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Desi tourists look outbound

It?s now old hat that India needs at least one lakh more hotel rooms to combat rising tourism.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2006 02:39 IST

It’s now old hat that India needs at least one lakh more hotel rooms to combat rising tourism. Reportedly, we, as a nation, have fewer hotel rooms than Manhattan. Now, the hospitality sector has something more to chew on: sector consultancy HVS International’s report this month says that the average room rate ratio (ARR) in India has gone up a whopping 31 per cent (Rs 5,859) over the last fiscal (Rs 4,471).

Sanjeev Sethi, assistant general secretary (events and marketing), Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), says that star hotels in India are catering to business travellers and foreign tourists. Karan Anand, director, Cox & Kings feels that “star hotels cater to traffic based on their business interests”.

And according to Deep Kalra, CEO, makemytrip.com, “It’s a supplier’s market for the hotels as there’s huge demand from corporate India and foreign tourists.”

Where does that leave domestic tourism – a sector that will see close to 370 million Indians travel within the country? “It’s a problem,” agrees Sethi. “The sector has to be given infrastructure status, and the present minister has promised to look into the matter.” Kalra adds that the government should “provide incentives to the hotel industry to expand the infrastructure at the earliest. Also, the tax structure is very high, specially on luxury hotels.”

Till such time, the best bet for middle-class Indians will be to touchdown on foreign locales. Here’s why. While a Delhi-Thailand 4 nights stay package comes for Rs 21,000 (all inclusive), a Delhi-Goa one comes for around Rs 10,000 more. Three things have happened to lure the domestic traveller to foreign shores, explains C&K’s Anand: “Airfares on the international sector are, in many cases, on par with domestic airfares (at times even cheaper); foreign destinations are far better shoppers’ stops; and more and more travel agencies are coming out with travel EMIs that makes it easier for people to globe-trot.”

And “since an overseas holiday costs you around Rs 4,000 per person per day, an international destination definitely scores over Kerala or Goa when it comes to the average Indian traveller,” says Kalra. “This is what is called more bang for your buck.”