Hotels Gain on Travel Boom in India

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Boosted by the travel boom, the Indian hotel industry is set to report double-digit revenue growth in fiscal 2024, as projected by ratings agency ICRA. Optimistic Outlook for Hotel Occupancy: ICRA estimates premium hotel occupancy across India to reach a decade high at 70-72% in the fiscal year, after recovering […]

Boosted by the travel boom, the Indian hotel industry is set to report double-digit revenue growth in fiscal 2024, as projected by ratings agency ICRA.

Optimistic Outlook for Hotel Occupancy: ICRA estimates premium hotel occupancy across India to reach a decade high at 70-72% in the fiscal year, after recovering to 68-70% in fiscal 2023. This optimistic outlook is underpinned by robust demand, relatively limited supply, and an anticipated increase in average room rates (ARRs), with ARRs for premium hotels anticipated to fall within the range of INR 6,000-6,200.

What’s Driving This? The medium-term demand prospects remain promising, driven by enhancements in infrastructure, air connectivity, favorable demographics, and the expected growth of large-scale meetings, incentives, conferences, and events, particularly with the opening of multiple new convention centers in recent years.

Larger hotel chains stand to benefit from revenue-sharing arrangements and profits derived from hotel expansions through management contracts and operating leases.

Asset-Light Expansions: The staff-to-room ratio remains approximately 15-20% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Asset-light expansions have proven margin-enhancing for major hotel chains. However, there may be some moderation in margins from the levels seen in fiscal year 2023 as hotels undertake renovation and maintenance activities, albeit significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.

El Salvador Slaps $1,100 Travel Fee on Indians

El Salvador has introduced a fee of nearly $1,130 (including $130 tax) for Indian travelers and individuals from over 50 African nations.

Why? The fee requirement was recently announced by El Salvador’s port authority as response to the growing challenges of illegal migration faced by the U.S. Reports indicate that many migrants pass through Central America to enter U.S.

The official statement from El Salvador’s port authority outlined that airlines must now daily inform Salvadoran authorities of passengers arriving from the list of 57 countries in Africa and India.

Major carriers like Avianca, which frequently use El Salvador’s airport as a hub, have begun notifying travelers from these countries about the mandatory fee, which must be paid before boarding flights bound for El Salvador.

The revenue generated from this fee would be directed towards improving the infrastructure of El Salvador’s primary international airport, as stated by the port authority.

India Resumes Some Visa Services for Canadians

India has now resumed some visa services for Canadians, the Indian High Commission in Ottawa announced recently.

Announcement: “After a considered review of the security situation that takes into account some of the recent Canadian measures in this regard, it has been decided to resume visa services,” a statement from the Indian High Commission read.

Which Visa Categories? The visa services have been resumed for people of Indian origin, and those requiring permits to attend conferences or for business or medical reason.

However, the statement read that emergency services would continue to be handled by the Indian High Commission and the consulates in Toronto and Vancouver.

Excluded Visa Categories: The categories for which India continues to suspend visa issuance include tourist, employment, students, film, missionary and journalist.

Why Were Visa Services Suspended? Ottawa’s assertion of “credible allegations” linking India to the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, leader of the separatist organization Khalistan Tiger Force, led to escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

India suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens “until further notice” on September 21.

Latest Development: Canada has called India’s move “a good sign” and said the decision has come after “an anxious time” for many Canadians.

Air India’s New Head of Operations

Air India has announced the appointment of Klaus Goersch in a newly created role of executive vice president and chief operations officer. Goersch will oversee flight operations, engineering, ground operations, integrated operations control and cabin crew functions.

A licensed pilot, Goersch has previously held similar positions in both British Airways and Air Canada.

Air India has also announced other senior announcements. Manish Uppal, who transitioned from Air Asia India a few months ago, has been appointed senior vice president flight operations, while Henry Donohoe’s corporate safety, security and quality role will be expanded to include emergency response, and will be retitled senior vice president safety, security and quality.

Also…

Air India has deployed its newly-inducted B777 aircraft to all three U.S. destinations it serves non-stop from Mumbai – New York JFK Airport, Newark Liberty Airport (New Jersey) and San Francisco.  

In addition, one of the two daily Air India flights between Mumbai and London Heathrow will now also operate on the new B777 aircraft.

India Looks for Direct Connectivity Between Northeast and Vietnam

India urged Vietnamese airlines to consider starting direct flight to and from cities in India’s northeastern states.

International Connectivity So Far: Bhutan’s national airline Druk Air is the only international carrier that operates flights to Assam’s capital Guwahati, also known as the gateway to northeast India.  Druk Air currently operates direct flights from Guwahati to Singapore.

Thai Air Asia has announced a new service connecting Guwahati with Bangkok from December 1.

Connectivity: In a discussion on investment and trade, union minister of state for external affairs, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, highlighted the air, road and rail connectivity of the eight northeastern states and urged Vietnamese airlines to explore potentials of air connectivity between these states and cities in Vietnam.

The tourism ministry has also planned tourism roadshows to showcase destinations in Northeast India and an International Travel Mart is also scheduled to be held in Shillong in November this year.

Sarovar to Come up With Second Faridabad Hotel in 2024

Sarovar Hotels & Resorts has entered into an agreement with Delite Aravali View to open a 74-room hotel in Faridabad, Haryana. Delite Sarovar Portico is expected to be operational in 2024 and will be the first Portico-branded hotel in Faridabad.  

“We are extremely pleased with the growing presence of our brand in Delhi (NCR) where we currently operate 15 hotels with the majority being Sarovar Porticos. Delite Sarovar Portico will be our second hotel in Faridabad and we are looking forward to its opening and extending a seamless experience of Sarovar hospitality across our NCR hotels,” said Ajay K Bakaya, managing director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts and Director-Louvre India.

Recently-Renovated Claridges Delhi Gets New General Manager

Hemendra Singh Kushalgarh has assumed the role of general manager at The Claridges New Delhi, and has also been appointed the vice president of operations for The Claridges.

Kushalgarh has previously held positions at The Lodhi New Delhi and Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. His career began at Oberoi Hotels and Resorts.

The Claridges has recently undergone a comprehensive series of upgrades, including the refurbishment of guest accommodations, the enhancement of a wing of rooms and suites, its spa and fitness facilities. Additionally, the hotel has introduced a new golf simulator, reimagined its bakery, and unveiled a new restaurant, Erawaan, earlier this year.

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