The most recent OYO Cultural Travel 2022 Roundup Report demonstrates that religious fervour is what is fuelling India's travel resurgence. According to the survey, Tirupati, Puri, Amritsar, and Haridwar are the next most popular religious destinations for travellers in India after Varanasi. Shirdi, Rishikesh, Mathura, Mahabaleshwar, and Madurai are some other popular spiritual tourist destinations in India, and they have seen the most spike in bookings over the past year, along with these cities.
Varanasi is a renowned pilgrimage destination in India for both Hindus and Buddhists, which explains its appeal to tourists travelling for religious reasons. Many tourists are now looking forward to seeing rich cultural places, lesser-known locations, royal palaces, and spiritual or wellness destinations due to growing interest in community experiences around India. This year's festive holiday season has led to some interesting revelations from the global hospitality technology platform OYO about pilgrimage and spiritual tourism in India. According to OYO's insights into booking data, August saw the greatest demand for pilgrimage locations.
Varanasi ranked as the top destination with the greatest number of bookings among Indian spiritual places, according to OYO's analysis of booking data between August and October 2022. It's interesting to note that due to the Indian holiday season, the city saw its highest foot traffic on August 13. Varanasi had the most bookings and experienced the highest growth, although Shirdi, Tirupati, and Puri saw the greatest increases in bookings, at 483 per cent, 233 per cent, and 117 per cent, respectively. Strong growth was also seen in Amritsar and Haridwar. Aside from these locations, Mathura, Mahabaleshwar, and Madurai are three more developing spiritual tourist hotspots in India that have experienced the most development in the previous 12 months.
According to data insights, one person booked the Prayagraj stay that lasted the longest at 61 days. Mathura had the second-longest single stay at 54 days.
The most popular spiritual destination in India, according to a zone-by-zone analysis, is the north, followed by the south, west, and east. Varanasi has been the most well-liked travel destination in the North Zone, followed by Prayagraj, Amritsar, Haridwar, Katra, and Rishikesh. While visitors to South India will likely visit Vijayawada, Mysore, Tirupati, Madurai, and Vellore to discover its cultural centres. The top five cities in the West zone are Shirdi, Mahabaleshwar, Nashik, Ujjain, and Pushkar. The most popular East Indian travel destinations were Puri and Goa.
The day when spiritual travel was only accessible to a select few is long gone. Travel used to be restricted to summer vacations, winter travels, and post-exam trips, but it is now much more diverse. Millennials and Gen Z are leading the way in new trends for the sector as their demand for spiritual connection becomes more important. Spiritual and self-care travel are becoming more and more popular, and demand is rising. While factors like the availability of lodging, good transportation options, and a sizeable unmet demand for travel have fuelled the desire for spiritual and religious journeys.
In order to boost pilgrimage tourist destinations, the Indian Railways has taken an initiative to encourage religious travel around the nation by running trains such as the 'Swadesh Darshan', 'Jagannath Express' and 'Ramayana Express'. Many states have taken policy actions to promote cultral travel. For instance, the Uttar Pradesh government has rolled out several initiatives to build and promote the Ramayana and Buddhist tourist circuits by investing close to 10,000 crore in the tourism sector. The state governments of Uttarakhand and Kolkata respectively, have also stepped up their efforts to ensure effective arrangements such as road connectivity to religious destinations, better air connectivity and offer essential aid with bookings, etc. for pilgrims travelling to the states. Supporting India's strides to promote culture and spiritual destinations, OYO offers features to benefit every traveller, such as 'Pay At Hotel', search 'Nearby Stays', easy cancellation policies, among others.
In today's post-pandemic India, travel is all about flexibility and spiritual travel, alongside business and leisure travel are leading India's travel recovery.