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ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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Incredible India

through the pages .

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VOL. 6 NO. 12 SEPTEMBER 2013

08 The Game Parks of Zambia

DestinationGavi Gavi Destination

Destination Gavi sholas, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantations. Endangered species including the NilgiriTahr and Lion-tailed macaque are often sighted at the outskirts of Gavi. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a heaven for birdwatchers.

12 Upcoming Events in Dubai

The Gavi Eco-Tourism

20 Karnataka Signs MoU to Promote Tourism 24 Malaysian Beaches Top CNN Survey 30 Top 5 Must-Do’s with Family in California 36 Venturing into the Wild

a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation attracts global tourists especially those from European countries Some of the breathtaking viewpoints at Gavi like the Valley View offer spectacular view of a deep ravine and the forest below. From Kochu Pampa, one can track the grazing NilgiriTahrs.

GAVI

Casts Its Magical Spell T

he beautiful forest haven Gavi is located at the eastern extreme of Pathanamthitta district, spread across the Periyar Tiger Reserve.The wildlife population in the evergreen forest is enriched by tiger, elephants, leopards, bears,

Indian gaur, sambar, barking and Mouse deers, lion tailed macaque, other varieties of monkeys, Nilgiri Marten and a lot more. Apart from the magnificent wildlife Gavi offers some exquisite flora for avid nature lovers. NageiaWallichinia

(PodocarpusWallichinia), a highly endemic species of the Gymnosperm family is seen only around Gavi in the whole of Western Ghats. The Gavi Eco-Tourism a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation attracts global tourists

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especially those from European countries. 'Alistair International' the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India. This helped to increase to Gavi’s global reach. Over

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

a short period of time visitors to Gavi gradually increased. A highlight of the Gavi eco project is the involvement of the local populace in its activities as guides, gardeners and cooks. This will provide livelihood for the locals and also will help to create awareness on conservation of nature. Gavi, located in Pathanamthitta district offers its visitors activities like trekking, wildlife watching, outdoor camping in specially

built tents, and night safaris. The road leading to the picturesque Gavi is blanketed by tea plantations, which itself is a refreshing experience. En route to Gavi are places of interest like Mundakayyam, Kuttikanam, Peermedu and Vandiperiyar from where the road deviates to Gavi. The place is rich in flora and fauna. There are hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands,

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For those interested in observing the nocturnal wildlife, night safaris to Kullur, GaviPullumedu, Kochu Pampa, Pachakanam provide ample opportunities for wildlife viewing. Gavi has a museum which has the display of the wildlife seen at Gavi forest area. A visit to

Another unique feature of Gavi is camping in the forests. One can pitch a tent in the camping site, which is a rarity in many Indian forests. As the dusk stretches into the silence of the night, one can feel the presence of wildlife in the middle of nowhere, an experience that cannot be explained in words. There are also tree top houses where one can enjoy the avian life to the fullest. Active involvement of tribals in Gavi makes it a unique venture of its kind in the country. Traditional knowledge of the forest and its way of life helps Gavi to sustain its surroundings in its original state. Gavi is a fertile land and the local’s mastery over the land has blessed the land with vegetation. A leisure visit to the nearby cardamom plantation, tea estate and the local factory is a sight to behold. The visit gives more insight into the people and living. Go boating on the crystal clear Gavi reservoir and Kochupamba to take home memory of a lifetime that remains as clear as the Gavi lake. Row boating facility is available at Gavi. Rowing along the emerald hued natural backdrop is a welcome change from everyday monotony. Get adventurous spirit at Gavi. Gavi is bound to cast its magical spell on every visitor and is surely a place that should not be missed in one's lifetime. Gavi is pristine, and it belongs to the wild, which is a reminder that visitors are responsible for their intentions and actions, which will have a bearing on the upkeep of Gavi for a long time to come.

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P 18-19 Paris Paris

Paris Paris

the Expositions universelles, it was chosen as the site of the biggest attraction of 1889, the Eiffel Tower.

Woman of the Month

The famous pilgrim destination, Sabarimala is a short trek from Gavi. Gavi gives an amazing view of the Sabarimala amongst the lush green surrounding. Sabarimala, the Hindu pilgrimage centre visited by millions of devotees from all over India and across the world is located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year.

the museum gives you a fair idea of the wildlife in Gavi.

Monumental Paris T

he area around the Eiffel Tower is on a fitting scale to the tower itself. On a clear night, its beam sweeps through the sky in a radius covering 80 kilometres. The spectacle is awesome and one feels so small in this grandiose area with its massive buildings and vast green spaces!

And what spectacular perspectives – one stretching from the Esplanade des Invalides to beyond Pont Alexandre III, the other between the equestrian statues of the two marshals, Foch in place du Trocadéro and Joffre at the opposite end of the Champ-de-Mars, in front of the École Militaire.

Tour Eiffel

On a clear night, its beam sweeps through the sky in a radius covering 80 kilometres.

Stop to gaze up at all of its 324 metres! The tower was saved from demolition after twenty years because of its scientific utility. A few more figures: 10,100 tons, 2,500,000 rivets, 1,665 steps, two years of relentless work for the 50 engineers and 132 workers directed

by Gustave Eiffel, and approximately 230 million visitors since its construction. The tower is a special landmark symbolizing Paris and France throughout the world and it sparkles every evening until 1am (in winter) or 2am (in summer).

Trocadéro

The elevated “Troca” has a privileged viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower on the opposite bank of the Seine. Between the curved wings of the vast Palais de Chaillot – emblem of the 1930s – are gently sloping terraces and gardens, bordered by century-old Caucasian wingnut and hazel trees, and dotted with gilded bronze statues. Skaters and rollerbladers weave alongside

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the fountains beneath the gaze of Apollo and Hercules, sculpted on the pediment of the pavilions.

CinéAqua

even boasts a Wall of Peace! Its name, borrowed from the god of war, relates to the early history of the “champ” as an exercise area for the young cadets of the military school. Later, as the centre point of

Hôtel national des Invalides In 1671, Louis XIV decided to build "a royal hostel that would be large and spacious enough to house all officers, crippled, old and retired alike". The ‘pensioners‘ began arriving in 1674. The Église Saint-Louis – or ‘Soldiers Church’ – and the Église du Dôme (transformed into a military pantheon) were built afterwards. This magnificent ensemble, with its wonderful green lawn, today houses canons with rather disturbing names such as ‘The Scourge’, the Ministry of Defence and the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, Musée des

Much more than the largest tank in France! Marine collection or cinema? Both actually. In the aquariums, sharks, sea urchins, clown fish and divers put on a show. At the cinema, the inhouse animation and manga studio screens humorous and poetical works. The highlight: workshops for children and even a touch pool to stroke and feed the fish. Champ-de-Mars The vast park laid out below the famous tower has nothing warlike about it, and

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Plans et Reliefs and Musée de l’Armée. The Musée de l’Armée houses the tomb of Napoléon, the department of arms and ancient armoury and that of the two world wars.

Musée Rodin

Housed in the Hôtel Biron, an 18th century former mansion house, the Rodin museum boasts French gardens laid out with plants, shrubs and trees, and decorated with sculptures by the artist. Auguste Rodin took up residence here in 1908, surrounded by a park teeming with brambles and rabbits. The museum opened in 1919, two years after his death. Sculptures in marble, bronze, and terracotta alternate with

drawings by the master, works by Camille Claudel (his muse), paintings by his friends Carrières, Monet, Van Gogh and others. In the

Auguste Rodin took up residence here in 1908, surrounded by a park teeming with brambles and rabbits. garden, roses

and statues have replaced the rabbits, but the charm remains unique.

Paris sewer system

Paris boasts the world’s most extensive network of sewers, forming an astounding underground city. There are over 2,400 km of tunnels, which corresponds to the distance between Paris and Moscow! You can follow the history of the sewers, from the days of Lutèce to the present day, through a 500 m underground path. A unique way to discover Paris, an exhibition showing the water cycle in Paris and its history. Numerous models and machines used in the past as well as today.

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P 26-27 DEEPIKA ARORA

ASHWANI NAYAR

1st Person

Interview

Interview

Interview

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ROHITH K

LUBAINA SHEERAZI

MANOJ JAYAWARDANA

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SETHAPHAN BUDDHANI

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EDITOR’S NOTE

T

he burgeoning Indian outbound market has been recording 10-15 per cent growth in the last five years. India recorded approximately 14 million outbound travellers in 2011 with the figure expected to touch 50 million by 2020. A resilient segment, which did not show any major dip due to the global economic slowdown, Indian outbound market has huge potential. And it is no surprise that it is one of the most coveted markets in the world today with NTOs and regional tourism boards of destinations making a beeline to get a slice of the rapidly growing outbound pie. Correspondingly, the Indian traveller is evolving rapidly and increasingly getting keen on unique experiences and discovering niche destinations. Right from exploring Antarctica to visiting vineyards in France, to skydiving in New Zealand, the world has virtually become a playground for the Indian traveller, and not just for the rich and the famous. It is an exciting time ahead not only for the Indian traveller, who will be spoilt for choice of destinations and products, but also for the industry stake holders, as the trend presents ‘world of opportunities’ for business. While it is a foregone conclusion that outbound will continue to be the fastest growing segment of Indian tourism for the next few years and will lure increasing number of travel trade players, let us not forget that India is also an incredible destination. One really wishes and hopes that the country gets the required impetus and manages to make a significant impact in the global tourism arena.

The Visa on Arrival (VOA) scheme of the government continues to be popular with foreign tourists. VOA registered a growth of 22.6% during July, 2013 as compared to July, 2012. During the month, a total number of 1,154 VOAs were issued as compared to 941 during July, 2012. During the period from January to July 2013, a total number of 10,482 VOAs were issued as compared to 7,662 VOAs during corresponding period of 2012 registering a growth of 36.8%. Asian Traveller magazine has successfully passed six glorious years voicing the concerns of the travel and tourism industry. The support that has been extended to us from our esteemed readers and from the industry is highly appreciated in this proud moment. This journey is ceaseless and we move ahead with a positive outlook.

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Woman of the Month

India, Key to Wyndham’s Expansion Plans Deepika Arora,

Hotel

Regional Vice President– India, Wyndham

rred

Group, says the emergence of India as a prefe

stic

leisure and business destination for both dome and international travellers provides a fertile

try

background for growth in the hospitality indus

Being the Regional Vice President – India of Wyndham Hotel Group - Asia Pacific Operations, can you tell us more about this US based hospitality group? Wyndham Hotel Group is the world’s largest (based on the number of hotels) and most diverse hotel company, encompassing approximately 7,410 hotels and over 635,100 rooms in 67 countries under 15 hotel brands. Headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, with offices around the globe including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, India, Singapore, Thailand, London, etc.; the company employs approximately 7,000 associates worldwide. Asia Pacific now represents the largest region for Wyndham Hotel Group operations outside North America. As of June 30, 2013,

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the Group has 689 hotels and more than 85,000 rooms in Asia Pacific. Located in Hong Kong, the Group’s Asia Pacific headquarters prides itself in having a resourceful and dedicated regional team under the leadership of Duane Elledge, Executive Vice President & Managing Director, Asia Pacific. Wyndham Rewards��, the Group’s free-to-join guest loyalty program, is the most extensive in the lodging industry worldwide, based on the number of participating hotels, with nearly seven million active members. What attracts Wyndham Hotel Group to the Indian market? India offers immense opportunities and is key to Wyndham Hotel Group’s expansion plans. The emergence of India as a preferred leisure and business destination for both domestic and international travellers provides a fertile

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Woman of the Month background for growth in the hospitality industry. The Group’s strategy focuses on franchising its brands in India and it targets business and cost conscious leisure travellers in the midmarket segment. Currently, Wyndham Hotel Group has 18 operational properties in India with a total room inventory of 1,800 under the Ramada, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Dream and Days Inn brands. Wyndham Hotel Group is on a move to increase their foothold in India, please elaborate the Group’s expansion plans Wyndham Hotel Group has a strong pan-India presence with hotels in key cities including Mumbai, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jalandhar, Varanasi, Agra and Goa among others. The Group holds an ambitious plan to develop nearly 30 hotels and increase the inventory to over3,000 rooms within the next four year. By end of this year, the Group will open its first Ramada Encore and Howard Johnson Hotels targeted at the mid market segment. It has also signed deal to

bring its extended stay product, Hawthorn suites by Wyndham brand into Amritsar. In addition to the new launches, the Group has been working aggressively to strengthen its existing Ramada Portfolio. The 149room Ramada Amritsar was opened last July in the heart of the city. In the later part of this year, we anticipate that at least six hotels operated under the Ramada brand will open their doors. The opening of Ramada Chennai recently, marked the Group’s re-entry into Chennai. Do you feel more stronger with the new Avatar ? Yes, absolutely stronger! Ramada Chennai Egmore brings the famous worldclass Ramada experience to Chennai at affordable prices. The hotel is Chennai’s preferred destination for business as well as leisure travellers and is a perfect blend of comfort and functionality. Please tell us about the ‘Grand' hotel which Wyndham will open in Bangalore by 2020. The Wyndham Grand Bangalore Yelahanka will form a key component in Sammy’s Grand Palace,

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

the latest 75-acre exclusive residential project in Bangalore. The project is being developed by Bangalorebased Sammy’s Dreamland Co., Private Limited. As the only hotel development within the complex, the property is set within tranquil surroundings away from the bustling city, whilst only 10 minutes’ drive from Bangalore International Airport. Nestled within a 5-acre landscaped garden featuring a man-made lagoon, the hotel will feature 180 elegantly appointed guest rooms including 30 suites, four restaurants and a wide range of amenities including an outdoor pool and spa. The property will additionally include two conference and banquet halls catering to large-scale social engagements and business events. What are the major challenges the Indian market poses to International hospitality groups? Major challenges in my opinion in India are a lack of skilled labor; high utility costs such as energy have led to increase in expenses; high cost of land, lack of supporting infrastructure and capacity such as tour guides, travel managers and

taxi drivers to grow tourism business, complex local laws and regulation such as excessive number of permits required for hotel projects are some of the key challenges faced by international hotel groups. We believe that despite these challenges, India remains as one of the most attractive markets for the (global) hospitality industry on account of its growth potential. How do you foresee the major changes in the hospitality sector in the coming years? Major changes in the Indian hospitality industry expected in the coming years include growth in budget and economy segment fuelled by the domestic market, emergence of branded service apartments with club house facilities to cater for the lifestyle of the up-worldly mobile travellers with high disposable income. Social media channels will remain highly competitive and continue to play an important role in reaching out directly to travellers. Enhancement in service standards to enrich customers’ experiences in general would be a key focus across the hospitality industry in India.

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Zambia

The Game Parks of Zambia Zambia has some of the best ‘game parks’ in the world. We take you through this wonderful land.

Z

ambia, dubbed as one of the safest countries in the world to visit, is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world-the Victoria Falls-and an abundance of wildlife, water and vast open spaces. The African country will offer you perfect holiday experience with the famous ‘Safaris’ and spectacular water ways. To top it all, Zambia has some of the best

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‘Game Parks’ in the world. BANGWEULU WETLANDS One of the best reasons for coming to this unusual watery wilderness is the remarkable experience of this infinite flat expanse. The views to the horizon seem endless and one imagines one can almost see the curve of the planet. The birdlife is just magnificent and the sight of

thousands upon thousands of the endemic black lechwe, unforgettable. Vast open floodplains, several kilometres wide exist at the periphery of the permanent swamps. These may lie under a blanket of water from a few centimetres to a meter deep from 3 - 6 months a year depending on the extent of the summer rainfall. These shallow waters provide ideal feeding

grounds for huge numbers of indigenous birds as well as numerous summer migrants, many who will have travelled the length of Africa to winter-over in the swamps. White and pink backed pelicans, wattled cranes, white storks saddle billed storks, spoonbills and ibises in flocks numbering in the hundreds as well as many species of the smaller waders, are a common but

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Zambia are reasonably abundant in the area include the swamp fly-catcher, marsh tchagra, marsh whydah and the white cheeked bee-eater. The ground hornbill and Denham’s bustard are also a common sight as they patrol the grassland for large insects. The floodplains simply teem with birds including pratincoles, ruff by the thousand, crowned cranes, Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers. The shallow waterlines abound with ducks, geese, jacanas, spoonbills, pelicans and occasionally flamingos. Other notables are the slatey egret, black egret and goliath heron. Watch out too for the swamp fly catcher, white cheeked bee-eater and the rosy breasted longclaw. BLUE LAGOON NATIONAL PARK This Park is an undiscovered gem. The vast plains are spectacular in the dry season and transform completely from a dry grass flatland to a watery wonderland in the wet season, as the flats fill with water and the migratory birds arrive from far and wide.

dramatic sight when the waters are rich in small fish, shrimps and snails. One of the most rare and elusive birds in Africa, the shoebill, Balaeniceps rex, favours the Bangweulu swamps as one of their last remaining habitats and during the early months following the rains, this strange looking bird can regularly be seen on the fringe between the permanent swamps and the floodplains. Other fairly rare birds that

Until recently, this park was not open to the public as it fell under the preserve of the Defence Ministry. With wetlands, grasslands and woodlands in such close proximity, a great diversity of birds can be seen in a relatively small area and to date nearly 400 species have been recorded here. This park, along with the Lochinvar National Park on the other side of the Kafue Flats , together hold the largest concentrations of the Kafue Lechwe and herds numbering in the hundreds

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can be observed here. The Lechwe is the most water-loving antelope. It loves these habitats of floodplains and seasonally inundated grasslands. It frequently feeds in shallow water and will submerge if threatened. Although Lechwe run in herds of about 30, several thousand may gather together on the floodplains. An unusual site on the plains is the site of huge river pythons which are attracted by the concentration of the lechwe and birds. This Park provides a stark contrast to the other Parks in Zambia because of the vast flat lansdcape and spectacular birding - a good add-on to your tour of Zambia. KAFUE NATIONAL PARK Found in the centre of western Zambia, Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest of Zambia’s national parks covering a massive 22500 Km Sq. First established as National Park in the 1950s by the legendary Norman Carr, Kafue is one of the largest national parks in the whole of Africa. Despite its size and prominent location, only two hours’ drive from Livingstone, it remains little known and largely unexplored. The Busanga Plain found

in the north-west is regarded as the jewel in the crown of this beautiful park. Busanga is a wide flood plain which is inundated for much of the year, generating expanses of grazing and lush water meadows. The Plain is also renowned for frequent sightings of lion. A number of rare antelope such as yellow-backed and blue duiker, sitatunga and key predators such as cheetah and wild dogs are increasingly seen. Kafue is regarded as one of the best places in Africa to encounter leopard, seen frequently especially on night drives and it is not unusual to watch a leopard at a respectful distance as it stalks a bushbuck or as it lays in wait for an impala to stray close enough to make a kill. It is also possible to encounter cheetah at any time and they often observed in the central Kafue areas and in the South on the Nanzhila Plains and on the northern Busanga plain. Crocodiles are found basking in the sun on the banks, as are water monitors and many birds. More than 494 species of birds have been recorded in Kafue National Park and a further 22 species in the surrounding Game Management Areas, obviously too many to recite here, but notable species include; Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Fin-foot, Wattled

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Zambia

Crane, Southern Crowned Crane, Fulleborn’s Longclaw, Chaplin’s Barbet (Zambia’s only endemic bird), Blackcheeked Lovebird, Spoonbill, Bocage’s Akalat, Scalythroated Honeyguide, Blackbreasted Snake Eagle, Goliath Heron, Böhm’s bee-eater, to name but a few. KASANKA PARK

NATIONAL

This peaceful sanctuary, situated on the south western edge of the Lake Bangweulu basin, is one of Zambia’s smallest national parks. It’s 450 km2 however, are so well endowed with rivers, lakes and wetlands, forests, lagoons, meadows and dambos that it supports a uniquely wide range of animals and abundant birds and fish. Not to be missed is the unique platform hide, 18m high in a giant mululu tree with a panoramic view over the Kapabi Swamp. The rare and elusive sitatunga aquatic antelope feeds in the swamps below in the early mornings or late afternoons.

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A startling site from the hide in November and December is the evening flight of several million fruit bats leaving their roosts in search of food, darkening the sky for a few moments. The Chisamba Wamponde pan attracts large herds of puku, spur winged goose and saddle bill storks and hosts many hippos and waterbuck. Duiker are often seen in the woodlands fringing the pan. Lake Ndolwa is a beautiful and secluded spot where the shy shoebill stork has been seen in the papyrus reeds flanking the lake. Chikufwe Plain is particularly rewarding in the early hours of the morning during the dry season. The plain is the favourite haunt of the sable and also attracts large numbers of hartebeest, reedbuck and occasionally a few zebra and buffalo. This is an excellent birdwatching site too, especially for raptors such as the black breasted snake eagle. Kasanka is open all year round. Birding is especially good in the wet season from

November to March when migrants arrive from the north. Game viewing is best in the dry months from May to October. Lochinvar Lochinvar, although not abundant in the larger mammals, is nonetheless a park of exceptional beauty and outstanding birding opportunities with over 420 recorded species in its 428 square kilometers. The Park is situated on the southern edge of the Kafue Flats, a wide floodplain of the Kafue River between Itezhi tezhi dam in the west and Kafue Gorge in the east. The area extends for 33kms from the Kafue River in the north to low wooded hills in the south. It includes the large, shallow Chunga Lagoon which fluctuates considerably in size with variations in river levels. The varying vegetation makes it an interesting park to visit with floodplains, woodlands and termitaria It is particularly well known for the large herds of Kafue lechwe, unique to the

Kafue flats. Other antelope are the blue wildebeest, kudu, oribi and buffalo. Waterbirds are especially abundant. In addition to these parks there are other important ones like : Liuwa Plains annual wildebeest migration, great predators including wild dog; Lower Zambezi - intense game along the banks of the River, canoeing safaris highly recommended; Luambe - Between North and South Luangwa this small park is being rehabilitated and game is moving back; Mosi-o-Tunya All of Zambia’s plains game, rhino, elephant, giraffe, just minutes from Victoria Falls; North Luangwa - Very wild, access with safaris operators only; Nyika - A highland park, excellent birds, awesome views, large herds of antelope, notably eland; Sioma Ngwezi Undeveloped and wild, teak forests, good elephant, roan antelope; South Luangwa - Rated one of the top game reserves in the World; Sumbu - On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, excellent fishing.

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NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Upcoming Events in Dubai A

MSI Newswire | Dubai

s Dubai continues to grow as a global events destination, the next few months look set to be as busy as ever with a whole host of exciting events taking place across the Emirate. From music concerts to sporting championships, family activities to cultural events - there is something for all to enjoy, whatever your interests! Dubai Calendar, the official listings of events in Dubai, highlights its featured musical and cultural events which are set to energise Dubai’s residents and entice visitors following the long summer break. With the school holidays now drawing to a close, the Back to School Fair, running from 4-6 September at the Dubai World Trade Centre, aims to turn the season into a time of fun and activities. Designed to inspire, entertain and educate children and school groups through interactive activities, the event will provide plenty of fun for children and adults to enjoy from 10am-8pm daily. A key highlight of the September calendar is the arrival of world-renowned and respected spiritual and positive speaker Deepak Chopra. Originally from India, Chopra has travelled the world inspiring audiences and on 17 September he will grace the stage at the Madinat Arena. For music lovers, the newly-launched Dubai Music Week, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 24-29 September, promises to stimulate the music industry in the region with global leaders gathering for discussion and debates and headline international acts such as Will.I.AM hitting the stage. The Kobe Bryant Health and Fitness Weekend on 27 September is in support of diabetes awareness and will be held at the American University in Dubai. Highlights include a celebrity basketball match and Slam Dunk competition both with professional Lakers player Kobe Bryant himself. Tickets for the celebrity

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basketball game are available online at timeouttickets.com. Commenting on the events that Dubai has to offer this September, Carl Vaz, Director DTCM India said, “The best part of Dubai is its constant need to reinvent itself to keep pace with the needs and demands of its visitors. From music concerts to sporting championships and family activities to wedding fairs and cultural events – there are exciting opportunities that await visitors this September. As Dubai continues to grow as a global events destination, we strongly urge our trade partners to promote this dynamic city to their clients for the upcoming holiday season.” The bustling events scene looks set to continue into October and November with a whole host of concerts, exhibitions and activities to enjoy:

October - November 2013 • 11 Oct: The Sandance season at Atlantis, The Palm kicks off with The Killers, supporting acts will include Of Monsters and Men, The Wailers and more • 15-18 Oct: Fashion fans can look forward to Fashion Forward Season 2, featuring a programme of talks, panels and workshops by the region’s leading fashionistas • 17 Oct-8 Nov: Considered one of the biggest sporting events in the UAE, the FIFA U-17 World Cup will see players including Ronaldinho, Fargo and others playing in venues across Dubai

• 5 Nov: Grammy Award winning pop Sensation Alicia Keys brings her ‘Set the World on Fire’ Tour to Dubai at the newly expanded Dubai Media City Amphitheatre • 14-17 Nov: Watch Europe’s top 60 golfers battle it in the DP World Tour Championship out for a share of the staggering $11.75 million prize money! There’s plenty for all the family to enjoy with a dedicated Kids Zone and a range of food and beverage choices • 17-21 Nov: The Dubai Air Show, the fastest growing air show in the world, is back for the 24th year with over 130 planes from all over the world for visitors to see • 28-30 Nov: The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, the largest annual sporting event in Dubai, is back for the 44th year, over 90,000 attended last year so get your tickets early!

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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DIPR/945/Display/2013

For Information, bookings and details of TTDC’s Tours, Contact : Tamilnadu Tourism, Tourism Complex, No. 2, Wallajah Road, Chennai - 600 002, INDIA. Call : 91-44-2538 3333 / 9857, Fax : 91-44-2536 1385 Visit : www.tamilnadutourism.org, E-mail : ttdc@vsnl.com For online booking log on : www.ttdconline.com www.mttdconline.com

backdrop.

against this awesome, ancient

India’s finest classical performers

December / January showcasing

Mamallapuram Dance Festival in

Come, witness the annual

daunted the waves for 13 centuries!

stands proud, its outer walls having

Here, the renowned Shore Temple

into sculptures of exquisite beauty.

inspired artisans to hew solid rock

these massive monolithic marvels; and

Pallava emperors lavished devotion on

Over a thousand years ago, mighty


ns

TEN QUESTIONS

o i t s e Qu

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You have been in the hospitality industry for the past several years. Could you tell us about your early days? What made you enter the hospitality sector? Hospitality came to me by choice and over a discussion with school mates on career options. I must admit that to a young impressionable teen, ‘hotels’ may have carried a vision of grandeur (the good life) which soon vanishes on day one at hotel school but miraculously it begins to reappear not only as a vision but in reality after some years of hard work. One of the rewards of being a hotelier is to experience the ‘finer aspects of life’. What plans do you have for the company? I have been given the opportunity to open Le Meridien Dhaka, the hotel is due to open early next year and promises to be Bangladesh’s largest luxury business hotel. With over 300 guest rooms, various options of banqueting and meeting facilities spread over 20000 sq ft, next gen technology, with 6 distinct food and beverage venues, a luxurious spa and an infinity roof top swimming pool I believe we have the right product to positively impact the hotel standards bar not only in the country but also in the Asian region.

Journey Itself Is the Destination Ashwani Nayar, General Manager, Le Meridien, Dhaka, believes one of the rewards of being a hotelier is to experience the ‘finer aspects of life’.

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I hope to open this hotel as a flag bearer of Le Meridien brand and as a show case of Starwood’s strong culture and branding. I intend to focus on creating a team that will commit

to experiential guest services and market leading returns. My personal dream however is to create an organizational culture where each associate ‘feels excited about coming to work every morning’. How do you see the role of a hotel in developing a destination? What all things can hospitality sector do in this regard? I have always believed that hotels are a barometer to the business, social and cultural interest of visitors and travellers in a destination. Whilst there are plenty of examples of visionary hotel developers who foresee development in an area before others and go ahead in creating infrastructure before the destination itself is fully developed. However most of the development in hotel infrastructure happens in destinations that are on a northern trajectory due to economic reasons mainly and entertainment, sociocultural reasons sometimes. The two are synonymous and symbiotic in relation, simply where there is a demand there will be creation of supply. Would you please share with us the proudest moment and some of the unforgettable moments in your professional life? If I am able to positively impact the development of my team colleagues some of whom are in leadership roles or general managers today or when they receive global recognition from the company for their outstanding contribution, I view these as my biggest wins. There are so many unforgettable instances that occur in a hoteliers life span that each one could pen down a quintet as memoirs. But amongst the most touching for me have been at Le Meridien Cochin whilst

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


QUESTIONS TenTEN Questions observing an impromptu message to school children by our Hon’ble Ex-President of India whose love for learning, sciences, knowledge and children displayed in the simplicity yet profoundness of his message will remain forever inspirational. Another touching moment was seeing the genuine and unadulterated interaction by the junior and young associate volunteers of Le Meridien Jaipur with children having special needs and during our periodic visits to the home for destitute people. In your career, have you ever worked abroad? What according to you are the advantages of working overseas? I have had the opportunity to work in Nepal and currently I am working on the pre opening of Le Meridien Dhaka. The advantage really comes for working in a global

company like Starwood. There is so much to learn and much more to gain being in an international environment which infuses the right measure of local culture. Where would you like to see yourself, say, 10 years from now?

I hope to still be on this journey of mine, as an hotelier, enjoying every moment. However should a time machine have been invented by then – I would like to relive the beauty of it all, over and over again! How do you see the growth prospects of Indian hospitality sector? The South Asian region and India’s graph in particular are sustainably heading north. There have been short term supply overkills in some cities but most become corrective and the currently projected short supply of hotel rooms in

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

most places remains to be yet fulfilled. Importantly to match this fast unprecedented pace of hotel development, the key components to building and maintaining successful hotels will require to keep pace with the growth. Significantly human resource is the one component which may prove challenging in the coming future. Thus attracting and retaining good talent needs to be our businesses top priority now till the foreseeable future. About your family? Monica my soul mate, critic and best friend is also the ‘guru’ who gave me a direction and purpose to my life’s journey. She is a corporate trainer and counseling psychologist by profession and we have been together for 22 years now. We have two beautiful children, our daughter Mallika studies

architecture and is in second year of college; the younger one Armaan is in high school. Please tell us about your hobbies and other interests? Both Monica and I have a craving for reading, watching movies and music. We both share a great love for the outdoors especially being in the hills or higher, having walked and camped with the family at above 4000 mts. Which is your favourite destination? Why? I am still in the process of discovering India and have lots to see yet, so unable to give a substantiate answer narrowing down to one place in our beautiful country. However I remain certain that my favourite destination, whichever it will be, is in India. Because in discovering India one realizes the true meaning of the quote “the journey itself is your destination”.

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Entertainment

BRUSSELS COMICS FESTIVAL 2013

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he Comics Festival was created in 2010 by the BrusselsCapital Region as the logical continuation of the comic strip themed year organized in Brussels in 2009. In 2013, Brussels is going to experience a highly colourful weekend from 5-8 September, with its now famous Comics Festival taking place in Place des Palais, the event will also include a 3D projection mapping on the Place Royale, the Balloon’s Day Parade, the Tintin magazine, guided visits and comics exhibitions at the festival and throughout the city, in particular at the Palais des Beaux Arts (BOZAR) and at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. The highlights are, Marquee area All aboard at Place des Palais! Billions of blistering blue barnacles! Comic strips

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lovers will be able to visit bookshops, publishers, museums, exhibitions, boutiques and numerous animations for both adults and children. Get ready to bump into characters who have stepped straight out of their 'box' purely to meet you. Comic strip themed dinner To celebrate the Comics Festival, take part in an original concept: a colourful dinner to honour the paper heroes! This lively event with a "street food" theme will particularly appeal to children and families. On the menu: exquisite creativity; a cartoon universe and animations rich with drama, al served up in the famed Brussels Food Trucks! To top everything off, diners will also be able to see a sound and light show put on as part of the Comics Festival.

Balloon’s Day Parade For the sixth consecutive year, the Balloon’s Day Parade will fill the streets of Brussels to the sound of accompanying fanfares. Escorted by a Police parade and folklore groups, the route taken by the Balloon’s Parade will start once again at the very heart of the Comics Festival, where the public will first of all be able to see the giant balloons representing the different Belgian comic strip characters, ending up at Place De Brouckère. As in every other year, a new balloon will be created to adorn the Balloon’s Day Parade again.

The "Tintin magazine" car rally This year, in collaboration with Moulinsart, a rally involving around forty cars and motorcycles represented in the boards of different comic strips from the Tintin magazine will leave from Place des Palais and will then pass through different mythical comic strip places in Brussels and through the Hergé Museum. On their return to Place des Palais, the cars will be evaluated by a jury selected by Moulinsart and the most authentic among them will be officially named "The Tintin magazine car". The cars will them remain exhibited for the rest of the day to be admired by all!


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Destination Gavi

Gavi

Casts Its Magical Spell T

he beautiful forest haven Gavi is located at the eastern extreme of Pathanamthitta district, spread across the Periyar Tiger Reserve.The wildlife population in the evergreen forest is enriched by tiger, elephants, leopards, bears,

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Indian gaur, sambar, barking and Mouse deers, lion tailed macaque, other varieties of monkeys, Nilgiri Marten and a lot more. Apart from the magnificent wildlife Gavi offers some exquisite flora for avid nature lovers. NageiaWallichinia

(PodocarpusWallichinia), a highly endemic species of the Gymnosperm family is seen only around Gavi in the whole of Western Ghats. The Gavi Eco-Tourism a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation attracts global tourists

especially those from European countries. 'Alistair International' the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India. This helped to increase to Gavi’s global reach. Over

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


DestinationGavi Gavi Destination sholas, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantations. Endangered species including the NilgiriTahr and Lion-tailed macaque are often sighted at the outskirts of Gavi. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a heaven for birdwatchers.

The Gavi Eco-Tourism a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation attracts global tourists especially those from European countries Some of the breathtaking viewpoints at Gavi like the Valley View offer spectacular view of a deep ravine and the forest below. From Kochu Pampa, one can track the grazing NilgiriTahrs.

a short period of time visitors to Gavi gradually increased. A highlight of the Gavi eco project is the involvement of the local populace in its activities as guides, gardeners and cooks. This will provide livelihood for the locals and also will help to create awareness on conservation of nature. Gavi, located in Pathanamthitta district offers its visitors activities like trekking, wildlife watching, outdoor camping in specially

built tents, and night safaris. The road leading to the picturesque Gavi is blanketed by tea plantations, which itself is a refreshing experience. En route to Gavi are places of interest like Mundakayyam, Kuttikanam, Peermedu and Vandiperiyar from where the road deviates to Gavi. The place is rich in flora and fauna. There are hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands,

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

The famous pilgrim destination, Sabarimala is a short trek from Gavi. Gavi gives an amazing view of the Sabarimala amongst the lush green surrounding. Sabarimala, the Hindu pilgrimage centre visited by millions of devotees from all over India and across the world is located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in world with an estimated 45–50 million devotees visiting every year. For those interested in observing the nocturnal wildlife, night safaris to Kullur, GaviPullumedu, Kochu Pampa, Pachakanam provide ample opportunities for wildlife viewing. Gavi has a museum which has the display of the wildlife seen at Gavi forest area. A visit to

the museum gives you a fair idea of the wildlife in Gavi. Another unique feature of Gavi is camping in the forests. One can pitch a tent in the camping site, which is a rarity in many Indian forests. As the dusk stretches into the silence of the night, one can feel the presence of wildlife in the middle of nowhere, an experience that cannot be explained in words. There are also tree top houses where one can enjoy the avian life to the fullest. Active involvement of tribals in Gavi makes it a unique venture of its kind in the country. Traditional knowledge of the forest and its way of life helps Gavi to sustain its surroundings in its original state. Gavi is a fertile land and the local’s mastery over the land has blessed the land with vegetation. A leisure visit to the nearby cardamom plantation, tea estate and the local factory is a sight to behold. The visit gives more insight into the people and living. Go boating on the crystal clear Gavi reservoir and Kochupamba to take home memory of a lifetime that remains as clear as the Gavi lake. Row boating facility is available at Gavi. Rowing along the emerald hued natural backdrop is a welcome change from everyday monotony. Get adventurous spirit at Gavi. Gavi is bound to cast its magical spell on every visitor and is surely a place that should not be missed in one's lifetime. Gavi is pristine, and it belongs to the wild, which is a reminder that visitors are responsible for their intentions and actions, which will have a bearing on the upkeep of Gavi for a long time to come.

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NEWS LINE

Karnataka Signs MoU to Promote Tourism MSI Newswire | Karnataka

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ndhra Pradesh and Karnataka have signed anMoU for cross promotion of tourism in both the states. The tourism departments of both the southern states signed the memorandum during the visit of Chandana Khan, special chief secretary (tourism) of Andhra Pradesh government, to Bangalore recently. She was in Bangalore to discuss measures to enhance tourism in both the states. The MoU will facilitate easier booking of train tickets and hotels to various destinations in Andhra Pradesh. In addition, there will also be a 50 per cent discount on these bookings. According to the officials, this will be a win-win situation as it will help increase tourist traffic in both the states.

During her discussion with C D Dyavaiah, managing director of Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation, she also discussed the possibility of extending Karnataka's luxury train Golden Chariot into select places in Andhra Pradesh. "Karnataka is a market with tremendous opportunity and we want to tap into this to maximise tourism in our state. The proximity to Andhra Pradesh and the multiple options of modes of travel make it an easy holiday option for people from the state. We are looking to expand and build this market," Khan said.

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MSI Newswire | Chennai

Karnataka Tourism Asks to Develop USP to Promote Mysore ourism in Mysore can receive a boost only if stakeholders come with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), said ArvindJadhav, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary - Tourism. He was speaking at a seminar on 'Mysore as the most preferred International tourist destination - Bottlenecks and solutions’ in Mysore recently. The seminar was organised by Rotary Mysore West on the sidelines of GoBeyond-Leisure and Lifestyle Expo-2013. Speaking about various loopholes that have acted as a dampener to tourism in Mysore, he spoke about the importance of USP, like how the other states have. “Many countries will also promote tourism like that—New York promotes it through a brand 'Big Apple',” he added. “In Mysore, people develop too many tourism-related aspects at a

Lebara Opens First Hotel in Chennai

time, which does not benefit much. Try to ensure as many footfalls as possible, as this can help develop tourism in and around Mysore," he said. People in Mysore still depend on Bengaluru for many things, he opined. “In the Silicon City, luxury hotels are meant only of business, and not for families. Though there are tourist spots in the city, not many are interested in them. Mysoreans need to create their identity, and not just be obsessed with Bengaluru," he suggested. Speaking about the bottlenecks in connectivity, C Shikha, Deputy Commissioner, Karnataka said that Mysore has better roads than Bengaluru. “However, we should take note of air connectivity as it helps boost tourism. In the coming days, the district administration will try to expand the airport," she said.

K-based Lebara Group made a leap from telecommunications into the hospitality industry as they opened their first hotel, the Gateway Hotel IT Expressway in the heart of Chennai, India. The grand opening was attended by Malayalam superstar ‘Mohanlal’ showcasing the best of the Taj Gateway brand and also the presentation of the Lebara Group’s first business venture in India. The Gateway Hotel is owned by LBR Hotels and Hospitality Services Pvt Ltd (trading as “Lebara Hotels”) which is part of the Lebara Group. This refreshing new 200 room hotel offering, with its modern contemporary clean lines, exquisite food and beverage options, along with the backing of the Taj Gateway brand, revitalises the hotel offering in Sholinganallur and its wider IT corridor. The launch event was synonymous with its IT corridor surrounding. There was no ribbon cutting but instead the pressing of a large F5 button (computer refresh button), symbolic of the aim to refresh the hospitality offerings in the area. Ratheesan Yoganathan, co-owner and chairman of the Lebara Group, feels that this launch is an entry point for the Lebara Group and ‘heralds Lebara’s expansion into India and the hospitality industry’. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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1 Person A Man of Determination Interview First Person

st

att

Hy ales,

ting e k r f ma ss e o r i t r D a e h K, pi , says to busin g and t i h Ro am ss cards brandin mined H e Plac m busine dividual s a deter i n is fro iations, i ing. He ing is th c rk asso l netwo ieves no l fu gain n who be o pers sible s impo

of ctor

Sales and marketing is considered as the pillar of any organisation and you being the head tell us how you came to this field? My move to Sales & marketing was well thought out. There were a number of strong reasons why I took my career in to the sales industry with serious consideration. Every organisation that provides a service or sells a product needs sales people to take it to the market and as long as companies endeavour to remain competitive, there will always be jobs available for quality sales individuals. Personal growth is based on results and it is not unusual for good sales executives to find themselves moving into management positions quicker than they would in another industry. Moreover today salespeople can be found working across virtually every industry sector imaginable,

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S

from manufacturing to distribution and services, influencing customers to buy their company’s products and looking after the needs of existing customers. The thrill of being an integral part and responsibility for a company’s success brought me to this field and I am very glad that the last opportunity that came my way not only exposed me to an international brand but also gave me immense amount of learning during the pre-opening days of the hotel. Tourism and travelling is a fun filled and change oriented business. How do you enjoy your job? As the sales head for a destination property like Hyatt Place Hampi, I definitely see a close connection between the travel and hospitality industries. I travel to different locations for business and

meet different people and this is one aspect of the job that keeps me moving. I sell the same service everyday but I never find myself uninterested. This is because the clients are different, their needs and requirements also varies. I have to be creative and innovative to present my product/service to different customers. Every time I focus on their needs and hence, I exceed their expectations. Is there any inspiration factor for you to come to this field? The inspiration to choose this field was the opportunity my job gave me to enjoy what I do, which is to interact with guests, recognise their requirement and convert business every time. Describe us about the art of marketing? Give us a few tips on your marketing tactics?

The art of marketing for me is from business cards to business associations, individual branding and gainful networking. The best marketing tactic is networking. When I say networking I do not only mean that we need to go out to meet new people but also capitalising on the opportunities like social, digital and electronic marketing. You have to constantly keep thinking outside of the box. When you help people explore the world what sort of satisfaction do you derive out of it? The company will only progress if it is able to ensure sincere hospitality. It is an incredible feeling to see guest happy and not only give great feedback about your service but also recommend your hotel to others.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


FirstInterview Person

How do you manage your own holidays amidst your business schedule? All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. So it is important to have quality time for holiday and family. I think a break energises me and I get back to work with fresh ideas Any future agenda for your clients? The future agenda for some time is to aggressively market Hampi as a destination. To expose clients

to the breathtaking ancient ruins, scenic surprises and adventure tourism that north Karnataka offers with a unique product, facilities and comfort that the hotel offers. How do you market the changes in the industry? We work in a dynamic industry and changes are unavoidable. The best way to market change is through effective communication, both internal with employees and external with clients. Personally

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

speaking

which is your tourism spot?

favourite

I love to be in Kerala during monsoons. The monsoons in Kerala do not take the pattern of non-stop rains continuing for weeks. Usually it rains for a few hours with sunny interludes. It is extremely picturesque and a visual treat for the eyes. In fact monsoon tourism in Kerala is gaining in popularity year after year. Monsoon tourism allows tourists to explore the intrinsic beauty of Kerala with a sense of adventure

Have you ever thought of selling some new ideas and concepts for the people who really go for changes? One of the values of Hyatt is being innovative and creative. Today tourism is not only travel and sightseeing but also adventure. The purpose however is to identify the appropriate visitor that ‘fits’ the destination attractions and thus offer them experiences. Any secret tips for the marketing professionals? “Nothing is Impossible”

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NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Malaysian Beaches Top CNN Survey MSI Newswire | Malaysia

T

hree beaches in Malaysia have made it into the top 50 beaches in the world in a survey conducted by renowned international news network CNN on the World’s 100 best beaches.The three beaches are TanjungRhu in Langkawi, Kedah (ranked at No.49); Juara Beach in Tioman Island, Pahang (ranked at No.21); and Perhentian Kecil island, Terengganu (ranked at No.13). ManoharanPeriasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia said,”Malaysia is honoured to have been conferred this esteemed recognition, which will motivate us to further intensify our efforts in positioning Malaysia as the world’s leading Beach destination, while promoting its natural attractions and also, major ecotourism experience such as caving, hiking, jungle trekking, white water rafting, rock climbing, bird watching, snorkeling, diving and river cruising”. Perhentian Kecil Island, Terengganu CNN wrote, “Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands are to beach bums what Kobe beef is to carnivores; once you’ve experienced it, nothing else quite matches up. The two main islands are the backpacker-happy PulauPerhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian Island), and PulauPerhentianBesar (Big Perhentian Island), which has slightly more expensive accommodations.” The highlight of PulauPerhentian Kecil is the blue waters, which invariably contain turtles and small sharks. Juara Beach, Tioman Island, Pahang “Less developed and less polished than Thailand, Tioman Island’s Juara Beach brings an all-natural, quiet vide to the beach experience. This isn’t the place for parties or nightlife, unless you like your parties hushed and your nightlife nonhuman, “ CNN stated. Tioman Island is also a great place for adrenalin junkies who want a rock-climbing challenge at NenekSemukut Mountain. TanjungRhu in Langkawi, Kedah According to CNN, “Most tourists on Langkawi flock to PantaiCenang beach, but the quieter TanjungRhu has an earthy beauty and serene atmosphere. The long beach area is surrounded by ancient limestone caves, rippling waterways and dense mangroves. “ “During the low tide, the sea splits open and a sandy patch appears from the beach towards the rock. Visitors can then walk right in the island – an incredible experience not to be missed!We also love Langkawi for the breathtaking view from atop Gunung Mat Cincang, one of the islands highest mountains. “

PATA Gold Award for Kerala Tourism Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award. Kerala Tourism, among the 22 winners of the PATA Awards 2013, was chosen from 165 entries worldwide comprising 60 organisations and individuals, for the award in the Marketing Media category. This is the second time that the Kerala Tourism’s E-Newsletter, developed by Invis Multimedia, has won the PATA Gold Award. Earlier, it had won the award in 2005. Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said that they were truly honoured to receive this important award. ‘’It is a recognition of our efforts to take the brand of Kerala to a wider audience around the world by informing them about the best of what the state has to offer. Our E-Newsletter is a visitor-friendly and reader-friendly platform that is completely transparent and useful to travellers,’’ he said. MSI Newswire | Mysore

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erala Tourism’s E-Newsletter, which pioneered the use of internet technology in India’s travel and tourism industry, has won this year’s Pacific Asia

Supported and sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) for the last 18 years, the PATA awards recognise innovation and excellence in the travel and tourism industry. The awards will be presented in the south-west Chinese city of Chengdu on September 15.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


World Travel Brands Award for Best Upcoming Spa Resort in Kerala 2012

www.vasundhararesorts.in www.sarovarhotels.com

IIA Asian Paints Gold Leaf Award for Excellence in Architecture 2012

Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Top 25 Hotels in India 2013


Paris Paris

Monumental Paris T

he area around the Eiffel Tower is on a fitting scale to the tower itself. On a clear night, its beam sweeps through the sky in a radius covering 80 kilometres. The spectacle is awesome and one feels so small in this grandiose area with its massive

On a clear night, its beam sweeps through the sky in a radius covering 80 kilometres.

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buildings and vast green spaces! And what spectacular perspectives – one stretching from the Esplanade des Invalides to beyond Pont Alexandre III, the other between the equestrian statues of the two marshals, Foch in place du Trocadéro and Joffre at the opposite end of the Champ-de-Mars, in front of the École Militaire.

Tour Eiffel

Stop to gaze up at all of its 324 metres! The tower was saved from demolition after twenty years because of its scientific utility. A few more figures: 10,100 tons, 2,500,000 rivets, 1,665 steps,

two years of relentless work for the 50 engineers and 132 workers directed by Gustave Eiffel, and approximately 230 million visitors since its construction. The tower is a special landmark symbolizing Paris and France throughout the world and it sparkles every evening until 1am (in winter) or 2am (in summer).

Trocadéro

The elevated “Troca” has a privileged viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower on the opposite bank of the Seine. Between the curved wings of the vast Palais de Chaillot – emblem of the 1930s – are gently sloping terraces and gardens, bordered by century-old Caucasian wingnut and hazel trees, and dotted with gilded

bronze statues. Skaters and rollerbladers weave alongside the fountains beneath the gaze of Apollo and Hercules, sculpted on the pediment of the pavilions.

CinéAqua

Much more than the largest tank in France! Marine collection or cinema? Both actually. In the aquariums, sharks, sea urchins, clown fish and divers put on a show. At the cinema, the inhouse animation and manga studio screens humorous and poetical works. The highlight: workshops for children and even a touch pool to stroke and feed the fish. Champ-de-Mars The vast park laid out

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Paris Paris

cadets of the military school. Later, as the centre point of the Expositions universelles, it was chosen as the site of the biggest attraction of 1889, the Eiffel Tower.

below the famous tower has nothing warlike about it, and even boasts a Wall of Peace! Its name, borrowed from the god of war, relates to the early history of the “champ” as an exercise area for the young

Hôtel national des Invalides In 1671, Louis XIV decided to build "a royal hostel that would be large and spacious enough to house all officers, crippled, old and retired alike". The ‘pensioners‘ began arriving in 1674. The Église Saint-Louis – or ‘Soldiers Church’ – and the Église du Dôme (transformed into a military pantheon) were built afterwards. This magnificent ensemble, with its wonderful green lawn, today houses canons with rather disturbing names such as ‘The Scourge’, the Ministry of Defence

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

and the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, Musée des Plans et Reliefs and Musée de l’Armée. The Musée de l’Armée houses the tomb of Napoléon, the department of arms and ancient armoury and that of the two world wars.

Musée Rodin

Housed in the Hôtel Biron, an 18th century former mansion house, the Rodin museum boasts French gardens laid out with plants, shrubs and trees, and decorated with sculptures by the artist. Auguste Rodin took up residence here in 1908, surrounded by a park teeming with brambles and rabbits. The museum opened in 1919, two years after his death. Sculptures in marble,

bronze, and terracotta alternate with drawings by the master, works by Camille Claudel (his muse), paintings

Auguste Rodin took up residence here in 1908, surrounded by a park teeming with brambles and rabbits. by his friends Carrières, Monet, Van Gogh and others. In the garden, roses and statues have replaced the rabbits, but the charm remains unique.

Paris sewer system

Paris boasts the world’s most extensive network of sewers, forming an astounding underground city. There are over 2,400 km of tunnels, which corresponds to the distance between Paris and Moscow! You can follow the history of the sewers, from the days of Lutèce to the present day, through a 500 m underground path. A unique way to discover Paris, an exhibition showing the water cycle in Paris and its history. Numerous models and machines used in the past as well as today.

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Interview Interview

The Great Oman Experience The USP of Oman is that it is an untapped, virgin destination that has diverse landscapes, exotic locales, pristine beaches and a lot of adventure to offer. The long term plans in India include targeting the Indian cinema production houses for film shootings in order to popularize the destination in the India market, says Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Oman in an exclusive interview with Asian Traveller Oman is campaigning aggressively to tap the Indian market through various promotional activities. Please elaborate on this ? India is a very important source market for us. International Air Transport Association (IATA) data shows India is a fast growing source market for tourists to Oman. We have seen a rapid increase in the number of tourist arrivals from India to Oman over the years. Earlier, Oman was looked at by Indians only for its business and commercial prospects, but this perception has slowly but surely undergone a change. Since it’s a short haul destination from India, Oman is becoming popular with

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the outbound tourists from India. Indians are looking for a new, niche destination and Oman has a lot to offer in terms of culture, heritage and adventure activities. India is Oman’s largest inbound market and in the year 2012, tourist arrivals to Oman was 221,623. There has been a 35.6 % change in tourist arrivals in 2012 as compared to 2011 which was 163,45. So far, we have conducted multicity roadshows since 2011in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. However this year in 2013, we are planning to target Tier 2 cities of Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. The USP of Oman is that it is an untapped, virgin destination that has

diverse landscapes, exotic locales, pristine beaches and a lot of adventure to offer. Our long term plans in India include targeting the Indian cinema production houses for film shootings in order to popularize the destination in the India market. We will also soon be promoting Oman as an ideal wedding destination from India and will be conducting a wedding planners FAM to Oman in the month of September where 9 representatives from reputed wedding planners companies from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru will travel on the FAM. MICE tourism has emerged as a highly lucrative

segment in recent times. What is the status of MICE tourism in Oman? India continues to be the third fastest growing global economy and tenth largest economy. The Indian travel industry is thriving due to a phenomenal increase in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) travel. According to the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) statistics, India’s share is estimated at US$ 4.8 billion worldwide with a current ranking of 27th in the global MICE market. With regards to Oman, MICE is an upcoming segment. We are currently undertaking MICE groups on a case to case basis

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Interview and customizing them as per client requirements. We offer incentives which include a wide range of products like souvenirs, subsidiaries to cultural performances. We will also be participating in several important fairs and exhibitions pan India in 2013 to highlight the MICE facilities available in Oman. What are the major tourists spots that Oman tourism would like to promote? Tell us more about this. Oman offers a host of wide-ranging options. It is now being known for its array of tourist activities on offer such as water sports, rock climbing, dune bashing,

trekking, cave exploration, dolphin watching and shopping in the souks. The country also features historic forts and castles, which are among many cultural landmarks that give the country its unique character. The latest offering from Oman is Jebel Sifah - A relaxing forty-five minute drive from Muscat, traveling through winding mountain roads and valleys into a contemporary development. Jebel Sifah captures a space of 6.2 million square meters, making it the most prevalent ongoing development in the country. Oman’s tourism receipts have touched $1.09 billion in 2012 putting the sultanate’s

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

share in the Middle East international tourism income at 2.3 per cent, what were your strategies that made you accomplish this milestone? In the India market, our main strategy has been to build awareness about the destination ‘Oman’ by providing detailed information and product knowledge to the travel trade industry. We are promoting the cultural heritage and natural diversity of Oman in India. From conducting roadshows, participating in trade events and exhibitions to giving training sessions to trade agents, we wanted to build the brand ‘Oman’ as

a perfect holiday getaway. Oman is not a mass but a niche destination. We have always promoted Oman as a destination meant for the ‘neo educated’ and well travelled Indian. Our primary focus has been to promote the regions of Muscat, Jebel Shams, Nizwa, Sur, Wahiba Sands, Ras Al Jinz, etc as tourist spots in India. These regions cater well to Indian interests and are easily accessible by road. Adventure activities is another USP of Oman and we promote various adventure activities like snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving, trekking etc to Indian travellers who wish to indulge in them when visiting Oman.

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California

Top 5 Must-Do’s with Family in California C

onventional wisdom holds that California is for the young-and who are we to argue? The state is chock-full of attractions for kids of all ages, especially the under-18 set. From Disneyland, the granddaddy of all theme parks, to worldclass aquariums, zoos, historical museums, and outdoor activities, California will keep your family engaged and hopping. DISNEYLAND, Orange County, CAWhen talking theme parks, everybody starts with Walt's creation, Disneyland,

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which launched a worldwide phenomenon. Almost no one bypasses the Magic Kingdom, and this iconic theme park has added even more reasons to visit. This theme park is a place where imagination is the destination. For young and old, big and small — it's the happiest place on earth! Come build memories with your family that last a lifetime as you discover the wonder of this magical, fantastical world. When you enter one of the Lands that comprise Disneyland Park, stories come to life around you, immersing you in tales from some of your favorite Disney films. When you visit

Disneyland don’t miss these: If your family is into adventure, now in Disneyland you can find the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, a fabulous overhaul of the park's classic submarine ride. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride has also gotten a fun new twist. Now, as you ride on the boats through the watery adventure, you see a dreadlocked Captain Jack Sparrow (keep your hand on your wallet and your wife) popping up unexpectedly throughout the ride. In Star Tours, you get a chance to learn light-saber moves from a Jedi Master. It's all meant to

make your day a little more magic. SEA WORLD, San Diego, CA SeaWorld has jazzed up its always astonishing orca exhibit, showcase for the world-famous Shamu. The park now includes a nighttime rock ’n roll orca extravaganza with a dizzying light show. As with any Shamu show, don’t sit anywhere near the first 14 rows unless you're okay getting soaked. Also at SeaWorld, the rare chance to slip on a wetsuit (the water is 55 degrees) to interact with beluga whales, walruses, seals, and possibly even a

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


California

polar bear. SeaWorld has also mixed it up on the thrillride front. Climb into a mock Greek fishing boat on Journey to Atlantis and rise skyward, first through a foggy mist then out into a world of blue-SeaWorld below, Mission Bay sparkling all around. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD, Los Angeles, CA Go behind the scenes at Universal Studios . Climb aboard one of the park's trams, with state-of-the-art HD monitors adding to your experience at every seat. You'll visit real movie sets to discover how movie magic is made. Cruise along Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, see real set pieces from the movie King Kong, and be spooked by the likes of Norman at the Bates Motel or a certain megashark from one of the scariest movies ever made. The regular Studio Tour is included with park

admission. For even more insights into the moviemaking process, consider splurging on the VIP Experience, which includes valet parking, refreshments, and your own private guide taking you to real sound stages and back lots. Only Universal Studios lets you ride the movies and go behind the scenes of a real working movie studio. Studio Tour -Go behindthe-scenes on the legendary Studio Tour to explore Hollywood’s most famous backlot in the world’s largest working movie studio. Find a full day of actionpacked entertainment all in one place: thrilling theme park rides and shows, a real working movie studio, and Los Angeles’ best shops, restaurants and cinemas at CityWalk. Universal Studios Hollywood is a unique experience that’s fun for the whole family.

LEGOLAND, San Diego, CA Immerse yourself in a whole different kind of water park at this beloved destination. The world’s first and only LEGOLAND Water Park is now open at LEGOLAND California. Imagination really flows at the unique Build-A-Raft River, where everyone floats on their own customizable raft using giant soft LEGO bricks. You’ll find more than 20 LEGO models throughout the Water Park, including giant LEGO friends who splash and spray water on visitors. The Water Park features seven slides including a 4-person family raft slide and tube slides. There’s even an entire area designed specifically for toddlers. LEGOLAND California is home to more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. Just inside the entrance to the Park, you can't miss the bright red welcoming dinosaur, Bronte, standing nine feet tall and 34 feet long from his nose to the tip of his tail, made completely from LEGO® bricks! MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM, Monterey Bay, CA Take a close look at sea otters, sharks, and thousands of other sea creatures. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of those destinations that charms everyone who

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walks through its great glass doors. Here you can watch rescued sea otters swim, play, and groom in their naturalized exhibit. See and learn about the worlds of countless fish species, as well as amphibians, birds, invertebrates, octopi, and reptiles. Watch aquarium staff feed penguins and sea otters, and experience other creatures as they interact in extraordinarily realistic underwater environments that simulate the adjacent Monterey Bay and beyond. Kids love the interactive touch pool filled with starfish, sea cucumbers, and other ocean creatures. The bat ray exhibit, where you can feel the velvety softness of a bat ray as it flys by, is always a hit. The aquarium also offers a variety of special tours, including a behindthe-scenes look at how the aquarium's remarkable filtration systems work to keep all the resident creatures alive and well. Another fun tour lets you follow a staff member on morning rounds, which may include feeding and interacting with some of the animals on site. Hungry? There's an exceptional selfservice cafeteria, as well as a sit-down restaurant focusing on fresh ingredients and sustainable seafood.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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Interview destination covering London, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt and Moscow as well. Sri Lanka has also become a preferred transit hub. Attractive stopover facilities, Star class hotels and shopping facilities are value additions for any passenger who takes a stopover in Colombo. Our new tailor made packages into Sri Lanka gets more attention from our customers who are eager to experience our product offer.

Brief us about the role of SriLankan Airlines in promoting national tourism to destination Kerala.

The Joy of Flying Manoj Jayawardana, Area Manager-Trivandrum, SriLankan Airlines, says the airline is focusing on showcasing ‘Attukal Pongala’ and ‘Thrissur Pooram’ to attract foreigners to provide a unique holiday experience Kerala is rated as a very bright sector for the aviation industry. Being the Area Manager of SriLankan Airlines how do you rate the company’s growth prospects in the state? SriLankan Airlines was the first international carrier to fly to Kerala and this established a special connection with the people of Kerala combined with the quality and the service which they felt for years. This I believe has made SriLankan one of the most preferred airlines in Kerala. Currently we operate 14 flights (twice daily) out of Cochin and daily flights from Trivandrum for a week. As we see potential here, we have plans to increase our frequency out of Trivandrum

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in line with the preferences of our customers and expand our services to new market segments with opportunities. There will be more benefits coming in with our value added services such as SriLankan Holidays, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) sector and our loyalty program FlySmiLes. Our entry into the one world alliance next year will give us the opportunity to offer many more benefits and wider network connections to our customers.

What are the immediate strategies and plans you have adopted for this sector? The market here evolved from a traditional one to

a leisure market. We have increased our frequencies to international destinations which are providing more opportunities and options for our passengers from Kerala to connect to our wide network reaching Far East Asia including the preferred holiday destinations of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, South East Asia and SAARC countries. Having attractive tailormade holiday packages with superb connectivity and the services we provide in and around the Far East have made SriLankan, the most sought after airline among holiday-seekers and the LTC travel community. SriLankan has introduced competitive fares to European

Kerala with its unique geographical location is one of the closest points to Sri Lanka situated in the southern coastal region of India, and has a lot of similarities in culture, geography and cuisine. This itself makes Kerala ‘a home away from home’ for Sri Lankans. We are focusing on showcasing ‘Attukal Pongala’ which is the biggest women’s gathering in the world and ‘Thrissur Pooram’ which may be a major attraction for the foreigners as a unique holiday experience. These special events with a religious and cultural uniqueness will undoubtedly amaze travellers. We’re also planning to tie up with ‘Seva sangams’ to provide facilities for Sri Lankans who visit ‘Sabarimala’ where the holy shrine and the golden temple of ‘Lord Ayyappa’ is situated.

Do you plan for any special focus to promote the tourism sector of both the destinations through your services?

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Interview

SriLankan Airlines has been bringing in many groups of European media on Sri Lanka and Kerala dual destination promotions, particularly for wellness familiarisation and nature media tours. SriLankan has already tied up with operators in Kerala to promote Kerala as a tourist destination. We are also planning to introduce Ayurvedic rejuvenation

packages and the classic ‘house boat’ experience to promote Kerala as ‘one of a kind’ holiday experience for our leisure travellers in Sri Lanka and all around the world.

Tell us more about your special tariffs and offers for this sector to woo more passengers? We have very attractive tariffs for leisure travellers

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

who seek the unique SriLankan experience flying to Sri Lanka, Maldives and the Far East. These special tariffs are given to the Tour Operators to promote package tours to various destinations including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. We also have very attractive fares to Europe working with more tour operators in Kerala. Apart from leisure travellers, we have competitive fares to the Middle East for our Kerala passengers who are employed in various parts of the Middle East Region including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

With the Rapid improvements to Trivandrum - the main city, it will be the software center city of Kerala with world class companies such as Microsoft, IBM coming in. This will generate a mass scope of travel out of Kerala in the years to come. We can assure that we will be one of the major service and travel providers for the increased demand and this in fact will generate a lot of opportunities in the future, as we’re bound to service these passengers with increased frequency into Kerala with true SriLankan hospitality.

How do you foresee the future prospects of SriLankan Airlines in this sector?

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Wild Eco Life - Tourism

Venturing into the Wild Aathira Perinchery

T An interesting story of Wildlife and ecotourism with Team Ecoventures in and around Thiruvananthapuram

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here's something for every traveller at Kerala's capital, Thiruvananthapuram. Be it the several sun-kissed beaches that are barely an hour's drive from the city or the professional ayurveda spas that rejuvenate and revitalize. But apart from these mundane activities, Thiruvananthapuram offers some of the most exciting experiences for the adventurous traveller. Short drives from the city can take you to cliffs overlooking the sea, estauries merging into the ocean, gurgling streams

cascading into waterfalls, quiet jungle trails and emerald forests throbbing with wildlife. The ThenmalaKulathupuzha Forest Division for instance, a mere 3-hour drive from Thiruvananthapuram, is one of those emerald forests that is a haven for bird-watchers. Nestled in the Western Ghats mountain range, it is home to more than a 100 bird species. Birds like the Jerdon's Imperial pigeon and the endangered Ceylon Frogmouth can be spotted here. A completely different suite of bird species awaits one at the Kundankulam wetlands, two-and-a-half

hours away. A must-visit destination for both avid bird watchers and photographers alike, the wetlands teem with winter visitors between November and February. It's not just birds that abound in the forests surrounding the capital city of Kerala. The wildlife sanctuaries of Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney are also home to large mammals like the Asiatic elephant and carnivores like the leopard and tiger (inset). One can also spot wildlife in reserve forests such as Chathankode, where small Forest Departmentapproved trek paths exist. Trekking is also permitted to the Agastyamala Peak with

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Wild Life Eco - Tourism prior permission from the Forest Department. You may even catch sight of mammals too on these treks. Of course, knowing where to go and whom to approach matters here – and that's where Team Ecoventures comes in. The Team consists of young professionals passionate about nature and conservation, who organize travel itineraries and tours to wild lands. They believe that conserving nature and natural landscapes is the need of the hour. Yet, what is conservation unless people see, understand and learn to love what they need to conserve? Team Ecoventures specializes in guided bird and

Team

present on these tours – the Team's way of involving the local community in their activities. They also organize longer treks for hard-core adventurers. Specialized nature photography tours can also be booked with the Team for those interested in capturing nature on Ecoventures print.

Cycling tours have gained prominence lately. Tapping into guided bird and this interest, Team Ecoventures also butterfly watching tours offers cycling packages into yet another green patch just 3 hours away butterfly from Thiruvananthapuram watching tours that gives – Ponmudi. For all their the common man a peek activities, the Team into what the forest is all provides modern gear and about. Local guides are gadgets to make the best

specializes in

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of every moment. They provide professional geared mountain bikes for cyclists, binoculars for birders and walking sticks and other trekking gear for walkers.

discounts are doled out to clients who pitch in with the Team's cleaning efforts that are carried out occasionally around the city and along disturbed forest roads.

While the Team organizes these tours into forests and other ecosystems, the focus, undeniably, is on traveling responsibly. Large numbers of tourists are not what these places need. Knowing this, the Team encourages smaller groups of people who are more interested, willing to learn and understand why conserving these spaces is important. Jungle etiquette, preservation of biodiversity and ensuring that there is no pollution of any kind – all are taken care of by their sensitiveness and commitment. Even special

Offering an experience rather different from the usual, Team Ecoventures strives to take people closer to nature, while ensuring that clients take nothing away from these vistas except great memories and photographs. While Thiruvananthapuram holds something for every traveller, the natural and scenic beauty surrounding it are worth viewing at least once – to see the beauty of nature and understand why conserving it is totally worth it, if not more

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Interview

The Charm of Thailan Sethaphan Buddhani, Director – Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai office, in an exclusive interview with Asian Traveller reveals Thailand’s strategies for the next year. He said TAT will attract tourists with the Charm of Thainess Thailand has a welldeveloped and thriving health and Wellness industry. What are the strategies adopted by Thailand tourism to promote health and wellness tourism in the country? Thailand is the largest health care service provider in the ASEAN region and has been established as a leading

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medical tourism hub earning international recognition due to its state of the art medical facilities and skilled technical expertise. Each year Thailand receives a huge influx of tourist from around the world, last year we catered to 858,340 tourists specifically for health and wellness. We have designed various new

strategies for 2014, basis a recent survey conducted on tourism which highlights health and wellness as an emerging niche market to receive special focus in our marketing activities for the new few years. In July 2013, we launched our “Find Your

Fabulous” initiative where we joined hands with Thai Airways International, AsiaWebDirect, and more than 30 leading providers of health, beauty, and spa treatments to launch a digital marketing initiative promoting the country’s thriving health & wellness industry.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Interview targeting a very specific niche-market that comprises mainly of young people but also a growing number of retirees, it was designed to tap into a growing industry trend known as ‘Voluntourism’ for travellers seeking apurposeful vacation that goes well beyond more than just having fun during a holiday abroad. We are also hosting the 3rd Short Film Festival 2013 supported by “The Style by Toyota” which will host a number of activities and provide the top award, a brand new Toyota car, an “All New VIOS,” to the winner. The festival is designed to promote Thailand as an epicentre for filmmaking, which has always been a popular choice among Indian filmmakers.

and

Have you identified any new tourism segments other than the traditional ones?

What are the strategies put in place to develop tourism for the next year in the country? Do you have any plans to tap any new markets? Thailand has established itself as one of the most popular destinations, with tourist figures touching 22 million in 2012 globally and 1 million for Indian travellers. The Marketing Action Plan 2014 was released in July with focus on the core theme of 'Higher Revenue through Thainess'. The TAT will attract tourists with the Charm of Thainess, which include Thai Experience, Thai Way of Life, and Thai Culture.

To raise awareness of Thailand as a 'Quality Destination' with a broad diversity of experiences that contributes to visitors’ “happiness” is one of our key aims. For sustainable numbers we are looking at balancing the source markets and refocus the customer segments to high–end markets and balance the distribution of visitors nationwide. We are especially focusing on balancing the tourism season by promoting travel in the low season and promoting Green Tourism in order to lower the environmental impact of high visitor arrivals. We have recently initiated a global marketing campaign called, “The Little Big Project”

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

Our marketing strategies for 2014 will centre on four emerging markets namely: health and wellness, golf, honeymoon and weddings, and ecotourism. We are developing high-quality products and services to cater to the growing number of visitors in each segment. Experiential travelling is another segment we are looking at creating awareness among the Indian market. Thailand’s diverse landscape offers an array of learning activities for visitors with local experts eager to share their knowledge. Through experiential travel; visitors to Thailand can expect life-changing lessons revealing undiscovered aspects of themselves, the added experience of studying cooking, massage,

rice farming or Muay Thai which will enhance doors to a whole new world. The modern trend of “adventure tourism” is gaining popularity with Indians because of the developments and adjustments of activities to make them more suitable for different groups and individuals. TAT has undertaken initiatives to ensure more and more tourists can enjoy this amazing aspect of the country’s tourism offerings. We hosted biking tours for Indian biking enthusiasts who explored the breathtaking diverse geography, from the forested mountains of the North to the beautiful, lush, southern and eastern coastlines, of Thailand. TAT is focusing on the high-end Indian traveller, with the aim to turn the country into a premium brand, and to upgrade it from a value-for-money destination into a premium destination for worldwide travellers. Recent media reports say that soon it may be mandatory for all foreign tourists to have travel insurance before entering the Kingdom. What could be its impacts? While one may have meticulously planned every aspect of their international trip, there are still chances of things going awry due to events beyond one's control – be it any destination. We think it is best to be insured while travelling anywhere as it guarantees responsible tourism and we have been supporting this policy which ensures a safe and unforgettable trip for the travellers.

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Kerala Traveller

Abin.K.I writes about the waterfalls of Kerala

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Seven Waterfall Wonders of Kerala M

onsoon is the season of raindrops and rainbows which provides a relief from the summer heat and is certainly not the time to be wasted by sitting indoors. Kerala is having numerous waterfalls located in its hilly areas and monsoon season

allows tourists to explore the intrinsic beauty of it with a feel of adventure and recreation. Waterfall based tourism circuits can be formed in districts like Wayanad, Palakkad & Idukki due to the presence of waterfalls in shorter distances. Here is a descriptive detail on the

seven waterfall wonders of God’s own country.

Athirappilly– “Niagara of God’s own country”

The perennial Athirappilly falls is situated on the west flowing Chalakudy River in Thrissur district of Kerala. The one forty five kilometres long

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Kerala Traveller Riverbed at Athirappilly & Vazhachal makes the river water turbulent and it gushes forward around big rocks to form segmented water cascades. At Athirappilly falls one can witness the water surges around big rocks and cascades down in three separate plumes. The falls is renowned for its enormous width &massive discharge of water preferably during the monsoons. The best time to visit the falls is in between June & October.

Meenmutty – “2nd biggest falls of Kerala” The state of Wayanad comprises some of the beautiful water falls in the state. Meenmutty falls is the best and gorgeous falls in

Kerala is having numerous waterfalls located in its hilly areas and monsoon season allows tourists to explore the intrinsic beauty of it with a feel of adventure and recreation.

Chalakudy River originates from the Aanamudi Mountains of the Western Ghats and drains into the Arabian Sea. The falls come under the Vazhachal Forest Division of the Sholayar ranges and its length is twenty four metres (eighty feet). The Vazhachal falls is situated at a few kilometres above the Athirappilly falls and both the falls are under the supervision of Vazhachal forest development agency (VFDA). The river becomes more violent as it reaches the Athirappilly falls. The Rocky

Wayanad located twenty nine km away from Kalpetta. Meenmutty fall is a 300 metre tall fall and is threetiered and is the second largest in Kerala having immense natural beauty. Meenmutty means "where fish are blocked". Since there is upward falls where fishes can’t swim more this name is given to the falls. The three tiers of the

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

waterfall requires separate hike through the forest and it is important to note that the path to arrive at the falls is risky and tiring. But once you reach the falls you will have great deal of unlimited enjoyment.

medicinal properties, kokum, and cinnamon collected from nearby forest areas.June to November is the best time to be at Palaruvi and the major share of the tourists is coming from the bordering state of Tamil Nadu.

Palaruvi - “Stream of milk”

Thommankuthu – “Truly amazing”

This is one of the popular waterfalls located in southern Kerala. Being a horsetail category waterfall it comes under the Aryankavu forest range in Kollam district. Palaruvi being one of the tributaries of the Kallada River, literally means “stream of milk,” and during monsoon it is exactly true to its name, the fall resembles like milk flowing from a giant tap that cannot be stopped. Mass number of tourist arrives at the waterfall mainly for a bath as it is believed that the waters of the Palaruvi have medicinal properties capable of curing several diseases. The Palaruvi Vana Samrakshana Samithi manages the waterfall area on behalf of the Forest Department. A stall already selling forest products at the entry point is a blockbuster among the tourists. These include cloves and pepper grown in nearby plantations, lemon grass oil, cardamom, forest honey, incense, herbs with

Thommankuthu water falls is located twenty km from Thodupuzha which comes under the Kaliyar Forest Range situated in Idukki district. The falls got its name from Thommana tribal leader who was washed away near the waterfall while crossing the river. Also known as Ezhunilakuthu waterfalls it is having a series of 12 falls spread within 5 km. The seven step falls are surrounded by a number of strange caves. At each step, there is a cascade and a pool below. Falling from a height of 1,500 m, the difference between the first and last fall is about 500 m. The wild beauty of the scenic waterfall and the pristine surroundings attract hordes of tourists during every year. Besides chain of waterfalls tree hut is an added attraction of the spot.

Dhoni – “Truly astounding” Dhoni falls comes under the Olavakkode forest range in Palakkad district. A

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Kerala Traveller

Finally to conclude a visit constructed by the British who were running to these exceptional orange and cardamom waterfalls having unique estates at Dhoni. features will surely enable The Kavarakunnu bungalow was one to experience the constructed in beauty of it in its pristine 1857. Dhoni has tremendous form. four km walk from Dhoni main road will take you to the stunning waterfall and the forest area, which is rich in wildlife like elephant, tiger, deer, etc. Being an ideal place for trekking one can walk down to Malampuzha and Meenvallam waterfalls from Dhoni through the thick forests. The waterfalls are in full swing during monsoons with beautiful small streams gushing down to the Malampuzha dam side. The best time to visit Dhoni is soon after the monsoon rains. En route the waterfalls, there is an abandoned bungalow

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potentials for ecotourism based activities having a beautiful forest area accessible so close to the Palakkad town.

Adyanpara – Splendid & Enthralling Adyanpara falls is a charming and picturesque picnic spot amidst nature’s bounty located in the Kurumbalangode village of Nilambur taluk in Malappuram.Besides waterfalls it is also famed for the splendor of the wooded jungle surrounding it and is an exceptional treat for the eyes and heart of the travellers. The cascading waterfall attracts wide variety

of exotic as well as migratory birds regularly and is rich in wildlife. One will surely get amazed by the natural environs and the sound of water falling from such a gigantic height step by step. Presently it is one among the best emerging eco-tourism spots in Malappuram.

Thusharagiri - “The snowy spray” Thusharagiri Waterfalls is located in the Western Ghats in the Chalippuzha River in Kodenchery in Kozhikode district. Tusharagiri means snowy spray created by the Chalippuzha River when it diverges into the three waterfalls. Thenpara is the highest waterfall that falls from an altitude of 75 metre. The destination is known as a trekkers' paradise. Trekkers coming to this spot can start trekking early in the morning covering the spots filled with plantations of pepper, rubber, arecanut, ginger

and various other spices. Besides these plantations, trekkers can trek through the dense evergreen forests with exotic birds and animals.The Vana Samrakshana Samithi (VSS) is an integral part of the ecotourism project of the Forest Department being implemented in Thusharagiri. The VSS has been vested with the responsibility of guiding tourists to the three waterfalls of Mazhavilchattam, Erattumukku and Thumbithullumpara besides organizing trekking to the higher reaches of Thenpara and Avanjithodu. Finally to conclude a visit to these exceptional waterfalls having unique features will surely enable one to experience the beauty of it in its pristine form. So visit and feel the charms of these enchanting waterfalls during this monsoon season itself.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Tamil NaduTraveller

Jainism may have originated in North India. But it features a 1000-year background in South India, particularly Tamil Nadu. The many monuments scattered inside the peninsular region from the Indian subcontinent only verify this. There are plenty of Jain shrines, images, and monasteries carved inside the hills of Tamil Nadu.

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A Blissful Journey into History

C

uriously, nearly all of these monuments are concentrated in and around Madurai. You'll find about 26 caves in Anaimalai, Alagarmalai, Muttupatti, Tiruparankundram, Vikramangalam, Karungalakkudi, Mankulam Kongarpuliyankulam, Tiruvatavur, and Varichiyur. The caves belong to the 2nd and Ist centuries B.C. The names of the monks who lived in these cave-dwellings along with the men who carved them are engraved on these monuments.

These caves are considered essential since they are amongst the

Dr. S. Bakhtavatchalam writes exploring the ancient caves in Tamil Nadu is a blissful experience.

earliest stone monuments in these regions. In addition they contain epigraphic records created within

the Brahmi script. It is even mentioned that the Hindu temples in and around Madurai were fashioned after these caves. Thirunarankondrai, a village near Ulundurpet, was a well-known Jain pilgrim centre. It had been also a seat of studying in which monks and scholars from all over India gathered. The carved photos of Paraswanathar, the 23rd Jain Tirthankarais found around the top of the hill here. He is portrayed in a standing place, having a serpent's hood spread over his head. The men and women on this region refer to Paraswanathar

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Tamil NaduTraveller as Appandainathar. There are many cave temples in Tamilnadu scattered all over the state. The Pallava kings had been prolific builders of rock cut (cave) temples. A number of the well-known cave temples are: Mahabalipuram Cave Temples - The rock lower temples of Mahabalipuram are superb examples of Pallava kings. The main structures are Thiru Kadal Mallai (Sthalasayana Perumal Kovil), Arjuna’s Penance, Varaha temple, Descent with the Ganges, the Shore temple, and Pancha Rathas (named following the Pandavas). These historic

monuments built mostly in between the 7th as well as the 9th hundreds of years, by Pallavas, have been labelledas UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Mandagapattu Cave Temple - Mandagapattu, situated about twenty km from Viluppuram and 17 km from Gingee, is yet another example of Tamilnadu cave temples, built by Pallava kings. This small village comes beneath Viluppuram district, which is about 162 km from Chennai. The north going through cave shrine has two pillars and two pilasters in its front façade, thus forming three bays, with 22 feet in size, 24 feet in width and nine feet in

top. There are two carved dvarpalas past the pilasters, on either end in the temple. Pillayarpatti Cave Temnple - The cave temple of KarpakaVinayakar shrine at Pillayarpatti close to Karaikudi is among the oldest rock minimize temples of Tamilnadu. This place is named following “pillayar” the Tamil identity for Vinayaka. This temple also houses Lord Shiva and other people as well. The presiding deity is portrayed with two arms as well as a trunk curled towards his appropriate side, with a peak of 6 feet. Thiruchirapalli Cave Temple - Tiruchirappalli is regarded as to be the

6th inside the series of Tevara Stalams within the Chola kingdom. They're an assortment of three temples particularly Manikka Vinayakar temple in the foot with the hill, Taayumaanavar Koyil Shivastalam on the hill along with the Uchhi Pillayar Koyil at the best from the hill. The cave temples at Thiruchirapalli will also be really famous among the cave temples of Tamilnadu. Jain Cave Temple at Sittanavasal: Similar to other rock-cut cave temples of 7th century in strategy and design, is another famous cave temple. This temple is located in Pudukottai District, (58 kms from Trichy) and it is called Arivar-koil (temple from the arhats), and has relics of paintings of 9th century CE. Mahendravadi Cave Temple - The Single Rock Lower Temple by Pallava Varman at Mahendravadi village in Arkonam, was excavated by Gunabhara around the bund of a huge tank referred to as Mahendrathataka in the town of Mahendrapura. The Garbagraha has a picture of Narasimha. The village has a history of around 1700 years. Thirunandikkara Cave Temple, is located close to Thiruvattar in Kanyakumari district. The most antique Murals of Kerala are identified in this particular cave temple of Pallava art dated seventh and eighth century. Shervaroyan Cave Temple - is located on the leading of Shervaroyan hill at Yercaud andis 5326 feet over the sea degree. The best stage in Yercaud hill may be the Sherveroyan temple, devoted to God Shervaroyan and His consort the goddess Cauvery representing the Shervaroy Hills as well as the Cauvery River.

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Profile

A Wonderful Back water Experience

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akes & Lagoons is the first & only ISO 9001 - 2000 certified Houseboat Tour Company in Kerala. A professionally managed company with a fleet of luxury Houseboats, Lakes & Lagoons offer the best in backwater cruise journeys in Alleppey. The natural treasure house is visually splendid with the blue of the lake & the green of the palms & vegetation, active with the aquatic life & local villages engaged in everyday routine. A glide in a "Kettuvallam" (Houseboat) through the enchanting backwaters of Alleppey is sure to rob your heart. Palm fringed narrow canals winding through the

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vast expanse of paddy fields and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either sides of the canals are panoramic sights one can never forget. The Chinese fishing nets, the reminiscent of our past trade links, are also found on the way. Flocks of ducks swimming around the banks and tiny birds flying across the sky remains as enduring pictures reflecting the charm of this unique land. The backwaters act as a vital waterway for the transport of goods, people and their produce are often the only link between isolated villages and crowded towns. In Kerala, the total expanse of backwater stretches over 1500 kms, with a network of

V.C. Zachariah MD

44 rivers, lagoons and lakes from north to south. Alleppey which forms the main part of this network has the peculiar geographical feature of having the water in level with the land. This gives the advantage of getting a closer look at the village life on shore while on a backwater ride.

Each houseboat has a three member crew - a chef, driver and cabin assistant. The cuisine is traditional Kerala flavour with the local specialties; delicious local fish (Pearlspot - Karimeen) & prawns. There are single bedroom houseboats for two people and two bedroom houseboats for four people.

Lakes & Lagoons has air-conditioned deluxe houseboats. The house boats have fully furnished 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms with sundeck, private balcony with comfortable chairs, kitchen and toilet with WC. In addition there is also separate rest room for the crew. Traditional lanterns are used as lights.

Lakes & Lagoons has Premium range of Lake Royale Houseboats, Honeymoon Suite, Devas Indulge to the discerning guests. The features include round the clock A/C, luxurious interiors, all modern amenities and special menu.

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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Profile Profile

Crystal Suites, Hospitality at Its Best A.R. Noushad, Managing Director

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rystal Suites, an entity of “Pearls Hospitalitya division of Pearls Line United LLC is located in Wadi Kabir, just 30 minutes drive away from Muscat Intl Airport, in a peaceful residential locale with close proximity to the capital city, Muscat. Pearls Line United LLC is an emerging business group in Oman that has set strong foothold in construction, retail, trading and hospitality sectors ever since its establishment in late 90’s. The group headed by Managing Director, A.R Noushad, has followed differentiated business strategy that has continuously contributed

towards enhancing the multi dimensional business portfolios. Under the leadership of the General Manager NidheeshNair, Crystal Suites has been successfully catering to the accommodation needs of national and international guests. The group continually attempts to serve the hospitality needs of guests by means of drastic national and international expansion with unique focus in the hospitality sector in Kerala, the southern state of India and Europe in the upcoming years. The comfort, elegance and ambience of the hotel differentiate itself from

its competitors. The most important business street of Ruwi, business districts & many more attractions are few minutes away from the hotel. It posses 75 well appointed and stylish modern suites in varying sizes, entirely furnished bedrooms, lounge and fully equipped kitchen, King leisure bed and twin beds in bedrooms along with most modern amenities such as: Ample free parking space, Designated Smoking Zones, Electronic safe box, Ironing board, 24 hours front desk service, Well equipped Business Centre, Daily free newspapers, In-house Multi cuisineRestaurant, Equipped

Gym, Express Check In/ Check Out, Rooms/Facilities for Disabled Guests, Acceptance of all major credit cards, 32” LCD TV, Direct dialing facilities, Free WiFi, Airport pick-up & drop service, Tourist Visa service and Car rental facilities. The hotel equips with three multipurpose halls, those are built with superior technical infrastructure and instruments to provide ultimate space and comfort for all business needs, meetings, training seminars, conferences, marriages and other private functions.

Nidheesh Nair, General Manager

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Interview Profile

Vihaara Houseboats

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ell appointed rooms, ensuite bathrooms with all modern amenities like rain shower and hot water, superior grade Herbal Toiletries to pamper yourself, delectable cuisine with fresh seafood served steaming hot and unlimited views. It is not about a 5 star resort that we are talking about. This is ‘Vihaara’ the new premium Houseboat cruising the backwaters of Ashtamudi, Kollam. Vihaara Houseboats is a Unit of JP Hospitality Ventures a Trivandrum based firm. Steered by two well experienced men in the industry Prateesh and Jijo James, Vihaara Houseboats serves the discerning guests with top notch backwater cruise experience. Right from the welcome the guests are treated with the true spirit of ‘Athidi Devo Bhava’. The view of the backwaters, meandering canals, the cool breeze will make you relaxed and recharged. Vihaara is constructed complying all modern safety norms and also adhere strictly to responsible tourism in terms of employment local material procurement, waste disposal methods etc.


Profile

Delightful Taj V

ivanta by Taj Kovalam, is delightful in many ways. While to some it is one of the finest seaside resorts in Kerala, to others it is an amazing backwater retreat. And there are those that love it for its hill resort layout. Now it's all that and more in an exciting new avatar. There's a nice new buzz all over. In the renewed cottages and villas, the nouvelle restaurants, the high energy bar, and the spa where you'll go Ah! The Chef remains as eager to wow you with specially designed meals. Try mixing biz with fun and see how well wired the resort is. Soak in the space that spreads over 10 acres and

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reflects the spirit of the sea. Drive in enjoying backseat surprises (we're not revealing here). The 12 km drive from Thiruvananthapuram airport and the 14 km drive from the railway station will be a breeze for sure, with Vivanta by Taj delight moments all the way. See the local flavour of Kerala combined with Balinese influences in the architecture and decor from the moment you step in the lobby. Feel the Vivanta by Taj vibe as you find little surprises delighting you all the way during your stay. It still remains the charming seaside & backwaters resort that's almost one with the Arabian Sea. Where fun lovers come again and again

for the good times. Enjoy 59 hillside cottages with elephant-grass thatched rooftops spread over a hillside. Relax in leisure over 10 acres that reflects Kerala culture with Balinese influences. Your living spaces open into a private balcony overlooking the lush landscape, the backwaters, the seashore and the sea beyond. Each Vivanta hotel and resort offers unique Vivanta motifs. These are curated "must on your list" experiences that represent an imaginative take on the destination and its culture. These are "must dos" and "must sees" presented with the Vivanta signature of hospitality.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

AVIAREPS to promote Destinations Davos Klosters and Engadin St. Moritz in India MSI Newswire |Switzerland

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VIAREPS, the world’s leading tourism and airline Management Company, has extended its cooperation with Rhaetian Railway, which has formed an alliance with the tourism organizations Davos Klosters and Engadin St. Moritz, to target the growing number of Indian outbound travelers to Switzerland. AVIAREPS, with immediate effect will be responsible for carrying out all Sales, Marketing, and Public Relations activities in India on behalf of Davos Klosters and Engadin St. Moritz in collaboration with Rhaetian Railway that run through these popular tourist destinations. Reto Rostetter, Manager overseas Market, Rhaetian Railway says: “India is one of the top source markets for Switzerland and we are very pleased to appoint AVIAREPS India to help further develop this dynamic and growing market. Davos Klosters and Engadin St. Moritz are home to some of Switzerland's biggest ski resorts. With their unique and spectacular scenic beauty Davos Klosters and Engadin St. Moritz are favorable holiday destinations for discerning Indian travelers in summer as well as in winter.” Davos is a panoramic resort village located in the heart of the Graubünden in the east of Switzerland and is well

known for hosting the World Economic Forum. Together with the nearby town of Klosters, Davos Klosters offers a wide variety of winter sports activities, and summer hiking trails, set amid stunning Alpine scenery. Scintillating St. Moritz, embedded in the inspiring Engadin valley in Switzerland is a popular Reto Rostetter, Manager Rhaetian Railway destination that stands for style, elegance, and high class. It offers some of the most exclusive ski areas in the world, is famous for its top events in winter like e.g. the Polo World Cup on Snow or the White Turf International Horse Races on frozen Lake St. Moritz and has also countless outdoor attractions and soft activities in summer.


Profile

Experience the Real Luxury at Vasundhara Sarovar

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asundhara Sarovar Premiere Alleppey brings a wealth of enriching experiences, rooted in the earthy beauty of Kerala. It offers you the multilayered slice of Kerala, with all its versatility and culture. Here you can experience the warmth of contemporary luxury and the vibrant hospitality of Kerala people. The story of Kerala unfolds before you at Vasundhara the moment you step into the reception. On the resplendent walls you see vivid murals inspired by temple art, telling fantastic tales of heroes and legends. You run your hands over carved woodwork reminiscent of old Kerala homes, reinterpreted in rooms and outside spaces. And as you wander through the resort, you encounter imagery that reveals the 56

curious and fascinating street and popular culture of the state. The alluring design and ultimate comfort of rooms connect in new and old ways with the spirit of Kerala. Lush gardens, beautifully landscaped, intersect with calm waterbodies, bringing you in touch with the pristine stream of nature. Delicious cuisine is enriched with spicy Kerala dishes, fresh seafood and international menus. Vasundhara Sarovar offers you a plethora of facilities and activities, whether you're interested in sightseeing, shopping, nature or adventure. Within the property, too, there are a host of things to keep you and your family entertained, relaxed and energized. A 24 hour concierge fulfils your every need. Vasundhara has an open air amphitheatre

where you can enjoy the dramatic and colourful traditional performing arts and music of Kerala. This space is fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology for spectacular visual light and sound shows. Here you will witness, among other things, the fabulous forms of Koodiyattam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali. Catch a live temple festival celebration, complete with caparisoned elephants, Panchavadhyam, the melodious orchestra played on ceremonial occasions, and fireworks. Lose yourself in history among intricate carvings, the traditional architecture and the elaborate outfits of traditional dancers displayed in the Kovilakam central area, or browse through our collection of books on the arts and tradition of Kerala.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Profile

Raviz Kollam- A Heaven in God’s Own Country

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dhiti devo Bhava- is RP Group’s guiding principle and keeping faith in this magnificent vision the group has identified tourism as its second largest focus. At the same time RP group believes hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing business segments in the modern world. The Group extends quality travel services and owns hotels in Dubai and Kerala and is keen to extend their presence to other destinations across the world. Apart from the business angle, the Group is keen to introduce the unique features of the legendary Indian hospitality to the rest of the world and its resources are well integrated towards this end. rnWe are also promoting medical tourism in Kerala in a big way, with hotels, hospitals and travel services coordinated to provide total healthcare packages. "The Raviz Kollam" is truly one of the most beautiful five star deluxe resorts in South India. It is the pet project

of the Group Chairman Dr. Ravi Pillai, who put his heart & soul to make it represent the true traditions, culture & life style of this part of the world. Nestled in the secluded backwaters of the Arabian Sea, “The Raviz Kollam” is the perfect blend of modern architecture combined with traditional design of a different era. Traditional artisans, architects, engineers and waterway specialists were engaged in designing and creating a “Heaven” in God’s Own Country. To ensure a memorable and comfortable stay, all the rooms and suites are intricately designed and decorated with state-of-theart facilities. The gourmet traveller on a gastronomic excursion can pamper the pallet with sumptuous traditional aromatic delicacies. For that special day however, “The Raviz Kollam” is truly an enviable place, especially as a unique Wedding and Honeymoon destination. A relaxed stroll on a specially

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created jogging track, exploring the backwaters in a traditional Kerala houseboat “Kettuvallom” and a visit to “Veda” the holistic Ayurvedic Spa to purify the mind, body and soul are few among many activities at “The Raviz Kollam”. With the nature’s virgin surrounding and tranquil Ashtamudi Backwaters, a red-carpet is unrolled here to welcome every guest, as “the very special guest” with the warmth of traditional festive Kerala. Surrounded by the lake Ashtamudi, this superb resort offers an unrivalled level of style, choice and personalized exploration, at Raviz Kollam the innovative and fresh cuisine is prepared with passion and flair by our chef’s ,where blends the Kerala ethnic, international and fusion cuisines. The restaurants and bar at Raviz Kollam exude a unique and vibrant atmosphere whether looking for relaxed all day dining , cozy bar and fusion restaurant complement

Dr.Ravi Pillai the different mood and taste of our guests. Learn the fine art of harmonizing tastes and textures in the utter luxury of Raviz Kollam Cooking classes under the expert of master chefs; guest will learn the delicate nuances of food presentation and world cuisines. Relax in a contemporary styled 984 sq ft one-bedroom suite appointed Jacuzzi with wooden floor, work desk, ultra–modern spacious marble bath with separate shower and large vanity. The suite boasts one king bed with foam pillows, separate sitting and dining area, while modern amenities include a 46-inch LED TV in the living room and 40-inch LED TV in the bedroom with cable TV channels, and a private balcony overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Ashtamudi.

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Profile

Backwater Ripples- A Retreat in Nature's Lap

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stablished in 2003, Backwater Ripples is a truly a lake front resort with unique Kerala architecture style spread in 10 acres of beautifully landscaped garden. Created by a team or architects, designers and consultants, Backwater Ripples offers 34 rooms in 4 categories to cater high-end leisure and business traveller. The resort offers you a Green Leaf Certified Ayurveda centre with expert Doctors and masseurs and a luxury house boat, Arayannam which is unique in its own style. Located in 10 acres of beautifully landscaped ground, Backwater Ripples offers spellbinding encounters with nature. Relish a psychedelic sunset on a montage of clouds, or the flying flurry of evening birds, or just relax and enjoy the cool afternoon breeze Stroll under

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the canopy of coconut trees, sipping tender coconut water; enjoy an afternoon nap on the tree lined lawns, or snap up the ever-changing scenes on the backwater that surround you at this enchanting slice of heaven. Traditionally built, the hotel sits comfortably within the lush lakeside gardens that it inhabits. Built of wood and furnished in the Kerala style, the addition of modern comforts and luxurious touches create a welcoming but understated atmosphere. The Cordon Bleu, the multi-cusine restaurant serves you authentic local delicacies from the Vembanadu lake - 'Karimeen' Pollichathu, (fish wrapped in banana leaves straight from the pan) Prawns, Crabs, Oysters and a variety of products fresh from the lake. The spicy chicken - 'Kozhi Varautharachathu'

and the 'Syrian Christian duck Roast' are the traditional local favourites. Exciting and innovative menus offer you the choicest North Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes as well. A feast for your eyes and your stomach, a Seasonal lake side barbeque and grill restaurant offer you authentic Indian and seafood cusines. Enjoy an a'la carte dinner coupled with many varieties of barbeque delicacies at the lakeside where you can watch a beautiful sunset and birds flying back home. With a setting so splendid you can Watch and interact with our Chef when he makes the dishes for you that simply delights the taste buds like never before. There is no dearth of leisure activities. Go canoeing on a traditional crafts, angling in the canals around the resort, trek in the mangrove forests

or go for bird watching at the sanctuary, water skiing on the lake. Skim across the silent and still backwaters aboard our cruise boat 'Arayannam'. Gracefully she will take you through a network of waterways to neighbourhood villages dotted with fishing nets with stop over for glimpses of rustic life and toddy tapping. Try out the regimens at Age Halt and feel rejuvenated in Vedasparsh or a evening work out in the Gym. Enjoy a cultural evening at the Mandapam in resort. Or just laze in your cottage or in the swimming pool. Watch spell binding views of Vembanadu Lake as the sun sets and you sip some finely blended cocktails.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Profile

Lulu International Convention Center

The Best Place for MICE in Kerala

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ptly located in Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, Lulu, the largest convention center in Kerala, is a fusion of the contemporary and the traditional to provide a venue that enhances and an ambience that indulges. Featuring one of the most advanced conference facilities, flexibility and versatility are key factors in the design of this state-ofthe-art technology-driven center. Launched in 2006, LuLu is a global brand, part of the prestigious EMKE group founded by Managing Director M. A. Yusuff Ali, well known in the Middle East, famous for its chain of hypermarkets. Lulu International convention center provides the best and easy access to important destinations and the perfect

stay during family, business or pleasure trips. Seven well–arranged venues which can accommodate up to 5000 delegate which have been built up area of 160000 sq. ft. the sheer spaciousness and opulence of the venue is enough to take anyone’s breath away!.This best convention center in Kerala can take up to 5000 people at a go across 7 different venues which are centrally air– conditioned. Children find the place attractive because of the luxurious amenities and surroundings and the play area. The open–air venue has a built–in stage, which is laced with lush greenery and sprawling lawns. Different venues, different options for any kind of product or product display. The perfect place for every event, the

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Grand LuLu Hall with 2000 seats and centralized AC is the finest auditorium in kerala. LuLu Garden Hotel, offers the best in comfort, elegant and services. Other facilities provided to ensure Garden Hotel is amongst the best hotels which include 35 well– furnished, elegant rooms and suites and having rooms with digital cable connection, mini bar and an array of amenities and facilities. Providing the best in hospitality, the hotel presents dedicated staffs ever ready to make you comfortable. The Lulu hotel is an excellent business and family destination in Thrissur it is on the way from Thrissur to Guruvayoor, the temple town. Clay Oven, the multi–cuisine restaurant features a wide variety and exclusive taste

M. A. Yusuff Ali

in Continental, Asian, Indian and South Indian dishes. Weather on business or pleasure, you can indulge your taste-buds to the best feast here. We offer you the best taste of food, especially it is the multi–cuisine restaurant features having a wide variety of Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes. Our ingredients are the finest and freshest available, and of course the service is exemplary .In Kerala, it is the best hotel provides you the high quality food and delightful customer service as per your expectation. Well planned, the hotel takes care of all the needs of its guests. It is the best family restaurant in Thrissur which is exceptional service, quality produce and a relaxed atmosphere awaits you at our restaurant.

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Destination

Istanbul: The Sole Cit y to Span Two Continents

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stanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires - Christian and Islamic. Once was capital of the

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Ottoman Empire, Istanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural pulse of Turkey, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all coexist here.

Its variety is one of Istanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history.

When to Go The summer months in Istanbul are generally hot and quite humid. The winters can be cold and wet,

although not as extreme as other areas of the country. The sea temperature is creep up to 30 degrees in June, July and August, with very little rain. Spring and autumn are popular times to visit because of the comfortable climate, good for lots of walking and sightseeing,

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Destinations Destination monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture. It has also been called “the eighth wonder of the world” by East Roman Philon as far back as the 6th century. The current Hagia Sophia is the third construction, done in a different architectural style, even though it occupies the same location as the previous two. The original building was constructed by the most important architects of the period (527565), Anthemios (Tralles) and Isidoros (Miletus), under the order of Emperor Justinianos. It is mentioned in the resources that during its construction period, the two prominent architects each had 100 architects working under them, who in turn had 100 workers each working under them. It was used as a church for 916 years but, following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the Hagia Sophia was converted into mosque. Afterwards, it was used as a mosque for 482 years. Under the order of Atatürk and the decision of the Council of Ministers, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935. with highs between 15 – 25 degrees C, in April, May, September and October. By the winter, the dry cold air mass from the Black Sea and cold damp front from the Balkans brings a chilly season with daytime highs of between 10 – 15 degrees C, and nights much colder. Although rarely falling to freezing point, there is the occasional light snow in the city.

of spring and autumn respectively. During these months, temperatures are in the consistently mild range of 16-25°C (61-77°F) and the humidity is not too bad, plus the crowds aren’t as big a nuisance as in the summer months. The wintery months from November to February have the highest rainfall (80100mm/30-40in per month) and it’s when spirits are most likely to be dampened.

The best times of year to visit Istanbul are from April to June and September to October, roughly the months

Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia is the one of the most visited museums and most prominent

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Hagia Sophia is open for visit every day except Mondays. The winter visiting hours for the Hagia Sophia are from 09.00 to 17.00, with the final entry being at 16.00. During the summer, the visiting hours are between 09.00 and 19.00, with the final entry being at 18.00. Passes are available at the box office in the museum. Topkapi Palace Directly behind Haghia Sophia are the walls shielding the Topkapı Palace complex. Part command centre for a massive military empire, part

archetypal Eastern pleasure dome, the palace was the hub of Ottoman power for over three centuries, until it was superceded by Dolmabahçe Palace in 1853. For lavish decor and exquisite location, it rivals Granada’s Alhambra. Topkapi is the largest and oldest palace in the world to survive to our day. In 1924 it was turned into a museum at Atatiirk’s request. Situated on the acropolis, the site of the first settlement in Istanbul, it commands an impressive view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The palace is a complex surrounded by 5 km of walls and occupies an area of 700,000 sq. m at the tip of the historical peninsula. The seaside mansions and pavilions of Topkapi Palace were demolished at the end of the last century. The different tiles, woodwork and architectural styles displayed in Topkapı Palace reflects the development of Turkish art and the harmonious existence of differing styles over the centuries. At least half a day is needed to explore Topkapı; given the high entrance fee you might want to take a full day to get your money’s worth. If you’re pushed for time, the must-see features are the Harem (although there’s an extra charge), Imperial Treasury and the views from the innermost courtyard. Grand Bazaar In operation since the 14th century, the Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops. The bazaar is specially known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices and carpets. There

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Destination

Rumeli Fortress, ancient wooden villas and bridges and all the wonderful and unige maritime landscapes. The width of the Bosphorus varies from 500 meters (1640 feet) to 3 km (2 miles), its depth from 50 to 120 meters (164 to 394 feet), averaging about 60 meters (197 feet) deep.

are 5,500-odd vendors in the Grand Bazaar. Shopkeepers cajole and entreat passersby in a dozen languages, determined not to permit visitors to indulge in such a non-commercial activity as sightseeing. Remember, you’re not dealing with sales clerks but most likely the owners themselves, or at least a trusted brother or nephew. Many still pay their rent in gold - a hefty seven kilos per year for shops on the main avenue. The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants. In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, mother-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewellery

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set with coral and turquoise. A leisurely afternoon spent exploring the bazaar, sitting in one of the cafés and watching the crowds pass by, and bargaining for purchases is one of the best ways to recapture the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar has four main gates situated at the ends of its two major streets which intersect near the southwestern corner of the bazaar. The bazaar is closed Sundays and bank holidays. Bosphorus Cruise The Bosphorus strait connects the sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and separates Europe and Asia, making Istanbul one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the only one built astride two continents; this romantic cruise along the Bosphorus will allow you to admire the Dolmabahce Plalace, the Beylerbeyi Palace, the Ciragan Palace and the

It runs right through the heart of Istanbul, past the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, several Ottoman palaces, at least two fortresses, forested hills, and shore villages with Ottoman architecture. (For self-guided touring, I’ve divided it into the Southern Bosphorus and Northern Bosphorus.) Night Life Night life of Istanbul is legendary. When the sun goes down and the lights go on, Istanbul becomes the big scene for nightlife with incredibly various options. The city switches into a vibrant scene of night life action. Bosphorus shore-front restaurants and nightclubs have the most amazing view with any kind of food and music you can choose between. A wide range of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotel lounges provide scenic rooftops to watch the shining jewel called Istanbul at night and to have the most beatiful night ever. During

summer,

most

of the restaurants move to their summer places, mostly rooftops, where you can have your dinner with a delicious glass of a Turkish wine while watching the lights of the city and feeling the soft breeze. There is a suitable choice for everyone in this city after dark. You can choose between meyhanes, winebars, bars, restaurants, live music clubs, dance clubs, all-in-one clubs, live concerts or cafes, tea gardens, waterpipe (nargile or hookah pipe) cafes depending on your nightlife style. There is an ever-growing number of bars, clubs and restaurants, so it’s better to check what’s new and what’s hot before your visit to İstanbul. Usually all of these clubs host multinational crowds, so their staffs speak English. Live music is an important ingredient of İstanbul nightlife. Istanbul’s live music venues, concert halls, clubs and bars provide endless possibilities for you. Istiklal Street from Taksim to Tünel can be said to be the centre of nightlife in Istanbul. This street is full of cafes, restaurants, bars and night clubs of all kinds, for all kinds of tastes. The neighborhoods of Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme and Bebek on the Bosphorus shore (European side) are particularly vibrant on summer nights, with the lights twinkling beneath the Bosphorus Bridge.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Chef's Column

Thuppa Kori Roast Ingredients Boneless chicken breasts-500g Chili powder-50g Chef Malgudi Kavitha

Unit Chef of Malgudi, The Savera Hotel, Mylapore, Chennai

Ginger garlic paste-20g Lemon juice-10g Red pepper-1no Green pepper-1no Yellow pepper-1no Coconut oil-100ml Cardamom-5g Cloves-5g Sliced onions-150g Chopped garlic-20g Chopped green chilies-20g Ghee-To Sprinkle Roasted jeera powder-To Sprinkle

Method

Marinate the chicken with Chili powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and lemon juice and fry and keep it aside. Heat oil in a pan, add cardamom, cloves and then sliced onions. Brown the onions and add the tri color peppers, chopped green chilies and garlic. Now add the fried chicken pieces and toss it nicely. Finally sprinkle ghee and roasted jeera powder on top and serve hot. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Oman Joins the Bollywood Bandwagon

MSI Newswire | Oman

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n its effort to popularize Oman as a leisure destination to the premium Indian travellers, the Ministry of Tourism - Sultanate of Oman unveiled a co-branding campaign at a star-studded event in Mumbai with the keenly awaited Bollywood feature, Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Dobaara. The event was attended by Milan Luthria – Director; Tanuj Garg – CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures; Lubaina Sheerazi - India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Oman; Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha. As part of the campaign, the Ministry has also launched the Once Upon a Time in Oman contest, where select lucky winners

get a chance to experience Oman first hand. The bumper prize for the contest includes 02 Business Class air tickets on Oman Air, 03 nights/04 days stay at the luxurious Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa and local sight seeing by Tour Oman in Muscat. The contest can be participated through Oman Tourism India/ face book page and through a leading radio channel, Radio City in select cities. Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative, Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman said, “Through this association, we want to create good brand visibility for Oman and build awareness about the destination. We want Indians to recall Oman as an emerging leisure destination and a ‘must-see’ for all those who are seeking an authentic Arabian experience. We have received an overwhelming response to the online contest with over 1000 entries already, which clearly indicates that Indians are keen to visit an unexplored destination like Oman.”

Emirates Launches Google Now Cards for Ticket Booking

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MSI Newswire | Dubai

mirates had rolled out Google Now cards for passengers who book via its website—Emirates.com, stated a release. With this, Emirates has become the first airline in the Middle East and Africa region to adopt this technology. A feature of the Google Search application (app), Google Now is available and fully integrated for Android (devices running Android 4.1 and above) and iOS (iPhones and iPads), for passengers who have a Gmail account. Google Now will give users exactly the travel information they need, when they need it. The app reminds passengers of their upcoming flight, providing flight times and departure terminal. Google Now will give passengers relevant information on their destination (for example weather conditions locally, currency, local landmarks, accommodation and attractions). Passengers will have information they need about the flight and destination delivered at the right place, right time, without having to ask or search.

Mot and Railways to Develop Tourist Amenities MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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inistry of Tourism has undertaken joint development of tourist amenities at Amritsar &RaiBareilli, Trivandrum, Gaya and Agra Cantt Railway Stations in association with Ministry of Railways, an official press release stated. Central Government assistance of Rs.10.28 crores, Rs.5.98 crore, Rs.5.18 crore and Rs.5.05 crore has been provided by the Tourism Ministry for the development of Amritsar &RaiBareilli, Trivandrum, Gaya and Agra Cantt Railway Stations respectively. This financial support is being provided as part of an initiative of Dr.K.Chiranjeevi, Minister of Tourism to provide assistance to Central agencies for tourism infrastructure development. As part of the joint initiative, Ministry of Railways will make land for the project available free of cost and render all possible assistance for completion of the project on time. The Ministry of Railways will also set up a monitoring committee with a member from the Dr.K.Chiranjeevi, Minister of Tourism Ministry of Tourism to monitor physical and financial progress of the above projects.

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

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NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Gujarat to Target over Three Crore Philippines Tourism Holds Multi-City Tourists This Year Roadshows in India

MSI Newswire | Gujarat

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ujarat is targeting to attract over three crore visitors during this financial year on the back of promotions and infrastructure development. "During FY13, we saw a total arrival of 2.54 crore tourists in Gujarat, which is 13.62 per cent higher than the previous year. This year we are aiming at over three crore tourists," Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Chairman Kamlesh Patel told reporters. The state is aggressively promoting tourism across the country through roadshows, Patel said. "Besides, the state has outlined Rs 500 crore for FY13 and FY14 to develop infrastructure and promotions among others. More than 37 projects are under development currently. Rs 200 crore has already been spent and the rest Rs 300 crore and an additional Rs 50 crore will be spent during this fiscal," he said.

On foreign tourists, Patel said the state saw over five lakh overseas arrivals in 2012-13 and expects a 22 per cent growth this year. He said Gujarat has a variety of destinations, including beaches and coastal sites, forests and natural ecosystems, gardens and lakes, heritage monuments, archaeological structures, museums and learning spaces, religious sites, Gandhi Circuit, Buddhist sites and adventure sports, which make it ideal for all types of tourists.

Gujarat Tourism to Lease Out Spare Land to Private Players to Set Up Hotels

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he Department of Tourism, Government of Gujarat will soon begin the tendering process to lease out on a long-term basis spare lands in its possession at various locations in the state to private parties to set up hotels. The state has already identified the open lands for this purpose, announced Saurabhbhai Patel, Minister for Tourism, speaking at The India 2013 Tourism & Hospitality Event, organised as part of the ASSOCHAM Gujarat Annual Foundation Day recently. Also, the Department is mulling handing over hospitality units currently operated by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) under the ‘Toran’ brand, located at different tourist destinations in the state, to private operators for

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upgradation and operation, Patel said. He said that the “modalities” for handing over the units are being worked out. “The private sector has the expertise and are the best people to take care of these properties," the Minister said. Speaking about the state government’s focus on the tourism sector, Patel said that Gujarat tourism registered about 14 per cent growth last year, compared to the national average of seven per cent. The ‘Khushboo Gujarat Ki’ campaign was well received by travellers, he said. However, for Gujarat’s economy to benefit from tourism, inbound Tourism must grow, and this is the prime focus of the state government, Patel said..

MSI Newswire | Philippines

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he Department of Tourism, Philippines (DOT) in coordination with the Philippines Tourism Marketing Office in India recently held a series of roadshows in Tier II cities of the country, namelyAhmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. The roadshows gave DOT an opportunity to introduce its travel partners to agents in the city and showcase the country’s new attractions and services offered as part of the It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign. It aimed at penetrating the outbound tourist market in these cities and share firsthand accounts of Philippines’ vast portfolio of tourism products. Led by Verna C. Buensuceso, Director, Market Development Group, Russia, India and the Middle East, DOT and Raymund Glen Agustin, Head, Team India, DOT; the delegation including Ms. Luisa A. Llave, DOT gave an overview of the booming tourism industry in the Philippines. The events brought together leading travel and tour operators from the Philippines which included Ark Travel Express Inc., Annset Holiday Inc., Manila Hotel, Select Travel Services and Shroff Travel Care International among others. Speaking on the occasion, Verna C. Buensuceso said, “The Philippines recorded 46,395 visitor arrivals from India during the period January to December 2012. It is a direct result of DOT’s marketing and promotional efforts for the Indian market. In 2013, we are looking at a 50% growth over last year’s arrival figures and we are on the right track towards capturing a bigger market share of outbound tourists from key Tier II tourist markets to meet our projected targets.”

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Tourism Malaysia Promotes “Malaysia Indian Travel Trade Visit Zimbabwe for My Second Home” Programme the First Time MSI Newswire | Malaysia

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overnment of Malaysia is actively promoting Malaysia My Second Home Programme to allow foreigners who fulfil certain criteria, to stay in Malaysia for as long as possible on a multiple-entry social visit pass. So far some 12,000 people have been approved and it is generating a lot of interest. The programme is primarily attracting people who wish to retire in Malaysia or spend extended periods here. It is open to citizens of all countries recognised by Malaysia regardless of race, religion, gender or age. Applicants are allowed to bring their spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 as dependants. People enjoy living in Malaysia which includes the low cost of living, developed infrastructure, friendly Malaysians, attractive tourist

MSI Newswire | Zimbabwe

destinations and general quality of life. For those with children there are some excellent international schools. This programme is initiated, organised and launched by the Malaysian Government and is thus one that the Government will continuously seek to improve, to ensure its success. The country has everything for the family,-theme parks, jungle trails, sports, water sports and one of the highest numbers of golf courses.

Odisha Team Perform at Lulu Mall MSI Newswire | Kochi

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rince Dance Group, a dance troupe based in a small town, Berhampur in Orissa, composed of sixteen daily wageworkers who enthralled the entire India with their fantastic performances and went on to becoming the winner of the national reality-talent show, ’India’s Got Talent’, performed at Lulu Mall on August 15, as a part of the Mall’s Independence Day celebrations. Their act on was titled, Tribute to India – Flag Act, where they depicted the Indian Flag. The flag act was a colourful representation of the nation’s colours, done using simple props but very exquisite choreography, where the dancers were painted in flag colours doing various formations, ending in the Indian Flag covering the length &

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

breadth of the stage- a visual treat to the eyes. The group is unique that the members are from a remote part of India and are construction workers and two of them are psychically challenged. With no formal training in dance, the group is led by Krishna Mohan Reddy, who is also the choreographer of this unique dance group. They have won admiration and accolades from all corners of the country for their sheer commitment and will to fight all odds to achieve an incredible success

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ndian tour operators for the first time ever, travelled to the fascinating country of Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission. Hosted by Love for Africa, one of Zimbabwe’s leading DMC in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, a nine member delegation of tour operators from Mumbai and Delhi toured across Zimbabwe. The purpose of this trip was to expose the Indian travel trade to the destination’s tourism potential and to showcase Zimbabwe’s various tourism products including the famous Victoria Falls and animal safaris. The group also visited Zimbabwe’s prominent tourist attractions like Harare city, Lake Kariba and Hwange National Park. Blessing Munyenyiwa, Managing Director, Love for Africa says, “Zimbabwe as a destination has a plethora of attractions to offer and is an incredible place. The biggest drawback for Zimbabwe has been the lack of knowledge about the product in the Indian market. With this trip, we hope we have addressed this issue to some extent. Also, air connectivity between Zimbabwe and India was a problem earlier, but that also has been sorted now as we have Kenya Airways flying Nairobi to Harare nine times a week and Emirates flying Dubai to Harare seven days a week from India.” Talking about the significance of the India market,Munyenyiwa added, “India is an important market for us because their peak travelling period is between November to June when tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe are low. Indians can fill in the gap left by the European and American tourists who usually travel between June and October to Zimbabwe. We at Love for Africa also currently offer the option of E-Visa to Indian tourists.” 67


NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Cruise Club launches Polarcruises.in

MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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ruise Club, a leading multibrand cruise specialist, announced the launch of polarcruises.in, a dedicated website for polar expedition cruises and polar experiences! Speaking at the launch, TariqueHussain, co-founder Cruise Club, noted that “Today, India’s evolving traveler is looking for newer and more exciting travel opportunities. Arctic and Antarctica are at the top of the ‘bucket list’ for most clients."

He added: “As the India partner for some of the leading polar expedition cruise companies, we could have simply acted as a booking service provider, and assisted the travel trade with dates, rates and availability. However, we have chosen to take a long-term approach to growing the market. As a specialist in polar expedition cruises, we would like to work hand-in-hand with the travel trade to educate their clients to understand what to expect when travelling to these regions, and help them grow their business.”.

TTF West India Series

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n a bid to repeat the success it has achieved in Kolkata and Hyderabad last month, TTF, India’s leading travel show network, now travels to West India for its annual event in Ahmedabad followed by Surat, Mumbai and Pune. The TTF West India Series will follow the same business hour pattern of Kolkata and Hyderabad, where under the brand new format, virtually half the show time will be reserved exclusively for B2B visitors. The remaining half of the three-day event will be open to all. More than 300 participants from all over India and abroad are expected to exhibit in the TTF West India Series. According to participant surveys conducted at the end of TTF Kolkata and Hyderabad, 40% of respondents preferred having 1.5 days reserved for the trade, 39% would like two days and 17% wanted all three days reserved for trade. This suggests an overall preference for trade focus, which the TTF was largely able to achieve without losing out on the B2C

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visits. Exhibitors are sure to maximise on the opportunity of TTF in two very important travel markets of India – Gujarat and Maharashtra. Other than their strong contribution to domestic tourism, Gujarat and Maharashtra are also two major source markets of outbound tourism in India. Big players on the tourism circuit know TTF will give them the best opportunity to reach the huge number of Indian tourists from this region. To facilitate international participants, TTF has launched a new segment this year – Outbound Village @ TTF.

Tourism Ireland Launches New Middle East Website with Exclusive Competition

MSI Newswire | Ireland

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ourism Ireland has launched a new and improved website for its GCC audience with an exclusive competition for one lucky winner to experience a ‘roadtrip-of-a-lifetime’ along Northern Ireland’s most famous coastal route. Enhancing Tourism Ireland’s online presence in the region, the new website has been developed in response to growing interest in travel to the island of Ireland from the Middle East market. The local site provides comprehensive, up-to-the-minute information for Middle Eastern visitors with culturally curated exclusive content. The ‘Jump into Northern Ireland’ roadtrip-of-a-lifetime competition offers one lucky winner and guest a one week road trip to take in sites such as the multi-million pound Titanic Belfast Visitor’s Centre and the extraordinary Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage Site, whilst enjoying the scenic car routes of the Causeway Coast along the way. Thomas Redmond, Tourism Ireland’s representative in the Middle East, commented: “Tourism Ireland is revving-up its online promotional activity in line with increased interest we are seeing from the Middle East in travel to the island of Ireland, as visitor numbers continue to increase month by month from the GCC market.”

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


NEWSLINE NEWS LINE

Berggruen Hotels Unveils New Upscale Brand ‘Keys Klub’

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erggruen Hotels, famously known as the parent brand to Keys Hotels, a leading chain of business hotels, announced the launch of its new upscale hotel brand ‘Keys Klub’ in the 4 and 5 star categories to serve the affluent class of business travellers. With this addition, Berggruen Hotels consolidates its position in India and now offers a larger spectrum of products catering to a wider level of affordability. Sanjay Sethi, Managing Director and CEO, Berggruen Hotels said, “This heralds a new chapter in the journey we started in 2006. After having extensively studied the consumer and having successfully established Keys Hotels chain across India, we are delighted to announce our foray into the upscale category. This move is in the direction of turning Berggruen Hotels into a holistic hotel company catering to all categories of customers. Adding a new brand to our basket will help us grow faster and ensure that we have a strong presence across key potential hospitality segments.”

Sanjay Sethi, MD and CEO, Berggruen Hotels

The Keys Klub is meant to be elite, stylish, world-class and cheerful with cutting edge technology and infrastructure support. It aims to appeal to the urbane and contemporary world traveler like senior managers and professionals seeking personalized experience with crisp and prompt business service within a viable price range.

Kerala Tourism Launches New TAT Launches Amazing Thailand Bag Gesture-Controlled Website Communications, the official marketing and communications agency of the Kerala Tourism Department.

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MSI Newswire | Thiruvananthapuram

n yet another first, the Kerala Tourism has launched a new website (http://when-it-rains. com) with gesture-controlled features to help its users. The website, the first by a state tourism board in the country, introduces a user to the rainwashed plains, misty hills and the majestic backwaters of Kerala through a gesture-based interface. Launched as a part of the monsoon campaign by Kerala Tourism, the new website is one of the few tourism websites in the world to use the gesture-controlled technology. Visually stunning images of the monsoon shot by Facebook fans of Kerala Tourism are used in the new website, developed by Stark

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013

The website tracks movements and gestures made by a user in front of a webcam and responds to them, giving a userfriendly experience to those browsing it. “We are proud to present an innovative new website to people around the world who can now sit in front of a computer or with a smart phone and enjoy the multifarious experiences of the monsoon in Kerala even before they arrive in the state”, said Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa. “The new technology available today like the gesture-controlled feature on our new website plays an important role in linking destinations with the people”, he added.

MSI Newswire | Bangkok

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he Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is launching a new line of promotional Amazing Thailand paper bags to promote its “Thainess” concept by featuring the traditional Siamese cat on both sides. The cat is of the Wichian Mat breed and will be on both large and small bags to be distributed to various government offices and companies wanting to use the bags for promotional purposes. The Siamese cat Amazing Thailand bags will be given out at travel shows and tourism road shows that TAT will attend starting from August 2013.

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Column

I as l e v a r T S V Duraikkannan

everal years before, Malaysia was running a tourism promotion campaign under the banner 'Enchanting Malaysia'. At that time, our daughter was living in there at Kuala Lumpur and she used to say that they were making way too much noise for the one temple (the Murugan Temple at Batu Caves) and the two towers (Petronas and KL Tower) and probably another Genting Highlands they had there as compared with India which was so rich and yet not very sensitive to its own splendour. Her regret was if only India could pitch on a par with the like of Malaysia, we would be somewhere. And I cannot agree any lesser with her! But then, things have not changed or improved much ever since. I was visiting of all the places on earth, the very God's own country, Kerala last week before last. It was for an ex-colleagues reunion

at the much fabled Venice of the East, Alappuzha also known as Alleppey! The epithet 'the Venice of the East' was given by none other than the historical personage, Lord Curzon ( 1859-1925) when he visited that part of Kerala way back in 1910s as the then Viceroy of India! Alleppey as such was good. But what was gruelling was the road trip from Tamilnadu to Kerala . Practically there was no road at all for the entire 120 kilometre stretch from the border post of Walayar after Coimbatore in Tamilnadu up to Trichur and Ernakulam in Kerala . I could not even drive past 10 kms an hour on those rubbles of a road which seemed to be lasting for eternity. If this is the state of affairs, how are we going to promote or position what we have?! By the way, talking about roads in our country, one thing I fail to understand is why at all the quality difference between a national highway and a state highway be there, or for that matter between a state highway and a district road ( MDR as they call it Major District Road)?! After all a road is a road, people are people, and vehicles are vehicles and why not we maintain the same quality for all roads?! But then no other country except India has this practice of tagging

'Export Quality' to its goods, as I have seen. Does that mean that export quality is a different genre altogether and that we maintain a different (and inferior?) quality for goods meant for domestic consumption? Understandably, the same system pervades even in the quality of roads in a way. But ironically enough, I found the state highway of Kerala (especially the stretch from Alleppey to Kumili) to be far better off than the National Highway, which of late at certain places is supposedly elevated to AH status - Asian Highway! As a Dutch friend of mine was pointing out on his visit to Ooty once, India as a country is a rare blend and a beautiful phenomenon : It has some of the deepest valleys and some of the loftiest mountains at once in it ( he was so enamoured of the Blue Mountains, Ooty and it was understandable as he was from Amsterdam where he was working at its Schiphol Airport which was 4.5 meters below sea level!). India is one country with 28 states, every one of which uniquely speaks its own language unlike for that matter like USA which has still larger number of states than India ( 50 against 28) but all the fifty states speak one and the same language, English! The sunrise at one corner of India is at 5 am while at some other place

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013


Column

it is at 6.30 am because of its one single time zone. Even the climates have their own unique regional behaviour. If it is the rainy season for Kerala, it would be raining up to Walayar, the border point but the immediate Tamilnadu town of Coimbatore would have its bright sun beating down!

beaches, serene backwaters to exotic hill stations. I suggest the readers take a look at the site called ' thrillophilia.com' (http:// www.thrillophilia.com/ blog/best-of-india-travel51-offbeat-destinations/) for appreciating the rich treasure of India's unique places of beauty and interest.

India contains a multitude of destinations ranging from scorching deserts to dazzling

What we lack woefully is the creation of a keen awareness of such places

even among our own citizens, let alone foreigners. To start with, every place, every town, every city can have an information signage at its entrance or welcome arch highlighting what the place is holding for us. If not for every other town, we should at least have it for every state as a welcome note : How nice it will be if only there is a signage at the entry point at the intersection of Kerala-Tamilnadu or KeralaKarnataka as one gets into the Kerala saying ' You are entering the state that has the oldest synagogue and the oldest church in India ' just to cite a thing or two about Kerala! Because Kerala has the Jewish Synagogue in the port city of Kochi which is the oldest synagogue in all the Commonwealth of Nation and St. Francis CSI Church,

in Fort Kochi (also called ' Fort Cochin' ), originally built in 1503 is the oldest European church in India. Likewise, every state of India has its own unique features which can be very much highlighted and used as a selling point for the visiting public. Just to name a few possible slogans as for the remaining three states of South India:Tamilnadu - Experience the land of Tamil, the only existing 'classical' language from India Andhra - Visit the richest temple in the world , Lord Balaji of Tirupathi Karnataka - Take a tech tour of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India And we have another twenty four more states to positively rave about!


NEWS LINE

STB Launches INSPIRE Rewards Program MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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he Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has launched the In Singapore Incentives & Rewards (INSPIRE), a rewards programme catering to the Indian Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) outbound segment, particularly incentive travel groups. This rewards programme is a partnership between STB and major Singapore tourism industry partners such as Changi Airport Group, Gardens by the Bay, Resorts World Sentosa, Sentosa Leisure Group, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Turf Club, and Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Commenting on the programme, Mr Chang Chee Pey, Executive Director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, STB, said, “Cookie-cutter business trips have become a thing of the past as discerning Indian business travellers increasingly seek differentiated experiences as part of their incentive travel programme to reward top performers and drive their business objectives. INSPIRE was thus created to appeal to this growing segment by developing a selection of personalised programmes and exclusive offerings. Many of these experiences, which include complimentary incentive experiences such as Dinner Lunch at Flower Dome (Gardens by the Bay) or Wildlife High Tea Encounter at Singapore Zoo, special guided tours at Singapore Turf Club and Sentosa, exclusive usage of sought after locations and premiere seats at popular performances have been made possible only with the participation of our INSPIRE partners. We are confident that the INSPIRE programme will entice Indian incentive groups to head to Singapore for an enriching, memorable time through our concentration of world class experiences.” Growing the Indian incentive group segment entails providing tailored, value-added experiences that cater to the evolving tastes of the Indian business traveller. It is with this in mind that STB and its partners conceptualised the INSPIRE programme, leveraging Singapore’s unique, world-class attractions to boost the destination experience for corporate incentive groups.


Test your knowledge contest 70 1. Which country is known as the largest flower shop in the world? 2. The dialling code 33 is for Kolkata if within India. What is it internationally? 3. Where was Albert Einstein born? 4. Which country was the first in the world to adopt 'fingerprinting' as a method of identification? 5. What is the national drink of Japan called? 6. What does the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu mean? 7. Which country has the longest national anthem in the world? 8. Sairandhri is the entrance point to the Silent Valley in Kerala. What or who is Sairandhri as per lore? 9. Which are the countries that celebrate Independence Day on Aug 15th, as India? Compiled by : DEEKAY

10. What is the tallest plunge waterfall in India?

Send in your answers to info@mediastepsindia.com with TYKC 70 in the subject line. Answers should reach us before the 30th of this month. Answers to TYKC 69 1. 04-02-04 ( Feb 04, 2004) 2. Southern Hemisphere 3. The back of the hand 4. A lounge of lizards 5. Jakarta, Indonesia 6. The City of London ( a city within Greater London, UK) 7. Dublin, Ireland ( 707 hectares) 8. Singapore ( Est. 1887) 9. Philadelphia (Greek. Phil - Love + Adelph - Brother ) 10. Winston Churchill ( 1963 - John F .Kennedy awarded it)

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Movers & Shakers

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Rory Campbell appointed as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort in Thailand

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore appoints Latha Nair as Director of Sales

AirAsia announced the appointment of Amit Singh as the Director of Flight Operations

Raghu Sapra has been appointed General Manager at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore

Vivek Sharma appointed as the General Manager, Hilton Garden Inn Gurgaon Baani Square

Bart Buiring, Senior Vice President - Lodging Services and Operations, Marriott International, Asia Pacific

Ganpathy Sampath appointed as the Head of Engineering for AirAsia India

Shamsher Ahmed has been appointed as Chef De Cuisine for Kangan at The Westin Mumbai Garden City

Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel has appointed Akhil Arora as Director of Rooms

Mohd Zuraidi Mohd Saisi, General Manager—Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Malaysia Airlines

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2013



ASIAN TRAVELLER SEPT 2013