Astro Resort Tourism, Hospitality News, ET HospitalityWorld

By Paul Savio

There is a new buzz around certain stations these days. Guests who enjoy adventure sports, taking nature walks and sweating it out with a good game of badminton or table tennis will now be treated to a thrilling celestial experience. They will spend a night under the stars, learn to identify the different celestial bodies, understand a bit of the science, history and mythology behind them, and then observe some of them through telescopes. They will also learn to click stunning photos of the night sky, observe sunspots during the day, and participate in many other astronomy-related activities.

Astro-tourism is growing rapidly as an experience, especially in resorts, and it’s interesting to see how it has fared.

The tourism industry has had one of its craziest roller coasters of all time over the past couple of years. The crashes of the closures and subsequent influx of tourists (dramatically dubbed “revenge tourism”) have created shock waves not seen in decades. While the industry as a whole has yet to catch up to pre-pandemic levels, certain subsets of the industry have managed to regain lost ground. High-end tourism, and in particular luxury tourism, is expected to exceed 2019 levels by the end of 2022. Tourists in this segment were relatively less affected by the closures, as they worked in businesses that could withstand economic blows, or had jobs that allowed them to work from home and thus keep their bank account running, or have enough savings to finance a lifestyle independent of their regular cash flow. With the restrictions imposed on international travel by both India and destination countries, many who planned to tour abroad turned to domestic luxury tourism. “Work” has become a thing, and self-contained cabins and resorts have become a home for many.

As society returns to normal, not everything will return to the pre-pandemic way of life. Working from home has gained its share of fans, and you’ll soon see people working out on a regular basis.

Resorts and host families are the main beneficiaries of this lifestyle change. Thus, they see an increase in the number of days per trip. With the guest becoming a resident, resorts face the increasing task of keeping guests engaged. Many resorts have turned this into an opportunity by improving in-property experiences. This serves the dual purpose of earning goodwill from customers and generating additional revenue.

Enter Astro-tourism.

The field of astro-tourism has seen growing interest over the years. Rising disposable incomes have allowed people to spend on new experiences beyond their usual sources of entertainment. A global view of the world among millennials in India, who are now parents, has driven them to encourage their children to look beyond conventional career choices and get a diverse experience before making their decisions. There has also been a huge buzz around space exploration, with NASA’s Artemis program and ISRO’s Gaganyaan, as well as private players like SpaceX and Blue Origin making space trendy and ambitious again. .

Today, astrotourism is becoming the new experience that resorts can offer their customers, giving them another reason to stay and not go out. Astronomy experiences can lock guests in between 1 and 5 hours a day. This will be a huge amount of experiential learning, especially for children, and a lot of memories to take home.

Location is another important factor that boosts astro-tourism in resorts. Stargazing requires clear skies, unhindered by lights and dust pollution. Resorts are usually located far from towns and cities and occupy large tracts of often empty land. Their sky is quite dark. Therefore, a resort that offers astronomy experiences will be ideal for astro-tourism – it caters to the right demographic and has the right environment.

A third reason for this interest of resorts for Astro-tourism is the adaptability of the offer. Unlike a nature walk or safari whose offerings depend on location and type of wildlife, the night sky is almost the same everywhere. The differentiation therefore lies only in the way the experience is provided or the way the offer is presented. And that leaves room for endless permutations. This allows each station to offer a unique experience, whether it’s regular paid shows, parties, nighttime deep-sky viewing sessions, or even just as part of a nature walk.

Astro-tourism has been around for a while now, but it is extremely specialized. It’s been almost entirely self-sufficient – enthusiasts plan their own routes, invest in their own gear, and go on trips. The barriers to entry are therefore quite high for ordinary people to experience astrotourism. This makes this segment ripe for experience providers. As of now, no organized player exists apart from us, and even we are currently only working with a few top resort chains across India. As more and more suppliers enter the field, offers will be available on a much larger scale in resorts and vacation destinations.

We are still in the neonatal stages of this segment of tourism today. While this brings its own share of uncertainty, all indicators point to this field growing by leaps and bounds over the next few years, especially as more and more stations begin to offer astronomy experiences. Visiting the skies will soon be just a matter of booking a weekend!

The author is CEO and co-founder of Starscapes

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