After six months of being confined at home dealing with office and family pressures, Rohan Vora, a Mumbai-based communication professional, has broken loose. Along with six like-minded friends, he set off to Igatpuri, a hill station in Nashik district of Maharashtra. “Since then, we have been hunting for newer, less-crowded, locations. We had a workation in a resort and are now planning to visit Panchgani,” Vora says.
He is not alone. Tired of being cooped up for months, an increasing number of Indians are now travelling with a vengeance. But they are mostly seeking out destinations that are off the beaten track and not crowded.
‘Revenge Tourism’ is hitting Indians. The term ‘revenge travel’ is a riff on the 1980s Chinese concept of ‘revenge spending’ , when the country saw an explosion in consumer spending after it emerged from restrictions. Now, it is used to describe the angsty, bottled-up demand for travel after several months of lockdown.
Surge in bookings
Hospitality industry professionals corroborate this trend. They say they are seeing a surge in bookings in all segments, from luxury to basic, and occupancy at some places has already touched 80 per cent during weekends and holidays.
Says Zubin Songadwala, Area Manager, South – ITC Hotels & GM, ITC Grand Chola, “On weekends, you will find 70 per cent plus occupancy in hotels on Chennai’s East Coast Road.” He says ITC Hotels’ properties in Bengaluru and Hyderabad are getting a lot of business and leisure travellers while ITC Grand Chola Chennai, which re-opened only on September 1, is already seeing fair demand.
Others echo this. “We opened in mid-July. While the initial response was weaker than what we expected, now we see that every 15 days there is an improvement,” says Nikhil Kapur, Founder of Atmantan, a Pune-based luxury wellness resort.
While travel is picking up, people have not entirely thrown caution to the winds and are choosing destinations within 3-5 hours of driving distance. “Thirty-six of our 40 hotels are drivable locations from main cities hence we are seeing a surge in traffic in Sterling Resorts,” says Vikram Lalvani, Chief of Sales, Revenue and Destinations, Sterling Holiday Resorts.
He also says many guests prefer premium categories of rooms which offer them more space, more open areas such as private sit-outs and balconies. Besides, the average room nights are also going up to 5-7 nights, from 3-4 nights witnessed earlier.
“The adjoining State travel is another trend which is picking up. For instance, the Gujarat market is moving towards Mount Abu in Rajasthan while Delhi-NCR is moving towards Sariska in Rajasthan, or Mussoorie and Nainital in Uttarakhand,” says Lalvani.
Mussoorie’s hotel operators are excited by the number of visitors they are getting suddenly. “In October, we have observed 30-40 per cent increment in the number of tourists compared to September,” Sandeep Sahni, President Hotel and Restaurant Association, Uttarakhand, said in a press statement.
With affluent Indians unlikely to travel abroad for leisure this year, hotel operators are hoping to cash in on this segment. “Around 75-80 per cent of those who travelled abroad for vacation earlier will not be able to go at least for the next 6-7 months,” Atmantan’s Kapur said. He says the hope is that when this segment starts travelling in November-December, it will be to destinations in India which they perceive as quality and safe.”