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ome September and the travel industry, especially associations dedicated to the cause of tourism, get into the conference, convention and mart mode. The objective is clear, to get people to connect, reconnect, learn and unlearn on what is, what can be and what should be. The aim is to network, introspect and acknowledge both triumphs and tribulations, with a resolve to work towards the betterment of business and the industry in general. The recently held HRAO event in Odisha set the tone for such discussions. It was also the meeting of minds, both from the public and the private sector, to improve their tourism strategy and bring in the desired results. As I have mentioned in my previous edits, the future source markets for both domestic and outbound travel will emerge from the Tier II and III cities of India. Further, the recently held ICPB Convention also emphasised on the need to commence regional chapters to have a pan India presence, both in metros and other towns. The government's ambition to bring in 20 million tourist arrivals by 2020 was

“ From the tried and tested triangles to offbeat and experiential tours and itineraries,the India story holds a plethora of promise in tourism, which aims to be offered to both national and international markets ”

expressed at the convention. The chairman of ICPB articulately linked the two, wherein attracting MICE business into the country will work as a strong and favourable strategy to bring in the numbers. Our cover story elaborates on various areas of work that is happening and should be done to get to the 2020 dream. September will also witness a focused mart dedicated to the inbound sector of tourism. International buyers will meet in the country's capital to market the India story in their respective countries. From the tried and tested triangles to offbeat and experiential tours and itineraries, the India story holds a plethora of promise in tourism, which aims to be offered to both national and international markets at these convergences. India Tourism with its new Incredible India 2.0 campaign is powerful; all we need is a little more for us to score. REEMA LOKESH Editor

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September 2018

CONTENTS EVENT ROUNDUP Vol 13 No 8 September 2018 Pages 40


Chairman of the Board Viveck Goenka Sr. Vice President - BPD Neil Viegas Asst. Vice President - BPD Harit Mohanty

TALKING DIGITALISATION IN THE MOTHER CITY Affectionately called Mother City by South Africans, Cape Town was the venue of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI)'s fourth convention. As the theme of the convention was very modern - 'DigitalisationThe way forward', hosting it in this province with a colonial history was a perfect blend of the old and the new

Editor Reema Lokesh* Assistant Editor Steena Joy Sr. Associate Editor Sudipta Dev DESIGN Assistant Art Director Pravin Temble Chief Designer Prasad Tate


Senior Designer Rekha Bisht Graphics Designer Gauri Deorukhkar Senior Artist Ratilal Ladani DIGITAL TEAM Head of Internet Viraj Mehta SCHEDULING & COORDINATION

TOURISM IN ODISHA: ALL SET FOR TAKE OFF The recently held 3rd edition of the Odisha Tourism Conclave organised by Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) supported by Government of Odisha, witnessed a meeting of minds to relook, redefine, learn and unlearn policies


Santosh Lokare Photo Editor Sandeep Patil MARKETING Prabhas Jha Debnarayan Dutta CIRCULATION Mohan Varadakar PRODUCTION General Manager B R Tipnis

The India tourism inbound story has been written, rewritten, coded and decoded over the years. But this time the goal looks reasonably reachable because the policy makers seem to be in touch with ground reality and attempting some real-time reforms to achieve the numbers of 20 million inbound by 2020

Manager Bhadresh Valia




Express TravelWorld® POSTAL REGD. NO. MCS/163/2016 – 18 RNI Reg. No.MAHENG/2005/15993 Printed by The Indian Express (P) Ltd. and published by Ms Vaidehi Thakar on behalf of






The Indian Express Press, Plot No. EL-208, TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, Navi Mumbai 400710 and Published from Express Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021. (Editorial & Administrative Offices: Express Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point,


Mumbai – 400021)



ON THE RIGHT MERIDIAN IN AL AQAH It's that part of the UAE which is both classic and contemporary, a place that offers luxury with character. Fujairah and within it the Al Aqah region aims to offer classy comforts and the Le Meridien Al Aqah fits in perfectly with that definition.

Copyright © 2018 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


Mumbai to host world premiere of Cirque du Soleil show BAZZAR Sudipta Dev Mumbai THE WORLD PREMIERE of Cirque du Soleil's new spectacular show, BAZZAR, will be held in Mumbai in November, 2018. BookMyShow, which has had a long term association with Cirque du Soleil, has brought the show to India, which will be open to public from November 15, 2018 in Mumbai and from December 25, 2018 in Delhi. Reiterating BookMyShow's commitment to bring quality entertainment to India, Ashish Hemrajani, CEO and cofounder, BookMyShow said, “Cirque is the best in business, it has been a lifetime dream to work with them. We started this project two years ago, it has culminated into this. We sought support from the Government of Maharashtra and they have been very supportive.” Hemrajani thanked Maha-

rashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for his proactive support. Montreal in Quebec is home to Cirque du Soleil. VK Gau-

tam, principal secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Department, Government of Maharashtra mentioned that the state has an MoU with Que-

bec to promote tourism. “We want the show to be a sustainable feature of Mumbai''s tourism landscape.” Daniel Lamarre, CEO and

president, Cirque Du Soleil stated, “We are here for the long run and are going to present great shows, BAZZAR is the first. I want to thank our main sponsor Citibank for making tickets affordable. We started in 1998 with street performers who had the dream to travel the world, today we have performed in 450 cities and are represented by 50 nationalities.” Two Mallakhamba artistes are the first Indians to join the show. Lamarre added that the coming years will see more Indian artistes touring the world with Cirque shows. He also shared that this is the first time the world premiere of a show is happening at a place outside of Montreal. Susan Gaudreau, show writer and director, Cirque Du Soleil Bazzar, gave an insight into the story of the show and the spectacular performances never witnessed in India before.

GoAir to commence international operations from October ETW Staff Mumbai GOAIR, one of India’s leading airlines, is all set to commence its international flight operations. GoAir will offer India’s first ever direct service to Phuket, Thailand effective October 11, 2018 from Delhi and Mumbai. This will be followed by its second international service connecting Mumbai and Delhi with Male, Maldives effective October 14, 2018. These destinations will also be connected from Bengaluru in the near future. With the introduction of these flights,

the airline will increase its operations by 28 flights to a total of 1680 flights per week. GoAir will operate three di-

rect flight services per week between Mumbai – Phuket – Mumbai at an affordable return fare starting from `18,999 (all inclu-

sive); two direct flight services per week between Delhi – Phuket – Delhi at an affordable return fare starting from `18,999 (all inclusive). Similarly, the airline will operate three direct flight services per week between Mumbai – Male – Mumbai at an affordable return fare starting from `17,999 (all inclusive); three direct flight services per week between Delhi – Male – Delhi at an affordable return fare starting from `18,999 (all inclusive). GoAir will continue to operate its A320 aircraft in all operations and on both these interna-

tional routes. Commenting on the launch of their international operations, Cornelis Vrieswijk, CEO, GoAir said, “Phuket and Male are key tourist destinations and hold a lot of promise. As an LCC, we have always strived to offer the best value for money to our customers and now we extend this proposition to the international traveller as well. The international schedules have been planned to allow quick and convenient connections for customers and is a reflection of our continued journey towards excellence.”



September 2018


'INDIAIS AN EMERGING MARKET FOR PRIVATE JETS' Club One Air is one of India’s largest and most professionally run charter companies. Rajan Mehra, CEO, Club One Air shares why he believes the business aviation segment is a volcano about to erupt. By Sudipta Dev Your views on how the air charter segment has evolved in India in recent years? India is an emerging market for private jets with rising economic growth, expanding business interests and increasing number of billionaires. India’s strategic geographical location, difficult terrains, favourable demographics, robust economic growth and business interests that are now looking at the interior tier 2 and tier 3 cities make it an ideal playground for business aviation. A change of mindset of the authorities, the right policies focused on business side of aviation, increased focus on infrastructure development, rationalisation of taxes and easing of regulations could unleash the tremendous potential that lies in India for business aviation. We only have to see how a country like the US has seen tremendous gains for its economy through the rise of business aviation. India is already the third largest aviation market and is tipped to be the largest aviation market by the year 2030, business aviation will certainly have to play a vital role if this goal has to be achieved. There are many challenges in this segment, how are you coping with the same? The commercial side of aviation in India has seen a very healthy growth, the business side, unfortunately has not seen the same growth. But I have always felt, and am on record saying this, business aviation in India is a volcano waiting to erupt. The government must understand the business aviation is not just for the rich and



September 2018

famous, but can be a great tool for economic growth and employment generation. Once this realisation occurs, India can move steadily ahead towards a consistent 20 per cent growth in this sector, much like the growth we have been seeing in the commercial aviation space. The onus is not government alone to make this happen. The industry too needs to become more professional. There are several large industrial houses that keep aircraft for their private use and charter them when they are not in use. This can only lead to a half-hearted approach which is neither here nor there. We need professionally run charter companies whose goals are to grow the companies into world class business aviation entities. Do you foresee any silver lining in time to come? What would be the key driver for this change? The demand for charter jets in a country like India will keep increasing, for reasons mentioned above. India’s continuing rising economic growth, expanding business interests extending into the interiors, and a middle class with disposable incomes, coupled with India’s strategic geographical location, difficult terrains, favourable demographics, will ensure that the demand for business jets will keep rising. Currently India has around 550 aircraft within the business aviation fleet. Over 150 are business jets, about 275 are helicopters and the rest are turbo props. It is projected that this fleet size should reach 800 by 2020. At Club One Air, we pride ourselves in being India’s

They would like to travel to a small town, do their business and return back the same night, something which would be extremely difficult in an airline. If the government gets its act right and makes businessaviation – friendly policies, if the industry professionalises itself, if we see a thrust by the decision makers on infrastructure development, we could see a very healthy growth of 15-20 per cent for business aviation.

Rajan Mehra

largest and most professionally run charter company. Our biggest differentiator is our large and varied fleet size of state-of-the-art business jets, global service standards, complete reliability and of course safety. Our biggest USP is that we guarantee a plane, and if, for any reason it may not available, we provide a replacement aircraft immediately. For us the customer comes first, and that is why, although we are not the cheapest, we have a loyal and captive client base. We have seen a healthy growth of 18-20 per cent in the last two years, with new categories of clients joining us. This has encouraged us to add more jets to our ever-growing fleet of aircraft. In the last three months, we have added two Falcon 2000 aircraft to our fleet. Whereas previously only industrialists at the top of the pyramid used business jets, we now have middle level business men who, realising the value of time are turning towards private jets to grow their businesses into the different regions of India.

What are your exclusive offerings for the destination wedding segment ? Destination weddings require bigger jets for guests, however our current fleet consists of Bombardier, Falcons and Cessna planes which can be used for VIP movements. It is true that our client base consists of a very large number of celebrities, politicians and the who’s who of the business world, who have been steadfastly loyal to us so any movement for weddings will be welcomed by Club One Air. Our client is extremely satisfied with our high professional standards, reliability and personalised service. Our target destinations will continue to be primarily within India, Middle East, Europe, US, China, FarEast and Japan so any movement there for weddings will be welcomed by Club One Air. What are your other luxury products for the HNIs and corporates ? We have started World Class Luxury Airport Lounges under the banner of Club One Class which shall be offering cuisines and comfort to the flyers. Currently we have active

airport lounges at Jaipur, Udaipur and Vadodara, we shall be soon operating the same from Jammu, Bhubaneshwar and Ahmedabad. How will air charter companies like Club One Air contribute to remote connectivity, in the near future ? In the last decade that we have been in operation, Club One Air planes have crisscrossed the length and breadth of India. We have a varied mix of high performance jets and a total fleet of 10 jets. In the last two years alone, we have operated to over 250 cities and small/medium towns of India. This includes several “uncontrolled airports”- a term used for airports that have very few/ no facilities, some do not even have an ATC support. This list includes airports like Gorakhpur, Ghazipur and Sultanpur in UP, Akola, Kolhapur, Solapur in Maharashtra; Rourkela, Chihindwara and Bhilai in Chhattisgarh; Jhalawar, Sirohi and Ganganagar in Rajasthan amongst a long list of destinations that we have served. UDAN has certainly been a game changer for the aviation industry of India. It was not devised for business aviation but for a different segment. However, the infrastructure being developed for regional airlines will certainly assist business aviation too. Earlier, we were going to remote places with very little infrastructure support, patchy air strips and no ATC support. But with the government now focusing on these issues for the UDAN participants, business aviation should see a trickle-down effect.


Dubai Leisure Roadshow showcases varied highlights Sudipta Dev Mumbai DUBAI TOURISM had recently organised Dubai Leisure Roadshow in India. It was a strategic decision to hold the roadshow at this time of the year, ahead of Diwali holidays. The roadshow in fact saw one of the biggest delegations coming from Dubai. Khalid Al Awar, manager – India and Pakistan, International Operations, Dubai Tourism said, “Mumbai is a key market for Dubai and contributes top number, given the strong connectivity between Mumbai and Dubai. We are also focusing on Tier II cities. The Nijhawan Group has a well established distribution in India.” Pointing out that for Indian travellers Dubai is a familiar place, he said, “Unlike other tourism boards we do not have the challenge of creating awareness. In Dubai, we are able to give Indian travellers different experiences. This time we have merged cruise and leisure tourism, given the rise in cruise travellers from India.” He believes that Dubai is a year-long destination for Indians. The ease of visa processing has led to more growth. Those with a US visa can get visa on arrival for 48 hours. Family travel comes at the top of the list. There is a lot of investment from the private sector and the government in this segment for developing new attractions targeted at families. The government also has plans to waive off visa fee for children below 18 years.

Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart to highlight the state as a year round destination ETW Staff Mumbai THE FIFTH EDITION of Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart will be held at Hotel Lake View Ashok in Bhopal from October 5 to 7 this year. Over 200 national and international buyers and about 100 representatives of distinct Indian markets are expected to participate in it. The event will be inaugurated by the dignitaries from the state. The primary objective of this mart is to market and promote Madhya Pradesh as a destination throughout the year. The concept is a B2B platform which will bring tourism stakeholders on a platform where they would interact to explore opportunities of mutual trade. The event is being supported by eminent institutions of tourism and hospitality industry including IATO, ATOAI, ADTOI, TAAI,

“Dubai is one of the safest destinations in the world. This is of particular significance to families. We also see a lot of women travelling in groups, for them Dubai is perfect – safety, shopping, spas and other facilities,” said Al Awar. There has been growth of repeat visitors to Dubai from

India. “The Indian traveller is always evolving and looking for new things. We need to promote different products for these travellers to come again,” he mentioned, adding that segments like sports tourism is key for Dubai, for instance the upcoming Asia Cup, which will have pull for Indian travellers.

ITTA, PATA, ICPB, TOFT, IHHA and TAFI. International participants attending this year’s mart are from Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Thailand, Poland, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, South Africa, Mexico, Fiji, Italy, Russia, Norway, Argentina, Belgium, Ukraine and France. This year’s focus will be to highlight Madhya Pradesh as a year round travel destination. The two day B2B exhibition will be attended by representatives from heritage hotels, conference venues, tour operators and wildlife parks. There will be post event FAM tours for the buyers and media to places of interest such as Mandu, Sanchi, Kanha and Pench which will be organised by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board.

The two day B2B exhibition will be attended by representatives from heritage hotels, conference venues, tour operators and wildlife parks



September 2018


World Tourism Day 2018: Tourism and the digital transformation ETW Staff Mumbai THE IMPORTANCE of digital technologies in tourism, providing opportunities for innovation and preparing the sector for the future of work, is at the centre of World Tourism Day 2018. World Tourism Day, celebrated every September 27 around the world, is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on tourism’s actual and potential contribution to sustainable development. This year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) will help to put the opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, on the map of sustainable development. The World Tourism Organisation

(UNWTO) sees digital advances and innovation as part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth

with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector. “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provides

tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource manage-

ment, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general, UNWTO. The WTD official celebration will be held in Budapest, Hungary, a country enjoying steady growth of tourism backed by consistent policy support and a commitment to the digital future. Other celebrations will take place worldwide. The official celebration will also see the announcement of the semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition, launched by UNWTO and Globalia to give visibility to startups with innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing the way we travel and enjoy tourism.

Tourism Fiji launches brand campaign with Ileana D’Cruz ETW Staff Mumbai WITH OVER 300 islands, the resplendent Fiji transports you to a land of pure bliss from the very first ‘Bula’. Bringing a little bit of heaven to India, Tourism Fiji unveiled its new brand campaign, #BulaHappiness with their Brand Ambassador, Bollywood starlet, Ileana D’cruz. The campaign video launched in Mumbai amidst the presence of Ileana D’cruz; His Excellency Yogesh Punja, high commissioner of the Republic of Fiji; Kathy Koyamaibole, regional manager Asia and Seema Kadam, country manager India, Tourism Fiji and other Fiji partners.



September 2018

The perfect blend of sandy shores, green interiors and warm, friendly people is what Fiji is all about and Tourism Fiji’s new campaign video exemplifies this beautifully. The video encapsulates Ileana’s experience during her visit, highlighting some of the best places and unparalleled experiences in Fiji. Commenting on the new campaign, Kadam said, “India holds a lot of potential for us as far as tourism is concerned and a lot of focus is driven towards the growth of the market. From 2016-2017, there has been a 30 per cent increase in Indian nationals visiting Fiji. During the first quarter of this year, we recorded a rapid growth of 27.8 per cent as compared to 2017,

Ileana D'cruz

making India one of the fastest growing tourism source markets, for Fiji. With Ileana as our Brand Ambassador, we aim to showcase through this campaign video, a first-hand experience of what Fiji has to offer and hope that more and more Indians experience what this beautiful country has to offer.” D’Cruz said, “I love travelling and Fiji has always been on my travel bucket list. Associating with Tourism Fiji is not only a great opportunity, but also a novel and unparalleled experience. Fiji is not only about the beautiful beaches. The food, culture, people, adventure, all together makes this gorgeous place, one big playground for the entire family. Shooting for this

campaign in Fiji was one of the most memorable and unforgettable experiences I have ever had.” Tourism Fiji’s campaign was launched at the Fiji Roadshow, which was held in August, across all the metropolitan cities in India - Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru. Tourism Fiji partners - Fiji Airways, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Matamanoa Island Resort, Namale Resort & Spa Fiji, Sofitel Resort & Spa Fiji and The Pearl Resort were also a part of this roadshow. The partners highlighted what makes Fiji the next big destination for Indians, the visitor attractions and some of the unparalleled experiences that one can get only in Fiji.


Weddings a key segment of IHCL's sales focus

Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority conducts a four city roadshow ETW Staff Mumbai

Sudipta Dev Mumbai THE INDIAN HOTELS Company (IHCL) recently organised the second edition of its sales mission in Mumbai and Delhi. This year saw participation from 57 hotels from India, Bhutan, Dubai, Langkawi, London, Maldives and Sri Lanka, as compared to 37 properties in 2017. Renu Basu, senior vice president, Global Sales, IHCL, said, “In 2016, we did our first sales mission in Dubai and other markets of the Middle East like Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Bahrain. Along with India, we also did London and Dubai last year. This is in addition to all the travel shows we participate in and the trade shows.” While trade partners from Pune, Nagpur, etc., also attended the one-day event in Mumbai, in Delhi the sales mission is for two days due to a larger number of agencies there. “We believe the time was right to start this in India. The general managers and directors of sales and marketing participate under one roof and meet all our travel trade partners, wedding

Renu Basu

planners and conference organisers to engage with them, build and nurture relationships, to update and educate them about all our hotels, and the new things about our hotels,” stated Basu, adding that new hotels participate to showcase the products they have to offer. She pointed out that last year there was more participation from destination management companies (DMCs), while this year it included many wedding planners, conference organisers, and travel agents who handle In-

dian business. “We have expanded the scope of the effort. Not only did we get a good response from our customers, but we also got an excellent response from our general managers who are happy to meet the travel trade,” remarked Basu. Weddings form an important segment of the sales efforts. About 12 years ago IHCL started focusing on having a sales team to handle weddings. Last year The Taj Wedding Studio was launched. “In India, the Taj had been part of wedding events for over seven decades. Decisions on weddings are taken by word of mouth. At the hotels there is a lot of expertise and knowledge we carry, across different destinations - from large cities to smaller cities, we are the preferred wedding venue. Then came the era for destination weddings - from beach weddings in Goa to royal weddings in Rajasthan. The palaces became a huge driver for people to have their weddings there. People want authentic experiences, which we have. We epitomise what the customers are looking for,” mentioned Basu.

MAURITIUS Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA India) conducted a four city roadshow in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Mumbai recently to acquaint Indian travel partners with the destination, and meet the hoteliers, DMCs and activity companies. Arvind Bundhun, director, MTPA said, ‘Mauritius is a heaven of peace besides being a rich melting pot and a glamourous destination. We excel in different niche: Golf, spas, hotellerie, gastronomy and above all a sense of hospitality. The objective of this roadshow is to promote Mauritius as a beyond the beach destination and this strategic platform will allow Indian partners to keep abreast of latest happenings in the tourism industry in Mauritius. Sanjay Sondhi, CEO, OM Tourism said “This roadshow served as a great platform for the Indian tour operators to have a meaningful dialogue with the suppliers from Mauritius that include hotels, DMCs and activity companies.” Vivek Anand, country manager, MTPA India said, “The objective of the roadshow was to update the travel fraternity and help them forge business ties with the Mauritius suppliers. We have seen a year on year growth of 11 per cent in Indian tourist

Arvind Bundhun

arrivals over the last four years, taking the number to 86,000 in 2017. We are targeting 1,20,000 tourists by 2020. We expect a healthy growth in the MICE and wedding segment and will be promoting Mauritius as a destination ‘Beyond the Beach’. More and more Indian travellers are planning to travel to the affordable luxury destination, Mauritius. We are consistently getting enquiries for Indian weddings. Producers are also keen to shoot Bollywood movies in Mauritius.” He added, “Mauritius offers amazing activities for adventure lovers like sky diving, ziplining, quad biking, seakarting, submarine rides, helicopter tours, a once in a life time experience of walking with the lions and last but not least Fly like Iron Man n' Dive like a Dolphin in the newly launched Flyboard in Mauritius.”



September 2018


Lufthansa launches ‘Elevator Pitch’contest ETW Staff Mumbai LUFTHANSA has launched ‘Elevator Pitch’, an extraordinary contest offering start-up entrepreneurs an opportunity to make a three-minute business pitch at Start-up Expo 2018, powered by Lufthansa India and the Delhi-NCR Chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). The winner will get a sponsored seat in a business program at Cambridge University, a Lufthansa Business Class ticket to Europe as well as coveted TiE DelhiNCR mentorship. Registration is now open for the contest. Start-up entrepreneurs are invited to apply online at by September 15, 2018. This will be followed by two rounds of

shortlisting by the best business minds. Selected participants will make an elevator pitch to the jury in each round and the finalists will receive mentoring to

further sharpen their pitch before the Grand Finale. The contest will culminate at the Start-Up Expo on October 6, 2018 at Pragati Maidan, New

Delhi. The top four contestants will make a live elevator pitch at the Expo, where an eminent jury – comprising business experts, investors and senior govern-

ment dignitaries – will announce the winner. “Young entrepreneurs in India are saying yes to dreams as they explore new opportunities. At Lufthansa, we feel privileged to help them say yes to success,” said Wolfgang Will, senior director, South Asia, Lufthansa Group Airlines. The Elevator Pitch contest is an extension of Lufthansa’s new #SayYesToTheWorld campaign, which celebrates the zest to discover the world. Lufthansa has joined hands with TiE Delhi-NCR to co-host the Start-Up Expo for the past three years. It is now recognised as India’s largest ecosystem for start-up success. The unique one-day convention offers new entrepreneurs all that they need to succeed – free of cost!

Qatar among 10 most open visa countries in the world: UNWTO ETW Staff Mumbai QATAR has become the most open country in the Middle East and the 8th most open in the world in terms of visa facilitation. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently updated its visa openness rankings, confirming Qatar’s recent visa facilitation improvements including allowing nationals of 88 countries to enter Qatar visafree and free-of-charge. Actions Qatar has taken to improve visa facilitation include introducing an online platform for efficient and transparent visa processing and e-visas, as well as a free 96-hour transit visa dou-



September 2018

bling the time stopover passengers can remain in the country. As a result of these measures, Qatar’s visa openness ranking has leapt to eighth in the world from 177th back in 2014. Since the introduction of these changes, year-on-year arrivals from India have grown 18 per cent, from China 43 per cent and from Russia a huge 366 per cent. None of these markets now need a visa to visit Qatar. In 2014, Qatar commissioned a visa facilitation study for the country, which UNWTO prepared based on its global openness data. “Qatar has implemented and overachieved the recommendations of the study, setting an example by spear-

Qatar’s visa openness ranking has leapt to eighth in the world from 177th back in 2014 heading safe and seamless travel, enhancing the visitor experience and better placing itself to improve mobility for its citizens,” said Zurab Pololikashvili,

secretary-general, UNWTO. “Openness and ease of access are crucial elements of the visitor experience. We have committed to making it a seamless experience, even as visitors plan their journey. We will continue to work with our partners on streamlining the immigration process at Qatar’s ports of entry, as well as ensuring that all visitor visas and visa procedures are electronic,” said Hassan Al Ibrahim, chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority. UNWTO measures the mobility of citizens based on their ability to travel seamlessly to other countries. While Qatar currently ranks 106th in the world in terms of mobility, 20 of

the countries benefiting from the Qatari visa waiver are already reciprocating, enhancing the mobility of Qatar’s citizens. Facilitating seamless travel is crucial to the continued promotion of tourism as a development vehicle and potential pillar of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Qatar’s travel facilitation improvements coincide with progress made in visa facilitation worldwide. For example, Belarus recently made visa-free travel available for 30 days to citizens of 74 countries travelling through Minsk airport. UNWTO’s global visa openness index score has increased from 31 in 2014 to 37 in 2018.


#UnDiscover the world in Aussieland The 16th edition of Tourism Australia’s India Travel Mission (ITM) held in Jaipur recently reaffirmed that the India market has given the destination an unprecedented response. The spotlight during ITM 2018 was on Signature Experiences By Reema Lokesh


he 16th edition of Tourism Australia’s India Travel Mission (ITM) which was recently held in Jaipur, proved to be a meeting of minds to both discover and undiscover the world in the southern hemisphere. ITM 2018 brought together 75 Australian tourism businesses to meet with 87 travel retailers from India in over 6,500 business appointments over three days. The event witnessed participation from 14 first time seller participants and 20 buyer companies. ITM enables Australian tourism product suppliers such as hotels, airlines, state and regional tourism boards and attractions to secure future business to further grow tourism opportunity for Australia in India. The spotlight during ITM 2018 was on Signature Experiences –a collection which offers an exciting, invigorating and diverse range of travel options including Australian Wildlife Collection, Great Golf Courses of Australia, Great Walks of Aus-

tralia, Luxury Lodges of Australia and the Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia. Brent Anderson, regional general manager, South & South East Asia, Tourism Australia (TA) attributes the success story to the camaraderie between the two countries. This is something that cannot be explained and it clearly reflects in the business. He feels the local team of TA is undoubtedly their strength. “India is a significant market for Australia and has been seeing a very encouraging growth trend. The introduction of Signature Experiences, the participation of new products showcasing at ITM this year and commitment of tourism suppliers who have been investing in India over the past decade is a cohesive effort to bring top selection of Australian tourism experiences to Indian High Value Travellers (HVTs). We are grateful to have received the unstinted support of the Indian and Australian tourism industry to make ITM 2018 a success,” stated Anderson.

Commenting on ITM 2018, Nishant Kashikar, country manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia said, “ITM 2018 has the largest ever delegation of Australian tourism suppliers and that speaks volumes of the potential of India as a key inbound market for Australia. Our focus for the year is to sustain the growth in arrivals and drive yield through our strategic trade and consumer initiatives. After achieving the 2020 goal of 300,000 visitors, three years ahead of the target date, our ambitions are fueled to go bigger and achieve higher milestones”. In addition to ITM, the distribution strategy of TA includes an enriched trade engagement programme. One of the pioneers of the online destination training initiative – The Aussie Specialist Programme, TA has recruited over 5,700 travel agents across India. TA has embraced technology for their trade outreach, while the certified Aussie Specialists have special access to a resourceful online toolkit to sell Australian

(L-R) Nishant Kashikar, country manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia and Brent Anderson, regional general manager, South & South East Asia, Tourism Australia

holidays, trade partners are regularly engaged through webinars and e-newsletters. TA has also been working closely with key distribution partners to re-

ward top performing agents and provides opportunities for select frontline staff and product teams to have a first-hand experience of Australia through their



September 2018

IN FOCUS global trade events like Corroboree and the Australian Tourism Exchange. India is currently Australia’s fastest growing inbound tourism market recording a double-digit growth in arrival and spend for the fourth consecutive year. Arrivals from India to Australia grew by 19.6 per cent for the year ended June 2018 with an influx of 335,100 visitors, compared to same period last year, making India the eighth largest inbound market for Australia.

New marketing campaign #UnDiscover Australia It is a launch of new bespoke campaign that challenges prevalent stereotypes about Australia. TA has launched the campaign for India and South East Asia. The latest chapter in TA’s evolving ‘There's Nothing Like Australia’ campaign, UnDiscover Australia specifically targets high value travellers in India, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. The campaign challenges perceptions and stereotypes of what Australia offers as a tourism destination by showcasing unusual, unfamiliar and unexpected attractions and experiences. It is being backed by Australia’s state and territory tourism organisations, airlines, and a range of other key distribution partners. India is currently Australia’s fastest growing market for arrivals and spend, achieving a fourth consecutive year of dou-



September 2018

ble-digit growth. Whilst there is high awareness, aspiration and intention to visit Australia, potential travellers perceive Australia to be one-dimensional in terms of tourism experiences. To sustain growth in arrivals and yield, and make Australia more desirable, the campaign seeks to entice Indian travellers by providing a more multidimensional understanding of Australia’s high-quality experiences, showcasing the journey of Bollywood actor and Friend of Australia, Parineeti Chopra. The campaign plays on some of the prevalent misconceptions about Australia highlighted by research carried out in the region, showing that there is much more to Australia than the typical stereotypes of beaches, cute and furry animals and popular icons. Kashikar said, “This campaign will shine a spotlight on some of our undiscovered and hidden holiday gems, showing there’s much more to an Australian holiday for Indians in addition to experiencing our wellknown icons. Yes, you can watch a game of cricket at the magnificent Adelaide Oval, but are people aware that they can also do an amazing rooftop climb offering 360 views of the city? Or that there are plentiful immersive experiences amidst untouched natural landscapes in close proximity to our vibrant cities. It’s surprising experiences such as these that we will be seeking to highlight through this campaign.” The UnDiscover Australia

campaign will be executed in two phases in India – September to November and January to April, to coincide with the holiday planning periods for the peak travel season during the year-end and Indian summer respectively. The media exposure for the campaign will be across digital, including social, search, programmatic and display, and broadcast mediums across select genres. The campaign will also be amplified during the India’s cricket tour of Australia, and through various public relations and international media hosting programmes, as part of which influencers and advocates will continue to UnDiscover Australia, thereby offering compelling reasons to consumers to plan their next holiday to the land down under. The campaign page can be viewed at


One&Only Nyungwe House T

he captivating One&Only Nyungwe House resort, on the edge of the vast and ancient Nyungwe rainforest in the dramatic mountainous landscapes of Rwanda’s southwest, starts welcoming guests on October 1, 2018. Set within the lush green expanse of a working tea plantation, alongside one of the largest and best-preserved montane rainforests in Africa, One&Only Nyungwe House offers guests the opportunity to go where few have gone before, promising once-in-a-lifetime experiences in one of the world’s most exceptional natural locations. Im-

mersed in wild beauty surrounded by awe-inspiring jungle views, every element of the resort has been carefully considered, with inspired farm-totable dining, spa and wellness offerings that embrace nature and local traditions, and curated, authentic experiences to discover. The 23 guest rooms and suites at One&Only Nyungwe House are all designed to fit harmoniously within the natural surroundings, utilising local African craftsmanship inspired by Rwanda and offering a contemporary look and feel.

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa and TRS Coral Hotel C

osta Mujeres – the stretch of coastline in the northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula- is set to be Mexico’s newest gourmet destination with the opening of the 673 room Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa and TRS Coral Hotel, a 473 room adults-only property, in autumn 2018. The newest development by Palladium Hotel Group will offer flavours and styles from around the world at the 14 restaurants that will open across its two new five-star hotels in the Mexican resort. Taking diners on a gastro journey, from Spain to Thailand and Italy to India, not forgetting local and regional Mexican cuisine, Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort and Spaand TRS Coral Hotelwill feature a carefully curated selection of restaurants set around ‘The Village’ that links the two hotels along with shops, bars and recreation areas. Guests of the family-friendly Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort and Spa will have access to nine top-quality restaurants, suitable for the whole family elevating the ‘all-inclusive’ concept of Infinite Indulgence to a whole new level.

The Fern Residency, Kathmandu T

he Fern Hotels & Resorts, India's leading environmentally sensitive hotel chain has started spreading its wings in the picturesque Himalayan country – Nepal and has opened its first overseas property under The Fern Residency brand in Kathmandu. The Fern Residency, Kathmandu is located in the heart of the city. The major tourist attractions such as Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhat Bhateni Supermarket are just two km away from the hotel, whereas Thamel Tourist Hub and Durbar Marg Down Town are just four km away. The hotel offers a total of 58 well-appointed rooms. Facilities include a finely designed multi-cuisine restaurant, a coffee shop, two conference rooms, health club with spa and a mini-casino. The hotel has easy access to the major sightseeing attractions in town and to public transport as well.



September 2018

cover story)

The India tourism inbound story has been written, rewritten, coded and decoded over the years. But this time the goal looks reasonably reachable because the policy makers seem to be in touch with ground reality and attempting some real-time reforms to achieve the numbers of 20 million inbound by 2020 By Reema Lokesh



September 2018



“Foreign tourist arrivals have crossed the 10-million mark for the first time with an annual growth of 15.6 per cent in 2017” KJ Alphons


s India attractive for the international traveller? Is it safe for women travellers? Is India ready to give its visitors a seamless travel experience, which is not overpriced? Is visa procurement for foreign travellers smooth and efficient? Is an open sky policy in aviation, the key to bring in more tourists? Well, there are a plethora of concerns that both the public and private sectors in the tourism space have attempted to answer and address over the years. The India story, especially with respect to its inbound tourism business, has always been a sensitive point of discussion. The story is both mystic and magical and reels have been written on its glory and grandeur. Series of panels, think tanks, seminars, workshops have been conducted by associations, federations and the government to get the right answers. The government has set forth a target to bring in 20 million inbound tourists by 2020. It's indeed a worthy dream especially for DMCs and tourism stakeholders that promote the India story. It would be unfair to say that we have not made progress. From then to now

there have been commendable strides to get the tourism story on a roll. The ministry of tourism has made efforts across areas from niche marketing to domestic development.

The 10 million milestone As per government statistics, inbound tourism figures have looked encouraging, with a 15 per cent plus increase in tourism traffic into India in 2017. As per reports, for the first time, annual foreign tourist arrivals in India crossed the 10-million mark in 2017. This information was shared by the K J Alphons, minister of state for tourism (independent charge), Govt of India. While addressing an event organised by the National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology (NCHMCT) in Noida, the minister said that the sector saw a growth of 15.6 per cent in 2017 over 2016. Tourism in India alone earned US$ 27.7 billion (approximately `1,80,379 crore) in 2017 and contributed 6.88 per cent to the country’s GDP, he said. The sector also contributes 12.36 per cent in terms of total employment. “Foreign tourist arrivals have crossed the 10-million mark for the first time with an annual growth of 15.6 per cent in 2017. This sector is poised for phenomenal growth in the

coming years owing to new holistic policies of the government, especially grant of evisa and visa on arrival for specified countries,” the minister said. Dipak Deva, MD, TCI, is upbeat about the India inbound potential. He feels it is time to analyse how far we have come. “The ministry of tourism has some brilliant minds working on the India tourism growth story. There are two game changers that are clearly working in our favour, one being the Incredible India 2.0 campaign and the other the e-visa development. The future focus of marketing via the digital platform is truly amazing,” says Deva, adding that the government is working toward making the right connections in potential markets. “Once we get a large market opening to us, we are through in achieving the number. We also need to understand that the focus should not be on calculating numbers, but the revenue per person,” he states. There are still skeptics who believe that India needs to get its quality infrastructure in place first before going out and inviting the world to come here. Optimists opine that we have come this far and we can only work toward a better and brighter inbound business. Crossing the 10 million mark was a cause of cele-

bration, however there are industry entrepreneurs and professionals who are concerned about the authenticity of the sample size and reason for entry into India. Are these numbers that of real-time tourists or those who have visited India for other reasons and not necessarily tourism? Himmat Anand, founder, The Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels says, “What we get today, are overseas arrivals and not necessarily overseas tourists. The former has NRIs, POIs, business men, airline crew, double entry passengers, etc, all included.” Skeptical about the 20 million number, Anand states that in order to reach that figure, we would need to have a compounded growth of around 27 per cent year on year for the next three years on the present figure being put up. Sharing few references from his past experience, Anand goes back a decade or little more when the India story was not supposed to be about ‘numbers’ – it was supposed to be about ‘quality of guests; that the country got; it was supposed to be about ‘length of stay’ where our overseas visitors were supposed to be spending an average of 18-20 nights in the country as against the usual six to eight nights in competing destinations. He points out that with time, yard sticks

Minister of state for tourism (independent charge), Govt of India

“The power of the MICE sector cannot be ignored if one is looking at bringing in the numbers” Suman Billa Joint secretary tourism, Govt of India and chairman, ICPB

“The future focus of marketing via the digital platform is truly amazing” Dipak Deva MD, TCI



September 2018

cover story) “India needs the right people in the overseas offices to speak about the India magic” Subhash Goyal Honorary secretary, FAITH

also change. The re-alignment of wealth has ensured that travellers tighten their belts and spend lesser. What has also impacted overseas arrivals is that short haul travel is more on the rise and long haul destinations, of which India is one, have taken a lower priority. Optimism is healthy but realistic optimism is desired. Though there is information given on various tourism schemes like cruise tourism plan, Swadesh Darshan, improving the aviation space and e-visa resolutions, Anand, feels there is yet a lot we need to fix to get to the 20 million mark.

Taking the mart route

“What we get today, are overseas arrivals and not necessarily overseas tourists” Himmat Anand Founder, The Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels



September 2018

To bring in the flow of quality tourists, the ministry of tourism, Government of India along with Federation of Associations of India Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) is organising the first India Tourism Mart (ITM) – 2018 in September, 2018. The objective is rather clear, to bring in quality buyers from across destinations who will market and promote the India story in their respective countries. Subhash Goyal, honorary secretary, FAITH, is positive about this development and is sure that such kind of initiatives will work in favour to bring India closer to the 20 million mark by 2020. ITM is attracting the right kind of buyers who are genuine players in the field. However, he also feels that though e-visa is working in our favour, it would be good to have more banks associated with the plan for seamless operations, rather than a single bank. Then there is the issue of high taxation in the tourism sector. As an industry they are requesting the finance ministry via the tourism ministry to seriously look into this issue as India loses out the neighbouring countries due to high taxation in the tourism sector. “India needs the right people in the overseas offices to speak about the India magic. It is important to appoint marketing

agents working out of the India embassy abroad, for example, commercial counselors for tourism promotions,” adds Goyal.

Focus on MICE and more The recently concluded ICPB (India Convention Promotion Bureau) Convention in Kolkata, addressed the vitality of the MICE business as a tool to increase the inbound numbers. Suman Billa, joint secretary tourism, Government of India and chairman, ICPB, spoke about the progressive strides the tourism

sector has made over the past years, the areas that need to be fixed and policies and initiatives re-looked and corrected for the over all benefit of the tourism sector. He highlighted the potential of the MICE sector to provide the much needed impetus toward the tourism goal of bringing in the numbers. Says Billa, “The power of the MICE sector cannot be ignored if one is looking at bringing in the numbers. MICE flattens the seasonality issue that the tourism sector faces. It would be highly desirable if every

small town has convention facilities. We have come a long way and there is a lot to achieve. Building smart destinations, cross subsidizing, creating a strong eco system to work in harmony is the need of the hour. Hyderabad is a good example of this kind of eco system in the MICE space. The time is come to build state level and city chapters to develop MICE. The granting of e-visa and conference visa is also a positive move.” Reiterating his thoughts, E M Najeeb, senior vice president, IATO states, “India tourism in



aviation sector has been opened up and the reciprocity clause has been given a relook. The Udaan policy is a healthy one but there are few elements that need some thinking like involving the undeserved airports,” remarks Billa. Further, he took up the sensitive matter of taxation articulately and felt it needs to addressed rather immediately. The tourism department is in constant talks with the finance ministry to resolve the high taxation issue. The mindset needs to change regarding tourism being a luxury sector. Some positive changes have already been initiated to ease tax and also to help provide impetus to the MICE sector. Ease of travel, providing conference visa, evisa platforms have been encouraging moves. Tourism is also a part of the government's champion sector. The department of tourism is trying to build a corpus to assist in various tourism areas. Under the champion sector, which has an allotment of `5000 crores, the ministry is hoping to get `400 crores for the department. The government is working on strong bilateral agreements with Japan, and recently with China. The ministry is also aiming to work with a centralised public relations agency to get the strong voice out for the successful promotion of the tourism story in India.

Cruise control the inbound space can achieve galloping numbers if the MICE sector is strengthened and explored. It is time we build functional and not necessarily fancy mega conference and convention facilities. A perfect example is the world renowned venue that hosts ITB Berlin or the Excel region in London. We need to bring in 20,000 or similar visitors in the conference space and we should be ready to host them seamlessly. There needs to be bids and tenders floated to get this going,” says Najeeb, adding that following

the policy of Kerala Travel Mart, it would be advisable to set up a tourism society with industry professionals who will take the India Tourism Mart idea forward in a professional manner. Adding further and on a realistic note, Billa also strongly agreed that India has a wide variety of tourism products to offer and that can be overwhelming for the traveller. “We have to prioritise and create clear marketing strategies. The Incredible India 2.0 campaign is world class with a very clear aim

and focus. Digital marketing is clearly the future. Quality infrastructure is a vital tool towards offering a quality tourism product,” he says, reminding that there is tremendous amount of infrastructure being developed around tourism sites and that the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Government will do very well for tourism. 30 projects from the 67 marks will soon be ready for tourism exploration by 2018. “However we need to look at profitable ways of making infrastructure bankable. The

Cruise shipping is one of the most dynamic and the fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide. It is fast emerging as a new marketable product. India with its vast and beautiful coastline, virgin forests and undisturbed idyllic islands, rich historical and cultural heritage, can be a fabulous tourist destination for cruise tourists. MoT provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to the state governments/UT Administrations /Central Government Agencies for development of tourism including cruise tourism and cruising along

“We need to bring in 20,000 or similar visitors in the conference space” E M Najeeb Senior VP, IATO

“Niche tourism is a response to an increasing number of more experiential tourists demanding specialist tourism products” Neela Lad Regional director, Western and Central Region, MoT, Govt of India



September 2018

cover story) The Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to the State Governments/UT Administrations/Central Government Agencies for development of Tourism including Cruise Tourism and Cruising along rivers. Ministry has sanctioned assistance to the Ports for development of Cruise Terminals.

E-Tourist Visa For Cruise Passengers The facility for e-tourist visa has been extended to passengers arriving at the seaports of Mumbai, Marmugao, Mangalore, Kochi and Chennai thus facilitating the cruise passenger arrivals at these ports. Ministry of Tourism is actively pursuing with the Bureau of Immigration and the Ports to make facilities in terms of trained manpower with adequate necessary equipment available at the ports during cruise calls so that the average time taken to clear the passengers on arrival and departure is reduced to the minimum. The Ministry of Home Affairs have waived off biometric requirements for cruise passengers arriving on e-visa for a period of three years i.e upto 31.12.2020. Annexure

Projects Sanctioned Under Coastal Circuit Of Swadesh Darshan

(Amt inRscrore)

rivers. The ministry has sanctioned assistance to the ports for development of cruise terminals. The details of the projects sanctioned for development of cruise tourism are given in the table.

Going the niche way Neela Lad, regional director, Western and Central Region, MoT, Govt of India, who worked extensively on the niche tourism segment at the Centre has a lot of faith in pushing the cause of niche tourism for a more refined inbound tourism business. Niche tourism is a response to an increasing number of more experiential tourists demanding specialist tourism products. It is an opportunity for India's diverse tourism destinations to focus their offerings to differentiate their tourism products and compete in an increasingly competitive and cluttered tourism environment. Identifying niche products is a dynamic process. MoT has taken the initiative of identifying, diversifying, developing and promoting niche products of the



September 2018

country. This is done in order to overcome the aspect of ‘seasonality’ and to promote India as a 365 days destination, attract tourists with specific interest, and to ensure repeat visits for the unique products in which India has a comparative advantage. Accordingly, the following niche products have been identified by MoT for development and promotion: cruise, adventure, medical, wellness, golf, polo, Meetings Incentives Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE), eco-tourism, film tourism, sustainable tourism. The India story is well defined and all we need is a strong will, both from the public and private sector, on a truly realistic and authentic note to get the India story going. We need to get our acts together in terms of hygiene and sanitation, offering the world a country that is safe and savvy, clean and classy. Its a story of giving out the India Experience in all its authenticity and artistically. Well it looks like we are almost there … just a little bit more and we are here to score.


Name of State


Project Name

Amt. Sanctioned


Andhra Pradesh


Development of Kakinada Hope Island Konaseema as World Class Coastal & Eco Tourism Circuit .



Andhra Pradesh


Development of Coastal Tourism Circuit in Sri PottiSriramalu Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.





Development of Union Territory of Puducherry as Tourist Circuit.



West Bengal


Development of Beach Circuit – Udaipur - Digha – Shankarpur – Tajpur – Mandarmani – Fraserganj – Bakkhlai Henry Island in West Bengal





Development of Sindhudurg Coastal Circuit in Maharashtra.






Development of Coastal Circuit (Sinquerim-Baga,Anjuna-Vagator, Morjim-Keri,Aguada Fort and Aguada Jail) in Goa.




Development of Coastal Circuit in Dakshin Kannada Dist, Uttar Kannada Dist&UdupiDist in Karnataka.





Development of Gopalpur, Barkul, Satapada and Tampara in Odisha.



Andaman & Nicobar Islands


Development of Coastal Circuit (Long Island-Ross Smith Island- Neil IslandHavelock Island- Baratang Island-Port Blair ) in Andaman & Nicobar.



Tamil Nadu


Development of Coastal Circuit (Chennai- Mamamallapuram – Rameshwaram – Manpadu – Kanyakumari) in Tamil Nadu





Development of Coastal Circuit II: Rua De Orum Creek - Don Paula -Colva Benaulim in Goa .





'PROMOTING OMAN HAS BEEN ONE OF MYMOSTFULFILLING EXPERIENCES' Lubaina Sheerazi, COO, Blue Square Consultants, in a candid conversation with Reema Lokesh, speaks about her journey in the industry and crafting the Oman success story in the India market From business development in the tour operating space to that of destination development and brand representation, how did the journey begin ? My career journey began in my 20s from a major in textile designing, followed by fashion designing. My entry into the travel industry was more by chance than as a focused career move. A casual study course related to the travel industry, to that of working with some leading brands in the travel space across specialisations built my groundwork leading me to this day in my travel industry career. In 2010, post the global financial meltdown, India was witnessing a boom in outbound tourism, outpacing western countries in terms of growth and absolute numbers. That’s when Blue Square Consultants was born, out of a need to provide comprehensive sales and marketing services to tourism brands within a professionally managed corporate set up. What according to you were the critical challenges faced along the journey? Oman undoubtedly was one of my biggest challenges. Having said that, promoting Oman has been one of my most fulfilling experiences. It is a beautiful country, offering interesting experiences but the travel trade and consumer perceptions were diametrically opposite to the real facts. Further, Oman being the first destination and client on board was in itself a critical test of our abilities. While the role itself was daunting, it was also the most challenging time in my personal life. Being a start-up, in many ways

I had to begin from ground up. In retrospect, all those challenging situations and even rejections were a part of the learning process. What helped you craft the Oman Tourism success story in India? I believe it was sheer determination to succeed and a lot of hard work. A considerable amount of my time was spent in building faith, motivating and educating the ministry and private sector on India’s growing potential. Most importantly, the team at the Ministry of Tourism was extremely supportive of my belief. Our strategy was to attract the perfect mix of leisure by positioning Oman as a standalone fivenight destination for the neo well educated Indian traveller seeking authentic experiences in the Middle East. We got the Oman Tourism account way back in 2010. It was the time that the country was practically unknown as a tourist destination. Europe being the primary source market for inbound arrivals, there was limited focus on India as its travel potential was embryonic. While the market did open up, we were soon hit by the Arab Spring which shifted our efforts towards changing consumer perception and showcasing Oman as the best kept secret of Arabia. Hence, it was only 2012 that saw the launch of our first campaign for Oman. Given limited budgets, it was a strategic move to target key cities in India like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. Our initial approach was segmented to encompass the consumer and media seg-

Lubaina Sheerazi

ment while also building trade relationships. In 2013, we expanded our presence in other cities like Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. We were able to achieve all of this within a short span of time while judiciously using our marketing spends. This was followed by several familiarisation trips to the destination that was targeted at hosting the best in the business, including smallmid sized enterprises among others. Additionally, the focus was on hosting informative webinars, offline trainings and joint promotions with tour operators to further strengthen our presence with the travel trade. We also identified the potential of the “celebrations” segment and marketed the destination amidst stiff competition to make it one of the most sought after destination wedding locations. The MICE segment was another focal point for the Sultanate. Having started with small groups given the limited inventory, today, we have the capacity to host large groups of up to 1100 pax. Along our journey, we

reached another successful milestone with the launch of Oman’s global advertising campaign in 2017. The film was conceptualised, developed and executed by the India office. The feature highlighted not just the culture, landscape and history of Oman, but also showcased it as an ideal adventure and wedding destination. In due course, India moved up to become one of the most important source markets for the ministry. Over the last five years, Oman has witnessed over 31 per cent growth in Indian arrivals. The reduced visa fees, new e-visa system, along with the newly opened Muscat International Airport and launch of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre will definitely be a boon for Oman’s tourism. With the visa policy we see more travellers adding Oman to their travel bucket list. What are the current challenges you face in your line of business ? Travel representation is a growing business. New players emerge to challenge established brands and this in itself keeps us on our toes. With more players entering this space, it will inevitably lead to a shakeout in the coming years when the players with a professional acumen will attract the best accounts and brands and this will bring about a maturity in the business. Being a woman leader has its own triumphs and challenges. Would you like to share your thoughts on this ? I have never faced gender bias, fortunately. In our industry, there are quite a few

women leading from the top and I would like to congratulate each one of them on their success! I know some of them personally and each of them has made an impact and inspired a lot of us, including me. Neelu Singh is a great example who has been instrumental in helping me discover my potential and constantly inspires me to push my boundaries and excel. Work life balance is easy to preach but hard to practise. But we constantly work towards achieving it. Trade-offs are inevitable, though. Having said this, juggling various roles is also very gratifying and has given me a wider perspective in life and broadened skills sets. What is your vision for the industry? The travel and tourism industry will continue to grow upwards with a healthy GDP growth, a stronger passport, disposable incomes and growing exposure to the internet. If nothing else, the sheer size of our rapidly expanding middle class practically guarantees success for India’s outbound story for the next couple of decades. And as we grow, tourism brands across segments will be vying for a piece of the Indian outbound offering ample opportunities to all of us including the representation sector. However, the industry is in a constant state of transformation and the traveller is evolving faster than ever. As tourism marketers, we will need to be strategic and forward thinking but flexible enough to change course to keep up with this dynamic new traveller.



September 2018


Talking Digitalisation in the Mother City Affectionately called Mother City by South Africans, Cape Town was the venue of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI)'s fourth convention. As the theme of the convention was very modern - 'Digitalisation- The way forward', hosting it in this province with a colonial history was a perfect blend of the old and the new By Steena Joy


n its continuous effort to introduce new outbound destinations to its members and promote them in the India market, the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) made its way to Cape Town in South Africa for its fourth annual convention. As the theme of the convention was Digitalisation, it was fitting to organise it in the ''Mother City'. According to legend, Cape Town is the original city of South Africa and was established in 1652 as a refueling station for ships bound for the East on the Spice Route. That is why the city is often referred to as the Mother of South Africa because it gave birth to civilisation. The OTOAI Convention which was held at the iconic Taj Cape Town, in the heart of the city was inaugurated by an esteemed panel of dignitaries that included James Vos, Member of Parliament and shadow minister of tourism, South Africa; Abhishek Shukla, consul general of India in Cape Town; Sisa Ntshona, CEO, South African Tourism (SAT); Mahendra Vakharia, president OTOAI and Himanshu Patil, vice president, OTOAI. Addressing the audience, Ntshona urged the Indian travel trade community to tell Indian visitors to come touch base with the Cradle of Humankind and to promote new regions like Gauteng. “We are a destination of love, peace and harmony and


this year we are celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela. We are really looking forward to doing business with you and am looking forward to sharing content that can help you package Gauteng better and to show you what South Africa has to offer. We are proud and privileged and excited to host you. India represents the eighth largest source market that South Africa is waiting to tap. We have similar culture, speak the same language and outside India, South Africa has the largest number of Indian population. Gauteng has lots to offer - there is wildlife, casinos, hot air balloon experience, etc all year round. This is just a glimpse of what South Africa and our provinces have to offer. We rely on the brotherhood or sisterhood and friendship between our two countries to continue this relationship to socialise and mobilise the Indian market.” He added, “We have the bluest skies ever in the world. Bollywood stars are now coming to shoot


movies in Johannesburg because of this offering. Also, we have the warmest and charming people ever. In Gauteng we have 14 million homes that are ready to welcome visitors and show them around. We are open for business.” Commenting on the India market, Angela Kayes, International Relations, Gauteng Tourism said,“We realise what an important market India is and at the moment we have a good percentage of Indian visitors coming in and we would really like to grow that number. Indians tend to stay for a long duration, the average stay is around 22 days! More importantly, we would like to see a direct flight from India maybe from Mumbai because we believe that if there is a direct flight by say Air India, these numbers will definitely increase. We had a large trade mission that came to Johannesburg in June and we were in discussions with the airline then. We are very keen to continue these discussions. Cradle of Humankind is popular with Indians and so also those places that have a connect with Mahatma Gandhi.” She felt that the MICE is growing and has a lot of potential. “Our venues are very good especially in Johannesburg and Pretoria so we want to increase that. For our region India is one of our top 14 tar-

get markets. Because of our BRICS relationship, we very much want to increase visitors particularly from the BRICS region. It helps that in Johannesburg there are quite a few award winning Indian restaurants. Sports tourism is also important especially as we share a common love for cricket. Our visitor numbers spike from India when there are cricket tournaments. We also have seen numbers in the wedding segment,” she added.

Power talk The inaugural day saw an interesting session on Power of Digital Marketing, How Tour Operators can enhance Productivity and Profit by Mallini Singh, a digital customer expert. There was another session on Global Tourism 2030 by Greg Klassen, principal, Twenty31 Consulting. The day ended with an interactive session on Skype

by Avinash Chandarana, Global L&D director, MCI speaking on Understanding Different Cultures. On the second day of the convention, the delegates moved to the popular wine region of Stellenbosch. Speed marketing sessions were held at the prestigious Town Hall of Stellenbosch. In her welcome address, Anna Marie Ferns, CEO, Stellenbosch Tourism, said, “India market has enormous potential for South Africa. More and more Indians are coming to this region. We did the Indian roadshow two years ago in Mumbai and Delhi. This really inspired me to market Stellenbosch and South Africa in the India market. It was an excellent roadshow for us because we really got to know the trade and they got to know us. So that is very very important for us. We work very closely with South African tour operators who market In-

dia. Besides cricket, our town has become a haven for sports. Many people come for cycling and hiking and other sports like rugby. We have all Olympic standard facilities. We call ourselves a town of innovation and inspiration. We just launched an electric car which we have designed and are now producing in Stellenbosch. So South Africa's first electric car comes from Stellenbosch. The good news is that this three seater car was introduced to the Indian market and believe me very very soon in Mumbai and Delhi, you will see these little yellow silent cabs running.” Speaking of the growing interest in wine tourism, she said, “Indians actually love wine and they love red wines. Red wines have fantastic health benefits. We have 160 wineries here and they are all privately owned. This is an historic town with very good accommodations so this is very appealing to Indian

visitors. Apart from wines, we are also open for sports events. We have had several requests from the Indian wedding segment to have weddings in Stellenbosch because it is a romantic town.” Vakharia assured SAT of OTOAI's support and said, “Collectively we will work to promote the destination. The convention was attended by nearly 175 delegates and 45 exhibitors (suppliers). The Stellenbosch region is very popular with Indians. So it is very important to have a good understanding and exposure of the region which s why we had the speed marketing session out here.” Giving his insights on the takeaways from the convention, Guldeep Sahni, past president OTOAI, said, “The intention was to market South Africa to the Indian travel trade and we had some good B2B sessions. We are trying to expose new areas like Stellenbosch to get value out of being there. Cape Town is a prime area and must be included in all South African itineraries. The good thing is that there were suppliers who not only cater to the accommodation but also activities. A good relationship has formed between tour operators and these activity suppliers so that they can add these activities to their itineraries and give value to their customers.”



September 2018


Wonders of the Western Cape The Western Cape, a South African province with coasts bordering the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, is best known for the port city of Cape Town which is very popular with Indian visitors. But beyond that, there are other hidden treasures like Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn on Route 62 that are worth including in South African itineraries By Steena Joy


ou just cannot miss it. Anywhere you are in Cape Town, the huge monolith towers over you and holds you mesmerised. Table Mountain, called so because of its flat top, is the Western Cape’s and indeed, South Africa’s most photographed iconic landmark. And what better place to view it than from the balcony of a room at the Taj Cape Town in the heart of the city and close to St George’s Cathedral. Sunrise and sunsets offer amazing photo opportunities with the Mountain offering stark constrasts in ever changing skies. Since 1929, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has taken millions of tourists to its top every day from where visitors can get breathtaking views of Cape Town. The cable cars’ special revolving floors provide 360-degree views of the mountain and city. Table Mountain is part of a national park of the same name. There are about 2,200 species of



plants found on Table Mountain and 1470 floral species. Many of these plants and flowers are endemic to this mountain. The magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the eastern foot of the mountain was founded in 1913 and spans 1300 acres that includes a unique conservatory with plants from different parts of the world. The Cape Floral region of the national park is one of the richest floral regions in the world. Over 70 per cent of the flowers are endemic to the Table Mountain. It is no wonder that the mountain was chosen as one of the new seven world wonders. Besides the mountain, the national park contains another one of South Africa’s attractions, the Cape of Good Hope, the most southern point of the African continent. Shopping enthusiasts must head to the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront dotted with a string of local and international shops, restaurants and museums. The Taj Cape Town has regular



September 2018

DESTINATION OUTBOUND shuttles to The Waterfront which is named after Queen Victoria and her second son, midshipman Prince Alfred, who tipped the first load of stone to erect the breakwater for Cape Town’s harbour in 1860 to make it a safe haven all year round for passing ships. A short ferry ride from the Waterfront, in Table Bay, is Robben Island - the notorious prison where South African president Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27-year sentence during apartheid. It is now a living museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another interesting architectural monument is the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest colonial building in South Africa, built by Dutch colonialists between 1666 and 1679. The pentagonal fort which served as the seat of military and government operations for over two centuries is open to the general public. A little away from Cape Town is the seaside village of Simons Town where the popular Boulders Beach is located. The beach is home to the famous colony of African Penguins - once called Jackass Penguins for their hilarious braying call. It is a unique sight to these penguins strut all over the beach. As they are a protected species, visitors are not allowed to touch or feed them and security cameras make sure they don't.

Route 62 Route 62 is one of the most rewarding trips in the Western Cape, a meandering road from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn. Also known as the Wine Route, Route 62 leads through the wine-growing areas of Wellington, Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson and the Klein Karoo and is thus one of the longest wine routes in the world. If you take the route during May-December, look out for a sea of yellow canola fields that look like a scene in an oil painting. En route, make a pit stop at Oude Post Bistro in Swellendam. While your driver can fill up the gas at the filling station, try out their Roosterkoek (the


traditional bread to accompany a braai or barbeque simply balls of bread dough cooked on a grid over the coals). Oudtshoorn, the largest town in the Klein Karoo area, is known as the ostrich capital of the world. Two ostrichfeather booms, during 18651870 and 1900-1914, truly established the settlement. The town's economy is primarily reliant on the ostrich farming and tourism industries. Oudtshoorn is home to the world's largest ostrich population, with a number of specialised ostrich breeding farms, such as the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm set up in 1938 by two brothers, Johan and Viljee Keller, who have been ostrich farmers in the Klein Karoo for four generations. They have ostrich tours where visitors can have an interactive session with these birds, sitting on them for a photo or riding them. You can even feed them by hand and enjoy a ostrich derby race. Finish off with a meal at their Pepper Tree restaurant. Indian menus can also be arranged here, courtesy Nellie-Enid Burger who manages the restaurant. Midway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay or Mossel baai is a harbour town known for the wide Santos Beach and the 19th-century Cape St Blaize Lighthouse, which offers bay views. The bay is also known for surfing and shark cage diving. Located in Mossel Bay, the Point Hotel is the closest hotel to Antarctica from Continent Africa. It is also the only hotel in Africa that is built on ocean rocks and overlooks the blue expanse of the Indian Ocean. The world's largest natural tidal pool is located just in front of the hotel and from the hotel's balconies, guests can view humpback whales and dolphins in June to September.

C for Cango In Oudtshoorn, another must visit destination is the Cango Caves, a series of limestone chambers set in Precambrian (a time about

4500 million years ago) age. The caves were apparently first explored by a local farmer named Jacobus Van Zyl (after whom the first chamber, Van Zyl's Hall, is named). Visitors will be amazed at how well preserved the caves are with paved pathways and lighting effects that present the beauty of the dripstone caverns and vast halls of towering stalagmite formations with names like ‘the bridal couple’ and ‘the hanging

shawl’. In totality, the extensive system of tunnels and chambers in the Cango Caves stretch for over four kilometres, but the section open to visitors, about a quarter of this, takes place as part of supervised tours, including an 'adventure tour', which takes about an hour and a half. Cango Caves is the only show cave in Africa which offers a choice of Heritage (easy) or Adventure Tours. All tours are led by experienced, knowledgeable and accredited Cave

Guides. The nearby Cango Wildlife Ranch is an interesting stopover. The ranch started out in 1977 as the Cango Crocodile Farm, South Africa’s first crocodile show farm. The farm was a place where crocodiles were bred to be sold. In 1986 Andrew and Glenn Eriksen purchased the farm and today it is known as the Cango Wildlife Ranch, a conservation park that is home to more than 90 species of animals and reptiles.


'SATOURISM IS ONE OFTHE FEWTOURISM BOARDS IN INDIATO HAVE ASTANDALONE DIGITALPRESENCE' As the eighth largest international source market for tourist arrivals to South Africa, India figures big in South African Tourism's future graph. Sthembiso Dlamini, COO, South African Tourism elucidates on the plans to grow this market. By Steena Joy What are the demographics of Indian visitors travelling to South Africa? Has it shown any change over the past few years? While Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Bengaluru and West Bengal are the key source markets, visitors from all across India travel to South Africa. In 2017, Mumbai contributed 37 per cent to the overall Indian arrivals to South Africa while Delhi was at 22 per cent, Gujarat at 11 per cent, Bengaluru at 8 per cent and West Bengal at seven per cent. Until a few years ago we received the maximum tourist inflow from Mumbai, but the geographical scope has broadened now. Today, mini-metros and Tier II cities like Amritsar, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Vadodara and Pune have also started to show up on our graphs. How active is South African Tourism in using digital platforms/social media to drive Indian visitor arrivals into South Africa? Travellers today, primarily millennials, are smart and techsavvy consumers, who demand customised and adventurous trips. They rely heavily on social interaction for recommendations when considering a new destination and activities for their voyage - we at SA Tourism realise this. To tap into the pulse of this growing traveller segment, we forayed into the world of social media in 2017 with a dedicated Facebook page, especially customised for the India market. We also launched our Instagram India handle early in 2018. SA Tourism is one of the very few international tourism boards in

India to have a standalone digital presence in the market. How does India feature in SA Tourism's marketing plans? Any new campaigns being planned? India is the eighth largest international source market for tourist arrivals to South Africa and we are deeply invested in the region as part of our 5-in-5 strategy to attract a further five million tourists within the next five years. We are focused on understanding the rapidly expanding and evolving Indian consumer in order to provide customised experiences to suit their demands. For 2018, we have aligned our efforts towards creating more awareness for the newer regions like Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth, the Drakensberg region and the Panorama Route. We are also looking at expanding our geographies beyond the usual Indian metropolitan cities and tapping into Tier II regions. While our trade and consumer initiatives are structured towards driving awareness and demand for our adventure and wildlife offerings, this year we are also looking at driving historic travel. This is based on the premise that South Africa birthed, shaped and moulded the great Nelson Mandela who celebrates his centenary birth year in 2018. The Mandela Centenary is an important milestone in South Africa’s history, and as we reflect on our late former President’s legacy in a year when he turns 100 years old, we are proud to share our beautiful

Sthembiso Dlamini

country with people from around the world. What is SA's USP vis-à-vis other competitors in the India market like Kenya, Tanzania? Distinctive wildlife experiences, adrenaline-pumping adventure activities, delectable food and wine, locally inspired art and culture, high-end shopping experiences and untouched natural beauty are just some of the star attractions which draw a large pool of global and Indian tourists to the Rainbow Nation. With the economically attractive rate of the Rand (ZAR) to INR, South Africa has increasingly become an appealing proposition for Indian tourists. Moreover - the three, four and five-starred properties as well as luxury accommodation in South Africa are cost-effective. Since the South African product quote comes in ZAR and not USD, Indian travellers are able to buy more experiences and activities for less money thus, making South Africa a value-for-money desti-

nation. Our premium USPs: Adventure: With over 300 adventure activities and counting, South Africa is undoubtedly the adventure capital of the world. The country has and just about any extreme sport you can name, and all supported by dedicated and authorised operators. Game Reserves & Wildlife: South Africa boasts deep pockets of wildlife regions and game parks encircling every possible landscape from deserts to forests, mountains to coast. South Africa is also the only place in the world where wildlife-lovers can see not just the Big 5 but also the Big 7 that include the Southern Right Whale and Great White Shark (in Port Elizabeth / Nelson Mandela Bay). Food & Wine: South African cuisine is a unique fusion of many different external cultural influences. These include Dutch, French, Indian and Malaysian flavours and techniques that continue to make their way onto the menus of restaurants and into the homes of locals all over the country. South Africa's winelands stretch from the Cape Overberg in the south-western Cape, through the Little Karoo and the West Coast into the adjacent province of the Northern Cape. How important is India as a market for SA Tourism? SA Tourism foresees a continued upward trend in spends, length of stay and also unexplored newer regions of South Africa featuring on Indian itineraries for 2018. 2017 was a great year for SA Tourism with 97,921 Indian visitors from Jan-

uary to December - a 2.7 per cent increase compared to the previous year. While Johannesburg and Cape Town are the usual hotspots for Indians, which other destinations can be promoted in the India market? We have seen an increase in travellers heading to unexplored places and off-thebeaten paths. Hence, this year one of the key focus areas is also to go beyond the immensely popular Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and surrounds and create awareness about new destinations mentioned earlier such as Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth, the Drakensberg region and the Panorama Route within the consumer and trade spaces. These are picturesque areas where travellers can pack in a lot of action into shorter time-spans. An ideal example to substantiate this would be the town of Oudtshoorn which has a total residential population of close to 100,000 but has been host to over 30,000 Indian travellers! Also South Africa’s peak season coincides with Diwali and New Year, and Indian travellers (who tend to book much later than their American and and European counterparts) sometimes face a lack of availability and seasonally high rates for hotel rooms in top tourist areas such as Cape Town. Therefore driving awareness around our charming smaller towns that are relatively unexplored and continue to have accommodation as well as a wide range of interesting activities has helped address the availability issue.



September 2018


'ATNO POINTDO WE WANTTO MAKE SOUTH AFRICACHEAP,BUTWE WANT TO MAKE ITAFFORDABLE,REACHABLE, ACCESSSIBLE AND MEMORABLE' Neliswa Nkani, the newly appointed hub head for Middle East, India and Southeast Asia is raring to grow the India market and take up the challenges that await her there By Steena Joy What is your perception of the India market? It is an honour to go to India. It is homely and spiritually rewarding to be posted to India. My first observation about the India market is the love the Indian traveller has for South Africa. Secondly, I have observed that we are shortchanging the Indian traveller because we are showing them possibly three things to do. I understand that there is a very strong middle class in India that is struggling to get access to the market because it comes across as if it is a very high end destination. Middle class everywhere like to spend but just enough that they can live. Economies have changed in the world therefore people strive to save. So it is shifting the paradigm that we are an expensive destination. At no point do we want to make South Africa cheap, but we want to make it affordable, reachable, accesssible and memorable. What is your strategy to grow this market? Most important thing for me is talking to the front end business partners which are tour operators like OTOAI. How do we shift the perception of South Africa. How do we move from the itinerary of Cape Town, Kruger and Johannesburg? Even the Garden


Route we are not optimising. I want a pow wow with the top decision makers in the India travel trade where I can present South Africa through my eyes and I want to map it out through my eyes for the benefit of the Indian traveller, for the benefit of my tour operator partners to show them that, 'Wow!There is more to South Africa than these cities!' Secondly, you cannot sell a destination through your own eyes. I want to get the Indian media, the writers, the production houses, the television channels to show my country through their eyes. Let's prioritise the Indian traveller, let's enhance the value of the Indian traveller. So we are going to up our game in terms of Indian media. Lastly, what’s important to me is to capicitate my team to think outside the box. Tourism has moved. It is no longer about tour operators, it is about authentic experiences; the value proposition is important. What new destinations do you plan to promote in India? Cape Town is not fully explored. No one has been to the west coast. Most of the tour operators I met at OTOAI do not even know about the Dinokeng Game Reserve near Pretoria, the capital city. We

Neliswa Nkani

need to map out and show India our country. I think we have left it too much to the DMCs. Currently, we have only shown the tour operator what is possible; we haven't shown him what is profitable. Therefore what is important is to show different opportunities, different experiences like the Cullinan Diamond Mines Tour - only tour of a working mine in the world and Cradle of Humankind. So it is shifting the paradigm of the writer and the tour operator. The tour operator needs to say to the DMCs, this is what I want, find it and get it for me, it should not be the other way round. We are going to create a little bit of competition, we are going to open up our country. And we are going to open up the offering that we have in

terms of the product in its entirety. What about the MICE segment? I want to do some pioneering work here. I have already asked my office to arrange a breakfast meeting with the MICE players together with leading corporates in India. This is a vast segment because it brings in the numbers. India has huge banking, IT, medical and pharma industries. I also want to talk to academia in India. Academic tourism is something we haven’t tapped as yet. South Africa and India have a bilateral agreement and we just need to unplug it. Film tourism? I am looking for those production houses who are

prepared to give us a chance. And it is also about sports tourism as well. I am looking for those production houses to say to me, we are looking for film locations. How do we get incentives to come to South Africa to film? It’s not going to be for free but I am a negotiator and I will negotiate the best for both parties. We are also going to speak to the different provincial governments to tap this potential. I have met with the Department of Trade and Industry and they are prepared to come on board with me to say we want to pursue and bring some Indian production houses and film stars to South Africa. As for weddings, the Indian traveller is family oriented and that is good for us. I spoke to my marketing team for sponsoring an Indian wedding. Young couples are marriage aspirational. Before the wedding, there are the prewedding functions which is something we are going to tap into. But it is important to note here that we are not going to do this alone. We are going to source partners and we are going to continue to partner with people who are prepared to grow our destination because by growing our destination, we are growing people's businesses, and this creates jobs not only in South Africa but also in India.


In the heart of the bushveld Just off the Cape Route 62 and part of the Klein Karoo, the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge offers understated luxury in the heart of wilderness


ocated 6.5 km from Oudtshoorn on Cape Route 62 from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge offers a unique wilderness experience. A shuttle is available from George Airport, 71 km away. The Lodge has free-standing tents with views of the Klein Karoo's Swartberg Mountains and a manmade wildlife watering hole where guests can spot hippos, rhinos or giraffes. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge opened its doors in October 2005 and has won several awards. Facilities include the restaurant that can seat 120 people. With a waterside ter-

race, the à la carte restaurant has a grand piano and a fireplace. It serves award-winning wines and Karoo cuisine made from fresh, local produce. The Lodge also has an international standard conference facility for 120 people, a wedding chapel and 34 super luxury air-conditioned units all situated alongside the waterhole. A private outdoor shower, en-suite bathroom and minibar are featured in each air-conditioned, luxury tent. Some tents have a wooden deck set right by the water’s edge. The Family units have a spacious main room and a children’s room with a shared ensuite bathroom separating the

rooms. These units can accommodate a family of up to five people. An outdoor pool overlooks the five hectare waterhole. This malaria-free game reserve has free WiFi in public areas. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Lodge has activities like game drives, meerkat safaris, lion experiences, elephant excursions and even star gazing. Another

must do is the elephant feeding experience. The Lodge has three inhouse elephants (Jabari, Malaika and Bulelo) who are orphans from the Kruger National Park (their parents were victims of poaching) and guests can feed them, brush them, touch them and take photos with them under the guidance of skilled elephant guides.

Buffelsdrift Game Lodge also has a wildlife conservation volunteering programme. The volunteers come from all backgrounds, nationalities and with varied familiarity with animals and wildlife, from absolutely no experience to those with a professional background in veterinary or conservation science.



September 2018


Tourism in Odisha : All set for take off

The recently held 3rd edition of the Odisha Tourism Conclave organised by Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) supported by Government of Odisha, at Swosti Premium, Bhubaneswar, witnessed a meeting of minds to relook, redefine, learn and unlearn policies and programmes that can get Odisha on a path of tourism progress By Reema Lokesh


disha is a state waiting in the wings to offer its tourism wealth to the world. The department of tourism along with the private sector is working toward a mission to give Odisha the tourism positioning it deserves. However, the team is also looking at a focused and prudent approach to send out the right message about the state's tourism potential. The Odisha Tourism Conclave, which was inaugurated by Professor Ganeshi Lalji, governor of Odisha, along with other dignitaries namely Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, MP; Asit Kumar Tripathy, addl chief secretary, Home Dept; Vishal Dev, commissioner-cumsecretary (Tourism & Sports); Nitin Jawale, director tourism, Government of Odisha and other industry thought leaders was aimed at addressing the challenges and the tough questions on what should be the best way forward toward a tourism awakening in the state. The keynote address was given by J K Mohanty, MHCIMA, chairman, HRAO & IATO, eastern region, member State Tourism Promotion Council & Tourism Advisory Committee, Govt. of Odisha. He spoke about the challenges, bottlenecks and the way forward for the state to achieve it's much deserving tourism success story. Team HRAO stated that during the 1st


Nitin Jawale

J K Mohanty

Tourism Conclave they were thankful to the Government of Odisha for accepting their recommendations and incorporating the same in the new Tourism Policy 2016. During the 2nd Odisha Tourism Conclave, recommendations, such as creation of the land bank for tourism projects in all tourist locations, relaxations in the norms of foreign tourists visit to the tribal areas, more advertisements in the national and international television networks, more thrust on eco tourism, more international air connectivity, opening up of airports at Rourkela, Jharsuguda and Jeypore were taken seriously by the government. So much work is yet to be done to achieve the tourism dream as some of the key issues are yet

to be resolved. For instance, changes in the guidelines for approval of hotels under the (planning & development authorities) PKDA and the Amnesty Scheme, making fire safety rules implementable through alternate modern technologies, cleanliness of the beaches at Gopalpur, Puri and Chandipur, cleanliness around the temples and other cultural heritage sites, providing adequate hygienic toilet facilities near the cultural sites, and other unresolved issues. The conclave had experts on the panel to brainstorm from various sectors such as airlines, tour operators, eco tourism sector, tourists’ safety, branding, marketing tourism as a product, media professionals to suggest the apt formula

that can reduce the tourism bottlenecks in the state. The recommendations were then compiled and presented to the government for consideration. The main focus of the conclave was to suggest an action plan recommended by experts for a long term and short term approach for increasing tourist footfalls to the state. The conclave touched upon a wide range of topics, such as identifying the right brand campaign and logo for the state, security and safety concerns, promoting the state with its neighbouring partners, airline connectivity issues and focusing on niche sectors like sports and adventure and more. It also addressed the need for a focused advertising campaign on the digital plat-

form and also studying and mapping the kind of tourists who are visiting and who should be visiting the state through a sample survey and through technology. Mohanty added, “Today there is a marked shift from the older generation traditional travellers visiting pilgrim centres, temples, architectural sites to millennials and millenniallyaligned travellers opting for adventure travel, nature activities, entertainment, biking, community based tourism, etc. We also need to change our supply system as per market shift now. Most of the millennial travellers spend more than 50 per cent of their time online looking at the content on their mobile phones,� he said. Social media platforms are

EVENT ROUNDUP a powerful tool in the tourism sector. HRAO suggested that the Odisha Tourism Dept should allocate at least 20 per cent of its budget on technology. Tourism today is on mobile handsets of people and the growth speed is completely on aeroplane mode. Odisha Tourism can be marketed globally using social media platforms by developing a world class content strategy which would help users to share reviews, comments, etc. Attractive tourist destinations of Odisha can be marketed globally through blog posts, podcasts, videos, e-newsletters in social media. “Our neighbouring states have gone far beyond us in promoting and we have absolutely no time to wait and watch. Odisha Tourism Department must appoint a separate digital marketing team to sell Odisha,” remarked Mohanty.

Focus for Odisha Tourism ●

Convention destination: Ministry of home affairs is introducing Conference Visa for foreign nationals to attract more number of international conferences to India. The Odisha Government should also take advantage of this to attract more international conferences/seminars and workshops to Odisha. Also take a decision to print a special MICE brochure. Medical tourism: Odisha is well equipped with high medical professions with super specialty treatments, the

state can be a major attraction for medical/wellness tourism destination. Tourism investment: As per the report of World Travel & Tourism Council’s Economic Impact 2018, India’s tourism sector attracted capital investments of US$ 47.8 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach US$ 95.30 billion by 2028. Many international hotel chains are increasing their presence in the country, but unfortunately there is not much investment in Odisha’s tourism sector. Promotion of MICE sector: The Union Govt. has set a target for MICE India to achieve 2 per cent of the global MICE market share by 2025 from an insignificant current share of 0.5 per cent. Various initiatives have been initiated by MoT to promote MICE tourism. Developing

more world-class exhibition/convention centers can enable Odisha to attract global conventions and meetings in tourism as well as other sectors. The decision of the government to start the World Trade Center should be implemented fast. Promotion of adventure tourism: Adventure tourism is going to be a one trillion industry in the next 10 years (currently it is a 490 billion dollar industry worldwide). Odisha has a huge scope for adventure tourism. The Biju Patnaik Park situated near Chilika Lake in Ganjam District can be developed by beautifying and putting up a water sports training complex with boating facilities, Aqua Marine Museum which would generate employment and revenue for that area in particular and the state in

general. This can become a major attraction of Eastern India and can attract large number of domestic as well as foreign tourists to the state. Explore new destinations : Odisha needs to promote newer destinations with good quality tourist infrastructure, and target younger generation travellers. The nine circuits that were identified and approved by the Department of Tourism will definitely boost Odisha as a 21 night tourist destination. Air connectivity : Withdrawal of Air India flights from Bhubaneswar to Bangkok badly affected the tourism sector of Odisha. The Odisha Government has written to the Civil Aviation Ministry in this regard. Infrastructure development : Good quality accom-

modation, roads, railways and airports are required to make destinations accessible to tourists. The state government should monitor that the resources earmarked for infrastructure creation are channelised properly. Also tourist facilitation centres and kiosks must be developed at airports and railway stations by the tourism department for a sustainable development. Subsidies declared in the tourism policy is valid upto 2020 but the new guidelines to implement the subsidies have made the policy un-implementabl.e The policy expires in 2020 and not a single hotel will get any subsidy. HARO strongly recommends the government extends the policy for another five years, upto 2025, to allow hotels to come up in the state. The state need to add at least 5000 more star category hotel rooms in important tourist locations to attract good quality tourists to help the state economy. Skill development : Odisha lacks good quality tourist guides, specially in foreign languages like French, German, Chinese, Italian and Spanish. A well trained and knowledgeable workforce will lead to improved service standards in the tourism sector.

Branding Odisha right The perception of the people in India is that Odisha is a poor state, one of the reasons is the media showing poverty and lack of infrastructure in the state. Concludes Mohanty, “The state must understand its Unique Selling Points (USPs). If Odisha is rich with its mineral resources below the soil, it has a much richer tourism potential above the soil with its art, craft, culture, cuisine, architecture, temples, mountains, beaches, lakes, which no other state in the country can boast of. We need to market Odisha as a product for travellers, young and old, where we create happiness.”



September 2018


ICPB: Kolkata calling The 11th ICPB (India Convention Promotion Bureau) convention concluded on a positive note in Kolkata recently, with the opening of the first ICPB State Chapter, and showcased the MICE potential of eastern India By Reema Lokesh


he 11th ICPB convention proved to be encouraging for both the delegates as well as the committee. The first state chapter in the region of West Bengal opened in Kolkata. This chapter will act as an extended arm of the national body to help create an impactful voice for the MICE industry and to prominently place West Bengal on the MICE map of India. This is the beginning of ICPB's pan India presence. The chapter was launched by Suman Billa, chairman, ICPB in the presence of Debashis Sen, additional chief secretary, Govt. of West Bengal and Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary tourism and home secretary, Govt. of West Bengal along with Chander Mansharamani, vice chairman ICPB. The event, which was held at the Biswa Bangla Convention Center, aimed to highlight the potential of the MICE market and to showcase what the east of India can offer in this space. Speaking at the event Mansharamani spoke about the strides that the bureau aims to take forward and the start of the first chapter is just the beginning towards a better and strengthened organisation. The convention addressed the vitality of the MICE business as a tool to increase the inbound numbers. Billa spoke about the progressive strides the tourism sector has made over the past years and is also realistic on the areas that need to be fixed, and policies and initiatives re-looked and corrected for the over all benefit of the tourism sector. He extensively spoke about the potential of the MICE sector to provide the much needed im-


petus toward the tourism goal of bringing in the numbers. Said Billa, “The power of the MICE sector cannot be ignored if one is looking at bringing in the numbers. He clearly stated that MICE flattens the seasonality issue that the tourism sector faces.” Billa emphasised that it would be highly desirable if a small town has convention facilities. “Building smart destinations, cross subsidising, creating a strong eco system to work in harmony is the need of the hour. Hyderabad is a good example of this kind of eco system in the MICE space. The time is come to build state level and city chapters to develop MICE. The granting of e-visa and conference visa is also a positive move,” he mentioned. India has a wide variety of tourism products to offer, which can be overwhelming for the traveller. “We have to prioritise and create clear marketing strategies. The Incredible India 2.0 campaign is world class with a very clear aim and focus. Digital marketing is clearly the future. Quality infrastructure is a vital tool towards offering a quality tourism product. There is tremendous amount of infrastructure being developed around tourism sites and I firmly believe that the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Government will do very well for tourism. 30 projects from the 67 marks will soon be ready for tourism exploration by 2018. However, we need to look at profitable ways of making infrastructure bankable. The aviation sector has been opened up and the reciprocity clause has been given a re-look. The Udaan policy is a healthy one but there


are few elements that need some thinking like involving the underserved airports,� said Billa. Further, he took up the sensitive matter of taxation and felt that it needed to be addressed immediately. The tourism department is in constant talks with the finance ministry to resolve high taxation issue. Some positive changes have already been initiated to ease tax and also to help provide impetus to the MICE sector. Ease of travel, providing conference visa, e-visa platforms have been encouraging moves. Tourism is also a part of the government's champion sector. The department of tourism is trying to build a corpus to assist in various tourism areas. Under the champion sector, which has an al-

lotment of `5000 crore, the ministry is hoping to get `400 crore for the department. The government is working on strong bilateral agreements with Japan and recently with China. The ministry is also aiming to work with a centralised public relations agency to get the strong voice out for the successful promotion of the tourism story in India. Effective use of technology and digital marketing to get the voice out is inevitable and the convention invited two guest speakers to address what technology and digital media can do to bring about change. John Martinez, CEO and founder, Shocklogic and Yusno Yunos, CEO and founder, Evenesis spoke about the future of technology in the MICE business.



September 2018


On the right Meridian in Al Aqah It's that part of the UAE which is both classic and contemporary, a place that offers luxury with character. Fujairah and within it the Al Aqah region aims to offer classy comforts and the Le Meridien Al Aqah fits in perfectly with that description. By Reema Lokesh




f you are looking for a place that is naturally stately within the Emirates where the sea meets the stunning Hajjar mountains then your search ends here at Fujairah and more so at the Al Aqah region. Certainly check out the refined beach resort Le Meridien Al Aqah, which adds to the charm of the place. Be it a swim or a swing on the zipline, from the people (staff) to the palate (a wide variety of cuisine from Indian, Italian, grills and barbeques), the flavours and fragrance is all out there to pamper your senses. A perfect place to exchange wows or celebrate life's precious blessings (from anniversaries, honeymoons to babymoons or just any joyous occasion) or for any corporate calling or just pure family time, this place comes with a promise of charm and character. Those in the MICE, events and wedding planners sector can safely consider this place as a worthy venue for your clients. From a wide expanse of product offerings, from rooms to banquet facilities, from soft adventure experiences to a well defined wellness zone, it has something attractive for every age group and clientele. The cuisine spread and the

creativity of the food services unit can spoil you for choice. From all day dining to signature outlets, there is a lot for the palate to explore and experience. For those who are seeking some place in sun, the peaceful beach in front of the house fa-

cade is worth exploring. For those who prefer the sky way to the sea shore, then certainly spend sometime at the inhouse adventure zone and get onto the in-house zipline. The zone offers some super fun challenges that's worth exploring.



September 2018


Strengthening Indian aviation The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the Government of India to maximise the potential contribution of aviation to India’s development by addressing infrastructure constraints that limit growth and government policies that impose excessive costs on aviation


rowth forecasts for India indicate a trebling of passenger demand by 2037 when some 500 million people are expected to fly to, from or within India. Already aviation supports 7.5 million Indian jobs and US$ 30 billion of GDP (1.5 per cent of the economy). Global connectivity that only aviation can provide is a critical driver of all modern economies. The financial struggles of India’s airline industry put the stable development of connectivity at risk. And India’s carriers are suffering a “doublewhammy” of steeply rising fuel costs and the decline in the value of the Indian Rupee. The rise in fuel costs is particularly acute for Indian carriers for which fuel makes-up 34 per cent of operating costs - well above the global average of 24 per cent. “While it is easy to find Indian passengers who want to fly, it’s very difficult for airlines to make money in this market. India’s social and economic development needs airlines to be able to profitably accommodate growing demand. We must address infrastructure constraints that limit growth and government policies that deviate from global standards and drive up the cost of connectivity,” said Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO, IATA. De Juniac’s remarks came in an opening address to the International Aviation Summit in Delhi, co-hosted by the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), the Airports


India’s social and economic development needs airlines to be able to profitably accommodate growing demand. We must address infrastructure constraints that limit growth and government policies that deviate from global standards and drive up the cost of connectivity Alexandre de Juniac

Authority India (AAI) and IATA. The joint Summit commemorates the approaching milestone of 50-straight months of double digit domestic growth for Indian aviation.

Infrastructure India’s aviation infrastructure has benefitted from significant upgrades in recent years. “It is clear that India has the capacity to develop effective infrastructure. But the job is not done. Passenger numbers will grow. And infrastructure must not be a bottleneck in fulfilling the needs of travellers and the economy,” said de Juniac who called for work in four priority areas: ● Develop a comprehensive and strategic masterplan for India’s airports. “The infrastructure issue is critical for India’s future. Band-Aid solutions will not do the job,” said de Juniac. ● Remove all obstacles to successfully open Navi Mumbai as quickly as possible. Urgent relief is needed for Mumbai’s se-

vere capacity bottleneck. Modernise airport processes using technology in line with global standards. The DigiYatra initiative will make a significant step in the right direction with digitally connected airports, passengers, systems and flights. In line with this, IATA encouraged the Indian government to support the broad implementation of IATA’s One ID initiative which uses biometric identification (similar to India’s Aadhar identity card) to save time by eliminating the need for repeated document checks in airports. ● Flexibly use military airspace to expand airspace capacity for civil operations. This was successfully demonstrated with the opening of a conditional airway through restricted airspace over Bhuj and should now be expanded to more areas. IATA also noted its concerns on government proposals for concession contracts ●

at newly developed greenfield airports. “We believe that it makes no sense to fix a per passenger yield at the outset of a concession contract that is set to run for four decades. Flexible parameters should be set that are regularly reviewed by a regulator. And we know from bitter experiences in Brazil, Australia and elsewhere that selecting the company that simply proposes the highest bidder does not yield good long-term results,” said de Juniac.

Regulation IATA also encouraged the government to look at ways to improve India’s competitiveness by aligning with global standards and reducing excessive government imposed costs. ● Zero-rate GST for international travel in line with ICAO principles and international obligations. ● Create a more competitive market for jet fuel by: Adding domestic uplift of domestic jet fuel to the GST framework with full

input tax credit allowed Removing fuel throughput fees in line with global best practice Creating competition with common-use open-access infrastructure, and Regulating transparency in pricing of jet fuel Reducing excise duty on fuel.

Collaboration “There are many priorities in fostering the economic and social development of India. Fundamental issues of eradicating poverty, ensuring quality education, providing health care and safe drinking water are massively important agenda items. Creating a better environment for aviation to do business can and will progress the nuts and bolts of India’s development day to day. Safe, secure and sustainable air links make our world a better place. That is why I call aviation the business of freedom. And the government and industry share a privileged responsibility to work together for its success,” said de Juniac.


'WE SERVE OUR GUESTS WITH PURPOSE' Hilton with its Travel With Purpose initiative, has committed to successfully manage its energy, water and waste, along with creating a positive economic and social impact on the communities that the hotels operate in. Jatin Khanna, VP & Head of Operations, Hilton speaks about the dfference their efforts are making in India By Sudipta Dev What is the vision philosophy of Hilton's Travel with Purpose initiative? Hilton (globally) has committed to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. With this commitment, Hilton (globally) will become the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill. The company will also double the amount it spends with local and minority-owned suppliers, and double its investment in programmes to help women and youth around the world. These goals are part of Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy to further the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. In India, which properties have led the way in this effort? We have already removed plastic straws from all our managed properties in India, and simultaneously at different stages of the process to remove use of single-use plastic from rooms, F&B, operations for both front and back of house. We will also remove plastic water bottles from meetings and events in hotels across the country by 2018 as part of our "Meet with Purpose" programme to offer socially and environmentally responsible meetings Please give a few examples of some initiatives and what has been the recognisable impact. Some steps we have taken to support our 2030 goals includes: ● Since 2008, Hilton's managed hotels in Asia Pacific have

recorded reductions of 15.1 per cent in water use intensity and 6 per cent reduction in waste output. The company continues to seek ways to operate more efficiently, guided by its award-winning performance measurement system, LightStay. Across Greater China and Mongolia, our managed hotels removed plastic water bottles from meetings and events, health clubs and spas since September 2017 - a move that eliminates the use of 13 million plastic bottles annually. In India, all our managed hotels are engaged in soap recycling, in partnership with Sundara, to recover, recycle and distribute soap to communities in need. We have collaborated with Room to Read to improve child literacy and support girl's education, in India and Sri Lanka. This included the introduction of a Job Shadowing Programme to

Jatin Khanna

provide hundreds of girls with exposure to various career opportunities within the hospitality industry. As a leading hotel group, are you also advocating these concepts in the hospitality sector in India ? Being responsible social and environmental stewards is engrained in Hilton’s culture and our purpose. We serve our guests with purpose. We lead our teams with purpose. We build relationships with purpose. With more people crossing borders than ever before, we

are living in a Golden Age of Travel. However, while our industry takes advantage of the business opportunity these travellers bring, we must address our responsibility to the communities where we live and work. In that light, the very future of our industry depends on a planet that can continue to support and sustain our growth. As travel industry leaders, we have both the opportunity and the duty to create an agenda for common, united action. Any particular initiative that you are particularly proud of, in terms of achieved results ? Since 2012, Hilton team members have completed nearly 15,000 projects worldwide, and contributed more than 804,620 hours of community service. In India, during our community service week in July this year, nearly 1000 team members from all our managed properties in India volunteered over 3800 hours of their time for community service.

What are your plans for the future in driving change in the hospitality sector ? In this Golden Age of Travel, Hilton is globally taking a leadership role to ensure that the destinations where travellers work, relax, learn and explore are vibrant and resilient for generations of adventurers yet to come. Hilton is committed to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. With this commitment, Hilton will become the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill. New consumer research reaffirms our corporate responsibility strategy. According to a survey of 72,000 Hilton guests across the world, social, environmental and ethical considerations are central to their buying preferences, especially those younger than 25 years old.



September 2018

MOVEMENTS South African Tourism NELISWA NKANI has been appointed as the hub head for Middle East, India and Southeast Asia, South African Tourism. Nkani will now assume reigns and spearhead the national tourism board’s initiatives in India. Nkani was the director for South African Tourism in Amsterdam from 2003 to 2006. Prior to this she was the chief marketing officer for a Government Investment Agency focusing on Europe, Middle East and Africa. As the new hub head she brings great value to the role; over and above her three years at the

Neliswa Nkani

South African Tourism office in Amsterdam, she comes with holistic tourism experience that includes marketing, strategic government relations, negotiating, tourism, sales and investment facilitation. She will be instrumental in helping the South African travel industry understand the Indian market better, and in encouraging tailored destination offerings to cater to the tastes and demands of travellers from various regions across India.

Amitabh Rai

helm of this 277 key luxury hotel in Bengaluru, his focus will be to ensure that guests depart with memories of a truly exceptional hotel experience, reflective of the brand’s iconic legacy worldwide. Rai joins The Ritz-Carlton from Gurgaon, where he was the GM of The Oberoi. With over 25 years of experience in business and hospitality. Rai is a essional, having worked in multiple hotel properties in India. He started his career in 1993 as an assistant manager front office and within a span of 10 years, became the GM at The Oberoi Grand due to his driving passion for hospitality and people.

Hilton India Hilton India announced the appointment of MALLIKA RAO BEDI, as regional director, Human Resources Hilton India and NEELANJONA GUPTA as regional director of sales, Hilton India. Bedi brings with her a vast experience of over 22 years in area of hotel operations. Prior to joining Hilton, she was with the

Oberoi and Trident in Gurgaon. She has been extensively involved in hotel operations and garnered experience in recruiting, selection, talent management, employee on boarding, training & development, employee relations and process improvement in line with business requirements resulting in minimum attrition rate. At Hilton, her key areas of focus will be to work with the India team to drive best practices as well as reinforce Hilton as amongst the best places to work. Gupta joined Hilton from Hyatt where she was most recently director, India sales organisation, prior to she held roles at the Oberoi group and Leela Palaces Hotels & Resorts. She has also held a position of director sales – The Oberoi Group, managing both Trident Nariman Point and The Oberoi Mumbai, in addition to being briefly associated with The Leela Kempinski Gurgaon Hotel & Residences.

Conrad Pune MELVILLE JOHN has been appointed as director of operations, Conrad Pune. John holds an experience of two decades in hospitality converting strategic vision into measurable results at various hotels globally. Speaking about his appointment, Melville said, “Our guests at Conrad have the highest expectations, and we keep them inspired with our ever intuitive team members, making connections to create unparalleled experiences in our world of style." As the director of operations, John will be responsi-

The Ritz-Carlton, Bengaluru The Ritz-Carlton, Bengaluru has announced the appointment of AMITABH RAI as its new general manager. Rai will be leading an engaged team of refined ladies and gentlemen in further strengthening the positioning of the brand’s first and only hotel in India. At the



September 2018

Mallika Rao Bedi

Melville John

Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru FREDRIK BLOMQVIST is the general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru scheduled to open in the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ in the latter part of 2018. Helming the pre-opening team of this much anticipated Four Seasons property in the Indian subcontinent, he is excitedly looking at positioning this uber luxury destination as a futuristic hub in the city of Bengaluru. The project is strategically located between the Central Business District and the Bengaluru International Airport and comprises a 230 keys hotel, 110 branded luxury residences, more than 50,000 sq. feet of retail space

and a premium office tower. An energised culinary scene encompasses a host of six F&B outlets and a recurring dialogue between architecture and nature throughout the spaces, is an homage to the Garden City.

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali

With a hospitality career spanning over two decades, Sandner brings a wealth of invaluable experience to her new role at The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali. Having worked in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, for luxury hotel brands, she has a sound understanding of the industry in all its entirety. Always mindful about global issues and consumer trends, Sandner is known to implement innovative marketing and communications strategies to drive revenue. This approach is expected to serve her well in Bali where a distinctive edge is required for the resort to maintain its leading edge in such a highly competitive marketplace.

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali and The Bali International Convention Centre (BICC) has announced the appointment of CHRISTINE SANDNER as director of sales & marketing. She has come to the resort fresh from her stint as associate partner/director Sales & Marketing, Hotels with Mark Norris Partnership International based in Dubai, and before that she was heading up the Sales and Marketing for Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

Christine Sandner

ble for heading and managing the hotel operations and maintaining high standards of guest satisfaction. Prior to joining Conrad Pune, John served as the director of Food & Beverage at Conrad Cairo, Egypt. He started his hospitality career as a management trainee with Leela Kempinski, Mumbai. Throughout his career, he has worked with several established brands such as, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, JW Marriott and Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts across various luxury properties in India, Maldives, Toronto, Thailand, Azerbaijan and Cairo.



HORN NOT OK GVK Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) on August 15 organised a a WALKATHON, where more than 1000 participants’ including employees of MIAL, CISF, Immigration, Customs, Mumbai Duty Free, KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, Tresmode, Sky Gourmet, etc walked in support of CII Yi’s Horn Not Ok Please campaign

URBAN LUXE Newly opened Aloft New Delhi Aerocity held a star studded gala gathering in honour of an exclusive edition of the Women Economic Forum (WEF) Awards 2018

HONOURING EQUAL OPPORTUNITY Sarovar Hotels wins Equal Opportunity Employer Award by Sarthak Educational Trust. The award was received by Nihar Mehta, corporate human resource manager, Sarovar Hotels

JOIN THE CLUB L to R: Neelanjan Gupta, Club Marriott, Luxury Hotels; Somrup Chanda, F&B director, Indore Marriott Hotel and Devesh Rawat, general manager, Indore Marriott Hotel and at the launch of The Club Marriott Program

WOMEN ON WINGS Women in Aviation International, India Chapter in association Airport Authority of India (AAI) celebrated Girls in Aviation Day at Agartala Airport, Tripura



September 2018



WE ARE ONE To celebrate its first year partnership, Fairmont Beijing and Blueair hosted the “Well-Being” theme event

BEST PRACTICES IndiGo’s learning academy, ifly won four awards for best practices in Learning and Development at the TISS LEAPVAULT CLO Awards function held in Mumbai by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences


FOUR MORE L to R: Sudeep Jain, vice president, development, South West Asia,

Hong Kong Tourism Board collaborated with Bollywood actress Yami Gautam to boost its ‘Discover Hong Kong Like A Local’ campaign in India

IHG; Lajpat Rai, MD, Lotus Trans Travel; Karan Rai, director and Vivek Bhalla, regional vice president, SWA, IHG at the signing of agreement with Lotus Trans Travel to establish a four hotel portfolio under the Holiday Inn banner

SHOW THOSE SNEAKERS As part of the Lufthansa Sneaker Day on August 24, all Lufthansa Group employees in uniform wore sneakers while on duty, for one day

ART PLATFORM Platform For Artists (PFA), a Pune-based community of artists hosted its 10th Art Getaway in Panchgani in association with Zostel, India's largest chain of backpackers hostels



September 2018


Express Travelworld (Vol.13, No.8) September, 2018  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine

Express Travelworld (Vol.13, No.8) September, 2018  

India's Foremost Travel Business Magazine