With the launch of Darshans in August, SOTC became the first travel services provider to offer over 40 curated end-to-end itineraries covering 60 popular spiritual destinations in India. Spiritual tourism is the single largest category in domestic tourism which is an untapped, fragmented opportunity said Vishal Suri, managing director, SOTC Travel.
A company survey found 53% respondents interested in opting for a pilgrimage if a reputed operator provided it. “Indians are seeking a preplanned, organized and comfortable spiritual travel experience. Pricing of our products has been worked around to suit every budget, offering travelers a seamless spiritual journey,” said Suri. Even international hotel chains are taking note of the growth in religious and spiritual tourism in India.
In April, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts launched Hyatt Place Rameswaram, its first vegetarian hotel, close to the Ramanathaswamy temple and other holy spots. It offers 101rooms and suites and the multi-cuisine 24/7 Gallery Cafe restaurant.
“Rameswaram is an important religious destination… It’s of significant importance to us and we have designed Hyatt Place Rameswaram’s experience keeping this in mind,” said Kurt Straub, vice-president, operations, Hyatt.
“Earlier, people who wanted to visit the famous temples would stay at Madurai or Chennai and visit Rameswaram for only a day or two. This was in part due to lack of hospitality brands and stay options.
With Hyatt Place in Rameswaram, we now offer the guests a better choice of stay and hospitality.” Hyatt is looking at venturing into Himachal Pradesh next year, with the Hyatt Regency McLeodGanj, a town popular for its Buddhist nodes, the Dalai Lama’s temple and the Namgyal monastery. “Religion is an indispensable part of the Indian culture and travelling to religious places comes with it.
Several concepts such as experiential tourism and wellness tourism have emerged lately in the tourism industry in India and it won’t be incorrect to say that religious tourism has also picked up,” said Straub. Last month, the Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton announced the signing of a management agreement with Trillion Real Estate and Properties to launch DoubleTree by Hilton in Shirdi.
Scheduled to open in the first half of 2019, the property will be located in the historical town centre and marks the chain’s entry into the pilgrimage destination segment. “DoubleTree by Hilton Shirdi will mark the brand’s sixth property in this burgeoning market.
As the first upscale hotel in Shirdi, we look forward to delivering exceptional experiences to guests,” said Dianna Vaughan, global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. Kaushik Vardharajan, vice-president, development, India, Hilton, said the property will give them a first mover advantage among both domestic and international tourists.