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Thomas Cook India & SOTC Travel focus on the growing segment of customers seeking to combine pilgrimages with local cultural & soft adventure experiences across India

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Mumbai: 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% 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 10x. In a focused endeavour to tap into this high potential yet unorganized segment, the Companies have expanded their spiritual tours portfolio with a diverse range of ready-to-book and personalized 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 from segments like multigenerational families, honeymooners/couples and Young India’s millennials and Gen Z.

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.

Thomas Cook and SOTC’s range of spiritual tours also include customized spiritual/wellness options like meditation, yoga, and wellness programs like the Panchakarma ayurvedic program at Kumarakom, Yoga Centre/Ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, etc.

Thomas Cook and SOTC’s Spiritual Tourism portfolio features a range of themes including:

Spiritual Journeys – handpicked tours to India’s most popular religious sites including Char Dham, Do Dham, Kashi-Vishwanath corridor, Vaishno Devi, Varanasi, Rath Yatra, Amarnath Yatra, Kailash Mansarovar, Bodhgaya, Dwarkadish; the Tamil Nadu temple circuit of Chennai, Tirupati, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram; Muktinath in Nepal and more

Ramayana Trails – private guided tours featuring locales associated with the life and times of Lord Ram, within India and in Sri Lanka, including Ayodhya, Prayagraj, Chitrakoot, Hampi, Madurai and Rameshwaram

Jyotirlinga Darshan Trails – dedicated tours to the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines across India

Anant Kashi Ayodhya Yatra

Navagraha Temple Tour – Tamil Nadu

Inclusions: Guided/VIP darshans at temples

Guide cum storyteller to explain the nuances and historical-cum-spiritual perspective of the locales

Satvik meals

Escorted group tours with expert regional language speaking Thomas Cook/SOTC tour manager

Accommodation ranging from hotels to tents

Thomas Cook and SOTC have introduced special offers like Travel Now Pay Later and zero interest EMIs.

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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