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HVS Report national outlook positive amidst areas of concern No.U(NDGPO)-01/2016-2017 Date of Publication: 14/02/2017 RNI No. DELENG/2015/62794 Posting Dt. 12-17/02/2017 Postal Reg. No. DL(ND)-11/6180/2015-16-17

Volume 2. Issue 10. February 2017. `50 Total pages 32

bringing together stakeholders of the bigger picture

Indian outbound 2.0 goes into niche mode; countries begin special interest promotions It appears to be the second awakening as NTOs begin to look at tertiary markets which are essentially tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and also go for specific interest travel. It is not only MICE but also wellness and equally luxury and experiential.

concept of niche tourism. Shopping, Golfing, Destination weddings and honeymoons are quite popular with the Indian ‘niche’ travellers.” Buoyed by the development, he promised a stronger push, committing to “some aggressive marketing activities to promote these niche products.” Echoing similar sentiment was Thailand’s Isra who called India a rapidly growing market for Thailand, noting that “the outlook for outbound tourists from India is set to grow by leaps and bounds. Not only are Indians high spenders but are also looking at Thailand for big fat Indian weddings, celebrations, film shoots, MICE and for leisure travel.” In a related interview, South Africa’s Hanneli Slabber demonstrated confidence in the growth of numbers from the Indian shores. She also shared that it was for the first

Andhra Pradesh showcases Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival

Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz

Tented accommodatioin for the festival: most comfortable and innovative.

T

he inaugural edition of the Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival was launched at Amaravati earlier this month. Amaravati is popularly known as the ‘Holy Sangam’ of the rivers Krishna and Godavari. The festival, which is a 4-day event is the country’s first ever river front music and dance festival. The event has been organised by the state government to promote ‘Brand Amravati’ and has been planned to coincide with the National Women Parliament being held at the same venue from 10-12 February. Spread over various genres, the festival is set to feature Indian classical, Western classical music (orchestral), Bollywood, global fusion, folk music as well as contemporary world music and Indian classical dances and is expected to be attended by around 10,000 spectators. Speaking about the festival, Kaushik Mukherji, Lead Consultant (Tourism) said, “When we started planning for it we had two clear objectives. The Amaravati Music and Dance Festival is an attempt to create a series of initiatives that will highlight the value attributes that Amaravati stands for. Amaravati in our minds is going to be a centre for thought leadership, be it scientific or creative, that will over a period of time establish itself as a destination for curating similar cerebral experiences.” Renowned violinist L. Subramaniam was engaged by the chief minister personally to choose the roaster of performances. The location of the event was chosen to represent the confluence of two streams of art i.e. music and dance. Apart from the elements of music and dance which are integral to the overall offering, the state tourism department has setup 12 high-end, air-conditioned and fully furnished tents on the opposite side of the festival, on an island, to showcase to its potential clientele that the undertaking is much more than just a cultural fiesta but rather a more immersive experiential product awaiting them. The state tourism department believes that it is an out and out family experience which has something in it for everybody. The festival also includes activities like hot air ballooning, para motoring and also a private boat as part of the experience. Andhra Pradesh, through this laudable attempt, has pushed the envelope in the right direction. Given that the state is eager to make a mark on the national pedestal, after its bifurcation from Telangana, this move has signalled its intent that it plans to make the most of its natural settings, and available resources. It will go a long way in creating traction in domestic and international circuit.

By Anagat Choudhary

Annette Biener

A

Hanneli Slabber

t the cusp of the 2017 outbound season, TourismFirst, gauging some of the trends, spoke to a cross section of top outbound players. Leading from the front, we spoke to Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Malaysia who is in India on a promotional visit. Sharing some insight into the changing nature of the outbound, he said “Indians are amongst the high spenders while on vacation and we have seen this trend while they holiday in Malaysia as well. It is great to see that the Indian market is warming up to the

Christine Mukharji

time that travel spend out of India had crossed a billion ZAR in 2016. Austria has seen a growing number of Indian travellers, too, especially honeymooners, and have also taken to some of the newer products like wine. Also, while German National Tourist Office has had a robust presence in India, a unilateral foray by Frankfurt indicates the growing economic clout wielded by the outbound. This development is a sign that India’s outbound is maturing and moving on to the next level. It is the dawn of the Indian traveller 2.0.

Andaz by Hyatt opens at Aerocity, redefining luxury and the local city experience

inside

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online travel and technology

Providers to focus on mobile platforms as millennials key to their growth: Simon Lehmann

Pg. 10

12

Pg. 20

Isra Stapanaseth

Hotels + Resorts

Lakshadweep will remain a highend, low volume destination

Plan to open a Fortune in every 180 km in viable markets, says Suresh Kumar

Farooq Khan Administrator, U.T. of Lakshadweep

Austria registers strong footfalls; Vienna, Innsbruck lead their Indian foray, says Christine Mukharji

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Indian outbound

Announcing India’s most innovative tourism event, the first ever India Tourism Summit presenting the big picture

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24th March, 2017. New Delhi. For Enquiries: info@tourismfirst.org


JAMMU’S TRYST WITH THE GODS! A HILL, STATION LIKE NO OTHER! Patnitop or Patni Top is a hilltop tourist location in Udhampur district in Jammu and Kashmir state of India on National Highway 1A 112 km (70 miles from Jammu on the way from Udhampur to Srinagar. Situated on a plateau in the Shivalik belt of the Himalayas. Patnitop sits at an altitude of 2,024 mts. (6.640 ft). The river Chenab flows in close proximity to this location. By far the most popular Of J&K's hill resorts is a hilltop tourist location in Udhampur, situated on a plateau in the Shivalik belt of the Himalayas; Patnitop sits at an altitude of 2024 metres. The river Chenab flows in close proximity to this location. It comprises several meadows enveloped by thick forests of Deodar (Cedar) and Kail (Blue Pine) trees, and affords peaceful walks amidst conifer groves. Beautiful spots for enjoyable picnics and breath taking views of the Chenab basin and the Pir Panjal range beyond. For solace one can visit the beautifully located Nag Mandir at Karlah village. 112 kms from Jammu, this famous hill resort is perched on a beautiful plateau, at an altitude of 2024 metres across which the Jammu-Srinagar Highway passes. Enveloped by thickly wooded forests, Patnitop offers beautiful picnic spots, peaceful walks and breathtaking views of the mountainscape of the Chenab basin. In winter, the resort is generally covered with a thick mantle of snow thus providing opportunities for various snow games including skiing. It is the best developed tourist spot of Jammu and is second to none in its natural charm, climate, pine forests and lush green cover. The occupancy of the huts and Oak Banglow is full in summer months. There is ambitious plan of Patnitop Development Authority to develop Patnitop, Kud, Sud-Mahadev, Mantalai circuit. The construction work of Mall Road at Kud is also proposed to be taken up; trekking route from Kud to Patnitop-Sanasar has already been completed. The complete tourist circuit covers Jarnmu-Katra-Vaishno Deviji, Kud-Sanasar. PamitopGourikund. Sudmahadev, Mantali, extending upto Latti-Dhuna. There are three fresh water springs at Patnitop and it is believed that the waters here are medicinal. There are facilities for those interested in pony rides and camping activities. Most tour packages to Patnitop include packages that offer trips to these medicinal springs.

Sudh Mahadev Mandir

Believed to be 2800 years old, the temple of Sudh Mahadev houses a natural black marble Lingam, the Trident (TrishuJ) of Lord Shiva and mace believed to be that of Bheema, one of the five legendary Pandava brothers. This holy temple near Patnitop is situated at an altitude of 1225 m and is about 120 kms from Jammu. Sudhmahadev has a spring by the name Pap Nashni Bowli. It is believed that taking bath in it relieves a devotee of all sins. After bath, one proceeds towards the holy temple of Lord Shiva. Pilgrims visit the shrine on Historic Sudhmahadev 3 days Festival (Mela) on the full moon night of 'Sawan' (June -July) to worship the Trident (Trishul) and a mace. During this 3 days festival, arrangements are made by the state government administration to provide facilities to the visitors. Adequate transportation is also provided by the government agencies from various destinations. The government also ensures security arrangements. Good health facilities are also made available. Cultural programs are organized during the 3 days festival in which the local performers entertain the visitors by showcasing various local dances and singing folk songs. One can stay in the temporary tented accommodations provided by J&K Tourism Development Department or even a Sarai maintained by the Dharamarth Trust, beside a few guest houses are also there. Sudh Mahadev Temple - The temporary shops are also established by the people to provide various things and eatables to the visitors. Langars are also arranged by some devotees to provide free food to the visitors. On the food trail: Some of the famous food items to eat during the festival are Rajma Chawal with Desi Ghee, Chatni of Pudina and Anardana. Local food specialties include Klari (a milk preparation like paneer) or Klari kulcha and are very tasty and one must eat there. Those who love sweets have Jelabis and pure Khoya to eat. It is a great fair which provides lot of entertainment, natural scenery, joy and spiritual experience.

Patnitop is an ideal region that serves as a base for tourists who trek to the nearby mountains. Tours and travels to Patnitop include a visit to Sudh Mahadev. It is one of the sacred Hindu pilgrimages. The walk to Shiva Garh is also an exciting activity.

Another 8 kms from Sudhmahadev is an enchanting hill resort of Mantalai. Located at the top of a hill and surrounded by tall Deodar trees giving fresh and cool air, it is believed that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married there. There is a Shiva temple with a pond by its side.

Gaurikund

Shivgarh

This is the place where it is considered that Devi Parvati, the goddess, comes and bathes every day before her wishes. This is a recognized place. Taking a dip in the sacred water of this holy Gaurikund is expected to keep away all the bad fortune. From the area of Gaurikund, visitors can see the top of holy Kailash Parvat (peak).

The lush wooded pine forest In Patnitop offers ample opportunity for trekking. This place acts as a good starting point for short and long treks to the nearby mountains. The one-day walk to Shiva-Garh at an altitude of 3,500 m. which is about 11 km away from Patnitop is quite exhilarating. Also, there is a rich selection of peaceful and scenic spots for picnic


lovers. The only sound one hears is the tinkling of bells around the neck of goats and cows and the rustling of fiber and twigs as one walks in the tush meadow in a dream world of one's own. The walk in the unpaved path (named Kutcha) between the rows and rows of tall trees leads to quiet retreats and excellent views of pinecovered forest. The beautiful paths passing through wooded lanes and fascinating scenery links Patnitop to Kud and Batote. Travelers can also visit three springs, gushing with ice-cold freshwater in this hill station. They are said to have medicinal qualities. The complete tourist circuit comprises Jammu-Katra, Vaishnodevi Temple, Kud-Sanasar, Patnitop-Gaurikund, and Sudmahadev, Mantali, extending upto LattiDhuna. Sanasar, situated at 19 km away from Patnitop was chosen by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Board for major development. The 6-hole golf course is being expanded to a 9-hole course. Travelers who are less adventurous can take up pony rides in little known trails. Those who are highly adventurous can indulge in paragliding and basic skiing. Pine Forests - Pine forests offers beautiful picnic spots, peaceful walks and breathtaking views of tile mountainscape of the Chenab basin. In winter, the resort is generally covered with a thick mantle of snow, thus providing opportunities for various snow games including skiing. It is the closest winter resort to Jammu and to Udhampur and is second to none in its natural charm, climate, pine forests and lush green cover. J&K Tourism as well as the army have some holiday homes here. Other activities in Patnitop include horse rides and short treks into the surrounding hills. Patnitop also draws a lot of tourists when It snows during winters (January-February). The meadows with their gentle slopes are ideal for skiing and sledging. Skiing courses for beginners are conducted here. One can also drive through thick forests 12 kms downhill to Batote, an old hill station also known for apple orchards, Amar Cheshma and other springs and countless dhabas (eateries).

ENGRAVED STAIRS

Enveloped by thickly wooded Cedar / Deodar forests, Patnitop offers beautiful picnic spots, peaceful walks and breathtaking views of the mountainscape of the Chenab basin. In winter, the resort is generally covered with a thick mantle of snow thus providing opportunities for various snow games including skiing. It is the closest winter resort to Jammu and to Udhampur and is second to none in its natural charm, climate, pine forests and lush green cover. J&K Tourism as well as the army have some holiday homes here. One can enjoy the thrill of flying, at Patnitop. The paragliding joyrides rides are conducted

at Dawariyai, 2 km landmark, on the PatnitopSanasar road. One can ask for paragliding at the Patnitop Development Authority (PDA) barrier. The takeoff site is at Dawariyai, on the PatnitopSanasar road. The area often called as the Billoo Di Powri point. Approx 400 plus steps have been carved out along the rock face to make the steep slope negotiable. The stairs eventually leading to Dawariyai, the ‘gateway'. The exact dating of the work is still debatable. Any tourist can experience paragliding accompanied by a pilot. The flight takes off from Patnitop and lands at Kud. The flight lasts for 7 to 15 minutes depending upon the wind conditions. One is retrieved by car to the takeoff area. The organizers also give a good quality video of tile memorable flight.

To Shop:

Here one can buy Kashmiri specialties like handicrafts, embroidered woolen carpets, embroidered long shirts and woolen products, Best time to visit: The evenings in this hill station are quite cold. The mountains are covered by fog and visibility is just 10 feet at the time. The peak season is in summer (May to June). If travelers want to have a peaceful holiday, then the best time would be July end to August as the place is less crowded at this time. If you are seeking snowboard thrills, then the best time would be September to December.

Connectivity:

Nearest Airport: The nearest airport and railhead are in Jammu. Patnitop is well connected to Jammu, which is 112 km away. By Road - Taxis can be hired outside the airport and railway station of Jammu. To stay: As there are very few hotels available in Patnitop, it is advisable to stay in Jammu and visit the place in the daytime.

Tourism/hospitality industry has now become one of the vital contributors to the economy of J & K. The industry is witnessing an immense growth in the past decade in terms of number of tourists and the contribution made by them to the J & K economy. The field of tourist is quite vast in India as a visitors of tourists attractions, catering to different purpose of tourists, be it religious, be it heritage, be it leisure, be it business or even medical purpose. PDA with its glorious traditons, established 23 years ago has been contributing to the field of tourism in J & K. To meet the needs of demand of tourism and hospitality industry, new initiatives have been taken for making its best efforts towards the natural resources development with focus on tourism and hospitality sector. PDA being a best tourism sector in the area has already marked its attendance by organizing various curricular, extracurricular and extension activities and has been able to render best service to the tourism industry. Some of the upcoming projects are: 1. Construction of Patnitop Ropeway Project. 2. Development of Mantalai as International Yoga Centre/Health Resort. 3. Construction of Sewerage Treatment Plant at Patnitop. 4. Lazer Light and Music Show at Patnitop. 5. Setting up of Green City at Patnitop. 6. Development of Parking facilities including Paragliding at Sanasar. 7. Construction of Multitier Parking lot at Patnitop. Apart from above, some major tourism related activities/projects have already been completed and some of them are: 1. Budgeted accommodation at Kud and Sanasar. 2. Wayside amenities at Patnitop. 3. Installation of view points, sitting benches and dust bins. 4. LED street lights on Circular Road, Patnitop. 5. Tourist Information Centre at Patnitop with facilities like: Free Wifi, Massage Chair, Table Tennis, Carom, Kids Zone, Free Computer/Net Surfing etc. 6. Adventure sports activities at Sanasar. 7. Beautification of Sanasar Lake. 8. Development of 9 hole Golf Course at Sanasar.


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this issue : Fe bruary, 2017

5

Ironical that Indian Tourism needs more tourism products when so many abound across the country

I

n recent years, many a time, a suggestion has been floated that India, despite its vast tourism resources, ironically, does not have adequate number of ongoing tourism products to offer in the international markets. One such suggestion, made at a national tourism convention a few years ago, went to the extreme to say that Indian tourism product looked jaded, when compared to its competitors in the South Asian region.​   Possibly, a sense of rejuvenation is required​, some bit of stagnation has possibly crept in, ​to give a new glow to inbound Indian t​ ourism. ​ O​ver the years considering the size and scope of the destination, relatively speaking​,​we have continued to rely primary on the Golden Triangle which is Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. Yes, there has been a spurt in inbound tourism to the South, to Goa​,​​we m ​ ay have stand-alone itineraries of the South, w ​ ithin which we have Kerala as a shining example. All said and done, h ​ owever, m ​ uch still depends on T ​ he Golden Triangle, with Delhi, ​Agra​and​Jaipur​as the first choice for overseas visitors, especially, the first timers. Sadly, even within the Golden Triangle, there has been inadequate refurbishing​. If a product or two has been added, it has not been promoted in the context of the overall product.   Conversely,​and ironically,​it is also true that there ​has been​a large growth of individually run properties, individually run programs​, equally by s​ ​tate governments ​with events and promotions ​as​in ​states like ​Gujarat, even in say relatively newer states like Andhra,​i​ n the North-East​ and​ Jharkhand​ and​ Bihar.   We as a country do not have a policy for start-ups in the tourism sector; there is little mentoring available, and little opportunity for nurturing of​new product​s. ​This is equally true at the State government level ​and​ at a private entrepreneur level. If we ​have sound policies in place to support start​-ups in the tourism sector​, ​like g ​ iving support to a tea garden estate owner who wants convert 12 rooms into a tea garden experience or someone in the Kangra Hills w ​ ho wants to promote experiences, we will be singing a different story soon enough. E ​ ach start-up needs to be ​ drawn into a larger eco-system called national tourism! If you compare the need for new products, if you look at start-ups that are already on, all across the country, these need to be married together into a national policy for start-up​s​in the tourism sector which encourages products to grow, become sustainable and also to get prominently get visible in the national market and also internationally. ​We ​need a seamless policy across nurturing new products, putting them on the national grid, providing them sustenance to grow, providing them with the technical know-how​.​​M​any of them don’t have that in terms of manpower, in terms of skill-sets, so all these need to be nurtured and provided and then amalgamated together onto one single eco-system of products you can experience across the country.   On the one hand, we do not have adequate products to boast of. On the other, we have so many new products that are going unnoticed. Its a tale of plenty going waste!​

Taleb Rifai

Secretary General, UNWTO on Belarus introducing 5-day Visa free policy for India Visa facilitation is among the most effective strategies to induce tourism development in a region or in a country, so we are sure that the tourism sector will experience a positive shift in Belarus.

,,

Himanta Biswa Sarma

Finance Minister, Assam on tourism prospects in the state Assam is known for its hospitality. We have taken a number of initiatives in this important, revenue-earning sector. The tourist inflow to the state has increased significantly.

,,

Jayaraj Shanmugam

Chief Commercial Officer, Jet Airways on introducing a second daily flight on New Delhi-Abu Dhabi route. The new service will offer our guests additional flexibility and choice to plan their travel, whether to the Gulf or further onwards.

,,

Pankaj Srivastava

Contents CROSS Currents: budget 2017 6. Tourism set to gain with substantial infrastructure push in the Union Budget

aviation: CAPA Report 8. LCC to grow in Southeast Asia as AirAsia, and VietJet to induct more: CAPA 9. A game changer in the offing, Government allows commercial usage of land under AAI

Hotels + Resorts 10. As only Andaz can, Hyatt opens at Aerocity, its new lifestyle brand redefining luxury 12. Plan to open a Fortune in every 180 km in viable markets, says Suresh Kumar 14. Adding teeth to Kochi’s tourism landscape, Ayana unveils a luxury boutique hotel 16. HVS Report: Mice, FITs push Goa post decline in charter movement; national outlook positive

online: phocuswright 18. Providers to focus on mobile platforms as millennials key to their growth: Simon Lehmann

Director Commercial, Air India on exploring newer destinations in North America. We want to expand in North America and are exploring new routes like Houston and Dallas. We currently cut down travel time between the two continents by at least 10 hours.

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19. Mergers a sign of growing maturity; will boost rational pricing, says Vikas Bhola 20. Lakshadweep will remain a highend, low volume destination, says administrator

Outbound 22. Malaysia will focus on positioning itself as a destination for the niche segment and family outbound from India, says Tourism Minister 24. South Africa unveils promotional campaign; travel spend from India heads north 25. Niche and cinema tourism fuelling outbound to Thailand; trend to continue in 2017 26. Frankfurt: Culture, heritage, and F&B make it much more than a layover 27. Austria registers strong footfalls; Vienna, Innsbruck lead their Indian foray 28. Dubai: promotes Emirati heritage with an eye on ‘Dubai Strategic Plan 2021’

The Last Page 30. Impact assessment must for nurturing responsible tourism: Mandip Soin

Sharat Dhall

COO (B2C), Yatra.com on inking a MoU with Andhra Pradesh to promote Homestays Homestays as a trend is rapidly gaining popularity in India. As new age travellers seek out unique experiences in the course of their travels, we believe that this kind of non-hotel accommodation has tremendous growth potential in the country.

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Navin Berry navin.berry@bitb.org senior writer: Shashank Shekhar shashank@tourismfirst.org features editor: Priyaanka Berry priyaanka.berry@bitb.org business development: Saurabh Shukla saurabh.shukla@bitb.org editor:

Tourismfirst is owned, published and printed by Navin Berry and printed at Anupam Art Printers. B-52, Naraina Phase II, New Delhi. It is published from 36-37, 3rd Floor, Indra Palace, H-Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110 001. Tel: 011-43784444.   Total pages 32


CROSS Currents: budg et 2017

6

Tourism set to gain with substantial infrastructure push in the Union Budget The assertion may appear surprising to many of our colleagues in the industry as some of the more usual demands from the industry, like granting infrastructure status to the hospitality industry and other tax related issues have been left untouched by the government. The ‘T’ word may not have been adequately quoted in the Finance Minister’s speech, with little mention of references like hotels, airlines and travel, but this budget, in all its manifestations, is a resolute step towards addressing one of the long-standing lacuna plaguing the tourism industry – infrastructure. India, for the first time, will invest as much as `3,96,135 crore in creating and upgrading infrastructure in 2017-18. BY TF Bureau

C

ollectively, a sum of `2,41,387 crore has been set aside for roads, railways and ports. Railways, roads and highways will give India the essential infrastructure on which the nation will move, and therefore, travel and tourism will automatically benefit. With more highways and roads in the countryside, hotels, eateries, conveniences and other products that make the larger tourism product of the country will follow suit.​ The government has mandated the railways to lay down 3,500 kms of tracks in 2017-18 as compared with 2,800 kms in 2016-17. Meanwhile, `67,000 crore has been earmarked for national highways in 2017-18 as compared to `57,676 crore in 2016-17. Also on radar is the construction of 2,000 kms of roads to boost coastal connectivity. A part of the larger Bharat​Mala scheme which envisages a road network spanning 5,000 kms along the land border, coastal roads will open up new possibilities for the tourism industry. More than 2,000 kms of coastal roads would be built in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, creating new avenues for hotels, F&Bs, and other segments. The Ministry of Tourism has been allocated `1844 crores, including over `900 crores for integrated development of tourist circuits. In a first, over 400 crores has been allocated for publicity and promotion of ministry’s programmes and initiatives. It is a significant allocation, especially when the industry has been pressing for creating more visibility around the ‘Incredible India’ campaign. If coupled with state tourism departments, the overall outlay for nation’s tourism industry reaches substantial numbers. The need of the hour, now, is to create synergy between the two spending to truly leverage the multiplier effect. A better centrestate collaboration mechanism needs to be put in place. We recommend looking beyond CMs conferences and tourism ministers’ conference which have been routine in the past, and a big question mark hangs on how productive have they really been. States need to know each other, sharing best practices and worst failures for common good. Such sharing of knowledge will go a long way in creating more tangible results in our endeavours. At the state level, secretary and director-level exchanges must happen, to begin with, perhaps even quarterly. The budget has ushered hope for India’s biggest untapped tourism asset – rural tourism. With focus on creating more infrastructural connectivity in the hinterland, a sum of `19,000 crore has been allocated for Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Digital India and Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan have been given a strong push. All of it will have a cumulative impact in making our villages more accessible to tourists, domestic and international – which will have a rub-off effect on rural economy, creating more employment avenues and, consequently, footfalls. However, it is extremely important for agencies involved in the process to get adequately sanitized to ensure that our countryside does not lose its authenticity while it receives a much-needed dose of infra. With

focus on rural rejuvenation, local ethos, building designs and material could get a new lease of life in the countryside. On the aviation front, airport authorities have been authorised to undertake nonairport related development. A move

which will lend new streams of revenue generation for airports, making them more sustainable in the long run. Airport infrastructure, especially, in the tier-2 and tier-3 cities will get a boost. As much as 55,000 acres of land will get

released for new development, unleashing new opportunities for affordable aviation infrastructure. There are more hits than misses in this budget, and a long term sustainability for tourism is the surest gainer.

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8

aviation: CAPA Report

LCC to grow in Southeast Asia as AirAsia, and VietJet to induct more: CAPA After a one-off sign of sluggishness in growth in the LCC segment in 2016, this year is expected to be a stellar year for the segment as many regional carriers induct aircrafts to ramp up market share. CAPA reports that AirAsia, Lion and VietJet will lead in adding capacity. Excerpts of the latest CAPA report.

S

outheast Asia LCC fleet to grow by 80 aircraft in 2017

Overall CAPA expects Southeast Asia’s LCC fleet to grow by approximately 70 aircraft in 2017, which would represent growth of 11%. This includes several additional aircraft for Citilink and Jetstar Pacific and approximately five aircraft for Scoot (including Tigerair, which will fold into Scoot by the end of 2017). Jetstar Asia does not plan to grow its fleet in 2017, while Nok and NokScoot are planning very modest fleet expansion. The Cebu Pacific Group is also planning very modest expansion for 2017. Its fleet plan envisages only two additional aircraft in 2017, including one aircraft at the regional subsidiary Cebgo. Market conditions in the Philippines could support faster growth, but Cebu Pacific is waiting for the A321neo before accelerating its rate of growth. The group’s fleet plan includes eight additional aircraft in 2018, driven by the A321neo. The Cebu Pacific, AirAsia/AirAsia X, Lion and VietJet groups account for over 75% of Southeast Asia’s current LCC fleet and approximately 90% of the current order book. Cebu Pacific has a relatively modest order book of 47 aircraft, while VietJet has approximately 200 aircraft on order, AirAsia/AirAsia X nearly 500, and Lion Group more than 400. Not all these aircraft will end up in Southeast Asia’s LCC sector; some will end up at affiliates outside the region, some at FSC subsidiaries within the region, and some could be leased outside their groups. Southeast Asia’s low cost airline fleet grew by only 7% in 2016, representing the slowest growth in several years. The region’s two main groups, AirAsia and Lion, both slowed their growth significantly, with AirAsia slightly reducing its Southeast Asian fleet in 2016. Southeast Asian LCCs ended 2016 with a fleet of 623 aircraft – up a modest 41 aircraft compared to the beginning of the year. The same group of 21 airlines added 67 aircraft in 2015 and 61 aircraft in 2014. Several airlines responded to overcapacity, which peaked in 2014 following a period of overzealous capacity expansion, by deferring aircraft deliveries. Overcapacity continues to persist in several Southeast Asian markets, but some LCCs are reaccelerating expansion in 2017. Given the sector’s huge order book it is likely 2016 will represent the low point in Southeast Asian LCC fleet growth.

Southeast Asia’s 21 LCCs collectively grew their fleets by only 7% in 2016

Southeast Asia currently has 21 LCCs spread across the six main Southeast Asian markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. There are currently no local LCCs in the smaller countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, although foreign LCCs generally provide sufficient service in these markets. This group of 21 LCCs ended 2016 with a fleet of 623 aircraft, according to the CAPA Fleet Database. This represents relatively modest growth of 7% compared to the 582 aircraft operated by these 21 airlines at the end of 2015. The

same group of 21 LCCs added 67 aircraft in 2015 and 61 aircraft in 2014, equating to 13% growth in both years. When Tigerair Mandala (which shut down in 2014) is included the Southeast Asian LCC sector grew by 11% in 2014. These figures exclude all wet leased aircraft; Vietnamese LCCs VietJet and Jetstar Pacific both currently have several wet leased aircraft in their fleets. Golden Myanmar and Malaysia’s Malindo were included in previous CAPA reports on the Southeast Asian LCC fleet published in early 2014, early 2015 and early 2016. Malindo and CAPA. Golden Myanmar are no longer categorised as LCCs, and for comparison purposes they have been also been removed from the historical data in the above table. Golden Myanmar launched in 2012 and initially followed an LCC model, operating single class A320s and charging extra for most services. However, it stopped operating A320s in 2015 and now only operates turboprops following a regional airline model. Lion Group has focused expansion on its Full-Service subsidiaries Malindo

Group, which operates a fleet of A320s on flights of up to four hours, currently includes four LCCs in Southeast Asia as well as an affiliate in India. Sister group AirAsia X includes three LCCs in Southeast Asia. As CAPA highlighted in a recent analysis report on the short haul AirAsia Group, its active fleet was flat in 2016 at 176 aircraft and shrank by two aircraft in 2015. When India is excluded, the group’s fleet in Southeast Asia declined by two aircraft in 2016 and by five aircraft in 2015. Indonesia AirAsia and Philippines AirAsia have reduced their fleets over the past two years as part of restructurings. Thai AirAsia has continued to grow its fleet rapidly, while Malaysia AirAsia cut its fleet slightly in 2016 but still grew capacity by improving utilisation. AirAsia Group’s Southeast Asian fleet experienced much faster growth in prior years, with 11 aircraft added in 2014 and a record 24 aircraft in 2013.

Widebody LCC expansion rate also slowed in 2016

AirAsia X has also slowed its fleet growth significantly over the past couple of years

Southeast Asia LCC widebody fleet size ranked by operator: January 2017 vs January 2016 and January 2015

launched in 2013 and has never followed an LCC model, operating two class 737s with full frills in both cabins, including meals, drinks, seatback IFE and checked bags. However, it initially referred to itself as an LCC or hybrid airline before adopting an FSC position in early 2016 (although its product did not change). Malindo, along with Indonesia’s Batik Air, are the two full service airlines under the Lion Group. Lion also has three LCCs – Lion Air and Wings Air in Indonesia and Thai Lion Air. However, as CAPA highlighted in a recent analysis report on the Lion Group, the focus in 2016 was primarily on growing the two FSCs. Lion Group’s three LCCs added 13 aircraft in 2016 while its two FSCs added 23 aircraft. In 2015 Lion Group’s FSCs also added 23 aircraft, but the group expanded its LCC fleet by 34 aircraft.

AirAsia has taken a hiatus from fleet expansion

Southeast Asia’s other big LCC group, AirAsia, initially slowed fleet expansion in 2015 and continued the hiatus in its fleet growth in 2016. One third, seven, of the 21 LCCs based in Southeast Asia operate under the AirAsia brand. The AirAsia

as part of a restructuring. AirAsia X Group’s all widebody fleet grew by only two aircraft in 2015 and by three aircraft in 2016, compared to seven additional aircraft in both 2013 and 2014. (All figures are net, with aircraft returns – in AirAsia X’s case A340s – offsetting some of the deliveries.) The entire Southeast Asian LCC widebody fleet grew by a modest five aircraft in 2016 compared to 14 in 2015. The five additional aircraft in 2016 include two additional aircraft at Malaysia AirAsia X and only one additional aircraft for Cebu Pacific, Scoot and Thai AirAsia X. The slowdown in medium/long haul growth is somewhat surprising, given that this sector is significantly less penetrated than Southeast Asia’s short haul market. Widebody growth will pick up slightly in 2017, but will not come close to the record growth achieved in 2015.

Short haul LCC penetration rate declines for a second year

The LCC penetration rate within Southeast Asia was approximately 53% in 2016, while LCCs accounted for 21% of total capacity to and from the region. For the second consecutive year the LCC penetration rate

within Southeast Asia declined slightly – as the region’s FSCs added short haul capacity at a faster rate than the LCCs. The slowdown in LCC fleet growth partly explains the recent reduction in the short haul LCC penetration rate, after 15 years of steady gains. Faster expansion by some of the region’s FSCs is another driver. The reclassification of Malindo also contributed to the drop in the LCC penetration rate in 2016. (CAPA has removed Malindo from the historical LCC fleet data outlined earlier in this report, but Malindo continues to be included under LCC in the historical capacity data from 2013 through 2015, while in 2016 it was included under FSC.) The LCC penetration rate within Southeast Asia should start to inch back up in 2017 as the rate of fleet expansion accelerates. The narrowbody growth rate in 2017 will be significantly higher compared to 2016, and similar to the growth rate achieved in 2015. AirAsia, Lion and VietJet plan faster fleet growth in 2017 The AirAsia Group will drive some of the accelerated growth rate in 2017 as its recently revised fleet plan for 2017 includes 20 additional aircraft to its Southeast Asian fleet. Lion Group will again focus a lot of its growth in 2017 on its FSCs, but its LCC fleet will grow at a faster rate than in 2016. The Lion Group’s fleet plan is constantly in flux, but its three LCCs will likely add 15 to 20 aircraft in 2017, or slightly less than its arch rival AirAsia. The VietJet Group plans to expand its fleet by 12 aircraft in 2017. VietJet’s fleet expanded by 10 aircraft in 2016, excluding wet leased aircraft. Southeast Asia LCC fleet to grow by 80 aircraft in 2017 Overall CAPA expects Southeast Asia’s LCC fleet to grow by approximately 70 aircraft in 2017, which would represent growth of 11%. This includes several additional aircraft for Citilink and Jetstar Pacific and approximately five aircraft for Scoot (including Tigerair, which will fold into Scoot by the end of 2017). Jetstar Asia does not plan to grow its fleet in 2017, while Nok and NokScoot are planning very modest fleet expansion. The Cebu Pacific Group is also planning very modest expansion for 2017. Its fleet plan envisages only two additional aircraft in 2017, including one aircraft at the regional subsidiary Cebgo. Market conditions in the Philippines could support faster growth, but Cebu Pacific is waiting for the A321neo before accelerating its rate of growth. The group’s fleet plan includes eight additional aircraft in 2018, driven by the A321neo. The Cebu Pacific, AirAsia/ AirAsia X, Lion and VietJet groups account for over 75% of Southeast Asia’s current LCC fleet and approximately 90% of the current order book. Cebu Pacific has a relatively modest order book of 47 aircraft, while VietJet has approximately 200 aircraft on order, AirAsia/AirAsia X nearly 500, and Lion Group more than 400. Not all these aircraft will end up in Southeast Asia’s LCC sector; some will end up at affiliates outside the region, some at FSC subsidiaries within the region, and some could be leased outside their groups.


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aviation

A game changer in the offing, Government allows commercial usage of land under AAI In a major development in the Union Budget 2017, the government has allowed vast tracts of land held by the Airport Authority of India to be used for commercial purposes. The decision will have major financial implications for airports, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, making them more viable to operate, eventually giving a much needed booster shot to regional connectivity. By Anagat Choudhary

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he Union Budget 2017-18 has proposed allowing the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to use its lands for commercial purposes. AAI has been undertaking airport infrastructure upgradation projects for the last couple of years with the involvement of the private sector under the PPP model. However, the interest of the private sector in these projects has been limited to the major airports. AAI owns around 55,000 hectares of land in urban areas across the country. Under the previously existing norms, this airport land could only be used for aviation and airport related activities like parking facilities. As per senior officials, AAI, which is a functionary of the aviation ministry, had already applied for relaxation in the land usage norms upon being requested by the concerned private parties in 2010. Not allowing commercial development of non-aeronautical activities made these projects unviable as some of these airports tend to receive very low footfall and hence were of little interest to the private sector. Notably, the total revenue for airports globally from non-aero activities constitutes almost 40% of the total revenue whereas in AAI’s case the figure stands at just 20%. As per sources, this amendment to the AAI act is just a predecessor for inclusion of terminal buildings of airports closed for passenger flights. In accordance with the latest proposal, AAI is set to start monetising up to 10% of the near about 55,000 acres of land held by it. During the budget presentation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said “The Airports Authority of India Act will be amended to enable effective monetisation of land assets.” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said that AAI could monetize around 2000-3000 acres of land belonging to it and utilise the funds for the development of airport infrastructure. Raju also said that the increase in non-aero revenue would help reduce aeronautical charges on airlines which would help them in bringing down their operational cost and hence eventually

have a positive trickle-down effect in making flying cheaper. Involvement of private sector in airports will make airports more profitable by bringing efficiency gains. Also, the move is set to create a heathy competition amongst the different modes of transport as it is set to effectively reduce the travel time between short distances as well as windfall gains for real estate developers. Significantly, as part of AAI’s larger efforts to increase non-aero revenues, the authority had been focussing on the monetisation of its lands for a while as was announced by the AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra, last year itself. The emphasis has been laid on inviting private players for operation and maintenance of airports at tier-2 cities. This same has already been taking place in the form of inviting bids for O&M contracts for Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports. The move is aimed at enhancing the capacities of tier-2 city airports as well as generating new resources for building airports in tier-3 cities. Allowing business activities on the land around airports in smaller cities is a move targeted to attract more takers for establishing these activities. There are around 44 potential airports that can be developed, as per the Federation of Indian

P.S. Nair CEO-Corporate, Airports Sector, GMR Group

AAI owns around 55,000 hectares of land in urban areas across the country. Under the previously existing norms, airport land could only be used for aviation and airport related activities. Chambers of Commerce and Industry. This entire project is a part of the more ambitious government venture to connect airports in remote areas under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, UDAAN, which seeks to improve the connectivity within various parts of the country as well as putting a cap on small distance airfares. The proposal however, will not impact private airport operators like GMR and GVK group operating in the country as

they are bound by the original Operations Management and Development Agreement, through which the commercial development of five and ten percent of the total lands in Delhi and Mumbai respectively, may be used for commercial activities. The move in fact is expected to help them improve their valuations as both the groups have previously indicated they would like to sell stakes to reduce debt. Although, some experts still

Lufthansa’s first A350-900 deployed on its Delhi-Munich route, a first for India dding more weight to its presence in India, in a first, A Lufthansa recently initiated

commercial services of the A350-900 on its Munich to Delhi route, connecting the capital to Lufthansa’s vast global network.

The Lufthansa A350-900 landed in the early hours of February 11 from Munich and was greeted with the celebratory water canon salute at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Delhi becomes the first destination

worldwide to welcome Lufthansa’s most modern and environmentally friendly long haul aircraft, the A350-900.   "The launch of Lufthansa A350 services in Delhi marks an important milestone in our growing partnership with India. This game-changing aircraft reflects the values of the new global Indian, and reaffirms our commitment to this important market by introducing the very best and latest in air travel,” said Wolfgang Will, Senior Director South Asia, Lufthansa Passenger Airlines.   As a special gesture for customers, the departure of Lufthansa’s A350-900 from Delhi was commemorated with a grand ribbon and cake cutting

ceremony. Passengers boarding the flight were greeted with a ‘First Flyer’ certificate and an iPad cover, specially handcrafted by economically disadvantaged women of Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti. Additionally, an ‘insta photo booth’ was created at the departure terminal that allowed passengers to capture moments of their journey with Lufthansa’s A350-900.   The aircraft offers Lufthansa’s most modern on-board product, assuring passengers the highest level of comfort in all travel classes, with a wider cabin, self-service area in Business Class, new seats in Economy Class, bigger windows, large TV screens, innovative mood lighting, personalized playlist and much more.

This proposal has the potential of being a game changer for development of airports in the country specifically for regional connectivity. It is set to unleash a lot of un-utilised assets and make available new sources of revenue for development of airports. Handling rates at airports as well as development of new airports will now be cheaper by getting subsidised through commercial exploitation. It will immensely benefit the aviation industry as a whole.

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claim that even though the move maybe a step in the right direction for the aviation industry, it remains to be seen whether private players will be willing to express interest in such projects. As per a former AAI chairman, “If all the land at an airport is converted to commercial land then future accusation of land for airports could become a big financial issue.” A former senior official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation added that monetisation of land by the AAI was an old practice by means of leasing the land out on a consideration of land rent or revenue share. In-fact it was this same practice that allowed the Centaur hotel to come up at Mumbai airport. P. S. Nair, CEO-Corporate, Airports Sector, GMR Group, speaking exclusively to TourismFirst said, “This proposal has the potential of being a game changer for development of airports in the country specifically for regional connectivity. It is set to unleash a lot of un-utilised assets and make available new sources of revenue for development of airports. Handling rates at airports as well as development of new airports will now be cheaper by getting subsidised through commercial exploitation. It will immensely benefit the aviation industry as a whole.” He further added “The existing agreements that GMR has with the various airports do not have any retrospective effect. We already have agreements in place which are not likely to get impacted by this proposal. We will have to wait and see how the AAI will handle the tenders that has been released for the Jaipur and Ahmedabad. The in-built clauses will have to be scrutinised more closely for us to get a better idea of the same. If there is an opportunity for us to get involved in the larger development of airports, we will be very actively pursuing the same. This is a very big opportunity for us to get in to the development of airports. We are looking forward to such opportunities and are eagerly waiting for the situation to pan out.”


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The lounge at Andaz; instead of the usual hotel lobby.

Ambassador cars for guest pickup, rooting in local cult

As only Andaz can, Hyatt opens at Aerocity, its new lifestyle brand redefining luxury Introducing Andaz Delhi. A fresh modern day interpretation and understanding of luxury and lifestyle for today’s contemporary traveller. A formidable product amongst a new breed of hotels that are redefining luxury, in their own individual paradigm. Hyatt has done it their way, as being best in style, features, culinary and yet informal, fluid and friendly. Imagine a hotel that doesn’t believe in uniforms and that is Andaz for you! By Priyaanka Berry

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he hotel’s passionate and hands-on General Manager, Heddo Siebs takes TourismFirst on a personally guided tour of his property. A GM who is fascinated by the city and its culture makes for an inspiring, an enthusiastic and a perfect fit for a hotel that celebrates Delhi and its many nuances.

The best service you do is at your house. It is an honest service, at home it is not like someone has told you how to do things. You look after your guests in the best way you can. You are proud of your house, you know your guest and you know how to look after them. It is this philosophy of honest service that we do at home that we want to bring to our hotel. We want our employees to welcome everyone like they would at their own house.

Andaz is categorized as a lifestyle brand. What do you mean by lifestyle?

We are a sophisticated lifestyle brand. From a look and feel perspective, we are young, fresh, stimulating and different. But when it comes to the interaction we still manage to have the required respect and to make you feel respected. But it is not that we are doing a butler service. Our approach is not too formal but it also not too causal. That’s the ideal secret recipe, to be friendly but not be friends. When you talk of Andaz, it is your personal style or character. The ambience is fluid, modern and contemporary in feel. You will see no doors here, it is a barrier free environment. We believe we can make a difference not only in the hardware but also in the software, when it comes to the service. The best service you do is at your house. It is an honest service, at home it is not like someone has told you how to do things. You look after your guests in the best way you can. You are proud of your house, you know your guest and you know how to look after them. It is this philosophy of honest service that we do at home that we want to bring to our hotel. We want our employees to welcome everyone like they would at their own house.

How is this philosophy translated into actual service at the hotel?

It begins with how we welcome guests when they enter the hotel. They walk into a lounge and not a typical hotel lobby. You are offered a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, it can also be a glass of beer or wine in the evening. That’s just part of the welcoming experience. If we talk about our studios or our room product, it is very much residential in look and feel due to materials and colours. For instance, the table in the room is a large clear table with nothing on it. The idea is you can use it your own way, to either eat or work and can adapt the space to your need. Our rooms are clutter free because at home you don’t have brochures lying around. We want to create places globally where we believe people in the city would live in the future. When people travel extensively they sometimes don’t even know which city they wake up in because hotel rooms tend to all look similar. At an Andaz it is very different. We are very local in our interior design.

Heddo Siebs General manager, Andaz Delhi

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We are very local in our interior design. Not too classical but the influence is there. We also follow the philosophy that you come as a visitor and leave as a local. Not too classical and not too much into your face but the influence is there. We also follow the philosophy that you come as a visitor and leave as a local.

How do you get that right balance between being friendly but not friends? It requires a lot of instinctive handling by the team. How did you go about training?

It requires a lot of training and also an understanding to ensure that there is no over service. We want the employees to use their brain and to use common sense and to understand subtle cues. Such as not interrupting a guest who is on a call. When we hired it was very important for us to first answer what it is that we are actually looking for? We are looking for a smile in your eyes and the right energy. To serve a cup of coffee one can always train but it’s the softer skills you look for. We booked a venue and socialized with almost 2000 people over 2 days. We had 10 executives and we had different group based on the area of interest in the hotel. We didn’t see resumes. We spoke

about hobbies and about likes and dislikes. We wanted to see can people have a proper conversation. Then we took it from there and saw resumes and shortlisted the team. We have hired chefs who have no chef diplomas but they have the passion for cooking. It is this passion that is needed. Also, we have no templates at Andaz. There is no checklist that our front office team has that they must ask when a guest is checking at 3am for instance. A lot of emphasis is placed on intuitive service, on reading the body language of a guest and applying common sense and behaving per that. We have created the larger framework within which people are to work but it is not like the old days. We want people to do their own service. We chose not to have uniforms either. I always say that in a situation if you don’t know what to do, think of how you would do it at home and do that. You most likely will not go wrong because at home you are genuine and are also careful. This is lifestyle. It’s not scripted. However, we are aware that with flexibility comes greater responsibility. We also listen to the what is going on at the

hotel, the interactions and guide them along the way. There is a lot of on the job corrections. We are careful that we don’t fall back into the standard hotel trot.

You mentioned the average guest room stay is 1.7 days, how do you then introduce the city to your guests?

There are various aspects. When we look at the rooms in general, all the products we curate are from the city or the country. The tea selection in the room is from a local person who travels across the country, collects the best tea, blends it here and packages it. It’s a tea journey from Assam, Darjeeling, Madurai to Kerala. Our bathroom amenities are from a local Delhi brand that make chemical free products with bio degradable packaging. Our coffee in the room is sourced from Bangalore. You will notice subtle cultural influences such as a Mughal pattern on the wall, the carpet is handmade, you will see a traditional woven ottoman as in the olden days. It’s the understated touches where we want to make sure that people understand where they are. We are also in the city centre of NCR but on the outskirts of Delhi, we thought how we could make people feel connected to Delhi. We came up with a concept where each room has a curated art piece that speaks of a reason to fall in love with Delhi. Something which relates to Delhi. So, for 401 room, we came up with 401 reasons to fall in love with Delhi and decided to create a book on it, which is placed in each room. Even at Anamaya Food Hall, you will see items on sale that are local artisanal products from India. It is supporting a community and good quality produce. Majority of the products we use here are from Delhi or from India and try to focus on what is available. We have a green house in the restaurant and grow our own micro greens.

Outside of the hotel, do you curate experiences for the guests to better experience the city?

On channel 1 in the hotel, guests can view 8 curated videos on Delhi’s unsung heroes that connect back to 401 reasons to fall in love with Delhi. Such as a video on the Chief Gardener of Lodhi Garden, a parkour practitioner showing Delhi’s rooftops or the art of Arabic and pictorial calligraphy. It is not a Lonely Planet guide but more a curated selection of niche experiences which are unlike a typical tourist checklist. Such as going to a Sikh Temple and volunteering to help in the kitchen. We partnered with Delhi “I Love You” and in conjunction with them co-produced these videos. It is all about celebrating Delhi as a city.


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The Mughal motif in the room evoke more of local culture.

Who is the Andaz guest?

We always talk of the creative people who we want to target. But then everyone thinks straight of an artist or a musician. But we think it can also be a creative brain surgeon or a creative banker. So someone who is curious to explore where they are. It’s a mindset. It is about people who are interested in knowing where they are going and want to learn something different.

How are you reaching out to them?

When we started we created two tents, complete with the look and the furniture and used them at pop up events. We didn’t want to bring people to the hotel like everyone else. At these events we invited those people whom we believed were the right fit for the product. We did these events across several venues and different verticals such as

gallery gardens, parks, with the fashion fraternity. These were held in Delhi and the key idea was to share what the ethos of the brand is and what the Andaz experience is. We created a cocktail evening where guests could come and make cocktails. So, we did a lot of different things and tried to reach different people. It was about communicating and socialising with them but equally about listening and

5th HOTEL OPERATIONS SUMMIT INDIA 2017 GRAND HYATT MUMBAI

gathering information. It was of course about making people curious about the hotel and to introduce the new brand.

Is it tough introducing a new brand into the market? Especially a brand called Andaz, one doesn’t know what is means and that it is a part of the Hyatt family.

We understand and appreciate that Hyatt has a legacy and we use the name strategically. For marketing and advertising we are using Andaz Delhi by Hyatt. However, from a brand positioning point of view we are clear that we want to position it separately and so the hotel is ‘Andaz Delhi’. When we bought the Ambassador over a year ago and painted it purple and made it red inside, we only wrote Andaz and drove it around. It did raise thoughts. What is Andaz Delhi? Is it a hotel, is it a shop? People didn’t know. It was interesting. Now we have 4 of them. Used mainly for airport pick- ups because this is what people want. It is our way of experiencing India as the Ambassador is such a traditional car. But then we made it modern in different colours and different interiors.

What sets you apart in Aerocity?

Our look and feel is very different. I have been in India for two and a half years and have travelled around to understand India and explore Delhi to know what is really the market and how can we launch Andaz as a brand property. You meet and talk to a lot of people and create an interest about the brand that talks about personal style. Also, when talking to creative people, we did a lot of listening. What do you want to see, what are their interests? And, then how can we bring that experience to the guests.

REGISTER NOW th

4

April, 2017

HOSTED BY

A lot of emphasis is placed on intuitive service, on reading the body language of a guest and applying common sense.

NOTABLE speakers Ashish Jakhanwala, Managing Director and CEO, SAMHI Anuraag Bhatnagar, Area General Manager – India, Marriott International Camellia Panjabi, Group Director, Masala World / MW Eat Group Devendra Bharma, Executive Vice President, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts Mumbai Jean-Michel Cassé, Sr. Vice President Operations - India, AccorHotels Kurt Straub, Vice President Operations, Hyatt Hotels Corporation Raj Rana, Chief Executive Officer - South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Rajeev Menon, Chief Operating Officer - APAC (ex. Greater China), Marriott International Rakesh Sarna, Managing Director & CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces Shantha De Silva, Head - South West Asia, InterContinental Hotels Group Shridhar B Nair, General Manager, The Leela Goa Tristan Beau de Lomenie, General Manager Delegate, Pullman & Novotel Delhi Aerocity Vir Sanghvi, Co-Founder & Chief Critic, EazyDiner CO-HOST

Where would you position yourself in Aerocity Delhi?

What is very nice is when we look at the Aerocity, the hotels here are very different from one another and we as Andaz are very different in style and experience. Guests have their options to choose from. We are a premium product in the area and different in terms of both software and hardware. We hope to lead the field but time will tell.

It has only been a couple of months but how is the brand being received in the Indian market?

PARTNERS

For more information, please write to HOSI@hvs.com OR log on to www.HOSIconference.com

We have got a good response and are very pleasantly overwhelmed. Apart from positive feedback from guests, what is good is the site inspection from the business groups has been very positive with a lot of wows. We are also pleased that this response is not limited to only the younger age group. It is across all age brackets; from young to old. Everyone feels very comfortable. We have taken the stiffness away. Even the older more traditional travellers in the luxury space are no longer associating luxury with chandeliers, carpets and marble. We, at Andaz, have none of the three. The hotel reflects modern luxury inspired and influenced by traditional Indian elements.


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Plan to open a Fortune in every 180 km in viable markets, says Suresh Kumar Moving away from being just a dull, room focussed development, mid-segment hotels are emerging as trendy properties that provide all the comforts and convenience at an affordable price to the discerning consumer, asserts Suresh Kumar, CEO, Fortune Hotels. He also dwells on the increasing trend of mergers and acquisitions, and talks about how Fortune Hotels remains steadfast in cementing itself as a first class, full service business hotel in the Indian marketspace.

Mid-market hotels are no longer dull, room focused developments. They are emerging as trendy, designer properties focused on providing facilities including wellconnected location, clean rooms, high speed Wi-Fi that are considered essential for the millennial traveller. As a group, we take pride in having developed a muchneeded product/ service design to cater to this emerging demand in the market. Suresh Kumar CEO, Fortune Hotels

By shashank shekhar

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e understand that the market is under stress and a number of hotels are looking to sell-out. What is the reason for this crisis? How can this situation be averted?

Majority of the businesses that do not do well are the ones operating without a structured business plan involving detailed systems, marketing plans, forecasts and budgets. It is essential to know where you are headed and how you’re going to get there. As all experienced hoteliers know well, operating a hotel is serious business. Hotels operate 24/7/365 and require expert management across multiple functional areas, including hiring, training, marketing, accounting, customer service and asset management. With the complex nature of hotel operations, eventually the people who succeed are the ones who can match their strategy with the ever-changing ‘Indian Business Environment’. The key to success will always be adapting the right strategies that are in line with the emerging trends.

What are some key trends in the mid-market space? How is the market shaping up for the segment? Where is the business coming from?

While traditionally the Indian hotel industry had only focused on the luxury hotel segment, not surprising, therefore, is the gradual change in scenario over the period with Branded Hotel Chains venturing aggressively into the mid-market to upscale segment. While this segment has provided an investor with a model which is suited to his capital deployment capability, it has also opened up interesting and economical avenues for both the corporate and leisure

tions in India have changed over the years, it definitely seems like a concept which is here to stay for a long time to come. There is bound to be a lot of competition and eventually people who are going to do well are the ones who can catch the pulse of the ‘Indian business environment’, thus translating the dreams of both the investor and the consumer into reality.

What is the expansion strategy for Fortune Hotels? Could you talk to us about hotels in the pipeline and destinations where you would be basing them at?

traveler to enjoy comfort and convenience at an affordable price. Mid-market hotels are no longer dull, room focused developments. They are emerging as trendy, designer properties focused on providing facilities including well-connected location, clean rooms, high speed Wi-Fi that are considered essential for the millennial traveller. The industry is robust and the next few years will see more growth in this segment of the market. As a group, we take pride in having developed a much-needed product/ service design to cater to this emerging demand in the market.

We plan to work towards taking further our vision of unfurling a Fortune at every 180 km by concentrating on Metro, Mini-Metro, Tier I and Tier II cities across India. In the next few years we see ourselves consolidating our position as the top player in the ‘first class, full service business hotel segment’ and to be recognised as a provider of consistent quality products and services, thereby perceived as the premier “value” brand in the Indian hospitality scenario. The chain has extensive expansion plans and we are looking at being a 90 hotels strong chain in the next couple of years. Since the last year there has been an addition of 2 new hotels to the bouquet of Fortune Hotels, Fortune Park Sishmo in Bhubaneswar, our first hotel in the State of Odisha and Fortune Miramar, the chain’s third hotel in Goa. The coming months would see more hotels opening up around the country, including Durgapur, Jalandhar, Lucknow, (Mashobra) Shimla, Srinagar, Vadodara and Vellore are some of the locations where projects are under various stages of development. Our Development team is continuously looking at suitable opportunities to penetrate further in different locations across the country.

It is a time when diverse industries are witnessing increasing numbers of

A number of industry insiders have iterated that the domestic leisure

,,

Mergers and acquisitions are driven by the need to face increased competition in the market. mergers and acquisitions to create more traction in the market. The latest such development happened when Sarovar Hotels was bought over by the Louvre Group. How do you see this impacting the mid-market space in India? How does it impact your business? The process of mergers and acquisitions has gained substantial importance in today's corporate world. Like any other industry, mergers and acquisitions in hotel industry is driven by the restructuring need of business organizations in the face of increased competition in the domestic as well as global markets. It serves as a strategic choice for organizations to achieve larger size and faster growth in market share, thereby becoming more competitive through economies of scale. Though the trends in mergers and acquisi-

segment is, and will continue to be, the backbone of business for the industry. How much do you agree with this assertion, and does it hold true for your company as well?

In a growing economy like India, people are breaking away from traditional methods and lifestyle. They want to explore all that is new, all that life has to offer. It is a borrow-and-spend culture now as against save-and-spend culture a few years ago. Also, the unprecedented growth in domestic leisure tourism due to the burgeoning Indian upper middle class population are the driving factors behind this ever increasing demand. The Fortune Hotels operates different brands under its umbrella, namely ‘My Fortune’, ‘Fortune Select’, ‘Fortune Park’, ‘Fortune Inn’ & ‘Fortune Resorts’; each brand

catering to different categories of guests. All our brands are growing and witnessing excellent consumer response. The ‘Fortune Resort’ properties located at popular holiday and leisure destinations like Mussoorie, Port Blair and Ooty offer excellent holiday getaways for families and cater to both the ‘mid-market and upscale segment’. Other popular holiday destinations where the chain has its presence incudes - Goa, McLeod Ganj, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Tirupati & Madurai. Fortune Hotels will have 2 more opening up, in leisure destinations, in this year in Srinagar and Mashobra (Shimla). At Fortune Hotels, distinctive flair is complemented by warm and personalized service, superior technology, insightful comforts, fine dining and a genuine feel for the authenticity of the destination.

snippets AccorHotels and Qatar Airways join hands to boost loyalty program benefits

ccorHotels and Qatar Airways have come together to offer members of their respective A loyalty programmes Le Club AccorHotels and

Qatar Airways Privilege Club, an even more generous travel experience.   Members of Qatar Airways’ loyalty programme Privilege Club can now convert their Qmiles into Le Club AccorHotels points at the conversion rate of 4,500 Qmiles for 1,000 LCAH points, allowing them to purchase free nights and discounts on their next stay in over 3,400 hotels, from luxury to economy, and to access the multiple rewards – Elite Experiences, Dream Stays, La Collection e-boutique, etc - offered by the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty programme. The more than 30 million Le Club AccorHotels loyalty programme members who have already notched up 2,000 points can convert them into Qmiles and access a network of over 150 destinations.   They simply log in to their Le Club AccorHotels account either from a PC or directly via the AccorHotels app, provide their Privilege Club membership number and choose how many points they would like to convert.   Commenting on the development, Emanuel Baudart, Chief Customer Officer at AccorHotels said “Since its inception, the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program has focused on recognizing our guests and continuously enriching the services and experiences we offer them. That’s why today we are delighted to have this partnership with Qatar which reflects the dynamic momentum of our burgeoning program and allows us to supplement the already wide range of benefits and rewards we reserve for the Group’s loyal guests.”


20 countries • 25 states • 50 uniquely Bharat experiences • 500+ exhibitors 250+ Inbound buyers • 800+ Indian Hosted buyers • 2000+ trade visitors

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Adding teeth to Kochi’s tourism landscape, Ayana unveils a luxury boutique hotel In a bid to provide an immersive experience of the destination itself, Ayana Hospitality has recently launched a luxury property in the Southern state of Kerala. TF speaks to Akhil Behl, CEO. Excerpts: By TF Bureau

P

lease take us through the product of the new property in Kochi. What experience does it entail for the consumers?

Ayana is a luxury boutique hotel that celebrates the local architecture, culture and cuisine of Fort Kochi. Step into the past as you enter the 200-year-old courthouse and find a modern sanctuary in Ayana’s striking art deco renovation. Art deco designs and

striking colour combinations define our rooms. All 16 rooms feature classic black and white tiled floors blending history with modern luxurious comfort. The hotel offers two options for stay – the smaller and cozier Deluxe Rooms and the spacious, glamorous Luxury Suites. The hotel is equipped with a roof top pool and a fitness suite – both offering mesmerising views of the sun and sea. Ayana places a high priority on food and offers fresh local produce and authentic flavors. We offer a sundry menu based on

organic vegetables and only the freshest local catch. For contemporary Indian art aficionados, the hotel takes great pride in sourcing and showcasing Indian artworks at the hotel. Currently there are pieces from established artists such as T. Vaikuntam and Sakti Burman, as well as relative newcomers like Vaishali Dalvi and Sharanu Alloli on display and for sale at the hotel. Ayana’s commitment to promoting Indian artists is clearly visible as you walk through the hotel.

Akhil Behl CEO, Ayana Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

As per the guest interest, Ayana curates unforgettable excursion deep into Fort Kochi with trusted and expert local guide. For historians, our guides will bring Kochi’s unique history of diverse influences alive around you, from the Santa Cruz Basilica and the Dutch Palace to the Chinese fishing nets and the Ginger Factory. Alternatively, one can immerse themselves in traditional culture with authentic regional dance performances, interactive exhibitions of the local form of martial arts, Kalari, and personal stories from someone inside the community. Choose to focus instead on the ways in which Fort Kochi is leading high culture today, touring sleek cafés and contemporary galleries where internationally acclaimed art is displayed in connection with the famous Kochi Biennale.

How are you adding to the larger tourism profile of the city? What is your USP?

Our inherent philosophy is quite different from that of a typical resort, where the hotel is showcased over the destination. At Ayana we drop our walls quite literally to allow our guest to have an immersive experience of the destination, which in this case is Fort Kochi and its glorious past. It’s the destination that first inspired us to conceptualize the hotel. The property is one of the oldest heritage structures in Fort Kochi and the art deco interiors makes the property quite unique when compared with the typical Indian traditional interiors of most hotels. Another key distinguishing factor is our diverse collection of contemporary art which is a big pull factor for the art enthusiast.

What is the target segment you are looking at? What is the positioning that you wish to acquire in the city’s tourism landscape? Our target clientele is the luxury discerning traveller. We are targeting both, domestic as well as international guests. We would like to be positioned as leading heritage luxury hotel in Fort Kochi.

What is the state of tourism in Kochi? What are your expectations on the footfalls front?

Its been an encouraging season for Kochi with Biennale happening this year. The visibility of Fort Kochi as a destination is increasing in the domestic market as in the past demand has been driven by foreign travelers. There are no accurate statistics on the visitor arrivals in Kochi but as a hospitality product we hope to achieve a 50% year round occupancy this coming year.


presenting the big picture

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Mice, FITs push Goa post decline in charter movement; national outlook positive The recently released HVS Report takes a holistic look at India’s most important cities and how they fared in the recent past. It also gives a detailed insight into the future trends and performance expectations. While strong supply of hotel rooms in the capital will strengthen the upscale and the mid-market segment, the supply is anticipated to be absorbed. We bring you excerpts of the exhaustive report.

K

ey Trends

This Section highlights countrywide trends and statistics using data from the past five years' surveys. Subsequently, the city scenarios are highlighted for the seven major cities and 13 other cities across the country.

Indian Hotel Industry Performance – Country Trends

• Growth in Operating Performance Indicators: The average rate registered in 2015-16 was `5,128, the highest recorded since 2009-10. Similarly, the occupancy continued to witness a rise, recorded at 62.1% in the previous fiscal year (Exhibit 1). • Contribution to Total Revenue: The last few years had witnessed a steady decline in the contribution of the Rooms division to the topline. However, 2015-16 did not follow this trend, with the Rooms Revenue showing an increased contribution of 51.7% to the total revenue. On the other hand, contribution from Food & Beverage and Banquets declined to 41.5% from 42.6% recorded in 2014-15. The contribution of the Other operating departments has remained range-bound for the past five years. Exhibit 2 displays the contribution to Total Revenue by the different operating departments. Exhibit 2: Sources of Revenue (2011-12 to 2015-16) ◗ Decrease in Departmental Expenses: Departmental Expenses as a percentage of Total Revenue decreased for the third year in a row, mainly driven by the percentage decrease in Rooms and Other Expenses. However, F&B Expenses increased to an All-India average of 64.1%, a sharp increase from the previous year. Exhibit 3: Departmental Expenses (2011-12 to 2015-16) ◗ Cost Analysis: Except for F&B Expenses, the survey results depict that the expenses, as a percentage of Total Revenue, remained stable or declined in 2015-16. However, on a per available room (PAR) basis Marketing Costs, Rental & Other Incomes, and Management Fees increased by 23%, 18%, and 14% respectively over those recorded in 2014-15. Fixed expenses, conversely, portray a 18% decline on PAR basis over that in the previous fiscal. ◗ Food & Beverage: As highlighted in Exhibit 2, F&B and Banquets Revenue as a percentage of Total Revenue declined in 2015-16. This corresponded to an increase

in F&B Expenses as a percentage of Total Revenue over that registered in 2014-15. On closer inspection, revenue from the food and beverage outlets display a decrease on a PAR basis, whereas revenue from Banquets has increased. The F&B Expenses on a per available room basis have increased by 9%. ◗ Guest Analysis: Domestic travellers continue to be the majority generators of room night demand in India. It is important to highlight that the Domestic Business Traveller segment has displayed a yearon- year growth to form 34.4% of the total demand accommodated by Indian hotels, whereas the contribution of Domestic Tourists or Leisure Travellers has declined from 21.7% in 2014-15 to 19.8% in 2015-16. Foreign Demand, on the other hand, has remained stable, contributing 20.6% between the Business, Leisure and Tour Groups segments (Table 1-5).

Seven Major Cities Bengaluru

Bengaluru has established itself as a thriving service industry led economy, driven primarily by the IT/ITeS sector. Equipped with one of the highest densities of Grade A office space, the city is also home to a healthy mix of research, manufacturing, aeronautical engineering and biotechnology companies, as well as the largest number of start-ups in India. These industries remain the major demand generators for the third largest Indian branded hotel market. Bengaluru hotels witnessed a surge of 15.3% in marketwide RevPAR in 2015/16, surpassing the other major hotel markets in the country. Driven mainly by robust growth in occupancies, the city's hotels also displayed a marginal increase in average rates, ending a four-year downward trend. The fact that the resilient market performance was accompanied by a 6% growth in supply

Bengaluru hotels witnessed a surge of 15.3% in marketwide RevPAR in 2015/16, surpassing the other major hotel markets in the country. Leisure demand has witnessed marginal improvement in Kolkata, because of initiatives such as the recent introduction of river cruises. ◗ Online Reservations as a Source of Advance Bookings: Another integral trend highlighted by the survey results is the increasing contribution of Online Reservations Systems as a source of advance bookings for hotels in India. In 2015-16, 12.4% of the total advance reservations were made via these channels, compared to 8.5% during 2014-15. This trend is expected to gain traction, as more travellers adopt the ease and convenience offered by Online Reservations. ◗ Net Income: As depicted in Exhibit 4, All India average Net Income as a percentage of Total Revenue crossed the 30% mark in 2015-16. Primarily driven by the increase in average rates and, therefore, increase in Rooms Revenue for hotels across all star categories (barring one), the increase in Net Income arrests the downward trend witnessed over the past three years. Exhibit 4: Revenue and Net Income (2011-12 to 2015-16)

bodes well for the city that is expected to add approximately 3,500 rooms in a phased manner over the next five years. The city, however, continues to face challenges, mainly due to the paralysing infrastructure and lack of a convention centre built to international standards, in the face of the burgeoning demand from the Commercial and MICE segments. However, HVS remains extremely optimistic about the hotel market's performance, with a steady increase in RevPAR anticipated for the next three to five years.

Chennai

Chennai, one of the largest hotel markets in South India, enjoys demand from all the major business sectors including manufacturing, IT/ITeS, port and port-related activities, the government and embassies, the banking and financial sector and a growing MICE demand base owing to the recent expansion of room inventory and

large-scale meeting facilities in the city. In 2015, the market continued on its path to recovery even in the face of floods that impacted business towards the end of 2015. The city also witnessed the opening of new hotels, including the InterContinental Resort on ECR, Fortune Select Grand on GST Road, and Turyaa by Heritance on OMR in the last calendar year. All the micro-markets in Chennai recorded a growth in occupancy in 2015-16, while average rates declined marginally. Going forth, with over 1,000 rooms expected to enter the OMR market over the next two years, we expect the hotel market on OMR to remain under pressure in the short term. Overall, with the Meeting and Conference and Commercial demand growing in the city, we expect hotels (especially in Guindy) to consolidate and build on their average room rates having achieved a healthy occupancy.

Goa

Goa continued to demonstrate growth, marking an eventful year with two high profile events – the Defence Exposition and the BRICS Summit in 2016. The Domestic FIT and Meeting and Conference segments showed growth post the decline in charter movements, highlighting a notable change in the nature of demand. A significant development has been the signing of an agreement between the Government of Goa and the GMR Group to develop and operate the long-awaited greenfield airport project at Mopa in North Goa. The first phase is reported to start operations by 2019-20 and is expected to enhance domestic and regional connectivity, thereby giving a boost to the tourism and hospitality sector. Further, the government is also developing an electronic city in Tuem that is expected to generate commercial demand for North Goa hotels. With the growing demand, changing segmentation and infrastructure developments, the government as well as private investors are keenly evaluating proposals for largescale meeting facilities in the city. While Goa continues to face competition from beach destinations in South and Southeast Asia, we believe that the buoyant domestic demand and the anticipated development in regional connectivity will continue to drive the market's growth in the medium to long term.

Kolkata

Kolkata is driven primarily by commercial activity emanating from PSUs, PSBs, manufacturing, IT/ITeS, engineering, medical activity and the telecom industry. Over the course of the last decade, the city has witnessed expansion further east with residential and commercial developments along Rajarhat, EM Bypass and Salt Lake City. Similarly, hotels in Kolkata are on the cusp of change. For the first time in the city, hotels are now divided into two distinct micro-markets – the city hotels (which serve demand emanating from the CBD and south-western industrial corridor) and hotels along the eastern periphery (serving demand originating from Rajarhat, Salt Lake and the EM Bypass). In 2015-16, while room night demand had not witnessed noteworthy change, demand from the Commercial and Extended-Stay segments witnessed organic growth, proportionate to that of commercial/industrial activity in Kolkata. Leisure demand has witnessed marginal improvement in this market, because of initiatives such as the recent introduction of river cruises, which attract foreign tourists to the city. The only segment to exhibit healthy growth is the Meeting and Group segment primarily due to social events, weddings and a few citywide conferences.


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HVS is tracking approximately 3,000 rooms expected to enter the market over the next five years and likely to play a role in shaping the nature of the Kolkata hotel market in future. Due to the micro-market distinction, the impact on existing hotels may be cushioned to some extent; however, it is likely that the city hotels will experience supply pressure.

Mumbai

Mumbai’s hotel market achieved the highest occupancy recorded over the past four years amongst all major markets across the country. This continued upward trend in occupancy over the past six years is testament to the inherent strength and robust nature of the market. Additionally, Mumbai also recorded the highest average rate, further consolidating its position as the best performing hotel market in terms of RevPAR too. A closer look at Mumbai’s three micro-markets, namely South, Central and North Mumbai, which have minimal overlap in room night demand, reveals an increase in occupancy and average rates2 in each. Many factors – strong growth in corporate travel, an upswing in MICE demand and the promising growth in the Extended-Stay segment – have favourably impacted Mumbai's hotel market. In the short term, the bulk of the supply is expected to be within the upscale and luxury positioning and that should further assist in raising the overall average rates. In the medium to long term, we expect the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) landside development that includes several new hotels, commercial and retail complexes and hospitals to change the face of Mumbai at large. However, in the short to medium term, we anticipate certain improvements in infrastructure – the Coastal Road, extension of the Metro and Monorail and the proposed convention centre in BKC that is expected to augment MICE demand – to assist in hotel performances. Going forward, HVS forecasts steady growth in the city's performance in the coming years.

New Delhi

New Delhi is home to the largest branded hotel market in the country. Its hotels recorded a year-on-year growth in RevPAR, despite supply pressure, in 2015-16. When

considering the self-contained micromarkets in the city, the Aerocity hospitality district saw an increase in occupied room nights driven by growth in Corporate, Transient and MICE demand. The demand previously catered to by the unorganised sector in the area has been absorbed by the branded mid market and budget hotels located within the district. On the other hand, Central, South and East Delhi hotels dipped their average rates in the effort to capture some of the demand lost to the Aerocity hotels. This resulted in a drop of 4.6% in marketwide average rate which was, however, compensated by a robust 8.2% growth in occupancy over that recorded in the previous year.3

The pace of new supply is expected to remain sluggish while demand is anticipated to witness steady growth in Pune. HVS anticipates India's capital to add approximately 2,800 rooms over the next five years. HVS anticipates India's capital to add approximately 2,800 rooms over the next five years, with the major part of the supply in the upscale and mid market positioning. However, demand for room nights does not show signs of slowing down, and given that the existing hotels move towards a rate driven strategy, the market is anticipated to absorb the new supply successfully over the medium term. Therefore, the outlook for the New Delhi market remains positive.

Pune

The Pune hotel market has weathered a rough storm since 2007-08. During this period, a staggering increase in room supply resulting in a downward spiral in both occupancy and average rate performance somewhat overshadowed the year-on-year double-digit growth in demand, and led many to question the strength of the market. The silver lining is that the slowdown in new supply coupled with the robust and continuous increase in demand has helped the city's hotels perform well in occupancy. Room rates have witnessed a marginal improvement, particularly in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In addition to serving as a manufacturing hub in Western India, the city has developed into an important IT/ITeS centre. Availability of large commercial floor plates along with a young and educated workforce have fuelled the rapid development of the city. Proximity and ease of connectivity to Mumbai, the country's financial capital, has also helped. Going forth, the pace of new supply is expected to remain sluggish while demand is anticipated to witness steady growth. Moreover, airport infrastructure, which is inadequate in view of the city's swift growth, is planned to be improved, keeping in mind the recently-announced development of a greenfield airport at Purandar. All in all, the outlook for the city remains positive.

Indian Hotel Industry – Seven Major Cities Introduction

In this section, we present the operating profiles and financial data for different categories of hotels in seven major cities: Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Goa,

Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune. This section will provide the reader an understanding of key trends in hotel performance in these cities.

Trends

◗ Guest Analysis: Domestic guests represent the majority of guests accommodated by hotels across the seven cities. However, when compared to the percentage reported in last year's survey, Five-Star Deluxe, Five-Star and Four-Star hotels in Mumbai and Kolkata have displayed a decline in the Domestic demand and a corresponding increase of Foreign guests. Furthermore, the FiveStar Deluxe and Five- Star hotels located in Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Pune have recorded a marginal decrease in the percentage of Business guests accommodated by the hotels, over that in 2014-15. Three- Star hotels in Chennai, and Four-Star and Three-Star hotels in Mumbai continue to account for the highest percentage of repeat customers when compared to the hotels in other categories and cities. ◗ Average number of Trained Employees: Hotels across all star categories in Bengaluru and Mumbai report increase in the average trained employees across managerial and staff levels. However, a concerning trend displayed by hotels in Chennai and Kolkata is the increasing number of untrained employees, with the Four-Star and Three-Star hotels in Kolkata reporting an average of almost 40% of untrained employees at their hotels. ◗ Occupancy and Average Rate: This year's survey results indicate that Five-Star Deluxe, Five-Star and Four-Star hotels in Pune report the highest increase of 21% in occupancies, whereas Four-Star and Three-Star hotels in Kolkata report the highest increase in average rates. However, as the aforementioned star categories in Kolkata did not witness an increase in occupancy over the last year, the Pune hotels lead in terms of the highest RevPAR growth of 39%. Chennai’s Three-Star hotels have reported a decline in occupancy as well as average rates, resulting in a RevPAR decline by 25%.


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Providers to focus on mobile platforms as millennials key to their growth: Simon Lehmann There is no ambiguity that mobile platforms will continue to drive growth in the online space as service providers focus on improving the mobile experience, both, through apps and mobile websites, with an eye on tapping millennials, says Simon Lehmann, President, Phocuswright. He shares some key trends in the segment, noting that India’s bid to push for digital transactions, backed by the recently announced demonetisation, could further expedite its foray in the online space.

Supplier/OTA competition – OTAs have enjoyed strong years. They are executing better on mobile than suppliers, and they have broadened their offerings to include the alternative accommodations that are increasingly considered alongside hotels. And with younger travellers showing an affinity for one-stop-shopping on mobile platforms, the outlook is pretty rosy for OTAs. In-destination activities are getting more attention from intermediaries and technology startups.

,,

Simon Lehmann President, Phocuswright

By shashank shekhar

T

he idea of digitisation is gathering momentum, especially in India, with the government actively promoting digital payment channels and mobile wallets. ‘Digital India’ is Prime Minister’s pet project. How do you view this development and what could be its ramification on the online industry?

When government prioritizes digital engagement and commerce, that is generally a boon to the online – and especially the mobile -- travel space. And in India, the government has a huge access point to travel – its state-run rail system is already one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world. The relative security and ease of digital payments will be a big factor in how fast India’s digital travel market grows, and that is an area where the government could spur improvements. Especially with India’s recent currency demonetization in November 2016, there’s been a huge upswing in digital pay-

snippets

O

YO’s year-end analysis of hotel-bookings in 2016 indicates that a majority of Indian travellers are increasingly driven by impulse. Impulsively planned trips emerged as the top driver for outstation trips both in business and leisure travel segment. 61% of all the bookings made on OYO platform were made within 24 hours prior to check-in. While 61% of OYO bookings in 2016 were from

ments, especially via mobile. To the extent that this gets more people accessing information and transacting on mobile devices, it will help fuel online travel. For millions of people in India, the mobile is their only connection to the Internet. However, a large segment of the population relies on basic feature phones, which limits functionality in terms of mobile travel planning and booking.

A lot of parent organisations, through their subsidiaries, are acquiring stakes in various companies. This is particularly true for some of the recent acquisitions, raising concern over the growing cartelisation of business in the online space. What is your take on this? Do you see this as a threat to businesses and industry? In mature markets like the US and Europe, there’s been massive consolidation – Expedia and Priceline being the most obvious examples. This is less the case in developing markets. But in general, big established brands have the marketing power and brand

loyalty that make it really difficult for newcomers carve out a meaningful niche for themselves.

Share with us some key trends that you envisage in the online space? What is going to be the core areas of focus for service providers?

In many markets, growth in the online category is coming largely through mobile. So, providers are focusing on improving the mobile experience for their customers – both through dedicated apps and mobile websites. Also, millennials continue to be a key focus for providers, and these younger travellers’ online behaviour and expectations are driving providers’ efforts to some extent – incorporating more on-demand features, enabling smartphonebased services, alternative accommodations, etc. Messaging-based booking – all the big players are experimenting with it, and travellers say they are receptive to booking via message platforms (see attached slide). But uptake has been slow – perhaps a matter of getting the user experi-

Mobile platform is fast emerging as the most important platform for driving business. What is the trend like in Asia Pacific? How do you expect this trend to unfold in the region?

As a region, APAC is taking to mobile channels faster than anywhere else. It will be exciting to watch what this could mean as e region grows, and its online travel companies and travel consumers are more tech-savvy and perhaps more receptive to innovation and new distribution models. Asia-Pacific is home to the world’s leading mobile travel market – China. In 2016, it became the first country to get a majority of its online bookings through mobile platforms. By 2020, 39% of China’s total travel market will go through mobile channels – this in a travel market that had just 16% online penetration in 2013. India’s shift to mobile has been slower. It is at less than half China’s mobile penetration,

China has become the first country to get a majority of their online bookings on the mobile platform. ence right, or improving personalization. Supplier/OTA competition – OTAs have enjoyed strong years. They are executing better on mobile than suppliers, and they have broadened their offerings to include the alternative accommodations that are increasingly considered alongside hotels. And with younger travellers showing an affinity for one-stop-shopping on mobile platforms, the outlook is pretty rosy for OTAs. But hotels are putting up a fight with preferred rates for loyalty members. In-destination activities are getting more attention from intermediaries and technology startups. Suppliers now have access to an array of affordable Saas solutions that make it much easier to move products online. At the same time, OTAs are paying more attention to this huge, fragmented, segment of travel.

Impulse planning emerges as a key driver among Indian travellers, suggests OYO booking trends impulse travellers, yet predictability, standardisation and affordability remained travellers key priorities. In terms of destinations, Paharganj continues to be the go-to spot for backpackers in Delhi, whereas Arambol emerged as the most affordable locality in Goa despite ranking high on popularity.   In the realm of metro cities, Chennai and Goa are the highestgrowing cities for same-day and

In the air space, we are a few years removed from the big unbundling efforts that really changed how flights are conceived of as products. Airlines still have ambitions to break out their products and sell in a more robust way. Personalized offers, more timely/ relevant upselling, and seamless chat-based customer service, are all on the near horizon and could represent another big shift in the online airline space.

overall bookings   The research has further highlighted that despite the last-minute bookings, travellers’ expectations in terms of service, facilities and experience were pre-determined and non-negotiable. Wi-Fi, breakfast and hygienic rooms are the three biggest priorities for guests.   OYO’s research identified Chennai, Goa and Gurgaon as the

top-contributors to hotel-booking via app.   Shillong, Coorg, Darjeeling, Vishakhapatnam, and Munnar as most popular winter-holiday destinations in 2016   Using its cutting-edge data science and pricing technology, OYO also identified the most-expensive and most-affordable localities for budget hotels in top travel destinations.

and the gap is widening behind China’s torrid growth. But China is already influencing India via Ctrip’s tie-up with MakeMyTrip, and that could speed up mobile growth. We also expect China’s, and Ctrip’s, influence drive mobile growth in Southeast Asia.

What is happening in the European market? It is quite a mature market in terms of penetration and usage. How do service providers bring about innovation? How different is the modus operandi, compared to some of the newer markets like India?

Despite its maturity, about half of European travel is booked offline, and there are several country markets where traditional travel agencies and tour operators are extremely important. So there’s still lots of opportunity for online providers to capture more market share. In some places, providers offer a hybrid approach that offers a mix of offline/ online features, from travel inspiration, through planning and booking. In terms of the mature online space in Europe, the competition between suppliers and intermediaries is evident in all segments. Suppliers are focusing on establishing direct bookings and relationships with their customers, while carefully balancing their reliance on OTAs (particularly in the hotel segment). In India, the online travel market opportunity is massive and still largely untapped. Plus, there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in the country, and the climate for innovation in the space is quite supportive.


online: booking.com

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Mergers a sign of growing maturity; will boost rational pricing, says Vikas Bhola In an exhaustive interview, touching upon issues like trends in the online market space, challenges and innovation, Vikas Bhola, Regional Manager - Indian Subcontinent, Booking.com expressed optimism at the future of the Indian travel space. He also asserted that the much touted MMT-Ibibo deal was a sign of maturity in the market which would help create a degree of price rationalisation – a desperate need after years of merciless discounting war witnessed in the online space. By shashank shekhar

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ovember saw a major economic event – demonetization. I understand that given your online presence and dealings, your consumers are accustomed to the online medium. But what happened post demonetization? Can you share with us some trends post the government diktat?

The millennials, or the rising middle class is the force to trap. I would also say that we are heading towards a tailwind in the travel space, because more and more people are wanting to travel and as they have more disposable incomes, they will travel. The first experience that they are going to have is the experience of their own country. India has so much to offer and we see those mega trends moving towards the domestic leisure segment.

Well, what happened was there was a slump for the next 2-3 days, as people started to absorb what really happened. But over a period of time, what we have seen eventually is a steep rise in online transactions – which obviously means that people are getting far more comfortable in using digital payments and solutions. Which is good. It helps us to further accelerate. So, in a way it was good. From a micro-economic term, as well. It was a bit of a challenge initially, and from a macro-economic term as well, it is going to be a good move.

It has been three months since the noteban. Have you seen a change in the usual trend? It is an important time of the year for the outbound. Can you also shed some light on which destinations and hotel segment gained the most traction? During the holiday season, we saw people booking all sort of hotels. To give a perspective, a first-time booker will simply book a hotel that gives them the experience and the charm of a staying in a hotel.

You have had such guests as well?

Yes, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a fivestar hotel, just a typical medium sized hotel that will still give you the real experience of it. A more evolved traveller, or student travellers, backpackers and such, also a raw traveller wants to experience more local type accommodations. They could look at apartments, or hostels, or guest houses to get that experience. So, that is the way the typical holiday season played out. It all depends on what the customer really wants to experience. If you take the holiday season out, one of the biggest things we are seeing is people merging their business travel with leisure. As the business travel starts to increase, there is more demand for ‘bleisure’ a business trip with one or two days extra of leisure to enjoy the destination. That is an important emerging trend.

The HVS report indicates that the mid-segment hotels will remain the backbone of India’s growth story in the hospitality sector, and the domestic leisure segment is where the big money is going to be. What is your take on both these assertions? Absolutely correct. The millennials, or the rising middle class is the force to trap. I would also say that we are heading towards a tailwind in the travel space, because more and more people are wanting to travel and as they have more disposable incomes, they will travel. The first experience that they are going to have is the experience of their own

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Vikas Bhola Regional Manager - Indian Subcontinent, Booking.com

One of the biggest trends has been the emergence of travellers mixing their business with pleasure and there is more demand for ‘bleisure’. country. India has so much to offer and we see those mega trends moving towards the domestic leisure segment. If you look at the airline space as well, it is a very similar trend. Trends show that the domestic airline travel is fairly strong and the travel space is going to grow. The business and the leisure segments, both, are going to grow.

Booking.com is a multinational company. Probably the strongest player in Europe, and doing a fine job in India too, but with two of the strongest players in the online space, MMT and Ibibo, both formidable entities, have come together focusing on their own strengths. What sort of a challenge does it pose for you?

I think that is an interesting question. My two cents in the merger is that I think it is a sign of maturity in the market, which probably means we will see some rationalisation in pricing as two big players, who were competing with each other, have decided to come together. I think that both these companies have carved their own niche and they can grow in their respective areas. For us, it is like a blue ocean at the moment. We are pretty much covering the whole span of the accommodation space, and we are always first and foremost for the customer. That is the principle of our business – to really see what the customer wants, and to build out supply that matches that demand.

A lot of industry insiders speculate that the development will put a lid on the merciless discount war that was going on in the OTA space. There will be some sort of stabilization coming in. Booking. com was never heavy on discounting, and was always heavy on creating an experience. So, for a company like yours, it surely is a great development? Well, yes. That is absolutely true. What we have experienced and seen is that when you are really close to partners to really help them understand the nuances of their business, giving them the analytical tools for them to make smart decisions that often the natural outcome is the partners see the overwhelming benefit of giving us the best price. We manage to capture demand very efficiently and ultimately, providing the best price helps both parties. So, yes for sure, it would help us if there is rational pricing, but we have also seen is that it is not always about the price. It is also about the experience, and who you book with matters a lot in deciding what kind of holiday you are going to have. The decision making is not purely built on price, but also on the valueadd that you are going to get when you book with a particular platform. But I do agree that rational pricing will create a fair playground for us to capture the market.

India truly is at the cusp of taking to the

mobile platform, especially with the government backing the ‘Digital India’ initiative and several amendments to ensure that digital transactions are carried out without levying extra charge. Do you really think that this is the moment most of you as online players were waiting for and now is the time to truly take to the mobile as a platform for conducting business? Mobile is a very important part of our business, and I would say that a majority of our transactions still happens on mobile. When I say majority, I mean a lion’s share of our transactions in India are being conducted on the mobile platform.

What is that figure for you?

At this stage, we would not be able to give you the India figure but on a company-wide level, one-third of our transactions are happening on the mobile. I am just talking about the mega numbers that we do every day. A lot of companies talk about how they are a mobile-first company, we do not necessarily say that, we always say that we are a customerfirst company and that enables us to see where the customer needs us – which is basically the whole spectrum, and that covers mobile as well. For example, we’ve learned that 75% of our customers that reach out to properties proactively prefer to take care of simple stay-related requests via self-service tooling and we wanted to provide them with a convenient and familiar interface to manage these requests in the most seamless way possible. As a result, we brought in an app for our partners.

Could you elaborate a little bit on that?

Yes, we have an app called Pulse. The interface helps us and our accommodation partners to provide a smooth, enjoyable and stress-free travel experience for our customers, especially for frequent travellers who need to manage multiple stays on the go. It allows partners that keeps them up-to-date with the most relevant and time-sensitive news for their property, including check-ins and check-outs for the day, as well as new bookings, and now special requests from their Booking.com guests. It allows properties to load their availability and price and understand the issues that a customer is having at the time of staying at a property. For example, on most review sites you can give review after your stay. Here you have the opportunity to give reviews during the stay and correct something that is not right at that particular point of time.

So, the hotel is lot more responsive?

Exactly, and also communication that was totally missing like the time of arrival, and also opportunities such as airport transfers. That becomes extremely easy. It’s all a part of our machine learning so, very simple answers can be replied to in a fraction of time.


citie s and state s: L akshadweep

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Lakshadweep will remain a high-end, low volume destination, says administrator Despite the underlying fear that some of the South East Asian countries could be posing a threat to Lakshadweep’s standing in the region, Farooq Khan, Administrator of the U.T. remains positive that the unique tourist attractions and tourism products of the islands will continue to positively impact the tourism sector. Indicating that 2017 is set to be one of the most important years for tourism, he talked about how tourism remains crucial for the union territory, apart from opening up on the challenges ahead. Excerpts of the interview follows: By Anagat Choudhary

H

ow critical is tourism for your economy? What is its stake in overall growth and development of the UT? What is its stake in creating more employment?

Lakshadweep tourism, as I look at it, is not only important for the local population of the island but also plays a vital role in generating foreign exchange for the country, because Lakshadweep is not a regular kind of a tourist destination but a niche one. People who are interested in a specific kind of activity and are ready to spend good money are the ones who generally get attracted to Lakshadweep, whether it be scuba diving enthusiasts or adventure fishing enthusiasts. These are two activities which we are trying to publicise in a manner where they would attract high-end tourists. We are not looking at high volumes because these are very small sensitive eco-systems and we do not want to, by any means, disturb the same. The islands are very pristine and thankfully these small little jewels in the Arabian Sea have been untouched by any kind of pollution or disturbance by human activities. So, we are looking to improve upon these but at the same time preserve them as well.

But at some point, you must be looking to increase traffic as that is something that cannot be limited?

There are several things involved. We are definitely looking to increase traffic from what it is right now but we are specifically looking at tourists who want to buy exclusive experiences. For example, if you have a look at the packages that Maldives tourism offers, they are very high, compared to even say Australian tour packages and yet

snippets four-day long revelry with ample display of Samba in the streets of A Goa is round the corner. Slated to be

Farooq Khan Administrator, U.T. of Lakshadweep

Maldives has huge tourist footfall. We are not looking to replicate the Maldives model but are looking to learn from it as well as other such models all over the world. An island can take only a limited number of people as there are a lot of issues involved like drinking and bathing water, waste disposal etc. all of which come in to play. Only concentrating on increasing footfall for monetary gains would probably, at the end of the day, destroy the ecology and eventually lead to the downfall of the tourism sector. We must keep the balance in mind and work on a case to case

Goa Carnival 2017 set to boost tourism

held from 25-28 February, the Carnival will showcase spectacular float parades, Carnaval festivities and an array of events and activities. Float parades in the four cities: Panjim, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa will be held from February 25-28 respectively. The state tourism department has channeled its energies to ensure that non-ecofriendly floats are weeded out. Also, the state government is mulling a crackdown on polluting junk vehicles and indecency.   Carnaval is celebrated in Goa since the 18th century. The Carnaval is exclusive and unique to Goa, and was introduced by the Portuguese who ruled over Goa for over five hundred years.   The float parades are organized in association with the State Tourism Department. Although, the four-day festival is primarily celebrated by Christians, it has also absorbed Hindu tradition revelry and western dance forms.   Unique to Goan landscape, the carnival is not celebrated anywhere else in India. It was revived with the Liberation of Goa, and is a boost to tourism , drawing lakhs of tourists, domestic and international alike.

We are not looking to replicate the Maldives model but are looking to learn from it as well as other such models all over the world. An island can take only a limited number of people as there are a lot of issues involved like drinking and bathing water, waste disposal etc. all of which come in to play. Only concentrating on increasing footfall for monetary gains would probably, at the end of the day, destroy the ecology and eventually lead to the downfall of the tourism sector. We must keep the balance in mind and work on a case to case basis.

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end up being disastrous to the bigger scheme of things. We are very cautious about how tourists are transported and accommodated.

Would you say, Lakshadweep is a year-long tourist destination or a seasonal one?

We look at Lakshadweep as an eightmonth tourism destination from around September to May. The scope of activities becomes a little restrained during monsoons as it tends to be on the heavier side and so it is not the most comfortable period for tourists but surprisingly it has been observed that tourist in-flow keeps occurring even during this time period.

What is the positioning that you are seeking to acquire as a destination? What about tapping the MICE Segment?

Like I mentioned, if it were to be explained in one line, Lakshadweep is a ‘high-end, low volume’ tourist destination. When it comes to the MICE segment that is one area which we are working on. Frankly speaking, we are presently unequipped to tackle this segment. But we are looking to incorporate the segment in the very near future. We

We are impressing upon the ministry to give us two flights a day, at least, during the peak season, beside introducing sea planes. basis. These are different islands which vary in size and have different topography. Each island must be presented and preserved on one hand and then managed in a manner that it retains its uniqueness.

There are several products in the vicinity that seem to be adding to your competition in attracting footfalls, especially among the international inbound. How are you countering that?

We at Lakshadweep have some special features that are unique to the area. There are tourist spots where one can go for scuba diving only and there are tourist spots where one can go and only do adventure activities. Lakshadweep is a destination where all these activities can be done simultaneously and the activities are of the highest quality. We have the world’s most attractive coral reefs. The sheer variety of fish in those reefs is hard to explain and must be seen to be believed. We have a huge maritime zone in which all these activities are immensely famous among tourists from several European countries like France and Sweden, and yet the Indian population remains relatively ignorant of the same. We probably missed out on identifying this issue at some point of time but not anymore. These are activities which do not impact the eco-system. We are promoting our product in a very short and slow manner as a misstep today might

want to promote Lakshadweep as a marriage tourism destination as well as look in to the other aspects of the MICE segment.

Air connectivity to Lakshadweep is still restricted, with only Air India plying to the islands. Are you in talks with other private players to boost the air connect of UT with the rest of the country?

Airline connectivity has seen vast improvement of late. I would go to the extent of saying that earlier it was really bad where we had 42 seater ATRs which would carry around 26-27 passengers in a single trip because of technical constraints. I would like to thankfully acknowledge that due to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the honourable minister, now we have a new 72 seater ATR which can carry around 56-58 passengers daily. We are trying to impress upon the ministry to make it twice in a day during the peak season. We are also looking in to the possibility of allowing some sea-plane operators to operate there.

What are some key challenges in promoting the UT? How are you addressing them?

2017 is probably going to be the most important year for the tourism future of the island. We have some secrets up our sleeves which we will be sharing with you in due time.


21

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Outbound: Mal aysia

Malaysia will focus on positioning itself as a d and family outbound from India, By shashank shekhar

India is an important market for us, amongst the top six source markets for a long time now. In the past ten years, we have seen a growth from 150,000 tourists to over 722,000 tourists, which is quite significant. There have been changes in the traveller profile as well. Earlier, Malaysia was seen as one among the trinity including Singapore and Thailand. Now, we see people booking exclusive Malaysian holidays and also opting for places beyond Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. These are all encouraging signs for us. Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia

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The Days when Malaysia was clubbed with a planned visit to Singapore and Thailand by the Indian outbound seem to be truly behind us. Malaysia, thanks to its diverse tourism products, especially with the niche segment – which the outbound has taken a keen liking to, ranging from golf, spa, wellness, shopping and weddings – has truly emerged as a standalone destination. Now, the Malaysian tourism ministry is assiduously planning to stake claim on the family outbound with sharp focus on four key UNESCO sites in the country, apart from promoting the spa and wellness segment. On radar are not only major tier-1 cities, but also important tier-2 and tier-3 cities in India, beside an amplified presence in the online space. In an exclusive interview, TourismFirst speaks with Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Hon’ble Minster of Tourism, Malaysia to understand how the country is poised to make the most of its diverse assets, beside deciphering some important trends in the country’s inbound. Excerpts:

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ow important is tourism for the Malaysian economy? What is its stake in the overall economic growth and development?

According to the Tourism Satellite Account 2015 report prepared by Department of Statistics Malaysia, contribution to the Tourism Direct Gross Domestic Product (TDGDP) to the GDP is 6%. In terms of GNI ranking for 2015, tourism is the third in ranking behind Oil, Gas & Energy (rank 1) and Wholesale & retail (rank 2). Employment in the tourism industry is 2.9 million or about 20.7% from the total employment for 2015. As part of Malaysia’s growth plan towards high income status, tourism was selected as one of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) under the National Transformation Programme (NTP) in 2010. The impact of tourism goes beyond tourist arrivals or tourist receipts. Its impact is most important on the sustainable development of our economy and society. Since the inception of NTP, the tourism industry has opened up new opportunities and benefited Malaysians.

Malaysia has developed quite a number of products, especially in the niche segment. How much is the niche segment driving traffic for you?

Based on Departing Visitors Survey(DVS) conducted by Tourism Malaysia, overall, shopping, health & wellness and MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, Exhibition) are the niche segments that are growing as the main purpose of visit for tourists to Malaysia. However, Indians are amongst the high spenders while on vacation and we have seen this trend while they holiday in Malaysia as well. It’s great to see that the Indian market is warming up to the concept of niche tourism. Shopping, Golfing, Destination weddings and honeymoons are quite popular with the Indian ‘niche’ travellers. Needless to mention, the returns are high from this segment and in the coming years you can expect some aggressive marketing activities to promote these niche products. At the same time, we are looking forward to new attractions generating renewed interest to the destination - Resorts World Genting’s 20th Century Fox World outdoor theme park and Ipoh’s Movie Animation Park Studios.

Malaysia has been a pioneer in creating world-class infrastructure, especially in the Asian region. Have the footfalls been commensurate to the Malaysian government’s efforts in that direction?


Outbound: Mal aysia

23 that Malaysia has to offer to our guests from shopping to spas, adventure to homestay, golf vacations to theme parks, hiking to diving in exclusive spots, we have something for everyone. In 2017, while we continue to position Malaysia as a perfect family holiday destination, there will also be emphasis on experiential holidays like spa holidays, art and culture trips and culinary vacations. Also with UNWTO declaring the ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, there will be focus on the 4 UNESCO sites in Malaysia namely: Kinabalu National Park in Sabah, Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Melaka & George Town in Penang and Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley, Perak. Besides mainstream advertising, we will be participating in a host of marketing activities not just in the metros but also in the Tier II & III markets which is a growing segment. You will see a significant presence of Malaysia in the digital space as well. Joint promotions with airlines and on-ground partners are also mainstay in our marketing plans for the year.

We understand that the visa issue has been a restricting factor in creating move tailwind for footfalls from India. What is your take on it?

destination for the niche segment says Tourism Minister How has Malaysia benefitted from this constant infrastructural infusion in the tourism sector?

The improvements and upgrades to our public facilities such as MRT and airports enable us to provide greater convenience to tourists and facilitate their enjoyment of traveling to/within Malaysia. This gives them more opportunity to visits more products. Tourists can now conveniently travel from our borders with Thailand to the heart of Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur!

Given the global political scenario, with Europe staring at a tough year ahead, and the USA looking at putting in place protectionist measures, how crucial do you think tourism is to the global community? What role do you see tourism playing in limiting the impact of these factors?

Tourism has always played a vital role in ensuring the growth of the world economy. It constitutes 10% of the world’s GDP and 7.0% of the world’s export. According to the latest survey of UNWTO’s Panel of Experts shows continued confidence in 2017, with the large majority (63%) of the some 300 respondents expecting ‘better’ or ‘much better’ results than in 2016. Based on current trends, the outlook of the UNWTO Panel of Experts and economic prospects, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals worldwide to grow at a rate of 3% to 4% in 2017. Europe is expected to grow at 2% to 3%, Asia and the Pacific and Africa both at 5% to 6%, the Americas at 4% to 5% and the Middle East at 2% to 5%, given the higher volatility in the region.

India is no stranger to Malaysia. Your campaign, “Truly Asia” has been one of the most catchy and successful outreach campaigns. However, a large majority of Indian travellers remain unaware of the gamut of products and experiences that await them. How do you plan to drive destination awareness in the Indian market, and how important is India for your overall tourist footfalls? India is an important market for us, amongst the top six source markets for a long time now. In the past ten years, we have seen a growth from 150,000 tourists to over 722,000 tourists, which is quite significant. There have been changes in the traveller profile as well. Earlier, Malaysia was seen as one among the trinity including Singapore and Thailand. Now, we see people booking exclusive Malaysian holidays and also opting for places beyond Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. These are all encouraging signs for us as there is so much

As of Jan-Dec 2016, there was 453,815 visas that have been approved, which is an increase of 10.73% from the same period in 2015. Different types of visa have been introduced to facilitate Indian tourists to Malaysia such as the e-Visa (online visa application) which was introduced to India since April 2016 and Visa on Arrival (validity of 7 days) was introduced in 2014. Immigration Department of Malaysia together with Tourism Malaysia will be promoting the e-Visa services to increase awareness in the Indian market.

Malaysia: plans to unveil new products and destinations to regain momentum Sulaiman Suip, Director, North & East India operations, Tourism Malaysia expressed hope that the shortfall in numbers from India in the recent months, after a tweak in visa regulations, was going to be a temporary setback. In an interview with TF, he detailed how the tourism board was going to channel its focus on introducing new products and destinations in the Indian market to regain its foothold. Excerpts:

By shashank shekhar

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n your second innings here, what are some of the top priorities that you have? What are some of the priorities of the Malaysian tourism?

Beside awareness, because of the competition we have in this market, we would like to push and try to resolve issues of the entry formalities to Malaysia as these formalities are dampening the awareness and the demand from the market.

What are your expectations now, ease in travel?

Yes. We will try to resolve this issue to ease out travel. You know…it is a win-win situation for both parties. Neither we want to compromise on the security part and, again, we also want to have tourists. So, there must be a way in-between to resolve these things. Second is the awareness of Malaysia (as a destination). We have not been aggressively promoting ourselves in this market, so we will try to do a lot more promotion, especially joint promotions with our counterpart agents to attract some of the associations to come back and have a conference or convention in Malaysia. We have not had that in a long time. So, in order to strengthen and create more awareness for people to come back and see what Malaysia has to offer.

If you mention ASEAN, with all due respect to every country in the region, Malaysia has much to offer, if not more, than many other

ASEAN countries. The Malaysian tourism product is extremely diversified. Now how about promoting some of the lesser known, or lesser emphasized destinations?

Apart from the traditional things we are promoting, like Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur, we are now moving into new products like Legoland we have in Johor; The Johor Premium outlet that we have there. It is not similar to the rest of what you have, around the world, but this outlet is specifically operated by the brands itself. That is what makes it special. Now there is a new product coming in Ipoh – the Malaysian Animation Park studio – which is coming up by the first quarter, in March, it is opening its door. So, we are focussing back on the Lost World of Tambun. The place is there, but unfortunately no awareness is created. The distance between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh is getting shorter because we have trip services, connecting the two and cutting the time needed by half. Transportation is not an issue. We have the best resorts in the world. We have one of the most luxurious spas one can have – The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. So, there are a lot of new places that we are trying to put back and introduce to the Indian market. They have been asking for new products. These are the new products that we are introducing.

How is the MICE market doing?

We are not into the MICE so much, because it is overseen

Sulaiman Suip Director, North & East India operations, Tourism Malaysia

by our counterpart, MYSEC (Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau). So, we are more concentrated on the leisure market.

What about luxury (market) out of India, because you have a whole lot of luxury products, particularly for spas and wellness?

We have a lot of them. Yes, and also on medical tourism and educational tourism. We are promoting all these slowly. It is one of the best country for medical tourism. Each country has their own speciality. Thailand has certain areas, whereas Malaysia has certain areas. We have one of the best heart hospitals for doing open-heart surgeries in Malaysia. Our National Institute is the best; we have some of the best specialists there. It is the best. And then we have some of the best hospitals in the world.

Apart from the traditional things we are promoting, like Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur, we are now moving into new products like Legoland we have in Johor; The Johor Premium outlet that we have there. It is not similar to the rest of what you have, around the world, but this outlet is specifically operated by the brands itself. That is what makes it special.

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Any specific plans for mounting some more aggression in the Indian market?

I look after the north and east part of the Indian market. Travellers from Delhi and other northern areas prefer more of beaches and such like – the mountains, beaches and nature. Whereas the Mumbai area is more into shopping and entertainment; southern part is more into leisure.

How did the numbers do in 2016?

For 2016, we do not have a complete figure yet. Till October, we did not have a positive one, but not by that much. September was recorded at -6.7% as compared to 2015. Hopefully, by 2017 with aggressive campaigns, we should be able to surpass what we have achieved in 2015.


Outbound: South Africa

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South Africa unveils promotional campaign; travel spend from India heads north South Africa Tourism Board has reasons to be aspirational about the Indian market. The figures from 2016 indicate that travel spend from India has increased many fold, crossing the coveted one billion ZAR mark, making India one of the most important strategic market in its pursuit of international footfalls. We bring you a report of the recently held roadshow in the capital. By Anagat Choudhary

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he much-anticipated South Africa Tourism Road Show was held recently in the capital. The exercise was aimed at connecting the stakeholders of the South African tourism trade with their Indian counterparts. The roadshow – which was also conducted in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai – offered Indian travel agents and tour operators a chance to interact with a 65 member suppliers’ delegation, comprising of local tourism offices, airlines, hotel-chains, products and attractions. 10% of the delegation were first timers and due to the positive response received in the prior editions, this was the 14th edition of the road show in India. Despite a gloomy travel outlook towards the end of last year, Indian tourists have shown healthy numbers for South

Africa during 2016. Hanneli Slabber, country manager, South African Tourism commenced by congratulating the travel and tourism industry participants on the fact that for the first time ever, the overall spends from Indian tourists crossed the ZAR 1-Billionmark last year with the avg. spending per tourist estimated to be around `590,000. 2016 closed with a 27% growth in tourist arrivals i.e. around 81,425 fresh footfalls by the end of the 3rd quarter. Several popular South African tourist agencies and tour operators such as Wegro, Durban Tourism and Joburg Tourism participated at the roadshow this year. Hanneli mentioned that India was one of the key markets of focus and there was an on-going aggressive campaign to draw tourists from India to South African shores. She also reiterated that India was one of the fastest emerging strategic growth market for outbound travel and the South African tourism industry had

The Wonder Cave: South Africa’s latest push in the Indian market

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onsidered one of the most beautifully decorated, The Wonder Cave is the 3rd largest cave of South Africa and is believed to be about 10 million years old. Just over an hour’s drive from Johannesburg the cave is situated in the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Kromdraai. Around 90 steps lead you one step at a time to an elevator which leads down to the main chamber of the 60m deep cave. The cave was discovered by early miners while prospecting for gold and there is still visible evidence of their blasting and mining

activities to be seen. Home to various fossils including beautiful rock formations, the cave has been open to the public since 1991. Despite facing a damage from lime mining, one of the remarkable features of the cave is its ancient dripstone formations which are largely intact and still growing. The 125m long, 154m wide natural wonder even boasts of its own colony of bats. The entrance to the cave is by guided tour only which take place in the day as well as at night but the night tour needs to be pre-arranged. The northern chamber of the cave, which is the first

area visited during the tour, there is a natural pool. The cave also boasts of a large variety of stalactites with some structures resembling crystal chandeliers. Cave pearls also await discovery as hidden gems in this ancient natural marvel of South Africa. The subtle lightning in the cave reflects the naturally shaped limestone structures which lets the imagination swim around with shadows in rim stone pools. Facilities at the cave include a fully functional restaurant, limited braai (a form of barbeque) facilities and a curio shop selling arts and crafts.

I want to thank all the stakeholders of the industry as, for the first time, we have crossed the ZAR one billion mark in spending from India. We are hoping to achieve a 10% increase over last year’s arrivals and to ensure that we continue to draw in over 100,000 Indians in the coming year. Our new campaign showcases our ability to go beyond the expectations of the travellers in every segment. Hanneli Slabber Aaron wodin-schwartz

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Country Manager, African director publicSouth policy, brandTourism usa

2016 closed with a 27% growth in arrivals by the end of the 3rd quarter. This roadshow saw some new entrants – which indicates SA’s intent to further cement its position in the Indian market. committed a substantial budget to reach out to diverse consumer segments. This in turn had led to more awareness about the uniqueness of the South African experience. All these factors combined with the weakening of the Rand have also helped South Africa in moving away from the ‘elite’ and ‘expensive’ destination tag as well as allowed Indian tourists to visit and hence, in the process, to spend more. Talking about the road show, Hanneli said that the feedbacks that emerged in these sessions had helped in identifying trends as well as enhancing consumer experience. The participating tour operators and agencies briefly talked about the gamut of products and experiences that had been proffered for tourists and visitors alike. The South African tourism industry was committed to making 2017 an even bigger year, she said. “We are hoping to achieve a 10% increase over last year’s arrivals and to ensure that we continue to draw in over 100,000 Indians in the coming year,” said Hanneli in a similar road show held in December last year in Kolkata. The behavioural trends of the Indian outbound had also facilitated South Africa’s newly launched campaign, ‘wow in every moment’. “This campaign showcases our ability to go beyond the expectations of the travellers in every segment.” Hanneli added. The campaign had been launched through aggressive consumer and trade engagements across India. A new Facebook page, getting travel agents involved in joint marketing campaigns as well as television and outdoor marketing campaigns were the

main components which had been used to launch this campaign. Also, there is a programme in the pipelines for travel agents to understand all the aspects that make South Africa a preferred travel destination as well as undergoing destination training. An announcement for an additional flight to Durban is shortly expected. Various consumer events and a planned campaign for awareness, demand and information in the consumer space is also anticipated to translate in to increased queries for South Africa. A few South African suppliers, citing the importance of the Indian market, have established permanent offices in the country to promote and grow their business through India. Hanneli had previously stated that the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions segment enjoyed a very good response from India and that it constituted nearly 50% of the countries tourism business. Talking about the South African experience, Hanneli also spoke about a marked shift in the mentality of the Indian consumer from wanting to see to wanting to experience, which has led to a boost in the famous wild-life experience industry of South Africa as well as the adventure sport industry. Indians tourists are now more interested in activities like shark-cage diving and hot air balloon rides. Some activities like bungee jumping off the Bloukran’s Bridge, the world’s highest commercial bungee, have become a must do in the checklists of Indian travellers. An understanding of the Indian culinary offerings has further reinforced South Africa as the preferred holiday destination for Indians.


Outbound: Thail and

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Niche and cinema tourism fuelling outbound to Thailand; trend to continue in 2017 The leisure segment has been going strong, registering an annual double-digit growth. However, increasing numbers of cinema shootings and weddings in the Southeast Asian country is adding more teeth to its Indian outreach. TF in conversation with Isra Stapanaseth, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand New Delhi with North & East India, Bangladesh, Bhutan. By TF Bureau

T

hailand has seen a massive boom in music festivals, electronic music to be specific, adding more diversity in its tourism offerings. Given the growing number of millennial travellers, it may

turn out to be a major draw for the outbound. What are your thoughts on the same?

Thailand organizes music festivals, concerts, exhibitions etc. around the year. We are hopeful that all segments and more youngsters from India get attracted to these events.

What about luxury (market) out of India, because you have a whole lot of luxury products, particularly resorts? From the renowned hotel brands to world class spa resorts, from high end shopping to luxury cruises, Thailand has a lot to offer for the discerning travellers looking to pamper themselves with only the most

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exclusive holiday experiences. Whether it is the captivating and vibrant metropolis of Bangkok, lush rainforests, the picturesque mountainous Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces or the idyllic coastline and beaches such as Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket etc. luxury holidays to Thailand have something for everyone. For the discerning traveller, Thailand offers the magical combination of three very different experiences; natural wonders and jungle expeditions in the north, sleek city style and superb shopping in the capital and picture-perfect beaches and pristine coastline throughout the islands and along the south. As for hotel and resorts, Thailand hosts, most of the luxury hotel brands that have world class properties across Thailand. Apart from being high end, these hotels and resorts also offer great value for money, which is the key reason that attract the Indian HNI travellers.

Any specific plans stronger foray in the leisure segment of the Indian market?

Albert Pozo President, Amadeus Asia Pacific Amadeus IT Group S.A.

Renee Welsh CEO Booking Boss Pty Ltd

Oliver Hua Managing Director APAC Booking.com

Raj Rana Chief Executive Officer South Asia Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Arthur Chapin Senior Vice President Product and Design Expedia Inc.

Thailand is already one of the top destinations for leisure travellers from India. Leisure travellers look for memorable experiences, good shopping, comfort, easy availability of desired food(Indian/ Vegetarian), warm hospitality, easy accessibility in the country, variety and cost effective activities and products, world class facilities yet reasonable, Thailand offers it all.

How did the numbers do in 2016?

2016 has proved to be a good year in terms of Indian footfall to Thailand. In 2016, 1,193,822 Indians visited Thailand as compared to 1,069,422 in 2015. Therefore, registering a growth of 11.63 %

What are your expectations on the footfalls front in 2017? Tony Duan Vice President Fliggy

Rob Torres Managing Director Travel Google

Ashish Kashyap Co-Founder and President MakeMyTrip and Founder and CEO ibibo Group

Ashutosh Sharma India Head Investments and M&A Naspers Ventures

Chinmai Sharma Chief Revenue Officer Taj Group

India is a rapidly growing market for Thailand, considering that the outlook for outbound tourists from India is set to grow by leaps and bounds. Thailand being the first preferred destination due to exponential growth. Not only are Indians high spenders but are also looking at Thailand for big fat Indian weddings, celebrations, film shoots, MICE and for leisure travel. India is amongst the top ten markets for Thailand. Our expectations for 2017 an increase of around 10% over the previous year.


Outbound: fr ankfurt and rh ine main are a

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A panoramic view of the skyline testifies why it is called the city of skyscrapers

A view of one of the many events held in the city

Frankfurt: Culture, heritage, and F&B make it much more than a layover

Annette Biener, Head of Marketing for Frankfurt and the Region listed out some of the key USPs of the city – which has long harboured the reputation of being the powerhouse of finance and education in Europe and world over. She talked about city’s cultural and leisure offerings, its steady strides towards adding more products to its repertoire and what made it a destination worthy of being much more than just a layover to other cities in the region. By shashank shekhar

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ow has been the program so far?

Our tourist board attended outbound traveller show. We had been in five cities, promoting Frankfurt and greater area and Rhine. We started in Mumbai, and then Kolkata, Chennai – Chennai has a direct flight connection to Frankfurt with Lufthansa. It is very important to have direct flight connection to cities in India. There are other connections as well; direct flight connections to Frankfurt, and hopefully we get much more.

Is this your first trip to India?

No. I have been here many a times. I come here every year.

So, how has been the response in this trip so far?

It has been great. There is a very big demand for Germany. Many travel agents from India need help from DMCs for being able to handle the trip. There is a bigger demand comparing to former years. AI is looking at some more connections to Europe in the coming months and years, so Frankfurt may also be one of the beneficiaries there. Yes, and we work on it to see that there is an increase in numbers.

destination for cruising and shopping, trade fairs. These are some reasons why Indians come to Frankfurt.

A look at the profile of the city and the greater area reveals that there is a fascinating number of universities and post-graduate colleges as well. So, do you think that it could be one area that you could look into? The educational outbound? It is quite a lucrative market. That is true. Educational trips, especially good institutes are in abundance. We are the headquarters of good educational institutes in the region. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a very famous German poet, and his birthplace is in Frankfurt. You can visit it, and everything is named after Goethe and you can visit it. The Goethe university is well-known. Of course, we hope to have a lot more Indian students come to Frankfurt for studying, or for language school. It is a good

Germany as a tourism board has a substantial presence in India. They conduct regular roadshows. What prompted you to make this unilateral foray into the Indian market?

India is a future market for Germany, for its outbound business. Therefore, the German National Tourist Office, probably, will increase the presence, and we are also working with the GNTO. As you can see, the figures for Frankfurt for overnight stays is very dynamic, up by roughly 17%. It is nearly 90,000 overnight stays.

You do not count apartment stays, Airbnb and the likes?

No, we do not. And, day-trippers are also not included. It is just the overnight stays. It might be much more. It is an interesting

G

There are events and festivals every month. It adds to the lifestyle quotient, and shopping possibilities. There are culinary events like the Apple Wine Festival. We have got the biggest cultural festival which goes on for three days. Then there is the Christmas market in December. It is very cosy and not so cold, because it is a wine growing and hot springs area. So, festivals, shopping at reasonable prices and culture. There are plenty of museums, too. Annette Biener Head Marketing for Frankfurt and the Region

Frankfurt is a key educational hub in the region and the board is keen to have more Indian students to boost overall outbound figures. place; it is not a very expensive place to be in Germany. Prices are reasonable. Food and nightlife is fun. There is plenty to see and discover for people of every age and walks of life.

MICE travellers staying longer during the weekends, because hotels offer lower rates over the weekends. So, if there are leisure groups, it might be good to come during that part of the week.

What is your primarily focus, MICE or the leisure segment from India?

The first image that comes to mind when one mentions Frankfurt is a bustling financial city in the region, and also an educational hub. But a lesser known aspect, at least for the Indian outbound, is that there are numerous festivals that are organised in the city. It is an incredible add-on for a destination. Could you talk to us about its importance in further diversifying the tourism bouquet of the city.

MICE and leisure segments, both, are welcome. Of course, MICE travellers travel in groups, as big as hundreds, so their numbers are larger in the city. But all we want is happy travellers. It does not matter if they are MICE travellers, or leisure travellers. We also look

Frankfurt’s growing popularity in the outbound does not come as a surprise

ermany has numerous cities that have gained global recognition. Many of them are located on the banks of a meandering Rhine and, through the decades, have turned into hubs of industry and commerce. Frankfurt is no exception, except that one needs to take a trip to enjoy the picturesque Rhine. An alpha world city, and a commercial hub in its own right, Frankfurt is home to some of the most important financial institutions, most notably

the European Central Bank and the German Federal Bank. Robust air-connectivity has played a pivotal role in the city’s ascent. The city’s airport is the principal hub for the German Flag carrier Lufthansa, and is one of the busiest airports in the world. It is the second busiest airport in terms of handling passengers, along with the Charles de Gaulle airport and Heathrow, and the busiest airport in the world in terms of cargo handling. However, it has

,,

remained more of a layover for travellers, and, laudably, it is a perception that the city’s tourism promotion bureau is assiduously trying to negate. The city has a fascinating array of tourism products. Already a world-class business destination, it has heritage and modern architecture, numerable cuisines, and infrastructure which would make most cities envious, making it an equally formidable leisure destination. Interestingly, the city is home to 14 out of 15

skyscrapers in Germany. The city has a rich nightlife and is home to some of the most elaborate fairs in the world. Frankfurt Book Fair is the biggest book fair in the world. The city is accessible to people with disabilities, and has a dedicated bicycle lane for users. Given the interest shown by the travel trade fraternity in India, Frankfurt should be able to attract a larger chunk of the outbound. It is has everything going for itself.

It does. Certainly. There are events and festivals every month. It adds to the lifestyle quotient, and shopping possibilities. There are culinary events like the Apple Wine Festival. We have got the biggest cultural festival which goes on for three days. Then there is the Christmas market in December. It is very cosy and not so cold, because it is a wine growing and hot springs area. So, festivals, shopping at reasonable prices and culture. There are plenty of museums, too. Of course, on the financial side, you are right, we are the powerhouse of money. The ECB (The European Central Bank) is headquartered at Frankfurt. There is a new skyscraper in the east part of the city, and it is also something to discover. There are several ways of doing it. City tours for example. Cruising and bike tours.


Outbound: Austria

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Austria registers strong footfalls; Vienna, Innsbruck lead their Indian foray Beating demonetization blues and insufficient direct air-connectivity, Austria has seen a substantial rise in numbers from India. The interesting aspect of this growth has been the fact that over 60 percent of Indians, particularly in Vienna, have opted for 4 and 5 star accommodation, generating high revenue for the country. TF reports the recently held roadshow in the capital.

One of the most recognisable statues in Austria: Johann Strauss monument in Stadtpark

Christine Mukharji Aaron wodin-schwartz

Last year, we created a record. A country of only 8.3 million people, we have created a record of over 140 million overnights – and the countries that gave us the highest absolute growth are Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland and the UK. The growth picture from India, it has been really astonishing. And we have had 2,71,100 overnights, accounting for an increase of 24%, compared to 2015. These are great numbers for us. Also, profits have gone up, especially in Vienna.

Market Manager – India, Austria National director public policy, brand Tourist usa Office

By shashank shekhar

A

ustria seems to have beaten all odds to emerge as a preferred destination for the Indian outbound. Unfazed by demonetization and limited direct air-connectivity, the central Europe nation, nestled between Germany and Poland, has clocked impressive numbers from the Indian shores. Speaking at a recently press interaction in the capital, Christine Mukharji, Market Manager – India, Austria National Tourist Office called their Indian foray “a tremendous success.” “We have had a roadshow and a press conference

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middle class travellers, right now, with higher propensity to spend.” Taking stock of the Indian outbound to Austria, she said that they have had even better numbers than the average growth. “Last year, we created a record. A country of only 8.3 million people, we have created a record of over 140 million overnights – and the countries that gave us the highest absolute growth are Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland and the UK,” the country manager added. Sharing that The federal states of Tyrol region and the region of Salzburg were the biggest beneficiary of the influx, she added “the growth picture from India, it has been really astonishing.”

An emerging trend has been the highspending by the outbound in hotels, generating substantial revenue for Austria. in Mumbai, and in Chennai – which was extremely successful. We had over a hundred visitors,” she said. Outlining numbers from India, she called Austria a “hot destination for 2017”. Detailing some serious statistics brought out by the European Tourist Commission, she informed that commission had asked MasterCard to give them a forecast on India. “In 2016, 14.5 million Indians went abroad. They are expecting an annual growth of 8.2%. By 2021, there will be over 21.5 million Indians travelling abroad,” she noted. Adding that there was a likelihood that driven by the changing face of the consumer profile, the trend in outbound was going to witness a tweak, she said “The middle class is growing, so a larger number of middle class travellers will head to foreign shores. This may, interestingly, also mean that the overall spend may go down by a bit, as there are larger number of upper class and upper

She informed that Austria had statistics that covered 55 countries, based purely on hotel nights. “We do not go by visa, because of Schengen it is not possible. So, of all these 55 countries, India witnessed the highest growth among all countries – when it comes to percentage,” she added. Highlighting the considerable rise in the Indian outbound to Austria, she detailed that in 2016, from January to December, they have had 147,300 arrivals from India – which amounted to 25% increase compared to 2015. “And we have had 2,71,100 overnights, accounting for an increase of 24%, compared to 2015. These are great numbers for us. Also, profits have gone up, especially in Vienna. Indians have been staying predominantly in 4 and 5-star segment hotels. Almost 63% of Indians have been staying in these two segments, bringing the revenue higher for us, and we are very happy about it,” she shared.

A global city, Vienna has seamlessly interwoven elements that make it a formidable tourism product

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alling Vienna a global capital will not be going overboard. After all, it has been consistently ranked as the most liveable city in the world, and boasts of world-class infrastructure. However, ease of travel is only aspect in any city’s attempt to make it a destination worthwhile the experience for visitors. What truly makes Vienna a top-notch tourism product is its ability to seamlessly weave several elements, its rich history, culture, and cuisines to curate an experience. A hub in Europe, Vienna is very close to other capital cities. It is in close proximity to Budapest, Prague and Bratislava, making it a perfect destination for combined trips. Vienna airport is the international hub in the region. There are direct flights, thrice a week from India, connected by Air India from Delhi, and one-stop flights from many other cities. It does not come as a surprise that most of Vienna’s overnight stays comes from the neighbouring Germany. Interestingly, China, for the first time, has figured in the list of top ten markets. India, too, is steadily climbing the ladder. In 2016, India ranked 29th in the list of countries, in arrivals, which is a significant improvement from 2015 – where it ranked 42nd. In terms of overnights, too, the increase has been a whopping 30%. Buoyed by the development, the city tourism board now expects an increase of overnight stay by 20-30% from India. As mentioned, the city is renowned for its world-class infrastructure, and there are several trains connecting Vienna to other regional capitals. Local sightseeing is a hassle-free experience, courtesy a well laid out network of buses, trams and trains. Metros ply on a regular interval. Taking stock of its diverse elements, music is one of its strongest pegs. Rightly so, as the city has been no stranger to its connection with music – the city has been home to two of the greatest composers of all time, Beethoven and Mozart. Music lovers can find a number of other interesting places like the House of Music, the Mozart House Vienna, and other capital concert halls. The state opera hosts over 300 evening events. There are 15000 concerts, not only classical, but dedicated to all kinds of music. There are other elements too. One can take a leisurely stroll at the city centre; the city is extremely well accessible on foot. There are several cafes where one can sip in the local cuppa, or sample delicious cakes and pastries. It is, in fact, famous for its coffeehouse culture. It is reflected in the fact that the city is home to over 2000 coffeehouses. F&B is a strong element of the city’s overall tourism offerings. Vienna’s cuisine is, perhaps, the only cuisine to have been named on a city. There are a 9 Michelin star restaurants. There are about 50 Indian restaurants, too – which showcases not only the growing clout of the Indian outbound, but an increasing trend of vegetarianism. Vienna is also famed for its vineyards. It is the only capital city in the world to cultivate appreciable wine within its city limits. 700 hectares of vineyards provide visitors the opportunity to take guided tours and taste some of the exquisite local produce.


outbound : dubai

28

Dubai: promotes Emirati heritage with

an eye on ‘Dubai Strategic Plan 2021’

I

The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) plays a crucial role in achieving the vision of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2021 of establishing the city as vibrant, global Arabian metropolis that shapes culture and arts in the region, and in the world. Vasujit Kalia speaks with the officials from Dubai Culture in this exclusive interview.

n the city, which is synonymous for its malls, shopping and glitzy hotels, what is the heritage that Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is promoting and how?

Dubai Culture & Arts Authority was created with the mandate to preserve Emirati heritage and enhance the cultural diversity and social cohesion of Dubai. While preserving and celebrating past heritage, we are also building a heritage for future generations to call their own. Emirati heritage is incredibly rich, with historical pearling and craft trades, an array of historical buildings and sites, and precious traditions and welcomes visitors to share that heritage. Subject-specific museums celebrate the characteristic features of Emirati life, while immersive historic villages and neighbourhoods capture traditional Emirati ways of life. The recently opened Etihad Museum is an exciting example, as it takes visitors back in time to explore ground-breaking moments in Emirati history. We also preserve and celebrate heritage via initiatives like the Live Our Heritage Festival, which is a prime opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in Emirati heritage, and our Dubai Center for Heritage Development, which brings heritage into schools and inspires young people to play an active role in its preservation.

How is it going? What response has it received, overall and, from India in particular?

Dubai Culture has been delighted to see increasing numbers of world travelers making trips to Dubai. The Emirate’s proximity to India puts it in the privileged position for welcoming many Indian visitors every year, and Dubai Culture is continuing in its efforts to offer these visitors a memorable and complete cultural experience. We are proud to be managing the Etihad Museum as part of our mandate

to preserve Emirati heritage. It officially opened its doors to the public on the 7th January 2017 and the response on opening day was overwhelming. The museum tells the story of the 1971 Union Agreement through the eyes of the Founding Fathers, and visitors expressed how much they valued an insight into the determination and dedication that went into forming the nation. Visitors also particularly appreciated the elegant architecture, displays of personal items belonging to the Founding Fathers, and the use of interactive technology. The museum connects a young Emirati generation with their history, and will ensure this important piece of our heritage

heritage-rich city. The Live Our Heritage Festival is a prime example but we also offer a full calendar of artistic events like the SIKKA Art Fair and Art Week, and literary celebrations like the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. The SIKKA Art Fair in particular goes a long way towards displaying the Emirate’s thriving arts scene, by bringing local talent to light and sharing it with visitors. By organizing the Live Our Heritage Festival, Dubai Culture aims to display Emirate heritage to a wide audience and add a much-anticipated heritage event to the city’s cultural calendar. The festival offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the UAE’s desert and marine

By organizing the Live Our Heritage Festival, Dubai Culture aims to display Emirate heritage to a wide audience and add a much-anticipated heritage event to the city’s cultural calendar. is preserved for future generations. Development of Dubai Historical District also continues successfully, with areas under renovation centred on Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai) and including Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi and Deira. We play a key role in transforming DHD and ensuring that it stands as a lasting testament to Dubai’s rich trade, craft and pearling history, and year on year, we are delighted to welcome an increasing number of visitors to these historical areas of the city.

Considering that Dubai is not much known for its heritage, what are the steps taken by you in changing the mindset?

Dubai Culture organizes a range of initiatives that encourage visitors to discover every aspect of this multi-faceted,

heritage, and enjoy traditional Emirati craft workshops. It also takes place on World Heritage Day, highlighting its importance and adding to the celebrations. Via this initiative, we are able to share the richness of Emirati heritage with all segments of the community and show people from all walks of life that there is more to Dubai than malls and hotels. We are delighted to see visitor numbers growing every year. Our development of the Dubai Historical District is also weaving Emirati heritage into the fabric of the city, for all to see. We aim to celebrate both old and new, and the historical areas of the city offer a delightful contrast to the modern urban developments that have made it such a cosmopolitan destination. Both are part of Dubai’s heritage, and both must be celebrated equally as two parts of a rich whole.

Ireland: Titanic Belfast emerges a favorite visitor attraction on the Valentine’s Day

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ith the much-touted Valentine’s Day having gone by, Titanic Belfast, which was crowned the World’s Leading Visitor Attraction earlier this year and is located on the exact spot where she was designed, built and launched, has unveiled its top romantic treats for couples to experience this February.

Top experiences include: Discover some of the real love stories on board in the Titanic Experience Learn about the true love story of the owners of Macy’s

Department Store, New York, Mr Isidor Straus, and his wife, Ida. Once it was clear Titanic was sinking, Ida refused to leave Isidor and would not get into a lifeboat without him.

Purchase the perfect Valentine’s gift

Find your own ‘Heart of the Ocean’ and discover the story of the ‘Love of the Sea’ necklace, which may have been the inspiration behind the movie storyline. Kate Florence Philips (aged 19) eloped with the owner of the shop she worked for, to start a new life together.

Recreate the famous 'Jack and Rose' pose

Take a photo on the bow of SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star Line vessel and the biggest Titanic artefact in the world. Due to its similarities to RMS Titanic, it has proved to be a popular proposal location. Take a romantic stroll Complete the day with a romantic walk down the historic slipways at dusk, tracing the illuminated outlines of RMS Titanic and sister ship Olympic and pause for a

moment at one of the benches, positioned exactly as they would have been on board the deck of the ship. Enjoy the view of the iconic building in the evening light.

snippets

Europe is the official Partner Destination for ITB China 2017 Partner Destination ever – official of partnership between European FTravelirstannouncement Commission and ITB China on 31 January in

Brussels.   Europe is the Official Partner Destination of ITB China 2017. A corresponding agreement was signed on 31 January 2017 by David Axiotis, General Manager ITB China and Eduardo Santander, Executive Director European Travel Commission. The three-day business to business travel trade fair focuses exclusively on the Chinese travel industry and takes place from 10 to 12 May 2017 in Shanghai.   David Axiotis, General Manager of ITB China: “We are delighted to announce Europe as the first ever partner destination for ITB China. China is the driving force for growth in outbound trips and Europe as a continent remains a dream destination for many Chinese tourists. Europe as partner destination will help to better understand the needs of Chinese visitors within the European Tourism Community, especially in the view of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY).”   Eduardo Santander / Executive Director at European Travel Commission: European destinations acknowledge the need to remain competitive in China. It is only through deeper cooperation with the Chinese authorities and the support and commitment of the European tourism sector to engage in joint public-private marketing initiatives, like this partnership with ITB China, that Europe will succeed in fostering sustainable tourism growth from China”.   A dedicated Europe Pavilion at ITB China will be showcasing the multitude of European tourism products and destinations among which are confirmed national presences of Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Serbia. In addition to the Europe pavilion, ITB China will show strong individual presences of other major European destinations such as Portugal, Finland, Greece and Austria.   The European presence on the show floor is flanked by The World Bridge Tourism project (WBT), which is co-located with ITB China 2017. The WBT is a project jointly organized by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) matching 150 European tourism suppliers from all over Europe with the corresponding number of Chinese travel product buyers. Besides its pure B2B character the event is supported by an extensive program of research and webinars aimed at increasing the understanding of the needs of Chinese visitors within the European Tourism Community.   ITB China will take place from 10 to 12 May 2017 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Conference Center. The event, an international offshoot of one of Messe Berlin’s most successful trade fairs, will take place annually and focus on the Chinese travel industry. Its co-organiser is TravelDaily China, a leading online news portal and organiser of travel industry conferences in Asia’s largest country.


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The L a st pag e

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Impact assessment must for nurturing responsible tourism: Mandip Soin Before the local communities and tourism stakeholders reap the benefits of constantly increasing footfalls into the Ladakh region, they must assess the impact of overgrazing and the consequential cost on the society and surroundings, asserts Mandip Singh Soin. Speaking to TF, he shared his experience of how the once solitary Chadar Trek is finding many takes, probably one too many, causing a massive dent to the fragile ecosystem. Batting for a regulatory framework, he advocates a carrot and stick policy to maintain the famed tourism product for posterity. By shashank shekhar

Ladakh is suddenly becoming a touch over-crowded at certain spots during certain times of the year. This is not a good thing for the eco-system or the locals. It is very convenient to say that there is a very small window for tourism and obviously, the local pressure to make the most of this time-period is understandable but what happens is that if any one of the stakeholders looks only from their prism then naturally the result is a little skewed.

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ow do you think we can integrate the principle of TourismFirst in Ladakh while retaining the essence of the destination? You have in the past mentioned the threats from over grazing as well. In what capacity, does that need to be looked in to? Also, how can locals reap the benefits of tourism?

You know, this question about balancing, trade-off, community effects etc. is a very commonly discussed one and what one needs to realise that it does not necessarily is a trade-off. A good idea is to assess what it would take for a disaster to hit there and to mitigate it. So, then a reverse engineering model can be used, which is to say that you take the costs of your disaster management and then you calculate the benefits that the place is getting and do a cost analysis, human lives analysis etc. This is a useful methodology to keep in mind. Sometimes, what has been observed is that the benefits that have been reaped have been far outstripped by the costs of disaster management when it occurs. This leads you back to the question of carrying capacity. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a process that has been undertaken neither by the centre nor states. The only good thing is that in the 12th 5-year plan, the centre allocated a carrying capacity study budget. Now I am hoping the same will be released to the states so that the studies can be undertaken.

So, Ladakh is a concern right now?

What is happening right now is that Ladakh is suddenly becoming a touch over-crowded at certain spots during certain times of the year. This is not a good thing for the ecosystem or the locals. It is very convenient to say that there is a very small window for tourism which starts from May till about October and obviously, the local pressure to make the most of this time-period is understandable but what happens is that if any one of the stakeholders looks only from their prism then naturally the result is a little skewed. So, if the locals are only looking to maximise profits during that small window, they are being ignorant of the fact that a little number control is also required.

Take us through the Chadar Trek. What are your concerns there?

Now, the next product in line is a product called ‘Chadar’. What is ironical is that the Chadar trek had been opened for commercial activities in 1994 wherein a team had flown in

Mandip Singh SOin FOUNDER & MD, IBEX EXPEDITIONS

from England for an Indo-British expedition. We went in to Zanskar and then walked back on the river to study the Zanskari lifestyle. We came up with the conclusion that it was a great adventure cum eco-tourism product that could be offered during winters as people would get to stay in the local homes. This would in turn help the locals earn money which they could not even dream of doing during winters. Porters, cooks and guides that were normally only employed during summers were used by us and were getting double and sometimes even triple their wages which people were happy to pay because of the harsh conditions. We even took with us an artist and later had an art exhibition in London at a very premier gallery. This entire expedition had the backing of the government to popularise the region. This was not just the start of Chadar but the start of winter tourism in Ladakh. Initially, all the parties involved were extremely happy and we thought it was a win-win model. Now, 23 year later, I regret this decision. In fact, very recently, I had a horrific experience wherein someone sent me a video clip of the region where you could see people on the trail in a beeline. It is that overcrowded now. If one was to go there today, they could be confronted by up to 200-300 people per day which is way more than the region’s carrying capacity. The

,,

point is that if I am at a camp site and if I say want to have a moment of solitude and enjoy my environment and so on, I don’t want to be surrounded by 200 people. Camp sites have begun to have space issues which has resulted in the sites being setup closer and closer to each other. All of this tends to have a massive impact on the eco-system.

So, you are in favour of regulating footfalls?

Instinctively, I would say that the area should not have more than around 40 people in a day walking in to the valley. There should be limitations on the number of people allowed in to the area daily and, at the same time, when people are camping, they can get to experience the sense of solitude that they went there to experience. I would say that as of now, the client experience has become a little dented. I have been told that there are now several kinds of packages that have been introduced for the region which are really cheap. The upside to this is that it allows a lot of the younger travellers, who could not afford the high rates to come in to and experience the region but what needs to be realised here is that the game is not to send thousands of people in to the area but the game is to get it right. You see, even if youngsters are going in to the region and

are being fed only Maggi Noodles, as I am told some agencies are doing, it is not the correct way and could even lead to health issues. God forbid, if there was to be any mishap, these cheap tourist packages would be extremely unequipped to deal with the same. There are things like staff-client ratio that need to be kept in mind. Understaffed tour packages are least bothered about littering and pollution. The point is to pack in and pack out. It is all the more important in Ladakh and areas like Zanskaar as due to the extreme climate, the rate of bio-degradation is very low. I am afraid these are grave areas of concern and that is why I was saying that the Chadar trek is a very ripe area to carry out an intervention by the government. I have heard that an environmental fee is charged but according to me a lot more needs to be done. There is bound to be backlash from the local community but from what I have experienced, there needs to be a regulated approach combined with the incentive approach as well. Unfortunately, the tourism industry is not a responsible enough industry yet, although we are trying to get there. But there are a very few companies who take up responsibility. The trend is to take the easy way out, by and large, and therefore we have been noticing an upward trend in natural catastrophes in the recent past. The point is that while tourism can do a lot of good, we are also aware that right now, on the ground there is a lot of chaos.

So, what you are suggesting is that the entire process needs to be taken back to the drawing board and re-looked at? Well, I would not say that there is a need to stop the on-going activities but all I am saying is that they need to be rationalised. Before one starts looking into new avenues to promote tourism and new destinations to bring in so called “development”, there needs to be a serious impact assessment. Let us for example take the all-weather road that is about to open in Ladakh. Perhaps, it is very useful from a developmental point of view in the sense that there will be better access to things like medical facilities and connectivity to remote areas. But what we cannot stomach is the smaller stuff. For example, let us look at Rohtang Pass. The place is in a mess despite there being an order from the SC about restricting the number of vehicles allowed to enter. It is the tourism vendors themselves who circumvent such orders whether they be a part of the organised sector or the unorganised one. The issue lies in the implementation of the rules Even in Manali, the situation is similar.


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