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Retail chains, hotels rush to ramp up presence in temple towns

Mar 28, 2024 12:33 PM IST

Retail chains are capitalizing on the surge in spiritual tourism; from budget stays to luxe retreats, hotels are catering to the diverse needs of pilgrims

The surge in spiritual tourism, thanks to improvement in infrastructure, including well-connected roads, airports, and public transportation, as well as the development of various accommodation options such as hotels, guesthouses, and wellness centers, is attracting retail brands to set up shop in temple towns, a report by CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd titled ‘Decoding Real Estate through the Spiritual Tourism Lens’ has said.

Retail chains, hotels rush to ramp up presence in temple towns. (PTI)
Retail chains, hotels rush to ramp up presence in temple towns. (PTI)

The rise of urban spiritual tourism in cities such as Amritsar, Ajmer, Varanasi, Katra, Somnath, Shirdi, Ayodhya, Puri, Tirupati, Mathura, Dwarka, Bodh Gaya, Guruvayur, and Madurai has led to these cities witnessing a retail boom.

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The key retail brands that have established their presence in 14 cities include Bata, Biba, Manyavar, FabIndia, Sketchers, Woodland in Amritsar; Manyavar, Pantaloons, Domino’s, Pizza Hut in Ayodhya; Pantaloons, Shoppers Shop, Burger King, Croma in Varanasi among others, the report showed.

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Retail brands such as are strategically adapting their offerings in both established mall clusters and high-street locations to cater to the growing tourist population.

The report highlights retail chains capitalizing on the surge in spiritual tourism across 14 key cities in India. As more pilgrims and spiritual seekers visit holy cities in India, retail brands across segments, including fashion and apparel, food and beverage, hypermarkets, homeware and department stores and consumer electronics brands, are expanding by tailoring the offerings to the pilgrim’s needs.

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This trend underscores the symbiotic relationship between spiritual tourism and the retail industry, benefiting both sectors from the increased foot traffic. This trend reflects a broader shift in tourist preferences, with travelers seeking transformative experiences beyond traditional rituals, the report said.

Leading hotels catering to spiritual travelers’ needs

Spiritual tourism remains an attractive revenue stream for India’s hospitality sector. Across various segments, such as economy, midscale, upscale and luxury, the hotel industry shows potential. Major hotel chains are adapting to the evolving preferences of spiritual tourists, offering clean, hygienic, and family-friendly accommodations that command premium pricing.

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Several cities have a strong pipeline of new hotel projects, with well-known brands like Marriott, Taj, and Hyatt showing keen interest in entering this market. Branded hotels are emerging as key players, offering a blend of comfort and traditional hospitality tailored for spiritual seekers. Boutique and experiential hotels provide personalized services, curated spiritual activities, and authentic local experiences.

“The rapid expansion of spiritual tourism in India is driving the growth of the country’s faith-based tourism market. Government initiatives to promote tourism and improve connectivity between pilgrimage sites are further boosting this growth. The rise of online retail platforms offering easy access to faith-based products and services is also a key factor,” said Anshuman Magazine, chairman and CEO, India, South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa, CBRE.

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Ram Chandnani, Managing Director, Advisory & Transaction Services, CBRE India, said, “Driven by the growing popularity of spiritual tourism, investors are flocking to capitalize on the market’s potential. Guided by a commitment to cater to the unique needs of spiritual travelers, these investments aim to deliver high-quality accommodations, bolster infrastructure, safeguard heritage sites, and ultimately drive regional economic growth. This trend has created opportunities for the hospitality and retail sectors to thrive in these destinations.”

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