After taking severe blows for the better part of two years due to the pandemic, the tourism sector made a strong comeback in the State in 2022, as “revenge tourism” in full form.
Statistics provided by the Tourism Department showed that between January and October this year, over 14 crore domestic tourists and over 50,000 foreign tourists visited the State. While this only takes into consideration the ticketed tourist destinations, private operators also reported a surge in bookings to Karnataka.
Hygiene in focus
A dominant trends observed this year was customers’ demands about hygiene and safety during travel. “Travellers took into consideration the hygiene and safety standards along with flexibility in bookings before finalising their travel plans,” said Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip. Wellness tourism was among noteworthy travel trends of the year 2022.
This year, from receiving a record number of tourists during summer vacation and Dasara season and the reintroduction of the luxury train Golden Chariot to some of the highest occupancy rates in Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) properties, and the discovery of unexplored destinations, the sector had a lot going for it. JLR properties have earned around ₹86 crores in revenue this year. The year also saw the emergence of many new accommodation spaces like hotels and homestays.
“In Karnataka, during the tough period of the lockdown, prices of hotels and resorts had on average fallen to about half and now they have gone up by that much from base and that’s a swift 2X increase. The luxury segment, especially, has seen a record year with not just peak occupancy, but also highest ADRs (average daily rates). We have also seen the emergence of several new hotels and resorts in destinations like Chikkamagaluru, Sakleshpur, Shivamogga and the Udupi regions, to name a few. This has been really encouraging as traffic went beyond Mysuru-Kabini-Kodagu circuit,” said Sanjar Imam, President, Karnataka Tourism Forum (KTF).
Ambitious projects, roadshows
In February, the hyped 23-kilometre Nandi ropeway project, which had been in the pipeline for years, was approved by the Cabinet. During the Budget of 2022-23, over ₹300 crore were earmarked to be used on developing basic infrastructure facilities, hotels and ropeways in tourist destinations. Pavitra Yatre, a scheme operated by KSTDC to enable tours to pilgrimage centres was also announced in the budget. The government opted for Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for many projects.
This year, tourism roadshows also made a comeback on a larger scale as the department and KSTDC went around the country to promote the tourism destinations. Among things which made a comeback was also the KSTDC’s luxury train, Golden Chariot, which set out on its first journey on November 20 and reported a 46% occupancy, better than its earlier average.
Summer surge and Dasara dash
As international flights resumed on March 27, summer saw a drastic surge of tourism this year with respect to both inbound and outbound travel. While many were eager to fly off to destinations like Maldives, Thailand and Singapore, others traveled within the country to Goa, Kashmir and neighbouring Kerala the most. Within the State, Mangaluru, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Hampi and Bandipur were the popular destinations during the period.
With international travel on the rise, those who traveled by air also increased this year. Data from KAYAK, a travel search engine, showed that flight searches from airports in India (between April - November 2022) increased by about 204% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
Inbound tourists of the State, both domestic and foreign, mostly visited traditional destinations like Hampi, Badami, Mysuru, Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru. With many preferring to stay close to open, natural destinations, locations like Bandipur, Kabini and Nagarahole received a great number of tourists. JLR properties in Bandipur and Kabini ran on an average of 83% and 84% occupancy this year.
World renowned Mysuru Dasara was also back to its former glory this year. Private tour operators had reported around 40% increase in bookings to Mysuru during the time and most properties were running on a 100% occupancy.