‘Travellers now seek pilgrimages with local cultural & soft adventure experiences’

 ‘Travellers now seek pilgrimages with local cultural & soft adventure experiences’

Vaishno Devi is a favourite pilgrimage for north Indians

Team L&M

The pandemic influenced YOLO (You Only Live Once) sentiment has created a strong impact on the Indian traveller. The New Age traveller prefers to immerse into a destination and experience it like a local. Spiritual locales are no longer restricted to only sacred sites but also experiences – adventure, wellness, food, culture and history. Thomas Cook (India) Limited – India’s leading omnichannel travel services company and its Group Company, SOTC Travel’s data reflects a surge in demand of 100 per cent YoY for spiritual locales with a high preference for cultural experiences and adventure.

The recent inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, along with improved connectivity and infrastructure, has accelerated online searches by ten times. In a focused endeavour to tap into this high potential yet unorganised segment, the companies have expanded their spiritual tours portfolio with a diverse range of ready-to-book and personalised tours to spiritual locales across India and the subcontinent.

While historically India’s seniors/Gen S comprised a key segment for spiritual travel, Thomas Cook & SOTC are witnessing an uptick in demand for spiritual destinations from segments like multigenerational families, honeymooners/couples and Young India’s millennials and Gen Z.

Darshans and Pilgrimage Plus Holidays cover destinations like Rishikesh, Dwarka, Varanasi and Rameshwaram with hand-picked local experiences, food and sight-seeing

The Companies’ consumer data reveals that demand is not restricted to traditional pilgrimages, but also for unique local experiences. Thomas Cook and SOTC have hence curated an attractive product range – Pilgrimage Plus – featuring a combination of spiritual breaks with local experiences: outdoor adventure like mountain biking and paragliding in Vaishno Devi, Rameswaram – a hub for fun or diving with PADI professionals, river rafting and kayaking in Rishikesh, camping in Uttarakhand, jungle trekking in Gujarat, etc. Also, unique experiences like sunset boat rides in Varanasi, the Chhau dance – that blends classical Indian dance with martial arts and folk traditions, the nesting of the Olive Ridley turtles at Gahirmatha and Rushikulya in Odish, the stepwell in Rani ki Vav in Gujarat or learning the martial art of Kalayaripayattu in Kerala.

Travellers seeking pilgrimages
Tirupati Temple is one of the often-visited temple in south India

Says Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited, “Indians are increasingly drawn to spiritual journeys, more so with the pandemic increasing appreciation for life, in gratitude and to invoke blessings. Spiritual locales are attracting interest from not only seniors and families, but also from the younger segment – millennials and group of friends. With the government’s strong focus on connectivity and infrastructural development, we have seen an uptick of 100% YoY. To tap into this high growth segment, we have expanded our spiritual plus tours to feature a range of popular sites coupled with unique local experiences – across culture, cuisine and outdoor-adventure.”

Agrees Daniel D’souza, President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel Limited” “Spiritual tourism has witnessed significant growth in India: our data reflects an uptick of 20-30 per cent month- on-month. Over our 75 years as a company, we have witnessed the evolution of Pilgrimages with Indians now combining darshans with leisure and this was the genesis of our extended range of Pilgrimage Plus tours.

Pilgrimage Plus tours provide a spiritual core together with a getaway amidst tranquil nature or in combination with outdoor-adventure and authentic local experiences.”


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