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VOL 8 | NO 7 | AUGUST 2013 | PAGES 44

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Vizhinjam port project may spell doom for South Kerala tourism



Luxury travel yet to mature in Indian market, feel agents


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Baron Aviation sets target of 5000 hours of flying for 2013-14


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An Indian escapade


hough the general feedback doing the rounds is that outbound tourism has slowed down in the recent past, interestingly the foreign tourism boards refuse to give up on India. The country is viewed as a robust business hub for their inbound business and they are investing further to bring in business. The new boards and sub-boards are joining the bandwagon while the well established boards are also going all out to lure the Indian traveller. Offering unique experiences and moving away from vanilla offers seems to be the order of the day. International tourism boards are reinventing the wheel with special business offers, ranging from luxury to adventure, from sports to culture. `Soaking in the experience’ has become the new catchphrase. What better time to literally soak in the experience than in the monsoons and especially this year when the rains have decided to fall and how. Like our previous cover story that focused on the uniqueness of waterfalls during the monsoons, this issue will give you a peek into the hotspots you can escape to over the weekend during the monsoons and otherwise. India has a rich repository of tourism gems, discrete, and many a time unapproachable. As India celebrates 67th Independence Day, it is the right time to retrospect on the tourism splendours in our own backyard and learn the trick that can truly make India click. There is plenty to explore if we have a well defined plan in place.


And finally with Telangana, seeing the light of day, it would surely have its own impact on tourism and hospitality. It’s now Andhra Pradesh’s turn to develop its hidden jewels, going beyond Hyderabad and its famous tourism products. Developing coastal Andhra for tourism, greenfield airports, highlighting the cultural aspects of the state can be interesting for tourism. Interestingly so, the union tourism ministry itself is led by the son of the soil.


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Luxury travel yet to mature in Indian market, feel agents PG 6 IATO to hold annual convention in Kochi this year PG 10 Baron Aviation sets target of 5000 hours of flying for 2013-14 PG 11 Proposed UK visa bond is discriminatory, against tourism growth: OTOAI PG 12


Vizhinjam port project may spell doom for south Kerala tourism At least 40 resorts in the project area will be affected, Kovalam coastline may be eroded STEENA JOY – Thiruvanathapuram


he proposed `6,000 crore Vizhinjam port project coming up in south Kerala does not bode well for tourism in God's Own Country. More than 40 resorts will be impacted directly, both small and big including reputed resorts like Somatheeram Ayurvedic Resort, Ayurbay Beach Resort, Coconut Bay Beach Resort, Sagara Beach Resort. The South Kerala Hotelier's Forum (SKHF) and the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) together with 31 resorts in the proposed project area have submitted a memorandum to the state government for reconsidering the site of the container terminal. The port will cover two km of direct coastline and a ship channel of another two km so a total of

four km of the Kovalam-Vizhinjam stretch will be lost to the tourism industry. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Cyriac Kodath, a member of SKHF and director, Coconut Bay Beach Resort, said, “When a study was done in 2010 for site approval, the consultants stated that only three resorts would be affected and that too marginally. But the reality is that nearly 40 resorts , big and small will be directly affected by this project. We have no objections to the port project but data was falsified to obtain clearances for it. The study also does not say anything about the possible environmental damage, biodiversity destruction and the peculiar erosion pattern in the southern coast.” South Kerala is famous for its beaches and the many Ayurveda resorts that dot the Vizhinjam shoreline. Resorts like

Somatheeram, a Green Leaf certified Ayurveda centre of international repute frequented by medical tourists worldwide will also be affected. Kodath added, “Apart from the beach resorts impacted directly, more than 160 handicraft and tourism related businesses will also suffer. Nearly 20,000 jobs would be lost. More importantly, the project could change the shoreline and erode the popular Kovalam Beach which lies just 1.3 km from the project site. This could spell disaster for Kerala's tourism industry for which Kovalam is an international identity.” Meanwhile, a five member committee has been constituted by the state government to study the impact of the seaplane project on Kerala's backwaters following protests by fisherfolk. The report is expected by first week of September.

AP Tourism to promote offbeat destinations ETW STAFF – Mumbai




ndhra Pradesh Tourism is looking to promote many of its lesser known attractions – the offbeat places which could be significant tourist draws in the country, for instance eco tourism destinations like Araku Valley and Dindi. Launching the pre-Dusshera campaign, Chandana Khan, special chief secretary to AP government's youth advancement, tourism & culture department said, “It is the time to reintroduce and reinforce ourselves.” She pointed out that Maharashtra and Gujarat are the two states from where a sizable number of pilgrims visit Andhra Pradesh. This segment can explore other places after visiting the pilgrim spots. AP Tourism Development Corporation has a large number of threestar properties across the state where the tourists can

stay in budget accommodation while exploring the circuits. Andhra Pradesh Tourism is also focusing on developing tourism infrastructure in the state through public-private partnerships (PPP). Besides upgrading infrastructure, APTDC is also promoting awareness about its


attractive tourist locations by marketing and promotional activities within the state and at the national level. “A sum of around `40 crore would be spent on branding and marketing,” said Khan. Dindi, Horsley Hills, Bhavani Island, Suryalanka, Vikarabad, Nagarjunasagar and Bhadrachalam have been chosen as special destinations.

Telangana twist The pertinent question is – how will the recent development regarding the formation of Telangana impact the tourism and hospitality sector. Despite our efforts Express TravelWorld was unable to get any response from APTDC at the time of going to the press, however a few industry experts were vocal about their views. Param Kannampilly, CMD, Concept Hospitality stated, “The present condition of Andhra Pradesh is

Chandana Khan that it is in a state of suffering because of the repeat agitation, and the solution to settle down things is the separation of the two states. Since Hyderabad is a potential tourism and hospitality market, there should be peace and harmony between the two states as it will be good for the investors.” According to EM Najeeb, CEO of GITC, in terms of travel and hospitality, the two sectors might face an initial setback but might improve later. “And I think at the end of the day it will come out better,” he asserted. August 2013

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Luxury travel yet to mature in Indian market, feel agents KAHINI CHAKRABORTY - Mumbai


erming luxury as a subjective concept, certain travel agents feel that the Indian market is still not ready to sell exclusive luxury travel products. Even though this niche segment holds immense potential, the challenge for them lies in educating the frontline staff to sell authentic and unique products. This was the general perspective during the session 'Luxury travelling with the big spenders' at the recently concluded MICE India & Luxury Travel Congress organised by QnA International held in Mumbai. Stressing on the need for luxury travel to be unique and authentic, Rajeev Wagle, managing director, Kuoni said that today's travellers are discerning about their spending choices, hence there is a need for travel agents to be well equipped in

selling new experiences. “We haven't yet perfected in the way we sell luxury products to clients. There is an urgent need for research from our end to be well versed in the market as there are segments which will keep growing rapidly. The interesting part


is that it is not only the metro cities but also travellers from smaller cities who have been expressing the need to experience luxury travel. The younger generation have been fuelling the demand to experience adventure tours, sports tours, etc, and work with select vendors.” But even though Indians react differently to financial matters, they are known to be the highest travel spenders. Giving his opinion on the same, Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director, Creative Travel added, “We do react differently to money matters but luxury is a subjective matter. The challenge is that we still don't know how to sell luxury travel. And since we all generally have our staff from the middle-class category who would not know about luxury products, there is an urgent need to keep educating the staff for them to be confident to sell

something unique.” Giving his opinion on the subject, Guldeep Singh Sahni, MD, Weldon Tours & Travels and president, Ooutbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) said, “Luxury cannot be defined but it is something that cannot be commonly found as well. Travel agents need to put in the 'experience element' in their tours rather than only provide luxury hotels and airline facilities.” Agreeing on the same, Mahesh Shirodkar, MD, Tamarind Tours opined, “Luxury travel segment has the evolved traveller class and hence the challenge faced is that the end user is already accessing luxury choices information on their own. Definitely it is a segment which will see growth as disposable income has never been an issue which is evident from the business class and first class occupancies in the air sector.”

Gujarat to introduce tourism policy soon KAHINI CHAKRABORTY - Mumbai


ujarat Tourism will introduce a new tourism policy soon. The policy will focus on infrastructure development for the hotel sector and attract more participation from the private sector. Saurabh Patel, minister for tourism and industry, Government of Gujarat, on the sidelines of the recently held Gujarat Tourism Travel Meet roadshow in Mumbai, informed, “We are going to concentrate heavily on the tourism industry this year. Our objective is to soon be a part of the

Incredible India campaign of the ministry of tourism (MoT). Given the growth in the state, we not only want to promote our festivals, religious, adventure destinations etc but also target the MICE sector. We are planning to develop homestay facilities to give tourists a chance to experience the local flavour of the daily life in Gujarat. We are also going to develop an artificial park in Amreli and improving roadside amenities and infrastructure in the state.” The state has already started working on the Vibrant Gujarat 2015 event.

AMBAJI TO GET 51 SHAKTIPEETH REPLICAS SOON Devotees of Goddess Amba (Shakti) will now be able to undertake the entire pilgrimage of '51 Shaktipeeths' (temples), that are located in the Indian subcontinent comprising of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Mansarovar in Tibet, in Gujarat itself. This unique project, with replicas of 51 Shaktipeeths will be commissioned shortly at Mount Gabbar in Ambaji. Vipul Mittra, principal secretary, department of tourism and civil aviation, Government of Gujarat said, “The exact replicas of the 51 Shaktipeeths are being set up on a three km stretch at Mount Gabbar in Ambaji at a cost of `50 crore and will be commissioned in September this year. As the Shaktipeeths have been exactly replicated, they will have either idol of the goddess or Yantra as the original ones.We are expecting to get 24 lakh more tourists to visit the Shaktipeeths annually once it is commissioned.

By Joy Roy Choudhury

The state government has granted the tourism department a budget of `400 crore for tourism development. “This budget we plan to use to develop tourism infrastructure as well as promote the state's tourism offerings in India and abroad,” Patel said. From a set up of 45,000 rooms development three years ago, the total room inventory stands at 64,000 in the state, which the tourism department is looking at



further increasing. Maharashtra has been an important market for Gujarat tourism. The Meet was also attended by Kamlesh Patel, chairman, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat (TCGL), and Sanjay Kaul, managing director, TCGL and Vipul Mittra, principal secretary, tourism, civil aviation, pilgrimage & Devasthan (Industries & Mines Department), Government of Gujarat. August 2013

IATO to hold annual convention in Kochi this year ETW STAFF - Mumbai


he Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) will organise its 29th annual convention from September 8-11, 2013 at Le Meridien, Kochi (Kerala). The theme of the convention is 'Tourism – Innovations & Partnerships'. The subjects for the business sessions are being finalised. Arun Anand is the chairman and Lally Mathews and EM Najeeb are the co-chairmen for this year's convention. “Kerala has set an unprecedented growth in tourism. Due to the initiatives taken by the Kerala government under the dynamic leadership of Oommen Chandy, chief minister, Kerala. With IATO’s support most of the states where we had our earlier conventions have achieved development. We usher the state into a future of progress and prosperity. This has been a reality in Andhra

Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra where we had our previous conventions,” said Subhash Goyal, president, IATO. Anand added, “Every year, we try to promote a new state and work for an integrated growth. We have also earlier been to Kerala and this year, Kerala was in our mind from the very beginning for our annual convention due to sea change in the tourism scene in Kerala. In view of the overwhelming response and support from the state government and also from the travel industry, we had no hesitation to opt for Kerala. The state with its infrastructural developments holds lot of prospects and potential for inbound tourism.” Mathews, co-chairman convention & hony. secretary of IATO mentioned that “Our objective is innovating and reinnovating to build our members’ trust, consumers’ interest in the destination being focused, establish connection

Subhash Goyal with decision makers in the state and promote new destination products, to draw-out special strategies to attract customers with value additions, launching new products which offer unique experiences of the state and create job opportunities for locals. Thus the partnership which we form with the state government can go beyond our convention period.”

Union tourism minister K Chiranjeevi proposes tourist police; calls for better hygiene ETW STAFF - New Delhi


K Chiranjeevi



ooking at the increasing number of attacks on foreign tourists in India, the government has come up with a slew of measures to ensure the safety of tourists. In a bid to deal with these incidents and restore faith of foreigners, union tourism minister K Chiranjeevi has urged the state governments and Union Territories to set up tourist police, among others. Inaugurating the day-long National Conference of State Tourism Ministers in New Delhi recently, he said this can be done either by hiring ex-servicemen or home guards. The tourist police can be deployed in places where such incidents can happen. Chiranjeevi added, “If in spite of our best efforts, such incidents occur, we must take immediate action to bring the culprits to the book and ensure speedy court trials. While doing so, we must show our sensitivity towards the feelings of the victim and respect their dignity and privacy.”

Referring to the recent incidents of assault on female tourists which has damaged the image of the country as a tourist destination, Chiranjeevi said, “It is not only important that we provide security to tourists but we must also instill a sense of confidence in them.” Stressing on the need to improve cleanliness and hygiene to attract more tourists, Chiranjeevi informed, “The second important issue due to which India is losing business to other markets is cleanliness and hygiene. Heaps of garbage at tourist destinations, open defecation at beaches, morning soils on the railway tracks etc. discourage tourists. The problem is serious and if we fail to tackle it now, it may be too late.” The minister suggested that all states and Union Territory administrations declare tourist destinations as plastic free, ensure regular removal of garbage, build proper toilets to stop open defecation and sensitise the community about the need to keep the destinations clean. Referring to the recent nature's

furry in Uttarakhand as unfortunate, the minister said, “While developing tourism destinations, we must keep in mind the principles of sustainability and carrying capacity.” He stressed on the need to take special care of religious places as large number of pilgrims congregate at a given time. “It is our responsibility that we must immediately assess the carrying capacity of various tourism destinations and address the sustainability issues. In case, some remedial measures are required, they must be taken before any disaster happens. Uttarakhand has been a warning to all of us,” he added. Expressing concern over high tax structure on tourism products, the tourism minister said that he has initiated a dialogues with the finance ministry to rationalise taxes like VAT, Service Tax and Luxury Tax on tourism-related services. He also requested all states and UTs to take up the issue of rationalisation of state taxes with their counterpart in the Finance Department of the respective state. August 2013

Baron Aviation sets target of 5000 hours of flying for 2013-14 KAHINI CHAKRABORTY -Mumbai


aron Aviation, a division of Baron Luxury and Lifestyles, aims to fly over 5,000 hours in the year 2013-14 with an inventory base of 25 aircraft which include single and twin engine helicopters, turboprops, midsize and executive jets. The company is also looking at engaging in collaborative play in private flying and hospitality in the future. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Rajeev Wadhwa, chairman and CEO, Baron Luxury and Lifestyles said, “We are not into the mass market model. Our focus is on aspirational

August 2013

Rajeev Wadhwa

travel and luxury travel. As an aggregator of aircraft inventory, we believe that aircraft selection is important in order to provide the best. Since the focus is on high-end luxury experience and clientele, the company charges `70,000 to `4.5 lakh for an hour of flying depending on the aircraft chosen. Collaborative play in private flying and hospitality will be on our roadmap going forward.” Presently, the company has connections to about 150 airports in India and has a large customer focus on the Indian market. Wadhwa added, “Among the Indian customers, business charter flights to European destina-

tions are high. And with the continuous effort to increase aircraft inventory, we acknowledge the need to expand our presence internationally in Europe and Far East. But having said that there have been a lot of high-end travellers who have opted our services for religious tours, weekend getaway destinations which are short-haul. As the potential of the aviation sector was never a question in the Indian market, apart from providing jet and charter services, we would also look at introducing anniversary packages, or visit to Indian palaces with high end luxurious experience in the future.”



Proposed UK visa bond is discriminatory, against tourism growth: OTOAI RITUPARNA CHATTERJEE Mumbai


he decision of the United Kingdom of planning to issue a visa bond of £3000 for 'high risk passengers' starting November this year has led to several debates of its impact on the travel industry in the India market. Guldeep Singh Sahni, president, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), while talking about the legitimacy of such a bond stated, “The UK staff is wellequipped to handle passengers and those who will travel illegally will sign that bond. The bond can't be to avoid the risk factor but it is to fund themselves. Very clearly the policy is to make money and not to enhance

tourism. The policy is against tourism.” There have been further speculations regarding the definition of 'risky passengers' and the people who will be considered under this category. Furthermore, the bond


focuses only on six nonwhite nations, India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and not on the white dominions. Commenting on this, Sahni stated, “What is the definition of high risk passengers? The criteria isn't clear. Since people are travelling to the UK and in turn promoting their tourism, the bond is discriminatory. Sahni suggested that travellers be equipped with multi-entry visa to enhance UK's tourism. Elaborating on the impact of the bond on different travel segments of India, Sahni opined, “In the leisure sector, the ones to be impacted the most are the first time travellers and honeymooners who haven’t settled yet. Besides them, the middleaged and retired travellers

and the visiting friends and relatives are also going to be equally impacted along with a marginal impact on the student community who are planning to go to UK.” While talking about the impact on the MICE segment Sahni added, “Most of these travellers are mid and smallscale industrialists who are already in their development stage and have fixed budgets. The visa bond will not only require these companies to invest more but also will also force them to take their sources out. The visa bond will only cater to the top companies and ones who earn more. Since India has 10-15 per cent of high end travellers and 85-90 per cent of middle class travellers, the impact is most likely to be on the middle-class segment.”

Wayanad promotes monsoon tourism with a Splash! STEENA JOY – Mumbai


apping the tourism potential of in Wayanad is the next big thing to happen in the Kerala tourism scenario. This was stated by E K Bharat Bhushan, chief secretary, government of Kerala after inaugurating the B2B meet organised in connection with the fifth edition of Splash, the Wayanad monsoon carnival recently. “The exquisite natural habitat with much priced wildlife sanctuaries and proximity to cities like Bengaluru and

other tourism destinations of South India has contributed to the potential of the destination,” he pointed out. Hinting at the role of stakeholders in the hospitality sector in promoting Wayanad as a destination, Bhushan said that rather than the role of the government, the stakeholders’ forum played a key role in destination promotion. “I rather like to call them tourism activists than promoters”, he said. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Vancheeswaran K R, secretary,



Wayanad Tourism Organisation (WTO) said, “We focused on the buyer-seller meet more in this edition of Splash than giving importance to other activities. In the B2B meet we had 80 sellers from Wayanad and the surrounding areas like Coorg, Mysore, Nilgiris, Kabini and Bandipur, which form an important tourism axis for future.We also had sellers from Bekal - Calicut, etc which forms the connect bridge to Wayanad through Kerala.” The fifth edition of Splash, which ran from July 12-15, concluded with the finals of mud football,

mud tug-of-war and ‘off roading’ vehicle rally competitions conducted in the jungle track inside the Vythiri Resort in Vythiri. Vancheeswaran added, “We had around 250-280 buyers from all over India. We focused on newer buyers from newer areas. We did have inbound buyers from Delhi like Sita /Kuoni etc. We also had good number of inbound from IATO. Overall the event helped us in our aim to improve business during the monsoon and promote monsoon related activities.”

August 2013

In the heart of Hindustan Nicknamed as the 'heart of India', Madhya Pradesh is home to many cultural heritage cities, monuments, exquisite temples, stupas, forts and palaces. The natural beauty of the state is equally divided giving travellers the opportunity to discover the many facets of the state in every corner Omkareshwar Omkareshwar, the sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols, 'Om', over the centuries attracted numerous pilgrims. The region has numerous legends associated with it and there are numerous temples in Omkareshwar that are worth visiting like the Mamleshwar temple which was built in the 10th century. This ancient temple is under the protection of the Archeological Survey of India. It is a small complex of temples and is adorned with spectacular carvings. There is a particularly impressive one of a god in a very martial stance. There are also some interesting smaller carvings on the door-posts of a minor shrine. The Omkar Mandhata temple is one of the oldest shrines in India and houses one among the 12 jyothirlingas in India. Situated in the confluence of Narmada and Kaveri rivers, the temple enshrines nagara style architecture with frescos and carvings. The temple is flanked by balconies with engraved columns of distinct shapes. While the Parikrama Path is the access to many places of reverence like Omkar Math, Ananda Mai Temple and the Ramakrishna Mission among others. Chand-Suraj Gate is set in massive walls of dressed stone with carved corbel projections to support the topping stones. It seems that this is all that it remains of an old temple because there are sculptures of the fearsome goddess Chamunda and another of the benign Ganesh. Many visitors find Siddinath Temple as the most impressive one on the island. Its unroofed pillars rise from a plinth richly sculpted with a frieze of elephants and equestrian warriors. Other places that are worth seeing include Mahakaleshwar temple, Sangam, Ashapuri Temple, Arjun-Bhim Gateway, among others.

tinctive handwoven sarees called Maheshwari exquisitely woven ‘Maheshwari’ sarees. Some of the places that are worth seeing include Rajgaddi and Rajwada. A life-size statue of Rani Ahilyabai sits on a throne in the Rajgaddi within the fort complex. Some other fascinating relics and heirlooms of the Holkar dynasty can be seen in the other rooms which are open to the public. Within the complex is an exquisite small shrine which is a starting point of the ancient Dussehra ceremony which is carried out even today. The image on this day is installed reverently in a splendid palanquin and carried down the steep fort road to the town below to receive the yearly homage of the people of Maheshwar.

Ujjain Ujjain has been a place of great importance in ancient as well as medieval India. The early history of Ujjain is lost in the midst of antiquity. Ujjain lies on the main trade route between North India and Deccan going from Mathura via Ujjain to Mahismati (Maheshwar) on the Narmada, and on to Paithan on the

Maheshwar At the dawn of civilisation, Maheshwar was a glorious city. At that time it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This magnificent temple town, which is situated on the banks of the river Narmada, finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was during the reign of Holkar queen of Indore Rani Ahilyabai, the town was restored to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Well known for its temples and mighty fort-complex, today, Maheshwar is also known for its dis-

Godavari, western Asia and the West. Due to its majestic temples, it is an attractive tourist destination. Some of the famous ones include the Mangalnath Temple where devotees throng on the third day of the week and always stop to have a look at the image of ram, vehicle of Mangal. Even though this is known as the Temple of Mars, the principal idol is that of Siva. The Sandipani Ashram is a small complex of buildings set in a garden having a legendary history. The faithful believe that this is where the seer Sandipani taught Lord Krishna, his brother Balram and their friend Sudama. While the Bhartrihari Caves is believed to be the place where Bhartrihari, the step brother of Vikramaditya lived and meditated after renouncing worldly life. His famous works, Shringarshataka, Vairagyashataka, and Nitishataka, were possibly written here. Situated just above the bank of the Shipra River, Bhartrihari Caves is a predominant tourist place in Ujjain. Apart from these there are numerous other places that would make your visit to Ujjain worthwhile. ADVT August 2013



‘Learn South Africa’ training programme goes to 15 cities Thousand travel agents attend sessions across the country SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai


outh African Tourism recently concluded its ‘Learn South Africa’ training programme for the Indian travel trade in 15 cities across the country. Apart from Mumbai and Delhi, where many training sessions were organised, the delegation went to many tier II/III markets like Kochi, Coimbatore, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and others. "We handpicked a few suppliers who understand the Indian market to come here for a month. The training sessions give the staff of travel agencies a chance to

Hanneli Slabber

ask questions that are more product related. We ensure that every single sector is covered,” said Hanneli


Slabber, country manager, South African Tourism in India. According to Slabber, the programme is changed as per the needs of the agents. Their feedback is an important criteria in the process of revamping the modules. In total a thousand travel agents attended the sessions across the country. “In Mumbai about a hundred people attended one of the sessions. In a city like Ahmedabad where the agencies are smaller and they cannot send two people so we kept each session for 50 people,” she added. The travel agents get a certificate for attendance.

South African Tourism recently relaunched its new online programme. “We want to make sure that they go through the learning sessions and then go online,” said Slabber. When these travel agents do the South Africa Specialist Programme, they get extra points for attending these training sessions. Slabber emphasised on the value of the SA Specialist programme. This programme is aimed to make a travel agent an authority on South Africa's tourism attractions and sell the country better as a holiday destination. “That is the transition that we are looking at,” mentioned Slabber.

Why Shakespeare's birthplace is iconic for Indian travellers Key events lined up for 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare in 2014 SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai


tratford-upon-Avon in south Warwickshire, England draws visitors from around the world who are keen to know about the place where William Shakespeare was born. It is also among the favourite spots for Indian travellers, most of whom have studied the works of Shakespeare in school. “I do believe that Shakespeare's birthplace is quite iconic for a lot of Indian visitors. Most Indians have studied Shakespeare's works and it is very interesting for them to see where he grew up. We also have the Holy Trinity Church which is just down the road where Shakespeare is buried so you can also visit his grave,” said Debbie Beardall, trade & education development manager, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon. She pointed out that in the birthplace garden there is



a bust of Rabindranath Tagore. Many Indians are pleasantly surprised when they come across the statue of Tagore. The bronze bust is in the garden of the house where Shakespeare was born in Henley Street. A number of big events are lined up for the year 2014 - the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare's

birth. "There will be many events to mark the special occasion on April 23. Normally it is a weekend of celebration, but next year we hope to have a year-long programme of different events,” said Beardall. The celebrations will be bigger and better, in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre in London. 2016 is the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare and many events are lined up for the year as well. Beardall informed that there are many happenings in Stratford-uponAvon all through the year - food festival, music festival, poetry festival, even a river festival. “Indian visitors

will always find something happening in the area. And because we are so close to Birmingham there is always the attraction of shopping. Warwick Castle is nearby, also the Cotswolds are just outside Stratford. We also have interesting National Trust properties. Instead of coming for a few hours to Stratford they could stay overnights - we have some great hotels from bed and breakfast to five-star properties,” she said. Beardall remarked that Stratford is close to Birmingham, which has a diverse Indian community. It is also just half an hour away from Leicester, which has a large Indian community as well.

August 2013

Oman looks at Bollywood for creating brand visibility SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai


man has been a destination for film shootings from India for quite sometime now, however these movies have mostly been from south and east India. For the very first time the ministry of tourism, Sultanate of Oman is actively looking at promoting the destination in India following the shooting of a small part of 'Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Dobaara' in the country. “They were looking at a Middle Eastern destination that is a good mix of contemporary and classic. Oman fit the script very well. This is the first step taken to associate with the film fraternity,” stat-

Lubaina Sheerazi

ed Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative, ministry of tourism, Sultanate of Oman. Oman with its stunning fjords and mountains, beautiful coastline and underwater world, quaint cities and good infrastructure is an attractive location for movies. Along with this is the short distance from India. Pointing out that the country has a unique topography that is not found anywhere else in the region, Sheerazi stated that Oman is not a mass product, “Our strategy focuses on targeting selective target audience, from which city should we start our marketing campaign, because India is a large country and we need to have that focus. We

were very clear that we would target Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. For several reasons - outbound is big from these cities and this is where the evolved travellers are. There is a lot of travel happening from tier II cities also, but year one and year two was definitely not the time when we wanted to go to these locations. At the same time we realised that it is important to create awareness and visibility across the country. Bollywood is a good way to at least create some kind of a presence and visibility for a brand. We incorporated that in our strategy and we were looking at a partner from the industry with whom we could

associate and create a visibility for the destination.” At the moment the ministry of tourism is promoting Muscat and the areas surrounding it. There is Nizwa, which is a cultural capital of the country and a great location for mountain experience. Wahiba Sands is about 200 km from there with good accommodation options ranging from luxury to tented rustic experience. Ras al-Jinz is a protected site for turtle nesting. Then there is Salalah in the south - the only location in the Middle East that receives the Indian Ocean monsoon. There are many resorts there with others coming up.

Tourism New Zealand initiates three-year marketing plan SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai


or Tourism New Zealand, India is among a new stream of emerging markets. The key markets in this segment are - India, Indonesia and Latin America. “We have started a new three-year marketing plan that prioritises which market we will be focusing on worldwide. We are increasing our budgets in these markets, increasing our staff and resource, and we will give a lot more weightage to the Indian market in the next three years,” said Mischa MannixOpie, regional manager South & South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand. The NTO is currently recruiting staff in India and concentrating on increasing its brand awareness here.

August 2013

According to MannixOpie, the focus in India is on two key segments – couples (honeymoon or young couples already married) and also the family market. She points out that there is also the opportunity of promoting the luxury/premium

products of New Zealand, for example New Zealand's Luxury Lodges. This is a customised high-end experience in some unique and specialised lodges. Tourism New Zealand is also looking at Bollywood and TV opportunities. The

two big upcoming events are - the India cricket tour of New Zealand in 2014 and the Cricket World Cup that New Zealand and Australia will be hosting in 2015. “This provides great opportunity to increase our brand awareness in this market. We have a very supportive travel agent community in India,” added Mannix-Opie. She mentioned that the travel industry in New Zealand also places India on the top of the list of the markets. There is a brand new convention centre in Auckland. For the Indian incentive market the destinations of interest would be Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown. Mannix-Opie stated that the Cathedral Square in Christchurch is now open to public for the first time

Mischa Mannix-Opie since the earthquake in February 2011. “We've moved into the new exciting rebuilt phase. Many new hotels are opening. There are new tourism operations and experiences as well,” she said. From tourism perspective the opening of the new Christchurch Convention Centre will be an important milestone. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD


Indonesia reinforces itself with new product offers REEMA LOKESH - Mumbai


ndonesia tourism which recently held a three-city workshop and B2B meet in Chennai, Pune and Mumbai, clearly aimed towards reinforcing its brand position in the market. Moving on from the vanilla products, it aimed to offer the Indian market with new regions, attractions and activities from namely culture and heritage, nature and ecotourism, recreational sports - (Diving, Surfing, Sailing, Trekking, Hiking, and Golf), cruise, culinary and shopping, health and wellness, MICE - (Meeting, Incentive, Conference, Exhibition). The Indonesian delegation, which was part of the roadshow consisted of the ministry of tourism and creative economy, tour operators, hoteliers and restaurants. The delegation was led by Iyung Masruroh, deputy of

promotion for Asia region, Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia. The Indonesian delegations who were brought down were from various tourism services, destinations and products, namely: Asia World Indonesia (AWI), Girnar Tour, LH Travels, Suly Resort, Yoga and Spa, Tria Uma Wisata, Nirwana Gardens, Queen's Tandoor Restaurant, Aruna Samsara Villa, Gateway of India, Melia Bali, Hotel Cipaganti Legian, Bali, Accor, Hyatt, Mariott, MG Holiday, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, U & I Holidays. In an exclusive with Express TravelWorld Masruroh, emphasised that, India is a very strong emerging market and it was crucial to strengthen the air connectivity between the countries. She further added, “Indonesia has a lot of new attractions in the region such as

Raja Ampat, the Bromo Mountains, Barabudur, which is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument. From diving, to international music festivals, there is a lot on offer. Our aim of participation is to promote Indonesia as a premier travel destination under the brand 'Wonderful Indonesia' and to provide a platform to connect the Indonesian tourism industry and the Indian travel trade network.” Sanjay Sondhi, head, OM Tourism which represents Visit Indonesia in India, informed, “We chose Pune, Chennai and Mumbai for this sales mission because we know that these cities are important business centres with a high rate of economic growth. India has been the eleventh biggest market for Indonesia. In 2012 India visitor arrivals to Indonesia reached a total of 177,194 visitors or an increase by

Iyung Masruroh 7.92 per cent over 2011. This year we expect to receive 200,000 Indian visitors, and thus, our promotional event is expected to significantly contribute to the achievement of the target by the end of the year. Indonesia Tourism also aims to focus on MICE in 2013. In the MICE sector, Indonesia is aiming to enhance its profile as a world destination for conferences, events, and incentive trips.”

Tourism Malaysia uses music to launch Visit Malaysia Year promotions ETW STAFF - Mumbai


romotions for the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014 started with the launch of the first ever IndoMalaysian Bollywood music album, titled 'Tum Mile'. This specially produced album features four popular duet songs, including one medley; all sung by Her Royal Highness the Toh



Puan Bendahara of Kedah, Toh Puan Noor Suzanna Abdullah, member of the royal family of Kedah, Malaysia and renowned Bollywood playback singer Kumar Sanu. The album features musical hits from the Golden Era of Bollywood filmed at exotic Malaysian destinations. Welcoming this initiative as a strong step towards building Indo-Malaysian relationship, Dato’ Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, chairman, Tourism Malaysia said, “Bollywood songs, superstars and movies are a household name in Malaysia and command a high following even amongst the non-Hindi speaking population. And now, with this musical compilation by two prominent individuals, one from Malaysia, and the other from India, it is our hope that the album 'Tum Mile' will further bridge our two nations together – through music, through tourism.”


This one-of-its-kind celebration of Visit Malaysia Year - 2014 compliments the growing interests among Indian tourists who visit Malaysia for shopping, theme parks, beaches and islands. “The launch of the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 Tourism Bollywood Album is aptly timed and important because Visit Malaysia Year - 2014 is six months away. This album will help create renewed interest in Malaysia, within our Indian tourists who are already exploring Malaysia as the ideal destination for family holidays, luxury vacations, spa holidays, ecotourism adventures, and honeymoons, among others,” added Yen. August 2013

Avari Hotels SMBs: Rising focuses on expansion in above the challenges GCC market; no immediate plans for India O KTP RADHIKA – New Delhi



vari Hotels, a Pakistani chain of hotels incorporated in 1968, and founded by Dinshaw B Avari and run by his sons, is looking at strengthening its base further in Saudi Arabia market. Ramzi Assily, cluster general manager of Avari Dubai Hotel & Apartments told Express TravelWorld, “We are already well known in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) market, as our number one producing segment by nationality is Saudi Arabia. This year we have made two sales trips to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to meet the corporate, government and travel agents. We are open to any opportunity to expand further given the right location and ownership.” When asked about his current expansion plans in India, Assily added that there is a possibility of expanding in the India market but not in the immediate future. “However, having said that, there is a continuous growth from the Indian market and we are keen to develop this source further,” he opined. Elaborating on the development of the GCC market in the hospitality sector, Assily pointed out that the choice of properties and services are expanding year on year providing many options to travellers. With a view to cater to different sentiments of cus-

Ramzi Assily tomers Assily informed that Avari Hotels came up with Avari Hotel Apartments Al-Barsha in Dubai in 2008 which consolidated their position in the Dubai market and fueled their decision to expand in the UAE and Middle East. Avari Hotels which does not own any properties at the moment, follows a revenue sharing business model, wherein they share a specific percentage of the revenue and rent with the owner of the property. Apart from the revenue share, they also follow other ownership options like leasing and management contract.

Sab TV ki Sawaari flags off

R-L: Mayuri, Babuji, Gopi, Manoj Gursahani, MD, Bollywood Tourism, Anooj Kapoor, EVP & Business Head, SAB TV along with Balveer, Priya,Tappu, Goli, Sonu, Roshan & Pinku August 2013

rganised by Microsoft Office 365, The Completely Boss Challenge was India's first platform to reward and celebrate outstanding business leaders from India’s thriving small and mid-market sector. Around 2500 CEOs from across seven cities (Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai) contested in first three rounds of the competition. The contest started with registered participants being evaluated on a quiz on knowledge and application-based questions, which was assigned weightage by QuizWorks, a leading quizzing company. Phase 2, which was city prelims, included events in the seven cities. The top 50 finalists from each city participated in the next level: an onground contest. Three shortlisted candidates from each of these seven cities participated in the finals of The Completely Boss Challenge; finally, three all-India winners were selected. While most SMB leaders find themselves entangled in the routine operational activities, the three winners of Microsoft's Completely Boss Challenge presented a different story. The winners belonged to Sort India Enviro Solutions (a recycling and waste management company based out of Vadodara), Hyderabad-based Rohini Minerals (a manufacturer of cost-effective poultry and cattle feed) and Mumbai-based Neptunus Power Plant Services (a solution provider for engine-based industrial and marine power plants). And as a reward, they are all going to get support from Microsoft (on technology), LinkedIn (on talent), (on media), WebChutney (on marketing), DOOR (on business consulting) and CRISIL SME Ratings (on knowledge) to develop a five-year robust business growth plan. Prashant Gubba, owner of Gubba Cold Storage based out of Hyderabad and one of the finalists of the competition, said that it was exciting to participate in the event and it gave his company a platform to present its business. Echoing the same sentiment, another participant, Vishwas Kulkarni, director at Computer Home based out of Pune, felt that The Completely Boss Challenge is a perfect platform for his company to showcase its products and services and will help SMBs to attain greater heights. The main criteria for choosing the winners were their business strength, competitive advantage, how better

they manage it and the financial growth of the company. Paresh Tulsidas Parekh, founder of Sort India Enviro, said, “This has been a great experience for me and I'm glad to be amongst the top three winners. This unique platform will help us to scale our business and we are looking forward to working with the jury to prepare our five-year business growth plan.” According to Gaddam Ranjith Reddy, managing director, Rohini Minerals, it was a tough competition wherein CEOs of midsize businesses gave their best shot. Uday Purohit, managing director of Neptunus, opined that Microsoft’s Completely Boss Challenge, targeted at the midmarket segment, is a great platform for SMBs to showcase their unique business models. “The competition opens up a whole new dimension for our business,” he said.

UNIQUE BUSINESS MODELS, ESPECIALLY THAT OF THE WINNERS, SHOWCASE IMMENSE POTENTIAL TO INNOVATE AND GROW USING TECHNOLOGY TO ACHIEVE COMPETITIVE STRENGTH Ramkumar Pichai, GM - Microsoft Office Division, Microsoft Corporation India, said that the experience of interacting with the midmarket CEOs has been very exciting and fulfilling. “This clearly shows that the Indian market has tremendous potential and it is further validated by the capability of the entrepreneurs who have come for The Completely Boss Challenge. Unique business models, especially that of the winners, showcase immense potential to innovate and grow using technology to achieve competitive strength and business growth. These companies have developed a systematic innovation capability which assures them of a series of successes that deliver business value,” he said. He also felt that programmes like The Completely Boss Challenge will enable SMBs to create, foster and grow innovative business models that have a positive impact on their communities and at the same time are crucial to India’s economic growth. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD


‘Rather than competing, the game will be to acquire new customers’ Launched in 2007, has been instrumental in enabling both the private operators and state transport undertakings. Sudhakar Reddy Chirra, founder and CEO, says his primary focus has been on providing technology solutions to the bus industry since the inception of the company. By Kahini Chakraborty

Sudhakar Reddy Chirra What is the market opportunity in the bus-booking segment in India? The long distance bus ticketing industry, including both state transport companies and private operators, is around `40,000 crore annually, of which private operators control nearly `15,000 crore annually. Of the `15,000 crore segment, the online long distance bus ticketbooking platform is around 10 per cent while the rest is controlled through cash sales or agents. With increasing

internet users and bandwidth infrastructure there is a huge potential for the bus-ticketing segment in India. We will continue to provide technology solutions to the operators and facilitate the online distribution platform as in the years to come it would be the major distribution channels. It is also in the interest of as we would be aggregating more inventory in the process. Our revenue models with them might change in the coming years. We have already moved on from an annual solution fee to an incremental percentage fee on their inventory distributed by us. What new offerings does the company plan to introduce? Innovation is the key to any business and new offerings for the consumers is a part of our strategy. Our mobile website is already live, and for the first time in the bus travel, we would be introducing insurance as an option for consumers while they are booking bus tickets. We would also be launching ‘Book a Meal’ as a value added service. Which destinations receive most bus bookings? Is there

any seasonality in bus travel in India? The bus market is predominantly in South and West. At this juncture more than 50 per cent of our bookings are from South India. Having said that, we are witnessing encouraging response on bookings from western India. Bookings are full during vacation and festive seasons. What is the ratio of online bookings vis a vis travel agents? We are in the process of reaching out to more consumers and also building an agent distribution network. Today consumer sales contribute to about 75 per cent and the remaining 25 per cent by agents. How has the company grown since the last financial year? has played the lead role for our growth story since mid 2012. We began garnering significant amount of users on our portal and our consumer business has been contributing significantly to the overall company’s growth. By mid 2012 we enabled most operators and in the process aggregated a sizable inventory of bus con-

tent across India. That is when we kick started our consumer campaign and there has been no looking back. As far as the services are concerned we have a pan India network with more than 1500 operators and 15000 routes aggregated. We are also the source API for other booking portals like Makemytrip, Goibibo, etc. And through our private operators we facilitate inventory to portals like redbus. What is the business expectation this year? We plan to aggregate more inventory and be aggressive on the distribution side too. We plan to position as the preferred choice of online booking for bus travel. On the revenues side in 2012-13, the company has clocked revenues of nearly `150 crore and is expecting to garner `350 crore in 2013-14 and around `700 crore in 2014-15. We are not competing for the existing market pie. More than competing with big players the game will be to acquire new customers and provide new experiences and platforms to connect.

Insight Vacations sees increase in luxury group tour bookings to India SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai


nsight Vacations operates premium and luxury tours (small groups) in Europe, USA/Canada, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. According to Sheryl Lim, regional director (Asia), Insight Vacations, since the introduction of premium and luxury itineraries, the operator has seen an increase of about 20 per cent in enquiries compared to the previous year asking for escorted tours to India. “Bookings has also increased about 10 per cent to date as compared to our inaugural



introduction in 2012 for our India programme,” she added. Insight Vacations' luxury escorted tours include stay in the accommodation like historic palaces, exotic resorts and leading luxury hotels like Rambagh Palace, Taj Lake Palace, Oberoi Vanyavilas, Oberoi Armarvilas, etc. “With the various negative reports regarding the safety of female travellers, it is imperative that more and more travellers will seek reliable and reputable travel companies, like Insight Vacations when visiting India,” said Lim, adding that, Insight Vacations

has an established reputation of 35 years as a reliable tour operator with yearly repeat travellers of 30 per cent on its tours worldwide. Lim also foresees immense potential in the outbound segment from India for luxury group tours. “We see a great opportunity in promoting our premium and luxury escorted tours. The mass affluent will aspire to travel in style and comfort when they have such an ability to do so. They travel in style and visit Europe in comfort. They will cruise the roads of Europe in our signature luxury coach, stay in

quality First Class, Superior First Class and Deluxe hotels. Guests visit attractions via VIP access cutting down time wasted on queuing. Also it is the visit to many unique and lesser visited places that make our tours highly sought after each year. The tour director acts like your personal concierge,” stated Lim. She believes that as Indian travellers are becoming more savvy, common destinations like London, Paris, Rome are no longer interesting for them. Consequently, Insight Vacations is promoting unusual experiences like 'Spanish

Sheryl Lim Gold' tour which includes spending a night in a restored 16th century palace in Toledo and a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Seville. August 2013


lessed with breathtaking vistas, endless mountain ranges, cultural mixes, long coastlines, etc, Maharashtra's natural diversity offers travellers numerous reasons to consider a weekend getaway to the various places. Durshet, about 100 km from Mumbai/Pune is an adventure getaway for trekking and nature trails. The forests of Durshet are a part of the Sahyadri mountain range. Some of the other attractions in the area are the hot springs in Uddhar, Pali, Ganapati Temple, Old Pali fort. Dabhosa which has its famous Dabhosa waterfalls, is 20 km on the Jawhar-Silvassa route. This place is well-known for rock climbing, trekking and nature walks. Apart from Lonavala-Khandala, Matheran and Mahableshwar, Malshej Ghat has also emerged as a sought after destination for a quick weekend getaway, 154 km approximately from south Mumbai. Pimpalgaon Joga Dam is another attraction here and Harishchandragad, a hill fort in Ahmednagar also has its history

crater in the world. The place was created nearly 50,000 years ago when two million-ton meteorite impacted the earth. Kamshet is another favourite weekend destination for paragliding.

It is located 100 km from Mumbai and 45 km from Pune. The other places of interest include Karla caves, Bedsa caves, Bhaja caves and Kondeshwar temple. Bhandardara also located in the Ahmednagar district about 185 km from Mumbai, provides numerous options for treks and hikes for adventure lovers. An interesting trek is the small trek to Ratangad fort. Another tourist attraction is the Wilson Dam on the Pravara River, which was built in 1910. The scenic Umbrella Falls also draws visitors, although it can be seen only during the monsoons. Other attractions there include Arthur Lake; Randha Falls; Ghatghar; Mount Kalsubai; Ratnagad. Alandi, 25 km from Pune is famous for a temple complex built near the spot of Sant Dnyaneshwar's samadhi. Apart from the perennially favourite beach destination-Goa, the other beach getaways worth visiting include Bordi-Dahanu, Shrivardhan, Harihareshwar and Ganapatipule from Mumbai.

The Pench National Park situated in Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh in India is one of the most popular national parks in India. The park can be reached from Nagpur in three hours. It was declared a national park by the Government of Maharashtra in 1975

and received the official status of 'Tiger Reserve of India' in February 1999. Best known for the famous Sikh shrine, Hazur Sahib also known as the Sachkhand Gurudwara, Nanded, a centrally located town in Maharashtra has been of importance as a holy city. It takes about five hours (334 km) to reach Nanded by road from Nagpur. Besides, the destination is also home to many ancient forts like Kandhar, Dharur and Kunthaligiri. Famous for its temples, Wardha in Maharashtra is only one hour from Nagpur. Presently serving as a prominent cotton trade centre, this place has its significance in the Gandhian era. The famous temples include the Gitai Mandir, the Laxmi Mandir, the Mahakali Mandir. The Vishwa Shanti Stupa, the Paramdham Ashram, Sevagram Ashram, and the Magan Sangrahalaya museum are the other attractions that make Wardha a hotspot.

Lonar Crater linked with that of Malshej Ghat. The ancient fort has had remnants of the microlithic man discovered there. About 600 km from Mumbai is Lonar town in Buldhana district where we can find the third largest


opularly known as the 'Orange city', Nagpur is the second largest city in Maharashtra. Starting off with the famous Chikhaldara, situated in the district of Amravati, the destination is best known for its wildlife sanctuary- The Gugamal National Park. Gugamal is famous as one of the last remaining habitats of the Indian tiger species in Maharashtra. The travel distance from Mumbai-Chikhaldara is 763 km and Nagpur –Chikhaldara is 230 km and Amravati-Chikhaldara is 100 km. The Melghat Tiger Reserve, of which the Gugamal National Park forms the core part, came to be designated as a sanctuary in 1975. The other places of interest also include vicinity like the Devi Point, the Prospect Point and the Hurricane Point. For history and art lovers, a trip to Narnala fort and the Gavilgad Fort is a must. Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh which is five hours away from Nagpur is also an excellent option for adventure lovers. The



Melghat Tiger Reserve park came into being in 1955 and forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve, created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The park's landmark achievement is the preservation of the rare hardground Swamp Deer (Barasingha), saving it from near extinction.

August 2013


estled in the heart of Gujarat, Ahmedabad acts as a perfect getaway destination for discerning travellers. Approximately 250 km from Bhuj, Dholavira is larger compared to Lothal, the two most remarkable exacavations of the Indus Valley Civilisation or Harappan culture, dating back to 4,500 years ago. Dholavira, known locally as Kotada (which means large fort), sprawls over 100 hectares of semi-arid land at the north-west corner of the island of Khadir, one of the islands in the Great Rann of Kutch that remain above the flood-plains in months when the rest of the desert is submerged by the monsoon. The excavation also tells the story of the seven stages of the civilisation, from development to maturity to decay. For the leisure seeking travellers, Saputara the only hill station in Gujarat is known for paragliding, trekking, tribal culture, etc. Saputara is 409 km from Ahmedabad. Nestled in the Sahyadri range, at an altitude of about 1,000 mtrs, the Dangi

Lothal enclave derives its name from the Snake god revered by the tribals and translates as ‘the abode of serpents’, Saputara. The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary which is

located 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh and 60 km to south west of Amreli, is home to the famous Asiatic lions. Anand is 101 km from the state capital, Gandhinagar and lies

between Vadodara and Ahmedabad. Famous because of the dairy cooperative movement of India under the brand name of AMUL (Anand Milk Union), Anand was the centre of the White Revolution. About 43 km north-east of Anand is the Ranchordorai Dokor Temple. One of the most revered pilgrimage centres of ancient India, Ambaji provides a perfect blend of natural beauty and spiritualism. Ambaji is situated at a distance of 50 km from Kadiyadra near the Gujarat and Rajasthan border, 45 km from Mount Abu and 65 km from Palanpur. Ambaji attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the world specially during Bhadarvi Poornima and also Diwali. An important architectural landmark of Mandvi is the Vijay Vilas Palace built by Rao Vijayrajji in 1929 and used as the summer house of the British High Commission of Bhuj. Mandvi, known for the production of its famous Bandhani is approximately 446 km from Ahmedabad.


opularly known as the 'pink city' Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan is home to noted forts, havelis and historic places which attract travellers from across the world in large numbers. Some of the popular attractions of the destination include Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Hawa Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Jal Mahal, etc. Adventure lovers can take excursions to places like Karauli and Ramthambore National Park. The popular destinations include Pushkar which is a sacred city of Hindus, and is only 10 km from Ajmer. This small city is home to over 400 temples and 52 ghats. Ajmer, located at a distance of 135 km from Jaipur has the Taragarh Fort, which is a noted hill fort in the city of Ajmer. Sariska is a popular tourist destination located at a distance of 110 km from Jaipur and is famous for the Sariska National Tiger Reserve. Sawai Madhopur is home to the famous Ranthambore National Park. August 2013

Pushkar The travel time between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur is approximately two hours. There are a few places around the city such as Trinetra

Ganesh Temple, Khandar Fort, Sri Mahaveerji Temple, Amareshwar Mahadeo Temple. The city was developed in the mid 18th century

by an emperor called Sawai Madhopur. Another destination on the banks of the Chambal river is Kota which has a rich history and heritage. The destination is home to some fantastic historical forts and grand palaces with Rajput architectural styles all with interesting legendary stories to tell. One of the great temples in the locality is Kansua temple enshrining Lord Shiva with a unique feature of four faces. Other attractions include Sar Bagh, Phool Sagar, Sukh Mahal, Taragarh Fort, Devta Shridharji Haveli etc. Known for its medical tourism, Bhilwara in the region of Mewar also has places of interest for travellers. Some of the main sites in the place are Mandakini Temple, Ramdwara Shahpura, Mandalgarh Menal waterfall and Pur Udan Chatri, is located some 10 km from the city of Bhilwara and is very popular. There is an old fort located around 70 km from the town called the Badnore Fort. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD



Fatehpur Sikhri

elhi, the capital city of India, offers a wide selection of explored and unexplored places outside its periphery. Housing one of the Seven Wonders of the World and located 253 km from Delhi, Agra, is an ideal weekend destination to witness intricate architecture of the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Firoz Khan Tomb and Fatehpur Sikri. Corbett National Park established in 1936 is a reserve haven for birds, animals and plants and an ideal weekend getaway for bird watchers, environmentalists, wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Located 300 km from the capital city, the park is also enriched with different species of trees, bamboos, shrubs and grass. A tiny hill station situated at a distance of 300 km from Delhi, Kasauli offers a

picturesque view of mountains, forests, foliage and Victorian mansions. This petite locale is also embedded with oaks, chestnuts, willows and firs lined along paved boulevards. Haridwar, located 215 km away from Delhi, has always been one of the most holy places in India for the Hindus. Adorned with temples, ghats and religious ceremonies, this holy city is also home to popular festivals like the Kumbh Mela, Somvati Amavasya and Ganga Dussehra. Bareilly, located at a distance of 156 km from the capital, houses many temples, parks and heritage sites. Its four main Shiva temples are namely Dopeswarnath, Madhinath, Trivatinath and Alaknath, while its two main museums are Panchala Museum and Army Service Corps

Museum. Landsdowne, approximately 245 km away from Delhi and standing at an altitude of 1,700 metres above sea level, has dense oak and pine forests ideal for trekking, bird watching and boating. The hill station also features other attractions like Bhulla Lake and St. Mary's Church, and provides a best spot to view the snow capped Himalayas. Shonghi, a secluded hill station, offers panoramic views of rhododendron, oak trees and valleys. Situated near Shimla and at an elevation of more than 5,700 feet, this place is also known as a temple town housing the Tara Devi Temple. Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary, located 356 km away from Delhi and situated at the edge of the Great Indian Desert, resembles the Savannah and exhibits many small streams and ponds.


he capital of Uttar Pradesh is a modern city that takes great pride in its historic legacy. While Lucknow with its many attractions can keep a visitor engaged for quite a few days, there are also options to explore other popular as well as lesser known destinations that are easily accessible from the city. The twin towns of Faizabad and Ayodhya are just about 6 km apart. A place closely associated with Lord Rama, Ayodhya is an important pilgrim destination. The city has many temples of historic significance like Hanuman Garhi, Ramkot, Kanak Bhawan and Treta ke Thakur. Faizabad that was once the capital of Awadh region before Lucknow became the seat of power, still has a few interesting edifices that throw



light on its Nawabi past. Dudhwa National Park is located on the Indo-Nepal border of Lakhimpur-Kheri district. Apart from its most famous denizen - the tiger, Dudhwa is also home to the swamp deer or the Barasingha, and many fascinating wildlife. Located in the Bundelkhand region Mahoba is a place associated with the Chandela kings who built the temples of Khajuraho. The temples here are consequently built in the same style as Khajuraho. There are many places of interest here for Buddhist and Jain pilgrims. It is a destination of granite landscapes and scenic lakes. About 123 km from Mohoba is Chitrakoot or 'the hill of many wonders', yet another place linked to the life of Lord Rama. This is where

Dudhwa National Park Ram and Sita had spent 14 years of their exile and has been considered a holy town since time immemorial. The capital of ancient Kosala kingdom, Sravasti is where Lord Buddha had spent many summers and gave important sermons.

Jetavana Monastery and Tusita Stupa are two significant landmarks here. The place is also sacred to the followers of Jainism. Excavations of the ancient sites in Maheth-Saheth makes this destination an interesting new area to

explore. Founded by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century Jaunpur has a fascinating legacy of later Tughlaq architecture. The city has many impressive mosques built during the medieval era. August 2013


Pinjore Gardens

handigarh is India's first planned city offering a plenitude of popular and lesser known tourist destinations beyond its geographical territory. The sacred town of Rishikesh, located at the convergiing point of rivers Ganges and Chandrabhaga, is around 124 km away from Chandigarh. Apart from being a getaway to religious centres like Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, it also offers nearby excursion destinations like Dehradun and Mussoorie. Chail, located at an elevation of 2150 metres and at a distance of approximately 105 km from Chandigarh, is a popular destination among tourists and honeymooners alike. The major attraction of this city lies in its orchards, snow-capped Shivalik peaks, Chail Wildlife Santuary, Sidh Babba Ka Mandir, Maharaja's

Palace and Cricket Ground among some. Popularly known as the Mushroom City of India, Solan, is located at an altitude of 1445 metres and is 68 km away from Chandigarh. This small city has been gaining popularity for its Mohan Meakin brewery and picturesque spots like the Yungdrung Tibetan Monastery. Bharatpur, a state located on the edges of the Thar Desert, has experienced countless battles between the Mughals and the British. Conveniently located for tourists to access it, this state displays a rich collection of forts and palaces depicting Mughal and Rajput architecture. Among the lesser known places in terms of popularity and distance is Pinjore Gardens, a 20 km road trip from Chandigarh. Also known as Yadavindra Gardens, this place is a venue

for hosting the Mango Festival and houses historical places, a small zoo, a Japaneese garden and many picnic spots. Rupnagar, a small town located in the state of Punjab has gained popularity because of its location at the site of the Indus Valley Civilisation and nearby the Bhakra Nangal Dam, harbours six main civilisations, archeological and religious sites. Karnal, a tourist spot located in the state of Haryana and at a distance of 124 km from Chandigarh, is known for its historical monuments like Kalandar Shah's tomb, Kos Minar, Karan Tal and Babar's Masjid. A less travelled and less explored spot at a distance of 297 km from Chandigarh is Mori with its unique mix of glimpses into the Himalayan belt, temples and architecture.


ith a mix of traditional splendour and modern opulence, Bhopal is a city that greets everyone with historical monuments and architecture within the city and outside its geographical limits. Ujjain, an ancient city in the Malwa region of central India, is renowned for being one of the seven sacred cities which are called Sapta Puri of the Hindus. The city is also famous for hosting the Kumbh Mela and is home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve shrines of Lord Shiva. Perched on a secluded hill and located at a distance of 46 km from Bhopal, Sanchi, offers a cluster of chaityas, stupas and monasteries. The stupas is a place of historical and religious importance as Buddhists gather here during Buddha August 2013

Purnima to celebrate the birth, enlightenment and parinirvana of Lord Buddha. 13 km from Sanchi is Udaigiri, famous for its Hindu and Jain cave sanctuaries. Built during the reign of Chandragupta II, these ancient caves along with the Gupta temple give a glimpse into the Gupta artwork and architecture. Pachmarhi, situated at an elevation of 1067 metres atop the Satpura Hills, is about 195 km away from Bhopal. The hill station offers a panoramic view of dense forests, jamun groves, deep ravines, waterfalls and canopies, and also houses cave shelters in the Mahadeo Hills that depict ancient rock paintings. Among the less explored places around the City of Lakes is Islamnagar. Located at a distance of 11 km from Bhopal, it is sur-

Mandu rounded by gardens and presents a rich mix of Hindu and Islamic artwork and architecture in the form of Chaman Mahal and Rani Mahal. Located around 18 km from Bhopal is Jhiri on the Kolar Dam road. A small village exhibiting the unique house structure of the Bheel tribes is a perfect picnic spot

for tourists and an ideal destination for adventure sport lovers. Raisin Fort, situated atop a hill and located 23 km from Bhopal, boasts of a few temples, palaces, numerous wells and a large water reservoir. The Raisin Fort also exhibits many domes and is known for the shrine of Hazrat Peer Fatehullah Shah Baba.

Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu was the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Exhibiting exquisite palaces like the Hindola and the Jahaz Mahals, pavilions and baths, Mandu is an ideal spot to explore the architecture of the Malwa dynasty. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD



olkata is a city of myriad attractions that range from its rich architectural legacy to a vibrant culture and exciting food trails. It is also the gateway city for exploring the many interesting destinations in Bengal. Following are a selection of weekend hotspots from the City of Joy. Known for its scenic beauty and cultural heritage, Shantiniketan has always been a popular destination for the many admirers of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Situated near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, this 'Abode of Peace' can be reached by rail or road. The wildlife of West Bengal can be experienced in Sundarbans, the world's largest estuary covered by mangrove forests and delta. Situated at the lower end of the the Gangetic West Bengal, it is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. When it comes to beaches, Mandarmoni has always been the ideal place for relaxation. Located on the Kolkata-Digha route, this seaside

hamlet can be reached by train from Contai station around 26 km away. This beachfront also offers the longest 13 km drivable track in India. Bishnupur, famous for its terracotta temples and baluchari saris, is located 150 km away from Kolkata. Intricately carved to convey mythological scenes, this place is best explored by a cycle rickshaw and during the cooler months. Bakkhali is located 125 km from Kolkata from where one can take a motorised boat to Jambu Dwip and visit the Watch Tower to view the entire Sundarban forest and the crocodile park. Maithan, located at the meeting point of river Damodar and Barakor, has small hills, forests and an immense water body covering an area of 66 km. Easily reachable by road and rail, this destination can be visited during the monsoons and winters. Another undiscovered destination, Gadiara is located at the confluence of Damodar, Rupnarayan and Hoogli. The beauty of this place is best experienced by visiting Fort Mornington,

Bishnupur built by Lord Clive and a small lighthouse. Kamarpukur, situated on the banks of the river Damodar, is a destination of historical richness.

The birthplace of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, this place houses a temple dedicated to the saint, a library, dispensary and a school.





xhibiting a rich and invaluable cultural heritage, Bhubaneswar is a fast growing pilgrim destination that has been attracting tourists from all over the world and nearby states alike. These are some of the most popular as well as unexplored destinations from the City of Temples. Dhauli, a beautiful hill surrounded by paddy fields, has many remnants from the times of Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty. In these hills, once can witness the rock edicts of Ashoka at the foot and the forepart of an elephant carved skilfully from a rock. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves, situated 6 km away from Bhubaneswar, are one of the earliest Jain dwelling retreats carved from rocks. Known for its significant

position in the fields of history, architecture and religion, these caves have been intricately designed with animal, flora and human carvings. Another popular destination that stands out for its historical relevance is Hirapur. Located 15 km southeast of Bhubaneswar, the place exhibits the famous Chausath Yogini Temple and a range of other Buddhist and Hindu heritage sites. Carved out of a forest, Nandankanan, which is 20 km away from the city, is a famous zoo and botanical garden breeding endangered species, white tigers and safaris. Pipli, a small village 15 km south of Bhubaneswar hones the applique craft, used for providing intricately designed awnings and covers to

deities on festivals. Situated amidst greenery and famous for its water spring, Atri is a holy place located 42 km away from Bhubaneswar. The water spring popularly known for curing skin diseases also offers a refreshing bathing experience to travellers. Just two km from the famous Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar, lies Sisupalgarh, a forgotten ruined fortification. Dating back to the third or fourth century BC, Sisupalgarh is witness to the ancient civilisation of Orissa. Chandipur, known as the vanishing sea, is a unique beachfront where the sea recedes as much as five km everyday. Located at around 200 km from Bhubaneswar, this phenomenon allows one to literally walk into the sea. August 2013


ocated on the banks of Brahmaputra river, Guwahati is a fast developing city connected to many interesting getaway locations. Not surprisingly, Kaziranga National Park tops the list. It is the best destination for exploring wildlife along with several other hotspots like Gohpur, Kakochang waterfalls and Deoparbat ruins. Located 225 km from Guwahati, the park can be reached on road and is best explored during the winter months. Known as a cultural and educational hub, Tezpur, a city located on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra is a multi-faceted tourist spot. Geographically blessed with plains, mountains and a river, this small tourist spot has a lot to offer - from Agnigarh, a famous attraction of the city to the impressive 3015 metre Kolia Bhomora Bridge connecting Sonitpur district to

Nagaon district. Silchar, a picturesque town located in the Cachar district of Assam, houses the impressive Barak river. Tucked 70 km away from the city centre, the Kancha Kaanti Devi Temple is another prime tourist destination for travellers to this region. With adequate road and rail connectivity, the city can be visited throughout the year. Another interesting city is Haflong, nicknamed as the 'Switzerland of the East'. Located close to Barak Valley and set amidst mountains, streams and greenery, this destination attracts tourists during the cool summer months and can be reached by road. Tawang is yet another destination to explore from Guwahati. This small town has one of the largest monasteries in the world, the Tawang Monastery. Located

Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh travel to Tawang requires a special Inner Area permit from Kolkata or Guwahati. Breathtaking views of lush green valleys and forest covered mountain peaks are the highlights of the destination. Similarly, another less explored tourist spot is the suburban town of Pandu, located 7 km away from

Guwahati and named after King Pandu, father of the famous Pandava Brothers. The town boasts of the Tila Hills which is dedicated to Pandu and has five Ganesha idols representing the five Pandava brothers. The sleepy town of Karimganj, located approximately 458 km away from Guwahati, is surrounded by

dense forests that are perfect for bird watching, spotting wild animals and camping. Bongaigaon, an industrial centre famous for it petrochemical products has a lot to offer on the travel front. Despite the industrial nature of the place, it offers interesting sites like Bageshwari Hills, Bageshwari Temple and Kayakujiya Bill.



atna, one of the world's oldest capital cities, has been known for its rich fertile land and cultural history spanning well over two millennium. Apart from its rich heritage, Patna is also a gateway for many popular and unexplored destinations. Located 88 km south east of Patna, is the famous Nalanda university considered to be the religious centre of learning from fifth century AD to 1197 AD. This ancient university, constructed with red bricks and occupying an area of 14 hectares, has attracted students from all over the world and is currently one of the most visited tourist spots. A destination closer to Nalanda is Rajgir, a small hilly town covered with green forest and a sacred spot for Buddhism. Apart from being

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a place of worship, Rajgir has also developed as a health resort because of its warm ponds containing medicinal properties. Vaishali, a popular tourist destination, has been attracting a vast population of Buddhist and Jain monks over the years as Buddha is supposed to have preached his last sermon here. The city has many lotus ponds and parks, apart from monasteries and stupas. The city of Bodhgaya, about 113 km from Patna, is situated on the shores of the shallow Lilanjan river and houses many shrines dedicated to Buddha. Pawapuri, a place located in the Nalanda district of Bihar, exhibits rich cultural heritage and exquisite architecture through temples like Jalmandir, Marble Temple and Samosharan.

Located outside Patna and in the middle of the Ganges plateau is Sitamarhi. Known as the birthplace of Goddess Sita, this little hamlet offers a rare combination of fashionable structures, sacred shrines and natural beauty. One of the chief trading centres in Bihar, Muzaffarpur is named after Muzaffar Khan who founded it in the 18th century. Once a part of the Lichhavi kingdom, Muzaffarpur shares its border with Vaishali. Telhara, an upcoming tourism spot offers scenic beauty in and around its geographical boundary. The Namala Fort and the Akola Cricket Club ground are interesting manmade structures in the city, while Achalpur and Raver 45 km and 54 km away, offer interesting visual sights. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD



ochi is endowed with breathtaking beauty that rightfully makes it 'God's Own Country' and an ideal getaway to many destinations. Fort Kochi, situated at a distance of 13 km from Ernakulam, is famous for its beaches, Chinese nets, sailing ships and Victorian architecture. Beautifully lined with old Victorian styled bungalows, this small village bears evidence of the first European settlement in Kochi. The Jewish Synagogue also known as Paradesi Synagogue, was built around 1568 and is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. This synagogue is famous for its Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers and giant scrolls of the Old Testament. Located in the old part of Jew Town, this synagogue is 3.5 km away

from Kochi and is closer to the Dutch Palace. The Dutch Palace, also called Mattenchery Palace, is 3.7 km away from Kochi and was built by the Portuguese in 1555 A.D and presented to the Raja of Kochi. The palace houses a large collection of murals, exhibits, portraits of the Rajas of Kochi and has the Bhagavath temple and the Nalukettu located in the central courtyard. The Willingdon Island, a manmade island created in 1933 and harbouring the Kochi airport, seaport and the railway terminus is now home to the Cochin Port Trust and the Southern Naval Command headquarters. Lined with beautiful walkways with a jetty close by, this island is 6.4 km away from Kochi. Located 25 km away from Kochi, the Cherai

Wayanad Beach is located on the Vypin island. The beach offers 15 km stretch of white sand lined with green coconut groves and paddy fields, making it an ideal spot for picnickers and beach lovers. Thenmala, the first planned eco-tourism centre in India, is 171.5 km away from Kochi and is located at

an elevation of 1,640 feet above sea level. Thenmala is abound with beehives and honey and is popular for its Musical Fountain, amphitheatre, Lotus Pond, eco-park and Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary. Valparai, the rainiest place in Tamil Nadu, is 147.7 km away from Kochi. The forests of Valparai serve

as a home to the rarest of flora and fauna and offer attractive tourist spots like the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Balaji Temple and innumerable dams. Pollachi 172.8 km from Kochi, is abundant in rice fields. Pollachi also houses the biggest jaggery market in Asia.


hennai offers a gamut of interesting tourism destinations. One such destination located 55 km away from Chennai is Mahabalipuram. Established as a sea port during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty, the city is adorned with rock-cut caves and temples. The city also boasts of white sandy beaches, casuarina trees and local handmade crafts among others. The Alamparai Fort located 50 km from Mahabalipuram, is another tourist destination overlooking the sea. Constructed in late 17th century of the Mughal era, this fort offers a scenic view of the backwaters and the sand and also offers a boating experience around the fort. Located on the western bank of the Palar river and 71.6 km away from Chennai,



Kanchipuram is a place brimming with temples attracting pilgrims from different parts of the country. Considered to be one of the Seven Sacred Cities of India, this 'golden city of a thousand temples, as it is popularly known, offers other tourist places like Muttukadu Lake and the Crocodile Bank. Puducherry, located 161 km from Chennai, is reminiscent of the French colonial rule and culture. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where the saint Aurobindo and the Mother spent their time uplifting the society, is a major tourist attraction. Located approximately 70 km from Chennai and along the Coromandel Coast, Sadras is a fort town where one of the first naval battles was fought. This town was a Dutch colony and is famous for the Sadras fort which

Kanchipuram served as the commercial trade centre. Thiruthani, a holy village situated 98 km from Chennai, is one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga. This small village is famous for the Subramanya Swami

Temple perched atop a hill that can be reached through 365 steps, representing each day in a year. Yelagiri, 227 km away from Chennai, is a small hill station highly populated with tribals engaged in agriculture, horticulture

and forestry. Yelagiri with its huge plains is an ideal trekking destination. Chidambaram, a temple town located 249 km from Chennai is a famous religious destination for Shiva devotees. August 2013


yderabad, endearingly called as the Pearl City and a historical destination in itself, offers the traveller a tryst with the past through a rich and varied mixture of cultural and historical monuments outside its geographical boundary. Placed on the banks of the rivers Krishna and Budameru in the south and north, and the Bay of Bengal and the Indrakeeladri mountain in the east and west, Vijayawada, is a place of scenic beauty. Being credited for being the largest railway junction in South India, Vijayawada also has plenty of tourist attractions like Prakasam Barrage, Undavalli Caves and Gandhi Stupa. Mantralayam is a famous religious location among the devotees of Vishnu for housing the Samadhi of the famous saint Raghavendra Teertha. Located at a distance

of 242 km from Hyderabad, this calm and tiny hamlet is located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra and houses the famous Raghavendra Swamy Temple and the Mutt Complex. Kurnool, located 215 km from Hyderabad, is a small town adorned with ancient temples, palaces and monuments. The city hosts the ruins of a medieval fort that depicts Persian and Arabic inscriptions of the Vijayanagar Empire. Other attractions of this place include, the Kondareddy Buruz, the tomb of Abdul Wahab and the new Shirdi Sai Baba temple. A renowned hill town situated on the banks of the river Krishna and 211 km from Hyderabad, is Srisailam. Known for its ancient temples, wildlife sanctuary and a dam, Srisailam offers a panoramic view of the surrounding from

Kurnool its hills that also houses the famed Sikhareswara Swamy temple. Guntur, located 226 km from Hyderabad is a well developed city with many monuments like Amaravati, Sitanagaram and Bhattiprolu. This city also houses many caves like the Guthikonda and Stinagaram caves that have their reference in the Vedic Puranas.

Located approximately 48 km from Hyderabad is a small, rustic town called Bhongir famous for its fort constructed during the Kakatiya Empire. Located atop a monolithic rock structure, the fort has a height of around 500 feet and is abound in many trap doors, ponds, stables and wells.

The town of Sangareddy, located 66 km from Hyderabad, is famous for the Ramalingeswara temple constructed in the shape of a star. Mahbubnagar, a large town located 100 km from Hyderabad is known for its diamond mines and the famed Kohinoor diamond is believed to have originated here.

The district of Kolar, situated 66 km from Bengaluru, is famous for its gold mines and holy monuments. The famed Kolar gold mine is one of the few gold mining sites in India, while its two major temples, the Kolaramma and Someswara temples, still retain the inscription dating back to the 15th century.

Shivaganga Hills is a popular tourist destination 8 km from Tumkur and 54 km from Bengaluru. The Shivaganga hills is a conical structure with each view offering something unique like the look of Ganesha from the west, Nandi from the east, Linga from the south and a hooded cobra from the north.


engaluru has a lot of surrounding scenic and historical sites to offer to the avid traveller. Mysore, 142 km from Bengaluru, is famed for its Dussehra celebration during which processions of elephants, camels and horses are taken out to celebrate the 10 day festival. Mysore is also renowned for its Mysore Palace which is illuminated with sparkling lights in the evening. Shravanabelagola, a famed religious site 144 km from Bengaluru, is an important Jain pilgrim visited by tourists on a tour to Mysore. Shravanabelagola also offers natural attractions like Chandragir and Indragiri hills, and religious sites such as Lord Bahubali's monolith, the biggest monolith sculpture in Asia. Kabini, located 208 km August 2013

from Bengaluru, was a private hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore and the British Viceroy before being transformed into a wildlife sanctuary. Kabini has a rich variety of flora and fauna that can be witnessed in the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary. Nandi Hills, a cluster of small hillocks located 58 km from Bengaluru, is home to exotic plants and aboriginal species. Once the summer resort of Tipu Sultan, this tourist spot has been named Nandi because of the statue of a bull by the same name guarding Yoganandeeshwara temple. Famous for its forts and buildings, Chitradurga is 203 km from Bengaluru. Once ruled by many dynasties, the Chitradurga Fort experienced different contribution towards its construc-

Shravanabelagola tion from rulers like Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and Palegar Nayakas among some. Located 100 km from Bengaluru, Bheemeshwari is a fast developing tourist destination situated amidst Gaganachukki, Barachukki and Mekedatu Falls. Bheemeshwari is also a popular fishing, trekking and river rafting destination.





Blue is beautiful It seems paradoxical that the forests which produce huge amounts of fuel and cause the most fires, consist of a fire-sensitive species which need to be burned down for them to regenerate. The indigenous blue gum or eucalypt tree is only one of the many natural wonders of Australia's Blue Mountain World Heritage Area which lies just two hours away from Sydney. By Steena Joy 28



ust 60 km west of Sydney in New South Wales, it takes less than two hours to reach the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains, a unique amalgam of culture, heritage and forest diversity. Nestled among the mountains are picturesque villages with equally charming names like Katoomba, Leura, Blackheath, Wolgan Valley, Lithgow and Oberon amongst a few. A large part of the Blue Mountains is incorporated into the Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Site, consisting of seven national park areas and a conservation reserve. From a distance the eucalypt forests that cover the Blue Mountains take on an intense blue haze that gives the region its name. The blue haze is due to an optical phenomenon called 'Rayleigh Scattering'. Volatile terpenoids emitted in large quantities by the abundant eucalypt trees may cause this scattering and thus the blue haze for which the mountains were named.

A legacy of regeneration Eucalypt trees or blue gum as it is popularly known as belongs to a species that need to be burned down for it to regenerate. This amazing physiology makes the forests self sustainable and a legacy for future generations of the indigenous aboriginal tribes like the Gundungurra and the Daruk.When Europeans arrived in Australia, the Blue Mountains had already been inhabited for several millennia by the Gundungurra people and, in the lower Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon Tourism Festival of Walking is held in October, and includes bushwalks and treks, ambles through the countryside, family events, history tours and cheese and wine sampling. Oktoberfest at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba is another popular event, serving up German music, German food, German beer, and a whole lot of fun. Or if you fancy something a bit more tranquil, visit the famous Leura Garden Festival, held annually in October since 1964.

by the Daruk people. The Blue Mountains National Park boasts more than 140 km of trails and walking tracks (many of which were created for Victorian-era honeymooners and day-trippers) and there are great camping spots like Euroka or Blue Gum Forest. The park includes the Grose Wilderness, dedicated for its wild unspoilt natural beauty. The Blue Mountains National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000. In this World Heritage Area, you can see natural attractions like the Three Sisters - a trio of rocky pinnacles named after an aboriginal legend. These three weathered sandstone peaks, formed thousands of years ago through erosion, are set among the cliffs of the Jamison Valley and can be best viewed from Echo

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Point in Katoomba. For the adventure seekers, a trip to Scenic World to journey on the world's steepest incline railway is a must. Crossing the valley in the glass-floored Skyway suspended 270 metres in the air, descending into the ancient Jamison Valley by Cableway and exploring the rainforest along a 2.4 km walkway (the longest boardwalk in the Southern Hemisphere) are added attractions for that adrenaline rush. The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah features thousands of plants from the southern hemisphere and around the world. An exciting way of exploring the Blue Mountains is by segway (those two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicles). Segway Blue Mountains offers guided tours

A TRIP TO SCENIC WORLD TO JOURNEY ON THE WORLD'S STEEPEST INCLINE RAILWAY AND CROSS THE VALLEY IN THE GLASS-FLOORED SKYWAY SUSPENDED 270 METRES IN THE AIR, IS A MUST around the beautiful grounds of The Fairmont Resort on segways that will take you through the forest, test your new skills on varied terrain and end the tour with glimpses of the Jamison Valley. A stopover at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre also offers panoramic views of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area. Built on the highest point in Katoomba, the cultural centre includes a 600 square metre Art Gallery.

Gourmet stops Blue Mountains offers a variety of accommodation options. Lilianfels Resort & Spa, a five-star property was the historic homestead and original summer residence of Sir Frederick Darley, the sixth Chief Justice of NSW. Its 85 rooms and suites are

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uniquely themed and adorned with handcrafted wallpaper to reflect its Victorian origins.Within the grounds of this historic hotel is Darley's Restaurant. This multi-award winning restaurant serves the best seasonal produce from the region, served in an elegant setting that reflects the romance of a bygone era. Another dining option is Echoes' Restaurant perched at the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park, with uniterrupted views of mountains, cliff edges and rainforest valleys. For handcrafted fine chocolates, visit Josophan's Fine Chocolates. Fresh ingredients like mint leaves, basil leaves, vanilla bean, lime and chilli are infused into fresh cream, mixed with couverture chocolate.





Plugging in to smart travel PG 31


Sanjay Reddy, managing director, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) talks about the important milestones achieved in the last five years, the many accolades received and how the expansion of T1 will enhance operational performance. By Sudipta Dev

INTERVIEW What, according to you, have been the notable achievements in the last five years of operations?



At Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), the focus has been to establish this airport as India’s leading airport in terms of quality and efficiency and set a benchmark for the future commercial development of Indian airports. Our prime focus has always been to enhance passenger experience at the airport in every possible way. We as an airport have been constantly innovating and upgrading our services and processes. Departure punctuality touches 85 per cent through most months, within 15 minutes of scheduled time. Baggage delivery remains constant with the first baggage being dropped on the belt within seven minutes of the flight touching down. By international standards, this is a good record. One IT concept in particular, the common-use model,

‘Our prime focus has always been to enhance passenger experience’ implemented by BIAL is highly cost effective for both airlines and concessionaires as it saves them the effort of managing the underlying infrastructure. Additionally, our streamlined processes ensure faster turnaround making the operations as well as travel through the Bengaluru International Airport more efficient and economical for passengers. As a result of this,


the airport has received many accolades. The most recent ones being ‘Best Airport, India’ award by SKYTRAX and ‘Best Emerging Airport – Indian Sub-continent’ at the Emerging Markets Airports Awards (EMAA). Other milestones include, creating a differentiating edge through its unique initiatives to promote tourism and showcase the region, successfully working towards expansion of infrastructure to ensure adequate capacity and working towards a green canvas that extends to both the business as well as beautiful airport landscapes. What are the key features of terminal 1 expansion? Designed to enhance operational performance and cater to the increase in passenger traffic anticipated by 2015, the construction of the expanded terminal is in full swing. The enhanced T1 will be spread over an area of approximately 150,500 square meters. As part of the expansion plan, the terminal build-

ing design takes into account existing core strengths i.e. short walkways, ease and convenience of usage, linear flow and flexible design. The terminal when expanded, will more than double the current floor space. With the expansion of the existing terminal, Bengaluru International Airport is now revamping its commercial blueprint to encourage every traveller to take back a memory or memento of South India, where it is strategically located. Bengaluru International Airport is in an enviable position to enrich their airport experience with the culture and ethos of the four southern states. Complementing this approach, the southern flavour will prevail across retail and F&B concepts, including a variety of unique cultural artifacts such as silk products, handicrafts, Ayurveda, coffee and spices, sandalwood, and cuisine from the four states. Travellers can look forward to enjoying the enhanced T1 in stages from

August 2013


the fourth quarter of 2013. How will the new additions enhance customer experience? As an airport, Bengaluru International Airport is focused on customer experience – of both the airline as well as the passengers through a range of business excellence programmes. The expanded terminal is aimed at significantly improving the passenger experience. It will have more check-in counters, seating areas, a large security hold area and more aerobridges. It will make access to seating, amenities and commercial facilities easier and better. Additionally, it will help airlines improve their operational performance. The interiors and exteriors are being designed to mirror the rich culture of Karnataka and the vibrant colours of the Garden City.

Which have been your most innovative technology implementations - both backend and customer serving? We have leveraged the use of technology to optimise our operation and provide world-class service to our passengers. Being a greenfield airport we leveraged the opportunity to deploy state-of-the art industry leading solution skipping the legacy route. The airport is constantly upgrading, always meeting and often exceeding world standards. As ICT (information, communication and technology) are critical for the operational management of airlines, we have implemented various solutions to measure and provide valuable insights into the key airport performance indicators, efficiency of airport processes and services and take informed decisions. Additionally, BIAL has been the first airport to

embrace TETRA standards for Private Mobile Radio Networks for captive use of all stakeholders for safe and effective airport operations and also an effective tool for emergencies. BIAL recently collaborated with IBM to create a SMART IT framework to enhance passenger experiences like mobile check-in and self-boarding, self-bag drop to address change life style and expectations of today’s traveler leveraging today’s technology. What have been the notable impact of your environmental initiatives? BIAL has transitioned to an ecologically sustainable airport through its continuous efforts. As part of our green initiatives and policy we have identified some key areas that we would like to focus on. Our aim is to reduce water consumption per passenger by 2 per cent per year from the

current level and reduce power consumption pertaining to all utility equipment operation by 2 per cent per passenger per annum from the current level. As part of the on-going green initiatives the ground operations were converted to biofuel earlier this year. BIAL has set its objectives in various areas to reduce carbon emission. This airport has also been certified with a Level 2 carbon accreditation – the first for any airport in Asia-Pacific. The airport is now a plastic-free zone, by switching to eco-friendly bags made of cloth and papers at all its retail and F&B outlets. BIAL’s green canvas in the future includes integration of sustainable practices across business verticals and includes infrastructure, terminal operations, information technology, corporate functions and project management.

Plugging in to smart travel Multi-screen traveller report from Google India says that mobile apps are preferred over browser for booking and sharing

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ith the growing adoption of smartphones in India, Google India recently released a study conducted by IPSOS titled ‘Multiscreen traveller’. The study was conducted to understand the behaviour of smartphone users in India and its impact on the travel vertical - focusing on a target group which uses multiple devices to go online for their travel related needs. The study revealed that – 76 per cent users use both computer and mobile across the travel stages (dreaming, researching, booking, experience, sharing) while 60 per cent users move from one device to another when they switch from researching to booking. Out of the 1500+ leisure travellers surveyed – 87 per cent users said that they have used mobile phones to research about their trips and 66 per cent respondents also booked a trip element on it. 60 per cent said that the information they find while researching on their mobile phones influences their booking decision. In terms of triggers for holiday planning, online sources were rated higher than offline mediums with Internet getting five touch points in comparison to offline which offered two touch points. The biggest triggers for holiday destinations/planning were online pictures - where 88 per cent users said that online pictures

trigger their holiday planning. Browsing pictures on social networks, blogs, travel sites get users to start thinking of their next vacation destination. In the planning and research phase, the target group did not differentiate between their choice of Internet access device - user’s rated using desktop, mobile a n d

tablets at over 85 per cent - clearly highlighting the multi-screen behaviour of the users for holiday or trip planning. Smartphones and tablets were also the first go to devices for travel researchers even at home. Convenience was rated as the biggest motivator for use of mobile. Speaking about the study findings, Vikas Agnihotri, director - travel & BFSI, Google India, says, “We already know that smartphone users on an average spend 76 minutes on

STUDY METHODOLOGY IPSOS spoke to 1500+ leisure travellers, 20 - 45 year olds, SEC A, B1 across eight metros in India. The interviews were conducted face to face with an average duration of 45 minutes each. All the respondents had internet capable phones, had travelled by air at least once in the last 12 months and had researched/booked a trip element, like flight, hotel, rail etc online. 80 per cent of these respondents had smartphones, and 25 per cent had taken international trips, and 35 per cent had done business trips.

the intern e t through their mobile. The smartphone user base is set to explode in India to touch 70 million by end of this year. Over 1/3rd of travel related search queries on Google India are now coming from mobile and tablet devices, with queries from smartphones growing at 397 per cent YoY. This study establishes that today’s hyper-connected, hyper-informed smartphone user is consuming online content across devices. This impacts the complexity in engaging users from a marketer’s standpoint. With travel being the most evolved and mature vertical, we believe that the findings from this study will help them to devise strategies to engage the users across multiple online

screens/devices.” The study also looked at the booking behaviour of smartphone and tablet users, wherein 66 per cent respondents said that they’ve booked using a mobile phone and 69 per cent on a tablet. While the absolute numbers of transactions is low in the real world, the report does indicate the growing trend of bookings being completed on mobile devices from mature users. From the respondents – 36 per cent users said that they booked a flight on a mobile, while 25 per cent have booked a hotel room and 13 per cent have submitted a holiday lead from their mobile device. The study also revealed significant cross-device attribution. Out of 87 per cent who researched on their mobile phones, 76 per cent booked on mobile and 80 per cent booked on a computer as well. Concerns around security were cited as the biggest barrier for booking on mobile.






‘Our focus is on making KITTS an institution of international excellence’

Dr Rajashree Ajith

Housed in a palace on a five acre lush-green campus at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Institute of Tourism & Travel Studies (KITTS) has completed 25 years of tourism education. Dr Rajashree Ajith, director, KITTS speaks about the institute's Responsible Tourism initiatives and how the private-public partnership with the state government helps in synergising training and skill development. By Steena Joy

What are the professional courses offered by KITTS? The Kerala Institute of Tourism & Travel Studies was established in the year 1988, as an autonomous institute, under Government of Kerala. The institute imparts quality education and training in the field of tourism, travel and hospitality and is a non profit oriented organisation, registered under Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Act 1955. This ISO 9001 certified institute is actively involved in conducting academic courses, training programmes, and research and consultancy. Under the leadership of its chairman, the minister for tourism, Government of Kerala and vice chairman, principal secretary –tourism , Government of Kerala. Headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram, the institute's hospitality division is at Malayattoor, Kochi. Realising the immense employment potential of the industry, KITTS has opened up study centres at Thalaserry and Kannur. In 2008 the institute launched MBA in Travel & Tourism affiliated to University of Kerala and applied for AICTE. KITTS is also an accredited Distance Learning Centre of IATA and is included in the knowledge network and depository library of UNWTO. Being the nodal agency for implementing Responsible Tourism in the state, Skill Development in Tourism and Hospitality Management and Hunar Se Rozgar Tak programme of Government of India, the institute provides maximum field experience and practical insight to the students. The Academic Committee under the chairmanship of the principal secretary, tourism, Government of Kerala has eminent academicians and industry representatives as its members to supervise the academic programmes. KITTS is in the process of starting a new MBA programme in Tourism and Creative Management and a BBA programme in Tourism Management. KITTS is also into tourism consultancy? The Research and Consultancy wing of KITTS has been engaged in conducting various research studies and training



programmes for different stakeholders of this service industry with the aim of promoting sustainable tourism practices in the state. This wing consists of a diverse pool of experts including in–house faculty members as well as consultants. KITTS is currently empanelled as consultants in the tourism sector as well as training and skill development by the State Planning Board, Government of Kerala. What are your initiatives in Responsible Tourism (RT) especially as Kumarakom has won the National Award for rural tourism? KITTS is currently the nodal agency for implementing RT initiative in the state. RT is now operational in major destinations in the state like Kovalam, Kumarakom, Thekkady, Kumbalanghi, Vythiri, Ambalavayal and Bekal. Our initiatives in RT include: ● Streamlining economic activities in RT destinations like local procurement by tourism industry, skill development programme for local community members to equip them to supply products locally as well as to provide employment. ● Developing Village Life Experience package in all destinations (already operational at Kovalam, Kumarakom and Wayanad). ● Operationalised RT Classification Scheme for accommodation units. Classification has been done for all properties at Kumarakom. Now in the process of spreading out to whole of the state.


India's first RT International Conference,'Looking Back. Moving Ahead' was organised in June this year at Kumarakom to take stock of the RT initiatives in Kerala as well as to understand the global perspectives in RT. ● Centre for Responsible Tourism Studies – We are planning to start Masters and Certificate courses in RT full time and in distance education mode. Discussions are in progress for collaboration with international universities. Management Development Programmes will be conducted for international and national participants (officials from other state departments and practitioners of RT). Looking at the poverty alleviation aspects and sustainability elements, KITTS would also offer consultancy services in RT. Do you get major industry players visiting the campus for recruitment? Our students have been absorbed in various sectors of the industry and have made the institute proud of work in many fields. We have consistently received an overwhelming response from organisations which have absorbed our alumni. The major players who visit the campus for recruitment include Air India, Amadeus, Akbar Travels of India, Carlson Wagonlit Travels, CIAL, Club Mahindra Holidays, Cox & Kings, Kerala Tourism, Emirates, Etihad Airways, etc. How do you see KITTS in another 25 years down the lane? For the past 25 years, the institute has dedicated itself in catering to the human resource requirements of the tourism industry by conducting industry demand driven courses, organising training, and extending research and consultancy services to the stakeholders in the tourism sector. Besides developing human resources, the institute is actively involved in extension activities that will support policy makers to accomplish their socio-economic and environmental objectives on the development front. For strengthening and promoting sustainable development of tourism, KITTS was instrumental in developing and executing a successful model for Responsible Tourism in Kerala which is acclaimed

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globally. Under this banner, we provide a platform for practitioners, policy makers, academicians, NGOs, civil society to come and share their experiences on sustainable tourism periodically. The information generated and experiences shared are disseminated widely to benefit the global tourism sector. We also promote skill and capacity building programmes as part of pro poor tourism with the declared objective of proving quality service delivery to tourists. Our future plans mainly focus upon developing the institute as an institution of international excellence. The programmes are focussed upon keeping up to international standards. We have plans for student and faculty exchange programmes, interactive classrooms and industry exposure for students at the international level. We aim at high quality academic dissemination, so that the institute becomes a model at the international level. The institute has a private public partnership with Kerala Tourism. How does this help in

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synergising education with practical training? The association with Kerala Tourism helps students in getting exposure in training and sharpening their organising skills by being part of tourism events conducted by the department. The institute also plays a major role in conducting research studies on behalf of the department of tourism and participates in policy development in tourism. The private sector participation helps in organising training programmes, refresher programmes, and


industry-institute partnership in orienting manpower for delivering quality service etc. Skilled manpower is still a challenge for the industry. Do you have any skill development programmes? Considering the demand for skilled personnel in tourism, KITTS has launched a Free Skill Development Programme for the poor and marginalised segment with the financial support from the state government. Educated unemployed youth in the state between the age group of 20 to 30 were identified and enabled to join this scheme. These courses are being implemented in association with LSG’s, Kerala State Youth Welfare Board and Kudumbasree. On satisfactory completion of the programme, the participants are given placement support also. The courses are conducted in following subjects: Front office management, tour consultant,travel consultant, naturalist, natural guide and souvenir making. To commemorate its silver

jubilee year, KITTS has announced student and faculty exchange programmes. Which foreign universities have you tied up with for this purpose? The formalities of a Student Exchange Programme with foreign universities are being completed. We are expected to receive a bunch of 30 students from the University of Konstanz, Germany by the end of this year. How can the government support institutes such as KITTS to develop industry specific and futuristic courses? KITTS has the flexibility to design and conduct courses that will meet the needs and requirements of the tourism industry. Normally we make a demand assessment of HR requirements from the industry and design the curriculum in consultation with the industry. The draft curriculum thus prepared is then vetted by the Academic Advisory Council of KITTS headed by secretary for tourism, Government of Kerala.



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AirAsia India

AirAsia has announced the appointment of Amisha Sethi as the chief commercial officer for AirAsia India. She brings with her over a decade of consumer and brand marketing experience. In her previous roles she has spearheaded brand marketing in the Asia Pacific region for BlackBerry and has also worked for Airtel in marketing and communications department.

DFW International Airport Board

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport board of directors approved the designation of Sean Donohue as the next chief executive officer of the airport. Donohue currently serves as chief operating officer of Virgin Australia, headquartered in Brisbane. The appointment is subject to execution of a definitive employment contract. Donohue will succeed Jeffrey P. Fegan, who announced his retirement in January this year after 29 years of service, the last 19 as CEO.



PhoCusWright has announced the appointment of Tony D'Astolfo as the company's managing director. As managing director, he will build on the strength of PhoCusWright's premier research and events to foster growth and expand the company's global reach. D'Astolfo recently served as chief sales officer for GroundLink. Prior to that, he was instrumental in fueling substantial growth as senior vice president, travel services at Rearden Commerce.

Fiji Airways

TripAdvisor TripAdvisor has appointed Desiree Fish as vice president, global communications. Fish will be responsible for leading TripAdvisor’s communications efforts in markets worldwide and will report to the chief marketing officer, Barbara Messing. Fish will be based in TripAdvisor’s New York City office in SoHo. Fish spent the past 13 years of her career at American Express where she recently held the position of vice president, corporate affairs and communications. Prior to joining American Express, Fish was an account supervisor with Hunter Public Relations, a New York-Based agency.


Anne Bologna has been appointed as vice president for brand strategy, based in the TripAdvisor headquarters in Newton, Massachusetts. Bologna will lead TripAdvisor’s brand vision efforts along with television and offline advertising, and will report to chief marketing officer, Barbara Messing. Bologna was previously managing director at MDC Partners in New York City, where she was responsible for a portfolio of companies that included advertising, branding and research agencies.

Fiji Airways has appointed Stefan Pichler as managing director and chief executive officer, effective September 1, 2013. Pichler is currently chief executive officer of Jazeera Airways. Before Jazeera Airways, Pichler was responsible for Virgin Blue’s transformation from a low cost carrier to a network airline and served as its chief commercial officer. He also launched Virgin Blue’s long haul carrier V Australia in 2008 as its chairman. Pichler has also been chairman and CEO of Thomas Cook AG, and held senior and executive board roles with Lufthansa AG.

Seychelles Tourism Board

Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has appointed a new CEO effective from July. The Seychelles president, James Michel announced that Sherin Naiken, former principal secretary for tourism will replace Elsia Grandcourt as the CEO of the tourism board. The Seychelles minister for tourism and culture, Alain St.Ange had earlier made the official announcement of the resignation of Grandcourt from the post of CEO of the tourism board. Grandcourt has been nominated for a high-level position in an international organisation.

Costa Crociere Costa Crociere has promoted Buhdy Bok to senior vice president Asia Pacific and China. Bok was appointed vice president China at Costa in May 2011, and then in January 2012 his role was extended to cover the rest of the Asia Pacific region.

Messe Berlin Dr Christian Göke has been appointed as the new chief executive officer of Messe Berlin. He takes over the position from Raimund Hosch who is retiring.The 14 years of joint management by Raimund Hosch and Dr Christian Göke witnessed the realisation of urgently needed building projects which have significantly strengthened Berlin’s international standing as a leading venue for trade fairs and congresses.

InterVistas InterVistas has appointed Arik De as vice president, airline strategy. De will split his time between Vancouver and London in this role. His most recent position over the past two years was managing the network planning team at WestJet where he evolved the airline’s network to add service to nearly 25 cities and over 80 routes. He also led the development, implementation, and launch of the network for WestJet Encore, WestJet’s wholly owned subsidiary operation.

August 2013

Express TravelWorld Business Avenues

August 2013



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August 2013

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August 2013









Mauritius calling

Turkish delight

Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) hosted a FAM trip for eight Indian tour operators from Mumbai and North India

L-R: Salman Khurshid, minister of external affairs, India and Ahmet Davutoglu, minister of foreign affairs, Turkey met in Turkey to discuss Turkish-Indian bilateral relations, regional and international issues concerning both countries

Sound Musical of night music

Lighting up Times Square

L-R: Zulkifly Md. Said, director of international marketing, Tourism Malaysia; Dato Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, chairman, Tourism Malaysia; Her royal highness Toh Puan Noor Suzanna Abdullah; Manoharan Periasamy, director, Tourism Malaysia at the launch of Indo-Malaysian Bollywood music album `Tum Mile` in Mumbai

L-R: Sumit Malik, principal secretary-tourism, Government of Maharashtra; Chhagan Bhujbal, minister of tourism, Government of Maharashtra and Neeta Bhasin, president and CEO, ASB Communications at the announcement event held in Mumbai of Maharashtra Tourism's Diwali celebration to be held at Times Square, New York in September 2013

VIP guests

Diwa gets debonair

L-R: Kevin Hedderwick, CEO, Famous Brand; HE Pule Malefane, consul general, South Africa; Jonty Rhodes, brand ambassador for Debonairs Pizza and Yogesh Parekh, director, Diwa Hospitality at the launch of the first Debonairs Pizza outlet in Mumbai August 2013

United States vice president Joe Biden's son-in-law Dr Krein and daughter Ashley Biden at the Orient Express, Taj Palace, New Delhi









All things MICE

In the Sunshine State

Visit Florida organised a first ever experiential visit to prominent cities of the Sunshine State like Miami, Space Coast and Orlando for top five trade players in India - Thomas Cook, Mercury Travels, Kesari, Sal Tours International and Vacation Exotica

Indonesia in India

Indonesia Tourism organised a three-city sales mission in Chennai, Pune and Mumbai. The delegation led by Masruroh, deputy director of promotion for Asia Region, Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia

Balinese experience

QnA International organised the 'MICE India & Luxury Travel Congress' in Mumbai focusing on the growing importance of the Indian MICE and luxury sector



VITO - India, along with LH Travels and Thai Airways, organised a FAM Trip to Bali for nine agents from Kolkata which was led by Shelly Chandhok, country manager, VITO India

August 2013


Express Travelworld August, 2013  

Great Escapes As India celebrates her 67th Independence Day, we take a look at some great weekend getaways from the major cities of the coun...

Express Travelworld August, 2013  

Great Escapes As India celebrates her 67th Independence Day, we take a look at some great weekend getaways from the major cities of the coun...