Bringing back the domestic tourists

At BW HOTELIER’s latest webBlast series, The GM Show, on Going Big on Domestic! Re-tasking the absence of the International Traveller, hospitality industry experts discussed as to how they need to strengthen the travel and hospitality industry with the help of domestic travellers

It is an undeniable fact that the tourism industry in India suffered a huge blow ever since pandemic walked in our lives. With inbound tourism on halt, it is domestic tourists in the country that is keeping the industry alive. The travel and hospitality industry has recognised this opportunity and is planning around it to garner as much domestic tourists as possible. Although, it is still uncertain to predict the exact travel scenario in the post-Covid19 era but incumbent players have started strategising and adopting new trends to shape the future of travel. 

In another episode of BW HOTELIER’s webBLAST series titled Going big on domestic! Re-tasking the absence of the International Traveller, a group of distinguished panellists from the hospitality industry united to discuss the subject. Industry stalwarts who voiced their opinions in the discussion included Amaan Kidwai, Area Manager, Welcomhotels - North & GM, Welcomhotel Sheraton New Delhi; Namit Agnihotri, Area GM, Roseate Hotels & Resorts; Surinder Singh, Area Director - Dwarka & Haryana and GM, Taj City Centre Gurugram; Rahul Puri, Multi-Property GM, The Westin Gurgaon ND & The Westin Sohna Resort & Spa; Suman Gahlot, GM, Aloft New Delhi Aerocity and Ashwani Kumar Goela, Cluster GM, Rajasthan & Agra and GM Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport who was also the moderator of the show. 

Opening the conversation, Surinder Singh focussed on India’s capability as a tourist destination, emphasising on the fact that it’s not a small player anymore. “We are not the same as was decades back. India has emerged as a tourism hotspot and it’s the eight largest country in terms of contribution to travel and tourism GDP. So, it’s not a small player. As current trends indicate, domestic leisure travel which leads the industry recovery in short and midterm is here to stay. Unique locations that offer immersive, authentic, value-added offerings and services will definitely be the priority for tomorrow’s travellers. We all know staycations have helped us survive through all that has happened and I think that it will be here for a long time,” he said. 

According to Ashwani Goela, providing relaxation in rates and ease of money has been a prominent factor in increasing the influx of domestic travellers in India. “The ease of money and rate correction that India offered to the domestic travellers got a good value for money in the hotels. People have started taking holidays, from once a year to now three times a year. I think it is good for domestic guests to travel more. And of course, we all welcome them with open arms for whatever reasons to either meet our cost or to our salaries,” he shared. 

Highlighting the importance of domestic tourists in the comeback of the travel and hospitality industry, Suman Gahlot said, “It is a concern for every hotelier that the moment international flights open and global restrictions lift, how will we be able to hold them and how will we retain them? We need to strengthen the hook and do a lot more to ensure we sustain this moment that has such potential. I think the pandemic knocked us off our growth trajectory and we’ve seen millions losing jobs. The domestic tourists gave us a fresh lease of life and rescued us. It is important we give it the importance it deserves.” 

Resonating similar feelings was Rahul Puri who said, “I think we all are playing our roles in making sure our travellers are getting what they require. Whether they are traveling for business or leisure, the big fat Indian wedding or the large MICE businesses, I look at a lot of these things analytically and I could vouch for it within Marriott culture and the two hotels I run, our number one focus is to go local.” 

Pointing out the need to revamp the tourism sector and providing guests with rewarding experiences, Namit Agnihotri said, “Today when we are looking at rebuilding, we have a very niche country. Yes, we need hygienic areas, we need places that have the potential for increasing the length of stay of the guest also. Having said that, rebuilding the tourism sector and providing tourists with rewarding experiences across states will have to take part by all state tourism boards. It has to be public and private partnership here because we need frameworks and ease of doing business.” 

Lastly, commenting on the undiscovered potential of sports tourism in India, Amaan Kidwai said, “During my assignments in Bangalore and Chennai, sports was a large segment of the business during the sporting season, be at the ISL or IPL or various other events that I have been a service provider in. The government’s Khelo India campaign has brought about greater focus on sports infrastructure in the country. And with our ever-improving performance at global sporting events, be it the Olympics or Paralympics and other international individual sports and team sports, there is a tremendous potential to leverage the interest of the sporting enthusiasts to embark on sports tourism.”  

The show culminated with Bhuvanesh Khanna, CEO, BW Communities, thanking the esteemed panellists for sharing their thoughts and views on the subject and informing about the next GM Show at 5 pm on February 3 on F&B Play has been big: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges and Trends.


Around The World