News

International Hotel Chains Push Into Smaller Indian Cities

A staff member of Vivanta By Taj, a Tata group hotel, walks past the swimming pool at a luxury hotel in Bangalore, India. People in cities like Jaipur want international experiences similar to the kind available in big cities. (2009 File)
A staff member of Vivanta By Taj, a Tata group hotel, walks past the swimming pool at a luxury hotel in Bangalore, India. People in cities like Jaipur want international experiences similar to the kind available in big cities. (2009 File)

As domestic tourism booms in India and a growing economy creates wealth beyond the country’s urban hubs, international hotel groups are pushing into smaller towns and cities. 

Luxury hotel chains in Jaipur

As the winter chill recedes and spring sets in, three children play poolside at the Marriott Hotel in Jaipur city on a Sunday morning under the supervision of their father, who works in the city.

The hotel opened seven months ago in this northern, historic center of forts and palaces.  Jaipur has long been popular with foreign tourists and is home to many heritage hotels.

But it is not international visitors that the Jaipur Marriott is targeting.  Rather, it is domestic customers like Sachin Sharma, who want to relax over the weekend with their family in a modern, luxury hotel.

“It’s a different kind of experience.  The five star hotels, their way of treating people and their cuisines are different from (what) Jaipur used to have in their heritage kind of hotels," Sharma said. "Here we can find every single cuisine from different, different countries.”

As India’s economy booms, a number of international hotel chains such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fairmont Hotels, and Park Hyatt Hotels and J.W. Marriott have been expanding in the country.  But they are not just looking at the main urban hubs of New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

New markets in Tier 2 cities

They are also opening properties in what is known as Tier 2 cities - fast growing urban centers with a population of less than five million.  Some of them, including Japiur, have been identified as India’s new boomtowns.

The Jaipur Marriott's general manager, Pankaj Birla, says they want to fill the gap for contemporary, five star hotels in these cities, both for residents and domestic tourists.

“I would say almost 85 to 90 percent of our business is on domestic demand.  And what you are seeing is Tier 2 cities have more propensity to spend and the wealth that is being created in India is getting down to Tier 2 cities,” Birla stated.

The luxury hotel has hosted conferences organized by companies and professionals, and weddings held by rich Indians. Its coffee shop and weekend buffets are popular with residents.

India's tourism, new frontiers

And it is tapping into a boom in domestic tourism.  As new airports and highways are built, Indians are traveling inside the country more than ever.  The number of domestic tourist visits nearly doubled in three years to about 740 million in 2010.  The number of foreign tourists is about six million, and is growing far more modestly.

The president of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, Kamlesh Barot, says that has prompted luxury hotel chains to focus on domestic tourists.

“The budgets which are sanctioned for corporate travel within the country has shot up.  But also the family crowd spending power that was available yesterday to only the top affluent class has now percolated down to the upper and the upper middle class," Barot said. "Also, the effects of the recession abroad…. people who were coming from abroad with a lot of spending power, has actually declined because of the recession.”

Barot calls it a “paradigm shift” from dollar spending to rupee spending.

Purnendu Kumar of the Technopak consultancy says as aspirations rise in smaller towns, businesses such as retail chains and hotels are targeting them to tap into their growing wealth.

“Everybody has access to the latest consumption trends, what is happening in larger cities, even globally, everybody is aware of that, so people now with more money in the pocket would definitely like to behave like the people whom they idolize," Kumar added. "Whom they aspire to be.”

General Manager Birla, who comes to the Jaipur Marriott after working in Germany and the United States, has noticed a huge change since the time he left India nearly 20 years ago.  He says people in cities like Jaipur want international experiences, of the kind available in big cities.

“People in Jaipur used to always travel to Delhi to eat a good pizza, a good teppanyaki, a good sushi, a great pasta, now they have it their backyard,” Birla noted.

Retail consultants say India’s smaller towns are emerging as new frontiers for investments and businesses in a country where the economic boom has been fueled largely by domestic demand.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs