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A sustainable growth


he month of March witnesses the globe's largest travel and tourism gathering – ITB Berlin. The world almost descends in Germany to understand new markets and businesses or to just re-affirm their partnerships with existing partners. India too has a place in the market, wherein both the public and private sector players related to the tourism industry make their presence felt. The private sector stakeholders surely have a strategy in place to expand their business network and seek new opportunities for growth. The question is about the state tourism boards. Barring a few who have a clearly defined agenda for such global events, for many it’s just an international event, which is an interesting break from the routine. I feel it is time, state tourism boards also unite to offer the world the few but magnificent tourism circuits that give the inbound clientele a strong reason to visit India. The Delhi-Agra-Jaipur circuit undoubtedly is a winner, but I am sure somewhere in the distant past, that circuit too had to be marketed right. India has some extraordinary wildlife

HEAD OFFICE MUMBAI EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD® The Indian Express (P) Ltd. Business Publication Division 2nd Floor, Express Tower, Nariman Point Mumbai- 400 021 Board line: 022- 67440000 Ext. 527 Branch Offices NEW DELHI Prabhas Jha The Indian Express (P) Ltd. Business Publication Division Express Building, B-1/B Sector 10 Noida 201 301 Dist.Gautam Budh nagar (U.P.) India. Board line: 0120-6651500. Mobile: +91 9899707440 BANGALORE Mathen Mathew The Indian Express (P) Ltd. Business Publication Division 502, 5th Floor, Devatha Plaza, Residency road, Bangalore- 560025 Mobile: +91 9840826366

“I feel it is time, state tourism boards also unite to offer the world the few but magnificent tourism circuits that give the inbound clientele a strong reason to visit India”

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experiences. The Eastern Maharashtra zone moving into Madhya Pradesh has some super trails to explore. The East of India into the North East is another jewel while Kaziranga has its own story. Our cover story this issue is dedicated to India's ecotourism hotspots. There are those who painstakingly push the envelope forward in the field of sustainable and responsible tourism. It's important to celebrate the contributions of such work in a field that does not believe in instant gratification. On the other hand, the work is about grit and prolonged gestation so that Gen-next gains. To cite an example is the story of Manipur, featured within this issue's news section. The state looks committed to promoting ecotourism. The Government of Manipur has taken up the ‘Integrated Tourist Destination of Ecotourism Complex’ project at Mata Mualtam Hyde Out Park in the Churachandpur district of Manipur with funding from the ministry of tourism, Government of India in 2013-2014. Hope this tribe increases both in the private and the public domains.

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March 2017

CONTENTS MANAGEMENT Vol 12 No 2 March 2017 Pages 40


Chairman of the Board

Viveck Goenka Sr Vice President - BPD

Neil Viegas Editor

Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor


Steena Joy Sr. Associate Editor

Sudipta Dev CONTENT TEAM New Delhi

Saloni Bhatia DESIGN National Design Editor

Bivash Barua Assistant Art Director

Pravin Temble


Senior Artists

Ratilal Ladani, Rajesh Jadhav



Ashish Anchan Photo Editor

Sandeep Patil


MARKETING Regional Heads

Harit Mohanty - East & West Prabhas Jha - North Marketing Team

Debnarayan Dutta Ajanta Sengupta Mathen Mathew CIRCULATION

Mohan Varadakar

ATRYSTWITH NATURE As the UN has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we take a look at some of India’s ecotourism hotspots


PRODUCTION General Manager


B R Tipnis Manager

Bhadresh Valia Express TravelWorld®



POSTAL REGD. NO. MCS/163/2016 – 18 RNI Reg. No.MAHENG/2005/15993




Printed by The Indian Express (P) Ltd. and published by Ms Vaidehi Thakar on behalf of The Indian Express Press, Plot No. EL-208, TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, Navi Mumbai - 400710 and Published from Express Towers, 2nd Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021. (Editorial & Administrative Offices:


Express Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400021)






Copyright © 2017 The Indian Express (P) Limited. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner, electronic or otherwise, in whole or in part, without prior written permission is prohibited. *Responsible for selection of news under PRB Act


Manipur looks to Modi govt's Regional Connectivity Scheme to increase tourist footfalls Steena Joy Mumbai BEING a landlocked region, for Manipur and most parts of North East India, connectivity has always been a pain point for years. That is why the region has lauded the Modi government's Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) which can change its tourism story. In an exclusive interview with Express TravelWorld, N Ashok Kumar, secretary (tourism), Government of Manipur stated, "Being a far-flung state, we rely mostly on air travel. Imphal is well connected by air with the major cities of India. The introduction of short haul flights and affordable flying under the RCS will help connect Imphal with the other smaller cities in the country which will definitely increase the tourist footfall in the state." He added, "What Manipur needs right now is a robust and concrete infrastructure not only on interstate connectivity but also intrastate infrastructure to connect the various districts and villages within the state. Once we set these basic infrastructures in position, tourism will grow exponentially in the state. We also need a focused approach from the Centre to help us in initiating mega promotion campaigns to promote the state." Elaborating on the new tourism projects that will be rolled out this year, he said, "Manipur Tourism has initiated various infrastructure development schemes to promote tourism in the state. Some of the major



March 2017

N Ashok Kumar

projects to look out for will be the development of the Spiritual Circuit in Manipur – Shree Shree Govindajee Temple-Shree Bijoy Govindajee Temple-Shree Gopinath Temple-Shree Bungshibodhon Temple and the development of Integrated Tourist Circuits connecting the districts in Manipur. At this point, we are more focused on ramping up our promotions for the existing tourist destinations in the state. We do have plans to identify, develop, and promote new destinations. However, our priority for now is to boost the existing destinations before we venture into new areas." The Asian Development Bank has identified Manipur as a ‘Key Area’ due to its unrealised potential as an ecotourism product. Manipur Tourism is committed to promoting ecotourism in the state. The Government of Manipur has taken up the ‘Integrated Tourist Destination of Ecotourism Complex’ project at Mata Mualtam Hyde Out

Park in the Churachandpur district of Manipur with funding from the ministry of tourism, Government of India in 2013-2014. Commenting on the tourism department's strategy to protect the Loktak Lake (the only floating national park in the world) and to balance tourism development projects with ecotourism goals, Kumar said, "Loktak Lake is a principal attraction for any traveller visiting Manipur. The lake plays a crucial part in boosting the tourism potential of the state. It is also at a juncture where the ecological balance of the lake is being destroyed. It is our priority to preserve the lake. A lot of awareness campaigns are being conducted to educate the people on the importance of the lake, its present situation, and how we need to conserve it. Several projects to clean up the lake are being taken up with the help of the locals and the Loktak Development Authority. Ecotourism is one of our focus areas and we are working on finding ways to develop it further without hurting the ecosystem of the lake." The concept of homestay is relatively new in Manipur and has been slowly gaining momentum. Manipur Tourism is currently promoting homestays at private properties in the state. "We are also working closely with interested parties to identify suitable places to set up homestays in and around Imphal and the major hill districts of Manipur," informed Kumar.

The advent of polo holidays Sudipta Dev Mumbai POLOFACTORY is a brand created out of love for polo by co-founders Jai Singh and Vikramaditya Barkana, both Mayo College classmates. Along with designing and manufacturing polo equipment /fashion wear and accessories, the company also organises bespoke polo holidays in destinations like the UK, Argentina and New Zealand. Explaining what inspired them to launch polo holidays, Singh said, “In polo, professional players get to travel all over the world for competitive polo. We wanted to bring the opportunity to travel and play in various destinations to beginners and amateurs. The setting was perfect as polo throughout the world is popular in such beautiful locations that the cocktail of polo plus holidays was bound to be successful. Also, playing abroad is great for skill development for beginners. Complete beginners can also go. It's a great way to begin playing.” For a game that is played in more than 50 countries across the world, the duo see immense possibilities in the niche segment. The countries which have a thriving polo scene are the

UK, the US and Argentina. “Other polo hotspots include New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Dubai, China, Chile, Thailand and Spain. Other variants of polo are played in Mongolia and Nepal - where you can find Yak Polo and Elephant Polo,”said Barkana, pointing out that Switzerland is the destination for snow polo while locations in Caribbean offer beach polo. Not surprisingly, the profile of Indian polo travellers are successful and adventurous young people from big business houses or the banking sector. “Many times they're travelling with their entire family. They usually do not need to be sold the idea of a polo holiday, they're already keen to travel abroad to play and just need someone like us to sort it out for them,” mentioned Singh. Polofactory is also promoting polo holidays for the inbound segment in Jodhpur and Jaipur. “Besides having great infrastructure for polo, the culturally/historically rich and tourist friendly nature of these locations make them excellent destinations,” mentioned Barkana. They are also keen to promote other variants of polo in Manipur and Ladakh.


'OUR BRAND FOCUS IS IN LINE WITH THE GOVT'S VISION TO IMPROVE REGIONALCONNECTIVITY' Amar Abrol, MD and CEO, AirAsia India speaks about the airline's plans for adding more destinations across the country and the training focus with the launch of its new training facility in India By Sudipta Dev How do you perceive the growth story of AirAsia India? The Indian aviation industry, growing by more than 20 per cent, is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. AirAsia India finds great scope for growth in India and we are here for the long run. 2016 was a significant year for AirAsia India that we’d like to talk about. In December 2016, AirAsia India’s headcount crossed the 1000 mark and our overall sales and revenues hit a triple digit figure the same month, breaking all records since inception.

ations across the country ? Our brand focus is in line with the government’s vision to improve regional connectivity. We added Srinagar and Bagdogra to our network of destinations in January this year and plan to add more destinations and seep deeper in the Indian market in the coming months. Kolkata will be our next base that will come up in the next few months. One of our key investments this year will also be on talent recruitment; we intend to increase our head count significantly this year to support our operations.

What remains your focused strategy for increasing oper-

How are you positioning the brand USP of Air Asia for

ing out to new and aspirational flyers, with youth and family as primary focus. We are working towards establishing ourselves as an airline of choice and to enable every Indian to fly, whether it is a planned or a last minute travel.

Amar Abrol

the Indian domestic traveller ? AirAsia India is focussing on increasing its connectivity across the country by reach-

Your training focus, particularly with the launch of the new academy. In our efforts towards establishing AirAsia India as an airline of choice, we believe that training our Allstars the AirAsia way plays a crucial role in achieving it. Our new training facility, Anaz Red Wings is equipped with advanced coaching equipment to

impart practical scenariobased trainings to all our operations staff to manage any security risk or emergency seamlessly. Our training facility also boasts of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India (BCAS) approved Aviation Security Training Institute (ASTI) to train all security and non-security staff on effectively managing all kinds of security risk. The ASTI wing is credited to have secured the fastest approval from the BCAS. This year, we will also have increased focus on corporate training and strengthen all other areas apart from just operational modules.

Honeywell's software reduces airline fuel cost Sudipta Dev Mumbai JET AIRWAYS has joined the list of global airlines including Etihad Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Turkish Airlines, using Honeywell's GoDirect Fuel Efficiency software which reportedly ensures fuel savings of more than 2 per cent annually. Considering that fuel accounts for 20 to 40 per cent of the total costs of an airline, it can make a significant difference. “This software provides a full range of data analysis, reporting and monitoring tools for enhanced fuel conservation and enables various airlines to reduce fuel

use and costs. It keeps track of the actual and planned data for each flight, and every flight can be thoroughly analysed and compared with the target values to be achieved,” said Sasi (Sunny) Kancharla, customer business leader, Air Transport & Regional, India, Honeywell Aerospace. The software is a part of Honeywell’s GoDirect Flight Services suite of Connected Aircraft technology, which provides aviation operators, flight crews and maintenance teams the information they need to control their flight processes. Kancharla informed that the key features include collection of data auto-

matically from the various IT systems of an airline; checking and improving the quality of fuel data; providing sophisticated analysis-tools to identify fuel savings potential; providing tools to monitor the progress of the fuel efficiency improvement program; and communicating the results. Kancharla added, “The crucial aspect for a fuel efficiency improvement program is to have high quality data that can help optimise the operating costs and margins. GoDirect Fuel Efficiency achieves this by applying a broad set of validation and check routines, such as cross-checks, completeness checks, statistical checks and

gross-error checks. Use of this software can help airlines optimise operating margins by four percent and reduce the costs by two percent.” The software contains more than 100 ready-made reports to identify fuel savings potential.

Pointing out that Jet Airways is the launch partner in India, Kancharla mentioned, “The flexibility of the software allows it to integrate with Jet Airways’ existing aircraft systems, thereby enabling fast deployment and the ability to support fleet growth.”



March 2017


Zoom Air launches as India’s 10th scheduled carrier Saloni Bhatia New Delhi INDIA’S LATEST private airline, Zoom Air has joined in supporting the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) by the ministry of tourism, as it started scheduled daily operation on Delhi - Kolkata - Durgapur - Delhi sector on February 15. The inaugural flight was launched in New Delhi by Ashok Gajapati Raju, minister of civil aviation. As India’s 10th scheduled carrier for the domestic skies, Zoom Air will be a premium airline catering to the Tier II and Tier III cities. Speaking on the occasion, Koustav M Dhar, director and CEO, Zoom Air, stated, “Delhi

will serve as the airline’s primary base terminal with daily services to major cities like Mumbai and Kolkata. We plan to fill the gap by reaching out to Tier II and Tier III cities unlike other airlines serving the main hubs.” The airline will be operating from India’s two main international airports Delhi Airport's Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 of Mumbai Airport. The airline will be reaching out to 14 to 15 more locations by the end of 2017, which will include Tirupati, Vijaywada, Shillong, Ziro (Arunchal Pradesh), Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Indore, Bhopal, Aizawl, Pasighat among others. Commenting on the airline's funding, Dhar said, “We

have started with 20-crore feeder capital brought in by the partners of the company. The aircraft have been taken on a fixed lease cost. The under-

served and un-served airports have a huge potential and we have seen such massive air growth in Vijaywada, Tirupati, Ranchi and Chandigarh. We

plan to breakeven in the next 24 months.” The airline has also started an initiative to have at least one lady pilot on board.

Vietjet Air's Delhi-Vietnam direct flight to start in July Saloni Bhatia New Delhi VIETJET AIR, a low cost airline from Vietnam, will be launching a thrice-weekly direct flight from New Delhi to Ho Chi Minh city, commencing services July this year. Currently there are no direct flights to the city which sees India as a big potential market in the future. Speaking at a recent event, Nguyen Bac Toan, vice director – commercial department, Vietjet Air, stated, “Seeing the growth of arrivals from the India market, we have planned to launch direct flights to Ho Chi Minh



March 2017

city starting July this year. The flight, scheduled for thrice a week, will take five hours and 30 minutes to reach Vietnam. This will cut down the transit time by 50 per cent, as it takes about roughly 10 hours on stopover flights.” The airline will operate Airbus A320 aircraft on this route, offering 180 seats. Initially the airline is looking to reach 80 per cent of load factor on both the routes and is hopeful to see the numbers increasing in the future. Toan mentioned that this is the first phase of Vietjet Air's expansion plans in India. “We are facing direct

The airline will operate Airbus A320 aircraft on this route, offering 180 seats. Initially the airline is looking to reach 80 per cent of load factor on both the routes and is hopeful to see the numbers increasing in the future competition from Air India, Jet Airways and other airlines on the same route, but we will be looking at partner-

ships with airlines to add more domestic connectivity within India. The second phase might see more fre-

quency of flights and addition of other destinations within the country. India is a big potential market and we are looking to expand our network here,” he added. In December last year, Vietjet Air and Air India had signed an MoU for co-operation on supply of aviation services connecting the two countries. The MoU was signed by Dinh Viet Phuong, vice president, Vietjet Air and Pankaj Srivastava, director – commercial and board member, Air India, as part of the agenda of H E Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan's (chairperson, Vietnam National Assembly) official visit to India.


ETAAorganises 1st travel agents meet; ETAA Convention to be held in March

J&K to revive tourism with focus on Kargil region Mohit Rathod Mumbai WITH FRESH FOCUS on Leh, Ladakh and Kargil region, the Jammu and Kashmir government will be spending `2,400 crore on development of tourism infrastructure in this region in the next four years. This announcement is part of the state government's efforts to revive the state’s tourism industry amidst the aftereffect of the recent reports of disturbance in the valley. Haji Anayat Ali, chairman, J&K State Legislative Council, said, "Our Chief Minister is aggressive in promoting the region. She has assured the travel and tourism industry all the required support. We have been spending over `50 crore annually in Kargil region, in terms of tourism. We have also received many proposals for setting up hotels, which will ensure efficient accomodation infrastructure. We will also

organise a mega event this year, which will coincide with Ambernath Yatra." At a recent conference in Mumbai, the tourism department of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), also launched a dedicated tourism website for the region – "We have an objective of placing Kargil on J&K's tourism map. Kargil is a secluded area and offers experiences that are unique to the destination. Tourism is important for Kargil, so we have to support tourism to sustain the regional economy," stated Kacho Ahmed Ali Khan, chairman and chief executive councilor, LAHDC. AirAsia, earlier last month, started twice-daily direct flights between Delhi and Srinagar, which is expected to augur well for overall tourism in the state. The airline had further indicated plans to

connect Srinagar with other destinations in India. "Under the leadership of our Chief Minister, we have upgraded tourism infrastructure in areas of golf and MICE to meet international standards. Apart the the existing conference facilities in major cities, one more facility is being set up in Leh. We are also tapping film tourism segment, as it develops the econnomy and promotes the destination. The travel industry has been very supportive to us, even in bad times. Tourism is the only economy for Kargil and Leh as no other industry can be set up there due to geographical conditions, which makes it even more important to develop tourism there. The J&K government will spend `2400 crore on tourism infrastructure in Kargil and Leh in the next four years," added Farooq A Shah, secretary (tourism), Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

ETW Staff Mumbai ENTERPRISING Travel Agents Association (ETAA) recently organised its first 'Travel Agents Meet' in Hyderabad, at Hotel Royalton. The event was graced by ETAA committee including Carl Dantas, chairman emeritus; Jagat Mehta, president; Abhijit Khadilkar, national general secretary; Dipti Thakoor, national joint secretary; Dharmesh Advani, treasurer; and M P Joy, South India chapter chairman. Over 70 travel agents from Hyderabad and surrounding cities, and from various associations attended the event. There was a brief knowledge session by Trawelltag, initiated by

Dev Karvat, managing director pf Trawelltag and and conducted by renowned trainer, Aman Koushik. Mehta introduced to the gathering the history of ETAA and the various activities it conducts to educate its members. Thakoor updated the members in detail about ETAA and the benefits of being an ETAA member. Dantas, who is also the founder member of ETAA, briefed the gathering about the idea of networking in ETAA. ETAA National Board and Regional Chapters will welcome its members, special invitees and sponsors for its upcoming ETAA Convention at Leonia Resorts, Hyderabad from March 3 to 5, 2017.



March 2017


MSC Cruises chalks out strategies for growth from India Mohit Rathod Mumbai MSC Cruises has highlighted key factors of its 2017 strategy in the India market. The cruise company has chalked out several areas of focus, which will drive cruise tourist growth for MSC Cruises. Speaking about the market here, Angelo Capurro, executive commercial director, MSC Cruises, said, "The year 2016 was positive for us in India, with our business reporting growth. India is not yet one of the biggest markets for us, but we are implementing our strategy to drive growth from this market. We need to now increase our focus on the India market." MSC Cruises aims to achieve a target growth of five million global passengers by 2026, from the two million pas-

sengers recorded last year. The company has revealed that it will induct 11 new ships by 2026, spread across various phases. This move will include an investment of nine billion Euros and provide an addiotional capacity of 67,531 passengers. The route-based deployment of these ships is yet to be revealed. "Induction of new ships in our fleet will play a good role in driving this growth, as travellers are showing interest in new ships," added Capurro. In 2016, India emerged as the top source market for cruise tourism in Dubai. Realising the potential, MSC Cruises, which already has a significant presence in the GCC, plans to leverage India's positioning in Dubai's cruise market to develop business from India.

Angelo Capurro

Induction of new ships in our fleet will play a good role in driving this growth as travellers are showing interest

Commenting on plans to connect India directly to its routes, he stated, "Cruise-related infrastructure in India needs to be developed to accomodate big ships, as MSC's fleet is young and a large part

of it consists big ships. For growth in India, we need to promote the right iteneraries, which play an important role in driving growth. Our Mediterranean itineraries are the most popular among Indian cruise

tourists. We have a strategy in place for 2017 which includes co-ordination with Indian travel companies and tour operators. We have a sustainable marketing plan." MSC Cruises, currently, is the only cruise company operating cruises to Cuba, which will also be promoted in India. "We see a lot of potential in the MICE segment too. However, a challenge in MICE business is the length of cruise itineraries since a large part of cruise tourism consists leisure. We can work on spliting the itineraries into two parts – MICE and leisure – for business travellers. Cruises are a good option for MICE also because its inclusive nature, taking care of everything including food, accomodation, venues, events etc," added Capurro.

Indonesia banks upon Bali to drive tourism growth in new destinations Mohit Rathod Mumbai RECORDING 336,575 Indian arrivals in 2016, Indonesia is bullish on achieving significant growth in 2017. Indian tourist arrivals to Bali itself have been marked at 186,638 which indicated an increase of 57.61 per cent compared to 2015 and has placed India as the fifth largest international source market for Bali. In a bid to further grow Indian tourist arrivals to Indonesia, the Ministry of



March 2017

Tourism of Indonesia will promote other destinations, alongside Bali this year. However, a significant focus will be given to tourist arrivals to Bali, which will then drive footfalls in other destinations. "We want to work through a hub-and-spoke model. Bali brings people in the country; then we can introduce more places and attractions in Bali and other places, where there is deep sea diving and coral watching," informed Igde Pitana, Deputy Minister for International Marketing, Min-

istry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia. Saut Siringoringo, consul general, Indonesian Consulate General in Mumbai, said, "Bali is a famous destination in Indonesia, but we are promoting other destinations too and we expect air connectivity to them. Many destinations are growing in terms of tourism offerings and I urge Indians to visit other destinations once they have already visited Bali," while adding that this year, Indonesia will be promoting 10 new destinations in

the India market which include Lake Toba, Thousand Islands, Tanjung Lesung Beach, Morotai Island among others. The Indonesian government, in its 2017 plan, has stipulated that tourism must increase international arrivals to 15 million, an increase of 25 per cent over 2016 achievements which will result in a 13 per cent share to the national GDP. By 2019, the country aims to achieve a target income of 19 per cent from tourism and 20 million inter-

national tourist arrivals. "We are involved in a lot of campaigns. Our free visa policy will also play a crucial role in achieving these targets. We are also undertaking international airport development and are banking upon 2018 Asian Games which will be hosted in Jakarta," added Siringoringo. The Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia has earlier this year, also organised a travel trade show in Mumbai, as part of its efforts under the 2017 strategy.


South Africa designs products for India market, regions Sudipta Dev Mumbai SOUTH AFRICA recently organised its annual four-city roadshow – in Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai. Acknowledging that the roadshow this year has been phenomenal, Hanneli Slabber, country manager, SA Tourism India, said, “The Indian travel agents are appreciating the fact that it is so big. We have had to say no to so many South African products who wanted to come to the roadshow. We have space for only 65 products and the challenge of moving 122 people across India. In both Chennai and Bengaluru we have trippled the number of agents that we had the previous years and in Delhi we doubled up. In Mumbai also there has been significant increase in number of agents.” There are many products that are for sale only in India, with specific permutations. For example a 90 minute canopy tour experience on zipline. “However we learned that we cannot put the same products in all cities. In

Hanneli Slabber

Kolkata for example, we get questions on lifestyle, art galleries, while in Mumbai we get a lot of questions on adventure. So we need to design for the region,” Slabber stated, cautioning that with increase in business they have had to be careful. “We have no problem with B2B business, the only problem happens when it is B2B2B2B2B, so the traveller pays a lakh for the holiday, when on the ground it is `40,000, then you start running into for value for money issue as the traveller is ex-

pecting a holiday of one lakh,” she pointed out. The roadshow provides quality guarantees to the travel agents. There is a significant amount of interest from the younger generation to travel to South Africa. The accommodation options are also accordingly suitable for their budget and requirement. “They do not need to stay in a five star and that is the kind of education that Indian travel agents need to be given. Over 50 per cent of business is incentive travel,”mentioned Slabber. South Africa faced a lot of problem last year with availability and capacity specifically with Cape Town over December. Almost 70 per cent of Indian travellers book less than a month in advance, while other markets do their booking much earlier. A lot of business has been pushed out of the main cities, which are now used as gateways and the roadshow witnessed focus on destinations like Oudtshoorn which has 150 activities in the region. With accommodation also costing much less, the emerging destinations are ideal for Indian travellers.

Reunion Island focuses on B2B activities Mohit Rathod Mumbai REUNION ISLAND is concentrating its promotional efforts on the B2B front in the India market. Reunion Island Tourism Board, which recently conducted a travel trade event in Mumbai, is focusing on creating destination awareness in India through its relationships with Indian travel trade partners. William Techer, head of marketing and promotion – India and Indian Ocean, Reunion Island Tourism Board, said, "Indian arrivals have marked 65 per cent growth in 2015 over 2014, which is a big number from the India market. We are working on the evolution of the perception about the destination. Indians must understand where Reunion Island is and what are its offerings. This is a complete destination, so we can attract travellers from various segments. India is one of the main markets for our promotion and I think we will have big success in the next few months." The tourism board is working with two Indian companies in Chennai. There are also two direct flights to Reunion Island from Chennai, operated by Air Austral, which has made the Chennai the major focus city in India for the tourism board. However, it is in discussion with other companies in Mumbai and New Delhi.

For us it is important that tour operators understand the destination "Our activities in India are primarily B2B; we work with tour operators. For us it is important that tour operators understand the destination, then sell it to consumers. This year we will focusing on B2C marketing too, but in co-operation with tour operators. We work with main tour operators such as Thomas Cook and Cox & Kings. First of all, we want to develop the destination. We are here to understand market requirements and how we can serve them," Techer informed, while adding this year the tourism board's strategy will include unique forms of marketing. Christian Loga, vice president of bureau, Reunion Island Tourism Board, stated, "Reunion Island offers diverse experiences, which are unique to the destination. We will leverage upon that. Island destinations are often perceived as beach destinations, but Reunion Island is not just about beaches. We have lots of other offerings."



March 2017


Brand USA to strengthen trade relations to drive growth Saloni Bhatia New Delhi BRAND USA, the destination marketing organisation for the United States' representation in India, will be hosting a 'Mega FAM' for India's travel industry this year. The selection process of agents will be through Brand USA's online training programme and other partners. Initiated about three years ago, a total of 2,332 agents have signed up for the USA Discovery Programme, gaining detailed knowledge about the USA's tourism offerings.



March 2017

Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Chris Thompson, president and CEO, Brand USA, stated, “Brand USA will host a Mega Fam to give the travel industry a real life experience of all the new destinations and products. The selection process will be through our online programmes along with some other partners. The country benefited a great deal when a similar trip was organised for China and we hope to see a positive response from the India market.” He further added that Air India has shown keen interest in a partnership for the FAM as it will be

launching direct flight to Washington DC this year. India is one of the fastest growing markets for inbound international travel to the United States, with the Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) forecasting a 72 per cent increase in arrivals from 2015 to 2021. An effort 'Partnership Year' led by NTTO and the Government of India’s Ministry of Tourism through the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue’s Travel and Tourism Working Group. Thompson informed, “We are optimistic

about our ability to attract the Indian visitors to the US. Indians are some of the most engaged visitors and we are constantly working on ways to introduce them to some new destinations. We are active in the India market with all our tools and have been taking our message directly to the consumers through our digital channels.” “The unique thing about this year ahead is that the governments of the two states have come together and created a platform to discuss positive change in policies. We are mar-

keting against existing visa policies, entry policies and connectivity issues and the open skies agreement. Now through this strategic commercial dialogue that was created as a result of the President’s visit last year, we are looking to mutually benefit the two economies. Our governments are looking at strategies which can lead towards a positive impact for the economy,” he stated. Commenting on arrival numbers, Thompson mentioned that 2015 witnessed a record of 1.13 million Indian arrivals making India the 11th largest source market for the US.


Tourism Malaysia to offer India market new products across segments Reema Lokesh Mumbai MALAYSIA TOURISM Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) is all set to refresh its brand connect and focus for the India market. The tourism board aims to introduce newer regions and attractions for the region. Speaking in an exclusive interaction with Express TravelWorld, Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, director general, Tourism Malaysia, stated that Tourism Malaysia has interesting product offerings for family travel and also for high-end luxury travel. "India is and always remains to be our focus market in this region. We are soon to launch our refreshed brand campaign. Our new theme parks are ready for the family travel market, while we are also

opening new resorts for the discerning traveller. We are keen to open the East of Malaysia with great focus for Indians to explore." He further mentioned that regions such as Saba and Sarawak have some amazing product offerings. Taman Negara is also interesting to explore. Back to Nature is also what they wish to convey to the market as Malaysia has a lot to offer in terms of its nature and tourism products are welcome defined around it. From adventure treks, to wildlife and flora and fauna, the region has a lot to offer and explore. He also said that he is keen on the India market and takes advantage of the price and the product offerings at present. Tourism Malaysia also launched its new office in Mumbai at Bandra Kurla

Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab

Complex (BKC). The office was inaugurated by the director general himself. Speaking at the launch, Taiyab said, "Moving to BKC was a logical choice for us. The new office is cen-

trally located, making it convenient for our partners and stakeholders to get in touch with us. Proximity to the Malaysian Consulate and other Malaysian trade offices is an added advantage." Malaysia is looking to attract one million visitors from India this year and had also announced a visa fees waive-off, except for a processing charge of US$ 20. This single entry visa is valid for a period of 15 days. The Tourism Malaysia office aims to serve as a one-stop centre for all information regarding travel to the country. Western India falls under the purview of this new office. With the Western region making up more than 30 per cent of the Indian outbound market, the Mumbai office has also chalked out several marketing strategies for this market.

Mohd Hafiz Hashim, director, Tourism Malaysia, Mumbai, added, "This year, the tourism board is laying focus on ecotourism with special emphasis on 'lung washing' tourism. This concept is aimed at promoting Malaysia as a pollution-free destination and targeting tourists yearning for a better natural environment where they can spend their holidays. Keeping in line with the UNWTO's declaration of 2017 as the international year of sustainable tourism, there are plans to customise special packages to promote the two UNESCO Heritage Sites – Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak and Mount Kinabalu Park in Sabah." India currently features among the top 10 revenue generating markets for the Malaysian tourism economy.

Sri Lanka sees 12.8% increase in Indian tourist arrivals Mohit Rathod Mumbai SRI LANKA has recorded 356,000 Indian tourist arrivals during 2016, marking a growth of 12.8 per cent over 2015. India is presently the largest contributor of tourists to Sri Lanka, which makes India a significant focus market for the island country. Sri Lanka is expecting increase in Indian tourist arrivals by 100,000 in 2017. India, China, UK, Germany and France hold subsequent ranks as top source markets for Sri Lanka.

Overall international tourist arrivals were recorded over two million. Madubhani Perera, director – marketing, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), said, "India is a very important market for us. We are hoping that the Indian traveller who has not yet visited Sri Lanka will explore this country as a new destination which offers value for money compared to other Asian countries. Also, it is one of the most peaceful countries with diverse tourism products. We have almost everything other than snow

As part of this year's strategy, SLTPB will be focusing on promoting Ramayan Trail, film tourism, wedding tourism and cruise tourism for the Indian traveller and deserts." Currently, MICE covers around 10 per cent of the total arrivals to Sri Lanka.

The tourism bureau recently conducted a trade road show in Mumbai, which saw an attendance of 27 partic-

ipants from Sri Lanka including its national carrier, SriLankan Airlines. As part of this year's strategy, SLTPB will be focusing on promoting Ramayan Trail, film tourism, wedding tourism and cruise tourism for the Indian traveller. "We will also be conducting roadshows in other Indian cities as the year progresses and will appoint an agency to tap the consumer market." SLTPB has plans to conduct road shows in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune later this year.



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Greece Tourism makes India debut Mohit Rathod Mumbai THE NATIONAL TOURISM board of Greece, Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), has made its debut in the India market. As part of its efforts in the debut year, the tourism organisation will focus on understanding the market, subsequently developing strategies. GNTO plans to promote the destination in Mumbai and Delhi initially and later other metros. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Elena Kountoura, minister of tourism of Greece, said, "India is a dynamic growth market and we are very happy to see that Indians prefer to visit Greece when they visit Europe. From 2015, we have seen threefold growth in Indian tourist arrivals to Greece. Our goal is to present Greece to Indian travellers. We have observed that Indians love to travel and when they go to Europe, we know that they really want to visit Greece." GNTO targets to position Greece in the top five list of European destinations for for Indian tourists. "Tourism in Greece in last year has grown seven-eight per cent, which is twice the average global tourism growth. Greece is the only country in the Mediterranean that has more than 100 islands. Not just for leisure, Greece also offers a great opportunity for MICE tourism and weddings. These factors, together, form a great package to offer in order to open up the India market for Greece," she added. In May last year, representatives of several travel companies



March 2017

Not just for leisure, Greece also offers a great opportunity for MICE tourism and weddings from Greece had, for the first time, organised a destination presentation along with Emirates Airlines. However, GNTO wasn't part of the delegation. This year's delegation included Maria Alifrangi, vice president, Signature Travel & board member of Hatta ( the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies), Fotini Fragkou, member of The Tourist Committee of Karpathos Island and Sofia Filippaki, sales manager, MICE & Leisure, Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel. Fragkou said, "We are making our foray into the India market because Indians like to visit Greece. We have good connectivity with airlines like Emirates, Qatar, Turkish Airlines and Etihad. Mykanos, Santorini, Athens are the popular places but we also want to promote new places like Karpathos Island. As a destination, Greece offers history, culture and hospitality. Visitors from India almost doubled last year so we want to build on that." Alifrangi added, "Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic

Games so we want to promote it for educational tours. We have met a number of schools to tap the school excursions market." Filippaki pointed out, "In Europe, Greece is a safe destination. We also have good facilities for MICE and Greek cuisine has good options for vegetarians too. We have been servicing the India market since past 15 years so we know the food and we also allow Indian chefs in our hotel kitchens if the client requires it." Kountoura informed, "We want to reinforce ourselves in India and next year we will also foray into Delhi. We are hoping to have a policy which will ensure more tourist arrivals from India. Our embassy works to make a lot of connections. We would like Indian travel industry to connect with their counterparts in Greece, because as a governmental organisation, we frame and develop ways which help private travel and tourism countries connect and develop business." Greece is one of the popular destination among the international film industry and GNTO plans to leverage upon that in India too. "Film tourism is also very important for Greece, because Greece offers a great location for movies. We have spoken to the Bollywood industry. Weddings are becoming more and more popular in Greece; we also have a few Indian weddings planned this year,"she explained. The tourism organisation's future plan includes setting up an India office. Addtionally, it is also seeking possibilities of direct flights. (with inputs from Steena Joy)

Japan aims to attract more leisure travellers from India Saloni Bhatia New Delhi JAPAN NATIONAL Tourism Organisation (JNTO), New Delhi, recently hosted a travel seminar to introduce some new tourism products and destination experiences to travel agents. The event witnessed participation from the travel industry who wanted to understand the new opportunities in the emerging market. In 2016, Japan witnessed record number of Indian tourist arrivals of 123,000 depicting a year on year growth of 19.3 per cent as compared to 2015. The Japan Tourism Board also plans to open a Delhi office to ease travel between the two countries. Speaking at the event, Kenichi Takano, executive director, JNTO preparation office for New Delhi, stated, “Last year has seen a modest rise in the the tourist arrival numbers. The year-onyear growth has been exceptional in comparison to other South Asian countries. We will continue to host trade events for the agents, be part of travel shows and introduce new PR activities in order to tap the potential of the India market.” He informed that a new website will soon be launched with better information for Indian travellers. One of the major attrac-

tions of Japan, Sakura flowers which bloom all across the city is known as the Cherry Blossom Festival. The team from Japan Tourism office gave an elaborate information on the best parts of the city to visit and witness the festival in full bloom. The enhanced capacity via direct flights in the recent months has contributed positively towards creating fresh excitement about Japan and the enthusiasm is reflected amongst the travel trade and media partners in India. Kenko Sone, economic minister, embassy of Japan in India, further informed, “Indian travellers are not as active as we expected. Only 40,000 out of 123,000 were tourist arrivals who explored Japan. The lack of awareness about Japanese states restrict Indian visitors from planning in advance.” Further, Toshinori Yamada, senior assistant manager, JNTO, explained on how some visa relaxations are available for students in Japan. He highlighted some interesting points about the Japanese economy to attract the Indian travellers. He informed about the no tipping policy in Japan and no hotel bed tax in cities like Tokyo and Osaka. It is projected that Japan will receive 20 million tourists by the year 2020.


Indian tourist arrivals in Dubai grows 12% in 2016 Saloni Bhatia New Delhi ACCORDING to recent reports by the Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the emirate received 1.8 million overnight tourists from India. Leading the visitor traffic to Dubai, India reflected 12 per cent growth last year in comparison to 2015. Overall Dubai attracted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016, recording a five per cent increase from last year, marking a four-year CAGR of eight per cent since HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Mak-

Hamad bin Mejren

toum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the 2020 tourism strategy. Hamad M Bin Mejran is the

senior vice president, stakeholders, Dubai Corporation for Tourism (Dubai Toursim), which is the principal authority responsible for strengthening Dubai’s tourism positioning. Speaking at a recent event, he stated, “India is a very important market for Dubai and we are focusing to attract more families as they contribute as the major chunk travelling to Dubai. We are looking at increasing the numbers with the opening of IMG World Adventures and Dubai Parks & Resorts.” Following the lead of attracting 20 million visitors by 2020, the emirate is looking to

enhance infrastructure and facilities for tourists. The government, along with other authorities, is working as one to build more attractions in Dubai. The room count will be increased to 150,000 in order to accommodate travellers from across the world. In addition Dubai Tourism will also work to increase the airport and transport capacity in the coming years. He further informed, “Currently 80 per cent of tourists consists of leisure travellers with only 20 per cent coming for business, but MICE is a very important segement for us and we are looking to attract

big groups. We have dedicated staff who will look at packaging and incentives for trade agents.” Dubai received its largest delegation of an incentive group from China, consiting of 15,000 people. Dubai’s World Trade Centre is the largest event venue available in the heart of the main city. Commenting on the additional attractions, he stated, “Dubai Safari, La Pere, Hatta Tours are being added this year. Visitors will have immense options for adventure toursim, hiking, water sports, entertainment and shopping in Dubai.”

India is 6th largest source market for Eurail Mohit Rathod Mumbai EURAIL, which offers access to extensive rail networks in 28 European countries through Eurail Pass, is now increasing its focus on the India market. This is primarily due to India emerging as Eurail's sixth largest and important market in 2016. In 2015, the company registered 50 per cent growth from India, which was the highest among all the top 10 markets. Yi Ding, market manager – Asia, Eurail Group, said, "In 2016, we did internal analysis and framed strategies and this year we will prioritise India among the top markets. India is very important for us, as it is also the third biggest market for us in Asia. I am very confident about the po-

tential in the India market, because according to forecasts, outbound travel from India to Europe will grow by seven per cent from this year – which will also benefit us. An interesting observation is that Indian travellers are least affected by external factors, which plays an important role in growth." Switzerland, Austria, France and Italy are currently the most popular routes among Indian travellers. "They usually combine France, Switzerland and Italy – this is a typical itinerary among Indians. Addtionally, Indian travellers also prefer London-Paris route," added Ding. Currently business traveller segment is not strong in Eurail's customer base. The majority of customers is led by leisure travellers. Ding in-

dicated that business travellers most likely choose Eurail Pass when they wish to combine their business trip with leisure travel in Europe. The 28 European countries on Eurail's coverage include Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland,

Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Sweden among more. The comapany offers various types of passes such as city passes, passes based on combinations of countries or single country passes and packages including Swiss Package, Pre-Alpine Express, Chocolate Train, Glacier Express Tour etc.

"We have many new products, which we want to Indian travel agents to know about. We have already taken a lot of steps for the India market and we will further interact with the industry here to expand our offerings. We will also have more joint campaigns in India," Ding informed.



March 2017


SATTE 2017 brings together the travel industry Saloni Bhatia New Delhi

Cutting Edge is exclusive sales agent for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Official Hospitality Programme ETW Staff New Delhi MATCH HOSPITALITY has announced Cutting Edge Events as the exclusive sales agent in India for the sales of the Official Hospitality Programme of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017. The announcement was made at an event organised at JW Marriot Hotel in New Delhi. Cutting Edge Events, a boutique travel management company, had been earlier appointed as participating tour operator for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, and hospitality sales agent for FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil. Cutting Edge has also been the official travel agent for the ICC Cricket World Cups since 2003, ICC Twenty20 World Cup from 2007 to 2016, as well as for Champions Trophy from 2006 to 2017. Match Hospitality has the exclusive rights of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Official



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Hospitality Programme that includes the official rights to promote and sell the official commercial hospitality packages either directly or through a global network of sales agents. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Official Hospitality Programme offers various levels of hospitality products designed to offer different service levels and benefits. The multi-product offering includes Tsarsky Lounge, gourmet cuisine, luxury-brand drinks service, Match Private Suite, Match Club Hospitality Package, Match Business, Match Pavilion among more. Jaime Byrom, executive chairman, Match Hospitality, said, “We feel a tremendous sense of pride in the product range offered by Match Hospitality as FIFA’s official hospitality rights holder for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. And we know that Cutting Edge is our best partner to open the door to an Indian travel market ready for the extraordinary experiences promised by this exceptional FIFA World

Cup environment.” Mayank Khandwala, president, Cutting Edge, added, "Cutting Edge has pledged to bring sports fans in India closer to the most coveted football competition in the world by providing fans with a unique opportunity to purchase ticket-inclusive hospitality packages to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as well as offering a comprehensive range of travel packages including accommodation, transportation, and sightseeing." Dimple Gandhi, director, Cutting Edge, added, "For Cutting Edge to be appointed as the exclusive sales agent of Match Hospitality in India for the sale of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Official Hospitality Programme is like the realisation of a long drawn dream. Cutting Edge is one of the very few companies in India with a niche in sports tourism. We take great pride in stating that Cutting Edge is the only Indian travel company to be invited to be an active member of ISTAA (membership for the same is only by invite)."

THE 24TH edition of the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) 2017 held in New Delhi witnessed participation of over 35 countries, 28 state tourism boards and various stakeholders from India's travel industry. Besides serving as a networking platform, the three-day event also featured various knowledge sessions and tourism product launches. Supported by the ministry of tourism, Incredible India and Make in India campaigns and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the event also garnered extensive support from India's travel trade associations and domestic tourism boards. Apart from the conventional tourism boards and trade stalls, a special start-up stall at this year's exhibition gave the upcoming firms a chance to showcase their growth potential. The key sessions highlighted the upcoming trends of the travel sector and some prominent stakeholders of trade industry shared their insights on the areas that need growth. Commenting on participation in the event, Hassan Madah, director, India and Philippines, Israel ministry of tourism, stated, “The event has helped us identify new markets and partners who

help us through the year.” Representing Melia Hotels for the first time, Bernardo Cabot, senior vice president, Asia Pacific, Melia Hotels International expressed his views on the India market. He shared, “India's growing market has garnered everybody's attention at the international level. We have been able to connect with more local partners through the event in the India market.” The state tourism boards' participation was well received by trade visitors. Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, additional director and joint secretary, tourism department, Government of West Bengal, expressed his views while speaking to Express TravelWorld. He stated, “Our presence at such shows makes a huge difference for West Bengal's new tourism initiatives. We have tried to make the best of three days and connect with more trade partners.” When asked about Odisha's tourism board's plan for the event, Arti Ahuja, principal secretary, tourism department, Government of Odisha, informed that the idea is to promote the various products of the state. This year UBM also hosted SATTE Awards, recognising 19 brands from various segments of the travel industry including airlines, cruise, tour operators, hotels, destinations, online travel portals among many others.


Record global participation at OTM 2017 ETW Staff Mumbai EXHIBITORS from a record number of 60 countries showcased their destinations at OTM 2017 from February 21-23 at the Bombay Convention & Exhibition Centre in Mumbai. A total of 1,134 international travel organisations exhibited at OTM 2017 including national and state tourism organisations, hotels, airlines, DMCs and other suppliers. There were many first-time participants at OTM like Bahrain, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece and Ho Chi Minh City. Over 10,000 travel trade vis-

itors attended the show in addition to more than 500 buyers from travel trade and corporate sectors. International buyers from countries like Kuwait, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia and Thailand were also hosted. The dignitaries present at the inaugural session included Sohan Singh Thandal, minister of tourism, Punjab; I Gde Pitana, deputy tourism minister for overseas promotion, Indonesia; H E Dr Ahmed Al Banna, UAE ambassador to India; H E Demetrios A Theophylactou, high commissioner, Cyprus High Commission; Dimitrios Tryfonopoulos, secretary general,

Greek National Tourism Organisation; Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, director general, Tourism Malaysia; Ismail A Hamid, Egyptian tourism counsellor, Egyptian Tourism Office; Guldeep Singh Sahni, president, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India and more. The tourism minister of Greece, Elena Kountoura graced the show with her presence on the second day. This was the first time that Greece Tourism participated at OTM with a large delegation. The UAE ministry of economy organised a national Visit UAE pavilion for the second year in a row. Premium

partner country of OTM 2017, Turkish ministry of culture and tourism has been participating at OTM for the last seven years with a large number of tour op-

erators. Under the umbrella of the ministry of tourism, Republic of Indonesia discussed their India-specific tourism promotion plans during OTM 2017.

'OUR BUSINESS HAS EXPANDED TO 48 COUNTRIES' In an exclusive interaction, Karan Aggarwal, executive director, BLS International Services (BLS), specialist provider for outsourcing of visa, passport and attestation services, shares about the company's market position, growth and future plans By Mohit Rathod What is BLS' current market presence? Our business has expanded to 48 countries worldwide. To name a few we are present in Canada, Russia, China, the UAE, Austria, Hong Kong, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Singapore and Azerbaijan. The latest feather in our cap has been of bagging a contract from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Spain, under a five-year contract worth 175 million Euro, where BLS International will open an estimated 129 Spanish visa application centres across 43 countries. The company expects to process approximately 1.8 million applications annually. At present India, Spain, China and Russia are our biggest contributors in terms of service delivery and collection of applications.

credit. For the third quarter and nine months ended December 31, 2016, the company reported net profit of `16.67 crore for Q3FY17, up by 30.34 per cent, as compared to `12.79 crore in the corresponding quarter of last fiscal. Total income for the quarter ended December 31, 2016 stood at `162.80 crore, up by 10.82 per cent, as compared to `146.91 crore in the same period last year.

Karan Aggarwal

What has been the growth marked over the years? With the increase in number of travellers globally, the application numbers will rise with each passing year of the operations. Every year we add millions of applications to our

What sets BLS International apart from competing companies? At BLS, our endeavour is always to facilitate affordable services to our customers while creating value for our stakeholders, invest in human capital and best practices to develop a truly global enterprise. We are in sync with the Government of India vision of 'Digital India' by providing 2174

Sewa Kendras as part of the egovernance initiative across Punjab. It has helped us reach people living in the small of town and provide them hassle free citizen services. BLS plays the catalyst in making travelling easy and effortless. How important is the MICE/business travel segment for BLS? MICE is the fastest growing segment in the travel and tourism industry. India is an attractive MICE destination. Dubai, Malaysia and Hong Kong are the most sought after MICE destinations. With our widespread operations in these countries, the customers prefer our services for a smooth application procedure. What is the company's strategy ahead? The vision of BLS

International is to become the number one government-toconsumer service provider globally, partnering with governments around the world and also to achieve the 'Digital India' objective through e-governance and service delivery through Seva Kendras. With the constant growth in the visa outsourcing industry, BLS International aims to enhance its global foot print. BLS International in 2017 aims at expanding its foreign mission category through bagging Canada. We are already up and running with 2259 VACs including our e-governance project. We aim at opening 150 visa offices for Spain in 45 countries. Our future strategy is to be established as a market leader in outsourcing and technology services for diplomatic missions and governments industry.



March 2017


IITT 2017 discusses latest industry topics Mohit Rathod Mumbai THE 2017 edition of India International Travel & Tourism (IITT), held at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), witnessed various industry focused conferences, alongside serving as trade and networking platform. The first two days of the threeday event saw panel discussions on topics such as trends in tourism, exploring new destination by tourism industry, impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tourism industry transforming domestic tourism and impact of the demonetisation on travel and tourism sector. Spread across 15,000 square metres, IITT 2017 was participated by over 500 exhibitors and more than 400 hosted buyers.

The panel discussion on transforming domestic tourism highlighted various opportunities, challenges, innovations and techniques in the domestic tourism segment. The panel discussion was moderated by PP Khanna, president of Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) and the panel included Rajat Sawhney, director, Rave Tours and Travels; Debjit Dutta, director and CEO, Impression Tourism Services India; Abhijeet Patil, director, Raja Rani Travels; Reema Lokesh, editor, Express TravelWorld and Barun Gupta, account director (global sales), SSO South Asia, Marriott International. Speaking on the current challenge, Sawhney said, "Domestic tourism is the biggest driver of tourism economy in

Domestic tourism is the biggest driver of tourism economy in India. However, the proportion of domestic tourism through tour operators is a challenge. Most of the domestic tourism activities are transacted online India. However, the proportion of domestic tourism happening through tour operators is a challenge. Most of the domestic tourism activities are transacted online. Andhra Pradesh currently enjoys the largest share of domestic tourists due to religious tourism, which

forms a huge part of domestic tourism." The session also identified the travel technology boom as one of the challenges. Pointing out a solution, Dutta said, "Technology is very important. We must start understanding technology and adopt it our business. It is not a

rocket science. It is all about understanding; technology is only here to help us." Subsequent session on the impact of demonetisation highlighted that the organised section of the industry remained unaffected, despite small-scale consequences. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Neil Patil, director, Veena World, stated, "IITT gets all the people in industry together. It is good that everyone's coming together and interacting, which leads to more awareness about the industry. If ideas are exchanged, it really helps small scale agents innovate and be prepared accordingly." Other sessions at IITT 2017 included workshops by Ark Travels, Spain Tourism, Cruise Professionals, Egypt Tourism etc.

IHCLunveils its new brand architecture All group properties to come under Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris Sudipta Dev Mumbai THE INDIAN HOTELS Company Limited (IHCL) unveiled its new brand architecture recently, marking a significant milestone in the history of the company. Now all the properties of the group (in India and overseas) will come under four categories – Taj Palaces, Taj Hotels, Taj Resorts and Taj Safaris. Speaking on the occasion, Rakesh Sarna, MD & CEO, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris said, “We are challenging the status quo with respect and without criticising the



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past.” Sarna, who had joined the company a little over two years ago said, “I joined a family vastly proud of what Taj and its history had to give but not sure what the future had in store. We asked the question – are we relevant ? We asked the people who matter – guests, colleagues, share holders, community and neighbours, and realised we had to take a step back to go forward.” Focusing on the illustrious heritage of Taj properties, the project ‘Tajness’ was launched. “The history of our amazing heritage teaches us so much. Taj is the absolute brand that is

in the hearts of people. People in India have great love and admiration for the brand. Taj as a brand has the maximum equity.

We realised it was time to go back to our roots. We ask for your support and guidance as we reset our journey and go

back to our roots,” mentioned Sarna, adding that the company has taken the tough decision to move away from brands that did not capture the emotion of Taj. The properties under Vivanta by Taj and the Gateway brands will consequently come under the Taj brand category. It is expected that the transition of all hotels under the new brand architecture will get completed by December 2017. Four distinct experience zones (Taj Palaces, Taj Hotels, Taj Resorts and Taj Safaris) were showcased at the announcement event.


Ibnii Coorg first IGBC Platinum certified resort in India Steena Joy Madikeri IBNII COORG, an eco luxe resort located in Coorg (Kodagu) district of Karnataka, has become the first hospitality project in India to receive the IGBC Platinum certification for energy and resource-efficient, sustainable, cost-effective buildings that impose minimal stress on the environment. The resort is also gearing to get its LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification by April. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was formed in the year 2001. The rating systems are based on the five elements of nature (Panchabhutas) and are applicable to all five climatic zones of the country. Ibnii Coorg is nestled on 120 acres of which 50 acres is being used for coffee plantation. The resort has just finished with its first coffee harvest. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Dr Sherry Sebastian, director, Ibnii Coorg, informed, “In the last 60 years,

no pesticides have been used on this land. So it is an ecological and biodiversity hotspot. Very few trees were cut during construction of Ibnii Coorg. We are also very actively involved in rainwater harvesting as we have three large water catchment areas. We harvest nearly five million litres of water every year. Apart from a waste management plant, we have a state-ofthe-art Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) too to further minimise our dependency on fresh water. The treated water is used for landscaping and other utilities. Ibnii is also a vehicle free zone with only electric buggies used for internal movements. Guests and even the staff are encouraged to walk around the resort.” The resort also has introduced other ecological initiatives such as an inhouse tailoring facility where many articles are created out of recycled materials like shopping bags out of used cement sacks and bubble wraps; use of steel fruit and vegetable crates in the kitchens instead of the conventional plastic crates; use of drop pops in the restaurants in place of finger

bowls for washing hands. The resort is also part of a new project with Madikeri town for constructing a road using recycled plastic from the resort. Ibnii Coorg also has TieCop, its Environment Conservation Programme. Dr Sebastian added, “We want our supply chain to be eco sensitive – so we source only from vendors who have the same sensitivity towards the environment. Presently, we source the coffee for the resort from Halli Berri, a fourth generation all woman owned concern coffee estate in Chikmagalur with a similar vision towards sustainability, but soon we hope to be able to use our own coffee. We have a vegetable garden where we source most of the vegetables for our salads. Another bigger vegetable garden is being created which is expected to give us around 14 tonnes of vegetables.” The resort has a robust waste segregation system where the organic waste is used in a vermicompost to generate high-yield, organic manure which is in turn used in the greenhouse to grow fresh organic vegetables and fruits.

Oregon aims to attract students and leisure travellers from India Saloni Bhatia New Delhi The Oregon state tourism board is concentrating on attracting more students and family travellers from India. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Todd Davidson, chief executive officer, Oregon Tourism Commission, informed, “Majority of international travellers visit Oregon only during their second or third visit to the US. Out of the 1.13 million Indian travellers who travelled to the US in 2015, only one per cent visited Oregon. However the past five years, from 2010 to 2015, have seen 40 per cent growth in the number of Indian arrivals.” Commenting on plans to attract Indian travellers, Davidson shared, “India is one of our top emerging markets besides China and New Zealand. We are looking to attract more students as they bring in the families who travel to meet them. We will also be looking at business travellers who are visiting the neighbouring states for work.” Oregon has witnessed more of overnight trav-

The state is also well known for its culinary trails and shopping centres which shall appeal to the India market

ellers and multi-state tourists and there are various things that we have to offer to the India market. The state is also well known for its culinary trails and shopping centres which will appeal to the India market. The top three reasons to travel to Oregon will be the nature offerings, adventure sports like skiing etc and golf courses. India stands to be a huge potential market for the USA and the current talks between the two countries will further promote travel between the two states, he further mentioned.



March 2017


A TRYST WITH NATURE According to a study conducted by UNWTO, ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, expanding globally between 20 per cent and 34 per cent per year. India with her geographical diversity has been endowed with a wealth of eco-systems comprising biosphere reserves, mangroves, coral and coral reefs, deserts, mountains, forests, flora and fauna. As the UN has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we take a look at some of India’s ecotourism hotspots






March 2017







he Northern region, blessed with natural beauty and the grandeur of the Himalayas boasts of some famous eco tourist hotspots like The Great Himalayan National Park, the entire Himalayan Mountain Range, Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve in Ladakh, Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand among other untapped regions. As the whole country grows to be a prime attraction for ecotourism, there are special itineraries created by tour operators who constantly overcome challenges to promote responsible tourism. Seema Bhatt, an independent consultant (based in India) has been working on issues related to ecotourism, biodiversity and climate change across the Asia region. She has worked on various projects in Sikkim, Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan in order to raise awareness about the environment. Express-

ing her opinion on the state of responsible tourism in the country, she opines, “The concept of eco tourism has been around for 10 years and we have also seen some initiatives but the work is only restricted to certain areas. Due to lack of of knowledge among people and a standard policy by the government it is yet to become a widespread phenomenon. Nothing has been adopted across the board that can benefit the tourism sector.” Talking about the ecotourism initiatives, she mentions about a recent homestay project undertaken by the Snow Leopard Conservancy, a non government organisation dedicated to preserve the Ladakhi wildlife in Leh Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir. In the past, snow leopards used to kill many of the domestic animals, and since the people were dependent on these domestic animals, they tried to kill the snow leopard to preserve their livestock. To counter this, a system was set up in order to generate income for the villagers in Hemis National Park, famous for its wildlife. The project has benefitted the local villagers who are able to earn a livelihood from tourism. Women have become active work-

ers by setting up tea tents near the villages along the trekking routes, selling tea, local food and handicrafts. A fully women owned Ladakhi travel company offers numerous treks and tours in the region, all functioning as eco tourist spots. The region has been able to reduce the strain on the ecosystem as villagers were taught about how to maintain a tourist friendly home and prepare hygienic food. The project also contributes 10 per cent of the income to development of the region. India Rides, a travel company based in Jaipur was started by Narendra Singh and Shakti Singh in 2008. The company currently operates around 40 tours across Ladakh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and southern India. The team has adopted responsible tourism practices through all their tours to associate with the local people. Narendra Singh, CEO and founder, India Rides, informs, “We have links with the regional people and homestays who provide us with the accommodation during our tours. This not only gives the travellers a local experience but helps to uplift the economy of these small areas.” The company travels trough Chandelao, a small village situated about 40 kms from Jodhpur. Apart from homestays, tourists also visit the local crafts centre to buy regional products made by the women of the village, informs Singh. However, the local operators face several challenges to continue travelling to these small areas. Singh opines, “Due to the lack of knowledge of the local authorities, we have faced problems during our tours. Our teams have been questioned during late hours despite having proper permissions by the government. Since the local authorities are not well informed, it poses a direct threat to the safety of our travellers. This restricts us from going to these small areas and promote tourism in the country.” Running on the same lines,, a Gurgaon based adventure travel company specialises in bike tours to Ladakh, Sikkim and Bhutan. The company travels with necessary gear to maintain sustainable standards and has also associated with unique locations to highlight the local experience. Sharing a similar thought, Manoj Keshwar, founder, Vicktorianz, opines, “The lack of awareness among people about the environment has been a huge problem. We have made sure to do our bit as tour operators and see that the tourists follow rules. Our bikes are accompanied by back up trucks who clean the area we travel to like at Nubra Valley in Ladakh where the troop picks up plastic bottles left behind.”



March 2017







he East and North East regions of India are becoming focus points of ecotourism in the country. The natural beauty of the West Bengal with its snow-clad mountains, green forests, tea gardens, agricultural fields in North Bengal, the red lateritic tracts and the pure sal forests in the South West Bengal, and the world's largest mangrove delta in Sundarban make the state a potential paradise for ecotourism. Nature lovers can explore the unexplored places of Bengal, which are specifically promoted as eco tourism destinations. Community development is an integral part of ecotourism. There are many homestay facilities in the region. The visit helps the economy, buying local products, buying art materials and using local villagers as guide or help. Homestay is arranged and run by villagers and it includes staying in tea gardens or tea estate or villages. It is also a part of responsible tourism and ecotourism with activities like bird watching, angling, river rafting, clay modelling, etc, are part of the stay. Some of the offbeat village life and ecotourism locations in the plains of West Bengal include Baranti, Basanti, Jhargram, Bakkhali, Gadiara, Raichak; while the hills have destinations like Delo, Gajoldoba, Lamhatta, Rishyap, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Buxa Duar and Jayanti. The Odisha Government has approved an action plan to develop 30 places in the state as ecotourism destinations. The action plan was approved in the recent ecotourism board meeting held under the chairmanship of chief secretary A P Padhi, who has directed the department of forest and environment to plan the projects on self-sustaining mode. Padhi also asked the department to create more employment opportunities for local youths through these projects. These 30 places include Mangalajodi and Berhampura under Chilika Wildlife Division, Barakhandia and Dhodrokusum under Hirakud Wildlife Division, Kumari and Jamuani under Baripada Wildlife Division.

Exploring the North East For the ecologically sensitive North Eastern states, sustainable tourism is an imperative, not an option. In Meghalaya promotion of rural tourism and ecotourism are among the key focus areas. In an earlier interaction with Express TravelWorld, Dr Mukul Sangma, chief minister of Meghalaya had said that the government had been investing substantial money to build the kind of infrastructure to promote ecotourism with communities and it has been an immense success story with more communities

willing to come forward and participate. The state government has a programme supporting homestays and eco resorts. Dr Sangma acknowledged that his government is looking at engaging potential stakeholders who are willing to participate in the tourism agenda. He added that for a small state like Meghalaya, with a population that is not too huge, they are looking at not too heavy footfall but high-end visitors. Recently Sikkim hosted a conclave on Innovation and Progress of Ecotourism in Gangtok. The conclave was organised as a follow up of the familiarisation tour undertaken by both local and visiting tour operators to four ecotourism zones, namely, Lingdok – Pangthang, Okharey, Kitam and East Pendam. Attended by over hundred participants representing local tourism stakeholders, tour operators from Sikkim and a team of twelve tour operators from other states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Sikkim, the conclave gave an excellent opportunity to the participants to come under one roof with an idea to converge, deliberate, share and learn about different facets of tourism and ecotourism in Sikkim’s context. Tourism minister Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia said that sustainable tourism is the primary focus of all other developments in the state. He said that amidst numerous infrastructure developments in Sikkim, focus is being given to boost the rural economy through promotion of sustainable ecotourism practices. Greener Pastures is an eco-tourism company in the North East, which focuses on helping the region and its communities by promoting and implementing responsible tourism. One of the important segments for the Dibrugarh (Assam) headquartered organisation is tribal tours in the North East, in particular the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Though primarily an inbound segment, the company has witnessed an increasing interest from domestic travellers over the years. According to Vaivhav Todi, director, Greener Pastures there is a new generation of conscious and offbeat Indian travellers who are keen to explore their country and learn about the various cultures that make up the rich diversity of India and not just go for the normal sightseeing tour. Ecotourism Society of North East is focused on creating awareness about developing sustainable tourism in the north eastern states. The society has brought together many local NGOs who are working in the field of ecotourism, along with committed individuals in this field across the world. The society engages with the local communities and gives free training to people in the villages, along with promoting individual local accommodation providers through its website.



March 2017







he Western region has been, over the years, emerging in terms of eco tourism offerings. With various destinations now adopting sustainable tourism as part of practice, ecotourism is getting a fillip in West India. The largest state in this region, Maharashtra, is being promoted for its natural assets. The state government's tourism arm, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) recently unveiled Koyana as a new destination in New Mahabaleshwar, alongside the existing eco tourism hotspots such as Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and destinations in the Konkan region. The state offers rich floral and faunal diversity. From the forests of Western Ghats to Vidarbha, Maharashtra is blessed with natural beauty, which is often not tapped to its full potential. Wildlife tourism is strongly associated with the eco tourism segment in Maharashtra, as the state is also known for its tiger reserves such as Tadoba, Melghat, Pench, Umred-Kharandla Sanctuary, NawegaonNagzira Tiger Reserve and Bor Wildlife Sanctuary. Morever, in efforts to promote the diverse ecotourism offerings, Maharashtra Tour Operators Association (MTOA) has been actively drawing attention of the travel and tourism industry to Maharashtra's natural jewels. The association recently organised an experiential trip for industry partners to the North Konkan region, led by the MTOA president Sudhir Patil, supported by the president of North Konkan Chamber of Commerce and Agricultural Foundation (NKCCA), Dr Rajeev Churi. The delegates were introduced to this untapped area for tourism development. One of the interesting highlights of this region is the Chikoo Festival – not known to many. India's most popular beach destination, Goa is beyond beaches and nightlife. The ecotourism facet of Goa can be affirmed through various offerings such as wildlife and bird sanctuaries, lakes, falls, springs, herbs and spice plantations and more. Destinations such as Panjim, Margao, Calangute, Saligao and Charao also organise nature walks for tourists. For instance, Chorao offers boat tours through the backwaters for

birdwatching or crocodile spotting. The Kesarval Spring, located near the village of Cortalim just off the Verna plateau, is renowned for its medicinal properties. The water is purported to heal ailments of the body and to have rejuvenating properties. The minerals in the water come from the hard rock face that it pounds through. The spring is considered as a natural spa. Other similar attractions include Dudhsagar Falls, Cumbarjua Canal, Boca De Vaca, Pomburpa Spring, Carambolim Lake, Netravali Lake, Mayem Lake and Arvalem falls. At Sai Herbarium, herbs, medicinal and aromatic plants are cultivated using organic farming methods. Visitors can also enjoy Goan as well as Indian cuisine. Tourists can have the opportunity to witness how spices, coconuts, betel nuts and fruit grow at Savoi Plantations. The plantation also offers guided tours and a Goan meal served on a banana leaf. The Pascoal Spice Village, bounded by a tributary of the Mandovi River, also sees a variety of spice plants and cash crops. Tropical Spice Plantation, Rustic Plantation, Sahakar Spice Farm and Parvati Madav Park Plantation are some of the other places offering similar experiences. Goa has more than 50 species of animals and numerous bird species which can be found at sanctuaries such as Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and Morjim beach where Olive Ridley turtles can be found nesting off the coast once a year. The state of Gujarat, apart from its historical and cultural significance, offers tourists an extensive range of ecotourism experiences – from campsites, trekking, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, waterfalls, gardens and parks to lakes. Dhanpari is a forest ecotourism site situated inside the Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary in Central Gujarat. The campsite is surrounded by a forest which is home to a variety of flora and fauna and two water reservoirs. Another famous hotspot is the Satpura Hills, located in a thick forest cover and lush with flowers and scenic views. Some of the other attractions include Vadhvana Wetland and Eco Campsite, Kevdi Eco Campsite, Barda Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Ranmal Lake, Gopi Talav, Waghai Botanical Gardens and many more.



March 2017







outh India is a thriving region in eco tourism with all the states boasting unique experiences for tourists. 'God's Own Country' Kerala is home to Thenmala, which is said to be India's first planned ecotourism destination. Thenmala is garnering tourist interest due to its unique vistas, bio-diversity and functioning. Situated about 72 kms from Thiruvananthapuram, in Kollam district, Thenmala shares its resources with the famous Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary at the foothills of the Western Ghats. Biji Eapen, national president, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) shares, "Thenmala is majestically set in the midst of evergreen forests in the lap of the Western Ghats and hosts a wide range of adventure and leisure activities for all kinds of travellers." Situated at an elevation of about 1,700 metres, Munnar features an extensive layer of forests and tea orchards. Munnar is filled with several exotic fauna including the rare Neelakurinji flower. Gavi Eco-Tourism, in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, is a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation, which has attracted the attention of tourists, mostly from European countries. The project is exclusive in many respects and the majority who visit are nature lovers and adventure tourists. Situated close to Thiruvananthapuram, Mankayam was recently launched as a zone for ecotourism, managed by the State Forest Department. The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Idukki district possesses unique thorny scrub forests with xerophyte species. Chinnar is also the habitat for the endangered Giant Grizzled Squirrel of India. Andhra Pradesh is endowed with a rich and varied bio-diversity distributed over the Eastern Ghats, Deccan Plateau region and coastal mangroves. With varied topography, right from the hills of Nallamala and the Eastern Ghats to the shores of Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh supports diverse

ecosystems, which in turn, support a rich variety of wildlife spread across places such as Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, Kolleru Lake Bird Sanctuary, Pulicat Sanctuary and Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park. Eapen opines that South India's ecotourism facet is not yet fully utilised. "Still we have a lot of untapped tourist attractions to be unearthed. While the known tourist spots attract huge crowds, ecotourism spots are those which are natural and which largely remain untouched. For ecotourists, visits to such places involve studying and learning about the place and causing no harm to the environment. Forest departments should be involved in identifying possible ecotourism destinations. Viable ecotourism spots have to be places which were mostly unexplored and unfamiliar, but the local community should be taken into consideration," he explains. The Tamil Nadu government has identified 25 sites for development into ecotourism spots and, soon, the Amirthi forest range would find a spot on the ecotourism map in the state. Udhagamandalam, popularly called as Ooty, is known for its coffee and tea plantations and trees like conifers, eucalyptus, pine and more. Kodaikanal, whose economy predominantly depends on tourism, is blessed with meadows, long stretch of forests, woody slopes, mighty rocks, bowers, and creeks. Kodaikanal is famous for the Kurinji flowers that blossom once in 12 years. "Karnataka's geography has created some alluring ecotourism places like Madikeri, Agumbe and Coorg, Chikmagalur, Nandi Hills, Hebe Falls and more. The Department of Forest and Wildlife Protection in Puducherry has started an ecotourism project with plans to introduce kayaking in Ousteri Lake and cycling on the bumpy roads of Manapet forest area. The township of Auroville stands as a successful demonstration of long term afforestation efforts," says Eapen while adding that ecotourism in South India should be promoted through a single corridor branded as the South Indian Circuit. Many of the ecotourism sports are seasonal and entry of visitors should be permitted in proportion to their carrying capacity.



March 2017


THE PARADOXES OF THE ‘AGE OF I’ 2017 Trends Report - The Uncompromising Customer: Addressing the Paradoxes of the ‘Age of I’ highlights the uncompromising nature of today’s customer who increasingly expect brands to deliver experiences that satisfy contradictory needs


ntercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) recently launched its 2017 Trends Report - The Uncompromising Customer: Addressing the Paradoxes of the ‘Age of I’ at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. IHG’s research identifies four paradoxes that are driving the decisions customers make in a landscape constantly changing through advances in technology. In this environment, customers do not want either/or solutions: they want the best of both worlds where the best trade-off is no trade-off.

brand control: Businesses must not give up control of the brand to the external world, yet they must allow the consumers have their say and help influence the brand’s reputation.

The four paradoxes are: ● The Paradox of Separate But Connected: Seeking a constant belonging with people, brands and places, while also seeking individuality and the desire to communicate uniqueness of self. ● The Paradox of Abundant Rarity: A desire for luxury to be both scarce and available. ● The Paradox of Seeking a Better Me and a Better We: Seeking personal self-improvement, while seeking public, civic or global improvement. ● Do It Myself and Do It For Me In My Way: A desire to be in control while not being the controller. Global brands must address these paradoxes through being locally relevant and personally differentiating. IHG has identified six best practices through which brands can create experiences that strengthen customer relationships and grow brand loyalty.


Richard Solomons, chief executive officer, IHG, commented: “Technology has changed the way we behave in our daily lives. This has had a direct, and fundamental, impact on business. Global brands need to address the complex, sometimes opposing needs of today’s customers in order to fulfil their expectations. Delivering a superior guest experience is a key focus for IHG. Building on the theme of this year’s IHG Trends Report, we have recently reached an important milestone for IHG Rewards Club, which now has 100 million members. The largest hotel loyalty programme in the industry is truly global and offers the benefits of a powerful membership community, whilst also providing a

personalised experience for members whenever they stay at an IHG hotel.”

needs and communicate with them in a way that makes the experience more meaningful to them as individuals.

The six best practices are: 1. Aim for integration rather than balance: Balancing conflicting customer needs is not enough; a better holistic experience needs to be created through the integration of these opposing needs. 2. Use needs-driven occasionbased segmentation for superior business management: Segmentation is not solely a marketing tool, but needs to be a core part of a company’s thinking. 3. Communicate with conversation: Brands must listen to customers to understand their

4. Manage the brand’s multidimensionality: A brand must include relevant and differentiating features as well as functional, emotional and social benefits. The combination of these builds a distinctive brand character. 5. Develop ambidextrous brand-business teams: A brand needs teams that include divergent thinkers, with individual strengths and passions, who can also work in an integrated manner to create the cohesive initiatives that drive brand success. 6. Address the paradox of

The 2017 IHG Trends Report is the fifth in a series of reports that share insights into the changing world and provide best practices to help make brands fit for the future. The insights it contains are based on a series of related studies spanning a five-year period and involving nearly 40,000 interviews with travellers across the globe. Since the first report in 2013, the series has examined developments including the transition from brand experiences to brand relationships in the hospitality sector; delivering global, local and personalised brand experiences; the growing importance for companies to build both brand and organisational trust and how to make membership meaningful at a time when loyalty is becoming ever more important to many industries. The 2017 IHG Trends Report has been compiled in association with IHG’s long-time partner, Arcature, and through using its own research and observations as well as a variety of external, third party sources. The Paradox of Separate but Connected: The new definition of connection ● Technology, digitisation and the 24/7 existence have changed how we relate to family, friends,

strangers, automobiles, appliances, our homes, medicine and entertainment. More than contacting, communicating, and collecting “friends”, connecting means integrating with individuality. In The Age of I, connection means bonding together with others and brands to augment a community while at the same time communicating uniqueness of self. ● The Paradox of Separate but Connected also reflects our need for the optimisation of connecting and disconnecting: individuals seeking constant belonging with people, brands, places and things while seeking personal asylum from intrusive alerts. Always on, we are in contact at all times, linked in the flurry of the never-ending fast news flash keeping us upto-date. We connect with the

environment, with local cultures, and with products and services enmeshing us in the world, yet individually, we want time for solace, silence, and solitude. We face the paradox of both constant up time and also the need for regular down time. ● Constant connection and sharing create databases that erode privacy. Disconnecting would bring back privacy but at the sake of being connected. ● Today our attention spans are shorter. The result is that brands must meaningfully connect in mere seconds. Generation Z wants information as quickly as possible yet they lose interest quicker than other cohorts. Brands must affect people who connect and disconnect in the blink of an eye. ● People have sacrificed human connections for digital di-

mensions. We want both: the optimisation of human touchable and conveniently clickable. ● Implicit in the new definition of connection is that social networking is no longer a channel strategy or a communications tool: it is a way of life, a way of having individual freedom with personal interdependence within the network. Social networking is today’s evolution of community – technology makes it easier for us to connect with those who share our interests. ● The new meaning of connection creates paradoxes in the way we work. For example, I am part of a business brand and I am my own business. The on-demand economy connects unified branded work communities of individuals who operate as independent businesses: an untethered force of individu-

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als integrating into organisations on a flexible, personal basis creating a brand experience of unity with diversity. ● Also, new office spaces offer places for people to work individually together with others just like them, reflecting the individuality and inclusiveness of the Age of I. “We Work” spaces are an example. Additionally, research shows that Millennials believe work is a place for career-building connections, more than a place to build a career. ● Age generates connection paradoxes. Cohorts respond differently to how, when, why, and where to connect. Brands (organisations) need to juggle conflicting connection needs. For example, Gen Z appreciate brand sharing for connections but want personal safeguards, while Boomers are sceptical of brand sharing but participate because they want brands to know them. ● The Kinship Economy is defined by the business evolution of brand experiences based on transactions to those based on relationships, changing attitudes from feeling disconnected, to feeling connected, to wanting to feel interconnected. Brands are credible interconnectors with customers, prospects, loyalists, and membership communities. People want a feeling of meaningful membership in an interconnected community that also respects their individuality. The Paradox of Abundant Rarity: The changing definition of luxury ● In The Age of I, luxury is no longer something scarce, expensive and available only to the lucky few. Luxury means different things to different people in different situations. Luxury is a multi-dimensional concept reflecting multiple conflicting needs and desires. Luxury can be the most premium, most exclusive, elusive offering for a small group of wealthy people. Or, luxury is an offering maximising both scarcity and availability. In other words, the potential profitable paradox challenge will be a luxury brand that epitomises “abundant rarity.” Globalisation hastens this luxury paradox: be-

ing available in more places where more people can experience luxury, makes it less rare. ● Demographics generate luxury paradoxes. For example, Gen Z, the generation following Millennials, define luxury as products and services that anyone can access and that highlight one’s individuality. Truly authentic, original, crafted products and services are available luxuries. ● Today, giving to others is considered a luxury. Giving helps others, while transforming the giver. For example, Carnival Cruises created a luxury vacation category they call “social impact travel” where customers help to transform the areas of their ports of call. The cruise line thinks of this as mobilising and educating their travellers for the better good. ● Privacy is a vanishing luxury; so providing “secure privacy with personalisation” is one way to deliver a luxurious brand experience. Privacy has become a valuable asset. ● Brands providing a feeling of relaxation, restoration, and rejuvenation deliver luxury experiences. Yet we live in a technoworld. Comforting technology puts our minds at ease. ● Time is a luxury. A paradox of luxury time is the maximisation of desire and delay: instantly satisfying desire while building the anticipation (and waiting-list status) of delay. ● Today, we can experience luxury without having to own the luxury. Luxury experiences are available for hire, from yachts, gowns and cars, to homes and villas. Access-based luxury demonstrates how important the total brand experience is relative to actually purchasing and owning the luxury items. ● Luxury and prestige are different, although not mutually exclusive. A prestige brand has widely recognised prominence, perceived worth and/ or importance, expressing money and power. A luxury brand has extravagance, sensuousness, and great comfort. Prestige means, “I am important.” Luxury means, “I feel indulgent.” A Patek Philippe watch is prestigious; an Omega watch is luxury.



March 2017


Wanted: A marketing body for MICE in Maharashtra Hoteliers in Mumbai and Pune want the Maharashtra government to set up a marketing body to promote the state as a MICE destination By Steena Joy


T THE RECENTLY concluded FHW Mumbai, twelve general managers of leading hotel brands in Mumbai and Pune participated in a panel discussion on MICE in Maharashtra which highlighted the need for government support. The GMs included Sameer Sud, The Leela Mumbai; Nicholas Dumbell, Renais-



March 2017

sance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel; Cajetan Araujo, St Regis, Mumbai; Suraj Kumar Jha, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport; Varun Sahani, The Orchid, Mumbai; Kapil Kapoor, Waterstones Hotel, Mumbai; Amit Midha, Conrad Pune; Srinivas Srirangam, Novotel Imagica, Khopoli; Vineet Mishra, JW Marriott Pune; Subhabrata Roy, Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai; Santanu Guha Roy, Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Alibaug and Satyajit

Kotwal, The Resort, Mumbai. Opening the discussion, Cajetan Araujo said, “MICE accounts for 14.8 per cent of St Regis Mumbai's revenues. Customers today want diverse F&B experiences with dynamic breakout sessions. And we want them to keep coming back to us. So our strategy is to understand what the customer wants.” Speaking about the importance of price points vis a vis business, Sameer Sud stated, “Price point is very very impor-

We have huge potential but what we need is a central body which will be the face for potential international convention opportunities. Also, clarity in policies and taxation as well as licences is the need of the hour

SPOTLIGHT tant but more important is what you can offer at that price. The needs of the customer must be given priority.” Nicholas Dumbell observed that MICE needs accessibility. “Due to easy connectivity, Powai is much closer to the airport than even south Mumbai. And this worked for Renaissance Mumbai. Our F&B business has doubled and will continue to grow. But we need to find out what rates can be attractive in the lean periods. We want to maximise the whole big picture rather than just rooms or F&B or MICE,” he said. Commenting on demonetisation, Satyajit Kotwal informed that only impromptu family gatherings were impacted. “But there was no impact on the weddings segment as in India weddings are more status symbols,” he added. Adding to this, Suraj Kumar Jha said, that as most corporate MICE is on credit terms, the impact was minimal. “But it affected social events like weddings which are mostly a showcase of wealth for Indian families. People have accepted demonetisation and things have become normal,” he commented. Discussing the scope of medical tourism, Subhabrata Roy said, “It is one of the emerging MICE segments. Being close to hospitals like Fortis, Apollo, etc, Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai has tremendous potential for sure. We are also close to the CIDCO Exhibition Centre where a lot of medical conferences are held. Being a branded hotel also means lots of opportunities.” The panel then turned attention to Pune. Vineet Mishra observed, “Six years ago when JW Marriott opened here, everyone said it was too large for the satellite city. Those days Pune was more of a retirement city. Today, we are seeing one million F&B covers per year. Pune has become a destination in itself. The MumbaiPune Expressway definitely helped us. And price points in Pune are still affordable and with more hotel inventory in the pipeline, it means more bigger conferences and

conventions. In MICE, benefits of increased inventory works wonders as hotels can work together as partners and can offer customers alternate accommodation options available in close proximity.” Amit Midha said that despite the camaraderie, there is a dearth of hotels in the luxury segment in Pune. “Conrad Pune is the second largest in the MICE space. Pune is a very dynamic market, more affordable though lack of shopping is till a dampener,” he pointed out.

Challenges Srinivas Srirangam lamented that though the 2016 MICE policy is a good

one, how much of it will be activated is the question. “Being an amusement park hotel, MICE accounts for 58 per cent of business in Novotel Imagica Khopoli. Being located between Mumbai and Pune also helps as these are our feeder markets,” he said. Santanu Guha Roy observed that Khopoli, Karjat and Lonavla are emerging as MICE destinations. “Radisson Blu Alibaug does 65 per cent MICE. We would have done better if the road conditions were better. If infra improves we can get more business. Being a resort hotel, we also have lots of space for team building activ-

ities,” he pointed out. Kapil Kapoor believed that MICE is no longer a four walled cliched segment. He said, “People want more entertainment and more interaction, live cooking stations, interactive kitchens, etc. For us at Mars Hospitality, F&B has been a gamechanger whether it is in cuisine, presentation, food experience, themes or displays.” They all agreed that there was a lack of a huge convention centre. Jha said, “Globally look at Singapore. We need better infra support. Even entertainment facilities have to be built in for larger international exhibitions to come to India.”

Dumbell agreed, “We have huge potential but what we need is a central body which will be the face for potential international convention opportunities. The Return on Investment is also important for such projects so maybe a convention centre near the new airport, but for this we need the support of the local government.” Varun Sahani questioned, “Look at Jaipur – what did it do to make it to the second position as India's convention hub?” They all were in agreement that clarity in policies and taxation as well as licences is the need of the hour.



March 2017


Get on the Grid By connecting the industry to skilled manpower through a common platform of 'Skill Grid', the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) is all set to change the dynamics for skilled professionals in India By Saloni Bhatia


ourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), an independent employer led organisation, which provides framework for skill development in the tourism and hospitality sector recently launched its ‘Skill Grid’ programme to connect the industry with skilled manpower. THSC works very closely with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, educational bodies and the government to support the industry with defined occupational standards. The new skill grid platform, will enable the associate members to find trained professionals in a specific district/state to interview and hire for their respective industries. Members will also be able to post their requirements with respect to candidates and training of existing staff. As the industry is always in search of trained professionals, the platform comes as a relief for job seekers, trainers and employers. Being identified as one of the most important sectors of employment generation, the growth in tourism and hospitality industry will lead to more demand in skilled manpower. Speaking at the launch, Praveen Roy, CEO, THSC, informed, “We thought we will not only use this platform as a training cell but also to link the trainee to the industry. One of the critical aspects of this platform is to ensure that there is a larger possibility of placements available to the trainee. So ultimately the choice goes


THSC works very closely with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, educational bodies and the government to support the industry with defined occupational standards. The new skill grid platform, will enable the associate members to find trained professionals in a specific district/state to interview and hire for their respective industries to the trainee rather than the employer.” THSC provides training and apprenticeship programmes be it on the job or otherwise to identify skilled people and get them better opportunities. Last year the council trained 100,000 people and has already received 5000 applications so far for this year. Roy informed that the skill grid will connect the industry to candidates for on-the-job training, outdoor catering and apprenticeship. He further men-

tioned that the THSC certification will be valid across the country. While the council has seen extensive support from the hospitality sector, it is yet to see active involvement from the tourism industry. Arun Nanda, chairman, THSC and Mahindra Holidays said,“This grid is another step towards bringing more employers onto this platform because there is no point in creating skilled manpower unless we can give them jobs. The focus will now also be on getting

more training partners and employers from the tourism sector.” THSC has developed certain frameworks for various type of job roles in the sector. Through the help of other associations, these roles have been defined for companies across the industry. Therefore based on the industry requirements and feedback, THSC has created qualification packs which have become core standards for the job roles. This is how the platform aims to

bridge the gap between the demand and supply of the two industries. THSC is aided by the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and 33 Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) as well as 187 training partners registered with NSDC. THSC is part of the same structure assigned with the task of skilling India in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

MOVEMENTS ATPI Group Singapore Tourism Board

ANDREW WALLER has joined the ATPI Group’s senior executive team as international director of corporate development, a new role created to support the group’s growth plans. Under this role,

Andrew Waller

Waller will lead a number of special projects and will report directly to the CEO Graham Ramsey. He will be based at ATPI’s London headquarters. Waller joins from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), where he held a series of senior positions since joining in 2005, progressing from senior vice president, UK to become president of EMEA and the Global Partners Network in 2012. In February 2016, Waller was appointed executive vice president of global business transformation.

Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau's (PHLCVB) president and CEO Julie Coker Graham recently announced the appointment of SVETLANA YAZOVSKIKH to the position of executive director of tourism. Yazovskikh has been working at PHLCVB since 2008, most recently as the senior international tourism manager in which she oversaw sales and market activities for PHLCVB's key overseas

Svetlana Yazovskikh

Ibrahim Hakki Guntay

visitor markets. She has partnered with other east coast destinations, led international sales missions, worked with local tourism partners and attended hundreds of tourism industry tradeshows over the course of her career, in support of growing overseas international visitation to Philadelphia.

general manager in Niger from 2015-2016.

Swiss International Airlines ULRIK SVENSSON, chief financial officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG has been ap-

AirAsia India AirAsia India has appointed DEEPAK MAHENDRA as the chief financial officer of the company. Prior to joining AirAsia India, Mahendra was chief – corporate finance and accounts of Tata Power since 2008. A chartered accountant, he brings with him over three decades of experience in the finance function in diverse organisations in India and overseas. He started his career with Tata Steel.

Turkish Airlines IBRAHIM HAKKI GUNTAY took over as the general manager of Turkish Airlines for Western and Southern India. In his role, Guntay is taking charge of Turkish Airlines’ strategic success in this region and is responsible for driving growth and expansion of the company’s market share in India. Prior to moving to Mumbai, Guntay built his career at Turkish Airlines' hub in Istanbul, starting in 2013 as a marketing and sales specialist. He was engaged in various responsibilities and projects within the airline, including

ADRIAN KONG has been appointed as area director, South Asia (Mumbai) for Singapore Tourism Board (STB). In his new role, Kong will be based in Mumbai and his responsibilities include overseeing STB’s tourism promotion, marketing and developmental efforts in South and West India and Sri Lanka. Kong is well acquainted with the India market, having worked earlier in India between February 2012 and January 2014 as a manager with STB in Mumbai.

Etihad Airways Etihad Airways has appointed GERMANO ROLLERO as general manager, China. Rollero, who will be based in Beijing, has over 12 years of

Ulrik Svensson

pointed to the board of directors of Swiss International Air Lines AG. He is the chief financial officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG since January 2017. From 2006 to 2016, he was the chief executive officer of Melker Schörling AB, wherein Svensson was responsible for the six listed companies within the investment company. From 2000 to 2003, he was the CFO of the British office product provider Esselte. The Swiss board of directors, chaired by Reto Francioni, further comprises Harry Hohmeister, Montie Brewer, Jacques Aigrain and Doris Russi Schurter.

Germano Rollero

experience in senior sales management roles for CITS American Express GBT, Air China, Prudential Financial and Italcamel Travel Agency. Etihad Airways operates codeshare flights with China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines. Rollero reports to Etihad Airways’ vice president for Asia Pacific and Australia, Lindsay White.

Air Berlin THOMAS WINKELMANN has assumed the role of CEO of

Prior to his appointment as an area director, he was overseeing STB’s Philippines office for over two years.

Air Berlin. Winkelmann began his career in the Lufthansa Group in 1998, where he was initially responsible for its sales organisation in South America and the Caribbean, before assuming the role of vice president of the sales and service organisation for North and South America. From September 2006 until October 2015, Winkelmann was the CEO of Lufthansa's low-cost subsidiary, Germanwings. Following the announcement of the integration of Germanwings into Eurowings, Winkelmann was appointed CEO of Lufthansa's Munich hub.

Alila Fort Bishangarh Alila Hotels & Resorts has announced the appointment of RACHNA MEHRA as the director of sales for Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur. With experience in sales, Mehra will be responsible for sales and marketing at the 59-room boutique fortress. Mehra was previously head of sales – leisure at Ananda in the Himalayas, where she directed business development for the resort. Her hospitality experience hailed from the Shangri-La in New Delhi, The Oberoi and the Khyber Himalayan Resort.



March 2017



STRATEGIC STEPS L-R: James Hogan, president and CEO, Etihad Aviation Group; H E Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, chairman of the board of the Etihad Aviation Group and Carsten Spohr, chairman and CEO, Lufthansa Group at the signing of the new collaboration agreement in Abu Dhabi

SPIRIT OF TOURISM The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, Delhi recently hosted the National Tourism Day organised by The Indigenous Federation of Tourism India (TIFTI)

HANDS IN PARTNERSHIP Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently conducted a three-city roadshow themed “Hands in Partnership” in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru

INCREDIBLE 10 Rajeev Samant, founder and CEO, Sula Vineyards (left) along with Anuj Rakyan, MD, Rakyan Beverages at the 10th edition of SulaFest

COMMITMENT TO SERVICE Ethiopian Airlines announced the introduction of

INDIA FOCUS The Austrian National Tourist Office recently held its annual

Platinum Tier level in its frequent flyer loyalty programme, ShebaMiles

roadshow in Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi



March 2017



OUTSTANDING SERVICE Hanneli Slabber, country manager, South African

GLOBAL RECOGNITION Speedwings Aviation Academy in Kochi honoured

Tourism India (right), receiving the Skal International Karl Twiggs Award 2016 for outstanding service in the travel and tourism industry

the first batch of IATA’s Post Graduate Diploma in Airport Station Management (PGDASM) and Aviation Management Professional (AvMP) title holders

RECOGNISED FOR PERFORMANCE DMC Representation has received Best Representation DMC award for Greece and Europe at the hands of the Minister of Tourism of Greece

BUSINESS RAPPORT Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority recently organised road shows in Lucknow, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi

UNIQUE LOCAL EXPERIENCES L-R: Soraya Homchuen, director, Tourism

BRINGING SUNSHINE Lufthansa Group's charitable organisation,

Authority of Thailand (TAT) Mumbai; Anusha Dandekar, brand ambassador, TAT; and Srisuda Wanapinyosak, deputy governor for international marketing, TAT announcing 2017 theme, ‘Discover Unique Local Experiences’

Help Alliance, presented a donation cheque of over 30,000 euros for the “Sunshine education project" in Delhi



March 2017


Profile for Indian Express

Express Travelworld (Vol.12, No.2) March, 2017  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine

Express Travelworld (Vol.12, No.2) March, 2017  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine