Jaisalmer – Not Just A Market Snapshot!
J aisalmer, also referred to as the “The Golden City”, is home to the Jaisalmer Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the city boasts of some famous tourist attractions, such as Sam Sand Dunes, Khuri Sand Dunes, Gadisagar Lake, Patwon-ki-Haweli and Jain temples, it has struggled to establish itself as a prime leisure destination, unlike some of its peers in the state of Rajasthan.
Over the last couple of years, tourism in India has seen a significant upswing on the back of the rising purchasing power of the expanding middle class and a shift from foreign to domestic tourism, among other factors. This trend has been rather prominent in the leisure cities in India.
The Golden Triangle is one of the most famous leisure tourist circuits in the country, which connects the national capital, Delhi, to Agra and Rajasthan. Based on the tour organiser, these trips could vary from 7 days to 21 days. A typical tour covers Delhi, Agra, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Where, till around 2017, Individual Foreign Leisure and Group Foreign Leisure formed majority of the demand in Jaisalmer, there has been a steady shift in recent times, with demand from Individual Domestic Leisure outpacing that generated by Individual Foreign Leisure. Notably, over the past two years, the city has seen a 40% growth in domestic traffic. This sudden influx of tourists can be largely attributed to the commencement of direct flights to Jaisalmer from different parts of the country. Under the government’s UDAN-Regional Connectivity Scheme, two flight services were established in October 2017, connecting Jaisalmer to Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Surat, Delhi and Mumbai. However, these flights are only operational from September to March owing to the highly seasonal nature of the hospitality market in Jaisalmer.
Infrastructure and connectivity play a pivotal role in the establishment of a leisure destination, and Jaisalmer is a prime example. A city, which previously was a one-night stopover destination as part of the Golden Triangle circuit, has now evolved into a two-night destination for leisure and MICE. Improvement in air connectivity has aided the promotion of MICE demand, which earlier formed only a negligible portion of the overall demand in the city. Going forward, as Jaisalmer grows in popularity and more branded hotels/resorts open, we also expect it to establish itself as a prime wedding market, similar to other cities in Rajasthan, like Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur.
Seasonality-wise, Jaisalmer currently sees some major fluctuations in demand, as summer (April-September) tends to get quite unbearable; however, the period between October-February marks the peak season, with marketwide occupancies ranging anywhere between 80%-85%. The majority of the resorts in Jaisalmer tap on the leisure segment during the peak season by offering all-inclusive rates that comprise two meals, a desert safari and a camp culture show. Additionally, the two most popular sand dunes, Sam Dunes (3,000 tents) and Khuri Dunes (400 tents) that are home to the largest inventory of tented accommodation in the city, are only operational during this period. The tented accommodation in Jaisalmer presently operates in the unbranded space and is oriented towards the price-sensitive customer. Further, the Suryagarh is the oldest branded hotel in Jaisalmer and has enjoyed the monopoly in the market primarily from a leisure demand standpoint. It is also the hotel that has witnessed a significant increase in its average rate over the last two years and commands the highest average rate in the market. That being said, the hospitality landscape in the city is gradually evolving; Jaisalmer saw the opening of its first internationally branded hotel in October 2016, the Marriott Resort and Spa. While all the other resorts in the city have a sub-100 room inventory, the Marriott Resort and Spa opened with 137 keys. A higher inventory has allowed the resort to tap the high-paying social MICE segment in Jaisalmer and has also enabled the city’s potential to establish itself as a wedding destination.
Hotelivate believes that improved air connectivity, coupled with rising domestic demand and the evolution of the hospitality industry in the city, present an opportunity for hotel brands across positioning to explore the potential of this market. While some may argue the viability of this market during the lean season, we believe that once established, the seasonality gap may bridge in time. Resorts in the city can further tap the commercial demand from PSUs based out of Jodhpur in addition to the ad hoc military demand from neighbouring areas, which can cushion the lean season.
Did you know?
- Jaisalmer Desert Festival is held in February each year; this three-day extravaganza takes place in the midst of ancient havelis, historical forts, majestic palaces, temples and indigenous culture.
- Jaisalmer Fort, housing shops, hotels and ancient havelis, is the last “living fort” in India with over 2,000 residents.
- Carved out of yellow sandstone, The Jain Temples located inside the Jaisalmer Fort, date back to the 12th and 15th.
- Salim Singh ki Haveli from the 17th century has an extended arch roof in the shape of a peacock in addition to 38 balconies, each having a distinct design.
- The Desert National Park displays the ecosystem of the Thar desert with various species of animals and birds, including the endangered Great Indian Bustard (one of the world’s heaviest flying birds).
- For those interested in geology, the Akal Wood Fossil Park, 15 km from the city, is a 21-hectare preserved area with remnants of fallen and broken logs that date back to pre-historic times.
- The longest canal of India, called the Indira Gandhi Canal, terminates at the Thar desert.
- One of the largest solar parks in India, the Bhadla Solar Park, is located approximately 150 kilometres northeast Jaisalmer.
- The Jaisalmer Wind Park is India’s 2nd largest operational onshore wind farm (developed by Suzlon Energy).
- Located 110 kilometres east of Jaisalmer city, Pokhran, served as the test site for India’s first underground nuclear weapon detonation. It is also known for its fort and handicrafts.
- The Iron Fist, an Indian Air Force exercise is held at Pokhran, once every three years. The last two were held in the year 2013 and 2016.