The change of domestic tourist helped Rajasthan tourism during Covid

RAJASTHAN IS OVER over the years it has been sold to tourists as the most vibrant part of India that gives them a truly royal experience. Aggressive marketing had its impact. The number of tourists increased steadily year after year, until the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

In March 2020, 43.27 lakhs had come. domestic tourists and 86,573 foreigners. However, in April, the number of domestic travelers dropped to zero, with only 86 inbound tourists visiting the state.

The numbers for 2020, compared to 2019, showed a drop of over 71%. If 5.22 crore domestic tourists and 16 lakh foreigners had come to the state in 2019, their footfall in 2020 has plummeted to 1.51 crore and 4.46 lakh, respectively.

As Rajasthan now emerges from the shadow of the pandemic and prepares for the upcoming tourism season, there is a reorientation of focus and a change in strategy. As the recovery from the pandemic began in 2021, it was the domestic tourist that helped the tourism sector stay afloat. In 2021, 2.19 crore domestic tourists came to Rajasthan, compared to 35,000 foreigners. Compared to 2020, there was a 44.45 percent increase in the number of domestic tourists in 2021, while the number of foreign visitors decreased by more than 92 percent.

“The pandemic brought with it many lessons. It has taught us the importance of domestic tourism and enabled us to better frame our marketing strategies for tourists coming from other states,” said Gayatri Rathore, principal secretary, Rajasthan Tourism.

After two years, the Rajasthan Domestic Travel Mart was organized in Jaipur this July and more than 9,000 structured business-to-business meetings were held. About 200 suppliers of tourism products, such as hoteliers and tour operators, and about 300 domestic buyers participated in the event. The aim was to market Rajasthan to domestic tourists ahead of the tourist season in the state – from September to March.

A major reason for the increase in the number of domestic tourists in 2021 was restrictions on international travel. Chandan Singh, director of operations at Buena Vista Resort, said that if hoteliers in Rajasthan realized that there was a domestic clientele for high-end luxury products, domestic travelers also discovered that they could have memorable, value-added snob holidays within India. . “Tourism was the first industry to feel the impact of Covid-19,” he said. “While there was no income, there were expenses to be met, maintenance, paying salaries to staff, etc.

Players in the tourism sector changed their strategy and emerged from the pandemic better positioned in their approach to the customer. Many hoteliers have been able to avoid their dependence on travel agents and reach out to a wider range of customers.

Angad Deo Mandawa, director of Mandawa Group of Hotels, said the pandemic was actually a disguise for the hotel group. “When two tourists could not travel outside India, hotels like ours came to the rescue,” he said. “Also, a big healthy change is that we don’t have to depend on agents. Trading with them involved a credit limit and it was always difficult to make money from them. Over 80 percent of bookings are now done through online portals.”

Rajasthan ranks sixth in terms of foreign tourists and tenth in terms of domestic tourists, but accounts for 75 percent of heritage hotels in India. These traditionally catered mainly to inbound tourists. As for the luxury hotels and resorts, most of them in the heritage category, about 70 percent of the guests were from outside India.

Asked how the domestic clientele differs from foreign tourists, Farooq Qureshi, managing director of Rajasthan Tours Private Limited, said the perception that the former are unruly or stingy or do not fully appreciate cultural properties is changing fast. “Today’s tourists are very different from what they were in the 1980s or 1990s,” he said. “They are prepared to pay, but yes, they are more demanding and want better value for their money.”

Even as domestic tourists are celebrated and frowned upon, the foreign tourist is highly anticipated. Karan Rathore, vice-chairman of the Services Export Promotion Council, said that there is a need to regain the lost market and that is why the council has informed all concerned tourism operators about the need to name India as a must-visit destination. “Beyond tourist attractions, we need to focus on improved infrastructure and connectivity, as well as security. There needs to be an aggressive marketing of Incredible India as a global brand,” he said.

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