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World on a platter


he changing profile and preferences of the Indian global traveller has led to interesting new demands as the market has matured over the last decade. A significant segment of the India outbound comprises of the vegetarian traveller who no longer takes a bagful of theplas, kakhras and farsan to satiate themselves while touring the world, but have become more explorative and adventurous in their tastes and likes. Our cover story in this issue highlights what the tourism boards and tour operators are doing to cater to this segment which comprises more than half of India outbound. From attending cooking classes in France to scouring the local food markets in Australia, the Indian vegetarian traveller is an evolved segment today in terms of their F&B preferences. F&B has become an integral part of selecting a destination. When it comes to MICE and weddings, these destinations are equally equipped to handle the varied F&B

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

“F&B has become an integral part of selecting a destination.When it comes to MICE and weddings,these destinations are equally equipped to handle the varied F&B demands of the India market ”

6-3-885/7/B, Ground Floor, VV Mansion, Somaji Guda, Hyderabad – 500 082 KOLKATA Ajanta Sengupta The Indian Express (P) Ltd. Business Publication Division JL No. 29&30, NH-6, Mouza- Prasastha & Ankurhati, Vill & PO- Ankurhati P.S.- Domjur (Nr.Ankurhati Check Bus Stop), Dist. Howrah- 711 409, Mobile: +91 9831182580 Email id: KOCHI Mathen Mathew The Indian Express (P) Ltd. Ground Floor, Sankoorikal Building, Kaloor – Kadavanthra Road Kaloor, Kochi – 682 017 Mobile: +91 9840826366 COIMBATORE The Indian Express (P) Ltd. No. 205-B, 2nd Floor, Vivekanand Road, Opp. Rajarathinam Hospital Ram Nagar, Coimbatore- 641 009

demands of the India market. A few days ago we received the news that June 2017 will be the last month for David Scowsill as the president and CEO of WTTC. We have done exclusive interviews with him many times during his visits to India, and also at international events. On his recent visit to India, at HICSA he affirmed that India’s travel and tourism market is in a good shape globally, and the government needs to prioritise the maximum growth of this industry. Further reflecting India's travel and tourism positioning, the 2017 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index marked India’s ranking jump to 12 points, ranking 40th in the index. Whereas, Japan and China ranked fourth and 15th respectively, however India made the largest leap in the top 50, up 12 places, to land in 40th place.

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May 2017

CONTENTS MANAGEMENT Vol 12 No 4 May 2017 Pages 40


Chairman of the Board

Viveck Goenka Sr Vice President - BPD

Neil Viegas Editor

Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor

DISCOVERING RED SEA RIVIERA Occupying almost 50 km of the Red Sea Riviera's coastline in Egypt, Hurghada is a vibrant city with many exciting attractions for the global Indian traveller who would like to explore the different facets of the ancient country – from submarine ride in the Red Sea to exploring Coptic churches in Old Cairo

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


REDEFINING AIRPORT LUXURY SERVICES Limousine rides to the airport, free meals at restaurants and easy lounge access, the dynamics of airport luxury are changing drastically with Dreamfolks. As one of India's leading providers of travel benefits and services, Dreamfolks' new alliance with DragonPass is set to provide 1800 plus touch points to Indians in over 120 global countries

With F&B gaining importance in travel itineraries, Express TravelWorld finds out what tour operators and international tourism boards are doing to grab a slice of the vegetarian travel pie


PRODUCTION General Manager


B R Tipnis Manager

Bhadresh Valia Express TravelWorld® POSTAL REGD. NO. MCS/163/2016 – 18 RNI Reg. No.MAHENG/2005/15993









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


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


ONLINE LEARNING TO ENHANCE TRAVEL TRADE MARKETING SKILLS PATA recently launched a travel agent initiative with Equator Learning to support organisations with travel trade marketing efforts

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


WTTC identifies potential in India's travel, tourism market Mohit Rathod Mumbai INDIA'S TRAVEL and tourism positionining globally has been witnessing an upward trend recently. The country's travel and tourism sector has been recently ranked seventh in the world in terms of its total contribution to the country’s GDP, according to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). According to the new data, travel and tourism generated INR 14.1 trillion in 2016, which is the world’s seventh largest in terms of absolute size, the sum is equivalent to 9.6 per cent of India’s GDP. The sector also supported 40.3 million jobs in 2016, which ranks

India second in the world in terms of total employment supported by travel and tourism. The sector accounts for 9.3 per cent of the country’s total jobs. On his recent visit to India, David Scowsill, president and CEO, WTTC, affirmed that India’s travel and tourism market is in a good shape globally, and the government needs to prioritise the maximum growth of this industry. “We must work with the government to develop the sector in India. One out of 11 jobs in India is supported by this sector and over the next 10 years, the country will need additional nine million people,” he said while lauding the government’s efforts such

David Scowsill

as e-Visa, regional connectivity scheme, Incredible India and more.

“We congratulate India on the new electronic visa on arrival scheme. There is a need to introduce multi entry visas and to promote awareness of the scheme. We urge the government to deploy more marketing funds into the Incredible India campaign. Competition between countries is intense and more stand out is required. We recommend continued and sustained investment in travel infrastructure of airports, ports, rail, and road links. Growth will be slowed without this investment. We welcome last year’s sweeping reforms to the aviation industry, including the ability of foreign investors to own 100 per cent of airlines. An ambitious 15-20 year plan for

aviation is now required, providing low-cost domestic flights between world-class airports,” added Scowsill. WTTC had also raised concern over the recent Supreme Court order banning sale of liquor along highways. Further reflecting India's travel and tourism positioning, the 2017 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index marked India’s ranking jump to 12 points, ranking 40th in the index. Whereas, Japan and China ranked fourth and 15th respectively, however India made the largest leap in the top 50, up 12 places, to land in 40th place.

Lufthansa deploys second gamechanger aircraft in India market Sudipta Dev Mumbai LUFTHANSA recently introduced its second A350-900 in the India market with MunichMumbai operations. India is in fact the only country where two of the airlines' three A350-900 in its fleet have been deployed. The first destination being New Delhi, the second Boston, US. “It is the best of what we have. We know that India is a competitive market, you have to bring your best and and will get rewarded for it. Indian flyers are loyal to their brand and have



May 2017

high expectations of quality,” said Wolfgang Will, senior director South Asia, Lufthansa Group Airlines. Pointing out that the A350-900 aircraft is a gamechanger, Will mentioned, “It is the most modern long haul aircraft in the world, and is also the most environmental friendly.” Lufthansa has ordered 25 of these aircraft. Speaking about Lufthansa's much talked about TV campaign, Will stated, "It implies that the airline is more Indian than you think. It is much more than a TV campaign, it indicates a German soul, with an Indian heart, and is a manifestation of

Wolfgang Will

our non-stop philosophy." He mentioned that inflight customisation includes Indian hospitality, Indian crew, Indian cuisine and entertainment. The onground engagement of the airline in India has included the popular Lufthansa Runway to Success contest for start-ups; Start Up Expo with TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs); Lufthansa Cook & Fly; Lufthansa Diwali Surprise that saw worldwide celebrations. Munich is considered the best connecting point in Europe, offering connectivity to 173 destinations across the continent. There are 100 airlines operating

from Munich. Interestingly, the number of Indians residing in Munich has increased significantly in the last decade, primarily due to the fact that the city is the centre of IT in Germany. Corinna Born, corporate communications director, International Media Relations, Munich Airport informed that Skytrax has chosen Munich as Europe's first and only five star airport. From being the only airport in the world which has an open air beer garden to a Christmas market and ice skating rink, the airport has many interesting attractions for both business and leisure travellers.

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

America’s Shopping Destinations

Sawgrass Mills and The Colonnade Outlets


imon Shopping Destinations are a select group of more than 100 Simon Malls, The Mills and Premium Outlets located in and around major U.S. tourism destinations. Simon Shopping Destinations offer everything from luxury to outlet offerings with designer, value and classic brands. If you're travelling, shop the Simon collection of shopping destinations. No matter where you're headed, they are there, covering the largest list of destinations in the U.S. They are cleverly poised to help you take full advantage of your travel experience by including their world-class shopping experience right into your plans.

The Ultimate in Outlet Shopping. Premium Outlets® New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando… Premium Outlets are where shoppers want to be with exceptional brands at extraordinary savings of 25% to 65% every day. From Burberry, Coach, and Michael Kors to Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and kate spade new york, each location will surpass every expectation for outlet shopping.

Knockout Brands. Knockout Prices. The Mills® The Mills offer the best brands, the best selection, the biggest savings and the most fun- in one place. Discover name-brand outlets and value retailers at savings of up to 70% off every day along with great dining and family-oriented attractions.

Find It. Love It. Simon Malls In 14 states Simon Malls offer the ideal mix of renowned style icons and the hottest retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier and Chanel sit alongside Apple, ZARA and H&M. Sophisticated dining options like The Oceanaire Seafood Room and The Capital Grille complete an unparallel shopping experience.

Desert Hills Premium Outlets

Visitor Services and Amenities Simon Shopping Destination offers: ● Savings Passports ● Multilingual services ● Concierge centers/Guest Services ● Simon Giftcards ● Selection of dining options ● Stroller and wheelchair rentals (select centers) ● Valet parking (select centers) ● Personal Shoppers (select centers) ● Wi-Fi (select centers) ● Locker rentals and bag storage (select centers) ● ATMs and Foreign currency exchange (select centers) ● Tax-back services (select centers). A MARKETING INITIATIVE

Las Vegas North Premium Outlets


'WE SEE THE INDIAMARKETAS VERYVIBRANT' Singapore Airlines is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. David Lim, general manager India, Singapore Airlines, who has been with the airline for almost three decades, and completes a year in India, speaks about the strategic importance of the India market and some significant differentiators as an airline By Sudipta Dev What, according to you, have been the key milestones as far as the India market is concerned in the recent years ? It has been three years since A380 operations started, we were the first in India, with two cities at the same time. After that we refurbished our A380 to include premium economy class in 2015 (in Delhi), and Jan 2016 in Mumbai. We have seen increase in services in the last three years. In the SIA group, we have two other brands, apart from SilkAir - Tiger and Scoot, all of them are here and increasing flights. In SIA group, in total we have upto 150 weekly services for India across 15 destinations. We cover one of the biggest footprints in India by any foreign carrier. We see the India market as very vibrant. Are Indian passengers still very keen to travel by your A380s ? We know that it has not worked for some airlines. It is nearly three years since we introduced A380 and people are still finding the novelty of travelling by our A380. I would

Are the premium economy seats you have introduced getting more traction ? Yes, people value more space and in premium economy A380 night flights they can sleep better. They are increasingly opting for premium economy.

David Lim

think that our A380 is different from other A380s. We focus a lot on comfort and the one thing that provides a lot of comfort apart from the service and the crew is the space. When you look at any aircraft type that we have, like A380, we have only 441 seats, other airlines can

have upto 600 seats. So when you compare every aircraft type between airlines, ours has less seat count which means we are giving more space for passengers. Customers realise this. In 777 economy class we have nine seats in a row, but almost all major airlines have 10 seats.

Have you introduced new routes or frequencies in this market or are planning to do so in 2017? We have recently increased frequency to Ahmedabad to four times a week, and hope to increase further. During peak period we will introduce more services. For instance, for Kolkata during Puja, we put in more capacity. As an airline we should be there to meet the demands of the market. This year we are likely to deploy the A350 aircraft to India, probably for Mumbai and in third quarter of this year. We received the A350 aircraft in early last year and we have been flying them on long haul routes. This aircraft is quite luxurious, we have only 253

seats. We used it to start our new Singapore - San Francisco non stop service last October. It is important for the India market, it enables us to carry Indian customers (one stop), to the West Coast of USA. In India, we have the advantage of having partners like Vistara and Air India which is a Star Alliance member, so we have the country almost covered. While there are no plans of new destinations, the focus is on increasing frequencies between Singapore and the metros. Any new promotions or campaigns planned for your 70th anniversary ? One of the highlights this year is that Singapore Airlines is celebrating its 70th anniversary. We started operations in 1947. We will be mounting some promotions to stimulate the market even more. These will be global promotion campaigns. Outside of that there are promotions every two-three months, for instance the recent Australia promotion.

First RCS flight garners positive response ETW Staff Mumbai THE FIRST REGIONAL connectivity flight on the DelhiShimla route has elicited good response with most of the seats at subsidised fare booked for the next one month. Little over half of the seats in the Shimla-bound flight, operated by Air India subsidiary Alliance Air with a 42-



May 2017

seater plane, are being sold at the discounted fare of ` 2,036, inclusive of taxes. Under the government’s regional air connectivity scheme UDAN, prime minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the flight from Shimla to Delhi carrying 12 passengers. An analysis of the availability of seats on the flight for the next one month showed that most of the discounted fare

seats have been booked. “We want to have more seats but unfortunately we can’t. Since, this is the season for travelling to Shimla and with fares as low as ` 2,000, we are seeing tremendous response,” said C S Subbiah, CEO, Alliance Air. Lauding the development, Rajeev Kale, president and country head (leisure travel and MICE), Thomas Cook India, said, “Re-

gional connectivity also serves as a viable hub and spoke model that is vital for the India’s tourism sector and equally its positive ripple effect of job creation and employment generation. India offers significant burgeoning potential – both domestic tourism, MICE and inbound; hence this initiative is perfectly timed to inspire and catalyse latent demand not just for the immediate peak summer

season, but year round and create a much needed fillip for high potential tourist locales across regional Tier II and Tier III cities and towns. At Thomas Cook India our domestic growth has already shown a strong increase of 50 per cent and the UDAN scheme is set to add much needed impetus to an already growing segment.” (PTI)


VisitFlanders enters into partnership with Brussels Airlines Mohit Rathod Mumbai FLANDERS' TOURISM board VisitFlanders is bullish on driving increased travel and tourism activities from the India market this year. VisitFlanders recently held 'Flanders Travel Mission' in Mumbai and New Delhi, wherein it announced partnership with Brussels Airlines and Brussels Airport. The recent launch of Brussels Airlines' Mumbai-Brussels flight is expected to significantly benefit Indian arrivals in Flanders. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Elke Dens, marketing director, VisitFlanders, said, "Indian arrivals to Flanders had been good in the recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, we have seen 10 per cent growth. We have also seen more FIT travellers, which is good because they spend more time at the destination. Last year was a difficult one for many countries in Western Europe, which saw decline in tourism. However, signs from

the tourism industry are positive again. The India market has shown great resilience. Tour operators from across India have indicated that European tours are doing very well this year. We are very positive about 2017." In terms of MICE movements, VisitFlanders is aiming to attract association meetings that correspond to the economic growth in Flanders and Brussels. In May 2018, The Diamond Experience Centre in Antwerp will be inaugurated which is also expected to attract a large number of Indian tourists to the destination. The theme for VisitFlanders this year is 'Flemish Masters' which focuses on the art works of the famous notable artists from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Alongside Flanders Travel Mission, Belgium also led an economic mission in Mumbai, banking upon the newly launched flight to boost trade and bilateral relationships between Belgium and India. Bernard Gustin, CEO,

Brussels Airlines, and a delegation of Belgian companies led by secretary of state for foreign trade, Pieter De Crem, addressed the economic mission to underline the importance of the route and the relations between India and Belgium. Flying directly to Brussels five time a week, the flight has been launched to leverage upon high demand from pharmaceu-

tical, diamond and logistics industries alongside leisure travel segment. Commenting on the flight launch, Gustin said, "We have had a gap on this route and this is the right time to put an end to it. India is a key market for Brussels Airlines and an important priority market for Belgium," adding that Air India's association with Star Alliance also holds

significance for Brussels Airlines. Gustin also commented that the airline is focused on quality service, which lacks in low-cost carriers. The flight schedule consists of daytime flights to Mumbai on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The flights, currently witnessing 70-75 per cent passenger load factor, 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 airline has deployed Airbus A330 on this route, providing class configurations of Business Class, Economy Privilege and Economy Class. Belgium is currently the second largest EU exporter of goods to India. For Indian companies, Belgium is the fourth largest export destination in the European Union. De Crem added, "We have a good bilateral trade and Mumbai plays a key role in that."

Govt team visits tourism project sites in J&K ETW Staff Mumbai THE CENTRAL government team from the ministry of tourism has visited the different project sites like Bhagwati Nagar, Suchetgarh, Mubarak Mandi heritage complex in Jammu division to take stock of the ongoing work in the development projects under centrally sponsored schemes PMRP, PMDP (Swadesh Darshan). Bharti Sharma, ADG – tourism, Government of India and Vaibhava Tripathi, ADG, ministry of tourism were briefed by the sec-

retary (tourism) of J&K, Farooq A Shah, through an audio visual presentation about the progress on the above said projects in Jammu Division. Under these centrally sponsored schemes, Patnitop has got seven projects costing ` 18.21 crore, Baderwah has nine projects costing ` 35.16 crore, Poonch has got five projects costing ` 19.11 crore, Lakhapur Sarthal has five projects worth ` 18.91 crore, Kishtwar has eight projects worth 3` 5 crore, Rajouri has five projects worth ` 17.82 crore. Besides this, rural tourism development has got 70

projects worth ` 15 lakh each approximately and for the whole circuit development, three proj-

ects of Lakhimpur Basholi Bani Sarthal circuit, Baderwah Kishtwar Sinthan circuit and Jammu

Rajouri Poonch circuit will also be developed under Swadesh Darshan programme. Under PMDP, mega projects like Mantalai Shud Mahadev Patnitop project at the cost of ` 98 crore and Jammu Rajouri Shopian Pulwama project worth ` 96.3 crore were also discussed. Shah also briefed the team about Ranjit Sagar Dam development project. The inspection team showed satisfaction for the ongoing projects and asked the state tourism department to speed up and complete the work without any delay.



May 2017


US Consulate Mumbai encourages business travel from India Mohit Rathod Mumbai THE WESTERN REGION of Travel Agents' Association of India (TAAI) organised an exclusive session on visas, especially B1 and B2 visas, under the outreach programme of the US Consulate in Mumbai. Addressed by Rachel Sunden, ACS and CIU chief, US Consulate Mumbai along with Gregory Taeves, commercial consul - Mumbai, US Department of Commerce, the session highlighted MICE opportunities in the US and provided clarified information about US visas. TAAI was represented by Sampat Damani, chairman, TAAI Western Region; Marzban Antia, vice president, TAAI; and Jay Bhatia, treasurer and Tourism Council chairman, TAAI. Sharing insights, Taeves revealed that international visitors contributed US$ 21 billion

to the US economy last year. Whereas Indian visitor arrivals to the US have been marked at 1.1 million in 2015, spending US$ 11.8 billion, with an average individual travel spend of US$ 6,800. The US is now focusing on driving two million Indian visitors this year. Furthermore, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has also announced 2017 as 'US & India Travel and Tourism Partnership Year'. At present, alongside India, only China has this partnership with the US. "Travel and tourism is US Government's priority. Our focus in India is on leisure, MICE, Bollywood and healthcare segments. We work with TAAI to grow travel from these segments. There are some challenges and myths, but the US Mission in India is dedicated to overcome these through its outreach programme, even outside Mumbai," said Taeves.

This is fourth year of US' focus MICE in India, which also covers Tier II cities. The MICE 4.0 campaign of the US aims to double groups attract Bollywood travel, alongside encour-

aging travel for trade, investment and education. Sunden shedded light on the visa norms and answered various questions raised by TAAI members. She said,

"Travel agents are valuable partners for us. We have an interview based system, not document based, which makes it easier, faster and more efficient."

OTOAI’s annual convention to be held in Ras Al Khaimah in September 2017 Saloni Bhatia New Delhi THE ANNUAL convention of Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) will be held in September this year in Ras Al Khaimah. The announcement was made at a recent event held by Ras Al Khaimah in New Delhi, followed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between Haitham Mattar, chief executive officer,



May 2017

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and Guldeep Singh Sahni, president, OTOAI. Speaking at the occasion, Sahni informed that the tentative dates for the convention are from September 12-14, 2017. The convention is expected to host 300 delegates from India including the major outbound travel agents. The details of the convention’s theme and meeting will be declared in the coming weeks.

Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Sahni added, “Ras Al Khaimah has been selected with the intention to add new products to the kitty of tour agents. We see it as an upcoming market in the UAE and feel it has a lot of potential. We will look at tapping the wedding segment and it can also be added as a package deal with Dubai.” OTOAI’s last year’s annual convention was held in Bali and this year it has decided to explore the UAE market.


Inaugural Luxury Symposium organised in New Delhi

Thomas Cook India acquires Kuoni’s destination management specialist network ETW Staff Mumbai

Saloni Bhatia New Delhi AS INDIA’S growing middle class population is aspiring for experiential travel and associating with luxury, it is time to redefine India luxury market. Addressing the issue, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris hosted the inaugural Luxury Symposium in partnership with The Luxury League. The inaugural address witnessed participation by Nirmala Sitharaman, minister of commerce and industry, Ramesh Abhishek, secretary, DIPP among other prominent leaders. Sharing her opinion on the industry, Sitharaman, stated, “It is time that more people become the transformational agents and support the artisans of the country who are barely surviving. The industry has the potential to reach 100 billion mark in another eight years and Make in India vision fits perfectly in this initiative. India finds prominent mention among the five BRIC

countries contributing to this industry, due to its high growth rate - we are anticipated to see a 7.6 per cent GDP in 2018. It is India's aspirational class demand which is fuelling this growth.” Speaking at the event, Rakesh Sarna, MD and CEO, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris stated, “India is a fast growing economy, and is expected to have six global megacities in the end of 2025. While we aspire to be the luxury capital of the world, we need to also work towards prosperity of the people.” He urged the people to work together towards literacy and skill, strengthen India’s artisans and power India’s growth potential. Suman Billa, secretary, Ministry of Tourism, who was present during one of the sessions emphasised on the importance of digitisation for tourism products. He stated, “Digital platform has opened doors to reach out to people seeking experiential travel. There is a constant push that

is happening upwards and the main potential lies in the middle class segment.” The panels featured distinguished speakers and moderators – intellectuals, pioneers of business excellence, key members of the Indian Parliament and bureaucracy. Decision makers and innovators such as the CEO of NITI Ayog Amitabh Kant, HH Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, historian and textile revivalist Jasleen Dhamija, and Facebook’s country head Umang Bedi spearheaded sessions on their domain expertise. The Luxury League is a non profit organisation, founded by RituBeri who is engaged in branding India globally. The event was supported by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Textiles, Khadi India, Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises and Council of for Culture Relations.

THOMAS COOK INDIA, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, has announced its acquisition of Kuoni’s global network of destination management specialists, covering 17 countries across the geographies of the Americas, Africa, Middle East, Asia and Australia. The transaction will be completed post customary closing conditions. The multinational acquisition creates a global network which is said to transform the Thomas Cook India Group into a globally integrated travel services provider with the ability to leverage inherent synergies across its global travel portfolio. The agreement includes premium brands with expert knowledge of their respective regions, including, Asian Trails, Desert Adventures Tourism, Gulf Dunes, Private Safaris (East and South), Allied Tpro as well as Australian Tours Management and extends across 17 countries – USA, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Oman, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indone-

The agreement includes premium brands with expert knowledge of their respective regions sia and Australia. Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director, Thomas Cook India Group, said, “In keeping with the Fairfax strategic intent of fair and friendly acquisitions, our agreement to acquire Kuoni’s global network of destination management specialists in 17 countries, provides us a significant expanded global footprint with enhanced presence in the Americas, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia – all favoured destinations for tourists and business travellers worldwide. This acquisition is a strong reiteration that the Thomas Cook India Group continues to invest and grow its travel businesses globally with a view to creating strong value for its customers.”



May 2017


Korea’s regional tourism boards focus on attracting Indian MICE Saloni Bhatia New Delhi IN AN EFFORT to create awareness among Indian travel agents about Korea’s extensive MICE attractions, the regional tourism boards of Seol, Incheon and Gyeonggi came together for a special MICE Night organised by the Korea Tourism Organisation. For the first time 18 Korean exhibitors showcased their products in order to develop better relations with India’s potential market. Byungsun Lee, director, Korea Tourism, stated, “In the past years we have worked to increase awareness

about Korea as a destination. We received 195,000 Indian tourists last year which was an increase of 27.3 per cent compared to 2015. We have been hosting training sessions on a regular basis with our partner agencies like Thomas Cook, Cox & Kings, Mercury Travels, etc, in order to develop Korea packages together to accommodate new products.” Kang, Dong- Han, director, Gyeonggi MICE Bureau, stated, “Apart from the major convention centres we would also like to promote the activities for travellers. Some of the famous experiences among MICE travellers

For the first time 18 Korean exhibitors showcased their products in order to develop better relations with India’s potential market is visit to the Korean Folk Village, Everland Theme Park, One Mount Theme Park among other attractions. The three regions have a lot to offer through experiential travel post conven-

tion tours.” Similarly, Incheon has one of the biggest convention facilities along with major hotels. Kim, Hey-Young, manager, exhibition and convention team, Incheon

Tourism Organisation, stated, “Incheon is only one hour away from the main city of Seol and is well connected with the airport. There are over tours along with special cruise packages to be explored along with MICE.” Justin C.B Park, director, Meeting and Incentives Team, Korea Tourism Organisation, added, “Last year has seen a decrease in MICE tourist arrivals from India but from this year it has already reach 650 by this month. We are positive that through our efforts we will be able to bring in more MICE travellers by end of this year.”

RAKTDAprojects 15-20% growth from India this year Saloni Bhatia New Delhi RAS AL KHAIMAH, the fourth largest emirate in the UAE, has been reported to be the region’s fastest growing tourism destination showing 35 per cent growth in Indian visitor numbers this year, until now. As India continues to be an important market, accounting for eight per cent of total visitors last year, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) projects 15-20 per cent overall growth from the India in 2017. It also plans to attract more leisure travellers with a focused approach towards weddings and MICE. Ras Al Khaimah recorded a rise of 11 per cent in overall visitor numbers in 2016 over



May 2017

2015. Visitors from India to the emirate in Q1 2017 grew by 35 per cent, while the number of guest nights taken by Indian tourists grew 49.4 per cent in the same period last year. Furthermore, the average length of stay of Indian guests in Q1 2017 has grown by 10.6 per cent, leading to a minimum of two nights stay. India currently holds the fourth position in inbound tourist arrivals at 37,704 after Germany, USA and Russia. Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA, said, “Ras Al Khaimah is situated merely 45 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and offers great value for money. Most of the properties are five star products offering four star pricing. It has a lot to offer, be it weddings, luxury, adven-

ture, culture and more. The emirate's 72 per cent of tourism business is from family travellers, but we have already hosted five weddings from India in the past three months, which is a rising segment.”

Informing about new tourism products, Shaji Thomas, director – destination tourism, Ras Al Khaimah, stated, “We will be opening the longest zipline along with the observation deck by October or November. The three ziplines

at Jebel Jais, UAE’s highest mountain peak, will also reopen to accommodate more people, which currently takes only 16 people a day. A luxury camp, official cycling and hiking routes will also focus on Jebel Jais.” The event also witnessed signing of an MoU between Ras Al Khaimah and Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) to host a threeday convention in the month of September this year. Around 225 delegates, including overseas participants are expected to be a part of the event. The convention will feature multiple business sessions featuring national and international speakers and discuss the growth of Indian outbound and subsequent future marketing strategies.


Taipei targets Indian film-makers and MICE sector Saloni Bhatia New Delhi TAIPEI, the capital city of Taiwan got one its largest delegations to India in order to promote the city as the venue of Taipei Summer Universiade 2017. Ko Wen-je, mayor, Taipei was present at the event to talk about the city’s potential to attract film and MICE tourism from India. As informed by the mayor, Taipei received 32,000 Indian visitors last year. He further stated, “We have been working on special incentive programmes in partnership with China Airlines to launch packages to the city. Direct

flights to Taipei from New Delhi will also make a huge difference during the summer games.” In order to promote the film industry in India, the city’s tourism corporation has also launched a prize of US$ one million to any movie that is shot in Taipei and wins an award. There will be constant assistance and support on ground for the Indian directors wanting to make movies in the city. The officials also informed that some sponsors could also provide financial support to promote the city to the world. To help open the India market, Taipei City Government has

entered into a strategic initiative with China Airlines, the only Taiwan operator offering direct flights to New Delhi. Brand new travel products have been brought together to launch the India edition of Taipei package. Sponsors include hotels such as Regent Taipei, Sherwood Taipei, Grand Hyatt among many others. The Taipei Government also unveiled an incentive– travel programme to attract the India MICE market. This shall include applications for MICE sponsorship supporting China Airlines charter flights for incentive travel tours to Taipei.

France to form new tourism office with annual budget of 4 mn Euros ETW Staff Mumbai THE COTENTIN PENINSULA – also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula – in the Normandy region of France, will soon see its many tourism boards undergo a major restructuring in the next few months. By June this year, 11 local tourism boards will have merged into one big entity and renamed Cotentin Tourist Office, making it one of the most powerful tourism board in the country with an annual budget of four million Euros. Out of this budget, up to one million Euros will be kept aside to promote Cotentin worldwide; of which India,

Middle East and China will be important focus markets. Currently, France does not have a Ministry of Tourism despite it being the biggest tourist destination in the world. “It is how it is and we’re still the top tourist destination in the world. But having said that, there is a lot more we can do and once the new structure is in place, we hope to bring in more tourists to the Cotentin Peninsula and showcase the wild and untouched landscapes and beaches we have here,” said Guillaume Hamel, the current director of Cherbourg Tourisme and top man in the running to head up the new entity.

So far Normandy has mainly been promoted as a historical war destination focusing on the D-Day Landing beaches, war cemeteries and World War Museums. Hamel wants to widen his pool of tourist attractions and include the preserved natural beauty of the peninsula with its protected heritage sites, middle-aged castles and food culture. “Yes, Cotentin is undeniably steeped in amazing war history; there’s no doubt about that and we’re fiercely proud of it. But it is just one aspect of what we have to offer. For example, we would like tourists to experience Cotentin’s famous Blue Lobster or oysters among other

fresh seafood thanks to one of the longest coastlines in France or Calvados – an apple brandy with apple sorbet that is to be had in the middle of one’s dinner. These are all experiences that you won’t get anywhere else in the world except here in Cotentin,” he commented. Apart from being a gastronomical treat, tourists can also look forward to getting the chance to step inside an actual nuclear submarine at the Cite De La Mer – a maritime museum built to showcase Cherbourg’s nautical prowess. Hamel said that he wants to put Cotentin back on the cruise map and promote the region as a hiking destination too.

“The cruise industry is getting bigger and bigger in Europe. Cherbourg-en-Cotentin has a long history since the 1900s when we were a transatlantic port. The port of Cherbourg used to receive almost 1000 calls a year, which works out to almost three ships a day going to various places in the world – New York, Buenos Aires, you name it. Currently, we have 65,000 passengers a year and 40 cruise calls. This is one of the main aspects we are going to work on. We also have a fantastic range of premium shore excursions available from Cherbourg on a cruise ship for the day,” he added.



May 2017


CWT launches business travel solution for SMEs in India ETW Staff Mumbai GLOBAL TRAVEL management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) has launched ‘CWT For You’, a business travel solution specially designed for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India. “Indian SMEs and startups have seen tremendous growth in recent years, with many expanding nationwide and some even venturing into international markets. Yet most of these companies have very little control over what they spend on business travel – a significant chunk of their total spend,” said Geeta Jain, CEO – India, CWT. With no minimum spend threshold or applicable transaction fees, this new service is available through a web-based registration and is focused on giving SMEs access to some of the benefits of managed travel that larger corporations enjoy. It is estimated that India has close to 50 million SMEs, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the country’s GDP. Aimed at companies without a managed travel programme, ‘CWT For You’ is available both as a mobile app and an online booking tool, providing SMEs with user-friendly and cost-effective self servicing solution for their business travel needs. “CWT For You offers SMEs



May 2017

a cost-effective business travel solution by including the essential components of managed travel, without certain added services required by organisations with global travel programmes or high travel volumes. This has allowed us to give these growing businesses unprecedented access to our global negotiating and buying power along with our award winning products and services,” Jain commented. ‘CWT For You’ gives SMEs access to CWT’s specially negotiated airfares and hotel rates, as well as added benefits like inflight meals, preferred seat selection, flight changes and cancellations at no extra charge on various low-cost carriers. Typically these benefits can add up to close to 20 per cent of the ticket price. By showing travellers the lowest fares with a single click, it saves time and effort of shop-

ping around for the best airfares and hotel rates. The mobile app and OBT also save travellers’ time spent searching for visas and travel insurance by redirecting them to the appropriate websites. Travellers booking complex itineraries with multiple destinations can receive web chat or phone support from CWT’s travel counsellors. SMEs who use this solution will also have access to CWT AnalytIQs business intelligence tool, which is used by close to 10,000 companies around the world, including many Fortune 500 companies. CWT AnalytIQs provides real time data allowing companies to monitor their overall travel spend and discover savings opportunities. The tool also enables companies to track all their travellers who are on the road, making it easier to reach them in case of an emergency.

Tourism tech conference to explore live streaming as marketing tool ETW Staff Mumbai AS SNAPCHAT and Instagram Stories are taking off in the West as innovative tools for live interface, Kerala is planning to use its own live streaming technology to tap tourists’ experiential accounts of the destinations they visit. Considering its potential for tourism promotion in India, a group of young professionals from Kerala, with the support of state’s tourism department, is set to explore live streaming as a major campaign tool for the upcoming second edition of International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT) in Kochi. Association of Tourism Trade Organisation (ATTOI), with the support of Kerala Tourism, will organise the three-day event at the Le Meridien Hotel in Kochi from June 8 to 10. “Technology has become an essential part of tourism industry. Unlike other social media tools, we have noticed that the live feeds are getting more traction. It is intimate, engaging, bespoke and authentic than any other form of tourism destination promotions,” said Anish Kumar, president, ATTOI. In December last year, ATTOI, as a curtain raiser to an international conference, organised a live streaming of an underwater engagement to showcase beach resorts as

a unique offering of Kerala Tourism. Over 25 lakh viewers across the world watched the video that was streamed live from the beach resort of Kovalam. “The event was a huge hit as it attracted a large number of viewers across the globe. Looking at the audience and strategy, the campaign is focused on giving people a chance to explore a place before they embark upon their journey. This defines the changing dynamics of tourism,” added Kumar. The seven experts who will be attending the brainstorming meet this year are Andre Chow (Singapore), Billy Taylor (New Zealand), Christopher Tock (Malaysia), Donna Mortiz (Australia), Lauren Cleland (USA), Nicky Kriel (the UK) and Pierre Marechal (Belgium). The speakers will share insights on topics such as ‘Content and Search Engine Strategy’, ‘Digital Tools: The way forward’, ‘Online Destination Marketing’, ‘Travel Technology Trends in Future’, ‘Consumer Behaviour and Online Reputation’, ‘Social Media for Tourism’, ‘Online Tools’ and ‘Revenue Management’. Around 500 delegates, comprising tour operators, hoteliers, resort owners, home stays, SEO (search engine optimisation) companies, software firms and social media marketing companies are slated to attend the conference.


Maha govt to organise Mumbai Festival to boost tourism ETW Staff Mumbai THE MAHARASHTRA government will organise a festival on Mumbai that will promote the metropolis and its various facets, informed Maharashtra Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal. ‘Mumbai Festival’ will be held between December 21, 2017 and January 6, 2018 and it has been conceptualised on the lines of Dubai Festival. Rawal said that the government intends to involve other sectors and services to be part of the festival like private taxi services,

bus services, airlines, hotel industry and shopping malls, among others. “This will be an integrated attempt to promote Mumbai which will help boost the state’s economy and generate employment for people,” said Rawal. Meanwhile, in a bid to promote Maharashtra’s culture and attract foreign tourists, the government has signed an MoU with Etihad and Jet Airways, which will help in promoting the state on international flights. The MoU was signed by the tourism department in presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis,

Rawal and other officials. “Through these airlines, the government intends to reach out to international passengers and promote Maharashtra’s culture, tradition and tourist spots. Both airlines have agreed to display Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) booklets as in-flight magazine,” he added. An official from the tourism department said that through this MoU, information related to Maharashtra will reach up to four lakh passengers a year. (PTI)

Exhibition and convention complex to be built at Pragati Maidan ETW Staff Mumbai DELHI’S PRAGATI MAIDAN is set to get a makeover, with an exhibition and convention complex. The complex being built at Pragati Maidan will have world-class features like skywalk connectivity with metro and seven modern exhibition halls. “The IECC project goes beyond Pragati Maidan. It will add to the grandeur and stature of the city of Delhi and also relieve the general public of traffic congestion in this area,” said, L C Goyal, chairman and managing director, India Trade Promotion

Organisation (ITPO). ITPO, a body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has been tasked with the redevelopment work of Pragati Maidan. The proposed plan also includes interventions to ease traffic in and around Pragati Maidan including a six-lane divided tunnel connecting Mathura Road to Ring Road across Pragati Maidan and making Mathura Road signal free through ‘U’ turns/subways at necessary intersections for better access to the complex and for benefit of general public. The exhibition-cum-convention complex will have a basement parking of 4,800

vehicles. A provision for a hotel has also been made. “The iconic convention centre will be at par with the best in the world. It will be on

an elevated podium with unique curved slopping facade incorporating local flavour with a window to Delhi having 360 degree view

of surrounding areas such as India Gate, Supreme Court, etc,” Goyal said. (PTI)



May 2017


Honeywell chooses Taj Air to enhance business aviation in India ETW Staff Mumbai

Indian tourists, business travellers can visit Russia’s far east without visa ETW Staff Mumbai RUSSIAN PRIME Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that tourists and businessmen from India and 17 other countries can visit the Russia’s far east without visas to boost tourism and investment in the region. Medvedev said that businessmen and tourists will not need to undergo the traditional procedure of Russian visas receipt. According to the official site of the Russian Cabinet, the list of 18 countries comprises Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, India,



May 2017

Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Japan. “I have recently approved the list of countries, whose nationals can take advantage of the preferential regime. We are proactively forming the modern infrastructure and creating special regimes in the far east; the law on visits to the Vladivostok free port was approved in March,” said Medvedev. Cancellation of visa procedures for tourists and businessmen will promote growth of investment and tourist

attractiveness of the far east, the prime minister said, adding that the region will earn more money from tourist traffic growth. A total of 18 countries from various regions selected by the reciprocity principle were included into the list, Medvedev informed. “This is not because these states are situated at a closer or longer distance – we are appropriately introducing bilateral agreements on visafree travel for those ready to use such an approach for us,” he said. (PTI)

HONEYWELL has selected Taj Air to provide support services to business aviation customers in India. The channel partner agreement will cover Honeywell propulsion engines and auxiliary power units. As Indian airports see a continued rise in the number of domestic and international flights, the country has an increasing need for high-quality local support services. This collaboration is expected to provide Indian business jet operators with better access to Honeywell products and services

at their home base, reducing the need for customers to relocate aircraft outside of India for maintenance. Taj Air is part of a network of leading maintenance service centres in India dedicated to providing full maintenance support to business jets. The company pioneered charter aviation in India in 1993 and started its own maintenance department at Mumbai Airport in 2005. This new agreement builds on Taj Air’s expertise and Honeywell’s investment in India to offer business aviation customers a more streamlined and efficient experience.


OYO expands global footprint with Kathmandu hotel launch ETW Staff Mumbai OYO has announced its foray into Nepal, with the launch of its debut hotel in Kathmandu. Nepal is the second overseas market for OYO, after its successful venture into Malaysia in January 2016 where it has now grown to 200 hotels. Launched in 2013, OYO’s network has grown to 7000 hotels in 200 cities. Commenting on the launch, Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO – OYO, said, “OYO has been at the forefront of the small and budget hotels revolution in India. Building the category grounds-up, we have employed technology and operational acumen to deliver delight to our customers and unparalleled benefits to partners. Our network has witnessed robust growth to become the largest in India. After our successful overseas foray in Malaysia, we are now thrilled to offer OYO’s hasslefree and standardised stay experience to travellers visiting Nepal.”

The travel and hospitality sector in India is witnessing a phenomenon of 'impulse planning' Ritesh Agarwal

With a wide range of offerings – from beautiful locales, adventure activities, temples and monasteries, to shoppinghubs and casinos – Nepal has emerged as a preferred destination for an impulsively planned getaway any time of the year. According to the Department of Immigration, of the 174,803 tourists who visited Nepal in 2016, the highest number of travellers were reported from India. A further boost to cross-border trade and tourism is expected with

India and Bangladesh set to reopen the defunct trans-border rail routes which would extend links to Nepal and Bhutan. The travel and hospitality sector in India is witnessing a phenomenon of 'impulse planning'. Even as travel-planning cycle reduces further, the expectations from on-ground suppliers and agents of delivering a non-negotiable and predetermined experience have become stronger. Affordable and trusted stay-options

remain one of the top concerns for most travellers. With OYO in Nepal, Indian travellers will find it easier to extend their impulse-planning behaviour while planning a holiday. Nepal is also one of the few countries that offers visa-on-arrival to Indians. Commenting on this, Agarwal said, “Today, 70 percent of Indians admit to unplanned spending – from relationships to shopping, instant gratification is the new norm. At the same time, they are increasingly looking at discerning or standardised experiences; even if the purchase decision was driven by impulse. With our promise of standardised and predictable stays, OYO caters to the impulse-planning behavior displayed by millennial traveller. We are also engaging with various stakeholders to create partnerships that help us make new experiences accessible to tourists.” OYO is an urban innovator that is tackling the lack of equilibrium between demand

and supply of quality living space. Using technology and talent to fix this socio-economic problem, it has transformed over 70,000 hotel rooms in India and Malaysia. Further, it invests in skilling and training the staff of its partner-hotels to deliver better service. This performance-driven approach has, in turn, enabled better revenues and profits for partners, and better service and experience for guests. The company also recently launched OYO Captains, to provide personalised onground local assistance to guests. Agarwal added, “There are many examples of people who have become successful after partnering with OYO. From rooms taken on lease to having their own property, we have helped them grow at a fast pace and become successful entrepreneurs. We are excited with the opportunity to co-create another successful traveland-hospitality ecosystem in Nepal.”

Govt plans to lease ITDC hotels ETW Staff Mumbai THE GOVERNMENT is considering leasing ITDC hotels with management right to private companies as part of its efforts to monetise the properties owned by the state-run firm. According to sources, the government is chalking out a plan under which ITDC hotels that are owned and run by the central government would be let on

lease to private companies. These companies will have the right to decide on management, expansion and new investments. Hotels that are run jointly by the Centre and states can also be given to private entities on lease. In case of hotels that are built on state land, the right could be transferred to the states for a consideration. The state governments can then decide to sell or to lease to private entities. The decision to lease and transfer

management control of hotels assumes importance as the NDA government has been trying for strategic sale of ITDC hotels for two years. If the hotels are given on lease, then the government will earn lease premium till the time private entities run the hotels. The government is targeting ` 15,000 crore from strategic sale in PSUs and another `46,500 crore by selling minority stake in PSUs. (PTI)



May 2017


Lords Hotels & Resorts expands presence in Nepal ETW Staff Mumbai LORDS HOTELS & Resorts has announced the signup of its fourth hotel property in Nepal. With 105 keys, the premium resort property will be inaugurated as Lords Resort – Budhanilkantha because of its proximity to the temple. It is slated to commence operations by the end of 2017. This would become Lords Hotels & Resorts’ second hospitality offering in Kathmandu with Mirage Lords Inn being the first. Besides these two, the hotel chain has signed up two other hotel properties in Birjung and in Bhaktapur which too will shortly open to tourists. With four properties, Lords Hotels & Resorts will become the leading Indian hospitality brand in Nepal. Growing at an average rate of four hotels per year, Lords Ho-

tels & Resorts has been expanding its footprints in the country and outside. The announcement of this launch has come within a month of the chain’s last hotel launch in Gir, Gujarat. “We are pleased to announce the launch of Lords Resorts – Budhanilkantha and are positive that this will become a landmark resort in Kathmandu. Built on a vantage point, it is away from the hustle bustle of the city. Access to the city, however, is unrestricted and convenient. Being located at the top of a hill, skirted by dense flora, every room will offer a magnificent view of the valley and its fauna. Besides offering an unparalleled location advantage, the resort will also cater to travellers across the spectrum from leisure to adventure and business to pilgrimage. We are thankful to the chairperson of the hotel, Binita Thapa for associating with Lords Hotels &

P R Bansal

Resorts and entrusting us with running the business,” said P R Bansal, chairman and managing director, Lords Hotels & Resorts. The resort will offer tourists a retreat with an in-house casino, spa and beauty salon, heated swimming pool, multicuisine restaurant, open-air grill and bar. The resort’s architecture captures natural light and

wind so as to reduce its carbon footprint. The installed roof too is eco-friendly and has been specially imported for the purpose of insulating the building from extreme weather conditions, eliminating the need for extensive HVAC arrangements. “Lords Hotels & Resorts will maintain its true value offering by keeping the room tariffs competitive at this new resort despite it being an upscale property. Our existing hotel in Kathmandu – Mirage Lords Inn is located in the city centre and is more suitable for business travellers or even for pilgrimage tourists because of its proximity to the airport as well as to many shrines that dot the region. However Lords Resort – Budhanilkantha will differ in a way that it will offer tourists a more relaxed atmosphere,” said Rishi Puri, vice president, Lords Hotels & Resorts.

RCI launches shared vacation ownership industry white paper FHW Staff Mumbai RCI has recently published a new global industry white paper on the shared vacation ownership industry to help educate and support potential new entrants into the business. It is also designed to assist legislators and hospitality groups to better understand the leisure real estate industry. Created to support industry growth, the Leisure Real Estate Trends & Opportunities handbook demonstrates the credibility of shared vaca-



May 2017

tion ownership products and markets, helping to demystify one of the fastest-growing and established industries in the hospitality sector. “RCI has been involved in facilitating the swapping and sharing of residential leisure real estate for more than four decades. We have worked with developers and investors from every walk of the hospitality and leisure real estate sectors and have seen firsthand what a resilient and robust business this is. We at RCI understand the shared vacation ownership model’s potential to grow a

business base, as well as making a significant contribution to tourism revenues. For all these reasons, we felt it was important to draft a white paper that makes absolutely clear how the products work and where the opportunities lie. We see a great future for a product that offers access to a property asset – it is the perfect fit for today’s Millennial consumer mindset,” said Dimitris Manikis, vice president – business development, RCI Europe, Middle East and Africa. This new industry handbook contains business insights

into the European marketplace, as well as analysis of the global industry. Among highlights of the expert views and knowledge shared by a wide range of industry professionals are: New information from the American Resort Development Association International Foundation Worldwide Industry Study, including top line European and global industry performance figures and metrics. Shared holiday ownership/residential leisure real estate business models outlines and explanations, and others.

THSC launches tourism and hospitality skill development platform ETW Staff Mumbai THE TOURISM and hospitality industry has taken a measure to impart skill to train manpower under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of ‘Skill India’ for the purpose of increasing employ ability of the youth. The digital platform,, floated by the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) under the aegis of the National Skill Development Corporation of India (NSDC) would offer a one-year diploma course to aspiring youth aiming at entering the tourism and hospitality industry at the entry level. The general manager of Leela Ambience Convention Hotel Delhi Jaideep Anand said that the move was in line with the Prime Minister Rojgar Yojana (PMRY) for making the youth employable in the sector. Major hotel chains like Taj Group, Park Hotels, Carlson Rezidor were a part of the initiative. Anand said that efforts were on to bring all the hotel chains to take part in the initiative. (PTI)

cover story)

THE VEGETARIAN WORLD TRAVELLER With F&B gaining importance in travel itineraries, Express TravelWorld finds out what tour operators and international tourism boards are doing to grab a slice of the vegetarian travel pie BY SUDIPTA DEV

Outdoor dining at Dunes by Al Nahda, Oman




he profile and preferences of the Indian traveller has changed considerably in the last decade. F&B today forms an integral part of Indian travellers' experience, including the inveterate vegetarian traveller. Considering that a significant segment, almost 60 per cent of Indian outbound travellers comprise this segment, they are an important focus group for tour operators and tourism boards. While Cox & Kings has its exclusive veg-only tours (for Jains and pure vegetarians) called Gaurav Yatra, Atout France and Switzerland Tourism publicise the list of Indian restaurants. And, culinary tours range from classes by celebrity chefs to local farmers' market trips for picking up fresh products to visiting cookery schools. It is myth that Indian vegetarians insist only on Indian meals while travelling overseas. Their preferences have gone much beyond the traditional fare that they are used to at home. "They are also exposed to exotic vegetarian fare found in Italian, French, and American cuisine. For those who prefer continental food, vegetarian Italian food is just as flavoursome, varied and hearty as its meatier fare, ” says Karan Anand, head, Relationship, Cox & Kings, pointing out that Thai veg food, with its aromatic curries, fragrant sauces and exotic veg ingredients like tofu to bamboo, is savoured by vegetarians across the world. Surprising though it may seem, there is a long list of vegetarian friendly destinations, for instance Taiwan which belies common misconception. Amod Thatte, head Product, Contracting and Innovation, SOTC Travel, acknowledges that people are now opting for green travel packages. “The demand from tourists who travel abroad who are vegetarians or opting

for a vegetarian package is constantly on the rise and gaining ground. With the number of Indian tourists travelling abroad for leisure and business growing tremendously, countries have begun recognising the potential. Belgium, Glasgow- Scotland, Germany, France, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Thailand and Jordan are some vegetarian friendly destinations and cater to the vegetarians specifically,” he says, adding that while Jordan makes it quite easy on vegetarians, with its deep rooted Buddhist culture vegetarian food is easy to find in Thailand, and Belgium is on the fast track to becoming associated with a vegetarian lifestyle, in particular the city of Ghent, which is home to the largest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita. A majority of Indian travellers within this market segment want to combine other activities, such as participating in heritage, cultural, and nature-based activities with culinary activities. “Women travellers are a growing segment. These travel groups prefer a busy itinerary and like to squeeze in maximum activities during the trip like wine tasting etc,” adds Thatte. Many global destinations today have well known (and sometimes iconic vegetarian restaurants). Manpreet Singh, VP and head – MICE, FCM Travel Solutions India, points out that in London, an increasing number of restaurants are committed to creating vegetarian gourmet dishes. Amaya, Pied à Terre and Vanilla Black are a few names to indulge in some of the finest vegetarian flavours across the city. “Additionally cities like Dubai, apart from being a land of Shawarma, have a lot to offer in terms of vegetarian gourmet. Places like the Bombay Brasserie, XVA Café and Armani are a select few to boast about the vegetarian food culture of the city. Another one of the greatest food cities in the world, New York, has a variety to share in the veg gourmet section. From


Avant Garden, Bouley to Gramercy Tavern the city has a lot to offer,” mentions Singh. Club Méditerranée, commonly known as Club Med, a pioneer of the premium all-inclusive holiday concept, has a strong focus on taking care of the preferences of Indian vegetarian travellers at its resorts that are frequented by Indian outbound market. "We have live Indian cuisine stations at our buffet restaurants in Kani Maldives, Bali Indonesia, Bintan Indonesia and Cherating Malaysia to cater to both Indian and foreign guests who would be able to savour a variety of Indian delicacies and vegetarian cuisines," shares Manoj Upadhyay, business development manager, Club Med India.

“They are also exposed to exotic vegetarian fare found in Italian, French, and American cuisine” Karan Anand Head - Relationship, Cox & Kings

Curated experiences Though an evolving and niche segment, there is a section of HNI vegetarian travellers who look for curated F&B experiences. From cooking classes by well-known chefs to picking up fresh products from local markets and much more. Cox & Kings has curated such itineraries for UK, France, Switzerland, Australia and Singapore. “We have launched culinary tours in partnership with renowned chefs from across the world. We have specific itineraries that combine food, wine and self-drive vacations under the brand name Enroute,” mentions Anand. He advises that those who looking for both luxuries and exotic experience from their vegetarian vacation should visit luxury farm resorts in Fiji which feature a large variety of fruits and plants including Fiji vanilla plants. F&B has become an important component, in fact a deciding factor for some in selecting a place to visit. “The demand for culinary tours are rising as Indian travellers become more informed and experimental. At Flight Shop, seeing the rise in demand, many of our short tours cater solely to food and beverage sector, for example: Wildfoods Festival in New Zealand,

“Gastronomy plays a major role in the way tourists experience a destination” Amod Thatte Head - Product, Contracting & Innovation, SOTC Travel

“Many of our short tours cater solely to food and beverage sector” Manpreet Singh VP and head MICE, FCM Travel Solutions India



May 2017

cover story)

“Oman’s culinary tradition offers an interesting blend of Arabian and Indian influences” Lubaina Sheerazi India representative, Ministry of Tourism, Oman

“Vegetarian fare is easy to locate at most places in Jordan” Ashit Taneja Country manager, Jordan Tourism Board

“We have live Indian cuisine stations at our buffet restaurants” Manoj Upadhyay Business development manager, Club Med India


Watercress Festival in England, Blue Food Festival in Tobago to name a few,” states Singh. He informs that curated experiences like the tea tasting trails in smaller towns of China, the whisky trail in Scotland, wine tours in the French campagne and South Africa, cheese tours in the outskirts of Amsterdam, chocolate tasting in Belgium and more, are the most in-demand for the destination’s speciality and delicacy.

Culinary tourism Taking the growing importance of food to holiday-makers, the future of culinary tourism looks promising. “Gastronomy plays a major role in the way tourists experience a destination, in fact some travellers would return to the same destination to savour its unique gastronomy. Various tourism boards and destination marketing campaigns are now promoting the culinary potential of their destination,” says Thatte, adding that a high percentage of travellers, consider dining and food as relevant activities during their travels. Culinary festivals to highlight local delicacies is likely to see marked growth in the future, while organic farmers' markets to generate interest in healthy cuisines could be another trend in culinary tourism. “Local food holds much potential to enhance sustainability in tourism and

contribute to the authenticity of exploring a destination. Our packages are specially crafted for travellers with a passion for good food and normally include gourmands and chefs, young individuals, HNIs and FITs,” adds Thatte.

F&B in focus While most destinations across the world have geared up to cater to the growing surge of of vegan and vegetarian travellers, including those from India, there are a few countries that have vegetarian cuisine as an integral part of their culinary culture. For instance, Jordan, where finding vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants is not too much of an effort with menus dotted with mezze dishes like falafel, hummus, tabbouleh and Arabic flatbreads. “A closer look at menus or locals’ plates will tell you that Jordanians are in fact quite partial to fresh fruit and veggies – there are lots of salads with natural dressings like lemon and olive oil,” says Ashit Taneja, country manager, Jordan Tourism Board, adding that while vegetarian fare is easy to locate at most places around the country, Beit Sitti – which translates roughly as ‘my grandmother’s kitchen’ – in Amman, is highly recommended. So is Feynan – an eco-lodge in the middle of the Dana Biosphere Reserve, where visitors to the reserve can gorge on falafel, hummus,

delectable vegetarian stews and flat breads baked by Bedouins. Oman is another destination where vegetarians will not have to struggle for good food. Reminding that Oman’s culinary tradition offers an interesting blend of Arabian and Indian influences, Lubaina Sheerazi, India representative, Ministry of Tourism, Oman states, “Apart from authentic Omani food, the country also offers authentic cuisines from South India, North India, Greece, Lebanon, Turkey among others. The classic mezze platter which includes baba ghanoush (tastes like baigan ka bharta), tabouleh (vegetarian salad), fatoush (pita bread salad) served with hummus (chickpeas paste with olive oil and seasoning) and pita bread; is a must try dish. Relish this meal at any Middle-Eastern restaurant or try falafal served in Arabianstyle flatbread (khubz).” The Omani coffee ‘Kahwa’ mixed with cardamom powder is available at high-end restaurants; often served with the country's famous produce (dates) and classic Omani dessert ‘halwa’. The options in Oman are wide ranging – hibiscus drinks and avocado milkshakes at Kargeen Café for an open-air Arabian experience to Bait Al Luban known for its authentic Omani cuisine and Mumtaz Mahal, awarded Best North In-

dian cuisine in Oman. "For the ones who want to have authentic cuisine must try Turkish Diwan for its vegetarian friendly food options and the ones craving for some home food can relish South Indian food served at Saravana Bhavan," says Sheerazi. For unique food experiences, the recommendations are The Cave in Muscat, The Jungle restaurant, and Dunes by Al Nahda a luxury boutique desert resort. In Europe, France is a destination where vegan and vegetarian food is becoming popular with an increasing number of French nationals preferring vegan options. “In fact certain regional cuisines such as the Cuisine Nicoise and the Provencal cuisines showcase a lot of vegetables thus making these speciality cuisines a favourite options amongst vegetarians,” says Sheetal Wadhwa Munshaw, director – India, Atout France, reminding that contemporary France is home to many chefs who have understood the needs and requirements of vegetarian patrons and are fully equipped to present their tasteful creations that do not include any meat including renowned Michelin starred chefs such as Alain Passard. Pointing out that French cuisine is renowned world over and the Gastronomic Meal of the French has earned it a much deserved World Intangi-



“France is home to many chefs who have understood the needs and requirements of vegetarian patrons” Sheetal Wadhwa Munshaw ble Heritage recognition by UNESCO, Munshaw states, “There is a growing interest in thematic trails such as wine and food tours from the India market. We have many visitors who would like to take on wine appreciation and tasting sessions, understand the finer nuances of wine and food pairing. The discerning FIT traveller is ready to take on cooking lessons with chefs, indulge in culinary tours, market visits and interact with local producers which in turn motivates us to showcase authentic experiences focused around gastronomy and wine.” Closer home, Thailand is another destination that has a variety of gourmet experiences for the HNI Indian traveller. "Almost every key tourist destination in Thailand offers vegetarian food for both Indian or international cuisines. In fact there are some agents who have started organising a special trip just to try the vegetarian food in Thailand across variants which include Italian, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Indian," says Soraya Homchuen, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand. The high-end restaurants range from Gaggan and Indus to those offering Thai vegetarian food like Blue Elephant restaurant in Bangkok and Phuket. Thailand offers special food tours depending on the tourist’s requirement. “Also, the current

campaign ‘Discover Unique Local Experiences’ focuses on exploring the local Thai flavors,” adds Homchuen. Interestingly, vegetarian restaurants are popular in Taiwan and easy to find, primarily because of the country's vast Buddhist population, influence of I-Kuan Tao and other sects. Noel Saxena, country head, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, India believes that Taiwan is also the vegan heart of Asia, with over a dozen vegan restaurants in Taipei having opened in the last few years. “Even the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores sell frozen vegan meals, which one can microwave on the spot. From tasty traditional fare to exotic Indian, Asian, and newer Western offerings, Taiwan, to put it simply, is fast becoming a vegetarian's paradise,” he mentions. Considering that more that 10 per cent of Taiwanese are vegetarians or stick to a vegetarian diet at least one every week, or twice a month, there are wide ranging vegetarian dishes including healthy vegetables, beancurd, mock meat or soya. “The government promotes eating vegetarian as a healthy choice, and regulates food labelling,” informs Saxena.

Weddings and MICE F&B plays a major role to the overall success of any MICE event. SOTC partners

with MICE destinations that offer global talent to curate personalised gastronomic experiences and themed menus using highest quality of ingredients and techniques. “Level of the quality of food and beverages served reflect your commitment to the event and directly play an important role in delivering excellence in services to clients,” asserts Thatte. Jordan has been focused on attracting Indian MICE, showcasing its unique attractions. “Whether it is monolithic rock scapes of Wadi Rum or the lively centre of urban Amman; the majestic ruins of bygone civilisations to the historical and spiritual splendor of the Dead Sea, are all unveiled as unique MICE destinations offering breathtaking and mysterious sights, high standard accommodation, exquisite cuisine and countless activities,” remarks Taneja, adding that whether it is a conference for 5000 people, a lavish dinner in the desert of Wadi Rum, a barbecue at the shores of the Dead Sea,or a reception atop a medieval castle overlooking the Jordan Valley, the experience will be memorable. Oman is gaining popularity as a preferred wedding destination among the HNIs. According to Sheerazi, luxury resorts like Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Al Bustan Palace- a Ritz-

Carlton Hotel and Grand Hyatt, that host these weddings have well defined hospitality and F&B services as they offer wide range of multi cuisine options. The client can also bring their own cook from India to serve specially prepared meals. Food is in fact one of the important reasons why Thailand, has remained the most popular destination for Indian weddings and MICE. “The reason why the destination is popular among Indians is because there are a number of restaurants and catering companies that specialise in vegetarian cuisine and meet the expectations of the guests for weddings and for the MICE segment. These hotels and catering companies offer multinational chefs and aim at providing quality services,” states Homchuen. On account of its scenic natural beauty, in Asia Taiwan has emerged as a wedding destination and also a pre-wedding and engagement photography destination. Saxena adds, "The country has gradually been increasing MICE venues that meet international standards to add to the already existing TWTC Hall 1, Taipei Nankang Exhibition Hall 1, and TICC in the north, with the southern Kaohsiung Exhibition Center that was officially opened recently." All F&B preferences can be met at these venues.

Director – India Atout France

“Almost every key tourist destination in Thailand offers vegetarian food” Soraya Homchuen Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand

“Taiwan is the vegan heart of Asia” Noel Saxena Country head, Taiwan Tourism Bureau



May 2017


DISCOVERING RED SEA RIVIERA Occupying almost 50 km of the Red Sea Riviera's coastline in Egypt, Hurghada is a vibrant city with many exciting attractions for the global Indian traveller who would like to explore the different facets of the ancient country – from submarine ride in the Red Sea to exploring Coptic churches in Old Cairo By Sudipta Dev


ince time immemorial, the Land of the Nile, has been an enigma for travellers. It has always been considered more than a destination, it is a travel to back in time and space, and sometimes a journey within one's own soul. From the towering Pyramids and the Sphinx to the fascinating stories of the pharaohs, to the legends of ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, as a destination Egypt has always overwhelmed a traveller with it's unique attractions that are no where else in the world. But, there is another aspect to Egypt's varied tourism offering, which though not much known or explored by the Indian traveller, would be of much interest to them – the Red Sea Riviera. The Red Sea Riviera is dotted with many resort townships. Hurghada is one of the largest resort cities in Egypt that is a big draw for international travellers. A lot of investment has been made over the years to make Hurghada a global destination – from its infrastructure to large resorts to range of activities for tourists. One of the best resorts in Egypt is the The Oberoi, Sahl Hasheesh, which has been operating since the last 16 years in Hurghada. The high end resort


property is frequented by a select client including royal families from the Middle East. With its own private secluded beach and beautiful villas with pools, it offers the necessary privacy and exclusive luxury facilities to this ultra high networth segment of travellers. At a short distance is Tia Heights Makadi Bay, which is a perfect resort for families and MICE groups. With its large inventory of rooms, extensive recreation facilities and multiple F&B outlets, this all-inclusive resort offers true value for money with service par excellence. The village road in Hurghada has resorts on both sides. While most of the resorts have private beaches, there are public beaches also. A leading destination for aquatic sports, Hurghada is popular for windsurfing, sailing, deep sea fishing and of course diving and snorkelling. Those who want to experience the beauty of the underwater marine world, without getting wet, have the option of enjoying the view of exotic corals and colourful fish from a submarine. The unique submarine trip in the Red Sea is in fact one of the highlights of visiting Hurghada, which should not be missed by anyone, irrespective of their age.


A stroll along the Hurghada Marina is another must do. The colourful buildings overlook the sea and anchored yachts. There are quaint cafes lining the side walk and you can even get Indian food if interested. One of the new tourism highlights is the Hurghada Grand Aquarium. A private project, it has many attractions for visitors of all ages – from feeding of sharks and sting rays to close encounters with alligators. There are many interesting exhibits that enhance knowledge about marine life and species. The open air Sand City Museum has an eclectic array of exhibits - from Cleopatra to Goddess Isis to our very own Lord Ganesha. There are more places to be discovered near Hurghada. El Gouna, which lies about 25 km north of Hurghada is often called the Venice of the East because of its network of canals and lagoons. It has a private airport and golf resort, and is a great destination for diving. While to the south of Hurghada is Safaqa which has carved a niche for itself as a watersport destination from windsurfing to kite surfing.

Luxor: An open air museum Hurghada is in fact about a three hours drive from the ancient city of Luxor, in Upper (southern) Egypt. The city of Luxor is dotted with astounding landmarks like the Luxor Temple (night visit recom-

Exploring Old Cairo

mended) and the Karnak Temple. In fact, the latter was the site of the gliterring closing ceremony of the Luxor African Film Festival 2017, which saw notable names and upcoming talent being honoured. Often regarded as the world's greatest open air museum, Luxor is a great location for events like these. The monuments in Luxor recount fascinating stories of ambition, greed, generosity and strategy in ancient Egypt. The Temple of Hatshepsut is an edifice that recounts the interesting (and inspiring) story of the queen who dressed like a man to exert her dominance. A visit to the Valley of Kings, takes you to the royal burial chambers. While 63 burial chambers have been discovered at the site, only about five are open to public. Some are undergoing restoration. You can also see a team of archaeologists busy excavating more digs in the vicinity. A short drive away are The Colossi of Memnon, the two imposing stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

For any visitor to Egypt, the first destination is undoubtedly the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. There is however much more to discover in Cairo which makes this city such an incredible destination. While the veritable treasure trove of artefacts at Cairo Museum is a great draw for all visitors, so is the stunning architecture of the Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha. An evening of fun on a Nile cruise with live entertainment and dinner is always included in the itinerary. What is not always included is a visit to Old Cairo, a sad omission in fact because to understand the ethos of the land, it is necessary to understand its multicultural essence. The 'MultiReligious Compound' includes monuments of three religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Adjacent to the remnants of the Roman fortress of Babylon is the Church of St George (the only round church in Egypt) and the Hanging Church (the oldest church in Cairo). A walk through the lanes will take you to Ben Ezer Synagogue and the Church of St Sergius and Bacchus. The church was built over the site where the Holy Family took refuge - a short flight of steps will take you down to the underground chamber where infant Jesus might have stayed for three months. An incredible site of pilgrimage for people of all religions that should not be missed.



May 2017


A royal retreat Connecting a traveller to India's rich heritage, The Lallgarh Palace in Bikaner is an ideal fit in a tour of Rajasthan. Showcasing an old world charm and values, the heritage hotel is a destination of distinction for weddings and MICE By Saloni Bhatia


uccessfully overcoming the challenges faced by a heritage property, The Lallgarh Palace has been able to maintain its royal legacy. It is often assumed that Lallgarh Palace has been named so because of the red sandstone that was employed in its making, however, this is incorrect. The palace was named by Maharaja Ganga Singhji in the memory of his father Maharaj Lall Singhji. The palace hotel is now owned by his great grand daughter, Princess Rajyashree Kumari, an Arjuna award recipient, who is also the author of two books. The palace has four separate wings, each with its own distinctive characteristics. The first building, the south wing (Laxmi Niwas), was con-


structed in 1902. Second is the west wing (Sadul Niwas), constructed in 1912. The north wing (Karni Niwas) was built in 1924, mainly for formal entertainment and banquets, shortly thereafter the fourth and final - the east wing (Shiv Villas), was constructed in 1926. Thereby all four wings were linked harmoniously. The Lallgarh Palace is a 56 keys property in Sadul Niwas with each room different from another. In an exclusive interaction, Princess Kumari informs, “Forts and palaces have always been on the list of travellers within and outside India, as these are living history and should be marketed like that. You stay in these properties not just for luxury but to experience an era of which one has only heard of.�


Majority of the guests at the hotel are foreign travellers who stay overnight as groups. However, the hotel now receives a significant number of domestic travellers with a keen interest in the heritage connect of the palace. It has already been a favourite shooting location among for many TV shows and movies. Pre wedding shoots are organised at the hotel almost everyday. For MICE, the hotel offers large open spaces such as the enclosed courtyards, open garden areas, the main Darbar Hall for conferences, business get together, product launches, pre- wedding and wedding functions, film/TV shoots etc. The main conference hall can accommodate upto 300 people while the courtyards can add another 200. The main lobby area is also used for evening activities and small functions. The property which is more than a 100 years old needs constant upgradation and refurbishment. This factor stands out to be a major challenge. Princess Kumari mentions, “As the word 'heritage' itself explains that the properties under this category are of certain age and style. The main challenge is to maintain the originality of the building as that is the USP. To find craftsmen to do restora-

Princess Rajyashree Kumari

tion/renovation work is becoming difficult as the new generation is not that inclined to work in old fashioned way, when all the work was hand crafted.”

Visitor profile Speaking about the tourist traffic, Princess Kumari, explains, “As far as Bikaner is concerned until the last few years almost 95 per cent of travellers were foreign nations, however, in the last three–four years, the ratio has changed. Presently, 60 per cent of visitors are foreigners and 40 per cent are domestic travellers whose numbers are increasing every year. With development work picking

pace and also the connectivity issue being resolved it seems more domestic travellers will explore Bikaner along with foreign visitors.” She further opines, “The travel market in India over the period of time has made great progress. The last 20 years have seen immense growth in tourist arrival numbers and the infrastructure has improved leaps and bounds. Now hotels ranging from B&B, budget, luxury and super luxury are available in our country. Heritage properties are also doing well in India as well as other parts of the world. Mostly standalone properties that offer a personalised service are run by the owners themselves. They are popular and will remain so as far as I can see.” The hotel organises special evening performances for its guests, candle light dinners in outdoor garden and also sightseeing tours across the city. Just two km away from Junagarh Fort and at a distance of 10 km from Bikaner railway station, it also enjoys close proximity to the main markets where one can buy local sweets and handicrafts. In all, the palace hotel is a true representation of the city’s history and culture, aptly fitting a tour itinerary that showcases the culture of Rajasthan.



May 2017


CELEBRATING TRADITIONS Dvara at Siruvani, near Coimbatore is a luxury boutique resort showcasing the cuisine and cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu to the new age traveller. It is the flagship hotel project of VM Hospitality, a company well known for its unique speciality restaurants By Sudipta Dev


stay at Dvara Siruvani brings you close to nature and rediscovering the heritage of Tamil Nadu. It is almost an urban retreat, just an hour's drive from Coimbatore city. Earlier a Tamara resort, which primarily comprised of tented accommodation, the property has been recently rebuilt as a luxury resort targeting the discerning traveller. This is the first hotel project of VM Hospitality, the company which has established many unique restaurants in South India. VM Hospitality rebuilt the property to give guests a differentiated experience – the ambience, the décor, in rooms as well as public spaces, all celebrate the cultural legacy of Tamil Nadu. From the antique doorways to traditional artefacts to the cuisine – the whole experience has been curated to offer the guests an extraordinary stay. The inventory is limited to 10 rooms, each distinct from the other, decorated with antiques and artefacts painstakingly sourced from the interiors of Tamil Nadu. “We believe that if a resort goes above a certain size, intimacy and personal care is not the same. We took down the tents and built the cottages. The unique feature includes pools in the rooms,” says Uday Balaji, CEO, VM Hospitality.

Celebrating heritage The 10 rooms are either mountain facing or garden facing. The mountain facing ones open up to the canal and the hills and have their own


little patch of garden with individual plunge pool. The garden facing rooms are more intimate with a little courtyard like setting, a wall of lamps, antique wooden swings. All the cottages, restaurant and common public areas have antique doors. The restaurant decorations range from enameled ware to copper and brassware to antique coconut scrappers finding a place of pride on the walls. The recreation room has DVDs, old Tamil games including traditional snakes and ladders, a little library. It is a fun, quirky room with posters of MG Ramachandran movies splashing the walls. While a clay artist has made terracotta horses near the gardens, the interesting rock seating arrangement has been made by a German

artist from Auroville. The property, which was launched post demonetisation, has gradually started attracting guests. “There has been great feedback for the property. Word of mouth publicity has worked well for us,” mentions Balaji. Recently there was a very senior corporate retreat and the property is being pitched for board meets and senior management conferences. The conference room is suitable for the same. Also, the premises has good facilities for onsite activities and banquets.

Destination for all There is a deck overlooking the canal where a barbeque can be set up, and is a perfect location for a small party. The second part of the

SPOTLIGHT resort has a spa, a banqueting space, a herb garden, a butterfly garden, a small aviary. There are activities for children, from pony rides to petting zoo. The lowest deck is the riding deck. “This area is separated from the cottages and if day groups come, the guests in the resort will not get disturbed. We are setting up a few activities with local villages. We will have cycle rides for guests, and nature walks to get the village experience,” mentions Balaji. A highlight of the stay is the food, for which the group is already well known because of its speciality restaurants in Chennai, Coimbatore and Pune. Breakfast at Dvara is a mix of south Indian and continental, lunch is a Thali. “Every day there is a different Thali to showcase variety of local cuisine. In the evening it is a la carte menu. The package includes breakfast and lunch,” mentions Balaji. One of the interesting facts of the resort is that it is about 15 minutes drive from Isha Yoga Centre. The recent unveiling of Adi Yogi statue and prime minister Narendra Modi's visit has attracted a lot of attention. Speaking about Coimbatore as a destination, Balaji states, “The city has been an industrial city for a long time. We have a strong education and medical system. There is a lot of potential for medical tourism. Coimbatiore is generally seen as a pass through destination so in terms of tourism it requires a push.” Tourism highlights include the ancient Perur Pateeswarar Temple, food walk, lakes for birdwatching, GD Car Museum, interesting F&B outlets. “The business hotel segment is growing rapidly with a lot of major players entering Coimbatore, leisurewise destination building needs to be done and Dvara is going to play a part in that. It is a great place to come for a few days as part of a large circuit,” remarks Balaji.

Focus of expansion The next Dvara property will be an eight room bunga-

low near Bandipur tiger reserve. “It is a heritage property that has been renovated. Following this is a five bedroom bungalow in Kodaikanal,” informs Balaji, adding that Dvara as a brand will always be in the boutique category because of the experience that VM Hospitality wants to offer to its guests. “We want to remember the guest by his / her name,” he asserts. Within the next three years VM Hospitality aims to set up 24 restaurant outlets. “We are looking to expand in Chennai and Pune. We are specific about our quality and are not keen to fran-

chise,” points out Balaji. The group is well known for its unique restaurant projects. It's flagship restaurant outside Tamil Nadu is Savya Rasa in Koregaon Park, Pune. “South of India has a very diverse culinary legacy, we celebrate that and showcase the diversity. A lot of effort went into tracing excellent cooks from small regions in South India. We found people the way 'grandma' used to cook. We brought them to our test kitchen in Coimbatore - almost 70 cooks and ran them through trials and finally ended with eight master chefs. We then started working with the chefs and ended

up with an extensive repertoire of cuisine - a menu of 80 dishes which had a variety in terms of flavours, textures, aromas,” says Balaji, pointing out that it has been very well received in Pune market, and is much appreciated not only because of its extensive range of exclusive South Indian cuisine from different regions but also for the cultural ambience and décor. The restaurant has kalamkari art, traditional tiles, 100 year old stone pillars. To popularise Parsi cuisine, VM Hospitality launched Batlivala & Khanabhoy in Chennai followed by Coimbatore. “Parsi cuisine

has been restricted to Mumbai, we brought this cuisine to South India, and the restaurants have done really well,” remarks Balaji. Meena Tai is a Maharashtrian restaurant in Chennai that offers diners extensive and interesting offerings from the state. VM Hospitality has also launched India's first exclusive Ethiopian restaurant in Chennai, called the Abyssinian. "India and Ethiopia have had relationship for thousands of years. Ethiopia is all about stories," he says. The furniture and artefacts for the restaurant have been brought from Ethiopia.



May 2017


Maximising opportunities for business travel growth Business travel sector will grow by 3.7 per cent per year over the next decade, according to a new report by Travelport and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The fastest growth is expected in the emerging markets, with Asia Pacific leading the way at a predicted rate of 6.2 per cent each year to 2027


n 2016, US$ 1.2 trillion was spent around the world on business travel. The spending on these trips, undertaken by employees on behalf of their companies or organisations, represented nearly one quarter (23 per cent) of total travel and tourism spending. In 2016, the sector contributed 6.6 per cent of total global export earnings and 30 per cent of service sector exports. As a leading job creator, travel and tourism directly employs 109 million people representing 3.6 per cent of all employment. When indirect and induced impacts are included, the sector contributes one in every 10 jobs worldwide. Business travel, which supports wider trade flows stemming from new sales generation, customer retention, partnership development, innovation, exports and FDI improves global corporate productivity at a return on investment rate of ten-to-one.

Business travel in 2016 It is not surprising that those countries with the largest business travel spend are those with both the largest economies and largest travel and tourism economies, with the USA, China, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan leading the world. Within developing economies, business travel often plays the leading role in driving exports and growing the country’s wider travel and tourism sector by generating valuable spinoff benefits by providing infrastructure that other industries can use, and by


boosting trade, skills, and investments. Fourteen of the top 20 countries where business travel represents the highest proportion of total travel and tourism GDP in 2016, are those classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by the UN.

Growth ahead Over the past five years, at a global level, business travel spend has grown at an annual average of 3.6 per cent and is forecast to grow at 3.7 per cent per year for each of the next 10 years. Regionally, South Asia has led the way, averaging growth of 11.3 per cet per year (albeit still with business travel represent-

ing a relatively small share) and in most regions, business travel growth over the past five years outperformed the direct travel and tourism GDP growth overall. Business travel growth in Asia will continue to lead the world regions in the years ahead. At an individual country level, many of the countries that have experienced the highest levels of growth in business travel over the past five years are those in developing and emerging markets. Countries emerging from conflict such as Sudan, Sri Lanka, Angola and Rwanda also feature highly on this list, quite clearly emphasising the clear link between peace

and economic development. WTTC forecasts show that driven by trade, by 2027, corporate travel spending in Asia-Pacific will more than double to US$ 645 billion from the current US$ 334 billion. The region will make up half of the global total, easily out-performing the Americas, the current region with the largest business travel spend.

Macro trends As the nature of work changes with more contract or flexible labour, advances in automation and robotics moving people out of jobs, increases in geopolitical volatility and strengthening protectionist and

localisation policies bring a slowdown to global trade, the future landscape for business travel while growing, is faced with flatlining of its relative importance as leisure travel gains ground. The trends and issues that influence business today are often fast evolving and unpredictable, creating a less-safe world. Terrorist attacks, political instability and unrest around the world, together with disease outbreaks and natural disasters, have all helped to push safety and security to the forefront of concerns when it comes to business travel, and requiring companies to reassess their risk strategies and travel policies. Changing technologies and pervasive consumer behaviours have fundamentally altered how people socialise, communicate and do business. These advances have opened up myriad new opportunities for brands to support, engage and empower their customers via sophisticated apps and mobile services. The challenge for companies is not just to be fast and responsive and to anticipate personal preferences, but also to ensure that alongside this technology, their brands also have a personal ‘face’ and understand the boundaries of control. It is here that the corporate travel policies which regulate allowable business travel expenditure can be seen to lag behind employee expectations particularly when excluding peer-to-peer services, or allowing for business trips to blend into leisure. The growing importance of

BT & MICE well-being is a key trend that when embraced by organisations, can significantly improve employee productivity, saving costs over the longer term. Technology is changing every aspect of how people travel and its use and development is only going to accelerate in the coming years. The challenges of incorporating data-driven insights into day-today business processes and attracting and retaining the right talent are particular challenges that will need constant attention over the months ahead.

There are also some widespread concerns about the advance of technology, particularly around data security issues.


The opportunities Digital innovations can bring benefits for both business travellers and their employees. Travellers can gain from services that offer greater personalisation and are tailored to their own needs and preferences and those that offer significant time savings. For employers, less human interaction may bring about significant financial savings, more efficient management of the burden of travel administration, and the mitigation of risk through technologies that track employees or new financial systems that reduce fraud. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a way to engage with travellers before and during their trips. A ‘mobile assistant’ to help travellers with every part of their end-to-end journey is set to be the next huge leap for business travel. Saved profiles with passport numbers and frequent flyer details are just the start of this process which will lead to the delivery of an individual, tailored and contextual experience. The Internet of Things (IoT), refers to the growing number of physical devices connected by electronics that can communicate with each other – in travel, this spans all types of services from airport terminals to hotel accommodation throughout of a journey and is an area being taken seriously by the travel industry. Innovations such as ‘smart’ airline seats which track bio rhythms, baggage tracking and mapping, sensory and temperature controls in hotels are some of the recent examples. Mobile payment options along side the use of Virtual Account Numbers (VANs) do away

with both the need to obtain local currencies and complete expense reports have great potential for business travellers. Being more secure than traditional credit cards, their value in reducing fraud also makes their future much more certain.

Many challenges Across the world, there are barriers that currently hold up potential growth from both technology and regulatory standpoints. For the benefit of business travellers, for companies looking to do business and build trade, and for the destinations that can do far more to maximise experience (and thereby increase spending), they need to be broken down. Reducing the restrictive visa regimes, upgrading lagging technological infrastructure, and making improvements in data security, are three of the most pressing issues that need collective industry action, better communication and improved coordination between companies and governments to enable the further growth of business travel. Existing WTTC data shows that there can be a link between visa facilitation and growth in travel – including business travel. Eight of the top 20 fastest

growing business travel destinations introduced visa improvements for at least 41 countries. In countries where visas are an obstacle for travellers – including business travellers – measures to facilitate these visas can play a role supporting growth. Both public and private investment is essential in supporting the ongoing growth and development of the sector. Investment is needed to build structures and facilities to expand capacity, to maintain, enhance and upgrade current infrastructure to account for the

evolution in consumer tastes over time and new regulations and environmental standards, and also to stimulate demand. For business travel, at a company level, the focus is clearly on a need for increased investment in digital technologies. On a practical level, the success of mobile as the key tool for business travellers also relies on a strong telecommunications infrastructure and widespread accessibility to both Wi-Fi and mobile networks to ensure regular, reliable and cheap access to key online apps and platforms.

Invest in technology: With mobile phones now a main source of communication, reference and digital assistance for travellers, efficient, reliable and free Wi-Fi technology can maximise the opportunities within economies and greatly enhance the experience that a business traveller can have of a destination and of travel process. Reduce visa burdens: Research from WTTC based on case studies show substantial and in some cases, significant increases in visitation when visarelated policies and processes are improved. While no visas are optimum, the balance of security versus being open for business through initiatives such as Global Entry in the USA is to be welcomed. Invest in infrastructure: Public and private investment is essential in supporting the ongoing growth and development of the sector. Investment is needed to build structures and facilities to expand capacity, to maintain, enhance and upgrade current infrastructure to account for the evolution in consumer tastes over time and new regulations and environmental standards, and also to stimulate demand. Cyber security: As the increased desirability of greater personalisation for business travellers is matched with enabling technology, so too is there a greater need for companies to ensure that they are planning the right levels of cyber security and crisis response. The needs of the business traveller: Connecting experiences throughout an entire business trip, filtering choices based on personal preferences, facilitating quick and easy access to itineraries and other travel information, allowing the functionality to make changes where necessary, making suggestions based on itinerary and current location and contacting agents speedily, round-the-clock, within one single app is the “experience-first” strategy that will be the future of travel management companies.



May 2017


REDEFINING AIRPORT LUXURY SERVICES Limousine rides to the airport, free meals at restaurants and easy lounge access, the dynamics of airport luxury are changing drastically with Dreamfolks. As one of India's leading providers of travel benefits and services, Dreamfolks' new alliance with DragonPass is set to provide 1800 plus touch points to Indians in over 120 global countries By Saloni Bhatia


reamFolks came into existence in 2011 with its flagship 'Lounge Access Programme' operating pan India. The brand is already associated with leading financial institutions like MasterCard, Visa, American Express, etc, as well as hospitality industry players to provide a full bouquet of airport services to travellers. Now, in alliance with a global partner, it has expanded not only its portfolio of services, but has also extended its reach to 120 countries; giving an access to 950 plus airport lounges across the globe with 1800 plus touch points which includes world class lounges, fine gourmet dining and airport restaurants. Focused on bridging the gap between offline merchants and travellers, the DreamFolksDragonPass’ co-branded card addresses the issue through customer data analytics and technology available at hand. The alliance aims at amplifying access to a global suite of products and servicing more than 12 million customers worldwide. Similarly, DragonPass, an airport solution provider was established in 2005 and now operates in over 120 countries around the world and services over 12 million customers. The expansion and growth has been driven by consumer-lead technological approach. With over 6.7 billion passengers travelling per calendar year, the global market in aviation is seeing a substantial upsurge in



May 2017

terms of facilities that are being provided at airports. This burgeoning need to meet increasing customer travel needs, whilst still driving the right commercial expectations is becoming the key demand for the travel industry. The DreamFolks-DragonPass’ platform approach addresses this demand through utilising state-of-the-art technology and customer data analytics. Such shift to cutting edge digital technologies will be an industry leading initiative. Speaking to Express Travel World about the alliance, Liberatha Kallat, managing director, DreamFolks, shares, “The lounge management service industry in India

is believed to be worth US$ 30 million in value currently,

which is expected to grow to over US$ 100 million by 2020.

Globally the market size is around US$ 400 million and the expected growth annually is around 15 per cent served market.” She further added,“With over 6.7 billion passengers travelling every year, the global market in aviation is seeing a substantial upsurge in terms of facilities that are being provided at airports. These services include quick service restaurants, recreational spaces, and seamless mobile telephony. In today’s times, this burgeoning need to meet increasing customer travel needs, whilst still driving the right commercial expectations is becoming the key demand for the travel industry. Also, India's progressive reforms for regional connectivity will see traffic increase, both in domestic and outbound market.” Most travellers are under the notion that a visit to the lounge will result in extra costs. However, the truth is, while one has to swipe the card, the amount debited is automatically credited against the card. While banks do not highlight this aspect since it is an operational cost for them, if one were to carefully read the terms and conditions, banks offer this service for free. The company is already a step ahead in planning and has developed an app for its customers. As informed by Kallat, the app is in pilot mode and will first be available to the corporate clients.


USING TRAVELLER DATAWISELY It is important for travel and hospitality companies to use traveller data with great discretion so that it makes their guests comfortable and does not creep them out, says Surendra Yadav


here has been a huge amount of growth in the use of advanced data analytics by the travel and hospitality industries. Marketing strategies such as location-based marketing, AI-based service recommendation, and hyper-personalised marketing are buzz-worthy phenomena that are paying off big for travel brands. Travel companies are harnessing vast amount of analytics logs to keep track of conversion funnels, detailed demographic behaviour, top converted pages, bounce rate and many other web analytics KPIs in order to make smarter business decisions and to stay ahead of the competition. They are also using mobile application based services like realtime travel plan recommendations, hotel suggestions, GPS tracking anywhere, AI based ticket booking, and on-the- go price comparisons for travellers in order to give a more personalised experience. But, here’s the catch. Is using data making travellers more comfortable or creeping them out? Hotels need to use traveller data wisely, so they can strategically deliver on a variety of needs. Given the amount of available data, hotels have no excuse when it comes to personalising their discounts and offerings. By sending irrelevant marketing emails, hotels not only risk low conversion rates but also the possibility of the customer unsubscribing from the service. If a traveller is only searching for lodging that’s within a three-hour drive from home, it makes no sense to offer a coupon for an exotic vacation. Offering a deal for something within the known travel range of interest will be seen as beneficial to the customer.

Cross-channel experiences According to Forrester’s

Travel companies are harnessing vast amount of analytics logs to keep track of web analytics KPIs

Consumer Technographics, 59 per cent of consumers switch devices when completing common tasks such as shopping online and getting directions. The ubiquity of mobile devices has resulted in millennial customers switching devices throughout the day and even during a single purchase cycle. When they experience problems online, 60 per cent of travellers expect the hotel personnel that contacts them via phone or chat to already be aware of the issue, and to be able to resolve it. Half of travellers expect to make changes to their reservation using a different channel than the one originally used during book-

ing. Hence, to keep pace, hotels must have a single view of customers. Here’s how: by integrating cross-channel data, companies can recognise their customers across devices rather than losing customer data (and potentially customer loyalty). This is one way that brands really need to put the customer first and make use of available technology. Customers expect their interactions to be saved, and don’t want to re-enter any details, putting this functionality clearly on the side of the customer, with the added benefit of increased bookings for the brand. Most customers prefer to

stick with a particular hotel chain. They enjoy making use of loyalty programmes and want to know what they can expect from their experience. For that reason, hotels must be able to share data across different locations in the same chain. The importance of consistency between properties is critical for creating loyal customers. When a guest shows up at a new property within their favorite chain, the same personalised treatment that another property provided in the past is bound to result in enhanced customer delight. Guests past experience and any available survey feedback must be analysed and shared with future booked properties to ensure delight.

Innovatively measure satisfaction It’s easy to simply request a customer service rating from one to five and be done with it, but that isn’t very informative. While customer service ratings are certainly important, these often do not provide the specific information needed to continually improve. In order to know what you want to provide, you must first know why you need to provide it. This can be partially achieved using the “what if” methodology. What if the hotel’s booking app was

completely integrated with the guest’s loyalty account information? How would that be possible and is that something your customer would value?Ask these theoretical questions internally before drafting a message that requests feedback— the result will be a more strategic, insightful customer survey. This approach can enrich the overall customer experience survey data and help take satisfaction metrics a step further.

Inspire loyalty Millennial travellers in particular seek experiences that align with their values, whether that means locally grown food, eco-friendly design, culturally sensitive experiences, or meditation pillows in every room. Of course, these aren’t the only points of brand differentiation. Budget travellers with families will have different desires than a young single or a retired luxury tourist. The best way to define “brand” is to think of it as a promise that is made to the customer. Using big data to help inform and execute your brand’s core USP allows for unique customer experiences. Ultimately, branding plays a big part in the question of whether aggressive use of data could potentially turn off customers. Are your customers heavy technology users? How will they feel about ads and promotions that clearly make use of their browsing history or location? One subset of the population would be aggravated while another wouldn’t mind (so long as the targeting were accurate and not laughable). Brands need to use the technology un-invasively to serve their target market. (Surendra Yadav is Manager- CRM Consulting & Analytics, Absolutdata)



May 2017


Online learning to enhance travel trade marketing skills PATA recently launched a travel agent initiative with Equator Learning to support organisations with travel trade marketing efforts


he Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), in conjunction with Equator Learning has introduced the Asia & Pacific Expert online learning tool which will help travel agents in their marketing efforts. The Asia & Pacific Expert is a learning solution for travel agents that is applicable for all markets worldwide. Written in an innovative format, it supports and promotes the destination as well as any pre-existing learning platform. A simple and inexpensive annual fee secures a module in any chosen language(s). Working as a destination community, the audience potential is huge as agents may switch effortlessly between different members modules and qualify towards Asia Pacific Expert status. “Knowledge is power. You have heard that many times before and know it to be 100 per cent correct. Travel agents are becoming increasingly time-poor and picking up unqualified knowledge. This can damage a destination and its reputation,” said Chris May, managing director, Equator Learning. “The Asia & Pacific Expert is an efficient and user-friendly solution for all destinations, providing a clear and reliable source of information for travel agents,” he added. This initiative offers PATA members the opportu-


nity to create an impressive 30-minute learning module that will provide agents with essential information about a destination, empowering them with the ability to sell it correctly. Unlike any existing stand-alone learning platform, the Asia & Pacific Expert gives agents all the facts

they need to gain confidence while providing a new avenue to promote and link to an organisation’s existing site. In addition, this will offer an agent a friendly portal for all Asia Pacific destinations – providing the first one-stop shop for the region. Equator Learning is one

of the world’s largest travel trade engagement specialists. It designs, manages and markets innovative, unique, multilingual and interactive online training and engagement portals for the travel and leisure industry. Whilst its sister brand Travel Uni distributes trade engage-

ment directly to the travel trade in multiple markets worldwide. With over 200,000 plus individual users of its training courses worldwide, Equator Learning operates online platforms for travel businesses in over 70 countries, and in 12 different languages.

MOVEMENTS Goa Tourism MANOHAR AZGAONKAR has been appointed as the new tourism minister for Goa. Under the leadership of Azgaonkar, Goa Tourism is planning to introduce new initiatives and infrastructure projects, promote

sioning in the next two to three years.

Travix Focusing on the optimisation of the customer services strategy and realising the best customer experiences possible,

officer. Reporting to Patrick Andersen, chief strategy and commerce officer, Nowroz will be based in Minneapolis, USA. He joins from Anderson Capital Advisors, a specialist advisory firm he co-founded to focus on maximising customer returns from creative digital strategies, independent of market directions. Prior to that he was head of new ventures at Travelport for two-and-a-half years, and he was president and managing director, APAC with the firm for nine years before.

Sabre Travel Network Manohar Azgaonkar

Mirjam van den Berg

the diverse cultures of the state and focus on improving all its products and services. Azgaonkar has travelled extensively and is set to infuse new concepts and ideas into the tourism sector in Goa. At the same time, NILESH CABRAL as been re-appointed as the chairman of Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC). During Cabral's previous tenure, the corporation achieved several milestones – GTDC became a profit making corporation, introduced new and attractive activities and initiatives, formed a special purpose vehicle (SPV) cell to expedite tourism infrastructure projects, and procured funding from central government schemes. He has already lined up new project for construction and commis-

MIRJAM VAN DEN BERG has been named vice president of customer operations at Travix. She will bear international responsibility for further optimising the customer services strategy of all Travix brands, including BudgetAir. Mirjam van den Berg has worked in customer operations during her time at organisations like TNT, where she successfully shaped the customer care strategy. In addition, she has previously headed customer services for other global players.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) has appointed SIMON NOWROZ as chief marketing

Simon Nowroz

Amadeus has appointed CYRIL TETAZ as head of commercial for Asia Pacific – airlines. JONATHAN TONG and ABDULLAH OZKECECI have also moved to Amadeus’ Singapore hub as head of airline IT solutions and head of airline IT sales respectively for Asia Pacific, Russia, Turkey and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). As head of commercial, Asia Pacific, airlines, Tetaz will direct all commercial relationships with Amadeus’ airline customers based in Asia Pa-

cific. His primary responsibility is to deliver on Amadeus’ customer-first approach for airlines in the region.

Sabre Travel Network has appointed RAKESH NARAYANAN as vice presi-

Rakesh Narayanan

S Karthikeyan

Namdev Shinde

dent of supplier commerce – Asia Pacific. Reporting to Sabre Travel Network's senior vice president of airline commerce, Chris Wilding, Narayanan will lead commercial activities serving Sabre’s Asia Pacific airline customers. He was most recently regional director for Sabre Airline Solutions in South East Asia and the Indian SubContinent with responsibility for sales and account management. Prior to that, he held various global management, business development and consulting positions.

president of sales.. Karthikeyan’s previous stint includes experience with ITC Hotels as director of sales and marketing. He has handled roles ranging from growing legacy hotels to opening new ones.

JW Marriott in Bangalore. In his tenure with Marriott he has contributed significantly in reducing costs etc.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pune

CHEF MAHESH SHARMA, who has culinary experience of over 25 years, has joined Radisson Blu Hotel, Dwarka, New Delhi as executive chef; and he will take the lead role for all food and beverage operations. Prior this, Chef Sharma has worked with luxury and five-star properties like Hotel Le Meridien Jaipur, Swallow Hotels UK, Rajputana Sheraton as executive chef and general manager.

Sarovar Hotels Nilesh Cabral


Sarovar Hotels announced the appointment of S KARTHIKEYAN as vice

NAMDEV SHINDE has been appointed as the purchase manager for DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pune. Shinde has over eight years of experience in procurement and material management. He started his career with Kamat Hotels and then worked with Hyatt Hotels and the Mariott Group. He was last associated with

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dwarka



May 2017



RUNWAY TO RUNWAY Etihad Airways recently hosted a special reception at the exclusive Rosewood Abu Dhabi to mark the UAE launch of ‘Runway to Runway’, the airline’s rewards programme specially designed to support the fashion community’s travel requirements

FRUITFUL PARTNERSHIP Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) recently signed an MoU with Etihad and Jet Airways to promote bilateral tourism

INDIA CONNECT Tourism Ireland, in association with Etihad Airways, hosted

BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA),

top 10 travel agents from across India to Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair, Meet the Buyer and Mietheal 2017

WINGS TO INDONESIA Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda Indonesia, hosted 'Open House' event for the travel trade in association with Visit Indonesia Tourism Office in Mumbai



May 2017

in collaboration with Air Mauritius, recently hosted a familiarisation trip for top 10 wedding planners from Western India

MICE UP THAILAND Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau has launched the 'Spice Up Thailand 2017' campaign for the fourth consecutive year in India



NEW ADDRESS H E Ekapol Poolpipat, consul general, Royal Thai Consulate in

KOREA MICE NIGHT Korea Tourism Organization, in association with regional

Mumbai inaugurating the new office of Thailand Visa Application Centre at Nariman Point

tourism boards of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi, organised 'Korea MICE Night 2017' at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi

GAMUT OF SERVICES SBI recently announced pilot launch of a distribution alliance with Cox & Kings for sale of travel prepaid cards in India

SEAMLESS SERVICE VFS Global recently launched a visa application centre

PROMOTING HERITAGE PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently

DESTINATION SHOWCASE The Austrian National Tourist Office in

organised its '6th India Heritage Tourism Conclave – Sustaining Heritage Tourism of Khajuraho'

co-operation with the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, the Leading Hotels of the World and the local tourist boards, recently invited 11 Indian luxury travel agents on a familiarisation trip to Vienna, Salzburg, Zell am see and Innsbruck

for the Czech Republic in Jaipur, Rajasthan



May 2017



SMART MOBILITY Maharashtra Tourism recently signed an MoU with Ola for improving transportation for tourists

TASTE OF FRANCE 'Gout de France/Good France' event, celebrating French cooking, was recently organised by School of Tourism and Hotel Management, Vatel at Ansal University in Gurugram

INDUSTRY TALK The office bearers of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) recently met Maharashtra Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal to express their concern over SC's liquor ban order



May 2017

TAPPING INDIA MARKET Meliá Hotels International, the leading hotel company in Spain, recently concluded its three-city roadshow in Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Mumbai

REWARDING PERFORMANCE SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, recently hosted 'Agents & Cargo Awards Night' in Chennai and New Delhi

ADDING CONNECTIVITY Flydubai recently launched its third flight to Bangladesh, with Dubai – Sylhet service


Profile for Indian Express

Express Travelworld (Vol.12, No.4) May, 2017  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine

Express Travelworld (Vol.12, No.4) May, 2017  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine