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in. this issue . Vol.6 No. 02 november 2012

10. UDS Wins the World Luxury Hotel Award- 2012 12. WTM focus on ‘Powerhouse Economies’ session 15. Asia Pacific travel agencies agrees business online with Amadeus E-commerce Seminars

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16. Enjoy the captivating Seoul Lantern Festival! 19. Pennsylvania ties-up with Kuoni India & TAAI for tourism promotion in India 33. KTM Album

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TEN QUESTIONS

AS I TRAVEL

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P 20-21

ERINE LOUIS

V Duraikkannan

Cover Photo Courtesy: www.londontourism.ca

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


EDITOR’S NOTE

Editor & Publisher

:

G. Biju Krishnan

Photo Editor

:

Retheesh Kariyam

Chief Executive Officer

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ourism is regarded as the backbone of Kerala, marketed globally as ‘God’s Own Country’. With lack of large scale manufacturing industries, the state depends on tourism and allied businesses as one of its main revenue earners. Last year, this was close to Rs.19, 037crore. From time to time, we have been hearing tourists complaining about poor infrastructure in the state, especially poor condition of our roads. While at the same time they hail our cleanliness, education and hospitality. Consider this, Mumbai to Pune travel takes only less than three hours via Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Now Agra is accessible from New Delhi in less than two hours through the new Yamuna Expressway. Even the 835 kilometre distance from Pune to Bangalore can be covered in 10-12 hours comfortably, thanks to the golden quadrilateral project. Cut to Kerala, monsoon brings nightmare here as roads turn to potholes, breaking backs of vehicles and travellers. Recently, Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K. V. Thomas recounted that it took four and a half hours to travel from Ernakulam to Oachira, while it took only the same time to cover the distance from Bangalore to Hyderabad. The need for constant development with proper maintenance of roads to improve tourism was spelt out by Riaz Ahmed President at the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) 2012 in Kochi where more than 500 delegates from 48 countries took part. We are talking about ambitious infrastructure projects like metro rail and monorail feeders in cities, high speed rail and even seaplanes for fast and comfortable connectivity. But all those projects are still in the planning stage and require huge funding. Discussions on Kochi metro is still at the same level it was seven years ago. Now, Tourism department is also focusing on development of eco-friendly, rural tourism packages in Kovalam, Muziris heritage circuit, Kumarakom and Wayanad. Aptly, Tourism secretary Suman Billa had emphasized the need for ensuring quality services and to develop activities such as traditional Ayurveda and adventure tourism. Kerala can also look forward to boost its tourism potential by showcasing itself at the upcoming World Travel Mart, a four-day business-to-business event for the worldwide travel and tourism industry at London from November 5. But those marketing efforts will not yield the desired results, unless we urgently focus to improve our infrastructure, especially transportation, and quality of our hospitality services.

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rr acrin a G. Biju Krishnan Editor & Publisher editor@mediastepsindia.com +91 9447555222

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

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OVERVIEW

Kerala tourism ready and raring to go

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rom the state’s initial initiative to set up an international tourist beach resort in Kovalam in 1976 to declaring tourism as an industry in 1986, Tourism in Kerala has come a long way and is one of the crucial engines of growth. The tourist department’s efforts were quite effective in enhancing the brand value of Kerala at the national and international level and in transforming Kerala as one of the most sought after destinations in India. Despite the global recessionary trends, the foreign tourist arrivals in the state projects a growth trajectory from 2.08 lakh foreign tourists in 2001 to 3.46 lakh tourists in 2005 to 6.59 lakh tourists in 2010. In terms of foreign exchange earnings, Kerala had made Rs 5.35 billion in 2001 to Rs 15.22 billion in 2005 to Rs 37.97 billion in 2010. Looking back at the first tourism policy of the state in 1995 that underscored the need for public-private partnership in tourism, Kerala has made rapid strides in harnessing its tourist potential through quality

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services and hospitality standards. Now, the recently unveiled tourism policy goes a step further as it envisages the state with its mission to deliver a world class yet homely experience for the visitors, enabling a viable environment for investment. It also aims that benefits of tourism would help the indigenous communities, as it forms the base that envisions vibrant growth for sustainable development of the state. To ensure quality visitor experience, the state government aims to develop the basic infrastructure on a priority basis through the formation of a cabinet committee on tourism led by

Chief Minister and a task force on infrastructure development led by the Tourism Minister. With that the government has also launched a campaign to declare Kerala as a waste free destination in its mission to ensure a clean destination for the tourists. The recent move to ensure safe and hygienic food at hotels and resorts with improved customer benefits would also help in attracting tourists. The state can focus further on the heady combination of Eco-friendly Backwater Tourism along with traditional Ayurvedic practices of rejuvenation therapy to promote Kerala which has already carved a niche as a much sought after

tourist destination. Though Ecotourism models were conceived in the 1990s and the Responsible Tourism initiative launched in 2007, the efforts are yet to be realised. Interestingly, the plan to launch Life Saving volunteer scheme to augment the existing life guard services at high risk water bodies, Tourist Warden Scheme to assist and guide tourists and the proposed Contingency Response Cell to manage any crisis affecting tourists will be a major step in ensuring responsible tourism. With that, Kerala largely being a literate state with high internet usage and cable connectivity, it would be worth opting for innovative models such as the Pay touch scheme. Launched by Palladium hotel group, Pay touch allows visitors to its Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel to make purchases at the touch of their fingertips though biometric technology giving guests a secure, cash-free holiday experience. This innovative model will be showcased at the upcoming World Travel Market at London from Nov 5 to 8.

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Q&A

Erine Louis, General Manager, The Residency, Coimbatore, is young at heart and thinks today’s youth are energetic, who on proper guidance would bring in the best results in whatever they are entrusted with. A true leader that he is, Louis is fully dedicated to his team, and provides enough avenues for everyone in his team to come out in flying colours. He is concerned about the manpower shortage in the sector and feels it is important that hotels take some steps to reverse the scenario. Know him more through 10 Questions

Erine Louis

General Manager The Residency Coimbatore

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with the Taj West End, part of the Taj group of Hotels, in the Garden City of India. I started off with kitchen, because I loved food and always enjoyed relishing a variety of cuisines. Later, I moved to Chennai from Bengaluru and worked with Tarapore & Company. In 2000, I heard of the growth potential of Kerala as a tourist destination and decided to give a try and joined Casino Group of Hotels, Cochin (now CGH Earth). Then, I took the leadership of Brunton Boatyard from the very first year of its inception. After that, I joined Marari Beach and then moved to the one and only flagship hotel of the Chain Casino Hotel Kochi. To be frank, I didn’t know I have been in the sector for a long 12 years! It was C Joseph, a retired engineer from the TELK and who also happened to be one of my family friends, who changed my outlook and You have been in the the reason behind my entry hospitality sector for the past into the hospitality sector. I several years. What made you wanted to pursue a career take up a job in this sector? in engineering and that too Would you tell us about your automobile. He is the one early days? who believed that my energy After graduating from and drive is best suited for the Mangalore University, hospitality and I followed I started my hospitality life him suit. Here, I am today! with ITC Windsor Manor, Yes, I made the right choice Bengaluru. Prior to joining and hospitality is part of our ITC, I had undergone trainings culture. “Atithi Devo Bhava!”

As the General Manager, what plans you have for the Residency, Coimbatore? The Residency, Coimbatore, was the first hotel of this magnitude to be launched in this city about 15 years back. It has 133 rooms with a coffee shop, two specialty restaurants, a bar, a pub, a cake shop and five banqueting facilities. I am here to provide unique experiences and my journey ahead is all about focusing on experiences that are truly different and exciting. My team is everything to me, and I always would like to see them excited. Hence I create avenues to unleash their energy, and spaces for each member to do exciting things in sink with the values of the organisation. Today’s youth have so much energy and hence there should be concentrated efforts at engaging them. And that is where the key to best results is. Spend more time with them and empower them. There is a leader in everyone and I believe that small decisions each individual takes are very crucial to guest satisfaction. I tell them to come to the hotel and do what they like the most. The more I engage with my team, the more they create magical moments at work, and business just precipitates. My team and I usually meet almost

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


Q&A all our guests and ensure that every guest is at leisure, once s/he is back after a long day. May it be the bell boy, or the chef cooking the fish curry, the synergy is the same. How do you see the role of a hotel in developing a destination? What all things can hospitality sector do in this regard? Chicken, or Egg - that’s what hotels does to a destination. Having said this, I must also add that a tourist destination like Kerala is different. For any other city to grow, quality accommodation is a must. More important is the connectivity - rail, road and air. And, hotels drive the destination. A traveller first looks out for his/her accommodation, even before zeroing in on a destination and the mode of transport. The growth of a destination must be inclusive and all partners must come together and this consortium only can take the driver’s seat. Hotels, travel agents, tour operations, retailors and various federations in liaison will help the destination to grow. Once united, the local community would be the biggest beneficiary, as direct and indirect job opportunities will be plenty. Would you please share with us the proudest and some of the unforgettable moments in your professional life? There are several such moments and it’s difficult to pick just one. On the learning curve, every experience adds to the overall learning. Yes, I was fortunate enough to meet several important personalities in this journey, like Noam Chomsky, David Rockefeller, Amartya Sen, etc. Here, I must emphasise my encounter with Mr. Jose Dominic, who reminded me to get into the details of everything, in search of truth.

I attended the 47th FHRAI convention held at Goa, and the goals and projections are amazing for destination India. Tourism industry will generate the most job opportunities in the country. More and more destinations will emerge, with better connectivity. Each state is strongly coming up and Gujarat is a good example. Tourism is gonna be the key to hospitality business and vice versa. Several more hotels will be opening up in different parts of the country, bringing more business and supporting tourism. It will in turn help the surrounding destinations to grow. Every Indian is a tourist today, either in his state or across India. He is excited to explore his own country unlike before. The youth are travelling Where would you like to extensively and they are see yourself, say, 10 years adventurous too. from now? Hospitality sector, like It’s impossible to say where other sectors, is facing I would like to see myself in 10 shortage of trained hands years from now, and I think in and it now invites graduates lesser years I must be heading a from all disciplines. The sector group or chain of hotels, either should take initiatives to in leisure or business segment. impart training to unskilled and semi-skilled individuals, How do you see the to improve the status quo. It growth prospects of Indian should take appropriate steps hospitality sector? In your career, have you ever worked abroad? What according to you are the advantages of working overseas? I have never worked abroad but have always heard that we, Indians, need to learn from the experience abroad. There, you are exposed to the latest of technology and it is where an individual’s efficiency and effectiveness is measured. Whatever certain done, India is culturally so robust and we have our own uniqueness. We are different and that’s the charm. Asians are highly hospitable people is what I have learned and experienced. Building a career in India is more challenging, than finding a job overseas. Of late, I do see so many foreigners looking out for jobs in India. A welcome change!

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

to attract more individuals to take up a career in the sector. And it is important to reach the villages. It’s always the ordinary people who do extraordinary works. Also, public-private partnership should be encouraged, especially when it comes to developing basic infrastructure like good roads, hygienic toilets, etc. Without doubt I can say that a day will come when every Indian will be a contributor as well as beneficiary of this sector. Would you please paint a picture of your family? My wife is a homemaker and my pillar of support. We have two young girls, Anna and Mariya. Please tell us about your hobbies and other interests? I have a passion for old artefacts, like off rodding and love nature. I wake up at 5.30 am and play badminton every morning at 6 am (try my best, not to excuse). Which is your favourite destination? Why? It’s too early to comment on this - so much to explore! My heart is, however, close to nature and original experiences.

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NEWSLINE

UDS Wins the World Luxury Hotel Award- 2012 MSI Newswire | Trivandrum

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day Samudra Leisure beach Hotel & Spa, the only complete wellness resort in the International tourist destination, Kovalam gets the World Luxury Hotel Award 2012 for the third consecutive year from 2010. The Award was received by the Rajashekhran Nair, CMD and Radha Nair Director along with Prasad Manjali Vice President at the prestigious ceremony held at Pan Pacific, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia recently.

The UDS, the luxury resort nestled in the palm groves is a perfect place for the guest to enjoy every moment to the fullest. UdaySamudra Leisure Beach Hotel & Spa branded as UDS has 207 rooms, four restaurants, three fresh water swimming pools, three banquet halls, Ayur Ashram Ayurveda and Yoga Centre, Ocean SPA, Beauty Studio, Health Club and Dental Clinic to become a luxury destination. The UDS has expanded with its new launching Uday Suites, the only four Star

Airport hotel in Trivandrum, Uday Sky kitchen and UdaySamudra Ayurveda & Yoga Beach Resort. The upcoming projects are Hotel & Convention Centre with 2000 seating capacity plus 190 rooms, Backwater resort in AlleppeyKerala and Ayurveda Hill resort in Wagamon near Thekkady.UDS group has also ventured into restaurant field in the United Kingdom under the brand RRK (Rock & Roll Kitchen).

Somatheeran Ayurveda Resort wins European Award MSI Newswire | Trivandrum

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omatheeram Ayurveda Resort (Somatheeram Ayurveda Group), the first Ayurveda resort with a unique harmony of Kerala’s spectacular heritage and ancient knowledgeof Ayurvedahas bagged the prestigious European Award for Best Practices 2012 for its dedication to quality and excellence. The award was proclaimed by the European Society for Quality Research (ESQR) at a function held at the Amsterdam City Centre, Netherlands. Somatheeran Ayurveda Group, Chairman

and Managing Director Baby Mathew and Somatheeram Ayurveda GroupDirector Sarah Baby Mathew received the award. The coveted award was conferred on Somatheeram

Ayurveda Resort for its extraordinary achievements in customer satisfaction, outstanding results in quality management in the International Healthcare Sector. Along with Ayurveda

Tourism, Continuos Improvements, Leadership, Human Resources, Training, Process Management, Environment Conservation, Data Analysis, Strategic Planning and Quality Control are aspects that featured in Somatheeram being selected for the award. Since 1985, Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort has won many national and international awards including Kerala State Award 2010-2011 for the “Best Approved and Classified Ayurveda Center” placing Kerala on a significant spot in the global Wellness and Health tourism map.

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. honoured as India’s Most Trusted Brand Trust Research Advisory – the homas Cook (India) authority on the Ltd has been ranked as measurement ‘India’s Most Trusted of Trust among Brand in Travel Services’ by brands, lists Brand Trust Report™ 2012. India’s 1000 The Brand Trust Report, India Most Trusted Brands. Study, 2012 was released by Thomas Cook (India)

MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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Ltd., Managing DirectorMadhavanMenon said, “We are truly delighted to be honored as ‘India’s Most Trusted Brand’ in the ‘Travel Services’ category. At Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, it has been our constant

endeavor to offer our customers exceptional service coupled with innovative and best in class travel experiences. This award is a reiteration of our commitment to our valued customers and equally their firm, unwavering trust in us.”

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


NEWSLINE

Dr K Chiranjeevi is sworn in as the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Tourism, Government of India replacing Subodh Kant Sahay, who recently resigned as Minister for Tourism, A cine-star-turned politician, Dr K Chiranjeevi was a member of the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh since April, 2012.

Parvez Dewan takes charge as the new Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. A 1977 batch IAS of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) cadre has handled various responsibilities, including in the Department of Tourism in both home cadre, J&K, as well as in the Centre. He was Secretary - Tourism, J&K from 1992 to 1994 and Commissioner-cumSecretary of J&K between 1998 and 2001. He was instrumental in preparing the groundwork for Commonwealth Games as Chairman and Managing Director of ITDC.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

K C Venugopal becomes Minister of State for Civil Aviation. A first-time Member of Parliament from Alappuzha in Kerala, Venugopal takes charge as Minister of State for Power in January, 2011, before being shifted to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in the latest reshuffle. He was elected thrice to the Kerala Legislative Assembly and was Tourism Minister of Kerala before becoming Member of Parliament.

Vivek Nair, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director of Hotel Leelaventure Limited, has been elected FHRAI President. In 2003 – 04, he was the President of FHRAI and also served as President of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) and the South India Hotels & Restaurants Association (SIHRA).

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NEWSLINE

WTM focus on ‘Powerhouse Economies’ session The session will be moderated by Tom Jenkins, he World Travel Executive Director of Market (WTM) 2012, European Tour Operators a leading global event Association and Leslie Vella, for the travel industry is all Group Chairman of European set to be held in London from Tourism Council Market November 5 to 8, a session Intelligence Group will use focussed on the individual the research to review each markets Brazil, India, Russia, country’s potential before China and South Africa will introducing expert speakers be held in Platinum Suite on on each. November 7. The session takes The session will start with into account its strengths a focus on Brazil and will and weaknesses to examine include an expert opinion each of the five countries’ by wholesaler Abreu Online individual travel and tourism Global Director of Product potential. It is followed by Andre Fass. DorosthyTeng, presentations from expert Department Manager Inbound speakers to help the audience Services of Kuoni/ GTA evaluate the most potential and Carey Fletcher, Group market for them. Chairman of China Holidays MSI Newswire | London

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will discuss the China market. Ashwini Kakkar, Executive Vice Chairman, Mercury Travels and Yashraj Jain, Editorial Associate of Indian Compass will talk about India, Russia will be the focus in the session with Helene Lloyd, Director of TMI Consultancy and the session will conclude by focusing on South Africa with Susan Thesen, General Manager of British Tips. Simon Press, Exhibitions Director World Travel Market, Reed Exhibitions, said, “The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are often grouped together with their potential discussed as a collective whole, despite there being different

advantages and challenges in each market. This session takes each individual country and looks in details at its strengths and weaknesses to help the audience evaluate which market has the most potential for them.”

Maharaja Express introduce in-train entertainment MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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aharaja Express, one of the top twentyfive luxury trains in the world, introduces Mobile Train Technology for travellers of all categories to experience in-train live entertainment. The service is provided by Direct-to-Home Company by using Dish TV’s innovative and revolutionary mobile train technology. The company uses mobile venture satellite antennas manufactured by ‘Gilat’ to enable live TV viewing on the move. Every seat has a set-top-box enabling the passenger to watch channel s `of their own choice. Dish TV, CEO Salil Kapoor said, “As a pioneer and market leader of the DTH Industry, it is indeed a proud moment for us to take TV entertainment to a completely unprecedented level by bringing Live TV experience to one of the top twenty five luxury trains in the

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world – ‘Maharaja Express’. We will continue to provide the latest technology through our constant innovation to the consumers. Our thrust to provide entertainment through all modes and medium has created a benchmark in mobile train technology”. Vineet Singh of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) GGM Services said, “We are extremely pleased to join hands with Dish TV to bring Live TV entertainment on our prestigious and luxury train-Maharajas Express.

Our foreign guests and elite travelers are surprised to see Live TV facility available on the train in every cabin and suites. They are enjoying live matches and different programs on the move which makes the atmosphere quite lively and friendly. Being connected with the world with live news from both national and international channels is a great facility, when one is travelling. IRCTC has always welcomed new initiatives and we appreciate Dish TV technological expertise in providing this innovative facility on our trains”.

IRCTC first launched its superior Mobile Train Technology in Palace on Wheels and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels and two other luxury trains in the year 2012. Dish TV’s revolutionary technology in Indian railways has achieved yet another milestone with the launch of Live TV entertainment in Maharaja Express, luxury train, owned and operated by (IRCTC), a public sector enterprise under the Ministry of Railway. IRCTC is the tourism arm of Indian Railways.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


NEWSLINE

Hyatt announces, first Hyatt-branded hotel in Sri Lanka specialty restaurants, travelers. It is our a bar, eight spa privilege to work yatt Hotels treatment rooms, with Sinolanka Corporation a a fitness center, a and be part ofthe leading global swimming pool, government’s hospitality company enters and a Regency Club initiatives to into a management agreement lounge. The hotel develop tourism with Sinolanka Hotels and also offers more than infrastructure in Spa Private Limited for Hyatt 17,000 square feet Sri Lanka”, he Regency hotel in Colombo, enclosed meeting added. Sri Lanka. Hyatt Regency space, including a Sinolanka Gamini Senarath, Chairman of Sinolanka Hotels and Spa Private Limited and Peter Fulton, President of the Hyatt’s Colombo, the first Hyatt7,500 square feet Hotels and Spa Europe, Africa, Middle East and East Asia operations signing the agreement for the management of the new Hyatt Regency Hotel branded hotel in Sri Lanka is ballroom. Private Limited, presence in key gateway cities expected to open in 2014. Ratnesh Verma, Chairman Gamini like Colombo is an integral Hyatt Regency Colombo, Senior Vice President - Real Senarath said, “We are part of our strategy to drive a 42-floor hotel on Galle Road Estate and Development, pleased to work with Hyatt preference for the Hyatt is situated at the arterial roads Asia Pacific for Hyatt Hotels for the first Hyatt-branded brand in the South Asian in the central business district & Resorts said, “Sri Lanka hotel in Sri Lanka”. Hyatt region. We believe the hotel’s Regency Colombo is expected (CBD) area. The hotel consist continues to be a growing of 475 guestrooms and 84 market, and we are excited to excellent location and full to be a flagship development range of services and dining serviced apartments, a lobby work with Sinolanka on this for Sri Lanka, indicating rapid options will meet the needs lounge, an all-day dining, iconic project in Colombo”. opportunity for country’s of both business and leisure multi-cuisine restaurant, three “Establishing our brand’s tourism sector, he said.

MSI Newswire | Chicago

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

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NEWSLINE

Keys Resort in Goa’s Party Zone MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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onil Beach Resort signs up the management contract to become the 12th Keys Hotel in India and the 6th managed hotel signed by Berggruen Hotels. Ronil Beach Resort is now rebranded as Keys Resort Ronil. Keys Hotels establishes its presence in Goa by entering into a management contract with Alcon Anil Counto Enterprises, to operate ‘Keys Resort Ronil’. The resort known for its ambience and Goan cuisine is the fast growing ‘Keys’ brand,with 126 well-appointed rooms catering to Indian and foreign tourists and is just five minutes away from the sandy Baga beach. The resort is replete with facilities catering to the needs of leisure and conference travelers with two outdoor swimming pools, steam and sauna, a multi – cuisine restaurant (known for its seafood), beauty

parlor, recreation facilities (indoor and outdoor games), three conference halls with business facilities and WiFi connectivity in the lobby and restaurant area,. Other facilities that will soon be made available include a Gym and Spa. Alcon Enterprises Chairman, Anil Counto, after signing the management contract said, “Baga beach is one of the most popular beaches in Goa, attracting a sizeable number of domestic and international tourists

that we usually cater to. We are extremely happy about our association with Keys Hotels and are assured of international best practices being bought in for our guests through this association. Ronil Resort is an established name in Goan hospitality. Our vision is to make this resort truly world class in the mid market space in association with Keys”. Berggruen Hotels, Managing Director and CEO, Sanjay Sethi, stated,” We are delighted in having

established our presence in Goa in partnership with the Alcon group. This beautiful resort Sanjay Sethi located in the most prime location of Baga in Goa has been an icon over the past 25 years. Our endeavor will be to build on the brand equity of the resort and take it to the next level to create a world class facility for leisure travelers on the footsteps of Goa’s party zone. Over the next 12 months, the resort will be upgraded through capital infusion by the Alcon group under our guidance”. Keys Resorts are more upmarket and cater to leisure needs of the discerning holiday seekers. Currently the brand portfolio of existing and under development hotels has reached 27 properties with 13 owned and 14 managed hotels.

Balaji Motion Pictures collaborates with the Ministry of Tourism, Oman MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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he leading film entity Balaji Motion Pictures with the cooperation of the Ministry of Tourism - Oman, Tour Oman and Oman Air is ready to shoot the film ‘Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai-2’.The first time a major Bollywood film to shoot in Oman to capture its stunning landscapes set to bring the destination to limelight. The Balaji Motion Pictures recently shot a part of its much-awaited film Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai-2 in the Sultanate of Oman. The sequel to the

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2010 blockbuster, which is top-lined by superstars like Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Imran Khan and Sonali Bendre, is slated for an August 8, 2013 release worldwide. Balaji Motion Pictures, CEO Tanuj Gargsaid, “Oman is a stunning country with varied landscapes. We required a good mix of retro and contemporary for the part we wanted to shoot there, and Oman gave us a lot more. It has a lot to offer visually, which worked well for us as film-makers.” “Oman’s stunning locale was a destination of choice for the producers of Once

Upon a Time in Mumbaai-2 and it fits seamlessly into the script of the movie. We believe that through the movie the audiences will see the different facets of Oman in their natural splendor” said Ministry of Tourism, Oman- India representative, Lubaina Sheerazi. The Muscat-based Tour Oman (the in-bound tours

division of Travel Point LLC), the country’s national carrier Oman Air and the stunning beach-side hotel property, The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, played vital roles in the arrangement. The film was shot at the Qantab Beach, Qurum Corniche, Central Business District and The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


NEWSLINE

Asia Pacific travel agencies agrees business online with Amadeus E-commerce Seminars MSI Newswire | Thailand

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he days are not far for the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ travel agencies to move their

business online. Amadeus, a leading travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry launched a new initiative to

Amadeus launches mobile booking app and new UI tool

MSI Newswire | Thailand

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leading technology partner in the global travel industry, Amadeus launches its new User Interface (UI) and mobile booking application. The new User Interface, Amadeus e-Travel Management (AeTM)is used by over 6,000 corporations in 59 markets, helps corporations reduce costs and gain total control of every aspect of the corporate travel process. The new mobile

booking app gives efficiency and continuity of service for travellers on the road. AeTM has undergone a completely new workflow redesign, streamlining the booking process itself, making it easier and faster to search, book, review and approve. Olive Kavanagh, Travel Category Manager, Strategy & Technology, Microsoft said, “We welcomed the introduction of the new AeTM user interface, which provides an updated user experience that is more aligned with familiar consumer travel sites. It’s great to see AeTM evolving and we look forward to continued updates and new functionality.”

The cake mixing function held at Vivanta by Taj, Kovalam.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

help these traditional ‘brick and mortar’ travel agencies to move their business online and leverage growing traveller demand. To know more about online business, Amadeus David Brett E-commerce seminars will educate travel agencies on the opportunities attached to online business and explain how to set a platform to drive revenue and expand their own businesses. The seminars will demonstrate Amadeus solutions such as Amadeus Agency Internet Engine (AAIE), Amadeus Mobile Traveller and Amadeus e-Power, which help remove the complexity around making travel arrangements online. Expansive growth has taken place through online travel market in Asia pacific and as projected by PhoCus Wright the overall Asia Pacific travel market will reach US $ 357 billion by 2013, a 64% increase over 2009, with online

gross bookings growing twice as fast as the total travel market to comprise 25% of the total market. David Brett, President, Amadeus Asia Pacific said that the Asia Pacific travel industry is on the edge of realising the potential offered by E-commerce platforms. “E-commerce technology is playing an increasingly important role in our customers’ business operations. With our extensive customer portfolio of online customers, including MakeMyTrip, Expedia and Cleartip, travel agencies can draw on our local knowledge and industry expertise to reap the rewards of the E-commerce space,” said Brett. The Amadeus E-commerce seminars will be held free in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan from now until December for more markets in Asia Pacific to follow.

The cake mixing function held at Mountain Club Resort, Munnar

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NEWSLINE

Enjoy the captivating Seoul Lantern Festival! at the the famous Cheonggyecheon Stream in downtown Seoul. The visitors can gaze upon and et ready to light the lamps for the fourth annual Seoul Lantern stroll through the lanterns on display from Cheonggye Plaza to all the way Festival from November 2nd to Seungyo Bridge. to November 18th, 2012. One of the The festival will kick off with capital’s flagship events, the festivals theme this year interpret “Seoul’s Roots, a lighting ceremony, and will feature several fun events such the Lifestyles of our Ancestors” – and as wish lantern-making and New will highlight Seoul’s 2000 year-old Year lantern-making. For children history and many traditions. there will be lanterns of famous Since its inception in 2009, it has superheroes along with lanterns from significant display of lanterns and attracts over two million people. Each around the world. In total there are expected to be over 20,000 lanterns. year there is a different theme which Experience the best of Seoul lanterns created, ‘Stories of Seoul’s festival that awaits various attractions Past through Lanterns’ was the theme for 2011 depicting the history of Seoul. for the tourist that includes info on traditional sites, museums, art The lanterns will be lit every day galleries, major landmarks, parks, at 5PM until 11PM, a visual feast of thousands of lanterns hand-crafted local IT facilities, casinos, theme parks, shopping destinations and more. and international artisans will gather MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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Bawadi Mall launches shopping campaign Shraim added: “Our key strength is ome and enjoy the that we offer 78 day spectacular our customers shopping campaign in a practical yet one of the biggest shopping Khalid Shraim joyful shopping malls ‘Bawadi Mall’ in Al Aim experience that targets the city starting from mid-October entire family. Our parking and until the year end. The lots are very convenient and 140,000 sq. m. mall, with a make the journey to our gross leasable area of 110,000 shops a very pleasant one. square metres has placed Our location is also ideal, just Al Ain’s ultimate shopping, dining and leisure a preferred five minutes from the town shopping destination for center on “Mezyad Road”, people from all over the UAE which can be conveniently and beyond, in addition to accessed, avoiding the Bawadi Mall Senior to work with our tenants to tourists. Marketing Manager, Khalid provide our shoppers with an congested city roads.” The campaign allows Bawadi Mall, developed Shraim said, “Our campaigns extraordinary experience, in shoppers to enter a daily by Nael & Bin Harmal Inv. are designed to enhance the keeping with our image of a raffle draw to win Bawadi shopping experiences of premium brand not only in the Co. L.L.C., houses a mix Mall vouchers, which can be of international as well as our shoppers and add the UAE but also region-wide.” redeemed at any outlet in regional retail brands of entertainment value. We have “This campaign is longer the mall. Developed in tune fashion, food, jewellery and emerged as a leading shopping by 35 per cent compared to with customers’ and tenants’ much more, all in a bright, mall in the UAE in a very our most recent promotion expectations, the management short time and this requires spacious, and inviting in summer. More than two anticipates an increased us to constantly innovate and million visitors are expected to environment, distinguished number of visitors due to the think out of the box. We are visit the mall during the period by a wide curved vaulted campaign and offerings are skylight that soars above the pleased to say some visitors of this new promotion as a designed based on shoppers’ come as often as seven times larger number of prizes will be main corridor and its main preferences. three spacious courts. a week. Also, our policy is given away”, Shraim said. MSI Newswire | UAE

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


NEWSLINE

Prestigious moment for LA CLASSIC field. We can always learn from one another and be A Classic Bengaluru inspired to greater levels of wins the World excellence meaning exceeding Luxury Hotel Award customer’s expectations and 2012 for ‘The Best Boutique paying attention to detail, said Hotel India’. The World Marinique de Wet, Director Luxury Hotel Awards once of the World Luxury Hotel again witnessed some of the Awards. world’s sought after hotels, Olivier Mortier, lodges, resorts and private Commercial Distribution islands for the world’s Director France24 stated most prestigious honors. “It is truly an honor for us The annual red-carpet to be associated with the Gala event was hosted World Luxury Hotel Awards by the world-renowned organization celebrating Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur the successes of this highly award see challenges as International Airport Hotel. competitive industry”. The opportunities and stay Raja GopaalIyer, Executive recipients of this prestigious ahead with strategic changes Director received the Award at a glittering ceremony in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia recently The criteria to be successfully nominated and included in the official World Luxury Hotel MSI Newswire | Bengaluru Awards voting process is overall service excellence. aj Hospitality Only hotels, lodges and after successfully resorts operating in a luxury Managing -La niche market are able to Classic spreads its base participate in the World by adding yet another Luxury Hotel Awards. property for Marketing, The World Luxury Hotel under its guidance Awards are the world’s GardeeniaComfortes and Tennis. The promoter of most prestigious & exclusive Suites. Raj Hospitality this property is Real Estate Awards recognizing the has won six awards this Developer Ravi Chandra. best facilities and service year, of which four are Raj Hospitality will excellence the hotel industry major International awards. initially market this hotel has offered. LA Classic GardeeniaComfortes and under its brand and Managing Director, Ramesh Suites will be branded later will take it’s over Reddy and LA Classic as gcs by Semanta the operations too. Raj Director, Keshav Reddy (Gardeeniacomfortes& hospitality is in the process thanked all the guests who suites). of acquiring and developing voted for LA Classic The property is situated another boutique hotel in “Our belief is that in the bustling industrial belt the Hosur. In addition to service excellence is the of Bomasandra in Electronic this, Raj Hospitality has most critical factor in a City with 140 keys & Resort started strategic procedures hotel’s measure as a luxury with two conference halls, for a unique brand calledhotel and that winning a two F&B outlets and a Club KALUVA in Trivandrum, World Luxury Hotel Award house with a pool and a state Allepey, Cochin in Kerala. based on this factor would Raj Hospitality CEO Raj of the Art multi-Gym and enhance performance GopaalIyer was personally Indore sports facilities like levels if industry peers honoured with the Arch shuttle, badminton & Table can be judged against

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allowing facilities and service to stay on par with global trends.

Raj Hospitality takes over Gardeenia Comfortes and Suites

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of Excellence Award in the hospitality sector by All India Achievers Conference at the 69th National Seminar on Individual Achievements and Nation Building and AIAC Awards recently held in Bengaluru. All India Achievers Conference is a nonprofit, non-political organization set up in 1989 by a group of enterprising journalists, writers, social workers, philanthropist, entrepreneurs & leading industrialists of the country having its headquarters in New Delhi and branches in all major cities in India. The AIAC Awards symbolizes the spirit of “Achievement” and “Excellence” and has become a globally appreciated recognition that comes rarely and to a chosen few only.

other major players in the

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


NEWSLINE

Pennsylvania ties-up with Kuoni India & TAAI for tourism promotion in India meeting in Mumbai with Rajiv Wagle, MD, Kuoni o promote its India, and IqbalMulla, tourism offerings, President, TAAI, to discuss Commonwealth of the partnership for tourism Pennsylvania ties-up with promotion of Pennsylvania Kuoni India and TAAI. in India. Rajiv Duggal, Pennsylvania, the first US state Former MD, Kuoni India; to open an independent Trade Ashish Kumar Singh, and Investment Office in India Secretary to Chief Minister has expressed its readiness to of Maharashtra; Manoj promote its tourism and has Gursahani, Vice President, been successful in attracting VUSACOM - India and a large number of Indian Sheldon Santwan, Editor and students and tapping the COO, TravelBiz Monitor, were Indian Education Tourism also invited to participate in segment. the meeting. Pennsylvania’s major The delegation comprised cities like Philadelphia, of David Briel, Executive Pittsburg and Allentown is Director, Centre for Direct keen to tap the Leisure and Investment, Department of Business traffic from India. Community and Economic A high-powered delegation Development, Commonwealth from the Commonwealth of of Pennsylvania; Kanika Pennsylvania recently held a Choudhary, Honorary MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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many fine museums, parks and gardens and a lively cultural scene. Pittsburgh has industrial heritage, museums, river cruises, floating nightclubs, etc. Pennsylvania is a perfect destination for leisure travellers with family Ambassador of Philadelphia to resorts, honeymoon retreats, India; and Sushama Kanetkar, lakes and waterfalls, boating Pennsylvania’s Authorized and fishing, historic sites, Representative Director for gardens and museum.” India, Pennsylvania Trade and Mulla said, “We had a Investment Office - India, fruitful meeting with the “We are very proud that delegates from Pennsylvania TAAI and Kuoni are our and plan to promote the partners. Having India’s various destinations of the leaders in the tourism state in India through our market as partners can only members. TAAI is also lead to more demand for exploring the possibility of Pennsylvania Tourism,” hosting its annual convention stated Briel. He added, “We and exhibition - India are looking at Business and Travel Congress 2013 - in Leisure travellers from India. Philadelphia, a major port, has Philadelphia.”

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd introduces ‘Vishwa Parikarma’

of ‘Vishwa Parikrama’. o make the best of Thomas Cook India’s summer vacations in Vishwa Parikrama tours 2013, Thomas Cook the are all inclusive tours that largest integrated travel and come with the assurance of travel related financial services maximum quality sightseeing company introduces ‘Vishwa and minimum travelling time. Parikrama’ tours exclusively ‘Vishwa Parikrama’ comprises for the Maharashtrian a range of specially designed customers and signs up group tours exclusively for popular Marathi actor Ramesh Maharashtrian travellers. Deo as the brand ambassador Thomas Cook India offers MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

six group tours to Europe, USA and Asia from April 1, 2013. It ismanaged by professional, friendly and experienced Marathi speaking tour managers, who escort the groups from departure in Mumbai to arrival back in Mumbai. Leisure Travel (Outbound), Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., Chief Operating Officer Madhav Pai said, “At Thomas Cook India we believe in ensuring that our customers’ interests and needs are taken care of. Our Regional Tours (Tamil, Marathi and Gujarati) incorporating the comfort of regional cuisine, local language

speaking tour managers and brochures have been highly appreciated by our Tier II and III regional customers. Summer 2012 witnessed an impressive growth in our Marathi tours, and it is this strong and growing demand from our Maharashtrian customers that has prompted the launch of our unique ‘VIshwa Parikrama’ tours for summer 2013. We’ve launched early, to enable our Maharashtrian customers plan and book their summer vacations well in advance.” He reiterated, “The duration of stay and budget covers every price point, making this product a truly value-for-money offering.”

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Photo: freelanceswitch.com

V Duraikkannan

usually pay my mobile phone bill well ahead of the pay-by date but invariably I do get a reminder from the service provider saying that such and such is the last date for my payment and just in case already paid, I may ignore the same. In all fairness, what I would expect from them would be an acknowledgement and not a reminder. Obviously there is no integration between their two systems of billing and collection and that too in this age and time of nanotechnology and intuitive robotics, it is so very inept and inane apart from its being a big nuisance. The same way I am at loss to understand the heuristics of a call centre system. They give us a toll free number for any assistance, anytime. But the ‘freedom’ stops with the toll number! Thereafter everything is a big hassle and every one of our attempts to connect with the right person to address (let alone redress) our issue is nothing less than frustrating. A typical call centre answering system starts with a welcome note asking you to dial for the service if you know the extension number for that particular service. Before that, the choice of language comes in. By the time you finish the roll call of ‘ For English, Press one.. For Tamil, Press two.. For Hindi, Press three etc’, you ought to remember the sequencing of the same. Otherwise you would select

the wrong language and you need to go back to the original menu all over again. I can understand the drill to select the language of one’s choice. But why at all thereafter too the rigmarole of ‘ If you want to know about our products, press one /If you have a billing problem, press two/ If you want to block your card, press three etc’? The moment we choose the language, there should be a person (speaking that language) at the receiving end to quickly check us out for our requirement and in turn internally connect to the right section / person which can make our life much easier. I am just wondering why they are not doing this. Added to that, as you struggle to connect with the right cell, there would be a voiceover for you announcing that your conversation would be recorded for their

service standards evaluation. Now the calling customer is turned into a guinea pig for improving their improvement which unfortunately never happens. Years before I have read of the illustration of the British Fire Station cited as a negative case study in customer service. I do not know whether the anecdote was factual or an invented one for just a classroom study. There is a call from a desperate householder whose house is on fire to the British Fire Service and the phone gets clicked on: ‘Thank you for calling the British Fire Safety! It is our pleasure to serve you! If you have a monkey jumping about on your roof, dial one. If you have a short circuit, dial two... And if there is a fire break out, dial three.. and it goes on and on. Finally the greeting machine would say ‘For any other assistance, please stay on line (with your house crackling down?!) with the assurance that one of their executives would attend soon‘. And with that, as if to add insult to injury, the music of Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ is on, played supposedly to keep you pleasantly engaged till such time somebody attends to your emergency! By the

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COLUMN time, the wretched caller is connected to the right person, the house is already reduced to a heap of ash!’ So much for the service delivery excellence with our automation process! I cannot help sharing this blog report of one Martin Shepherdly (published Nov 04, 2011) on how stupid some customer services could turn out (it has a lot in common with the anecdote cited above which only goes to prove that the incident was probably not untrue!).

“I’ve just wasted nearly 45 minutes of my life trying to enter ‘advance customer information’ on the British Airways website for a flight I’m taking to the USA next month in order to direct a live web broadcast for one of our pharmaceutical clients. I tried three times, only to be confronted with an error message declaiming in blood red words that that I had got my nationality wrong. Now I do get things wrong from time to time, I admit,

but BA do make it quite easy to get this one right by providing a nice drop down list, so I thought I might pass with flying colours by selecting “United Kingdom”, but apparently not! After the third attempt I resorted to the support telephone number (which was of course an 0844 number so it was probably at a premium rate) and after the endless Lakme instrumental loop (when will BA come up with a new brand tune?) and numerous voice announcements selling me on more BA stuff I finally spoke to a lovely woman who happily entered the information for me and smilingly (yes I could tell she was smiling over the phone) told me that it was a “known fault” that had been like that

“for some time” and that “they spend most of their time dealing with this”. I would sum it all up just in one sentence: ‘ Listen to your customer, think like your customer, empathise with your customer, and treat him as the very reason for your business and your being there!’ And mere automation alone is not going to do the trick for you!

Chef Elongo - masters of taste

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outh-watering delicacies is what you urge for, then chef Elangovan Shanmugam’s cuisine will be the right choice to satisfy your adrenaline rush. Chef Elongo, as he is popularly known, is an expert in European, Mediterranean, South Indian and home cuisine. He hails from the culinary city of Trichy in

Tamil Nadu, born with an aim to serve the guest with delicacies that cater to the guests taste. He completed his formal education at Flamingo Institute of Further Education, Malaysia and BBA from University of Madras. He has also done Certificate Course in Culinary Arts from Food Craft Institute, Trichy.

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Currently, he heads the dynamic food production team at the Vivanta by Taj property in Kovalam, formerly known as “Green Cove”, thanks to his sheer hardwork, dedication and utmost sincerity. Elongo’s 18-year career started with the ITC group in “Park Sheraton – Chennai” property and from there he moved to Malaysia to pursue his further education. After completing his studies he returned to India and joined the “Indian Hotels Company Limited” also known as “Taj Group of Hotels” at the world renowned “Vivanat by Taj Fisherman’s Cove Chennai”. The most striking feature of Elango is that, he always looks at ways and means of learning and developing his skills in various cuisines and it is clearly exhibited through his last assignment of “Culinary Tour of Maharashtra” in which he has

Elangovan Shanmugam

researched not only in Pune but also at the four corners of the state. He has undergone study in various styles, tastes and flavors existing in Konkan, Kolhapur, Malvan, Nagpur and Solapur regions. Today, he is solely responsible for bringing in a contemporary look to the restaurants at the Vivanta by TajKovalam and at the same time retained the traditional tastes and regional associations. His panache for displays and show kitchens is well known.

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GUEST COLUMN

Role of World Tourism day Abin K.I share his views on World Tourism’s role on bridging international boundaries and barriers across diverse cultures to foster tolerance, assimilation, respect, sharing and mutual understanding between world nations …

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ourism and Travel are closely intertwined. During the past tourism was considered as a hardship activity and currently this scenario has been totally changed. Now it has grown up and matured to the status of a global industry promoted by almost all nations of the world. It touches the life of all forms of people directly or indirectly. Every society and destination possesses a unique culture, heritage and history which attract tourists. Millions of tourist travel each year to dissimilar destinations to experience varied cultures, heritage and natural attractions and also to explore novel tourist spots. World Tourism Day (WTD) is celebrated on 27th September every year from 1980’s onwards. WTD is celebrated to

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foster awareness among the universal community about the importance and benefits of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. World tourism’s role in breaking down international boundaries and barriers across diverse cultures and to foster tolerance, assimilation, respect, sharing

and mutual understanding between world nations and community is mammoth. WTD is a special day for all stakeholders in tourism business to act in a way that is conscious and respectful which promotes dialogues and exchanges that ensure the host communities involvement and participation is fully in and which

From 1980’s onwards the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has decided to celebrate World Tourism Day on September 27. This date was chosen because on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted and the adoption of these statutes is considered as a milestone in global tourism. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. benefits them through the development of opportunities created by tourism. The event also seeks to address global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution which tourism sector can bring in meeting these goals. WTD 2012 is based on the theme “Tourism and

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GUEST COLUMN Sustainable Energy” and is actually to highlight tourism’s role in a future in which the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services. Tourism being one of the world’s largest economic sectors has already taken vital steps towards this future by improving energy efficiency and increasingly using renewable energy technologies in its operations. These ladders are creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty and helping to protect the planet earth. WTD 2012 highlights the need to bring the tourism sector and energy stakeholders closer together to drive tourism’s contribution to sustainability. WTD is hosted by a different country every year. This year Spain hosted it with a weeklong celebrations under the theme “Tourism and Sustainable Energy” a topic which has a great bearing now a days. Official celebrations was held in the town of Maspalomas in Canary Islands of Spain and it includes a High Level Think Tank on the theme at which public and private tourism stakeholders will join leaders from the energy sector to further the use of sustainable energy in the tourism sector. WTD 2012 coincides with the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All offering the opportunity to further highlight the shared responsibility of the tourism and energy sectors to the wider sustainability objectives of the UN. Incredible India got an opportunity to host world tourism day celebrations during the year 2008. This enables the country to capture the attention of global tourist and as a result there was an increase in foreign tourist arrivals to the country during

Some prominent themes of World Tourism Day’s & Host countries 2002 : Ecotourism - The key to sustainable development (Host: Costa Rica) 2004 : Sport and Tourism: Two living forces for mutual understanding, culture and the development of societies (Host: Malaysia) 2008 : Tourism responding to the Challenge of Climate Change and global warming (Host: India) 2009 : Tourism - Celebrating Diversity (Host: Ghana) 2010 : Tourism & Bio-diversity (Host: China) 2011 : Tourism Linking Cultures (Host : Egypt) recent years. The theme of WTD 2008 was Tourism responding to the Challenge of Climate Change and global warming. WTO an UN body headquartered at Madrid in Spain which is entrusted to look after the activities of tourism development at the global arena. The major initiative of UNWTO in WTD is in promoting and developing sustainable tourism with a view to contributing to economic, social, political and cultural development, improves international understanding and integration, peace, prosperity, and universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all classes despite on the basis of sex, race, religion, language etc., is at the heart of UNWTO’s mandate. The current secretary general of WTO is TalebRifai from Jordan. UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism with a view to confirm that member countries, tourist destinations and businesses maximize the positive economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its benefits while minimizing its negative social and environmental impacts. The World Tourism Organization plays a role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism

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paying particular attention to the interests of developing and underdeveloped countries. UNWTO is geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development. To conclude, Tourism is definitely a vital source for earning foreign currency and employment creation particularly for developing, under developed and island countries. Income from tourism is redirected towards

sustainable conservation of natural and cultural assets. Furthermore responsible and sustainable tourism development helps to raise awareness among tourists, host communities and travel intermediaries about the importance and benefits of tourism. Above all World Tourism Day promotes tourism consciousness among all categories of people at the global level.

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Incredible India Something at the premises that stands as a profound substantiation for this theory is the Buddhist lion statue situated at almost the centre of the courtyard. The main structure of the temple or the Garbagriha lies deserted while two of the three subsidiary blocks house the Tamilian and Keralitegodesses (initially might have been Kannaki and Manimekalai). At the premises of the Mangaladevi temple of Kumili, one can prima facie say that the two blocks housing the Tamilian and Keralite deities are of lesser significance compared to the larger one adjacent to the great gate of the shrine. Manimekalai would have been a downright choice for the people that erected the shrine for her brilliant intellectual aura besides her status of being a Buddhist nun and Kannaki’s consecration should have been a decision that came on the light that she Gavas Kanjiramnilkunnathil takes a journey to the historic according to the legend, had at architectural ruins of the glorious past … a later stage - after the burning down of Madurai - called back her curse at the behest of the down the city of Madurai he gorgeous ruins of had taken up Buddhism. Here Meenakshi of Madurai. This the Kumili Mangala following the execution of her we can see that the author has gesture from Kannaki was Devi temple is situated innocent husband Kovalan by also taken pain to favourably very much looked upon by the Jain and Buddhist monks 1,337 ft above sea level, the royal guards alleging theft compare Buddhism over that followed as a gesture considering its present status, of the ornaments of the queen Jainism the major rival of highlighting the virtue of nonBuddhism at that time. should not be claimed by of king Nedumcheliyan who violence (Ahimsa). The structure of the worshipers from either was then ruling the kingdom. Nevertheless, there are Kerala or Tamil Nadu. These Kannaki then onwards turned Mangaladevi temple quite some other idols linked much resembles some historic architectural remains into an icon of vengeance, to Kannaki concept in erstwhile monasteries and are now part of a glorious which is quite obvious from Kerala such as the one bio-sphere that holds great the present statue of Kannaki temples related to Buddhism.

Kumili Mangaladevi Temple a testimony

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promise as regards preserving the necessities for upholding the welfare of this generation of mankind as well as the coming ones. It is understood that the people from both sides of the state boundary hold the view that the deity of Mangaladevi could be Kannaki of Chilappathikaram - a chaste woman of erstwhile Pandya Kingdom whose powers had been instrumental in burning 24

in Chennai Marina Beach that shows the legendary female fiercely calling for justice. On the other hand Manimekalai, the daughter of Kovalan through his amorous lady love Madhavi (Chilappathikaram) has been depicted by Sathanaar in his literary work ‘Manimekalai’ (one of the five great epics of Tamil Nadu) as an enlightened female who after a number of eventful years

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KERALA TRAVELLER in Kodungalloor (It is upheld that Kodungalloor Bhadra idol is a figurative representation of Kannaki). In many other places including northern Sri Lanka Kannaki is worshipped as ‘Pathini’. It is worth mentioning here that in Sri Lanka as a deity Kannaki is still being worshipped by even many a Buddhist monk despite the fact that ‘Chilappathikaram’, which had immortalisedKannaki was written by IlankoAdigal, a Jain monk. Coming back to Kumil Mangaladevi shrine, King Cheran Senkuttuvan, who according to a good number of legends’ claims to have built the disputed Mangaladevi temple, ruled the land in around the 1st to 2nd century AD, while archaeologists have reportedly dated the remains of the shrine to 8th to 9th century AD.It is also noteworthy that the period spanning the 7th 8th and 9th century AD, according to historians has seen the land strip presently called Kerala breaking free from the Chera rule alongside triggering off a historical shift from Tamil to Malayalam as the predominant language of its people. Thinking from this point of view one might come to the conclusion that the building of the Mangaladevi temple at Kumili, could be the work of some Buddhist monks that travelled to this part of the world from the North for whom the serene and chilled ambience provided by the hilltop of Mangaladevi better suited than the warmer plains of Kambam or the turbulent Kerala which was then under a number of lesser warlords. If this theory stands the main deity could be Buddha himself, with the idols of Kannaki, Manimekalai and Sathanar adorning the lesser chambers.

the statue was removed by Panneerselvam at the behest of J Jayalalitha who was advised by some soothsayers that the statue in such a disturbed mood could only invite more disaster for her. Kannaki, Manimekalai, Ilanko Adikal, Sathanar, King Senkuttuvan...are all part of history now. We will also be so in the near future; but the dense virgin forests of the vicinity of Periyar Tiger Reserve that house the Mangaladevi shrine of Kumili will carry on replenishing The onus is nevertheless on deities on a unique platform generations to come. The area the politicians of both sides to at the same time. Can we deem this as India at her best? with its rich bio-diversity see that the sentiments of the continues refueling and Now let me digress a people of either side shouldn’t rejuvenating the habitations bit to bring to your notice be allowed to explode. on either side of it, never an incident that took place These people not only must heeding to the manipulations a few years back in the understand the crucial of any lewd segregationist capital of Tamil Nadu. One issue here that reopening fine morning the people of of the shrine to public populist politician. It silently Chennai under the leadership blesses every new-born kid would simply spell doom of then chief minister to a sublime yet sensitive with fresh air to breathe and Panneerselvam saw that their the ability to detoxify the ecosystem. The freedom of historical statue of Kannaki trespass to this spot offered atmosphere. And fortunately was missing. Although the to the public during the these forests, the real boon of government came up with the the Gods to mankind, have annual ‘Chithrapournami’ explanation that the statue also needs to be called off at not yet started grouping was a hindrance for traffic, it least considering the shame under the banner of religious called forth some unrest and the population of a couple sects or political outfits, let us the Karunanidhi government not try to further divide and of states of its, inflict on that followed resurrected the country by serving and desecrate it more.......... the statue. Many say that praying before two separate

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Incredible India

Poompuhar, a tourist’s paradise Poompuhar, the splendid port city was the capital of the powerful Cholas kings. Today it has gained significance and has come up as a major attraction for the tourist writes Dr S Bakthavatchalam

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lessed with beautiful gardens and heritage temples by its serene seaside, Poompuhar, a splendid port city at Sirkalitaluk in Nagapattinam district of Tamilnadu is a popular tourist destination. This legendary town was known as the historical Kaveripoompatinam, the capital of the powerful Chola kings and finds its mention in various Tamil Literatures such as Agananuru and Purananuru. Anecdotes from history indicate that a second century Chola king Karikal Cholan after conquering a great part

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of India upto the Himalayas had even made a pass into China and the valuable gifts from all these places exhibited at Poompuhar thus adding to its glory. Planned on the basis of Mayan architecture, this town Poompuhar had clear segregated areas such as Pattinapakkam, Maruvurpakkama and Nalangadi, for people of different professions. These areas were separated by a stretch of gardens and orchards, where daily markets were held under the shades of the trees. The market place was known as Naalangadi

during the day and Allangadi at night. In Pattinapakkam, there were five manrams where the kings and nobles lived, and the remaining area here was occupied by rich traders, physicians, astrologers, members of the king’s army and court dancers. While, Maruvurpakkam adjacent the beach and the shipyard had several terraced mansions and warehouses. Obviously it was a preferred destination for overseas travellers, merchants and foreigners. Mavurpakkam was also inhabited by the fisher folk, weavers, silk merchants, vendors, fish and

meat sellers, potters, grain merchants, jewellers and diamond makers.

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TAMIL NADU TRAVELLER Built on the banks of the river Kaveri, Poompuhar also had exquisitely laid out garden like Uyyanam, Chanpathivanam and Uvavanam. The city had cool shady trees on river banks and passages to the river from the temples. Temples to worship Lord Shiva, Indira and his elephant Airavatha and Buddha stupas were found. There is also mention of the Indira Vizha which was celebrated at Poompuhar in all traditional gaiety. Excavation at poompuhar, since 1910, had revealed several monuments and structures that were in use there such as pottery, Roman coins, Buddha vihar and Buddha padha. A large part of the town was washed away by what is now speculated to be a tsunami

around 500 AD. Based on the evidences collected from the excavations, the town has been renovated by restoring several monuments. One of the major tourist attractions in Poompuhar is the Silappathikara Art Gallery housed in a beautiful building of great sculptural value with engraved stone walls of the gallery bringing

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alive the scenes from Sillappathikaram, the Epic of the land. The gallery has a collection of sculptures carved by the sculptors of Mamallapuram Art College that remains the treasure house of Tamil Culture. Equally attractive for the tourists is the Masilamani Nathar Koil temple built in 1305 by Maravarma

Kulasekara Pandiyan. Though heavily eroded by the sea in a number of places, its architectural richness still manages to impress all the tourists to Poompuhar. Wth its nearest airport at Chennai and the nearest railway station at Sirkazhi, Poompuhar is well connected by road to Mayiladuthurai and Sirkhazhi.

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HOSPITALITY

Experience MuddyBoots Active Travel Service

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ffering a momentous and memorable vacation to travellers looking out for an attractive unexplored destination, MuddyBoots, the new generation travel company in Wayanad beckons the visitors with their active travel service assuring it to be the perfect choice. Set on the concept of active vacations to India, MuddyBoots offers outdoor programs in Wayanad, North Kerala Malabar Coast, Coorg and the Nilgiris, catering to the family, corporate, and group market. As this new generation Travel Company believes that for enjoying the outdoors, it need not be restricted by age or fitness and should be for everyone. The guests coming on vacation can step out of their resorts and air-conditioned vehicles, as MuddyBoots will help bring them closer to the beautiful nature and diverse people in a destination. With that, MuddyBoots team envisions to usher in a new pattern of vacationing in India where a hike or a bicycle ride becomes an automatic and essential part of every family’s vacation planning. MuddyBoots also offers a menu of soft adventure packages tailored to the fitness levels of their guests.

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Roby Paul Kurien

Pradeep Murthy

The activities include single and multi-day cycling trails through dense forests and picturesque villages supported by vehicles for rider safety and comfort, hiking trails from half day jungle trips for families to three-day expeditions for the tough, as well as camping adventures. The aim is to bring the joy of outdoors to the interested traveller irrespective of the fitness levels, including that of families with children. The packages are reasonably priced and fully comprehensive, providing everything from transport, food, accommodation to the equipment required such as high-end mountain bikes with leech socks and day packs. Backed by an experience of 15 years in the corporate world, working in top tier consulting and technology organisations, the founders of MuddyBoots, Roby and Pradeep have combined their passion for the outdoors and the experience gained from travelling across the world.

With that, their deep focus on customer service has resulted in building MuddyBoots, an organization that guarantees their guests an unforgettable experience. “Today’s travellers seek a complete experience that lingers in memory long after the vacation”, says Pradeep Murthy one of the founders of MuddyBoots. Its co-founder Roby Paul Kurien adds, “We

realized that the ‘experience’ includes where you go, what you do as well as whom you meet, and hence our focus on nature, culture and adventure”. With its highly competent and well-informed support team in Wayanad, MuddyBoots reassures an impressive getaway for travellers to Wayanad which is just five hours from Bangalore. www.muddyboots.in

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012


HOSPITALITY

Concept Hospitality signs management agreement with DesertScape Resort

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oncept Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. adds to its credit by signing another management contract for DesertScape Resort, Jodhpur. The luxury resort, situated in the prestigious Prescon City, Mogra has expansive lawns and state-of-the-art meeting facilities, making it a popular destination for weddings and MICE events. At present it has 27 rooms, spa and a multi cuisine restaurant. The resort will add another 21 new rooms shortly, which will take the total inventory to 48 luxury accommodation. With the new signing of the contract, Concept Hospitality offers the guests three excellent accommodation options in Rajasthan, ranging from business to recreation. The Fern, An Ecotel Hotel, Jaipur is a five-star service while The Wall Street, also in Jaipur is a popular business hotel. The resort is owned by KDJ HolidayScapes Ltd., part of the well-known KDJ Group. Ashok Deora, CEO, KDJ Holiday Scapes Ltd.

said, “Our goal is to provide value-for-money, world class leisure & lifestyleoriented hospitality and wellness facilities to quality conscious Indian families. Concept Hospitality is an ideal teammate in helping us realise this vision as they have the necessary hospitality management skills, experience and forward thinking leadership who

understand our objectives, and have the ability to synergize withus”. Param Kannampilly, Chairman & Managing Director, Concept Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. said, “The DesertScape Resort, Jodhpur is an excellent property and we are truly pleased to have it join our team. This signing is in line with our expansion plan in Tier two and three

locations with management contracts only”. Concept Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. is an Indian management company operating hotels, resorts and serviced apartments across India. With its baseline ‘Leading environmentally sensitive hotels’, The Fern Hotels & Resorts is the fastest growing hotel brands in India with 1000 rooms expected by 2013.

One&Only Le Saint Géran bags WTA Award

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he One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius was awarded the “Indian Ocean’s leading Resort” at the 19th annual World Travel Awards (WTA) ceremony. WTA, also known as the “Oscars of the travel industry,” rewards the travel brands that have made the greatest contribution to the travel sector every year. The WTA is based on the votes of travel agents around the world and all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry – those brands

pushing the boundaries of excellence and implementing ground-breaking ideas. On average 171 countries participate every year with over 5,000 travel organisations. One&Only Le Saint Géran, General Manager Charles

ASIAN TRAVELLER | NOVEMBER 2012

de Foucault said, “We are incredibly proud to receive this much coveted award. We thank all the wonderful individuals, guests, staff and associates who supported us to achieve this”. One&Only Le Saint Géran,

PR Manager, Rhena Bunwaree said, “We are also thrilled to grow our awards winner lists this year, as we continue our mission to assist more travellers around the world with our legendary service and value for money.”

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PROFILE

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or those who wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Camelot Resort in Munnar is the right place to opt for. Two major attractions at this Resort are the Camelot Rock View Point just 150 metres up along a longer trekking route and the Camelot Trekking Pinnacle that can be reached after four hours of arduous climb on a special trekking spot up 1000 metres. From these points one can see nine estate mountains, Kannimala, Rajamala, Kallar, Nallathanny, Nyamakad, Vagavarai, Silent Valley, Parvathy and Lekshmi. Atop the Camelot Trekking Pinnacle, if the climate is favourable one can have a birds-eye view of the high ranges all around, and even a distant view of Kochi city, the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. Above all one can clearly see Anamudi, the highest peak south of the Himalayas. For these long treks and for jungle safaris, the resort will supply the necessary accessories and medicines. It also provides other facilities for campfire and forest trekking and bird watching. Even at the resort premises, one can sight dozens of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. Animals like elephants, bison, wild dogs and wild boars are often sighted in the mornings and evenings. Birds like

An ideal resort for a perfect getaway

The rooms are black birds, kites, categorised into hornbills and many luxury, deluxe and other species are standard rooms. It frequent visitors. consist of four wellRare insects like the furnished luxury Atlas Moth are seen Dilip Pottemkulam rooms with attached in abundance. Wild Managing Director bathrooms, one orchids, giant tree spacious living room and ferns and rhododendrons a beautiful balcony facing are also in plenty around towards the stunning view the place. of the high mountains. There The resort has a multi are four well-furnished cuisine restaurant, ‘Nilavu’ standard bedrooms and two that serves Indian, Chinese deluxe rooms with attractive and Continental dishes for bedrooms facing the fruit the guest. It also has an Embassy- conference hall with garden and the vast tea estates beyond. all modern amenities that can With tea, coffee, accommodate 80 persons and cardamom and pepper the recreation club `Mingara’ plantations all around the provides indoor games like table tennis, caroms, and chess. resort, it reminds the visitors

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that have reached the heart of the spice capital of the world. Specimens of these plants can be seen inside the resort property itself, and close to that is a well-kept vegetable farm with all varieties of endemic vegetables.

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VARIETY

1. Which is the world’s fastest supercomputer? 2. Who is the British actor behind Mr Bean? 3. What does the car brand name Koleos mean? 4. When is International Literacy Day observed? Anil Kumar K has taken over as Executive Director of M/s. Teknokraaft Info Systems Pvt. Ltd.

Sabu Paul has been appointed Vice President, Great India Tour Company, Thiruvananthapuram.

5. What is Barack Obama’s middle name?

Manish Nambiar has been appointed Hotel Manager Kempinski Ambience Hotel, Delhi

6. What was once known as the Arabian wine? 7. Who founded the Oscar Awards? 8. Which is the world’s highest capital? 9. The first two letters of this American state are the same as the last two letters of its capital. What are they? 10. What is Pooktre?

Anil Chadha has joined ITC Maurya, New Delhi as General Manger

Aditya Singh has been appointed Director of Sales and Marketing Kempinski Ambience Hotel, Delhi

Megha Ajgaonkar has been appointed Director of Sales & marketing, Westin Pune Koregaon Park

Compiled by Deekay

Send in your answers to info@mediastepsindia.com with TYKC 60 in the subject line. Answers should reach us before the 30th of this month. Answers to TYKC 59

1. George Train ( 1829-1904), an American businessman who completed the feat within 67 days in 1890 on his third circumnavigation. 2. St.Peter 3. January River. 4. Mountain and Water. 5. Lion Beer ( 1855 - by the parent company of Mohan Meakins). 6. Rhododendron. 7. Istanbul (Europe & Asia). 8. From the triple-peaked hill ‘ Mount Royal’ located in the centre of the city. 9. Java. 10. Elton John.

WINNER OF TYKC 59

Deepa Suresh SMR Vinay Harmony Banaswadi Main Road Banasawadi, Bangalore-43

One all-correct entry will get

Free Stay at UDS, Kovalam [ 2 nights and 3 days for two ]*

With its sleek and stylish design, Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel is nothing less than a golden feather in the cap of Kovalam beach. Located just 15 metres from the sea, this four star hotel can well be categorised into a destination in itself. Its philosophy of combining the best elements of incomparable lifestyle, with the convenience of today’s modern world through exceptional standards of luxury, elegance and services, is well reflected in its products and services and has put the Uday Samudra Beach Hotel, popularly known as UDS, at the top position, in Kovalam. What is more noteworthy about UDS Kovalam is the international flair it sports.

* Conditions apply

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Asian Traveller November 2012  

Travel & Trade Publication on travel and tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region

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