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VOL 8 | NO 6 | JULY 2013 | PAGES 44

Chairman of the Board

CONTENTS

Viveck Goenka

PULLMANTUR CRUISES Spanish way of Cruising

Editor

Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor

Steena Joy Associate Editor

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Sudipta Dev

DIWALI Holidays Cruises.

CONTENT TEAM Mumbai

Sayoni Bhaduri, Kahini Chakraborty Kolkata

Joy Roy Choudhury Advisory Board

Ankur Bhatia, Vijay Chadda, Saroj Datta, Ashok Fenn, Subhash Goyal, Cyrus Guzder, Zubin Karkaria, Ashwini Kakkar,

COVER STORY

Khursheed Lam,

A CASCADE OF OPPORTUNITY | PAGE 20

Tej Sahni, Alok Sawhney, Prem Subramaniam MARKETING

MARKET

Deputy General Manager

AirAsia focused on lowest fares and improving connectivity in India

PAGE 06

Harit Mohanty

Industry leaders unite to resolve issues plaguing travel industry

PAGE 07

Chief Manager

Goa Tourism promotes new tourism products for monsoons

PAGE 08

Emmanuel Fernandes

French Touch Travel sets up office in Delhi

PAGE 10

Manager

Liverpool FC tours get popular with Indian fans

PAGE 12

Air China plans to introduce daily flights to Mumbai

PAGE 13

MakeMyTrip launches SMS-based bus-ticket booking service

PAGE 14

MoT sanctions `100 cr financial package for Uttarakhand

PAGE 15

Sunil D'costa CIRCULATION

Mohan Varadakar PRODUCTION General Manager

West Mediterranean BARCELONA - TUNIS - ROME – FLORENCE / PISA – GENOA -MONTE CARLO – BARCELONA

Jaypee Hotels focuses on promoting Jaypee Greens

B R Tipnis

Golf & Spa Resort, Greater Noida

PAGE 16

Manager

For the quintessential English experience

PAGE 17

Bhadresh Valia

A defining moment for wellness travel

PAGE 18

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Layout

Ratilal Ladani, Kiran Parker Asst. Art Director

MANAGEMENT

Surajit Patro

Leveraging the power of technology to

Chief Designer

provide new experiences

Pravin Temble

Involving local communities in

Senior Graphic Designer

Responsible Tourism

Rushikesh Konka Photo Editor

Sandeep Patil Express TravelWorld Reg. No.-MH/MR/SOUTH156\2013-15 RNI Reg. No.MAHENG/2005/15993 Printed by The Indian Express Limited and published by Ms Vaidehi Thakar on behalf of The Indian Express Press, Plot No. EL-208,TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, Navi Mumbai - 400710 and Published from Express Towers, 2nd Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021. (Editorial & Administra-tive Offices: Express Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400021) Editor Reema Lokesh* Copyright @ 2011

The Indian Express Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner, electronic or otherwise, in whole or in part, without prior written permission is prohibited.

July 2013

PAGE 24

PAGE 26

Package Includes:

Tryst with nature PAGE 28

G7

Treasures of Saurashtra PAGE 30

EDGE Decoding digital marketing

PAGE 32

Interview: Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, ixigo.com

PAGE 33

LIFE Giving wings to green idea

PAGE 34

REGULARS Editor’s Note

PAGE 04

Appointments

PAGE 35

Weekend

PAGE 41

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Treading responsibly

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t is said that 'if there are two people, there are normally three opinions’. When tragedy strikes, especially natural disasters, many 'ifs’ and 'buts’ come to the fore along with opinions and debates galore. It’s an endless blame game without a solution. The catastrophe in Uttarakhand has once again warned us and hopefully taught us the lessons of responsible development - keeping pace with the place and not abusing it with criminal concretisation and industrialisation. Some places have a fragile disposition and an eco-system that should not be tampered with. Such places perform best when development is undertaken in a steady, sensible and sustainable way. Rapid and mindless expansions, short term policies and unwanted deforestation will only bring harm and the only way to bring harmony is through responsible actions. For over a decade, responsible and sustainable tourism has been a priority topic at global conferences. The few torch bearers of this very serious issue have mentioned time and again how vital it is to activate responsible tourism plans into real-time workable action plans. Interestingly, the international conference on Responsible Tourism that was held in Kerala recently, emphasised how crucial it is for the local communities to take responsibility on improving their towns and villages. It is about grassroot mobilisation and taking action against any unhealthy development in the region that can lead to future devastation.

SOME PLACES HAVE A FRAGILE DISPOSITION AND AN ECO-SYSTEM THAT SHOULD NOT BE TAMPERED WITH. SUCH PLACES PERFORM BEST WHEN DEVELOPMENT IS UNDERTAKEN IN A STEADY, SENSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE WAY

Our cover story this issue, which is about a niche tourism product of waterfalls, also emphasises on the importance of responsible and sensible tourism development at these fragile nature hubs. Safe, sustainable and responsible tourism is the only answer and solution for long term development. We need to be our very own tourism police and act with discipline and concern. A careless and commercial approach toward tourism can only lead to disaster and we will have only ourselves to blame, and not nature, for what unfolds.

CHENNAI:

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W H AT ’ S INSIDE

MARKET THE BUSINESS OF TRAVEL & TOURISM

Industry leaders unite to resolve issues plaguing travel industry PG 7 ‘India is among one of the fastest growing emerging markets’ PG 8 Indian cruise travellers get explorative – in preferences and destinations PG 10 Contiki foresees great potential in Indian youth travel segment PG 12 Air China plans to introduce daily flights to Mumbai PG 13 MakeMyTrip launches SMS-based bus-ticket booking service PG 14 MoT sanctions `100 cr financial package for Uttarakhand PG 15

LEAD STORY

Industry cautious as Rupee dips REEMA LOKESH - Mumbai

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he Indian Rupee is at its record low vis-à-vis the US Dollar and like any other industry this does not speak well especially for the outbound tourism sector. Industry entrepreneurs have expressed caution and concern on the Rupee-Dollar dynamics, with some facing the heat already and few who are predicting a rather tough time ahead for outbound tourism business. The demand supply rule has resulted in some correction in airfares as well. Speaking to Express TravelWorld Manoj Gursahani, chairman, Travelmartindia.com said, “The Rupee breaching the 60 mark is already having a huge impact on outbound travel, as most of the airlines have seats available. Also the cumulative costs for the family will go up sig-

nificantly and in view of this, those going for leisure tours will postpone their trip for a future date and some might even opt for a domestic holidays.” Some tour operators have already witnessed a dip in bookings to destinationsDubai, Bangkok, London, Paris, Italy and Switzerland. Jaal Shah, group managing director, Travel Designer India added, “The Rupee has depreciated from 11 per cent to eight per cent when we compare it to FebruaryMarch 2013. This reflects that there is a huge volatility making it difficult to predict the future. It seems that this is going to worsen as we see Rupee being looked at 61.50 to 62 against a Dollar.” However Shah also feels that this development should benefit the inbound business. He mentioned, “This should help get good business for the inbound sector where international

travellers are getting good value for what they intend to spend on, making their travel budgets cheaper by 10 per cent.” While few other tour operators are of the opinion that as the Dollar gets stronger, people will plan their holidays and travel better and prudently. Subhash Motwani, director, Compact travels feels, “Even though there has been a significant drop in the Rupee, we have not seen any cancellation or postponement of trip from our clients. According to me, the depreciation in the Rupee rate could hover around 62 from now what it is at 60. However travellers will not stop travelling but will now plan their holidays much more in advance. There will be a change in destination preference and the kind of experience associated to it and the number of length of stay will also reduce from 12

days to eight days. The family segment will be affected by the depreciating Rupee rate.” However a report from PhoCusWright –Asia Pacific states that despite facing a myriad of challenges from within and outside the travel industry, India remains among the fastest growing travel markets in the Asia Pacific region. Although the country's slowing economy, depreciating Rupee, and ailing airline industry burden the travel market, gross bookings will march ahead by double digits through 2015, when they will reach US$28.8 billion. Online travel in India continues to outpace the total travel market, with online gross bookings projected to reach US$12.5 billion in 2015, up 80 per cent over 2012. (With inputs from Sayoni Bhaduri and Kahini Chakraborty)

AirAsia focused on lowest fares and improving connectivity in India SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

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MANAGEMENT 20 EDGE 32 TRAVEL LIFE 34 6

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he recent AirAsia press meet in Mumbai saw Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, AirAsia disclose what he calls his 'simple game plan in India' - lowest fares and improving connectivity within the country. He pointed out that many airports are under utilised. The key is getting the market stimulated by reduction of prices. “We will be aggressive probably more than any other airline. There are many routes that are not covered. Connectivity is not about one flight but having ten flights in a day. There will be a lot of things we will be looking at differently,” he asserted. Fernandes believes that it is a mistake to treat India as one country. “We will grow in one part and then grow in other regions,” he added. The initial focus being south India, with headquar-

ters in Chennai. “We will bring ASEAN and India much closer. India will become a big hub for us,” he stated. He remarked that there are two factors – revenue strategy and cost strategy – both the structures should be right. It ultimately comes down to the cost structure. “Unbundling is the right way to go, we want to give the lowest possible fares – there are many options that people do not want and so they do not have to pay for it. Similarly it is with bags. We give the common man the chance to fly without having to pay for what he does not want,” added Fernandes. AirAsia has focused strongly on ticket sales through its website, however a large percentage of air ticket sales in India is done through travel agents. Talking about sales and distribution Fernandes stated, “When we started AirAsia in Malaysia there was no internet. We drove internet sales but never

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closed other channels like travel agents. In Indonesia we have many travel agents. But we drive people to go to the internet. E-commerce is big in India.” Fernandes is optimistic about the immense potential of the market of 1.2 billion people. One of the reasons for his optimism is the quality of workforce available here. “India is blessed with smart people. People are key for this airline,” he said. He averred that hiring of Mittu Chandilya, CEO, AirAia (India) has surprised many people as Chandilya is not from an airline background. “I wanted someone to come in with a different view. If Mittu was from an airline I would not have hired him,” he stated. Most of the second level team in India has also been hired. July 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

Industry leaders unite to resolve issues plaguing travel industry ABHISHEK CHAKRABORTY - New Delhi

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iva Voyages, a travel representation and marketing company, held an outbound travel thought leadership meet in New Delhi to discuss about the issues plaguing the outbound travel market. Titled 'Ayanaant', the event saw industry leaders discussing ideas for innovation in the outbound travel industry. The event witnessed participation by leaders like Parvez Dewan, secretary, ministry of tourism; Guldeep Singh Sahni, president, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI); JB Singh, president and CEO, InterGlobe Technology Quotient, also had an extended participation from students, scholars, tourism boards too. The event also had panel discussions on specific trade verticals like cruise panel, online initiatives, brochure and MICE, where experts came together to share thoughts, ideas and experiences. The event also provided an opportunity for convergence of senior managers and leaders of the outbound travel business in India to discuss strengths, challenges, opportu-

July 2013

nities and threats to the business in general and to shed light on the way forward. Speaking on the need to do more to increase cruise travel, Ratna Chadha, CEO, Tirun Travel Marketing said, “Though the market for Asian cruises is increasing year on year, a lot needs to be done to make cruising more popular and take it on a global platform. India is far behind the United States and other Western countries when it comes to cruising.” While urging the government to do more, Keki Master, senior vicepresident, JM Baxi & Co said, “Everytime there is a meet, we dis-

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cuss a lot of issues and then forget about it once the meet is over. This needs to change. We also have to improve the conditions of our ports, especially the ones in Mumbai, and give passengers more priority, only then one can have a better cruising experience.” The meet also conferred outbound awards to Manjula Chaudhary, director, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management; M Sajnani, director, Amity Institute of Travel and Tourism, and SC Bagri, vice-chancellor, Himgiri Zee University, for their contribution to the outbound travel market.

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M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

‘India is among one of the fastest growing emerging markets’ San Francisco’s charm lies in its big city activity with diversity in culture and iconic attractions, music, arts, shopping and cuisine. HelenTsui, director, International Tourism, Asia Pacific, San Francisco Travel Association highlights the fact that the association considers it crucial to constantly share product knowledge with its Indian partners. By Reema Lokesh How does San Francisco Travel Association view the India market as a potential tourism partner?

Goa Tourism promotes new tourism products for monsoons REEMA LOKESH - Mumbai

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ashing in on the monsoon season, Goa Tourism is promoting safari tours, spice plantations, whitewater rafting, trekking and mountaineering and experiencing tradtional Goan festivals. Nikhil Desai, director, Goa Tourism said, apart from waterfalls and beaches, Goa has much more to offer. “Goa also has world class spa resorts and day spas offering variety of Ayurvedic treatments which have their maximum benefits during the monsoon season. Goa Tourism has also introduced

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white water rafting during monsoons over the river Mhadei. Some of the activities include: Angling, Kayaking, Back Water tours organised by GTDC,” he informed. For the safari tours, the tourism board is promoting places such as Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, among others. The spice plantation guided tours cover places such as tropical spice plantation in Ponda, Savoi, Pascoal Spice Village near Khandepar and Sahakar Spice Farm on the PondaBelgaum road.

Carmel-by-the-sea, the golf course and coast 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. One can even continue southwards and reach the Big Sur, for surfing and water sport activities, stay a night and return to San Francisco.

San Francisco Travel Association was the first US destination marketing organisation to set up a representative office in India in 2009. India is among one of the fastest growing emerging markets for San Francisco and arrivals from India will continue to grow. In 2011 California welcomed 194,000 India visitors. Last year San Francisco welcomed 16.51 million visitors, so each day we had 131,128 visitors and their spending was US$ 8.93 billion, an increase of 5.5 per cent. Are there any specific plans for the India market both in terms of leisure and MICE? San Francisco with its all year round appeal, offers ample opportunities for leisure and MICE travellers. Growth in MICE has been very positive and San Francisco continues to be one of most popular incentive destination. San Francisco is host to yearround international conventions, conferences and trade shows. San Francisco Travel Associations has been a participant of all India missions including the Brand USA India mission last year and will be participating in the Brand USA India mission in September 2013. We engage with India’s travel companies and share product opportunities that makes San Francisco a must-visit destination for MICE and leisure. We support fam trips for both trade and media. www.expresstravelworld.com

Are there plans to position San Francisco Tourism as a standalone destination or combine it as a tourism zone along with neighbouring regions? San Francisco is a part of the state of California. Besides being a stand-alone destination it also a part of most California itineraries. San Francisco’s charm lies in its big city activity with diversity in culture and its iconic attractions to music, arts, shopping and cuisine which offers a magical experience. Travellers extend their trips from San Francisco taking advantage of day trips. Visitors travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County and the Sausalito or Tiburon and can take a ferry back. One can go further north and explore the wine regions of Sonoma and Napa. It’s easy to travel south of San Francisco to Monterey Peninsula and enjoy the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the art filled

Is there a specialist programme that you have designed for the India market in terms of training and knowledge sharing? San Francisco Travel works closely with India’s travel companies and tour operators to share new product opportunities as well as develop itineraries. San Francisco also has year -round educational programmes conducted in various cities in India. We also participate in several other activities to provide destination information to the travel trade. Is there a certain USP of the region that you wish to highlight? San Francisco International Airport is the gateway to north America and almost all major international flights connect to SFO. The airport offers ease of immigration, quick baggage clearance and swift connectivity to the Bay area, as well as ample connectivity to every city in the US facilitating ease in travel. San Francisco enjoys Mediterranean climate and all-year round appeal. The city lends itself to an enviable lifestyle that travellers seek to experience. The icons, views, food, arts and the neighbourhood makes visitors want to return to San Francisco. July 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T TRADE BYTES

Indian cruise travellers get explorative – in preferences and destinations SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

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Ratna Chadha

irun Travel Marketing represents three brands of Royal Caribbean Cruises - namely Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. According to Ratna Chadha, chief executive, Tirun Travel Marketing over the past few years there has been a substantial increase in the variety of ships that Indian travellers have started to explore as well as destinations like South America, North Europe, and the Black Sea and more for cruising. “India holds immense potential for the cruise market, as travellers are increasingly interested in witnessing new destinations and new travel products, especially those which offer true value in relation to their preferences,” she said adding that, growth is expected from various parts of the country. Demand for various regions including Asia, Europe, Caribbean and exotic Alaska, South America is expected to grow. Cruise holidays are increasingly becoming an interesting choice of vacation for various segments including individuals, groups or families, corporates as well as special occasions such as celebrations and weddings. Chadha has witnessed considerable growth and changing preferences over two decades of being the

cruise pioneers in India. “Travellers have started perceiving cruising as a viable and effective vacation option over the years,” she said, adding that for first timers, initially consumers considered sailings in Asia and Mediterranean, but now they want to explore more and are looking at Alaska and

Caribbean as one of their first choices as well. For repeat travellers it is destinations like North Europe, Alaska and more exotic sailings in Antarctica/ Arctic, the Far East that are growing in prominence. Chadha pointed out that consumers continue to value service and are more enticed by

innovations and activities offered on-board. “They have become explorative and value the speciality dining cuisines and multiple options available on-board,” she mentioned. Royal Caribbean Cruises has a lot to offer for the MICE segment. “The various brands offer innumerable activities and facilities onboard for such purposes including conference rooms, accommodation options, round-the-clock dining options, multiple entertainment and exciting itineraries and shore excursions amongst others,” added Chadha. Besides MICE, weddings have always been an important segment in India. India’s first wedding aboard a Royal Caribbean International ship was on Legend of the Seas. The cruise-line not only offers different destinations to choose from, but they also help mark the special occasion with the help of their Royal Romance Specialists catering to all requirements. “The Legal ceremony is performed by the ship's captain while sailing on the high seas to ensure a unique, elegant and memorable celebration. Also, Azamara ships are perfect for intimate celebrations, be it a wedding, an engagement, your 10th anniversary or any MICE activity. It is also a great option for those who want to celebrate birthdays, baby showers or other special occasions with friends and family,” stated Chadha.

French Touch Travel sets up office in Delhi KAHINI CHAKRABORTY Mumbai

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rench Touch Travel, a boutique French expert designing customised

INDIAN TRAVELLERS NOW ARE GOING TO EUROPE MORE THAN EVER BEFORE TO DISCOVER NEW DESTINATIONS. FRANCE IS NOT ONLY A DIVERSE DESTINATIONCULTURE, HERITAGE AND FRENCH ART, WINE, GASTRONOMY BUT ALSO HAS NUMEROUS EVENTS THAT WILL INTEREST TRAVELLERS 10

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and personalised tour to France and Europe, has launched its India operations and set up an office in Delhi. The company aims to offer high quality services, leverage its strong expertise in destinations (focus on France and Europe), and create bespoke travel. “France is not only a diverse destination-culture, heritage and French art, wine, gastronomy but also has numerous events that will interest travellers. For example Diane Prize (horse racing), Roland Garros tournament, 24 hours Le Mans, Monaco Grand Prix, fashion weeks, famous exhibitions, etc. The diversity of its nature www.expresstravelworld.com

will allow people to get a new experience all year round. We have adopted the B2C model in India,” said Armelle Nicolas, head of division, French Touch Travel. Europe welcomes more than one million Indian travellers, with France accounting for around 3,00,000 tourists. With the company focusing more on offering quality rather than quantity, the trips will be created depending upon the desire, personality and hobbies of the clients. “This is precisely why we will not sell via the internet, but face-to-face by meeting the guest directly and taking the time to understand her/his

expectations. We will visit the guests and give them the necessary time to fully understand their needs and suggest the best ideas in line with their passions,” she added. Talking about the evolving travel trends, she opined, “Asia is still the preferred destination for Indian travellers. However now they are going to Europe more than ever before. Travellers are looking to discover new destinations. Our targeted clientele do not want the traditional tour of Europe but looks for highly personalised trips to experience the destinations rather than only visit them.” July 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

Contiki foresees great potential in Indian youth travel segment Photos credit Contiki Holidays For 18-35’s

Plans to grow India market among the top five in Asia SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

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or the last five decades Contiki Holidays has been taking travellers between 18 to 35 years of age to destinations around the world. Since the last one year the world's leading youth travel operator has been working closely with its travel partners, Travel Air Representations and Ezeego1 in India to promote the brand and tours to young travellers in the country. “We have seen a great response from Indian young travellers. They are very receptive to Contiki as we provide them an alternative way of travelling style and experience and we saw a significant growth in terms of people signing up on our tours,” said Kevin Khor, head of sales and marketing, Asia, Contiki Holidays. Contiki offers over 190

itineraries throughout Europe, Russia, Egypt, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Canada and the USA for travellers to choose from, depending on their budget, time and travel style. The trips are hasslefree and include a mix of sightseeing, culture and free time. “We will continue to promote Contiki in India as the potential is very huge in this market and we are just starting to penetrate the market. In the years to come, we

plan to grow the India market to become one of our top five markets from Asia, bringing Indian young travellers to every corner of the world,” stated Khor. Currently the focus is on promoting Europe as a destination as it is the most popular choice among young travellers. “Our 13D Greek Island Hopping is the most popular tour among our Indian travellers, where this easy pace tour will give them a lot of free time in Athens,

Mykonos, Santorini and Ios,” mentioned Khor, adding that, the other options are USA and Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In years to come, he expects Latin America to become one of the top destinations. Reminding that travellers are becoming more savvy in terms of planning their holiday, Khor stated that Contiki has been trying to constantly understand the trends and needs of young travellers,

“Hence, our value-add services have also changed from time to time, where we no longer are offering them just a holiday tour, but their very own travel story that lives with them forever.” Contiki has also introduced its mobile app, Shout and The Exchange, which is its online community as platforms for travellers to communicate, stay in touch and get to know each other before they start their tour.

Liverpool FC tours get popular with Indian fans SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

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rom tourism point of view Liverpool Football Club has been studying the different markets and patterns/ preferences of visitor arrivals. Liverpool Football Club is getting more and more popular in India and an increasing number of people are following the club, stated Tom Cassidy, commercial tourism manager, Liverpool Football Club. "We have got many visitors coming over from India. They range from people coming for the games, to watch a match or for the stadium tours. Stadium tours are suitable for individual travellers or groups. So when groups arrive if they want we can have one of our former players to take them for a stadium tour,” he added. There are many tourism focused hospitality packages that give ultimate match day experience - from five course dining to relaxing in the Boot Room. The tours enable fans

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Tom Cassidy to get behind the scene experiences at Anfield - the home of Liverpool FC. “If people are coming all the way from India we need to give them a good product. We do have a large fan base which is getting bigger,” stated Cassidy. There are a number of

experience products as well that allow visitors to stay with one of the former players. "This is quite unique. Next year we are launching a five-day version of this. So people can stay at Liverpool for five nights and the last day will see them playing on www.expresstravelworld.com

the pitch and on field. In between there will be lot of training from some of our players and coaches. So we are really trying to come up with new ideas for visitors,” he said. This will only happen at the end of every season.

There has been an increase of people from India visiting on a match day for the games. According to Cassidy there have also been increasing arrivals from international supporter groups and international members. July 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T AVIATION

Air China plans to introduce daily flights to Mumbai Services to Ahmedabad and Hyderabad also on the radar KAHINI CHAKRABORTY Mumbai

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ir China is planning to introduce daily flights between Mumbai and Shanghai. Presently, the airline operates to three destinations in IndiaMumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru with a total of 11 weekly flights from India. The airline had appointed STIC

FROM MUMBAI, BUSINESS TRAVEL IS INCREASING TO SHANGHAI AND WE ARE FOCUSED ON INCREASING BILATERAL TRADE AND TOURISM BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES. LAST YEAR, 85,000 INDIAN TRAVELLERS VISITED CHINA

Travel Group as their representative in the India market to handle the west and south India regions. Talking to Express TravelWorld on the sidelines of its celebratory event of Air China completing one year of successful operations in Mumbai, Tang Zhongling, general manager, Air China Mumbai said, “We are pleased with our performance and our passenger load factor has also been growing, which is encouraging us to increase our flights from India to other cities in China. We intend to make the Mumbai operation into daily operations.” Air China is currently doing its market study as it intends to operate flights on

new routes - Ahmedabad and Hyderabad in the near future. “Currently we have 476 aircraft including Boeing and Airbus and in next two years we will operate 700 aircraft,” informed Zhongling. He informed that last year the airline witnessed 82 per cent load factor from the Mumbai, 76 per cent from Bengaluru and 78 per cent from Delhi. Currently, 65 per cent of travellers travel to China for business, while 35 per cent for leisure and VFR (visiting friends and relatives). Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC Travel Group added, “The relation between China and India is growing faster and so is tourism. India is one of the

preferred destinations for Chinese nationals. Currently due to the recession in Europe, I feel Asian countries must look at each other and if we can increase travel and tourism, the negative effect of recession could be overcome. From Mumbai, business travel is increasing to Shanghai and we are focused on increasing bilateral trade and tourism between the two countries. Last year, 85,000 Indian travellers visited China and we hope that in the next two-three years the numbers will increase to one lakh. We are averaging a growth of 16-18 per cent outbound from India to China.”

MoCA likely to handover operations of Kolkata airport to private party JOY ROY CHOUDHURY -Kolkata

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he ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) is likely to handover the maintenance and operations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata to a private party. According to sources, Changi Airport Group (Singapore) and Flughafen Zurich - operator of Switzerland's Zurich Airport have evinced keen interest to operate the Kolkata airport. Ajit Singh, union civil aviation minister and senior officials of the ministry were irked by the upkeep and were keen to handover the maintenance and operations to a private operator at the earliest. The ministry has been receiving repeated complaints from MPs, bureaucrats and other passengers. Kolkata recently opened its international terminal which was built at a cost of `2,325 crore to handle 25 million passengers annually, a leap from the current capacity of 4.8 million a year. But it has failed to meet the expectations of the commuters. During a July 2013

brief visit at Kolkata airport, KN Shrivastava, union civil aviation secretary asked the airport authorities to sort out the issues, including the mysterious shattering of glass panels and inadequate washrooms in the departure terminal. Meanwhile, VP Agrawal, chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI) who was also present, informed that steps would be taken up at the earliest to rectify the problems faced by commuters. “We are open to the idea of roping in private players for maintenance and operation of the airport,” he said. Agrawal added, “We may enter into a JV with a foreign private partner, but nothing has been finalised yet. We are yet to work out the modalities for such an arrangement.” A Planning Commission task force under the chairmanship of BK Chaturvedi, in its deliberation on financing plan for airport during the 12th Fiveyear plan, had earlier suggested privatisation of the operations and maintenance of government-run airports.

WEST BENGAL TOURISM TO HOST COUNTRYWIDE ROADSHOWS TO HARDSELL DURGA PUJA JOY ROY CHOUDHURY - Kolkata

In an effort to attract domestic tourists, during the Durga Puja, the West Bengal Tourism Department plans to hold roadshows in major cities and metros of the country. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Vikram Sen, principal secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of West Bengal said, “We will be holding a series of roadshows in major cities and metros like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and others from July onwards to attract tourists to West Bengal during the Durga Puja celebrations in October this year.” Efforts are also on to draw tourists from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other neighbouring countries with the help of various central and foreign agencies, a Tourism Department official said. “We are trying to make Durga Puja the most happening event and increase the footfall of

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tourists as more tourists will open up sources of income for many people here,” he added. Durga Puja, which will begin in early October this year, is a four-day melange of fun and devotion. Some of the packages already planned for the tourists include visits to major Puja pandals and those of century-old pujas conducted by renowned families of the city, celebrating Pujas on the Ganges and a river cruise connecting Belur Math, Dakshineswar and the world famous Botanical Gardens. Also on offer would be a huge spread of Bengali dishes and desserts. Mamata Banerjee, the state chief minister is herself coordinating the efforts and is keeping a tab on the initiatives. The Tourism Department is in the process of meeting different tour operators, hotel owners and different transport agencies, besides several other government departments to put up a coordinated effort.

EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

MakeMyTrip launches SMS-based bus-ticket booking service ETW STAFF - New Delhi

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akeMyTrip has announced the launch of India’s first SMS-based bus-ticket booking service. The first-of-itskind service enables feature/entry-level phone users

WE STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT THE FUTURE OF E-COMMERCE AND TRAVEL BUYING EXPERIENCE IS ON THE ‘MOBILE’ AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD PRODUCTS WITH A MOBILE-FIRST APPROACH

to harness the power of 'mobile' by booking bus-tickets through an SMS. The platform has been developed by txtWeb, an open platform for SMS applications, launched in India in 2011. The website offers bus tickets for 1300+ operators over 12,000 + routes across India, including the inventory for Punbus/Punjab Roadways, Gujarat, Goa and Bihar Road Transport Corporation and Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. Elaborating on this initiative, Amit Somani, chief products officer, MakeMyTrip said, “India is the largest market for mobile

phones, with the growth in handsets-sales and new mobile connections far outpacing sales of desktops, notebooks and new Internet connections. Mobile is the perfect channel for a travel company to provide real value and service to the customer. MakeMyTrip is committed towards making the travel-buying experience seamless and convenient for the customer. We were the first Indian OTA to develop mobile travel app for the iOS which we followed with an Android app. To ensure that the non-smartphone users can also avail and experience the benefits of the

mobile platform, we have developed this SMS-based service for bus-ticket reservation.” He added, “We targeted bus-ticket reservation for this platform since the ticket-value is lower for most first-time users to confidently experiment with the channel. Once they experience the convenience firsthand, we are confident they will continue to transact via mobile. We strongly believe that the future of e-commerce and travel buying experience is on the ‘mobile’ and we will continue to build products with a mobile-first approach.”

Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to sign MoU for tourism ETW STAFF – Hyderabad

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n a major fillip to the tourism growth in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, both states have agreed in principle to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for promotion of tourism in the respective states. The announcement was made during the inauguration of Tourism Information and Reservation Centre of MTDC at Tourism Plaza in Hyderabad. MTDC had also held a road show to attract the tour operators of Andhra Pradesh to offer tourist destinations of Maharashtra. Chhagan Bhujbal, minister of tourism, government of Maharashtra, said, “It would be a win-win situation for both states which share many similarities and complement well to each other’s culture. The core focus of this joint effort is to ensure that tourists visit both states. Besides, we also would like to give message to the tourists and tour operators of Andhra Pradesh to explore the tourist destinations of Maharashtra which in itself is a wholesome experience.” Chandana Khan, special chief secretary to government (tourism, cultural affairs & archeology), government of Andhra Pradesh, said, “Sharing border with Maharashtra provides several advantages. There are many tourists come from Maharashtra and similarly many tourists from Andhra Pradesh visit Maharashtra. If we can work together on increasing the number of tourists visiting both states, it would be a great boost to the industry in both States.” MTDC also kick started its national marketing campaign from Hyderabad. Dr Jagdish Patil, managing director, MTDC, said, “This new office in Hyderabad is second office of MTDC outside Maharashtra with the first being in Delhi. MTDC has been taking several progressive steps to encourage tourism in Maharashtra. Along with this new facility, we are also hosting a road-show for the tour operators to promote Maharashtra as a preferred tourist destination. It will be an interactive session with the tour operators about how best we can improve the number of tourists visiting from Andhra Pradesh to Maharashtra.”

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APSRTC APPOINTS ABHIBUS.COM AS CORPORATE AGENT Online bus ticket booking portals, Abhibus Services India has been appointed by Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) as the corporate agent for expanding its Authorised Ticket-booking Agents (ATB) network to cities, towns and villages in Andhra Pradesh as well as beyond the state’s borders, wherever the APSRTC has its services. A total of 7,200 services will be accessible from any of these agents with no additional charges for travellers. Agents can recharge their accounts only through net banking facility that is integrated into their login panels, thus making it quick and easy for them. To sign up, agents have to collect the application form from Abhibus, representatives from the region will get in touch with the interested parties, and the necessary identification documents need to be submitted along with the filled-up application form. In the areas where there are no representatives, the forms will be sent to the agents via email. The time period for activation is one week from the date of signing up. In an endeavour to make this a success, Abhibus will support the agents with all the necessary marketing tools to increase the ticket sales. Talking about the appointment as the master franchise and corporate agent for APSRTC, Sudhakar Reddy Chirra, founder and CEO of Abhibus said, “We have already started the process and there is a lot of interest from prospective agents in availing this facility, especially from the remote regions as this was not possible earlier. We have formed large regional teams to facilitate the sign-up, verification, setup and support process.”

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July 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T NEWSTRACK

MoT sanctions `100 cr financial package for Uttarakhand ETW STAFF – New Delhi

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UTTARAKHAND HAS LOST REVENUE EARNINGS OF ABOUT `12,000 CRORE FROM ITS TOURISM SECTOR ALONE IN THE CURRENT FISCAL ON ACCOUNT OF TORRENTIAL RAINS

nion minister of tourism K Chiranjeevi has sanctioned a special financial package of `100 crore for restoration and reconstruction of the affected government tourist facilities in Uttarakhand. This will be in addition to the Central Financial Assistance of about `95 crore already sanctioned during the current financial year for developing tourism infrastructure in the state. Uttarakhand has recently witnessed an unprecedented natural calamity that has caused colossal damage to both life and infrastructure in the State. The state government has been advised to assess the destroyed and damaged tourist amenities and conveniences and come back with the requirement of funds for rebuilding the infrastructure. On examination of the demand, Ministry of Tourism will

IATO APPEAL FOR HELPING UTTARAKHAND FLOOD VICTIMS Cloudbursts, floods and landslides brought on by incessant rain in Uttarakhand have left a trail of destruction across the state. Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has appealed for contribution to help the people who are affected by the natural calamity and to the families of the victims who have died. “Kindly contribute graciously with whatever amount you can for this cause and help the government for rehabilitation work for the local people and also the pilgrims,” said Subhash Goyal, president, IATO.

sanction funds. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) has estimated that the state of Uttarakhand has lost revenue earnings of about `12,000 crore from its tourism sector alone in the current fiscal on account of torrential rains that devastated the state. Saurabh Sanyal, execu-

tive director, PHDCCI, said, “Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Uttarakhand at factor cost at current prices stands at about `1,07,548 crore in the year that came to an end on March 31, 2013, 11 per cent of the GSDP has been washed away in terms of prospective tourism earnings due to floods that engulfed the state, further

points out the PHDCCI quick assessment on losses of its tourism sector. It may be highlighted here that tourism was concentrated vastly along sides of rivers of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Mandakini and Dhauliganga in both Garhwal and Kumaon regions.” Around 60 per cent of the total tourism prospectus of the state has been severely damaged due to excessive rains, remains of which are even hardly seen as indicated in the pictures carried out by army, airforce, as well as government and privately owned helicopters. Massive damage has been resulted from infrastructure ruined including roads, buildings and houses. The reconstruction of damaged tourist destinations is expected to burden the state government with huge amount in wake of rising input costs such as mounting prices of cement, iron, labour costs, etc.

‘Taj plays the catalyst in creating tourism opportunities’ As the Indian traveller has evolved over the years, Deepa Misra Harris, senior vice-president, sales & marketing, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, talks about Taj’s role as a tourism promoter. By Abhishek Chakraborty Which are the top five destinations (in India and abroad) that travellers want to visit this year? What are the average deals that you are offering in these destinations? Indians are now becoming more adventurous and are exploring offbeat destinations. At the Taj, we have witnessed an increase in people's interest to visit destinations like Nadesar Palace Varanasi; Vivanta by Taj-Dal View, Srinagar; Vivanta by Taj Bekal; Vivanta by Taj Coorg; Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad and Taj Safaris in Madhya Pradesh. These are destinations that have not been explored before. We are constantly in the mode of self-discovery for eg Vivanta by Taj has a brand experience called Motifs that bring it to life. In Coorg, our naturalist takes travellers for the tour of the rainforests. Other experiences like local Coorg cuisine and a ritualistic July 2013

INTERVIEW spa treatment in Jiva bring out the local ethos of the destinations. Similarly, we have Wazwan dining and shikara rides as part of the immersive destination experiences in Kashmir. People's keenness to discover the lesser-known India is on the rise. Amongst international destinations,

hotels like Taj Exotica Maldives; Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef; Taj Cape Town 51, Buckingham Gate;The Pierre and Campton Place in San Francisco are becoming very popular among Indians. In order to encourage travellers to travel in style, indulge a little more and spend quality time with their families, Taj recently came up with ‘Room for More’ packages that includes extended stays, suite offerings and a chance to earn hotel credits. This has been designed keeping in mind both business and leisure travellers. Which are the new unexplored destinations that travellers today opting for? Taj has traditionally been instrumental in putting destinations like Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala on the world map. Recently, we have seen an overwhelming response to www.expresstravelworld.com

our hotels in unique and unexplored destinations like Vivanta by Taj Bekal, Vivanta by Taj Coorg, Vivanta by TajDal View Srinagar and Hyderabad with the opening of the Falaknuma Palace. The prices start from packages for two nights starting at `28,000. Is there any difference in people's choice this year than the previous year? Taj continues to play the role of a catalyst in creating tourism opportunities in India by opening hotels in unique and exotic destinations. This influences travellers to choose from a wider range of hotels and resorts across the length and breadth of the country. Once again as the Taj creates destination experiences, which are rooted in the cultural fabric of the location, travellers are inspired to

choose new destinations. With the Indian government showcasing India as one of the top destinations of the world, do you see people more inclined to visit Indian cities than going abroad? India and the Indian hospitality sector have always been synonymous with our rich cultural heritage and the concept of atithi devo bhava, which makes India attractive as a tourist destination. The World Travel and Tourism Council has named India one of the fastest growing tourism industries for the next 10 to 15 years. Aligned with India’s aspiration of receiving 25 million tourists by 2015, Taj Group continues to strive hard to create and develop new destinations and world class hotels for travellers. We will definitely see more tourists visiting India in the future. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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M|A|R|K|E|T HOTEL TALK

‘Indians are turning experimental and are opting for offbeat destinations’ Even though the fluctuating value of the rupee has not yet had a significant impact on outbound Indian travel, Vijay Sharma, country manager, Club Med India talks about the changing travel trends in the market and the company's expansion strategy. By Kahini Chakraborty What are the new business expansion plans of Club Med in India and abroad? In India, Club Med is looking to expand its customer base by becoming more visible and accessible to its end users. We are looking at an aggressive distribution strategy by which the brand will be available through multi outlets. We are working towards creating Club Med specialists with our preferred travel partners who are counselling their customers about our unique holiday offering. Currently, we are looking to consolidate our position in the three main metros - Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru. Opening of a resort will be the next phase of expansion once we have established a good distribution network. We will shortly expand our reach to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. With you on board as the new country head, what would be the strategies of Club Med to work closely with the travel agents in India? In India, the core objective of our promotional strategy will be to increase concept awareness in defined markets and business volume by expanding through a strong distribution network of travel agents. We are looking at an aggressive distribution strategy by which it will be available through multi outlets and also working towards creating Club Med specialists with our preferred travel partners who will counsel

INTERVIEW their customers on our unique holiday offering. With the drop in rupee and the current market scenario worldwide, what are the challenges that Club Med faces? Have you seen a drop in the number of bookings for your properties? The fluctuating value of the rupee has an adverse impact on outbound Indian travel. The trouble with depreciating rupee is that travel products like hotels, transportation, etc. become more expensive for Indians when they travel abroad. Although, the depreciating rupee has not encouraged many holiday cancellations, travellers are now looking

at cheaper options to cut down travel costs; what the travel trade is seeing from Indian travellers is replanning of holiday itineraries rather than overall cancellations. Outbound business growth is actually one of the only growing sector in spite of a recent economic slowdown. FIT (Fully Independent Traveller) business is booming, as more and more travellers are opting for self styled shorter holidays to nearer destinations in Asia. Club Med had the best summer season this year since its inception in 2009. The main drivers were our tremendous value for money packages which were effectively distributed through our PSAs. There is a definite slowdown in confirmation of bookings in the current backdrop of escalating US dollar value, however, the real impact can be verified only in winters which is the next holiday season for families. What have been the significant travel trends in India and abroad? The most important travel trend worldwide is that independent-minded, digital savvy 20 and 30 year old people are emerging on the travel scene and are eager to travel across the world. Catering to this phenomenon, traditional luxury tour operators are rolling out more affordable and casual lines of trips. ● India has emerged as the world's

fastest growing outbound market and numerically it is second only to China. The number of Indians travelling overseas is set to rise from around 15 million today to 50 million by 2020, which will mean a big growth in spending overseas. Few of the other trends include: The process of tourism has gone digital, with Indians increasingly using the mobile platform to plan their travel Now with direct flights to a number of foreign tourist destinations, Indians would rather spend their extended weekends overseas More and more globetrotting Indians are turning experimental, looking to customise trips, opting for offbeat destinations and newer experiences Joining the large number of outbound tourists are single women and senior Indian citizens over 65 years.

Which segment-leisure/ corporates comprises majority of clientele? Families with kids and honeymooners are the major customer segments for Club Med in India. Of all outbound trips, most of them are for the purpose of leisure due to the inherent nature and location of our properties, although we do get our fair share of clients who have come from business purposes.

Jaypee Hotels focuses on promoting Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort, Greater Noida Adds 41 rooms at Jaypee Residency Manor, Mussoorie SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai

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aypee Hotels has introduced a combo package promoting their two hotels – Jaypee Palace Hotel & Convention Centre Agra and Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa

THE HOTEL IS ALSO IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THE BUDDH INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT;WE HAVE BEEN THE PARTNER HOTEL FOR TWO YEARS AND WILL REMAIN SO FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE 16

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Resort, Greater Noida. “We have floated a combo offer for our Noida and Agra property especially focusing on the inbound and domestic market,” said SM Azmat, senior joint president – sales and marketing, Jaypee Hotels. This has been devised with the aim of extracting maximum benefit of the Yamuna Expressway (also built by Jaypee Group) connecting Noida and Agra. In addition, to promote Jaypee Greens the company has tied up with cinema theatres for marketing campaign. The Agra property traditionally has attracted www.expresstravelworld.com

inbound and domestic travellers. “With 341 rooms and extensive conference facilities, Jaypee has been responsible for bringing Agra as a major MICE destination. The benefits also spill over to other hotels in the city,” Azmat said. The hotel can accommodate up to 5000 pax in its conference facilities. “We are gearing up for two major medical conferences in 2014,” he added. The hotel's business is 50 per cent by MICE and the hotel sees an average 75 per cent annual occupancy. The Greater Noida hotel is part of a gated community with a golf

course and the first Six Senses spa in the country. “The hotel is also in close proximity to the Buddh International Circuit; we have been the partner hotel for two years and will remain so for the foreseeable future,” he said. This is because the circuit has also been developed by the parent company – Jaypee Group. Jaypee Residency Manor, Mussoorie caters primarily to domestic and MICE business. “We recently have added 41 keys earlier this year to the hotel taking the total inventory up to 135 rooms,” Azmat informed. July 2013


M|A|R|K|E|T HOTEL TALK

Relais & Chateaux looks at bringing Indian restaurants in their fold SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai

E CUISINE AND FOOD MOST ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE RELAIS & CHATEAUX EXPERIENCE

urope-based Relais & Chateaux is looking to bring Indian cuisine restaurants in India under their banner. “Indian food culture is an independent culture which cannot be compared to any other. We are looking at bringing under the Relais & Chateaux banner Indian restaurants serving unique Indian culinary experiences,” said Jaume Tapies, chairman, Relais & Chateaux. Currently, there are four hotels affiliated to Relais & Chateaux in India. “We hope to have five projects in India by 2014. And in another five years we hope to have 20 hotels in India,” said Tapies. The company is looking at setting up circuits in the four regions of the country. Of these north and south cir-

cuits are already underway with the existing hotels. “We are looking at projects in Kolkata, Darjeeling, Assam, Nepal amongst other places to develop the east circuit which is expected to be active in another two-three years. We are now looking at building itineraries to understand the region better,” he added. The company started in 1954 as a unit made by independent hotels and is present in 60 countries today. “We started in Asia fiveseven years ago. And the region contributes seven per cent to the total business for Relais & Chateaux with an average increase of 37 per cent,” Tapies informed. The total business growth is about 6.9 per cent. Australia and US are growing source markets while southern Europe is the worst. The hotels have an independent

personality starting from the local inn-keeper with a passion. “Relais & Chateaux becomes the best way to discover and taste the world for the discerning traveller. Cuisine and food most are the most important part of the Relais & Chateaux experience,” explained Tapies. The five core elements which make a Relais & Chateaux property unique are character, charm, courtesy, calm and cuisine. He further added that the ownership and project details of each resort is independent. The common thread which ties these hotels together are the values of 'internally personal generosity'. People at the hotels are willing to share more than just the regular with a guest. “The concept of luxury today is about discovering a sense of wellness and enriching one's spirit.

Jaume Tapies People at a Relais & Chateaux resort are devoted to the guest and offer a personal touch,” said Tapies. Relais & Chateaux has 22,500 employees globally. Of which 10,000 go for trainings every year to the RC Academy. There is also a model of personalised training which is conducted for each hotel. “We are also introducing an e-learning model for our team,” he added.

For the quintessential English experience SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai

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n English Collection comprises a select ‘must see’ places to visit and stay in England that offer the quintessential English experience - from the world of Beatrix Potter to William Wordsworth's Lake Districts to the fascinating Alnwick Castle that was the location for Hogwarts in two Harry Potter films. Included in this bouquet of experiences are two properties – the fivestar Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa in York and the four-star Lindeth House Country House Hotel located near Lake Windermere. “Indian visitors do stay at both hotels. These properties are being promoted internationally, including India - particularly with the travel trade and VisitBritain,” said Sue Lovel of An English Collection. The décor at the Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa reflects English opulence. The hotel is famous for it's variety of English luxury afternoon teas, for instance the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party. The property also has a number of English seasonal experiences including a Race Day Brunch to enjoy prior to attending York Races (horse racing), which is very popular and held from May to October. According to Lovel, besides the luxurious accommodation what would interest the Indian traveller at Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa is the 2 Rosette awarded restaurant, The Grill Room, and the spa (winner of a World Luxury Spa Award). The hotel is located just a short walk to all the tourist attractions, tea

July 2013

rooms, quaint and designer shops, railway station, etc. There are over 30 attractions in the city of York to be explored including the world famous cathedral York Minster, York’s Chocolate Story, Jorvik Viking Centre, famous tearooms and evening ghost walks. Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel is close to Lake Windermere at Bownesson-Windermere in the Lake District National Park. This property was once owned by the famous children’s author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter. “In fact she illustrated two of her books at the property - Timmy Tiptoes and Pigling Bland. Many of the bedrooms have spectacular views of either, Lake Windermere

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(England’s longest lake), the hotel’s beautiful gardens or woodland,” said Lovel. The décor is typically English with cosy lounges with log fires in the colder months. The hotel offers visitors a tranquil place to be based during sightseeing tour of the Lake District. Guests can explore the 16 beautiful lakes and stunning mountains, little villages, quaint shops, galleries and many attractions including Rydal Mount once the home of William Wordsworth. “Both hotels offer perfect bases for leisure and incentive travellers and both are easily reached via Manchester Airport (less than two hours to each location),” added Lovel. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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M|A|R|K|E|T FORTHCOMING EVENTS

A defining moment for wellness travel The first-ever global conference on wellness tourism is designed to be a 'defining moment' for this growing travel category, showcasing its economic potential for key ministries, public and private stakeholders worldwide

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he Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC) has announced a heavyhitter lineup of speakers for its first-ever conference, which will be held in New Delhi, India, on October 5, 2013. The Congress will feature tourism experts like Jean-Claude Baumgarten, former president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), and ministers of tourism from around the world, who will be welcomed by Dr K Chiranjeevi, minister of state for tourism, India. More attention has been paid to medical tourism (defined as travel for medical/cosmetic/dental surgical procedures or enhancements) than wellness tourism (travel to pursue activities that maintain or enhance health and wellbeing). But the most recent research shows that wellness tourism is already twice as big a market (US$ 106 billion vs US$ 50 billion). At the GWTC, for the first time, the conference agenda will be solely focused on global wellness tourism: from defining and sizing the segment, to identifying the best strategies that can help stakeholders further grow this packed-withpotential travel category. The Congress will also represent the first time that ministries of tourism from 30 different nations are invited to share their current strategies

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and future plans to attract more business and leisure wellness travellers. In addition, SRI International will present the first research report that benchmarks global and regional markets, and also gauges the powerful economic impact wellness tourism has on a nation’s revenue, job creation and healthcare costs. “Wellness tourism is poised to reshape tourism as we know it. So many 21st-century forces are coming together to fuel it: On one hand, we have the rise of chronic diseases, and on the other, the stress brought by modern life. Diverse forms of niche travel are gaining on the old, massmarket model, and what people want to achieve during their ever-diminished time off is changing. Millions more every year are demanding destinations that deliver physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental health, along with enjoyment,” says Jean-Claude Baumgarten. He adds, “On this, consumers are out in front of most governments. It’s becoming urgent for all stakeholders to now clearly define, and communicate the diversity in, wellness tourism and fully understand the social and economic opportunity that it represents.”

Jean Claude Baumgarten

Amitabh Kant

Costas Christ

tor of spas, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Susie Ellis, president and CEO of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit. Case studies illustrating unique, successful national wellness campaigns will also be presented throughout the day.

Development Corporation. Ophelia Yeung: Co-director of the Center for Science, Technology and Economic Development at global research firm SRI International, Yeung will present The Wellness Tourism Economic Impact Study, the most comprehensive research on wellness tourism ever undertaken.

tions in medical and wellness care. Josef Woodman: Founder and CEO of Patients Beyond Borders (and author of the popular book series by the same name), Woodman is an outspoken champion of affordable, high-quality choices for health consumers worldwide.

MILLIONS MORE EVERY YEAR ARE DEMANDING DESTINATIONS THAT DELIVER PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, ALONG WITH ENJOYMENT

Morning Session J e a n - C l a u d e Baumgarten: Baumgarten is the recent past president and CEO of the WTTC, the global authority on the economic and social impact of tourism and travel. He is currently chairman and CEO of CREWE Associates, a management consultancy. Costas Christ: Costas Christ is an editor-at-large at National Geographic Traveler magazine and sustainability ambassador, Six Senses Hotels, Resorts and Spas. Amitabh Kant: Kant is the author of Branding India – An Incredible Story and was the force behind the award-winning 'Incredible India' and 'God’s Own Country' campaigns. He is currently CEO and managing director of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Curtis Schroeder

Laszlo Puczko

EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

Elite line-up The Congress co-chairs are Andrew Gibson, group direc-

Josef Woodman

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Collaborative forum

Afternoon Session Curtis Schroeder: As the former CEO of Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital, Schroeder led the transformation of a modest private hospital into a medical tourism star, expanding it to become the largest private medical center in Asia, with over 100 facilities in eight countries. He is currently the CEO of Intermedika. Dr Mariela de Oliveira Silveira: Dr Silveira is on the board of directors for the Kurotel Medical Center for Longevity and Spa, named the 'Best of Brazil'. She holds advanced degrees in medicine, medical acupuncture, cognitive behavioural therapy and nutrology, and is an expert on the latest innova-

The Congress will conclude with a facilitated thinktank session where all participants will collaboratively synthesise a more cohesive, global plan for the future wellness tourism industry. “I expect this conference will finally and firmly put wellness tourism on the map, and further galvanise an emerging travel movement that can embrace the opportunity to uniquely change people’s lives,” says Gibson. “The Congress will give the ministers of tourism and private sector stakeholders that attend a fresh perspective and create ideas they need to get way out in front of this wellness tourism curve, to take an early, profitable lead,” he adds.

Mariela

Ophelia Yeung

July 2013


Event Tracker Travel Trade Shows in 2013-14 August 01 - 03, 2013

6th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism

Dunhuang, China

September 15 - 17, 2013

PATA Travel Mart 2013

Chengdu, China

September 17 -20, 2013

Luxury Leisure Moscow

Moscow (Russia)

September 16-18, 2013

World Low Cost Airline Congress

London

September 20 -23, 2013

JATA World Tourism Congress and Travel Fair

Tokyo

September 24 - 26, 2013

Seatrade Europe

Hamburg

October 01 – 03, 2013

IT&CMA

Bangkok

October 01 – 03, 2013

Corporate Travel World

Bangkok

October 3- 6, 2013

Novi Sad Fair of Tourism

Novi Sad (Serbia)

October 2013

World Heritage Travel Expo

Macau

October 08 – 10, 2013

Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific

Singapore

October 14 - 18, 2013

Showcase Canada-Asia

Hangzhou, China

October 21 – 23, 2013

World Tourism Conference

Melaka, Malaysia

October 23 - 25, 2013

ITB Asia

Singapore

October 31 – 3 Nov, 2013 Skipass

Modena (Italy)

November 04 – 07, 2013

World Travel Market

London

November 07 – 10, 2013

The Luxury Travel Fair

London

November 11 – 14, 2013

International Golf Travel Market

Costa Daurada, Spain

December 02 – 05, 2013

International Luxury Travel Market

Cannes

January 2014

Food Hospitality World 2014

Mumbai

January 16 - 23, 2014

ASEAN Tourism Forum

Sarawak

January 22 – 26, 2014

FITUR

Madrid

January 29 – 31, 2014

SATTE

New Delhi

Jan 31 - Feb 01, 2014

Low Cost Airline World Asia Pacific

Singapore

February 04 – 05, 2014

Travel Technology Show

London

February 11 – 12, 2014

International Mediterranean Tourism Market

Tel Aviv

February 15 – 16, 2014

The Vancouver Golf & Travel Show

Vancouver, BC (Canada)

February 25 -27, 2014

Meetings Africa

Johannesburg (South Africa)

March 05 - 09, 2014

ITB Berlin

Berlin

March 24 - 26, 2014

GIBTM

Abu Dhabi

April 01 - 02, 2014

Rendez vous en France

Clermont-Ferrand

May 2014

Australian Tourism Exchange

Cairns

May 05 - 08, 2014

Arabian Travel Market

Dubai

May 11 – 13, 2014

Germany Travel Mart

Bremen

May 27 – 30, 2014

Rendez-vous Canada

Vancouver

July 2013

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W H AT ’ S INSIDE

MANAGEMENT INSIGHT INTO THE TRAVEL MARKET

Leveraging the power of technology to provide new experiences PG 24 Involving local communities in Responsible Tourism PG 26 Tryst with nature PG 28 Treasures of Saurashtra PG 30

A cascade of MARKET 6 EDGE 32 TRAVEL LIFE 34 20

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July 2013


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India, blessed with breathtaking wonders has many unique tourism products which have their own charm that go untapped. The waterfalls in the country are one such examplewhich provides a 'different experience' to travellers. By Reema Lokesh

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hink waterfalls and the first image that comes to mind is probably that of the Niagara Falls. For Canada its one of its strongest brand recalls and a tourism product that brings in the revenues. It’s a destination in itself, with hotels, entertainment, concerts and more are being developed around this extremely powerful tourism hub. From family to honeymooners, the tourism authorities have tapped on the potential of promoting the Niagara Falls brilliantly and have continued to invest in the region's natural phenomenon and convert it into a business bonanza. Tina Singh, assistant vice president, Canadian Tourism Commission, India confirms that fact that, “The City of Niagara Falls has been synonymous with tourism in Canada for years- providing visitors with an array of attractions, fine accommodations and shopping venues that complement the keystone of country’s tourism industry - the magnificent Niagara Falls. The region continues to capitalise on global trends, including destination experiences, themed excursions, exploration, adventure and recreational sports. Notably, as per a government report, the Falls are

Hector D'souza July 2013

visit-

Sandeep Dayal

ed by 90 per cent of all travellers to the region and are Canada’s largest attraction with up to 105,000 people per day. The Canadian Tourism Commission has been banking on the various attractions that tell Niagara’s story by showcasing its local history, heritage, culture, nature, produce, wine and cuisine. Interestingly, Niagara is not only well-known for the Horseshoe Falls, but is also visited for its arts and culture and food and wine and is also expanding its capacity for conventions.” Venezuela too has its very own Angel Falls, while the Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil is also a tourism destination in itself. The Victoria Falls bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe too brings in tourism to the region. Apart from America and Africa, Asia too has its share of its picturesque waterfalls and India with its unique landscape and geographic diversity has its jar full with its scenic and naturally designed waterfalls. From the Dudhsagar waterfalls in Goa, Chitrakoot falls in Chattisgarh, Jog falls in Karnataka to Nohsngithiang waterfall in Meghalya, these are just a brief showcase of what India has to offer in terms of waterfall tourism. There are over 50 waterfalls in India that can be easily identified, while there are a host of scenic falls that are tucked away from public eye. Monsoons add to the scenic beauty of most waterfalls and makes it attractive for tourists to explore the unique sights and sounds. Waterfall holidays are by and large seasonal, providing a fascinating experience during the

Sudhir Patil

monsoons. They offer an interesting 'close to nature' niche tourism experience. It proves to be an attractive site to explore by nature lovers, trekkers, educationalists, etc. Waterfalls getaways serve as interesting weekend getaways, or day picnics, etc, as well. Hector D’souza, president, L’orient Travels, feels that Sahyadris in Maharashtra, the Western Ghats stretching from Maharashtra to Kerala and the lower Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir have spectacular waterfalls in scenic surroundings. Monsoons bring into fore interesting waterfall getaways from Mumbai. D’souza adds, “The Chinchoti waterfalls in Tungareshwar, outstanding falls on hilly slopes of Khandala, Lonavala, trekking route to Matheran and off the beaten spot in Kothaligarh and Karnala are worth exploring. Southern Karnataka and northern Kerala have their own share of amazing natural waterfalls. Jog Falls in Karnataka brings in visitors from different parts of India, though there are restrictions on days when they can be viewed by tourists. Other important falls that come to mind are Athirapally Falls in Kerala, Kempty Falls in Mussorie and Abby Falls in Coorg.”

Selling the Falls India is known to house some world class tourism products both natural and man made but positioning and highlighting these unique products can be sometimes rather questionable. There is only moderate amount of work being done to promote, project or position the waterfall attractions in Indian states. Most state tourism boards have agreed to the tourism potential of this natural resource and that it can work well as a successful tourism product for the destination. Sharing his view on the potential, Suman Billa, secretary, Kerala Tourism says, “Kerala has a number of small and big waterfalls scattered across the state. Some of them like Athirapally Vazhachal (Falls), Palaruvi and Tusharagiri are already very pop-

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TREKKER PRAVIN SHINDE’S PICKS IN MAHARAHSTRA Chinchoti – Vasai, Mumbai Ashok Falls – Bhandardara Malshej Ghat – close to Mumbai Parasdhari –Karjat, close to Mumbai Azobagad –Asangoan east, family picnic 60 km from Mumbai, potential for tourism explored, one can build a resort and some facility Sagargad in Alibag Randha Falls near Bandhardhara around 100 km from Mumbai, Tamini Ghat on the way Pune Goa highway at Mangaon

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NIKHIL DESAI, DIRECTOR – GOA TOURISM, PICKS THREE MAJOR WATERFALLS IN GOA DUDHSAGAR WATERFALLS - 10 kms from Colem Railway Station, these majestic falls are accessible by train. Water plummets hundreds of feet in a milky foam in one of Goa’s most spectacular sights which is also a lifeline to the ecosystem of the Bhagwan Mahavir sanctuary. A popular destination for hikers and trekkers, the waterfall is also accessible by jeep through the sanctu-

ary. However, one needs to obtain permission in advance from the Department of Forests at Junta House, Panaji. ARVALEM WATERFALLS - Descending from the temple of Rudreshwar, one catches sight of a majestic waterfall cascading from a height of about 70 ft to form a sizeable lake at the bottom— a tempting sight to seasoned swimmers.

ular among tourists. What makes Kerala's waterfalls fascinating is their scenic setting - which becomes even more beautiful in the monsoons. Some of the waterfalls, Athirapally in particular, have been used as locations for films and photo shoots. They have the potential to become successful tourism product.” The Meenmutty Falls, Kerala is also worth exploring in the state. Goa too has its share of waterfall splendours. According to Nikhil Desai, director – Goa Tourism, “The Dudhsagar waterfalls, Arvalem waterfalls and Bamanbudo waterfalls are safe to visit during the monsoons. However, the road

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Chandana Khan

Nikhil Desai

Suman Billa

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It is in its full glory during the monsoon season. BAMANBUDO WATERFALLS – One of the most beautiful waterfalls located in Canacona. Bamanbudo waterfall flows down along the rocks looking more like a waterslide than a waterfall before disappearing into the undergrowth. The Bamanbudo happens to flow by the

route to Dudhsagar is closed till September but one can go by train. Goa has much more to offer than just the beaches. It’s especially beautiful during monsoon from June to September, when nature flourishes, the rain brings refreshment and romance, and Goa takes on a more traditional flavour. This is definitely the best time of year to visit the waterfalls.” The tourism department of Andhra Pradesh has listed their top 10 falls namely Ethipothala falls; Akasha Ganga Falls; Talakona Falls; Kailasakona Falls; Mallelatheertham Falls; Kuntala Falls; Pochera Falls; Ubbalamadugu Falls (Tada Falls); Kaigal Falls and Rampachodavaram Falls. They have also confirmed that they are safe places to travel during the monsoons. Chandana Khan, IAS - special chief secretary to Government of Andhra Pradesh, Youth Advancement, Tourism & Culture Department and chairperson and managing director, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) adds, “With more than 10 waterfalls, Andhra Pradesh is blessed with natural beauty thanks to the presence of Eastern Ghats, Sheshachalam Hills and Nallamali Hills in the state to have these wonderful sights. While promoting these waterfalls is definitely on our minds, what we consider our advantage is that these waterfalls are also located near some important tourist spots, like the waterfall in Arakku Valley, the Talakona and Kailasakona near Tirupati and Akasa Ganga Falls near Tirumala or even Ethipotla Falls near Nagarjuna Sagar and Mallelatheertham near Srisailam and Kuntala waterfalls near Nirma,l etc.” Madhya Pradesh too www.expresstravelworld.com

roadside and is very easily accessible. Since the water mass does not fall but slides down the rocks, there is no well at the bottom and bathing is fun though due to the force of the water, however one needs to be little cautious. Besides this one other streams gurgling down the slopes, churning out white foam amidst the green canopy makes the landscape a rather charming one.

aims to promote the waterfalls of the state. Chachai Falls, which is in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh at the edge of the Chitrakoot Hills, a part of the Kaimur Range, the Keoti Falls on the Mahana River and the Purwa Falls are worth exploring in the state. There is a waterfall route map to reach these falls namely Rewa-Sirmour-Chachai Falls route and the Rewa-SirmourBahuti Falls route. “Madhya Pradesh is embellished with many beautiful waterfalls like Dhuandhar in Jabalpur, Raneh near Khajuraho, Patalpani near Indore and Pachmari has a number of waterfalls,” says Raghwendra Singh, MD, Madhya Pradesh Tourism. He further adds that poets call the waterfalls ruphela dhuan (silver smoke). Interestingly there are few private players that have identified this niche tourism product and are making efforts to promote waterfall holidays in India. Yusuf Poonawala, VP-Bharat Deko, Cox & Kings mentions that some of the popular places for waterfall holidays promoted by the company are Kerala, Goa, Ladakh, Leh, Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, Konkan region, Ooty, Kodaikanal.” He further adds, “As summer comes to an end, the monsoons begin and with it comes a segment of travellers who take a holiday only to escape the stress of the city. This is after all the ideal time to see nature in its best shade of green. Takers for monsoon holidays include DINKs, couples with older kids, young executives, all of who can get leave now.” The north east of India too has its share of waterfall wealth which undoubtedly has remained untapped just like the region. Sandeep Dayal, director, Go India Journeys, feels that Shillong and the

Khasi area have some fantastic waterfalls to be explored for the domestic clients. He also feels that it is time the state tourism boards woke up to yet another unique tourism potential which has been well tapped globally. He opines, “We surely need to learn to market our products better which are truly world class. There are waterfalls in India which are great for families to enjoy and explore. We can surely promote it in a better way, developing necessary infrastructure for tourists and tourism in general. Souvenirs can also be designed and promoted of the iconic falls in the state. The options are vast and one needs to tap it right.”

Developing infrastructure For tourism to be well organised and to further explore the waterfall potential to the fullest there has to be infrastructure facilities in place. Sudhir Patil, director, VeenaWorld agrees that waterfall tourism is definitely a unique experience and a perfect weekend getaway option especially during the monsoons but he feels this sector of tourism is highly unorganised. “It is crucial for the state along with the locals and the Panchayat in the area to provide tourists with basic facilities such as changing rooms, sanitation facilities, accommodation and food service. It is a revenue generating opportunity but it needs to be handled in a responsible and respectable fashion,” he says. Dayal adds that at important waterfall destinations namely the famous Jog Falls in Karnataka, just have a rest house type accommodation option. Dabhosa Waterfalls in Maharashtra close to Mumbai is all the more attractive during the monJuly 2013


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MORE TO EXPLORE 1) Umbrella Falls Maharashtra soons and has accommodation facilities provided by Nature Trails, a private resort company. Chinmay Divekar, director, Nature Trails says, “Dabhosa Waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in Maharashtra. It is one of the very few waterfalls which is perennial. The crater shaped bowl into which the waterfall cascades and the lake at the bottom of the waterfall is truly a spectacular sight for the urbanites. Our camp consists of 10 rooms overlooking the waterfall and two large dormitories. There is a dining area and full service kitchen. It is crucial to provide basic infrastructure at tourism spots to ensure a safe and family oriented tourism experience.”

Safety and security Yusuf Poonawala

Chinmay Divekar July 2013

Since this sector is rather unorganised in India and yet not well defined in terms of infrastructure facilities, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to make waterfalls tourism friendly. Seasonal waterfalls should provide temporary facilities for visitors to make it more family oriented in terms of a tourism experience. Sensitive and sensible tourism needs to be practised in these areas which are extremely close to nature. Singh adds, “Madhya Pradesh Tourism is trying to facilitate tourists coming to visit the waterfalls for weekend getaways and is aiming to construct railings to

2) Kune Falls Maharashtra 3) Bhimlat Falls Rajasthan 4) Dasam Falls Jharkhand

Karnataka 17) Barkana Falls –Karnataka 18) Iruppu Falls –Karnataka 19) Meenmutty Falls – Kerala

5) Lodh Falls – Jharkand

20) Soochippara Falls – Kerala

6) Khandadhar Falls Orissa

21) Vantawng Falls – Mizoram

7) Duduma Falls – Orissa

22) Bhagsu Waterfall – Mcleodganj

8) Papanasam Waterfall – Tamil Nadu 9) Courtallam Waterfall – Tamil Nadu 10) Thalaiyar Falls TamilNadu 11) Hogenakkal Waterfall - Tamil Nadu 12) Dhuandhar Waterfall – MP 13) Barachukki Falls – Karnataka 14) Kunchikal Falls – Karnataka 15) Shivasamudram Falls – Karnataka 16) Cauvery Falls, ensure safety of tourists.” It is vital to check all details of the waterfalls such as depth, currents, etc, irrespective whether the falls are perennial or seasonal. For example, as per sources, the Ghatarani Falls in Chhatisgarh is dangerous during the monsoons but is safe to visit during the other seasons. The government authorities also need to send www.expresstravelworld.com

23) Chunnu Summer falls – West Bengal 24) Kempty Falls – Mussorie 25) Rajdari Waterfall – UP 26) Vantawng Khawhthla –Mizoram 27) Nohkalikai Falls Meghalaya 28) Langshiang Falls Meghalaya 29) Nohsngithiang Waterfall –Meghalaya 30) Elephant Falls – Meghalaya

out warning notices regarding safety and security at the falls. Chandana Khan shares her word of caution, “In case there are heavy floods then we (obviously) advise people to refrain from visiting these areas.” D’souza further emphasises, “While the better recognised waterfall locations have an element of safety in the form of written instructions pasted

at prominent places, lesser known waterfalls have minimum level of safety standards, because of a number of reasons ranging from their temporary presence during the rains and unpredictability of the monsoons. Waterfalls are protected areas and nature havens that need to be respected and its sanctity maintained. Clear rules and regulations need to be put into action to avoid any anti-social activities such as eve teasing, misbehaviour at tourism spots. Pandavkada Falls close to Mumbai has been temporarily closed to the public due to such incidences. D’Souza adds, “The most important aspect that needs to be factored is monitoring crowd behaviour and discouraging visitors from consuming narcotic or intoxicating substances when visiting these falls. Besides eve teasing which tends to be visible, needs to be controlled in order to heighten memorable experiences at these truly magnificent sites.” Pravin Shinde, founder Swarajyawata Group in Mumbai, a trekking group in Maharashtra, strongly feels that these spots need to be clear about people who spoil the very essence of nature by littering and making it repulsive for family tourists. The presence of tourism police in these areas is the need of the hour. Fun should be in sync with responsibility. With inputs from Sudipta Dev and Steena Joy EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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Leveraging the power of technology to provide new experiences India’s first conference on travel technology, International Conference on Travel Technology (ICTT), organised by the Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI), with the support of Kerala Tourism, attracted more than 250 delegates and featured 23 sessions by 17 eminent speakers on a number of subjects relevant to the industry

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ravel and tour operators in India need to look at ways to provide new experiences for their guests to be successful in a highly competitive space, according to one of the industry’s most respected professionals. Himmat Anand, the founder and CEO of Jaipurbased Tree of Life Resort & Spa, stated that tourism business in the country has often tended to get stuck in traditional offerings that have remained unchanged. He was speaking at the International Conference on Travel Technology (ICTT) India, organised at The Leela, Kovalam. The conference was the first-of-itskind, aimed at helping the

SOCIAL MEDIA WAS AMONG THE MOST DISCUSSED TOPIC WITH SPEAKERS ELABORATING ON HOW THE POWER OF THE INTERNET COULD BE LEVERAGED BY THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY 24

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country’s tourism sector take advantage of the huge marketing potential of the web and social media. In his talk on how traditional tour operators can handle competition from online players, Anand said, “Look, for example, at the welcome given to tourists in north India, with the tilak, the aarti and the garland - it has stayed the same for decades, down to the flowers used for the garland. While traditions are nice, it is time for the industry to rethink the way we do business.” He was of the opinion that tourism is yet to become a priority for India as a whole, which leaves the industry to device its own ways to push growth. “Kerala is perhaps the only state to excel in tourism; most others have been left behind,” Anand said. “Tour operators in Kerala are also successful because they are no longer handling agents for people sitting elsewhere, which is a great business www.expresstravelworld.com

model.” He advised tour operators to specialise and find niche areas like weddings, meetings and incentives. “Give customers new experiences, don’t make it repetitive. Guests are your ambassadors; if you provide them great service they will effectively do your marketing for free through wordof-mouth.” He also urged them to leverage the power of digital space through online video marketing, creating partnerships with bloggers, rewarding customer loyalty, engaging through social media, including responsible travel in packages and using powerful and unique visual imagery to promote themselves. Sessions on the third and final day of ICTT India dealt with the subjects of review management and handling competition, revenue management and business intelligence, generating leads and the future of travel technology.

Avijit Arya, the founder and CEO of Internet Moguls, in his talk on managing reviews, pointed out that as much as 85 per cent of hotel business can be lost due to poor reviews resulting from poor customer service. “Most of the reviews for a hotel are a function of what is being done offline, at the property,” he said. “Travellers tend to get influenced by people they haven’t even met and these days they are always connected, so they have an opportunity to share their experiences instantly and it goes viral. Reviews are the next level of word-of-mouth and bad reviews can be very damaging.” His advice to hoteliers was to see reviews as a constructive platform for feedback, respond in a timely manner, use professional language and use search engine friendly content on the internet. Sheila Scarborough, a US-based writer and speaker specialising in tourism, July 2013


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said that the social media space must be seen by businesses more as a platform for social interaction than simply a medium for promoting themselves. “Don’t get wound up about the tool. You are still the same business, just having access to a powerful communication medium. Act the same way online and offline and give yourself bigger ears to listen to the customer and respond accordingly,” she said. Tour operators at the conference were given tips on how to create a niche in the crowded online space by consultant and web entrepreneur Jaydip Parikh, the founder and CEO of digital marketing company Tej SolPro. Tarun Lakhanpal, GM, Lemon Tree Hotels, spoke about revenue management strategies for hotels and maximising revenues through value-added ancillary services. Social Media was among the most discussed topic at the three-day conference with speakers elaborating on how the power of the

DON’T GET WOUND UP ABOUT THE TOOL.YOU ARE STILL THE SAME BUSINESS, JUST HAVING ACCESS TO A POWERFUL COMMUNICATION MEDIUM. ACT THE SAME WAY ONLINE AND OFFLINE AND GIVE YOURSELF BIGGER EARS TO LISTEN TO THE CUSTOMER AND RESPOND ACCORDINGLY internet could be leveraged by the travel industry. UK-based social networking entrepreneur, Philip Calvert in a presentation said people are in the ‘Do It Yourself’mode and social media is the best platform to creatively engage with them. “Friends and connections will influence travel decisions and social media should also be used as a listening tool,” he said. Calvert spoke on the trends in social media such as powerful imagery and visuals, short content, visualisation, and engagement and emphasised the importance of using info graphic tools such as icharts, visual.ly, infogram July 2013

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and instagram strategically. Elaborating on the new revenue slogan SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile), Siddharth Dabhade, industry manager - travel for Google India, spoke about the convergence of social, local and mobile mediums. “Indians have a high propensity to share on social networks. E-commerce is expected to grow to 40 billion in 2015 and 80 per cent of it will be travel customers,” he said. He pointed out that the five stages of travel namely dreaming, researching, booking, experiencing and sharing will all be greatly influenced by the latest advancements in technology. Karthick Prabu, GM, Asia, Tnooz, India, a thought leader in the travel technology space spoke on mobile application for service industry, its need and value generation. In tune with his stand that ‘Travel is mobile’, he advocated some tips for making the best use of mobiles such as building a mobile web, compressing images, placing tap to call links and banking on location based services. “Cost reach and trust get better online and therefore distribution is getting more and more online”, said Namrita Sehgal , director of internet marketing at Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, India. Sehgal whose forte lies in creating next-gen marketing solutions that are at the intersection of business, brand and technology spoke on how and why it is important to distribute a hotel online. Bicky Carlra, founder and president of TraVision Inc, centred his presentation on the need to sell on value additions and not discounts. “Customise your products by tiering them. Offload last minute inventory for much less”, he said. He stressed on the importance of price parity and rate integrity how to effectively use tools such as early bird discounts and friend rates. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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Involving local communities in Responsible Tourism At the International Conference on Responsible Tourism (RT) organised in Kumarakom recently, local communities were urged to make decisions and set priorities on how to make their towns and villages better places for people to live and better places for people to visit – the idea central to Responsible Tourism

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ravellers and destinations hosting them are growing increasingly aware that tourism is not just about taking photographs, enjoying hospitality and taking back memories; it is about putting something back into conservation efforts and into local communities. Speaking at the International Conference on Responsible Tourism (RT) in Kumarakom, Kerala recently, Dr Harold Goodwin, a professor at Leeds Metropolitan University and the director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, said it is time to turf out ‘freeloaders’ who add no value to the places they visit; and attract people who contribute something to the community by way of employment and revenues, cause the least pollution, contribute to the conservation of heritage and who will enjoy, repeat their visit and recommend it to others. The aims of RT must include sustainability, improved living standards of local people, lower carbon emissions and animal welfare. The goals for achieving the triple bottomline – economic, social and environmental – should be set locally with the complete involvement of the

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local people, he said. “Kerala has managed to achieve so much in responsible tourism in so short a time due to the strength of its local bodies, the Panchayats, which are taking and exercising responsibilities” he said today while speaking on the challenges of achieving RT. “While Kerala has made a lot of progress in the economic development of villages through responsible tourism, it is time for it to set a ‘stretch target’ and take it to the next level.” On the first day of the conference, which was organised by Kerala’s Department of Tourism in association with RTSchool@KITTS, Goodwin detailed the developments in RT over the past five years at the plenary session themed ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’. Suman Billa, secretary, Kerala Tourism, moderated the session. Speakers from other parts of the world provided examples of successful RT practices. Dr Adama Bah, the Travel Foundation project for The Gambia and founder of the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET), explained about the RT campaign in the West African nation to protect the

interests of small, local businesses and ensure that they benefit from tourism. He said members of ASSET are mainly craft market vendors, local guides, fruit and juice sellers on the beach, small guest houses, tourist taxi drivers, etc, who have now been classified by the Gambian government as formal businesses and given operational licences. Other support measures include training, microfinance, product development, linking of horticulture with tourism that has benefited women farmers, improved access to markets and promotion of indigenously made products. Dr Karma Tshering, the chief for Nature Recreation and Ecotourism in Bhutan, spoke about the Himalayan kingdom’s tourism policy that aims at “high value and low impact” and a revenue generation mechanism that ensures relatives high earnings for low tourist arrivals. He said Bhutan’s tourism policy that draws influential and socially responsible tourists has helped preserve the pristine natural landscapes and culture and traditions unique to the region, at the same time generating rev-

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enues and employment. Models of RT followed in post-war Sri Lanka were detailed by Srilal Miththapala, an experienced tourism professional, who said sustainability was not just about the environment but made good business sense too. Concerns have been raised about overexploitation of resources and the negative impact of ecotourism on the island nation which is blessed with abundant natural resources. Sri Lanka has now drafted policies that aimed at regulating exploitative practices, involving local people in tourism and its hotels are increasingly adopting greener measures, he said. Mason Florence, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), explained the difference RT had had made to tourism along the six-nation Greater Mekong Sub-region. Member nations of Mekong Tourism – Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – have benefited greatly from the common marketing of travel experience along the stunningly beautiful river along nature and cultural trails. Field experiences on RT in India were shared by hotel

groups that have been recognised for adopting sustainable tourism practices, including the Bengaluru-based Our Native Village, Uravu and Vythiri Resorts in Wayanad, Coconut Lagoon of CGH Earth Group at Kumarakom and Basis in Athirampuzha. On the second day of the conference a panel discussion was held on RT classification system introduced by the Kerala Government. U V Jose, addl. director (planning & projects) Department of Tourism, explained the basis of Platinum, Gold and Silver classification of hotels and the criteria on which the points are awarded. Panelists included Jose Dominic, managing director, CGH Earth and Baby Mathew from the Somatheeram Group. Harikishore S, director, tourism, chaired the discussion. Dominic proposed the idea of a 'mentorship clinic' where industry experts could come, hear out ideas from entrepreneurs wanting to set up micro enterprises, and provide them with advice on how to start the business.He said sustainable and innovative ideas such as ‘eco-camping’ could also be promoted. “This requires very little land,

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maybe an acre and a half. Guests can come with their own camping gear. All you need to do is provide them with basic facilities like water, toilets and some lights; attach Kudumbashree to that and maybe they can provide a simple meal too,” he said. Jose said the Department of Tourism was fully supportive of eco-friendly projects. In Kumarakom, the department plans to develop six kilometre of cycling track along the canals this year, he informed. “We have identified the locations and it is a testament to the strength of responsible tourism that the local people are happy to open up their land for this initiative,” he said. B K Saroop Roy, state project co-ordinator, Responsible Tourism Initiative, KITTS, who summed up the discussions at a session held on the environmental responsibility

of RT, said experts, specialists groups and organisations must come forward and contribute ideas on carrying out reliable impact assessment of tourism and capacity studies on destinations – an exercise that is vital for planning strategies for sustainable and responsible tourism. Among the key recommendations at the session was the need for a pool of ideas and resources that can be accessed by all stakeholders in RT and better documentation of best practices from the tourism industry, case studies and reports that can be learning tools for practitioners. He said the official RT website of the Kerala government could be a resource to post these ideas and reports for all stakeholders to access. “We also need to develop best practice guidelines for tourism construction, how energy and environment

THE GOALS FOR ACHIEVING THE TRIPLE BOTTOMLINE – ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL – SHOULD BE SET LOCALLY WITH THE COMPLETE INVOLVEMENT OF THE LOCAL PEOPLE July 2013

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friendly the buildings must be. And we require more experts and organisations to assist us with carrying out reliable carrying capacity studies,” he said. There was also a suggestion to set up a specialised Sustainability University in Kerala to focus on academics and research related to the subject. The inclusion of RT as part of the curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity carried out through tourism clubs in schools and colleges was an idea supported by a number participants at the conference. Roy said KITTS will soon introduce a certificate course in RT specifically for practitioners. A number of similar suggestions were put forward at the session focused on economic responsibility. Dr B Vijyakumar, principal, KITTS, said there was a need for support mechanisms for micro enterprises started by women in RT destinations. Also, existing marketing strategy for RT had to be strengthened and promoted so small businesses linked to it could earn a sustainable income. “Innovation should be linked with RT initiative, particularly in developing niche products and entering into niche market areas. Such innovators must be given support,” he said. A number of entrepreneurs are interested in entering into and investing in production, marketing and other areas of tourism; but they require technical support for preparing projects and implementing them in a feasible manner, he added.

Among other major recommendations were, publicprivate partnership in promoting investment at the local level; and ensuring public health, safety and security systems at tourism destinations for sustainable growth. The issue of 'restructured ethnicity', the cultural adaptation for the purpose of tourism, was a major discussion point at the session on the socio-cultural aspect of RT. As a result of this adaptation locals lose their individual and cultural identities and it causes the public to become annoyed with tourism, said M S Venugopal, deputy director, Department of Tourism, who led the talk. “This irritation may lead to protests and eventually the loss of the destination. A collective effort involving hosts, locals as well as the guests has to be made to minimise cultural deterioration,” he said. Delegates participated actively in the conference’s open forum on the last day with suggestions including focus on ‘geriatric tourism’ as part of RT in view of the changing demographics around the globe; including transport modes such as flying into the sustainability scheme and encouraging group travel to reduce pollution; training for RT guides; setting targets for and reporting on carbon footprint of tourists at RT destinations. An exhibition was held along the sidelines of the conference featuring handicraft and indigenous products made at RT destinations across the state. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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r natu e TRYST WITH

South Africa, a destination of natural wonders, fascinating cultures, warm hospitality, unforgettable wildlife, has grown each year as a destination in terms of its tourism offerings. Striving to deliver 'value for money' product offerings, the destination has managed to reinvent itself to attract repeat travellers as well as the uninitiated. By Kahini Chakraborty

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perfect treat for the eyes and senses, South Africa, a land of breathtaking vistas around every mountain corner, waterfalls, endless river canyons, luxurious African wildlife safaris, romantic getaways, indeed has a plethora of truly special experiences. This 'rainbow nation' ensures that it has something unique to offer each time to every segment of traveller - whether repeat or first time. It is not everyday that you get an opportunity to enjoy sipping on exquisite wines at dusk in the wilderness or dinner under the African skies. And one of the best places to indulge in some of these experiences is at the Manyaleti Game Reserve in Mpumalanga province in Nelspruit, which is close to the

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famous Kruger National Park. In the native Shangaan language, Manyaleti means 'Place of Stars', and the Manyaleti reserve, located in the Limpopo province of South Africa, is managed by the local Mnisi tribe. Even though there are many game reserve lodges in the Mpumalanga province, travellers wanting a luxurious African safari experience should consider opting for Tintswalo Safari Lodge which is situated in the Manyaleti Game Reserve.

In the wild The Manyaleti game reserve which comprises of an area of around 24,000 hectares, is nestled in between the Kruger National Park (which consists of an area of around 2.5 million hectares), and the Sabi Sand private

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WHILE THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK IS STATE OWNED, THE PRIVATE GAME RESERVES NEED TO OBTAIN VARIOUS PERMISSIONS TO OPERATE IN THEIR AREAS

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game reserve which covers 65,000 hectares. Manyaleti is renowned for its open vehicle game drives and guided bush walks. In the hope of spotting some of the African 'Big Five' - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, the highly trained and seasoned rangers from Tintswalo lodge during the safari tours really go out of their way most of the time to find animal trails to give adventure enthusiasts a closer encounter with the rarely seen animals. On the other hand, it is easier to spot the 'Ugly Five' as the rangers whimsically distinguish them - wildebeest, hyena, warthog, marabou stork, vulture, who are territorial in nature and are generally found in areas of savannah like the Kruger National Park, HluhluweImfolozi, Marakele National Park and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. While the Kruger National Park is state owned, the private game reserves need to obtain various permissions to operate in their areas. If you are looking for a 'Big Five' experience in South Africa, you can go to almost any province, but the best experiences are only to be found in Mpumalanga and Limpopo province.

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Best of nature Passing through the north-eastern part of the Great Escarpment in the northern Drakensberg, is indeed a visual treat to the eyes, with breathtaking views of the endless mountain ranges and waterfalls. The small town of Graskop is the gateway to the 'Panorama Route' which has scenic landmarks like God's Window, the Pinnacle, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Rondavels as well as the magnificent waterfallsLisbon, Berlyn which are a short drive away from each other. From Grasskop you can reach the Bylde River Canyon, which is the third biggest canyon, 33 km long and around 2,500 feet deep.

Bylde which means 'happy', leaves you with a feeling of being so close to nature in its purest form. Each of these places have a story to tell like Bourke's Luck Potholes, named after a British man from Scotland named Thomas Bourke who staked a claim to the gold deposits nearby. Although his claim did not produce a single ounce of gold for the others. It is due to the countless swirling whirlpools of the Treur River (which plunges into the Blyde River ahead), that has caused waterborne sand and rock to grind huge, cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river. Believing that during a voortrekkers' expedition in 1844, Hendrik Potgieter and his party died on their journey to Delagoa Bay, the distraught relatives named the river near their encampment as Treurrivier, or 'mourning river'. Trekking up 130 steps to God's Window is a must do for all nature lovers. At an altitude of 1,765 metres, it is the highest point in the area and gives you the perfect panoramic view of the entire Hazyview town in Mpumalanga province.

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Treasures of L Saurashtra While Sasan Gir and Somnath are the most promoted destinations in Saurashtra, the region has many hidden gems whose potential is yet to be explored. From Islamic architecture and Buddhist sites to landmarks associated with Mahatma Gandhi, Saurashtra has multi-hued attractions for all segments of travellers. By Sudipta Dev

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ying in the south west of Gujarat, Saurashtra or Kathiawar region has many interesting locations that are yet not popular on the tourist radar, from the erstwhile princely state of Junagadh to the many places associated with Mahatma Gandhi in Rajkot. The city of Rajkot in fact is a key location in the Gandhi circuit. The most famous landmark in Rajkot is undoubtedly the Alfred High School, also known as Mohandas Gandhi High School. Founded in 1853 this was the first English medium school in the region. The building was constructed by the Nawab of Junagadh in memory of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh. This was where Mahatma Gandhi completed his primary education. The school is a repository of many unique memorabilias associated with its most famous pupil. Mahatma Gandhi House or Karba Gandhi No Delo is where he lived as a youngster. This place also has an interesting collection of objects associated with the Father of the Nation. Yet another education institution of historic signifi-

cance in Rajkot is the Rajkumar College. The college was established in 1868 as an education institution for the sons and relatives of erstwhile royalty and noblemen. The list of alumni include illustrious names like legendary test cricketer Ranjitsinhji (Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar) and his nephew Duleepsinhji who played for England.

Pride of Kathiawar About 14 km from Rajkot is a grand heritage hotel that is located on the top of a hill and reflects in its true sense the glorious past of Kathiawar. Khirasara Palace is today an exclusive property that attracts discerning clientele from India and overseas. It boasts of a history that dates back to more than four centuries. The palace that was in ruins underwent painstaking restoration for almost 15 years before it was opened as a high-end heritage property. The property has 22 suites in different categories from the luxurious Sur Niwas royal suite to the opulent Maharani Suite. The four F&B options are very popular not

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only with the guests but the local people too. These include Wind N Waves (24 hours coffee shop), Sheesh Mahal (the multicuisine restaurant), Deep Mahal (an exotic candle-lit dining area) and Jal Vihaar (the pool view cafe). The staff at the restaurants and hotel ensure that you get a true slice of warm traditional hospitality.

Exploring Junagadh A few hours from Khirasara is another destination that has a varied historical legacy. Nestled at the foot of Mount Girnar, the city of Junagadh has a history that dates back to two and a half millennia. The mountain is holy to both Hindus and Jains, and a trek up the 9999 steps is considered auspicious by pilgrims. On Shivratri, pilgrims take a 36 km parikrama of the hills. The major landmarks in Junagadh include fascinating remnants from Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. The Uperkot Fort, Buddhist caves, Ashoka's rock eddicts, Mahabat Maqbara, Durbar Hall Museum, are to name a few

ANYBODY VISITING GIR ALSO TAKES A SHORT TRIP TO THE FAMED SOMNATH TEMPLE. ONE OF THE 12 JYOTIRLINGAS OF LORD SHIVA,THE TEMPLE IN ITS PRESENT FORM REMAINS A UNIQUE ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE tourist highlights. Mahabat Maqbara Palace, also called the Mausoleum of Bahaduddinbhai Hasainbhai is a palace-mausoleum which is probably the city's most famous landmark. It is a masterpiece that epitomises IndoIslamic architecture with evident Gothic influences. The

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imposing Uperkot Fort was built by Chandragupta Maurya. It was besieged innumerable times through the centuries. The city has in fact derived its name from the fort (Juna – old and Gadh – fort). The Bhutto family traces its roots to this small town. During India's Independence, the Dewan of Junagadh was Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Tryst with Asiatic lion Gir National Park is less than two hours away from Junagadh at a distance of almost 65 km. The national park covers an area of about 1412 square km. The Gir forests are the only natural habitat of the Asiatic lion. While the current lion population is reported to be 411, the national park is also home to a wide range of animals - from spotted deer to the black buck to the langur monkey. Hundreds of species of birds and reptiles have also made

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Gir their home. The topography of the area is rugged – ravines, plateaus and rocky hills. Permits are required to enter the core area of the national park. These permits can be obtained from Sinh Sadan Orientation Centre. There are many human settlements in the sanctuary. The lion is known to be tolerant of human settlements. Gir, in fact, is the home of the Maldhari community of cattle herders who have a symbiotic relationship with the lion. The Siddhis are the other Gir community who evoke a lot of interest from people because of their distinctive African features. They were brought by the Nawabs of Junagadh from Africa as the elite personal force and also for managing the lions. Today their descendents can be found in the area. For any tourist staying at any of the properties in Gir, a traditional dance performance by Siddhi youngsters in the evening is a must to get the

real feel of a night in a forest. Anybody visiting Gir also takes a short trip to the famed Somnath Temple. One of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, the temple in its present form remains a unique architectural heritage on the seashore. The best time to visit the temple is during the 'aarti' which is done three times every day. The temple complex has stringent security with restrictions regarding carrying mobile phone, leather items like purse, belt, etc. It is advisable to hire a tuk-tuk to explore the many secondary temples in Somnath – Gita mandir and Laxminarayan mandir, Shree Parshuram Temple, Triveni Sangam Snanghat (holy confluence of three rivers - Hiran, Kapila and Saraswati) and others. The most important sacred site near Somnath on the way to Veraval is Balka Tirtha, this is where Lord Krishna was mistakenly shot by an arrow. The temple is called Mahaprabhuji's Bethak.

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EDGE THE CUTTING EDGE IN TRAVEL TRADE

Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, ixigo.com talks about how the website aims to simplify the lives of travellers PG 33

EVENT ROUNDUP

Decoding digital marketing The Internet and Mobile Association of India organised its 9th Marketing Conclave in Mumbai recently, which saw an interesting session on the growth and impact of digital marketing in the travel and tourism sector. By Sudipta Dev

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ne of the key sessions at The 9th Marketing Conclave organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) was ‘Digital Marketing: Travel’ that focused on how a few organisations have successfully leveraged the platform and are effectively using social media marketing to connect with their audience. Moderated by Atul Hegde, CEO, Ignitee Digital Services the panel members included Stephen King, general manager-India, Virgin Atlantic; Subramanya Sharma, chief marketing officer, Cleartrip and Arif Patel, regional director of sales and marketing, South Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Recent years have seen a significant shift in consumer profile and preference. For one of India's leading online travel agents (OTAs), Cleartrip, 25 per cent of the traffic today comes from mobile. It was 10 per cent last year. Interestingly, according to Sharma, the conversion is one-third of desktop. The next wave in marketing, he believes, is personalisation and targeting - for example source of target if he is coming from Google/ meta search, etc. “We are fanatical about consumer experience. We have developed passbook for

iPhone and Android phones. The product can do a great deal to lower customer acquisition cost,” added Sharma. Virgin Atlantic has spent a lot of money in the last few years in digital marketing technology. “We are now putting digital at the heart of what we do. We have our changed our website making it richer, there are more pictures, campaigns are also featured on the website. We are trying to remind people that flying is exciting,” said King. When the airline made changes to its economy class page, it led to 50 per cent more conversions through the page. Videos that have been put on the website have also added to the conversion rate. Prices were also put up to show transparency. King conceded that sms is an excellent way of communicating with the passenger. There is also the Virgin Atlantic App and partner apps. “50 per cent of frequent fliers access us through mobile web. We have a huge social media team, while Twitter keeps us up to date,” mentioned King. On board also some features have been added like sending of sms by passengers, the rates are same as international roaming. Digital at Starwood includes launch of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) website www.expresstravelworld.com

and Facebook App, brand pages on Instagram and Pinterest, and strong focus on reputation and social engagement. “We have 24X7 media teams all over the world monitoring web activity,” said Patel. Starwood has mobile website in eight core languages. “Revenues through this channel have gone up considerably. We have uploaded videos which have enhanced search results,” added Patel.

Emerging trends An important emerging trend is in fact the video, which makes a lot of impact on consumer choice in the travel and tourism industry. “Since there is a lot of content on video, people are going to resize it, repackage it and make smaller versions of it,” stated Hegde, pointing out that there has been a marked increase in video consumption in India. He informed that four months back there were 125 million video views a day and today it is 150 million views in a day. Today there are more than 100 million users of YouTube in India; it was less than 20 million three years back. Also YouTube is introducing new formats for brands to create channel, get more branding and interactivity. “They are working with large

brands to do syndicated research, pilots, new formats and properties. Interactive videos will be very important maybe not this year but next year,” mentioned Hegde. The hospitality sector is using social media effectively. Prospective customers can find information about the business, location, price range and the latest updates through social media. “Companies view the use of online communities as a profitable marketing tool from which they can derive several benefits,” stated Hegde. Hotel companies get a lot of feedback regarding their brands by monitoring consumer’s online conversations thus enabling them to resolve problems quickly and work to improve future brand performance. This apart, online communities are providing a realtime resource regarding market trends and consumer needs. “Companies in hospitality sector use these resources to modify advertising messages and develop special targeted features for future campaigns. Companies also observe whether their brands are truly suited to consumers‘lifestyles and can learn which features of their products make them special or unique in the eyes of the consumer,” he remarked. July 2013


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‘The need for information on lesser known destinations has been growing’ ixigo.com is one of India's leading travel planning and meta search websites that boasts of 1.5 million unique visitors a month. Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, ixigo.com talks about how the website aims to simplify the lives of travellers who research and plan their trips on the internet or mobile. By Sudipta Dev What kind of growth has your site witnessed in the last couple of years?

INTERVIEW

With our newly launched trip planner, and some very exciting apps (On the Way!, Indian rail & trains), we are seeing robust growth. We are growing our user-base by over 15 per cent month-onmonth currently. Today, we get nearly 1.5 million unique visitors per month across our website and mobile touchpoints. ixigo.com has the most rich and in-depth data on India, today, covering over 65,000 places to visit with great content on more than 29,000 restaurants, 14,000+ hotels, 16,000+ activities and lot of useful tips from travellers. Are you targeting any particular segment of travellers? Anyone in India who plans to travel and has access to the internet over a computer or a smartphone is a target consumer. In that sense, we are not limited to any particular segment. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and intelligent search capabilities, we recognise all sorts of travel queries and try to provide the most relevant and useful information to the traveller in a user-friendly form factor. For those travellers who haven’t planned yet, or need inspiration, we have ideas for weekend getaways, itineraries, photos, traveller experiences and more. We also have a mobile friendly website with unique features like ‘Near me’ which, once clicked, provides useful information on stay, eat and see options based on the user’s current location. How are you creating awareness regarding the advantages of searching through a meta search website as many potential travellers are not aware of the concept? ixigo.com was the pioneer

in bringing the travel metasearch concept to India in 2007. We may not be as wellknown as the online travel agencies but we take pride in the quality of users that we have built over time and our advertisers will vouch for it too. Our brand awareness has been created largely by earlyvangelists - early adopters who adopt our product for its efficacy and easeof-use and become evangelists for it, driving word-ofmouth growth. We do some tactical online promotions and have some great partnerships for faster adoption and wider reach. Our mobile apps are driving much of our brand awareness too; with the growth and distribution reach they are capable of attaining. We have also created an extremely strong engagement with users on our social media platforms such as Facebook (4,00,000+ fans), Twitter (2700+ followers) and Pinterest (750+ followers) and have also used innovative content marketing pieces to educate users and inspire them to travel. Have you seen any interesting trends - in terms of consumer profile / preferences? In terms of destinations, we see an increasing trend for offbeat experiences at lesser known destinations, to escape the crowd. People now want to travel to lesser known places than the hugely popular ones. For instance, people are looking at Chail, Shogi, Ranikhet in the north, Wayanad in Kerala and Tawang and Shillong towards the Northeast. Hence the need for information on these lesser known destinations has been growing as travellers want to go informed and planned so that they do not miss out on anything. With increased personal disposable income, international destinations are also benefitting. Also, theme-based travel is

‘TRIP PLANNER’ IS A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND PRODUCT THAT PROVIDES EXTENSIVE, RELEVANT INFORMATION ON OVER 100 DESTINATIONS AND 64,000 PLACES TO VISIT ACROSS INDIA July 2013

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picking up. People are looking at adventure trips, luxury holidays, water sports, wildlife sanctuaries and spa and meditation retreats as we continuously observe, from the kind of searches travellers do on ixigo.com. Please give some information about your technology platform. What has been your focus on new implementation/ upgradation? ‘Trip Planner’ is a first-ofits-kind product that provides extensive, relevant information on over 100 destinations and 64,000 places to visit across India. With an attractive and easy to navigate design and content curated by the in-house team, the tool is aimed at helping travellers make informed decisions about where to travel, what to see, and how to get there, with just a few mouse clicks. The product’s USP lies in its ability to address user queries in natural language. It uses the search bar paradigm to allow users to type in their travel queries in simple conversational style, such as “where can I find street food in Delhi”, “beaches in Goa” or “Mumbai to Delhi flight tomorrow” and provides relevant results with comprehensive information. For those who don’t have a destination or specific holiday plans in mind, the website intelligently picks up the user’s location and provides “Weekend getaway” options along with “Trending Destinations” to choose from. To further enhance the experience of our consumers and drive higher engagement, we have also developed three interactive touch-points; “Add a Photo”, “Ratings” & “Questions & Answers”, which allow users to share their experiences and travel stories with other travellers. Users can simply login using their Facebook account and share their experiences and feedback through these tools. The “Ask a Question” tool allows users to ask very specific travel questions from an expert panel of travellers (panel of ardent travellers/travel bloggers).

How are you leveraging the mobile space ? ixigo.com’s website is mobile-adaptive, so it recognises and delivers an optimised website experience for every type of smartphone or feature phone. Moreover, the mobile website has a unique feature called ‘Near me’ which is a location based service that identifies a user’s current location and indicates places to stay, eat and see in the vicinity. For specific usecases, we also have three very useful mobile travel apps currently available only on the Google Play Store for Android phones: On the Way! A useful companion for Indian road trips with reliable information on over 300,000 useful places to stop along major routes, highways and expressways; ingoa app is a location and time based app that helps users explore Goa; Indian Rail and trains is a fast and useful train app. The app has seen over two lakh downloads within just two months of its launch. Do you foresee any new trends? We believe semantic search technology has the power to change the way travel knowledge is searched and consumed online and we already see that happening with our Trip Planner and more horizontal search engines like Google, Bing, etc. It is all about improving the accuracy of results by intelligently deciphering what people are actually looking for. We have also seen a sharp growth in ‘event based’ travel. People have started travelling extensively for music or dance concerts or fests, destination weddings, biking or backpacking group getaways, etc. Finally, we see the emergence of micro-communities or groups of enthusiasts for a common passion or cause, collecting and organising themselves on social media, and planning trips together. Harley owners, food enthusiasts, bikers, scuba divers - we expect these communities to disrupt the way travel is packaged and marketed. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD

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RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

Giving wings to green ideas Students from University of Sao Paulo in Brazil win global Airbus Competition team of students from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have claimed the top prize of £30,000 as winners of Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2013. Team Levar won with their proposal for a luggage loading and unloading system for airplane cargo compartments to reduce the workload of airport baggage handlers with an air cushion solution inspired by air hockey tables. Supported by UNESCO, Airbus Fly Your Ideas is a biennial competition which challenges students worldwide to develop ideas for a more sustainable aviation industry. The winning team is comprised of Marcos Philipson, Leonardo Akamatsu, Adriano Furtado and Caio Reis, all studying design at the University of Sao Paulo, and Henrique Corazza studying at Loughborough University in the UK. The runner-up prize of £15,000 went to Team CLiMA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology,

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Australia, for their proposal to develop aircraft fuelled by a blend of sustainably produced liquefied biomethane and liquefied natural gas (Bio-LNG). This third edition of the competition saw over 600

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teams from around the world submit a proposal responding to one of six challenges set out by Airbus for aviation in the 21st century. Over 60 Airbus assessors evaluated the submissions for quality, environmental benefits, and for the level of innovation demonstrated by the team. Charles Champion, Airbus executive VP - engineering, says, “Team Levar's response to the competition has been fantastic, with a truly innovative proposal for an air cushion solution inspired by hockey tables. They have taken a really broad view of how to improve the aviation industry as a whole, not limiting their ideas to aircraft alone but also considering ground operations and they are deserving winners. According to the students, passengers could collect their luggage 30 per cent faster, start their holidays sooner, and luggage handlers would

be put under less physical strain. This kind of idea is fundamental in ensuring the aviation industry continues to drive forward to a more sustainable future.” Irina Bokova, directorgeneral of UNESCO, says “The diversity of these students' ideas is a huge source of inspiration. Their talent also serves to remind us of the urgent need to train more engineers, to develop the skills and competences needed to translate ideas into reality and put science into practice. This is UNESCO's ambition and one of the objectives of this partnership with Airbus is to inspire more innovative ideas for our future, in sustainable transportation and even further.” In addition to the prize money, the students now look forward to welcoming experts from Airbus' innovation cell onto their campus for a week of workshops and training later this year. July 2013


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AirAsia India Subramanian Ramadorai, CBE, has been appointed as non-executive chairman of AirAsia India. Ramadorai, commonly referred to as ‘Ram’ was appointed in 2011 by the Indian government as the advisor to Prime Minister - Dr Manmohan Singh in the National Council on Skill Development. He also serves as chairman of the Bombay Stock Exchange and vice chairman of Tata Consultancy Services, a company he has been associated with, for the past 40 years.

Kuoni India

Amod Thatte has been appointed as head of products and innovation B2C, Tour Operating Division, Kuoni India. He will be responsible for the innovation, designing, contracting and fulfillment of the complete B2C product portfolio of tour operating. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Engineering from Mumbai University and a Masters in Management Studies from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management. He was part of Thomas Cook for over 12 years.

Singapore Airlines Cargo

Pegasus Solutions

Singapore Airlines Cargo has appointed Lee Lik Hsin as its new president. The appointment will take effect on August 1, 2013, when Hsin will take over from Tan Kai Ping, who will return to parent company Singapore Airlines as senior vice president corporate planning, a post currently held by Hsin. She has been with Singapore Airlines since 1994 and has served in various positions in the head office and overseas, including Beijing, San Francisco and Tokyo.

Pegasus Solutions has appointed Gianna Rivera as global director of distribution sales. Rivera, an established hospitality professional with an expert understanding of technology, will support the growth of Pegasus’ distribution services, currently used by nearly 100,000 hotels globally.

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Manoj Chacko has been appointed as chief operating officer (COO) for Kuoni Business Travel, Kuoni India. Chacko succeeds Malvinder Singh Rikhy. Earlier, Chacko was associated with Kingfisher Airlines and was their executive vice president (commercial). In his past assignments, he has worked with companies like Emirates as well as American Express, where he was their vice president and country head for the business travel division.

Corporate Traveller Australian business travel specialist, Corporate Traveller, has adopted a new leadership structure involving a dual approach to national management. Vivian Gard has been appointed to the role of GM for Corporate Traveller’s operations in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, while Astrid Richardson is taking on the role of GM Queensland, New South Wales and ACT. Both roles will oversee the sales, operations and account management functions of Corporate Traveller in their respective regions.

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Jet Airways

Korean Air

Jet Airways (India) has announced the appointment of Gary Kenneth Toomey as its new chief executive officer. The appointment follows the resignation of Nikos Kardassis who left the airline after serving two terms as chief executive officer, initially between 1993 and 1999, and again from October 2009 till May 2013. Tooney previously served as president and chief executive officer of the Air New Zealand Group and as chief executive officer of Airlines PNG in Papua New Guinea during their periods of major expansion. Prior to these roles, he was deputy chief executive officer, chief financial officer and executive director of Qantas Airways and before that chief financial officer of the domestic carrier Australian Airlines.

Korean Air chairman & CEO Yang Ho Cho has been re-elected to the IATA (International Air Transport Association) Board of Governors for a three-year term at the 69th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Cape Town, South Africa. This is Cho’s seventh election to the Board since 1996. Having worked in the airline industry for more than 30 years since 1974, Cho was named chairman and CEO of Korean Air in April 1999, and has served as president and CEO since 1992. In total, this year’s service will be Cho’s fourteenth year of membership on the Board of Governors.

Choice Hotels Choice Hotels has appointed Anne Engelking Smith as VP - brand strategy. Smith joins the company from AARP where she was responsible for overseeing the AARP brand in commercial marketing and driving membership growth including the organisation's multicultural membership base. At Choice Hotels, she will oversee the brand strategies for nine of the company's midscale, economy and extended stay brands: Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, Clarion, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, Suburban and MainStay Suites.

Sabre Airline Solutions Sabre Airline Solutions has announced the appointment of John Tan as its new managing director and chief representative for Greater China. He replaces Melody Shan who is returning to the United States after seven years in various leadership roles in China. He will be based in Beijing.

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Express TravelWorld Business Avenues Winner of 84 International and National Awards

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Powerhouse showcased

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed United States President Barack Obama to the G8 Summit at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland

Amway India delegates at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for the Amway India Leadership Seminar

SKYTRAX World Airline Awards John Slosar, chief executive, Cathay Pacific (centre) received the SKYTRAX World Airline Awards - 'World’s Best Cabin Staff' and 'Best Transpacific Airline' at the Paris Air Show 2013

Dr Reinhold Huber, senior vice presidentproduct and marketing, received the SKYTRAX awards for 'Best First Class Airline Lounge', 'Best Western European Airline' and 'Best Trans Atlantic Airline' on Lufthansa’s behalf at the World Airline Awards, hosted at the Paris Air Show 2013

Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo received the 'Best Low Cost Airline' in Central Asia and India from Edward Plaisted, chairman, SKYTRAX at the Paris Air Show 2013

Qatar Airways received the SKYTRAX awards for 'World’s Best Business Class', 'World’s Best Business Class Lounge' and 'Best Airline Staff Service' in the Middle East

Go Goa

Colourful adventure

Dragonair hosted their annual Paintball Championships for the travel community in Bengaluru

July 2013

Officials of Goa Tourism addressed the gathering at 'Goa Evening' event in the presence of Dilip Parulekar, tourism minister, Goa in Delhi

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Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation represented by OM Tourism in India, along with SpiceJet organised a familiarisation trip for travel agents from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru

Specialist service Brijesh Modi, head-finance and commercial, Kuoni India inaugurates the Kuoni Together with SOTC store at MGF Mega City in Gurgaon

New routes

Karl Van den Bossche, consul general of Belgium in Mumbai and Vishal Jairath, regional head - South Asia, VFS Global lighting the traditional lamp on the occasion of the opening of the new Belgium Visa Application Centre in Ahmedabad

Double take Actor Neha Dhupia along with Neeraj Gupta, MD and founder; Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs at the launch of their operations in Jaipur with the tagline ‘Padhariyo Thare Des’

Expanding reach

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited his Madame Tussauds wax double during the second day of his visit to Sydney, Australia

A lifetime experience

L-R: Tang Zhongling, GM, Air China Mumbai; Richa Goyal Sikri, group business director, STIC; Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC with Air China Team Mumbai at the announcement of a successful maiden year of operations from Mumbai

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Four winners of the 'Take Me To South Africa' contest enjoyed an all expenses paid 15 days trip to South Africa with Jonty Rhodes, brand ambassador of South African Tourism in India July 2013


REGD.WITH RNI UNDER MAHENG/15993/05, MH/MR/SOUTH-156/2013-15 PUBLISHED 11th OF EVERY MONTH AND POSTED ON 12, 13 & 14 OF EVERY MONTH POSTED AT MUMBAI PATRIKA CHANNEL SORTING OFFICE.

Get rid of the stress while planning annual conferences. Star Cruises erases all your worries of putting together that perfect corporate event. awe-inspiring expanse of the ocean making every corporate event an unforgettable experience. While the customised itineraries with uninterrupted work schedules guarantee to keep you focused, a host of activities entice your spirit of adventure.

Signature Packages Fun@Sea Reward your staff with a fun course and they will come back totally recharged and revitalised. Team Building@Sea Build your dream team in a dream setting, so that they can achieve even more. Meeting@Sea Organise talks, workshops and seminars with a fresh difference, for a handful to upto 800 persons.

Here’s what your MICE event with Star Cruises entails: • Conducive environments and meeting facilities • Uninterrupted schedules • Committed work staff with an eye for detail • Customised satisfaction • Exotic destinations • Outstanding return of investment

• Exciting shore excursions • Relaxing spa therapies and massages • Personal attention for the family (while you are at work) • Poolside parties and games • Sports and fitness activities

www.brandinsight.co.in

Star Cruises brings you state-of-the-art business facilities amidst the

Nominated as Asia’s Leading Cruise Line 2013

For further information, call Star Cruises - Ahmedabad: (079) 40031999/2999, Bangalore: 09900963807, Mumbai: (022) 61388888, New Delhi: (011) 41077900/01 For bookings please contact your nearest travel agent or our preferred sales agents: Travel Tours: (080) 44800800, Thomas Cook India: (022) 61603333, SOTC World Famous Tours: 1-800-2093344, JTB Travels: (022) 66202800, Guideline Travels: (022) 40622222, Gainwell Travel & Leisure: 09830087221, Fountainhead Corporate Journeys: (022) 26611564/82, Discovery Holidays: (033) 40109000, D. Paul's Travel & Tours: (011) 66211111/04, Cox & Kings: (022) 22709102/4, Club7 Holidays: (033) 65221739, Ark Travels: (022) 42461919


Express Travelworld July, 2013