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Retail boom in sacred cities driven by a surge in spiritual tourism

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Growing tourism is attracting retail brands to establish a footprint in these potential market  

New Delhi: Retail chains are capitalising on the growing trend of spiritual tourism across more than a dozen cities in India, according to the latest report.

The 14 cities include Amritsar, Ajmer, Varanasi, Katra, Somnath, Shirdi, Ayodhya, Puri, Tirupati, Mathura, Dwarka, Bodh Gaya, Guruvayur, and Madurai, according to a CBRE report titled – Decoding Real Estate through the Spiritual Tourism Lens.

This surge in spiritual tourism is attracting pilgrims and spiritual seekers to holy cities in droves, leading to an increase in foot traffic and benefiting both the tourism and retail sectors, the report added.

Key findings of the report

Retail brands across various segments, including fashion and apparel, food and beverage, hypermarkets, homeware and department stores and consumer electronics are expanding their presence in those holy places. This trend also reflects a shift in tourist preferences, with travellers seeking experiences beyond traditional rituals, the report said.

Key retail brands that have established retail presence in 14 cities
CityRetail SegmentKey Brands
AmritsarFashion & ApparelBata, Biba, Fabindia, Manyavar, Skechers, Woodland
Food & BeverageBarbeque Nation, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks
HypermarketD-Mart, Reliance Fresh, Reliance Smart
Consumer ElectronicsImagine
AjmerFashion & ApparelMax, Blackberrys, Decathlon
Home & Department StoreMr DIY, Pantaloons
Food & BeverageBurger King, Domino’s
SomnathFashion & ApparelSpykar, Reliance Trends
Food & BeverageLa Pino’z
HypermarketReliance Smart
ShirdiFood & BeverageBaskin Robbins,

Domino’s, McDonald’s

HypermarketReliance Smart
Fashion & ApparelFabIndia, Nike, Reliance Trends
AyodhyaFashion & ApparelManyavar, Reliance Trends, Raymonds
Homeware & Department StoreMarket99, Pantaloons
Food & BeverageDomino’s, Pizza Hut
HypermarketReliance Smart
PuriFashion & ApparelBlackberrys, Manyavar, Raymond, Reliance Trends, Bata
HypermarketReliance Smart,

Bazaar Kolkata

Food & BeverageDomino’s, KFC, Basin Robbins
TirupatiFashion & ApparelLevi’s, Max, Puma, Style Union
Homeware & Department StorePantaloons
Consumer ElectronicsCroma
KatraFood & BeverageDomino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King
MathuraFashion & ApparelFabindia, United Colors of Benetton, Zudio
Food & BeverageBurger King, Domino’s
HypermarketReliance Smart
Consumer ElectronicsCroma
DwarkaFood & BeverageAmul Ice cream
GuruvayurFashion & ApparelReliance Trends, Allen Solly, Jockey
Homeware & Department StoreReliance smart point
Food & BeverageChicking, Naturals Ice cream
MaduraiFashion & ApparelBIBA, Levi’s, Max, Trends,Van Heusen
Homeware & Department StoreWestside
Consumer ElectronicsCroma
VaranasiFashion & ApparelManyavar, Reliance Trends, Zudio
Homeware & Department StorePantaloons, Shoppers Stop
Food & BeverageBurger King, Domino’s, Pizza Hut,


HypermarketSpencer’s, Reliance smart
Consumer ElectronicsCroma, Reliance Digital
Bodh GayaFashion & ApparelBlackberrys, Fabindia, Manyavar,


Homeware & Department StorePantaloons, V Mart
HypermarketReliance Smart
Consumer ElectronicsReliance Digital

“The rapid expansion of spiritual tourism in India is driving the growth of the country’s faith-based tourism market,” Anshuman Magazine, chairman & chief executive officer (CEO) – India, South-East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE, said. “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.”

Cities like Amritsar, Ajmer, Varanasi, Katra, and others are witnessing a retail boom, with brands strategically adapting their offerings in established mall clusters and high-street locations to cater to the growing tourist population. The surge in spiritual tourism can be attributed to enhanced infrastructure, including well-connected roads, airports, and public transportation, as well as various accommodation options such as hotels, guesthouses, and wellness centres.

Leading hotels catering to travellers’ needs

Leading hotels are also catering to the needs of spiritual travellers by offering clean, hygienic, and family-friendly accommodations. Major hotel chains are adapting to the preferences of spiritual tourists.

CityBranded Hotel
PuriMayfair Hotels
TirupatiTaj Hotels, ITC Hotels
AmritsarTaj Hotels, Novotel, Hilton, J W Mariott, ITC Hotels
VaranasiTaj Hotels, Radisson, Hilton
AjmerTaj Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, The Westin
DwarkaLemon Tree Hotels, Club Mahindra
Bodh GayaHyatt Hotels, Sarovar Premiere
MaduraiTaj Hotels, ITC Hotels, Marriott
KatraTaj Hotels, ITC Hotels

Overall, the landscape of real estate demand in spiritual tourism destinations is triggering a wave of new construction and renovation projects in response to the growing demand. Specialised properties catering to spiritual tourists, preservation of heritage sites, and economic and infrastructure growth are some of the key outcomes of this trend.

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