ICC World Cup is a massive boost for the travel industry

With the ICC World Cup 2023 on the horizon, the Indian travel industry is experiencing an unprecedented surge fueled by the insatiable passion of fans to watch the matches live.

Airbnb data shows that searches for stays in India have gone up dramatically, with Ahmedabad at the forefront of this cricketing fervour. Accommodation searches in Ahmedabad have spiked by a staggering 4,000 per cent, largely driven by the anticipation of the India-Pakistan match. International cricket enthusiasts, mainly from the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, are leading the charge in travel interest during the tournament. Additionally, cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Lucknow, and Kolkata are also witnessing a remarkable uptick in accommodation searches.

Bharatt Malik, Senior VP of Flights and Hotel Business at Yatra Online, underlined an incredible surge in hotel bookings, resulting in unprecedented rate hikes. “Airfares to key match destinations have also seen significant increases. On match days, airfares have skyrocketed by 2-3 times, and the rates for 4/5-star hotels have reached astonishing levels with price hikes of 10-15 times. Even 3-star and lower-category hotels have doubled their room rates,” he said.

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Malik noted that the cricket fever shows no signs of abating, with double-digit growth trends seen across all cities near the World Cup venues. He anticipated a substantial surge in demand as the ICC opens its ticket sales platform, particularly in cities like Lucknow, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Delhi.

In domestic air travel, there has been a 38 per cent increase in the average number of domestic air tickets booked compared to the same period in 2022. Kolkata leads the pack with a remarkable 104 per cent increase, closely followed by Lucknow at 97 per cent, Delhi at 49 per cent, and Bangalore at 46 per cent.

While hotel rates have surged, airfares have seen an average increase of 7 per cent compared to 2022. Airlines are ramping up their capacity to accommodate the heightened demand during the cricket matches, providing hope that airfares may not spike as dramatically as hotel prices.

Host cities like Ahmedabad, which is hosting the highly anticipated India versus Pakistan match, have witnessed a modest 17 per cent increase in corporate travel bookings, usually made less than seven days in advance. Domestic seat capacity for September stands at 105 per cent, nearly matching international seat capacity at 103 per cent. October shows both domestic and international capacity at 102 percen.

FCM India reported a staggering 31 per cent average price surge in corporate hotel bookings compared to the same period in 2022. This surge represents a 19 per cent increase compared to 2019, reflecting the immense popularity of cricket in the Indian subcontinent. Among the 10 host cities, Lucknow saw the most significant price surge, a remarkable 472 per cent increase, followed by Pune at 82 per cent. Hyderabad and Mumbai experienced price hikes of 77 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, while Ahmedabad saw a 20 per cent increase.

Also Read | Cricket tourism picks up in India

Booking.com, the ‘Official Accommodation Partner’ for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India, boasts over 28 million listings in more than 220 countries and territories. The OTA is optimistic about growth.

Santosh Kumar, Country Manager for India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia at Booking.com, highlighted the surge in demand for accommodations in key match cities during the World Cup period, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Dharamshala.

As the countdown to the ICC World Cup begins, hotel rates across host cities are witnessing dramatic surges. Insights from RateGain revealed that hotel rates are two to three times higher in most cities during October and November compared to the same period in 2022. Pune, Ahmedabad, and Dharamshala stand out with price increases of over 300 per cent from last year, primarily due to their relatively smaller hotel inventories. This contrast is evident when compared to larger cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru, where prices have also surged but to a lesser extent.

The ICC World Cup 2023 has not only shone a spotlight on India’s host cities but has also ignited unprecedented excitement among fans. Hotel demand is reaching unprecedented levels, reflecting the passionate engagement of fans from around the globe. Many travellers are expected to extend their stay to explore these vibrant host cities. Industry players like Oyo are gearing up by adding 500 new hotels before the tournament starts, while MakeMyTrip is expanding its inventory of homestays to cater to the growing demand.

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