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Pages: 40 (Excluding covers)

Vol. XXVI No. 7; April 1 st fortnight issue 2014

` 50/-

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The world’s best for IHM students The IHMs’ tie-up with Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne will see the first batch from Lausanne arriving in Mumbai later this month. The Indian Culinary Institute has also been formally approved and will open with 4 branches in Kolkata, Pinjore, Noida and Tirupati. PEDEN DOMA BHUTIA wo months before, Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India, had hinted at a possible tie-up with a world-renowned hotel management institute to support a 360degree upgrade in the curriculum of government-run hotel and tourism management institutes. The move was expected to bring an enhanced skill-set to service visitors to India and upgrade not just the

All formalities have been fulfilled, we have got the permission and we have already sent the first installment of fees to the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne


curriculum, but also improve teaching methods. Parvez Dewan Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India

Confirming this, Dewan said, “There are no more ‘ifs’

and ‘buts’ left, Lausanne is partnering with IHM. All formalities have been fulfilled, we have got the permission and we have already sent the first install-

ment of fees to the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. The first batch from Lausanne is arriving in Mumbai later this month.” He went on to mention that they had been in contact with 6 of the top hotel institutes in the world, out of which two of them had agreed to partner. Talking about what the partnership entails, he said, “All IHMs and probably private sector institutes affiliated to Contd. on page 6 

Railways chugs along heritage tourism Ashwani Lohani, Chief Administrative Officer, Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels (IROAF), says that for inbound tourism to grow in India the number of flights to the country has to be increased. T T B U R E AU

Ashwani Lohani Chief Administrative Officer IROAF




What heritage trains are currently running in India? There are lots of heritage trains running in the country,

some are in the luxury segment. The Palace on Wheels was initially a heritage train as it had many saloons of the Maharajas. Later on, those saloons were discarded and they came out with new trains.

All the luxury trains which are there right now are actually new trains. The only heritage train in India is the Fairy Queen that was started in the year 1997.

It’s hauled by the oldest running steam engine in the world and it runs twice a month during October to March between Delhi and Alwar. Contd. on page 4 

News Bulletin Clearing the skies for UAE carriers See full story on page 4 

OTOAI’s 1st chapter meet in Chennai See full story on page 6 

Saying ‘YES’ to growth in Indian tourism See full story on page 11 

Election Tourism for int’l tourists See full story on page 12 

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IATO gets ready for elections in April Its members have filed their respective nominations for the posts in the association, and Praveen Chugh has been appointed as the Returning Officer for the elections. tion form was March 21 and the last date for withdrawal of nomination was 3 pm on March 26.

TT B UREAU he IATO elections are to be held on April 26, 2014 at The Park Hotel, Parliament Street, New Delhi. Elections will be held as per the Article 11 of the Memorandum of Association for the offices of President, Senior Vice-


Praveen Chugh Returning Officer IATO Elections

President, Vice-President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Joint Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, five Executive Committee Members (Active) and Three Executive Members (Allied) to be elected by the Active Members of the Association.

Subhash Goyal

Lally Matthews

President IATO

Honorary Secretary IATO

Since I have been travelling and haven’t seen the list, I don’t really know much about who all have filed their nominations

Praveen Chugh, MD & CEO, TSI Yatra, has been appointed as the Returning

People have filled their names for 2-3 posts, but we can get a better idea only after March 26

Officer for the elections. The last date for the Returning Officer to receive the nomina-

Before going to press when we got in touch with Subhash Goyal, President, IATO, he said, “I have filed my nomination for president. Since I have been travelling and haven’t seen the list, I don’t really know much about who all have filed their nominations. However, we can get a clear picture only after March 27 as March 26 is the last date for withdrawal of nominations.” Lally Matthews, Honorary Secretary, IATO, too said that things will become clear only after March 26, “Many people have filed their nominations and right now, people have filled their names for 2-3 posts, but we can get a better idea only after March 26. One thing is for sure that there will be no consensus and that there will be an election. I have also filed my nomination.”

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Clearing the skies for UAE carriers VIEWPOINT

Holiday travel amidst Elections E

very year, after the exams are over in schools and before the beginning of the new academic year, families head out for holidays together. It can be to the mountains in the North, or the seaside in the South. It’s fun time… for them, and for the travel fraternity that normally pulls in a lot of business at this time of the year.

2014, however, is going to be a lean time both for travel and tour operators and hotels in April/May, because of the Elections starting from the second week of April and ending in the third week of May. People are very enthusiastic about their voting rights, especially first-time young voters. Bookings domestically have taken a beating… even international travel is at an all-time low. With the entire country going to the polls, most people feel it would be sensible to ‘stay put’ at home this summer. They are still wary of travelling to Thailand, and now Malaysia will not be the first-on-mind destination, at least for a few months. Singapore will, nevertheless, continue to be popular as a three-to-four day trip. The industry is hoping that there will be a jump in travel as soon as elections are over, while summer holidays are still on. There is also talk about the Rupee gaining ground against the Dollar. This would translate to international airfares becoming a little more affordable, which would help parents travelling to their children studying abroad. Thinking out-of-the-box, ‘Election Tourism’ is the new sales concept. Taking groups on guided tours of active election areas with a feeling of safety and in a controlled environment is a novel idea, especially for people who want to see how elections take place in the world’s largest democracy.

Vikramajit Chairman SanJeet Editor & Publisher Deepa Sethi Editor-in-Chief



Ratan Kr Paul Megha Paul Devika Jeet Anita Jain Ramya JS D’Rozario

Gunjan Sabikhi Asst. Vice President Aarti Nagrath General Manager Karishma Khanna Sr. Manager Marketing Udit Pandey Sr. Manager Marketing Geetika Pathak Manager Advertising Amit Sarkar Asst. Manager Marketing

News-Editor Peden Doma Bhutia Desk-Editor Archana Sharma Neelam Singh Sr. Sub-Editor Hritvick Sen Photographers Simran Kaur-Delhi Bharat Dangiya-Mumbai

In February, India and Dubai agreed to liberalise their bilateral air services agreement, increasing weekly seat entitlements for each side by 20%. This makes the UAE the largest market for India, far above the UK, Germany, Singapore and Thailand, according to a recent CAPA report. R AMYA JS D’R OZARIO mirates Airlines currently operates to 10 Indian cities, while flyDubai operates to three, with Ahmedabad and Hyderabad common to both carriers’ networks. The additional 11,000 weekly seats would allow Emirates to introduce A-380s on the majority of its five daily services to Mumbai and four daily services to Delhi, currently operated by A330/A340/777 aircraft. Some of the entitlements may also be allocated to flyDubai to open additional points of call in India. The current 55,000 weekly seat entitlements for each side by approximately 20 per cent on a staged basis over the next 13 months.

Increasing Capacity


The first tranche of 5,500 additional seats available from the upcoming summer 2014 schedule would allow Emirates to ramp up to four daily departures from Delhi and/or Mumbai. Permission to operate the A-380 on Indian routes is timely for Emirates, which will face temporary slot constraints at Dubai Airport between May-2014 and July-2014 due to runway upgrades. India has separate bilaterals with different emirates of

N The current 55,000 weekly seat entitlements for each side by approximately 20 per cent on a staged basis over the next 13 months the UAE. As a result of the expanded bilateral agreements that India has signed with Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the past 12 months, weekly entitlements for UAE carriers will increase to over 135,000 seats by 2015/16. Including the points of call available to Indian carriers from which Jet Airways will be able to operate to Abu Dhabi, hubs in the UAE can be fed from 26 points in India. This represents a massive increase from the 10,400 seats available to six cities in 2003/04. And it dwarfs the access offered to any single other country; it is almost as much as all

N This increase is almost as much as all European countries combined, which have just over 160,000 seats available to them.

European countries combined, which have just over 160,000 seats available to them. In addition, the majority of the Indian bilateral entitlements to Abu Dhabi are expected to be utilised by Jet Airways operating a coordinated network and schedule with Etihad. As a result the number of weekly seats feeding hubs in the UAE is likely to be closer to 170,000-175,000. Indian LCCs are currently averaging load factors in the range of 70-75 per cent on routes to Dubai and are not faced with an urgent need to further expand capacity. And

indeed the viability of services from Delhi and Mumbai may come under further pressure as a result of competition from Emirates A380s on these routes. However, SpiceJet reportedly submitted a plan seeking an additional 12,000 weekly seats to Dubai, 10,000 seats to Abu Dhabi and 22,000-24,000 seats to Doha - although it has yet not fully utilised the seats to Dubai allocated to it previously. The proposed growth in operations to these three points alone is almost three times the size of SpiceJet’s total international seat capacity at present.

Where the train is the destination  Contd. from page 1

What do you make of inbound tourism in India? Do you think 2014 will be better than 2013? The number of tourists who can come to India from outside India is directly dependent on the air-seats that we have got. Till date, we have not come to a stage where our flights are going empty, our flights are fairly full and the load factor is fairly high. We should look at increasing the number of flights as we now have large airports. Around 10 years Advertising (Mumbai) Suchita Saran Branch Manager Harshal Ashar Deputy Genral Manager Priyanshu Wankhade Asst. Manager Advertising Advertisement Designers Vikas Mandotia / Nitin Kumar Design: Nityanand Misra Sudhir Mudgal Production: Anil Kharbanda Circulation: Ashok Rana

back, Delhi and Mumbai had smaller airports, now the scenario has changed. We have to get more flights and build more big airports at different places.

What about the new visa rules that the government is planning to introduce for foreigners? The new visa rules will help to ease inbound tourism and also ease the hassles of inbound tourists, but how far the numbers will increase that will depend on the number of air seats between India and the rest of the world.

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How is rail tourism faring so far in India? We are promoting heritage tourism. We have created a heritage site at Rewari and we run these heritage trains and luxury trains. IRCTC is doing a lot to promote rail tourism. But rail tourism has two meanings, one is rail tourism per se where you travel on a train and the train itself is the destination, and the second is that the train takes you to various tourist destinations, and in both aspects the railways is playing a major part.

IROAF Vision N To emerge as a world class organisation in setting standards in development, research and execution in fuel and energy efficient and ecofriendly technologies N IROAF will enable Indian Railways become a responsible eco-friendly organisation through introduction of Alternate Energy, Fuel-Efficient and Emission Control Technologies

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More choices aboard Deccan Odyssey Going strong on fairs and festivals segment, Deccan Odyssey will be offering focussed itineraries with flexible number of stays, starting October 2014. Currently, the luxury train offers only two itineraries, each of seven nights and eight days. A N I TA J A I N he Maharashtra’s luxury train – Deccan Odyssey is in the process of finalising products for the coming season, starting October 2014. Considering the need for flexibility by international and domestic tourists, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is going to introduce ‘short-break’ itineraries. With this, tourists can opt for itineraries ranging from two nights to eight nights. Moreover, the cor-


Jagdish Patil Managing Director MTDC

There was a need to make it more accessible and flexible for international and Indian travellers, especially travellers travelling on tight schedule poration is also considering adding more itineraries by segmenting the tourism products – wildlife, beaches, heritage, culture, etc. To bring in the best tourism products on the track, it will extend the trips to neighbouring states – Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka. Thus, Deccan Odyssey will be offering focussed itineraries with flexible number of stays, starting October 2014. Currently, the luxury train offers only two itineraries, each of seven nights and eight days. Jagdish Patil, Managing Director, MTDC, said, “Deccan Odyssey, as a tourism product, is performing well. However, there was a need to make it more accessible and flexible for international and Indian travellers, especially travellers trav-

elling on tight schedule. Through the new products, we are positive to receive excellent response for the luxury train in the coming season.” Apart from promoting the luxury train in

domestic and international markets, the corporation is also busy promoting and engaging travellers in fairs and festivals of the state. After promoting multiple fruit festivals (Chiku, Mangoes

and Strawberries), MTDC recently concluded the 25th edition of Elephanta Festival. Organised in Mumbai, the festival witnessed participation of national and international per-

re’ route Going the are‘Akeenn tonexpaloreHtheapopzaular Ralegan Siddhi villagenewof the‘social

er the For the travellers who ge on tourism map. Und ted DC has brought the villa ular destinations connec pop the to activist Anna Hazare, MT rs tou ring offe corporation is e well-known reformers som by up set circuit tourism’ sector, the s ram ash Ralegan Siddhi, tai Sabkar; to social reforms. Apart from te; an orphanage centre in Pune run by Sindhu a Am n projects introduced atio erv ons er-c like Vinoba Bhave and Bab wat its Ahmednagar (known for ), etc., are among Hiware Bazaar village in l project (by Dr SS Kalbag yan Ashram educationa Vig ar); ’. Paw rism o tou atra uit Pop circ by ‘social have been chosen for the the other centres which

formers paying tribute to the island of art and heritage – Elephanta. This festival was

aimed at attracting and involving not only tourists from Maharashtra, but also from across and outside India.

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Also, a culinary institute  Contd. from page 1

IHMs, will have a curriculum of the same standard as Lausannne in 2-3 years time. Our teachers will be trained by people from Lausanne and then they, in turn, will train the students. Our laboratories and equipment will be of the same standard as Lausanne.” But that was not the only good news that Dewan announced. He also talked about the Indian Culinary Institute being formally approved. He further elaborated that the ICI will be a repository of every single recipe in India. The ICI will have four branches from its inception in Kolkata, Pinjore, Noida and its headquarters will be in Tirupati.

Dewan informed that the Kolkata centre might be the first to kick off as they already have two floors in Salt Lake City in Kolkata. He said the Kolkata campus may take a year or a year-and-a-half, to begin operations. He said, “The opening of the ICI concerns everyone in the tourism industry. Right now, people have to be retrained on food because the IHMs’ training on food is a minor part of the curriculum. The students will be trained in all the cuisines popular in India, be it Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese, but the primary responsibility is towards Indian cuisine. The course includes not just training, but also research; and students will also be trained on molecular gastronomy.”

DID YOU KNOW ? India’s VoA increases 1.7% in Feb 2014 India has registered a growth of 1.7 in Visa-on-Arrival scheme. A total of 1,980 VoAs were issued in February 2014, as compared to 1,947 VoAs during the month of February 2013. VoAs issued under this scheme during February 2014 were mainly for 11 countries: Japan (539), New Zealand (389), Indonesia (299), the Philippines (283), Singapore (258), Finland (127), Myanmar (30), Vietnam (24), Luxembourg (18), Cambodia (10) and Laos (3).


OTOAI’s 1 chapter meet in Chennai The association is gearing up to increase its membership in the Southern region. The first chapter meet was aimed at providing members training in collaboration with NTOs to help them sell destinations effectively. M E G H A PAU L he Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) recently hosted its first chapter meet in Chennai. The idea was to appreciate efforts of its members and acknowledge support of stakeholders, including DMCs, regulators, government agencies and tour operators, along with facilitating membership from the region.


According to Gurdeep Gujral, Head-Chapters, OTOAI, the event was a huge success. “Although we have members in this region, we want to widen our reach in Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. We had confirmation from 120 tour operators, but 145 people turned up at the event. The chapter meet is expected to boost our numbers in the South. Currently, there are over 30 members in the region, and

Gurdeep Gujral

BA Rahim

Head-Chapters OTOAI

Chairman, Chapter-South OTOAI

To start with, we are looking at city coordinators in Bengaluru and Hyderabad by July we expect another 70 members,” he informed. Talking about initiatives in the near future, he added, “The

We are seeing new markets in South Africa, New Zealand, Bora Bora and South America association will appoint city coordinators to work with regional chapter heads in order to expand and strengthen our regional presence. We are

looking at city coordinators in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. OTOAI currently has three chapters – Western, Southern and Eastern.” The first chapter meet was organised in Mumbai in December 2012. “The objective is to host our chapter meets in all regions to provide our members training in collaboration with various NTOs to help them to sell destinations effectively. The next chapter meet will be held in Kolkata in August,” he revealed. BA Rahim, Chairman, Chapter-South, OTOAI, pointed out, “South India has always generated a lot of outbound travel for South-East Asia and MEA. However, we are seeing new emerging markets in South Africa, New Zealand and holidays to Bora Bora and South America. However, the challenge is the lack of education for outbound travel agents and that needs to be tackled.”

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Affordable Portugal a big draw for MICE The luxury DMC, Mr. Travel Portugal, has formed a consortium of high-end suppliers called ‘The Private Collection of Portugal’ to tap the Indian market, especially the leisure and MICE segments. T T B U R E AU ccording to Luis Sousa, Managing Director, Mr. Travel Portugal, the Indian market has a great potential and Indians are evolving into experiential travellers on the lookout for unique and high-


Luis Sousa Managing Director Mr. Travel Portugal

From India, we mostly see clients who have an international convention to attend in Lisbon. We hope to tap incentives market end destinations and experiences. “While the Indian market has not notched as much growth as the company would

Sheetal Munshaw Avant Garde Consultancy

We are focussing on ‘travel with taste’, including off the beaten track experiences and insightful journeys to uncommon places like, it is slowly picking up. Tapping a market the size of India is a challenge. Almost 60 per cent of our business is MICE and luxury FITs. From

India, we mostly see clients who have an international convention to attend in Lisbon. We hope to see more from the Incentives market now,” he said. Also, Portugal is less expensive than other European destinations. Thus, this can be a big factor for

drawing MICE travellers to Portugal, he added. The luxury DMC, Mr. Travel Portugal, has formed a consortium of high-end suppliers called ‘The Private Collection of Portugal’ to tap the Indian market, especially the

leisure and MICE segments. The DMC, one of the biggest in Portugal also appointed Avant Garde Consulting as India Representative. “As a DMC, we have been targetting the Indian market since 2010 and started coming to India for roadshows from 2011,” Sousa pointed out.

Regarding the promotional strategy for the Indian market, Sheetal Munshaw of Avant Garde Consultancy elaborated, “We are planning to organise customised FAM trips, sales missions and tactical promotions and events to increase awareness in the

Indian market for Portugal as a luxury tourism destination. We are focussing on highlighting ‘travel with taste’, promoting their personalised services, including off the beaten track experiences, insightful journeys to uncommon places and discovering local flavours.”

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Giving back to Uttarakhand Rajesh Ojha, ATOAI Convention Chairman, says choosing Shivpuri as the venue for the ATOAI Convention this year is their way of giving back to the state of Uttarakhand. T T B U R E AU

Uttarakhand is back in business, and we thought it would be a great experience for a new format.”

dventure tour operators not just offer travellers a journey off the beaten track, but they also do things differently. Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) has done just this by hosting their convention this year at Shivpuri in Uttarakhand.


Rajesh Ojha

Talking about the choice of Shivpuri as a destination, Ojha informs, “When the ‘777 days of Indian Himalayas’ was launched in Sept 2013, the tourism representatives from Uttarakahand made an appeal that we should think of coming to Uttarakhand for the convention. That got us thinking, even though we had already initiated the process with Himachal. In November, we finally decided to have it in Uttarakhand. We had the convention in Dehradun 4-5 years ago, so we thought that we had to do something new. Also, since it is a convention of adventure tour operators, we thought it should be slightly different from the general tourism conventions.” Ojha says Shivpuri as a destination for the convention was pushed by the fact that

ATOAI Convention Chairman

Uttarakhand is back in business, and we thought that this would be a great experience for a new format they wanted to give back to the state that had given them so much. He says, “People were skeptical about visiting Uttarakhand after last year’s natural disaster, and many thought that the state might be closed for 2-3 years. However,

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat will inaugurate the convention, which will be from March 2527. The attendees include Anand Kumar, Joint Secretary, MoT; Amrita Rawat, Uttarakhand Minister for Tourism, and Satpal Maharaj, MP. Commenting on the theme of ‘Create, Connect, Catalyse and Conserve’, Ojha says, “From a product/marketing move, adventure tourism moves around these 4 pillars of ‘Create, Connect, Catalyse and Conserve’.” Unlike the regular conventions, the ATOAI meet will not be done in the presentation format. “We want the senior officials from the forest, tourism and other relevant departments to form a panel, headed by the joint secretary, Anand Kumar. We have 4 moderators - Ajit Bajaj, Mandeep Singh Soin, Salil Paul and Tejbir Anand - who are creating a question bank of relevant Contd. on page 11 

NSW for hugs and VFR As India is one of the important emerging markets to Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, Destination NSW launches a new marketing campaign. T T B U R E AU he campaign, called ‘Jhappi Time’ or hug time, is the first campaign developed and executed by any Australian tourism body, to specifically target the


with their loved ones, and another third come for a holiday. Thus, by combining both segments, ‘Jhappi Time’ will tap into the enormous potential of these segments.

Sandra Chipchase Chief Executive Officer Destination NSW

visiting friends and relatives market, in India. More than one third of Indian visitors come to New South Wales to spend time

“With a predicted 50 million outbound travellers by 2020, India is one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets, and the target of an innovative new digital marketing campaign by Destination NSW that showcases the best of Sydney and NSW to Indian visitors,” said Sandra Chipchase, CEO, Destination NSW. The cam-

paign was launched last month in Sydney by the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell. Speaking about the partnership, Neelu Singh, COO,, said, " is the primary travel partner and all packages and deals for ‘Jhappi Time’ have been designed to provide further impetus to the growing VFR market from India. We will be using a mix of digital media and innovative ideas, alongside PR to garner further eyeballs for this campaign."

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Search support for agents Wego, a travel meta-search site, is offering a business opportunity to travel agents to book tickets/rooms with airlines, hotels and OTAs. In conversation with , Jackson Fernandez, MD,, elaborates on this aspect. R ATA N K R P A U L ego has recently launched the ‘Wego Affiliate Network’ ( which supports travel businesses by providing the same advanced technology used by Wego, adapting it to suit their own site. “This powerful new platform and set of tools enable travel and tourism companies (through their respective websites) to add flight and hotel search features and generate a significant new revenue stream from resulting activity. This feature has been used by major airports, national tourism boards and large travel portals that have customised and re-branded the Wego experience and offered it as a feature for their own users,” Fernandez pointed out.

W provides affiliates with a variety of customised search boxes along with a white-labelled version of Wego’s meta-search product. “Simple point-and-click interfaces allow affiliates to theme, brand and localise the widgets and search result pages to suit their sites,” Fernandez maintained. He also asserted that the Wego platform is a consolidation of years of data trails left by Wego users, and the company has extended this database to its travel industry partners. “The value for travel businesses is understanding and targetting customers who are more likely to be interested in their products, rather than investing in messaging of no relevance to

the user. The recent partnership between Wego and Lotame is an extension of our solution. We have vast knowledge when it comes to the travel purchasing funnel, and can make a significant difference by sharing our knowledge with other online travel service providers,” Fernandez added. According to him, Wego’s airline, hotel and OTA inventory

benefits of a dedicated account manager,” Fernandez underlined. Services apart, asked about the present market trends visible from their site he shared that Indians today seek out travel experiences beyond the traditional destinations of the past. Especially, long weekends see a spike in search activity as Indians are

Simple point-andclick interfaces allow affiliates to theme, brand and localise the widgets and search result pages to suit their sites Jackson Fernandez MD,

is growing rapidly both locally and internationally. “Wego continues to welcome new partners throughout all our established markets, growing each region exponentially,” he stressed. Wego is incorporating new travel partnerships into site inventory, which translates into a more comprehensive shopping experience for users and better commercial terms for affiliates using the programme. “Online travel service providers who join the Wego Affiliate Network enjoy the

more frequently making the most of their free time enjoying quick getaways with family or friends. “Travellers today look beyond price and opt more to value for money. Mobile too, has boosted this spontaneity supported by social media which adds an informative and inspirational motivation to plan trips. For both business and pleasure, mobile connectivity goes hand in hand with the convenience of using metasearch making travel planning simple and fast,” he felt.

8 new domestic flights from IndiGo recently  IndiGo announced eight new flights connecting seven destinations, Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Srinagar, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati and Dibrugarh. Effective March 15, 2014, the airline will operate daily non-stop flights between Delhi to Dibrugarh and return via Guwahati – Kolkata and Lucknow to Srinagar via Delhi. The airline also announced the third non-stop flight from Delhi to Bhubaneshwar and Guwahati, fifth non-stop flight from Delhi to Lucknow and Srinagar and sixth non-

Aditya Ghosh President and Executive Director, IndiGo

stop flight between Delhi and Hyderabad. Elaborating on the new flights, Aditya Ghosh, President and Executive Director, IndiGo said, “Dibrugarh is going to be an important part of our destination network because

it holds good prospect for travellers and students belonging to the region in the metropolitan cities. We are committed to providing maximum connectivity on our network by catering to various segments, and are confident that these additional flights will prove immensely convenient for our passengers.” IndiGo is India's largest airline with a market share of 28.2 per cent as of December 2013. The airline currently operates international flights to 5 destinations, namely, Bangkok, Dubai, Kathmandu, Muscat and Singapore.

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Saying ‘YES’ to growth in Indian tourism Yes Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), the apex tourism & travel education institute of South Asia, to jointly work towards promoting and establishing ourism as an important tool for socio-economic growth. T T B U R E AU s part of the understanding, the two Parties have mutually agreed to club their expertise and work on grassroot development projects in tourism. Also, they will undertake cutting edge research in the sector, with major focus on leveraging the potential of Collaborative Community Structures as an agent for social transformation.


Speaking at the launch, Manjula Chaudhary, Director, IITTM, said, “The tourism sector has immense potential to induce sustainable growth in India with knowledge and skilled manpower as biggest drivers.

IITTM is committed to develop knowledge and capacity building in tourism since its inception and has always believed in discovering new models of learning. Industry academia partnerships are great initiatives to work towards a holistic development model and this MoU will help in bridging the knowledge gap in tourism. This step is the starting point for more such partnerships to come.” Commenting on this initiative, Tushar Pandey, Senior President & Country Head, Public & Social Policies Management (PSPM), Yes Bank, said, “With its backward and forward linkages and local connect, tourism becomes an

ATOAI setting the theme  Contd. from page 8

topics, in terms of policy and infrastructure. They will then be asking these questions to the panel to get answers. The aim is always to come together on a single platform, network well, and transfer knowledge in terms of new products and new ways of connecting. We want to have a technology initiative and we are trying to see interesting ways to connect, perception management and how to connect the interesting products that we have.”

important driver of equitable growth and prosperity offering an alternative source of livelihood, development and growth in remote locations, preservation of local skills, enterprise

development at the micro level and sustainable environment management. We, at Yes Bank, firmly believe that tourism has the potential to trigger growth in many other sectors, and is a

powerful tool to achieve social as well as financial inclusion. We are confident that such partnerships are well-poised to create real value for all stakeholders.”

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Travellers can now take an election tour Manish Sharma, Managing Director, Akshar Travels, explains the concept of Election Tourism and says that it allows foreign tourists to understand and explore the election process of the largest democracy in the world. PEDEN DOMA BHUTIA What is the concept of Election Tourism? Election Tourism is a first of its kind in this industry. Here, international tourists explore and understand our electoral systems, experience healthy and peaceful elections, differ-

Manish Sharma Managing Director Akshar Travels

ent types of campaigning on various circuits and tour itineraries of India. We allow them to visit seminars organised by

political leaders for elections and meeting them, depending on the permission. Tourists can also be a part of the debate of national parties during elections. It is an ideal opportunity for international students to do research on. It helps them understand and differentiate election between rural and urban areas. The colour, noise, controversies and drama during the opinion polls would take foreigners by storm. We look at it as a ‘festival’ without interfering in the election process.

How was the response from foreigners to the poll tourism concept that was introduced in ITB Berlin? The concept Election Tourism India was launched on March 5, 2014 at ITB Berlin. We got excellent feedback from exhibitors, trade visitors and local visitors of more than 100 countries. The maximum interest for these

Important Circuits:

tours have been shown by countries like Germany, France, Poland and London. We are also getting inquiries from United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, Latvia, Lesotho, Kenya, Egypt and Ukraine. More than 95 universities and top research institutes of the world – who had participated at ITB Berlin have shown interest in the concept and wish to project election tourism in India as a research course at the universities.

What is the cost of the package and what all does it include?

like MLAs, MPs & local councillors, subject to availability.

The tour cost will be starting from US$1,200-1,600 per person for 7 days, including all transfers in luxury AC vehicles, accommodation in 3-5 star hotels, all meals, Englishspeaking tour guide, all sightseeing, exclusive visits to the different areas for campaigning in rural and urban areas like rally, open public assembly, meeting with political leaders

Will you be helped by the political parties in this initiative? We have contacted political parties and they have agreed to support us. They said they will try their best to spare some time to meet tourists. We are sure that the tourism universities will include Election Tourism as a new subject.

rTriangle Tour (Delhi-Jaipu Agra-Delhi) Hub Rajasthan – The Heritage dhpur(Delhi-Bikaner-Jaisalmer-Jo Udaipur-Delhi) Vibrant Gujarat san (Ahmedabad-Junagadh-Sa rkaDwa darrban -Po nath Som GirJamnagar-Ahmedabad) Anjar(Ahmedabad-Bhuj-Mandvih)Kutc of n Ran le (Litt Dasada Ahmedabad) ucknowBanaras Special (Delhi-L lhi) -De Banaras analiHimachal Pradesh (Delhi-M hi) Del arhChandig hajurahoMadhya Pradesh (Delhi-K nha -Ka garh hav and Panna-B Jabalpur-Varanasi-Delhi) lhiUttarkhand & Kumaon (De hikeshMathura-Agra-Haridwar-Ris Delhi) Kerala Political tour (Cochin atMunnar-Thekkady-Housebo Cochin) Kerala Karnataka / Tamil Nadu / (Bangalore-Mysore-OotyKodaikanal-Coimbatore) ai) Goa (Mumbai-Goa-Mumb

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1589 Hotels banks on B2B With nine operational hotels, 1589 Hotels is looking at becoming handlers of small agents located in Tier-II and III cities in India and start-up agents all over the world. T T B U R E AU he third generation of the Clarks Group of Hotels and a member of the Clarks Collection, 1589 Hotels is venturing to make its mark in the hospitality industry. Currently operating nine hotels in Udaipur, Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Jaipur, Kishangarh, Hyderabad, Haldwani, Rudhrapur and Pokhra (Nepal), the company has also signed five upcoming


Kumar, Joint Managing Director, 1589 Hotels, says, “The company was established in 2007 just to reserve the promoters who were interested in the hospitality industry. The actual operations of the organisation began in 2011 with the management of two hotels (with an inventory of approximately 35 keys each). We slowly grew and developed our model during the first two seeding years and finalised a launching concept post. This we expanded

(L-R): Anant Kumar and Udit Kumar

hotels in Manipal, Naukuchiatal, Varanasi, HiTech City, Hyderabad and Jodhpur. The upcoming hotels are in different stages of their completion, half of which should be operational before the end of this calendar year. The company aims to have at least 27 hotels before 2016. Talking about the evolution of the company, Udit

Greener Pastures N The upcoming hotels are in different stages of completion, half of which should be operational before 2014. It aims to have at least 27 hotels before 2016

across the nation in staggered, but fast-paced acquisitions.” Anant Kumar, Joint Managing Director, 1589 Hotels, reveals, “We are engaging our customers over social media networks by offering various promotions and deals. We have created a communication platform that gives everyone access to everybody else. This has acted as an enormous catalyst in increasing sales, maintaining customer relations, clearing bottlenecks, organisational growth, etc., in a prompt manner.” The company prefers getting into management contracts. However, the company will not neglect ownership as a model. “While considering ownership, our organisation

prefers pursuing green-field projects as it allows us to integrate our service with the architecture and interiors of the hotel. Since we have developed a viable asset (i.e. our brand and its SOPs), we want to promote the franchise model. It will allow us to hand over our brand along with our management standards to various hotel-owners, and allow for exponential growth. This model has been under our lens for over one and a half years. Plus, this is being refined because we need to ensure that the franchisee does not compromise on our management standards,” they add. “We are also working on concierge service to show our appreciation of our most favoured customers through which we will facilitate any requirement of theirs within our means in any part of the world at actual cost. These services will be made available even if our guests are not currently occupying any rooms in any of our locations,” Udit points out. Elaborating on the importance of travel agents, Anant opines, “Travel agencies are the nodal point for us. We get approximately 83 per cent of our bookings from the trade as opposed to our own website. The credit for this goes to trade agents. We are planning a few roadshows and FAM tours in the country to increase our base of trade agents. We are planning to become handlers of small agents located in Tier-II and Tier-III cities in India, and other start-up agents located in various parts of the world.”

Fern goes green with agents

The Fern Residency, Gurgaon, organised a party on February 12, 2014, to extend thanks to its partners for helping the brand to become a leading environmentally sensitive hotel.

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Amritsar makes a big leap of faith A healthy trend for the city is the fact that while most international tourists visit during the October–March period, domestic tourists and pilgrims visit throughout the year, providing both travel agents and hoteliers with year-round business. Agents should promote thematic journeys. This holds the key to continuing success, and Amritsar provides an excellent business opportunity in this regard.

I N D E R RA J A H LU WA L I A ith the Golden Temple being branded as amongst the 10 most beautiful and valuable sites in the world, Amritsar is seeing unbridled tourist growth, emerging as a major national pilgrim and tourist hub.


Gunbir Singh, CMD, Divine Destination, feels Amritsar’s tourist growth merits special attention. Whereas five years ago, the city was getting around 40,000 daily arrivals, today the daily arrivals figure has gone up to a whopping one lakh. The numbers comprise pilgrims and tourists, some five per cent of them being international. Interestingly, this is four times the numbers of tourists reaching Taj Mahal. A healthy trend for the city is the fact that while most international tourists visit during the October–March period, domestic tourists and pil-

Gunbir Singh

Rama Mehra

Shiv Raj Singh

CMD Divine Destination

CEO Ranjit Svaasa

CEO Atithi Voyages

Today, the daily arrivals to Amritsar has gone up to a whopping one lakh

grims visit throughout the year, providing both travel agents and hoteliers with year-round business.

Amritsar can be a platform for synergy, which can boost the city’s tourism

Popularity of the Golden Temple has also boosted tourist traffic to the city

Singh feels that travel agents play a crucial role in the Amritsar’s tourism story. While online domestic airline ticketing

is growing 15 percent annually, there’s no substitute to agents when it comes to ‘hand-held’ tourism.

Rama Mehra, CEO, Ranjit Svaasa, feels Amritsar’s special religious value and charm is instrumental in making visitors genuinely appreciate their experience, and rate it higher even than Agra. With pilgrims and tourists pouring in, the city’s true potential is now being realised, and the travel industry is reaping rewards. While agents provide guests comfort levels by overseeing everything, they also stand to lose ground if they don’t consider the overall interest of hotels, especially individual, stand-alone properties. They must factor this into their strategy for maximum longterm business gains. Amritsar provides a superb platform for such synergy, which if

achieved, will further boost the city’s booming tourist industry. Shiv Raj Singh, CEO Atithi Voyages, feels Amritsar is a classic case of a destination that has made agents think out of the box and innovate. While Amritsar of the past was essentially a destination for business visitors and a few tourists headed for Dharamshala, Manali and Ladakh; travel agents lately have captured everyone’s imagination by modifying itineraries in ways which has made their overseas partners aware of other interesting possibilities in India. From that point of view, Amritsar has become a hub for agents using the new route to establish old destinations. The growing popularity of the Golden Temple among the expat community seeking weekend getaways has also boosted traffic to the city. The 4- and 5star hotels mushrooming in Amritsar is a sign of this recent development, which will propel tourism growth.

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Luxury market big for Fiji Rick Hamilton, CEO, Tourism Fiji, talks about targetting the Indian luxury sector and how agents are essential to promote a geographically isolated country like Fiji. need to make people aware of Fiji as a destination; once that happens and people understand about the destination of Fiji, then there will be great opportunities for the MICE market.

T T B U R E AU With what expectations have you come to India? We have a small base coming from India to Fiji. Last year, it grew by 40% so we have significant growth opportunities. We are also planning to increase connectivity and we are very positive about the forward projections for tourism to Fiji.

What are the Indian markets that you are looking at? Are you targetting only the primary markets? We are travelling to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru with our roadshow.

For us it’s just about developing the niche markets, the high-end five star products for now. We are primarily looking at the Indian luxury sector. The product that we have is mainly for honeymooners, so

What is your commitment towards the Indian travel trade? Rick Hamilton CEO Tourism Fiji

that’s the market that we are going for. As we develop that, there’ll be other possibilities too. Generally, when you are travelling to somewhere as far as Fiji, the proposition needs to be something different. We have a good representation here. From a tourism perspective, we have repositioned our branding. We are trying to create global consistency through our rebranding.

What about the MICE segment? The MICE segment is a developing market for us, we need to gain more of a foothold. With MICE, first we need to create a demand. We

The Indian agents have been very keen on Fiji. It is an opportunity for them to sell more products, they realise there is a potential opportunity here as well. We are very committed to the trade; we are rolling out a multi-programme travel agent portal and training system this year that will allow the agents to understand the different aspects of Fiji market. Besides that, we will also be offering incentives and FAMs for the Indian market. The travel trade is vital for us, especially for a country like Fiji, which is geographically isolated. It is a difficult sell, customers have a lot of questions and they will go to a travel agent, so we are absolutely committed to support the travel trade.

Well-deserved victory

Ravi Gosain of Erco Travels celebrated the winning of the National Tourism Award for 2012-13 by his company, along with its 15th anniversary. There were many of the trade fraternity who showed up to share in his success.

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IAAI to hike members to 2,000 by 2014 In its recently concluded AGM in Chennai, the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) has decided to increase its membership strength to 2,000 by this year. In an interview with , Biji Eapen, President, IAAI, elaborates on the outcome of the Annual General Meeting and their forthcoming plans. R ATA N K R P A U L he Eleventh Annual General Meeting of IAAI has put serious emphasis on increasing its membership to intensify the ongoing fight for 5 per cent commission. According to Eapen, the requirement of including commission as IAAI’s agenda is driven by the fact that it is an integral part of tariff as per the definition of Tariff (Rule 3 (54A) of the Aircraft Rules; IATA Resolution 824.9; DGCA Order dated March 5, 2010 and the fresh advisory based on it on December 17, 2012. It should also be pertinent to refer to the Supreme Court Order of January 23, 2013, terming Transaction Fee as illegal; Public Circular from DGCA on February 13, warning against additional payment over and above the ticket fare; and the MoCA Order of September 16,


2013. “It has been clarified that words ‘commission’, ‘transaction fee’ or ‘service charges’ for levying of fees as remuneration to intermediaries for the services rendered by them for issuing tickets to passengers on behalf of the airlines are permissible under the existing rules, provided these are shown as part of tariff within the definition of tariff. No amount will be collected from the consumers over and above this,” Eapen explained. Eapen also pointed out that as per the MoCA Order dated September 16, 2013, Rule 135(1) requires airlines to determine tariff which by definition includes commission. Rule 135 (2) requires airlines to display a 'single consolidated fare' and give its break-up also for consumer's benefit. “It is clear that the statutory position under Rule 135 clearly

believe that criticism can make an association healthy,” he stressed.

requires airlines to determine tariff in accordance with law, including commission payable to agents,” he underlined. “Facts that justify our demand for 5 per cent commission are: As on October 31, 2008, the commission prevailed was 5 per cent. Agent’s commission is remuneration per piece of work, which should be remunerated as ‘cut and pay’ and not to be reimbursed

on monthly or yearly basis,” said Eapen. Questioned on the present membership strength of IAAI and its impact on all policy-makers, Eapen clarified, “We have membership strength of 1,083 as of March 2014. The tragedy is that exclusivity in any association is less than 40 per cent. Many agents have memberships in all three associations, and many in two.

It is overlapping within the three associations (TAAI, TAFI and IAAI).” He also asserted that IAAI is the only trade association fighting relentlessly for commission and against weekly payment. Eapen appeared to be disappointed about the unity move among various travel agents’ associations. “On many occasions, we tried for alliance amongst all the three associations. Now it seems practically impossible. We

He also admitted that besides the members of the agents’ associations, there are several agents across the country who keenly follow the efforts of IAAI. However, many of these agents, who want IAAI to get back their rights, are delaying to take decision of joining the association. However, IAAI will intensify its membership drive in the days to come. “We will take the overall membership to cross 2,000 before December 31, 2014. We are planning to focus on virgin states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar”, supplemented Aveek Ghosh, NC Membership Development, IAAI.

Deploying unique strategies In just four years in operation, HolidayInn Mumbai International Airport has tapped the right amount of business travellers and is using unique marketing strategies. T T B U R E AU he 245-room hotel claims to be one of the preferred hotels by business travellers in Mumbai due to its proximity with both international and domestic airports. The hotel has carried out a systematic approach towards sales and marketing which has resulted in admirable occupancies from the very beginning, informs Suraj Kumar Jha, General Manager, HolidayInn Mumbai International Airport.


He said, “Strategic Marketing is all about retaining profitable guests by providing them with a uniquely positive and superior experience related to our brand. Each and every guest contact opportunity must include a reinforcement of the superior value that we offer to our guests, building the belief for its guests that you are truly their supplier of choice and preference. Besides using the conventional tools of marketing such as print and outdoor medium, we are laying a lot of emphasis on web-based

Strategic Marketing is all about retaining profitable guests by providing them with a uniquely positive and superior experience related to our brand Suraj Kumar Jha General Manager HolidayInn Mumbai International Airport

marketing and social networking sites. The idea is to do 360 degree marketing so that all the aspects are taken care of.” “The strategic elements of marketing are critical to sustaining business success and profitability. After identifying the customer value segments, you must set about identifying what elements of your offering can deliver that value and how you can differentiate your offering from those of your competition,” adds Jha. However, it is tough to maintain profit margins and

room occupancy levels on consistent rate. Jha said, “The challenge faced by top brands in generating business is delivering good quality and consistent service time and again to the guest. Holiday Inn Mumbai not only goes all out to target the business traveller with a technological edge but is a new age hotel that has ecologically-conscious heart as well. Hotels have changed dramatically in recent years. Brands try to keep ahead of the competition by introducing newer concepts in stay experience to attract technologically advanced and well informed travellers.

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Aman Travels signs MoU with Egypt Tourism  With an objective to make travel agents and tour operators in India ‘Egypt Experts’, Aman Travels has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Egypt Tourism to launch a specialised website to get information about Egypt. The agreement was signed by Adel El Masry,

Adel El Masry Director Egyptian Tourism Office

Director, Egypt Tourism Office in India, and Deepak Narula, Managing Director, Aman Travels. The MoU aims to launch an online educational programme for travel agents and tour operators, so that they can sell tourism products in Egypt. On this

Bollywood rules Virgin Atlantic skies With India’s ever growing importance in the aviation industry, Virgin Atlantic launched its latest Bollywood-inspired multi media marketing campaign, ‘Feel like a Star’. It offers a discount to travellers with ‘filmy’ names. T T B U R E AU

Deepak Narula Managing Director Aman Travels

website, a travel agent can register, read about Egypt and become a certified destination specialist. Among other benefits, agents and operators can participate in fam trips, acquire Egypt Experts club membership, etc.“I am happy to co-sponsor this new online educational programme for travel agents and tour operators. I invite all the agents to participate in this programme in large numbers,” said Masry. “We have a plan to enroll more than 100 agents in the first month itself and gradually increase the numbers,” added Narula.

n a unique step, the airline is inviting Indian travellers to fly to the most popular destinations showcased in Bollywood movies. In addition, the airline is also offering a discount to


Stephen King General Manager Virgin Atlantic - India

travellers with famous ‘filmy’ names. Thus, passengers with names such as Simran or Karan, Arjun or Kiran can now book with Virgin Atlantic and claim up to 10 per cent discount for travel till July 31, 2014.

The campaign reflects the larger than life service of Virgin Atlantic that brings on-screen experiences showcased by Bollywood alive. It focusses on the many amenities available; from the collection of latest Bollywood/Hollywood blockbusters on its in-flight entertainment to its cabins and services that are designed to cater to the needs of the Indian travellers. “From the beginning, Virgin Atlantic brought back style and fun to air travel,” said Stephen King, General Manager, Virgin Atlantic - India. “We believe the journey should be as enjoyable as the destination. ‘Feel like a Star’ campaign highlights the unique experience of flying Virgin and will surely connect to all Bollywood lovers. Last year, we flew over 1,000 passengers with these shortlisted filmy names and are looking forward to welcoming many more Rahuls, Priyas and Rohits on-board this summer.”

Twelve names have been shortlisted by the airline, and those who bear them will be able to avail a 5 per cent discount on Economy booking and

a 10 per cent discount on Premium Economy booking. The booking period starts from March 18 to April 17, 2014, and the travel period is till July 31.

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‘The show must go on’, says Malaysia Tourism Malaysia organised multi-city roadshows to celebrate ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2014’, and has set targets to triple the tourist growth by 2020 from India. A N I TA J A I N hen the world is still puzzled about the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft MH370; Tourism Malaysia is focussing on attracting Indians to the country. According to Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Director General, Tourism Malaysia; it’s a tragic incident, but this won’t impact travel between India and Malaysia. During the ‘Visit Malaysia 2014’ showcase in Mumbai, Taiyab said, “Accidents happen. The search is still on. Nobody can say exactly where the plane is. It does not mean that everything should come to a


Visa way!

e Visa fees to Malaysia hav 2013. The increased from December up from processing fee has gone the new to due 0 3,00 ` to 000 `1, are trying system of functioning. “We authorithe with e sam the to discuss soon and ties and the government a feasible hope to bring this down to pite the amount. Interestingly, des e increase in charges, we hav tions lica recorded growth in visa app the ws sho This 4. 201 y uar in Jan Indian interest and confidence of s Taiyab. tourists in Malaysia,” add

standstill. The show must go on. Business must go on. Airlines need to continue to operate flights.” Kick-started in Kochi, the promotional campaign moved to Bengaluru, Mumbai and concluded in New Delhi. Alongside the promotions, a trade show was also organised for the Indian travel trade showcasing over 40 suppliers from Malaysia. Taiyab said, “Travel agents are our topmost priority and we continue to keep them abreast with latest tourism offerings of Malaysia. We intend to welcome every segment of traveller with any type of budget. India has grown from a ‘price-conscious’ market to ‘value-conscious’ market. With growing number of outbound travel, we aim to tap the best market opportunities and are positive to receive three times more tourist arrivals from India than the current numbers by 2020.” Taiyab also informed that despite the incident, the arrival figures from India look stable. Malaysia welcomed 6,50,989 Indian arrivals in 2013 and through the ‘Visit Malaysia 2014’ celebration year, it is

expecting to welcome close to 7,80,000 to eight lakh tourists. During the year-round celebrations, Malaysia has organised more than 250 events, festivals and fairs to engage global tourists with Malaysia. Tourism

revenue for Malaysia showed 8.1 per cent rise in 2013 at RM65.44 billion. The total tourist arrivals rose by 2.7 percent to 25 million. The country is expecting 28 million tourists this year and 36 million by 2020.

(L-R): Manoharan Periasamy, Hatimi Abas, Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Datuk Tee Slew Kiong, YBM Asojan Muniyandy, Azizan Noordin

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Cathay: Cautiously optimistic for 2014 Closing the year with an increase of 25 per cent in terms of growth, Cathay Pacific holds a positive outlook in the India market. The airline recently announced the change in schedule of its Delhi-Hong Kong route, by offering double daily non-stop flights. R A M YA J S D ’ R O Z A R I O arlier, Cathay Pacific offered one direct Delhi – Hong Kong flight, and the other via Bangkok. In the recent schedule change effective March 31, 2014, they dropped the Delhi Bangkok sector and turned that into a non-stop to Hong Kong.


“We’re essentially doing this because we would like to provide enhanced connectivity and service to our Hong Kong hub, rather than going via Bangkok. We’re a Hong Kong carrier and would like to serve that market comprehensively,” said Charlie Stewart-Cox, General Manager – South Asia, Middle East and Africa,

Challenge N In India, fuel costs accounts for 39 per cent of their total operating cost in 2013

Cathay Pacific. He further added, “We think the new flight will give our customers convenient departure times. The first flight will land in Hong Kong at 7 am, good for connecting into Northeast Asia, China, especially for business travel. The second flight gets in around 9.25 am, allowing better connectivity into North America.” Abhijit Abhyankar, Area Sales Manager – Northern India, Cathay Pacific, said, “Our customers like us. With the Delhi - Hong Kong route, we have a 32 per cent market share with just one direct flight. With two direct flights, we hope to touch almost 50 to 51 per cent of the market.” Both the non-stop services will be operated by A330, with three class configuration. The airline maintained an 80 per cent load factor on all the Indian flights last year, and with 47 flights a week connecting India to Hong Kong,

Charlie Stewart–Cox

Rakesh Raicar

Abhijit Abhyankar

General Manager – South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Cathay Pacific

Regional Sales & Marketing Manager – South Asia, Cathay Pacific

Area Sales Manager – Northern India, Cathay Pacific

We are a Hong Kong carrier and would like to serve that market comprehensively the airline has placed 93 aircrafts on order. Rakesh Raicar, Regional Sales & Marketing Manager – South Asia, Cathay Pacific, added,

We closed the year at more than 25 per cent in terms of growth

With two direct flights, we hope to touch almost 50-51% of the market

“We closed the year at 25 per cent plus in terms of growth, and the first two months of this year has also been good. Keeping in mind the political

and economic scenario, we are cautiously optimistic on our projections for 2014.” India features among the top 10 markets for the airline, and this

makes it an important market for the Cathay Pacific group. “We’ve been growing significantly in the last four to five years, and we’re very pleased with our business and operations here,” Stewart–Cox opined. “The Indian market is growing well providing good support to business travel. The leisure market provides a very strong opportunity, as Indians are looking towards more and more destinations to travel to.” Challenges are abound in every market, and in India fuel costs add much pressure, as it accounts for 39 per cent of their total operating cost in 2013. A significant issue, rising fuel costs create a difficult environment for airlines. “We have reduced our operations of low fuel efficient aircrafts and increased the operations of higher fuel efficient aircraft. It was a important factor in the pickup of our business in the second half of last year,” he added.

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Money-changing: A new alternative In the second of its series of workshops on Money-Changing Business, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) recently unveiled the present rules & regulations and opportunities for travel agents to enter this field. The workshop was conducted by M Vedavalli, former GM, Reserve Bank of India. T T B U R E AU edavalli highlighted several initiatives taken by the Reserve Bank of India, for facilitation of authorised moneychanging business across the country and especially in the Tier-II and Tier-III towns.


RBI, on an application, may authorise any person known as Authorised Person (AP) to deal in Foreign

M Vedavalli Former GM Reserve Bank of India

The Reserve Bank may also revoke any of the existing conditions of a money changer’s licence or impose new conditions Exchange under Section 10 (1) of FEMA 1999. However, the authorisation shall be subject to conditions (Section 10(2)), as specified by the RBI. APs will have to adhere to the directions issued by RBI under Section 10(4) and Section 11(1) of the FEMA, 1999. Non-compliance shall attract revocation of licence and penal provisions of Section 10(3) (b) and 11(3) of the Act. The applicant has to be a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956. The minimum Net Owned Funds (NOF) required for consideration as FFMC are ` 25 lakh for single branch FFMC and ` 50 lakh for multiple branch FFMC. “The eligibility criteria primarily depend on strong financials, good governance, regu-

latory/prudential comfort and adequate internal control mechanism. The criteria for upgradation of existing FFMCs to AD-Category II include minimum net owned funds of Rs. 10 crore, satisfactory function-

ing as FFMC for at least two years and satisfactory credit report from their bankers,” Vedavalli pointed out. Vedavalli highlighted that fresh licences will be issued on

a selective basis to those who comply with all the licencing requirements, facilitate an increase in outreach, have locational advantage like being situated in border areas and tourist centres.

After obtaining licences, authorised money-changers should have a copy of the registration under Shops & Estt Act or any other documentary evidence such as rent receipt and copy of lease agreement

to be submitted to the regional office before commencement of business. Commencement of operations should be within a period of six months from the date of issuance of licence. Contd. on page 36 

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Targetting business in the Pearl City Operational for over five years now, Novotel Hyderabad Airport is looking at creating adequate products to service the varied tourist requirements ranging from MICE, wellness, leisure, etc. T T B U R E AU ocated amidst five acres of beautifully-landscaped area in this historical city, Novotel Hyderabad Airport is located just five minutes from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.


According to Javed Parvez, Director of Sales, Novotel Hyderabad Airport, the hotel is well-positioned to target all sets of travellers, including business, leisure and weekend getaway traffic. “This secluded retreat, where architecture echoes beauty, is also perfect for those who want to get away on weekends from the hustle-bustle of the city and have a good time with their partners or with the family. The hotel is also a value proposition to midscale hospitality experience, be it a leisure or business traveller,” he says.

Javed Parvez Director of Sales Novotel Hyderabad Airport

The demand has been strong from both foreign as well as domestic tourists

With Hyderabad emerging as one of the best MICE destination coupled with improved air connectivity, the mood is upbeat in the hotel industry and many are on an expansion spree, adding to the existing inventory or constructing new properties in view of several national and international events lined up. India’s hospitality sector has been witnessing interest from a variety of segments ranging from MICE, Wellness Tourism, Spiritual and Pilgrimage Tourism, apart from the traditional business or leisure travel.

“The demand has been strong from both foreign as well as domestic tourists. Given the rather diverse nature of demand, the hotel is also looking at creating adequate products to service the varied

tourist requirements,” Parvez reveals. Regarding the new average rates in the city, he adds, “Hyderabad is currently witnessing RevPar of around ` 2,650. However, Novotel Hyderabad Airport is above the

market and clocking a RevPar upwards of ` 2,700.” Operational for over five years now, the hotel currently enjoys occupancy of 55 per cent and is forecasting the same for 2014 year as well, he adds.


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India’s glorious ‘Taj’ at ITB 2014 The whole world meets at ITB Berlin, and this year, the exhibition sent out very positive signals for the international travel industry. ITB saw a four per cent rise in trade visitors and India was shining with all its glory. The Taj Mahal at India pavilion stole the show and was awarded for its stand design.

Contd. on page 30 

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Greater participation from B2B at ITB  Contd. from page 28

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Revving up Malaysia’s MICE business The Sepang International Circuit and Tourism Malaysia jointly promoted Formula One, Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix as an ideal MICE venue in Mumbai and Bengaluru. T T B U R E AU oth events in these cities saw a turnout of over 100 people attending and engaging themselves in the pit stop challenge. The event was based around the Sahara Force India car. Senior corporate executives tried their hand at the pit-stop challenge. Every team had to change all four tyres of the car and make it race ready in the least possible time. In Mumbai, the winning team clocked 45.6 seconds and in Bengaluru, the winning team comprised four women who clocked 39 seconds to change the tyres.


Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia, said, "The Formula One Petronas Grand Prix Race is one of the key events under ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2014’, scheduled from March 28 30. The Visit Malaysia Year 2014 has a wide array of festivities and experiences for travellers. There is also the GP Mega Sale Carnival and other promotions in the country." Dato Razlan Razali, CEO, Sepang International Circuit, presented the circuit as a destination not only for motor sports, but also for world-class international events, from business to commercial programmes. He informed, “We will promote this circuit as a stand-alone venue for events like weddings, family days, conferences, annual dinners and team-building programmes.” He also highlighted the post-event parties during the race that will add on to the visitor experience.At the event, a

India plans for 200 low-cost airports  India is planning to set up around 200 low-cost airports across the country in next two decades. The idea behind this initiative is to expand the air connectivity of tier-II and tier-III cities. Also, these airports would help to manage the growing passenger rush. Presently, the non-metro airports account for only about 30 per cent of the total air traffic, which is expected to rise to 45 per cent in the next few years.

special Formula 1 Package ‘Alive@Sepang’ was launched with travel partner Cox & Kings. The highlights of the package include garage tours, pit lane walks and the possibility to meet and greet Sahara Force India drivers.

Highlight N The Visit Malaysia Year 2014 has a wide array of festivities and experiences for travellers

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Ombudsman for Aviation The proposed Aviation Ombudsman is including industry stakeholders to resolve their grievances against service providers and operators. Speaking to , M Kannan, Economic Adviser, Ministry of Civil Aviation, elaborates on the importance of this new initiative. R ATA N K R P A U L annan is heading the consultation procedure to give a final shape of the Civil Aviation Ombudsman. Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has decided to consult stakeholders regarding setting up of an Ombudsman for Civil Aviation Sector in India as an alternative dispute settlement machinery. The word Ombudsman means an officer or spokesperson or representative of the people.


“It has been noticed that the disputes between service providers and users are increasing at the pace of the growth of the aviation sector. Ideally, the grievances should be resolved instantly at the initial stage through the service providers’ grievance redressal mechanism. However, there are plenty of disputes that remain unresolved for a long time. As a result, MoCA has decided to take this crucial initiative, i.e., fast settlement of disputes through Ombudsman for Civil Aviation,” Kannan said. Despite the presence of some other institutions like DGCA, AERA, CCI and Consumer Courts that too take care of users’ interests, Kannan maintained that each and every organisation has their core functions and limitations. On the other hand, redressal of disputes pertaining to civil aviation should be done by a specific and nodal body, which would cover all the stakeholders and

allied organisations for fast settlement of any disputes. Significantly, the draft consultation paper which is now in the public domain for discussion has given adequate emphasis on the disputes between the industry stakeholders. Though the consultation paper has not mentioned the nitty-gritty on the scope of the Ombudsman in respect of dispute settlement for the users from within the industry, it is expected that some long pending issues between travel agents and airlines or

and airlines or airports and between one industry stakeholder vs another industry stakeholder is different. This aspect is desired to be discussed by the industry people themselves while participating in the consultation process.” He also underlined that who all should be covered under the ambit of Ombudsman from the service provision perspective is an important issue that needs to be discussed. The stakeholders are requested to give their comments on the subject by April 15, 2014.

There are plenty of disputes that remain unresolved for a long time. As a result, MoCA has decided to take this crucial initiative, i.e., fast settlement of disputes through Ombudsman for Civil Aviation M Kannan Economic Adviser Ministry of Civil Aviation

airlines/terminal operators and airports will be covered by the Ombudsman. However, Kannan clarified, “Since the Ombudsman is still in consultation process and we have invited all the users, both common people and industry representatives, it would be too early to comment on any specific issues. It should be remembered that the dimension of the disputes between an end-user

Kannan also made it clear that Ombudsman would be the final stage for any dispute settlement based on the existing laws and rules & regulations. The Aviation Ombudsman will also have an Appellate Body in case of dissatisfaction with the decision of the Ombudsman. “People should come before the Ombudsman if the grievances are not addressed by the service providers,” he said.

Tourism’s contribution hikes by 7.3%  According to the World Travel and Tourism Council‘s annual economic impact report 2014 for India, travel and tourism's economic contribution is expected to grow by 7.3 per cent this year, outperforming the general economy by 2.5 per cent points. Revenues gained from domestic tourism rose by 5.1 per cent in 2013 and is expected to increase by 8.2 per cent in 2014. The amount that international visitors spent in India rose by 6.2 per cent in 2013 but is forecast to slow to a 2.9 per cent growth rate in 2014.

David Scowsill President and CEO WTTC

“Inbound tourism is continuing to grow both in terms of international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts. But it is the domestic market which will see particularly strong growth

in 2014 with more investment and more Indians travelling,” David Scowsill, President and Chief Executive Officer, WTTC, said. The Government of India has announced that it proposes to extend Visa-onArrival and electronic travel authorisation for tourists from 180 countries and to speed up the application process for those still requiring a paper visa. It plans to issue visa in three days in such cases. During 2013, travel and tourism industry contributed ` 63,160 crore to the economy and generated 35 million jobs.

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Puerto Princesa: A city in a forest Puerto Princesa city’s attractions have much to do with its natural wonders and commitment to the environment. Known for its cleanliness and greenery, this city has been internationally recognised for environmental excellence. T T B U R E AU UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Subterranean River (or Underground River) is correctly called Puerto Princesa’s pride. The 8.2-kilometre river, said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, winds its way underneath a mountain range, through the St. Paul Underground River Cave, and then goes out into the South China Sea. The journey through the cave system alone is 24 kilometres long.


The entire area where the Underground River is located is

Highlight N More than 800 plant species, including almost 300 trees, 195 bird species, 30 mammals, 19 reptiles and eight bat species call this area home

a national park and a model of biodiversity. More than 800 plant species, including almost 300 trees, 195 bird species, 30 mammals, 19 reptiles and eight bat species call this area home. Island-hopping is one of the biggest draws of Puerto Princesa. At Honda Bay, boats take tourists to nearby islands for lunch picnics, snorkelling

and non-stop swimming. The calm water and sandy bottoms beat any hotel pool. Puerto Princesa is also home to more secluded and less commercial beaches. The beaches of Nagtabon, Napsan, and Marufinas are known for fine beaches and awesome sunsets away

from the crowds. In the municipality of Narra, Arena Island, a turtle sanctuary, and Rasa Island, a bird sanctuary, both have island-hopping opportunities. A three-hour ride also leads to Port Barton in the municipality of San Vicente, which has been described as

a backpacker’s dream. The only problem you might have is deciding whether to swim, dive, snorkel or just swing to sleep on a hammock. Puerto Princesa’s heritage in the Batak Cultural Village is a model of the communities where the Batak mountain people — one of Palawan’s oldest and the smallest of three major indigenous groups — live. The Tabon Cave Complex in the municipality of Quezon is an important archaeological site.

Although the 100-hectare complex is supposed to have some 200 caves, only seven can be viewed. Of these, the Tabon Cave itself was the site where the remains of the oldest homo sapiens in Southeast Asia were found, dating to 47,000 years ago. For the brave, exotic food choices await. The ever popular Kinabuchs Grill and Bar serves tamilok (shipworm) and crocodile meat. The less adventurous can head for Ka Lui for their creative seafood dishes.

OTOAI looks South for new members OTOAI hosted its chapter meeting in Chennai recently in order to recruit new members. The event witnessed who's who of the travel industry, including travel agents, tour operators, hotel representative bodies, who came on the same platform to discuss about outbound issues.

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1 2

Mumbai Bengaluru

Tourism Poland’s Roadshow Tourism Poland’s Roadshow



Tourism Poland’s Roadshow



Destination New South Wales & Tourism Queensland’s Best of Australia Workshop



MICE Travel Mart + Luxury & Leisure Travel Mart,



Destination New South Wales & Tourism Queensland’s Best of Australia Workshop



Incredible India Travel Bazaar



Destination New South Wales & Tourism Queensland’s Best of Australia Workshop

Mumbai gets the WOW effect The World of Wonders (WOW) recently opened their mega flagship company in Khar, Mumbai. The store was inaugurated by Gurudas Kamat, Member of Parliament & General Secretary – All India Congress Committee. Several Bollywood personalities including Rakesh Roshan, Jeetendra and Prem Chopra attended the launch event.



5-6 6-8 8-11 9-11

Ottawa Marseille Singapore Beijing

10-12 15-17 15-20 23-25

Siberia Shanghai The Hague Sao Paulo




Cape Town

Azerbaijan International Tourism Fair (AITF) The Travel and Vacation Show Routes Europe Hotel Asia China Outbound Travel Tourism Mart (COTTM) SITT (TOURSIB) IT&CM China International Travel & Tourism Market World Travel Market Latin America Kazakhstan International Tourism Fair (KITF) IBTM Africa


 Contd. from page 25


Cape Town

World Travel Market Africa



Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

9-11 10-12 11-13

Shanghai Durban Bremen

World Travel Fair Indaba Expo German Travel Mart

18-21 20-22 27-30

New Zealand Frankfurt Vancouver

Trenz IMEX 2014 Canadian Tourism Commission’s Rendezvous Canada Korea World Travel Fair

29-Jun 1 Seoul



JUNE TTF Guwahati



Asia International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM Asia 2014)



Thailand Travel Mart Plus



America Incentives Business Travel & Meetings Expo (AIBTM 2014)



Outdoor Retailer Australia



Bangladesh International Tourism Fair



Zak Salaam India Tourism Expo



Routes Africa 2014



Beijing International Tourism Expo 2014

29-July 2 Barcelona

Dos and Don’ts for agents from RBI

4th International Conference on Tourism between China-Spain

For more information, contact us at:

Moreover, a copy of the latest audited accounts, a certificate from the Statutory Auditors regarding the net owned fund (NOF) as on the date of application, a declaration to the effect that no proceedings have been initiated by any law enforcing authorities against the applicant company and its directors and a copy of the KYC/AML/CFT policy framework existing in the company have to be submitted before RBI. However, the Reserve Bank reserves the

right to revoke the licence granted to an AMC at any time if it is satisfied that it is in public interest to do so. The licences can also be cancelled if the AMC has failed to comply with any condition of authorisation or has contravened any of the provisions of the FEMA or any rule, regulation, notification, direction or order made there under. The Reserve Bank also reserves the right to revoke the authorisation of any of the offices for infringement of any statutory or regulatory provision. The Reserve Bank may

also revoke any of the ex isting conditions of a money changer’s licence or impose new conditions. She also said that undertaking money-changing business or advertising about car-

rying on money-changing business without a valid licence from RBI shall be in contravention to the provisions of the Act and the people involved are liable to be penalised.

RBI Rights N To revoke the licence granted to an AMC at any time N To revoke the authorisation of any of the offices for infringement of any statutory or regulatory provision N To revoke any of the existing conditions of a money changer’s licence or impose new conditions

Holiday Inn New Delhi Int’l Airport launched  The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced its entry into the newly-built development of Aerocity with the opening of Holiday Inn New Delhi International Airport. It is the second Holiday Inn hotel in the capital and ninth in the country. The 265-room hotel is located in close proximity to Delhi’s domestic and international airports. With Gurgaon and South Delhi located a few kilometres away, the hotel is well connected via a national highway and the

Airport Metro, besides providing convenient and quick access to Connaught Place

and other important commercial, business and residential areas of New Delhi.

The hotel offers guests large, comfortable rooms with 37-inch LED TVs, iPod docking stations, media hubs and complimentary or all guests staying at the hotel. There is 8000 square feet of function space available, including four meeting rooms and the Grand Ballroom, which also can be divided into three smaller function rooms.

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Unique Global Hotels Alliance

Howard Johnson Bengaluru Hebbal




Mark Meehan has been appointed by Travelport as its Managing

Jagmohan Misra has been appointed as the Country Head of

Director for Asia Pacific. Currently, the Managing Director for Travelport Africa, Meehan brings a wealth of customer-focussed experience to the role, having held a number of high profile positions at Travelport during his 15 year tenure in the business. Meehan has held responsibility for the organisation’s global commercial operations. He was charged with driving excellence in customer service and change across the global business, including the introduction of important new customer initiatives, training programmes and enhanced help desk services.

Unique Global Hotels Alliance. Misra has over 33 years of combined experience in the development, project manegement, operations and launch of some of the leading hotels brands in India. He started his career with the Oberoi Hotels in 1978 and achieved the distinction of being appointed as the youngest General Manager in the group. During his stint with Radisson Hotels in Malaysia, he was responsible for the opening and successfully setting up operations of the four prime properties owned by the brand.

Saibal Sen has been appointed as the General Manager of USbased Howard Johnson’s first property in India at Bangalore Howard Johnson Bengaluru Hebbal. Sen comes with a rich experience of 19 years and has worked with various organisations. In the past, Sen has been associated with groups like The Taj, Four Point Sheraton and The Lalit. His last assignment was with the Sarovar Group Hotels & Resorts. Sen is an alumni of the prestigious Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology, Mumbai.

Hilton Bangalore Residences

Hilton Chennai



Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre

Vikas Sharma has been appointed as the General Manager of Hilton

Parag Sawhney has been taken on as the General Manager of Hilton

Bangalore Residences. He brings with him more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry. Sharma also has the distinction of being awarded the ‘The Best Hotelier’ in 2010 by the National Tourism Awards. In his former role at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Sharma was the general manager for Aloft, Bangalore. Prior to joining Starwood, he was the general manager for The Chancery Pavilion, Bangalore.

Chennai. Sawhney brings with him 14 years of diverse experience in hotel operations, including F&B management, front-office management and guest relations among others. After stints at Grand Maratha Sheraton in Mumbai and Renaissance Hotel in Dubai, he joined Hilton Worldwide in 2006 on being appointed Front Office Leader at Hilton St. Anne’s Manor, United Kingdom. Sawhney proceeded to take charge as Front of House Manager at the hotel, before moving on to Hilton London Green Park as Deputy Hotel Manager. He relocated to India in May 2013 and has been with Hilton Chennai since.


The Westin Mumbai Garden City

Kohinoor Continental



Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport

Vinay Singh has taken over as Director of Sales for The Westin

Kiran G Wagle has been appointed as the Sales and Marketing

Mumbai Garden City. He has been with the hotel since January 2013 as its Account Director. His journey with Starwood Hotels started in the year 2008 – 2010 as an Assistant Director of Sales in Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai. During his tenure with TWMGC, Singh has supported the organisation in acquiring new horizons, creating guest loyalty, as a leader, a mentor to his team and has achieved overall success in his endeavours.

Consultant for Kohinoor Continental. He has a total work experience of 39 years in varied industries. Of this, 28 years have been in hospitality sales & marketing in India and UAE. Wagle started as a sales executive in July 1982, and retired in 2012 as VP Sales & Marketing, having worked in different hospitality companies like Taj Group of Hotels & Concept Hospitality. Post retirement, he has taken up full-time consultancy with Aitken Spence Hotels in India & now with Kohinoor Group - Hotel Division based in Mumbai.


Gagan Deep Singh has been appointed as the General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre. After a stint as the Director of Operations at JW Marriott Mumbai, he will now take on the reigns of Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre. He comes with about 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Over the years, he worked in various F&B roles in JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai, Renaissance Mumbai Hotel and Convention Centre and Lake Side Chalet, Marriott Executive Apartments, Mumbai.

MK Khan has joined as the Food and Beverage Manager at Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport. In his last stint, he was associated with The Gateway Hotel, Bangalore in the same capacity. Khan carries an experience of 14 years and has worked with some of the best hospitality brands. He started his career with Crown Plaza Surya New Delhi and later joined The Imperial New Delhi. He has also worked in JW Marriott and The Leela Mumbai as well.

Talking People is a special dedicated corner, created as a sounding board for who’s who of the Indian and International travel industry. With Talking People, it is our endeavour to bring you face-to-face with people.Contributed by: Megha Paul

Adnan Aykac, General Manager-North & East India, Turkish Airlines, loves India. “I have had beautiful experiences in this country. I have had few Diwali celebrations during my three years in India, and I love this festival of lights. I like to attend Indian weddings and visit the Taj Mahal.” During the weekends, he takes quick trips to Chandigarh, Jaipur and Agra.

Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager-India, South African Tourism says, “I am a city holiday person. I like the countryside, but only from a distance. But my last holiday to Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape in South Africa changed all that,” she reveals. “I realised that you are never too old to surf. I learnt even when you are petrified of heights, you can still do the gorgeous coastal walks and survive them. Journeys do make you learn so many new things,” she says.

Lakshmanan Ramanathan, Resident Manager, JW Marriott, Bengaluru, begins his day with a great cup of cappuccino. Sharing his big secret, he chuckles, “People think I am a workaholic, but I am actually extremely attached to my family and very emotional. My biggest inspiration is my father. I also secretly hope that I can beat Usain Bolt in a race one day.” When Ramanathan is not working, you can find him running, which is his biggest stress-buster. He loves holidaying in Egypt and Switzerland.

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Postal Reg. No.:DL(ND)-11/6044/2012-13-14; WPP No.: U(C)-178/2012-14 for posting on 1st-2nd and 16th-17th of the same month at New Delhi P.S.O., RNI No.: 53492/91 Date of Publication:30-03-2014


Religious tourism gets biometric touch To keep a track of Char Dham Yatra devotees, the government of Uttarakhand has decided to issue biometric cards and also register the mobile numbers of pilgrims to provide timely weather forecasts. M E G H A PAU L he advance bookings in hotels, resorts and other accommodations have been far below the previous years. Tour operators have pointed out that advance bookings have dipped 15-20 per cent this year, Umakant Panwar, Tourism Secretary, Uttarakhand, has revealed. Thus, the state has now geared up to monitor the Char Dham yatra to revive the tourism industry in the region. “The number of pilgrims will increase as the yatra starts and we are optimistic that over 50 lakh devotees visit the state this season,” he said.


The number of pilgrims will increase as the yatra starts and we are optimistic that over 50 lakh devotees visit the state this season Umakant Panwar Tourism Secretary Uttarakhand

The travel agents need to plan the Kedarnath yatra for a longer time now. According to Panwar, the yatra might take one and a half, to two days, as the trek has become slightly longer now. “There is no limit to the number of people who will be coming to visit Kerdarnath. However, the flow beyond Guptkashi will be regulated as the shrine can accommodate not more than 500 people during the night.”

Going forward, the Uttarakhand Government has decided to keep a track of devotees visiting the state for the Char Dham yatra, by issuing biometric cards and registering their mobile numbers to provide timely weather forecasts. A total of 25 points have been identified, most of them in the Garhwal region, where biometric cards would be issued to pilgrims, reveals Panwar. “The pilgrims will have to swipe their

biometric card en route, which will also help to keep a track of their location. With the help of Met department and the Telecom department, we will provide weather updates to pilgrims, so that they can plan their yatra,” he added. A dedicated control room for the Char Dham yatra will also be opened. Pilgrims and their relatives will be provided all the information and updates related to the yatra from the control room, which will be set up in the state capital. “A separate telephone line has already been allotted for the control room,” Panwar added. A mobile medical team will also be stationed at every 10-15 km along the route. Health camps will be set up in Guptkashi, Sonprayag and Gaurikund. Special committees have been formed to monitor the yatra. Though there is no restriction on the number of pilgrims visiting Uttarakhand, the state government has granted permission to officials given charge for the Kedarnath yatra, to limit the

En route to salvation SMS alerts in case of an emergency Timely weather forecast on registered mobile numbers d, 25 points have been identifie on, most of them in Garhwal regi ld be where biometric cards wou rims pilg to ed issu the Dedicated control room for ned ope be to a yatr m Dha r Cha Mobile medical team to be along ione stat d at every 10-15km e rout the

numbers in emergency situations, he pointed out. Teams from the Uttarakhand tourism department have visited officials and informed them about the efforts made by the state government to ensure pilgrims’ safety. “The work for repairing the route leading to the Dhams has been started and we are confident that it will be completed by April 30,” he stated. A taskforce has been constituted for construction of a new trekking path from Bheembali to Kedarnath.

TravTalk April 1st 2014  

TravTalk April 1st 2014