VOL 7 | NO. 10 | PAGES 48
November 2012 ` 50
Fortnightly Insight for the Hospitality Trade
Contents November 2012
Vol 7 | No 10 | Pages 48
Chairman of the Board
Viveck Goenka Editor
India could be new Asian hotspot for LGBT tourism ......................................6
Dr K Chiranjeevi sworn in as tourism minister ..............................................7
TAAI appeals to the industry to focus on overall growth at ITTE 2012 ............8
Lushescapes to look at online integration in 6 months ..................................9
Travel Quotient forays with designer holidays .............................................10
CONTENT TEAM Mumbai
1 Time Airline Airline in South Africa
Fastest Growing Airline in South Africa
Akbar Holidays gets into inbound tours, medical tourism ..........................13
Sayoni Bhaduri, Kahini
Brand USA to place India among its top 10 markets in two years ...............15
Fifth anniversary of ITB Asia marks many milestones .................................16
Sands China grows on Cotai Strip, Macao ...................................................17
Interview with Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways ...................................19
Joy Roy Choudhury
For booking and ticket issuance
Ankur Bhatia, Vijay Chadda, Saroj Datta, Ashok Fenn, Subhash Goyal, Cyrus Guzder,
1 Time Airline
Zubin Karkaria, Ashwini Kakkar, Khursheed Lam,
Tel :- (022) 22840443 –
Tej Sahni, Alok Sawhney, Prem Subramaniam
Fax:- (022) 22830461
Deputy General Manager
Emmanuel Fernandes Manager
Sunil D'costa Deputy Chief Manager
Priding on the past : Indonesia ....................................................................30
Zahid Ali Khan
Conserving for the future ............................................................................34
Mohan Varadakar PRODUCTION
GRIFFON, 4 Cusrow Baug, Colaba, Mumbai 400001.
B R Tipnis Production Manager
Introductory Fares for INDIA
Bhadresh Valia Layout
Domestic South Africa
Ratilal Ladani, Kiran Parker Asst. Art Director
JNB – DUR
Rs.3200 onwards (including all taxes)
JNB – GRJ
Rs.3900 onwards (including all taxes)
JNB – PLZ
Rs.4950 onwards (including all taxes)
JNB – CPT
Rs.5150 onwards (including all taxes)
Leveraging Asia's strengths ......................................................................
Senior Graphic Designer
Express TravelWorld Reg. No.-MH/MR/SOUTH156\2010-12 RNI Reg. No. 15993/05 Printed by The Indian Express Limited and published by Ms Vaidehi Thakar on behalf of The Indian Express Press, Plot No. EL-208,TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, Navi Mumbai - 400710 and Published from Express Towers, 2nd Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021. (Editorial & Administra-tive Offices: Express Towers, 1st Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400021) Editor Reema Lokesh* Copyright @ 2011
The Indian Express Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner, electronic or otherwise, in whole or in part, without prior written permission is prohibited. November 2012
and many more....
Singapore: Flying high ..........................................................................41
JNB – VFA
Rs.7500 onwards (including all taxes)
Editor’s Note ..........................................................................................4 and many more....
Weekend ..............................................................................................43 www.expresstravelworld.com
For the wandering soul he vastness of India is incomprehensible to most travellers. There is a unique element of diversity in the country’s culture, tradition, art, food, garments, language, landscape and more in every region and even regions within a region. Each state in the country has a special aura and there are units within the state that has its unmatched style of living, working and functioning. At times it gets difficult to define India in a single phrase. Incredible India did get it right, but it is now time to move on highlighting India as an experiential based tourism product.
T “Celebrities can definitely endorse the brand but the survival and success of the endorsements and brand rests in the hands of the Indian citizen”
The traveller today is mature, versatile, discerning, who designs his or her own tours and circuits. They want to explore India in an out-of-the-box fashion and it is time for the tourism stakeholders, both tour operators and tourism boards to look beyond conventional customer demands and pre-empt the future of customer satisfaction. Product knowledge on the part of the stakeholders is paramount as India’s domestic tourism product has a wealth of specialties to offer. From textile trails, architecture tours, Sufi and Sikh circuits, to history and freedom trails and gourmet journeys – they are well focused routes that can be created without compromising on the quality of the tour. Infrastructure facility is vital, which very few states have consciously made efforts to implement on a fast track mode. Intra-state and inter-state circuits are easy to define. These circuits need the backing of players in the industry who are capable to offer a seamless travel experience to travellers. It is crucial to provide value-for-money, clean and quality accommodation ranging from budget to boutique to the traveller to choose from. Every element of the tourism chain, from the ground handler, guide, driver, to housekeeping staff, need to value and truly understand hospitality. They are after all the true brand ambassadors of Indian tourism. Celebrities can definitely endorse the brand but the survival and success of the endorsements and brand rests in the hands of the Indian citizen. My recent trip to Japan was an eye opener as it is the Japanese culture that truly walks the talk when it comes to putting Atithi Devo Bhava into real time use. Though language can be an initial barrier, it is relegated by their unmatched hospitality. And with the Indian tourism landscape being so vast at the end it is the gestures that help define a destination as people friendly, quality and classy.
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T H E B U S I N E S S O F T R AV E L & TO U R I S M
MP’s GIS 2012 provides impetus to tourism and hospitality investment Nine MoUs worth `1172.06 crore were signed REEMA LOKESH - Indore
he recently concluded Madhya Pradesh Global Investors Summit (GIS) 2012 held in Indore witnessed high level investments and MoUs being signed across sectors including the tourism and hospitality industry. Receiving special focus at the GIS 2012, the tourism industry saw around nine MoUs to worth approximately `1172.06 crore being signed. Apart from the MoUs, a series of EoIs (Expression of Interests) were also put forth. These developments also highlighted the importance of employment generation in the state through tourism. Most of the MoUs were signed with hospitality investors from resorts, five-star projects to nature cure and wellness resorts to amusement park projects. Companies namely Total Diagnostics Solutions, Bhopal; Sukh Sagar Group, Jabalpur and Bhagwati B&H Ahmedabad are scheduled to undertake five-star hotel development projects in Bhopal, Jabalpur and Indore respectively. AG8 Ventures, are scheduled to start work in the resort, nature cure and wellness space in
Hoshangabad and Bhopal. Alfavision Overseas India, Vision Colonizer, Pachar Group, Rajasthan, and Immortal Theme Resort have also signed MoUs for hospitality development. The panel discussion on tourism, highlighted interesting challenges and suggestions for the betterment of tourism in the state and also the country. From rationalisation of taxation to that of better connectivity and also the importance of technology and marketing in tourism were well defined by the panelists. The panel included Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer & managing director, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC); Ashish Kumar Singh, secretary to chief minister, Government of Maharashtra; Sunit Kothari, chairman, Madhya Pradesh Committee, Hotel & Restaurant Association (Western India); Subhash Verma, president, Travel Plus and president, Associations of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI); Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC Travel Group of Companies and Raghavendra Kumar Singh, managing director, Tourism Corporation, Government of Madhya Pradesh. SPS Parihar,
Hospitality Hotels: Star category, budget and business; resorts, amusement parks, etc Aqua tourism Various water bodies such as Tawa Reservoir, Halali dam and Gandhi Sagar Rural Tourism Arts & craft villages and handloom villages such as Chanderi, Maheshwar, etc. Film Tourism Mega Film City: increasing popularity of MP as a film shooting destination Religious Tourism Budhism - Sanchi, Hinduism: Mahakaleshwar - Ujjain, Jainism - Sonagiri and Muktagiri, Islamic: Taj-Ul-Maszid – Bhopal Eco Tourism and cultural festivals Jungle lodges and resorts, jungle safari tours, Khajuraho Dance Festival and Tansen Music Festival, etc Wellness Tourism Ayurvedic treatment centre and Naturopathy centres: Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (over 2200 species)
principal secretary, Urban Development & Tourism, Government of Madhya Pradesh, highlighted the opportunities that the state has to offer and kicked started the event with a Madhya Pradesh tourism overview, Tukojirao Puar, minister of tourism, Government of Madhya Pradesh, welcomed investors in the state and promised them a business friendly work environ-
ment. He added that Madhya Pradesh should not be known only as the heartland of India and for tiger reserves, but also for its hill stations, archaeological wealth, forests and water bodies and famous places of religious importance. Raghavendra Singh said that efforts are being made to link districts with aerial route to promote tourism and facilitate tourists in the state.
India could be new Asian hotspot for LGBT tourism SUDIPTA DEV – Singapore
TB Asia for the first time had a Pink Corner this year for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) tourism. In an exclusive interaction with Express TravelWorld, Thomas Bomkes, MD, Diversity Tourism and LGBT consultant, Gay & Lesbian Segment, ITB Berlin said that his many visits to India has revealed that the Indian tour operators and hotels are interested in this market segment. “India will become one of the new big gay hotspots in Asia because there is so much of interest and also in the Indian society most people
do not have any problem with this segment. As a gay traveller you feel very secure in India, ” he said. On the other hand, he reminded, this market has not really developed in India and there is lack of infrastructure for gay travellers. Bomkes however feels that the inbound to India will grow when tour operators create special products and Indian tourism boards promote this abroad. “Gay tourism segment has grown a lot in the last decade and many destinations are doing a lot of marketing. The LGBT community has to know what India offers as a destination,” stated Bomkes. He pointed out that while
India has diverse attractions that have much to offer, a destination like Kerala could be a big draw for gay travellers, particularly because of its focus on Ayurveda and wellness tourism. "Gay people do a lot of wellness trips and Kerala has a lot to offer," he said. Bomkes mentioned that gay travellers are also very interested in culture and India has much to offer, like shopping for which Mumbai and Delhi are important locations, besides beach destinations like Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep. Knowledge sharing via workshops and conferences are an important part of the
agenda. "Under the brand of ITB Academy we develop conferences around the world to educate and train tourism destinations, tour operators and hotels when they go into this tourism segment. We had one in Delhi two years ago and last year in Goa as part of Goa International Travel Mart. However, the workshop had to be cancelled in Goa because of protests from the archbishop of Goa. But we had a press conference and we could tell the Indian media what we had to communicate in the workshop. So we got a much better coverage at the end of the day,” he stated. November 2012
Dr K Chiranjeevi sworn in as tourism minister ETW STAFF - New Delhi
r K Chiranjeevi was recently sworn in as the minister of state with independent charge for tourism, Government of India replacing Subodh Kant Sahai. Chiranjeevi has been a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh since April 2012. Pawan Kumar Bansal assumed charge as the union minister of Railways. Prior to this, Bansal was union minister of Parliament Affairs and Water Resources. He is a member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Chandigarh constituency. Immediately after assuming the office, Bansal was briefed by Vinay Mittal, chairman railway board, board members and senior officers on various important issues concerning the Railway ministry including the priority areas. Bansal held
Dr K Chiranjeevi
Pawan Kumar Bansal
the office of minister of state for Finance and Parliamentary Affairs in the previous UPA government. He was re-elected to the 15th Lok Sabha and elevated as cabinet minister of
Parliamentary Affairs in the current central government. KC Venugopal took charge as minister of state for civil aviation. He was briefed about the functioning of the ministry and
various issues concerning the civil aviation sector. He was also apprised about the recent measures taken by the ministry. Earlier Venugopal was minister of State for Power.
ATOAI to hold annual convention in January 2013 ETW STAFF - New Delhi
dventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) will hold its 10th annual convention themed – 'India’s Unexplored Paradise' in Guwahati, Assam from January 20-22, 2013. According to Tejbir Singh Anand, president, ATOAI,
“The association seeks to use the convention as useful platform to showcase North-East India as an adventure destination to both domestic as well as the international tourism fraternity. We also aim to harness all available resources and target to promote the region as a one stop adventure destination for the adventure enthusiasts.”
Sanjay Basu has been appointed as the chairman of the ATOAI convention 2013 and David Singh as co-chairman of the convention. The main objective of organising the convention in Assam is to inform the international community that North-East India is a safe travel destination. The convention will focus on creating
a platform for the travel fraternity for new networking opportunities and providing an environment for learning workshops. The convention will also provide knowledge exchange and brain storming sessions for the delegates to enhance efficiency levels and providing enhanced infrastructure for the adventure tourism industry.
After Mumbai, Virgin Atlantic looks at Goa, Hyderabad and Bengaluru SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai
irgin Atlantic that relaunched its London-Mumbai flights after a gap of a few years is also looking at Goa, Bengaluru and Hyderabad as the new destinations in India. “We will try to get slots and sometime relatively soon hopefully we will start operations,” said Sir Richard Branson, president, Virgin Atlantic. The airline is making a product investment of 300 million pounds in the Indian market. Branson pointed out that flights to Mumbai were discontinued due to lack of right slots in Heathrow, which has been rectified this time. “Virgin Atlantic has been flying for 30 years and rarely have we discontinued a route. Most business for Mumbai comes from America, now we have the right slots and we'll make a success of it. We have a brand new plane (A330) and once we have build the
market with this plane, the new Dreamliner will be inducted,” he stated. Virgin Atlantic has been waiting
for the fleet of 787 Dreamliners that will make a difference of US$ 18 million to its bottomline.
Pointing out that the airline has a very good relationship with Jet Airways, Branson acknowledged that in the future it is likely that Virgin Atlantic might become part of a bigger alliance. The airline has deployed a brand new A330 on the London-Mumbai route with new upper class suite, 2.5 metre bar, inflight entertainment and mood lighting. “We have tailored it for Indian passengers with Indian meals, Bollywood films, and considering that Indians usually carry a lot of luggage, two bags free in economy and 96 kg of free baggage for the upper class,” said Stephen King, general manager (India), Virgin Atlantic Airways. “The great news for consumers is that when Virgin Atlantic flies somewhere our competitors slash their fares. We will be price competitive. We've got a very popular upper class and premium class cabin,” added Branson. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
Rajasthan Tourism open to introducing adventure sports HEENA MAHAJAN - New Delhi
ajasthan Tourism is looking forward to introducing newly packaged tourism products by end of this year informed Bina Kak, minister for woman & child development, tourism, art & culture, archeology, printing & stationery, Rajasthan to Express TravelWorld. “We are planning to introduce fort to fort
tourism, pilgrimage to pilgrimage tourism and many more such products. We have already been in touch with some private airlines to introduce routes in each district of tourist attraction.” Government of India and Airports Authority of India has already sanctioned the appeal. Speaking about the plans to introduce soft adventure/adventure sports sites in the state, Kak said,
“The government of Rajasthan and tourism ministry will lend full support to the ideas and suggestions of the companies.” Commenting on the legacy of the heritage hotels and their contribution to promote Rajasthan as a successful tourism destination, she added, “These hotels and IHHA (Indian Heritage Hotels Association) have done us proud and this is the outcome of the efforts put in by Gaj
Singh, president, IHHA and Bhairo Singh Shaikhawat to convert these forts, palaces and garhs into hotels and also, the government providing them subsidies. Currently, these heritage hotels are visible in all the international and national travel trade exhibitions like WTM, GITB, and many more. We have also tied up with the ministry of Tourism initiatives' Hunar Se Rozgar and Clean India Campaign.”
Barfi! brings Darjeeling back on tourism radar JOY ROY CHOUDHURY - Kolkata
he annual tourism numbers of around four lakh domestic and 25000 foreign tourists in Darjeeling is slated to see an dramatic increase with the release of the film Barfi! The film was shot extensively in Darjeeling. The shooting locations included Sukna, Tindharia, Chowrasta, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Station at Ghoom, Windamere Hotel, Keventer's and Planters Club.
Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Anurag Basu, director and writer of Barfi! Said, "With 'Barfi!', Darjeeling as a tourism as well as shooting destination will travel worldwide. I am happy both for 'Barfi!' and Darjeeling, as I could do something for the wonderful hill-station and its people. It has been a wonderful experience working in Darjeeling.” Basu said that the film set in the 1970s has been able to successfully capture the true
spirit of Darjeeling. “I believe that domestic tourists would come and go to Darjeeling but it would certainly help in drawing a huge number of foreign tourists to the region because I have been flooded with queries about the exotic locations featured in the film”, he added. Barfi! is a remarkable thing that has happened to Darjeeling. With peace having been restored in the hills and all the stakeholders trying to re-establish Darjeeling's brand image,
Barfi! is a major breakthrough. It will definitely boost Darjeeling's fortune as a tourism and shooting destination,” said Supratim (Raj) Basu, a tourism industry veteran and advisor to Eastern Himalaya Travel & Tour Operators' Association. He added that few Bollywood production teams and a Hollywood production house have approached his company and evinced keen interest to shoot their films in Darjeeling.
TAAI appeals to the industry to focus on overall growth at ITTE 2012 ETW STAFF - Mumbai
he Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) held its Indian Travel Trade Expo (ITTE) at Mumbai. ITTE 2012 hosted over 30 stalls and recorded around 850 visitors this year. ITTE 2012, inaugurated by Chhagan Bhujbal, state tourism minister, Government of Maharashtra, saw industry experts sharing their knowledge in four interactive business sessions conducted over two days. The sessions on ‘Inside India,’ ‘Maximising your Revenue’ and ‘Future Trends of Travel Trade in India’ included panelists like Ashish Kumar Singh, secretary to chief minister of Maharashtra; Vipul Mittra, principal secretary Tourism, Civil Aviation & Pilgrimage, Government of Gujarat; Dr Adel El Masry, director-India, Egyptian Tourism Office; Jasdev Singh, director – Indian Subcontinent, Expedia; Rajeev Wagle, MD, Kuoni India.
A key business session on ‘The United Voice’ - President’s Round Table, held on the second day of the
expo, was specially arranged by TAAI where all the key travel and hospitality associations of India like
Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA), Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA), and Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACCAI) were represented along with TAAI. Iqbal Mulla, president, TAAI said, “Through the President’s Round Table, we managed to bring on board gallant minds of the industry on a common ground to achieve a common goal for everybody’s benefit. This session helped us discuss collectively about issues like taxation, growth, opportunities and various trends in the sector.” All associations, including TAAI, unanimously agreed that what this industry needs at the moment was growth, which should be the main focus of the industry. The issue of taxation which interrupts the smooth functioning of travel and tourism sector was also discussed at length. November 2012
M|A|R|K|E|T TRADE BYTES
Travel industry positive on increase in festive season bookings KAHINI CHAKRABORTY- Mumbai
hough, the prevalent scenario of high airfare and current economic scenario is proving to be rather challenging for the tourism industry, it poses no real threat to the Indian traveller. As per a latest survey conducted by WegoIndia, there has been a significant change in the travel patterns of Indians. And with the travel season around the corner and the current festive season bookings, major players in the online travel segment are expecting the market sentiment to pick by up to 70-80 per cent in the coming months. “The current trend of travelling amongst Indians is likely to transform as they might plan holidays a few more weeks in advance. With a slew of economic reforms announced and the sensex back to last year numbers there is a definitive sense of positive outlook,” said
Dhruv Shringi, co-founder and CEO, Yatra.com to Express TravelWorld. The survey done by Wego India states that eight in every ten hotel searches are for domestic accommodation, up from half at this time in 2011 and it is stimulating fresh demand for a much wider range of travel experiences. This festive season airlines like – Air India, Jet Airways have also launched a scheme called ‘Jaldi jaldi’ wherein one can avail 40 per cent discount on the bookings made in advance. Giving his perspective, Noel Swain, executive vice president, supplier relations, Cleartrip added, “There has been a stimulated market demand with regards to travel planning. No doubt there has been 25 per cent increase in airfare due to increase in service tax, ADF, UDF and fares, but with the benefit of airlines offering 30 days advance fare bookings we have seen an
increase of up to 30 per cent in bookings this month. On the hotel booking segment, we have got an increase of 60 per cent this year apart from the fact that we have added new inventories.” “Given the price sensitivity of the market in light of the depreciating rupee and repeated fare hikes, 'value' is now of key significance to the Indian traveller; be it luxury or otherwise. Travellers see value for money with complimentary services, discounts and offers. We expect a percolation of the customisation trend to the tier II - III and regional markets,” adds Madhav Pai, chief operating officer, leisure outbound, Thomas Cook (India). For Thomas Cook India, out of the total bookings received for the upcoming festive season, 70 per cent travellers chose to fly and 30 per cent chose to travel by rail and buses. While for Yatra, major chunk of the bookings were seen for air
tickets - 80 per cent and 20 per cent on rail tickets. “During these festive season, we have been witnessing a margin of around 10 per cent for holiday packages and between onetwo per cent for flights,” added Shringi. “The festive season is a peak travel season in India and we always see a good growth in bookings during this period. This year too, our holidays and hotels business is growing at a very healthy pace. Air contributes to around 70 per cent of our revenue mix but we are looking to steadily increase the hotels and holidays share of the pie,”said Mohit Gupta, chief business officer, MakeMyTrip. As per these major OTA's on the domestic side, Kashmir, Kerala, Bengaluru, Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and North-East continue to be popular travel destinations, while Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, Kathmandu are the big draws for short-haul outbound holidays.
Lushescapes to look at online integration in 6 months SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai
nternational luxury operator Lushescapes is looking to supplement their brick and mortar setups in India and UAE with an online integration plan. Discussing details of the same Abhishek Dadlani, CEO and founder Lushescapes said, “We are building a multi lingual website to target the Arab, Russian, Chinese and European markets. This will be backed up with a multi lingual service centre in India. This integration will be launched within the next six months. Our offices in Dubai and Delhi will act as business development centres for the service centre.” Lushescapes specialises in travel advisory and consultancy tailored specifically
Abhishek Dadlani to the needs of clients, Dadlani explained his company's specialisation. “We
aim to offer a wide array of unique holiday experiences to our prospective travellers. The company aims to tap into avid travellers who wish to seek luxury and distinguished experience,” he added. Recently Lushescapes has introduced special programmes like Dinner In The Sky which is a Belgian concept which involves a table suspended almost 50 metres above the ground. Other programmes include luxury rail journeys on an Art Deco train; private air charter services across the world. On the USP of these programmes, Dadlani said, “As a company, we try to offer much more than what our customers expect from us. Our offerings include the experiences of a destination. We offer holiday
experiences completely tailored to our customers needs and preferences. Also, we have a back-end team who takes care of the client’s requirements right from the time of their booking and thereby providing them a hassle free vacation.” Lushescapes was set up in order to offer the best possible travel experience to its clients with its services, products and solutions. “We look towards providing the best luxury holiday offers to our clients to make their travel to dream destinations, a memory of a lifetime,” he added. Lushescapes was set up in 2008 and offers travel experiences across 55+ destinations, with direct links with 1000+ hotels, and strong alliances with tourism boards.
ETAA, IAAI sign MoU to become affiliate members of each other KAHINI CHAKRABORTY - Mumbai
n order to synergise on the strength and leverage similar ideologies, the Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA) and IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) have signed an MoU in Mumbai. Through this MoU, both the associa-
tions have become affiliate members of each other, enlarging their membership base. The new tie-up aims to conduct training workshops and educational seminars along with other developmental issues along with talking up industry issues. Karl Dantas, president, ETAA said, “The idea
behind partnering with each other was to take advantage of each others strength. The highlight of this partnership is that each member of IAAI becomes a free affiliate member of ETAA and vice versa with which we will work as one unified body. We have 1250 members all over the country.” He furwww.expresstravelworld.com
ther added that the MoU will be renewed every year. Biji Eapen, president, IAAI added, “Since the travel industry does not understand the difference between service tax and commission, we will work closely with ETAA to train the front office staff and
educate them about the industry. Earlier, travel agents used to be given seven per cent commission but now it is three per cent or negligible. I believe that travel agents should be given five per cent commission for the services that they provide to end consumers.” November 2012
M|A|R|K|E|T TRADE BYTES
Travel Quotient forays with designer holidays HEENA MAHAJAN - New Delhi
rainchild of Vikrant Nath, with the sole proprietorship, Travel Quotient has forayed into the India market by introducing designer holidays. Talking about the product and how different it is from the other players in the industry, Nath said, “Currently, our tours are designer holidays. The programmes are targeted at 35 plus age group, meant for those people who have travelled all over - for work and leisure. For those, who are looking now at extending their horizons and do different activities which is not available across-the-counter, and also those who are open to new ideas and experiences - not the kinds who look for the nearest Indian restaurant.” By 2014, the company plans to introduce a 'pret' programme as well. “What will never change is the small size of our groups (8 - 12 pax) and the fact that we will only offer products not available elsewhere in the Indian travel market,” added Nath. “Also because these are all curated holidays and are led by experts in that area who do it not so much for the money as for the love of it and the joy of sharing their knowledge, we independently
assess all clients and accept only those we feel will be compatible with the rest of the participants and the tour leader. This is essential because our groups are small 8 to 12 people and it can get extremely tedious even if one member is not compatible with the rest of the group,” he added. Their first departure is for Arctic expedition which will take place this winter. “This departure sold out within a week of our announcement and we have had to offer another departure which is also 75 per cent sold out already,” informed Nath. He also gave details on his next two week trip to Colombia - Bogota, Cartagena, and a five-day trek to the Lost City of Tayrona, and also working on an art, museums and music itinerary in the Balkans and another programme in Mongolia. Speaking on the nature of Indian travellers and the demands, Nath said, “I think travellers are now looking for niche products. A lot of Indians have now been travelling abroad for their annual holidays for the last 5 - 10 years and have done the normal been-there-done-that routine and have covered the Far East, Europe and UK, USA and Canada, Africa and Australia and the cruise. They are now looking for niche products, activities and destinations.”
Indian travel trade loses industry veteran ETW STAFF - Mumbai
N R Swamy, MD, Syrisa Travels, Mumbai passed away in Mumbai on October 21, 2012. He entered the industry in the year 1967 and went on to establish his company Syrisa Travels in the year 1981. He was the founder member of Travel Agents Federation of India and firmly believed in ethical trade practice. Express TravelWorld extends its heartfelt condolence to the family. May his soul rest in peace.
SPACE MARKETING INITIATIVE
PUDUCHERRY TOURISM HERITAGE TOURISM
Architectural Legacy The architectural heritage of Puducherry is a perfect reflection of its unique identity as a city that showcases the confluence of divergent cultures
uducherry has an interesting crosscultural history and its built form lends a unique identity to the town. The old part of Puducherry is known as Boulevard Town since it is bounded by four boulevards that once constituted the outer limits of the city’s fortification. The Boulevard Town presents two distinct architectural styles in the Tamil and French Quarters, which are separated by a canal and unified by a rectilinear grid plan. In the French Town the buildings are in European style adapted to a tropical climate, whereas in the Tamil Town area they are in the local vernacular. While maintaining their individual identities, the two styles have influenced one another, evolving into a synthesis: FrancoTamil architecture. There are few monumental buildings in Puducherry, and the architectural character of the town is the result of hundreds of traditional-style houses (both in Tamil and French Quarters) that form the unique streetscapes so distinctive of Puducherry. Some must-see sights include Arikanmedu, a famous historical site that was discovered by the Romans in 200 B C and is being excavated, Aayi Mandapam, a monument built during the reign of Napoleon III, Eglise De Sacre Coeur De Jesus or Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, known for its Gothic architecture and the Mansion of Ananda Rangapillai, a fine specimen of IndoFrench architecture that was built in 1773.
Puducherry Museum Located opposite to the Government Park, the museum provides a glimpse into Puducherry’s rich past and present. The Sculpture Gallery contains some specimens of Pallava and Chola art from Puducherry and Karaikal. The archaeological section displays a collection of the famous findings from Arikamedu, like Roman pottery, burial urns, etc. The French Gallery is the most interesting part of the museum, which has an office and drawing, dining and bed-rooms with furniture typical of French India. The other sections of the museum are on geology, bronze
images, arms, handicrafts and art. The museum brings back to memory the glorious past of Puducherry from the days of the pre-Christian era down to the present day providing glimpses of the art and culture of the people of this region during the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar days.
Park Monument (Aayee Mandapam) Park Monument built by the gallant French in the exuberant Graeco-Roman style to honour a courtesan stands as a symbolic landmark of all that is unique of Puducherry and her distinct gracefulness.
Jawahar Toy Museum The Jawahar Toy Museum is located in the old Light House building near Gandhi Maidan. Here toys and puppets from different parts of India are on display.
Mansion Ananda Rangapillai This is a beautiful built in a curious mix of French and Indian architectural styles. However, it is not as a piece of art, but as the home of Ananda Rangapillai that it is preserved. Ananda Rangapillai, the famous dubash (Indian representative of a European ruler) had access to high places and a lot of diplomatic information. All this he poured into his diaries that are a storehouse of information about Dupleix and FrenchIndia between 1736 and 1760.
Raj Nivas This grand palace-typically French- was once Dupleix’s home. Today, the exquisite building, with its beautiful lawns in front decorated with sculptures, is the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry (not open to public).
Government Square The 18th century Palais du Government (now Raj Nivas), the Old Tribunal now housing the Legislative Assembly, the Circle de Puducherry, the hospitals, the Ashram dining hall, the UCO Bank are all lined up to form ‘Place de Gouvernement’ (Government Square) with the Ayee Mandapam monument at the centre of a well laid garden. Some exquisitely carved monolithic pillars adorn the “Place”. These pillars, ascribed to the 17th century were brought from Gingee to Puducherry after the capture of its Citadel by French in a brilliant victory.
Bharathi Memorial Museum Subramania Bharathi, Bharathiar to all, was a Tamil poet- patriot who arrived in Puducherry in 1908, a fugitive from British India. The free French air brought out the best in Bharathi and some of his finest patri-
otic and romantic compositions were born here. Bharathi’s home No 20, Easwaran Dharmaraja Koil Street, is almost a place of pilgrimage today for the Tamil people.
Bharathidasan Memorial Museum Kanagasubburathinam, another great Tamil Poet was born in Puducherry and assumed the name Bharathidasan, meaning 'Disciple of Bharathi'. He lived in No 95, Perumal Koil Street, another place of cultural pilgrimage. Bharathidasan’s poems compare with Bharathi’s in literary achievement and patriotic fervor.
Referendum Monument (Kizhur Village) Through a small village about 21 km form Puducherry it rose to prominence in 1954 when elected representatives of the former French establishment here on October 18, and voted in favour of merger with the Indian Union finally clinching the issue of freedom for French India. A memorial was unveiled on August 16, 1972 to commemorate the historic event. In that memorial they erected the name of the persons who are participated in the election. On October 18, 1954, 170 out of 178 municipal councilors and members of the representative assembly of the four French India establishment of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam met at Kilur and gave their verdict in favour of merger with the Indian Union. The agreement for the de facto transfer of the French establishment to the Indian union was signed in New Delhi on October 21, 1954 and came into effect on November 1, 1954 with the signing of the instrument of transfer of power at the Government House, Puducherry by Pierre Landy, special envoy of France on behalf of Paris and Kewal Singh, on behalf of the Indian government. A salvo of guns was fired to mark the occasion and the tricolor went up over the ● Government House.
Akbar Holidays gets into inbound tours, medical tourism SUDIPTA DEV - Mumbai
kbar Holidays, that is a part of Akbar Travels, has started a new initiative of inbound tours. Another new focus area is medical tourism that the company provides from end to end. “We service the client from the time he comes to India till he leaves the country. According to the budget of the client we get the hospital stay organised. If it is not a serious ailment then we also attach sightseeing and hotel stay,” said Benazir Nazar, CEO, Akbar Holidays. For medical tourism the company is looking at Africa (in particular Kenya) and the UAE. Akbar Holidays has tied up with an insurance agency in Kenya and is are planning to tie up with Kenyan Airways. “We've tied up with certain hospitals in India for instance, the Apollo Group, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Jaslok Hospital, and Prince Aly Khan Hospital in Mumbai for the budget category. Once the report comes in
Benazir Nazar from the patient we check with the hospitals and specialists what they would be charging and inform the patient,” she said. Apart from FIT leisure travel, the company has a strong focus on corporate clientele and sends large incentive groups to Singapore, Thailand, and of recent Europe. MICE constitutes 60 per cent of the com-
pany's business of which 20 per cent is domestic and the rest is outbound. “With corporate groups it does not only end at hotels and sightseeing but also involves events - ranging from outbound activities to themed parties,” stated Nazar, adding that the company does not deny a query to even a place like Lonavala, and also promotes small properties. “If an organisation wants to do even a day meeting outside we organise the meals, the theme, a trainer for outbound activities.” Regarding the changing trends in the MICE segment Nazar pointed out that even small and medium sized companies have started travelling more. “People are now looking out to new destinations like Argentina and Maldives. Currently we are doing a group tour to Norway. Even in the domestic market new places are being looked at, for instance Kashmir. We are in fact doing two groups to Kashmir,” she said. Akbar Holidays has 100
team members with presence across India. Every Akbar Travels office has the presence of a Akbar Holidays team. Nazar acknowledges that the brand name rests on the goodwill that her father has created in 35-40 years. “As an old player there is a lot of trust associated with the name. It makes it easier for us to penetrate the market with the name and at the same time value the trust that people hold. My father has always created the feeling around Akbar Travels that we'll give the lowest prices. I have to maintain the lowest price as well as quality and services," said Nazar. She started the company three years back, but the operations kicked off about two years ago and there has been 50 per cent growth. In the near future Nazar is also focusing on fixed departures. "We are looking at the market and doing a market study. A trial run is being done of a small group to Europe in April 2013,” she revealed.
JourneyMart.com looks at enhancing product offerings Aims at doubling market share of unique visitor visits KAHINI CHAKRABORTY- Mumbai
aunched in the year 2001 online travel information provider and meta search website for flights and hotels, JourneyMart.com is working on advancing its product offerings. The company is leveraging technological advancements and is introducing application-based technology. As part of its agenda, it has enhanced its holiday planning tool Destination Explorer - combining various city getaways and holiday ideas by catering to 17 genres namely heritage, beach, luxury, music festivals, culture, etc. It is also going to launch a mobile application wherein travellers can get information on the move. The other online tools currently on offer include: holiday ideas; city getaways; features; flights; hotels and cruises. Speaking exclusively to
Varun Chadha Express TravelWorld about company's plans and investment Varun Chadha, COO, JourneyMart.com said, “As we have our in-house technology team, enhancing our product offerings is a continuous process. But apart from investing in technology, we www.expresstravelworld.com
are also looking at reaching out to specialist who are into niche segments like heritage, luxury trains, beaches, etc. We are identifying new trends to be more comprehensive in our offerings which will enable us to be different and add more value. Presently we have five lakh visitors on our website and are looking at doubling this in the next six months.” When asked about how is the company braced to set a niche for itself considering the current competitive scenario in the online space, Chaddha opined, “We are well placed in the online market and are not taking on the online travel agents. Since the online segment is heavy on transactions there is a huge space for gathering information online. However, the issue is the credibility of the source. With Destination Explorer we have responded to travellers by offering them a
comprehensive and credible source of information for their research and travel planning stage. The tool gathers exclusive content and individual preferences to recommend the most suited holiday experiences to a user. With fundamental travel criteria’s integrated within the search such as one’s Reason to Travel, Season to Travel, preferred travel time and duration, we ensure that users have all they need to find their ideal holiday destination.” In order to be on top of the mind of more number of travellers, as part of its marketing strategy the company recently launched a TV campaign highlighting holiday ideas. “We are heavy on promoting our offerings in the online space and social media websites. On the B2B front, we are open to working with travel agents and we have learnt that they do visit our website for information during their research.” November 2012
M|A|R|K|E|T TRADE BYTES
'Indians are showing interest in discovering India and are keen to take multiple holidays each year' With a simple philosophy of enabling travellers to take the right travel planning decision, Hari Nair, founder and CEO, HolidayIQ shares his opinion on the changing trends. By Kahini Chakraborty With the online space clustered with a lot of online travel agents and travel search websites, How does HolidayIQ work towards creating and maintaining a niche for itself? We believe that the most important ingredient in getting a great holiday is to have the right information at the time of planning the holiday (ie before booking a holiday). We also believe that the information that is critical for smart holiday planning is traveller feedback (ie traveller reviews on hotels, destinations, etc) from other Indian travellers. HolidayIQ provides every Indian traveller with deep insight and information gathered from other Indian travellers through User Reviews. What are the interesting travel booking patterns you have seen among travellers? Over 40 lakh Indian trav-
ellers plan their holidays every month on HolidayIQ.com. The most important travel pattern of Indians is their deep interest and passion in discovering India (ie domestic travel). We find that an overwhelming majority of urban Indians are keen to take multiple holidays each year. The primary focus of most of these domestic holidays are weekend breaks to tourism destinations within 300 kilometres of the city of residence. What are the company's future business expansion plans? The company plans to reach out to more Indian travellers. In the next 12 months, we expect to substantially increase the audience for HolidayIQ from the current level of four million travellers per month. We
will be soon launching a mobile app called hiq!APP which will enable travellers to share reviews. With about 30000 hotels, is the company looking at adding new inventories to its website? HolidayIQ adds between 200 to 700 properties every month. Most of these are properties that our members have discovered and want to add new reviews for. In order to enable our fastgrowing community of Indian travellers to find the accommodation of their choice, HolidayIQ lists a wide range of options with rooms costing as high as `100,000 per room night and as low as `300 per room night. How has the bookings for travel and hotels been in terms of revenues for the
company this year? HolidayIQ's revenues arise from directing the travellers who visit our site to other travel vendors (primarily online travel agencies, traditional travel agencies or hotels). HolidayIQ gets paid for Leads and Clicks. Having said that, the company has seen significant traction in revenues with a growth of over 200 per cent in the last 12 months. What further developments could be seen in the online space in future? We see travellers across India coming together, constantly sharing reviews online and enabling smarter and accurate holiday planning. We believe that a travel experience is never complete until you review your experience. We see this belief syncing in to more and more evolved travellers.
Brand USA to place India among its top 10 markets in two years KAHINI CHAKRABORTY- Mumbai
ecognising India as a potential key emerging market for the United States, Brand USA's goal is to place India among its top ten markets within the next two years. The prime agenda of the corporation is to hire resources in India so that it can take advantage of the local market intelligence and knowledge. These representatives will be working with the travel trade and develop B2B programmes to help promote the US. This will be followed up with consumer campaigns and they will be working closely with the trade so that they can leverage on these campaigns. Talking to exclusively to Express TravelWorld Jay Gray, vice president Business Development, Brand USA informed, “The travel trade in this market needs a lot of education in
Jay Gray order to increase the tourist arrivals to the US. It is imperative to promote the destination's offerings beyond the traditional ones. We have been in talks with VisitUSA committee who is developing an educational programme and we are also developing a www.expresstravelworld.com
social media website focused on education. So instead of the typical Q&A and certification format, we are looking at creating an environment wherein the travel trade can exchange information, ideas and itineraries and create something which is more engaging. In addition to this, we will be developing co-op programmes for the travel trade.” Last year the destination received 6,60,000 Indian travellers and has witnessed a year-on-year growth of 12 per cent this year. The Brand USA India Mission saw a delegation of 50 participants representing 35 US companies which included destinations, attractions, hotels and DMC’s. When asked about the investment finalised for the aggressive marketing strategies planned ahead, Gray said, “Although we haven’t yet finalised on the investment for the campaigns, the
immediate action plan would be that of gauging how quickly we can generate revenue to enter into new markets and that further determines our entry into new markets. Our primary target markets are Mumbai and Delhi and we will shortly hire our resources in the market as well as the VisitUSA committee will go deeper into the secondary and tertiary markets. Although we are going to focus on all segments, the consumer campaigns in particular cater to the leisure segment, and we are aware of the opportunity that the VFR and MICE travel segments hold for us. We see a huge potential to add leisure components for MICE and business travel segments. Furthermore, we have also held several meetings with airlines to discuss opportunities for launching direct air connectivity to offer travellers a seamless travel experience.” EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
VisitScotland promotes Natural Scotland and Homecoming Scotland in India SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai
ooking at a long term growth strategy for India and other BRIC nations, VisitScotland is promoting the country for the next two years. Providing details Lindsay Symington, marketing manager – Trade Partnershios Long Haul and Emerging Markets, VisitScotland said, “We are currently promoting the
2013 season where we are focussing on Natural Scotland. The focus will be the lochs, castles, natural heritage, etc. We have created a dedicated online toolkit for agents.” Year 2014 will be promoted as Homecoming Scotland. Scotland welcomes the world to see its events and festivals, and culture and heritage. “We have taken this theme up again after its success in
2009,” added Symington, 2014 is also the year when Commonwealth Games will take place in Glasgow. “We have created special e-programmes, websites with cultural activities and we will use campaigns to promote Scotland,” she said. Scotland receives an average 19000 Indian visitors annually generating an approximate revenue of 60,000 GBP. “We have been
working with the Indian market for a while now and we now have 1400 Scotsagent in India under the Scots – Destination Specialist Programme,” said Symington. Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Highlands and Inverness still remain the most popular destinations in Scotland for Indians. US and Germany still remain their biggest source market apart from domestic travellers.
Fifth anniversary of ITB Asia marks many milestones SUDIPTA DEV – Singapore
n its fifth anniversary, ITB Asia created many milestones this year that ranged from the increase in number of exhibitors to larger floor space to being a sold-out event many months in advance. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Nino Gruettke, executive director, ITB Asia said, “We have new initiatives on the buyers side, we focus a lot on the conferences, trends and data. We have also focused a lot on corporate procurements and corporate buyers. On the exhibition side we see a strong growth from the Asian countries, but that is not surprising, the surprise comes from the emerging markets. We see marked growth from Southern America and Southern Africa, so that par-
Nino Gruettke ticipation is becoming more and more prominent in ITB Asia and may some day outperform that of Europe or the US.” He pointed out that another segment that has been highlighted this year is
cruise. “Singapore has a new cruise terminal and we partnered up with Asia Cruise Association who brought in big exhibitors from the cruise sector and they are delivering to travel agents who are interested in the segment,” added Gruettke. Regarding the long -term strategy for ITB Asia, Gruettke stated, “We want to make ITB Asia as successful and as established like ITB Berlin is for the rest of the world and Europe. How long that will take I do not know. It could be five years or 15 years. ITB Berlin is 50 years old. However, we do not believe so much in taking the show around the world or Asia like other travel trade shows that happen at different destinations every year, we are very happy to have ITB Asia in Singapore.” Talking about the growth
potential he remarked, “Every business wants to grow not just for the growth sake but for quality. In terms of the future of ITB Asia we cannot really grow stronger than the market, we may gain market shares from other travel trade shows but we cannot out perform the market with our show, we are a market platform and we can only be as strong as the market. However, as this part of the world and this market is very strong we believe that there is a lot of room for improvement and potential to grow for ITB Asia.” Gruettke acknowledged that one of the major debates in ITB Asia is will this part of the world develop as Europe and America has or will it take a different turn and Europe and America will follow what has happened here.
Atlantis looks at a strong Q4 Looks at new segments; plans initiatives for Indian agents SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai
xpecting good business from India in the upcoming festive season is Atlantis The Palm Dubai. Lisa Goswell, VP International Leisure Sales, Atlantis The Palm Dubai said, “Business in the fourth quarter is looking strong for us especially for India as compared to last year. The rates will be 30 per cent lower than last year.” This will further add to an
improved business with 2012 being a record year with double digit growth. Goswell also informed that apart from the usual target market of families, Atlantis The Palm Dubai will now also look at newer segments. “As Dubai continues to grow as a weekend destination, we are looking at an increase from travellers who fall under the double income no kids category. This is the new segment we are trying to develwww.expresstravelworld.com
op,” she said. Wedding promotions are also something that they are keen on developing further, “We also continue to develop the weddings segment. Having weddings in Dubai seem to be a great way for families to meet. We do an average of 10-12 weddings in a month, this includes Indian weddings,” she added. Atlantis The Palm Dubai has been continuously promoting the hotel and its entertainment options in the
Indian market since its opening in 2008. Continuing with these efforts, Goswell informed, “We intend to continue our efforts in India and have planned investment for an innovative travel trade initiative.” She did not delve further into the details of the initiative. India is the third best performing market and remains in the top 10 source markets for the property. India is third to China and Saudi Arabia.” November 2012
‘Our studies have revealed that the spend of business travellers from India is much higher than others’ Jeannie Lim, executive director, Conventions & Meetings and Exhibitions & Conferences Division, Singapore Tourism Board talks about the factors that contribute in making Singapore the leading MICE destination of Asia and the importance of India as a source market for this segment. By Sudipta Dev What are the greatest strengths of Singapore as the MICE hub of Asia. Which are the factors that have contributed in making this the biggest MICE market ? We have been known as a business city and business hub here in Singapore for a long time now, because I suppose of our origins as a trading home. Some of the attributes that make us successful as a business city is our location that gives us proximity to several markets in Asia. 200 different airlines fly into our airport. The accessibility and catchment to major cities in the world makes it very easy for business travellers to travel to Singapore. And once they come here, there is the experience of excellent infrastructure for the MICE industry and convention facilities. Marina Bay Sands has come up, Suntec is now undergoing renovations and they would be reopening in second quarter of next year and then we have Singapore
and relevant associations to ensure that the content for the events that are held here are of high quality. We have over 7000 MNCs who have offices in Singapore and close to 150 international organisations that help in bringing different business events to Singapore.
Expo as well which has just opened this year a new convention facility called Max Atria, apart from other venues. Also, being a knowledge hub, the city attracts business travellers to network and gain new knowledge. To get that kind of content we work very closely with event organisers
Can you reveal the statistics related to the number of visitors coming here for business events or the number of MICE events being organised here annually ? In terms of the numbers we have seen good growth. Last year we had 13.2 million visitors coming to Singapore overall, out of which about 24 per cent or 3.2 million visitors came here for business travel and MICE. They accounted for 30 per cent of our total tourism receipts that is about SGD 5.6 billion. This is about two to four per cent increase from the previous year. In terms of the number of events this time
we were for the first time the top international country, which was a rating given by the Union for International Association. We clocked in about 925 international meetings that matched their criteria. How do you see India as a source market for this segment ? India remains a strong market for us both for leisure and MICE. In terms of BT MICE it is within our top five source markets. Our studies have revealed that the spend of business travellers from India is much higher than that of other markets. Their average per capita spend was SGD 2,000 for the duration of their stay in Singapore. Do you have a specific strategy for the India market ? It is a very important market for us which is why we have recently posted a very senior management staff to head our South Asia office in Mumbai.
Sands China grows on Cotai Strip, Macao SAYONI BHADURI - Mumbai
ands China, the developer of Venetian Macao and the recently launched Sands Cotai Central, has declared their third project on Macao's Cotai Strip. Brendon Elliott, vice president Sales and Resort Marketing, Sands China informed, “We are also preparing parcel three land for development. This project will be ready by 2016.” Maintaining the suspense about the details of the project he said that the project will be another themed hotel which will compliment the Venetian Macao. “This will be a mid scale project and at the completion of which Cotai Strip will have 15000 rooms,” he added. Sands China earlier this year opened Sands Cotai Central on the Cotai Strip Holiday Inn and Conrad
Brendon Elliott and recently the Sheraton. This development is part of the third phase of development and will see the construction of the fourth tower but that has been put www.expresstravelworld.com
on the back burner with the development of parcel three land coming up. He added, “The construction of the fourth tower hotel of Sands Cotai Central will begin in the first quarter of 2013; we have zeroed in on St Regis brand for that.” This new tower will house 2000 additional rooms. Discussing growth and development of Sands Cotai Central Elliott said, “We have exceeded all our expectations. Occupancies at the Conrad are in the high 80s and at the Holiday Inn at high 90s. Not many hotels open to such a fan fare so it is great.” They also introduced the second phase which includes the launch of Sheraton, 100 retail units and the Pacifica casino. The business from India however still is for Venetian Macao. “We see as many as 450 Indians every day at the
Venetian Macao,” Elliott said. He added that Venetian Macao is not an entry market product, currently they receive mid and high end guests from India together with large corporations and incentive groups. “The growth of Sands Cotai Cental is not India centric. The market has not grapsed the potential of Sands Cotai Central yet, Venetian Macao still is the dominant force.” The new strategy of growth for Sands China is to promote Macao as an extension to Bangkok. “Thai Airways has direct flight to Macao from Bangkok. People flying from Bangkok can directly land into Macao and not transit via Hong Kong, which gives us a great opportunity,” explained Elliott. China is the biggest market, India is number four and Indonesia is sixth. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
Technology, brand and people strategy key focus areas for Thomas Cook India SUDIPTA DEV - Singapore
fter the stake sellout, the most important focus areas for Thomas Cook India for the next few years will be – technology integration, people strategy and decision regarding the brand. This was revealed by Madhavan Menon, MD, Thomas Cook India, in an exclusive interaction with Express TravelWorld on the sidelines of Asia Travel Leaders Summit in Singapore recently. “The sale was from a strategic investor to a pure investor so very honestly nothing has changed. It is business as usual. The team almost remains the same, yes there have been some exits but that is natural. What has changed is not the business, but how to rein-
Showcase Canada Asia-2012 witnessed encouraging response from Indian buyers ETW STAFF - Osaka
anadian Tourism Commission’s (CTC) recently concluded its fourth annual Showcase Canada Asia 2012 event which was held in Osaka, Japan. Attended by four of CTC’s key international markets China, Japan, Korea and India, the event witnessed participation from over 250 buyers and 87 sellers. The event saw approximately 40 Indian agents and the response from the India market and buyers was positive as they felt the destination is definitely getting increasingly serious and committed to the India market over the years. Showcase Canada Asia which has a proven format of pre-scheduled appointments and networking events, allowed Canadian sellers to meet with buyers from in an intense business-tobusiness marketplace. As the brand continues to build on the success of Showcase Canada Asia 2011 in Busan, Korea, the focus continues on efforts to excite and intrigue not only existing but new potential operators to include Canada in their itineraries. Led by the team in Japan under Maureen Riley, the trade action unfolded over five days at the Ritz-Carlton in Osaka, Japan. The Showcase started with briefings by market experts who came from the four nations. With over 250 buyers, 145 representatives from 87 seller companies from across the country. With an efficient four-nation format, Showcase Canada Asia has become a must-attend part of many Canadian sellers’ and international buyers’ marketing and sales plans.
Madhavan Menon force the business. Thomas Cook globally has had its fare share of financial problems so it was very difficult to invest in businesses when we wanted to. Our current investor runs a whole lot of
general insurance companies around the world and are there for the long term. They've used their balance sheet to fund this so they are looking at a five-ten years scenario,” stated Menon. Pointing out that the company is now focusing on technology, Menon said that this ranged from dealing with the internet situation to the smart phone phenomenon in the travel industry. “Our focus over the next couple of years is technology and injecting systems into the company to bring us up to power with the industry,” he stated. Yet another important factor is the decision regarding the Thomas Cook brand. “We have the brand for twelve and a half years, we have to decide when to
change it - the fifth year or the 10th or 12th year. That is a decision that we need to make. And how will we draw the roadmap. My commitment to my board is that in the next 36 months I will give a clear-cut roadmap of how we are going to make this change. Why I took 36 months is because I'm honestly not ready to focus on this factor now, there are more important things to do at present. The brand is available and we are paying a fee for it so we must capitalise on that,” stated Menon. The third most important change that Menon is looking at is people strategy. “I think the industry is going through tremendous amount of change. One of our priorities is to train and equip people to handle this change,” he asserted.
JNTO reinforces its foothold in the India market 60th year of Indo-Japan Diplomatic Relations further strengthens ties REEMA LOKESH –Mumbai
he Japanese have finally arrived and are here to tap the Indian outbound market, with renewed focus and promotional activities. The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and the Embassy of Japan recently conducted a series of events to commemorate the 60th year of diplomatic relations between India and Japan in 2012. Apart from other events, there was increased focus on tourism promotion and JNTO conducted a two-city B2B road show and buyer-seller meet, in Mumbai and New Delhi, wherein tourism and hospitality industry stakeholders from the Japanese tourism fraternity were in the country to meet the Indian buyers. All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL), JTB Travels, Shinsu Travels, Hokkaido Tourists Centre were also part of the delegation. Speaking at the event, Motonari Adachi, executive directorJNTO, Singapore Office, said, “India is one of the key focus markets for us to attract tourists to Japan and we have witnessed a remarkable recovery from the Indian market. Japan has made tourism as
Motonari Adachi one their key priorities in uplifting the country’s economy out of the calamities of 2011. JNTO is actively promoting the destination in the Indian market as part of its emerging markets strategy to inspire leisure travellers to visit Japan. In first eight months of 2012, the total number of Indian visitor arrivals stood at 45,200; which is an impressive 18.4 per cent growth compared to the same period in the year 2011. Apart
from traditional marketing strategies, Japan is also leveraging on social media platforms like a dedicated 'Visit Japan from India' Facebook page, specifically for Indians. Further, Japan has also appointed actor Dia Mirza Handrich to promote Japan tourism in India. “We take this opportunity to express our gratitude and show appreciation towards Indian visitors for their continuous support to Japan, especially after the twin disaster of earthquake and tsunami last year. We are confident that we would achieve our goal of welcoming 18 million foreign tourists to Japan by 2016 through our sustained promotional activities and tourism friendly policies,” commented Norifumi Idee, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency. Speaking on the occasion Hajime Hayashi, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Embassy of Japan in India, said, “2012 is a landmark year which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India. As the ties between two countries grow and strengthen, we sincerely look forward to welcoming and supporting an increasing number of Indian visitors to rediscover the beauty of Japan.” November 2012
‘We plan to leverage the growth story in India’ India is a key network for Qatar Airways. Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar Airways talks about the airline’s long-term commitment to India and the plans to increase investments and engagements in the near future. By Sudipta Dev How would you describe the growth story of Qatar Airways in India? As an industry leader, Qatar Airways strives to be the best in all that we do and are committed to provide a luxurious and comfortable travel experience to our passengers. The airline has seen rapid growth in just 15 years of operation, currently operating a modern fleet of 111 aircraft to 119 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, North America and South America. With an expanding network covering six continents, India is one of our key networks with 95 flights per week from 12 cities which connect to various destinations in Europe, Middle East, North and South America via Doha. The number of Indians flying overseas for business and leisure purposes has been growing over the decades and the pace has only accelerated further. How important is the India market in your overall strategic plans for the future? The airline plans to serve over 170 destinations worldwide with a fleet of more than 170 aircraft by 2015. Qatar Airways is one of the fastest growing carriers in the world with phenomenal route expansion averaging 30 per cent growth year to year. The Indian aviation market is seen as an area of huge opportunity and potential and we plan to leverage the growth story in India. Our plan is to increase investments and engagement in this region in the coming years. We will continue to invest in key initiatives to strengthen our footprint across the country. Owing to our aggressive growth strategy and underlining the significance of the Indian market for Qatar Airways, we plan to seek more landing rights in India, incorporate new destinations to our list, enhance capacity on the current routes served and recruit more people including cabin crew here. Have you launched any new routes that would be of interest to Indians? We recently announced the launch two new gateways November 2012
months adapting and testing their specialities for Qatar Airways’ passengers. Their menus have begun to be rolled out on flights to and from Doha International Airport. Through initiatives such as this, the airline continues to challenge and lead the aviation industry, enhancing different service elements of air travel today and pushing the boundaries of genuine luxury and comfort. We have achieved our objective to be the best in the world through the practice of outstanding in-flight service, superior onboard products and operational excellence. The accolades for Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012 in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards attest Qatar Airways’ highest standards it sets for itself.
which include Gassim in Saudi Arabia effective from January 7, 2013 and Najaf in Iraq effective January 23, 2013. Chicago will be a key market for India to where we are launching flights from April 10, 2013. This is in addition to other North American gateways – New York, Montreal, Washington and Houston. All flights from our 12 points in India connect to these destinations via our hub in Doha. In keeping with our aggressive growth plans, we will continue to introduce newer routes in the coming months. What is your focus on establishing Doha as a hub for Indian travellers? Doha is rapidly becoming an important destination on the global stage and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The State of Qatar is positioning itself as a global hub for air travel and that future is already materialising with tourist and transit arrivals growing each day. Doha being the operational hub of Qatar Airways, over 18 million passengers fly annually to and from Doha, with the majority being transit passengers. We are leading the race in developing the region’s future aviation hub, the New Doha International
Airport (NDIA). The facilities of the new airport will provide an unparalleled travel experience. Just a few features of NDIA include: a 600,000 square metre threestorey terminal with 22 remote gates and 41 contact gates, six of which will cater specifically for the doubledecker Airbus A380 together with retail facilities of more than 40,000 square metres featuring shopping, restaurants and passenger lounges. When it first opens next year, the terminal will have an initial capacity of 28 million passengers a year, which will then surge to approximately 50 million by the time the airport is fully operational with an expanded terminal beyond 2015. The complex will include an airport hotel and a 100-room transit hotel within the terminal for the convenience of transfer passengers. This reiterates Qatar Airways’ commitment to create superior travel experience for our passengers. What is the greatest differentiating factor for Qatar Airways vis-a-vis other airlines that operate with the Middle East region as a hub? The expectation and behaviour of passengers across the globe has changed drastically over the years. As www.expresstravelworld.com
a truly global airline, Qatar Airways understands that travel is no longer just about connectivity but about providing a holistic travel experience. In line with the company’s philosophy to be innovative, we operate the world’s first dedicated commercial passenger premium terminal exclusively for its First and Business Class passengers at Doha International Airport. The facility is designed to provide our customers the best levels of comfort and hospitality prior to catching the flight. In an endeavour to further enhance our brand promise of offering five-star service on board, we officially introduced an incredible line-up of globally renowned chefs with award-winning Chef Ramzi Choueiri from Lebanon, Mumbai-born Chef Vineet Bhatia, Chef Tom Aikens from the UK and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa from Japan inspiring an entirely new inflight dining experience. Qatar Airways’ collaboration with such global icons and gastronomic pioneers further proves our commitment to redefining the passenger experience by offering a truly five-star service. Having been selected to create a unique and diverse menu for all international flights, the renowned chefs spent several
What are your long-term future plans for this market? With its high long-term growth potential, India is and continues to be a very important market for the airline. Reiterating our long-term commitment to India, we will continue investing heavily in marketing and other developmental initiatives. India is a core market in terms of our global growth strategy. As part of expansion plans, there will be plans for new routes connecting India and the world. Is there any other important factor you would like to talk about? Another significant milestone I would like to mention is the opening of Qatar Airways’ Premium Lounge at London Heathrow, one of the airline’s busiest routes, this year. The Premium Lounge is the airline’s first dedicated facility for First and Business Class passengers outside its Doha hub. Designed to resemble a boutique hotel or private member´s club rather than a conventional airport lounge, the new Premium Lounge at Heathrow has been created to provide the ultimate in luxury and fivestar service. The opening of this new lounge reflects the importance of extending Qatar Airways’ award-winning service beyond our signature Premium Terminal in Doha. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
A land of many facets V ariously known as 'Pearl of the Orient' and a 'Tourist Paradise', the state of Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan. The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers around the world. But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer. Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the hinterland away from the coastal area. Legends from Hindu mythology credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the creation of Goa. Over the centuries various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa. Having been the meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the centuries, Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic communities make up almost the entire population with minority representation of Muslims and other religions. All the communities have mutual respect towards one another and their secular outlook has given Goa a long and an unbroken tradition of religious harmony. The state of Maharashtra borders Goa on the north, the state of
Karnataka on the south and east. The vast expanse of the Arabian Sea on the west forms the magnificent coastline for which Goa is justly famous. Terekhol (Tiracol), Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Sal and Talpona are the main rivers which weave their way throughout the state forming the inland waterways adding beauty and romance to the land besides being used to transport Goa's main export commodity of Iron and Manganese ore to Mormugao Harbour. Along the way to the coast these waterways form estuaries, creeks and bays breaking the sandy, palm-fringed coastline behind which lie the fishing villages among the coconut groves. Panaji (Panjim) is the state capital located on the banks of the Mandovi river and Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other major towns. Goa is serviced by an internation-
al/national airport located at Dabolim near Vasco. An intra-state and inter-state bus network also plays an important role in getting locals and visitors alike in and around Goa. The vast green expanse of the Sahyadri mountain range ensures that Goa has an abundance of water. The sea and rivers abound in seafood - prawns, mackerels, sardines, crabs and lobsters are the most popular with the locals and the visitors. Along with English which is widely spoken all over Goa, Konkani and Marathi are the state languages. The national language Hindi is also well understood in most areas around the state. Goan cuisine is a blend of different
influences the Goans had to endure during the centuries. The staple food in Goa is fish and rice, both among the Hindus and the Catholics. Unlike the Christian food the Hindu Goan food is not strongly influenced by the Portuguese cuisine. Besides the natural beauty, the fabulous beaches and sunshine, travellers to Goa love the laid-back, peaceful, warm and friendly nature of the Goan people.
Courtesy: Goa Tourism
â€˜Leisure business certainly has been increasingâ€™ Leisure business in Goa
Shiwam Verma General Manager, Lazylagoon Sarovar Portico Suites
Leisure business certainly has been increasing day by day, especially in middle class family. Nowadays travellers are seen opting for minimum one or two holidays in a year with the family due to stressful work schedule. Lazylagoon Sarovar Portico Suites is a five year old property and over the years we have grown more than 200 per cent. The same goes with Goa property year after year as the number of tourists have been increasing. Earlier we used to depend only on charter and seasonal business. Goa is a destination for all 365 days.
Source markets Earlier it was UK, Finland and other European countries only, but in the last two years the scenario has changed and we have also started receiving
Russian guests in good numbers. Every hotel has got its own share.
Business strategy My strategy is very simple as the focus is on quality of service, commitment towards guest facilities and offer the guest value for money. Business is not going to go away from you. I believe in repeat guests more.
State government's role in tourism Presently the government has been very active and supportive of the tourism industry. They have allocated a good budget for tourism and security of tourists. They have also planned to explore various other tourist attractions. The government definitely looks committed towards this industry.
Your wish list In Goa, normally people
come for sun and sand. The government should act like other tourist destinations in the world which have many other attractions and attract tourists every year. Goa has been blessed by nature, and we should leverage on the same by promoting nature friendly tourist activities or anything which does not spoil the beauty of Goa.
USP of the hotel Our main USPs are location, food and services. We are located in North Goa in close proximity of night clubs, discotheques, night bazaars, etc. All the rooms are facing the lagoon and hills. Guests can also watch migratory birds in the salt pan and lagoon area. A well trained staff and our chefs are the biggest USPs.
‘Taxes should be made uniform and the government should do away with multiple taxes’ Leisure and MICE business in Goa
Neeta Sen General Manager Cidade de Goa
The year 2007 - 2008 saw a whopping rise in leisure business. Thereafter the business dropped due to global recession, terror attacks, etc, while from 2009 the business has remained static. The MICE segment is quite crucial for us, as it ensures a healthy occupancy and volume. Apart from these two factors, this segment has emerged as a major revenue contributor. In addition to the room revenues there are areas such as food, cocktails, snacks, audio visuals, decor, themes that contribute to large incremental revenues. We are very well equipped in terms of convention halls, breakaway rooms, pre-function areas, modern audio visuals facilities, thematic menus, indoor and outdoor venues for events, spa and gym facilities, large swimming pool and all such services which complements a MICE movement. On an aver-
age we do 30 per cent segment mix in terms of occupancy and revenues of approximately 25 per cent is generated from the MICE segment.
Source markets India remains to be a biggest source market for us, followed by UK, Russia and Portugal.
Business strategy The strategy has to be ever evolving. There is fierce competition in Goa with international chains and boutique hotels opening every year with a sizeable amount of inventories. The business spreads across all these inventories. New markets are not emerging at a growth pace that we would want it to, due to global issues. The airline rates also do nothing encouraging towards the destination; on the contrary we are losing business to South East Asia. We maintain a very close check on ground and market reality to sustain.
Our websites offer attractive deals. We have tied up with major consolidators across the country and drive as much business possible through this channel. Weddings in Goa are a huge success and we have a very successful wedding sale policy in place. Local and national advertising aides in business from the locals, free individual holiday makers as well as corporates. Having been in the reckoning for over 25 years, we have created a very strong and reputable brand image for ourselves, which works in our favour, as we have a very strong repeat clientele base.
State government's role in tourism Government should actively and aggressively participate in promoting Goa as a destination, as this is one of the main revenue earning industry in Goa. Taxes should be made uniform and
the government should do away with multiple tax slabs
Your wish list Airport management has improved over the years and the existing airport is under expansion. This is the need of the hour. Setting up IT and pharma industries in the industrial belts will enhance corporate business too.
USP of the hotel Our location is our USP. We are a beach resort and that makes us unique. We are just about seven km from the capital city of Panjim. Our restaurants are popular with the local community. We have a Taverna, Lobby Bar that offers daily live entertainment, Café Azul - poolside restaurant, Alfama – Chef’s speciality restaurant, Barbeque – beachfront grill restaurant. Our lawns and convention halls provide an apt choice for events. Another unique feature is our newly renovated fitness centre, spa and salon.
‘Being active on the price front has helped us to draw good business’
Shekhar Divadkar General Manager Sandalwood Hotel & Retreat
Leisure business in Goa The growth has been a steady process. We have been attending various travel fairs in the domestic as well as international sectors. This is with the sole aim of developing awareness in the market with both the travel trade as well as the direct customers. We have been regu-
larly advertising in various media as well as sponsoring prizes for various competitions. We have been active on the pricing front and so the business through online portals has been steadily on the rise. Being active on the price front has also helped us to draw a good bit of business through our own webwww.expresstravelworld.com
site. We have set up offices in different areas in the domestic sector and so also have a representative in Germany. We have focused our aim on guest delight rather than just satisfaction and we have been successful in our endeavour. We have been awarded with a Certificate Of Excellence by Tripadvisor for
the year 2012 and are proud of the efforts put in by the entire team in our cherished goal.
Source markets We have had visitors from around the world but a majority does come from the continue on page 24 November 2012
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205 Air-Conditioned rooms overlooking lakes or swimming pools. Air Conditioned Conference Hall, capacity 250 Pax theatre style seating. Unique Party lawns between the lakes Idea Wedding/Party Venue: 1000 pax. • Multi Cuisine Restaurant & Bar • Children’s Play Area “SALINA”: a family party area. • 2 Swimming Pools. • 10 Awards Winner Resort.
Traditional style, contemporary facilities he village of Ullal is famous twice over, for its famous Queen Abbakarani who reigned in the 15th century , a veritable freedom fighter, defended her coastal bastion against the marauding Portuguese and defeated them in a sea battle and the other is the beautiful Summer Sands Beach Resort which has come up in the very area that the queen took her morning constitutional. The resort is owned by the Albuquerque family going back six generations and pioneers of the famous Mangalore Tiles, dating back to the early 19th century. Wedged between Kerala and Goa, a suburb of
Mangalore, a port city, The Summer Sands, is a must for beach lovers doing the coastal circuit on the west coast. It is no more a point of transit but has now become a destination in itself. The magic starts at the very gate itself, where you sight the mighty Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea. Cozy Mangalore red tiled villas, a palm fringed pool, and the almost alfresco restaurants breathe out peace and serenity. The villas are colourful, spacious
and airy with French windows that open out onto a sit out and lawned gardens. The expansive pool is the heart of the resort. The bar is called the ‘Alexis Lounge’ after the patriarch of the Albuquerque family. The bar overlooks the pool and is tastefully done with lithographs of Mangalore a decade ago and also displaying a little history of the Albuquerque family. The fine dining outlet, named Memories of Joanna, after another ancestor, high-
lights the trophies of Joanna’s prowess in the culinary world. Chef Chamul has an array of succulent kababs, rotis and naans. Day trips to St.Mary's Isle a basalt columnar wonder or to the Bekal Fort a massive structure on a cliff overhanging the sea, while a day in the city of Mangalore with its 1000-year-old monuments are all enjoyable experiences. Special facilities for the physically disabled, students and senior citizens make it a resort with a heart.
of government in the recent past and we are looking forward positively towards our governments support for our industry. Our present chief minister had actively supported this industry with the Go Goa Campaign in his earlier term and we are looking forward to such similar activity now. Improving the infrastructure – electricity, water, roads and above all the garbage management on urgent basis requires immediate action.
have a proper shack as well as water sports activity policy to regulate the trade and so also to ensure compliance. Goa has always had a major issue with charges levied by taxis and government directive on metered cabs would go a long way in bringing more tourists to our state. There are plans to develop hinterland tourism, back waters, etc.
turbed. Water sports is available at the beach and we offer our guests beach hampers with their day requirements. We have been successfully operating our own beach beds for our guest convenience. Our chef is personally in touch with the guests to know and comply with their individual requirements. Caitan n Joe pool side bar is our piece de resistance. Honeymoon special offers would enable our guests to have a romantic candlelit dinner by the pool side.
continued from page 22
Sandalwood Hotel & Retreat European continent. Fair sprinkling is also seen from the American Continent and Australia. We have done very well with the Iranian Charter for the last financial year.
Business strategy The entire team is working towards the single goal of guest delight rather than just guest satisfaction. We are focused on this aspect and we see it paying off in the long run. Being a trend setter by offering competitive pricing helps us and we intend to carry on this way. Monitoring the rates being offered by competition and being proactive about this is another aspect. We are also intent on expanding the basket that feeds us revenue – MICE, weddings, etc.
State government's role in tourism We have just had a change
Your wish list We also are now going to www.expresstravelworld.com
USP of the hotel We are just about three minutes walking distance from the Vainguinim Beach. The guest here is undis-
INSIGHT INTO THE TRAVEL MARKET
Twist in the triangle No doubt there are various picture perfect facets of India waiting to be explored, but there are always two sides of a story; on one hand where the trend for circuit tourism is gaining momentum, on the other there are limitations like inadequate infrastructure and different state taxes which continue to be the roadblocks in promoting this potential tourism product. By Kahini Chakraborty
ften described by historians and avid travellers as a continent and not just a country, India, blessed with its breathtaking diversity only demands a fair discovery of its offerings in clusters or circuits, combining destinations for a more holistic experience. Quintessentially when speaking about circuits, it has always been the famous Golden Triangle circuit (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) which has received a lot of attention in the past and still does in the present. But as the saying goes, 'change is the only constant', it is high time that the other hidden treasures be found and explored, as each destination has been home to unique enchanting historical facts. Providing statistics of the number of tourists opting for circuit tours which draw majority
of travellers generating revenues, Ashwini Kakkar, executive vice chairman, Mercury Travels highlights, “Out of the total inbound tourists, the Golden Triangle continues to enjoy 50 per cent share, the north India and Nepal consists of 20 per cent and the Buddhist circuits draw 10 per cent while the other circuits take 20 per cent.” And acknowledging this fact, the only silver lining has been the good news of the ministry of tourism, at union and state level, becoming proactive in identifying several new tourist circuits to be developed across the country integrating all sects - Sufi, Buddhist and Jain, Christian, Sikh, Hinduism and Sarva Dharma, Ramayana circuits, etc. Generating enough curiosity among travellers already through these circuits to explore beyond the www.expresstravelworld.com
obvious, according to recent reports, the Sufi circuit would include Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Bijapur, Shirdi, Aurangabad and the Awadh region, besides the dargahs in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand. The Christian circuit will have the churches of Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Sarva Dharma circuit, to promote national integration, will be aligned along TirupathiChennai-Velankanni-Nagoor and Vaishnodevi - Golden Temple - Sacred Heart Church (Delhi) Nizamuddin. For the Ramayana circuit presently, Janaki Sthan, Punaura and Haleshwar Sthan at Sitamarhi, Girija Sthan, Phulhar at Madhubani and Ahilya Sthan, Kamtaual at Darbhanga, Ram Rekha Ghat at Buxar are some of the places that have been
sanctioned by the Bihar government. Few places in Madhubani and Darbhanga districts such as Girija Sthan, Phulhar and Ahilya Sthan, Kamtaul, Darbhanga have also been identified and projects have been sanctioned. As information is critical for smart holiday planning, giving a perspective on the interesting travel booking patterns seen among travellers, Hari Nair, founder and CEO, HolidayIQ opines, “The most important travel pattern of Indians is their deep interest and passion in discovering India (i.e. domestic travel). We find that an overwhelming majority of urban Indians are keen to take multiple holidays each year. The primary focus of most of these domestic holidays are weekend breaks to tourism destinations within 300 kilometres of the city of residence.” November 2012
Demands and trends As per industry experts, travellers today are constantly looking at experiential travel through different wellness and spa treatments, gourmet experiences, Ayurveda treatments, heritage walks, rural experiences or soft adventure activities wherever possible. Hence, it has become imperative that all decision makers, both private and public, work together on definite timelines to develop and promote a product. Surinder Sodhi, senior vice president - Leisure Travel (Inbound), Thomas Cook (India) opines, “Circuit tours can be developed within a state or between two or three states. For a successful inter-state circuit, MoUs must be drawn and implemented for effective connectivity. Learning from the success story of individual states like Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa, other states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttarkhand and West Bengal have also realised the
importance of circuit tours and have started promoting tourism offerings.” Taking into consideration trade industry analysis on which circuits are well received among travellers, they include, Kochi-PeriyarKumarakom, BengaluruMysore-Ooty and ChennaiK a n c h i p u r a m M a h a b a l i p u r a m Pondicherry; Andaman Nicobar Islands, Kerala, Gangtok-Darjeeling, Mysore-Coorg, OotyKodaikanal, Jaipur-JodhpurUdaipur, Kashmir, ShimlaManali-Chandigarh, Nainital-Corbett-Mussorie; Bhubhaneshwar-Puri, Leh. Talking about certain interesting trends or new trails chosen by travellers, Sodhi says, “We have been seeing an increase in demand for soft trek programmes and cycling tours in Kerala; The Sufi circuit covering Fatehpur Sikri, Ajmer Sharif, Bijapur, Shirdi, Aurangabad and Deva Sharif, and The Ganges circuit covering Allahabad,
Varanasi, Chunar and Garhmukhteshwar are the most sort after.” Another interesting trend seen in recent years have been the number of international tourists visiting India to experience fairs and festivals of India such as Diwali, Holi, Dahi Handi, Pushkar fair (Rajasthan), Rann Mahotsav (Kutch in Gujarat). Amal Purandare, headOperations, Arzoo.com mentions that apart from the Golden Triangle circuit in India, there are several other established tour circuits in the country such as the Char Dham Yatra which takes pilgrims to some of the holiest places in India like Gangotri-YamunotriKedarnath-Badrinath. The Puri-Konark-Bhubaneshwar is popularly known as Orissa’s Golden Triangle Circuit. Darjeeling-GangtokKalimpong allows you to witness the snowy mountains, forested hillsides, ancient monasteries. The Desert Triangle that covers
Jodhpur-Bikaner-Jaisalmer offers tourists an opportunity to explore the beautiful palaces and monuments of India. Another popular circuit is the Shimla-KulluManali tour which attracts numerous honeymoon couples and families who wish to spend time among serene beauty. Anil Rai, business head-Holidays of India, Tour Operating, Kuoni India says, “By developing infrastructure in offbeat destinations tourism circuit as a travel product can be promoted further.” However, given the growing trend towards experiential travel, the travel trade has been proactive in developing tour packages as per requests by travellers since customising programmes is now a givenand covers almost every second request among bookings. Arzoo.com, for example, provides packages such as desert triangle with Bishnoi Village Jeep Safari. Bishnois are well known for their love for nature and animals and they have over the years managed to preserve their cultural as well as natural heritage. “About 70-75 per cent of our tourists opt for circuit tours, which are customised by us and these are our best selling programmes. Our customers are increasing their demand for unique tailormade itineraries tuned to their specific interest and preferences and sophisticated palates; this is also based on a growing keenness to discover and explore the diverse facets of India. Innovative ideas and well developed circuits always help us to stay ahead with competition and generate revenues for the business,” says Sodhi.
Official agenda According to authorities in the travel industry, the November 2012
Funds sanctioned by MoT for tourist circuits State / UTs
Name of the Mega Project / Circuits
Year of Sanction
Amt (Rs in lakh)
Charminar area of Hyderabad
Tirupati Heritage Circuit
Kadapa Heritage Tourist Circuit
National Park Mega Circuit covering Manas, Orang, Nameri, Kaziranga, Jorhat, Sibsagar & Majouli
Identified in 2010-11
Illumination of monuments Circuit
Development of Dilli Haat, Janakpuri
Identified in 2010-11
Churches of Goa Circuit
Dwarka-Nageshwar-Bet Dwarka Circuit
2011-12 Phase-I 2006-07 Phase-II 2008-09
3175.25 Himachal Pradesh
Eco and Adventure Circuit (Kullu-Katrain-Manali)
Identified in 2009-10
Haryana & Himachal Pradesh Panchkula-Yamunanagar (Haryana â€“ Ponta Sahib)
Jammu & Kashmir
Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex, Jammu-Destination
Identified in 2010-11
Naagar Nagar Circuit (Watlab via Hazratbal, Tulmullah, Mansbal and Wullar Lake), Srinagar
Development of Mega Circuit in Leh
Identified in 2010-11
Mega Destination at Deoghar
Muziris Heritage Circuit connecting historically and archaeologically important places of Kodungalloor
Development of Chitrakoot as Mega Destination
Jabalpur as Mega Circuit
Identified in 2010-11
Bundelkhand comprising of Tikamgarh, Damoh, Sagar, Chhatarpur and Panna as Mega Circuit
Identified in 2011-12
Vidarbha Heritage Circuit
Identified in 2008-09
Mahaur-Nanded Vishnupuri-Back Water Kandhar Fort as Mega Circuit
Identified in 2011-12
Umiam (Barapani) as Mega Destination
Identified in 2011-12
Desert Circuit (Jodhpur-Bikaner-Jaisalmer)
Identified in 2010-11
Pilgrimage Heritage Circuit (Madurai-Rameshwaram-Kanyakumari)
Nirmal Gangotri Agra Circuit
Identified in 2010-11 Phase-I East Gate 2005-06 West Gate 2006-07 Phase-II 2009-10 3758.33
Phase-I 2006-07 Phase-II 2008-09 2202.31
Development of Mathura-Vrindavan including renovation of Vishramghat (Mathura) as Mega Destination
Identified in 2011-12
Ganga Heritage River Cruise Circuit
Dooars (Jalpaiguri District)
Identified in 2010-11
Mega Lake Circuit including Mata Bari
Identified in 2010-11
Mohit Gupta governments need to continue identifying places of tourist interest, developing the right infrastructure and promoting the destination aggressively while highlighting its USPs. Arup Sen, director, special projects, Cox & Kings adds, “Circuit tourism is of two kinds. Firstly, which is typically inter-nations such as Continental Europe or intranation such as India and China, where tourists can spend 14-21 days visiting important sites which have cultural heritage/scenic wonders and icons. India typically falls in the second category. Since the development of organised tourism after the Second World War, India remained a Golden Triangle and Rajasthan circuit. This was somewhat supplemented by an extension to Kashmir that was marketed as Switzerland of the East. In the late 70s, various states and regions realised the potential of tourism for its own economic development and welfare.” The ministry of Tourism has paid heed to the recommendations by state governments and travel trade experts, which has encouraged them to identify 35 destinations for Phase I, while cover the other 89 in Phase II. Consultants
engaged by the ministry are said to also help in identifying gaps in infrastructure and amenities, assess investment requirement and possible source of funds and also evolve business models for investment and operations. The ministry has also proposed to bear the cost of preparing a detailed project report by state governments as well as the cost of setting up project monitoring units for undertaking all activities related to a particular circuit. The ministry has proposed a required outlay plan of ` 9,450 crore for the 12th Plan and hopes to draw in private investment close to `28,000 crore for such projects. As the travel industry is constantly looking at ways to provide best-value deals and services to customers, Mohit Gupta, chief business officer – Holidays, MakeMyTrip says, “With greater tourist influx and robust feedback channels, many niche categories are emerging and being encouraged by local stakeholders. The Uttar Pradesh government recently announced the promotion of Sufi tourism, while the Bihar government earlier announced setting up of Ramayan and Sufi tourism circuits in the state, aimed at attracting domestic tourists. It will be interesting to see how these pick up in the near future. We are always on the look-out for emerging areas of opportunity and keen to respond to market demands.”
Corrective initiatives While the government is taking measures to identify these areas, yet there are certain limitations in promoting circuit tourism in the country which calls for immediate action from the Centre. For example, some of the destinations in the circuit fall in different states, hence there
is no single state promoting them and the state taxes also differ, making it a little more expensive for the tourist. Also, the distance between various points in a circuit is sometimes long making it a bit challenging to build a package around it and sell it. Purandare points out, “Many circuits in Maharashtra were identified, but the projects did not take off due to inactivity and lack of efforts. If a tourism circuit has to be developed, it needs to be aggressively promoted and well developed. A perfect example of proactive state for tourism development is Kerala, the state aggressively promoted itself as 'Gods Own Country’. The backwaters now attract numerous travellers from around the world every year who seek a holiday experience that is unique. Since tourism is a growing industry, the industry continues to keep reiterating on these facts to the government for it to promote tourism in India with the help of aggressive advertising and innovative marketing strategies. Purandare adds, “State governments can also reduce the taxes which will allow travel agencies to promote the destinations in a better way. Also, well known faces can be taken as brand ambassadors, Amitabh Bachchan is the brand ambassador of Gujarat tourism, and the tourism in the state has benefited greatly by leveraging his name and image.” As the industry has the multiplier effect which can lead to an overall development of the state and consumers, tourism as an industry should be given more preference over others. Hence once a product or circuit has been identified, it must have a time bound approach with full support of various government bodies, within the state.
M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T DESTINATION OUTBOUND
Priding on the past Similarities between India and Indonesia are too many to count, it almost feels like home. Its only when you look closely and beyond what meets the eye, do you see the uniqueness and majestic qualities of this archipelago nation. By Sayoni Bhaduri
his is not about Bali. There is much more to the archipelago nation of Indonesia; an exploration beyond the island will be enthralling and exhilarating. Like any other developing nation the disparity between the haves and have not is distinct. Yet in a nation with Islam as its predominant religion, the familiarity of the elephant headed God comes as a surprise. While Hinduism and Buddhism remain just a meagre minority, Indonesia seems to take great pride in its past; most of their monu-
ments are protected and history collected in glass boxes of museums. Not just harping on the past, Indonesia also is a progressive growing nation and on the wish lists of international MNCs. Simple example are the hotel brands – Kempinski, Mandarin Oriental, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Shangri La, etc - in the nation’s capital Jakarta proves this. The real magic however will only be unraveled on venturing beyond the razzle dazzle of the cities. One such excursion will lead to Yogyakarta. Locally
known as Jogja, it is the second most popular tourist destination of the country and barely explored by Indians. As the smallest province of Indonesia, Special Region of Yogyakarta and its nearby places gives a traveller a power packed punch of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, active volcanoes and pristine beaches. So many facets in themselves open doors to myriad tourism products to promote. Good air connectivity, low cost and full service airlines, makes getting around the maze of islands simpler. If
zest and zeal permits, straight headway has to be the Hindu temple of Prambanan. Called Candi in local language, the temple complex is home to the Hindu trinity of Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh as well as their vahanas – Nandi the bull, Garuda and Hansa. For those who have the palatial grandeur and exquisite craftsmanship of Indian structures ingrained in them, may not be completely impressed by the structures themselves. But the larger picture with the temple's deep foundation, grand heights and sprawl, all laid
out in the open does leave a sense of awe. Rakai Pikatan the Hindu ruler who came back to power, began building the complex in 856 AD as a sign of rebirth of Hindu influences. The main Shiva temple, at a height of 47 metres, is known Loro Jonggrang. However, the more popular tale is of the princess Loro Jonggrang and a man named Bandung Bondowoso. This man wanted to marry the princess, who was the daughter of king Prabu Boko. The princess did not wish for the union and laid a condition – build 1000 statues in one night. To achieve this feat Bondowoso took the assistance of genies and as the night came to a close the number of statues kept increasing. Seeing this, the princess and her entourage started a fire on the eastern horizon spreading a red haze and beat rice mortars to create signs of dawn. At this sight, the genies retreated with the work incomplete and one statue less. Bondowoso furious at this treachery, cursed the princess to be a statue herself, and hence completing the 1000. Within the same park enclosure around 800 metres away from Loro Jonggrang is Sewu temple, a Buddhist temple built by Pikatan commemorating his wife’s beliefs. This has 240 small temples surrounding a polygon shaped main temple, with a diameter of 29 metres and a height of 30 metres. Prambanan was almost lost due to an earthquake in the
M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T 16th century and very recently again in 2006. Restoration started in the 1930s and is still on. The outer perimeter today is in rubbles, but once used to be a maze of smaller temples. Loro Jonggrang, too is not open to visitors, thanks to the damage from the earthquake. It would be a good idea to plan the visit on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday so as not to miss the Ramayana Epic Ballet which takes place in the evening. Next on list is the famed Buddhist temple of Borobudur. Considered to be the largest Buddhist temple in the world Borobudur is built atop a hill as an extension. The architecture is the unique facet; the ten levels start of as a square, after the sixth level the next three are circular and the top most level holds the main stupa surrounded more than 500 smaller stupas. These levels depict Buddhist interpretation of the universe â€“ Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu. The walls have carvings which depict the life of Prince Siddhartha and his evolution to become the Buddha. The massive structure was built by the Syailendra dynasty between 8th and 9th century and has two more temples - Mendut and Pawon. Together they form the Borobudur Temple Compounds. Mendut and Pawon temples are located to the east on a straight axis to Borobudur. Ravished and damaged by nature's wrath, it was Theodorus Van Erp who started the initial phase of restoration in 1907. These temples are great examples for India to emulate, with sprawling acreage the archeological park has separate entry and exits, its parking space segregated at a distance, utilities and conveniences at various points, easily accessible infor-
mation centre, even food hawkers and souvenir pushers have a space to themselves. This provides the temples the breathing space they deserve. Moving on, the sunset at Ratu Boko must not be missed. Three kilometers south of Prambanan, Ratu Boko are the remains of an ancient palace complex from the eighth century. They are also said to be the only Hindu and Buddhist mixed-architectural archeological site. The palace is named after the folklore of Prabu Boko creating a connection with Prambanan, however the true inhabitant has not been traced yet. Most magnificent of these are the stone gates, beyond which lie the remains of fortifications. Halfway between Bandung and Yogyakarta is the Pangandaran. The black and white beach is said yet not to have lost its charm to
Meetings at Makkasar Located in South Sulawesi, it is the gateway to the region. Still in the early days of tourism, the tourism department of Indonesia is keen to develop the location as a MICE destination. Undoubtedly, almost all hotels in the city have MICE facilities and are keen on promoting them too. Hotels are also willing to cater to special needs and dietary requirements of Indian clientele. The city with a small town charm has a lot of history behind it too which is on display at Fort Rotterdam and La Galiago museum. The regional culture can be understood better at the Somba Opu, albeit it could do with some better upkeep. There is also the Losari and Akkarena beach. The boardwalk and the benches at Akkarena make for a perfect setting to see the sunset. On the outskirts of the city is also the indoor amusement park TRANS Studio which is also capable of catering to MICE requirements. Away from the city are the islands of Samalona and Lae Lae; the Bantimurung national park and Tana Toraja famed for the burial rituals.
commercialisation. Caves both natural and man made â€“ by Japanese soldiers during World War II as bunkers â€“ and waterfall with its mouth to the ocean are to be spectacular sights. Similarly, there is the active Mount Merapi. Literally the fire mountain, it is set 1700 metres above sea level and trekking up is an experience of a lifetime. The three hour trek starts from the Selo village and leads right up to the rim, the danger itself pushes adrenalin soaring. The city of Yogyakarta, the cultural capital of Indonesia, is also the only region headed by a monarch in the country. The city offers great shopping on Malioboro street for local handicrafts which go from the famed Batik to silver filigree; bargaining is a must. Accommodation is also not a challenge with all major brands present in the city. For Indians who find experimenting with food a challenge there are also Indian restaurants, albeit more timid in tastes and flavours. Hotels also are willing to equip themselves with Indian food on advance notice. To the east of the city Jomblang cave; the vertical cave was created due to geological changes is a sinkhole, The bottom of the cave is said to have surprisingly lush vegetation, however to climb down on has to be trained climber. There are many other events and festivals that take place in the city, keeping track with them and then planning a holiday may prove to be an experience unlike any other. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
M|A|N|A|G|E|M|E|N|T IN FOCUS
Cultural sojourn With countless tourist attractions such as historical sites, old markets, indigenous lifestyle, both, the island of Koh Samui and Bangkok offer visitors a cultural treat, recounts Kahini Chakraborty
destination rich in tranquility, breathtaking rich natural resources, long stretches of white sandy beaches with clear emerald waters, coral reefs and coconut trees, Koh Samui (Koh meaning island in Thai) is the perfect retreat for mind and body. The fascinating archipelago of 40 islands, Ang Thong National Marine park, which lies to the north west of Koh Samui houses beautiful natural caves, blue lagoons, stunning rock formations, an inland salt lake which is surrounded by ochre-coloured vertical walls, truly an unspoilt jewel for swimming and sea kayaking. Apart from the exciting panorama, Koh Samui also has been a source of mirth and wonder with the rock formations- Hin Ta and Hin Yai, which are known as the famous Grandpa (Ta) and
Grandma (Yai) - on the coastline between Lamai and Hua Thanon. Folklore tells of a story of an old couple who lived with their son in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat and since it was time for the son to get married, the couple decided to sail to the neighbouring province to ask for the hand of the daughter of a man named Ta Monglai. During their sea journey, their boat capsized in www.expresstravelworld.com
the storm the couple died turning into rocks.
Temple trails One of the main attractions of Koh Samui is the 12 metre tall Big Buddha,sitting majestically in the Mara posture, in a symbol of steadfastness, purity and enlightenment. Travellers marvel at the structure while climbing a staircase which has its own striking dragon designs that
cannot be missed. Apart from Buddhist devotees who visit daily to make offerings, there are shops where tourists can buy religious artifacts, clothing and souvenirs. The cultural tryst does not end in Koh Samui, but continues in Bangkok where Wat Arun is a landmark. This Buddhist temple which is on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya river, has been in existence since the November 2012
Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most venerated sites in Thailand where people convene to pay respect to Lord Buddha and his teachings. An interesting anecdote of how the Emerald Buddha got its name was that when the Buddha statue was first discovered in 1434 in a stupa in Chiang Rai, it was covered with plaster. Later, the abbot who had found the statue noticed that the plaster on the nose had flaked off, revealing the green stone underneath. The abbot initially thought that the stone was emerald and thus the legend of the Emerald Buddha began.
Indulgences seventeenth century. The temple's distinctive prang (spires) were built in the nineteenth century during the reign of King Rama II. No visit to Bangkok would be complete without visiting another famous structure, The Grand Palace. Established in 1782 after King Rama I ascended the throne, the November 2012
Grand Palace complex not only consists of the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218,000 square metres in length. North of the royal residence and linked by a connecting gateway lies the Royal www.expresstravelworld.com
Chao Phraya, which is the major river in Thailand flows through Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand, also serves as a major transportation route for a vast network of water taxis, cross-rover ferries, river buses.Visiting a floating market is an experience of its own, especially the one in Taling Chan district. Apart from interesting local
products, the community provides many other services and activities such as low price Thai massage, free Thai classical music show, free karaoke, etc. Shopping till you drop and indulging in entertainment are two things which are quintessentials of a trip to Bangkok. Giving travellers an option to indulge in both activities is Siam Paragon, which is one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia. The complex also houses Siam Ocean World, the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia which features marine animals, and a tour inside the aquarium gives a chance to get a quick learning tour of the various marine species. Visitors can also have a brush with some renowned personalities from all walks of life at Madame Tussauds. Seeing and being pictured with lifelike wax statues of international leaders, sportspersons and actors like George Clooney, Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts, Micheal Jackson, Madonna and many more is worth a visit. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
Conserving for the future With an aim to put the Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) in the limelight, and take heritage tourism to the masses, the first annual convention of IHHA witnessed participation of 65 owners as well as tour operator from across the country. By Heena Mahajan
ndian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) was formed in 1990 and it is a known fact that heritage hotels have successfully given a new dimension to world tourism. The first annual convention of the association, supported by Incredible India, a Government of India campaign was held in Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore on September 21-22, 2012 along with the 11th annual general meeting. The focus of the convention was on the role of rural and natural heritage in tourism development. As many as 64 heritage properties were represented from different chapters of IHHA. The convention opened with Rakesh Srivastava, principal secretary tourism, Rajasthan elaborating on the focus of the convention and stressed on the fact that heritage hotels have long been responsible to curb migration from the rural areas to cities and it is high time that the government realises the importance
of giving quality services and infrastructure to the staff and these hotels. He said that the state government can and should play an active role in promotion of heritage tourism citing
Points that need attention Roads ● Air connectivity (more air stripes) ● An additional cess that has been imposed on the hotels in Ranthambore itself which were already existing
examples of Kerala and, more recently Gujarat. This was followed by the presidential address by Gaj Singh, president, IHHA informing the audience that IHHA has as many as 179 members with increasing number of properties becoming a part of the fraternity. “In the past two decades heritage hotels have been able to promote development of rural areas in which they are located. It would not be out of place to state with conviction that
hotels have generated substantial economic activities and created jobs for rural youths. Needless to say that these properties have also been an important source of foreign exchange earnings in the otherwise backward regions. Availability of quality power was yet another area where heritage properties would get a tremendous boost,” said Gaj Singh. Bina Kak, minister of tourism, Rajasthan inaugurated the exhibition on the November 2012
occasion. She also released the IHHA Guide Book which provides details of the heritage hotels. Later, the general manager of Hotel Jaipur Ashok spoke on Generation of Employment Through Skill Development (Hunar Se Rozgar). It was followed by 'Campaign Clean India' by TW Sudhakar, director, India Tourism.
Brainstorming The session on promotion of rural heritage and rural development brought to light the fact that tourism is an economic driver and an employment generator, and in a vast country with multidimensional tourist attractions at different places, substantial efforts are required to be made by the central
Statewise IHHA membership
Assam Goa Gujarat HaryanaHimachal PradeshJ&K Karnataka Kerala MaharashtraMadhya PradeshPuducherryRajasthan Sikkim Tamil NaduUttaranchalUttar PradeshWest BengalTOTAL
01 01 02 01 05 01 01 15 03 04 01 131 01 03 03 04 02 179
Classified Operating Hotels (non-classified) At Project/Planning stage
78 90 11
and state governments to attract tourists. The session stressed on the concept of the association to preserve heritage properties from decay. Better connectivity, more air strips and abolishing multiple taxes is the need of the hour. “Most of these properties are owner driven, and this way it becomes quite difficult for us to maintain them. We appeal to the government to provide better infrastructure and quality services in the state of Rajasthan so that we can lure more tourists — both inbound and do mestic,” said Gajendra Singh, Khimsar. Gaj Singh highlighted, “Its time that we have our own heritage mart soon, we are already in talks with the state government.” The panel discussion on the role of natural heritage tourism for sustainable wildlife conservation brought to light the need to conserve natural heritage. Rajasthan is a state that has earned large chunk of revenues out of its vast natural heritage. The resources are being over utilised. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Suhail Gupta, CEO, &Beyond India, who
was also one of the panelists said, “Everywhere we have responsible tour operators. There is a need to come up with a master plan so that while saving on the operational costs of these lodges, we can also work on maintaining a discipline around these areas.” Balendu Singh, owner, Devvilas stressed on the need to revive religious tourism and take it to another level. “Every community in Rajasthan has its own traditions, and if we mix it up with tourism we can conserve not only our parks and the tigers, but also the vast expanse of wildlife in these areas.” Speaking on the recent ban on tiger tourism in the core areas and how South India coped with it, KK Singh, one of the panelists said, “Kerala, as an example, strategically declared their new buffer and core areas before the amendment was announced. Rajasthan realised it pretty late and that how it is by far, the most affected state.” The sessions concluded with the association's plans to work together as one entity and start a movement to encourage responsible heritage tourism. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
The MICE momentum
The opening of the world's largest Sheraton in Macao gives fillip to the destination as an important MICE hub in the region that has the inventory and infrastructure for large events. By Sudipta Dev he opening of the biggest hotel in the world this year – the Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, coincides with a milestone in the history of Starwood Hotels and Resorts – the largest property in the portfolio in the fastest growing focus market. The celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the Cotai Strip also coincided with the 75th anniversary of Sheraton. “This is a wonderful event for Starwood, not only because of the 75th anniversary but also as this is the largest Sheraton,” said Frits van Paasschen, president and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “The Cotai Strip has witnessed remarkable development in the last couple of years. The latest chapter is opening of Sheraton Macao,” added Edward Tracy, president and CEO, Sands China. The large repository of rooms is targeted at the MICE
area of business. “Our aim is to bring to Macao MICE based strategy. Las Vegas is a big venue for trade shows and conferences. We have tried to do that here. This is a MICE based market and the reason why we chose Sheraton is because they are leaders in MICE,” said Sheldon G Adelson, chair-
man, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Sands China, not forgetting to add that he saw more growth in Macao than in Las Vegas. Pointing out that the integrated resort model is unique, he stated, “Today Las Vegas is not just about gambling, a trend that is different from the 60s era, and has different entertainment opportunities. It is the same in Macao.” While it is a known fact that a large percentage of people go to Las Vegas to shop and watch shows, a recent survey for Macao also indicated that 43 per cent of the people who came here wanted to do shopping and indulge in gastronomical delights. “Sheraton is a part of the transition,” said Simon Turner, president, Global Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. He mentioned that Starwood had been waiting to bring Sheraton to Macao. “This has not happened by accident. There is no brand stronger in China in terms of footprint than Sheraton. We have great
optimism that we will establish ourselves as true leader in the market. We have more capacity to service our elite guests. No club lounge anywhere in the world has such facilities like here,” he remarked. Kashgar Grand Ballroom in the hotel offers 52,646 square ft of pillar-less space. There is an option to divide the floorspace into 16 smaller conferencing rooms. There are six junior ball rooms with access to three additional ones with seating capacity of 2,000 people in theatre style. The F&B options include three restaurants - Feast for world cuisine; Bene for the best in Italian, Xin for Asian hotpot and seafood. The Pacificthemed Palms Lounge offers all-day snacks and high tea while poolside dining is also available in the three pool areas - Sala, Jaya and Tiki. The casino has 400 tables to begin with. The first phase of the property has opened with the Sky Tower that has 1,829 rooms; the remaining 2,067 rooms will open in early 2013 with the opening of the Earth Tower. The room categories range from Deluxe King to Executive and Ambassador Suite to Presidential Suite. The property has the largest Sheraton Club globally with 570 guestrooms and an exclusive club lounge that has a seating capacity of 274. The next full size project on the Cotai Strip will be the Parisian that will be built 50 per cent the true scale of Eiffel Tower. Work on the the project is expected to start in the next two months. This project will have a major shopping component. November 2012
Driving service excellence Guest satisfaction is the singular objective of the management and staff of Holiday Inn Resort Goa that has consistently given the resort a top rating among all Holiday Inn properties in the APAC region. By Sudipta Dev prawled across 25 acres with an exclusive 300 metres stretch of beach for its guests, Holiday Inn Resort Goa is one of leading properties in South Goa. The resort is popular not only among the Indian clientele who come from across the country but also plays host to a large percentage of guests, from overseas. In fact, during the high season months almost 50-60 per cent of guests are from overseas, in particular Europe. R K S Kunde, vice president, Holiday Inn Resort Goa believes that the popularity of the resort is a result of the service excellence that the hotel management and staff have always strived to achieve. "We get very good response in terms of guest satisfaction figuring among the first three of the Holiday Inn brand in APAC countries.
R K S Kunde
Consistently among almost 75 hotels we have a high rating. Before checkout we always try to ensure that the guest relationship executive meets the guest and the problems are sorted out. We see that whatever service the guest is expecting is given to the best of our ability. When he goes back his own experience is conveyed to other people, and that is how our clientele comes in. Social media is also contributing in this,” says Kunde. To maintain a high standard of excellence the feedback received from guests is translated into improved service. The staff are mostly Goans and also from other parts of country, including those from the North East. Established in 1990, the resort has undergone major
renovation twice in the last twenty-two years. The last renovation happened in 2010. The 203 rooms property is known to host large events – from MICE to weddings. The in-house team takes the responsibility of seamlessly organising the special functions. The ballroom can accommodate 800 people in theatre style seating. It can also be divided into three smaller units where concurrent sessions can be organised. “We promote this property as a leisure hotel and also for MICE. While earlier MICE business was limited to only the off-season but now the response is good even during high season,” states Kunde. Holiday Inn Resort Goa has four restaurants and the Sun Downer Bar that is
a wide and open area. The 24-hour outlet is called Cafe Mardi Gras; Whispers of the Orient is a Chinese restaurant; Fig & Olive is a Mediterranean restaurant and a seasonal F&B outlet, Fish Grill, is opened on the beach. The Chinese and Mediterranean restaurant is popular with the locals and guests staying in neighbouring hotels. “Our food is liked by everyone and we get a very good response,” asserts Kunde. To make sure that families have a pleasant and memorable stay, the hotel staff organises many activities for children. “We ensure that children have a good time at the resort and have many activities lined up for them. Fun games for families are also organised. Consequently, not only do the children enjoy their stay here but also the parents,” says Kunde. There is a separate department that conducts activities like face painting and other games for children from the age of five to 14. There is also an open play ground for children. The resort has a sprawling green lawn that not only adds to the beauty of the property but is also available for events and functions. According to Kunde, there are plans for expansion as the resort covers a large area of land. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
T H E C U T T I N G E D G E I N T R AV E L T R A D E
Leveraging Asia's strengths TravelRave 2012 organised by Singapore Tourism Board provided a collocated platform to some of the most important travel and tourism events in the region and brought together industry thought leaders to explore opportunities for knowledge sharing. A report by Sudipta Dev
he third edition of TravelRave organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) reaffirmed it as Asia's most vibrant platform for a host of important travel and tourism industry events – ITB Asia, Aviation Outlook Asia, Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference, Web in Travel Conference, Asia Travel Leaders Summit and Singapore Experience Awards. This year saw the inclusion of two new events, namely Hotel Technology 2012 and the World Travel Awards. TravelRave acquires special significance with tourism in Asia predicted to grow at a rate that is much higher than the global average, and the region being the hub of most tourism related development that is happening around the world, ranging from hotel investments
to growth of the aviation sector in emerging markets. STB promotes TravelRave as Asia's 'most influential' travel industry event. Speaking at the opening press conference, Neeta Lachmandas, assistant chief executive, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said, “We are in the third year of TravelRave. The platform has grown tremendously from strength to strength. Collocating the event adds a lot of value. The important thing to bring events that complement each other. ” Pointing out that according to the Boston Consulting Group, Asia accounts for 40 per cent of global tourism spend, and considering that PATA expects the sector to grow by seven per cent, she stated, "We see very aggressive numbers and it is important for us to create a platform in travel and www.expresstravelworld.com
tourism space and gathering of tourism leaders. Opportunities are there but there are also challenges, for instance we need to understand the Asian consumers who are so different from each other.” TravelRave brings industry leaders together to collaborate on how to address these challenges and work for the growth of the industry. This year ITB Asia celebrated its fifth anniversary, and 2012 marked the biggest edition till date. “We have the largest conference programme and numerous new partners who deliver the content and reveal the data with focus on Asia,” said Nino Gruettke, executive director, ITB Asia. Marilyn McHugh, vice president – Global Events, Questex mentioned, “This is our first year at TravelRave and we are pleased to be in partnership
with STB. The focus is not just B2B, these conferences set the stage for navigating the future.”
Investment in tourism Addressing the inauguration of the Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference, S Iswaran, minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Singapore said, "It is well established that Asia's growth is significant in global tourism. International arrivals in Asia continue to be stable and in particular South East Asia continues to be the strongest growth sub region. Singapore has been built on these foundations to keep making investment in tourism infrastructure, experiences and products.” He said that about SGD 900 million will be used in tourism promotions of which a large amount will be used for November 2012
E|D|G|E development of the MICE segment. Iswaran mentioned that Singapore's tourism goes beyond the country, it involves its ASEAN neighbours, with particular focus on the cruise industry. “At government level we are continuously working with our ASEAN neighbours. Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference will be a platform for exploring new collaborations and creating new ideas,” added Iswaran. The Greater AsiaOceania region has a number of destinations that have tremendous opportunities for growth and game changing opportunities. According to Dr Richard Helfer, chairman , RCH International, investment in tourism infrastructure across the region looks very positive and is delivering strong bottom lines to investors. “I call this process Total Environment Tourism, combining the natural attractions with manmade efforts to portray lifestyle, heritage and culture.” Travel and tourism is the world's third largest industry. World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) takes on very specific battles with the government, in particular issues like visas and taxation. “If the taxation regime is not right then investors are not willing to make investment decisions. Growth will come from Asia that has out performed in recent times and will continue in the future,” said David Scowsill, president and CEO, WTTC. He added that in 2012 though the euro zone has slowed down Asia and Latin America continue to grow their GDP. For every dollar spent on travel and tourism three dollars is added to the economy. Increase in investment gives a fillip to tourist arrivals while insufficient investment acts as a bottleneck for growth. It is also important to maintain the current capacity. Some of the leading countries in APAC in terms of investment are – China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Australia and Singapore. “Developing markets are growing more faster than developed markets. Superior economic growth is driving consumer demand for travel,” added Scowsill.
Asian growth story Speaking at the ITB Asia opening press conference Scowsill remarked, “Next November 2012
month one billion people will cross international borders, which is a huge landmark. This year the picture has not been so good – Europe has been growing backwards faster and affecting to some extent China and India. But overall picture in short term is strong and in the long term it is stronger. As far as visas is concerned in the last 12 months we have made huge progress.” ITB Asia 2012 saw double digit growth from last year, with 865 exhibitors from 72 countries participating in the event. There were 15 per cent more exhibitors partnering and 17 per cent more exhibition space. There was also a significant increase in terms of content, almost 24 per cent over last year, that is 3720 minutes. “This shows the potential of the market here in Asia and the dynamics of the market
Europe has been growing backwards faster and affecting to some extent China and India is very extensive. We see a very strong growing demand from emerging markets, in particular new ones like Jordon, Columbia, Venezuela, South Africa, Pakistan, etc. Now travellers want to explore new destinations,” said Dr Martin Buck, vice president, Messe Berlin (Singapore), organiser of ITB Asia. ITB Asia 2012 also had a new cruise segment that included MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean, etc. This year also saw for the very first time the inclusion of the Pink Corner, catering to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. The PhoCusWright-ITB Asia study states that APAC will remain the world's fastest growing travel region in 2013, worth US$ 357 billion. “In some countries people are bypassing the computer for mobile that will have a strong impact on EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
E|D|G|E the travel industry. Total travel gross booking is the highest in Asia in 2012, online bookings are the highest in the US and Europe but it has been growing by double digits in APAC. As online travel will grow faster it will continue to steal the share from offline players,” said Chetan Kapoor, research analyst, Asia Pacific, PhoCusWright.
Changing face of luxury In his keynote address in ITB Asia, Horst Schulze, chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group (and the man who built Ritz Carlton) spoke about how the concept of luxury has changed over the last two decades. “Luxury hotel that is known today will become affordable luxury, what is emerging is ultra luxury,” he stated, adding that over the next 10 years international mergers and partnerships will quadruple which means more business travel as face to face meetings will be needed. “Emerging markets will travel outside their country led by the affordable and ultra luxury segments. The secondary segment will follow the ultra luxury. We have to understand in our business that timeliness is most important and in the future it will become more significant,” stated Schulze. He asserted that what the guest will increasingly seek more caring service and their expectation is individual service. “That is a problem for the industry as we have made a commodity to 'sleep in' but travellers are looking for 'meaningful experiences'. So are we creating a 'meaningful moment' or a 'moment' or 'selling a room'? Those customers coming from emerging markets will want it more as they are insecure travelling. So 'service' and 'caring' become more and more important in the future. What was luxury 30 years ago is not luxury anymore,” reminded Schulze.
Travel leaders speak In its third edition, Asia Travel Leaders Summit, a thought leadership event gives an opportunity to the leading personalities from the industry to interact and hold discussions on critical issues. The fact that the market in the region is dynamic but not homogenous makes such knowledge exchange all the more important. “Further, different markets are at different
stages of development so there are more opportunities to learn. This year saw the presence of 35 leaders from across the continent. We have gathered here to talk about the opportunities ahead of us and hope that the platform works out to be one of collaboration and sharing of ideas,” said Lachmandas. Deepak Ohri, CEO, Lebua Hotels and Resorts stated, “The mass affluent segment is growing exponentially but we have to understand them. As an organisation we spend a huge amount of time on research, we cater our product according to the consumer.” The mass affluent consumers spend almost double what other segments
The middle class today is driving tourism, particularly in countries like India and China tourism do and it is important to understand each market, whether India or China or Indonesia. “The middle class today is driving tourism, particularly in countries like India and China which have huge domestic tourism,” added Ohri. Pak Budi Tirtawisata, CEO, Panorama Group, also spoke about the importance of giving a good product in the market, particularly for the middle class that his group focuses on. One of the top three concern areas for the industry leaders was not surprisingly – talent shortage. “We identified that there are different levels, in Asia we need to develop the mid management,” mentioned Lachmandas. While specific projects are currently not decided upon in terms of collaboration between travel industry leaders in the region, it is hoped that in the future the summit will lead to such initiatives which will go a long way in developing the sector. November 2012
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Singapore: Flying high City state to become Centre of Excellence for Air Traffic Management
ingapore is to be developed into a Centre of Excellence for Air Traffic Management (ATM), a nexus for the development of ATM capabilities and solutions to meet the needs of Singapore and the Asia Pacific region through research and development. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) aims to build a self sustaining ecosystem for ATM in Singapore, comprising research institutes and think tanks, industry players, academia, and foreign and international ATM entities and aviation stakeholders.This vision and the broad plans were unveiled recently by Lui Tuck Yew, minister for transport, at the commissioning of
a new air traffic control simulator at the Singapore Aviation Academy. The research institutes and think-tanks will work, including with industry players, on developing new concepts and technologies, including adapting from those developed for other regions, to address ATM challenges unique to Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. Industry players, together with the research institutes and think-tanks, will test-bed and translate the new concepts and technologies into real world ATM solutions to support the growth of the Singapore air hub and air transport in Asia Pacific, making Singapore a market-place www.expresstravelworld.com
for such solutions in the region. The Institutes of Higher Learning, hosting or working with the research institutes and think-tanks, will harness the ATM knowledge and expertise generated for education and training, including to develop the human capital required to support the work of the ecosystem. The Centre of Excellence for ATM will draw foreign and international ATM entities and aviation stakeholders to establish and increase their presence in Singapore, including through collaborative partnerships. With a presence in Singapore, these organisations will contribute to, as well as benefit from, the amassing of
knowledge and expertise, innovations and ideas, concepts and solutions, and intellectual and human capital in Singapore. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates air traffic in the Asia Pacific region to triple by 2030. Singapore is already home to the regional headquarters (HQs) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), and the United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is driving the USâ€™ ATM modernisation efforts under the NextGen (Next Generation Transportation System) programme. In February 2012, CAAS signed a Letter of Intent with the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) which gives Singapore valuable access to more than 125 members and associate partners in the SESAR JU consortium working on the SESAR programme. In May 2012, CAAS signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with NATS, the United Kingdomâ€™s air navigation service provider, including to collaborate on and develop solutions addressing emerging ATM challenges. CAAS has set up a Centre of Excellence for ATM Programme Fund (CEPF) of Sin$ 200 million for a period of 10 years to provide seed funding for the establishment of research institutes and think-tanks and the conduct of research and development activities in the area of ATM. The CEPF will be managed by a new dedicated programme office that CAAS will set up to lead the efforts to develop Singapore into a Centre of Excellence for ATM. EXPRESS TRAVELWORLD
Ministry of Tourism Parvez Dewan, IAS, has taken over as secretary, ministry of tourism from R H Khwaja, IAS. Dewan was previously secretary, ministry of overseas Indian affairs. He was also chairman and managing director of India Tourism Development Corporation from 2006-2009. He belongs to the 1977-batch IAS of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cadre. Khwaja, IAS, has taken over as secretary, ministry of mines.
Thomas Cook (India)
Thomas Cook (India) has announced the appointment of Abraham Alapatt as head- marketing. Abraham’s strengths are in the areas of marketing, brand strategy formulation, implementation and management; integrated brand and corporate communication; advertising; PR-media relations; market research, customer service and customer-centric marketing from ideation to process engineering.
Singapore Tourism Board
Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel
British Airways sales manager for South Asia, British Airways. She will now be responsible for all sales activities related to the Corporate Channel in the region.
Chang Chee Pey has been appointed new executive director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) with immediate effect. He takes over from Randall Tan, regional director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa and will be based in STB’s Mumbai office. As executive director, Chee Pey’s mandate is to oversee STB’s promotion, marketing and developmental efforts in the key regional markets.
Kuoni India has announced the appointment of Vishal Suri as deputy chief operating officer, tour operating, Kuoni India. In this role, Suri will focus on further strengthening the position that tour operating holds across all travel segments and to establish a strong position in the online travel space.
Dr Girish Baria is the newly appointed spa manager of Club Renaissance at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel. He comes with an experience of being in the healthcare industry for over 16 years, having proficiency in healthcare, spa, and sports and fitness management. Prior to joining Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, he was with The Westin, Pune as a spa and sports manager.
Etihad Airways Etihad Airways has appointed John Evans as its new general manager for the Philippines. He has more than 35 years of experience in airline operations including senior management roles at Swissair and Gulf Air in the UK and Thailand. He has transferred to the Manilabased position from Cyprus, where he was Etihad Airways’ general manager for the past year.
British Airways has announced the formulation of a commercial team for India. Anjali Puri has been appointed as the commercial development manager – South Asia. Puri will now be responsible for all sales related activities for the region.
Tarun Minocha has been appointed as British Airways’ trade sales manager for South Asia and will be responsible for development and
Nepali Gandhi has been appointed as the corporate implementation of trade sales strategy. He will be working closely with commercial and business development.
EgyptAir Captain Roshdy Zakaria has been appointed as the chairman & CEO of EgyptAir Airlines. Captain Zakaria has spent his full 30-year career at EgyptAir, holding many positions, namely chief pilot examiner and instructor on A300-B4; B767 and B777. He also held the position of deputy VP flight operations.
Air Canada Air Canada has appointed Michael Friisdahl as president and chief executive officer to lead its new leisure group which will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada. The new integrated leisure group will combine the activities of its tour operator business, Air Canada Vacations, with the new low-cost leisure airline it hopes to launch in 2013. Friisdahl will report to Ben Smith, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Air Canada.
(L-R) Michael Goh, senior vice president-Sales, Star Cruises Travel Services; Anju Tandon, director, Ark Travels; Krishan Biyani, director, Ark Travels; Arvind Tandon, director, Ark Travels at the company's celebratory event in Mumbai
For better growth Mr & Mrs Shailendra Gupta, MD, Ontime Travels with Rajat Kumar, regional sales manager, Air France KLM, North India at the Air Franceâ€“KLM hosted gala event to honour small and medium agents in Delhi
Ready for Haj Former civil aviation minister Ajit Singh; K N Srivastava, civil aviation secretary, government of India; Jan Henderson, high commissioner of New Zealand to India and Steven Joyce, minister for economic development, New Zealand government at the aviation agreement signing in New Delhi
Joy of giving Mohammad Arif Naseem Khan, minister of Textiles, Minorities Development and AUKAF inaugurated facilities arranged for Haj pilgrims at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai in an effort to make their travel hassle free
Magnificent way Jet Airways offered 160 students from Shrimad Rajchandra Gurukul a chance to visit the aircraft's maintenance hangar near Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai as part of the 'Joy of Givingâ€™ Week
People of Liverpool broke a Guinness World Record by singing the song of the Beatles single 'Love Me Do' and in doing so celebrated the 50th year of its release November 2012
Mischa Mannix, regional manager South & South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand with Heena Munshaw, managing director, Beacon Holidays at the launch of New Zealand Brochure in Mumbai
Bigger the better
The 11th annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament recently concluded in the seaside town of Hua Hin, Thailand
World Tourism Day Winners of 'Explore with Thomas Cook' inter-collegiate quiz competition organised by Thomas Cook (India) Centre of Learning at the Indian Merchants Chamber
Showcasing art MTDC organised a student rally to commemorate World Tourism Day in Mumbai
Chhagan Bhujbal, minister of tourism, Government of Maharashtra inagurating a photography exhibition on wildlife of Maharashtra at Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA, Mumbai
‘The Sindhudurg Guide’ celebrated World Tourism Day by inaugurating new products and services to facilitate tourism in the district
(L-R) Chef Tom Aikens; Chef Vineet Bhatia; Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways; Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Chef Ramzi Choueiri at the launch of the new line up of culinary ambassadors of Qatar Airways in Doha
(L-R) Vishal Jairath, head - South Asia, VFS Global and H E Janez Premoze, ambassador of Republic of Slovenia at the inauguration of the Slovenia VAC in New Delhi
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