V0L 12 NO.11 PAGES 40
December 2017, `50
Moving into the New...
f one has to view the story as scripted for the year 2017, then the primary highlight would have to be the three letter word called GST. It took the nation by storm, wherein coding and decoding of the intricacies of the tax regime took top priority for finance and tax consultants and business houses alike. Though the situation has settled reasonably, there would be continued learning and unlearning, at least till March 2018. The travel and tourism industry which also includes the hospitality sector, had its own worries and woes, which got streamlined to some extent. If one may ask a travel and tourism business head, the response would be of concern and caution with respect to the coming year, but they are confident things will move for the better. Our cover story this issue takes you on a journey of the palate. Travel with us to explore flavours and foods of India. Regional players like India Food Tour, Delhi Food Walks, Agra Walks are doing great to promote culinary tours on the international front. Rashmi
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Regional players like India Food Tour,Delhi Food Walks,Agra Walks are doing great to promote culinary tours on the international front
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Verma, secretary tourism, mentions that Incredible India 2.0 campaign would use culinary as a niche product. The ministry will invite chefs to participate in international food festivals and raise awareness on India's food scene. Cooking in Indian kitchens and gaining knowledge about Indian spices and food habits are a common growing trend. Once again this year, we will witness new countries warming up to India. General feedback backs niche businesses and the winner will be the one who will ride the tide. It is predicted that 2018 will also witness new business strategies and partnerships emerging both on the national and international scene. There may be improved impetus in the cruise and rail tourism markets. Overall, the industry is predicted to witness a positive business year.
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CONTENTS MANAGEMENT Vol 12 No 11 December 2017 Pages 40
Chairman of the Board
Viveck Goenka Sr Vice President - BPD
Neil Viegas Editor
Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor
ADTOI HOSTS 8TH CONVENTION IN VIZAG With the aim to showcase a new destination to the domestic travel market, ADTOI hosted its 8th convention in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Apart from discussing the prevalent issues of the industry, the event unveiled the potential of the state beyond religious tourism
Steena Joy Sr. Associate Editor
Sudipta Dev CONTENT TEAM New Delhi
Saloni Bhatia DESIGN National Design Editor
Bivash Barua Assistant Art Director
Prasad Tate Senior Designer
Gauri Deorukhkar Senior Artists
Ratilal Ladani, Rajesh Jadhav SCHEDULING & COORDINATION
Ashish Anchan Photo Editor
INVESTING IN THE HEART OF INCREDIBLE INDIA This year's Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart (MPTM) sought to promote the state as a year round destination and to attract private investors to invest in hotels and tourism amenities.
Sandeep Patil MARKETING Regional Heads
Harit Mohanty - East & West Prabhas Jha - North Marketing Team
Debnarayan Dutta Ajanta Sengupta
The pursuit of a memorable gastronomical experience has given birth to culinary tourism across the world. With more travellers picking destinations based on their taste buds and cultural curiosity, this cover story explores how India's gastronomic experiences can attract the world traveller
Mohan Varadakar PRODUCTION
B R Tipnis Manager
Bhadresh Valia Express TravelWorld® POSTAL REGD. NO. MCS/163/2016 – 18
JET AIRWAYS FOCUSES ON IMPROVING COST STRUCTURE
DTS REDEFINES ALMATY AND SEYCHELLES
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
P05 : EDITOR’S NOTE P34 : MOVEMENTS
Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400021)
P35 : WEEKEND
HOW TO BECOME A ‘MONUMENT MITRA’
CHANGING THE FACE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL IN INDIA While training how to fly, Captain Swadesh Kumar, founder, Shikhar Travels, soon found his true passion in conquering the mountains of India. Having led numerous expeditions in the Himalayas, he speaks to Express TravelWorld on his journey and the transformation of adventure travel in the country
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
IN THE NEWS
Jet Airways focuses on improving cost structure Mohit Rathod Mumbai India's full-service carrier Jet Airways is strengthening its steps to improve its cost structure. Naresh Goyal, chairman, Jet Airways pointed out that the airline is looking at joint fuel purchasing with partner airlines as an effort to improve the cost structure, alongside joint-efforts in MRO. Jet Airways recently signed an enhanced co-operation agreement with Air France and KLM for strengthening their services between India and Europe. Firt signed in 2014, the co-operation was extended in 2016 with a codeshare agreement for connections between Europe and North America. As part of the lastest development, the three airlines will work together to develop their product offerings, across their combined network spanning 44 cities in India and 106 destinations across Europe. Goyal said, "This partnership will be very good for us, travel and tourism industry and trade. It will also help to improve our cost structure."
Goyal further informed that Jet Airways is also lookig for a slot to operate Delhi-London flights. Jean-Marc Janaillac, chairman and CEO, Air FranceKLM, commented, "We are focused on serving our Indian
customers; India is a tremendous growth market for us. The economic power of India is increasing and there is positive climate for business, making India a fast growing market for civil aviation. This agreement will also deepen
Indo-European bilateral relations. Our goal is to carry 1.7 million passengers from India in 2018, which is a 40 per cent increase over the present figures, and this agreement is an important step to achieve this growth."
Owing to Jet Airways' position as a leading airline between India and Gulf, Goyal also reaffirmed Jet Airways' partnership with Etihad Airways. Peter Elbers, president and CEO, KLM, stated, "Last month KLM reintroduced its Mumbai-Amsterdam service. We are committed to the India market. There is a lot of investment happening in the Netherlands from India, which is a growth factor for air travel between the two countries. Our focus remains on offering more travel options and stepping up frequencies."
Indians leave approx US$ 150-200 m in unclaimed VAT: Concur Sudipta Dev Mumbai Concur, an SAP company, is a global leader in providing connected spend management solutions to companies worldwide. The customers include 70 per cent of Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Concur has 1000 customers in India, including an interesting mix of clients. Explaining how the technology helps client organisations save money, Neeraj Dotel, MD, Concur India and SAARC, stated, “The only time the CFO knows how much money is being spent is when
the bills come in. We capture the spend at source - when it happens, and even before they travel as potential expense. It is completely seamless and finance has a good idea about the spend. Then by enforcing policy standards, it enforces some controls when people are spending.” Further, Concur's spend management platform has tie-ups with every place where the employee is likely to spend company money - from airlines, hotels, trains, and car rentals to even Starbucks, where people do coffee meetings. Savings also come from the ability to reclaim tax. Giv-
ing an important information, Dotel pointed out that when Indian travellers travel abroad they pay VAT. “About 35 countries have tax treaties with India that allows us to reclaim the money our employees spend abroad - most countries in Europe, many in South East Asia. It is estimated that Indians leave approximately USD 150 to 200 million in unclaimed VAT that they are eligible for. That's a lot of money. This amount can be recovered through Concur system.” Many companies in India are now looking at automation because of GST. Affirmed Dotel, “The interest has in-
creased exponentially on how we can help people reclaim GST. There is still some confusion among industries regarding what are the different categories of tax, and what circumstances they can reclaim. Part of our journeys is the process of educating the customer.” Concur's clients in India include companies in Tata Group, Godrej, Marico, Flipkart, Zomato, and others. “Quite a lot of multinationals in India use Concur as they do overseas. Fundamentally, we tend to attract a particular kind of buyer profile - those who are strict about compli-
ance and policy adherence; those focused on digital transformation; large and mid sized companies looking to save money,” said Dotel.
IN THE NEWS
DTS redefines Almaty and Seychelles Saloni Bhatia New Delhi As India's travel trade gets crowded with the same destinations being promoted over the years, some unique brands are entering a niche segment by creating new products and experiences. Rohit Shorey's Destination Travel Services (DTS) has been focusing on promoting Seychelles and Almaty, Kazakhstan to set themselves apart from the conventional projects. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Rohit Shorey, owner, DTS, said, “Three to four years ago we were dealing with the same destinations as other agents. We tried to separate ourselves from selling the same convenient destinations which were already flooding the market by focusing on Seychelles and Almaty. This is what sets us apart today as many are now looking for new destinations that we are offering.” Explaining further about Almaty as a destination, Shorey added, “Unlike popular Indian belief Almaty is not just for male travellers and nightlife. From shopping, nature trails to family vacations, there is a lot more the city can offer. We have packaged various products like casino, natural beauty, shopping and nightlife which distinctly showcase what the city has to offer. We recently launched www.welovealmaty.com, a B2C website to raise more awareness about the destination. Many are still not aware that Almaty is directly connected through a three hour flight from Delhi which is highlighted on all our platforms.” Shorey also founded Kazin Travel Consultants, a company with key focus on medical tourism to India and out-
Indonesia focuses on B2C outreach among Indian travellers
bound leisure tourism from/to Kazakhstan. “A lot of MICE movement has developed in the last few years. Some very high-end groups, corporate firms and families are now picking Almaty as a destination. We have created some new experiences for winter and summer season which are gaining popularity in the India market.” The company, which also operates a office in Kazakhstan, has received no support from the local tourism board and created the destination from scratch. It searched potential locations and then promoted them in the India market, informed Shorey. On the marketing front, he stated, “We have built the website for both Seychelles and Almaty along with our social media campaigns to raise awareness about the destination. We also do a lot of emailers on latest information and packages for our clients. Our two FAM trips gained positive response from the agents who loved the destination. It brought a lot of value as it is a comparatively new destination in the India market. We are planning an exclusive 'only women' FAM trip by end of year to showcase it as a winter product.”
Mohit Rathod Mumbai Visit Indonesia Tourism Officer (VITO), along with the Consulate General of Indonesia in Mumbai, is tapping B2C market in India, with its first consumer level campaign in Mumbai recently. Organised at Infinity Mall in the city's Malad area, the two-day campaign was aimed at creating public engagement and destination awareness. Saut Siringoringo, consul general of the Republic of Indonesia in Mumbai, said, "We haven't experimented with such concept in India before. I really support this idea and I believe this campaign will provide a lot of impact
to our tourism promotions in the country. Unlike our sales missions and roadshows, which caters to B2B business, this initiative engages directly with consumers and spread destination awareness on consumer level." Visit Indonesia will assess the response and success of this campaign, then decide on organising it in other cities across India. Siringoringo informed that in the last three years, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of Indian visitors to Indonesia. China is currently the biggest source market for us, followed by India, but India is slowly reaching the first position. "We carry out massive
promotional activities across the country, because we have been observing good response from this market. We expect to reach 500,000 Indian arrivals this year, and we are confident and optimistic about this growth. We have a lot more offerings than before. Besides Bali, we are promoting 10 more destinations in the India market," he commented. In all the 10 destinations being promoted, apart from Bali, the Indonesian government is focused on tourism infrastructure and offerings. "These destinations are already popular among tourists from western countries, however we feel the need to promote them in India," he added.
IN THE NEWS
How to become a ‘Monument Mitra’ Saloni Bhatia New Delhi The recently launched Incredible India 2.0 campaign also unveiled the 'Adopt a Heritage' project by the ministry of tourism. The project will entrust heritage sites, monuments and other tourist spots to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for development of tourist amenities. These companies would thus become 'Monument Mitras' by adopting these sites and taking care of the basic amenities at these destinations. From cleanliness of the area, infrastructure and basic amenities, these companies will be looking after the sites. The project has begun with 93 ASI ticketed monuments and will slowly expand to other natural and cultural sites in India. For convenience, the sites have been classified into various categories and packaged on basis of visibility and footfall. Seven shortlisted companies were given letters of intent for 14 monuments under 'Adopt a Heritage Scheme' of ministry of tourism at the closing ceremony of Paryatan Parv at Rajpath Lawns in New Delhi. These companies have
taken up these projects as part of their CSR initiatives and promised to look after these monuments. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Ashima Mehrotra, director, ministry of tourism, stated, “Regardless of the plethora of heritage sites in the country, many are left untapped by the tourists because of lack of awareness or basic facilities. Only a few local people know of some places that have not been listed on the tourism map. Through this initiative, the companies will look after these sites, make it accessible to everyone so the government can promote it in their international campaigns and through tourism offices.” The initial phase received 57 responses where 14 monuments were adopted through seven expression of interests. The companies ranging from different sectors of hospitality, travel and banking were carefully looked into before being finalised as a 'Monument Mitra'. Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), which is actively promoting sustainable tourism, adopted Gangotri Temple Area, trail to Gaumukh and Mt Stok Kangri, Ladakh. Capt Swadesh Kumar, president, ATOAI, informed,
LIST OF COMPANIES WHICH HAVE ALREADY UNDERTAKEN PROJECTS 1. SBI Foundation shortlisted for the adoption of Jantar Mantar, Delhi 2. TK International shortlisted for the adoption of Sun Temple, Konark; Raja Rani Temple, Bhubaneshwar; Ratnagiri Monuments, Jajpur, Odisha 3. Yatra Online shortlisted for the adoption of Hampi, Karnataka; Leh Palace, Jammu & Kashmir; Qutub Minar, Delhi; Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra 4. Travel Corporation of India shortlisted for the adoption of Mattancherry Palace Museum, Kochi; Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi 5. ATOAI shortlisted for the adoption of Gangotri Temple Area and Trail to Gaumukh; Mt Stok Kangri, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir 6. Special Holidays Travel, along with Rotary Club of Delhi, shortlisted for the adoption of Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi 7. NBCC shortlisted for the adoption of Purana Quila, Delhi
“We have already been following sustainable practices at these tourism spots. Our porters carry extra bags to collect the waste on these hiking trails and bring waste back to be disposed in a proper manner. Our association with the government will enable us to be more involved in the area and actively promote the region in a sustainable manner.” The scheme has been drafted by the ministry of tourism in collaboration with ministry of culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In order to make India a tourism friendly destination and have world class infrastructure at popular tourist destinations, the government has roped in the private sector as well as the public sector. Commenting on the second phase of the campaign, Mehrotra added, “We have once again received an overwhelming response in phase two, many individuals, law firms and educational institutes have come forward not restricting it to the travel or hospitality sector. We will be carefully assessing the companies to see their vision for development. It will also be noted if the companies are financially stable to maintain these sites.”
India’s regulatory regime for airports still evolving: Moody's ETW Staff Mumbai The regulatory regime in India for airports is “still quite new and evolving” posing credit challenges for the aerodromes, rating agency Moody’s has said even as the passenger numbers are on the rise. With high double-digit growth in domestic air traffic for the past more than two years, India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. In a report, Moody’s Investors Service has said it ex-
pects large airports in India to bring forward plans to expand capacity to meet the growing demand. "The regulatory regime in India for airports is still quite new and evolving, which presents a credit challenge for airports," the report said. According to Moody’s, terms and conditions stated in concession agreements for airports have been different from those stipulated under the regulatory act on certain key issues, leading to frequent misunderstandings. "For example, there have been different inter-
pretations of what constitutes aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues and whether non-aeronautical revenues can be used to subsidise airport charges. Similarly, there are disputes over components of
the rate base for arriving at aeronautical revenues. This has led to the Ministry of Civil Aviation playing a more active role and giving policy directives," Moody's noted. Major airports in India
have been registering a strong rise in passenger traffic – which has recorded two years of 20 per cent plus growth. The report, released last week, also said large airports in the country are expected to bring forward plans to expand capacity. "A further track record of consistent application of regulated settings will provide support for the credit profiles of airport operators in India, and encourage more and timely capital investment in the sector," Moody’s said. (PTI)
IN THE NEWS
Air Astana promotes convenient connections; plans expansion to Mumbai Saloni Bhatia New Delhi Air Astana is celebrating 13 years of operations in India this year. Kazakhstan's full service carrier commenced operations in India in 2014 with flights between Almaty and New Delhi. The airline slowly expanded to 10 flights between the two countries each week, including a daily service between Astana and New Delhi. The thrice weekly service, launched in July 2017, currently operates using Airbus A320 and Embraer 190 aircraft. Speaking about the expansion plans at a recent event in New Delhi, Peter Foster, president and chief executive officer, Air Astana, stated, “We have seen
Our priority is to increase the number of Astana-New Delhi flights from three to five times a week. We further look to expand our network to Mumbai latest by 2019 continued growth from the India market and our priority is to increase the number of AstanaNew Delhi flights from three to five times a week. We further look to expand our network to Mumbai latest by 2019.”
The total number of passengers carried between Kazakhstan and India during 2017 reached 43,459, recording an increase of 43 per cent compared to 2016. Furthermore, passengers travelling via Almaty can
connect with other international destinations such as Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Instanbul, Tbilisi and Bishkek. On the other hand, passengers travelling via Astana are offered a similar set of destinations. Last year's number of transit passengers travelling from New Delhi via Almaty grew by 33 per cent year over year ago. Foster mentioned, “While we cannot compete with other international carriers in the global market, we surely have the best connections in Northern Asia that we have promoted for the Indian segment. Currently we are bringing major traffic to India but we would also like to promote our connections in the India market. Our major global transit traffic
is seen moving towards countries like Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Instanbul etc. We would like to see more growth in this segment from India.” Commenting on the growth in the India market, Bulat Sarsenbayev, ambassador extraordinary and pleniopotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to India, stated, “We issued 12,000 Indian visas last year and the first half of 2017 has already reached 8,500 Indian tourist arrivals. This shows that India is a great destination which has potential. Direct connections to Almaty and Astana have surely helped to take numbers further this year and we look forward to more growth.”
Alitalia Airlines launches direct daily service connecting New Delhi and Rome Saloni Bhatia New Delhi Alitalia, the flag carrier of Italy, has launched its direct daily service between New Delhi and Rome. The airline, which returned to India after a gap of almost a decade, decided to launch this new service to meet the increasing demand for flights between the two countries. Fabio Lazzerini, chief commercial officer, Alitalia, was present during a special meet held in New Delhi. He stated, “In 2015, over 426,000 Indian travellers came to Italy, recording a 49.7 per cent increase in comparison to last year. The numbers showcase the importance of India as a growing market for Italy. Alitalia launches this new connection as part of its winter season campaign.”
He further added, “Passenger departing from Delhi will arrive at the Rome Fiumicino airport and will have connection to 39 cities in Italy, Europe, North Africa and America including cultural destinations like Florence, Pisa, Venice and Paris. The departure, scheduled at 4:20
am from Delhi, is ideal for domestic connections from cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Jaipur, Varanasi, Ahmedabad among many others.” Commenting on the competition in the India market, he expressed, “We are reinvesting in the country as we see
huge potential in the growing market. The idea is not to steal business from other airlines but to add on new services for the increasing number of travellers. There is no comparison to other connection on the same route with our unique product.” The airline will be majorly
relying on the trade industry for passenger flow. “Only 30 per cent of our worldwide sales is through online bookings. The rest 70 per cent is through trade partners. Similarly we will be working closely with our trade partners in India to grow passenger numbers. We are looking at more of trade business than leisure travel. We are expecting 70 per cent load factor in the month of November to 80 per cent in December.” The airline will be appointing a 250-seater Airbus A330 on this route offering business, premium economy and economy class. Lazzerini, mentioned, “Our business class known as Magnifica ensures a comfortable journey. Known for its exquisite food and service, we ensure best hospitality once on board an Alitalia plane.”
IN THE NEWS
Scandinavian countries look at direct connections to boost tourism growth Saloni Bhatia New Delhi Scandinavia, comprising of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, recently hosted its ninth sales mission in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. While Air India's direct flight to Copenhagen and Stockholm are bound to increase tourism inflow to the two cities, the region continues to jointly raise awareness among India's travel trade industry. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Mohit Batra, responsible for tourism promotion of Scandinavia in India, stated, “Across
the region Indian travellers occupy around 350,000 room nights a year which has seen a 10 per cent year-on-year growth on an average. We are now trying to improve the quality of products as all our partners realise that Indians are willing to consume the best of the product, provided we offer them. There has been an increase in self drive tours and honeymoon destinations which holds scope of massive improvement. We can see that Indians are very fond of shopping and nightlife and continue to spend time in major cities. The direct connections
through Air India are likely to improve these numbers.” Commenting on Sweden's tourism numbers, Ruth Dolla, project manager, India, Visit Sweden, informed, “Sweden has seen a total of 128 per cent growth from India in the last five years (between 2011 and 2016) and an increase of 18 per cent in tourism this year. We are seeing growing interest among Indian travellers and with Air India's direct connections, it is bound to increase in coming time. Therefore, Stockholm and Sweden will partner with Air India to increase awareness about the destina-
tion and what more to see here.” However, looking at past years' arrivals to Copenhagen, Flemming Bruhn, director, Visit Denmark, expressed that there has been significant downfall from the India market. He said, “Yes, there has been a downfall in numbers, but we are hopeful that they will improve post the thriceweekly connection by Air India. Unfortunately, there are not many roomnights in Copenhagen during peak season since we are majorly sold out. Through this campaign, we want people to explore
other areas and see the entire region.” Per Holte, market director, tourism, Asia and new developing markets; and Kristian B Jorgensen, director, Fjord Norway, jointly shared information on what more Norway has to offer. Holte informed, “We had received 30,000-35,000 Indians this past year and are seeing continuous growth from the market. The latest trend shows that if Indians travel roughly 10 days to the region, half of it is spent in Norway. We have seen a significant rise in self drive tours taken by families who visit the region.”
India tops Travelport's survey for digitally advanced traveller Saloni Bhatia New Delhi Travelport's 'Digital Traveller Research' has revealed India as the most digitally advanced country when it comes to travel planning, booking and experiencing. The research covered 11,000 respondents in 19 countries globally and was restricted to people who had taken at least one return flight last year. As the travel segment diversifies across the globe, the tools to identify and streamline personal choices have also improved. With India showing significant growth in internet penetration, it is seen that travellers have become more familiar with new-age technology. India was followed by China, Indonesia, Brazil and South Arabia in top five spots. The survey where 1,000 people participated from India, showed that 91 per cent of Indian travellers use peer-to-peer reviews when researching a
trip, while 87 per cent use videos and photos posted by friends as part of their research. When it comes to pricing, 85 per cent Indians use comparison sites to help them find a good package. Another result showed that 67 per cent of Indians use voice search, utilisation devices such as Siri or Amazon Echo, when researching a trip which is 20 per cent more than the global average. Commenting on the India market, Rabih Saab, president and managing director, Europe, Middle East, Africa and South Asia, stated, “India is a growing market in the travel segment and the research confirms that the users are using different ways to communicate with travel commerce. But at the same time, big data can be confusing to finalise results. The survey shows that 52 per cent of Indians worry about knowing whether they can trust these online reviews. Indians also use an average of 19 differ-
ent categories of apps while making decisions which is three more than the global average.” With thriving OTA space, hospitality and airline sectors combined with extensive smartphone use, India stands far ahead of its Asia Pacific counterparts. Much matured markets like United States, Canada and the United Kingdom rank 11, 15 and 17 respectively. From the global view, about 60 per cent people agreed that they will be lost without their smartphones, while 75 per cent leave reviews of their travels on review websites. Globally, 61 per cent would avoid hotels with no WiFi, while 75 per cent Indian travellers chose hotels that don't charge for Wi-Fi. The biggest pain point for Asia Pacific travellers is understanding the complicated terms and conditions – 53 per cent, and for Indian travellers 62 per cent. This is followed
closely by the time spent looking for a good deal at 58 per cent. When it comes to airlines and check-in, 82 per cent appreciate the convenience of technology such as digital boarding passes and e-tickets and 66 per cent of travellers would like concierge services on their smart phones. When asked how Travelport's clients can benefit from this report, Saab informed, “This research helps industry players to understand the mar-
ket and provide better services to their consumers. Personalisation is the need of the hour and now every marketing strategy gives more digital access to consumers so they can have better control. It is clearly evident from the study that today's consumers are digitally advanced and more specific with their demands. Travelport can provide all kinds of tech support to expand operations and assist the consumers in a better manner.”
IN THE NEWS
Nirvana Travel aims for 500 home agents in 2 yrs Sudipta Dev Mumbai Nirvana Travel has started a home agent programme to give an opportunity to those who want to make a career in the travel industry. “It is a business development role where the home agent or Nirvana Travel Partner (NTP) as well call them, can prospect for travel leads within their own social circle which are then fulfilled by us,” said Nidhi Batra, cofounder, Nirvana Travel, adding that the company aims to have a 500 strong agent base in the next two years.
All registered NTPs go through an induction training which familiarises them with the workings of the organisation. “They are introduced to the team that they will interact with, they learn how to use our CRM to post queries, and they are run through the escalation matrix. Following this we do a destination training covering the main aspects of the most selling destinations as well as a basic sales training where we share tips, techniques and best practices which allow the NTP's to get started quickly,” mentioned Batra. They are
given visiting cards and email address of the company, and have access to destination training information. “Apart from this we share deals and promotional offers with them on a weekly basis, which they can use to generate leads,” stated Batra, pointing out that the programme is also a great opportunity for those who want to be part of the travel industry. “A lot of our agents are already well established in their own careers and have signed up for this programme viewing it as a means to enhance their income,” she added.
The company is focused on growing its business through this model on account of the word of mouth advertising for the brand. “If the recommendation to use our services comes from someone you already know and trust it is a great endorsement and it makes you much more likely to try our services as compared to other players in the market. We feel this programme will be one of our key growth drivers in the future and will help us expand into other cities and possibly other countries as well,” informed Batra.
Japan to relax visa regime for Indians from January ETW Staff Mumbai Japan will simplify its visa rules from January 1 next year for Indians applying for multiple-entry visa for short-term stay, a move which is expected to benefit tourists and business persons as well as repeat visitors, the Japanese embassy said. The relaxed visa regime will not only have simplification of visa application documents, but also expansion of scope of eligible applicants, it said. Under the simplification of visa application documents, the applicant’s employment certificate and explanation letter stating the reason will be exempted in cases of applying for multipleentry-visa. “In principle, applicants will be able to apply for multiple-entry visa with only three documents – passport visa application form and papers to prove the financial capability (for tourism purpose)/docu-
ments to prove the applicants affiliation to certain enterprises (for business purpose),” said the Japanese foreign min-
istry release, which was issued by the embassy. The changes will also have expansion of scope of eligible
applicants. Multiple-entry visas with a validity of five years maximum and stay of 90 days maximum will be is-
sued to applicants who have travel records to Japan twice or more in the last one year, it said, adding in this case, the eligible applicants may submit only their passports and visa application form. “The relaxations are expected to help further development of people-to-people exchanges between Japan and India by enhancing convenience for Indian tourists and business persons as well as repeat visitors,” the release said. In February, Japan had introduced the simplification of visa application procedure for single-entry visa for Indian students to promote visit of Indian youths to Japan. Under this relaxation, Indian students, graduate students and alumni of universities in India may submit certificate of student status or graduation instead of the document to prove financial capability in the application for single entry visa for short-term stay.
IN THE NEWS
‘Pilots make in route decisions to get passengers to their destination safely and quickly’ Honeywell Aerospace's IntuVue RDR-4000 3-D Weather Radar provides pilots with real-time and accurate weather information. Siddharth Sen, director - marketing & business development, Honeywell Aerospace, India, speaks about how they are providing pilots with early warnings for upcoming adverse weather conditions and ensuring passenger safety BY SUDIPTA DEV What are the key features of IntuVue RDR-4000 3D Weather Radar ? The need for technology that provides pilots with a clearer view of weather conditions has become increasingly important. With Honeywell’s IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar, pilots can face extreme weather conditions using its 3D display to see an accurate and intuitive view of weather hazards from zero to 60,000 feet across a 320nm detection range. Honeywell’s weather radar has a number of key features such as, the highresolution ground mapping feature, ensuring pilots have better awareness of the environment, especially in difficult visual settings. In addition to this, the weather radar has a cost effective design and is 30 per cent lighter than existing systems, saving airlines US$ 10,000 per aircraft, per year in fuel. How does it help a pilot navigate through inclement weather ? With IntuVue’s complete display view and weather analysis tools, pilots have better weather situational awareness and a better understanding of weather hazards to quickly calculate the best route to take. IntuVue is also the first radar to offer predictive warnings for hail, lightning and wind shear, five to 10 minutes before they occur. This results in improved routing around hazards, ensuring flights are not delayed due to extreme weather conditions.
How does IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar and the GoDirect suite of services ensure passenger safety ? Using IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar and GoDirect Weather, pilots can see realtime weather data on their flight path helping them make in route decisions to get passengers to their destination safely and quickly. GoDirect Weather shows real-time weather and trend information from the cockpit and includes enhanced communication so pilots are aware of historical and current weather patterns as well as weather forecasts. These features can help them better avoid turbulence reducing the likelihood of injuries, passenger concern and discomfort. Earlier this year, Honeywell worked closely with Cathay Pacific to trial GoDirect Connected Maintenance to see how it can affect mechanical components on the plane, whilst demonstrating the power of
data analytics to maintain the upkeep of an aircraft by improving performance and reducing downtime. Using Connected Maintenance, ground personnel can better monitor aircraft operations to identify component health and help pilots make timely decisions to land the aircraft safely. Results showed the program reduced operational disruptions by 35 per cent and saved the airline thousands in overall operational and maintenance costs.
technology significantly improved the team’s ability to predict upcoming adverse weather and turbulence. With the help of IntuVue RDR-4000 and its tomographic and layered display, the airline could navigate through the monsoon season in Delhi, making smart decisions that ultimately improved passenger comfort and safety. Jet Airways recently adopted Honeywell’s GoDirect Fuel Efficiency software to reduce fuel use and costs for the airline.
How are you advocating the safety concepts among airlines in India? Which airlines have implemented these? Honeywell Aerospace has been in the Indian aviation market for over 40 years. In 2013, Air India installed the IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar to 20 aircraft in its Boeing 777 fleet to significantly improve its weather prediction and avoidance. As per Air India’s flight operations team, the
Any other significant factor you are keen to highlight. Honeywell never stops pursuing ways to create safer and more efficient flights. In fact, we’ve continuously invested in the research and development of Connected Aircraft technologies that will help pilots and flight crews access information for better flight planning and improved safety. For example, Honeywell combined its 3D weather radar with con-
nectivity to crowdsource weather information from other aircraft around the world presenting a full picture of weather along a projected route. This development will keep the pilot aware real-time and upcoming weather for intelligent and responsive decision-making. Thus, this technology is very helpful for aircraft flying over water or in remote areas, where radar signals aren’t always available or are blocked by signal obstacles. To support the Connected Aircraft revolution globally, Honeywell solutions offer market-leading satellite communications hardware, such as JetWave for in-flight Wi-Fi, and the GoDirect suite to improve cabin connectivity, flight efficiency and maintenance services. The solutions are designed to improve fleet management, increase flight safety and optimize operation, all reducing aircraft maintenance time and costs. Ultimately, the key is to enhance the passenger experience to provide a smoother in-flight journey.
IN THE NEWS
Madame Tussauds marks India debut with an opening in New Delhi Saloni Bhatia New Delhi New Delhi gets another major tourist attraction with Merlin Entertainments opening the 23rd Madame Tussauds at the famous Regal Building in Connaught Place. Offering a starstudded line up experience to the visitors, the attraction features 50 life-like figures spanning across history, sports, music, film and politics. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Marcel Kloos, director – new openings, Europe and emerging markets, Merlin Entertainments, informed, “It is a very exciting phase as we enter a new country. We did a lot of study on the India market before finalising the wax figures. Sixty per cent of the figures are of Indian celebrities and only 40 per cent are of international stars. Specially the Leadership room which features figures of Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, A P J Abdul Kalam Azad among others is an interesting new feature which is unique to this attraction.” Madame Tussauds has attractions in London, Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington DC, Amsterdam, Nashville, Berlin, Vienna, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai, Singapore, Wuhan, Blackpool UK, Sydney and now New Delhi. Each masterpiece takes four months and a team of 20 artists to create based on 500 precise body measurements. Anshul Jain, general manager and director, Merlin Entertainments India, said, “Guests will be encouraged to interact, perform and even reflect with our figures to create a unique and immersive experience. Many props have been made available for guests to feel like stars when they get
clicked with them. Since the opening announcement we have had an overwhelming response from the market and we look forward to welcome guests at the attraction.” Commenting on tickets and special programmes, Kloos, informed, “It is best to check the availability of tickets online and pre-book. The ticket priced in India is one third the charge elsewhere to be able to reach out to masses. We will be limiting the number of people in a day due to limited space and make sure the experience is not affected for any of the guests. Our special programmes will include group admissions for families and schools. Especially school kids will be able to learn a lot through the interactive spaces and the leadership section.” Madame Tussauds officially opens for the visitors on December 1, 2017. The tickets are priced at `960 for adults and `760 for kids. They can be purchased both online and offline.
IN THE NEWS
'Ours tours raise awareness about architecture and urban design' World Architecture Travel (WAT) organises specialised tours to places of modern architecture for people who have keen interest in urban design, culture and contemporary architecture. Brijesh Shaijal, founder and MD, WAT highlights their unique offerings and tieup with the World Architecture Festival (WAF) which celebrates architectural excellence worldwide BY SUDIPTA DEV
Please give a brief background of WAT, and what is the focus of the travel experience that you offer to your guests ? WAT is a unique travel conglomerate that looks to promote the idea of travel through the exploration of architecture, travel and culture. While the brand seeks to create a niche for itself in the mind of seasoned travellers, the focus would be to reach out and engage individuals with a passion for architecture, photography, design, culture and related areas. A community of likeminded individuals, with mutual interests travelling together also provides opportunities for interesting dialogue, experience sharing and camaraderie. WAT aims to provide the traveller with an academic and focus bound travel experience, through tours which are planned to raise awareness on architecture and urban design. The spirit of these travels would
also result in blurring of boundaries in learning, enhancing exploration and developing cultural sensitivity. Historians, urban planners, and others have recognised the important role of transnational travel and information flow in the formation of particular designers’ practices (e.g. Christopher Dresser, Le Corbusier). Despite the acknowledged importance of travel in the development of national design cultures there has not been a systematic and planned approach in this sector. We hope to contribute to a new generation of architects who can lead the way for beautifully designed ecosystems for the next generation. What kind of association do you have with the World Architecture Festival ? We have been a supporter of the world’s largest, live, interactive global architectural awards programme for the last two years. This supporting association has definitely helped us be-
ing noticed by the world architecture community and we have been able to forge other alliances with various other architecture think tanks across the globe. The gateway to global recognition, WAF is where the world architecture community meets to celebrate, learn, exchange, and be inspired. WAF is the world's largest international architectural event. It includes the biggest architecture awards programme in the world, dedicated to celebrating excellence via live presentation to delegates and international juries. Through this collaboration with WAF we extend our commitment to excellence and exposure to the best in global architecture to our travellers. Are you focused only on niche architectural tours? Yes we focus on niche architecture, but more into modern built forms. If you take the typical patterns of any tour packages - almost 70-80 per cent are focusing on building/or
built forms, but most of them are focusing on pre-modern structures (before 20th century). We feel there is a big disconnect between modern and pre-modern structures on this front - and WAT 's ideology is to connect it and take it forward, where we can showcase the man's greatest achievements in the modern era. Who are your targeted audience and what kind of response you have got from the India market ? Definitely, architects and students who would like to explore the built environment. Since the field draws upon areas such as economics, law, public policy, geography, design, engineering, technology, and environmental sustainability it is of great interest to upcoming architects who would like to contribute to their developing societies. We have got tremendous response from the Indian fraternity as there is a renewed movement in an effort to improve the community’s
well-being through the construction of “aesthetically and environmentally improved landscapes and living structures”. Which are the key international destinations for these special interest groups? Across the world. Do you operate also in the inbound segment ? Apart from the Golden Triangle, which Indian destinations are you promoting ? We don’t focus on the established tourist circles, since we are more focused on modern architectural monuments, our first favourite destinations are Chandigarh and Ahmedabad in India. What are your future plans in terms of product offerings? We are coming up with tailored trips for academicians, Trips with Starchitects, each of which will be based on upcoming research, sketching trips and so on.
IN THE NEWS
Govt announces multiple embarkation points for Haj pilgrims ETW Staff Mumbai Haj travellers can now fly to Saudi Arabia from multiple embarkation points in the country, which will make their travel economical, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has announced. The facility has come into effect from November 15. “There are 21 major embarkation points in the country, but Haj travellers have been using other cities as well to fly to Saudi Arabia. We are now offering them multiple embarkation facility, where people can choose the city to board the flight to Saudi Arabia,” Naqvi said at the Haj House. He said the facility will prove more economical for pilgrims as charges at the major
embarkation points like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata are cheaper than the Tier II cities such as Aurangabad, Indore, and Srinagar among others. “It is going to be an optional service, but the pilgrims can still opt for Tier II embarkation point. The idea is to offer an economical option. For instance, a Haj pil-
grim paid `110,000 for embarkation point in Srinagar in 2016 whereas charges for the same were `73,000 from New Delhi. Last year, the flexibility in selecting embarkation point was not available, from this year, we have provided it,” said the minister. Naqvi said the process for
the Haj pilgrimage has begun. “People can submit their applications through physically filling in the form as well as through online registration including the payment facility for the same. The government has begun the process a month in advance unlike last year, so that pilgrims can get more time for preparations,” Naqvi said, adding that Haj 2018 will be performed according to the new Haj Policy. “A high-level committee, constituted to frame the new policy, has already submitted its report and the Minority Affairs Ministry has been looking into its recommendations. The new Haj policy aims to make Haj pilgrimage more comfortable, smooth and transparent. Pilgrims’ safety and their facilities are our priority,” the minis-
ter said. The new Haj policy includes maintaining reservation for people above 70 years of age, who wish to go for Haj, and allowing women over 45 years of age in a group of four or more for Haj without a male relative or ‘Mahram’. “We would allow a group of women to travel alone to Jeddah. For the first time, for Haj 2018, details of total expenditure to be incurred by pilgrims are given in the application form. This is a step towards transparency. Haj application form for 2018 also contains the embarkation points-wise detailed air fare comparison which will be beneficial for the pilgrims as for the first time they will get option for embarkation points of their own choice,” Naqvi said. (PTI)
OTOAI elects officebearers for 2017-2019 term ETW Staff Mumbai Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) has announced the officebearers for 2017-2019 term, following its recently concluded election. On November 27, the OTOAI executive committee had its first meeting for the new term and elected the following Working Group Committee: ● President: Mahendra Vakharia from Pathfinders Holidays, Ahmedabad ● Vice president: Himanshu Patil from Kesari Tours, Mumbai ● General secretary: Chitra Bhatia from Aasgman Travels, New Delhi ● Joint secretary: Gurdeep Singh Gujral from Gujral
Tours and Travels, New Delhi ● Treasurer: Sidharth Khanna from Khanna Enterprises, New Delhi
The following members have been declared elected to the executive committee for the term of 2017-2019: Sidharth Khanna, Adl Abdul
Karim, Ankush Nijhawan, Himanshu Kesari Patil, Riaz Munshi, Mahendra Vakharia, Sujit Nair, Shravan Bhalla, Chitra Bhatia, Gurdeep
Singh Gujral, and Rajeev Sabharwal. Election officer, Sanjay Datta was also duly felicitated for excellence in job.
VFS Global expands Cyprus VAC network to 16 cities ETW Staff Mumbai VFS Global has expanded the network of Cyprus visa application centres in India with centres for applicants now launched in four additional cities of Thiruvananthapuram, Goa, Gurugram, and Jaipur. The latest expansion takes the network of Cyprus visa centres to a total of 16 cities in India. The centre in Thiruvananthapuram was inaugurated by Demetrios A Theophylactou, high commissioner of Cyprus to India. Theophylactou said, “It is a pleasure to inaugurate the Cyprus visa application centre, operated by VFS Global. The opening is quite timely, also due to a noticeable increase in visa related queries from Kerala. I do believe that this centre would further expand and enhance visa services and also promote people-to-people con-
tacts, thus contributing to our bilateral relations. Kerala is a major state with a large percentage of human capital working abroad; therefore, the cen-
tre fulfills a vital service with respect to the provision of information and guidelines to applicants who intend on visiting Cyprus for tourism, business,
study, as well as employment purposes. The centre would work in close cooperation with the consular department of the high commission to achieve the
goal of timely and efficient issuance of visas.” VFS Global has served the Government of Cyprus in India since 2015. Globally, the company serves the client government since 2010, through a network of 21 visa application centres in seven countries. Vinay Malhotra, chief operating officer – Middle East and South Asia, VFS Global, said, “Cyprus is fast emerging as a popular destination of choice for leisure and business travellers from India, due to its abundant natural beauty and historical heritage. As the number of visitors to this beautiful Mediterranean nation increases, we are proud and committed to expand the network of Cyprus visa application centres across the South Asia region as a whole, with more centres planned in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in the coming months.”
BLS International signs contract with Algerian embassy in India ETW Staff Mumbai BLS International Services has signed a contract with Embassy of the People’s Republic of Algeria in India. Under this partnership, BLS International will be providing visa outsourcing and consular services to the embassy through five visa application and attestation centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Thiruvanathapuram. BLS International is accredited to facilitate Algerian visa processing in India from submission of applications to collection of visas along with attestation services.
Shikhar Aggarwal, joint managing director, BLS International Services, said, “We at BLS cherish the progressive relations with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Algeria and are delighted to have been chosen to provide consular services to them in India. It has been our endeavour to always provide state-of theart services to our clients by creating value for our stakeholders.” Algerian ambassador in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal, Hamza Yahia-Cherif said, “We are pleased to have partnered with BLS International for facilitating Algeria visa processing in India. We
hope this association to be fruitful and that it will further strengthen the Algerian-Indian relationship in future.”
BLS International also aims to provide advance value added services like door-stop delivery / courier facility of
passports, SMS, assistance in filling visa application forms, printing and photocopying at the premises.
Cox & Kings opens first Holiday Club store in Mumbai ETW Staff Mumbai Cox & Kings has opened its first Holiday Club store in Mumbai to cater to the increasing demand for holiday products. The centre, located at Dadar in Mumbai, will cater to the discerning clientele located in the region. The Holiday Club store aims to attract a diverse set of customers through offers and customised solutions, and will offer a range of domestic and international holiday packages. Also, in keeping with recent travel trends, the company has forayed into niche segments such as Enable Travel for the physically challenged, Trip 360 for adventure enthusiasts and Getaway Goddess for the women-only travel segment. The store will market and sell these packages as well. Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox & Kings, said, “Central Mumbai is now the hub of retail activity and our Holiday Club store is perfectly positioned to engage with customers on a one-on-one basis,
L-R: Jatinderpaul Singh, COO, sales and distribution, Cox & Kings; Vishal Kapoor, Cox & Kings Holiday Club partner and Sangram Ghorpade, head, franchisee, Cox & Kings
as they seek personal engagement in making sure they have a memorable holiday.”
The Holiday Club stores will complement the existing points of sales that Cox & Kings has in
Mumbai and the aim is to be present where the customer would most likely shop. This is
the fourth Holiday Club store in India. The other three stores are located in New Delhi.
Thomas Cook India proposes to raise over `600 cr via dilution of Quess Corp stake ETW Staff Mumbai Thomas Cook India Group has obtained board approval to divest 5.42 per cent stake in its subsidiary Quess Corp, to bring its shareholding to 51.56 per cent, thereby proposing to raise funds of over `600 crore through an offer for sale (OFS) process as
prescribed by SEBI. The floor price of `800 per share for this price discovery process is the same as that of the August 2017 IPP of Quess Corp. This is in keeping with SEBI regulations that require promoters to bring down their stake to 75 per cent and post dilution, the promoter shareholding in
Quess Corp (that of Thomas Cook India and Ajit Isaac, CMD and CEO, Quess Corp.) would be 75.38 per cent. Fairfax Financial Holdings, through the Thomas Cook India Group, is committed to maintaining a controlling stake in Quess Corp. The initiative is also aimed at retiring Thomas Cook India’s long term debt, thus bringing
down the company’s financial costs and improving profitability and liquidity at both a standalone and group level. Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director, Thomas Cook India Group, said, “At the Thomas Cook India Group, we are committed to holding a controlling stake in our subsidiary
Quess Corp. Our proposed dilution of a portion of our stake in Quess Corp is hence intended to comply with SEBI regulations. Our aim is to retire our long term debt and improve profitability; simultaneously increase our cash reserves, enabling us to effectively leverage opportune investments as and when they arise.”
Jazeera Airways introduces India operations ETW Staff Mumbai Kuwaiti low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways has launched its operations in India with a daily flight between Kuwait and Hyderabad. The airline said that seat capacity between India and the Gulf country needs to be increased in view of the current demand. Rohit Ramachandran, CEO, Jazeera said the airline will connect Mumbai, Kochi and Ahmedabad with Kuwait by mid-January next year. “We would like to fly to lot more points in India and with lot more frequency into India. We are unable to do so because the restrictions are put on us on the number of flights that we can operate to India,” Ramachandran said, adding that the current seat-entitlements between India and Kuwait stands at a modest 12,000 seats only in each direction. Ramachandran said the airline is
requesting the two governments to engage in negotiations to enhance the number of seats being currently flown. “We urge the Indian and Kuwait governments to engage in discussions which will liberalise and open
up more capacity of airlines of both the countries to fly into each others territory,” he said. According to him, currently there is need to increase seat capacity by three fold owing to the demand. To a query, he said
Jazeera Airways has currently a fleet of eight aircraft and another one is expected to be inducted by February next year. By 2020, the fleet size would be 15 aircraft, he said. According to him, Jazeera is well
connected to most of important locations in the Middle East from Kuwait. Established in April 2004, Jazeera Airways is the first private airline in the Middle East. (PTI)
Hyderabad Airport in talks with European carriers ETW Staff Mumbai GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL), the company that operates the city airport, has said it is in discussions with some European carriers for launching their services from Hyderabad. GHIAL, a GMR group firm, operates the Rajiv Gandhi International airport, which connects to 57 domestic and international destinations. SGK Kishore, CEO, GHIAL, also said this year the airport expects to
20 EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD December 2017
handle around 18 million passengers and 1.2 lakh tonnes of cargo. “We are talking to European carriers. We are also talking to some of the long haul Indian carriers to fly to Europe. Basically our focus is Europe because apart from the UK, we don’t have any other direct flight to Europe,” Kishore said, adding that unserved destinations in Southeast Asia like Indonesia are also focus area for GHIAL, and third area would be to have more widebodied connections out of
Hyderabad. “In the next two to three years we see some of the European carriers coming back to Hyderabad. Lufthansa and KLM used to fly earlier. We are in talks with them, it may take couple of years before they take a decision (in resuming flights),” Kishore informed. He said the airport handled 15.5 million passengers last year. “We may end up the year at around 18 million passengers. If you see total traffic, one fourth is international, which is growing at around
nine per cent, while the domestic is growing at around 20 per cent. Cargo will be around 1.2 lakh tonnes,” he stated. He said the company has submitted a `2,500 crore airport expansion proposal to the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority for its approval and the tariff regulator may issue a consultation paper on this issue shortly. The executive said that the expansion may commence by the fiscal end from February and it will be initially for 25 million passen-
gers per annum. “If the traffic continues to grow the expansion will go up to 35 million passengers per annum,” he explained. According to him, the expansion will be completed in two to two and half years once the work starts. On the Telangana Government’s intention to start Warangal airport, Kishore said they are in discussions with the state government to work in a positive way so that Hyderabad airport’s growth is not hampered. (PTI)
Alliance Air to add five new aircraft to ATR fleet ETW Staff Mumbai Disinvestment-bound Air India’s regional arm, Alliance Air, plans to induct five ATR planes in its fleet in as many months and will soon roll out flights to three new destinations as part of the government’s UDAN scheme. As of now, the Delhibased airline flies to 46 destinations with a fleet of 15 ATR 72600s. “We are in the process of inducting new ATR 72-600 aircraft by March next year, which will take our fleet size to 20 planes at the end of the fiscal,” said C S Subbiah, CEO, Alliance Air. Subbiah said that the airline is competing with high density rail traffic and that it has enhanced frequency on many routes with daily flights from weekly flights in the last two years. Alliance Air, at present, operates 89 departures per day connecting 62 city-pairs. “Along with the fleet, we are expanding our route network as well. We will shortly be launching a flight to Agra from Delhi, which will be our 47th destination, as part of the government’s regional
connectivity scheme UDAN,” he said. Alliance Air and four other operators – SpiceJet, Air Deccan, Air Odisha and TruJet – were mandated to launch flights 70 airports connecting 128 routes in the first round of bidding for UDAN. Air India is also planning to introduce two non-stop flights per week between Birmingham and Amritsar in the new year to meet the increasing consumer demand from the Midlands region to Punjab, Birmingham Airport said in a
statement. The airport’s aviation director, William Pearson, said the new non-stop connection will add to the existing daily direct flight to Delhi. “With over 200,000 BritishIndian people who travel to India to visit friends and relatives, and for tourism and business interests, this additional destination shows the large demand within the region for non-stop Amritsar services from the Midlands. Air India has been a successful partner for over four years and offers great connec-
tions to India with services operated by the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft,” he said. Pankaj Srivastava, director of commercial at Air India, said the new flights are in response to the consumer demand from the Midlands region to Punjab. “Air India is always very sensitive to the needs of the consumer and is pleased to be connecting the two cities, thereby adding a new city pairing for Air India’s expanding global network with the only non-stop UK Amritsar service,” he said.
Preet Kaur Gill, labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, said the new flights will lead to more business cooperation between the two regions. “These flights will not only make it easier for Punjabis in the area to travel to Amritsar, but also provides a great opportunity for local and regional businesses to both deepen existing ties and create new ones,” said Gill, who is also the councillor for the UK borough of Sandwell which is paired with the city of Amritsar. (PTI)
IATAlaunches I-ASC survey to enhance airline safety ETW Staff Mumbai The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched the IATA Aviation Safety Culture (I-ASC) survey to support airlines in the implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS) and building a strong safety culture in compliance with the recently upgraded standards and recommended practices (SARPS) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO safety management SARPS are contained in Annex 19, Safety Management, of the
Convention on International Civil Aviation. In July 2016, Annex 19 was amended to strengthen safety management SARPs by requiring airlines to develop and promote a positive
safety culture. This requirement must be met by November 2019. “Safe operations are underpinned by a safety-centric culture. I-ASC enables airlines to benchmark their perform-
ance on safety culture. In doing so, it feeds into the important process of continuous improvement that has helped to make flying the safest form of long-distance travel,” said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, senior vice president, safety and flight operations, IATA. Virgin Australia was one of the early adopters of the I-ASC survey. Michael Chapman, general manager, safety systems, Virgin Australia, said, “The I-ASC survey was really useful to allow us to review our results across different departments within our own business, as well as com-
pare ourselves against others within the industry.” I-ASC was developed in collaboration with Cranfield University (UK) and other key aviation stakeholders. It provides tangible, de-identified, unbiased and measurable insights into the safety engagement and perceived risk areas of frontline and management staff. The survey covers key safety culture drivers, such as management commitment, just culture and the learning organisation. Importantly, I-ASC will help airlines benchmark safety culture issues by country, region, alliance or globally.
India to deepen aviation co-operation with Greece ETW Staff Mumbai India and Greece have agreed to deepen bilateral co-operation in a range of key areas including trade, investment and energy and inked a pact for launching the first direct flight service between the two coun-
tries. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias held extensive talks covering the entire expanse of bilateral relations during which they resolved to take steps to further expand the ties. An air services agreement and another pact on co-opera-
tion in the field of new and renewable energy were signed after the talks, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. He said the discussions covered all aspects of bilateral relationship and that the two leaders reaffirmed commitment to further expand co-operation in mutu-
ally beneficial spheres. The air services agreement will allow Indian airlines to operate to Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion. Similarly, the Greek airlines will also be able to launch flight services to major Indian cities. At present there is no direct air connectivity between India and the
southeastern European nation. The volume of bilateral trade has gradually declined, primarily due to the economic recession faced by Greece. The size of bilateral trade between India and Greece was US$ 606.93 million in 2009-10 which fell to US$ 445 million in 201516.
AirAsia India’s quarterly loss narrows to `16.4 cr ETW Staff Mumbai No-frills airline AirAsia India narrowed its net loss to `16.4 crore in the September quarter and expects to be “very profitable” once it starts flying on regional routes, Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad said. AirAsia India is a joint venture between Tata and Malaysia’s AirAsia, which holds 49 per cent stake. In the July-September period of last fiscal, the airline had a net loss of `62.12 crore, AirAsia Berhad said in a filing on the Malaysian stock exchange. The airline’s revenues climbed to `395 crore during the quarter under review, from `175.13 crore in the same period a year ago. In a release, AirAsia Berhad said its associate airline in India has grown tremendously. On an year-on-year basis, AirAsia India achieved 99 per cent growth on passengers carried as well as 104 per cent rise in capacity in the quarter under review. “Revenue increased by 126 per cent year-on-year and net loss reduced by 74 per cent year-on-year to
`164 million. AirAsia India will have 14 aircraft by the end of 2017 and 21 aircraft by the end of 2018,” it said. As part of expansion plans, AirAsia India is keen
to fly overseas once it complies with the regulatory requirements. Under Indian regulations, a domestic airline should have at least 20 planes before it can start
services to foreign destinations. “We are on target to launch our international routes the minute we achieve 20 aircraft in India
next year. We foresee our Indian operations to be very profitable once we start flying regional routes and connecting them to our wide network,” the release said.
SWISS celebrates 10 years of Delhi-Zurich operations
Air Deccan's UDAN flights from North East to start in Dec ETW Staff Mumbai
ETW Staff Mumbai Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), the flag airline of Switzerland and part of Lufthansa Group, has completed a decade of operations on Delhi-Zurich route recently. The airline celebrated the milestone by curating a special walk showcasing Delhi’s hidden historic and cultural legacy. To celebrate this milestone, SWISS will host a special walk titled ‘The Delhi Seductress’ featuring Mehrauli Archeological Park on December 17, 2017. The walk will explore the by-
lanes of Mehrauli, its multifaceted history and architecture through visits to mausoleums, step wells as well as several other structures modified during its history. SWISS and experts from Darwesh – a travel and culture studio – will jointly lead the event. Paurus Nekoo, general manager, sales, India, Lufthansa Group, said, “We are proud to add another milestone to our history with India. As an airline deeply rooted in tradition and culture, we are delighted to celebrate this occasion with a unique activity that pays a tribute to Delhi’s rich cultural her-
itage. India is a key market for SWISS and over the years we have constantly innovated to elevate travel experience for passengers to and from India. From special meals, Indian flight attendants to Bollywood movies onboard, we are committed to deepen our connect with our customers by extending the very best of Swiss warmth and hospitality onboard.” SWISS offers daily flights on A330 to/from Delhi and Mumbai to/from Zurich. SWISS is part of the Lufthansa Group, and is also a member of Star Alliance.
Low cost airline Air Deccan is set to start operations under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as UDAN, from December 15 this year, airport officials at Shillong said. Under the Centre’s UDAN scheme, air fares are capped at `2,500 per person for an hour’s flight to Tier II and Tier III cities in which the government will provide subsidy for flying with such low fares. “Air Deccan authorities have given the schedule saying that they would start operating from December 15, this year,” said M K Nayak, the director of Shillong airport. The low cost carrier (LCC) will use an 18-20 seater aircraft to carry out the operations, the airport director said. Air Deccan will use Shillong as a hub and it will connect the hub with other destinations in the region such as Agartala, Aizawl and Imphal, he said.
The airline will also operate flights between Kolkata and Agartala, the director added. The Centre had recently asked Air Deccan to start operations from the region by making Shillong as a hub after the airline failed to meet the deadline for launching flights on the routes it had bagged under the UDAN scheme. At present, Alliance Air, the regional arm of Air India, connects Shillong to Kolkata. The airport director said since Shillong airport is a hub for regional connectivity, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has provided facilities for refuelling aircraft. In this regard, Oil India has also completed setting up the refuelling facility within the vicinity of the airport and another oil company is about to complete the refuelling facilities, he said. Nayak also said that a growth in the tourism sector is also expected once Air Deccan starts operating flights. (PTI)
Air India Express bags CAT-III-B certification ETW Staff Mumbai Air India Express (AIE), the overseas budget arm of Air India, has secured the Category III-B certification from regulator DGCA, which allows it to operate in dense foggy conditions. Air India Express flights can now land and takeoff in low visibility conditions even up to an RVR (runway visual range) as low as up to 50 m, the airline said. The airline is now 100 per cent CAT III-B certified and all its pilots have also completed
the low visibility training, required for carrying out operations in foggy conditions. Domestic airlines are required to deploy only CAT-III compliant planes and crew trained to fly under low visibility conditions while operating in and out of a CAT-III. At present, only three airports – New Delhi, Jaipur and Lucknow – are CAT III-B compliant aerodromes. The fog season in the North generally sets in from the first week of December every year. The airline is also qualified for
LVTO (low visibility take-off) of up to 125 m, which will avoid delays during foggy days, Air India Express said. A whollyowned subsidiary of the disinvestment-bound national carrier, Air India Express operates around 555 departures a week, connecting 16 cities to 13 destinations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The airline has a fleet of 23 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, six of which are brand new. As much as 60 per cent of this capacity is deployed from the three airports in Kerala alone.
In another development, senior IAS officer Pradeep Singh Kharola has been appointed as the new chairman and managing director of disinvestment-bound Air India. Kharola would take over as the CMD of the flagship carrier from Rajiv Bansal, who was given an extension only last week. A 1985-batch Karnataka cadre officer, Kharola would be steering the national airline at a time when the government has started the process for its strategic disinvestment.
Kharola has been appointed as the CMD of Air India in the rank and pay of Secretary to Government of India, an official release said. He has been the managing director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation since February 2015. Among others, Kharola has worked in various posts in Karnataka, including as the chairman of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation. He has also served as principal secretary to the Karnataka chief minister.
Hyatt to expand in underserved mkts Sudipta Dev Mumbai Hyatt Hotels and Resorts which has 27 operational hotels in India represented by six brands (Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Andaz, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place and Hyatt), has a strong focus on growing in the Tier II and Tier III cities to attract new customer segments. “We are focused on increasing our footprint in Tier II and III destinations as these cities and towns are underserved, and we believe that they have great potential. After the successful launch of Hyatt Regency Luc-
know and Hyatt Place Rameswaram, our hotels in the pipeline - Hyatt Place Hyderabad, Hyatt Place Bengaluru and Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty -- are a testament to our strong commitment towards the domestic market,” said Harleen Mehta, VP, sales operations - India, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. According to Mehta, Hyatt Place is a large part of the growth strategy in India. “The brand is gaining popularity here as it offers stylish, comfortable and cost-effective options for business travellers and families. The Hyatt Re-
gency and Grand Hyatt brands will also see expansion in the
market,” she mentioned, pointing out that Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty will mark foray into the Kerala market, while Hyatt Regency Lucknow is expected to strengthen presence in north India. In pilgrim tourism market, after Hyatt Place Rameswaram, the company is also looking at venturing into Himachal Pradesh with Hyatt Regency McLeod Ganj. “The city also known as Little Lhasa witnesses an abundance of domestic as well as international leisure travellers and has religious significance as well. We have been present in Amritsar for quite
some time now and continue to be the hotel with the maximum number of room keys in the city,” added Mehta. Speaking about the Andaz brand, she said, “At present, we are focused on Andaz Delhi and its offerings. This will help us learn a lot about our guests from the creative class, and will definitely set a strong foundation for Andaz in India.” Mehta however clarified that while a number of Andaz hotels are in the pipeline in markets such as Singapore and Munich, there are no current plans to open more Andaz hotels in India.
Jumeirah Group’s India roadshow targets luxury segment's growth ETW Staff Mumbai Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts recently conducted a two-city roadshow in Mumbai and Delhi, to strengthen the brand’s ties with the Indian travel-trade fraternity. The roadshow was part of Jumeirah’s newly enhanced focus on India as a source market for its hotels in the UAE, Europe and the Maldives. Linda Lewis, vice president, global sales, Middle East and Asia Pacific, Jumeirah Group, said, “The India market has witnessed a considerable rise in outbound luxury travel in recent years. Given that this demographic seek superior travel and stay experiences, our current portfolio includes hotels and resorts within a number of favoured locations, and we are one of the world’s most awarded luxury hotel brands,
Jumeirah is well placed to fulfill the requirements of the Indian luxury traveller, including families, couples, the MICE industry and those seeking destination weddings and honeymoons.” Jumeirah recently signed a direct connectivity partnership with MakeMyTrip India, providing a booking channel for Indian consumers who wish to book Jumeirah hotels around the world. Lewis commented, “India is a key source market into
the UAE and into a number of our other destinations including the UK and Maldives. We are focusing on expanding and consolidating our ties with the FITs and the luxury travel segment to reach out to a larger audience and gain a higher market share. MakeMyTrip’s reach and presence in India goes above and beyond Tier I states. With this in mind, our visibility on this platform will help to increase brand awareness and gain new consumers.”
Jumeirah Group has 11 hotels in the UAE and a presence across Europe, Middle East and Asia. While the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is synonymous with the brand in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah and Jumeirah Emirates Towers have also proved particularly attractive to the India market. Jumeirah’s most popular hotels outside of Dubai for Indian travellers include Grosvenor House Suites by Jumeirah Living in London, Jumeirah Frankfurt and Jumeirah Vittaveli in
the Maldives. In the first half of 2017, 1.3 million travellers from India visited Dubai, making it the emirate’s top source market. At the roadshow, Jumeirah announced an exclusive short-term offer to its guests from India. Lewis stated, “We are constantly striving to develop our bandwidth of services and considering new ways to personalise and customise each guest’s experience. We are focusing on elevating our services to accommodate the Indian travellers to make them feel at home. More and more choices for accommodation, dining and entertainment that match the trends of the Indian traveller are being made available, and this package is one such example, providing fantastic options for families and couples looking for a holiday before the end of the year.”
THE MAIN FOCUS
The pursuit of a memorable gastronomical experience has given birth to culinary tourism across the world. With more travellers picking destinations based on their taste buds and cultural curiosity, this cover story explores how India's gastronomic experiences can attract the world traveller BY SALONI BHATIA
ver 118 million real traveller reviews on Booking.com revealed that while choosing their next travel destination, the majority, 75 per cent of global travellers would likely travel somewhere known for its great food and drink. 79 per cent of travellers between the ages of 18 and 34, known as the millennials, consider travelling somewhere that's specifically known for its gastronomic delights. Almost one in 10, eight per cent people have travelled in the last year to fulfill their hobby of fine dining and seven per cent for their passion for wine. Millennials are most keen on seeking out food passions whilst
travelling, with one in 10, i.e. 10 per cent combining their love of street food with travelling, compared to only four per cent of those travellers aged over 55. This validates the growing interest of travellers towards destinations which promise to be a foodie's delight. Speaking about the growing trend of culinary tourism, Rejeev Goyal, founder, India Food Tour, shares, “As per the old Indian mythological saying, you can understand people by their food and therefore it is the best way to explore a country. Moreover, food has always been the spine of the tourism industry but only recently it has taken a front seat. Since it cannot be experienced virtually like other tourism widgets such as monuments, museums or historic sites, it has never been on the agenda for tourism promo-
tion.” Among over 118 million real traveller reviews on Booking.com, food stood out as a clear passion for many. The data revealed that Asian and South American flavours feature highly in the top ten foodie favourite destinations with Greece, Australia and Spain on the list. Indian cities which attract maximum number of foodies are Amritsar, Hyderbad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Another research by TripAdvisor revealed that 74 per cent travellers have either planned or intend to plan a gastronomic getaway soon to a destination specifically to try the food it is famous for. 71 per cent have plans to visit a particular restaurant while 60 per cent of Indians intend to plan a gastronomic getaway in 2018. Goa (49 per cent), Kerala (35 per cent) and Lucknow (33 per cent) were voted the top domestic destinations that Indians would love to visit specifically for their cuisine. At a recent culinary event in New Delhi, Rashmi Verma, secretary, ministry of tourism, said, “Today’s tourists are not interested in only sightseeing. They want to experience diverse cultures, variety of festivals and different cuisines of the country. We have the opportunity to make India the cuisine capital of the world as we have the maximum number of curries and cuisines.” She added that 'Incredible India 2.0' is using cuisine as a niche product. As many more food festivals and road shows are held abroad, MoT would invite chefs to participate in the event and raise awareness about these cuisines.
India's culinary journey Agra Walks promotes culinary tours and heritage walks. Speaking about what sets them apart, Megha Singh, director, Agra Walks, shares, “We offer everything from the very famous local Agra Chaat, a cuisine in itself to parathas, kebabs, chicken tikkas, rolls, bedhai with aloo
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ki sabzi (which is a staple breakfast in Agra) and sweets including the Agra ka Petha. As of now, we run our food tours in Agra, Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Lucknow, Kerala, Chennai and Hyderabad. In fact, we started our very first food tour in Agra on recommendation on one of our travellers who wanted to experience the local cuisine of Agra. Now-a-days, travellers find it an important part to have culinary experiences as a part of their itineraries in order to understand the culture of the place better.” Goyal whose company India Food Tours provides customised food trips matched with adventure, sight seeing among other things, feels that talking about a single city of India is completely unfair. He states, “Each province in our country is rich with culinary diversity and history. India is truly the only country in the world with such diversity in food cultures and curators. But if one has to name a city, it has to be Delhi, the national capital region. ” Speaking of Delhi as a culinary destination, Sudhir Sobti, chief manager, public relations and publicity, Delhi Tourism Development Corporation, shares, “Culinary tourism has become a crucial aspect in attracting tourists as many are now driven towards local cultures and food. Delhi being the capital city is a hub of many cultures and old traditions which has given rise to varied food habits which can be found on the streets of Old Delhi or hotels across the city. Food has always been an integral part of travel and it can be an important tool in attracting both domestic and international tourists. Delhi Tourism organises several events based on the food cultures over the year. Many locals gather to taste the Indian delicacies from across the country. The tourism board has also associated with Delhi Walks which offers special food tours covering Old and New Delhi areas. The Delhi Tourism web-
“A mature traveller is looking for an immersive experience which tells them more about a culture” Ravi Gosain Managing director, Erco Travels
“Each province in our country is rich with culinary diversity and history” Rajeev Goyal Founder, India Food Tour
“Culinary tourism has become a crucial aspect in attracting tourists as many are now driven towards local cultures and food” Sudhir Sobti Chief manager, PR & publicity, Delhi Tourism Development Corporation
THE MAIN FOCUS
“Given the fact that a lot of people now globally are following the fashion being a vegetarian or a vegan, for them India is the country to be in” Megha Singh Director, Agra Walks
site has a special segment for 'Eating Out' which elaborates where one can find the best food experience in the capital city.” All these efforts showcase a destination for its food and help tourists undertake a unique journey. Similarly, Anubhav Sapra's hunt for authentic food and love for Indian culture gave birth to Delhi Food Walks in 2011. He has been organising specialised walks in such city corners that enable people to immerse in a local experience through the city's food. From a breakfast trail, discovering Old Delhi to a special cooking session in an Indian kitchen, he has slowly expanded the range of experiences without diluting the attention to his clients. Sapra mentions, “The world's curiosity about food is surely increasing over the years. My very first food walk in Paharganj gathered 30 people who were keen in experimenting the local food. Now we host guests from all across the globe who book tours in
advance and never hesitate to try street food.” The walks are not restricted to eating at these restaurants but also extend to talking about the local culture, food origins, spices used and engaging with the community. Sapra makes sure that travellers are also made aware about the history of the shop and area in which it is located. “We also take them to the local markets. While visiting Khari Baoli, Asia' s largest spice market, many are excited to see some of the Indian spices for the first time,” he adds. Singh also believes that the trend is now changing from ‘wanting to eat at fancy five star hotels/restaurants’ to ‘trying something at the roadside which is more local and authentic’. She adds, “India has such diversity cuisine wise that there can be just an entire itinerary for the different food experiences, which I am sure a lot of nations lack. Now a lot of travellers come with an open mind (mouth, as you may call
it) to experience the food culture in Agra. Also given the fact that a lot of people now globally are following the fashion being a vegetarian or a vegan, for them India is the country to be in. It caters from vegetarians to hardcore non-vegetarians. It is a paradise for all categories, which isn’t possible in any other country. So yes, it surely has an upper foot when compared to other nations.”
Creating new experiences Traveling Spoon connects travellers with local, vetted hosts to share the joy of a homemade meal in their home and learn about their cultural and culinary traditions passed down through generations. The US company has been able to perform well in India as many international tourists want atleast one such unique experience while travelling to a new country. Neha Kuriakose, regional community lead, Traveling Spoon, states, “Connecting local authentic tour experiences is a fantastic
way of understanding the cuisine and culture of a new place. These experiences give travellers a closer look into the local cultures through their home kitchens. Over time people have realised that Indian food is more than butter chicken and naan bread. They are curious to learn more about the everyday culture and food habits than just dine at fancy restaurants.” The hosts serve authentic Indian cuisine, often cooking age old recipes which has been passed down by generations. Such cooking sessions are not only lively but also add more value to the experience of a foreign traveller. Many times the guests go back and experiment with Indian dishes that they learned here as many spices are already available in major parts of the world. Goyal adds, “There is a large amount of audience who wants to explore the real India, the trend that we notice emerging in the near future are tours with chefs, food
“International travellers are more curious to learn about everyday food habits than just at fancy restaurants” Neha Kuriakose Regional community lead, Traveling Spoon
“We need to break the stereotype that Indian food is spicy or street food cause Delhi belly” Anubhav Sapra Founder, Delhi Food Walks
cover story) tours, tea tasting, Indian cooking class, spice tours among others. We are are also working on Indian tea tasting and Indian wine tasting, Indian spice farm visits, farm stay to expand our experiences.” Be it food tours across cities or food walks in historic areas, the traveller continues to demand more in terms of experience. “Cooking classes are a growing trend and liked by our clients. One of our hosts in Mumbai knows 20 different cuisines, each distinct from one another and shares all kinds of stories of how she learned them. Another host in Kochi cooks seafood dishes in the backwaters in Tawara which is very popular among tourists. Often hosts prepare dishes that are cooked during celebrations to give the travellers a taste of Indian culture. This creates an immersive experience where they interact and learn more about India through these families. Our clients enjoy these experiences as it gives them a better outlook about the country,” mentions Kuriakose. Sapra has also created a
28 EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD December 2017
special category called Mum's Kitchen where travellers get to cook along with his mother. He shares, “It is a very personalised experience as they see how the dishes are made and also lend a hand in the kitchen. The number of member is restricted from two to four so they are able to enjoy the process and also make a new memory.”
Festive feast “During Ramzan, the entire Old Delhi area is lit up with places offering authentic cuisine. We took it as a great opportunity to explore the food during festive time and started Iftar walks. I hunted for ven-
dors who specialised in festive dishes like kheema parantha, kebabs, etc, to give an authentic experience to the travellers. Now the walks are a massive hit and many locals also gather to try the food. I also tried a Sehri walk which started at 11 at night till four in the morning which was really appreciated by people,” said Sapra. He specifies that one has to be very careful while catering to international clients. “Many people are not used to the water or local ingredients. Thus while picking vendors we had to be sure the food was not too spicy and made with fresh ingredients. There has never been an issue because all inter-
national clients are happy trying the food from local shops and always indulge in the experience,” he added.
Growing demand Traveling Spoon is present in 25 countries and people from all over visit India and book these sessions. Kuriakose elaborates, “Our major clientele is from the US, Europe and Australia. The US and Australia are matured markets where the travellers are looking for different experiences that take them to the depths of a country's culture.” Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Kochi are some of the cities that are doing very well on Traveling
Often hosts prepare dishes that are cooked during celebrations to give the travellers a taste of Indian culture. This creates an immersive experience where they interact and learn more about India through these families
Spoon. Kuriakose explains, “With some unique experiences in Kerala, Goa and Chennai we have seen more bookings come in. We have seen a trend where many Japanese travellers come to Chennai, learn the local cuisine and prepare these dishes back home. It shows how Indian food culture is spreading once the travellers are back in their home countries.” Ravi Gosain, MD, Erco Travels who handles multiple foreign tours says culinary tourism is not a huge segment in the India market. “We organise special cuisine tours in restaurants, cooking sessions at homes and even food walks around the city. Our tours take people to local market where they even source the ingredients of the food they will be preparing later. The tour takes about four to five hours and almost 90 per cent of the people thoroughly enjoy it. However, there has not been a huge demand from the sector.” He says, “Our main markets are Europe and the US. The European travellers are from culturally rich countries like France and Spain. Therefore they are looking for such unique immersive experiences which tell them more about a culture.” While the tour operators are seeing limited demand, individual players are getting queries from across the world. Sapra who was listed on The New York Times says his major markets are the US, UK and Australia. His most famous Old Delhi Walks offers both breakfast and evening trails catering to different age groups. Culinary tourism might still be a small chunk of the tourism pie in the country but it is slowly gaining the attention of international travellers. With individual players promoting specialised tours through the digital medium, it is not difficult to find a unique experience. As the government plans to promote culinary tourism as part of its 'Incredible India 2.0' campaign the sector might gain more momentum in the coming years.
ADTOI hosts 8th convention in Vizag With the aim to showcase a new destination to the domestic travel market, ADTOI hosted its 8th convention in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Apart from discussing the prevalent issues of the industry, the event unveiled the potential of the state beyond religious tourism By Saloni Bhatia
ssociation of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) hosted its 8th convention, themed 'Explore India- One Nation, Many Worlds' from November 17 to 19 at Novotel Hotel, Varuna Beach, Visakhapatnam. The inauguration ceremony was held in the presence of N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh; Bhuma Akhila Priya Reddy, minister of tourism, Andhra Pradesh; Ashima Mehrotra, director, Ministry of Tourism among members of the ADTOI team. Welcoming the members, Chetan Gupta, honorary general secretary, ADTOI, stated, “The state of Andhra Pradesh holds immense potential beyond religious tourism and we as ADTOI will put rigorous efforts to place it on the domestic traveller's map. Apart from wonder beaches in Vizag, the state is also blessed with natural wonders in Araku Valley, Buddhist tourism spots, adventurous caves and many more locations that are yet to be explored by the tourists. The length of stay needs to be extended to make Andhra Pradesh a favourable destination among the local tourists.” In her address, Reddy informed, “The government of Andhra Pradesh is focusing on creating the necessary infrastructure for tourism growth. The tourism policy gives immense opportunities for private
investments in areas that can be future attractive destinations in Andhra Pradesh. The proposed Formula One racing track near Krishna river and Adventure Sports Academy in Kadapa district are examples of the state's efforts to push tourist inflow. We have already hosted several events this year like hot air balloon festival, Sounds on Sands. Another AR Rahman concert is being held by the end of this year. We plan to make Andhra Pradesh the next favourite destination for Indian tourists.” Naidu informed that Amravati, the new capital city which is being developed as a greenfield project, will soon be among the top five cities in the world. By 2029, the state is looking to attract `30,000 crore investment in the tourism sector, create 10 lakh jobs and increase the domestic tourist footfall to the
state to 353 million from the current 153 million. Showcasing his strong belief in public-private partnerships, Naidu further revealed that the government has already allotted 10 acres of land in Visakhapatnam to the Lulu Group to build a world-class convention centre along with a shopping mall within the next two years. He further added, “Andhra Pradesh will soon have electric vehicles as a cost effective and clean alternative because solar energy is soon going to be cheaper and our state has abundance of it.” Commenting on the tourism potential of the state, he stated, “We will develop five tourism hubs namely Amravati, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Anantpur and Rajamundry.” In his attempt to make tourism as a major contributor of the state's economy,
he asserted to introduce new policies that favour the sector. He requested all the members to send in ideas and queries in order to work with the government and make Andhra Pradesh a tourism hub for the country. Rajat Sawhney, vice president, ADTOI, informed that this was the association's attempt to foray in the southern market. The association also announced the opening of its Andhra Pradesh chapter, led by K Vijay Mohan, president, Tours and Travel Association of Andhra Pradesh. He said that the association will be penetrating the southern market and unveil new destinations that can transform the domestic tourism circuit. Addressing the audience, P P Khanna, president, ADTOI, said, “Visakhapatnam, popularly known as Vizag, is called the 'Goa of East India'. It truly
has some unique offerings for the domestic market with its well-built infrastructure and third cleanest city of India tag. Domestic tourists are keen to explore more destinations and we as an association want to unravel new places. With better connectivity, the state can exploit its tourism potential to the fullest. They can go beyond religious tourism and open circuits like Buddhist trail, tribal trail with more investment on the infrastructure front.” The three-day event also witnessed sessions on MICE tourism, infrastructure facility and challenges from the online market. State presentations by Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu-Kashmir further brought forward how domestic tourism is yet to fully explore many unknown regions in India. Other brands like AccorHotels and Deyor Camps presented their offerings. The pre and post FAM tours also unraveled some unique properties and locations that were not known to the members. Sunray and Pema wellness resort added to the leisure stay offerings in and around Vizag. Other locations like Submarine museum, Bavi Konda, Kailasagiri Hills which are ideal fit for day explorations in the city, while Borra Caves and Araku Valley can be two-day excursions away from the city.
30 EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD December 2017
Investing in the heart of Incredible India This year's Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart (MPTM) sought to promote the state as a year round destination and to attract private investors to invest in hotels and tourism amenities By Steena Joy
HE FOURTH edition of the Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart (MPTM) was held from October 27 to 29, 2017 at Hotel Lake View Ashok in Bhopal. Primary objective of the Mart was to market and promote Madhya Pradesh as a year round destination and also to drive investment to the state. The event was inaugurated by Surinder Patwa, minister of state with independent charges for culture, tourism, farmer welfare and agriculture development,
Hari Ranjan Rao
SPOTLIGHT the sidelines of the fourth edition of MPTM, Hari Ranjan Rao, tourism secretary, Madhya Pradesh, said, “We made a humble beginning four years ago and now we are gathering steam. Madhya Pradesh has everything except the Himalayas and the sea coast. We have large backwaters as well as a dozen water bodies which we plan to bring into the tourism ambit. MP has a rich diversity and the challenge for policy makers is to channelise this properly.” MP was the first state in India to set up a tourism cabinet. This is pathbreaking as
Government of Madhya Pradesh. The event also saw the launch of a book titled, ‘Tourism – Everyone’s Business’, authored by Gour Kanjilal. Over 200 national and international buyers and around 100 domestic exhibitors took part in the event, with B2B sessions scheduled over the two days. Madhya Pradesh, known popularly as the heart of Central India, is working hard to drive private investment into the state’s tourism and hospitality sectors. Speaking on
it gives the tourism department ample freedom and a mandate to create the best possible destinations. The state was also the first to set up a separate Tourism Board with the chief minister as chairman and the tourism secretary as managing director. The Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) has a new chairman, Chhavi Bhardwaj. It is the most dominant player in the tourism segment in MP with around 73 hotels, including jungle
lodges,business hotels, etc. MP Tourism has drafted a new policy for attracting private investment into the state. Rao said, “Land is the biggest cost of a new hotel project and since we have a lot of land, we are offering it at a very low reserve price. We have got very good response for this from around 22 to 30 hospitality brands. We are also offering our forts and palaces to private players to convert them into heritage hotels with a reserve price of only `1 lakh. Our belief is that instead of charging them a high price, we want them to invest the money in refurbishing the property. This is a change in our approach and thinking.” Orange County’s next property is coming up in Mandu. Mahindra Holidays and local brand Pugdundee also have upcoming hotels. The Grand Bhagwati group is also building a convention centre in Indore. The Oberoi group is also building a new property in Khajuraho. The state has also worked on providing quality infrastructure. It has set up wayside amenities called Midway Treat which will be operated on the franchise model, the first state in the country to do so. Very soon the entire state will have these Midway Treat outlets, informed Rao. “We are also inviting interest from water activity operators. The tourism department can now issue licences to water sports operators after due diligence is conducted. Around 30 operators have already applied for licences to start mini cruises, houseboats, etc,” he stated. MPTDC's jetties, boathouses, houseboats, etc, will be offered to private players operating water activities. Sixteen large water bodies have already been identified for starting these activities. MP is also actively promoting itself overseas. This is the first time the state will be doing a roadshow in the USA, to San Francisco, Newark and two other American destinations.
Changing the face of adventure travel in India While training how to fly, Captain Swadesh Kumar, founder, Shikhar Travels, soon found his true passion in conquering the mountains of India. Having led numerous expeditions in the Himalayas, he speaks to Express TravelWorld on his journey and the transformation of adventure travel in the country By Saloni Bhatia
ith over 40 years of experience in the adventure travel industry, Captain Swadesh Kumar has not only unraveled some pristine locations to adventure seekers from across the world, but also witnessed a massive expansion of the segment. As the founding member of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) and also the president, he believes it is time he gives back to the industry which is yet to reach its full potential in India. When asked what inspired him to start his own venture despite being a licensed pilot, he says, “The display of mountaineering equipment by an expedition team at college ignited my curiosity towards adventure travel. My active participation in the National Cadet Corps (NCC) gave me further motivation to head in the same direction. Being a member of the Delhi Mountaineering Association gave me my first trek opportunity in 1970 which cultivated into a training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in 1974. I was one of the fortunate people to be trained under Tenzing Norgay himself. After working with Cox and Kings and providing lectures on mountaineering all across the
Captain Swadesh Kumar
world, I decided to follow my passion and start Shikhar Travels.” Remembering his training days, he adds, “Apart from learning how to manage the most difficult situations as a leader, I also learned the importance of enjoying the moment from Norgay.” Kumar has led many expeditions of international delegations and represented India's adventure potential at numerous international forums. Later, adventure tour operators decided to come together as an association and work as a team in solving the problems of the industry. “We will continue to work upon the challenges as we add more members to strengthen our association. We hope to include state associations who can represent the local problems and give suggestions while we market adventure
tourism at the international level,” he mentions. The year 2018 is going to be celebrated as the year of adventure in India and Kumar is bringing together small initiatives that can help raise awareness about new adventure activities. From monthly meetings in every state to Adventure Travel Summit in April, he has some massive plans unfolding the growth potential of this segment. He comments, “Many states have now come for-
ward and shown interest to develop adventure activities in new locations. The definition of adventure has also changed with as many activities that involve the local communities being termed as soft adventure. Adventure travel in India is bound to grow leaps and bounds, we will only be accelerating it through our efforts.” Kumar, who shares a deep concern for sustainable and secure travel, mentions, “There is a very thin line be-
tween adventure travel and sports tourism. As tour operators, we manage huge amount of responsibility regarding the safety and security of our clients. However, the unorganised growth in the sector has degraded the standard of operations to an alarming situation. Many do not follow guidelines and operate without proper equipment. With no rescue centre in place it is difficult to provide immediate help in case of an accident."
MOVEMENTS TripAdvisor TripAdvisor has announced the appointment of SALLY DAVEY in the role of global director, industry relations. Davey will lead TripAdvisor Industry Relations in support of the tourism industry, and serve as TripAdvisor’s liaison and ambassador for hospitality trade associations and government tourism organisations. Her chief focus will be building awareness and providing education about the benefits, resources, policies, products, tools and services of the TripAdvisor platform. Davey joined TripAdvisor in 2014 when the company she founded, Tripbod.com, was acquired by TripAdvisor Media Group, and has since served as product director.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Regent Seven Seas Cruises recently announced the appointment of MEGAN HERNANDEZ as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the cruise line. Hernandez will lead the brand’s global marketing strategy and
South African Tourism South African tourism has recently announced ALPA JANI’s appointment to the key trade relations and marketing role for the MEISEA region. Jani has served as trade relations manager at South African Tourism’s Mumbai office for seven years.
During this time, she has worked with travel agents to position South Africa as a standalone destination in the early years and then moved on to increasing length of stay, which now stands at 11-14 days. Her projects at South African Tourism include the Learn South Africa programme in India, which in its second edition, travelled to 17 cities, educating travel agents on the intricacies of selling destination South Africa. HANNELI SLABBER has also been appointed to the new position which is intended to bring better synergies to South African Tourism’s operations in the region. Slabber has held the reins at South African Tourism’s India office for the past seven years and will continue to guide and influence its operations going ahead. She has developed effec-
drive worldwide preference among both travellers and travel agent partners. Hernandez was most recently the vice president of guest experience marketing for Norwegian Cruise Line, where she led loyalty, product, consumer, and travel partner marketing, and market research.
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tive and long-lasting ties with media houses, travel trade, airlines and other authority figures in the travel industry.
American Express Global Business Travel American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has announced the appointment of ASHISH KISHORE as the new managing director for GBT India. In his new role, Kishore will have overall management responsibility for GBT's business in India. He will be part of the Asia Pacific leadership team, reporting to Elyes Mrad, managing director, international. Kishore joins GBT from air services provider, dnata, where he was country head for India. In this role, he oversaw the entire business strategy, had responsibility for 400 employees and grew the business to its successful position today.
Swiss International Airlines ANDRÉ BLATTMANN, former chief of the Swiss Armed Forces, has been appointed to the board of directors of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). Current board member Jacques Aigrain will also be relinquishing his mandate in mid-2018. He succeeds Montie Brewer, who will step down from the board at the end of 2017. Further, current board member Aigrain will also be relinquishing his mandate in mid-2018.
Booking.com Booking.com recently announced the appointment of RITU MEHROTRA as area manager, as part of its endeavour to strengthen the company’s leadership team in India. Mehrotra will be responsible for steering Booking.com’s India operations, initially in the North and leading the next phase of growth focused on building strong partnerships throughout the country. Based out of Booking.com’s Gurugram office, Mehrotra will work closely with Vikas Bhola, head of the Indian sub-continent on business expansion. Prior to this, she held the position of vice president, global growth at Zomato where she was responsible for starting enterprise teams for strengthening global partnerships, launch of the table reservation platform and improving the top line growth for the company.
Victor Mogilev Gary Ye
will be responsible for spearheading the company’s hotel portfolio in China. Among his varied responsibilities are driving operational excellence to raise guest satisfaction levels and brand compliance, developing and implementing key strategies and services to elevate owner, employees and guest engagement and leading commercial resources to drive revenue and profitability. His previous roles include area manager for the Shanghai cluster of Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels, where he championed group hotel activities, developed future general managers and built business relationships with partners.
Diethelm Travel Group
Carlson Rezidor has appointed GARY YE as vice president of operations, China. Based at the company’s Shanghai office, Gary
Diethelm Travel Group has appointed VICTOR MOGILEV as group director of sales and JANEJIRA
VEWATANAWARANGKUN as general manager, Diethelm Travel Thailand. Both are based at the Diethelm Travel head office in Bangkok. As the previous general manager of Diethelm Travel Thailand, Mogilev has wide-ranging experience within the industry and Diethelm Travel, having been with the company in various roles since 2012. Janejira Vewatanawarangkun, joins the Diethelm Travel Thailand team from All Asia Exclusive (AAE) where she was the general manager.
E V E N T S
UNIQUE BLEND Kadakampally Surendran, minister for tourism, Kerala (third from left) has launched 'Ayurbodha' a unique tourism product at the World Travel Mart in London
TALE OF BRAVERY MTDC and MCGM recently paid tribute to brave hearts on 26/11 anniversary through Artist at Talent Street at kala Ghoda
HARNESSING POTENTIAL Minister of state for culture, tourism, J&K, Priya Sethi (third from left) at the recent ITM Jammu
VIBRANT TRADITION In order to attract tourist footfall, District Tourism Promotion Council Palakkad recently organised a week-long Kalpathy National Music Festival in association with the cultural department
CULTURAL EXCHANGE The Seoul Metropolitan Government celebrated its first ever Seoul-India Friendship Festival at Cyber Hub, Gurugram
CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE Amadeus India recently hosted its Flight for Excellence event in Mumbai
E V E N T S
STRONG AT 13 Kazakhstan’s Skytrax carrier Air Astana recently celebrated 13 years of connecting India to Kazakhstan and Eurasia
MEGA HOST The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), in collaboration with Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways and EVA Airways, hosted over 300 delegates on the Thailand Mega FAM Trip
COMMITMENT TO FASHION Etihad Airways unveiled the new F1 Grid Girls uniform created by New York-based Nepalese designer, Prabal Gurung
GOLDEN RECOGNITION Bangalore International Exhibition Centre’s newly constructed Hall 4 has been conferred with a ‘Gold’ rating by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) under its ‘New Building’ rating system
MAGICAL KIEV Air Arabia recently organised a FAM tour to promote the city of Kiev in Ukraine for top 10 Indian travel agents
FRUITFUL COLLABORATION Lufthansa Group signed strategic partnership agreement with Fliggy.com and announced Direct Connect Solution
REGD.WITH RNI NO. MAHENG/2005/15993,POSTAL REGD. NO. MCS/163/2016 – 18,PUBLISHED ON 11TH EVERY MONTH, POSTED ON 12TH,13TH,14TH OF EVERY MONTH, POSTED AT MUMBAI PATRIKA CHANNEL SORTING OFFICE,MUMBAI – 400001.
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