Indian hotels upbeat as bookings pour in

Tuesday, 19 August 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: After a rough patch that lasted two years, there is cheer in the Indian hotel industry as enquiries and bookings pour in from Japan, the U.S., Canada, Britain, France and other Western countries.

"We are getting good queries and numerous bookings from overseas, including several new markets. If the trend continues, we expect the holiday season beginning in September to bring in 20-25 percent increase in traffic compared to two years back," said Deepak Sharma, secretary general (northern region) of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (HRAI).

"There is definitely a turnaround with hotel groups reporting 60-80 percent occupancy in metros and resorts for the season ahead. There is good demand and bookings from groups and individuals both from the West and East," said R.K. Puri, secretary general of the Hotel Association of India.

"The upturn that started in October has continued till so far. In the last six months, occupancy in hotels has been higher though the number of international leisure travellers is still not up to expectations," said Shyam Suri, secretary general of the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India.

The association with around 2,000 members is hopeful of a substantial rise in occupancy this calendar year.

"We expect the realisation (or returns) will improve as the occupancy in hotels goes up. The inching up of rates is still to start and may begin once the occupancy reaches higher levels. From 53 percent occupancy now, we expect the levels to go up to an average of 57 percent for all India," said Suri.

From October till June, international tourist arrivals to India had risen to 1.99 million as against 1.77 million in the corresponding period in the previous year, an increase of 12.5 percent, according to the tourism ministry.

At the peak, India had received about 2.5 million tourists prior to 9/11 and border tensions with Pakistan, when many countries issued travel advisories.

Through concerted marketing efforts, India has been able to turn the tide and is once more looking forward to receiving higher traffic this year.

Buoyed by the good performance of companies in India, there has been a rise in business travel from overseas and domestically, helping hotels shore up occupancy. There has also been a rise in number of domestic tourists.

Unless occupancy of hotels goes up beyond the mid-60s level, the tariff is unlikely to go up, say industry officials.

"Till now there is no move to increase tariff. But if the demand goes up, some hotels may like to cover their losses. This will however only impact walk-in tourists but not affect groups that have already booked for hotel stay," said Sharma of the 4,000-member HRAI.

Source: IANS
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