Skift India Report: Our First India Summit

We are thrilled to announce a new event coming next year, the Skift India Summit in Delhi-NCR, happening March 20-21, 2024. This follows the successful launch of our India newsletter, Skift India Report, the Skift India Travel Podcast, with more features to come. 

The summit will be held at The Leela Palace New Delhi and The Leela Ambience Gurugram and bring together CEOs, leaders, innovators, and creative thinkers to explore the future of travel in a post-pandemic world.

What to Expect? The event will feature big-picture discussions around three important themes

  1. The outbound Indian traveler moving confidently around the world
  2. The complete reset of the giant domestic market post-pandemic and the boom around it 
  3. The still sluggish-but-full-of-potential inbound tourist market into India

Tickets: Early bird tickets are available at $495, with group rates at $445. Act now to secure the best rates.

Boeing Sees No Signs of Slowdown, Citing Strong Growth Metrics in Aviation

Forecasting the Indian aviation sector’s growth fundamentals to remain strong, Boeing India President Salil Gupte said that the rationalization of fuel taxes and continued investments in infrastructure will help sustain the momentum. 

“We see no slowdown (in India) and we continue to see very high load factors, extremely high rates of profitability amongst the airlines and we see extremely strong demand for airplanes as we have seen in some of the largest orders ever placed in the world,” Gupte told the Press Trust of India.

Record Orders: Indian carriers have around 1,500 planes on order. Earlier this year, Air India placed an order for 470 aircraft, including 220 planes from Boeing. 

The Boeing commitments, not including the options, are worth an estimated $15 billion, according to Cirium.

Investments in India: Boeing has also announced various investments, including $100 million for training pilots in the country. It has maintenance training partnerships with partners for having enough skilled mechanics in India.

Tapping Into Growth Opportunities: Indian carriers are expected to require more than 2,200 aircraft in the next 20 years. In order to tap the growth opportunities, Gupte said a few ingredients need to be put in place, including ensuring that there are enough pilots and mechanics to fly all these airplanes.

“That is going to require significant skilling, it is going to require us to train 37,000 pilots and 38,000 mechanics over the next 20 years,” he said. 

In another development, Boeing has invited Indian startups and students for its innovation leadership program.

Sikkim Bans Homestay Owners from Leasing, Renting Property to Third Parties

The Sikkim government has issued an advisory, announcing a complete ban on leasing out and renting homestay accommodations to any third party. Homestays will now be run and operated only by the local entrepreneur owning the business.

Homestay owners are advised to comply with the same. Further, any report on violation of the same shall be dealt with strictly by the department, it said. 

Why the Ban? The state government provides subsidized loans for the establishment of homestays in the state to promote entrepreneurship amongst local stakeholders in the tourism industry. 

The Homestay Association of Sikkim, an apex body of homestay owners, has been demanding such a ban for some time. Around 1200 homestay accommodations are registered with the state government.

“Homestays, as the name suggests, are ideally to be run and operated by people who live in the home, with extra floors to let out by sharing local cuisine and culture. If homestays are being leased out to commercial parties such as hotels, this local experience is lost completely,” Pintso Gyatso, general secretary of the association told Skift.

Rightly so, homestay owners can lease out their properties but once that’s done, it should be registered as a separate entity and be sold accordingly, he added.

Domestic Air Traffic to Grow 8-13% This Fiscal: ICRA

Domestic air passenger traffic is likely to grow 8-13% in the current fiscal and the aviation industry is also expected to trim the losses further, according to credit rating agency Icra.

The traffic also rose about 23% year-on-year to 12.4 million in August and was 6% higher than the pre-Covid level.

Passenger Figures: Domestic air passenger traffic during the first five months of the current fiscal stood at 63.2 million, witnessing a year-on-year growth of 20% from 52.6 million a year earlier and 7% higher than the pre-Covid levels of 58.9 million.

The international passenger traffic for Indian carriers, according to the ratings agency, surpassed the pre-Covid levels in the financial year 2023. It is expected to cross this level in the current fiscal, with an estimated 25-27 million passengers, Icra said.

Stable Outlook: The continued recovery in domestic and international air passenger traffic, and improved pricing power of the carriers led ICRA to maintain a stable outlook on the Indian aviation industry.

Leisure Hotels Group Unveils Boutique Resort in Uttarakhand 

Experiential resort chain, Leisure Hotels Group has added a boutique retreat ‘Suvaasa’ to its growing portfolio of 28 hotels. The property is located in the hill town of Ramgarh in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Number of Rooms: The hotel has nine rooms with private balconies. 

Recent Deals: The group signed an agreement with Auradoon Resorts for an upcoming boutique business hotel in Dehradun. The 60-key hotel is located on Rajpur Road.

Current Portfolio: With several experiential luxury resorts in North India, Leisure Hotels Group’s portfolio has business hotels, boutique resorts, bespoke villas, luxury camps, and hostels. 

Expansion Plans: The company plans to add 10 more properties by 2025.

Indian Visitors to Bahrain Rise 87% During January-June

Indian tourists to Bahrain increased 87% to 504,173 during the first half of 2023, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) said in a statement. A total of 269,302 people from India visited the Kingdom of Bahrain in 2022, the authority said.

Targeting Pre-Pandemic Levels: To increase tourist footfalls from India beyond 2019 levels, Bahrain is capitalizing on more marketing and promotion efforts with its local partners. 

During 2019, Bahrain had hosted over 1.26 million Indian visitors, including both tourists and business travelers.

Connectivity: In April, the country’s national carrier Gulf Air started operating four weekly direct flights between India’s beach destination of Goa and Bahrain

Airports Authority to Install Full-Body Scanners at 4 Airports

To make security checks quicker and error-free at airports, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) received clearance from the Public Investment Board to install full-body scanners that will cut down the passenger frisking time by half.

Which Airports? These scanners will be installed at four airports in the country including Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, and Goa.

How the Scanners Function: These millimeter-wave technology-based full-body scanners work on the principle of body contours, which means these are designed to detect objects that could be concealed in the body.  

Initial Proposal: The initial proposal was to install 131 full-body scanners and 600 new hand-baggage scanner machines at 43 airports that include Amritsar, Goa, Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, among others at over $121 million at AAI-run airports.

Agoda to Launch India Campaign in November

Digital travel platform Agoda is set to launch its brand campaign in India in November. This will be Agoda’s second ad in the country since the successful ‘No More Drama!’ campaign launched last year. 

Star Cast: The campaign will feature Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana, who is also the new brand ambassador for Agoda in India. 

“I always make sure there’s an upcoming trip in my calendar to look forward to and it’s great to see I’m not the only one, given how tourism is booming in India. I’m hoping that together with Agoda I can encourage even more Indians to travel and see the world for less,” said Khurrana.

Agoda CEO Omri Morgenshtern during his visit to India in March had said that India could rank among the top three markets for outbound travel in the coming years. 

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