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India’s appetite for alternative, eco-friendly tourism provides strong economic support

India’s growing middle classes are emerging as a group of alternative, eco-conscious consumers who are as active in the country’s travel and tourism industry as overseas visitors. With the industry as strong as ever in India, the growth of eco-friendly accommodation and tourism services is already underway.

India’s growing middle classes and their disposable income is something that is increasingly written about, reported on and discussed. One reason it’s such a popular topic is that the sheer scale of the country’s population means that when they mobilise as consumers, it has an impact way beyond most other countries.

One way in which India’s population has begun to use its consumer power is through holidays and vacations. The latest report from the India Brand Equity Foundation, or IBEF, shows that the travel and tourism industry in India is expected to more than double from $234 billion in 2017 to $492 billion in 2018.

In addition to that, the April IBEF report also highlighted that based on travel and tourism foreign exchange contributions to GDP, India ranked 7th out of 184 countries. Indeed, travel and tourism is the third largest foreign exchange earner across the sub-continent.

However, it’s not just overseas visitors that are fuelling the growth of travel and tourism across India. Demand from staycationers and a desire for alternative and eco-friendly accommodation, is also proving an important driver.

An appetite for the alternative

According to the senior vice-president and head of accommodation at, India is among the online holiday portal’s top 20 fastest growing markets for alternative accommodation. That excludes traditional hotels and resorts and includes home stays, cabins and treehouses. Figures from its database shows that around 15% of the around 880,000 Indian accommodations listed on the website, are classed as alternative.

But that’s not all.’s senior VP Pepijn Rivjers also recently told Indian journalists that while some 33% of global travellers prefer to stay in eco-friendly accommodation, that rate surges to 75% when it comes to Indian travellers’ bookings. That’s the same for vacationers from India who choose to travel overseas, or visit a different region in their home country.

With alternative accommodation bookings accounting for 20% of the company’s total revenues in 2018, Rivjers considers India as one of its most important markets, right now.

Government supports eco-friendly hotel industry

While its clear that India’s population has a keen interest in supporting and preserving their country, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the Government shares a similar mindset. Its support of businesses, start-ups and ensuring the supply of affordable and modern housing is adequate for the population, perfectly underscores such an attitude.

However, a continued desire to promote and encourage eco-friendly activities is also akin to the population’s appetite for sustainable holiday accommodations. In the latest fight against plastic pollution and in response to a rise of single-use plastic food containers in some regions, action is being taken.

Recent meetings between the Kerala City Corporation, the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) and the city’s food aggregators have focussed on the growth in single use plastics refuse in the city. The local Government is keen to ensure its a shared responsibility among everyone involved, to consider more eco-friendly packaging options for their food sales and deliveries.

One suggestion from the local government is to encourage restaurants and food delivery firms to charge their customers a little more, to support their use of typically more expensive eco-friendly food containers.

KHRA commented in a report that some restaurants have chosen to improve their food packaging with no straws available in some and only paper straws on offer in others.

“Such interventions are happening and it is a welcome move. But unless we get suitable eco-friendly alternatives, we can't implement it. If such alternatives are made available at nominal rates in the market, then we can implement it across all the hotels,” said B Vijayakumar, secretary of the district chapter and one of the secretaries of the state chapter of KHRA.

However, while India’s demand for eco-friendly travel and tourism service and accommodation offerings is seen as a boost and a bit of a surprise to some, it’s an attitude that Red Ribbon understands and shares in. That’s why we created Eco hotels, the world’s first mid-range eco-friendly, carbon neutral brand of hotels and alternative holiday accommodation.

Sustainability is an essential part of India’s economic future and the Eco Hotels brand will help support that, today and for years to come.


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Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Sustainability, climate change and carbon neutrality are important topics and while they’re gaining traction on a global scale, it’s something that we at Red Ribbon have been investing in for some years.

Eco Hotels delivers on everything that India needs for a sustainable and economically healthy future. But, more than that, it also reflects the broad view of a population that is proud of the country they live in and want to ensure the beauty and opportunities they’re now enjoying, will be available to future generations, both from within India and overseas.

That’s why we’re confident the Eco Hotels brand can deliver as an investment from a financial perspective and a sustainability one, too.


Suchit Punnose

Suchit Punnose / About Author

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