India’s thriving religious tourism
sector is helping grow leisure travel as people are increasingly starting to club other activities along with their visit to sites of religious prominence.
OYO, India’s largest hotel aggregator, surveyed 1,700 people across eleven major cities to find that 65 per cent of them visited religious sites for reasons beyond spirituality or religion. These ‘pragmatic pilgrims’ as the company calls them are mostly young and highly tech-savvy in nature.
Shopping, visiting nearby tourist attractions, adventure sports and consuming local cuisine ranked high on the list of things to do when travelling to a spot of religious prominence. Moreover, the study found that people’s travel to religious destinations is becoming more impulsive, with over 55 per cent of respondents agreeing to this.
“Travel to religious destinations is among the largest segment of the domestic travel business. In the last few years, these destinations have seen a resurgence, particularly as young people visit them for the range of experiences they offer like arts and craft in Pushkar, rafting adventures in Rishikesh
and culinary delights of Amritsar,” said OYO
Founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal.
The biggest challenge for both travellers and service providers is fragmentation, primarily due to lack of infrastructure and standardisation, the company says. This fits right into the problem OYO
is trying to solve by offering standardised economy rooms at the thousands of hotels
that have become its partners.
The survey found that Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity are becoming important factors when these pilgrims are deciding on their accommodation, while cleanliness and comfort topped the list of considerations. OYO
partners provide free Wi-Fi and cleanliness has been one of the biggest pitches of the company ever since it started in 2011.
Apart from plugging its own services, OYO’s survey, however, shows that travellers, even the ones going on pilgrimages, are increasingly connected, with 60 per cent of the respondents admitting that they updated their social media at least once a day when travelling. This could also imply that more people research about a spot and book accommodation online prior to their travel.
Another key finding of the OYO
survey is that 56 per cent of the respondents travelled over short weekend breaks as the duration of their pilgrimage was just one-two days. Sixty-two per cent of them also said that their chances of planning a spontaneous visit to a religious spot over the next one year were high.