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V0L 9 NO.2 PAGES 48

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Markets Drukair plans to launch connectivity to South India Edge A ‘focus’ on India

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Vol 9 No 2 MARCH 2014 Pages 48

Chairman of the Board

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March meanders


he month of March brings with it a reasonable exodus of tour operators who have their business interests well defined in the Indian inbound space, as ITB Berlin opens up the gates for business, networking, relationship building or creating and identifying new markets for India inbound. Along with the inbound counterparts, those focused on the outbound pie also find merit in meandering across the length and breath of ITB identifying new destinations and businesses. I vividly recollect the response given to me by Portugal and Cyprus Tourism way back in 2007, 'the Indian market is not a part of our plan' was a the rather stoic reply. Cut to 2013-14 and the picture has changed and statements are worded. Countries who did not find India as a potential business zone are now working with a focused strategy to get their share of the market. Back on the home turf, the 11th ATOAI convention is all set to stand true to its word, of hosting a convention in a format that reflects adventure all the way. From river rafting, to trekking, to nature trails, the convention plans to address serious

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March 2014

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concerns of adventure tourism in the outdoors. Uttarakhand is the destination that will witness all the action as the association has decided to reactivate adventure tourism in the region after the catastrophe that hit last year. The business of travel is definitely shifting into moving from generic to niche and the time has come to find your calling. Survival will depend on in-depth product knowledge and giving your client that something extra. Those who do not get their focus right may, sooner or later either phase out from the business or adopt the M&A route, which recently witnessed action in the trade. Apart from three prominent M&As which were in the news, there are speculations of two prominent companies namely Orbitz and Travel Optionz coming together to strengthen their business portfolio. Our cover story this issue also focuses on specialist tours into the world of music, arts and dance. It’s all about finding your own niche and being a master in it. REEMA LOKESH Editor

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Drukair plans to launch connectivity to South India Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai DRUKAIR, the flagship carrier of the Kingdom of Bhutan, is focusing on extending its connectivity to the South India market specifically Hyderabad and Bengaluru in the next few years. However, this plan is at a nascent stage. Speaking on this, Sonam Wangchuk, manager – marketing and commercial planning, Drukair Corporation stated, “We are looking at the possibility of adding connectivity to Hyderabad, Bengaluru. Furthermore, we are also planning to add one more Airbus to our fleet this year.” Presently, Drukair has three Airbus 319s and one ATR 42-500 and in India it offers its connectivity to Kolkata, Gaya, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Delhi along with a new connectivity being officially launched to Mumbai in February, 2014. The new route between Paro In-

Mumbai is a hub for the well-travelled and this connectivity can lead to international travellers coming to Mumbai and then going to Bhutan ternational Airport and Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport will commence

operations from May 1, 2014. The three hour flight will operate twice weekly on Thursdays and

Sundays. “We have great expectations from this new connectivity. Mumbai is a hub for the well-

travelled and this connectivity can lead to international travellers coming to Mumbai and then going to Bhutan. Through this connectivity, we are also tapping the surrounding markets like Gujarat, Rajasthan. We are also interested in tapping the South India market,” commented Damcho Rinzin, marketing and promotion division, Tourism Council of Bhutan. Bhutan witnessed 10 to 15 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in 2013 from 2012. In 2013, Bhutan witnessed 1,16,224 tourist arrivals within which 45-50 per cent were Indians and the remaining were from Dhaka, Maldives and other Asian countries. In 2014, the tourism council is expecting 10 to 16 per cent growth. Presently, the average night stay in Bhutan is three to five nights for Indian travellers and seven to eight nights for international travellers. “We are also looking at increasing the average night stay in Bhutan,” adds Rinzin.

Nepal gets infrastructural boost for tourism Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai WITH A FOCUS on attracting more tourists from India and other international markets, the Nepal government is encouraging infrastructural developments in the country. Currently, there are many hotel projects coming up across major tourism hubs like Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan. These hotel investments are being done by Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNs) in collaboration with major international hotel chains. One of the major devel-

opments are the properties that are expected to open by 2016 under the JW Marriott brand in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Speaking on this, Surya Thapaliya, officer, tourism products and resources development, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) stated, “Marriott in partnership with an Australian based NRN is opening JW Marriott properties in Kathmandu and Pokhara by 2016. Few NRNs have tied up with their respective investors to start hotel constructions in Kathmandu and Pokhara, which are the two major hubs for tourists. By 2016, we expect

to have around four renowned international hotels.” All the four properties combined would offer no less than 250 rooms, he asserted. Presently, Nepal provides one million rooms per year. “If some of the big hotel chains keep on coming then we can increase the availability by 200,000 rooms more,” he opined. The NTB is also focusing on increasing the number of homestays in the country to cater to the burgeoning increase in tourism arrivals. “The homestay option was introduced in 2011. As per official

record, Nepal offers more than 100 homestays across the country. We are looking at increasing this,” he revealed. To enhance its reach in the India market, NTB will be opening its office in Delhi in 2014 and will be increasing their Public Relations Representatives (PRRS). “We operate through our PRRS, which are honorary posts. We have our PRRS in different Indian cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad. We are looking at increasing the number of PRRS from four to eight. We are also planning to open our office in

Delhi in 2014. This is a plan in progress but we will definitely work on this,” assured Thapaliya. For Nepal, India is the largest source market followed by China. Apart from promoting established products, NTB is also promoting many soft adventure activities like – canoeing, bungee jumping, ultralight, paragliding, to name a few. “We are also promoting potential destinations in east and west of Nepal. More than 60 per cent tourists prefer soft trekking and visits to the rural areas,” he mentioned.



March 2014


Usmart Education acquires Kuoni Academy Kahini Chakraborty Mumbai USMART EDUCATION, the wholly owned subsidiary of Mercury Travels has acquired Kuoni India's education division 'Kuoni Academy'. Under the alliance, Usmart Education has the exclusive license to use 'Kuoni Academy' brand name for India, South and South East Asia for an initial period of five years along with the transfer of Academy's employees and business assets. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Ashwini Kakkar, executive vice chairman, Mercury Travels said, “As part of our long term vision, we launched Usmart (University of Services Management Academics, Research and Train-

ing) Education. We are seeing a lot of gap in the education and employment segment. Hence our long term vision is to bridge this gap. Presently, we have Kuoni Academy's brand name for five years which can be also renewed in the future for the extension of another few years. Rajeev Wagle, managing director, Kuoni India will be on the board of the company.” On the courses that will be offered to students, Kakkar informed that the courses will remain the same which Kuoni Academy presently offers. “However, we will also introduce new courses to suit the industry demands,” he added. On Usmart Education's expansion plan, he replied, “We may not expand in the first six months. Later on, we will de-

cide whether to open our own centres or operate through franchisees. Our focus on education coupled with the strength of Kuoni India will ensure our growth.” Kakkar also mentioned about the the new Companies Act, 2013, passed by the Parliament in August 2013, wherein profitable companies must spend every year at least two per cent of their average net profit over the preceding three years on CSR work. “With this rule coming into play, a lot of companies will want to venture into the education segment in the future. We along with Kuoni India will work towards improving the skills of their employees and train them as well as nurture new potential talents in the industry,” he replied.

RIP: Ram Kohli THE PROMINENT spot with the striking orange appeal of Creative Travel at most of the travel and tourism mega events namely ITB, WTM, etc will not be the same again. Though the structure will be there and there will be business talks conducted by his two lieutenants Rajeev and Rohit, the spirited and strong presence of Ram Kohli will always be missed. The founder president of IATO, was a man who called a spade a spade, a quality that is rare to find in the present era of travel and tourism in India. A visionary, and vibrant and versatile, he was a dynamite in a small


package, the iron man of the trade. His feedback was real, to the point and hard hitting and I always thanked him for sharing with me his perspective on trade issues that need serious attention. He appreciated the work done by my team and always encouraged those who had the spirit to take up challenges and address issues of concern. I guess that is why he shared with us some insightful anecdotes of the world of travel and tourism, which was captivating. Thank you Mr Kohli for encouraging and appreciating meaningful journalism and for welcoming me to your


March 2014

Ram Kohli

stall for a little breather when we were marching through mega pavilions as weary travellers at busy travel marts on international soil.

By Reema Lokesh

WBTDC gets budgetary hike for FY 2014-15 Joy Roy Choudhury Kolkata THE FINANCE Department, Government of West Bengal has increased the budgetary allocation for the state tourism department to a new high. Presenting the state budget for 2014-15 in the West Bengal State Assembly, state finance minister Dr Amit Mitra proposed to increase the budgetary allocation for the state tourism department to `223 crore in the coming financial year up from `120 crore in 2013-14. Elaborating on the subject, he said, “A mega tourism project at Jharkhali in Sunderbans has made significant progress. Letters of Intent (LoI) has been issued for a budget hotel and a three-star hotel.” A joint venture agreement has been executed for heritage tourism at 'Jhargram Raj Bari' in Paschim Medinipur. In the 'mega tourism project' at Gajaldoba, infrastructure development work of more than `100 crore has been taken up by different departments. The construction of 20 cottages, budget accommodation and a youth hostel is already underway, added Mitra. He added that during 2013-14, ‘Beautiful Bengal’ was showcased at several international tourism fairs / marts held at Jaipur, ITB Asia held in Singapore and WTM London. The state tourism department will be also sending a 10-member delegation to ITB Berlin, to be held from March 5-8, 2014. Confirming the development to Express Travel-

Bhishmadeb Dasgupta

World, Bhishmadeb Dasgupta, MD, West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) said, “At Berlin, the West Bengal delegation will hold B2B meetings with the tourism fraternity from different parts of the globe and showcase a bouquet of tourism products from the state. We will be focusing on the cultural diversities of the state, like folk music of the 'Baul' community, festivals like Tusu' and 'Bhadu' and the 'Basant-utsav', Holi festival celebrated in Bolpur, Shantiniketan. We will promote the snow-capped hills of the Darjeeling region and sub-divisions of Kalimpong, Kurseong.” WBTDC has designed unique conducted tours for tourists like 'Heritage', 'Upasana', 'Sundarban' and several other customised packages to places like the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, sea resorts of Digha, Bakkhali, Shankarpur and the Sunderbans. The heritage packages takes tourists to ancient places of Bengal like Murshidabad, Berhampore, Malda and Kolkata.


Balmer Lawrie to invest in technology, brand enhancement Sudipta Dev Mumbai THE RECENT acquisition of Vacations Exotica by Balmer Lawrie is part of a focused strategy to provide value added services to the clientele of the public sector undertaking, which has primarily been engaged in ticketing services. “We have seen in the last few years the margins in ticketing trading coming down. The price war, etc, has reduced margins for ticketing agencies. Travel agents are finding it difficult to meet their RoI. This has necessitated change in model of business. Balmer Lawrie felt that if they give more value added service to clients, they can evolve and grow into the B2C space. At the moment most of the com-

pany's clients are in B2B space, government agencies, etc,” said Ajoy Lodha, partner with Mumbai-based Singhi Advisors, who were the sole advisors on the Balmer Lawrie deal. Lodha informed that Balmer Lawrie had started looking at companies like Vacations Exotica that could give value added offerings. “Ticketing is incremental to companies like Vacations Exotica, who are into tours, surface transport and hotel bookings, which allows them to expand their margin. Vacations Exotica also has a pan India presence. This attracted Balmer Lawrie as it fit in their strategy perfectly to provide value added offerings to their clientele,” he stated, pointing out that the entire team from Va-

We have seen the margins in ticketing trading coming down. Travel agents are finding it difficult to meet their RoI. This has necessitated change in model of business Ajoy Lodha

cations Exotica has been acquired. Vacations Exotica will be an independent SBU in Balmer Lawrie. “The promoter will be the COO of the SBU and that will help in successful integration,” mentioned Lodha. Balmer Lawrie will be investing majorly in terms of technology spend and brand enhancement in the immediate

future. “At one end you have a public sector company at the other end is a private sector organisation. With the kind of infrastructure and brand image that Balmer Lawrie commands in the market, it is a very significant development. There is no Indian player with a pan India presence in B2C space,” pointed out Lodha.

Responding to the question whether M&As will be a mainstay in the travel industry in the future, Lodha whose company has advised on quite a few acquisitions, remarked that bigger companies might face some consolidation. “Many small players are dying as business will shift away from them,” he stated.

Vacations Exotica to focus on luxury travel Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai VACATIONS EXOTICA, which was recently acquired by Balmer Lawrie and will function as an independent SBU in the company, is planning to increase its focus on the luxury segment by selling both Indian and overseas destinations. This decision is part of their strategy to cater to the growing demand for luxury travel in India and diversify in the holidaying space. However, this would be a difficult task as it would involve finding the right suppliers, training the staff, understanding client requirements to name a few. Elaborating on



March 2014

There is a demand for luxury travel, but the expectation is also high. Before we venture into the luxury segment, we need to be sure on what to give to the clients Ravishankar

this, Ravishankar, COO, Vacations Exotica stated, “There is a demand for luxury travel, but the expectation is also high. Therefore, before we venture into the luxury segment, we need to be sure on what to give to the clients by identifying

their requirements and categorising them into different segments. For the same, we also need to find the right suppliers who cater to the luxury segment since they need to be resourceful and preempt things.”

The company also wants to expand its presence in India specially in Tier II and Tier III cities. “We came with the idea of doing holidays differently. Price hasn't been a factor for us. Vacations Exotica designed holidays and also made all in-

clusive holidays. However, we need to expand our presence in India and especially in Tier II and Tier III cities,” added Ravishankar. Speaking on the recent scenario of the Indian travel trade, Ravishankar stated that Indian holidays needs to be done with more focus since India has a huge potential in the travel segment and there are few organised sectors. He suggested that travel agents need to start charging consultation fees that can be adjusted with the holidaying cost once the holiday is booked with them. This in turn will help to improve their position in the market, he stated.


Playing catalyst in Uttarakhand The small Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, where tourism was adversely affected, post the floods in 2013, is re-inventing itself as a destination. With a huge potential for adrenaline pumping sports, the state is promoting itself as an adventure destination. By hosting its annual convention in Shivpuri, ATOAI is playing the role of a catalyst in promoting the state

INDIA, A COUNTRY as vast and varied in its geographic offerings offers itself as a perfect adventure destination to test a traveller's mental and physical endurance to its extreme limit. The urge to indulge in this activity based tourism is gaining prominence worldwide, and increasingly travellers are deciding what activities they want to do and choosing their destinations accordingly. The 'push' (personal motivation) factor is getting stronger than the 'pull' (destination attraction) factor. Adventure travel or tourism, a major part of activity-based tourism globally has been segmented into extreme adventure and soft adventure activities. Seeing the interest growing among travellers for this segment, many adventure tour operators in India and abroad are offering a wide range of activities like white water river rafting, trekking and mountaineering, desert safari, skiing, hot air ballooning, paragliding, scuba diving, etc. Adventure tourism is a profitable option for these tour operators as clients are willing to live under the most basic conditions but end up paying top dollar for the tour operator's expertise and the activity. Mandip Singh Soin, founder and managing director, Ibex Expeditions opines, “The adventure tourism segment has been being growing at 10-15 per cent year-on-year combining both inbound and domestic travellers. The northeastern frontier is a potential state for



March 2014

this segment and we are looking forward to the government's support for the same.” Agreeing to the same, Major SK Yadav, managing director, Wanderlust Travels opines, “The segment has been growing rapidly. Apart from leisure, corporate clients are also opting for adventure activities as part of incentive travel which they use for team building exercises. In the Asian region, Nepal has been attracting a lot of adventure travellers. The segment also saw a growth of 22 per cent in 2011 and has been growing since then. India receives nearly 1.5 million inbound tourists for adventure activities.” Uttarakhand: The adrenaline returns Uttarakhand took the adventure route to beckon tourists back to its green vales. After almost a quarter of a century, the state brought back motorsport on its tourism calendar to boost confidence among tourists, and woo them to its tourism hotspots again. In the second half of December 2013, the state government hosted the Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally. About 70 rallyists from all parts of the country went across about 1,000 kms in the mountain state as part of the rally. Uttarakhand Tourism had organised this Rally to spread the message nationally and internationally that roads and infrastructure in Uttarakhand are good, and the state is once

MARKETS again the ‘eco-adventure tourism destination’ for skiing, white-water rafting, wildlife photography, and now also motorsport. The rally route touched some of the favourite tourism attractions in Uttarakhand. These included Shivpuri for white water rafting, the ski resort at Auli, and Garjiya on the periphery of the Jim Corbett Park. UK Panwar, secretary tourism, Uttarakhand said, “Uttarakhand has world-class holiday destinations for families and youth alike. The roads are good again, and we invite all tourists to enjoy the unique holiday experience here.”

The Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally brought the Himalayan state on the motorsport calendar of the country after 23 years. The internationally-popular Himalayan Rally was the last motorsport event on these winding mountain roads. Vijay Parmar, president, Himalayan Motorsport, said, "Motorsport has great potential to grow in Uttarakhand, and will showcase its excellent tourism destinations nationally and internationally. The state has a super network of roads, and more roads are being constructed in highly picturesque locales."

‘We took the decision to host the national convention in Uttarakhand to erase memories of the turbulent times of 2013’ Recent projects undertaken by ATOAI? Adventure First Responder and Safety Workshop ATOAI has organised two days basic First Responder and Safety Workshop in Uttarkashi on January 13-14, 2014 without charging any registration fees from the participants. Seminar ATOAI has been organising various Seminars in association with Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Ministry of State Tourism and other organisations for development of India as a sustainable, Safe and Quality Adventure Destination. We have recently conducted a stakeholders' seminar titled "Tourism in Uttarakhand : Starting Afresh" on December 13, 2013 at


Akshay Kumar President, ATOAI

Issues taken with/through Ministry of Tourism ● Adventure guides training courses in travel and tourism institutes as well as National mountaineering institutes. ● Waiver of service tax for adventure tour operators. ● GPS/sattelite phone use to be allowed. ● Import of duty free adventure equipements. ● Opening of a few small airstrips in the Himalayas for better connectivity. ● Enhancing of insurance cover, rescue and communication facility in the Himalayas. ● Issues with state tourisms- like Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Sikkim, MP. How many members are attending the convention? We are expecting 150 buyers, both domestic and overseas, in addition to the ATOAI members and non members as well as top-level media decision makers to attend the convention.. Why have you chosen Shivpuri as the venue for the convention? We took the decision to host the national convention in Uttarakhand to erase memories of the turbulent times of 2013. We feel this is an op-

portunity to bring everyone together and chart a new, more adventurous future! The theme of the convention this year is – the 4 Cs (Connect | Create | Catalyse | Conserve) During the convention we aim to: Connect - This convention will enable you to network with a larger number of delegates than is normal, due to our initiative to use technology to enable a pre-connect, thus enabling showcasing products to larger audience. Create - Opportunities will be presented for peer interactions, mentorship exchanges and pitching products directly to the media, to maximise exposure. Catalyse - A better work environment will be enabled by engaging in a positive and result-oriented dialogue with the regulatory authorities. Conserve - We will renew the pledge to be responsible and sensitive to the ecosystem in which we operate. Which are the new adventure destinations which you are promoting? We are looking at north east as a major destination in the coming years and also the fact that the border crossing between Indian and Myanmar may be opened soon which opens a completely new market in this area.



March 2014


Goa to host first Cashew and Coconut Festival Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai WITH A FOCUS to promote Goa as a year-round destination, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) is hosting a series of festivals beginning early this year and will also be launching Goa’s first Cashew and Coconut Festival in mid-May. The Cashew and Coconut Festival will include fun activities like cashew stomping; competitions like coconut breaking, coconut tree climbing, and will showcase handicrafts and dishes made of coconut, coconut and cashew Feni, to name a few. Commenting on this, Nikhil U Desai, managing director, GTDC stated, “Through this festival we will showcase the two main crops – cashew and coconut – that contribute towards the economy of the state. We are expecting a footfall of 70,000 to 80,000 international and domestic tourists.” Goa is also hosting this year’s edition of its popular festival - Carnaval from March 14, 2014. Carnaval 2014 will be

celebrated across seven cities with the main parade taking place in Panaji on the first day. “200,000 people visited the Carnaval last year and this year we are expecting not less than 300,000 visitors. For security, we will deploy 250 Indian reserve battalion (IRB) personnel in all the tourist destinations along with the local police,” stated Dilip D Parulekar, minister for tourism, women and child development and protocol, Government of Goa. Coinciding with the Carnaval 2014, GTDC is also organising the Food and Culture Festival to be held from February 28 to March 4, 2014. The festival, which was revived last year after a gap of nine years, will showcase Goan cuisine along with other Indian cuisines stated Desai. The parade during the Shigmo Festival (March 16-31) will take place across 17 cities this year. Elaborating on the Shigmo Festival, Desai opined, “The Shigmo Festival attracts a lot of repeat travellers and temple processions are also held during this period.”

GITM 2014 to host over 125 intl buyers THE GOA International Travel Mart (GITM), which is to be held from April 2-4, 2014 at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukerjee Stadium at Taleigao, is expected to host over 125 international buyers from USA, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Nor-

way, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Malaysia, Argentina; and over 150 buyers from the domestic market. The main aim behind GITM 2014 is to serve as a platform for face-to-face networking among travel-trade, hoteliers and other stakeholders from Goa with leading travel agents from India and abroad.

Gujarat Travel Mart 2014 to be held from March 27-29 ETW Staff Mumbai GUJARAT Tourism has announced that the fourth edition of Gujarat Travel Mart (GTM), the B2B event, will be held at Mahatma Mandir Convention & Exhibition Centre, Gandhi Nagar in Ahmedabad from March 27-29, 2014. This year’s edition of GTM is expected to have over 285 registered buy-



March 2014

ers from over 30 countries exploring business opportunities for discerning travel and tourism products. The event is set to witness 200 exhibitors from India from over 20 diverse tourism segments. Over 1000 travel agents are expected to attend the event. The hosted buyers will include: Netherlands, Kingdom of Bahrain, Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Israel, Japan,

The event is set to witness 200 exhibitors from India from over 20 diverse tourism segments. Over 1000 travel agents are expected to attend the event

Lithuania, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, UAE, UK, USA, South Africa, India, etc. The event is supported by major travel trade and hospitality association in India such as Association of Domestic Tour Operators Association of India (ADTOI), Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) and Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).


'In 2014,Etihad Airways will expand its destination network in India' Etihad Airways operates 77 flights per week to nine cities across India. Neerja Bhatia, general managerIndia, Etihad Airways speaks on how the Etihad - Jet Airways tie-up will benefit passengers by providing them greater connectivity through Abu Dhabi. By Sudipta Dev As a result of Etihad - Jet Airways tie-up do you foresee Abu Dhabi emerging as the biggest Middle East hub for Indian travellers in the future? Through our purchase of 24 per cent of Jet Airways – the first foreign investment permitted in an Indian airline – we have laid the foundation for major growth in air services between Abu Dhabi and India, and beyond throughout our global network. India is a key market for us and now travellers from India will have more opportunities to connect to destinations via Abu Dhabi throughout the GCC, Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America, while those flying to India will benefit from additional seats and more convenient travel timings. What is the significance of US Customs and Immigration preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi Airport? Abu Dhabi Airport’s growing position as a leading global gateway has been further reinforced by the introduction of this preclearance facility. The facility allows passengers to clear US Customs and Immigration in Abu Dhabi, enabling them to arrive in the US as domestic passengers and significantly reducing travel time.

Neerja Bhatia

What are your immediate expansion plans for the India market? In 2014, Etihad Airways will expand its destination network in India with the launch of a daily service from Abu Dhabi to Jaipur in April. This new flight will bring the total number of Indian cities served by Etihad Airways to ten. Etihad Airways will also start operating a second new daily flight between Abu Dhabi and New York City on March 1, 2014 providing additional onestop links to the US for Indian travellers and an easy, new option for travel from America to India. The new flights will be operated by Etihad Airways with two three class Boeing 777300ER aircraft, to be leased from Jet Airways. Jet Airways will operate these flights from May 1, 2014. The new Abu Dhabi – New York flight has

been scheduled to connect in both directions with services by Etihad Airways, Jet Airways or both carriers to and from six Indian cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. As well as more flights, Etihad Airways will introduce larger aircraft in some markets. The new Airbus 321 aircraft, will be used on all Abu Dhabi-Chennai services, and between Abu Dhabi and Kochi from June 2014. This is in addition to the recently announced upgrade of Abu Dhabi to Mumbai with a three class A340-600 and Abu Dhabi to Delhi on an A330-200. Subject to regulatory approvals in a range of countries, Etihad Airways and Jet Airways also plan to codeshare on each other’s flights between Abu Dhabi, India and other markets in the Middle East, North America and Europe. How significant is the India market in your global vision? India is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for air travel, and a market in which we see significant opportunities. There are significant traffic flows between the sub-continent and the Arabian Gulf countries, and we expect that to continue growing in the coming years.

US focuses on attracting Indian MICE segment More American Business Corners to open in India Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai THE US is focusing on attracting the MICE segment from India for which it recently held a press conference. Peter D Haas, consul general, US Consulate General Mumbai, India spoke about the US being the number one destination in MICE travel in terms of variety of offerings, price points, to name a few. “As a source market India stands in 12th position and our goal is to take it to top 10. The tourist business visa is valid for 10 years. The interview waiver programme for qualified travellers has also simplified the visa process, wherein we meet these travellers, under this programme, once in our lifetime,” opined Haas. The US Consulate General issued 700,000 visas from all over India in 2013 and 215,000 visa applications were from Mumbai alone. US is also looking at attracting first time MICE groups . “We look forward to working with the MICE segment especially with groups who havn't

been to the US before.” opined Julia Stanley, minister counselor for consular affairs. Presently, there are 12 American Business Corners (ABC) in India and another one would be opening in Pune early March (and later in Goa, Nagpur and Indore). The US Consulate General has partnered with IndoAmerican Chamber of Commerce (IACC) for this project and a virtual model has been developed for the same. “The ABC will be providing information of some of our events, visitors, outbound delegations. For instance, we had invited the chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States to come to India. We made sure he went to Pune because there are a lot of Indian and American businesses there who would perhaps be interested in the bank for providing them with loans, guarantees, facilitate them in purchasing equipments from the US,” stated Camille Richardson, commercial consul, US Consulate General, US Commercial Service.



March 2014


Zanzibar woos Indian tourists with cultural connect Sudipta Dev Mumbai THE RECENT visit of the president of Zanzibar to India, saw a renewed interest in the destination that very few people in the country know about, including the travel trade community. Leading travel industry professionals were invited at an event in Mumbai to create awareness about the attractions of Zanzibar for Indian travellers. An archipelago of two islands, Zanzibar is a semi autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is a destination that attracts tourists because of its rich heritage, but also takes great pride in its cosmopolitan culture. “The relationship between India and Zanzibar goes back to the 18th century. There was a lot of trade between the two nations, many Indian businessmen set-

tled there. Our architecture and food is also influenced by India. Our culture is Swahili – which is a mix of African, Arabian and Indian culture,” said Salum K Nassor, executive director, Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA). He believes that this connect will be a big draw for Indian visitors. Known as the 'Star of Africa' , the 'Spice Island', Zanzibar is famous for its Stonetown which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. International tourism in Zanzibar has grown over the years. “We have flora, fauna, beaches and watersports. June to March is a good time to visit Zanzibar. It rains in April and May and many hotels are shut. We have an airport and seaport, and every two hours there are ferries to Dar es Salaam. International visitors also arrive in

charter flights, particularly from Europe,” stated Nassor. One can visit Ngorongoro and Serengeti in two hours if one flies directly into Zanzibar. Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya

Airways have direct flights to Zanzibar. Visitors from India can also go to Dar es Salaam by Air India, British Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines. There are 378 hotels in Zanz-

ibar including DoubleTree by Hilton, Fairmont, Hyatt Group. The government of Zanzibar is interested in persuading the Oberoi Group to set up a property in there.

Zambia eyes India market Kahini Chakraborty Mumbai ZAMBIA Tourism Board is looking at doubling the number of tourist arrivals from the India market over the next three years. For the same, the board is promoting its holiday, leisure and MICE tourism product offerings in the India market. Presently, the destination receives about 15,00020,000 Indian arrivals per year mainly for business. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Mato Shimabale, director marketing, Zambia Tourism Board said, “Zambia has a diverse product offer wildlife safari, adventure, hon-



March 2014

eymooners, MICE and so on. Zambia is home to the only natural wonder of the world found in Africa – the Victoria Falls. The destination also has abundant wildlife, we have the famous South Luangwa National Park in Eastern Zambia. There is also the Devil’s pool near the tip of the Victoria Falls giving you a unique vantage view of the Falls. We are working with Blue Square Consultants to intensify our marketing activities in India.” Talking about the India market potential for Zambia, Shimabale opined, “India is a very important market for us as it has always been among our top 10 arrivals mainly for

Mato Shimabale

business and we are looking to increase the number of arrivals for the leisure and holiday segment. With the increase in the middle class as the Indian

economy has improved significantly, the UNWTO has rated the Indian market as one that is bound to be a major outbound nation in the coming years. Therefore, any country that is serious about promoting tourism cannot afford to ignore India. It is for this reason that Zambia is keen to step up our marketing activities as we have no doubt that the Indian traveller would love their stay in Zambia.” Elaborating on its marketing strategies in the India market he added, “The Indian traveller is looking for an unexplored destination and Zambia fits that profile but we realise that there is less

information about the destination. Therefore, the key strategy is to increase the top of mind awareness that Zambia is a standalone destination in its own right. It is the face of the new Africa; safe and an oasis of peace coupled with having one of the fastest growing economies in the world. So our strategy focuses on educating the travel trade on what Zambia has to offer and also educating the Indian traveller. This will be done through various marketing activities ranging from participating in travel trade shows, we have also done spot adverts, online training, educational tours and road shows.”


Tourism Fiji to revamp Matai programme Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai WITH a focus on strengthening its B2B presence in India, Tourism Fiji, the national tourism board of Fiji, is completely revamping its Fiji Matai Specialist Programme, a destination loyalty programme for travel agents selling Fiji, this year. Speaking on the reason for revamping the specialist programme, Rick Hamilton, chief

executive officer, Tourism Fiji stated, “Apart from technical marketing, we are also undertaking sales initiatives, wherein the Fiji Matai Specialist Programme is being revamped totally. The revamp will be completed by the second quarter of this year. The resorts change significantly year-on-year and there has been an addition of many new resorts. Hence the travel agents need to be aware of the new properties and activities on

board.” The specialist programme will be tailored to each country. For instance, the specialist programme will be available in Chinese language for China. In October-November, 2013, the specialist programme recorded 12 agents under it. “We are looking at significantly increasing these numbers. Presently, the specialist programme isn’t running successfully since all the countries have regionalised the

actual programme. Hence we are rebranding, repositioning the specialists programme to bring about consistency in each country. So what you see in India will be the same in America. But what we will be selling will be different depending upon market requirements,” mentioned Hamilton. In 2013, Fiji recorded 30 per cent increase in tourist arrivals from 2012. “Approximately 3000-3500 Indian tourists visit

Fiji and we expect this market to grow over a period over time,” he opined adding, “Most of the customers we get are honeymooners and high-end customers. There is certainly an opportunity for the family market.” The maximum tourist numbers to Fiji from India are evenly split between Mumbai and Delhi, which are Fiji’s primary source markets. As for 2014, Tourism Fiji is expecting a double digit growth in arrivals from India.

JNTO launches website for MICE ANTO targets Indian Looks at increasing its leisure market share from India Kahini Chakraborty Mumbai JAPAN NATIONAL Tourism Organisation (JNTO) and its convention division, the Japan Convention Bureau (JCB) have launched a website for international MICE planners. Presently, majority of the Indian visitors who visit Japan are business travellers. JNTO is focusing on increasing their leisure market share from key metro cities in India apart from New Delhi and Mumbai. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Hideki Manabe, executive director, JNTO, Singapore said, “The website is a handy tool for those planning conferences, corporate meetings and incentive trips. The website provides information on what Japan can offer for international events; testimonials and case studies; a list of unique venues and activities that are only available in Japan; a useful search function that allows event planners to find cities and venues that best suit their events’ needs and much more.” In the year 2013, Japan re-

ceived 75,100 Indian tourist arrivals registering a growth rate of nine per cent as against 68,914 in 2012. “Seeing the statistics, we are expecting a huge increase in Indian tourist arrivals to Japan. Visitors are attracted to Japan’s natural scenery, historical and cultural sites, and urban sightseeing. Most of the destinations in Indian travellers’ agenda are included in Japan’s popular Golden Route. While Tokyo is still the most popular, the Kanazawa area is also gaining importance as a tourist destination with an increase in visitors to Kyoto, Takayama, Yokohama, Osaka and Hakone,” he informed. The tourism board is continuously working towards increasing its leisure market

share along with business travellers from India. Elaborating on its tourism products for the leisure segment, he added, “We are keen to promote local Japanese cuisine as Indians are getting more adventurous to try new cuisines, shopping spots like Ginza is a desirable shopping destination with high end stores, boutiques and cafes, cityscapes such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Hokkaido, and Osaka are well connected through the most popular transportation system, the Shinkansen Bullet Train. Also the strong cultural and historical influence, carried forward for generations such as festivals, and the concept of tea ceremony, onsen and ryokan.” JNTO is also keen on attracting the Bollywood segment.

We are keen to promote local Japanese cuisine as Indians are getting more adventurous to try new cuisines and the concept of tea ceremony, onsen and ryokan

student segment Rituparna Chatterjee Mumbai AUSTRIAN National Tourist Office (ANTO) is focusing on attracting Indian students of elite schools for skiing in Austria, for the period April to May, 2014. For this purpose, the tourism office is promoting two states - Tyrol and Salzburg. The students will be offered ski tourism packages for a week wherein four days will consist of skiing and two days will include cultural programmes. Speaking on this, Christine Mukharji, market manager - India, ANTO stated, “Most of the tourists from all over the world come to Austria for skiing. So we have the perfect infrastructure for skiing and have many glaciers which cater to skiing enthusiasts. April – May would be the time when Indian schools can utilise this facility. Interest for skiing is much higher in Mumbai as compared to Delhi.” ANTO recently concluded their three-city roadshow which started early this year. The roadshow began in Mumbai followed

Christine Mukharji

by Chennai and Delhi and aimed at targeting the FITs and MICE. Elaborating on this, Mukharji commented, “A lot more Indians travel during winter months – specially FITs. This year we are offering the Innsbruck card wherein local transport can be availed.” Furthermore, in November 2014, ANTO will be organising another roadshow to promote two of its destinations Tyrol and Innsbruck. The roadshow will be held across Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. On this Mukharji stated, “Our marketing activities will cover Tier II and Tier III cities like Pune as well.”



March 2014

cover ) Storm Festival | 19

Elephanta Festival | 20

Escape Festival of Arts & Music | 21

Konark Dance Festival | 22

Sunburn Festival | 23

Jahan-e-Khusrau | 26

Khajuraho Dance Festival | 27

India Art Fair | 28

Ganga Mahotsav | 29

Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival | 30



March 2014

THE SOUND of music The hills are alive with the sound of music...these words from the famous movie by the same name is becoming a reality. Over the past decade, music and dance festivals have attracted a loyal audience in India and overseas with people experimenting with their music choices. Promoters on the other hand are evolving their products, treating them like brands and locating them in spectacular venues like the Ziro Outdoor Music Festival in Arunachal Pradesh. A few festivals which have rocked the scene



Storm Festival Held at the Palace Ground in Bengaluru every year, the Storm Festival has turned into a musical Mecca for Metal fans in India


rom hard rock to Metal acts, the Storm Festival hosts a varied range of musical performances and is also considered to be India's first ecoconscious music festival. The inaugural edition of the festival was held in May 2010, and was headlined by the American Metal band Lamb Of God. The popularity of the festival has grown over the four years attracting music lovers from a large spectrum of Indian cities. “We have seen the demand for the Storm Festival going up as we have been speaking to industry pundits, artists and audiences who have given us valuable feedback to improve on various aspects every time the festival happens,” states Lavin Uthappa, managing director, Liquidspace Entertainment, a Begaluru based event management company organising the Storm festival. The festival is based on the concept of united Djs (disc jockeys), an idea conceived by Uthappa and his

elder brother Sachin Bopanna, director, Liquidspace Entertainment. The concept was further tweaked to Storm Festival, after which it took ten years for the brothers to convert the idea into a reality. In fact, lot of innovations that were ideated for the Storm Festival were seen in events produced under the Liquidspace banner, as well as others. Still, the concept of the Storm Festival was intact, a full scale camp out music festival in the hills of Coorg. “There are many concepts that make the festival different. The care towards the eco system is just one of them. Storm is the passion towards nature and music. It celebrates

Sachin Bopanna and Lavin Uthappa

togetherness, camaraderie and the religion called music. That is why it is designed to be a camp-out music festival. It is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Storm also celebrates freedom from the binding pressures of city life,” explains Uthappa. Last year, the festival was held in collaboration with award-winning musical composer and playback singer Shankar Mahadevan and Indian Ocean, an Indian rock band considered to be pioneers of the fusion rock genre in India. The organisers also increased the stages from four to five comprising - MTV Indie Stage showcasing world music; Dance Music Stage for EDM, electronica, dance music; Songwriters Stage for non-mainstream talent, singer-songwriters; Plug n Play Stage for artists from Voice of Storm and new talent; and Camp Jam Stage exclusively for campers (artists and visitors to perform together). People travelling from other parts of India and tourists from abroad has risen from the first edition of the Storm Festival. “It is indeed a pleasure to cater to these audiences because

it drives us to enhance the production quality and the performances through music. Music collaborations between renowned musicians is something Storm has always bettered year after year and this shall be innovated taking audience requirements into consideration,” mentions Uthappa. While retaining the essence of the festival, the organisers will focus on expanding its reach. “Our vision is to get a mention in every music lover’s calendar as a 'to do' every year,” he asserts. Growing awareness Demand for music festivals has seen a steady growth in the last few years in India and it is a welcoming aspect for the music industry and the economy since it also boosts tourism. “Not far are the days when we will see some of our own Indian music festivals as destination music festivals like some of the international ones outside India,” predicts Uthappa adding that music festivals like the Storm can be

leveraged to attract both national and international tourists. “Promoting tourism through music in one of the most scenic destinations in India will surely attract a lot of domestic as well as international tourists. India being one of the most sought after destinations in the world adds to the fact that tourism is only going to increase,” opines Uthappa. However, he stresses on the need for state tourism departments to promote music festivals in India so as to contribute to the growth of the economy in that particular region. “Financial support and operational support from the government and working in tandem with organisers will not just boost tourism but also the economy of the country,” opines Uthappa adding that one window permission from all authorities, least operational timelines for issuing permissions, relaxation of taxes wherever applicable, more dedicated venues under the government bodies and maintained jointly by the government and the festival organisers/corporates are few initiatives that the government should take up. (As told to Rituparna Chatterjee)



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Elephanta Festival Held in the 'city that never sleeps' – Mumbai, the Elephanta Festival is an exciting cultural platform displaying dance, music and artistic talents from across the country and the local area as well


elebrating the living heritage of Indian dance, art and sculpture, the Elephanta Festival has gained popularity over the years by creating a wide platform for local and national artists, dancers and musicians to showcase their talents. Started in 1989, the Elephanta Festival is one of the most prominent festivals in Mumbai celebrated to promote tourism and culture in the city. Organised by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) in association with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the yearly Elephanta festival, is usually held at the world-renowned Elephanta Caves (a World Heritage Site) and sometimes at the Gateway of India. This year the festival will be held from March 15-16, 2014 at both the locales. “Last year we hosted the festival against the backdrop of the caves solely. However, this year we are thinking of doing the day activities at the caves and the evening cultural programmes at the Gateway of India. This is because people face difficulty while returning home from the Elephanta Caves at late hours. Though we requested BEST (The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking) and the railway to have trips during late hours, this hasn't proved beneficial,” states Dr Jagdish Patil, managing director, MTDC. The day activities, which span from morning to six in the evening includes guided tours, painting competitions, to name a few. While the evening cultural programmes which con-


sists of classical dances, plays, skits, instrumental and vocal recitals continues till 10 in the night. Apart from displaying myriad talents from across the nation, this festival also promotes local creativity. “We are supporting the local community to have their traditional cultural programmes in the Tarapur village,” opines Patil. The festivities start with a folk dance from the local fishermen (Koli). As for arrangements, there are launches ferring visitors at intermittent intervals to the heritage site. “We hire launches, which make three to four trips to the caves in a day,” mentions Patil. Seats are also arranged on the open ground at the Gateway of India for the cultural programmes accommodate around 2500 visitors. This year, MTDC is planning to install screens on various roads across Mumbai including – Carter Road, World Seaface, Juhu Chowpatty. “If the monitoring committees of these areas allow us to install screens then thousands of people will be able to witness the festivities. However, permissions for this are still on way.” reveals Patil. Festival highlights The highlight of the festival are the several ethnic food stalls displaying the traditional food of the region. In addition, the illuminated Maheshmurti (Shiva idol) located in the main cave of the Elephanta Island is also a prominent attraction during the festivities. The idol is lit up at night, providing an amazing backdrop to the entire setting. Over the years, the festival has become a huge attraction for domestic and foreign tourists. However, the international

Dr Jagdish Patil

Ethnic food stalls and the illuminated Maheshmurti (Shiva idol) are prominent attractions during the festivities

tourists become aware of this festival only during their visit to the city. “There was a gap of three years since the 26/11 Mumbai attack. So next year we are trying to bring consistency in the date of the festival and preparing a calender of events for the same so that international tourists can fix their dates to visit the festival. This will help us to draw more foreign tourists as well as measure the impact of the festival,” explains Patil. Elephanta Caves is located at a distance of 10 kilometres from Mumbai Harbour. The initial name of the Elephanta Caves was Gharapuri which means, 'a peaceful living place of Lord Shiva'. The name Elephanta Caves was given by the Portuguese, after a carved elephant was found on the island. (As told to Rituparna Chatterjee)



Escape Festival of Arts & Music Since its inception in 2009 the Escape Festival of Arts & Music has grown over the past five years attracting both national and international talents and audiences


tarted in May 2009 by a group of 60 musicians at The Lake Resort Naukuchiatal in Uttarakhand, the Escape Festival of Arts & Music has grown to become one of India’s foremost art, music and camping festival. The Escape Festival of Arts & Music has established itself over the past five years, drawing both international and national audiences, most of which are repeat visitors. “We started with 60 people and now we have grown to over 4000 in the 2013 edition. We have had a large number of repeat audiences who brought in new audiences with them which indicated that the Escape experience was something they enjoyed and looked at coming back to. I would also attribute this growth to the fact that music festivals in India have slowly come of age,” states Lalrinawma Tochhawng, festival director, Escape Festival of Arts & Music. An initiative by Potheads, a community of artists, the Escape Festival of Arts & Music features bands, artists, photographers, writers, painters, graffiti artists, performance artists, tattoo artists and potters. Furthermore, the festival also includes adventure sports, a festival camp and a flea market at the venue. “The strength and USP of the Escape Festival of Arts & Music is that it cuts across all age groups and artistic genre,” boasts Tochhawng adding that, the festival from the beginning had been attracting international audiences and artists,

Lalrinawma Tochhawng

but in the last few editions there had been additions of more artistic disciplines such installation art, graffiti, pottery, painting, photography and independent films. Spread over few days, the music and dance events at the festival are divided between two stages – the Soul Garden Stage and the Magic Forest Stage. Located against the backdrop of Naukuchiatal, the Soul Garden Stage hosts musical events and feature artists from different musical genres like jazz, blues, folk,

Our future plan is to create an international standard festival for people who share a common love for art and music

Sufi and rock music throughout India. Whereas the Magic Forest Stage is an electronic dance music (EDM) stage providing lights and visuals and featuring performances by national and international artists from the EDM subgenres of chill, dub-step, drum 'n' bass and Psytrance music. Photography, painting, pottery, graffiti and other art forms are hosted at the festival through outdoor exhibitions, live painting, workshops and participation programmes. Another highlight is the film festival that holds screening of independently produced documentaries by national and international filmmakers. Way forward Over the years, the festival with its growing popularity

has been attracting interested corporate investors. “After having successfully run the festival for the last five years with minimum or no support from corporate sponsors, there has been an advent of corporate sponsors who are looking at long term associations with the festival. This would help to improve the reach and attract more domestic and international tourists,” opines Tochhawng. However, his future focus for the festival would not only be expanding its reach and increasing its popularity but also giving a sustainable livelihood to the people of Naukuchiatal. “Our future plan is to create an international standard festival for people who share a common love for the art and music, to present a thematic showcase of gifted Indian and international artists in music, painting, photography, pottery and numerous other forms of creative expression and to develop a sustainable eco system that would benefit and facilitate economic growth and development for both the escape festival and people of the region,” he asserts. As for growth of music and art tourism in India, Tochhawng asserts that there should be more governmental support. “Building of more venues for public performances, special tax exemptions and rebates for live shows, are some of the initiatives that the government should take to develop such festivals in India,” he states. (As told to Rituparna Chatterjee)



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Konark Dance Festival Famed as the world heritage site, the Sun Temple in Konark, Orissa, is venue to the Konark Dance Festival every year


ince 1989, this dance festival has been organised in the state jointly by Orrisa Tourism and Odissi Research Centre to promote the diverse Indian dance heritage as well as the popularity of the Sun Temple, Konark and Orissa as a tourist destination. This year the festival was held from February 19-23. Musicians playing the drums, cymbals and other musical instruments adorn the sculptures in Odissi dance poses. Many celebrated dancers from all across India perform at this venue. The festival is a celebration of the much appreciated dance formsBharatnatyam, Manipuri, Odissi, Kathak and Chau dance. Over the years, the dance academy of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan has been involved in this dance festival to celebrate the honour of the Sun Temple in Konark. Apart from witnessing the fascinating dance forms, visitors also have the option of visiting the crafts mela which showcases various handicrafts items and different cuisine options. 'Konarka', the place bears a name composed of two world elements : Kona meaning corner and arka meaning the sun. The Sun god worshiped in Ark Kshetra is also called Konark. In 'Brahma Purana' the Sun God in Ark-kshetra has been described as Konaditya. The place where the Kona aditya (or Kona-arka, the Sun god) was worshipped was also popularly called Konark. It is described in Purusottam Mahatmya that Lord Vishnu after killing the demon Gayasur, to



March 2014

commemorate the glory of his victory, placed his Sankha (cronch) in Puri, Chakra (disc) in Bhubaneswar, Gada (mace) in Jajapur and Padma (lotus) in Konark and they were later known as Sankha Kshetra, Chakra Kshetra, Gada Kshetra and Padma Kshetra respectively. This corner on the east

sea coast houses the ruins of a temple, exquisitely built to resemble a gigantic chariot with impeccably carved wheels, columns and panels. It stands as a mute reminder of the times when Orissan architecture reached its pinnacle. The Sun Temple built in the 13th century was conceived as a gi-

gantic chariot of Sun God, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven pairs of horses. Indian dance forms are inextricably linked to temples. Over the years, there has been a bid to have dances performed in the temple precincts to recreate the ancient charm and

Over the years, there has been a bid to have dances performed in the temple precincts to recreate the ancient charm and glory of these monuments. This corner on the east sea coast houses the ruins of a temple, exquisitely built to resemble a gigantic chariot

glory of these dances. Dance festivals are aimed at hosting dances against the backdrop of ancient temple monuments. Dance festivals have now become cultural events enthralling audiences with the splendor of different forms of Indian dance and music. The state has been blessed with a diverse terrain that offers as many as 321 tourist destinations. Orissa Tourism has been working towards showcasing the rich cultural and religious heritage of the state and its people through numerous festivals and fairs such as the Konark Dance Festival, Gotipua Dance Festival, Rajarani Music Festival, Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav, Toshali National Crafts Mela, etc.



Sunburn Festival With a variety of experiences to choose from, Sunburn caters to a wide Indian and international audience and highlights India as a music festival destination to the world


riginated from the idea of a Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival held in Goa, Sunburn was launched in 2007 and became a place of synergy of music, entertainment, sports, food, shopping and lifestyle. “When Sunburn started in 2007, electronic dance music was still an unexplored genre in India and Asia. Hence, we decided to bring EDM into mainstream. The philosophy that Sunburn has always followed is that music brings people together to celebrate, regardless of where they live or what language they speak and we want to connect people. Sunburn started as a small musical festival on the beach in Goa. But, now we are proud to say that Sunburn is the number one destination for Electronic Dance Music in Asia and ranked the 4th Best festival in the world (by,” informed Shailendra Singh, joint MD, Percept and inceptor of Sunburn. The first event was held in alliance with Smirnoff and the Ministry of Tourism, Goa, near Candolim Beach, Goa and hosted by well known VJ Nikhil Chinappa. Sunburn has become the favourite dance music property in Asia which made its debut city edition in Mumbai in 2012 and thereafter took the same format to Noida and Colombo in October 2012. In the year 2013, Sunburn season 7 touched 18 million global fans participating in the event. Sunburn has expanded itself to set a new bar for 'arena' format gigs with renowned international DJs, the most recent being Swedish House Mafia's One Last Tour and Avicii's debut in India marking the rise of a

unique concept such as Sunburn Arena. “Sunburn is not only in the business of making people happy, they have also extended the opportunity for consumers to take home a bigger, better brand experience. Leveraging their phenomenal audience connect further, Sunburn has taken the reigns and partnered with like-minded brands such as Hero Motocorp, Woodland and Tuborg that speak the same language, to the aspirational youth pan India and abroad. Through touch points such as a Dutch international artist’s maiden TVC for Hero Motocorp, Woodland’s ‘Leave no trace’ campaign, Tuborg’s co-branded packaging (with Sunburn Goa 2013 on all units sold from October 2013 to December 2013) in Russia, Sun-

burn gives its fans a larger than life experience,” he added. The response for the festival has been sky rocketing since its inception in 2007. Sunburn started with a humble hosting of 10,000 people and has now expanded to over 150,000 footfalls. Sunburn has grown over the

past seven years at a fast pace to become Asia's premier electronic dance music brand. With a variety of experiences to choose from, Sunburn caters to a wide Indian and international audience and highlights India as a music festival destination to the world.

Sunburn raised the bar in delivering the best global EDM experience there is to offer and reshaped the entire music scene in India. Over the past twelve months, Sunburn has brought down five of the top 10 DJ’s to India, including – David Guetta, Afrojack, Swedish House Mafia, Armin Van Burren, Paul Van Dyke, Fedde Le Grand and Tiësto. Elaborating on the challenges in promoting dance/music festivals to increase tourism in the industry, “EDM, part of the larger live entertainment industry is gradually receiving support from sponsors/ business partners. IPs that are created post such strategic partnerships offer a brand not just great business growth but also make way for consumer pull and tourism in the state. The EDM scene in India unlike its other entertainment counterparts such as Bollywood and cricket, is on an upwardly growth path and people are gradually warming up to it. The primary challenge that Sunburn has faced in growing the market is to acquaint the audiences with EDM not only in key markets but also in smaller towns/cities. While this challenge is on its way to become an advantage with the activities that Sunburn is executing across the length and breadth of the country. Now that we have some demand, considering the dynamics of our country, we still tackle challenges faced from authorities while they are absolutely just in demanding certain protocol to ensure our events are safe,” he opined. (As told to Kahini Chakraborty)



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Jahan-e-Khusrau Initiated in 2001 by well-known film director Muzaffar Ali, Jahan-e-Khusrau is an annual world Sufi festival


resented by Rumi Foundation, Jahan-eKhusrau festival is designed and directed by Muzaffar Ali. Each year Jahane-Khusrau presents rare lyrics of Sufi mystics in an innovative form. Over the last decade it has showcased Sufi singers, dancers and musicians from different parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Iran, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Germany, Japan, USA and Canada. The festival has been presenting masters such as Shubha Mudgal, Shafqat Ali Khan, Ila Arun, Sukhwinder Singh, Malavika Sarrukai, Shujaat Hussain Khan and Abida Parveen amongst many others. The objective of this festival has been to create a bridge between the East and the West and make the audience realise its universal-ism and develop new audiences for global Sufi music. Originally held in Arab Ki Sarai, Humayun Tomb Monuments, the festival now also travels to Central Park in Jaipur and Dilkusha Palace, Lucknow. “Jahan-e-Khusrau is a spiritual tribute to the mystics and their verse. It has grown out of a passion for rendering their poetry into music. It is this journey through pure voices and sacred sounds, that Jahan-e-Khusrau has germinated as an idea in those who are in quest for a divinity that unites diverse souls. It goes into an inner realm - the realm of the heart. Over the years we have come realise the enormity of this universal space,” says Meera Ali, director, Kotwara Studios.



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Meera Ali

The festival has great potential as a niche tourism attraction, for both domestic and international visitors. According to Ali, it takes time for people to feel and believe. “The government which is the custodian of culture and promoter of tourism has to be the single biggest patron sans interference. The corporate sector too must realise its culture responsibility. And therefore there must be a certainty for its present and future. Governments with short term populist agendas are not conducive for institutionalising such events. There is a global need for such events and India is the most credible place for them,” she asserts. Elaborating on her perception of how music festivals like Jahan-e-Khusrau can be promoted on an international platform by the ministry of tourism/state tourism boards and the travel trade industry, Ali states, “Firstly, one's own perception of India has to be clear. The vision of India has to be beyond petty gains and narrow ideas. We need to think of a world without boundaries. India has to be proponent of oneness

of the human race. Such a vision has to be spiritually and aesthetically embodied in the likes of Jahan-e-Khusrau. And only then should the travel trade and the government agencies repose faith in its presentation and promotion.” In the future consolidation of the event will be the focus. “We need to consolidate all this by going virtual and spreading the essence universally. This will energise our future plans,” says Ali. He adds that they also publish, HU- the Sufi way, a poetry oriented publication dedicated to Sufi mysticism of different regions of India. (As told to Sudipta Dev)



Khajuraho Dance Festival

One of the most colourful classical dance forms of India with their roots in the rich cultural traditions across the country, Khajuraho Dance Festival is a visual treat


n Indian mythology, gods and goddesses were said to be great lovers of music composed by musical instruments, vocal singing and dances. The Khajuraho Dance Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals of India exemplifying the classical dance traditions of India. Watching the performances reveal the ageold trends are a visual delight. The Khajuraho dance festival organised by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad, is a one week long festival of classical dances held annually against the backdrop of the majestically lit Khajuraho Temples in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. During the festival, the richness of India's tradition is highlighted through various dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Kathakali. The festival is organised every year in the first week of February. The dances are performed in an open-air auditorium, usually in front of the Chitragupta Temple dedicated to the sun god and the Vishwanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. “Our Indian classical dance culture is extremely rich. This is the only medium which introduces us to beauty and emotions. The renowned temples at Khajuraho is witness to our religious and cultural traditions which was popular worldwide. To protect this legacy is our responsibility. Over the years the Khajuraho dance festival has been successful in evoking public participation in the effort to protect our traditions and culture,” says Surendra Patwa, minister of state for tourism

and culture, Madhya Pradesh. He adds, “This year there will be an Art Mart mela and Behind the Scenes exhibition which will certainly go a long way in popularising the rich cultural diversity of our country.” There are hardly any written records and references to its origin, the history of Khajuraho has become trapped in the mythical folklore of the region. If the myth it is to be believed, Khajuraho was known as 'Khajur-vahika' or 'Khajjurpura' in the ancient times because of its golden date palms (known as 'khajur') that lined the gates of this city. Hemraj, the royal priest of Kashi (the old name for Varanasi), had an exceptionally beautiful daughter named Hemvati, who was unfortunately a child widow. One night, while she was bathing in a lotus-filled pond, the Moon God was in awe of her beauty that he descended to earth in human form full of lust and passion and ravished her. Later, he repented when the distressed Hemvati threatened to curse him for ruining her honour and dignity and blessed her with a valiant son who would later become a king and build the temples of Khajuraho. Hemvati left her home and gave birth to a brave and

strong boy child in the tiny village of Khajjurpura. The child was named Chandravarman and it is said that by the time he was 16 years old, the glorious boy was strong and skilled enough to kill tigers or lions with his bare hands. With the blessings of the Moon God, his father he became a mighty king and built the fortress at Kalinjar. Then heeding to his mother's wishes he built 85 legendary temples surrounded by lakes and gardens at Khajuraho and also performed the bhandya yagya, to wash away the sins of his mother. Yet another version says that Mani Ram, the royal priest of Kalinjar, miscalculated once and declared the dark night as the full moon night in front of the king. Hemvati, his widowed daughter could not bear the possibility of any stigma on her father's reputation and prayed to the Moon God, who smitten by the lady's beauty ravished her in return for his favour. When Mani Ram came to know of this entire incident, he was so ashamed and grief-stricken that he cursed himself and turned into a stone. However, Hemvati gave birth to a virtuous son by the name of sage Chandrateya who is believed to be the founder of the Chandela dynasty.

Dances are performed in an open-air auditorium, usually in front of Chitragupta temple dedicated to the sun god and Vishwanatha temple of Lord Shiva EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD


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India Art Fair

Since its inception in 2009, the India Art Fair, has transformed into a global platform, witnessing participation from Indian and international artists and galleries alike; and constantly fuelling numerous possibilities for tourism, business and culture


ndia Art Fair (IAF), previously known as India Art Summit, is an Indian contemporary art fair held in New Delhi. Since its inception in 2009, the fair has grown to become a global platform exhibiting paintings, sculptures, photography, mixed media, prints, drawings and video art of Indian and international markets. Recently, the sixth edition of the IAF was held from January 30 to February 2, 2014. This year the fair witnessed 91 exhibiting booths and 1000 artists from around the world comprising 50 per cent international and 50 per cent Indian galleries; buyers and collectors from 37 countries; a line up of 24 unique art projects; a wide range of curated walks; first edition of Mentor and Protégé Programme; museums showcasing at the fair; influential voices catering to varied audience of art enthusiasts at the Speakers’ Forum, and an extensive VIP programme across Delhi to provide a holistic cultural experience. The success of IAF has been witnessed in the exponential growth in visitor and participant portfolio over the years. “Over the last five years we have recorded over 400,000 visitors from over 60 countries. The rise in total number of galleries in attendance has been in excess of 300 per cent and of Indian galleries, by 200 per cent since inception. On the international front, gallery participation has seen an upswing of over 400 per cent, since 2008, with the major interest coming from the UK, Europe, UAE and the US,” states Neha Kirpal, founder and director, IAF. The level of international outreach for the sixth edition in-



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Neha Kirpal

cluded participation from museums like Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre, and also Himalayas Art Museum in Shanghai from where a major delegation of Chinese collectors lead by Philip Dodd (chairman, Made in China) attended the fair to enhance Indo-Chinese cultural exchange between collectors and museums, delegations from cultural institutions such as TATE in London and auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's. “The IAF 2014 marked the first private sector led Indo-Chinese cultural exchange programme with a visiting delegation of Chinese collectors, and gallery and museum owners. These dialogues will continue when an Indian delegation goes to Shanghai and Beijing later this year,” reveals Kirpal. This year IAF introduced 12 new galleries from cities including Paris, Lisbon, Cologne, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Karachi. “In terms of scale, IAF through extended collateral events, has helped create an annual citywide arts campaign benefiting the tourism, entertainment and hospitality industries. There is

The government needs to build world class infrastructure and improve the custom and import duties to better support art fairs and internationalisation tremendous international breadth in terms of attracting international artists, galleries, buyers, collectors, auction house and all associated with the art world,” opines Kirpal. The seventh edition of IAF to be held in 2015 will have renowned curator and art critic Girish Shahane joining the art fair organisers as artistic director. Shahane will direct a new Focus Curated Section for projects. Apart from roping in a celebrated personality onto this

artistic platform, IAF is also reaching out to Tier II and Tier III cities for showcasing the artistic talent of these areas. “In an emerging art market in India the IAF needs to be uniquely customised. We endeavour to do this through outreach. IAF is fostering broader connections, appealing to Tier II and Tier III cities who don't have the possibilities,” she reveals. IAF has also reached out to 67 art colleges around the country for an art management pro-

gramme. “This year we introduced the first edition of the Mentor and Protégé Programme in which we select a gifted young artist from India and connect him/her with an artistic master for a year of creative collaboration in a one-onone mentoring relationship,” she states. However, government support is pivotal for the growth of such fairs on a national and international scale. “The government needs to build world class infrastructure and improve the custom and import duties to better support art fairs and internationalisation,” Kirpal argues. “Institutions are certainly gaining popularity and if the government’s level of support is able to match this level of enthusiasm, then it will change everything,” she adds. (As told to Rituparna Chatterjee)



Ganga Mahotsav A cultural fest in the ancient city of Varanasi


he ancient city of Varanasi plays host to one of the most enigmatic festivals in the country, which also happens to be a five-day cultural tourism extravaganza - the Ganga Mahotsav. Organised by the Department of Tourism, Uttar Pradesh. The highlights of Ganga Mahotsav are the cultural programmes that draw visitors from India and overseas. The festivities are focused on showcasing the traditional music forms in the country, with performances by some of the finest exponents of their craft. In many ways Varanasi is the cultural capital of India, and no other event symbolises this best than the Ganga Mahotsav. The festival was started in 1994, and in the last two decades has generated a lot of interest not only across the country but also overseas. The festival has also attracted the attention of global electronic media because of its unique sights and sounds. It is promoted as a multi-faceted tourism product that is a perfect platform for showcasing the culture and art of India before the global community. The festival begins on 'Prabodhini Ekaadashi' of 'Kartik' month in the Hindu lunar calendar and ends with the celebration of lights - 'Dev Deepawali' on the

full-moon day of Kartik Poonima. Millions of tourists, both foreign and domestic, throng on the Ghaats (riverfronts) to witness Dev Deepawali- the floating of the diyas or earthen lamps in a chain on the waters, lit by the devotees. The sight of the diyas floating down the river on the full moon night of Kartik is a mystical spectacle. Though Varanasi lost its

most famous son, Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ganga Mahotsav celebrates every year performances by India's other stalwarts in the field of music. The year 2013 saw performances by - Ramashankar (Varanasi) Shehnai recital; Pt Ronu Majumdar (Mumbai) and Padmashri Dr Kadri Gopalnath (Chennai) duet-Flute and saxophone; Kailash Kher (Mumbai)

A 10-days National Craft Fair is organised in which artisans from more than 20 states of India participate to showcase their intricate handcrafted items. The Shilp Mela is an effort to not only showcase the crafts, but also to ensure the survival of the crafts on the brink of extinction

Sufi vocal; Pt Ajay Pohankar (Mumbai) classical vocal; Padma Vibhushan Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia - flute recital; Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan - Sarod recital; Padmashri Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Jaipur) and Magniyar (Rajasthan) Duet (Desert Slide) Mohan Veena and Rajasthani Folk Art; Nakshyatra Gurukul (Bhuvneshwar) Goti Pua (folk dance Odisha); Abhay Rustum Sopori (New Delhi) - Santoor recital; Padmashri Swami GCD Bharti (New Delhi) - Kabir Gayan; Padmashri Shovana Narayan and group - Kathak ballet. Ganga Mahotsav also offers a great platform to big and small craftsmen from across the country to exhibit and market their products. A 10-days National Craft Fair is organised in

which artisans from more than 20 states of India participate to showcase their intricate handcrafted items. The Shilp Mela is an effort to not only showcase many of the crafts, but is also an important initiative to ensure the survival of the crafts that are almost at the brink of extinction. Ganga Mahotsav is organised every year in the month of October - November. In an effort to simultaneously promote cultural tourism and project a cultural image of the state, a calendar of circuit-centric festivals have been chalked out by UP Tourism. The important fairs and festivals lined up are Ganga Mahotsav in Varanasi, Lucknow Mahotsav, Buddha Mahotsav to be held in Sarnath, Kushinagar and Kapilavastu and Taj Mahotsav in Agra.



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Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival An initiative of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and Jaipur Virasat Foundation, the Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) takes centre-stage when it comes to promoting India's diverse folk music on an international platform


odhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) brings together a mix of eclectic talents from across the world. There are quite a few illustrious names connected to this festival - from Maharaja Gaj Singh of MarwarJodhpur who is the chief patron of the festival to Mick Jagger, who happens to be the international patron. While Jagger only turned up for the first edition in 2007, after six long years, RIFF 2013 saw the 70-year-old bad boy of rock 'n' roll again. RIFF brings together hundreds of musicians and performing artists from across Rajasthan and around the world. For five days in October each year, these musicians celebrate their musical heritage and create new sounds through innovative collaborations. The festival guarantees some of the most sensational performances from local artists and artists from other parts of the world. From the moment the sun sets, heavenly music starts flowing through every corner of the Mehrangarh Fort, getting the crowd ecstatic with the true spirit of Rajasthan. Mehrangarh Fort Festival Jodhpur, is timed to coincide with the brightest full moon of the year in north India, the Sharad Poornima. Jodhpur RIFF features a series of spectacular concerts and events based in and around Mehrangarh Fort. The centre of attraction of the event are performers,


storytellers and artisans from many Rajasthani folk communities. Artists of national and international repute collaborate with local artists and fusing root music from around the world. The programmes include interactive events, live performances and jam sessions, apart from special devotional concerts. Vocal recitals, folk mornings and dawn and sunset devotional concerts complete the performance schedule. Traditional Rajasthani folk, jazz and gypsy dance music feature on the Rajasthani International Folk Festival evening programme. The Mehrangarh Fort stands 400 feet above the skyline of Jodhpur and is a truly breathtaking festival setting. One of the largest forts in India, Mehrangarh Fort is located in the heart of the city of Jodhpur. The fort has a long history and was the home of many great warriors and is an integral part of Rajasthani culture and history with its intricate carvings and wide courtyards. Every year the fort comes alive with sounds of dholaks, guitar riffs, songs and dance. The festival welcomes people to experience the vibrant folk culture of Rajasthan. The festival in the past few years has acquired quite some significance on the nation’s cultural calendar. The five-day festival witnesses a bouquet of interesting performances, which have been lined up besides the regular folk fiesta that is part of the festival every year. One of the interesting per-

formances in 2013 was that of Maya Kamaty - a fifth generation Indian based out of Reunion Islands, a French island in the Indian Ocean. Kamaty's music affirmed the kinship between Indian music and her native Maloya (the melodies have an uncanny similarity with Indian ragas and scales). Maloya music has been named an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Then the SpanishFrench music legend Manu Chao, who on his first India performance, unleashed a cascade of crazy numbers withgenres such as reggae, ska, punk, French chason and Algerian Rai. This year the festival is being held from October 8-12, 2014.


Call of the Nile

Though the revolution has changed many things about Egypt, the call of one of the oldest civilisations on this planet is too strong to pass by. From time immemorial,Giza’s pyramids and the Sphinx have symbolised this ancient land, but today’s Egypt challenges a deeper discovery into its rich cultural and historical treasures By Steena Joy


s one moves from Cairo Airport into the city, it looks as though the political upheaval in this land had never happened. Some signs were there – an increased presence of police and even tanks, but to a tourist visiting for the first time, the thought of a rich past waiting to be explored overides the uncertainties. Dining at the Nile Maxim cruising restaurant is a soothing experience, peppered with the national artform of belly dancing and the Tannoura (an Egyptian folk dance usually performed in Egyptian Sufi festivals in which men wear long colourful skirts and spin around, each colour on the skirt representing one Sufi order). Dancing has always been an integral part of Egyptian life and the country has been known as the home of belly dancing and no matter how many times this artform is watched, it always gives an insight into the traditions of this African country. Water is life Cruising on the Nile river is a must on any itinerary and there are several companies that have state-of-the-art ships that have stops in different places where tourists can disembark and explore ancient temples and monuments. It is a well known fact that the Nile, the longest river in the world, had a great impact on ancient Egypt and allowed the civilisation to thrive on its banks. From agriculture to trading and the construction of temples, the river has influenced the life of

Egyptians in more ways than one. A stop at the Aswan High Dam offers scenic views of Lake Nassar, the huge reservoir (artificial lake) created when it was built. Located near Aswan, the High Dam was an engineering miracle when it was built in the 1960s to control the annual floods on the Nile River. It contains 18 times the material used in the Great Pyramid of Cheops. The two mile long new dam provides irrigation and electricity for the whole of Egypt and has improved navigation along the river by keeping the water flow consistent. The old Aswan Dam was built by the British between 1898 and 1902. Sailing on a feluccca (a traditional wooden sailing boat) on the Nile is another exhilarating experience. Feluccas are still in active use as a means of transport by locals in Aswan and Luxor. Temple tales Though the Luxor and Karnak temples have been popular with most visitors to Egypt, there are other temples that have been discovered which can add to the rich archaeological treasures of this country. One of them is the Philae Temple on Lake Nasser. Philae in Greek meaning 'the end,' defined the southern most part of Egypt. The temple which was begun by Ptolemy II and completed by the Roman Emperors was nearly lost under water when the high Aswan dam was built. A joint operation between the Egyptian

government and UNESCO relocated it on the higher ground of Agilka island. The whole project took ten years. Built of Syenite stone, the temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, three characters which dominate ancient Egyptian culture and are highly reverred. A visit to the granite quarries nearby (there is a broken obelisk here) is also interesting. Another temple, the Kom Ombo Temple is also unique because it is dedicated to two gods, Sobek, the crocodile god (there were once huge numbers of crocodiles at Kom Ombo) and Horus, the falcon-headed god. It stands right on the bank of the Nile between Edfu and Aswan, a convenient stop for river cruises.



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A NEW CONNECTION EgyptAir, national carrier of Egypt, is planning to expand its network in India with the launch of a new route between New Delhi and Cairo, from June 2014. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Magdi Selim, undersecretary head, domestic tourism sector, Egyptian Tourist Authority, said, “We are launching a new connection between New Delhi and Cairo. This service will start very soon in the next three to four months. This new initiative has been taken to increase the tourism footfall to Egypt.�

The complex combines two temples with each one having its own gateways and chapels. The main attraction is the beautiful Outer Hypostyle Hall, with 15 thick columns topped with floral capitals and a cornice decorated with carved winged sun-discs. There is also a sacred well which was used as a Nilometer: priests would calculate taxes for the



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year by measuring the depth of the Nile. Halfway between Aswan and Luxor is the Edfu temple. Dedicated to Horus, this temple is significant because it was built later than most and it is also the second largest in Egypt after Karnak Temple. The sand has helped to preserve the building so it was almost completely in-

tact when it was first excavated by Auguste Mariette in the 1860s. It is believed that after Osiris' murder by his brother Seth, Horus avenged his father's death in a great battle at Edfu. Seth was exiled and Horus took the throne. Don't miss the birth house in this temple complex. The Valley of the Kings in the west bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) is undoubtedly one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The area is a honeycomb of tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and their families. Queen Hatshepsut's Temple located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra. Its unique architectural style has three layered terraces reaching 97 feet and each storey is supported by a double colonnade of square piers. Visitors must also visit the Papyrus Institute in Cairo to discover the unique technology of papyrus making, a closely guarded secret of ancient Egyptians. Cyperus papyrus is a long stemmed plant that grows in damp regions of the Nile Delta.


A ‘focus’ on India This year's Focus Canada event turned out to be a success with new buyers participating at the event, existing buyers reinforcing their interest in Canada along with new products being exhibited to offer a more diverse offering to Indian travellers By Rituparna Chatterjee


he Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) recently hosted its fifth annual Focus Canada – India 2014 event at the Crowne Plaza Kochi. This year, the B2B event witnessed participation from over 60 buyers across India and around 30 sellers from Canada, which included DMCs, hotels, tour operators and tourism boards such as Destination British Columbia, Niagara Falls Tourism Visitor and Convention Bureau, Tourism Jasper, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Ottawa Tourism, Tourism Whistler, Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Victoria, Tourism Quebec and Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation. This event had around 80 per cent buyers participating for the first time and some even coming from Tier II cities. This year, the event also witnessed CTC focusing on spring season selling and introducing new products for the India market. The B2B exchange began with CTC sharing many interesting insights into the current position of India as a source market, and the forecast as to the growth in tourism arrivals to Canada in the current year. According to CTC, Canada witnessed 1,47,000 visitors from

India in 2013 and recorded a 16 per cent growth in arrivals in November and 19 per cent in December despite the rupee depreciation. “This growth was in the last quarter of 2013, since we did winter product marketing. However, overall we ended the year flat,” states Siobhan Chretien, regional managing director – emerging markets, Americas and Asia, CTC. As for 2014, the year is predicted to be flat for Canada with an expected growth of around 0.3 to 0.4 per cent. “This year we are expecting the growth to be constant since there are many competitions in the market and the election is also going to bring uncertainty. However, India is an emerging market for us and we have been getting double digit growth since our entry into this market” adds Chretien. Presently, India ranks eighth as a source market with China and the UK topping the list respectively. In India, Mumbai tops the list followed by Delhi. However, most of the travellers going to Canada are VFRs who visit the US and then go to Canada during their stay. While in Canada the most preferred destination is Niagara Falls, with 80 per cent of the travellers going there. With a focus on boosting numbers from India specially during the spring season, CTC was seen promoting the Canada Signature Experiences Collection at the meet. The Signature



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Experiences is a collection of around 167 products among which 20 to 25 products have been specifically designed for the India market. This year, CTC along with the Canadian sellers were excited about the MICE events that were scheduled to be held mid-2014 wherein two companies - Amway (4000 delegates) and Reliance (200-300 delegates) would be having their conventions at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Furthermore, CTC also threw light on their Rendez-vous Canada 2014 and 2015 to be held in May in Vancouver and Niagara respectively. The event also witnessed CTC speaking about its Canada specialist training programme, an online self tool which works as an effective model for product knowledge. Highlighting on this, Chretien stated, “Presently we have more than 4000 agents under this programme, which is higher than all other countries. This year we are going to make enhancements wherein there will be lot more video interactive trainings, more use of social network – so that agents who have travelled to Canada can share their experiences.” Visa connect The sellers were excited about the visa development announced by Sarah Hayward, manager, temporary resident unit, High Commission of Canada, Government of Canada at the event. According to the announcement, the Government of Canada formulated a new visa policy on February 6, 2014 wherein a single fee of 100 Canadian dollars will be charged for a


multiple-entry tourist visa, which will be valid till the expiry of the passport. The policy will be applicable on both adult and child passports. Highlighting on the reason for this policy, Hayward explains,“Indians like to travel in May and June, which is the vacation period. This development will lead to a jump in tourism numbers specially in repeat customers. Visa applications are increasing and one of the government policy is to promote Canada as an economically strong country.” Plans to open more visa application centres in collaboration with VFS was also announced at the meet. Presently, there are nine visa application centres in India including – Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru to name a few, with a recent one being opened in Pune. Speaking on the processing time taken, Hayward stated that though the processing time is 10 business days, in reality it is four to five days. There has been a growth in approved visa applications, with 2013 recording 111,000 from India as against 88,000 in 2010. Furthermore, a change in permanent immigration policy in 2015 is also on the cards. New offerings With an expectation to tap more numbers from the India market, many Canadian sellers this year were seen exhibiting some of their new offerings to the buyers at the meet. Niagara Cruises will be starting this year attracting second time honeymooners to the Falls, informed Harvey Hamazaki, trade consultant, Asia, Ontario Tourism

Marketing Partnership Corporation. Also the Glacier Skywalk will be opening in May, a new attraction being added by Tourism Jasper. VIA Rail Canada will be adding a new train – Prestige Sleeper Car - to their product offerings. Through this product, VIA Rail is looking at positioning themselves in the luxury segment. The route will be from Toronto to Vancouver and back. Furthermore, an announcement was made on the scheduled opening of The Moose, a 172 room hotel of Banff Lodging Co, in Spring 2016. The hotel will be located next to the Ptarmigan Inn footsteps from downtown Banff. Adding to this was Banff Lake Louise Tourism's announcement of their annual series of events for the period April to July, to target Indian travellers. The festivals will include – ice carving competitions, snowshoe running race, wine and food festival, bike racing, cultural events to name a few. Despite the predicted flat year for Canada by CTC, the growth in tourism numbers from India for British Columbia (BC) would remain positive, which was expressed by all the Canadian sellers. The reasons being the new visa policy, burgeoning middle class travellers, BC's focus on new regions this Spring, etc. “We expect a seven per cent growth in tourism arrivals in 2014, despite the predicted growth by CTC. We are promoting three regions this year – Hedley, Kelowna and Osoyoos. We are also working with the Aboriginal Tourism BC for the India market,” opines Monica Leeck, market development manager – Asia, Destination BC.


Savvy on social media Social media guru’s programme is part of extensive debut of educational opportunities for cruise industry at 10th anniversary conference of CLIA


ATHERINE HEEG, a tourism, travel and hospitality industry expert with over three decades of experience, will demystify social media as well as present best practices for success during the 10th annual Cruise3sixty conference and trade show. The only official North American travel agent cruise conference from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the event will take place from April 2-6, 2014 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Heeg’s two one-hour workshops are included in the 10 new courses that are part of a completely redesigned CLIA educational curriculum, which has been completely retooled, based on travel agent feedback, to be more contemporary in content and format, including shorter and more online course availability. “CLIA has set a high priority on helping its travel agent members leverage social media to market services and grow their business,” says Margaret Murphy, CLIA’s senior VP, marketing and trade relations. “An expert of Heeg’s caliber can significantly advance social media awareness and capabilities with conference attendees in what has become an essential communications, marketing, and customer service channel.” Integrating the new with traditional Heeg, based in Calgary, is founder of Customised Management Solutions and is a recognised social media trail

Attendees walk away with the how-to’s and tools to easily make a difference in their social presence and, importantly, how to effectively conduct business in the 21st century

blazer who successfully integrates new media with traditional marketing practices. A frequent speaker at travel, tourism and hospitality industry conferences, she trains sales and marketing teams in social media marketing, sales and communications. “I am committed to helping agents quickly learn the best ways to leverage the power of social media by providing proven tactics to reach target audiences, differentiate themselves and achieve authentic visibility that translates into winning results,” says Heeg. She adds, “Vital changes abound in the world of social media and these new sessions bring up-to-the minute strategies that can be implemented immediately. Attendees walk away with the how-to’s and tools to easily make a difference in their social presence and, more importantly, how to effectively conduct business in the 21st century.” Heeg’s social media workshops at cruise3sixty will include 'Facebook 2014 –What You Need to Know Now', which will focus on savvy social media practices to grow fan bases, and Heeg’s 'Get Your Geek On! – Emerging and Evolving Social Media You Need to Know About' workshop, which explores the varied and most popular social platforms in use today, as well as the essential tools for video applications, microsites and blogging, while clarifying recent and projected advances in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. The 10 new CLIA educational seminars coincide

with the 10th anniversary of cruise3sixty. The educational programme, together with an expected record 25-plus ships available for inspection, will enable agents to earn more CLIA certification credits than at any previous cruise3sixty conference. Expert insights Four of the cruise industry’s most influential leaders will offer their expert insight to an audience of CLIA member agents during a panel on the first day of Cruise3sixty 2014. The four top executives who will be part of the panel include Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation; Richard D Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises; Kevin Sheehan, CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line; and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. The panel is part of CLIA's vision to continuously innovate and bring the best tools to member agents based on their needs. “It is an honour to have four of the cruise industry’s top leaders lend their incredible knowledge to our most important event of the year. For our member agents in attendance, hearing from these successful leaders and their vision for the future is sure to be a great way to kick off the conference,” says Duffy. In addition to the executive panel, he will deliver the keynote address offering an overview of the current state of the cruise industry and CLIA’s continued commitment to the travel agent community.



March 2014

MOVEMENTS VIJAY KESAVAN has been appointed as the CEO for Indian operations at In his new role, Kesavan will be responsible for driving’s business strat-

large International renewable energy companies seeking entry into the Indian market, and has acted as a key liaison between them and the Indian Government in Renewable Energy and Waste Management projects.

Thomas Cook

Airbus Corporate Jets

Vijay Kesavan

egy which is aimed at capturing the brand’s position among the top Online Travel Agency (OTA) in India. Prior to this appointment, Kesavan ran operations for Thomas Cook as the senior vice-president and head of online sales and distribution. Kesavan started his career with the Interglobe Technology Quotient, and has worked with companies like and Indigo Airlines

Thai AirAsia X NADDA BURANASIRI has been appointed as the chief executive officer at Thai AirAsia X. Buranasiri brings with him more than 20 years of international general management experience across global multinational organisations.

VistaJet Group Holding S.A SHEENA DE BOISGELIN has been apponted as the country head - India for VistaJet Holdings SA. In her new role, Boisgelin will play a pivotal role in strategic business development within the territories of India and Europe. Boisgelin began her career with the British Multinational Corporation International Computers, after which she joined Dassault Aviation as a strategic relationship manager. She has represented



March 2014

BENOIT DEFFORGE has been appointed as managing director of Airbus Corporate Jets. He now leads Airbus’ corporate jet business globally, combining his new role with that of his previous one as head of the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC). Defforge, 49, graduated with an Engineering Diploma from the Ecole National Superiéur d’Arts et Métiers in Paris in 1987, and an INSEAD Business Diploma in 2011.

Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Airlines has promoted RON ANDERSONLEHMAN to executive vice president and chief administrative officer. He previously served as senior vice president and chief information officer, a position he has held since joining the company in June 2012. In his new role, he will take on direct oversight of the airline's human resources, legal and strategic procurement departments while retaining his responsibility for the information technology, facilities and strategy and transformation teams.

Bermuda Tourism Authority Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) has announced the appointment of BILL HANBURY as CEO. He will report to the board of directors. BTA has also appointed five new employees. The former director of marketing and operations for Bermuda Tourism Board, ERIN SMITH will now join as director of research and business intelligence. She will support Bermuda’s tourism prod-


uct development, marketing and investment strategies. TASHAE THOMPSON has been hired as the culture and leisure events manager. Thompson earlier worked for the Bermuda Department of Tourism, (BDOT) which officially hands over control of the industry to the BTA on March 1. She will be charged with developing and managing leisure and cultural events and experiences for visitors to Bermuda. The former manager, sports marketing of BDOT ADAM BARBOZA is now sports and event development manager of BTA. Barboza has been with BDOT since 2002. LYN WINFORD has been hired as creative services manager. She will be working with the marketing manager to develop all inventive resources for sales, trade shows and events, external customers, and agencies. The former project coordinator RASHEEDA BURGESS will now join in the product and experience development department as assistant product development manager.

Thomas Cook Group has announced the appointment of REMO MASALA as the new group head of marketing, who will oversee the development of the group’s online and offline programmes. Joining the team from Kuoni Travel, Masala will help Thomas Cook deliver tangible results across Groupwide marketing activities, enabling each region to provide clearer marketing incentives, to drive increased customer acquisition and retention from both high street and online sources.

and compliance; supply chain management; Delta Connection; Delta Private Jets and Delta Global Services.

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, announced JOHN S REGO as the company’s new chief financial officer. Rego brings nearly three decades of finance, accounting

Tourism Authority of Thailand has appointed SUPAKAN YODCHUN as assistant director at its Mumbai Office which oversees western and southern India. Previously, Yodchun was the assistant director, Tourism

John S Rego

Delta Airlines Delta Air Lines has appointed WAYNE GILBERT WEST to executive vice president and chief operating officer. West joined Delta in 2008 as senior vice president – airport customer service. In the role of COO, he will continue to have oversight of Delta's Airport customer service and Delta TechOps, in addition to flight operations; in-flight service; the operations and customer center; corporate safety, security

Virgin Galactic

Supakan Yodchun

Authority of Thailand Central Region (Phetchaburi). She started her career at TAT over two decades ago, in 1993. Her first placement was at the Tourist Business and Guide Registration Office, Southern Region (Phuket).

and operations experience to the commercial space company. As CFO, Rego will provide overall strategic and operational direction to Virgin Galactic’s accounting, finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury, risk and tax activities. Rego’s nearly 30-year financial career is rooted in leadership and management positions.He joins Virgin Galactic after serving as CFO for AppSense, Inc., a U.K.-based enterprise software company, headquartered in New York.




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March 2014 39


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TRADITIONAL BEGINNING Bhupinder Singh Hooda (centre), CM, Haryana SERVICE EXCELLENCE L-R: Pratik Mehta, assistant VP, AISATS Bengaluru, and Mahenthiren P, senior VP, AISATS Bengaluru received the ‘Air Cargo Terminal Management Award’ 2014 by ICC from Dinesh Rai, chairman, Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) and Oscar Fernandes, minister of road transport and highways, Government of India at the event held in New Delhi at Le Meridien Hotel

lighting the traditional Goan lamp 'divli' to mark the inauguration of the 28th Surajkund International Crafts Mela, Haryana in the presence of Francis D'Souza, deputy CM, Goa; Dilip Parulekar, minister of tourism, Goa; High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India Prasad Kariyawasam; Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan, Saidbeg Saidov; minister of tourism of Buganda Kingdom Rita Namyalo Kisitu; Chakrvrty Sharma, chairman, Haryana Tourism Corporation and Vijay Vardhan, principal secretary tourism, Haryana

RECOGNISING EXCELLENCE Kuoni India recently celebrated an evening of Excellence at the Kuoni Fellowship Awards held at the Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai to honour the achievers of Kuoni India

ON A PILGRIM Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla recently flagged off the 'Panj

GRAND WELCOME L-R: (centre )Dr GVK Reddy, executive chairman, GVK MIAL and G V Sanjay Reddy, MD, GVK MIAL welcomed the first set of passengers at T2 in the check-in hall on the first day of the terminal’s operations of GVK Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai

PRESTIGE GAME Garha Hotels recently sponsored one of the most prestigious

Takht Special' train for the pilgrimage of five Sikh takhts at Dhuri railway station amid jubilation

tournaments of India Polo Calendar, the ‘Northern India Polo Championship’, while the co-sponsors included Royal Salute and EFG Bank, held at the Jaipur Polo Ground



March 2014



HIGH-FLYING PROJECT L-R: Sumit Mullick, additional chief secretary and chief protocol officer, Government of Maharashtra; Jagdish Patil, managing director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC); Satish Soni, joint managing director, MTDC at the launch of MEHAIR seaplane services in Mumbai

WINE EXTRAVAGANZA L-R: Marta Santos, director of sales, Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, Algarve; Joana Melo, director of sales and marketing, Penha Longa A Ritz-Carlton Hotel; Luis Sousa, manager, Mr Travel Portugal and Cristina Martins, sales executive, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon at the Portugal wine and dinner event held in Mumbai

STAR-STUDDED AFFAIR L-R: Disha Parmar and Nakuul Mehta (star cast of Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaara serial on Star Plus); Brett Lee, Australian cricketer and sports celebrity; and Louise Asher, minister for tourism and major events, State Government of Victoria at the Tourism Victoria Super Trade Mission 2014 held in Mumbai

ADDING CONNECTIONS Jet Airways recently launched Bengaluru’s maiden international flight to the Gulf, connecting Bengaluru with Abu Dhabi


EVENTFUL GLITTERATI L-R: Mookhesswur Choonee, minister of art and culture, Mauritius; Kamlesh Pandey, writer; Mukesh Bhatt, Indian film producer; and chief guest and Indian film director, Ramesh Sippy, at the inauguration of the IIFTC Conclave 2014

NEW OFFERINGS The Switzerland Tourism recently visited Mumbai to announce 2014 as the year of 'Views'


Express Travelworld March, 2014  

THE SOUND OF MUSIC Over the past decarde, music and dance festivals have attracted a loyal audience in India and from overseas with people e...