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Volume 38 | Issue 5 | May, 2014 | Rs. 50

BJP Gives Tourism Notable Push in Election Manifesto Literature Festivals as Tourist Draws Bringing together the larger stakeholders of the travel & tourism product

NGO Efforts Create New Pockets for Travel & Tourism

CHAI COUNTRY Tea tourism gets a boost with the launch of chai, a book by Rekha Sarin & Rajan Kapoor

INDIAN AVIATION Sector has the potential to be number one globally by 2030 Priorities in Aviation Sector for the Incoming Government India-UAE Capacity Swells as Indian Carriers Lag Behind

SMART CITIES 100 smart cities is an idea that is already with us, as intrinsic to urban renewal and growth





O Motivations BJP Gives Tourism Notable Push in Election Manifesto…5 India and Saudi Arabia Explore Cultural Exchange…7 Tourism Connect Heritage Transport Museum: A Unique One-man Collection…9 Regulated Entry this year to Chardham & Hemkund Yatra…10 Going Local at Orange County…11 Agenda for the New Government Some essential first steps…12 Tourism Needs to get a push on Economic Considerations, says ASSOCHAM Seminar…14 Literature Festivals as Tourist Draws…16 Neemranafication…18 NGO Efforts Create New Pockets for Travel & Tourism…20 It's Time to Tea, with a Book on chai in the Stores…22 Crisp Flavours of Malabar Cuisine in Kerala…24 Cities & States Manipur has it all, as an attractive tourism destination…26 100 Smart Cities…32 Hotelscapes Hospitality Sector remains Bullish on India Growth Story…34 JW Marriott Leads Aerocity Development in the capital…36 100% of Hotel Bookings to Move Online…38 India is still an ‘under-hotelled’ market…39 Marriott builds strong network across India…40 Airlines & Airports Priorities in Aviation Sector for the Incoming Government…41 Serving travellers better at Dabolim Goa…45 India-UAE Capacity Swells as Indian Carriers Lag Behind…46 Indian aviation sector to be number one globally by 2030…48 Last Page…50

n our cover this month is an A380 aircraft. Having received government permission to operate in India, this is a big advance for Indian aviation as a whole. It brings Indian aviation up to contemporary standards and offers passengers in India the luxury and comfort of the world’s largest passenger aircraft and the latest in terms of features and airline hospitality. It is on this note of change that we bring you this issue of Destination India in which you will find thoughtful discussions on a variety of contemporary issues of relevance to tourism, travel and hospitality. In this election season you will find an illuminating discussion not just on the BJP’s stress on tourism in its manifesto but also on the agenda for tourism for the next government, outlining some essential first steps that are felt necessary to introduce vibrancy into this sector. We bring you a discussion on the priorities for the incoming government in the aviation sector as well. We bring to you a feature on literature festivals in India whose growing popularity, even as they highlight various attractive destinations, augurs well for the tourism industry. Cities and States remain dependent upon development of infrastructure and smart cities is the idea that is fast catching on its time has come, and we expect the roll out soon, perhaps with the advent of the new government. Tourism Professionals will find our reportage of the Manipur Ecotourism Conclave and its discovery of Manipur and the North-East, to be meaningful . Besides, we cover HICSA 2014, updating you with the latest thinking in the hospitality sector. Of interest is the KPMG-FICCI report that suggests that Indian aviation has the potential to be number one globally by 2030. You will find our feature on Malabar cuisine mouth-wateringly delightful. In another feature we discover how NGOs create new pockets for travel and tourism. Book-lovers will delight in our review of the book Chai, a treasure trove of information about tea. We bring you a report on a unique collection at the Heritage Transport Museum. In this issue, you will find reports on contemporary happenings of relevance to tourism, travel and hospitality. There is the report of Google, in association with the Ministry of Culture having brought in a 360 degree view of Indian heritage sites online. We bring you the latest news of the Chardham and Hemkund Yatras, and other news and features besides.


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SAURABH SHUKLA DESTINATION INDIA is printed, published by Navin Berry and owned by Cross Section Media Pvt Ltd. printed at Anupam Art Printers. B-52, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi - 110 028. It is published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110 002. Editor: Navin Berry. Tel: 011-43784444, 41001622. Fax: 011-41001627. Total pages 48 + 4




India’s Tourism Industry to Grow 7.3% in 2014: WTTC


ndia’s travel and tourism industry is set to grow by about 7.3% in 2014 but the average spending by foreigners travelling to the country could decline sharply, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Revenue from domestic tourism is expected to grow 8.2 per cent this year as compared with 5.1 per cent last year, the Londonbased council has said in its Economic Impact Report. It has further said that increasing domestic travel, growth of low-cost airlines and upgrading of airport infrastructure will be the growth drivers. But, according to the repor t, t he grow t h in the amount of international visitors spend in the country could come dow n to 2.9 per cent from 6.2 per cent in 2013. David Scowsill, president and CEO, WTTC has said that, “The picture in India in general terms is good. But in terms of the global forecast, it is much lower than other countries, like China, which grew at 9.2 per cent in 2013 and is anticipated to grow at 8.3 per cent in 2014.” According to the report India generated . 1.1 lakh crore from foreign visitors in 2013. The figure is likely to grow by 2.9 percent in 2014, according to the repor t. International tourist arrivals are expected to touch 7. 36 million in

2014 and 13.43 million by 2024. Expenditure by foreign tourists in India is expected to grow 4.3 per cent ever y year to 1.74 lakh crore in 2024. In 2013, the travel and

“The picture in India in general terms is good. But in terms of the global forecast, it is much lower than other countries, like China, which grew at 9.2 per cent in 2013 and is anticipated to grow at 8.3 per cent in 2014. In 2013, the travel and tourism industry contributed 2.17 lakh crore or two per cent to the country’s GDP. This is expected to rise to.4.35 lakh crore in 2024. tourism industry contributed 2.17 lakh crore or two per cent to the country’s GDP. This is expected to rise to.4.35 lakh crore in 2024. WTTC, which includes executives of travel companies as members, had said earlier that if five G20 countries (India, China, the US, the UK and Brazil) were to go electronic in their visas, the move could generate five million jobs and $268 billion income.


Jaitley pitches for Amritsar with extensive tourism infrastructure, not often that an Indian politician has highlighted a tourism-centric approach to city development


visualize it (Amritsar) as a primary tourism circuit where the tourism infrastructure comprising of restaurants, guest houses, hotels, dhabas is extensive. I dream of it as a city which has proper public transport system. I visualize Amritsar with a lot more educational institutions, ITIs and skill development centres. Why should not Amritsar have a world class sports complex an amusement park, a walking bazaar where handicrafts are sold, a food street where people arrive from all over to enjoy the delicacies of Punjab, especially Amritsar. I can foresee the highway to Attari, buzzing with warehouses, offices and hotels which become the centre of border trade. I visualize a drug free Amritsar where the drug smuggling across the border is handled as strictly as the terrorist infiltration. I visualize Amritsar as safe city where there is zero tolerance for crimes against women. For all this to happen, investment is required. I have decided to dedicate myself for this purpose.




record number of 1.087 billion tourists worldwide in 2013 marked a 5.0% growth over the 2012 figure of 1.035 billion. India’s share was a meagre 0.64% of that figure. Despite India’s 5,000-year-old history, exotic destinations, sun, sea and sand, the number of international tourist arrivals in 2013 was 6.8 million, up from 6.6 mn. in 2012. Thailand got 26.7 mn. in 2013, up from 19.1 mn. in 2012 and Malaysia 25.7 mn. in 2013 after receiving 24.7 mn. tourists the previous year. In 2013 India’s international tourist arrivals (ITAs) was 6.8 million, having crawled up from 6.6 mn. in 2012. Compare this with the growth figures of countries in the neighbourhood. During 2013 Malaysia got 25.7 million (up from 24.7 mn. in 2012), Thailand 26.7 mn. (leaping from 19.1 mn.) and Singapore 15.5 mn. (climbing from 10.47 mn.). Contrast these figures with major players such as France which received 83 mn. and China 57.7 mn. tourists in 2012. All these figures only go to prove that efforts towards focused development of Tourism in India have yet to be taken up seriously.

BJP Gives Tourism Notable Push in Election Manifesto So the Tourism Industry had good enough reason to cheer when the Bharatiya Janata Party devoted three paragraphs in a section titled ‘Tourism - Untapped Potential’ when it released its 52-page election manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on 7 April, the first day of polling. The section says: “BJP recognizes the role tourism and hospitality can play as a foreign exchange earner and its ability to create millions of jobs every year. Tourism plays a key role in socio-economic progress through creation of jobs, enterprise, infrastructure development, and foreign exchange earnings. BJP realizes that the tourism sector needs a clear plan for growth, and BJP commits to initiate a mission mode project to create 50 tourist circuits that are affordable and built around themes like: (a) Archaeological and Heritage, (b) Cultural and Spiritual, (c) Himalayan, (d) Desert, (e) Coastal, (f) Medical (Ayurveda and Modern Medicine), etc. This will lead to creation of infrastructure and employment around each tourist circuit and help in boosting revenue generation.

Specialised course in tourism will be started for capacity development. Safety and Security of tourists would be accorded due priority.” Expectations by the industry from the BJP had been aroused when their Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, in his 75-minute long speech during the party’s National Council meeting at the historic Ramlila Maidan in Delhi in January had highlighted the need to focus on Brand India. Referring to five Ts, these being Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Technology and Trade, it was presumed that by naming Tourism, Modi meant India’s rich cultural heritage, talent pool and traditions to be promoted as a brand globally. The 131-word intent in the manifesto indicates the seriousness the BJP has given to Tourism. The manifesto has acknowledged the significance of promoting Tourism comprising the country’s fascinating, exotic destinations, the blending of its 5,000-year-old history and modernity, among other industries, in order to tap the country’s economic potential. The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Economic Impact Report for 2013 says expenditure by foreign tourists in China is anticipated to grow at 8.3% in 2014 while for India

the figure is likely to grow by 2.9% in the same year which, in terms of the global forecast, is much lower than other countries. Earlier, WTTC had said that if five G20 countries, that is, India, China, the USA, UK and Brazil, were to go electronic in their visas, the move could generate five million jobs and an income of US$ 268 billion. A National Policy on Tourism was announced in 1982. In 1992 a National Action Plan was prepared and in 1996 the National Strategy for Promotion of Tourism was drafted. In 1997 a draft New Tourism Policy matched the economic policies of the government and tourism development trends. The policy recognised the roles of the central and state governments, PSUs and the private sector in tourism development. Involvement of panchayati raj institutions, local bodies, NGOs and the local youth in creation of tourism facilities was also acknowledged. Then why is India lagging behind in attracting tourists in large numbers, the way our neighbours are doing? Setting up of national strategies and charting of national policies even after the previous national action plan proposals are in an indeterminate stage show that the government‘s intents about tourism development and promotion have been well-meant but half-hearted. The National Tourism Policy of 2002 talked of positioning tourism as a major engine of economic growth and harnessing the direct and multiplier effects of tourism for employment generation and economic development. The economy will grow and job opportunities will increase only when there is a marked increase in the number of tourist arrivals on a year-toyear basis. India’s rank in ITAs was 47th in 1998, falling further back to 54th rank in 2002. However, in 2011 it improved to 38 but again slipped to 41 out of 184 countries in 2012. Hope of better governance is what the Indian electorate is betting on for the outcome of the April-May General Election for the 16th Lok Sabha. Forward and backward linkages of the Tourism industry with the other four Ts help make it a crucial element of Brand India’s socio-economic advances. The Tourism industry anticipates that the next Union Government will seriously consider the points in the manifesto for adoption of policies which would lead to growth in ITA figures. ANIL BHANDARI




India-Africa Bilateral Relations herald new opportunities for travel

Africa is slowly emerging as an engine of growth for the global economy. With a projected average growth of about 5% between 2013-25, it is second only to the emerging economies of Asia


s Africa accelerates its own process of internal reform and increases the pace of its global engagement reaching out to newer markets across the globe, India needs to keep pace in enhancing its economic engagement with the region. Africa-India trade has followed the upward trend in South-South trade and investments over the last decade. Bilateral IndiaAfrica trade has grown by nearly 32% annually between 2005 and 2011, the global economic crisis notwithstanding. IndiaAfrica trade is projected to reach US$ 90 billion by 2015. Even mor e imp or tantly, Indian private investment in Africa has surged, with major investments having taken place in the telecommunications, IT, energy, and automobiles sectors. Trade growth is be-

ing led by a vertiginous expansion in natural resources trade. This expansion tends to mask a wider story of sustained growth in a cross-section of other products groups, some with "value added". This new trade and investment relationship could be crucial in the struggle to lift millions out of poverty. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Export Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank) ini-

Efforts such as these, initiated by private sector driven chambers of commerce are built to increase exchanges between business and industry and create more travel opportunities.


tiatives through the IndiaAfrica Conclave and other Government of India initiatives are spurring on the burgeoning trade and investment relationship. In addition to more traditional development approaches, such as through Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation, the business oriented 'development compact' pioneered by CII and the EXIM Bank seems to be positively impacting directly on bilateral trade. The CII has also organised regional conclaves in Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Namibia and Nigeria. The CII has also explored broader financial opportunities for Indian companies by discussing credit facilities with African financial institutions to support business endeavours.

S&P Says Credit Profile of India Inc Improving


lobal ratings agency Standard & Poor’s this month said an increasing focus by India Inc on lowering debt is likely to improve their credit profiles. “More companies are improving their high financial leverage and boosting their credit profiles by adopting measures such as sale of equity and assets or using their free operating cash flows to reduce debt,” S&P said in a report. “Focus on lowering debt will likely improve their credit profiles,” it added. The routes adopted by domestic companies include raising equity, selling non-core assets and in some cases divesting businesses, it noted. S&P credit analyst Mehul Sukkawala said economic gloom and high interest rates have impacted debt-servicing ability and these are the primary factors pushing companies towards this strategy. In some cases, companies are refocusing on reducing debt after years of investing for growth. Citing examples, it said Tata Power's outlook was recently revised to positive and Bharti Airtel’s rating was revised upwards after both companies started focusing on lowering debt.



India and Saudi Arabia Explore Cultural Exchange Recently, an Indian delegation was in Saudi Arabia to explore joint collaboration on Rural Heritage. It has returned impressed with the diversity of that country. (Left) Maureen Liebl, Heritage Conservator and Priya Paul, Chairperson, Surendra Apeejay Hotels Group in local attire in Riyadh


recent high level exchange has brought new possibilities for cultural and tourism collaboration between India and Saudi Arabia. A three member delegation from India, comprising S.K. Misra, chairperson, Indian Trust for Heritage and Rural Development (ITHRD), Priya Paul (Chairperson, Surendra Apeejay Hotels Group) and Maureen Liebl, Heritage Conservator, were invited by the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society to visit Riyadh to “build future collaborations on heritage preservation, tangible heritage and soft culture.” The Indian side was invited personally by Princess Adila Bint Abdullah Abdulaziz Al'Suod, chairperson of SHPS. Discussion groups from the host country comprised eminent persons from the heritage and culture and tourism fraternity. The two sides had a wideranging discussion on the various issues related to crafts development in both India and Saudi Arabia, learned about the work of the Art of Heritage group, saw an exhibition of traditional garments, and visited the workshop where several dozen women were engaged in production. They are very interested in developing collabora-

tive activities with India. One possibility that was discussed was a workshop interaction between some of their fashion designers with Indian designers who are working with traditional textiles and techniques. They are interested in pursuing the possibility of sending Saudi craftspersons to the Surajkund Mela, and also would like to visit the Nagaland Hornbill Festival, as some of our tribal traditions have relevance to Saudi tribal arts. Follow-up discussions are expected to take place. Located just to the north of Riyadh, Diriyah is an immense site, the capital of the first Saudi kingdom. Massive restoration is in process, to develop it as a complete heritage tourism and cultural experience. It has been accorded World Heritage Site status, and development seems to be sensitive and creative. The Indian delegation toured the areas that are currently open, and witnessed restoration work in process. The Indian delegation had a long meeting with the SCTA, which is the government division responsible for tourism, culture and archaeology. Regarding archaeology, there is tremendous activity underway throughout the country in numerous sites. Until recently, excavation work could be undertaken only by Saudis, but this has been relaxed, and collaborative excavations with 20 countries are currently underway.

Similarly, regional museums are being developed throughout the country; 135 currently in process. Festivals are arranged to promote crafts and folk performance traditions throughout the country. There is a concerted effort underway to coordinate all these activities, to make the country more tourist-friendly. At the moment, the emphasis is on domestic tourism and on providing tourism attractions to religious pilgrims and “niche” visitors. General international tourism is not yet encouraged, though the SCTA officials are hopeful that this will change in the near future. The National Museum is just more than a decade old. It was designed as part of the restoration of a cultural centre in downtown Riyadh (the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre). Designed by a Canadian architect (Raymond Moriyama) it is an immense structure, with 8 major exhibition galleries, spread over two floors and about 30,000 square feet. Many of the exhibits focus on display text panels, dioramas, films, replicas, and audio-visual installations rather than on actual historical objects. That said, it is a sophisticated

and well-designed facility. The Museum recently organised a major international exhibition, Roads of Arabia, which grew out of a cultural exchange agreement with the Louvre in Paris. The exhibition has more than 300 objects excavated from 10 archaeological sites. After opening at the Louvre, it toured to several European cities, then went on to the Smithsonian in the U.S. It then travelled to Pittsburgh, and has just closed in Houston. From Houston, it will go to several more American cities. T he ex hibition had re ceived rave reviews in all venues, from scholars and critics as well as the general public. It has opened the eyes of the world to the treasures of Saudi Arabia’s history, and seems to be a landmark event. The over-riding impression at the end of the tour was that there is great potential for mutual gains in future collaboration and interaction between India and Saudi Arabia. Several people with whom the Indian side interacted are already planning India trips and programs, and the Princess mentioned that they may indeed be able to assist Indian organizations such as ITRHD in some of their projects.




Cox & Kings to promote football in keeping with the times

Indian Heritage Comes Online


(R-L) Rajan Anandan, Vice President, MD, Google India; Pravin Srivastava, Director General of ASI; Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Hon’ble Union Minister of Culture and Sanjeev Mittal, Joint Secretary, ASI unveiling the new 360-degree online imagery

oogle in association with the can take a walk Ministry of Culture and the Ar- at the Rock Cut chaeological Survey of India has Jain Temple, at brought in the 360˚ view of Indian herit- the Nagar juna age sites including the Taj Mahal and oth- Konda Buddhist ers by way of various panoramic images. Stupas and relive history in Fatehpur With these experiences coming on- Sikri. With the release of these new panline, people around the world will get a oramic images, we aim to create a dynew way to interact with and learn about namic, immersive online experience by some of the most important heritage which people within India and around monuments in India. It will help in shar- the world can understand and engage ing more of India’s diverse culture with more of India’s diverse cultural heritage,” new audiences, and help preserve this said Hon’ble Union Minister of Culture part of India’s identity for generations to Chandresh Kumari Katoch. come. Bringing Indian heritage closer to Google created a ‘virtual walkthrough’ every person’s doorstep, this project will application using its ‘Street View Trekker’ launch panoramic views of around 100 technology to capture the experiences monuments from all across India. Cur- of all these 30 monuments which also rently, they have launched included Agra Fort, Fatehpur the first lap, which had a With the release Sikri, Raigad Fort, Nagarjuna total of 30 monuments of these new Hill and more. including the Red Fort, panoramic images, “Google is deeply comHumayun’s Tomb, Jantar mitted to helping preserve we aim to create a Mantar and Qutub Minar showcase cultural heritdynamic, immersive and among others. age across the world. India is “The Ministry of Cul- online experience unique in terms of the sheer ture’s aim is to preserve, by which people wealth of heritage and iconic promote, and disseminate within India and historical monuments, and India’s art and culture. around the world it has been our privilege to The last year has seen a can understand work with the ASI in collectnumber of celebrations and engage more ing new 360-degree photos of and successes in the cul- of India’s diverse 30 Indian heritage sites. We tural sphere. This partner- cultural heritage,” hope the imagery will help ship with Google makes said Hon’ble Union make India’s heritage and it possible for billions of culture more accessible to Minister of Culture people across the world people at home and abroad,” Chandresh Kumari to see and explore our said Rajan Anandan, Vice magnificent heritage in Katoch President and Managing Dithe virtual world. People rector, Google India.


Cox & Kings, the leading tour operator has entered into an agreement with LFC E.L.I.T.E.S (Education and Learning Initiative Training Entrepreneurs in Sport), which is the global education and training partnership between Liverpool Football Club and London School of Business & Finance (LSBF). With this, Cox and Kings will be eligible to promote and sell combined educational and football programmes across India. LFC E.L.I.T.E.S School of English & Football is a residential programme designed to give aspiring students a chance to learn to play ‘the Liverpool Way’ whilst also improving their English language skills. Children and young people aged 11-17 can attend the campus in England for anything from one week to 8 weeks. Each full programme is for two weeks and costs approximately £ 1170 (approx INR 1.20 lakh) per week. The fees will include English Language Tuition, Professional Coaching from Liverpool Football Club Coaches, On-site accommodation, all meals each day, LFC certification and graduation, evening activities and weekend excursions, including an exclusive behind the scenes tour to LFC’s home ground Anfield, as well as Complimentary LFC E.L.I.T.E.S football kit. With this partnership, Cox & Kings aims to give these young Indian footballers an opportunity to hone their talent and train with those who inspire them. It is estimated that 287 million people in India watched the FIFA World Cup in 2010. The popularity of the English Premier League, which is broadcast on satellite channels, has also proliferated amongst Indian fans.



first time – and hopefully some inspiration for more such individual efforts to flower in the years to come – private collection museum in Haryana, close to Manesar, just five kilometres from the national highway, opened recently. Befittingly it was inaugurated by the chief minister of the state, in an acknowledgement that such efforts get accorded the status of being important by the powers that be! The National Heritage Museum is spread over four floors, occupying over one lakh square feet of area, and built at a cost of over `13 crores, excluding land and artefacts, of which there are aplenty – some 120 of the larger pieces including trains, buses, planes and over thousands of smaller items including lithographs, aquatents, photos going back to 1880s and 1890s, epherma including petrol cans, posters and whatever you can think of, associated with wheels. Conceived and executed by Tarun Thakral, CEO, Le-Meridien Hotel in downtown New Delhi, this has been a dedicated labour of love – he set up a trust back in 2006, in order to ensure that his personal collection was made manageable and sustainable. He owned this piece of land, near Tauru in


Haryana, and along with his passionate possessions, donated them to this trust. Along with some significant help from the Ministry of Culture, and assistance from friends who believed in his commitment, and remained impressed with his collections, he was able to put it together as an impressive museum, one of its kind in the country. How did Thakral manage his time, while he remains the chief executive of one of the more successful hotels in the city? He says he owes it to his boss, the chairperson of the company, for her support and for her allowing him the time to get out, as it were and follow his passion. Normally, he says, museums are considered the preserve of the government, both for building and also for sustenance. This is therefore welcome as a private initiative and hopefully other followers of their own pursuits and passions, whether they relate to textiles, or books or whatever, who can dare and live out their dreams. Soon, he assures us, visitors in the area, and tourists plying the national highway on way to Jaipur, will make a stop enroute, a mere five kilometre diversion, and spend some time mulling over the evolution of the wheels in all their manifestations.

Heritage Transport Museum: A Unique One-man Collection




Accor Hotels share the industry's commitment towards sustainable development

Regulated Entry this year to Chardham & Hemkund Yatra


et to start in May, the Government of Uttarakhand has taken various measures to ensure a safe journey for the pilgrims coming for the Chardham Yatra and Hemkund Sahib Yatra. The Yatra will begin on 2nd May 2014 with the opening of Yamnotri and Gangotri gates, which will be followed by the opening of gates of Kedarnath on 4th May, Badrinath on 5th May and Hemkund Sahib on 25th May 2014. To facilitate the pilgrims and tourists, a special control room has been set up at the Uttarakhand Tourism headquarter in Dehradun. • The State Government has created more than five Base Camps, 48 Wayside Amenities, Seven Ghats, and 12 Night Shelters for the Chardham Yatra. • All district magistrates in Garhwal besides the departments of health sanitation, water, electricity among others have been assigned responsibilities for maintaining efficient and smooth Chardham Yatra operations.

• Instructions have been issued to ensure that work on roads and infrastructure will be completed by 30th April 2014. A special task force comprising of police and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi, has been set up for the Kedarnath route from Bhimbali. • Mobile towers and PCO booths have been erected every 15 km of the route and mobile hospitals and medical camps have been established for the benefit of the pilgrims. • All wireless networks have been made operational and also a new police post at Kedar Valley is operational. • Additionally, the services of private helicop-

For keeping track of all the pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra, the state government is introducing mandatory biometrics registration.

        10  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

ter operators will be engaged to take passengers to Kedarnath. A s a par t of safety and for keeping track of all the pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra, the state government is introducing mandatory biometrics registration. “We want to ensure safety of pilgrims by making biometrics registration mandatory for all pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra. Biometric registration counters have been setup at entry points of state and also on yatra routes,” said Dr. Umakant Panwar, Secretary, government of Uttarakhand. Adding fur ther, he said, “The state government’s main emphasis is to create parking, ghats and other infrastructure to facilitate tourists at various tourist places... New ropeway projects are coming up with Public Private Partnership. Tourist Helpline number: 1364 Email id: (This service is available from 7 am to 9 pm every day)


o mark the second Anniversary of Planet 21 (The sustainable development program launched by Accor Group in 2012), Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre (NHCC) celebrated the occasion with their stakeholders and patrons and reinforced the group’s commitment towards energy conservation and resource optimisation. The Anniversary celebrations involved Blood donation Camp, Pollution check, Tree Plantations, Car pooling club, Zero Print out Day, Save Power (Switching off Non Essential Lights). The employees undertook Tree Plantation at the hotel premises. The focus was to create and maintain the green belt around the hotel to ensure a green environment around the property. To further reduce energy consumption, the staff at NHCC switched off all nonessential lights apart from observing a “Zero Print out Day” to reduce carbon footprints. The hotel has also created a beautiful outdoor sitting area for the guests to relax and enjoy the landscaping with the lake view and that of flocks of birds flying across the sky. Speaking on the occasion, Peter Frawley, General Manager Delegate Accor Andhra Pradesh & Goa Hotel Operations, said that “With Planet 21, Accor Group has set itself a series of sustainable objectives for 2015. These objectives are structured into seven pillars (Health, Nature, Carbon, Innovation, Local Development, Employment and Dialogue) and 21 commitments. We at Accor India are committed towards devising a sustainable solution for creating a Green future for our next generation.”




ose Ramapuram, Director Marketing, Orange County Resorts talks about the local experience and spirit of the land, that the resorts serve along with a luxurious experience. “The Orange County experience is to preserve the purity of the nature and culture of the land. This is our mission statement, which means our idea is to build resorts that are inspired by the destination. We try and capture the local in the resorts, we call the tag line ‘spirit of the land’ which means what we do, and we try and capture the spirit of the land in our property. So whichever of our resorts you visit, either in Coorg or Kabini, you should feel the spirit of that place. And by ‘spirit,’ I mean the local experience in every sense. Our Managing Director is an architect; we first study the local architecture of that place, and local lifestyle, kind of food and all these things we bring in to our property. We put in the element of our luxury and high standard, good service with that. So, the guests stay in luxury but experience the local. We have one of our resorts in Kabini, there we found out about the Kuruba Villages. These are the tribes who lived inside the forests. So, our resort in Kabini is inspired from these tribes. So the resort in terms of architecture, and styling and the theme and the activities have actually been taken from the lifestyle of the Kurubas. We practice

y t n u o C e g n a r O t a l a c o Going L the same thing at all other properties too. Hampi is a place known for ruins of the Vijaynagara dynasty, 13th to 15th century. There, we are building a 13th century style, Vijaynagara style palace. So the architecture is inspired from the Vijaynagara dynasty. So, wherever we go, we study the local architecture and we theme the resort from the traditional local architecture. We relate our resort to the place we are in.”





Former CMD, ITDC and presently, Chairman, AB Concepts

Agenda for the New Government Some essential first steps


eeping in mind various issues that are confronting the visitors, lead to development by stake-holders, and ultimately tourism industry today, I suggest that the points raised draw the attention of foreign tourists. in the BJP manifesto be taken seriously and the next India needs more convention and exhibition centres as prosgovernment ensure that secretaries of various related pects of the growth of MICE Tourism are bright. The world-class ministries prepare time-bound action plans and act upon the state-of-the-art International Convention Centre at Hyderabad, points included in the manifesto conscientiously. with a capacity of 5,000 pax, is the only one of its kind in India. This would involve a convergence of minds by all the con- By mid-2017 Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, India’s largest exhibition cerned ministries, at the micro and macro levels, including complex, will get the biggest convention centre with space product and infrastructure development, manpower planning, for 8,000 pax. Delhi Development Authority plans for a megapolicy decision-making, investments, public-private participation, convention facility in Dwarka with a 12,000-pax capacity are marketing, branding and promotion. Incidentally, these sugges- yet to materialise. The proposed exhibition-cum-convention tions have been repeated by tourism industry stake-holders to centre project in Mumbai is pending. The Ministry of Urban each government in power at the Centre over the Development could help give an impetus to MICE Keeping in mind past many decades. My suggestions: Tourism by ensuring that the proposed conference Embassies, high commissions, Ambassadors various issues that and exhibition centres in New Delhi, Mumbai as and High Commissioners should be asked by the are confronting the well as Chennai turn into a reality. Ministry of External Affairs to pro-actively promote tourism industry The Ministry of Railways could help by maktourism to India. As the TVoA scheme is bound today, I suggest ing land available to develop hotels near railway to attract a larger number of tourists, the Ministry that the points stations. Besides operating additional trains to all of Home Affairs needs to increase its manpower raised in the BJP tourist destinations it could introduce high-speed strength and initiate steps for improvement of fatrains to cut travel time to/from popular manifesto be taken bullet cilities at immigration counters; conduct sensitisadestinations like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Mumbai, Kolseriously and the tion programmes for departmental personnel and kata, Hyderabad, etc. and ensure cleanliness and the concerned police force to ensure the safety next government security in trains and railway stations. ensure that and security of tourists. The Ministry of Civil Aviation could accelerate Last year-end, according to the Ministry of Tour- secretaries of the process to modernise old airports. Modernisaism India has over 200,000 rooms in the hotels various related tion of 35 non-metro airports has been completed and guest-house categories and that in view of the ministries prepare by the Airports Authority of India which manages estimated growth in ITAs by 2020 there was the time-bound action 125 airports. Other requirements include setting up need to build an additional 100,000 hotel rooms. plans and act upon of heliports at more tourist destinations, increase To meet room requirements, the Ministry of the points included in the number of flights to India and reduction of Urban Development should liberalize floor space in the manifesto sales tax on ATF. index (FSI) and floor area ratio (FAR) norms The Ministry of Surface Transport needs to build conscientiously. uniformly on an all-India basis as has been done more highways and connecting roads to important in Delhi where FAR of hotels has been increased tourist spots. India’s road network, second largest by from 225% to 400%. In view of the spiralling prices of land in the world, totals 4.2 million km, 50% of which is unpaved and for building hotels in major cities, land parcels should be made national highways account for only 2% of the total. Provision of available for creation of Tourism Parks in the vicinity of leisure more wayside facilities on national highways and issuance of allas well as business locations in collaboration with the Ministry India permits to tourist taxi/coach transporters to avoid wastage of Tourism. of time in payment of taxes at district/border toll barriers are Land should also be provided, as proposed in the manifesto, other essentials. for creation of 50 tourist circuits that are affordable and built Coming under the charge of the Ministry of Shipping would around themes like Archaeological and Heritage, Cultural and be the setting up of terminals/berths at major ports for Cruise Spiritual, Himalayan, d) Desert, Coastal, Medical (Ayurveda and Tourism and relevant infrastructure like tourist, immigration and Modern Medicine), etc. These themes would attract domestic custom offices.

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Lalit Bekal: a pioneer among the hoteliers that got together to support a greenfield project around Bekal in Kerala

The Ministry of Environment needs to spell out a well-defined policy in respect of building hotels and resorts near seas, rivers, lakes and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) monuments, expedite and reduce CRZ clearance of 500 metres to build environmental-friendly hotels and resorts near seas, bays, backwaters, rivers, lakes, forests, monuments, etc. and maintain uniformity in specified CRZ clearance on an all-India basis. The domain of the Ministry of Finance would include reduction of luxury tax and introduction of a uniform rate of luxury tax applicable on actual and not published tariff. It should also bring uniformity in ST and VAT for hotels and tourist transport in all states/UTs, grant Industry status to facilitate entitlement to industrial rates on inputs such as power and water and other benefits as is in the case of other industries, provide funding from banks at lower rates of interest to tourism-related activities/ projects with TFCI as nodal agency for financial assistance and introduce GST at the earliest for the travel and tourism industry. The Ministry of Commerce should take pro-active measures to attract financial investment for development of Tourism Parks, Amusement Parks, hotels and resorts. The Ministry of Human Resource Development needs to encourage capacity building and improvement of skill sets through increase in the number of Hotel Management and Catering Institutes from the present 42 HMIs and five Food Craft Institutes as well as development of Culinary institutes. The All-India Council for Technical Education should also regulate institutes to maintain world class standards at the Institutes and initiate sensitisation of school-going children on the benefits of tourism. As per the manifesto, specialised courses in tourism need to be started for capacity development. In 2013 the total contribution of Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was more than 35 million jobs, or 7.7% of total employment. The importance of tourism as a creator of job opportunities can be understood from the fact that in India every one million rupees invested in tourism creates 47.5 jobs directly and between 85 to 90 jobs indirectly. In comparison, agriculture creates only 44.6 jobs and manufacturing a mere 12.6 jobs. As India is an important growth centre for Medical Tourism, the Ministry of Health should take steps to check observance of accreditation guidelines by wellness centres and support the opening of more world class super-speciality speciality hospitals in PPP mode. As Ayurveda and yoga are the essence of the wellness segment, plans to promote them further as a source of preventive healthcare should be formulated. Maximum utilisation of India’s rich culture and heritage


should come under the charge of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs which needs to help in promotion of art exhibitions and cultural shows in India and abroad. At places of historic tourist interests the ASI should ensure protection, cleanliness and maintenance of all monuments, arrange provision of audio and video guides at all World Heritage sites and sensitise staff, including tourist guides to improve ‘visitor experience.’ Bridging of the gap in formulation and implementation of the tourism policy comes under the ambit of the concerned State Governments and Union Territories as control on the use of land, construction of roads, maintenance of civic administration and security are state subjects. The states/UTs should ensure maintenance of cleanliness at all places of tourist interest, provision of public conveniences at tourist destinations, and security for tourists, especially women, so that they do not face any form of harassment. For the benefit of domestic visitors as well as for sustainable development the states/UTs should emulate the Tirupati pattern at major pilgrimage destinations. They should also adopt a single-window clearance system for expeditious grant of licences to stake-holders. Acting as a nodal agency to monitor as well as for coordination, the Ministry of Tourism, along with said ministries, states and UTs, should facilitate tourism-related activities for development and promotion of tourism. It should also promote domestic tourism through preparation of marketing policies in consultation with the states/UTs to avoid duplication by their tourism development corporations. Local level preparation by the Ministry of Tourism would include having a sufficient number of guides with the knowledge of foreign languages, especially Chinese and Japanese, sensitisation of persons directly/indirectly connected with the tourism industry such as taxi drivers and shopkeepers in etiquette and manners in order to increase ‘visitor experience’ and to make tourists feel welcome. The Ministry needs to conduct in-depth and relevant research in all tourism products and services to enable proper planning, development and investments, open up new destinations as done in Sentosa, Genting Island and Disney Parks besides the creation of Tourism Parks for development of tourism activities, that is Hotels, Convention Centres, Amusement Parks, Handicraft centres, Souvenir shops, Restaurants, Transport hubs as well as tourist offices, and lease them to the private sector. With expansion of TVoA facilities, the ministry, in anticipation of a larger number of tourists, should hire professional companies to promote the “Incredible India” brand internationally, open more offices across the world or hire more professional agencies to market India as a tourism destination and ensure that Indian tourist offices are manned by tourism professionals trained in sales and marketing rather than government officials, as at present. We have seen the effect of the “Hunar se Rozgar” and other capacity-building programmes in the spread of economic benefits to the weaker sections, the “Clean India” and “I Respect Women” campaigns which have helped build confidence among visitors, and the “Athiti Devo Bhava” campaign to educate the public of the benefits of welcoming the foreign visitor. Tourism is a high-impact Service industry which benefits a multitude of segments of society in the long run. Tourism can help improve the socio-economic climate of India. But only when, I repeat, there is a convergence of minds by the secretaries of the concerned ministries and officials of the state governments and Union Territories, to guide India’s Tourism prospects in a way that it is no longer considered an Untapped Potential. MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  13




Tourism Needs to get a push on Economic Considerations, says ASSOCHAM Seminar

Festivals and cultural tourism remains a big draw for India, the opportunities are endless.

Think Tourism – Think India a flagship national tourism event of ASSOCHAM was recently held in the national capital. Following is a report from ASSOCHAM secretariat.

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ourism is not only a growth engine but also an employment generator. According to the Economic Survey 2011-12, the sector has the capacity to create large scale employment both direct and indirect, for diverse sections in society, from the most specialised to unskilled workforce. It provides 6-7 per cent of the world's total jobs directly and millions more indirectly through the multiplier effect. Tourism in India is witnessing widespread growth on the back of increasing inbound tourism by the burgeoning Indian middle class, rising inflow of foreign tourists and successful government campaigns for promoting ‘Incredible India’. Infrastructure development holds the key to India's sustained growth in the Tourism sector. Further the government has also allowed 100 per cent foreign investment under the automatic route in the Hotel and Tourism related industry. Significantly, the country has the potential to become a major tourist destination, with the Tourism

(L-R): Radu Octavian Dobre, Charge D'Affaires, Embassy of Romania; Ramesh Kapur, Co-Chairman, National Council for Tourism & Hospitality, ASSOCHAM and CMD, A.B. Hotels Limited; Nakul Anand, CEO, ITC Hotels; Dipak Haksar, Chairman, National Council for Tourism & Hospitality, ASSOCHAM and COO, ITC Hotels and Parvez Dewan, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.



Assocham felicitates the winners at its Annual Conclave

sector expected to contribute around INR 3,414.8 (US $ 77 bn by 2021. India is currently ranked 12th in the Asia Pacific region and 68th overall in the list of the world's attractive destinations. Tourism sector in India has revealed that it is set for a fast growth stage marked by a huge potential in various segments in the industry. Government initiatives, both at center and state level have facilitated rapid development in the sector and are expected to continue in future as well. The market is fragmented and unorganized but is highly competitive. India has significantly evolved from being the conventional tourist destination to the most contemporary diversified industry offering wide range of activities including MICE, medical tourism, leisure tourism, adventure tourism, niche tourism, sports ecotourism, wildlife religious cooperative rural and many more.


The objective of the meet was to present an opportunity for convergence of the leaders from tourism and tourism-related domains like inbound and outbound travel, media, finance, hotels, online travel business in India and many more, with an intent to discuss strengths, challenges, opportunities, and threats to the business in general and to shed light on the way forward.


Capacity Building: It is observed that Indian Tourism Sector has immense potential. In order to tap the potential it is necessary that capacity building should be given ample attention. The sector needs skilled human resources and better quality of services offered to tourists. Shining India as a safe and secure tourist destination: An effort should be made towards transforming the image of the country in foreign countries. It should be projected as safe and secure tourist destination especially for women at global platforms. Special campaigns should be implemented in this regard.

Association with world class academia: Government should felicitate the more global joint ventures between Indian institutes and renowned international institutes for better adoption of standard practices Public Private Partnership: Private sector players should be encouraged to participate in the development of tourism infrastructure in association with public sector by provision of mutual fiscal as well as non fiscal incentives Differentiated tourism offerings for repeat travellers: Customised packages with different tourism products and discounts may be provided to repeat travellers in order to provide a different and enriching experience on each visit Rural Tourism: Special thrust should be imparted to rural tourism and tourism in small settlements, where a sizeable asset of our culture and natural wealth exists. Development of more tourist circuits across the country: More key tourism circuits in the country should be identified and should be further developed with the support of state governments, local travel partners and population of the region. Joint marketing programs: With tourist circuits spanning various states, collaborative marketing efforts may be required for their promotion Code of Ethics: The tourist industry and travel agents should be persuaded to evolve and adopt voluntarily a Code of Ethics and its infringement should be firmly dealt with Tour and Travel Associations. Inclusive Growth: It is imperative that an inclusive growth model should be implemented in the tourism sector. There is a need to increase stakeholder participation involving the government, private sector and the community at large Emphasis on Eco-tourism: Government should emphasise eco-tourism whose parameters should be broader than those of nature tourism alone. It must help in eliminating poverty, unemployment, creating new skills, women empowerment, preserving cultural heritage, tribal welfare and conservation of environment. MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  15



Literature Festivals as Tourist Draws The growing number of Literature festivals in India raise the profile of destinations and, with increasing footfalls, are becoming draws for tourists


iterature festivals in India have an enormous potential as tourist draws. Though most have started only in recent years, they have become a big success and are an attraction for the people. No longer staid affairs that attract only authors, they are becoming cultural extravaganzas not limited to just literature. They engage the public and take over cities. Already big draws, their popularity is such that over time, the literature festivals that survive are likely to start to bring in people in larger numbers from outside the communities and towns and cities within which they are held. Indian literature festivals are modelled on broader cultural festivals such as film festivals and music festivals. Europe, for instance, has several types of cultural festivals centred round its towns and cities of which popular examples are the Edinburgh (Scotland), Salzburg (Austria), and Glyndebourne (England) festivals. Each of these engenders significant amounts of arts travel. Though such events are, in part, meant to fulfill social and cultural roles within a community, they are open to a broader audience and attract visitors, thus driving tourism. The Edinburgh

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International Festival, for example, has a year long impact on tourism. It has been estimated that tourism is worth pounds 1.1 billion to Edinburgh per year and creates over 27,000 jobs. It is of interest to note that 43 per cent of the festival's audience comes from Edinburgh and the Lothians, 18 per cent from the rest of Scotland, 21 per cent from the rest of the UK and 17 per cent from overseas. These events thus become attractions that not only popularise the areas in which they are celebrated but also enliven and invigorate them. They situate a town or city on a tourist map that opens doors to different target markets. Like these festivals, the Indian literary festivals, already popular, may, over time, generate a fair amount of culture-related travel. As each is identified with a particular city or town, though there are exceptions where the host city varies from year to year, these events draw not only visitors but also promote these destinations by raising their profile. While many of these cities and towns have a rich cultural heritage besides the festivals, these events play a part in destination image improvement. The proliferation and success of literary festivals in India in recent years is in part linked to the production of more books than ever in the country. It is a commentary on the fact that the reading and the book culture is alive in India, despite pessimistic predictions, and is drawing in an increasing number of people. More and more people want to rub shoulders with authors in a festive atmosphere and to listen to their words of wisdom.



People have more disposable incomes and want Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival Kolkata January to invest in culture. Urban and semi-urban youth Jaipur Literature Festival Jaipur January want to meet authors. Publishers want to sell their Hyderabad Literature Festival Hyderabad January books. Authors want to meet other authors. These Delhi Literature Festival New Delhi February are trends that are likely to persist. It is not that there were no book festivals prior to Jaipur. There Patna Literature Festival Patna February were the SAARC Literature Festivals and those at Lucknow Literature Festival Lucknow February-March the Sanskriti Kendra, Anandgram in Delhi as also The Creative Art Literary Music Festival Shillong May a few others but these were not open to the public nor were they large-scale. There are now at least Bangalore Literature Festival Bangalore September 25 lit fests, if not many more, big and small, being Pune Literature Festival Pune September organised in the cities and towns across India. Kovalam Literary Festival Thiruvanathapuram October The most prominent among literary festivals has been the Jaipur Literature Festival that took Beneras Utsav Varanasi October off in 2006 and which has not looked back since. Chandigarh Literati Chandigarh November The Jaipur Literature Festival could well claim to Think Literaure Festival Bhubhaneswar November-December be one of the biggest in the world, having attracted over 200,000 people at its last outing, not all of Taj Literature Festival Agra December whom were locals. It is certainly the world’s biggest free literature festival and the largest in the AsiaPacific region. Held every January, it brings together authors haiku, vernacular writers as well as fiction and non-fiction writers at Jaipur’s Diggi Palace for five days of readings, debates and in English and regional languages. Last year the two day event discussions. The Jaipur lit fest has set the trend of a democratic was organised at the Lake View Club. access system of first-come-first, and is designed to create a The second Delhi Literature Festival was in held this year. The sense of an Indian mela. two-day literary event beginning February 9 was hosted by the The Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, 2014 was hosted in Kolkata Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and had 10 sessions. With between January 8-13, 2014. This is the city's first lit fest and started no prior registration, anybody could just walk in. Delhi hosts other in 2009. In its fifth year, it draws a massive crowd each year. This literature festivals as well. This year saw the inaugural edition of edition of the festival spread itself out across the city, in association Lit Hive 2014, held at the World Book Fair, also in February. Delhi with INTACH, and hosted sessions in various historical buildings. also holds Bookaroo, the children's literature festival whose sixth The festival goes beyond the world of books, interweaving literature edition was seen in November 2013. Organised by the Bookaroo with culture, arts and heritage; connecting the written word with the Trust, this edition of the festival moved to a bigger and more world of arts - music, dance, theatre, cinema, fashion, central venue, the Indira Gandhi Centre for the Europe, for design and the visual arts. Arts on Rajendra Prasad Road, with a bigger spread The Bangalore Literary Festival is an annual instance, has of events than before and with a special focus on event, held for three days in September. In its last several types of young adult fiction. edition, more than a hundred authors and speakers cultural festivals Mumbai has the Times of India Literary Carnival. were present to the delight of the large audience centred round its Last year 12,000 people thronged Mehboob Studios of book-lovers. Organised with the backing of the towns and cities in December, twice the number which attended Sahitya Akademi, the festival brings together Indian of which popular the first edition in 2011. While celebrated writers literature’s finest including award-winning talent discussed provocative topics, there were engaging examples are from Orissa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, workshops especially for children, and fantastic Assam, and West Bengal. Writers shared their the Edinburgh evening entertainment as well as book stalls and (Scotland), thoughts on the future of Indian literature. food outlets. Mumbai also holds the Tata Literature The Hyderabad Literary Festival is an annual Salzburg (Austria), Live! The Mumbai LitFest in November each year. event that celebrates creativity in all its forms. and Glyndebourne In just three years, this international literary festival The Festival, started in 2010, is now in its fourth (England) has grown rapidly so that over 120 writers and year. This year the venues of Ashiana, Kalakriti, festivals. thinkers participated from all over the world during Saptaparni, Kalpa School and Lamakaan saw an its four days at NCPA theatres In 2013. overwhelming attendance as crowds of literature Chennai has the Hindu Lit for Life festival, enthusiasts and workshop participants thronged them. This lit organised by the newspaper. The festival was started in 2010, to fest plays host to nearly 100 writers from across India, writing mark 20 years of The Hindu’s literary supplement and is now in in various Indian languages and English and draws artistes, its fourth year. With three days of lectures, panel discussions and scholars, publishers from India and abroad each year. A workshops by national and international authors, experts and distinctive feature is the strong accent on writing in Indian opinion-makers, Chennai celebrates literature, arts and cinema. languages. The Festival aims at highlighting the rich cultural Ka s auli, Shillong, A gra, Lucknow, Benara s, Patna, legacy of Hyderabad and promoting Indian literature and art Bhubhaneshwar, Pune, and Kovalam are all towns that celebrate forms. It also creates a platform for people from different creative literary festivals. These are, however, relatively new. The tourism fields to interact with each other and share their work. potential of literature festivals of all these towns, each with an The Chandigarh Literati, held in November is meant to admirable location and much to offer, remains untapped. promote the literary arts in the city. The festival promotes poetry, AMIT JETLEY MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  17






t’s amazing how a palace in ruins, when brought back to life, can actually give a new meaning to the entire area it surrounds. The change-around of Neemrana Fort-Palace has redefined t he live s of Neemrana inhabitants and vice versa. I say so because I witnessed the immense development and hope this symbiotic relationship has brought to an ancient historical town in Alwar district of Rajasthan. Some 128 kilometers after, my urban, boisterous and The founders Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg: the mission continues and tired world as a Delhiite had transformed to a much more Aman remains steadfast even after the recent demise of Francis passive and fascinatingly royal one. Imagine your car hiking the steep road that faces the entrance of the fort, while a vintage sedan carrying a tourist family passes you, and just as you get tempted to ask for a trip too, there are camels warmly inviting you for an equally majestic cart ride! There are many people I met, from men who had came as construction workers two decades ago at the same sight and are now managing the spa, to a jeweller whose life took a complete turn after his art was appreciated by the foreign guests at the fort. But before narrating their stories, here’s what this ‘non-hotel’ has to offer and how this dream project came to reality. A research tour-led Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg to discover a 14th century hill-top fort overlooking the Aravalli range that lay in ruins. The idea of resurrection came promptly and the erstwhile ruling family, considered to be the direct lineage of Prithviraj Chauhan, gave a glad affirmation. Recreated in 1986, it is today known amongst India’s oldest heritage resort hotels. When the people of Neemrana got involved in the architectural restoration process, it was little known that the property would become a brilliant model of practical and sustainable heritage tourism that involves the local communities in such a way that their rural pride resurges to oppose the migration to urban slums. So, today when someone stays in this 63-room heritage resort, they can personally witness a large part of the vegetables eaten during the visit, literally being harvested at the nearby organic farm that is administered by a faithful villager. And if you get to talk to the employee who picks up your laundry, he will tell you how he learnt to respect his work, because of the immense opportunities the property granted to him. Read a few stories gathered from in and around the Neemrana Fort-Palace, those share a similar theme of sustainable development of society, economy and environment.

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Laxman Saini, Head Gardener

Laxman is the man, who brought vegetation and greenery to not only the vegetable bio-garden that lies in the vicinity of Neemrana Fort Palace, but also to the hill area that surrounds it. So in a way, it wasn’t just the fort that was restructured. Unbelievable, but true, for in order to beautify the surroundings, Laxman and his men collected seeds of the desolately alive plants and trees, and spread them over the hills lavishly by hand at the opportune monsoon time. While the hills around became alive again only some 6 years back, he also learnt how to grow vegetables like lettuce, parsley, celery, and spinach organically, unfamiliar to the local farmers. This man, mostly dressed up in a green kurta and white pyjamas is a Neemrana resident, and an integral part of the fort palace since more than a decade. He showed me the farms, where some 6 people work with him in shifts, and on our way back, instructed village kids to do their schoolwork. “Aise aise logon se milta hu, ki padhai likhai ki kimat samajh aati hai,” expressed Laxman.

Kawar Singh Saini Vegetable Supplier

Kawar Singh is from Pratapsingh Pura village, 3 kilometres away from Neemrana. His work was limited to being a shopkeeper at a small store before he learnt about an opportunity at the fort place. Benefitting tremendously from the palace resort since the last 5 years, his business has grown manifold. “I started with supplying all by myself, and gradually employed 4 other boys who now work for me.” Stating his experience, he said, “Bahot accha vyavhar raha hai yaha ke logon ka abhi tak.” Having married off his daughter recently, he conveyed that he could not have got so much quality work elsewhere.

Badri Prasad, Kitchen Porter

It was 1986 when Badri Prasad came to Neemrana searching for work that provides him the basic daily wage. Finding an opportunity at this fort-palace, he helped with the most basic of construction processes and later began taking care of the stores and crockery. During his service at the property for 27 years, he has managed to educate his two sons to the level of a civil engineer and an M.ED. While his main functions remain dishwashing, he says, “Idhar shuru se parampara rahi hai ki sab parivar ki tarah rehte hai. Kisi ko koi pareshani nahi rehti kyunki sab sabhi ka kam kar lete hai.”



Ashok Yadav, Head Chef

A shok Yadav i s a u n iq ue exa mple of a n ord i n a r y v i l l ager t u r ne d i nto a n extraordinary chef. He can prepare Indian, Chinese, Italian, Continental and many fusion cuisines, at par with international standards. The guests at Neemrana Fort are enjoying his delicacies since the last 19 years. “Shuru se kitchen mei hi kaam kiya kyunki wohi shok tha.” And to give impetus to his interest, chefs from France and Italy flew down to train him and many others. He hails from Majri Kalan village, 7 kilometres away from Neemrana. Ashok’s elder daughter has completed her second year in Bachelor’s of Arts. Describing his personal and professional growth, he quotes, “Humein yahan aa kar sabhayata mili.”

OP Samria

Assistant Spa Manager

Sanjay, Zip lining professional

Sustainable development also leads to a lot of innovation. Sanjay, a journalism degree holder had always been an adventure enthusiast. While he was looking forward to finding a drastic change of career, simultaneously Jonathon Walter from the UK came to stay at the Neemrana FortPalace and found it to be an excellent site for zip lining. An advertisement in the newspaper seeking zip lining professionals was promptly answered by Sanjay and he landed up being trained for the next eight months by European trainers alongwith 10 other chosen men. “This is the first site in India where zip lining started. The sport attracts 60 to 100 people at weekends.” He shared with us that the entire industrial area grew very recently and continues to achieve newer heights.

Himmat Singh Local shopkeeper

On his way to Delhi back in 2002, Himmat noticed the Neemrana Fort Place. He was then serving at a handicrafts shop close to Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. Having found an opportunity to set up his own venture, he migrated to Neemrana and has had a stable and better lifestyle ever since. His shop lies just a few metres away from the palace. “The good things I found here is that the labour is cheap. The industrial a r e a a ro u n d h a s d e v e lo p e d tremendously since this fort has been renovated, attracting a lot of business meetings. Many foreign clients who come here have a love for handicrafts. “Pehle servant the, ab khud ki dukaan hai. Iss jagah ne humein kaafi diya hai.”

15 years back, OP Samria came to the fort site as a 20 year old construction worker. After five years of working as a labourer, the administration gave him a housekeeping job. A couple of promotions after, he now takes care of the nittygritty’s of the spa and the swimming pool. While helping me out with writing the correct spelling of his surname, he said, “I don’t know where I would have been if this fort wasn’t explored by the present day owners, but I definitely would not be wearing this pink kurta, which not only signifies the hospitality services I render to the valued guests, but also the welcoming nature I have imbibed because of this job.”

Rakesh Kharera,

Camel Rider 22 yea r old Ra kesh Kharera is a resident of Neemrana, who serves 15-20 people average at `200 per head, i nteres te d i n r id i ng his camel every day. Revenue earned f rom t he 35 m i nute camel ride around the Neemrana Fort Palace provides daily bread to his brother, sister and mother. According to him, the site provides him with a good opp or t u n it y a nd he hopes to have more people to ride as the winters approach.




NGO Efforts Create New Pockets for Travel & Tourism We take a look at Udupi, Jhalawar and Samastipur

Inmates at Spandana, an NGO initiative that welcomes visitors as volunteers to come and assist in their programmes.


ravelling through India and experiencing various cultures and ways of life has always enchanted people. I as a student had an opportunity to experience some extremely different cultures and parts of India. More so, I got the chance to understand the social development perspective and appreciate the possibility of having a different and a new perspective on tourism in India. As I take you through the western coastal town of Manipal, the dusty and hot Jhalawar in Rajasthan to the Ganges plains of Bihar, we will see how these small but significant contributions are creating endless possibilities. My first impression of Manipal in Udupi district was of a portrait out of the R.K Narayanan’s masterpiece ‘Malgudi days’. Rusty colonial era lampposts greet you as enter the temple town. Small eateries serving local cuisines are dotted

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My first impression of Manipal in Udupi district was of a portrait out of the R.K Narayanan’s masterpiece ‘Malgudi days’. Rusty colonial era lampposts greet you as enter the temple town. Small eateries serving local cuisines are dotted across the roads. There are beautiful beaches and a university which is the centre of all the trade and commerce of the sleepy town.

along the roads. There are beautiful beaches and a university which is the centre of all the trade and commerce of the sleepy town. But there is more to it than temples and beaches, food and drinks. In a quiet corner of Udupi lies ‘Spandana’, a home for mentally challenged, where underprivileged and mentally challenged men and children aged from thirteen to sixty four are provided a chance for a better life. At present housing 38 inmates, its a few generous donors and businessmen who help running the institution through funds. But off late there has been fund crunch, grudgingly admits, Janardan, Pr incipal In charge at Spandana. “Community must change its mindset,



New motivations to travel!

common people are thinking about God, but helping these people is the biggest service of god. Dearth of funds and lack of awareness like in metros are responsible for the apathy” said Janardan. When asked if he could provide accommodation for volunteers, he said,” I welcome all, but we cannot provide accommodation as we are low on budget and space.” Although the number of visitors to this home has increased, More so, I got the chance to understand the they come to offer food and celebrate their birthdays and festisocial development perspective and appreciate vals with the inmates. They also take help from local volunteers but the participation has not been encouraging. The Manipal the possibility of having a different and a new University has also roped in its students to educate them and perspective on tourism in India. As I take you conduct free medical checkups through its medical college. through from the western coastal town of Manipal, Private clubs and associations like Rotary Club and Lions Club the dusty and hot Jhalawar in Rajasthan to the also lend a helping hand. The love, support and care given to Ganges plains of Bihar, we will see how these them is encouraging nonetheless and it gives a chance to them to participate in the society with dignity. Take some time out to small but significant contributions are creating visit this place in your next trip to the coastal Indian town. You endless possibilities… But what connects these will surely be greeted by smiles! distant corners of this vast land is Now, Jhalawar is distinctly different the tremendous possibility of linking from Manipal and Udupi. I visited Jiri vilsocial change activities to tourism. Janardan lage in Jhalawar, the fortress town, in June, Principal In charge at Spandana It is time all stake holders come when the temperature relentlessly went over 46 degrees. Fairly constant power “Community must change together to promote this untouched cuts and mosquitoes were equally warm in facet of tourism. There is a plethora its mindset, common their reception, as were the humble couple people are thinking about of people who want to be a part which managed ‘Hum Kisan’ and ‘Mangod, but helping these of social change and understand than’. It was a part of my post-graduation people is the biggest India in its true being. This tourism training where I had to spend a month service of god. Dearth understanding various facets of their work. can not only bolster rural and of funds and lack of Hum Kisan primarily dealt with farmers’ awareness like in metros semi urban tourism but also bring issues and litigations that helped them getare responsible for the multi dimensionality to otherwise ting their due from government and local apathy” monument centric tourism of India. authorities. Whereas, ‘Manthan’ was based on the concept of alternative education. It catered to the children of farmers, who otherwise could not keep up with the mainstream schooling, owing to the compul- tics and its impact on access to services and available resources sion of assisting their parents in their farms. The timings of the becomes blatantly clear. The idea behind the inception of I-HELP school is flexible depending on when the students are free and was to provide a level playing field for the underprivileged which are taught by the couple, local teachers and volunteers who include women. Programs are being undertaken to improve their throng from IIT’s, Delhi university, JNU, and from as far as United health, education and livelihood opportunities. The government States of America. There were 110 students and with increasing services which the communities are unaware of are being linked awareness the numbers are constantly rising. There are comput- to them. But, the most crucial contribution of the organisation has ers, a decent sized library and a feeling of community which is been providing quality education to many students by getting them difficult to pen down in words. Today, because of Manthan the enrolled in good colleges and universities. The recent initiative on nearby villages too have taken up education far more seriously. creating sustainable employment by providing vocational skills to The couple graciously provided me a room to put up in and women has also provided new scope of employment generation a small kitchen where I could do the cooking. Do not expect for those who found themselves unemployed after the agricultural running water and electricity. Sometimes a frantic search for a season. One can volunteer in these causes for any length of time packet of biscuit can take you to 10 kilometres and back, but but will have to manage their own accommodation. there is no dearth of commitment and vision on the part of the These places are distinct in character and are not linked in couple. They embrace volunteers with open arms. So, the next their culture, tradition, style, social fabric or political ideology. time you decide to visit the famous Kartik or Chandrabhanga But what connects these distant corners of this vast land is the fair or just head out in the streets of Jhalawar in search of the tremendous possibility of linking social change activities to Mauryan Buddhist caves. Take some time out and be a part of tourism. It is time all stake holders come together to promote this beautiful effort to bring social change. this untouched facet of tourism. There is a plethora of people Samastipur the last of the three destinations was the most eye who want to be a part of social change and understand India in opening experience because of two reasons. One was my stay its true being. This tourism can not only bolster rural and semi for almost one and a half years and second was my professional urban tourism but also bring multi dimensionality to otherwise association with the NGO. Samastipur is a fertile land, quiet and monument centric tourism of India. More so, what better way peaceful with agriculture as the prime driver of its economy. But as can it be than lending a helping hand to a righteous cause. one gets acquainted with the place, the undercurrent of caste poliSHASHANK SHEKHAR MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  21



It's Time to Tea, with a Book on chai in the Stores


t is chai time, with the chai ki charcha very much ringing in our ears. Almost unnoticed, a book on chai was released last month in the capital. As ably noted, it cannot be called a coffee table book, as that would be contradictory. Researched and scripted by Rekha Sarin and with photographs by Rajan Kapoor, the book is a veritable treasure of all that you may like to know on tea, specially in our country. The tea destinations, the locales, the typical tea country, and the processes by which tea gets cured, processed and brought to our tea tables, in India and around the world. There are also some interesting tid-bits around tea, precious little facts, well documented and put together. The book was released formally by a former Tea Board head for India, in Australia who pro-

        22  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

moted and sold Indian tea for over five years. He later moved on to become India’s DG-Tourism, and subsequently the Home Secretary. He is now the Governor of Manipur – Vinod Kumar Duggal – and he was there at Imperial Hotel, among an impressive gathering of creative talents in the city. These included some celebrated photographers like Hardev Singh, Avinash Pasricha, S Paul and Raghu Rai. It also included golfers, lovers of the arts, and leading tour operators and tourism people. An eclectic crowd, that was seen gravitating to the section where the books were being signed personally by the author and photographer, indicative of both the appreciation for the book as well as the popularity of the duo. NAVIN BERRY



In the front row: from right, writer Rekha Sarin with Governor of Manipur, V.K. Duggal and Deepak Sarin, with other guests on the occasion

Photographer Rajan Kapoor and writer Rekha Sarin release the book

In the front row: photographer S. Paul, hotelier and author Aman Nath with Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce A flurry of activity as guests que for an authographed copy of the book




Crisp Flavours of Malabar Cuisine in Kerala Very faintly known by many around the world, but a household favourite in Kerala, the Malabar Cuisine, has developed from the households of the local region and been taken to the five stars for the discerning travellers. We take you through the nuances that this cuisine has to offer. Light on the stomach, subtle on the palate and fine on the taste buds are how various chefs describe the Malabar Cuisine. It is a cuisine easy to prepare with not many spices but great flavours. We discover the ins and outs of the cuisine with the help of various chefs serving it at their hotels in Kerala.


he Authenticity of Malabar Cuisine

Taking cues from various cuisines, you can say that it involves a hint of the Mughlai cuisine or even Thai cuisine, but it is totally beyond the two. Describing what exactly makes this cuisine authentic, Biju V Krishnan, Executive Chef, The Lalit Bekal, says, “The authentic element of Malabar cuisine is its use of whole spices, and the influence of Arab, Christian and Hindu cultures in it. The three things that are very unique to Malabari cuisine are the usage of fresh coconut (either paste or milk), coconut oil and whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves & pepper corns).” As Kerala, being a coastal region, is blessed with a large variety of sea food, so this cuisine also experiments a lot with it. Largely, this cuisine involves many different kinds of biryanis with totally different flavours and spices. You have good options in both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian sections. Affirming this, Chef Vijayan Parakkal, Executive Chef, The Leela Kovalam, says, “It is the style of cooking that makes it different. For example, biryani is cooked in dum style, with heat source from both top and bottom. The rice itself is very light and the biryani does not have as much masala as in other Indian cuisines. Malabar cuisine has prawn biryani, seafood biryani and fish biryani, which is not very common to other style of biryanis prepared in the country... Apart from the use of mutton, Malabar cuisine also uses a lot of seafood due to the large coastal belt. Local seafood like mussels, prawns and fish are abundant, which forms the base of many dishes.” This cuisine is an amalgamation of flavours from different cuisines like, Arab, Brahmin, Zamorin and Chirakkal. The Malabar cuisine is diverse because it has been evolved by the households of the region, Jatinder Pal Singh, Executive Chef, Le Meridien Kochi says, “the cuisine of Malabar stands out for its simplicity in the use of ingredients and abundance of flavour and the ease of preparation. The authentic element of the cuisine is that it is a home cuisine, it has not evolved from a community or particular

        24  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

Malabari Mutton Biriyani at Le Meridien


Meen Pollichathe (Fish) at the Lalit

sector, it has taken in the blend of other cuisines which has its influence and has evolved from the grandmothers and created a niche in itself without losing the local touch & flavour and that makes it a wholesome cuisine.”


ow do the hotels portray it?

Malabar cuisine is served in different parts of Kerala, with Kozhikode and Thalassery known as the centres for it. But, along with Malabar it is also extensively served in places like, Bekal, Calicut, Kochi and others. On asking how Le Meridien Kochi presents the exclusive flavours of Malabar Cuisine, Chef Singh says, “Authenticity and freshness is the key of any great cuisine. We at Le Meridien Kochi just keep it simple, we do not over do. We follow what the houses in Malabar follow, and that in itself is exclusive. We also organise cooking class for our guests and showcase the local flavours with home grown spices and vegetables. The delightful mutton biryani is our speciality in terms of this cuisine; it is cooked tenderly on wood fire with heat from top and bottom (dum). The rice is delicately spiced with mild spices and condiments that leave a lingering taste and an exquisite smell for long. And this biryani is the USP of Malabari cuisine. The Chembu in which these biriyanis are cooked is exposed to heat at the top and bottom spectacularly to impart a peculiar flavour, taste, texture and consistency to the dish.” Calicut doesn’t have many five star hotels serving Malabar Cuisine but it has various stand alone restaurants for the same. Gateway Hotel Calicut is one of the few hotels serving the delicacies of the cuisine. Chef Salin Kumar, Executive Chef, Gateway Calicut tells us that Moplah cuisine, a branch of Malabar cuisine is the product of the intermarriage between Yemenis and North Kerala families. Yemeni traders used to land on the coast of Malabar to procure spices, principally black pepper ever since the 13th century and so this cuisine has evolved from those times. “We at the Gateway Hotel, Calicut are trying to ensure that this lesser known cuisine is revived and popularised in the five star hotels as well so that the traditional nuances are not lost. We have designed a Coffee shop menu in such a way that Moplah food is listed under regional home food and is served in coffee shop and in-room dining. We also promote Moplah lunch in coffee shop (typical home style food served in the same way how housewives treat their guest at home),” he adds.


he Experiences of the Cuisine

The cuisine involves use of spices which are locally grown and from the popular Kerala spice markets. Every dish is a unique blend of spices along with its main ingredients which creates a distinctive flavour. Also, the cooking methods and recipes are very authentic and traditional. While travelling, one should always make it a point to experience the local cuisine of that area and Malabar cuisine is the


same for Kerala. Chef Kumar says that people travelling to Kerala Chef Biju V Krishnan should expect authen“The three tic homemade food things that are made with handpicked very unique to and homemade masaMalabari cuisine las, variety and freshare the usage ness while relishing of fresh coconut this cuisine. “Moplah (either paste or cuisine is unique yet milk), coconut not very well-known. oil and whole Even in Calicut, the spices.” stronghold of the community, there are only a Executive Chef Jatinder Pal Singh few commercial establishments where you “The cuisine of Malabar can taste Moplah food. stands out for its It is definitely a cuisine simplicity in the that is strictly confined use of ingredients to private homes. It is and abundance Muslim food but quite of flavour and unlike t he Mug hla i the ease of cuisines of India from preparation.” Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kashmir and even DelChef Salin Kumar hi. Those cuisines are “Malabar food oilier and have heavy is not very rich, and rich gravies. Mawe just use labar food is not rich, chilli powder, we don’t use too many coriander spices, no ginger-garlic powder, turmeric, jeera, and a few paste, we just use chilli whole spices that powder, coriander powwe grow.” der, turmeric, jeera, and a few whole spices that we grow,” he further adds. Agreeing, Chef Parakkal says, “Different types of biryani, which are not so rich and not heavily spiced, are a must have. Besides this, one must have breads which are prepared with rice, which are excellent gluten free bread. For example Orotti, Nool Pathiri and others.” He further adds, “Some of the basic ingredients used in this cuisine are Biryani Ari (rice), which is a special, short grain, thin rice of Malabar region, which gives the distinct light texture to the famous Malabar biryani. Kadukka are Mussels, quite unique to Malabar region, and are cooked in many forms – fried, as a part of biryani and so on. The spices that are used in this cuisine are cardamom, cinnamon, fennel and others. which lends the unique taste to the food.” People from other parts of the world and even from the northern part of India are not well aware of this cuisine and have their own perceptions while going to savour it. Chef V Krishnan says, “Most of them come with pre-conceived notions about the spiciness and over-powering influence of coconut in Malabar food, but they go back happy. A lot of the guests draw parallels to Thai food with regards to the usage of coconut milk and the healthy style of preparations. Also, the experience of having Sadya on a banana leaf with hands (no cutlery) in a group has been very widely appreciated.” NIKITA CHOPRA MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  25




has it all, as an attractive tourism destination for all reasons


he Manipur Ecotourism Conclave, held in early April at Hotel The Classic in Imphal, was originally intended to be an ecotourism workshop to sensitise people. The scope was extended to turn it into a conference with half a day devoted to eco-tourism elements instead of the ecotourism society’s usual one and a half day workshops on ecotourism. So a one-day conference was held along with a one-day workshop. This conclave straightaway took cognisance of Manipur and its tourism potential. It was felt that Manipur had so much to offer in terms of its natural beauty, in terms of its history, in terms of its culture and in terms of its art, crafts, handicrafts and even wildlife for that matter. Some interesting facts about Manipur emerged. For example, it came out in the discussions that the game of polo, which was adopted by the British and which became prestigious – a game for royalty – originated in Manipur. The tradition still continues with there being an equestrian association in Manipur while the polo association, which was founded in Manipur, still in existence and very much active. Noting these facts, the idea at the conclave was to link such local aspects to the larger Indian tourism scenario and to sensitise local people. It was realised at the conference that there was a lot of keenness among people in the rest of India to visit Manipur. The conclave was organised with the cooperation of the state government which contributed to its success. An interesting as-

        26  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

The Manipur Ecotourism Conclave – Imphal, held on April 7-8, 2014, noted Manipur’s enormous tourism potential but also saw the need for caution and of learning from past mistakes even as it emphasised the necessity for the state to develop into an eco-sensitive ecotourism destination pect of the conclave was that mainly professionals were involved in it as the election code of conduct is in place. The chief guest was the Hon’ble Governor, Vinod Kumar Duggal. and the two guests of honour were ex-secretaries, Tourism, Government of India. Sheelbhadra Banerjee , now on the board of ITC an hony. Member of the Ecotourism Society of India being one of them and MP Bezbaruah, currently a member of the North- East Council being the other. Both the guests of honour spoke at the conclave and their inputs were felt to be valuable. The different sessions of the conclave focused on topics as diverse as ecotourism and wildlife, adventure tourism, golf tourism, polo tourism, destination development and The sessions marketing, culture tourfocused on ism, the biodiversity of ecotourism Manipur, medical tourand wildlife, ism, tribal tourism, and adventure, golf, water based tourism. polo, destination The speaker s at the conclave were development the leaders of their reand marketing, spective fields. Mandip culture, the Singh Soin, the promibiodiversity of mountaineer and Manipur, medical nent explorer, talked about tourism, tribal adventure tourism. tourism, and Chitaranjan Bakshi, water based Business Head, PASH tourism. India, spoke about golf tourism. Vikram




Sodhi, a member of the Indian polo team spoke on polo. Talking about product, marketing and destination development was Arjun Sharma, MD, Le Passage to India Tours & Travels Pvt. Ltd, Sentila Yanger, Intach convenor for the North-east, discussed culture tourism. Hertage tourism was discussed by Rakesh Mathur, founder and Hony. Secretary, Ecotourism Society of India. Dr. Kh. Palin, a medical practitioner, spoke about medical tourism. Jose Dominic spoke about an appropriate and successful model of tourism for the North-east. Dr Mohammad Rashid-Ud-Din Kundangar spoke about water-based tourism Steve Borgia shared the best practices in Rural Tourism, Preservation and Museums. Anil Sharma, an architect, talked about eco-friendly designs and safe hotel designs for tourism. Seema Bhatt, a consultant with UNDP and other organisations, spoke about the role of the community in tourism. Ameising Luikham, the Secretary of the North-east Council spoke about the products and potential of ecotourism. Dr L Surjeet Singh, the President of their local mountaineering association spoke about ecotourism and adventure tourism. Ibobi Singh, from the Indian forest service, spoke about wildlife. The Loktak lake, very close to Imphal, came up for prolonged discussion. This is a water body much larger than the Dal Lake and other nearby lakes combined in Kashmir. It is about 280 sq km and is pristine. It has tribal villages around it. One of the most interesting components of the conclave was how to encourage tourism around the lake while avoiding the sort of negative impact that is seen today in the Dal lake. An expert on the subject, Dr MRD Kundangar, an educationist and environmentalist, spoke about effluent flowing into the Dal lake and how it can become a swamp if things are not controlled. This knowledge was shared with the local people. The conclave discussed homestays. It also discussed commuMAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  27



Some of the participants were keen that bulk tourism and especially MICE tourism should not be encouraged in a place like this. It was felt that the places should be developed as eco-sensitive, ecotourism destinations.

nity development and the difference it makes to the local community. Eco-tourism practices were shared and the preservation of museums and arts and crafts and related topics were gone into A result of the conference is a White Paper to be produced by the Ecotourism Society of India which will be submitted to the Government of Manipur. This paper will be incorporated in the tourism guidelines being formulated for the state of Manipur. Safe and honourable tourism, tenable tourism and the oath that was launched by the Ministry of Tourism for service providers some time ago were also discussed at the conclave. It was clear at the conclave that the local service providers were curious and eager to see something happening. An immediate result of the conclave was that two investors decided to put in money and build properties in Manipur. While one of these is to be a resort based on a local tribal style the other is to be a starred hotel in the city of Imphal, a multinational brand. So the conference resulted in some investments pouring into Manipur. The event was organised to coincide with the BangkokBhutan car rally which was passing from Thailand to Burma and through India to Bhutan. On the eighth of April, the second day of the conference, they passed through Imphal, so the governor hosted a joint reception for them and for the tourism fraternity. Besides the white paper being prepared to be incorporated in the tourism guidelines of Manipur, and the investments made, a takeaway from the conclave has been the huge amount of awareness that has been generated. Of the points that emerged at the conclave, perhaps the most important is that a great amount of care should be exercised while deciding about tourism around the lake. It was felt that no pollutant or effluent should be allowed to destroy the lake. Also, it was felt

        28  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

that local communities around it should not be disturbed but should benefit. It was felt that an effort should be made to fix the carrying capacities for eco-sensitive areas and especially for lake tourism. It was suggested that efforts should be made to encourage tribal tourism with homestays. Besides, it was thought that some kinds of circuits be formed. Another point raised was about standards, with one of the major problems in Manipur being that the quality of the accommodation was not always up to the mark. It was felt that efforts should be made for safety, security and hygiene for which proper steps should be established and the classification norms of the central ministry of tourism should be implemented. Some of the participants were keen that bulk tourism and especially MICE tourism should not be encouraged in a place like this. It was felt that the places should be developed as ecosensitive, ecotourism destinations. Besides, it was suggested that there should be a combined effort to promote the North-east in a joint way by developing tourism along with other states. It was felt that Manipur itself has almost everything from the tourist point of view. It even has a variety of orchid. It has everything in terms of flora and fauna. The deer is the local animal. So there is wildlife. There are designated forest areas. There are hills. There are trekking routes. It was felt that all these have to be developed into a product. It was not necessary to sell Manipur as an ecotourism destination in isolation. The north-east can combine the best of all the states and sell. A circuit can include a trip along the Brahmaputra, a stay near Loktak lake combined with a visit to Shillong and Cherrapunji. A product like this may be formulated and promoted apart from each state doing its own selling. It was noted that Manipur has a lot of historical sites. It has the war cemetery. It has the museum of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The first polo ground in the world is situated here. The palace of the king, called Kangla palace, is right in the middle of the city. It now belongs to the government but the grounds have been preserved. It is like a green belt right in the middle of the city. It has been well preserved by the government. The old palace is being restored. The museum has been set up. It was felt at the conclave that these are all assets which need to be highlighted. Manipur was highlighted as a complete destination in itself with lake tourism, adventure tourism, trekking, wildlife. It was felt it is a great ecotourism destination which has tribal art and culture and has heritage and history as well: War history and British history. The conclave concluded that all these can be put together in a very good package and Manipur can join hands with neighbouring states to form a tourism product in which the North-East Council can help. The inputs for this report on The Manipur Ecotourism Conclave – Imphal were contributed by Rakesh Mathur, former President of ITC WelcomHeritage Hotels, Executive Committee Member, Pata and Hony. Secretary and Founder, Ecotourism Society of India. Mathur was the organiser of the conference and its moving spirit. Report by Amit Jetley



Private Equity Players Renew Interest in Pune's Real Estate

Kolkata’s riverfront beautification drive receives a big boost



une is seeing a renewed interest of private equity players in the city's real estate sector. A report by Cushman & Wakefield has said that private equity investments in Pune's realty space bounced back with a 300% jump to `1,464 crore during 2013, (13% higher than the previous year) in the country's real estate sector for the year. The increase in private equity inflows was primarily due to rising investments in residential assets and

other sectors like retail and hospitality, the report said. “While the number of deals has increased to 40 in 2013 compared to 34 in 2012, the average deal size has declined marginally to `175 crore ($28 million).” Other factors encouraging private investors include the likely entry of real estate investment tr ust s (REITs), reducing fiscal deficit and expectations of fall in inflation and a pick up in GDP growth post the

Lok Sabha elections, the report noted. With housing requirements growing across cities and funds investing in the asset class, primarily in the form of nonconvertible debentures, providing fixed returns, investments in the right project have the potential to yield healthy returns. Investors are enthusiastic about India as a vast army of young, educated Indians is set to turn the world's second most populous country into a talent powerhouse.

Goa’s Vagator Beach to be Developed


he Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) has leased out a stretch of 53,000 sq m on the shores of Vagator to two Delhibased hospitality companies to run a 'model tourism-entertainment zone' for a period of 22 years. Amid protests from locals over the 'privatisation' of the dark and desolate beach, GTDC is determined to go ahead with its mega project, that should be up and running when the tourism season of 2014 begins. The GTDC land, which is adjacent to the beach but falls within the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) was leased

        30  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

through an open tender in 2012, No part of the beach itself will be privatised; locals and tourists can freely use the beach, which is government property. GTDC will earn a revenue of Rs 70 lakh a year from its land, which has remained unutilised for the past 25 years. One stretch of around 22,500 sq m will be leased to Apra Motels to set up a large beach wedding venue, two restaurants and other entertainment infrastructure. The other company, which will develop land measuring around 30,000 sq m, has plans to set up a few beach shacks and residential huts, said sources.

he West Bengal state government is all set to give shape to its dream of the `Kolkata Eye` project on the banks of Hooghly river - a giant ferries wheel modelled on the famous London Eye. A London-based consulting firm has responded to the tender call of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA). With only two bids, the matter is now with the competent government authority to decide as to whether the bids will be opened or a re-tendering will be done to get response from more private players. KMDA is the nodal agency. The state urban development department has already acquired a two-acre plot located opposite the Millennium Park for the project. Once complete, Kolkata Eye will be an added attraction to the already beautified Hooghly riverfront. It will offer visitors a panoramic view of the city, parts of Howrah and also the course of Hooghly river.

Navi Mumbai airport project gets a boost


he Navi Mumbai international airport project got a fillip after it was announced that three more villages in Pargaon grampanchayat had decided to opt for the government's compensation package. Now only three hamlets are holding out against the deal. After several villages and panchayats approved the government policy for compensation, six villages from two panchayats were still opposing. On Tuesday, out of six, three villages did not raise a single objection to the compensation package. It was 27 years ago that a committee advocated a second airport. Conceived in 1998, the airport project was finally cleared by the environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee in November 2010. But land issues gained prominence in the interim, with project affected persons raising their demands.

GMR Completes the Chennai Outer Ring Road Project


MR Infra str ucture announced this April the completion of Chennai Outer Ring Road Phase 1 project in Tamil Nadu. Completed on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis, the GMR Chennai Outer Ring Road project connects Vandalur on NH- 45 to Nemillicheri on NH-205 via Nazaratpet on NH-4. The Outer Ring Road is a major transport corridor being developed a lo n g t he p e r ip he r y of Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) by the

Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). When it is complete the 61.65 km long road will form a semi-circle around the city and will be helpful in reducing the city’s road traffic. It will also act as a major link and connect four national highways- NH 4, NH 5, NH 45, and NH 20. The commissioning of this project will significantly ease traffic congestion along the western periphery of Chennai city. The Outer Ring Road connects the northern and southern suburbs of Chen-

nai and will be a catalyst for the expansion of the city. It will help the growth of the industrial hubs in this region through better connectivity. T he Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is also planning a grid of roads along the Outer Ring Road (ORR) to develop it as a potential area to absorb the future growth of the city. The authority has already accorded permission for developmental work along the Mudichur and Palanthandalam villages.

Metro City Project and Smart City Project in Kakkanad


ochi Metro Rail Ltd MD Elias George has said the metro city project is likely to be launched by 2014-end. The metro city project is a part of the Metro Rail project and is expected to generate a large revenue. Shopping malls, theatre complexes, hotels, restaurants have been planned at the 17.5-acre land in Kakkanad. “We want to develop a true model of urban living. Once the Smart city project also takes off, we can expect to see a flurry of activities in Kakkanad, including the arrival of IT persons. Tourists will flow in large numbers which will bring in

huge revenue,” officials associated with the project said. The district administration has completed acquisition of the proposed land for the project With the arrival of the Metro city project and the SmartCity project, the fortunes of Kakkanad are heading skywards. Several corporate houses and MNCs are now eyeing Kakkanad to kick off their new projects and to make the place their future operational base. These projects have now catapulted Kakkand into prominence and the place has now become a favourite hub for builders and developers.

Delhi: Seamless hubs of multimodal transport


ieutenant governor Najeeb Jung has given three months to Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) to come up with a plan for making all Metro stations in the city “seamless hubs of multimodal transport”. Government agencies felt that while Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was constructing its stations and tracks, there was no planning for pedestrians, non-motorised or other forms of transport outside and around the stations which was leading to a traffic mess. The plans to be developed by UTTIPEC would include footpaths and sidewalks for pedestrians foot over bridges, skywalks, bus lanes, waiting areas and nonmotorized transport zones. Multi Modal Transportation System involves the co-ordinated use of public and pr ivate mode s of transport. It would make the metro more convenient to use. Improved integration among various modes of mass transport helps people to move around easily and reduces the costs and inconvenience of travel. Thus a coordinated integration of different modes brings about reduced congestion on the road, greater convenience for commuters, efficiency and cost effectiveness.




100 Smart Cities This article on smart cities, by Amitabh Kant, now Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy (DIPP), Government of India, highlights the urgency in developing this concept for the larger good of urban policy.


ecent studies project that India will face unprecedented urbanisation over the next few decades – 350 million Indians will move to cities by 2030. This number is likely to double to 700 million by 2050. This is 2.5 times the size of the current US population and will be the largest urban movement in the world. This implies that every minute during the next 20 years, 30 Indians will leave rural India to settle in urban areas. The late management guru CK Prahalad had emphasised the urgent need for India to create 500 new cities to accommodate and offer its urban settlers higher quality lives. Otherwise, every existing city will become a slum by the time India turns 75 in 2022. This is a unique opportunity to plan, develop and build a new India that is ecologically and economically sustainable. HistoriThere is an cally, urbanisation has propelled overriding the growth of national economies. need to set Almost 75 per cent of global ecoup greenfield nomic production takes place in cities and cities. In several emerging econorevitalise India’s mies, urbanisation has helped lift existing urban vast segments of the population above the poverty line. However, agglomerations. urbanisation is accompanied by a Failure on this voracious consumption of natural front would resources. Cities occupy 3 per cent seriously retard of the earth’s land surface, house India’s growth. half the human population, use 75 Amitabh Kant per cent of the resources and account for two-thirds of all energy and greenhouse gas emissions. If developing countries emulate the model of developed countries, a resource base as large as four planet Earths would be necessary to support their growth. Alas, we have only one planet Earth. We therefore require a paradigm shift towards sustainable urbanisation. This necessitates innovative thinking and planning. Cities are centres of growth, innovation and creativity. In today’s world, it is not countries but cities that compete for resources and investment. The GDPs of New York and Tokyo are at par with India’s. Not a single Indian city figures in the top 100 cities of the world. Mumbai ranks 114th and Delhi a dismal 214th. The future of India’s growth lies in the dynamism and vibrancy of its cities. In India, farming accounts for more than 58 per cent of its workforce but for only 14.2 per cent of GDP. Agriculture can sustain a growth rate of 3 per cent while the Indian economy must grow at 9-10 per cent to lift vast segments of its population above the poverty line. No country in the world has grown on a

        32  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

sustained basis for long periods on the back of its agricultural sector. It is therefore inevitable that people will migrate from rural India to towns and cities. Like China, India has been a reluctant urbaniser. India’s freedom movement and Gandhian worldview were rural development oriented, with the village seen as a self-sustained economic unit. China’s peasantry-led revolution was similar. In the early 1870s, China realised that its economic growth and employment creation could not be achieved through the agricultural sector. It recognised urbanisation as an essential feature of economic development and a major component of industrialisation and modernisation. For China, economic development was, in essence, about shifting people from sustenance farming to manufacturing, and urbanisation was the spatial manifestation of this shift. As a policy, it adopted rapid planned urbanisation with manufacturing as the key locomotive. The development of new cities and expansion of existing ones has been a dominant feature of China’s growth in the last three decades. Starting with the development of a planned city in Suzhou in partnership with Singapore, China has gone ahead to develop a large number of new cities through a successful business model that monetises land value. In fact, mayors have been competing with one another to create new cities and successful mayors have gone on to rise rapidly in the Communist Party hierarchy. In contrast, Chandigarh and Gandhinagar are India’s only post-independence cities. The only major urban scheme India has launched in its entire planning process is the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. By 2020, according to a recent report, India will face a housing shortage of 30 million dwelling units, even as 200 million water connections will be required, 350 million people will need sewage facilities, 160 GW of power generation capacity will have to be added, and the number of vehicles on roads will increase fivefold. There is an overriding need to set up greenfield cities and revitalise India’s existing urban agglomerations. Failure on this front would seriously retard India’s growth.



AIA Hong Kong has recognized the Langfang Eco-Smart City Master Plan with its 2010 Merit Award for Urban Design. While India is a late starter, it has significant ad- Smart city them most. The city of Amsterdam has worked on vantages of being able to use technology to leapfrog concepts have public lighting as a transition from analog to digital, a few stages of development and learn from good been executed from fluorescent light bulbs to solid state lighting – all practices in other parts of the world. When cities across several connected to an energy grid through a variety of last were made in America, gas and water were cheaply access technologies. It is estimated that a switch sectors worldwide. mile available; vertical utilities were created and cities to LED technology can generate energy savings of The city of New were made for cars and not people. India needs about $170.5 billion, a sum equivalent to the eliminacities that are compact, dense and vertical, have York has launched tion of 640 medium-sized power stations globally. efficient mass transit systems and invite people City 24/7 The city of Bussan in South Korea recognised the to cycle and walk. Today, digital technology enaeconomic potential in deploying modern technolobles us to create intelligent and smart cities with gies to connect citizens, educational institutions, a central command room, horizontally managing power, water, government agencies and industry, and boasts a sustainable urban transportation and public safety. development model that offers citizens easy access to services. A smart city integrates technology with critical infrastructure Today, an internet cloud links the Bussan Metropolitan Governcomponents and services to make urban development more in- ment, Bussan Mobile application centre and five local universities. telligent, better inter-connected and highly efficient. In essence, Using public data, developers are creating innovative applications a smart city is an improvement on today’s city both functionally that help improve city operations, quality of life and citizen access and structurally, using information and communication technol- to services. Similar initiatives have been undertaken in Rio de ogy as infrastructure. Janeiro, Tianjin and Songdo. The key opportunity is the deployment of digital technology The new Industrial Cities being developed along the Delhifor urban planning and execution as well as routine operations Mumbai Industrial Corridor have integrated smart city planning of the city. This entails digitisation of all city systems and the with the geographical planning process. These cities are using installation of relevant instruments to measure and monitor a set technology as an enabler and for infrastructure integration. of indicators in real time. Inter- connectivity allows different parts This convergence of smart technologies across urban planning of a core system to ‘speak’ to one another and thus turn data into and engineering will be replicated in industrial cities in other information. Analytics then translates this into real knowledge corridors such as Chennai- Bengaluru, Bengaluru-Mumbai and that offers a kind of control panel for well-informed decisions to Amritsar-Kolkata as they evolve and expand. A similar approach be taken. Thus, smart cities are about connecting people, pro- needs to be taken across existing municipal zones as an integral cesses, data, etcetera, to improve the livability of cities. component of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. While the concept of smart cities has evolved, its essence has As India urbanises, it will face severe challenges. But there remained constant: the use of information and communication are huge opportunities in developing new Smart Cities and technology to address urban challenges. converting existing urban settlements into Smart, Intelligent and Smart city concepts have been executed across several sectors Connected Cities. Not only will this place the economy on a traworldwide. The city of New York has launched City 24/7, an inter- jectory of sustainable growth, it will make a dramatic impact on active platform that integrates information from open government the quality-of-life of the country’s urban citizens in the decades programmes, local businesses and citizens to provide meaningful ahead. and powerful knowledge anytime, anywhere, on any device. City This article was first printed in OPEN magazine and has been reproduced here 24/7 delivers the information people need, where and when it helps with permission from the author MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  33



Hospitality Sector remains Bullish on India Growth Story HICSA celebrated its 10th anniversary this April and saw some of the best minds in the hospitality sector engage with the various issues that bedevil it.


prestigious event of the hospitality sector, the Hotel Investment Conference of South Asia (HICSA) 2014, hosted by HVS, was held with fanfare on April 2-3, 2014 at an exceptional venue, the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai. More than just a gathering of outstanding hoteliers, it started bang on time, in great ambience, in the glittering Grand Ballroom after lunch on April 2, after a leisurely registration process. There had been a round table earlier in the morning but this was restricted to the owners. In this session, amongst other topics, the participants discussed management contracts and dispute resolution, raising capital and exploring new opportunities. The agenda for the two days was action-packed and better than ever in this edition of HICSA. On hand to welcome the delegates was the candid and outspoken Manav Thadani, MRICS, Chairman – Asia Pacific HVS and the founder of HICSA. In his inaugural comments, Thadani noted that the last ten years had been a great journey, it being the 10th anniversary of HICSA. This was not just in terms of the number of delegates though HICSA had started out at the Trident with over 200 delegates 10 years ago but the venue had proved to be too small so it moved to Taj Land’s End but that proved

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too small as well so it made the Grand Hyatt its home. With the Indian economy a bit slow, the delegate count was down nevertheless in attendance were some great CEOs from India and across the world and the conference was representative. Present were Richard Solomons, Diana L. Nelson, Gerald Lawless, Sebastien Bazin, Peter Meyer, Raymond Bickson and Nakul Anand amongst others. Thadani noted that the male-female ratio among the attendees was quite healthy. The international component was slightly smaller as compared to previous years, a part explanation for which was that India was in an election season. The brands were the largest group at 34 percent. Owners and developers were present as also consultants. There was representation from many hotel companies such as Staywell Hospitality Group, Trump Hotel Collection, Rotana, Prestige Leisure Resorts, Apodis Hotels and Resorts and Carnation Hotels amongst others which may not have attended HICSA before. There were close to 550 delegates in attendance. The delegates made up for their lesser numbers with their enthusiasm, following the discussions with keenness, and making full use of the “networking breaks” to interact with their counterparts, wheeling and dealing on the sidelines of the conference. Clearly, many saw the conference as a great opportunity to

network with colleagues and push forward their business agenda and many were seen with new and old acquaintances and friends, working out the nitty-gritty of the hospitality sector and checking out fresh opportunities as befits an investment conference. Setting the ball rolling was Manav Thadani, himself, for the first session was a talk by him, aptly entitled Manav Thadani Uncensured, as he was at his unapologetic best. In keeping with the theme of ten dominating this 10th anniversary of HICSA, Thadani talked about ten points close to his heart. This was followed by several sessions of discussions that were intellectually stimulating as well as enlightening, inclusive of audience participation and question and answer sessions, with the participants in the discussions being the cream of the industry, globally and nationally, on both days. The first such discussion was 10 years later – Then and Now, talking of the ups and downs and the changes the industry has seen in the last decade. In the next session, top global leaders in the hospitality industry, got together to discuss the fundamentals of the hospitality business and some major trends that would impact in the future. The talk by Rana Kapoor, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, YES Bank who addressed the conference on key financial issues was followed with the greatest interest. Professor Rohit Verma




Keys Hotels

Sanjay Sethi, MD and CEO

Global leaders check in

An animated discussion took place at HICSA 2014 in the morning session of Day 2 between some of the outstanding personalities of the hospitality industry on the challenges and prospects before the global leaders who are now poised for big play in India.

Big Data: The Next Frontier

Stephen Rushmore Jr. President and CEO of HVS Global Hospitality Services, made a presentation at HICSA 2014 on the importance of big data for decision-making in the hospitality industry.

“Whenever you dream, dream with your all”

Diana L. Nelson electrified HICSA with a cutting edge speech that brought to the fore the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s passion for the hospitality industry. Here are some excerpts. talked next of the role of social media and technology-based innovations, focusing on ways to measure the levels of technology readiness of customers. Following this was a talk by Achin Khanna, Managing Director, Consulting and Valuation – South Asia, HVS, telling the story of numbers. A discussion on brands and owners and managing expectations followed, moderated by Kapil Chopra, President, the Oberoi Group. Diana L Nelson, Chairman, Carlson, a third generation leader of the Carlson family, was present and made the keynote address. Interestingly enough, her mother had done the same 10 years ago at the first HICSA. The HICSA Lifetime Achievement Award – 2014, presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry, was conferred on KB Kachru, Chairman – South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, amidst plaudits and wide applause, for his pivotal role in the development of international hospitality brands in South Asia. Next came the long-awaited HICSA Hotels of the year awards, which saw an array of exceptional personalities and talents receive them on behalf of their hotels.

The sessions of HICSA DAY ONE being over delegates were next seen unwinding and catching up with colleagues over cocktails hosted by Grand Hyatt which was coincidentally celebrating its 10th anniversary. The second day of HICSA began bright and early, with a session entitled Global Leaders Check-in. The second day was a full day packed with sessions of interest to the delegates, being on topics as diverse as How to solve development woes, Management Contracts – The Eternal debate, Asian Spice, Is this the Best Time to Buy? Or is it Bye Bye?, Debt: Equity – Where is the money, Business of Leisure, Wellness and Luxury, More than a One Night Stand, Budget/Economy – Formula for Success, Hotel Owners, Introducing New Brands in the Region, Conversions – the next wave, and Hot seat for owners. The discussions were insightful, taking up many relevant themes and issues and giving a fair picture of the state of the industry, the future direction as also investment opportunities. As on the first day, delegates were seen interacting and advancing their business agenda on the sidelines of the conference. HICSA ended

“We have 14 hotels in India, a majority of which are managed and a couple owned, thus taking the inventory up to 900 rooms. Our existing portfolio is growing rapidly and we are focussing on touching around 2300 rooms by 2015. We have also penetrated the religious segment with our recently opened properties in Shirdi and now we are opening a similar property in Haridwar.”

Jumeirah Group

Gerald Lawless President and Group CEO, Jumeirah Group

“India is a very important market for Jumeirah and is amongst our top ten inbound source markets. Being a very well recognised brand with the Indian market and seeing a high demand from the Indian market, we have already signed our first hotel mandate in Mumbai, which should be operational by 2018.”

Premier inn

Taranjot Gulati Assistant VP - Developement

“At present we have five properties, Bengaluru, Delhi and Chennai are operational, Goa will be launched this year, followed by Chennai next year. We have recently signed our first management contract in the country which will be the largest budget hotel in India. We are also looking at partnering with owners to open 20 such hotels in four years.”

The Park Hotels Vijay Dewan, MD

“This year we are focussing on an asset- light strategy with the launch of our ‘Zone by The Park Hotels’ brand. We will be opening three hotels this year under the brand ‘Zone by The Park’, our first hotel being operational in July in Coimbatore, followed by one in Raipur and then one in Chennai. Currently we have 11 hotels in India under the Park Hotels brand.

that evening with cocktails and dinner for the delegates hosted by the Taj Group at Taj Lands End. Truly, it was a fruitful conference, though taking place during an economic downturn, yet with most delegates optimistic that things would be looking up soon, clear that a long-term perspective worked in India. AMIT JETLEY MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  35




he much-awaited rollout of Aerocity hotels started with the opening of JW Marriott some months ago. There were issues of security that came to the fore; the hotels were asked to tweak their product to suit the requirements of the authorities concerned. JW received its approvals and was allowed to open with 300 rooms, along with the spa, wellness centre, swimming pool and its party lawns, all day dining restaurant with its 225 covers, patisserie and its banquet hall (13,500 sq ft without a pillar). JW is the brainchild of Sushil and Sandeep Gupta, father and son promoters of Asian Hotels West, which formed an SUV with Delhi Airport. The duo is well versed with the hospitality industry, having started as one of the three owning families of Hyatt Regency in New Delhi – after the Asian Hotels demerged into three entities, the Guptas began nursing Hyatt Regency Mumbai Airport and also acquired the Qutab Hotel and Apartments after the sale of ITDC properties. Now, they have a third property as they begin their innings with the third chain in their system – after Hyatt and Clarion, it is now also Marriott, three formidable brands under their belt. The hotel was an experience in creating luxury while keeping the project costs minimal. How did they keep their costs down, was there any magic formula? They travelled, they looked at sources closely, and monitored their cost. Luckily for them, all their imports were before the dollar went up. Each item was looked at closely, they spent a lot of money but carefully and wisely. Sandeep says he was looking at luxury as the customer will experience it, and not

JW Marriott Leads Aerocity Development to create a new centre for tourism in the capital

36 DESTINATION GO NOW AprilINDIA 2014 MAY 2014         36 

Sushil and Sandeep Gupta: promoters of JW Marriott


Lemon Tree Premier, New Delhi Aerocity

a leading hotelier with his Hyatt Regency, before the three original promoters in Asian Hotels opted for a separation. Sandeep says his contribution has been to focus on design, the final feel of the end product. “We kind of divided our responsibility between us. Sandeep was looking after the construction primarily with his focus on execution, while I was looking after the finances and their structure. What is really important is that between us we have managed to create this luxury at perhaps the lowest cost per room in the country”, shares Sushil Gupta. How do they see the road ahead? The operational part is with Marriott, a most professional team. It is their job to get the rooms and services going as a business. Nothing additional as an expectation, except that their projections become six months late, they say. Since then, the hotel has become a nerve centre for weddings and conferences. JW has become one of the preferred venues in the city. Meanwhile, after JW opened, its two adjoining properties opened, namely Red Fox and Lemon Tree both belonging to the same group of the same name. Thereafter, Holiday Inn opened and soon to follow, we gather is Ibis. The two other Accor hotels, also at Aerocity, namely Pullman and Novotel, are expected to open later in the year. Also in the pipeline, are Pride, Andaz of the Hyatt Group, and then Bird Group’s second hotel in the city and so on. In its totality, Aerocity will function as a catchment cluster of hotels not only for the city but also captive to a growing T3, an aspirant world-class international airport and hub for the region. NAVIN BERRY

Holiday Inn New Delhi Aerocity


as a statement of what they spent on it. Luxury is not just about spending, he says. What were they out to create, in the first place? Sandeep handled the design and concepts and says he was focussed on redefining luxury in terms of room comfort, public spaces and unique F&B. In his view the design is both classic and contemporary, and along with the JW team have worked steadfastly to raise the benchmark and create a unique experience. What is luxury to him? It is “grandeur, comfort, and sophistication. The experience will seamlessly incorporate space, scale and service,” says Sandeep. The bigger question is what next for Aerocity? Can these dozen hotels co-exist and will there be enough business for all of them? Everybody is eagerly watching, and many remain pessimistic with the hospitality business being what it is today. What do the Guptas have to say on this? “Aerocity is a futuristic project. It is not meant for just today. It is forward looking and all the hotels are opening in phases. This supply will get absorbed slowly as it comes along. This level of development is unparalleled in our history. This project was for a long time much in the news, and not for the right reasons. It will become a world hub, as we go along. Not just for the airport which it will, but also for the city, between the Delhi we know of, and the NCR – it will become a new centre of activity for the region, the city,” says a confident Sandeep Gupta. “The larger project is the outcome of DIAL’s vision in continuity to its efforts to create a world class airport, a hub between the East and the West. The entire area, we understand, will be created by DIAL as a self contained complex. We are confident of our success and so are other hoteliers working on their projects in this belt”, says Sushil Gupta. What has it been like, between the two of them, working on this project? It appears they have been a great team between them. Sushil, the father, has brought with him great working knowledge of working with the government. Keeping his patience, understanding the problem and trying to offer solutions, Sushil has been an active Rotarian, a keen golfer, a strong believer in Pranic healing, and also






Founder & CEO,

100% of Hotel Bookings to Move Online


t may seem like a futuristic (some would say optimistic) headline today, but consider this: smartphones took less than a year to contribute to 20% of our website traffic (upwards of 8 million monthly unique visitors). This has fundamentally shifted the momentum towards online search and booking across various travel-product categories. At present, the Hotel industry in India is still coming to terms with how Social Media and OTAs impact their marketing, customer-acquisition and sales strategy. Picture this: A family of four (or a group of friends) from Delhi goes to Manali (or Goa) for a vacation. Once they land at the destination, they check out a few hotels to finalise their lodging. This takes anywhere from 1-2 hours, after they have spent the last 12 hours (or 2) travelling to the destination. Now contrast this with a scenario where the travellers are able to research hotel options, build consensus, check with other friends and family if they have any experience with the hotel, make a decision, book the rooms, pay online and carry on with other parts of planning their holiday. So, their holiday can actually begin as soon as they set foot outside their home. Thanks to the Internet and Social networking platforms, the second scenario is becoming increasingly common and preferable. Social media has changed the nature of online interactions and because Travel is an occasion when most users engage actively on social networks, the travel industry has been in the thick of things. From research that is peer- influenced, real-time queries and service-requests, we have had to tweak the fundamentals of how we reach out and relate to the customer. Today, about 60% of single-city hotel-

        38  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

reservations on the MakeMyTrip site are booked online. The rest are contributed by phone-queries and walk-ins at our Retail stores. But when a customer can find rich media including photographs, videos, testimonials and reviews at the click of a button, and the credibility offered by a trusted service-provider (such as an OTA they have used frequently), the reluctance to book online reduces. And it’s a oneway street – since a customer who’s been introduced to the convenience of onlineresearch and booking is not likely to ‘fall off the wagon’. Many web-savvy travellers find Instagram a better tool to research and finalise a destination than holiday catalogues. Travellers also trust the resources on social media or third-party sites (OTAs and metas) more than promotional material on the hotel website. In all of this, the OTA is a partner that helps Hoteliers navigate through these technological changes to offer a win-win situation. On the whole, the OTA will have better resources, strategies, reach and audience to market themselves and Hotel properties listed with them than Hotel themselves. Then they can re-target the same traveller or seek a referral on online or social platforms and build a virtuous cycle. A three-year survey conducted by WIHP (World Independent Hotel Promotion) estimates that 20% of the direct bookings on Hotels website come from people who discovered the hotel on an OTA. Google ascertains that 52% of travelers will visit a hotel website after seeing it listed on an OTA. With our investments in optimising the online and mobile experience for our customers, I am confident that we will be able to expedite the shift of Hotel-reservations to online and mobile channels.

Ratan Tata sharing a light moment with Newton Thomas D’Souza at the latter’s art exhibition held at Taj Mahal Palace to commemorate Jamsetji Tata’s 175th birth anniversary

Taj Group of Hotels celebrates the 175th Birth Anniversary of its founder, the beloved Jamsetji Tata


he Taj Group of Hotels celebrated the 175th birth anniversary of visionary Jamsetji Tata with an art exhibition inaugurated by Ratan Tata. The exhibition showcased 36 works of art of one of Taj’s oldest employees, Newton Thomas D’Souza. Newton’s works have been displayed at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre and the Tata offices in Mumbai and Jamshedpur among other venues. Newton has also held solo exhibitions at the Bajaj Art Gallery (in 1996) and the Jehangir Art Gallery (in 2000). Inspired by Pope Francis’s saying “Money must Serve not Rule,” Newton’s personal tribute to Jamsetji Tata is a very generous donation of 50 percent of his proceeds to support underprivileged cancer patients at the Tata Medical Center in Kolkata.


MD, India and Regional VP, South Asia, Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts

India is still an ‘under-hotelled’ market


ith the volatile eco nomic environment and the depreciating rupee the ride for the Indian hospitality sector has been a bumpy one. India today is still an ‘under-hoteled’ market, and the demand for high-caliber lodging is expected to far exceed current supply for at least the next three to four years. One of the biggest challenges we face in India is the slow pace of development due to regulatory procedures and infrastructure. We also believe that there exists a large number of smaller Hotel chains and standalone Hotels that offer quality lodging and that could easily fit into one of our upscale brands. Asset ownership is challenging in today’s competitive environment and Starwood’s distribution capability, the power of its award winning loyalty program, SPG, and the strength of its brands offers great value. We therefore believe an arrangement between such asset owners and our management and distribution capabilities could be mutually beneficial and an opportunity for both. One of the key challenges in India remains the slow pace of development of hotels and the even slower pace of infrastructure development. It takes more than twice as long to build a hotel in India than in China. High cost of land, high interest rates and high levels of inflation are strong barriers to entry. Coupled with the myriad number of licenses, permits and approvals required to develop and operate hotels, it is certainly not a business for the faint hearted. We would like to be the developers’ choice and with our bouquet of distinct unique compelling brands which are differentiated from a lifestyle perspective

and not from a price point perspective, we believe we have a competitive edge by offering a choice of type and style. However Hospitality development is not for the faint hearted. Infrastructure, licensing, regulatory clearances, land acquisition continue to be a bottleneck for Hotel development and growth in a relatively under hoteled market. Access and connectivity, are another challenge that we face. You can build great hotels but if accessibility to these hotels are not easy, how then do you justify the investment. India makes a very compelling story with its massive domestic market. Our success in China did not happen overnight. We opened our first hotel, The Great Wall Sheraton in Beijing in 1985. But the real acceleration in growth began only in the middle of the last decade. Today, we are over a 100 operating hotels and another 100 under development. We will reach this point in India too. The success of the new Westins of India, the introduction of our upscale brands, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft, the opening of the first new build company managed Sheraton in Bangalore, the opening of the 100th Le Meridien worldwide and the first one in India in over ten years in Coimbatore are all examples of the success of Starwood in India. Another big part of expanding in India is the huge potential of the India outbound market which is growing exponentially. As Indian travellers become familiar with Starwood’s brands in India, we believe that they will look for our brands when they travel abroad. With a projected size of 50 million Indian travellers abroad by 2020, this market presents a fantastic opportunity for our hotels globally.


IHG and IL&FS Skills Partner to Develop Vocational Hospitality Talent in India


nterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and IL&FS Skills, have announced the launch of the 15th IHG Academy programme in India, joining over 300 IHG Academy programmes globally. The partnership will see IL&FS Institute of Skills (IIS) providing IHG approved vocational hospitality training across the country as part of the programme. Following the three-month course, participants are able to apply for roles at IHG hotels in India and across the globe. The IHG Academy is a pioneering global collaboration between IHG and local education and community providers. The programme aims to provide people with skills development and employment opportunities and create a sustainable talent pipeline for IHG.

Choice Hotels to open six more properties by 2015


hoice Hotels India, part of Choice Hotels International, have announced signing six more properties by 2015 in India. “We plan to focus on extensive development resources on growing our presence in India. As we have last year expanded our presence with the opening of five properties: Clarion Hotel Chennai, Clarion Hotel Coimbatore, Quality Inn Kumabakonam, Quality Inn Bangalore and Comfort Inn in Ahmedabad. In addition another three properties have been inked Comfort Hotel in Khanvel Silvasa, Comfort Hotel, Abu Road in Rajasthan and Quality Hotel in Chennai. We are planning to add another three properties this year. By 2015, we will have about 32 properties’’ said Vilas Pawar, chief executive officer for Choice Hospitality India.





Area Vice President, South Asia, Marriott Hotels

Marriott builds strong network across India


o, how is the Marriott story developing in India? Are you only managing hotels and not franchising them? Long back we took the decision not to franchise but to manage ourselves. In 1999, when we came to India for the first time, we took upon ourselves to manage our brands ourselves and to build them. I don’t think I am going to say never but not for the time being, as our focus remains to focus on quality that we can manage. We need to create a reputation for ourselves. And what has been the success so far, and how would you judge your performance? I would think we have done well over this period. For all the three segments that we cater to – the owners, the customers and our associates ( the team that works for us). We need the loyalty of all the three. I must say I think we have performed reasonably well, even if I am saying so myself. How has the story been for your owners, possibly the one segment that actually gives a kick start to your operations? As for our customers, we carry a 19 per cent premium in RevPar over our rates – our customer satisfaction is the highest among our competitors. This premium results in profits ensures them. This results in happy owners, and makes them believe in us when they continue to grow with the brand. You see the Rahejas – all eight of them, the Chordias in Pune – they remain happy to grow with us. We continue also to get new partners. As we open the JW at Sahar in the 4th quarter, we will then have 2000 rooms in North Mumbai alone. What do you feel makes the owners happy? Any special pull of being a apart of the Marriott family? Sure, you may ask what makes these owners so confident about us? Our brands get

big traction across segments across the country. So much so, that we now have 24 operating hotels, 47 are under construction and we are looking forward to our hundred mark! Each of our brands is getting noticed and is proving a big draw. At this moment, there are 10 Courtyards under construction across India. I also feel there is a sense of pride in owning a Marriott hotel! What is your take on conversions? That may propel bigger numbers to your growth story? Conversions are also happening but we remain selective and cautious. I cannot say more at this stage. We are talking at some centres and we can also make some announcements soon, but nothing for the moment. It is important for the hotel to have the right profile for us to move in. Coming back to owners, what makes them confident about working with Marriott? What makes them confident? If you compare performance across brands, against our competitors, you will have the answer. In our stable portfolio during 2013, we delivered double digit growth in profits. And what about owning hotels? We are a pure management company and do not own hotels. Across the globe, you can possibly count the number of hotels we own on your two hands. That out of a portfolio of over 4,000 hotels! There have been a few notable exceptions. We created the Edition brand out of three strategic heritage buildings in New York, London and Miami. We converted these into hotels and sold them a few months later, keeping the management with us. This was a pure business strategy, to develop and sell. What is the situation about your associates, the third segment? Then we need to study our associates. Marriott has among the strongest work

Rajeev Menon sees Dynamic Growth at Marriott Hotels

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cultures in the country, not just in hospitality. Typically, too, we emerge in the world as the only hospitality company in corporate rankings. Our internal understanding of staff or associate satisfaction is in the high 90s. Presently, we employ some 7000 staff across the country. Our cardinal philosophy is that if we take care of our associates, they will take care of our customers. (Implied here is that if the customers are happy and keep coming back, that will take care of our owners, because they want profits and want to run successful hotels). So much for the Marriott story, what about trends in general? Where is the industry going? Hotel building has slowed down. People today are lot more strategic in what they are building. Some six to seven years ago we witnessed a mad rush to build whatever came one’s way. Today, a lot more cautious owners want to stay and are weighing opportunities. They are now involved in a lot more strategic planning of their resources. The result is that the market is now maturing, as there are many learning lessons for all of us. Any other trend that you see, that you wish to share? Like hotels selling and are there buyers? Some degree of consolidation is happening. Some of the smaller players are merging with the bigger ones. See the merging of ISTA with Hyatt – new partnerships are emerging. When the seven to eight per cent growth returns to the Indian economy, a mature market would have emerged to take advantage of newer opportunities. But the craziness that you witnessed in the recent years has perhaps become history. In more recent times, while Business Travel remains a cornerstone, MICE has played an important role, and will continue to do so. Short breaks will become more popular, both to smaller towns and also to metro cities. The leisure market, in our opinion, will start to grow. Leisure packages are becoming a part of the business. Food and Beverage is becoming huge and Indian cuisine is becoming a big focus area for us. We believe we create such typical outlets that their duplication in every sense of the word is not possible. It is not just the food but also the ambience, that is often not possible to be recreated in another circumstance or surroundings. Weddings are becoming a big revenue stream and we are no exception. NAVIN BERRY


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Priorities in Aviation Sector for the Incoming Government


n so many areas of our national concerns, the country is discriminatory for the Indian side. Removing it now will give awaiting the installation of the new government, just a few an advantage to newer airlines waiting to acquire wings, when weeks away. In all these areas, there are issues of policy, existing airlines have already paid the price under this law. Will level playing field, future outlook, and sustainability. One this constitute an unfair advantage for the newer entrants? That area and segment that desperately needs critical attention is a decision the new government will have to make. must be the civil aviation sector. Resting on this clause lies the fate of at least two entrants The present structure is clearly unsustainable. There are cleared to fly by the government demitting office. Will they different arms within it – like airlines, airports, service provid- find their operations equally tenable if the 5/20 rule was not ers, and so on. Each of them is crying for better terms, often in removed? conflict with the claims and interests of another. Conflicting Traffic rights under bilaterals need a holistic policy review expectations need to be reconciled in an holistic manner, and statement. Should these be sacred unto themselves or can whereby everybody stands to gain, most notably the travelling these be a part of larger trade-offs between nations, India and public and also the nation at large. other countries. If these be a part of a larger Flying safety is one major concern, where international understanding, would the libthere can be no compromises. The status of eral grant of seats to foreign carriers put flying “ram bharose” must become a relic Indian carriers to a perpetual disadvantage? of the past. Whether it is scheduled airlines, Conversely, if Indian carriers will not grow, private or public sector, or non-scheduled and not be able to connect India with the airlines of the private operators, safety must world at large, how long should the country become a habit. The rules cannot be bent, suffer, and at what national cost? and they need to be first made cogently and Privatisation of airports is another huge comprehensively, and then enforced strictly. In this regard, the area of concern. Chennai and Kolkatta have been stalled role of the regulator becomes paramount, and we need the but there are other few top cities that are under threat – how most efficient machinery to monitor our growth and safety. much has the process of privatisation helped, and whom? Connectivity must get augmented. We need a 1000 air- If you see the balance sheets of the acquirers of Delhi and craft up in the air, both on trunk routes and to the hinterland. Mumbai airports, you can keep guessing who has gained the Airports need to be functional and inviting, and not neces- most? Does privatisation hold the key for future growth? What sarily become showpieces of art and history – welcome sort of policy does India need? though, but not essential. Costs need to be kept down, Talking of privatisation, the national carrier keeps coming and money must be invested more into technology and ef- up as a subject for debate – how long will it carry on the way ficiency. These must be sustainable, as much as the airlines it is? Operationally, it has started turning around the corner, that fly into them. but what about its debts and who will service them, and for Immediately, the new government has to clear the hurdle how long? Does India need a national airline? If we do, will of the existing rule of 5/20. For any airline to fly internationally, it continue to be run the way it has been for the last many it must have a minimum of 20 aircraft and ought to have been years, under the strict control of the government, with the operational for at least five years. No such rule exists for the for- minister as its CEO? eign owned airlines flying into India, thereby making this rule Having a fun time in New Zealand NAVIN BERRY




IndiGo now flies from Delhi to Dibrugarh


Carriers put A380 for India Flights from 30th May

ndian travellers will soon experience the luxury of the massive A380 at Indian airports. Major carriers that are likely to benefit from this government permission are Lufthansa, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and possibly British Airways as well. A380s are double deck, wide bodied, four-engine jet airliners whose cabins have features that reduce traveller fatigue such as calmer interiors and higher pressurisation. These are the world’s largest passenger car-

riers and many airports have upgraded their facilities to accommodate them because of their size. The A380’s upper and lower decks are connected by two stairways, fore and aft, wide enough to accommodate two passengers side-by-side; this cabin a r ra ngement a llows multiple seat configurations. The maximum certified carrying capacity is 853 passengers in an all-economyclass layout. The A380s add to the comfort and convenience of a traveller with onboard re-

laxation areas, such as bars, beauty salons, duty-free shops and restaurants. It has 50 per cent less cabin noise, 50 per cent more cabin area and volume, larger windows and bigger overhead bins. Emirates offers private suites and shower spas in the first class of its A380s, flat bed seats in business class to extra room and custom lighting in the Economy Class. With India lifting a ban on landing the aircraft in the country, these airlines are looking forward to flying the jets here.

Etihad Connects Jaipur to its International Network


tihad Airways commenced its daily operations between Jaipur and Abu Dhabi. This is the airline’s tenth destination in India. The new ser vice will provide travellers from Jaipur with seamless connections to the Gulf region and Middle East, as well as Africa, Europe and North America, via their Abu Dhabi hub. The aircraft used

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on this route will be A320. With the addition of Jaipur, Etihad now serves a total of 10 Indian cities including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Trivandrum. As Jaipur is a premium destination and attracts leisure and business travellers from around the world, Neerja Bhatia, General Manager – India, Etihad Airways, said that Jaipur is the perfect addition to their growing network of destinations. This place is also known for hosting many international cultural events, including the renowned Jaipur Literature Festival.

St r en g t hen i n g its commitment to the domestic market, IndiGo has announced eight new flights connecting seven destinations, Delhi, Hyderabad, L u c k n o w, Sr inagar, Bhu- Aditya Ghosh baneshwar, Guwahati and Dibrugarh. IndiGo is now operating new daily non-stop flights between Delhi to Dibrugarh and return via Guwahati – Kolkata & Lucknow to Srinagar via Delhi. The airline also announced a third non-stop flight from Delhi to Bhubaneshwar and Guwahati, a fifth non-stop flight from Delhi to Lucknow and Srinagar and a sixth non-stop flight between Delhi and Hyderabad. With 485 flights connecting 36 destinations across the nation, these new flights will further consolidate IndiGo’s position as the fastest growing airline in India. Elaborating, Aditya Ghosh, President and Executive Director, IndiGo said, “Dibrugarh is going to be an important part of our destination network because it holds good prospect for travellers and the students belonging to the region in the metros.”

SpiceJet tops IndiGo in on-timeperformance Data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA ) indicates that in the months of December last year and January and February this year, SpiceJet topped the on-time performance (OTP) ranking among all domestic airlines. IndiGo and Jet Airways took the second and third rank, alternatively, during this period. The data shows SpiceJet fared better than the rest at Chennai and Kolkata airports with over 96 per cent on-time flights in December and January. IndiGo had a better OTP than rivals at Mumbai and Delhi during these two months. OTP of airlines has been the lowest at Mumbai airport, as the ongoing taxiway work is causing flight delays. SpiceJet said it had been able to improve its punctuality due to strict monitoring of flight movements.

A scene from last year's inauguration: Union Minister for I&B, Manish Tewari, alongwith Secretary and JS, I&B Ministry and Mukesh Bhatt, President, Film & Television Producers' Guild of India.

Time now to look ahead to the 8th Edition Cinema Tourism sets new sights as we position with the prestigious Mumbai Film Festival Contact us for participation options ranging from exhibiting to diverse partnership opportunities.


Contact: Saurabh on 09210799523 Email:   Website:




Indian aviation needs a defined bilateral policy

I Art at New Terminal 2 at Mumbai Creates new benchmark


onstructed in the same location as the present international terminal, this ` 5, 5 0 0 cr or e pr oje ct promises to be a highly advanced vertical passenger terminal that integrates world class design, architecture, infrastructure and operational efficiency, with a rich infusion of Indian heritage and cultural character. The design of Terminal 2 draws inspiration from India’s national bird – the Peacock. Throughout there are fixtures and details, such as 1000 chandeliers inspired by the lotus flower, a Diya curtain with 10000 diyas waiting to welcome international travellers and the check in hall which is inspired by 1000 white peacocks

in the sky. It also claims to be home to India’s largest public art programme, in the form of a three km multi-story Art Wall, illuminated by skylights. It features over 7000 pieces of artwork and artefacts from Maharashtra and others parts of India, appropriately titled, Jaya He (Glory to India). T2 has been accred-

Throughout there are fixtures and details, such as 1000 chandeliers inspired by the lotus flower, a Diya curtain with 10000 diyas and the check in hall which is inspired by 1000 white peacocks ited with the LEED Gold

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certification for its environmental stewardship. Sewage recycling, water recycling and rain water harvesting technologies will contribute to a 20% reduction in water use, over and above the Leeds baseline. Perforated metal panels on the terminal’s cur tain wall filter the low western and eastern sun angles, and create a comfortable day-lit space for waiting passengers, while responsive daylight controls balance outdoor and indoor light levels for optimal energy savings. Combined with strategically-placed skylights throughout the check-in hall, these will reduce T2’s energy consumption by 23%, accorded with Level 2 accreditation on carbon management by ACI.

ncreased market access, competition and lower fares are to be welcomed. However, the distribution of India’s bilateral entitlements is heavily skewed towards the Middle East in general and to the UAE in particular. The carriers from this region offer a high quality product with an extensive network served on a high frequency basis. However, over-dependence on a single market to provide international connectivity

increases India’s strategic risks in the event of unanticipated geo-political or other operational issues that may arise. Even though the recent history of the UAE itself is very stable the Middle East region has been subject to conflicts and political unrest. India’s national interests would likely be better served by opening up to a broader range of markets and linking entitlements to its connectivity, trade and tourism requirements and geo-politics, and not simply to the business plans of individual arriers. The negotiation of bilateral air services agreements involves the allocation of valuable assets that has long term strategic implications not only for a country’s aviation industry but also its broader economy. India’s GDP of close to USD2 trillion should be the third largest in the world within the next two decades and yet this emerging economic power may end up outsourcing most of its international connectivity to other markets. If that is where the market is headed it should be clear defined, linked to India’s interests and strategically pursued rather than be the accidental child of ad hoc decisions taken without due consultation. At present there is neither a vision nor a roadmap.

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he new terminal at Dabolim Goa is finally open, though it was formally inaugurated end of last year. This new terminal will handle both domestic and international operations. The terminal building is equipped with modern facilities such as passenger boarding bridges, CUTE enabled Check in counters, inline compatible baggage handling system, software based building management system, elevators and escalators. The terminal building can handle 2750 peak hour passengers at a time. The new Terminal Building is a multi-level building with a ground floor catering up to domestic and interna-

tional arrival and departure check in, remote domestic arrival and departure. On the first floor are security, custom, immigration and arrival of domestic and international passengers. On the second floor are domestic and international security hold. The basement has Inline compatible baggage handling facility, substation/AC plant room and all other services. The building is equipped with modern facilities and local culture and heritage is depicted adequately through art and mural works at various locations. Some of the features of this terminal areAnnual Capacity: 4.0 Million passengers Immigration Counters: 30

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Domestic Passenger Capacity: 3.2 Million passengers Passenger Boarding Bridge: 5 International Passenger Capacity: 0.8 Million passengers Total Peak Hour Capacity: 2750 passengers Security gates: 5 Domestic Peak hour Capacity: 2000 passengers Conveyor Belts Departure/Arrival: 6/4 International Peak Hour Capacity: 750 passengers Check-in Counters (CUTE): 64 Total building area: 63913 Sqm. Multi-level car parking: 570 Cars





India-UAE Capacity Swells as Indian Carriers Lag Behind


n 26-Feb-2014 India and Dubai agreed to liberalise their bilateral air services agreement, increasing the current 55,000 weekly seat entitlements for each side by approximately 20% on a staged basis over the next 13 months. The additional 11,000 weekly seats would allow Emirates to introduce A380 equipment on the majority of its five daily services to Mumbai and four daily services to Delhi currently operated by A330/A340/777s. Some of the entitlements may also be allocated to flyDubai to open additional points of call in India. The first tranche of 5,500 additional seats available from the upcoming Summer 2014 schedule would allow Emirates to up-gauge up to four daily departures from Delhi and/or Mumbai and possibly support some expansion by flyDubai. The A380s will probably be scheduled to support the morning departure bank from Dubai. Permission to operate the A380 on Indian routes is timely for Emirates which will face temporary slot constraints at Dubai Airport between May and Jul-2014 due to run

Access for UAE carriers in India dwarfs all other markets

India is unique in having separate bilaterals with different emirates of the UAE; agreements are currently in place with Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah. As a result of the expanded bilateral agreements that India has signed with Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the last twelve months, weekly entitlements for UAE carriers will increase to over 135,000 seats by 2015/16. Including the points of call available to Jet Airways, hubs in the UAE can be fed from 26 points in India. This represents a massive increase from the 10,400 seats available to six cities in 2003/04. And it dwarfs the access offered to any single other country, and almost as much as all European countries combined which have just over 160,000 seats available to them. In addition, the majority of the Indian bilateral entitlements to Abu Dhabi are expected to be utilised by Jet Airways operating a coordinated network and schedule with Etihad. As a result the number of weekly seats feeding hubs in the UAE is likely to be closer to 170,000-175,000. CAPA India research estimates that the additional near term

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seat requirements of foreign carriers is in excess of 170,000/week Despite the recent opening up of the market we understand that UAE carriers are still seeking an additional 60,000+ weekly seats in the short term in order to support increased frequencies to existing destinations; the deployment of A380s on metro routes other than Delhi and Mumbai; and the opening up of new points of call for flyDubai and Air Arabia. And this is only the requirement over the next couple of years. The business plans of Gulf carriers entail massive expansion over the next decade. Over the next three years alone Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways will take delivery of between 60 and 80 aircraft per annum, or 1-1.5 aircraft per week. Emirates itself has 95 A380s scheduled for delivery by 2019. Liberal access to the Indian market will be key to supporting this growth.

Emirates’ long term plans for India are expected to entail:

• upgrading all services to Delhi and Mumbai to A380 equipment and increasing frequencies to these two primary gateways; • introducing A380s to other metro airports, most likely commecing with Hyderabad and then Bangalore, and eventually to Chennai and Kolkata once they become Code F compliant which should be achievable with some minor upgrades; • increasing wide body frequencies to other ports such as Ahmedabad,Cochin, Kohikode and Trivandrum; • to complement this expansion flyDubai will over time to seek to operate to more than 20 non-metros. Ideally, the UAE would like to see an Open Skies agreement with India. Meanwhile demand from Qatar, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia and others is estimated at close to 110,000, with almost half of this accounted for by Qatar. The curious case of SpiceJet’s request for more than 40,000 seats to the Gulf, which may have helped justify the grant of additional entitlements Indian carriers are currently utilising approximately 43,000 of the 55,000 weekly seat entitlements available to them under the India-Dubai bilateral. Prior to the most recent negotiations Indian carriers were asked to submit their estimated requirements over the next 2-3 years.

A I R LI N E S Air India, Jet and IndiGo combined are unlikely to have required more than 10,000-12,000 weekly seats. Air India and Air India Express do not have the narrow body capacity to support the expansion of regional international services; Jet Airways is now focused on Abu Dhabi and not Dubai; and IndiGo has modest plans for Dubai. Indian LCCs are currently averaging load factors in the range of 70-75% on routes to Dubai and are not faced with an urgent need to further expand capacity. And indeed the viability of services from Delhi and Mumbai may come under further pressure as a result of competition from Emirates A380s on these routes. The growth plans of most Indian carriers could therefore have largely been accommodated under the current bilateral agreement without revision. However, SpiceJet reportedly submitted a plan seeking an additional 12,000 weekly seats to Dubai, 10,000 seats to Abu Dhabi and 22,000-24,000 seats to Doha. The proposed growth in operations to these three points alone is almost triple the size of SpiceJet’s total international seat capacity at present. It would require an estimated 17-18 additional aircraft to be dedicated to supporting this expansion to the UAE and Qatar, slightly more than the total number of narrow bodies that the carrier has scheduled for delivery through to 2016, of which up to ten may be required for replacement of existing equipment over the next two years. As part of its planned restructuring programme SpiceJet may even temporarily downsize its narrow body fleet. CAPA research estimates that the current fleet of 41 737s could be reduced by up to 20%. And SpiceJet is actually rationalising its international network, having recently announced the termination of several routes including Delhi – Guangzhou; Pune – Bangkok; and Varanasi – Sharjah. The request for 44,000-46,000 seats to the UAE and Qatar therefore appears out of context but will have certainly helped the Ministry of Civil Aviation justify the grant of additional rights.

Change of gauge in Dubai opens up opportunities for an Indian carrier, but no takers likely for now

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erminal 3, Domestic departure Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi gets its first luxury automobile lounge by Volvo Auto India. The lounge serves a typical Scandinavian luxury experience to its guests. Tomas Ernberg, Managing Director, Volvo Auto India says, “Terminal 3 IGI Airport is one of the largest aviation hubs in South Asia with a heavy influx of high profile fliers. Creating a Volvo lounge at such a strategic location is yet another step closer towards our existing and prospective customers. It gives them an experience of Volvo’s brand philosophy ‘Designed Around You’, up close and personal.” Volvo carlines would be on public display at the lounge entrance accessible to all the travellers. However, the entry into the Lounge would be only ‘by invitation’. Platinum and Gold cards respectively for Volvo customers and VIP guests. With the Volvo Cars Lounge, Volvo Auto India looks forward to extending the experience and going that extra mile to understand its customers better. I. Prabhakara Rao, CEO, Delhi International Airport (P) Limited says, “DIAL is privileged to partner with an iconic brand like Volvo Cars. Ever since the commissioning of T3, our retail footprint has registered a 30 per cent growth and today we are proud of our retail diversity and mix. At IGIA we now host over 500 reputed brands spread across 30,000 Sq mtrs, catering to the diverse passenger profiles. We have tailored our retail showcase by continuously studying the evolving needs and preferences of our passengers – the Volvo Cars Lounge is one such unique offering.” Volvo is looking forward to redefine the concept of luxury and comfort with this lounge at the T3.

Volvo Lounge at T3, Delhi Airport

Under the new bilateral agreement Indian carriers will be permitted a change of gauge in Dubai, allowing Indian carriers to establish hub operations in Dubai subject to traffic rights. This is similar to the provision that was introduced in the India-Abu Dhabi agreement last year and which facilitated greater cooperation between Jet Airways and Etihad. India had originally sought a change of gauge provision during bilateral negotiations in 2008 on the basis that the 5th freedom rights available to Indian carriers beyond Dubai could only be commercially leveraged if they could establish hub operations in the emirate. The Dubai authorities had agreed in principle but stated that due to infrastructure constraints at Dubai Airport such rights would only be available from the Al Maktoum International Airport (AMIA) as and when it opened for passenger operations. With regard to the change of gauge right agreed in the most recent negotiations we are not aware whether the offer is for Dubai Airport or AMIA. Nevertheless, despite the attractions of the Dubai hub, this facility is unlikely to deliver any practical benefit for now. Jet Airways is committed to Abu Dhabi and the only other Indian carrier with widebody aircraft that could take advantage of the provision is Air India. It would be almost unthinkable for the national carrier to establish an offshore hub in the Gulf. And it could also be operationally challenging as the recent experience of Indian carriers has been that due to slot constraints at Dubai they have generally not been able to secure their preferred timings. The provision could be leveraged if a Dubai carrier was to invest in or establish a close alliance with an Indian carrier, but Emirates does not appear to have any current interest in pursuing such an approach.




Indian aviation sector has the potential to be number one globally by 2030 KPMG-FICCI have reported that the potential is phenomenal, but so are the challenges.


here is large untapped potential for growth due to the fact that access to aviation is still a dream for nearly 99.5 per cent of its population, indicates the FICCIKPMG 'India Aviation 2014-Enhancing Air Connectivity' report launched today at the most prestigious civil aviation exposition in Hyderabad. According to the report, the Indian civil aviation industry is on a high growth trajectory, albeit with minor hiccups. The industry has ushered in a new wave of expansion driven by Low Cost Carriers (LCC), modern airports, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in domestic airlines, cutting edge Information Technology (IT) interventions and a growing emphasis on No-Frills Airports (NFA) and regional connectivity. The Indian civil aviation industry is amongst the top 10 in the world with a size of around USD 16 billion. This is a fraction of what it can actually achieve. Says Mr. Sidharth Birla, President of FICCI, "In view of the enormous growth prospects of air traffic and substantial investment projections, Indian aviation market offers significant long term opportunities for global aviation players. Indian Government and industry are already working together closely. I am confident, this partnership will be further strengthened and play a critical role in improving regional connectivity and promoting sustainable development of the civil aviation sector in the country." The report notes that the next generation of aviation growth in India will be triggered by regional airports. At present, there are around 450 used/un-used/abandoned airports and airstrips spread all over the country. Many Indian states, especially in Eastern India, have started taking pro-active measures to promote air connectivity. These initiatives include reduction in Sales Tax on ATF, development of no-frills airports, promotion of aviation academies and supportive policies for airlines and tourism. West Bengal deserves a special mention as it is the first large state in the country to declare zero per cent Sales Tax on ATF at its regional airports and 15 per cent Sales Tax on ATF used by additional flights started at its metro airport in Kolkata. A lot more needs to be done, as several Tier 2/3 cities are still unconnected or underserved. These involve relaxation on regulations, revising the security requirements, allowing domestic code sharing, providing free or discounted utilities and connecting infrastructure. The proposed Essential Air Services Fund (EASF) by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) needs to be set up immediately. All this will have a multiplier effect in terms of higher growth of local economic activities, tourism and employment. "India is blessed with a great geographic location, a large upwardly mobile middle class and immense tourism opportunities. We have just touched the tip of the aviation iceberg. The beauty is that our challenges are primarily related to policies, procedures, regulations and taxes. These are all man-made problems and hence surmountable. The central government and

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the eastern states have brought in many reforms in the aviation policy, procedures and taxation. We hope this trend continues", says Amber Dubey, Partner and India Head of Aerospace and Defense at global consultancy KPMG. The report highlights the significant growth in the Indian aviation sector over the last decade. As per data from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), passenger throughput grew to 159 million (FY 13) and cargo throughput to 2.19 million MT (FY 13), registering an impressive growth of 13 per cent and 10 per cent CAGR respectively over the period FY 2003-2013. On the global front, aircrafts transported around 3.1 billion passengers and over 51.6 million tonnes of freight in 2013. The growth in passenger traffic has been led by the strong progress made by Middle East countries and supported by other emerging economies of Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific. However, developed economies of North America and Europe lagged behind in terms of growth in passenger traffic. The Asia Pacific region promises to emerge as the largest aviation market by 2032. The most significant development in the Indian domestic market is the growing dominance of the low-cost carrier model, which in FY 2013 accounted for almost 70 percent of the domestic capacity. LCCs have driven the growth in aviation and tourism through low fares, introduction of regional routes and periodic discount offers. Full service carriers plan to shift more seats to their low cost offerings in line with market trends. Indian carriers plan to double their fleet size by 2020 to around 800 aircraft. The FICCI-KPMG 'India Aviation 2014' report points out that development of air transportation services and socio-economic development are highly correlated. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), an additional dollar invested in air transport leads to a benefit of around three dollars to the local economy. Moreover, every additional job created in the air transport results in creation of over six new jobs. The growth in Indian aviation has created significant employment opportunities. With passengers and aircraft fleet likely to double by 2020, the need to strengthen the human resource development infrastructure is immediate. As per KPMG estimates, the total manpower requirement of airlines is estimated to rise from 62,000 in FY-2011 to 117,000 by FY-2017. It is estimated that the sector, overall, will need about 350,000 new employees to facilitate growth in the next decade. Shortfalls in skilled labour could create safety issues and may see staff salaries rise, hurting India's cost competitiveness. It is a well known fact that the Indian aviation industry is overtaxed and this is being reflected in the industry's lack of competitiveness at the global level. It is important for India to acknowledge the devastating impact of high taxes. Some of the avoidable taxes/charges that need immediate attention are central and state taxes on ATF and MRO, Service Tax on air tickets, high airport charges etc. India's current MRO market size is estimated to be around

A I R LI N E S USD 700 million. By 2020, the total Indian fleet would double in number, making it critical to have a strong domestic MRO industry. According to industry sources, merely 5-10% of the MRO work for domestic scheduled carriers is carried out in India, while most of the maintenance activities are outsourced to third-party service providers outside the country. This is a classic case of scoring self-goals. An inter-ministerial task force on MRO needs to be formed immediately by the government to check the outflow of MRO revenue, foreign exchange and jobs. Overall, in order to become a top aviation market, all round

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improvements are required – in airports, air navigation, cargo, MRO, general aviation and human resource development. India would need to broaden the base of domestic flyers. No-frills airports in Tier 2/3 cities need to be developed and the proposed EASF needs to be activated to address financing challenges. Government policies, procedures and regulatory framework need to be futuristic, pro-active and aligned to stakeholder expectations. The FICCI-KPMG 'India Aviation 2014- Enhancing Air Connectivity' report concludes that Indian aviation has a huge untapped potential – we need to recognise it and go for it.

Upbeat Boeing, Airbus Revise India Outlook

Upbeat about aircraft sales over the next 20 years, cos expect sales to exceed ’12 estimates


wo of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers – Boeing and Airbus – have both revised their 20-year market outlook for India stating that the country will see more aircraft sales till 2032 than what they had estimated in 2012. The upward revision in the outlook comes a day after SpiceJet placed a $4.4-billion aircraft order for 42 planes with Boeing and a month after Air Costa placed a $2.94-billion aircraft order for 50 planes with an option for 50 more with Embraer of Brazil. As per Boeing outlook, between 2013 and 2032 Indian airlines will buy 1,600 aircraft valued $205 billion. Last year, Boeing had predicted that in the same period India would need 1,450 planes valued at $175 billion. Meanwhile Airbus also raised its outlook by a similar amount stating that between 2012 and 2032 India would need 1,290 aircraft valued at $190 billion. In 2012, its prediction for 2012-2032 was for 1,045 planes at $145 billion. The upward revision from the aircraft manufacturers comes on the back of favourable demographics in the country for growth in aviation and the low penetration of airline services in India currently, which leaves the room for potential exponential growth. “India’s demographics are highly favorable to the growth of air transportation,” said Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Sales, Asia Pacific and India, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The share of India’s large population entering the workforce is growing. India could have the world’s fourthlargest economy if current trends continue helping drive demand for air travel.” Airbus’ executive vice president strategy

and marketing said in a statement, “As the people of India fly more and the number of firsttime flyers increases, demand for the latest generations of aircraft will also increase making India on of the largest and most dynamic markets in the world.” Both Airbus and Boeing predict that the bulk of the orders will be for single-aisled

with Airbus A320, is still generating interest amongst Indian carriers. Boeing, which announced the SpiceJet order for 42 Boeing 737 MAX, a competitor for the Airbus A320, is also in talks with Jet Airways and Air India Express for the same aircraft, but Keskar said nothing is confirmed yet. But while the 20-year projections show that aircraft manufacturers are bullish about Indian aviation’s longThe share of term future, over the short term India’s large there are some concerns. population Keskar of Boeing warned that entering the capacity discipline is currently workforce is breaking among Indian airlines. “In growing. India 2013, revenue passenger kilometres or the revenue paying passengers could have the world’s fourth- has grown only 3.5% while available largest economy seat kilometres or capacity increase if current trends has been 11.5%. This means that a third of the additional cacontinue helping nearly pacity has flown empty,” he said. drive demand for Keskar’s point is validated when air travel. seen alongside the statistics from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. In January 2014, Indi-Go, the largest narrow-body aircraft like the Boeing 737 Indian carrier by market share, had a load and the Airbus A320. Airbus says around 913 factor of only 70.2% as compared to 84.1% of the 1,290 aircraft from 2012-2032 will be last January. The carrier that has been adding narrow-body aircraft while Boeing says 1,330 aircraft at the rate of nearly one aircraft per of the 1,600 planes in its market outlook will month, which meant that in January its availbe narrow-body planes. able seat kilometres increased by 22.5% but According to Keskar, Indian carriers have its passenger growth was only 1.3%. gone slow on the widebody orders since Boeing’s presentation also pointed tothey have spent too much money fitting pre- wards the real impact of the weak rupee mium Business Class and First Class cabins against the dollar. Since 2008 to 2013, averwhich they haven’t been able to fill. “The age ticket prices between Mumbai to Delhi dilemma for the Indian carriers is to get a has grown to $132 from $127 but in rupee right cabin configuration for the wide-body terms the average ticket prices have gone planes to make money,” he said. up from . 5,008 in 2008 to . 7,012 in 2013. However, narrow-body planes where Nearly 80% of an airline’s costs in India are Airbus has a leading market share in India denominated in US Dollars. MAY 2014 DESTINATION INDIA  49



IIFA takes Indian cinema to US, another triumph for cinema tourism


spectacular show, celebrating the magic of Indian cinema, the 15th Tata Motors IIFA Awards took place at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, USA. Both the countries came together to celebrate the vibrant Bollywood industry and exchanged various cultural values. Stars from Hollywood and Bollywood came together and presented an evening full of entertainment and glamour. International actors John Travolta and Kevin Spacey shook a leg on popular Bollywood hits. Kevin Spacey was brought on stage by Shahid Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone to join them for a little jig to Lungi Dance while John Travolta joined

        50  DESTINATION INDIA MAY 2014

Priyanka Chopra on stage at the end of her act and later joined Hrithik Roshan, matching moves with the celebrity dancer-actor. On taking IIFA to Tampa Bay this year, Priyanka Chopra said, “Year after year, IIFA has brought the best of Indian cinema to a new geography in different parts of the world, providing a taste of the best that we have to offer. It was great to bring IIFA to Tampa Bay. With the support of representatives of Visit Tampa, we have been able to conceptualize and actualize an incredible event. There was music, dance and a whole lot of spice! We gave our fans and new audiences the experience of a lifetime.”

Date of Publication: 28/04/2014

RNI No. 28908/1976 Posting Dt. 25-30/04/2014 Reg No. DL(C)-01/1365/2013-2015

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