Thomas Cook & SOTC Report 100% Growth in Demand for Spiritual Destinations in India – Travel And Tour World

The influence of the “You Only Live Once” (YOLO) mindset, spurred by the pandemic, has significantly shaped the preferences of Indian travelers. Today’s modern explorers seek to dive deep into the heart of destinations, living and experiencing them as locals do. The quest for spiritual destinations has evolved beyond traditional sacred sites to encompass a variety of experiences including adventure, wellness, culinary delights, culture, and history. Reflecting this trend, Thomas Cook (India) Limited, a premier omnichannel travel services firm, alongside its affiliate, SOTC Travel, reports a 100% year-over-year increase in interest for spiritual destinations, with a marked preference for cultural and adventurous activities. The recent unveiling of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, coupled with enhanced connectivity and infrastructure, has sparked a tenfold increase in online searches. To capitalize on this emerging yet fragmented market, both companies have broadened their spiritual travel offerings to include a wide array of bookable and customizable tours to spiritual sites throughout India and its neighboring regions.

Traditionally, spiritual travel in India attracted mainly the senior demographic. However, Thomas Cook and SOTC now observe growing interest from a diverse array of travelers including multigenerational families, newlyweds, and the younger generations of millennials and Gen Z.

Their customer insights indicate a demand that extends beyond conventional pilgrimages to include distinctive local experiences. In response, Thomas Cook and SOTC have developed an appealing product lineup named “Pilgrimage Plus,” which merges spiritual visits with immersive local activities such as mountain biking and paragliding in Vaishno Devi, scuba diving in Rameswaram, river rafting in Rishikesh, and jungle treks in Gujarat. Additionally, travelers can enjoy unique experiences like sunset boat rides in Varanasi, witnessing the Chhau dance, observing Olive Ridley turtle nesting in Odisha, exploring the Rani ki Vav stepwell in Gujarat, or learning the ancient martial art of Kalaripayattu in Kerala.

Moreover, the companies’ spiritual tour packages offer personalized wellness experiences, including meditation, yoga, and the Panchakarma ayurvedic retreat in Kumarakom, along with stays in Yoga Centers or Ashrams in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.

The spiritual tourism offerings from Thomas Cook and SOTC span a variety of themes such as:

  • Spiritual Journeys: Carefully selected tours to India’s renowned religious sites including Char Dham, Kashi-Vishwanath corridor, and many more, along with the Tamil Nadu temple circuit and sites in Nepal.
  • Ramayana Trails: Exclusive guided tours to places connected with Lord Ram’s life, within India and Sri Lanka.
  • Jyotirlinga Darshan Trails: Specialized tours to the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines across India.
  • Additional curated spiritual excursions such as the Anant Kashi Ayodhya Yatra and the Navagraha Temple Tour in Tamil Nadu.

Package inclusions feature guided or VIP temple visits, storytelling guides, Satvik cuisine, escorted group tours with proficient Thomas Cook/SOTC tour managers, and accommodations ranging from hotels to tents. Thomas Cook and SOTC also offer enticing incentives like the “Travel Now Pay Later” option and interest-free EMIs to make these spiritual journeys more accessible.

Mr. Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said “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. Customers can book a hassle-free darshan with us as we seamlessly handle their end-to-end comfort while they focus on their spiritual experience.

To offer customers ease and convenience, we also offer them the choice of Travel Now Pay Later and zero interest EMIs”

Mr. Daniel D’souza President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel Limited said “Spiritual tourism has witnessed significant growth in India: our data reflects an uptick of 20-30% 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. Our ready to book and personalized spiritual tours have been designed with care and offer a range of price points to suit every consumer segment.”

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