Saudi Tourism Aiming to Make India Top Source Market – India Report

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Saudi Arabia witnessed a 50% increase in Indian visitors in 2023. Now, it is ramping up its efforts to meet its ambitious target of 7.5 million Indian visitors over the next seven years.

The Saudi Tourism Authority has said that the kingdom aims to make India its top source market. The country is seeking to bring in 7.5 million Indian visitors over the next seven years. 

As part of its outreach strategy in India, the Saudi Tourism Authority held networking events in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Delhi and interacted with travel trade associations. 

Saudi-India tourism: In 2023, the kingdom witnessed a 50% increase in the number of Indian tourists as compared to 2022. As many as 1.5 million Indian tourists visited the Middle Eastern nation. The air connectivity between the two countries has also increased by 31% between 2019 and 2023. Flights now connect 12 major hubs in India with Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. 

Ramping up marketing efforts: Saudi Tourism Authority signed agreements and forged partnerships with several tour operators, travel trade associations, and event planners during the networking events. Notably, the country has simplified its visa process for Indian travelers by offering options such as e-visa and visa-on-arrival. 

Indian Hotels Company Opened 34 Hotels in 2023-24 Fiscal Year

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), which owns the Taj Hotels, signed 52 hotels and opened 34 properties in the 2023-24 financial year (April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024). The IHCL portfolio has crossed 300 properties, of which 91 hotels are in the development pipeline. 

The portfolio includes 14 new hotels that have been added as part of IHCL’s strategic partnership with boutique hotel chain Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels. The company has a robust pipeline for its luxury brand Taj, upscale brand Vivanta, and budget brand Ginger. 

The company’s future plans include upscale full-service hotels in order to tap into the potential of emerging markets, the company said. 

Akasa Air’s International Operations Commence

Budget airline Akasa Air commenced its international operations last week. Its inaugural outbound flight took off from Mumbai, Maharashtra and landed in Doha, Qatar. The airline is set to fly the route four times a week. 

In a statement, the airline also said that it has received traffic rights for three other international destinations. In the coming months, Akasa Air is expecting to expand its network to Kuwait, Jeddah, and Riyadh.

Akasa Air has been operational for less than two years. However, the carrier accounted for a 4.5% market share in the Indian aviation market in February 2024. For context, full-service airlines Air India and Vistara had 12.8% and 9.9% market shares, respectively. It flies to 20 domestic destinations, including Port Blair and Srinagar. 

IndiGo Commences Operations From Jagdalpur, Agatti 

India’s largest airline IndiGo has its operations in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh. It operated its first flight from Hyderabad, Telangana to the destination on Sunday. Another flight connecting Raipur, Chhattisgarh with Jagdalpur commenced on Monday. 

The airline on Sunday also commenced operations between Bengaluru, Karnataka and Agatti island in Lakshadweep archipelago. IndiGo is set to fly this route daily. 

With these additions, the budget airline’s network has expanded to 88 domestic destinations. 

India to Witness 10.5% Surge in Seat Capacity in Second Quarter

The Indian aviation industry is expected to witness a surge in airline seat capacity in the second quarter of 2024. According to a report by travel data provider OAG, the seat capacity this year is set to increase 10.5% as compared to the second quarter of previous year. Further, it would also be nearly 17% up as compared to the 2019 levels. 

The projection by OAG places India at the third position in terms of average seat capacity, behind the USA and China. The aviation analytics firm also stated that IndiGo, India’s largest airline in terms of market share, will witness a 4% increase in average capacity per flight in the second quarter of 2024 as compared with the 2019 figure. 

India Fourth-Largest International Tourism Market for Canberra 

India was the fourth-largest international tourism market for Australia’s capital city Canberra in 2023. The number of Indian tourists in Canberra last year surpassed the pre-Covid levels. In a statement, VisitCanberra said that 50% of the Indian travelers had visited the city to visit friends and family
Indian arrivals in Australia last year were record breaking. Between February 2023 and January 2024, over 402,000 travelers visited the island country.

In an interview with Skift, Nishant Kashikar, country manager — India and Gulf for Tourism Australia said that India was the fastest-growing inbound market for the country due to the growing middle class. He added that the government agency is working with Indian as well as Australian carriers and airports to boost direct air connectivity between the two countries.

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