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INDIA

OUTBOUND June - August 2012 Vol.4 Number 2

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On the backstage of Lido L14027 - 2- 200 INR - RD


BARET THE FAMOUS CA YSÉES: OF CHAMPS-ÉL e, 70 artistes on stag stumes, 600 sumptuous co ts... 23 monumental se

DINNER & SHOW

CHAMPAGNE & SHOW

116 bis avenue des Champs - Élysées 75 008 Paris - Tel. : +33 (0)1 40 76 56 49 - E-mail: tourisme@lido.fr


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Editorial

I

t is once again that time of the year when Paris is the centre of attraction in India. This year also happens to be a very special one as this is the 10th consecutive road - show of Paris in India, indicating the growing importance of India for the Parisian tourism industry. The year gone by may have been a difficult one for Europe, but certainly not too bad for Paris and definitely no complaints as far as arrivals from India are concerned. There have been several new initiatives and new attractions for tourists. Paris has been focusing on improving its urban transport infrastructure, with extension of metro, trams and even introduction of AutoLib, a service that allows people to pick up cars from designated areas and drop them off after use in any other designated parking in the city. This would definitely be a big help for the FITs, who otherwise depend on buses and metro, but now can drive around in Paris. The increasing number of partners from Paris who come along for these meetings in India is also an indication of the growing importance of India as a market for practically all the Parisian tourism professionals. India might not be as big a market as China right now, but it is definitely a most promising market as the number of Indians travelling overseas is set to increase by four times in the next decade, reaching a startling 50 million. Hence, clearly, not a market to give a miss for any long term player in the global tourism industry. Paris has recognised this fact and is working hard to try and make the Indians feel more welcome and more at home. This has involved some hard work with the hotels and other players to sensitise them to the Indian habits and traditions, especially with the language barrier and the vegetarian food habits of many Indians. Hotels were never lacking in Paris, but 2011 has seen the opening of two landmark properties, both Asian in origin, the Shangri-La and the Mandarin Oriental. Placed right at the top of the luxury hotels offerings in Paris, these two properties would certainly attract the well-heeled Indians. In this issue, we also bring you some other luxury hotels in Paris. In a related feature, we also show you how you can spend the big bucks on a visit to Paris, with limousines, exclusive, private chefs and of course luxury and fashion goods for which the French capital is so renowned. And for those, with more modest means, we also bring you an article on covering Paris and seeing all its monuments and attractions without burning a hole in the wallet.We also bring you in this issue news from three of the best-known French cabarets – Moulin Rouge, Lido de Paris and the Crazy Horse, each of whom is seriously focusing on the Indian market. We hope you enjoy this issue and your meetings with your Parisian partners and we hope that your business with Paris will continue to boom. Our next rendezvous on France with you would be in September and we look forward to that. â–

India Outbound Paris Roadshow Special March 2012 3


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Content 20

India Outbound June - August 2012,Vol.4, No.2

6

12

34

40

48

54

Entertainment Lido On the Back Stage of Lido.........................................................................p6

Tourism Guadeloupe Caribbean Sensation.................................................................................p12 Dallas The Vibrant side of Texas......................................................................p34 Istanbul The Golden Horn....................................................................................p40 Bhutan An adventure like no other......................................................................p48

Photofeature Guadeloupe Butterfly of the Caribbean......................................................................p20

Briefs TourismBrief.........................................................................................p54

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Upfront and close with Alicia, a dancer of lido

On the backstage of

Lido

One wonders, what lies behind this huge dream machine called the Lido of Paris. It is behind one of these mystical and mythical backgrounds that India Outbound decided to enter to discover what exactly lies behind the stage of this world famous theatre. The backstage is as fascinating and incredible, as the show itself.

I

t is in the company of Eric Lanuit, the master of the place, that we begin our discovery of the backstage. A small door on the right of the main stage leads us to the backstage, which has many small rooms for make up, dressing, relaxation, even a small area for tea and coffee. At the end of this maze, in one of the rooms, we meet Alicia, a dancer of the Bonheur show, which has been a rage at the

Lido for the past several years.While we wait for the interview to begin, all around us the place is abuzz with activity. The big red curtains are still drawn over the stage, but behind the curtains, we can spot many dancers already in place, ready, even though the show would not start for another 30 minutes. A bit further, we can also see the magnificent and unique costumes of Lido, that are as much part of its reputation as


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the dances themselves. These costumes are designed and customised for each of the dancers or participants by in-house designers at Lido. There are also the outlandish hats, robes, trousers, shoes, wigs etc. We descend several steps more and the heat climbs to a new level. The plumed costumes are still around us and we can hear voices as we get a look around at the Lido. We knock

and enter as these are the rooms where the dancers dress up, do their make ups. Some are warming up on the floor while others are still getting the finishing touches of their make up and finally we reach the last room where Alicia is indeed waiting for us. Sitting on a chair, with an intense regard and jet black hair, she is finishing her make up. Even though she might be intimidated just as much as we are, but her big,


Entertainment

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Here the woman is showcased and the show makes everyone dream about her. And of course, it is a prestigious & beautiful place & is always full

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Entertainment

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winning smile manages to cover it all up. It also helps in easing the atmosphere rapidly. Alicia is very much at ease at answering the questions. After receiving classical dance traning, she worked for 15 years at the Opera de Marseille in Southern France. She joined Lido eight years ago, just in time for the preparation of the Bonheur show, which has proved to be a very big hit for Lido.She is part of the troupe of topless dancers at Lido, but it does not mean that she is not shy. ‘The make up acts like a mask. I am shy here, in front of you. But on the stage, I am disguised and I dont speak and that is what I like to do,’’ she says. But the timidity does go away and she responds to our questions. When you are not here, during the day, who are you ? When I am not here, I am more of a home person. I spend my days learning hip-hop and other dances. I also do hair style shows and of course shopping. What does Lido have more than other cabarets ? The Class ! Now that I have seen it all and I know dancers from other cabaets, I am sure, that Lido is the best. Your best memory at Lido ? The first time when I replaced the principal dancer, I was barely 20 years of age. I also enjoy a lot travelling overseas.

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What would you say to a little girl who dreams of being like you ? Go ahead ! This is magical. And if her mother is not too much in favour ? Come and see the show ! What are the main criteria for being a danseuse at Lido ? One has to be tall, about 1.76 metres, have basic classical dance training, but otherwise the nationality or other physical attributes don’t have any importance during the selection. Alicia does not say this, but we are tempted to add that they must also be slender and graceful and they should be able to carry themselves and have a ready smile, just like the dancers that we see at Lido. Their happiness, however, lies elsewhere. Alicia assures us that she lives a dream each evening at Lido. ‘We dance. Here the woman is showcased and the show makes everyone dream about her. And of course, it is a prestigious and beautiful place and always full,’’ she says.We understand it that to try the Lido is to adopt it. Our host is back and now it is time to leave the danseues to warm up as the show is about to start. So it is with starry eyes that we retrace our path in the maze of backstage whose magical walls hold 1001 secrets. As we take our seats along with our viewers, we try to look for Alicia, whom we had met barely a few minutes ago. But we doubt if we can find her among the 100 artists, all of whom are attired spectacularly that makes them resemble each other.■


ENJOY The Radisson Blu Hotel at Disneyland速 Paris is the perfect venue, to combine fun, relax and shopping!

+ 33 (0)1 60 43 64 00 reservation.golfresort.paris@radissonblu.com

radissonblu.com/golfresort-paris


Tourism

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Guadeloupe Caribbean Sensation Lost in the Caribbean Sea is a small archipelago,Guadeloupe,a French overseas territor y. The islands have all that any other Caribbean destination has to offer - sun, sand, surf and exotic wildlife. But Guadeloupe has something more to offer, a rich link with India, as Sandeep Silas discovered. Photos & Text by Sandeep Silas

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Tourism

Guadeloupe

I

Dawn meets the Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean Sea

t appears as a butterfly hovering over water; yes, that is the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. It is interesting, how land mass gets shaped by the level of water around it and its own topography. This one is really unique. I had been led by the popular Hollywood to believe that the waters shall be dark, clothed in mist and ghost ships would be sailing with pirates in half-human, half-ghost forms, ready to waylay an unsuspecting merchant ship. More, there will be mysterious happenings when the full Moon passes through dark clouds, peeping gingerly, when they are like a whisper; hidden completely, when they are thick and heavy. Well, there was nothing like that. Surprisingly, I found beautifully clear and light green waters, charming and sensuous. Instead of pirate ships, there were sail boats, yachts and water scooters tearing the Caribbean Sea. The dawns, one after another day, were most magnificent with a rare interplay of the rising Sun’s morning glow and the drifting clouds. Once it rained and I thought I missed out on the sunrise, and up came a rainbow double to steal the thunder. Bravely, I waded into the water neck deep so I could take a photograph of the rainbow as if it was rising from the sea, instead of falling into the sea! The nightfallSurfing brought waters in romance of another kind. The voices of the night, oh, I just love the voices of the night. When the night throws it cloak over the daylight, it releases the voices of the night from its deep pockets and if the clouds have moistened the evening, the atmosphere gets heightened. In Guadeloupe, the most prominent voice of the night was of the crickets. Mercifully their call was not harsh and shrill, but sweet, though loud. Frogs too joined the chorus and as soon as the raindrops would cease their tropical pitter-patter, the left-over drops of rain on trees would jump down on the foliage creating a tiny flutter. Unique and so tropical, rather so Caribbean!

Surfing waters

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Ready for a game

The next day was discovering the island called Grande-Terre. Guadeloupe is like two wings of a butterfly, one called Grande-Terre (High Ground), the other Basse-Terre (Low Ground). Basse-Terre has a volcanic peak of Soufrie’re volcano at 1500 m. It is more banana and wild life, suited for hiking and trekking and visiting fishing villages. Grande-Terre is sugarcane, hills and white beaches. This is the most visited part of Guadeloupe. The islands are mostly inhabited by descendants of plantation labourers who came from Africa and India to cultivate the land almost 150 years ago. There are about 4.5 million inhabitants and the islands’ main occupation is banana, sugar and tourism services. The land, called Pointe de la Verdure, was the property of ‘Compagnie des Indes’, during the time of Louis XIV. The army purchased it to protect the grand bay. That’s how an old remnant of the days in Fleur d’Epee Fort stands watching over the Bay. The tourism potential was realized by hotel entrepreneurs as late as 1980s. The word ‘Creole’, kept on staring at me from different places, even our Hotel was a La Creole. I learned that Creole is the dialect that has emerged as colloquial French. You no more hear the songs of the workers accompanied by Gwo Ka, a drum beat, as it must have been about a century ago. The other musical instruments, actually musical, are the Beguine and Mazurkas, deriving from the European Quadrille and orchestra. The Zouk evolved as a fusion to Plantation days' remnants

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Tourism

make West Indian music.We moved to discover the place. St. Anne, a nice village with a lovely beach was the first halt. The boulevard merged into the beach where like inhibitions you could throw formals off. So much was happening at the place, the combination of fine white sand, enticing green and blue sea and the right velocity of wind. Children were making castles in the sand, beauties were sunbathing, and the more activityoriented were on boats with sails. The middle path followers reveled in the shallow sea, enjoying the feel of water as clothing. We moved ahead to Saint Francois, a more up-market looking area, showing off a rich Golf Course and for the rich too. The beach here seemed more popular as it was quite crowded. Beach holiday as a concept has touched all people. The call of the sea is most irresistible and getting tanned is a luxury statement. It is surprising how the white-skinned wish to get a tan while the dark skinned desire a white complexion. I moved near a fishing boat parked on the bay. What attracted me were huge sea-shells heaped over the jetty’s pavement. The ripe pink attracted me like mad. It was almost like the most tender flesh and so luminous. I asked whether the fisherman would sell.Yes, and I picked up one that looked the most beautiful and complete. This triggered an impulse in the rest of the group too, to buy. To me it appeared the most pure offering of Nature and that too made by the insect that lived in the Caribbean Sea. Dinner was at an Indian family’s home. I noticed that homes were built in a spacious style with open verandas, big rooms and largely informal. The local drink was passion fruit juice and Guadeloupian rum. Gosh, the rum was heady! They say, they make the best rum in Guadeloupe.I had heard that sunrise at Pointe des Chateaux was unique. So next day we sped on a long road only to be surprised by the clouds, whichwould not oblige. I did secretly lament and felt

disappointed and silently prayed for the morning glory to unveil. It seems, they heard the voice of my heart and created a strange kind of a scene. They moved up from the sea and cleared a horizontal band like opening, which the Sun quickly filled up with an orange-yellow glow. The rock formations slipped into a silhouette and some rays of the invisible Sunbeamed up from behind this band into the sky and some fell upon the sea. In the far distance, Sea Revellers a huge Cross over the tallest peak stood like a grim reminder of the supreme sacrifice. Emotion, colour, foam, and the intensity of the radiance completed the morning.Morning tea was at Le Moule, a town with an ancient square, a Church and the place looked as if it held back thousands of conversations waiting to be made.This side of the Caribbean Sea, at Le Moule the waters are ideal for surfing. I stood for a long time watching the waves build up and run towards the shore. As one wave ran ahead, in a while another, yet another, would mount and ride on top of it in a mating game endeavour. Both would crash and leave the shore filled with foam.This place is a surfer’s delight and the dream and excitement of riding the waves can be realized here. We moved to the home of an Indian origin family. In the back lawn they had built two small temples housing their deities. I thought that even after 150 years, in a strange land, they carry the gods their forefathers worshipped back home. Whether ‘Time’ had carried the tradition or, ‘Tradition’ has been timeless, was the thought, which kept hugging my mind. Food was also derived from the dishes they were perhaps used to, albeit with some modifications in taste. I will never forget the Guadeloupian chilli. I normally can consume two green chillies with a meal, but this one here was a nuclear bomb, which exploded in the mouth and had to be left half-consumed. The Indian origin community celebrated the Diwali Festival in the huge ground of Petit Canal with many activities going around for the people— Seminar, painting exposition, traditional Indian dance

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Tourism

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Colors of the Caribbean Sea

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Diwali Puja

Double Rainbow

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performances, a puritan style Hindu Puja of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi, tandoori food, and to top it all fireworks. The people were thrilled with his platter that enhanced intellectual curiosity, fulfilled a religious need, excited the senses and tickled the taste buds.I made friends with an artist girl who sold hand-crafted items in the Artisanal Village. I was surprised to find out that she had explored a lot of India and was planning to come again for more. I purchased an artifact carved out of mango wood from her; four fish surrounded by a creeper! It keeps reminding me of the sensations of Guadeloupe! Next morning, I lay back on the sea bed, floating, looking up the sky till the rain thought it’s time to meet the sea. The soft waves lapping my body below and the falling raindrops from the clouds on my face, chest, hands and legs, was an exhilarating experience. The Sun, as it decided to rule the day added another dimension—a rainbow! One emerged momentarily and then it became a pair to stay a while and promise people like me a treasure. Did I say treasure? Now, to walk to the end of a rainbow!■


Photofeature

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Guadeloupe Butterfly of the Caribbean

Seen from the above, the Guadeloupe looks like a butterfly. On the ground, the landscape is no less amazing mix of colours than a butterfly. The colours are to be found not just in the landscape, but its multi-cultural composition, its cuisine which has influences from four continents and of course its festivals and religion as this photofeature shows.

Marie Galante Beach

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Photofeature

pe delou , Gua e d a r si La De

Jet Sk i

Excu rsion s in t he M angr ove

Swam p

ival the carn queen of r fo p u rrunne The first

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Photofeature

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Pointe Des Chateaux, Grande Terre, Guadeloupe


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As it is located right in the middle of the Caribbean, the Guadeloupe definitely boasts of some magnificent beaches and seas that are immensely rich in biodiversity, with a large variety of plant and animal life.

The beach at night, Grande T erre

ate er w Und

una d Fa n a ra r Fo

Scu bad ivin g

Photofeature

Seascape


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Fort N apole on

upe delo Gua n i rch Chu

Saint Pie

rre and

Saint pa ul, Pointe

a Pitre in

Grande Terre

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Heritage The island’s heritage is a unique mix of African, Indian and European origin. The island was populated in the 17-19th centuries as a major sugar cane producer and though many of the sugar mills have disappeared, it retains the imprints of the past. And of course as the Indians and Europeans came here, they also brought their religious beliefs and customs here.

Habitation Murat Marie Galante

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Photofeature

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Culture Over the centuries, each community has tried to keep intact its cultural heritage, but perforce the melange has occurred and today, Guadeloupepresents a culture that is Afro-Indo-European and the melange is what best describes this vibrant island of half a million inhabitants.

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Photofeature rade 's pa n e r ild ol ch Scho

Indian C ultural D ance

Carnival goers in Guadeloupe

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Photofeature

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The Carnival Every country or territory in the Caribbean or Latin America is very proud of its own carnival, and of course Guadeloupe is no exception. Its carnival is even more colourful thanks to its population mix which does remain unique in the region.

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Photofeature

olors ival C Carn

Bou illa nte Chi ldre n's

car niva l

s oer al G v i n Car

upe delo a u in G

Pointe a Pitre Carnival Grande Terre

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Photofeature

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Cuisine It is through its cuisine that the Indian community of Guadeloupe has made its presence felt in the strongest way. The principal dish of the island is the curry, called Colombo for some mysterious reasons and of course practically the Indian vegetables and fruits are still cultivated here, albiet cooked in a slightly different fashion, even though using the same spices as India.

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Photofeature

upe uadelo r in G e k r o et w Mark

Crayfish, G uadeloupe

ails ockt tic M o x E

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Photofeature

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Rum & Cocoa Two of the principal agricultural products of Guadeloupe, the sugarcane and the cocoa have become its leading exports as well. Today Guadeloupeproduces a variety of rums and chocolates. Many innovative companies have also made interesting tourist itineraries based on their plants and sites. A special Indian touch here is the spicy chocolate using red chillies.

Cacao of Guadeloupe

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Photofeature

er e Farm arcan A Sug

Old man an d Guadelou pean Fighti ng

Rooster

oks y Co Lad e h t of ival Fest

its Fru ical Trop

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Dallas The Vibrant

Texas

Side of

State Fair of Texas

Founded in 1841 and formally incorporated as a city in February 1856, Dallas is the third-largest city in the state of Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. Like most major urban hubs, the city boasts an array of interesting attractions and activities. But in Dallas, as in most of Texas, they are somehow bigger and better.Roopinder Oberoi travelled to Dallas and came back with memories of a lovely outing in this Texan city

F

or most of us, the first and enduring image of Texas can be attributed to big western hits from the Hollywood. The cowboys, horses, gals and guns symbolized Texas and we have the belief that Texas is only about size and ‘big is

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beautiful’, with their Texan hats, extra large helpings of food and XXL beer mugs.This is not entirely wrong. Cowboys, Guns, flamboyant millionaires and legendary American football players are indeed part of Texas, not just in history, but even


Dealey Plaza

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Fair park

McKinney Ave Trolley

Museum

the culture today. While a few elements of the Wild West are no longer so wild, some others have simply changed form over the years. So big, typical American multi-cylinder cars have replaced the horses, high-tech industry and oil majors replacing the cattle breeding industry as the mainstay of the state economy.

History The name Texas has its origins in the Spanish word Tejas, a corruption of the local Indian word for friend. The Spanish

invaders conquered the largely desert state in 1519. The Lone Star state really developed its famous ranches only in the early 19th century and cattle breeding remained the biggest sector of the economy here till 1910, when black gold was unearthed here. The state has since then also diversified into high technology, which accounts for a significant part of its output now. Along with the oil city Houston and Texan capital Austin, Dallas is also a key tourism attraction in the state. It's no coincidence that Dallas is the number one visitor destination

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Tourism

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Dallas Fair Park

Main Street Garden

in Texas. Dallas is easy to get to, with two major airports and a host of Interstate and U.S. Highways. And once in town, public transit and a host of private carriers make it a breeze to get around. As destiny would have it, I had the occasion to visit Dallas for a conference and of course, I used the opportunity to the maximum to understand the city and explore its various tourist attractions. Dallas seems to have

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Old Red and Reunion Tower


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Nasher Sculpture Center

Skyline at night

Jaap Van Zweden performing at the Morton H. Myerson Symphony

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Skyline

something for everyone. It has the unique blend of South -Western warmth, a cosmopolitan flair, old west charm and modern sophistication.

Attractions Parks One of the key attractions for the young visitors is the 50 year old Six Flags Over Texas Water park with over 100 thrilling rides and attractions, including mega-coasters like Titan and the Texas Giant. You can enjoy a variety of family-friendly shows and attractions, plus fun-filled themed areas like Looney Tunes USA for the kids. The world-class Dallas Zoo covers 106 acres and features many rare and endangered species. Don't give a miss to the award-winning Giants of the Savanna. The 11-acre multi-species habitat is home to elephants, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, and more. Another spot to be explored is the Dallas Arboretum. Overlooking scenic White Rock Lake, the Arboretum offers the perfect venues for workshops, lectures, dinners, receptions, weddings, and special events set in 66 acres of lush gardens and beautiful vistas. The new 5,000 square foot Rosine Hall, the historic DeGolyer Home and the elegant Camp House offer a variety of options to make each event unique. The Dallas World Aquarium is also a key sight in the city. With 80,000 gallons of saltwater, its exhibits include sharks, stingrays, and hundreds of reef fish all in living coral reef ecosystems. Guests are surrounded by tropical plants and animals from around the world.

Museums Though not many Indians would know or remember it, Dallas had earned a fair bit of infamy as the city where the famous US President John F Kennedy was shot dead in 1969.

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Today, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza provides a comprehensive exhibit on the life, death, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The Arts are alive in Dallas. The Dallas Arts District, located on the north side of downtown, is the largest urban district in the United States. The Dallas Museum of Art and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center are two of the most prominent features on the Dallas Arts scene, while several other museums grace the grounds of Fair Park - including The Science Place and the African American Museum. Throughout Dallas, you'll find an amazing blend of artistic expressions that reflect the multicultural dynamics of the city's heritage. Biblical Arts has exhibits that relate to the people, locations and happenings in the Bible. Biblical Arts is non-denominational and has three permanent galleries of art as well as changing temporary displays. A large oil painting, the Miracle at Pentacost, contains over 200 figures from the Bible and the painting is presented with both sound and light effects, making it one of the most unique tourist attractions in Dallas.

Shopping Shopping has become an integral part of any travel today and of course I was not going to give it a miss. The city boasts of several shopping centres, in fact it has the highest retail space per capita in all of the United States. One of the most popular shopping centres is the Galleria, known as the best place for Hollywood fans to watch their favourite stars - Janet Jackson, Oliver Stone, Kevin Costner and Tom Cruise have been seen touring the Galleria. It also has an indoor rink that is open all year round for ice skating fans. Some other notable shopping areas in Dallas include the North Park Center, with 235 stores, built around a 1.4 acre landscaped garden-Center Park and the Highland Park Village, the first planned shopping centre in the US. Greenville Avenue is known for its variety of bars, eateries


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and nightclubs. Some establishments have live music, while others have screens with sports games. Most of the places are casual in style, but some are more formal. Greenville Avenue is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dallas as the area is known for great shopping.

Food and Drinks With a density of restaurants greater than New York City, Dallas is definitely a food-lover’s town. While first-time visitors might conjure images of Texas steakhouses and barbecue joints, Dallas long ago found its way onto America’s culinary map with innovative restaurants and talented chefs mining the flavours of American, Italian, Asian and Mexican cuisine. Downtown Dallas is home to an incredible variety of restaurants, from critically acclaimed destinations like Dakota’s Steakhouse the French Room to the unique concept restaurants like Fuse to casual neighbourhood favourites like Local and Victory Tavern. Some of the finest eating joints in Dallas include

Stephan Pyles This is the place for the best ceviche in town! Owned by legendary founding father of south-western cuisine, Stephan Pyles, but you need to save room for dessert – Heaven and Hell cake are indeed luscious!

Clear Ultra Lounge Located on Main Street. Great “eye candy”! Sunday nights feature hip/hop urban nights and a great night to run into a few of the Dallas Mavericks and/or the Dallas Cowboys!

Ghost Bar Located atop the W Dallas Victory. You will be kept busy with the incredible views of the city.

Lift Lounge A modern-day discotheque, located on Cedar, combines a colourful, posh atmosphere with easy rhythms and funky beats. Free-flowing rose champagne for ladies every Thursday night.

Obar Located in the heart of downtown was a former speakeasy turned hip urban lounge.

Suite Located in the Knox/Travis area. One of the best places in the city on a Wednesday nights. Make sure you arrive early. So whether you are attracted by art, food and are travelling alone or with family, Dallas can be an interesting destination, even if off the track for the Indian tourists. ■ Photos by: visitdallas.com

Sonny Bryan’s Some of the best Texas barbeque can be had at this casual restaurant located in the Historic West End District. Finger-licking good!

Twisted Root Burger Are you in a mood for a good ole burger? On Commerce Street in Deep Ellum, this casual burger joint serves up some of the best burgers and fries. Owned by 3 chefs, everything is home-made from the ketchup to the adult milk shakes. Try the Bailey’s milk shake! The city is also very dynamic in the evening, with several bars and night clubs.

Texas barbecue

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Istanbul

Blue Mosque

The Golden Horn

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Tourism

The Golden Horn

I

stanbul had long teased my adventuresome imagination. I had heard of it as glorious Constantinople in the days of the Byzantine Roman Empire, its subsequent fame under the Ottoman’s as Istanbul; the collection of laws and legal interpretations know as Justinian Codes (528 A.D.), and the bridge of Bosphorus. Istanbul was much more romance than what was hidden in my scholastic memory. The real thing started unfolding the moment I stepped on the soil of this great city. Istanbul is a city which has contributed to political power, civil law, codes,

Istanbul in Turkey can claim to be a unique destination. The business capital of Turkey sits on the gates of Asia and Europe and no wonder then that it has a rich heritage derived from both the continents, which leaves its visitors stunned and awed, as was the case with Sandeep Silas. Photos & Text by Sandeep Silas

Diamond of Bosphorus

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“

In its journey from erection, conquest, transformation and its present identity as a museum Hagia-Sophia is perhaps the most unique building in the world. It leaves you wondering

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Dolmabahce Palace

art & culture, architecture, religion, for many centuries and has today become a bridge between tradition and modernity. It has entered into the realm of cities those have shaped civilization and impacted the world. The whole problem was where to begin. There was so much to absorb at the same time. I quickly learned that it was built on seven hills. But where are the hills? Human habitation has quietly placed all the seven hills firmly under its seat. Yes, Istanbul is crowded. Lots of houses, so lots of people too! As an urban area it ranks amongst the 25 largest urban areas in the world. The first settlers were the Greeks in the 7th Century B.C. The city, Byzantium, was established by the Greek King Byzas, in his name. Istanbul had four distinct rules The Roman Empire (330 -395 C.E.) The Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire (395 -1204 & 1261-1453 A.D.) The Latin Empire (1204-1261 A.D.) The Ottoman Empire (1453-1922 A.D.) It became part of the Roman Empire in the 300s C.E. If we look at the historical periods of It is important to understand these periods as their imprint is borne on the city and its monuments. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine’s ambition to make it similar to Rome that gave it magnificent

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Inside Egyptian Market


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Princess Island Jetty

monuments. It also became capital of the Roman Empire as Constantinople. The sons of Emperor Theodosius I in 395 permanently divided the Roman Empire. From here begins the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. There is a spell of Catholic Latin Empire too as both the Catholics and the Greeks competed to control Constantinople. Finally, the Ottoman Turks, under Sultan Mehmed II conquered the city on May 29, 1453 A.D. after a 53 day siege. The last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI died in defence of the city and Constantinople became Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman’s. The most famous monument I visited, had this unmistakable stamp of history and the ages of Constantinople. The Hagia-Sophia is pronounced Aya-Sophia. This

Church-Mosque-Museum of faith, has been built thrice. The name means Divine Power and the saga of its history says— 1,000 years as Church, 500 years as Mosque and thereafter Museum. As it stands today, it was built during the reign of Emperor Justinanus and opened in 537 A.D. The plan is traditional Basilica with a central dome. Together with three naves and its 107 columns it forms a splendid edifice. You look around and up and you keep wondering how huge it is and how delicately it has been decorated. Gold, silver, glass, colorful stones have been used to create an unparalleled effect. The grand mosaic work of the 6th century is visible on the walls. A celebrated spot for the crowning of Emperors was the famous mosaic floor under the central dome.

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View from Camlaja

It was turned into a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453 A.D. after Istanbul’s conquest. The Mihrab, pulpit, muezzin gathering place, preaching table were added inside Hagia-Sophia in 16th & 17th Centuries. More precious gifts came in from Suleiman the Magnificent and the later Sultans. Once Turkey became a Republic, Hagia-Sophia became a Museum. What is of immense value today to humanity; is the presence of the Mihrab and the mosaic image of Mother Mary holding infant Jesus at the same place; one on the ground, the other on the roof. It conveys the oneness of humankind and so much of God. I enjoyed this spectacle of faith, present here, because of history unfolding the way it did, now become a grim reminder and unifying symbolism. I greatly treasure the time spent here watching the carved pillars, discovering the seal of Theodora and Justinian in the columns, the other mosaics, the weeping column (originally part of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus) and the streaming sunlight from the many windows of Hagia-Sophia. In its journey from erection, conquest, transformation and its present identity as a museum Hagia-Sophia is perhaps the most unique building in the world. It leaves you wondering……Close by is the Sultanahmet Mosque, also

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known popularly as The Blue Mosque, as the semi-domes and the inner of the central dome are decorated with blue calligraphy. It was built between 1609-1616 A.D. and in a way was viewed as a structure equaling Hagia-Sophia. One admirer has described it as the “unreachable symbol of lightness and elegance, with its six thin minarets and dome layout.” Its presence can be imagined by the fact that it has 260 arched windows, 30 domed courtyard and six minarets. Its sits pretty on the landscape of Istanbul. In front of this Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome, now known as Sultanahmet Square. It was built by Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in 203 A.D. and served as a meeting place for politicians, for chariot races, and such other activities. Two Egyptian obelisks stand in the square sculpted with animals and motifs.The jewels and precious thrones inside Topkapi Palace remind you of the ultimate luxury in which Sultans lived and ruled. The palace itself has again seen the unfolding of history upon its bosom. First a Byzantine Acropolis in Seraglio overlooking the Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, it became the residence of the Ottoman Sultans. It was built between 1460 and 1478 A.D. over 700,000 sq m. The Bab-i-Humayun Gate separated it from the city and the Bab’us Selam connects it to the inner


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It is time to cross the Bosphorus to the Asian side and I reach Camlaja, a high point from where you can have panoramic views of the city of Istanbul, with its skyline of minarets and modern skyscrapers.

courtyard.All the administrative buildings are in this section. Most of the Turkish treasures are displayed in the museum here and believe me, they are precious. Crowns, necklaces, the 86-carat Spoon Maker’s diamond, rubies and emerald studded turbans, weapons including Nadir Shah’s famed emerald dagger, thrones, porcelain, manuscripts and murals are not only captivating in sight but also in terms of being witnesses of history. Amongst the most holy and precious exhibits are the—Staff of Prophet Moses, the hair from the beard of Prophet Muhammad, the cup and coat of The Prophet and his holy mantle. Little did I know that the most famous opera of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Abduction from the Seraglio, completed in 1782 is inspired by a sad tale, with Topkapi (Seraglio), as the scene of an agonizing separation! It tells of a Spanish nobleman, Belmonte, whose beloved has been kidnapped by pirates and sold to The Pasha who dwells in Seraglio.Topkapi has also been inspiration to Hollywood, which produced a crime comedy by the name of “Topkapi” in 1964, based on the novel of Eric Ambler, “The Light of the Day”. The plot is the plan to steal the emerald dagger of Nadir Shah from Topkapi palace!

Bosphorus Bridge at night

Turkish Delight

One of my most memorable sights at Topkapi are the Iznik tiles. One inscription describes the bedroom pavilion as, “beautiful, exhilarating and unequalled.” “In an Ottoman room,” says Filiz Ozer,“if you see running water, you know the room was a meeting place. Water conceals voices.” There are numerous harem stories including one which says that 280 harem women were disposed off in the Bosphorus once the Sultan got tired of them. Topkapi, I must say is full of life lived to the brim whether in fanciful delight or frenzy of power. So much in the mind, it was time to cool off in the Marmara on a boat ride. This ride on a pleasant day is good as it shows to a visitor the life both sides of the water and in between the Bosphorus I and II bridges. There are palaces and gardens both sides, and prominent amongst them is the Dolmabahce Palace, which became home for the Sultans from 1856 A.D. onwards. It was ordered to be built between 1843 and 1856 A.D. Two interesting facts about Dolmabahce deserve mention. One, that its architectural design has eclectic elements from Baroque, Rocco and Neo-Classical styles blended with traditional Ottoman architecture. Second, that about fourteen tons of gold in the form of gold leaf was used to gild the ceilings of the 45,000 sq m mono-block palace by the Marmara Sea. ‘Opulent’, as a word falls short to describe the decorations of the Palace. When I saw the Ambassador’s Hall my heart leaped and I exclaimed “What a remarkable and marvelous work of art!” and then when I came to The Ceremonial Hall,

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Hagia-Sophia

my lips just fell silent. The thought that came to my mind was—‘A combination of the opulence of Versailles and the affluence of a Roman Palace soaked in Oriental taste.’ The world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in this hall, a gift from Queen Victoria, has 750 lamps and weighs 4.5 tons! Dolmabahce, means filled-in-garden, and remained a palace paradise for the Sultans till the formation of the Republic. Now, people flock here to see Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s deathbed in Dolmabahce. The founder President of Turkey died in this room in November 1938 after an illness. It is time to cross the Bosphorus to the Asian side. And I reach Camlaja, a high point from where you can have panoramic views of the city of Istanbul, with its skyline of minarets and modern skyscrapers. I visit a close friend’s home and we dine with her doting mother and lovable brother at a Turkish restaurant. The plateful Iskender Kebab I had, still feels good in the mouth—Kebab remembrance! My friend’s cat is named Boncuk and that brings to me the most famous glass jewel that characterizes Turkey today. The Nazar Boncuk protects the holder from affectation by

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the evil eye. It can be seen everywhere, which literally means everywhere. You enter a home, it is on the doorstep, it hangs above you, it is there on the walls in a decorative hanging, it is in the cars, it is worn on the armlet, it is interlinked in jewellery chains, it is worn as a pendent around a beautiful neck.“Something like that I must possess”, I thought. I reach the Egyptian Market (built 1664 A.D.) also known as the Grand Bazaar. Crisscrossing hallways and hordes of people thronging shops buying the sweet called Turkish Delight, or spices, was a fascinating image. I think these were the two distinctive tastes of Istanbul— sweet and spicy! Spicy, in the sense of taste that enhances the flavor; and sweet, which makes time measure up to a cup of delight! My last image while leaving Istanbul is of the Byzantine City Wall, which has been preserved wherever possible. The wall has crumbled with ravages of time, Empires have been broken, the Republic is born, and Nazar Boncuk now keeps Istanbul safe. Before I fly, I chance upon a quote by St. Augustine—“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”■


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Tourism

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Bhutan

An adventure like no other In the middle of Himalayas, lies a beautiful kingdom. Crossed by blue and pure rivers, surrounded by dense forests, Bhutan is a mystical land that is increasingly becoming popular with the discretionary tourists who are looking for something special and exclusive as Christine Nayagam discovered.

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A

very small country with less than 2 million people, Bhutan is a crèche of peace and beauty, an ideal place to rejuvenate onself and to benefit from a nature that can only do well to your body. It is a giant ladder that starts from the plains of Assam and West Bengal in India to attain the rarefied air in the high Himalayas which separate the nation from the Tibetan plateau. In the south are impenetrable jungles and in the north is a barrier of mountains.Our flight descending over the Himalayan ridge brings us to Paro International Airport, located in a valley

with an elevation of 7500 feet. All along the way from Kolkata to Bhutan, our air experience has been highlighted with breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. Excitement mounts and as soon as we come out we immediately take a car towards Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. En route, we are taken by the amazing views of the valleys. The scenery is so green and the nature so alive. It gives us the sudden impulse to come out and run through the deep forest that is surrounding. This land is a trekker’s

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paradise and an environmentalist’s dream. With 72 percent of the country under forest cover, Bhutan’s pristine ecology is home to rare and endangered flora and fauna. On the way we could observe the very particular style of the houses painted in vibrant colors contrasting with the nature around. Even if the local population and the architectures remain mainly traditional due to the conservative policy of the kingdom, the country is slowly opening up to the modern world in a fine balance with its ancient traditions. Bhutan is also a spiritual land and the last bastion of the Vajrayana school of Mahayana Buddhism and our first visit is the Tango Goemba Monastery. Tango is one of Bhutan's most important Buddhist colleges. Its

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name, meaning horse's head, is derived from the horse-head shaped rock at the top. It is a beautiful dzong built in the 18h century by the 8th Desi, Druk Rabgye. Upon return to Thimphu, we decide to explore the city, which is also rather small. In the local markets, we find the traditional artisanal products like textiles, wooden objects, Buddhists masks etc. The dresses of the local population are also very unique and extremely traditional. Men wear the gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera. Women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist. An accompaniment to the kira is a long-sleeved blouse, the toego, which is worn underneath the outer layer. Social status and class determine the texture, colours, and decorations that embellish the garments. Differently coloured scarves and shawls are important indicators of social standing, as Bhutan has traditionally been a feudal society. Jewellery is mostly worn by women, especially during religious festivals and public gatherings. Bumthang the second day, we take the direction of Ura


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Yakchoe in Bumthang. Ura is considered one of the holiest valleys in Bhutan and every year, Bhutanese from many different areas gather to pay respect and to be blessed during the Ura Festival, a social gathering. Bhutanese dressed in their finest clothes and jewelry attend this celebration of purification and religious blessings. Here we can truly appreciate the essence of the Drukpas and their efforts for preserving a steadfast culture. Arrays of colorful brocades whirl through the air as the dancers spin and dance the thunderbolt step. Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals, usually accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colourful wooden or composition face masks and stylized costumes, depict heroes, demons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricatures of common people. The dancers enjoy royal patronage, and preserve ancient folk and religious customs and perpetuate the ancient lore and art of mask-making.Bumthang is in the heart of the country, geographically, at least. It is composed of four sloping valleys covered with dense forests of conifers and sprinkled with small temples with big historical importance. The woollen textiles handmade by the women of the region are highly sought after all over the country and contribute significantly to the earnings of the family here. Textile weaving prevails widely in this area and we visit some weavers utilizing the back and toe strap looms. East of Bumthang, the region of Lhuntsi, also called as Kurtoe, produces a variety of rice that is very popular and the women here also weave the most beautiful textiles of the country. Some of these could take up to one year to finish and are covered with geometric motifs that resemble embroidery.Tang ValleyLocated on a hill top in beautiful and remote Tang Valley, we decide to visit the Ugyenchholing Palace; a family museum. The scenic is beautiful, we can see meadow dotted with Bhutanese farmhouse and water turned flour grist mills. It is just like if we were back into medieval times. The museum recreated the ambience of the lifestyle of the Trongsa Penelop

( G ove r n or ) Tshokey Dorji and his household. Bhutan's history unfolds. This is a most iteresting and unique museum and the location of the museum and architecture at this site are most intriguing. On our way back, we visit a local farmhouse. In one of these small villages an archery competition is organised. Archery is indeed the national sport of Bhutan. Traditional Bhutanese archery is a social event and ompetitions are organized between villages, towns, and amateur teams. There is a big gathering, plenty of food and drink but also singing and dancing‌ and in a joyous ambiance we decide to join the party and experience a local and traditional festivity. Back to Thimphu, we decide to go for an excursion in the Haa Valley, recently open to tourism. The valley is situated in the north-west of the Bhutan-Tibet border. Our drive is exciting and stimulating over a 4000m pass with prayer flags flut tering and blessing you along the route. That Ha is the highest valley in the country becomes evident when you look around and notice that unlike other parts of the country, there is absolutely no cultivation of rice, which has been replaced instead by the winter crops like wheat, sometimes grown along with potatoes. The people of Ha possess troops of Yak and with which they migrate southwards every winter to escape the harsh climate.The valley is traversed by the Haa Chuu (river) and its characteristic features are three almost conical hillocks considered to be holy by the local people. The

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first hillock is dedicated to Ap Chhundu, the supreme local protective deity of Haa. We then take an easy hike of about 1 hour to Katso village (8,840 ft) From here we can see the famous temple of Katso Lhakhang of Guru Rimpoche built against a rocky ledge. Our trip ending, we decide to purify our mind and body before going back to the stressing metro life and as we are crossing the river, we jump in the water and enjoy a holy and refreshing bath!Though Bhutanese government realizes that there is a tremendous economic potential in the tourism industry and that the country could really prosper through tourism, the government and the society is extremely cautious towards it, keeping tourism imited to a few thousand every year, but with each tourist at a very high end, to ensure that the few tourists would beenough to provide the economic means to the populace. The country’s young king is also very conscious of the dangers that mass tourism could bring to the Bhutanese society not only in terms of damaging the sensitive

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Himalayan eco-system but also what it could do the preservation of the Bhutanese culture and social norms.So if you do visit Bhutan, consider yourself lucky to have visited this rare country. We definitely count ourselves among the lucky few to have had this fortune. â–


1882 - 2012

130 years Le Petit Prince / Droits d’adaptation : LPP612 - Société Pour l’oeuvre et la Mémoire d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - 2008 © 2011 - LPPTV - Method Animation - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (France) - LP Animation - Fabrique d’Images - DQ Entertainment Limited - ARD. En association avec France Télévisions, WDR, RAI Fiction, TSR et TV5 Monde. Une série adaptée pour la télévision de l’œuvre“Le Petit Prince”d’Antoine de Saint-Exupéry par Matthieu Delaporte, Alexandre de la Patellière et Bertrand Gatignol. Réalisée par Pierre-Alain Chartier. Titeuf : TITEUF par Zep © France Animation / Editions Glénat / France 3 / Canal J / Smec.


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SOTC’s latest Spanish Bonanza for La Tomatina festival

in the B2B transactions at the Mart.This year, PATA has further invested in the matching system from pre-scheduled appointments. It means that specific buyer-seller needs will be better met than before. Top level intelligence insights by a panel of leading industry voices is another highlight of the mart. Registrations for PTM 2012 have already commenced.

Johannesburg Tourism to tap more segments in India SOTC recently launched an exclusive package for the La Tomatina festival in Spain. Known for its rich culture, delicious local cuisine and warm hospitality, Spain has something to offer for everyone. La Tomatina is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in this tomato fight purely for fun. It is held on the last Wednesday of August, during the week of festivities of Buñol. SOTC has introduced a seven-day package for travellers to enjoy the popular Spanish cultural festival of La Tomatina scheduled for August 29, 2012. As a part of this package, the travellers could explore scenic destinations of Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid while enjoying the local cuisines, culture and hospitality.

PATA would be held from 25-28 September 2012 in Manila The PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Travel Mart 2012 would be organised from September 25-28, 2012 at the SMX Convention Center in Manila. Hosted by the Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, the national campaign, ‘It‘s more fun in the Philippines’ will offer delegates the opportunity to tap into new energy levels and business growth on the show floor and

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The Johannesburg Tourism Company, the official tourism promotion agency of the city of Johannesburg, is looking to tap the Family and MICE segments in India. According to Phelisa Mangcu, acting CEO, Johannesburg Tourism Company, this decision was taken in light of the positive response JTC received during its first-ever India promotion during the South African Tourism road shows held in January this year. In addition, JTC is looking to conduct a research on BRIC countries to further understand the markets.

appearances in the brochure, which has grown by 20 per cent from 500 to 600 pages since the 2011-2012 edition. Holidays to Dallas and Seattle in the USA, along with Vancouver in Canada, have also been introduced this year to coincide with the launch of new routes to these cities by Emirates airline. In addition to the exciting new destinations, Russia, Morocco, Malta and South Korea have all been reintroduced into the brochure in response to customer demand. Offerings in popular countries such as China, Thailand, India, South Africa and Germany have also been expanded to provide more travel options with a wider choice of cruises, safaris, palace hotels and dedicated wellness retreats.The once-popular Fly & Drive packages have also been re-launched this year in partnership with various car rental companies to satisfy customer desire for a more diverse range of holidays around the globe.

New Brochure in Indian market from Emirates Holidays Emirates Holidays has unveiled its new 600-page ‘A World of Choice 2012-2013’ brochure with the introduction of eight brand new destinations spanning six continents and featuring over 100 destinations. Argentina, Denmark, Ireland, Zambia and Zimbabwe all make their first

UK visa application centre opens in Bangalore The United Kingdom, in association with consular facilitation company VFS Global, recently opened a new UK visa application centre in Bengaluru. Ian Felton, British Deputy High Commissioner; Thomas Greig, Regional Director, UK Border Agency, and Murali Raghavan, COO - South Asia and CIS, VFS Global, formally launched the new centre.The centre features a new premium lounge which provides customers with the option of submitting their applications in a separate lounge with dedicated staff and additional facilities. The centre also has


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internet facilities. Operational from May 28, 2012, these are the first internet facilities to be introduced to the UK visa application centres, and will be rolled out to others in due course. The normal hours for submission of applications and collection of documents at the centre are being extended by two hours. With immediate effect, the opening hours are 08.00 to 16.00 hours.

Singapore & Mercury Travels to promote Culinary Tours in India The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently joined hands with Mumbai based

Mercury Travels to form customised itineraries for culinary tours in order to promote Singapore as South East Asia's culinary capital. Srithar GB, Area Director - South Asia, Marketing, STB said, “We have launched quality, tailored offerings, workshops, food trails and dining options that will appeal to the Indian audience in association with Mercury Travels. Travellers and the travel trade will be able to craft culinary experiences to suit individual tastes and preferences.” The STB will concentrate on harnessing immense potential tier-II cities like Ahmedabad, Pune, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, etc., in addition to key Indian metros. Nagsri Prasad, Head-Outbound, Mercury Travels, stated, “The culinary programme that we have put together focuses on eating at

different restaurants that Singapore has to offer. The names of the restaurants will all be supplied to travellers by us and they can then make their bookings directly.” Singapore is a potpourri of cultures where traditions, trends and various ethnic influences come together to create a distinctive multi-cultural landscape. Food has a revered position in Singapore and the island’s cultural diversity is best reflected in its unique fusion cuisine including Peranakan, Malay, Chinese and contemporary dishes. Regarded as South East Asia's culinary capital, Singapore's love affair with food has not only impressed the appetites of global visitors, but has also received international recognition to its honour. Singapore's fine dining excellence has earned it a prestigious position among the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants for Iggy’s, Les Amis and Jaan.The cosmopolitan city is set to push the boundaries of taste in refreshing new directions by offering a wide array of enriching culinary workshops and food trails. Food lovers can expand their culinary skills, learn how to cook popular Singaporean dishes like 'chilli crab' and 'laksa', discover new techniques from professional chefs and identify tantalizing tastes in the food trials, while on a holiday that is sure to entice them to return for second servings.

Venice Simplon-Orient Express launches new rail voyages The Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) will embark on a series of new scheduled rail voyages taking it up to Scandinavia in 2013 and visiting Stockholm for the first time. Gary Franklin, Managing Director of Orient-Express Trains & Cruises said that “This is the most romantic of journeys coupled with stunning scenery, elegant service and culinary treats all bound up in the original and iconic 1920’s carriages of the train. This voyage through six countries will provide memories that will last a

lifetime.”Departing Venice on April 8, 2013, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express will travel through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany before heading via Copenhagen to Stockholm. The train will make its return journey, departing Stockholm on April 12, 2013 for Venice, again via an overnight stop in Copenhagen.

Visit California’s summer special promotional campaign In order celebrate significant enhancements opening this summer at some of California’s top attractions, Visit California has launched a premium edition of its Fun Spots promotion. With this campaign, visitors can save on admission at California theme parks, zoos, aquariums, museums as well as boat and train rides through downloading discount coupons at http://www.visitcalifornia.com/Fun-Spots. According to a release, Disney California Adventure will reopen this summer on June 15, 2012 after a USD 1.2 billion enhancement that includes the new

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movie-inspired Cars Land and re-imagined Buena Vista Street. Sea World San Diego will launch the Manta double launch roller coaster on May 26, 2012. The roller coast includes gliding through a 100,000-gallon underwater habitat providing the sensation of swimming like a giant Manta Ray. Los Angeles’ Universal Studios will also première Transformers: The Ride 3D on May 25, 2012, fusing HD 3D media and flight simulator technology creating a new benchmark in a theme park attraction.“It is unprecedented to have three of California’s biggest attractions to unveil major enhancements all in one season,” said Caroline Beteta, CEO and President of Visit California, “These developments provide another reason to visit the California this summer, especially for families.” She added, “The Premium Fun Spots promotion showcases the abundance of diverse attractions available across the entire state. Through logging onto the promotion website, it has never been easier to include a broad range of family-fun attractions into a California summer vacation itinerary.”

Disneyland celebrates 20th Anniversary

Disneyland Paris, or Euro Disney as it’s still known to some, opened its gates twenty years ago. With 250 million visitors since it opened in 1992, and 15.7 million last year, the park is now Europe’s top attraction. It is marking the big date with a new daily night-time show and a revamped daily

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anniversary. The traditional parade has also been changed, with a new show – Disney Magic on Parade, including new floats, costumes and music. Longer term, Euro Disney say it wants to focus on developing Walt Disney Studios and, for 2030, creating a third park.

GITB 2012

parade. Festivities to mark 20th anniversary included a speech of thanks to visitors by boss Philippe Gas, a giant “flash mob” by 2,000 employees to music from the new show, and a 20 drawn in the sky by planes. The park was originally known as Euro Disney, but was relaunched as Disneyland Paris in 1994 after poor hotel occupancy and takings. A second park on a cinema theme, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened in 2002.Today the attractions of the original park are still the most visited – 6.5 million a year for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, 6.3 million for it’s a Small World and 5.6 million for Buzz Light-year’s Laser Blast. The 15.7 million visitors for the parks as a whole in 2011 were a record, well ahead of such mainstays as the Louvre (8.4 million) or Eiffel Tower (6.6 million). Last year the site was said to support nearly 56,000 direct or indirect jobs in France and Euro Disney claim they have provided 50 billion of added value to the French economy since opening. Even so, the company registered a loss last year, of 56 million, despite a rise in its turnover of 5%, to 1.3 billion. It is reportedly hoping that this year’s festivities will turn that around.For the first time the park now has an end of day extravaganza every day, its new Disney Dreams. Centred on the park’s fairytale castle, it includes fountains, fireworks, projections, lasers, fire and “never before seen” special effects. There are also extended opening hours to mark the

The fifth edition of two day event “The Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB)” concluded on 17 April 2012 on a very positive note with 'buyers' and 'sellers' expressing satisfaction over the prospects generated during the course of meetings over two days. The presence of centre and state government representatives along with foreign participants was evidence of the growing magnitude of the event. GITB 2012 was organized by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, along with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and leading national and regional associations like Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Hotel & Restaurant Association of Rajasthan (HRAR), Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) and Rajasthan Association of Tour Operators (RATO). Subodh Kant Sahai, Minister of Tourism, Government of India, on the inaugural day said that time had come when developing tourism in India should become a priority.


tourism briefs_tourism brief 6/28/2012 11:57 AM Page 57

Tourism Brief

"We should look at doubling our inbound tourism and aim at bringing to the country 5 million tourists by 2017."The objective of this event was to reinforce India as a world-class tourism destination, opportunity to interact with foreign buyers, registered Indian sellers, policy makers, investors and members of the media. This year travel bazaar’s focus was strategically kept by the Ministry of tourism for B2B exchange where structured, organized, pre-fixed B2B meetings between Registered Indian Sellers and foreign buyers, spread over 2 days. Along with that a congregation of around 180 foreign tour operators and travel writers from across 45 countries assembled under one roof. The fair has been immensely successful in terms of over 8,000 pre-structured B2B meetings, said Usha Sharma, Principal Secretary, Tourism. "The response from 'buyers' and 'sellers' has been gratifying. There is no denying that GITB has become a force to reckon with in the travel arena," she said.

Thailand records over 900,000 Indian arrivals in 2011 Indians are known to travel year round and it is no surprise that the most visited destination by Indians is a 365-day holiday spot like no other – Thailand. For the calendar year 2011, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has revealed that a record number of 917,832 Indians travelled to Thailand in comparison to 791,185 in 2010,

making it the number one destination for Indians with a growth rate in excess of 16% in 2011. In 2012, this growth is continuing with 210,722 Indians visiting Thailand from January to March, representing an increase of 1.64% over the same period in 2011.With its wide range of “value for money” offerings that include leisure sports, fine dining, adventure services, wellness and quality hotels and resorts, Thailand has been consistently increasing in popularity among Indians from all parts of the country. Travel agents, tour operators and even niche segment travel trade members have actively been working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand in launching new packages that encourage first-time and repeat travelers.

Packages that included destinations such as Pattaya and Phuket have now been further enhanced to include new beach destinations such as Ko Samui, Hua Hin and Krabi. Mountainous regions of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have also become attractive for the corporate sector in addition to adventure seekers.Commenting on the remarkable growth, Mr Sethaphan Buddhani, Director for Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Mumbai said, “We are delighted to have welcomed so many Indians to our nation and look forward to welcoming even more during 2012. We have achieved this consistent growth due to our result-oriented marketing strategies that are matched with performance indicators. We are also grateful to the Indian travel trade fraternity which

has been actively supporting our initiatives through joint promotions that showcase Amazing Thailand as a value-for-money destination.”

Nine percent increase in Dubai guest number in Q1 Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has released the Q1 2012 key performance indicators for the emirate's rapidly expanding hotel industry, which showed a nine per cent increase in guest numbers, 24 per cent increase in revenues, 22per cent jump in guest nights and a 12 per cent rise in the average length of stay for the first three months of the year.The results cap the stellar performance posted by the hotels in Dubai in 2011 with revenues touching an all-time high of AED 16 billion and 10 per cent increase in guest numbers, which crossed the nine million mark. Announcing the results at Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2012), Khalid A bin Sulayem,Director General, DTCM said, “The remarkable results of our hospitality industry is the outcome of the substantial expansion of the tourist infrastructure, an increasingly impressive portfolio of tourism products, wider destination awareness, aggressive promotional and marketing drive and the growing air-connectivity to and from Dubai. The iconic Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) also contributed enormously towards this feat. ■

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India Outbound Tourism Magazine  

India Outbound is a magazine promoting Foreign Destinations in India. India is one of the fastest growing tourism markets not only in France...

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