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Travel and hospitality businesses get ready for a busy December.

It is not just the Christmas and New Year weekends; travel and hospitality players across segments are bracing for a bumper holiday month, going by advance booking trends and soaring rates.

Experts said they don’t see flight and hotel rates coming down anytime soon as international travellers have begun coming in and demand from domestic tourists remains strong.

Mehul Vaswani, director of hospitality at Chokhi Dhani Group, said his Jaipur and Jaisalmer resorts in Rajasthan are sold out for most of the days this month and the next.

“Advance bookings are quite high, and we have a lot of bookings for weddings,” he said. “We would be doing at least 20-30% higher revenue compared to the pre-pandemic period owing to higher room rates, revenues from banquets, F&B, spa and shopping.”

Vaswani said a comparison with last year’s numbers is not “tenable” as Covid-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant had spelt gloom in December last year.

Rajiv Kapoor, general manager of the Fairmont hotel in Jaipur, said occupancies and average daily rates are up by 30% compared to the same time last year. “We have been getting bookings from markets such as Ukraine, the US, and Australia over the past few weeks. NRI weddings are back. This will be the strongest month of the whole year.”

A spokesperson at Cleartrip said from hotels’ standpoint, the platform is already seeing a 2x increase for the Christmas and New Year weeks compared to the other ‘business as usual’ days of the year.

“For flights, most carriers will operate at 90-95% full capacity during the last week of December,” the person said. “The segment size has increased by 1.8x compared to last year and by 1.2x compared to the business as usual period. Flight bookings have increased by 15% for leisure markets and will continue to increase closer to departure dates.”

Paritosh Ladhani, joint managing director at Sincere Developers that owns the Taj Hotel and Convention Centre in Agra, said there is an “unprecedented” demand from domestic tourists and occupancies and room rates driven by domestic travellers are at an all-time high.

“Year-end vacations, marriage season and renewed focus on MICE have led to higher than ever advance bookings for the December to January period,” he said. “Room rates have also seen a surge. Revenue per available room is expected to grow as much as 50% in this period compared to the same time last year.”

The budget segment is also seeing an uptick. An Oyo spokesperson said the company is seeing a 44% year-on-year rise in booking demand for the upcoming holiday season between December 25-31, led by markets such as Goa, Hyderabad, Puri, Manali and Kolkata.

Rubin Cherian, general manager of Novotel Hyderabad Airport hotel, said while the property is a hardcore business hotel, it has a resort-like feel because of open spaces conducive to MICE and other social events. “Our hotel has seen a 25-30% rise in revenue over 2019 for both November and December,” he added.

Sripad Vaidya, cofounder and COO of ConfirmTkt, said leisure destinations such as Goa, Puducherry and popular train routes such as Chennai-Coimbatore, Chennai-Kolkata, Delhi-Jammu Tawi, Hyderabad-Visakhapatnam, and Tirupati-Hyderabad are seeing high demand.

Abhay Sinha, director general of Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC), said while hotels are likely to be overflowing with domestic tourists, issues such as e-visas for British tourists have been sorted, Indian embassies overseas have also been given the responsibility of attracting more inbound tourists to the country.



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