Following the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, online travel agencies (OTAs) are riding a wave of optimism as they anticipate a substantial surge in tourism. The preliminary data indicates a remarkable 70 per cent increase in bookings, signifying a potential transformation for Ayodhya’s economic landscape.
Dhruv Shringi, CEO & Whole-Time Director of Yatra Online, addressed the surge in interest surrounding Ayodhya. He pointed out the current trend of spiritual tourism gaining momentum in India, accentuated by the grand inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Yatra, he shared, has noted a significant 70 per cent surge in booking queries from December to January for the city, underscoring heightened interest in this historic event.
“We have also noticed that the daily searches for Ayodhya have skyrocketed by four times in January as compared to December last year,” he told ETTravelWorld.
“The surge in Ayodhya’s visitors post the Ram Mandir’s opening will truly be remarkable and will bear substantial implications for the city and its surroundings,” Shringi further emphasised. The ripple effect is expected to extend beyond the religious context, positively impacting small businesses and contributing to the overall economic growth of the region, he added.
Cleartrip also corroborates this trend, reporting a 32 per cent surge in air bookings to Ayodhya on its online travel platform. Prahlad Krishnamurthi, Chief Business Officer at Cleartrip noted a threefold increase in searches for flights, coupled with a twofold spike in hotel searches.
“The prices for hotels have spiked by 60 per cent, while flight fares have increased by 10 per cent compared to the first week of Jan 2024,” added Krishnamurthi.
Further, Yatra has also reported a surge in demand for spiritual destinations, with Varanasi, Puri, Amritsar, Tirupati, and Shirdi experiencing notable increases in bookings, reflecting a broader trend of travellers, notably young, wanting to explore spiritual facets along with their journeys.
Most travellers staying in Lucknow, preferring Ayodhya via road
Up to 500,000 devotees were anticipated to flock to Ayodhya on January 22, resulting in fully booked hotels with skyrocketing room tariffs. This resulted in a few travellers exploring local alternatives, just a few kilometers from Ram Janmabhoomi and even accommodations in nearby cities like Lucknow.
“Currently, most travellers going to Ayodhya are staying in Lucknow which is just a four-to-five-hour commute away from Ayodhya via road,” revealed Shringi.
He noted that while hotel infrastructure is not yet fully developed in Ayodhya, significant improvements are underway. “We expect that within the next 2 -3 years, several large hotel chains will set up their hotels in Ayodhya.”
A recent report by the global brokerage firm Jefferies also reveals significant business developments in the hotel and hospitality sector of the city. Major players such as IHCL, Marriott International, Wyndham, and ITC Hotels have already signed deals for new properties in Ayodhya. OYO also plans to add 1000 hotel rooms, further enhancing Ayodhya’s accommodation infrastructure.
Report forecasts economic impact and business opportunities
In the Jefferies report based on the tourism boom in Ayodhya, a monumental economic impact from the surge in tourism is anticipated. The grand opening of the Ram temple is projected to make Ayodhya a new tourist hotspot, potentially attracting over 5 crore tourists annually, the report mentioned.
Jefferies’ report also outlines a USD 10 billion makeover plan, encompassing a new airport, revamped railway station, township development, and improved road connectivity. This initiative is expected to fuel a multiplier effect, spawning new hotels and diverse economic activities, setting a template for infra-driven growth in tourism.
Within the realm of travel service providers, airlines are also swiftly responding to the rising demand. IndiGo, Air India, Spicejet, and Akasa Air have all announced direct flights connecting Ayodhya with multiple cities. The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is facilitating travel with specially designed tour packages to Ayodhya, as per the report.
As the city braces for an influx of visitors, Ayodhya stands at the cusp of a transformative period, propelled by the opening of Ram Mandir and the promising surge in tourism.