Hospitality tech platform OYO on January 15said it is planning to launch 400 properties in major spiritual destinations like Ayodhya, Varanasi, Tirupati, and Katra-Vaishno Devi by the end of this year.

The planned expansion in major spiritual hotspots across the country has been fuelled by a surge in domestic travel and rising interest in spiritual tourism, OYO said in a statement.

The hospitality platform has selected various destinations, including Ayodhya, Puri, Shirdi, Varanasi, Amritsar, Tirupati, Haridwar, Katra-Vaishno Devi, and Char Dham route, to launch properties.

There has been a 350 per cent increase in searches for Ayodhya on the OYO platform over the past year, driven by the upcoming opening of the grand Ram Mandir on January 22, 2024, it added.

"Spiritual tourism in India is on the precipice of a monumental surge, poised to be one of the biggest growth drivers of our industry in the coming five years. The opening of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya stands as a testament to this, and witnessing the excitement firsthand as I join in the grand ceremony will be truly humbling," OYO founder and Group CEO Ritesh Agarwal said.

Renewed fervour for spiritual journeys extends far beyond Ayodhya, with destinations like Puri, Shirdi, and Varanasi experiencing similar excitement, he added.

"By offering comfortable and affordable accommodation options across these sacred sites, we aim to ensure every spiritual journey finds a welcoming haven, allowing pilgrims to fully immerse themselves in the transformative power of religion and spirituality," Agarwal said.

OYO said Ayodhya has consistently held the top position in searches on its app over the past year. On New Year's Eve, the city witnessed a 70 per cent surge in OYO app users, surpassing popular leisure destinations, such as Goa at 50 per cent and Nainital at 60 per cent.

To cater to the influx of pilgrims in Ayodhya, OYO has launched 50 homestays, offering a total of approximately 1,000 rooms, it said, adding that the properties are strategically situated near key landmarks, providing easy access to prominent religious sites and tourist attractions.

OYO has also partnered with the Ayodhya Development Authority and Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation to ensure smooth and timely operations, the statement said.