SP Jain, CMD, Pride Hotels has been steadily expanding his chain of hotels across the country. Here, he speaks on his vision for inbound, the likely prospects this year and what India can do to increase its stake in global tourism.
Inbound Tourism: where are the Numbers, and where are the Rooms?
India’s domestic tourism industry is currently expanding and in high demand. This has resulted in a stockpiling of accommodation, which has subsequently driven up prices. Catering to domestic tourists is financially more rewarding for businesses compared to serving foreign tourists. Domestic tourists tend to book directly and make upfront payments, which is one of the reasons why domestic travel is more appealing. These upfront payments provide businesses with immediate revenue and reduce the risk of cancellations. In contrast, foreign tourism often involves bookings made through travel agents who have a history of delayed payments. Businesses that depend on foreign tourists may face financial difficulties as a result. Furthermore, acquiring domestic tourists is generally less costly for businesses compared to attracting foreign tourists. Domestic tourists are more likely to plan and organize their trips independently, resulting in reduced marketing and promotional expenses for businesses. On the other hand, attracting foreign tourists often requires extensive marketing efforts and collaborations with international travel agencies, which can be more expensive and time-consuming.
Future of inbound tourism in the near future?
In the near future is uncertain and it is challenging to make definitive predictions. 2022–2023’s peak season did not perform as well as it did prior to the pandemic in 2019. The immediate years ahead and the 2023–2024 season are also anticipated to be slow. Factors such as ongoing travel restrictions, changing traveler preferences, and the global economic situation can influence the pace of recovery and the flow of inbound tourists. But there are some positive signs that bring good cheer. The government has taken steps to promote tourism by waiving visa fees for certain countries. This initiative can help attract more visitors from those countries by reducing entry barriers. Such measures demonstrate the government’s recognition of the importance of inbound tourism and its efforts to encourage it. Additionally, the growing popularity of Indian cinema and other local cultural products has increased awareness of India as a tourist destination. Such exposure can pique the interest of potential foreign tourists. With the expected success of the ongoing progress of the G20 deliberations in our country, improving economic conditions, geopolitical dynamics, and travel trends. These factors can help shape the recovery and growth of the tourism industry, in a positive direction.
Availability of rooms for inbound business? Trends in intake from foreign tourists as compared to 2019?
Offering accommodation to inbound business is not an issue, there are rooms available, for sure. However, we expect the utilization to be much lower than the year 2019. Due to increased domestic hotel competition, we also anticipate lower rates. We don’t expect this to increase significantly the intake of foreign tourists, as the cost of acquiring foreign tourists is still high.
Immediate steps that can enhance inbound tourism in India
• Infrastructure Development: GOI can prioritize infrastructure development in tourist destinations, including improving transportation facilities, creating better connectivity, and upgrading accommodations. This will enhance the overall experience for foreign tourists and make India a more attractive destination. To build and promote tourism infrastructure and services, the GOI and FHRAI can encourage public-private partnerships. This collaboration can help attract investment, leverage expertise, and drive innovation in the tourism sector. Some of it is already underway, major developmental plans are already underway, but more destinations can be taken up for inclusive development. We need to add destinations on offer!
• Marketing and Promotion: To emphasize India’s wide range of tourism options, GOI should initiate comprehensive marketing and promotion initiatives in collaboration with industry stakeholders. These campaigns can target key source markets and leverage digital platforms, social media, and travel trade events to reach a wider audience.
• Sustainable Tourism: GOI and FHRAI can work together to promote sustainable tourism practices across the country. This can include initiatives like promoting eco-friendly accommodation, encouraging responsible tourism, and supporting local communities.
• Easy Visa Processes: GOI can work towards simplifying the visa application processes for foreign tourists. This can involve implementing online visa applications, introducing e-visa facilities for more countries, and reducing processing times.
• Skill Development and Research: Businesses can establish skill development programs for tourism industry professionals. This will ensure that the workforce is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide high-quality services to international tourists. Businesses can study inbound tourist patterns and tourism trends. This information will help identify growth opportunities, understand visitor preferences, and tailor specific marketing strategies accordingly.
Pride Hotels Group, under the leadership of Mr. S.P. Jain, CMD, has established itself as a successful and determined conglomerate in the fields of Hospitality, Construction, and Finance. With a career spanning over three decades, his contributions to the industry have been significant, including his roles as the former President of the Hotel & Restaurant Association and Vice President of FHRAI. The group’s portfolio consists of several brands that cater to different market segments. The flagship brand, Pride Plaza Hotel, is part of the Indian Luxury Collection and is located in Aerocity – Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata. The Pride Hotel brand represents centrally located business hotels and operates in Bangalore, Chennai, Nagpur, Pune, Udaipur, Bhopal, Indore, Bharuch, Greater Noida, and Kanpur.