Growth of Hospitality Industry in India 2023 and Prospects for 2024

Reflecting on the Year: A Recap of 2023

The hospitality industry in India experienced a remarkable revival in 2023, marked by escalating hotel prices, soaring airfares, and increased travel expenditures. This translated into a promising year for tourism and hospitality in India. As we delve into 2024, sustained growth is strongly indicated, particularly in domestic travel. Premium hotels nationwide reported impressive occupancy rates ranging from 70% to 72%, accompanied by average room rates exceeding ₹6,000 per night, as the rating agency Icra indicated. Notably, hotel revenues demonstrated a robust 20% surge compared to 2022, with operating margins surpassing the 30% mark.

Factors driving the growth of hospitality Industry in India

The remarkable growth of hospitality industry in India in 2023 can be attributed to many influential factors. At the forefront is the substantial double-digit increase in revenue, fueled by a resurgence in domestic demand and the recovery of foreign tourist arrivals. Notably, the year was marked by the buoyancy of domestic leisure trips and the thriving landscape of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) events. Hosting major global events, including the G20 Summit and the ICC World Cup, played a pivotal role in driving the industry’s success. The return of business travellers was equally significant, contributing substantially to the growth of hotel industry in India during the year.

The attraction of visa-free travel offerings from countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Kenya has significantly contributed to the escalating demand for outbound travel. In the initial ten months of 2023, the total number of outbound tourist departures reached an impressive 22.6 million, surpassing the previous year’s figure of 17.5 million for the same duration. Furthermore, the country experienced a substantial surge in foreign tourist arrivals, welcoming 7.2 million visitors during the first ten months of 2023, a noteworthy increase from the 4.6 million recorded during a comparable period in 2022.

Religious Tourism Boom

Tourism and hospitality in India have also seen a notable surge in religious tourism, with destinations like the Ayodhya Ram Temple, Kashi Vishwanath, and Mahakal Temple in Ujjain drawing increasing numbers of spiritual seekers. The estimated influx of over 50 million tourists annually to Ayodhya reflects the growing interest in these sacred sites. Furthermore, the opening of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi in 2021 has bolstered tourism in the city, with 130 million visitors already flocking to the area, as per government data. Other religious landmarks, such as the Tirupati Temple in Andhra Pradesh, which sees 25 million annual visitors, and the Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu and Kashmir, with 8 million visitors yearly, continue to hold profound spiritual, historical, and cultural significance across India, adding to the growth of hospitality industry in India.

This surge in tourism isn’t just about spiritual exploration; it’s also a significant economic driver for India. The focus on infrastructure development and city branding initiatives has attracted a significant influx of tourists and promises to create numerous employment opportunities across various sectors, including hospitality, travel agencies, transportation, and more. As these cities continue to evolve, they’re attracting tourists and laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and development.

Surging Opportunities and Hiring Trends in 2024

Fueled by a surge in travel, India experienced a remarkable 50% increase in hiring for tourism and hospitality positions between December 2022 and 2023. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)’s Economic Impact Research has forecasted India’s ascent to become the third most influential market in the global travel and tourism industry. Looking ahead, the upcoming year is poised for a 15-20% growth in hiring within the sector of tourism and hospitality in India, with a particularly notable surge expected in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024, projecting an impressive uptick of 68% compared to the preceding quarter.

Ministry of Tourism data reveals that in 2022, religious tourism welcomed a staggering 1439 million visitors, generating ₹1.34 lakh crore in revenue from these sacred sites. Projections indicate that by 2028, the sector is poised to yield a revenue of 59 billion, concurrently creating 140 million temporary jobs and permanent jobs by 2030. The Ayodhya Ram Temple’s religious tourism alone is estimated to contribute nearly 25,000 employment opportunities across roles such as chefs, front desk managers, housekeeping staff, and tour guides and significantly contributing to the growth of hospitality industry in India.

As the industry evolves, the emphasis on sustainability and responsible tourism is creating novel job avenues, including roles in eco-tourism and conservation. Additionally, upskilling the existing workforce is deemed crucial to meet the demands of this evolving landscape. Government initiatives, such as the Incredible India campaign and infrastructure projects, are estimated to play a pivotal role in job creation. Consequently, the travel sector is expected to be brimming with opportunities in 2024.

On the hospitality front, major players like the Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), known for operating Taj Hotels, are gearing up to expand their footprint by adding 20 hotels across various cities. Similarly, Lemon Tree Hotels, another prominent player, is set to open 20 establishments in CY2024, spanning locations in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Accor has outlined plans for a pipeline of five hotels in the coming year. In comparison, Marriott International and Wyndham are strategically positioned for substantial growth, with plans to add 60-plus and 40 hotels in the next few years. These ambitious expansion plans underscore the dynamic and flourishing landscape for the future of the hotel industry in India.

How Budget 2024 will impact the tourism and hospitality Industry in India

The 2024 budget announcement unveils a promising trajectory for India’s vibrant Travel & Tourism industry, buoyed by the successful hosting of G20 meetings across sixty locations. This global platform has not only showcased India’s cultural richness and economic dynamism but has also positioned the country as a premier destination for business and conference tourism. At the heart of the budget’s agenda lies the strategic development of iconic tourist centres, complemented by robust branding and global marketing efforts. By prioritising quality standards through establishing rating frameworks, the government aims to enhance visitor experiences and bolster the industry’s competitiveness on the global stage. Allocating long-term, interest-free loans to states for tourism infrastructure development underscores the commitment to fostering local entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism growth.

In response to the burgeoning demand for domestic travel, the budget allocates resources for enhancing tourism infrastructure, particularly in scenic locales like the Lakshadweep islands. Investments in port connectivity, tourism amenities, and infrastructure projects aim to stimulate domestic tourism, spur economic activity, and create employment opportunities in these regions. Overall, the 2024 budget sets a strategic course for leveraging India’s diverse tourism potential as a catalyst for inclusive growth and development, fostering economic prosperity while preserving and promoting the nation’s rich cultural heritage.

Closing Note

India’s tourism and hospitality industry experienced significant recovery and growth in 2023, marked by increased domestic and international demand, major global events, spiritual & religious tourism, and expansions in hotel chains. Looking ahead to 2024, the budget announcement sets a clear vision for enhancing India’s tourism offerings. Embracing sustainability and innovation will be key to driving inclusive growth and maintaining competitiveness.

Author

Balasubramanian A

VP & Business Head
TeamLease Services Limited

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