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Luxury retreats flooded with overseas enquiries as India opens for foreign tourists

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Our Special Correspondent

 NEW DELHI, March 26: India opened its skies on Sunday (March 27) for foreign tourists after two years of Covid-induced shut-down. Luxury retreats, which have held off challenges faced by a pandemic-crippled industry, are anticipating a rise in demand with the resum­ption of regular international flights.

 Ananda in the Himalayas, a destination spa resort in the foothills close to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand state, has witnessed an all-time high interest from foreigners after the issuing of tourist visas recommenced in December 2021.

 Mahesh Natarajan, chief op­erating officer of IHHR Hospi­t­ality Ananda, its owner company, says: “Several of our regular Ananda guests from various co­u­ntries have written to us des­cribing a void they have experienced these last two years when they could not continue their annual wellness programme.”

 The luxury brand has received a glut of en­quiries from overseas recently, especially for its panchakarma- (an Ayurvedic technique) and meditation-based programmes, reflecting the twin needs of phy­s­ical and emotional cleansing and rejuvenation after such a challenging period.

“Starting March-end, we expect a very buoyant demand from clients from the US, Western Europe, West Asia and other regions,” Natarajan adds.

 A financial hub like Mumbai is already seeing pent-up demand from foreign business travel, says Amruda Nair, Director of Araiya Hotels & Resorts. However, she believes that the real impact for leisure tourism will be witnessed during the winter season from November to February.

“In long-haul markets such as the US, there is certainly interest in the cultural, heritage, wellness and adventure destinations in India. I am already seeing returning guests from the US in my hospitality business in Europe,” says Nair. Apart from three resorts in India, she also runs operations under Araiya Malta in the European nation.

Allen Machado, CEO, Niraa­maya Wellness Retreats, says their overseas clients — particularly from the UK, US and West Asia — are showing willingness to return to India. The war in Ukraine, however, has dimmed interest from CIS (Common­wealth of Independent States) countries, he adds.

 “If international flights open up, we will see a good inflow and resurgence July onwards, particularly in the second and third quarters of this financial year,” Machado says.

 Niraamaya runs wellness retreats (four in Kerala, one in Bengaluru and another in Kohima) and private residences (in Goa, Kerala and Karnataka). Earlier, 80 per cent of its visitors were from abroad. Post-Covid, that was reversed to more than 90 per cent in favour of domestic clients, who are extremely price-sensitive. Niraamaya had to re-strategize its revenue model, and effect a drop of up to 40-50 percent in tariffs.

 There has been a major shift in how people choose their holidays, with hygiene and safety measures, less crowded destinations that are within a driving distance, and healthy cuisine forming a trend that is here to stay, says Machado.

 Evolve Back Resorts got in touch with its foreign travel operators and destination management firms after a gap of nearly two years. Its Executive Director Jose Ramapuram  exp­ects overseas traffic to pick up only from October “as we now enter an off-season as far as in-bound tourism is concerned.”

“We are, however, experiencing demand from long-distance travellers from within India,” he adds. “During the pandemic, we found a lot of regional travellers from within Karnataka (where Evolve Back has three properties) and nearby states.”

 In November 2019, Evolve Back had also acquired its first international property in Cen­tral Kalahari. Botswana, where its resort is situated, had no domestic demand and catered only to the international market. Following the pandemic, for two years, it had few guests. But the African nation has now opened up, and Evolve Back is seeing a rise in international demand.

 Back in India at Ananda, which offers the luxury of retreating to a secluded 100-acre forest estate reserved only for resident guests, the highlights include personalisation for every guest — be it wellness assessment and guidance, one-on-one sessions of yoga and meditation, or tailor-made gourmet meals.

 At Araiya’s 38-room Palampur resort in Himachal, overlooking the Dhauladhar range, its new offerings include walking tours in nearby villages and hikes in the mountains with trained guides from the neighbouring local community.

 Apart from those who drive to the hills from places in the North within a four- to six-hour radius, there is an increased willingness to take single flights such as from Delhi to Dharamshala, Amruda Nair points out.

 She cites a study by online travel firm Expedia last year, which suggested that the top drivers of value for people when booking hotels are enhanced cleaning measures, flexible cancellation policies and ease of refunds. She expects this trend to continue, even as luxury resorts expect increased demand with Indian tourism finally opening up.



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Sri Lanka’s economic confidence index plummets

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‘No one has rated Sri Lanka’s economic condition as excellent. 1.8 % rated it as good and 1.3 % rated it as getting better. The resulting score was a (-) 96. This rating was (-) 83 in January 2022, a wide ranging Verite Research public opinion survey reveals.

Key findings of the survey:

Government approval rating drops from 10% to 3%

The second round of the Gallup Style “Mood of the Nation” poll was conducted in June by Verité Research. It assessed the approval, satisfaction, and confidence of the nation in relation to the government, the country, and the economy.

The poll was conducted as a part of the syndicated survey instrument by Verité Research. This instrument also provides other organisations the opportunity to survey the sentiments of Sri Lanka.

1. Government approval rating | 3% | To the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the current government is working?” only 3% said they approve. In January 2022 this rating was at 10%.

2. Sri Lanka satisfaction | 2% | To the question, “In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in Sri Lanka?” only 2% said they were satisfied. This rating was at 6% in January 2022.

3. Economic confidence | negative (-) 96 | Multiple choice questions on the condition and trajectory of the economy are used to generate an economic confidence score. The score can range from negative (-) 100 to positive (+) 100. A score above zero means more people see the economic conditions positively rather than negatively. If everyone thinks the economy is in either excellent or good condition, and everyone also thinks it is getting better, the score will be (+) 10. If everyone thinks that the economy is in a poor condition, and everyone also thinks it is getting worse, the score will be a (-) 100. No one rated the economic condition as excellent. 1.8% rated it as good; and 1.3% rated it as getting better. The resulting score was a (-) 96. This rating was (-) 83 in January 2022.

Implementation of “Mood of

the Nation”

The poll is based on an island wide nationally representative sample of responses from 1,052 Sri Lankan adults, conducted in June 2022. The sample and methodology was designed to ensure a maximum error margin of under 3% at a 95% confidence interval. The polling partner was Vanguard Survey (Pvt) Ltd.

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Decline in share market in the wake of rate hike reports

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities began on a positive note yesterday but during the latter part of the day the market experienced a dip on account of the overall supply chain economy being subjected to a contraction, stemming from the fuel crisis. Consequently, CSE activities were relatively low keyed, market analysts said.

“We are reverting to the negative. There is uncertainty on all fronts, from the political to the economic. Therefore, we are expecting a rate hike on Thursday. This is creating a bit of a cloud and we may see this continuing further, a top market analyst said.

Even if top level decision- making is happening in Sri Lanka the impact is not felt at the grassroots level. This has resulted in unrest in the country, the analyst said.

Amid those developments, both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 97.9 points and S and P SL20 declined by 34.3 points. Turnover stood at Rs 1.3 billion with one crossing. The crossing was reported in JKH, which crossed 600,000 shares to the tune of Rs 73.2 million, its shares traded at Rs 122.

In the retail market, the top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Lanka IOC Rs 611 million (7.3 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 173.9 million (one million shares traded). LOLC Holdings Rs 47.4 million (120,000 sha4es traded), Hayleys PLC Rs 46.5 million (697.000 shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 46.3 million (6.4 million shares traded), JKH Rs 21 million (173,000 shares traded) and Softlogic Holdings Rs 20.5 million (794,000 shares traded). During the day 109 million share volumes changed hands in 15000 transactions.

The International Monetary Fund said last Thursday its talks with crisis-hit Sri Lanka had been “constructive”, thereby raising hopes it would soon grant preliminary approval for a desperately needed financial support package, observers said.

Meanwhile, the Colombo Consumer Price index rose 54.6 per cent year-on-year in June against a 39.1 per cent rise in May, according to the Statistics Department.

Yesterday the US dollar rate was Rs 360.73, which is now being controlled due to the prudent fiscal and monetary policies of the Central Bank.

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Dialog Club vision members receive access to an exclusive screening of ‘Jurassic World Dominion’

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In a bold and breath-taking new global adventure, the epic conclusion to the Jurassic film franchise ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ hit theatres across the world on June 10. Just a day after its global premiere, Dialog Club Vision Red members and their loved ones received special access to an exclusive screening of the film at the Kandy City Centre Multiplex on June 11.

The explosive end to the Jurassic era sees two generations of the film’s franchise unite for the first time with Hollywood’s Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard joined by Oscar winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill. Dialog Club Vision members were some of the first to witness the utopian world where Dinosaurs and humans co-exist.

With the best interests of its members and their loved ones at heart, Dialog Club Vision continues to deliver a world of exclusivity and privileges such as personalized care, exclusive discounts and offers, lifestyle and entertainment events and more. To explore more exciting offers available for Dialog Club Vision members, and to learn more about Sri Lanka’s premier loyalty programme, customers can visit the MyDialog App or visit dialog.lk/club-vision

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