Nine of the top 10 cities with highest RevPAR are leisure destinations led by the holy town on the banks of the Ganga, according to data collected by hospitality consulting firm Hotelivate.
The tenth — Chandigarh — is a borderline case as it is a transit point between Delhi-NCR and Himachal as well as a buzzing business district.
Covid completely turned the tables on which Indian cities — leisure or business — command the highest hotel rates. In the last pre-Covid fiscal 2018-19 (the pandemic had started making headlines since early 2020), four of the top 10 costlier RevPAR cities were the government-cum-business metros — Mumbai, Delhi, Gurugram and Bengaluru.
The highest rates were enjoyed by dreamy Udaipur, that has now been displaced to the second spot by Rishikesh — which did not even figure in the top 15 list of FY 2019.
Hotelivate founder chairman Manavi Thadanic told TOI: “We track rates of cities that have at least five branded hotels. last fiscal (April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022) due to Covid work from home (WFH) people were traveling to leisure destinations within drivable distances and staying for longer periods like a week. This led to higher occupancies and room rates.”
Was the emergence of Rishikesh as the city with highest RevPARs surprising? Rishikesh has several branded properties and is very close to Delhi-NCR and other big cities.
Taj alone has two properties there. Then there are others like Glasshouse on the Ganges, Ananda, Lemon Tree and Amayaah.
“So it wasn’t a surprise,” Thadani says.
Will leisure destinations continue to lead the race now that corporate and business travel has picked up pace in recent months for the first time since March 2020? “This will correct to a certain extent but carry one to a large extent. During Covid well to do Indians discovered domestic tourism, domestic destinations. Those of us who used to travel abroad suddenly realized the charms of their own country. Plus airfares are very high and driving to nearby distances in personal vehicles will continue, keeping the highest RevPAR leisure destinations very much in the reckoning,” Thadani said.
Indian hospitality leaders admit that domestic tourism kept the industry alive during the dark days of Covid. “Leisure destinations till remain strongest in terms of both occupancy and rates. Business destinations have a lot of catching up to do,” said a hotel official.