability efforts on Booking.com. We are listening and together with our partners across the industry, we are examining every part of the trip to not only support our travelers but also benefit local communities and environment,” said Santosh Kumar, country manager of India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia at Booking.com. The report is based on insights gathered from more than 33,000 travelers across 35 countries and territories.
The Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai continued to see the largest spend from foreign tourists as of December 2022, according to Mastercard Economics Institute’s data on consumer spending and digital and travel trends in India. The report also reveals how cities like Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Lucknow seem to be gaining popularity. Wallet share of spend for these inbound travelers seems to have moved away from hotels and restaurants to clothing, gifts and jeweler. While in India, inbound travelers spend more on apparel, electronics, gifts and jewelery than what they would typically spend in other countries. As for Indian outbound, Dubai, Singapore and London are popular destinations for India’s outbound travel market, according to Mastercard. While traveling abroad, the wallet share of spend by Indians is higher on hotels, electronics and gifts.
India-based boutique hotel chain Renest Hotels & Resorts has launched its second property in the north Indian state of Rajasthan — Renest Kumbhalgarh. Located just 1.9 miles away from the UNESCO heritage site of Kumbhalgarh Fort, the hotel offers 34 keys, including seven different room categories. According to Rahul Rai, executive director of UMIL Hotels (the parent company of Renest Hotels and Resorts), the addition of this property has strengthened their position in the crucial leisure market of Rajasthan. With the pandemic situation now under control and tourism demand back, Renest is moving ahead with its vision of operating 100 hotels in the next few years, he said.
Tata Group-owned Air India said it would be using a ChatGPT-driven chatbot, and various other initiatives as part of modernization plans. The airline has already invested around $200 million in new digital systems, digital engineering services and in creating a digital workforce, it said in a statement. Air India is also investing in building a digital and technology team with presence in India’s Kochi and Gurugram as well as in Silicon Valley in the U.S. “We are adopting a cloud-only, mobile-friendly, design-rich, AI-infused, digital-first approach to all our technology initiatives that we are executing with speed,” said Satya Ramaswamy, chief digital and technology officer of Air India.
Online travel company MakeMyTrip’s newly launched Book With Zero Payment feature has contributed to more than 30 percent of hotel bookings on the platform since its debut. Launched earlier this month, the feature allows a traveler to block a room in hotels or homestays without any payment. “The average advance purchase window for hotels in India is just five days, which is way below the global average,” said Abhishek Logani, chief business officer of hotels at MakeMyTrip.
The number of operational airports in India has doubled from 74 in 2014 to 148 in 2023. The government attributes this growth to its efforts in improving overall airports and aviation infrastructure. One such initiative is the regional air connectivity scheme — Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik — under which 469 routes connecting 74 airports have been made operational, providing affordable air travel options for millions of Indians. The government has also approved the ‘revival of unserved and underserved airports’ scheme, helipads and water aerodromes by 2024. Additionally, Indian airports operator Airports Authority of India has developed a roadmap to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for all its remaining operational airports by 2024.
Nigerian flag carrier Air Peace has launched a twice-weekly direct service from Lagos to India’s financial capital Mumbai. “Our Mumbai service is direct, meaning no stopovers. So, you’re saving time, money and avoiding stopover stress. Also, we’re offering a launch fare of $98,084. That’s unbeatable, especially considering that we’re deploying our comfy Boeing 777 aircraft, offering passengers best-in-class hospitality,” said Oluwatoyin Olajide, chief operating officer of Air Peace. She also added that discussions are underway with some Indian airlines for an interline partnership to connect not just the west but the north, east and south of India to Nigeria and the West African region.
India’s first elevated taxiway for aircraft at Delhi airport may start operating this September. Security concerns are being addressed to avoid any obstructions on the new elevated cross taxiway, Indian media reported. Indian aviation security regulator Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation have already started examining Delhi airport’s request to clear the 1.1 mile-long terminal for operations. The aviation security regulator asked the airport authorities to implement measures like setting up elevated sentry posts on either side of the taxiway that can allow two jumbo jet-size aircraft to simultaneously taxi. Earlier, the project was to be completed by December 2022.
Photo Credit: 80 percent of Indian travelers are willing to pay more for sustainable travel options. Source: Kyran Low/Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/MvkLKGtBcUA