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Niche is the name of the game


he travel and tourism industry in India seems to be in a constant state of flux. The sentiment especially amidst the travel agents and tour operator's fraternity is rather mixed. The dramatic change in the business environment has brought in further skepticism, especially for those who are heavily dependent on only airline ticketing as their main business focus. The recent change on the aviation front with Emirates in the news on the commission cut adds to their concerns. However, there are those within the industry who have accepted the fact that the volatile business environment is here to stay and there is no option but to plan future forward. Being a travel specialist and not just an agent is the reality of today and it is is all about offering niche within niche product portfolios. Talking about niche, some travel agents and operators seem to be on a path to

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

“Being a travel specialist and not just an agent is the reality of today and it is all about offering niche within niche product portfolios”

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explore some out of the ordinary adventure experiences. It's about pushing your limits to offer something special to the clientele and when it's a self driven and experienced exercise the counseling to the client proves to be highly effective. This issue also highlights some vibrant MICE venues worldwide. Our cover story lists some state-of-the-art venues and convention centres for the corporate, wedding and other sectors to explore. MICE is also high on the agenda of many of our state governments. Like J&K for example. The state is aggressively promoting itself as a MICE destination, not only in metros, but also in Tier II cities such as Raipur and Kanpur which are essentially industrial hubs. Hopefully, more of such initiatives will put India on the global MICE map as well.


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April 2017

CONTENTS MANAGEMENT Vol 12 No 3 April 2017 Pages 40


Chairman of the Board

Viveck Goenka Sr Vice President - BPD

Neil Viegas Editor

Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor

RIDING THE DIGITAL WAVE Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) recently hosted the first ever Digital Travel, Hospitality and Innovation Summit. Highlighting the industry's current digital transformation, the thought leaders at the event decoded the technological factors impacting the sector

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 SCHEDULING & COORDINATION

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


RESPONSIBLE LUXURY IN COORG Creating a fine balance between luxury and responsible tourism, The Ibnii is an eco resort in Coorg that takes its sustainable role seriously. From recycling cement sacks to rainwater harvesting, from coffee walks to bird watching and yoga, The Ibnii is for the evolved traveller who wants to immerse himself in a ‘Surrender to Nature’ experience

Express TravelWorld lists out some of the happening MICE hotspots worldwide which are popular with the Indian corporate segment


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.





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#CANDO IN INDIA Cox & Kings launches Enable Travel for the disabled community who wish to visit destinations in India

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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


J&K banks upon Maharashtra KAYAK leverages to revive tourism on tech innovations for growth Mohit Rathod Mumbai

Urging travellers from across the country to see Jammu and Kashmir in "a new light", the state government has been directing a significant part of its tourism revival efforts in Maharashtra. J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on her recent visit to Mumbai, said, "My father had started this initiative to promote Jammu and Kashmir and I am carrying it forward. Unfortunately certain incidents are over emphasised. The situation is completely fine for tourism. We need the Bollywood industry and people from all parts of the country to support us. We have been stressing on infrastructure. We also have to develop all areas of the state. It is important that local people must also have stake in the tourism economy of the state, which will further benefit them." Maharashtra currently stands as the second biggest domestic source market for J&K, following Gujarat. West Bengal ranks third. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Farooq A Shah, secretary (tourism), Government of J&K, said, "J&K offers every kind of tourism product – from high-end to budget. We receive a lot of people from Maharashtra, which is a huge market and we are hopeful that we will get a good number of tourists from here." The J&K Government earlier this year revealed that `2,400 crore will be spent on tourism infrastructure and tourist facilities in the next four years. "Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have their own USPs. Our focus is also on eco tourism and sustainable tourism. Our entire team is working on placing Jammu and Kashmir as the top tourism destination on earth; and we have the potential," he added.



April 2017

Sudipta Dev Mumbai

One of the latest efforts to draw larger tourist footfall, the J&K government has organised a 15-day festival from April 1, to showcase Asia’s largest tulip garden, The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, which features more than 20 lakh tulips of 46 varieties. Speaking about MICE tourism in the state, Mahmood A Shah, director of tourism, Kashmir, added, "We have investments in the MICE sector. Our facility in Pahalgam has been commissioned which has

a capacity to host 200 guests. Similarly, there’s a MICE facility in Gulmarg and other places like Jammu, which works to our advantage. We are aggressively promoting J&K as a MICE destination, not only in metros, but also in Tier II cities such as Raipur and Kanpur which are essentially industrial hubs. We are getting a good response, but the potential of the country is so huge that it needs to be tapped and some kind of aggressive marketing needs to be done."

Leading global meta search site KAYAK processes 1.5 billion queries for travel information every year. The global positioning benefits both suppliers and customers in India. “For our suppliers, we have the advantage of scale with hundreds of thousands of user queries per month across flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages. KAYAK operates 40 plus international sites, which help our suppliers to expose their products to travellers across the globe,” stated Abhijit Mishra, country manager of India, KAYAK, adding that India is one of the key markets for KAYAK in APAC. As a global tech company, innovation is a top priority. KAYAK’s UI is continually-optimised for added simplicity. “We conduct on average, 30 experiments a month to drive innovation and optimise our UI. We believe we have the strongest technology team in the travel industry," said Mishra. Along with search tools, KAYAK also offers tools that help with both planning and managing travel, like 'Price Forecast' helps people decide whether to buy now or wait, 'Trips' for organising their bookings/itineraries; while the 'Explore' helps in finding a destination within the budget. “Explore tool provides the

Abhijit Mishra

Indian travellers a much easier way to figure out destinations within their desired budget, and at the same time, explore some new destinations which were not on the top of their mind before,” mentioned Mishra. The company is focused on being mobilefirst – but seamless across devices. “Globally, onethird of our traffic is on mobile and that number is growing. Mobile is a key strategic priority for KAYAK; we want our users to not only use us for travel planning but to allow us to assist throughout their trip,” added Mishra. KAYAK has witnessed significant growth in searches for top domestic destinations, e.g. Kolkata has seen a year-on-year growth of about 120 per cent on searches. For the outbound segment the top destinations remain New York, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Bangkok. Destinations like Amsterdam and Munich have seen a lot of interest in recent times.


Arunachal Pradesh seeks private investments for tourism growth Saloni Bhatia Mumbai The department of tourism, Government of Arunachal Pradesh recently hosted its first Andhra Pradesh Conclave at The Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi. The conclave was part of the state government's efforts to boost domestic and international tourism flow to the state which could only attract 3.5 lakh tourists in 2016. Speaking at the event, Kiren Rijiju, union minister of state for home affairs, highlighted the state's tourism potential, unveiling some of the sectors that are in need of investments. He stated, “It is sad to say, but Arunachal Pradesh lacks the basic infrastructure like hotels and developed roads to manage large number of tourist arrivals. In the past, tourism numbers have been increasing, but the volume is not encouraging for our work. The government is already working towards infrastructural growth to attract

domestic and foreign tourist arrivals.” Commenting on the state's efforts in increasing connectivity routes, Dr Joram Beda, tourism secretary, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, informed, “The state has eight major landing ports, under the Ministry of Defence, out of

which three have been approved for dual use namely Ziro, Pasighat and Mechuka. We will start daily helicopter services from Guwahati to Itanagar to offer more connectivity services for the travellers' convenience. The government has already started work on maintaining roads and high-

ways to connect major tourist destinations. We plan to make Arunachal Pradesh a premium travel destination like Bhutan.” The board has also been organising theme based events such Ziro Festival of music, Tawang Festival, Arunachal Spring Carnival, Mechuka Adventure Festival and other ac-

tivities to promote the culture and adventure offerings of the state. Beda mentioned, “Arunchal Pradesh has a lot to offer in eco tourism spots and adventure travel, but there are only 25 active tour operators out of the 250 registered ones. I will request all the stakeholders to come forward and invest in the state and take this destination to more tourists.” The event also witnessed signing of four MoUs among various stakeholders and Government of Arunachal Pradesh. Oxigen Wallet has signed as the official e-wallet partner, has signed as its official online travel portal, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) joined as the official travel agents association partner, Fly Wings (FWSTC) signed as the official partner for hospitality training and The National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) signed as the official creative and brand development partner to the department of tourism.

Spotlight on India at Arabian Travel Market 2017 ETW Staff Mumbai Major tourism hotspots in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are experiencing a surge in Indian visitors as the region prepares to showcase its offering to leisure and business travellers at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) to be held at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 24 to 27. In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, India was the top performing source market in 2016. In Dubai, 1.8 million nationals arrived last year compared to 1.6 million in 2015 and in Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record-breaking 4.4 million visitors in total in 2016, 323,388 were Indian. Ac-

cording to the figures from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, this marks an increase of 15% on 2015. In Oman, three million tourists visited the Sultanate in 2016, of which 299,568 were Indian. Historically, numbers increased 17% in 2015 compared to 2014 and, over the last five years, Oman has seen a 60% increase in the total number of arrivals from India. Earlier this year, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar and Minister of Interior, met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the topic of visas on arrival for Indian nationals. When the new regulations are introduced, the

transit market is also set to benefit, bringing even higher numbers into Qatar and building on the 182,920 who visited in the first half of 2016. Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said, “The number of visitors to the GCC from India has been strong for a number of years due to the excellent political, trade and business links the region enjoys with its neighbour. UNWTO (United Nations World Travel Organisation) data shows that 62 million Indians have passports, yet many do not travel. However, the demographic patterns we see currently – an increasing younger population and a growing middle class – provide strong indications that the country is

about to see a steep rise in the number of nationals travelling abroad, as well as the number of foreign visitors it welcomes.” India has been named the largest growing outbound tourism market in percentage terms, with the UNWTO predicting 50 million Indians will travel overseas annually by 2020. Although more than 300 flights a week already operate between Abu Dhabi and major Indian cities, in 2016 Etihad Airways announced an expansion of its Indian network through its partner Jet Airways with the two airlines expanding their services by 28 weekly flights and three new destinations. Last year, Air India Express

also added three non-stop flights from Sharjah to both Chandigarh and Tiruchirapalli; and in Dubai, airport authorities set a target to add 50,000 seats per week to existing Indian routes. India will be under the spotlight at this year’s ATM, with a dedicated session on the ATM Global Stage, entitled: ‘Capitalising on Experiential Travel: China & India Mega Source Markets’. Filippo Sona, director, head of hotels MENA region, Colliers International, will discuss how countries in the Middle East can increase promotional activities to attract more visitors from two of the future biggest inbound source markets: China and India.



April 2017


‘The India market for luxury is keen on Mediterranean and Alaska voyages’ Edie Rodriguez, president & CEO, Crystal Cruises highlights the immense potential of the luxury cruise tourism segment in the India market. By Sudipta Dev What is your perception of the India market in terms of growth potential for luxury cruise tourism (leisure/ MICE)? There is only upside potential for the India market for increased luxury cruise sales both for leisure and MICE. There is great opportunity to encourage guests to upgrade from the premium experience to luxury as Crystal finds that 80 per cent of new to Crystal guests have either never done a cruise before, or are ‘moving up’ from a premium experience. Crystal offers several choices for MICE groups with our fleet of midsize and small vessels, including the 62 guest luxury

yacht Crystal Esprit, our 154 berth Crystal Mozart river yacht and sailing the seven seas Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, carrying 922 and 1070 guests respectively. What has been the brand strategy for Crystal in India? Our focus includes the pillars of our 25 plus years of being the world’s best with the position of offering service, space, quality and choices. As the world’s most luxurious hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, Crystal combines personalised service with world class travel experiences that can take you all over the globe by land, sea, and air.

Which interesting new destinations and experiences are you looking to promote in India ? The India market for luxury is keen on Mediterranean and Alaska voyages. Now through October 2017, Crystal Esprit will sail 7- and 14-day itineraries through the Mediterranean before transitioning to her new route through the West Indies. Crystal Symphony will also sail the Mediterranean, on a 14-day sailing this October, while Crystal Serenity will sail the region multiple times in 2018. Crystal Serenity spends her summers in Alaska, sailing 7-10 day itineraries.

What has been the focus of your engagement with the Indian travel trade ? We recently hosted a number of agent training seminars and continue to educate travel partners of the exceptional value of Crystal. With the Indian government looking at developing India as a cruising destination, are you considering bringing any of your ships here ? We have port calls scheduled in India for Mangalore and Mumbai in 2018, and our ships are always chasing the sun around the globe so we have no plans to homeport. Our guest base is curious to explore all re-

Edie Rodriguez

gions of the world and try new destinations from the luxury of a Crystal vessel.

CLIAlaunches cruise accreditation programme for Indian travel agents Sudipta Dev Mumbai The second edition of India Cruise Forum organised by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) saw an important new development with the launch of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) accreditation programme for Indian travel agents. India is in fact the very first Asian country where the CLIA accreditation programme is being introduced. “The programme is very comprehensive and has been developed in the last five years. It is primarily online with some events, about 200 videos, 250 links to port terminals across the world and dif-



April 2017

ferent destinations,” said Peter Kollar, head of International Training and Development, CLIA. Highlighting that India is the fourth largest market for Singapore with 8 per cent growth, G B Srithar, regional director for South Asia, Middle

East & Africa, STB stated that Indian visitor arrivals by sea was more than 100,000 – an increase of 29 per cent over the previous year. “2016 saw a more vibrant cruise scenario, with multi generation and young families showing highest affinity for cruising,” he men-

tioned. Srithar also moderated a panel discussion on growing India's cruise travel market – challenges and opportunities. The panel members were Nalini Gupta, managing director, Lotus Destinations (GSA of Costa Cruise India); Naresh Rawal, VP sales, Genting

Cruise Lines – Star Cruises, Dream Cruises and Crystal Cruises; Suzanne Perreira, senior VP sales, trade relationships and communications, Thomas Cook India; Anita Raja, regional manager – South India, TIRUN Travel Marketing and Harshali Darpel, senior manager – Western India, Cruise Professionals. Annie Chang, director, Cruise, STB, highlighted how STB is providing support and resources to travel agents to help them sell better – from support marketing and cruise development activities though Cruise Deevelopment Fund to updation of information, support to travel agent FAMs and cruise training for them.


‘As business travel grows, expense management solutions will play a critical role’ Saru Kaushal, vice president and general manager, Global Corporate Payments, American Express explains how corporates can streamline their travel expense management. By Steena Joy While travel and tourism is one of the largest and growing sectors in our country, corporate travel segment has also seen significant growth in the last few years. Your insights on the scenario? Indian travel and tourism industry has grown significantly due to a combination of factors like rising income levels, higher aspiration levels among younger generations, diverse tourism offerings and favourable policy changes by the government to promote tourism. Business travel has contributed considerably to this growth, in fact according to GBTA, business travel is around US$ 25 billion market in India which is expected to grow at the rate of 11.5 per cent through 2019. Inbound MICE segment is also growing at the rate of 15 to 20 per cent. As business travel grows, expense management solutions will play a critical role in ensuring control over cost management and seamless synchronisation of processes while making business travel effortless and convenient for employees. In fact, amalgamation of expense management solutions, travel credit cards, mobile and internet technology, etc is going to contribute greatly in the evolution of the business travel segment in the future. It will help companies to implement practices to increase cost efficiencies in the long term. How can Business Travel Account (BTA) help both companies as well as travel agents in driving efficiencies at both ends? American Express’

Business Travel Account is a virtual centralised billing, reconciliation and payment solution that is specifically devised to manage travel bookings for large companies effectively. It helps through savings on process costs that are related to reconciliation of travel expenses and helps companies strengthen expense management. BTA is easy to implement and can be aligned to the travel agency that the company is using, at no cost to the organisation. It also provides the facility of extended payment terms of an average of 36 days as against the 15 day billing cycle followed by most travel agencies; and a monthly billing system for air travel expenses that reduces administrative burden of doing travel reconciliation twice a month. American Express Business Travel Account product is a win - win implementation for travel agencies too as it improves cash flow and ensures incremental savings on account receivables and dunning costs for the agency. Agencies can do “Pass Through” of air ticket costs with international airlines and for non ‘Pass Through” transactions get funds from American Express within seven days. This would be a significant cost saver in comparison to extended credit periods that are sought by corporations directly from travel agencies. What kind of solutions should companies adopt for their corporate travel expense management? How can companies streamline their Travel and Entertainment Expenses (T&E)?

Large and mid-sized companies have different requirements and they look at expense management solutions to cater to their respective needs effectively. Large corporates should opt for solutions that bring in process efficiencies and give them enhanced control in their current business environment. It should enable them to control costs across their national and global operations, particularly during challenging economic times. Mid-sized companies should look for solutions that help them manage their growing expenses while simultaneously helping them save costs. Companies should wisely choose expense management solutions that can help them to control their expenses and grow their bottomlines. Travel & Entertainment (T&E) expenses are the second largest controllable expenses after salaries and benefits. In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies should focus on introducing effective travel and entertainment expense controls. This is particularly important when companies want to keep their cost base as low as possible. In the current economic environment which is highly competitive, companies in India need to introduce travel and entertainment expense controls. This is particularly important when companies want to keep their cost base as low as possible. As a global leader in payments, AmEx works with businesses to help them find the expense management solutions that can best meet their needs. American Express Corporate Ser-

vices, which includes the American Express Corporate Card and Business Travel Services, can help them in saving time and money, improve compliance and negotiate better deals with suppliers. Tell us about Amex Corporate Meeting Card. How can it help companies manage their business meetings and events expenses? American Express Corporate Meeting Card helps companies track, analyse and improve their meeting and event spends. Irrespective of the number of attendees, American Express Corporate Meeting Card streamlines the payment process of company meetings and provides separate meeting expenses for more accurate analysis and tracking. The card can also be used to book flights and has a host of other benefits that include online account access, baggage and business travel accident insurance and 24x7 global assist among others. What is your advice to corporate travel managers vis a vis expense management? The role of the corporate travel manager has become very important in recent years, especially for large companies. Corporate travel managers play a significant role in ensuring smooth business travel for employees. It is not an easy job since while they have to manage budgets, they also have to manage people, be it employees or vendors. One of the important jobs of the travel manager is negotiating with service providers. One should keep in mind that getting the lowest rate may not

Saru Kaushal

work in all scenarios. It is also necessary to ensure the quality of the service for a comfortable travel experience for the employee. So, one needs to balance both aspectsbest rates as well as good quality while negotiating a deal. Corporate travel managers should always be updated about new tools, trends and technology in the business travel management segment. It is an evolving sector and one should be aware of new efficient processes and changing requirements of employees. You comments on data breaches - the security of the payment sector, including its methods for storing and protecting client data. American Express takes security very seriously and we use 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. This means that when you are on our secured website the data transferred between American Express and you is encrypted and cannot be viewed by any other party.



April 2017


Indian visitor spend in South Australia reaches AU$ 28 mn Mohit Rathod Mumbai Indian visitor spend in South Australia has seen a surge of 87 per cent for the year ending December 2016, reaching AU$ 28 million – AU$ 13 million more than the previous year's figure – according to Tourism Research Australia. Whereas, the total expenditure has been growing with an average of 15.8 per cent over the last three years. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Dana Urmonas, regional director – India and Southeast Asia, South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC), said, "The year 2016

has been successful for us. We have seen positive results in the activities that we have been doing in the India market. Although the footfall is down a little bit, we have observed a significant increase in tourist expenditure from India." SATC has been focusing on promoting its key destinations Adelaide and Kangaroo Island to drive Indian tourist footfall to South Australia. According to Tourism Research Australia, Kangaroo Island has garnered increasing interest among Indian travellers, ranking third on preferences. Urmonas stated, "We are leveraging upon Adelaide and Kangaroo

Dana Urmonas

Islands, which are our major tourism drivers. We are also promoting wine tourism, but we don't want to direct all of our focus on that segment." Last year, SATC had announced trade collaborations with several Indian travel companies including Thomas Cook, Flight Shop, Mercury Travels and Ottila International. With an emphasis on diverse itineraries and training for frontline staff and product managers, this year too SATC will be working strongly with the travel trade. In October this year, SATC will take 10-12 Indian travel agents to Adelaide, where they will also be able to interact with on-ground

tour operators, alongside experiencing Adelaide. "Our another approach is purely marketing and awareness. We focus largely on creating awareness on digital platforms. We will also be engaging influencing personalities for destination promotion," added Urmonas. With India being among the top 10 source markets for South Australia, SATC is targeting segments such as families, honeymooners and independent leisure travellers in the age group of 25-45, particularly in primary markets of Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Thailand taps exhibition market to drive MICE growth from India Mohit Rathod Mumbai Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is looking at driving exhibitions business from the India market this year. A government organisation dedicated to MICE segment, TCEB's exhibitions and events department recently led a trade session in Mumbai to introduce its incentives and marketing campaigns to the Indian exporters and exhibitors. "We consider India as a priority market for Thailand. Last year, India ranked ninth in terms of exhibitor size and fifth in terms of exhibition visitor numbers. We hope that the ranking will improve this year. We expect 10 per cent increase in exhibition visitation from India this year," said Kanokporn Damrongul, senior Manager – exhibitions promo-



April 2017

tion section (exhibitions and events department), TCEB. The bureau expects to boost Thailand’s international trade with India through the display of initiatives and new launch campaign, Exhibiz in Market, its latest initiative towards expanding exhibition space at international exhibitions in Thailand. India contributed 2.92 per

cent of total overseas exhibitors in Thailand in 2015, with the majority exhibiting in the F&B and agriculture sector (29.98 per cent), followed by automotive (20.49 per cent) and health and wellness (17.55 per cent). Damrongul pointed out that Thailand's export to India is currently more than India export to Thailand and the gap

could be filled through enhancing trade between the two countries. According to Thailand's Ministry of Commerce, two-way trade between Thailand and India totaled US$ 7.72 billion in 2016, with about US$ 5.15 billion in Thai exports to India, and US$ 2.57 billion in Indian exports to Thailand. Besides metro cities, TCEB is also focusing on activities in

Tier II areas such as Ludhiana, Pune and others, due to strong industrial presence. Alongside leveraging upon Thailans's geographic position among ASEAN countries, TCEB is also working in co-ordination with Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) in order to influence Indian exporters and companies. Nihar Lakhia, joint director and in-charge (FIEO), said, "Thailand has emerged as a top MICE destination and offers one of the finest venues in South East Asia. We have more opportunities in the trade gap between India and Thailand. Indian businesses can take advantage of Thai government's support. I also urge small and medium enterprises to consider Thailand business expansion, as 62 per cent of our members belong to SME segment and they possess good potential."


British Airways deploys 787-9 Dreamliner on Mumbai-London route Mohit Rathod Mumbai British Airways has deployed Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner between its London-Mumbai route as part of catering to the demand for premium products from Mumbai, replacing the Boeing 777 aircraft. This move comes after the airline received good feedback from Delhi, which is already connected with the UK capital on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, and is currently the most technologically advanced aircraft on British Airways’ fleet. The fourclass configured aircraft is 20 times longer than its predecessor 787-8 and features a First Class cabin, which marked its debut in the airline’s 787 fleet with this development.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams, head of sales – Asia Pacific and the Middle East, British Airways, said, “The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a key part of our fleet and it is the right aircraft for the Mumbai market. We have introduced it on the right time here. With this move, we have also made changes in customer

experience. Mumbai is a very important market for British Airways and the airline is investing in new products and services for this market.” The airline, which has been flying to India for over 90 years, has observed growing demand for premium products from Mumbai, primarily due to

increasing trend of premium leisure and business travel from the financial capital. Commenting on route expansion, Williams stated, “We keep looking at opportunities and we can do that through partnerships with other airlines. Currently, we are

equipped well to cater to the demand from India.” The airline will induct a total of 42 Boeing 787 family of aircraft which will be deployed for destinations such as Delhi and Abu Dhabi. Besides, the airline will also induct Airbus A350 aircraft in its fleet next year, as part of investments in fleet. Speaking about the recent gadget ban in flights to the UK and US, Williams said that British Airways has so far remained unaffected by the UKUS policy. British Airways currently operates 49 flights a week from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad to London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, which will mark its 10th anniversary next year.

Brussels Airlines launches Mumbai-Brussels direct flight

ETW Staff Mumbai Belgium’s leading airline Brussels Airlines has launched a five-weekly direct flight between Mumbai and Brussels. The inaugural flight SN601 landed at Mumbai Airport in the late hours of March 30. Since one year ago, there was no longer a direct connec-

tion by air between India and Belgium. The flight schedule consists of daytime flights to Mumbai on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The flights depart in the morning and arrive late in the evening in Mumbai. Flights leave Mumbai on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and arrive in Brussels early the

next morning. The Mumbai-Brussels flight schedule is expected to allow seamless connections to many European, African and American destinations in the Brussels Airlines network, like London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol, Geneva, Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Stockholm, Milan, Madrid and the intercontinen-

tal flights to New York, Toronto, Washington and 19 African destinations. “Our new service received a warm welcome here in the India market. We see very encouraging booking results for travel to Belgium and many destinations beyond Brussels like Canada, the US, the UK, Spain, France and several African destinations,” said

Patrick Roofthooft, director – India and commercial development, Brussels Airlines. The airline has also hired Indian cabin crew members to cater to the needs of their Indian guests on the Mumbai flights. On board Brussels Airlines’ Airbus A330, customers have the choice between Business Class, Economy Privilege or Economy Class.



April 2017


Airbus’first fully-owned training facility in Asia to be established in New Delhi ETW Staff Mumbai Airbus is setting up a greenfield training facility at Aerocity, New Delhi, to support India’s growing need for Airbus aircraft pilots and maintenance engineers. The groundbreaking for the Airbus India Training Centre was performed by P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, union minister of civil aviation and Tom Enders, CEO, Airbus in the presence of Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation. India is the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world and is expected to continue to grow at an annualised 9.3 per cent over the next 20 years, outpacing the world average of 4.6 per cent. The number of trips per capita in India is expected to quadruple by 2035 due to a combination of economic and demographic factors. To cater to this demand, Airbus forecasts a requirement for at least 1,600 new passenger and freighter aircraft by 2035. The consequent increase in Indian in-service aircraft fleet will lead to an ac-

companying need for over 24,000 new pilots and maintenance engineers. “India’s rapidly growing passenger aircraft fleet must be matched by adequate availability of skilled pilots and maintenance engineers. Airbus’ pilot and maintenance engineering training centre is the

type of facility which will help augment the talent pool of such personnel and thus be a force multiplier for the Indian aviation sector,” said Raju. “We have only scratched the surface when it comes to the growth of civil aviation in India. This training centre will be the first such facility fully owned by

us in Asia. It is a symbol of our enduring partnership with this country,” said Enders. The Airbus India Training Centre will be built in a modular concept in order to become operational by end-2018 with two A320 full flight simulators, increasing to four and potentially to six simulators in due

course. It will start with an initial capacity to train over 800 pilots and 200 maintenance engineers annually. The centre will cater primarily to Airbus operators in India and the region. Airbus has more than 250 aircraft in service in India and over 570 are on order by Indian airlines.

Fijian Tourism Expo in May ETW Staff Mumbai The Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE), Fiji’s premier tourism industry event will take place this year at the Denarau Island Convention Centre at Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau from May 4 to 5, 2017. This year marks the fourth consecutive year for the event. Hosted by Tourism Fiji, the National Tourism Organisa-



April 2017

tion, the event provides a cross-sectoral platform for

partners in the tourism industry to engage directly with in-

ternational buyers and travel trade media.

FTE 2017 will build on and enhance last year’s event to showcase the great diversity and quality of products available in Fiji to international industry partners. For over two busy days of appointments and schedules, international buyers and media will have the opportunity to meet and engage with the Fijian tourism industry using innovation and technology.


GNTO targets 2 million overnight stays from India by 2030 Saloni Bhatia New Delhi The German National Tourist Office of India recently declared its new campaign for 2017- Germany’s Palaces, Parks and Gardens. The country continued to attract a steady growth from the India market. It witnessed 748,737 overnight visitors in 2016 marking a growth of 8.1 per cent over 2015. The GNTO office forecasts three-five per cent growth for the coming year

with the launch of their new campaign and digital marketing initiatives. The office will also roll out their online training programme by middle of this year and hold regular online webinars for Tier II and Tier III tour operators. This is to ensure that the Indian travel trade is updated with the latest offerings and activities for the year. Speaking at an annual press event, Romit Theophilus, director, India, German National Tourist Office, further in-

formed, “Germany witnessed 80.7 million overnight stays with India showing a 8.1 per cent growth. The average spent of and Indian traveller in Germany is €2.375 which is higher than their average international spent. India currently ranks at the fifth position with a 50-50 per cent share of leisure and business travellers. In 2016, the destination recorded 48 per cent first timers and 52 per cent of repeat travellers from India. With the new campaigns in place, we

are looking to attract 2 million overnight stays by the year 2030.” Theophilus added that Germany has become a year around destination with numerous winter activities, adventure sports and laid back vacation offers. Talking about the current theme, he mentioned, “Germany has 20,000 castles which have not yet been explored. The 16 national parks and 100 nature parks simply add to the opulence of the country.” He further suggested

that one shall experience local cities in taxis and use travel cards for convenient travel. HE Martin Rey, ambassador to India, German Embassy highlighted the diverse attractions and affordability of Germany. He stated, “Travellers should also add small towns like Munich and Dusseldorf which have a lot to offer through their culture. Apart from numerous activities, castle stays, theme parks, adventure sports activities, there are many food options for Indians.”

IITM forays into Kolkata this year ETW Staff Mumbai Themed 'Sumer Holidays – Travel the country...See the world', the 2017 edition of India International Travel Mart was recently held at Kolkata, completing 18 years of presence. IITM, at present is being organised in key source markets of Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kochi and now Kolkata. IITM, in its inaugural year in Kolkata, had over 125 participants from 15 Indian states and five countries. The event was organised in association with West Bengal Tourism and inaugurated by S B Pradhan, principal secretary (tourism), Government of West Bengal. Gujarat Tourism was the Partner State at the event, whereas, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh were the Feature States. OYO Rooms was the Platinum Hospitality Partner. Other state represen-

tations included Punjab, Kerala, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Goa etc. Travel agents and hoteliers delegation from Jammu and Kashmir looked at tapping the

West Bengal market for the coming summer season. More than 100 hotels and resorts also participated from acros India. Diverse tourism segments on display included

pilgrimage travel, adventure, cultural pursuits, shopping tours, etc. This edition witnessed over 20 per cent increase in exhibitor space and footfall of

over 15,000 holiday seekers. Rohit Hangal, director, Sphere Travel Media, said, “With the present ongoing recession, international arrivals in India have dropped and IITM provided the right impetus to the Indian domestic tourism industry. The participants from the states and union territories were seen marketing their products.” Sanjay Hakhu, director, Sphere Travel Media, added, “India, in spite of the present business environment, is fast emerging as one of the most interesting and productive countries for the travel industry, both for leisure and business travel. A combination of factors is responsible for the growth and demand of travel trends from India.” Tourism studies and trends indicate that the year 2017-18 will see more than 20 million tourists embanking on overseas travel and with the advent of low cost international airfares and other factors.



April 2017


Mauritius records 15% increase Canada banks upon in Indian tourists in 2016

tourism to support small businesses

Bardish Chagger

Mohit Rathod Mumbai

ETW Staff Mumbai Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) India recently conducted a five-city roadshow in Chandigarh, Pune, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Kolkata, with an objective to offer Indian travel partners an opportunity to become acquainted with the destination and meet the hoteliers, DMCs and activity companies. Sanjay Sondhi, managing director, OM Tourism, said, “This roadshow served as a great platform for Indian tour operators to have a meaningful dialogue with the 23 suppliers from Mauritius including hotels, DMCs and activity companies." The roadshow was led by Vivek Anand, country manager, MTPA India, who said, “The response of the travel trade partners was amazing.



April 2017

The objective of the roadshow was to update the travel fraternity and help them forge business ties with Mauritius suppliers. We have seen a growth of 15 per cent in Indian tourist arrivals last year, taking the number to 83,000. We are targeting 100,000 tourists in 2017, which is an increase of 20 per cent over 2016. We expect a healthy growth in the MICE and wedding segments and will be promoting Mauritius as a destination ‘Beyond the Beach’. More and more Indian travellers are planning to travel to the affordable luxury destination, Mauritius. We are getting enquiries for a few Indian weddings. Producers are also showing interest in shooting Bollywood movies in Mauritius.” Anand, while describing the tagline 'Mauritius - It’s a pleasure', added, “Mauritius offers amazing activities for adventure lovers like sky diving, zi-

plining, quad biking, seakarting, submarine rides, helicopter tours and also a lifetime experience of walking with the lions. Rum and tea tasting tours are also gaining popularity among the tourists. Those who are sports minded, can enjoy a game of golf at one of the many championship level courses in Mauritius. Indians, while in Mauritius, will definitely enjoy long drives, shopping, night life, delicious cuisine or simply rejuvenate themselves at the world class spas. Mauritius is a perfect MICE destination. Besides its natural splendour, the island has all the key facilities required for organising successful meetings, conferences and events. Luxurious hotel accommodation and DMCs geared towards providing all facilities required for large Indian weddings has made Mauritius a popular wedding destination.”

Canada is leveraging upon tourism from India to support small and medium business establishments in the country, alongside trade and investments. On her recent visit to India, Canadian minister for small business and tourism, Bardish Chagger met India's minister for tourism and culture, Mahesh Sharma and explored tourism and trade opportunities between the two countries. In a media interaction held in Mumbai, Chagger said, "For the first time in the history of Canada, we have a government under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which recognises tourism as an economic driver. The backbone of the tourism industry is small businesses and vice versa. Every single community of our country and across the world can support and strengthen this industry and that’s why our government is investing in tourism. There is an historical relationship between India and Canada, and we continue to build up on that relationship." This year Canada is cel-

ebrating its 150th anniversary and the country's flag carrier Air Canada will be launching another direct flight, between Mumbai and Toronto, which is further expected to help strengthen tourism between the two countries. "Tourism is an opportunity for every single community to grow and create job opportunities. I would like to see progressive trade agreements between India and Canada. Both countries can benefit from such agreements," added Chagger. A large proportion of Indian visitor footfall to Canada includes students, which has increased by around 70 per cent last year. Besides, Canada is also focusing on trade and investments in F&B sector between India and Canada. Jordan Reeves, consul general of Canada in Mumbai, said, "Trade and investments between India and Canada has been increasing and will continue to grow. Canada is really bullish on India. Travel and tourism from both directions has been increasing over the last three years; we have been marking double digit growth."


Avenir Research Marketing to represent leading Tanzanian DMC in India ETW Staff Mumbai Avenir Research Marketing (ARM), a boutique representation company, has introduced Tanzania’s oldest and leading destination management company (DMC), Kearsleys, as its newest client on board. Under this collaboration, ARM will represent Kearsleys in the India market. Established in 1948, Kearsleys covers destinations such as North, Southern and West-

ern Tanzania along with coastal regions and island such as Zanzibar, Mafia Island, Pemba Island among others. Ashish Bhandari, founder and CEO, ARM, said, "Kearsleys has been an eminent leader for the last 68 years, and we are proud to introduce the brand in the India market. We are looking at positioning Tanzania as an exclusive destination – beautiful yet unexplored and have planned a focused yet aggressive sales strategy for Kears-

Ashish Bhandari

leys. The products that Kearsleys offers are superior and luxury while their service is top notch, having won the leading ITO in Tanzania at 2016 WTA, and India is a promising market for this noteworthy brand." ARM is developing a shortterm strategy over the next six months to create awareness about Kearsleys and its products and services in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, followed by sales outreach to

niche agents that promote luxury destinations. "Tanzania as a destination is high priced and we want to maintain that exclusivity by implementing promotional initiatives in the luxury travel segment. Our on-going mission is to develop thoughtful, creative and personalised sales strategies to build awareness among trendsetters and tastemakers, ultimately creating brand loyalists and ambassadors for Kearsleys in India," added Bhandari.

Cox & Kings launches Trip 360 Degree for adventure tourism Saloni Bhatia New Delhi Trip 360 Degree, an adventure travel venture, powered by Cox & Kings was recently launched in India at an event in New Delhi. Catering to India’s adventure travellers and millenials, Trip 360 Degree aims to establish India as a global travel destination based on three core concepts of sustainability, safety and sociable. The brand has started with four travel segments, trekking, cycling, motorbiking and scuba diving in India as well as international destinations. It will function as an adventure travel aggregator and tour operator. Speaking at the launch, Rohan Prakash, business head, Trip 360 Degree, said, “Trip 360 Degree will function as an e-commerce platform for inbound as well as foreign travellers. We will tie up with niche outdoor suppliers and also bring some of our special curated itineraries. Starting

with four major segments of trekking, motorbiking, cycling and scuba diving, we plan to launch a new activity every four weeks. The new activities will include wildlife tours, urban discoveries, kayaking, cruising etc.” Trip 360 Degree has launched a dedicated website with over 200 itineraries across India, Bhutan,

Malaysia among other countries. The brand has hired a team of over 40 professionals to curate trips and also host guided tours for the customers. When asked about plans to promote the concept, Prakash added, “We have created special videos as part of our marketing strategies to attract like-minded people to our platform. We will also tar-

get international markets like the USA and Europe with our core concepts of sustainability, security and sociable.” Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox and Kings, mentioned, “Cox and Kings will keep innovating and investing in new concepts, Trip 360 Degree will not only enhance the quality of adventure travel in India, but also keep

security and sustainability in mind. India is an emerging destination of millenial travellers who are looking for such adventure filled activities. The adventure travel business is huge in India, however it is largely fragmented and unorganised. Trip 360 Degree addresses these issues by filling the gap and bringing out the best that India has to offer.”



April 2017


Tourism generates Concur integrates 1 in 10 jobs in 2016: WTTC with Ola Corporate ETW Staff Mumbai Concur, provider of spend management solutions and services, has announced its integration with Ola Corporate, Ola’s enterprise solution for business travellers and corporates. Under this partnership, Concur and Ola, have built a connected platform that improves the experience for Concur’s business traveller.

ETW Staff Mumbai Travel and tourism generated one in 10 of the world’s jobs in 2016 as the sector grew by 3.3 per cent, outpacing the global economy for the sixth year in a row, stated a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). WTTC’s Economic Impact Report 2017, which is conducted in conjunction with Oxford Economics, researches the economic impact of travel and tourism on global level, for 25 regions and 185 countries. According to the research, travel and tourism grew by 3.3 per cent in 2016, generating US$ 7.6 trillion worldwide, which is 10.2 per cent of global GDP when the direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account. The sector supported a total of 292 million jobs in 2016, which is one in 10 of all jobs in the world. Additionally, global visitor exports, which is money spent by foreign visitors, accounted for 6.6 per cent of total world exports, and almost 30 per cent of total world services exports. David Scowsill, president and CEO, WTTC, said, “This is the sixth year in a row that



April 2017

travel and tourism has outpaced the global economy, showing the sector’s resilience and the eagerness of people to continue to travel and discover new places, despite economic and political challenges across the world. The continuous growth of our sector underlines the significance of business and leisure travel in driving economic development and job creation throughout the world.” Southeast Asia (8.3 per cent) was the region with the fastest growing travel and tourism sector in 2016, driven by the expanding Chinese outbound market. Latin America (0.2 per cent) was the slowest growing region. Some countries performed above the world average, but the Brazilian economy dragged down the whole region. The other regions registered the following growth: South Asia (7.9 per cent), North East Asia (4.6 per cent), Oceania (4.4 per cent), the Caribbean (3.2 per cent), North America (3.1 per cent), the Middle East (2.7 per cent), Sub-Saharan Africa (2.4 per cent) and Europe (1.6 per cent). Travel and tourism is expected to grow by 3.8 per cent in 2017, generating US$ 7.9

trillion. This growth is slower than previously forecast, as a result of a downgrade to the global economy and a dampening of consumer spending. Over the next decade, the sector is forecast to grow at an average of 3.9 per cent per year. By 2027 it is expected to generate more than 11 per cent of the world’s GDP and employ a total of 380 million people. One quarter of all jobs created in the next decade will be supported by travel and tourism. Scowsill added, “The future prospects for travel and tourism are good, but the sector continues to face challenges. The impact of terrorism and the rise of populism pose a severe risk to the ability of people to travel efficiently and securely. The sector itself needs urgently to address the impact of growth on destinations and its own contribution to climate change if it is to be sustainable in the long term. The UN’s 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a perfect opportunity to explore solutions together. We look forward to welcoming delegates at our upcoming Global Summit in Bangkok where these challenges will be addressed.”

The improved convenience that this partnership will bring to our customers in India, is a huge value add Over 300 local and global Concur customers will have access to the features of Ola Corporate including customised mobility solutions across categories such as Mini, Micro, Prime Sedan and SUVs, Lux and rentals across 102 cities where Ola offers its services. While Concur would provide seamless expense management through paperless, automated invoice and zero manual intervention; leading to improved productivity and reduced manual errors; Ola Corporate will provide customised

solutions for the transportation needs corporate customers. John Gibbon, vice president – platform, Concur, said, “The partnership with Ola is important in our global expansion. This integration will make it seamless for our corporate clientele. The improved convenience that this partnership will bring to our customers in India, is a huge value add and will go a long way in our goal of finding better ways to manage business expenses.” Ankit Jain, senior director, Ola, added, “Ola Corporate has been designed to streamline corporate travel in India; and the service has witnessed tremendous growth and popularity among some leading brands and enterprises in the country. Our latest partnership with Concur will provide an innovative and smart solution for the seamless, hassle free on ground transportation management for several leading enterprises registered with them.” Launched last year, Ola Corporate enables seamless business travel for more than 200,000 employees in 102 cities across India. Ola Corporate is planning to get 10,000 companies on its platform by next year. Ola Corporate is now available in the Concur App Center. Offering apps with streamlined integration with Concur travel, expense and invoice products, the Concur App Center delivers functionality in categories such as finance, regulatory compliance, enterprise identity, traveller productivity, travel management and more.


ICPB-ICCAworkshop aims to bring international conventions to India ETW Staff Mumbai ICPB - ICCA Workshop on ‘Bidding for International Conferences’ was recently held at Hotel Pullman New Delhi. The workshop was held to update the India Convention Promotion Bureau' (ICPB) members and other industry stakeholders on how to make a winning bid for bagging international conferences for India. The faculty comprised of experts from International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and from the Indian industry – Noor Ahmad Hamid, regional director, Asia Pacific, ICCA; Jason Yeh, board of directors, ICCA GIS Group, Taipei; Arjun Narne, director, KW Conferences India; Priti Khanna, chairperson, MCI Management India; and Devendra K Gupta, professor and head, department of paediatric surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Chander Mansharamani, vice chairman, ICPB, elaborated on the objectives of the workshop and expectations from the participants. He remarked, "Bidding

for an international conference is an exciting and challenging task. Bringing an international congress to your country can be a crowning achievement of a professional career. It not only raises the profile of a national industry, but can also make a long-term impact on elevating benchmarks of performance in that industry, help build and maintain relationships with customers and ulti-

mately provides economic boost to the sector." The programme was inaugurated by Suman Billa, joint secretary (tourism) and chairman of ICPB, who emphasised on the importance of the MICE sector for the economy and how such workshops provide the momentum to accelerate the process of bringing India firmly on the global MICE map.

The workshop was attended by 40 participants from the different segments of the industry. The programme entailed informative sessions such as understanding the association market, selling to the association market, role of a PCO in bidding, 'Lessons learnt - An India Association Perspective by Professor Gupta', case study of real bids and panel discussion

on do’s and don’ts about bidding. Khanna pointed out the areas that need improvement for making successful bid presentations to bring international conferences to India. The workshop concluded with distribution of certificates to the attendees for their participation. ICPB proposed to organise more such training programmes during the year.

SOTC enters travel e-commerce space ETW Staff Mumbai SOTC Travel has forayed into travel e-commerce space with its new portal. The platform presents an experiential holiday buying experience for its customers with a new map navigation feature. With a contemporary design, variations have been made to the site-wide



April 2017

navigation to help customers find information faster. Highlights of the new site include multiple payment options, price comparing feature, integrated website that allows repeat customers to access their previous fellow traveller details, retrieval feature that shows previous bookings and highlights current offers and promotions, recommendation

feature, navigation and user interface built on holiday theme, images and videos for an easy itinerary presentation, calendar view of pricing to pick the best deal and dates, and faster download time. Vishal Suri, managing director, SOTC Travel, said, “With the new design, our desire was to use technology to allow customers to engage

seamlessly with us across our physical and digital platforms. The new website is built on SOTC’s omni-channel approach which is customer-centric and helps us deliver an integrated digital experience to our customers. The clean and more attractive website presents a more engaging user experience. Features such as multiple payment options,

price comparing feature and share/recommend holiday to friends and family offer our visitors an informative experience. We have also added new and enhanced content offering huge innovative packages. We look forward to an increase in website visitors, content consumption and feedback from our users on our exciting new developments.”


FE CFO Awards held in Mumbai The event celebrated the excellence, best practices and outstanding achievements by India’s leading Chief Financial Officers

The FE CFO of the Year Awards 2017, an initiative of The Financial Express, recently celebrated the excellence, best practices and outstanding achievements by India’s leading Chief Financial Officers in Mumbai. The keynote address was delivered by Bibek Debroy, member, NITI Aayog. Debroy said the government expected the second Income Declaration Scheme (IDS II), which will end on March 31, to yield around `2 lakh crore. “This does not mean all the money that is back has become legitimate and has been converted into white. The scrutiny is going to happen now,” he cautioned, however, that while tax inspectors “go after the mala fide accounts, there is also the danger they would go after some bonafide ones.” “The intention of demonetisation was not to address the black wealth that was not in the form of cash, it was only to address black money in form in cash,” he added. Debroy noted that the business environment in the country

must be improved for every entrepreneur, pointing out that not every entrepreneur was necessarily a corporate entity. He added that a large part of entrepreneurship was in the informal economy, which was why Prime

Minister Narendra Modi had stressed on the importance of start-ups. The winning performances – across six categories – were picked by a high-powered jury chaired by R Seshasayee, chairman, Infosys. The other members were YM Deosthalee,

chairman, L&T Finance Holdings; Leo Puri, MD, UTI Asset Management; Pradip Shah, chairman, IndAsia Fund Advisors, and Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital. Performances of 150 firms were assessed. Deosthalee received the Lifetime Achievement award. He successfully managed the complex financial portfolio at the engineering giant for more than two decades. He ensured all risks were covered, all exposures hedged and that the treasury operations were robust. R Shankar Raman, director and CFO, L&T, walked away with the CFO of the Year award. Raman managed the finances of L&T at a time when growth is subdued and cash flows are slow. His excellent management of working capital ensured that L&T has more than weathered the storm. The number crunching was done by Deloitte, the knowledge partner for the awards, which ensured all the right ratios were used to arrive at shortlists.

CFO of the Year : R Shankar Raman Lifetime Achievement: YM Deosthalee TURNOVER BELOW `500 CRORE Rank Manufacturing Rank 1 Symphony Ltd Rank 2 Caplin Point Laboratories Ltd Rank 3 La Opala RG Ltd Rank 4 Kewal Kiran Clothing Ltd Rank Services Rank 1 Credit Analysis & Research Ltd Rank 2 Thyrocare Technologies Ltd Rank 3 Accelya Kale Solutions Ltd Rank 4 Wonder La `500 – 1,000 CRORE Rank Manufacturing Rank 1 Bajaj Corp Ltd Rank 2 Kitex Garments Ltd Rank 3 Hawkins Cookers Ltd Rank 4 Triveni Turbine Ltd Rank Services Rank 1 Dr Lal Pathlabs Ltd Rank 2 Repco Home Finance Ltd Rank 3 GIC Housing Finance Ltd Rank 4 Navneet Education Ltd RS. 1,000 CRORE PLUS Rank Manufacturing Rank 1 Coal India Ltd Rank 2 Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd Rank 3 Ajanta Pharma Ltd Rank 4 Bajaj Auto Ltd Rank Services Rank 1 Tata Consultancy Services Ltd Rank 2 Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd Rank 3 GRUH Finance Ltd Rank 4 Jagran Prakashan Ltd

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Platinum Gold Silver Bronze

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Platinum Gold Silver Bronze

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Platinum Gold Silver Bronze



April 2017

cover story)

THE INDIAN CORPORATE’S FAVOURITE MICE PLAYGROUNDS Express TravelWorld lists out some of the happening MICE hotspots worldwide which have been popular with the Indian corporate segment




n the United Kingdom, there are a plethora of dynamic locations to choose from – in London and beyond – mixing thousands of years of history with the modern-day business world. Manchester, England’s great Northern metropolis is a hot-bed of cultural activity and home to an abundance of venues including the iconic Old Trafford stadium – home to the Manchester United Football Club. Liverpool is home to one of the world’s most iconic bands – the Beatles; two Premier League football teams and has a rich maritime history. It also has a rapidly growing influence in the world of international corporate and association congresses. With the Arena and Convention


rom bustling Kuala Lumpur to scenic Penang to Sarawak in distant Borneo, all the destinations in Malaysia are popular MICE locations in the ASEAN region. Incentive planners can choose from 130 million-year-old rainforests, idyllic tropical isles, UNESCO heritage sites or urban lifestyle experiences to inspire, motivate and reward their highest achievers. The unique cuisines, cultures and renowned Malaysian hospitality provides an idyllic backdrop for incentive participants. Kuala Lumpur provides world class facilities to events ranging from small meetings to grand international conventions. It is a cost effective destination to hold MICE events, at the same time offering several retail and dining experiences.



Centre – purpose built for large congresses and events; and a range of venues from the Anglican Cathedral to the Beatles Story, Liverpool is just two

The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) is considered to be one the best convention centres in Asia. This ‘city within the city’ is purposefully built for international, local and regional conventions and events and is the city’s most technologically advanced place with world class facilities. Next to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, the KLCC is at the heart of over 12,000 hotel rooms, extensive shopping and entertainment facilities, and convenient transport connections. Located at the base of MATRADE’s 24-storey architectural icon, the MATRADE Exhibition & Convention Centre (MECC) houses MATRADE Hall, three exhibition halls, nine function rooms, a theatrette and an amphitheatre. Covering more than 100,000 sq m, MECC is equipped with technologically advanced facilities with emphasis on tradecentric events. Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) is Malaysia’s premier centre of

hours from London by train. Two hours from London and Birmingham airports sits the world heritage city of Bath. A world-renowned oasis for

well being and relaxation, it’s famed for its luxury hotels, exquisite spas, fine dining and world-class shopping all in a grand Georgian setting. The many historic locations of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath are venues that will find no match anywhere else in the world – in terms of the atmosphere and character of the places, which are perfect for intimate high level meetings. The Grade 1 listed Assembly Rooms dating back to 1771, can host events of varying sizes. While thousands of visitors throng the Roman Baths during the day, from seven pm onwards the 2000 year old site can turn into an almost surreal location for hosting a recep-


business and commercial activities. It is the ideal venue to hold international events, exhibitions and trade fairs. Malaysia has a growing number of convention centres

to choose from. Purpose-built, technologically advanced convention centres and varied accommodation options catering to all budgets and event scales dot the country, across all

tion. The Pump Room that is a fashionable restaurant in day time, famous for its afternoon teas, is a dinner venue of distinction for corporate events. Located in Sydney Gardens, Holburne Museum is rented out only for bespoke experience. No 1 Royal Crescent, one of Bath's most famous historic buildings, is yet another location for intimate corporate gatherings, suited particularly for cocktails and canapes. Just 70 km south of London, is one of England’s most popular coastal cities, Brighton. A thriving nightlife and some excellent venues ensure that Brighton offers visitors a great choice of activities. Thornbury Castle is the only Tudor castle in England that has been turned into a hotel, and has its own heli-pad. The Tudor Hall and the Baron's Sitting Room are perfect locations for high level corporate meetings.

states. Located just eight km from the Kuching city centre, the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) is the first international purpose-built convention centre in Borneo. BCCK is located in the ecofriendly state of Sarawak in East Malaysia. Langkawi houses the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre, while Johor has the Persada Johor International Convention Centre. Delegates can truly experience Asia through Malaysia’s blend of the vibrant cultures of Asia’s three major races: Malay, Chinese and Indian, plus 47 ethnic groups. This diversity is reflected in its cuisines, art and heritage, traditions, lifestyle and yearround festivals. Being a multiracial country where all forms of religion, cultures and traditions are accepted and respected, Malaysia is well and able to cater to the various dietary requirements of delegates from India.



April 2017

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ith over 6000 event venues that range from luxury hotels to unusual innovative locations, Germany continues to go strong as a preferred MICE destination in the world. A conference down under in a salt mine, or in a town where you can be a mayor, or in a castle, like a king. Germany allows all that and much more. Whether a company is organising a major convention or an elite strategy meeting, a product launch or a cultural event, Germany has the right setting for every occasion. Berlin, the German capital, sets new standards in the field of conventions and meetings on the international level. Regardless of whether events with 50, 500 or 5,000 participants are staged, for each event Berlin has a fitting location. Frankfurt is a city of modernity. More than 60,000 conferences and congresses are held in Frankfurt every year, nearly a quarter of which are internationally oriented. Frankfurt has a wide range of modern conference facilities to choose from, headed by the multifunctional congress facilities of Messe Frankfurt, the city’s famous fair and exhibition centre. Most of Germany's top 500 companies have offices in Hamburg. A distinct mar-


itime character and international outlook make the Hanseatic city of Hamburg one of Europe's finest destinations. Munich is Germany's lifestyle capital. The multi-faceted and exceptional range of event venues in Munich ensures tailor-made and outstandingly successful congresses, conferences, incentive programmes and other events. Among the options are the International Congress Center Munich (ICM), the Olympic Hall, a range of worldrenowned congress hotels as well as trendy halls that were originally built for other purposes and the ever-popular festive halls of the Munich breweries. Stuttgart, the state capital of Baden-Wuerttemberg, is famous around the world as an automobile city with the star and horse and as one of the most important economic locations, as a trade fair and congress city as well as a city of science. Given the increased interest from the top metros of India, the Tier I cities continue to be the target audience for the MICE segment – this includes the bigger cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai. However, the Tier II cities act as feeders to the bigger cities and our marketing efforts now also include promotional activities in important Tier II cities such as Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Indore and Kochi.



he reason that makes Thailand one of the most preferred MICE destinations in the world is three of its centres – Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai – all scoring consistently well when it comes to hosting high-end events and conferences. Its other advantage is its proximity to two of the biggest economies in the world, China and India, which gives Thailand a huge advantage in attracting MICE opportunities. One of the most dynamic business and cultural centres of Thailand, Bangkok, is a major tourist attraction due to its friendly, lively atmosphere and for the businessmen, it provides numerous opportunities for expanding trade. Bangkok provides international business-event planners with opportunities for memorable MICE functions that combine Thailand’s unbeatable value and flexibility with its distinctive culture and hospitality. Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre is Thailand’s first purpose-built convention centre and is home to the Plenary Hall, a theatre style hall, which has a capacity to host up to 6000 people and is considered one of the best venues for meetings, conventions and exhibitions in Thailand. Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC), regarded as one of the best exhibition venues in Asia, offers world-class MICE services and facilities that can accommodate events of huge numbers with total usable space of 50,400 sq m. Located in the heart of Bangkok’s

business district at CentralWorld, Bangkok Convention Centre (BCC), is a fully integrated venue for international conventions, conferences and exhibitions. The Royal Paragon Hall (RPH) is one of Asia’s most modern halls and is strategically located at the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre in the heart of Bangkok. With a total combined space of 12,000 sq m, its three impressive and ultramodern multi-purpose halls are fully furnished and equipped with cutting edge technology. Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall has a unique location on the west side of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, offering a view of both the Chao Phraya River and the Grand Palace, two of the most visited tourist locations in Bangkok. The United Nation Conference Centre (UNCC) occupies approximately 18,600 sq m of space and is in close proximity to many government offices and old quarters of Bangkok. Chiang Mai and Phuket are also immensely attractive and each have their own special plus points. Phuket is the largest island in Thailand – about the size of Singapore and is very popular for corporate meetings and seminars. Phuket is currently going through an intensive period of leisure urbanisation with many new hotels, apartments and houses under construction. Chiang Mai has around 33,000 hotel rooms and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau is working with eight key government and private organisations in Chiang Mai to increase the MICE business. Other MICE destinations that are also worth visiting are Pattaya and Khon Kaen.



anada is attracting a number of incentive groups. The destination has a number of attractions and a lot to be experienced by the business traveller. Known as Canada's number one convention and trade show facility, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre boasts of over 600,000 sq ft of exhibit and meeting space including 64 meeting rooms, a world-class 1,330 seat theatre and two carpeted ballrooms. The centre is located in the heart of dowtown Toronto, and within walking distance of over 13,000 hotel rooms, shopping, restaurants and tourism sites and only a 20 minute drive from Lester B Pearson International Airport. Popular convention


ith venues having state-of-the-art business facilities, Indonesia is equipped to host large international conferences, corporate functions or small meetings, particularly in Jakarta, Bali, Manado and other large cities. For every type of business event, hotels and exhibition centres in Indonesia offer good facilities. The dynamic capital city of Jakarta has many modern MICE facilities. The city is also known for its historical places, cultural heritage, various entertainment and sport facilities and vibrant night life. All of those give a range of interesting options after the conference or for incentive programmes. Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) is strategically located in the heart of Jakarta. JCC has long been the premier MICE venue in the capital. JCC provides an atmospheric venue serving the world’s political,


Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre (Abbotsford); Penticton Trade and Convention Centre; Vancouver Convention Centre and Victoria Conference Centre. And in Ontario, the convention centres include Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen's; Government Conference Centre (Ottawa); Scotiabank Convention Centre (Niagara Falls); Ottawa Convention Centre; Toronto Congress Centre. Palais des congres de Montreal and Place Bonaventure in Montreal are other options to choose from. There are also some five-star hotels in Toronto well known for offering state-of-the-art facilities for business meetingsThe Ritz Carlton, Toronto, Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, InterContinental Toronto Centre, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto and many more. Vancouver sees the Asia Pacific region as a huge potential

centres in Alberta include BMO Centre - 282,000 sq ft in Calgary; Edmonton Expo Centre - over 500,000 sq ft; Government House; Shaw Confer-

ence Centre - 82,000 sq ft and Telus Convention Centre 189,000 sq ft. While in British Columbia, convention centres include BC Place (Vancouver);

business, and entertainment leaders. It is the first international standard conference venue which is connected to Sultan Hotel and located in Senayan Sports Stadium. Public transport from all directions in the city pass this location. Jakarta International Expo (JIExpo) is the biggest MICE facility in Indonesia. Located at the old airport of Kemayoran, in North Jakarta, the facility occupies an area of 100,000 sqm (40,000 sqm indoor and 60,000 sqm outdoor). Jakarta International Event and Convention Center (JITEC) is one of the most prestigious convention centres in Jakarta. It is designed to accommodate different settings of events and various styles of atmosphere, all in one vast indoor facility. One of the world’s most exotic and diverse destinations, Bali boasts of an impressive range of international-standard meeting facilities, show-stopping hotels, exquisite food, and vibrant nightlife, complimented perfectly by unforgettable scenery and genuinely friendly and hospitable people who practice an authentic age-old culture.


Bali International Convention Centre (BICC) is Asia’s premier beachfront convention facility and has earned a sound reputation over the past decade as a major convention destination in South East Asia region. It is exceedingly rare to find a convention centre in such a world class resort setting.


Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia, after Jakarta and Surabaya. The city has modern convention facilities, infrastructure and international standard accommodation in a bid to attract more MICE visitors. Though in Indonesia waters, in recent years Batam has become popular with day trip-

MICE market. Vancouver Convention Centre can accommodate between 500-1000 persons on an average in conference style and in theatre style about 6,000 persons. It is said that Vancouver is expected to be a green destination by 2020. And keeping the sustainability aspect in mind, the centre has its own beehive and sewage treatment plants in the convention centre. Tourism Toronto has become the first convention and visitor’s association outside of the United States to reach a new international sustainability standard. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Certification is awarded to destinations that achieve high standards in environmentally sustainable meetings, trade shows, and conferences. Tourism Toronto has been recognised as achieving Level One certification.

pers and weekend visitors from Singapore and Malaysia, who flock to the island for its golf, duty free shopping, beaches and delicious seafood restaurants. Due to its scenic wealth and rich culture heritage, West Sumatra is one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations. A combination of idyllic surrounding and growing facilities and infrastructure, Padang and Bukittingi are becoming the perfect location for both leisure and business trips as well as an attractive MICE destination. As MICE destination, Bandung has venues for musical performances such as THE VENUE or the exhibition building called Sasana Budaya Ganesha (Sabuga) and Pusat Dakwah Islam Bandung. Bandung Convention Centre (BCC) was established in 2010 to develop Bandung as a premier destination for MICE activities in Indonesia. Yogyakarta is an exciting place for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. This city boasts of the Jogja Expo Center, Convention and Exhibition Hall dedicated to the holding of MICE activities both national and international.



April 2017

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auritius houses the region's largest and most modern convention centre: Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre (SVICC) in Pailles. This centre provides all the facilities needed for large, international conferences which can accommodate up to 5,000 people. It has hosted many international conferences including the UN Small Island Developing States Conference. Other venues include the International Conference Centre in Grand Bay (up to 600 people) and the Freeport Exhibition in Mer Rouge (up to 1,000 delegates). Positioning itself as a centre of MICE for many years, the island country boasts of a wide variety of activities that can be specifically focused around MICE groups – ranging from golf to adventure sports such as quad-biking, trekking, mountain biking, zip-lining, hunting, kitesurfing, parasailing, canoeing and skydiving. Mauritius offers easy accessibility through its simple visa entry programme and direct access from a large number of destinations through airlines such as Air Mauritius, British Airways and South African Airways. The national carrier, Air Mauritius, operates daily flights from Europe and other destinations.


Mauritius has a unique combination of a multi-cultural bilingual population, business-friendly atmosphere, large variety of accommodation, diversified mix of hotel brands and Indian Ocean’s largest convention centre. SVICC, spread over an area of about 53,865 sq ft, is one of the major convention centres in the world. Equipped with cutting-edge modern-day technology, it provides a chic ambience for conventions, conferences and exhibitions. SVICC has become a favoured centre for large official gatherings for several multi-national companies. The Atrium of SVICC which is 2,000 sq m serves as a grand entrance into the centre and is perfect for banquets, gala dinners, cocktails and receptions. Many hotels in the country also offer conferencing facilities and can cater up to 800 people at a time. The island country has a large choice of accommodation, with a strong emphasis on luxury properties and a wide range of luxury hotel brands along with boutique offerings. The MICE partners include: Apavou Hotels, Beachcomber Hotels, Concorde, Four Seasons, Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, MauriTours Travel& Tourism, Maritim Hotel Mauritius, Sun Resorts, Verandas Resorts, One&Only Le Saint Geran, Mauritius, LUX Resorts & Hotels, and many more.



ubai is one of the most modern and well kept cities in the world attracting both international business travellers and leisure tourists. When it comes to the diversity of venues, Dubai has something for every occasion at various locations throughout the city, making the emirate a leading MICE destination. At the heart of this is the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), which is MENASA region’s largest MICE venue. Another significant venue is the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC), which lies at the heart of the Dubai World Trade Centre complex. DICEC can accommodate all manner of events for up to 12,000 delegates and has a spacious, multi-purpose hall seating up to 6,000 persons. The region's first purpose-built convention facility, the Zayed University Convention Centre (ZUCC), is located 20 minutes by road from the Dubai International Airport. The auditorium has 513 static seats and built-in simultaneous translation booths for two languages. Dubai also offers a number of floating venues for meetings and events like Bateaux Dubai and Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. Bateaux Dubai, operated by JA Resorts & Hotels, boasts of

flexible seating arrangements for up to 200 people for sit-down dinners or 300 guests for cocktail receptions. The premier seat in the 'house' is in the Prestige Lounge, with places and tables arranged to ensure more privacy. This space can be customised and accommodates up to 52 guests. For meetings with a cultural spin, Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre (DUCTAC) at Mall of the Emirates enables planners to hire various rooms including the 14 studios at the Arts Centre, which are suitable for exhibitions and workshops, product launches, seminars or conference breakout rooms. Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse, which is home to the world’s horse racing elite, has a wealth of venues for meeting planners. One of the most popular choices among corporate bookers is the 4,500 capacity Rooftop Sky Bubble. MusicHall, a standalone theatre venue located at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, can hold between 380 and 750 guests in various configurations such as cabaret style or line seating. MusicHall is available for corporate hire. A more unconventional venue, The Fridge is located in the heart of Dubai's arts district, Alserkal Avenue. This event space is fully equipped with Wi-Fi, a live room, a back-stage area, high ceilings, aerial points and shower and changing facilities, and has a wide range of musical and technical equipment for hire. The venue is ideal for product launches, training, workshops, presentations, screenings and video and photo shoots.


Riding the digital wave Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) recently hosted the first ever Digital Travel, Hospitality and Innovation Summit. Highlighting the industry's current digital transformation, the thought leaders at the event decoded the technological factors impacting the sector By Saloni Bhatia


he worldwide increase of digital travellers, everyday technological changes and disruptive innovations in travel service have brought some major changes in the travel and hospitality segment. FICCI hosted a two-day event to address these technological advancements by bringing together global leaders, upstart innovators and marketing professionals to secure new business opportunities. Speaking at the inauguration, Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director, Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said, “Technology has drastically changed the tourism sector and the government also realises it as a top priority. Through the launch of e-visas we have welcomed a paradigm shift. FICCI completely supports the government's efforts and travel startups through its various platforms. These forums bring forward many relevant outcomes, which FICCI shall present to the respective ministry.” Suman Billa, joint secretary, ministry of tourism mentioned that social media has given people enormous bragging rights for their travel experiences. He stated, “The biggest challenge is adoption of digital tourism. Twenty years ago people who were chasing routes are now chasing unique experiences. Through the advancement of social media it is now possible to target people with a specific interest. It is not uncommon for travellers to seek detailed specifications for their

travel plans.” Asserting on the need of travel technology, he stated, “Digital explosion has turned tourism into a level playing field where even small players can draw the attention of a refined traveller. The top three trends of the future will be cross selling, connecting to the potential consumers and lastly reviewing the travel products. This shall change the travel demographic of the country.” The keynote session with Deep Kalra, CEO, (MMT) unfolded some interesting insights on the emerging travel space. He stated, “While OTA's hold 4045 per cent of the market share, MMT owns 20- 23 per cent share of India's online travel market. People are not wiling to go to offline agents for the things that they can easily book online. Only complex holiday planning needs hand holding.” Kalra also mentioned that the next big game changes in India's travel segment will come from the budget hotels. He added that corporate is a massive market and MMT as a brand is looking towards entering it by the end of this year. This was followed by a panel discussion on digital disruption in the tourism landscape. Moderated by Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra Online, the panel highlighted how hotels, review portals, OTA's are changing the way they function through adoption of technology. Chinmai Sharma, chief revenue office, Taj Hotels and Resorts

mentioned that the brand is already working on a pilot mode of app for direct booking and service requests. The next two session featured brands like Uniglobe, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Thomascook, SOTC, Singapore Tourism Board, Google, Byond Travel, Etihad Airways among others. The panels discussed how technology is changing the way they serve their customers. Vikram Ahuja, founder, Byond Travel, stated the importance of virtual reality in attracting mass market of new travellers. The next day, the discussions went forward on subjects like cross selling, funding for travel growth and redefining the passenger experience through travel. Commenting on how to raise funds in the travel

segment, Karan Mohla, executive director, IDG ventures stated, “To bring a disruptive change in the sector one needs to have a vision to connect with the consumers and solve a common problem.” A startup knockdown

session was held on day two, where many startups pitched their ideas to the investors. The event also witnessed the release of knowledge paper on 'The Next Generation of Travel' by Avalon Global Research and FICCI.



April 2017


WHAT A WORLD! Offering a distinctive experience with its natural scenery, animal exhibits, educational programmes and seasonal shows, Ocean Park Hong Kong stands out as a destination in its own. By 2020, the park will be rebranded as a Ocean Park Resort with the completion of its two new hotels and the waterworld area. Express Travel World unveils what's new in store for the India market By Saloni Bhatia


government owned theme park, which started as a non profit organisation in 1977, Ocean Park Hong Kong completed 40 years of operations this January. Situated on a mountain in the southern side of Hong Kong, the park enjoys scenic views of the South China Sea and the southern islands. Covering more than 91.5 hectares of land, the park is divided into the Waterfront and Summit areas, connected by the cable cars and The Ocean Express, a funicular train system. The theme park has more than 80 attractions including rides, animal exhibits and special encounter programmes. More than 140 million people have visited the theme park since its inception, which continues to offer new attractions and shows every year. Talking about the India market, Vivian Lee, executive director, sales and marketing, Ocean Park, informs, “We have had a good response from the India market as it stands to be among our top three feeder source for international tourists, competing with Philippines and Korea. More than 40 per cent of overnight visitors in Hong Kong visited the theme park in 2016 and the numbers are only growing. The park majorly attracts leisure travellers, where large family groups come in with their kids.” Competing with Disneyland, the park offers a distinctive experience with its natural scenery, animal exhibits, educational programmes and seasonal shows. Lee mentions, “We want to offer a complete experience, be it for any age or gender.


Therefore we not only offer rides like other theme parks but also have animal exhibits, special animal encounters and educational programmes for children where they learn about the environment. We have also recreated our ancient culture through the Old Hong Kong area to offer some regional experiences and local delicacies. That is why we are known as Hong Kong's home grown theme park.”

Engaging attractions The park also organises six seasonal shows during a year adding to the number of engaging activities. Todd Houghland,

executive director, operations and entertainment, informs, “The park hosts special programmes like Summer Splash, Halloween Fest, Christmas Sensation, Lucky Lunar Fiesta and Animal Discovery Fest. This year we have launched another show 'Chill out at the South' to showcase global cuisines and entertainment programmes. During the seasonal event, the park stays open till l1 at night where the people can enjoy the various counters and entertainment offerings. We are expecting an increase in footfall due to the opening of South metro line which makes the park easily accessible

DESTINATION OUTBOUND during late hours.” Another animal discovery event is starting soon. “Our zoological team is busy working on new animal encounters where people will not have to pay to see the animals. We want to make sure our guests have more opportunities for a more intimate experience with our animals,” informs Houghland. Apart from the rides and animal exhibits, the special encounter programmes enable children to learn more about the sensitive environment. Maintaining the core principles of conservation, education and entertainment, the park has heavily invested in creating platforms where children can learn in a synergistic manner. The digital interactive platforms installed in every exhibit teach kids about various issues like marine animals, global warming, sustainable farming among many others. The educational instructors guide them through the exhibit, giving them detailed information about the animals. Ocean Park also launched its signature corporate programmes in 2011. The specially designed programmes incorporate the park's natural settings, animal exhibits and rides. For any of the incentive activities, the park offers team building programmes like shark rescue and track racing which artfully use the entire area of the park. The seven dining options at the park have variety of cuisines for the Indian travellers to indulge in. However, the Bay View Restaurant serves Indian food with many vegetarian options as well.

velopment which will pan out in the next three years. Sharing more information about the newly themed waterpark, Houghland adds, “Due to the multilevel concept of the park you will have something around every corner. While we have rides and pools facing the sea, 60 per cent of rides will be indoors so it can also be used during the winter months. The mix of rides will offer numerous activities for families to enjoy. We have invested in creating the thrill of adventure and the park will be ready by summer 2019.” For the convenience of the guests, the park has also invested in an advanced mobile application. The app has various facilities like virtual guided tours, e-sheduler, e-coupons and promotions, interactive park map among many others. It assists easy navigation for the visitors and also helps the operations team to manage the crowd. With the technologically infused new attractions, accommodation on site and innovative guest engaging programmes, Ocean Park is ready to welcome more Indian guests in the near future.

The making of Ocean Park Resort By 2020, the park will be rebranded as a Ocean Park Resort with the completion of its new waterworld theme park and two hotels. Lee informs, “The first resort property by the Marriott International will open early next year. Another accommodation, The Fullerton hotel, will open at the park by early 2020. Jointly, the hotels will offer around 700 rooms with banqueting and meeting venues as well.” A total investment of three billion Hong Kong dollars has gone into this new phase of de-



April 2017


Uhuru Mt Kilimanjaro climb: My madness to reach 19,341 feet By Mahendra Vakharia


ast year we had the opportunity of arranging a dream itinerary for our clients – they visited Rwanda to do Gorilla trekking, then arrived into Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet, the highest free standing mountain in the world, followed by a wildlife safari in Tanzania, and ending with resting the tired body and soul on the golden sands of Zanzibar. This set my mind ticking and I asked myself, 'why should I not climb Mt Kilimanjaro?' - a thought that I shared with my crazy friends in Mumbai and incidentally these friends also had the same idea over a cup of coffee in Mumbai; so the journey to climb Kilimanjaro began. By no means my friends and I are professional hikers or experienced in high altitude trekking, but that did not deter


us a wee bit from going ahead with our plan and converting this dream into a reality. On February 22, 2017, all the four crazy friends – Sunila Patil, Renuka Natu, Manu Kashyap and I – assembled at the Mumbai airport to board the Kenya Airways flight to Kilimanjaro. We boarded the flight not only with lot of excitement, but also with tingling nervousness in the heart and mind. I reached Kilimanjaro at midnight and met with our friend, guide and Kili Climb operator,, Genes Shirima of Lava Rock Adventure, then settled into a comfortable hotel for the night. February 23 was spent with Genes to understand the route of our climb, go through our medical checkups (oxygen and pulse) with important instructions on do’s and dont’s during the climb. Also the hiking gear that we were to carry on the mountain was all inspected,

checked and packed into our duffle bags and backpacks – all ready for the start next day. February 24 – the day of reckoning. We arrived at the Machame Gate (starting point of our climbing route) full of energy and excitement. We completed our formalities of registration, filled the water bladders (had to drink atleast four litres of water daily), organised the backpacks and all four of us were ready to scale the peak. The gang had selected Machame Route for the Mt Kili climb. This is one of the most scenic routes to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and popularly also known as the Whisky Route. However this is also one of the toughest routes to climb. During the course of the next few days, we started gaining height on the mountain and stayed in different camp sites at different altitudes. The Machame Route gave us the su-

SPOTLIGHT per opportunity to experience Rain Forest Zone, Moor and Heather Land Zone, Rock Garden Zone (due to the huge volcanic lava rocks), Alpine Zone, and semi desert zone, till we reached the Uhuru Peak at 19,341 feet. Every day was a revelation and presented us with vistas of immense natural beauty and local flora. Due to the sheer beauty, challenge and adrenalin rush, I will never forget the terrain of our climb/trek on Day 3 when we climbed to the Lava Tower with its majestic rock formations, and Day 4, when we climbed the Barranco Wall – the highlight of the Machame Route. Highlight of the day was crossing the “Kissing A Rock" where we had to literally scrape our cheeks on the surface of the rock and kiss the rock to be able to cross it. A fall from here would have landed us few hundred feet below on massive rocks and boulders. We were hiking and trekking on an average of six-seven hours every day. Sleeping in tents on the mountain slope and gazing at the stunning starlit sky and literally being able to count the stars – a treat in itself. It helped the tired body to sleep like a baby to be fresh the next morning for another exciting day of our life. Genes, our angel and saviour had a good plan for us. Instead of climbing the summit at night that was planned earlier, he decided we should do a day summit climb. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise – as we avoided the biting cold of the night, which is the biggest enemy during a night climb. What a glorious day it was on February 28, when our gang of four summited the Uhuru Peak. Of course, the glory and joy of reaching Uhuru Peak at 19,341 feet, came with its own share of pain, frustration, exhaustion, fear, breathlessness and what not; every inch of the body screamed and begged for us to stop. As said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, at this stage the mental strength takes over the physical strength, and you push yourself to climb and trek on to the summit. "No guts, no glory" was best understood today. In all this madness

and zillions of thoughts flying through your mind, I kept hearing my heart pounding in a rhythmic tune of "Yeh dil maange more." Reaching Stella Point at 18,885 feet gave us the renewed energy and resolve to trudge on to the summit which we could see clearly shining in all glory at this stage. The view of the massive Rebmann Glacier to the left near the summit was a joy and sight to behold; it looked like icing on a cake. At the summit holding the Indian Flag in my hand, was one of the finest moments of my life and for all of us. Around 15-20 minutes were well spent thanking family, friends, the crazy gang of us four, Genes the lead guide, Dennis the assistant guide, and the entire crew of Lava Rock Adventures for making us experience this once-in-alifetime moment, which would not have been possible without them. We are indebted to them for helping us achieve this dream. What the body sustained in endurance, the eyes could not, and it broke down allowing glistening pearls of relief in form of tears down the cheek, as I humbly dedicated the climb to the brave Jawans of the Indian Army who have sacrificed their lives protecting us and our country. The short time at that altitude and being exposed to thin air and hardly any oxygen, was enough to numb your senses and so began the descent from 19,341 feet of the summit to our Barafu camp at 15,000 feet, in a span of two hours in the biting cold. Climbing down from this height and biting cold, was actually much difficult than climbing up. Reaching the camp and removing the shoes is the only thing I remember before crashing into my sleeping bag for the night. I did not register the enormity of the summit climb until the next morning. I woke up to bright sunshine and over a hot cup of peppermint tea – the time the feeling sunk in – 'Yes, I did it'. The actual flow of the events of the previous day leading to summit climb was replayed in my mind. This morning I got my first chance in days to speak to my family to thank them for

their unflinching support and praying for the success. The next day was spent in climbing down to Mweka Camp (the last camp on the Machame Route). This is a melting pot of climbers from different routes of ascent, but one route of descent. The last morning in the mountain was heavy with emotions as it was time to say goodbye and thank you from the heart, to the crew of Lava Rock Adventure for being our shadow on the mountain and ensuring that we achieved what we dreamt of before boarding the flight from India, to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. We arrived in Moshi town to pick our extra luggage from the hotel and the entire last week went by in a flashback in a split second. The peace, tranquility and serenity of the time spent on the mountain was shattered the moment we were connected to the outside world; thanks to digital technology. The last night of the trip was well spent at the luxurious Arusha Coffee Lodge, and the joy of feeling hot water on your body for a soothing bath after a week was worth much more than the gold in Fort Knox. We were left speechless by the front office and F&B team of the Lodge, when they celebrated our summit climb success with dancing, singing, and cake cutting. It was truly a heart warming moment to uplift our spirits and broaden our smiles. As they say – all is well that ends well. The ending could not have been better as we called off our trip to this beautiful country by enjoying a sumptuous Indian lunch at Bombay Spice Restaurant in Arusha over a glass of chilled beer, aptly named Kilimanjaro Beer, after nine days. The pleasant and cheerful company of Sangeeta Solanki from Sense of Africa added to the joy for us. The return journey on Kenya Airways flight was spent catching up on some beauty sleep before arriving at home to the comfort of family and friends and happy moments reliving our days spent on Mt Kilimanjaro. (Vakharia is director, Pathfinders Holidays)



April 2017



Creating a fine balance between luxury and responsible tourism, The Ibnii is an eco resort in Coorg that takes its sustainable role seriously. From recycling cement sacks to rainwater harvesting, from coffee walks to bird watching and yoga, The Ibnii is for the evolved traveller who wants to immerse himself in a ‘Surrender to Nature’ experience By Steena Joy


amed after 'dewdrop' in the local dialect, The Ibnii, 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 Ibnii 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. Dr Sherry Sebastian, director, The Ibnii, informed, “The Ibnii is the result of my father's vision. We both believe that luxury and


sustainability can co-exist. 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 The Ibnii. 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-of-the-art Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) too to further minimise our dependency on fresh water. The treated water is used for landscaping and other utilities. The Ibnii is also a vehicle free zone with only electric buggies used for internal movements. Guests

are encouraged to walk around the resort.”

Bespoke luxury The Ibnii has 22 private pool villas (with their own plunge pools and jacuzzis) named after KopiLuwak, the world’s most exclusive coffee and 12 wooden cottages named Arnetta in three categories - Luxury, Pre-

mium and Family. There is also one Premium Suite which is for VVIPs and important dignitaries.The resort has four F&B outlets – The Fig (multicuisine), Ballelle or banana leaf (vegetarian), Masi-Kande (the BBQ Diner) and Elevate (the bar lounge). There is also the Kaldi Kapee, the coffee shop where guests can learn from a


coffee expert, the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans and the journey from bean to cup, while sipping a Cappuccino. The connect with local traditions can be seen in every aspect of a guest's stay, from the welcome by frontline staff draped in sarees worn the Coorgi way to the local 'chukku kaapi' (black coffee made with dry ginger and jaggery). 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 (a practice now adopted by the Skychefs of Lufthansa); use of drop pops in the restaurants in place of finger bowls for washing hands. Interestingly, the turndown service at the The

Ibnii uses a Robusta coffee leaf to leave a goodnight message for the guest. In the spa Manja (meaning turmeric), all natural oils are used, many of them extracted from the fig trees scattered all over the estate. Nature is also part of the ambience and design at the resort – a dead tree makes a striking element in the spa lobby. Dr Sebastian adds, “Responsible tourism is deeprooted in The Ibnii. An eco pledge is taken by the staff every day to remind them to be eco sensitive. It helped change their attitude to clean environments.Our target segment is the evolved traveller. The resort is also sensitive to special needs guests. And we support the local community because giving is receiving.” The resort is part of a new project with Madikeri town for making a road using recycled plastic from the resort. The Ibnii also has TieCop, its Environment

Conservation Programme. Dr Sebastian added, “We want our supply chain to be eco sensitive as well - 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 green house to grow fresh organic vegetables and fruits.



April 2017


ATALL STORY At a height of 355m, with 1,608 guest rooms, 72 floors and 14 F&B outlets, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, is the tallest hotel in the world, and Dubai's largest. Balan Paravantavida, hotel manager, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai shares what it takes to operate an iconic behemoth property and the increasing focus on the India market By Sudipta Dev


W Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai has the distinction of being the tallest hotel in the world and the largest in Dubai with 1608 rooms. The hotel manager of the property Balan Paravantavida, is a global Indian hospitality professional, who has worked outside India for more than three decades of his career. A former chef with the Marriott group in the US for almost 15 years, he has also been the opening GM of JW Marriott Pune and JW Marriott Aerocity Delhi. A highpoint of his career is his currently position at the largest



April 2017

Marriott hotel outside the US. “When I got here in summer 2014, at that time we had opened just one tower, 804 rooms. The second tower with 804 rooms opened the same year. The hotel attracts amazing occupancy, and customers are from across the world,” says Paravantavida. By end of 2014, the whole complex opened. Most of the rooms offer stunning views of Dubai city/harbour or Burj Khalifa. At any given time there are 4000 guests staying. “There are so many events and meetings taking place. We move 3000 cars every night. We have a parking for 1600. We have more than 100 valets. About 120 managers, and 150 supervisors,

working 24 hours a day,” states Paravantavida, remembering to inform that the hotel has 1600 staff and about 400 contract workers. The total number of personnel at the property add up to a staggering workforce of 2000.

F&B and other facilities The property is owned by the Emirates airline. It has close to 100,000 sq ft of meeting space including two big ballrooms, which can hold theatre style anywhere 1600-1700 people in each. There are 45 meeting rooms and 14 F&B outlets. Most of the restaurants are award winning ones, with cuisine ranging from Indian, Italian, Japanese, Thai, American

to a steakhouse on the 68th floor. Kitchen6 restaurant, as the name indicates, has six kitchens including Indian, Arabic, European and Asian. “We serve anywhere from 1200 to 1500 breakfasts in that room. The whole floor is a restaurant across both towers. There are three entrances and 465 seating,” informs Paravantavida. He points out that Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar won for three years in a row the Best Indian restaurant in Dubai honour, Thai restaurant which won an award for two consecutive years, Kitchen6 has also won many awards. “The French restaurant, Italian restaurant, are all award winning. We have experts in every cuisine from

Balan Paravantavida

that specific country,” he says, adding that majority of the restaurant customers are from outside which keeps the estab-


lishments packed in peak hours - local residents to other hotel guests to transient guests. The bar Vault on the 72/71 floor is a big draw. It offers amazing views of Dubai city, including of Burj Khalifa tower. The Saray Spa covers an area of 50,000 sq feet. It has a uniquely Arabic ambience with hamam treatment and the hotel's signature Dead Sea Floatation Pool. "You don't have to go to Jordan to float on the Dead Sea. We bring salt from Jordan that creates the experience of floating,” states Paravantavida.

India focus The key source markets are GCC, India, US, UK, China, Ko-

At a height of 355 metres, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai is the tallest hotel in the world.

It is just 26 metres shorter than the Empire State Building in New York and 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The shape of the two towers was inspired by a date palm tree, an indigenous desert plant.

Combined, the hotel’s more than 14 food and beverage outlets can seat 2,743 people.

To reflect the 24-hour, 7 days opening hours of La Farine Café and Bakery, there are 247 mirrors on the walls.

Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar, the hotel’s Indian award winning restaurant, is run by the world’s first Michelin starred Indian chef – Atul Kochhar.

By 2016, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai has won over 60 industry and media awards.

If you’re feeling romantic in the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, or simply want to really relax, switch your bathroom lighting to ‘Spa Mood’. The room will glow with a soft pink haze, and help you switch off from a busy day.

In the Dubai Ballroom, lighting concepts for the chandeliers and LED lights can be selected from a choice of 1000 colours.

The Dubai Ballroom has the largest LED screen in the UAE.

If stacked, all the glasses in the hotel would reach a height of 13 kilometres – that’s 15 times higher than the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure.

Three tonnes of Dead Sea salt have been shipped to service the hotel’s indulgent Saray Spa and its signature Dead Sea Floatation Pool.

The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai has enough banqueting chairs to seat passengers travelling on five A380 aircrafts.

There are 89 public toilets in the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai.

There are over 75 nationalities employed in the hotel.

rea, Australia, Russia. India is a fast growing market for the property, overtaking the other source markets. “India used to be on the fifth place three years ago, today India is at the second place, after GCC. Almost 50 per cent Indian guests comprises of group and the others include leisure, business segments. Our goal is to grow the group segment to about 65 per cent," says Paravantavida. The hotel does on an average 40,000 to 42,000 room nights a month. “If it is JW Marriott brand, we have to live up to that expectation. The good news is that we have very good name in the market. Specially in India, we are known very well, thanks to support from many agencies,

media, and others. We have Marriott global sales office in India who sell this hotel, in addition we have a senior level sales person for India, only for this hotel, as India is very important to us for MICE group and incentive sector. We also have the leisure segment coming from India,” mentions Paravantavida. He himself goes to India often, as do other senior people from the management. “We interact with every segment. Many corporates in India who have business in Dubai and also meet outbound travel agents. Because I was in India for five years, it has helped me a lot in connecting with people and bringing them here. For Indians at the end of the day it is all about relation-

ships,” he remarks. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai partners with local organisations to come up with many events. It is also a prestigious venue for weddings – the top market being Arabic followed by Indian. “There is a sales person just focusing on Indian weddings. The response has been good,” informs Paravantavida. He affirms that though hundreds of hotels are coming up in Dubai, visitor inflow is increasing from source markets and connectivity is also getting a fillip. “The future looks good. We need to continue looking at new source markets, keep great service and products. Visitors will come,” he states. Having spent most of his ca-

reer years in North America (US, Canada, Caribbean Islands) with various Marriott group properties, he says, “I have been with the Marriott for more than 32 years, lived in seven different countries and moved 18 times with the company. It has been a great journey.” His message for the young and upcoming hospitality professionals is - work hard, move around. “I was lucky to live and work in seven countries, and moving around and travelling helped me learn more. So I advise them to go from city to city, country to country and learn more and more,” he remarks, adding that today's youngsters get a lot of opportunities so they need to focus on learning.



April 2017


#CanDo in India Cox & Kings launches Enable Travel for the disabled community who wish to visit destinations in India. By Saloni Bhatia


ox & Kings has launched its online portal 'Enable Travel' to provide hassle free travel for people with disabilities. In a first-ofits-kind initiative to make tourism more inclusive and accessible, the portal will provide specially curated tours to four different segments. The brand aims to provide tours and crafted leisure outings for people with disabilities including mobility, speech and vision impairment. Dr. Mahesh Sharma, minister of state tourism & culture along with Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the President of India were present during the launch ceremony in New Delhi. Debolin Sen, head, Enable Travel and Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox & Kings unveiled the initiative in New Delhi, along with the Enable Travel panel – Rustom Irani, Divyanshu Ganatra, Shama Noorani, Prabal Malakar and Dr Alim Chandani. The panelists with different disabilities of mobility, hearing, speech and vision helped in creating the packaged tours. Speaking at the launch, Sen said, “Enable Travel is a longterm commitment to make travel easy and hassle free in the country. The tours have been specially curated with the panel to make sure every detail is taken care of, like sourcing the desired equipments for smooth movements. We have also invested in wheelchairs, movable ramps, single wheel chairs for the beaches and hiking trails. In the first phase we will offer tours in the West, North and Southern markets and then slowly expand to central and East India.”


Destinations include Agra, Jaipur, New Delhi, Udaipur, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Kumarakom, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mararikulam, Bengaluru, Mysore and Coorg. Talking about the the initiative, Anand stated, “Many tourists with disabilities within and outside India are keen on exploring different experiences

the country has to offer. It is important to tap this largely underserved segment of travellers by providing quality assistance and services. We believe that the platform will not only cater to the people who can afford it, but also break the mental block among the families who hesitate to travel with their disabled members.”

The planning for the new platform started nine months ago and drew major support from the government, airlines and hotels. The government has already been working on revamping heritage monuments and major tourist areas with disabled-friendly facilities, informed Sen. He added that the initiative plans

to target the 28 million disabled community in the country which reaches about 2.2 per cent of India's population along with their families. The host of curated holiday experiences are customised for the unique needs of the wheelchair bound, the deaf and the vision and speech impaired.

MOVEMENTS Resort Condominiums International (RCI) RCI, one of the global leaders in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, recently announced the appointment of SABINA CHOPRA to the position of managing director for RCI India. Under this role, Chopra will serve as a member of RCI’s senior leadership team, leading the execution of strategic priorities for the India market. She will be responsible for driving business growth and delivering ongoing value to RCI members and affiliates in this market. She will be based out of RCI’s Bengaluru office. RCI has also appointed ARUNA JATHAR as director for marketing and operations. Jathar joins as a member of RCI’s senior leadership team and will spearhead the brand building activities. She will focus on strategies to enhance customer acquisition. Besides bolstering overall growth and creating mind share for vacation exchange and time share in India, she will also be responsible for pan-India marketing operations and delivering greater brand value to RCI members and affiliates in India., has announced the hiring of financial advisory firm Global CFO which provides virtual CFO and funds raising services to

Rajan Bhatia

companies., represented by RAJAN BHATIA, works with high potential, disruptive business models which have the potential to be a stock exchange listed company in the near future. works primarily to help companies to scale up, get private equity funding and get listed on India’s premier stock exchanges. Bhatia is an experienced chartered accountant with over 18 years of financial, business and entrepreneurial experience of working with entrepreneurs, investors and MNCs. He has held senior financial positions like The Oberoi Group of Hotels, Indus Balaji Private Equity, World Health Organisation and many more.



Götz Ahmelmann

Minor Hotels

The president of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and chairperson of the Board of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, SHAIKA MAI BINT MOHAMMED ALKHALIFA, has been appointed as special ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 (IYSTD). In the resolution that adopts the IYSTD, the UN General Assembly specifically stresses how tourism can foster better understanding among people everywhere, leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilisations and bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures.

successfully implemented projects among the European Etihad Airways partners. Ahmelmann rejoined AirBerlin on March 1, 2017. On the same day, Julio Rodriguez took up the position of chief commercial officer (CCO) with NIKI which, from the summer 2017 season, will take over AirBerlin’s transport agreements relating to certain leisure destinations in Southern Europe as well as North Africa and Turkey. AirBerlin has agreed to sell the shares it indirectly holds in NIKI to Etihad Airways, which will in turn contribute it to a new airline group to be established with TUI AG.

Minor Hotels has announced the appointment of RAMZY FENIANOS as vice president of development for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Fenianos brings over 10 years’ experience in the hospitality and real estate industries. Focusing on business development, strategic planning and asset management in international hospitality branding and business development, his background includes Bouygues Real Estate Group and Emerige Group in France, Sama Dubai Holding Group and IFA Hotels & Resorts in Dubai.

Shaika Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa

AirBerlin has appointed GÖTZ AHMELMANN as chief commercial officer (CCO). Ahmelmann returns to AirBerlin from Etihad Airways where, since 2015, he

Hong Kong Airlines Hong Kong Airlines has appointed GEORGE LIU as chief marketing officer (CMO). Heading Hong Kong Airlines’ branding and customer experience department, Liu’s role will be instrumental in leading the airline’s branding, marketing, communications, and customer experience in line with the overall company transition and business expansion from a regional airline to an international carrier. He brings to

Hahn Air Hahn Air has appointed DENNIS HUK as head of global account management. Together with Robert Jason Heerenveen, who has occupied the position since February 2015, Huk will lead a team of more than 20 directors of global account management and service partners around the globe who are responsible for executing sales and marketing activities as well as trainings and product presentations for 100,000 travel agencies worldwide. Before joining Hahn Air, Huk held

George Liu

the position over 25 years of experience in brand strategy, marketing, communications, customer relations and government affairs, with successful track records supporting companies around the world.

One and Only, Cape Town One&Only, Cape Town has appointed NICHOLAS SOLOMON as its new resort manager. Solomon's experience include being general manager of North Island in the Seychelles and prior to that, as deputy general manager at The Royal Portfolio’s La Residence.

various sales and account management positions at Aegean Airlines, Austrian Airlines and LATAM Airlines.

AccorHotels PAUL STEVENS has been appointed as chief executive officer of Accor Plus, AccorHotels’ travel, dining and lifestyle programme. Stevens commenced with AccorHotels in Australia in 1997, holding several general manager positions before leaving the group in 2004 to pursue other interests in the residential property market. In 2005, he rejoined the group as opening general manager of Sofitel Fiji before moving to Bangkok in 2007 to lead the hotel operations for the group’s Thailand hotels.



April 2017



CREATING CONNECTIONS Jet Airways and Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national carrier, have recently signed a codeshare partnership

FESTIVAL OF COLOURS British Airways crew celebrating Holi at Shisha Gumbad tomb at Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi

STRATEGIC COLLABORATION Melbourne-based Monash University’s Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) signed an agreement with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) to assist with the establishment of a new research and development institute in India

EMOTIVE CONNECT Singapore Tourism Board (STB), together with SilkAir recently announced its collaboration with Dharma Productions for Bollywood movie, Badrinath Ki Dulhania

WINGS TO DREAMS SpiceJet, as part of its 'GivingWingsToDreams'

IN-DEPTH INTERACTIONS The Department of Tourism (DOT),

programme, operated a special flight from Chandigarh for around 50 underprivileged children in association with the Rotary Club of Chandigarh

Philippines recently organised training sessions for travel trade partners in Ahmedabad and Delhi



April 2017



TRADE RELATIONS Israel Ministry of Tourism recently conducted its first roadshow of 2017 in Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad

VINTAGE SHOWCASE General Bipin Rawat, Indian Army Chief (left) with Madan Mohan, founder and managing trustee, 21 Gun Salute Heritage (right) at the seventh edition of 21 Gun Salute Vintage Car Rally in New Delhi

CITY HERITAGE IMC Chamber of Commerce and VFS Global recently organised its annual flagship Heritage Walk for the consular community in Mumbai

GLOBAL PROMOTION Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) highlighted the historic ‘Wadas’ of the state at the recently held ITB Berlin 2017


Air India recently celebrated International Women's Day at a ceremony organised to felicitate female crew members

H H Dr Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed Al Nahyan recently made a special visit to Etihad’s Global Business Service Solutions (GBSS) facility in Al Ain as part of Etihad Aviation Group’s (EAG) activities to mark International Women’s Day



April 2017


Profile for Indian Express

Express Travelworld (Vol. 12 No. 3) April 2017  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine

Express Travelworld (Vol. 12 No. 3) April 2017  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine