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Highlights Vol. 10 I No.11 I August 2017

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Cover Story: The land of many charms

Maharashtra is an interesting mix of diverse culture and history for the travellers to explore

Royal Orchid Hotels target 100 hotels at various destinations by 2021

Woman of the month Maulina Gupta, General Manager, Hyatt Place Gurgaon/Udyog Vihar

17 12 The allure of Alleppey Alappuzha Snake Boat race is not just a boat race for the people of Alappuzha, it is a celebration of their culture

The Nilgiri Toy Train Dr. S. Bakthavatchalam, Additional Director, Tamil Nadu Tourism talks about the much loved toy train of Nilgiri

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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK

CHEERFUL OUTLOOK FOR TOURISM

Editor & Publisher : Dr. G Biju Krishnan* Chief Mentor : Rajashekharan Nair

Group Vice President : Santhosh Kumaar K Editorial Team : R Parameshwaran

Smitha . R

Design : Kailasnath

Regional Head (Hyderabad) : Uma Ram

Director-Finance : K Harikrishnan

AGM-Operations : Krishna Nair

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he recent attack on tourists in Barcelona has once again made ‘tourism-phobia’ a debating point. As World Tourism Organisation Secretary General Taleb Rifai has pointed out in an article, there are reports from all over the world about “citizens protesting against the ‘invasion of tourists’ and the expulsion of locals by tourism businesses”. The rise in anti-tourist sentiment is “a very serious situation that needs to be addressed in a serious way,” he said. Tourism, despite being a relatively new economic activity, generates 10% of the world’s GDP and accounts for one in every 10 jobs and 30% of world trade in services, reveals a UNWTO document. It is key to the economic well-being of many societies. That is one reason why United Nations declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. But, what the stakeholders should always bear in mind is that “growth come with responsibility”. According to UNWTO, “a sustainable tourism sector is one that promotes environmental preservation and protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage.” But, more importantly, “it [should] promote engagement, commitment, and respect for local communities.” ‘Tourism-phobia’ is created when the players forget this basic rules and take things for granted. Tourism gets affected whenever something goes wrong in the social, political or economic front. But, the industry has shown amazing resilience and bounced back each time. But the current threat, ‘tourism-phobia’, would not be that easy to tackle, if it is as serious as reported. “‘Tourism-phobia’ on the part of citizens is largely a result of the failure to manage the growth in a sustainable manner,” says UNWTO Secretary General. As he rightly points out, it is the failure of management not of the tourism sector. So it is high time the industry stakeholders have a serious and earnest look at how we go about doing our business and make sure that the motto of the campaign of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development – Travel, enjoy and respect is followed in letter and spirit.

Financial Advisor : Sailendranadha Pillai K S

Legal Advisor : Adv. Raman Kartha

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The news items and Advertisements published herein have been collected from various source, which are considered to be reliable. Readers are however requested to verif y the facts before making business decisions using the same. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the writ ten permission from the Publisher. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2015 *Responsible for selection of news under the PRB Act


Cover Story Maharashtra Tourism

The land of many charms The era of warriors and emperors, colonial rule is all long gone for Maharashtra. What rests is a diverse culture and interesting history for the travellers to explore

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ith over 350 majestic forts, 720 kms of pristine beachfront enthralling biodiversity and tantalising cuisines, cosmopolitian culture, largest tropical forest in an urban zone, fashion epicentre, vibrant nightlife, Maharashtra is a land of tourism riches. Come to Maharashtra and you will be surprised. One of the most developed states in India, Maharashtra belonging to the western region of India attracts tourists from all over the world. Deccan Odyssey, the world-class luxury train experience is is a joint initiative between The Ministry of Railways, Government of India & State Government of

Maharashtra. It is also the only state to have five World Heritage Sites. The state also has got the credit for the first successful Tourism Pavilion model at Infosys, Pune. Apart from all this, the tourism department of Maharashtra also promotes medical, rural and heli-tourism. Maharashtra also introduced the popular Bed & Breakfast scheme to create a wide network of affordable stays at lesser known places of tourist interest along with a chance to enjoy local cuisine. With more than 1100 houses/ bungalows registered under this scheme across several

parts of Maharashtra including different types of rooms from basic to luxury, it is the ideal way to experience the local culture at its best. Maharashtra constantly ranks in the top for foreign tourists arrivals with more than 43.9 lakh tourists visiting the state last year. It also has got an impressive 11.9 % growth in foreign tourist arrivals. That said Maharashtra is also well preferred option for domestic tourists also. Another initiative from Maharashtra in experimental tourism

is Mahabhraman. It enhances the tourist experience by providing them opportunity to learn and experience different activities like planting, fruits and

Who can forget the Dabbawalas of Mumbai who have been delivering the lunchboxes of Mumbaikars for the past 125 years? vegetables plucking, bullock cart ride etc in agri-tourism, local cuisine, costumes, festivals and other activities in village tourism, experiencing the tribal lifestyles, local arts and handicrafts, meet crocodiles in safaris, study pearl culture, learn horse riding or just rejuvenate yourself in health and wellness centers. Modelled like farm tourism, yet different with the options providing, Maharashtra is always in the forefront to give the tourists the best during their visit. Mumbai, the state capital is one of the most visited cities by tourists owing to its attractions including colonial

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


architecture, UNESCO World Heritage sites, places of worship and so. This city has always been the part of dream of every Indian. With its innumerable charms it has always

invited travellers. Home to India’s most prolific film industry- Bollywood, Mumbai is a city of furious energy. The suburban trains of Mumbai are one of the most defining features of the city. It is the lifeline of the city. Without a journey in the suburban trains, without being a part of that crowd, you will never feel what it is to be in the shoes of a ‘Mumbaikar’. Who can forget the Dabbawalas of Mumbai who have been delivering the lunchboxes of Mumbaikars for the past 125 years? In many ways, Mumbai is a city which never sleeps! Starting from the monument ‘Gateway of India’, the adjacent iconic August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

Taj Mahal Hotel, Kanheri Caves, Worli Sea Face, Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Nariman Point, Haji Ali Mosque to the enchanting Marine Drive fondly called as ‘Queen’s Necklaces’ the

list of attractions in this city is numerous. To get a quick view of the city, there are numerous tour companies providing sight-seeing tours. Well, it is quite useful if you are new to the city. It is just a sample and you will definitely feel more after the typical one-day trips. A few tourist attractions of importance at Maharashtra that you should never miss:

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves located at Aurangabad is one of the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes in the entire world. It also houses the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa (Cave 16). Ellora was an important commercial

center in the past. The different caves also served as monasteries for monks, temples for prayers and a place for pilgrims to rest. The crowded tourists during the monsoon are the proof of its wide popularity. With the rains, the area blooms with lush green and small streams and waterfalls. The Ellora caves, unlike Ajanta, have a distinction that they were never lost to oblivion, due to their close proximity to the trade route. There have been numerous written records to indicate that these caves were visited regularly by enthused travellers and royal personages as well. It has got references in an Arab geographer Al-Mas‘udi’s writings as back as 10th century A.D. In 1352 A.D. the approach roads to the caves were repaired on the ensuing visit of Sultan Hasan Gangu Bahmani, who also camped at the site and visited the caves.

Buddhist religion while caves 13-29 and 30-34 represent Hindu and Jain religion respectively. All monuments are considered to be built during Hindu dynasties. A tourist can plan the visit of these caves according to the time available and depending upon the interest in ancient art. To get a glimpse of the representative art of Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism, tourists can visit Cave nos. 10 (Visvakarma Cave), 16 (Kailasa), 21 (Ramesvara) and 32 & 34 (Jaina group of caves) which usually takes about three to four hours. Cave nos. 2, 5, 10 & 12 of the Buddhist group; Cave nos. 14, 15, 16, 21 & 29 of the Brahmanical group and Caves 32 to 34 of the Jaina group will take an entire day to cover.

Ajanta Caves

With the next year marking 200 years of discovery of the World Heritage Ajanta Caves by British officer John Smith, Maharashtra is all set to celebrate the occasion. Even before, the cave was well known to the villagers nearby. But with John

Of the 100 caves at Ellora, 34 caves are open to public. Caves 1-12 represent 7


Cover Story Maharashtra Tourism

Smith, it captured the attention of the western world. Located 60 kms from Jalgaon, Aurangabad, it has about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments dating back to 2nd century BC. The caves are famous for its murals, the finest surviving examples of Indian mural painting. The caves are located on the side of a rocky cliff that is on side of the small river. There are a number of waterfalls which adds beauty to the place. The caves located here can be chronologically divided into two phases viz. the early Buddhist caves of 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE and the

The perfectly round basin-like structure with definite edges, the common characteristic of volcanic origin was seen for Lonar Crater. But further researches proved that it was the impact of a meteor Mahayana caves dating to 5th century CE. Among the early caves, 9 and 10 are ‘chaityas’ which comprise the earliest known remnants of paintings in the history of India while 8,

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12, 13, and 15A are ‘viharas’. Caves 19, 26 and 29 are chaityas of the Mahayana period and all the other caves are viharas. It was originally meant to be a secluded place in which to walk, and referred to dwellings or refuges used by wandering monks during the rainy season. It is considered that most of the donors at Ajanta, especially of the earlier caves, were traders. The site received support from the mightiest donor during its second phase and that was the royal patronage of the Vakatakas. There are

more than 100 inscribed and painted inscriptions narrating stories of these donors that also included monks, kings, ministers, and others. Ajanta is known for its narrative murals based on Buddhist themes like life scenes from the Buddha, Avadana stories of Bodhisattva, Jataka stories and panels based on Mahayana themes from Vipulya Sutras. Ajanta Caves were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983.

Lonar Crater

What will remain if a meteor weighing 1 million ton crashed into earth? Lonar, a town in Buldhana district of Vidarbha, 160 kms from Aurangabad is where you must go to find the remains of such a crash many years ago. It is believed that the lake Lonar Crater is formed due to one such meteor crashing down to earth. Lonar Crater is

one among the world’s five largest craters and thirdlargest salt water lake in the world. The perfectly round basin-like structure with definite edges, the common characteristic of volcanic origin was seen for Lonar Crater. But further researches proved that it was the impact of a meteor. The typical glassy material found around the crater according to them was created due to the heat generated by meteor impact. The lake has got many reference in the texts written by Valmiki Ramayan, epic poet Kalidas and a mention in ‘Ain-eAkbari’ authored during the later Mughal period. They referred it as Panchapsar owing to the presence of five different streams that feed the lake. The magnificent temples Daitya Sudan Mandir, the Shankar-Ganesh Mandir and Wagh-Mahadev Mandir still have some of the finest sculptures and the impressive architectural sensibilities that were prevalent during those times. The old architectural style called Hemadpanthi style which doesn’t use cementing agents for construction. Monkeys and peacocks can be sighted here in abundance. ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


Kerala Tourism

New Tourism Policy with emphasis on Adventure Tourism to be tabled in Assembly soon: Minister

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ensing the immense and innumerable possibilities of promoting Kerala as a destination for ‘Adventure and Activity based Tourism’, the State Tourism Department is focusing on developing new projects to utilise the same, said Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran.

the tourist arrivals by 2021. Keeping this in mind the department will now start a new ‘Tourist Circuit’ based out of North Kerala and will shift focus from areas it had been concentrating all this while to specifically give thrust to Adventure Tourism with the sole aim of attracting more youngsters to the state.

Inaugurating a one day workshop organised by the department to give shape to its tourism policy, the Minister has said that tourists coming to the state just for sightseeing have come considerably less in number. Hence the need and time has come for the tourism department to evolve itself to cater to the needs of activity and adventure based tourism from now on.

Reiterating the commitment to responsible tourism the minister has said that the state government has a definite stand in this regard which will be part of the Tourism Policy that the government will table at upcoming session of the state assembly.

While the primary focus at the workshop had been to find new possibilities to take adventure tourism forward in the state, the minister has stressed on the need to work closely and in coordination with the Forest Department to realise the goals in the adventure tourism sector. Kerala Tourism is currently planning to rebrand itself and find new avenues to take the sector forward in order to double 10

Environmental protection and raising the standard of living among the local population are the two primary objectives that the government will focus on as part of responsible tourism. The minister has said the government will encourage and support new investors in the field of tourism and had called up more such close associations to take the tourism sector in the state to the next level.

the cooperation and coordination with the Forest Department is of paramount importance for the growth of adventure tourism in the state and that this could be achieved without violating any of the existing environmental laws. The secretary has added that the till date Ayurveda and the water-bodies of southern Kerala had been the biggest marketing

The aim of the department is to ensure that every tourist who visits Kerala takes part in atleast one activity before he or she leaves the shores of the state tools before the tourism department and the time has come to shift focus to Adventure Tourism, but for that there is definitely a need to change the mindset of people towards adventure tourism. Expressing his optimism about the new sector’s take off, Venu went on to say that the purpose of conducting the workshop was to bring together various opinions

about the possibilities of adventure tourism under one roof and seek advice from the experts in the industry itself. He expressed his hope that the present gathering would go a long way in achieving it. The aim of the department is to ensure that every tourist who visits Kerala takes part in atleast one activity before he or she leaves the shores of the state. He also added that there is no requirement for any new infrastructure development in this field and that there is only a need to optimise the existing facilities. Meanwhile the Tourism Director P Bala Kiran has said that for the first time in the history of Kerala Tourism the numbers of the in-bound foreign tourists have swelled beyond 1 million and that domestic tourists arrivals have touched 1.38 crores. The Director has also stressed on the need for the tourism department and tourism industry to work in close cooperation inorder to evolve new products that could make a difference to the sector at large. There is also a need to find new avenues in the sector to double the tourist arrivals in the state in the coming years, he added.

Speaking at the workshop, the Principal Secretary of Kerala Tourism Dr V Venu has opined that ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


10 questions

Royal Orchid Hotels target 100 hotels at various destinations by 2021 What plans do you have for the company? Royal Orchid Hotels which operates 46 Shinoj Joseph, General hotels across India & Africa Manager, Hotel Royal Orchid has plans to Suites, Bengaluru talks about open hotels in various his love for hospitality sector locations among other things in the in Kerala in the form of industry to Asian Traveller management contract with assured You have been in the results to owners and hospitality industry for stake holders. The brand the past several years. presently operate hotels Could you tell us about in all segments precisely your early days? What in corporate & IT hubs, made you enter the beach destinations, jungle hospitality sector? retreats, heritage palaces, It was my dream for historic locations and pilgrim hospitality jobs from destinations which have my schooldays. When I presence across the country got graduated in Hotel except down South. Having education, I chose to work said these, we have definite with Air-India and later with plans to expand hotels to Qatar Airways in the capacity south especially Cochin, of Flight Steward till 2007. Alappuzha, Kumarakom, While working with Airlines, Munnar, Kovalam, I enrolled for MBA followed Thekkady, Wayanad, Coorg, by a Doctorate in Hospitality Pondicherry etc and also in Management from British Hyderabad, Odisha, Bihar Standards Institute. In etc. which will eventually 2008, I joined Kumarokom maximise destinations to Lake Resort and I have gone reach the target of 100 hotels through all departments and by 2021. hence got an exposure of How do you see the role all possible learning to run of a hotel in developing a hotel. Later I became the a destination? What all General Manager for Royal things can hospitality Orchid Hotels, Bangalore. sector do in this regard? Being in competitive world, hospitality business is Role of hotel to develop focussed on speed and destinations has prime quality. Earlier days, luxury importance. We have was limited for 5 star hotels come across beautiful where in today, every guests locations which are need luxury with top-notch hidden just because of quality within a budget access and availability of pricing. sufficient accommodation. August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

Nandhi Hills in Bangalore, Athirapally Waterfalls in Kerala are some of such destinations. Developing hotels will contribute better economy to the destination, employment opportunity, CSR activities, higher visibility in map, higher standards of lifestyle, environmental hygiene etc.

I believe that by working abroad you get to know people from different nationality, learn different culture, practice global living styles, horn multiple language skills, etc. But there is a disadvantage too, abroad you are always an expat and in your own country, you are a citizen.

Would you please share with us the proudest and some of the unforgettable moments in your professional life?

Where would you like to see yourself, say, 10 years from now?

Many occasions – Special mention from industry veteran Mr. P K Mohan Kumar (Ex COO Gateway Hotels & Ex- CEO Ginger Hotels) for turning around the flagship hotel of Ginger Hotels, Whitefield from an occupancy of 50% to 85% in 2014-15 with consistent Year on Year growth in following years. Successful project completion on Additional Revenue experiments in Ginger Hotels by adding revenue from hoarding rentals on empty terrace, rent from providing parking bay for self-driven car & bike operators, telephone towers in open terrace, 24 hours restaurants across all Hotels, incremental revenue from ATM rented space and addition of new restaurant concept which collectively contributing 10-12 % of total revenue. I was also proud to receive the Best Convention Hotel award in IITM – 2017 on behalf of Royal Orchid Hotels.

In your career, have you ever worked abroad? What according to you are the advantages of working overseas? From my experience

I would like to see myself as the CEO of a leading Hotel Group with minimum of 100 hotels under one roof.

How do you see the growth prospects of Indian hospitality sector? This is the right time for India to multiply hotel business opportunities. Present trend is to develop mid-scale hotels with highest standards of comfortable living with customer centric operations. We witness entry of many foreign company start up India and entry of many International Hotel companies to cater them. Good sign.

About your Family? I live in Bangalore with my wife Aswathy and son Abraham. Wife is an Engineer in Biotechnology, currently homemaker and bringing up our 2 and half year old son who is about to start toddler schooling.

Your hobbies and other interests? Cars & Bikes, Photography and cooking.

Which is your favourite destination? Why? Munnar – Always green, refreshing – best place to unwind. 11


Alappuzha boat race

Every year on the second Saturday of August, the serene waters of the Punnamada Lake witness majestic snake boats racing across the waters to the rhythmic notes of boat songs

The allure of Alleppey

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t was in 1952. India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Alappuzha. He took a ride in boat from Kottayam to Alappuzha through water logged Kuttanad. Several boats including snake boats accompanied him on the trip. They conducted a race of snake boats even though it was not very properly planned. But the sight of oarsmen on the snake boats thrilled him. He was so excited that he jumped on to the snake boat which secured the first prize and the boat proceeded to the boat jetty carrying the Prime

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Minister. Upon his return, in December the same year something came in search of winners of that snake boat race. It was a silver trophy which had a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus and an inscription: “To the winners of the boat race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin.” This trophy later came to known as Nehru Trophy and in fond memory of great Panditiji, each year Nehru Trophy Boat Race is celebrated. Even though Snake

Boat (Chundan Vallam) race is the most exciting race, there are also other categories of boats which participate in various events of the race like Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam), Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam. Only wooden boats are allowed to take part in the race. There is a separate race for Women in Churulan Vallam. The snake boats measuring over 100 ft in length with a raised prow is a majestic sight. But little do people know

ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


about the preparations behind it. Preparations are large for boat race as winning the race is associated with the pride of each village. The cost to construct a new snake boat ranges from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.35 lakh. Under the chief boat craftsman, they will go in search for the right ‘Anjili’ tree. Even 2 or 3 months before the race, preparations begin to find the oarsmen. The village elders or the past oarsmen select the team for each year. They select 150 oarsmen depending on their stamina, speed and how well they get along with other team members. A camp will be set up for these oarsmen with special food so as to keep them in good shape. The camp will also have Yoga, physical training and rowing practise. The rowing practise begins with stationed wooden pieces in water and oarsmen

August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

rehearsing and practising on them. Usually the village raises money from all homes to run the camps. On race day, the boats will undergo a special treatment- polish with sardine oil. They believe it will help the boat to slide

He was so excited that he jumped on to the snake boat which secured the first prize and the boat proceeded to the boat jetty carrying the Prime Minister effortlessly through water. Each snake boat has got 120 muscular oarsmen including a captain, 3 helmsman and 20-25 singers to unite the team members and to keep them in rhythm while rowing. Recent amendments have set to limit the number of oarsmen to 95 in each snake boat even though

there is still no uniformity in the size of the boats. The end of the boat curves to a height of 10-15 ft and oarsmen there control the course of the boat with long oars. The story behind the Chundan Vallam is that in the past, the rival kings of Kayamkulam and Chempakassery (places near to Alappuzha) were at war. The battles were fought on boats along the canals of the backwaters. During one such battle Chempakassery King was defeated and to seek revenge next time, the King ordered his Chief Assari (Craftsman) to design a sleek battle vessel which could move faster and also provision to fire cannons. He even invited boat architects from his land to design and build faster boats for the troops. Koduppunna Venkitanarayanan, a wellknown boat architect of the region came up with a design. It had speed, manoeuvrability and

capacity to carry 100 ablebodied warriors on board. The best thing was its eel-like construction ideal for launching an ambush since it could be easily kept concealed behind the overhanging bushes on the river banks. Kings and colonial rulers are long gone now, but the love to snake boats for the people of Alappuzha never diminished. Other than any means of transport, the people living in the banks of backwaters of Alappuzha will have a vallam as their own. To a community associated so much with boats, the love for boat races is quite natural. The huge crowds gathering on the banks of Punnamada Lake cheering their team is a sight to behold. There are even people who swim in the backwaters cheering up their favourite team. It is nothing else, but unadulterated love.

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The Lalit London

The finest stay at LondonThe Lalit London From its warm welcome to stylish interiors, The Lalit London shows that among luxury retreats, it comes top of the class. There are 70 luxurious rooms spread across the three floors and a pan Indian restaurant at this boutique hotel

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he Lalit London, the latest entry in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the collection of small, independently owned hotels in the UK capital has opened its doors to welcome guests. The hotel, which is available to book from 26th July via the SLH website – www.slh. com/lalit – opened in February 2017 and is the first overseas venture for New Delhi-based hotel company The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

The Lalit London sees the transformation of a derelict Grade II listed building into a 70-room luxury boutique hotel following a five-year restoration, and combines original Victorian features with custom-made Indian interiors and modern technology. Once home to St Olave’s Grammar School, there are nods to the building’s history throughout, most notably in the striking panelled Great Hall, two bars located in the former Teachers’ Room and the Headmaster’s Room and some guestrooms which boast 30 ft ceilings. The dramatic great hall is home to pan-Indian restaurant Baluchi. Here guests can sample a selection of flavours from across India including Kashmir, Bengal, Kerala and Goa. The restaurant features a Naanery where guests can pair wines with artisanal breads prepared in the tandoor and an outdoor shisha terrace. During the afternoon guests can enjoy the best of both worlds with a High Chai Afternoon Tea as well as two bespoke teas. Localised phones are provided in all the guest rooms enabling guests to navigate their way around the city and stay connected during their visit. To revive, Rejuve – The Spa features one of the only Ayurvedic treatment tables in London and offers treatments including Shirodhara, where a continuous stream of warm medicated oil is poured over the forehead. This has been known to improve memory, regularise sleep and normalise blood pressure.

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Daniel Luddington, Vice President of Development at SLH says: “SLH now has nine hotels in London, so any new hotel we add to the collection here has to be something really special. The Lalit London offers extraordinary attention to detail and craftsmanship as well as a modern take on Indian fine dining. A stone’s throw away from Tower Bridge and the Southbank, we are excited to offer the SLH community our first luxury experience south of

the River Thames.” Arun Kumar, General Manager of The Lalit says, “We are delighted to be part of SLH, for us they incorporate the same core values to drive unique one of a kind experiences for guests, with a personal touch that leaves a lasting impression. Our London hotel is an incredibly special hotel to the family and its staff, and joining the SLH family feels like the perfect partnership in a portfolio of so many incredible hotels.” Rates start from £250 per night (approx.. INR 20,983) on a room only basis.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


Woman of the month

Tete-a-tete with Maulina Gupta It seems you have, over the years, established yourself in the hospitality industry. What attracted you to this business segment and how has been the journey so far? For me, hospitality actually happened accidentally. I was still in college when I got selected to do my Post Graduate Diploma with the Taj Group of Hotels. I am quite lucky and blessed having worked with the Taj Group of Hotels, Starwood and Hyatt. The journey has been great because I have been seeing a steady growth over the years and in that growth, I have also explored many hotels, many kinds of brands, many destinations, so there has never been a dull moment. What are your plans and changes you will implement in your organisation to attract tourists/customers?

Maulina Gupta, General Manager, Hyatt Place Gurgaon/Udyog Vihar, the recipient of the ‘Most Admired GM of the Year Award’ at National Awards for Excellence in Hotel Industry 2017 is all happy about her experiences in hospitality industry spanning 20 years with many hotel groups and various destinations

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We as hoteliers are changing. The pace at which our guests and customers are changing is mind blowing. I think today, in reality, all our plans are typically short term and mid-term and anticipating this change. We ensure that we get our basics right, making sure we do everything we possibly can to create personal connect with our guests which has been the mantra for hospitality but it continues to be a strong focus and really focussing on the experience rather than the product.

My hotel per se is a select service business hotel. It doesn’t have the fancy elements that you would find in a luxury hotel but I think, even in my hotel, we have ample opportunity to create wonderful experiences for our guests, personal connect and the fact that almost 40% of our guests are repeat guests goes to show that we must be doing something right. Brief us about your first assignment in the hospitality industry? My first assignment was at the Taj Palace, New Delhi and I chose to be a part of Events which is actually the forte of Taj Palace and has been for years and I was quite in the thick of it for about two and a half years that I was in that hotel and it gave me a lot of exposure, gave me lots of learning and I understood the value of teamwork and support and how it can lead to success. Having been in the industry for quite some time, you will surely be having some great moments of glory. Do you mind sharing them? For me, my moments of glory are extremely spontaneous and ongoing. I do try to celebrate as and when I can with my team. I have been part of big changes at the Taj Palace itself when I was there, I was at the Rambagh Jaipur when it started undergoing its renovation, I was in Taj Bengal in Events when

we were on the top 2-3 hotels of the company in terms of the revenue so there was huge sense of achievement. I set up the entire Convention Services & Event Planning Department at the Hyatt Regency Delhi which till date handles phenomenally high profile and large conferences. I have two pre-opening hotels under my belt – The Westin Gurgaon which is one of the leading hotels in Gurgaon and the Hyatt Regency Gurgaon which is the largest MICE hotel in the northern region. Like I said, glory is where you look for it and I have been blessed with a lot of opportunities. Being a woman, what were the hurdles you faced from the industry? I know that women do face challenges whether they work in IT sector, financial sector or even the hospitality sector. As an industry, we still have a long way to go before we can really make it seamless for women to grow in the industry and do well. Having said that, we have already come a long way because we have fantastic women leaders now at the helm of hotels and at strategic positions in not only Hyatt but other hotel companies. But it is a matter of fact that as women progress in their careers, there is a huge dropout. And if you look at the percentage of women up to leadership team and then a department head and as they move to a leadership team, there is a massive drop and I strongly feel

ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


that it is an opportunity for all companies to focus on because you would not want to lose out on good talent, enthusiasm just because we are not able to support the social and personal aspirations of women which whether we like it or not are very strong and demanding in our society. Somewhere I feel, the industry is still very traditional and there is that old boys club and it is not easy to break into that club but I’d like to say that it is work in progress. How do you rate your career success so far? I am very happy. I think it is a rat race and there is no end to it. I think it is very important to pace yourself with your own aspirations. I don’t like to constantly benchmark myself against my colleagues, friends or peers because I will always bring something to the table that somebody cannot and I’ll not be able to bring

August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

something that my colleague can, so I’m aware of that. If I’m able to do better than last year, if I’m able to learn and deliver something more this year than last year, I think I’m happy. From the career point of view, isn’t a job in the tourism sector very challenging? Tell us from your experience how you have handled demanding situations with calm and dignity? Yes, it is challenging and demanding purely because there is a very high emotional element in our industry which is not necessarily the case in a financial which is a number driven sector or a product which is a very specification driven sector. Ours has got a huge emotional element and handling emotions is not easy at all. The same experience can have very diverse impacts on different guests depending on their emotional state of mind, on

Somewhere I feel, the industry is still very traditional and there is that old boys club and it is not easy to break into that club but I’d like to say that it is work in progress their expectations. There is no cookie cutter solution or there is no magic wand to handle this, the only way is to live up to the empathy which is also a core value of Hyatt. Listen to the guest, truly try and understand where he/ she is coming from and then genuinely do the best you can with the resources that you have. Give them that due attention, don’t do a halfbaked job because people see that and I think if you can do these three things, I think you can handle more or less anything. Who is the most influential person in your life? My immediate family as

I’m sure is the case with many people. My father, I work a lot like I have seen him work; he was in the Indian Navy. Understanding the human aspect, I look at my mother for that. The biggest inspiration for me is my son. He is my purpose of my life so everything I do is centred on him. How special is the family for you? I don’t have a personal side or a professional side. It is all jumbled into one. My family is part of my work and my work is part of my family and that is how I’m able to balance my work and my life. Your future aspirations and plans To be a successful General Manager for this hotel and for my future hotels. There is a lot more to learn and it can only be learned only through experience since it is nowhere in the books. So I want to live through those experiences and then I will take it as it comes.

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Kerala Tourism

Kayaking

for a Cause in Kerala

An event with a difference! Chaliyar River Challenge 2017 is an example for how an event can raise awareness in people about river pollution, conservation of rivers and raising funds to clean up them

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haliyar River Challenge 2017” is the third annual event to help raise both awareness and funding to clean up the rivers. Held this year from September 22nd to September 24th the 68 km paddling event promotes the usage of our rivers for recreational usage and create a connection to the river with youngsters and tourists. The starting point of the event is from Nilambur, located on the foothills of Western Ghats and close proximity to Nilgiris. The ending point is at Beypore in Kozhikode district, where the river meets with the Arabian Sea. The three day adventure, a “leave no trace” camping concept offers opportunities at various levels from beginners, non swimmers to well established water sports enthusiasts. Leave No Trace refers to a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is built on seven principles: Plan

ahead and prepare, Travel and camp on durable surfaces, Dispose of waste properly, Leave what you find, Minimise campfire impacts, Respect wildlife and Be considerate of other visitors. The event will include camping, bonfire, team activities and healthy tummy authentic Kerala delicacies. On the riverbank at Marina Convention Centre in Kozhikode at the end of 68 kms the organisers will host an outdoor music concert. For those on the water for the first time, kayak lessons will be offered on the first day to prepare you for the adventure. Stand up paddlers are also invited to join our SUP contingent. Each participant will be given a one person tent at check in. The team leaders will be around to help out new comers to the world of outdoor activities. The tents will have ecotoilet which is ideal combination of comfort and functionality to accommodate full facilities for everyone who refuses to compromise on comfort and hygiene. Rivers are neglected in our country because we don’t really have any connections with them. We respect them as mothers

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but forget this relation while throwing industrial waste, domestic waste and other wastes in them. We have forgot or never remembered to take a walk along the side of the river or swim in them because they are too dirty for it. Water adventure sports like rafting take place in hill stations only where water is fresh but as we come towards the plain-land, rivers have reduced to a drain as they are used more for commercial than recreational purposes. Chaliyar was earlier a polluted river from the effluents of nearby factory that destroyed the marine life and caused cancer in the local villagers. Chaliyar Action Committee fought for the cause of river with the support of villagers which resulted in the closure of the factory. Since then the river has come a long way to regain its original beauty and now the organisation of program like Kayak for a cause is helping in creating more awareness about the conservation of river. For more information and registrations visit: www. cleanriversinitiative.com ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


Kerala Tourism

Architecture wonder Aries Guinness Chundan opened for tourists The longest snake boat in the world displayed at Aries Vismayas Max is the major attraction of Travancore Treasures, an exclusive tour connecting prominent film tourism destinations in Thiruvananthapuram city

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ries Guinness Chundan, longest steel-made snake boat in Kerala, is all set to enthrall tourists once again. 143.25 ft long Aries Guinness Chundan, built at a cost of Rs.15 lakh in 2006, is reincarnating as a major attraction under the aegis of Indywood Film Tourism, a novel concept to brand India in global tourism map by blending the immense potential of entertainment and tourism. Aries Group Chairman cum CEO Sohan Roy officially inaugurated Aries Guinness Chundan on 31st July at a function held at Aries Vismayas Max studio. Now tourists can experience this architecture wonder displayed at Aries Vismayas Max Studio, previously owned by actor Mohanlal, as part of Travancore Treasures, ambitious project of Indywood Film Tourism, connecting prominent

film tourism destinations in Thiruvananthapuram. Indywood Film Tourism, is an initiative of 10 billion US dollar Project Indywood, promoted by 2000 Indian billionaires and corporates, which aims at elevating Indian Film Industry to global standards.

Visual extravaganza

The eleven-year-old Aries Guinness Chundan, one of the flagship projects from Aries Marine and Engineering Services, stormed into the Guinness Book of World Records for carrying 141 rowers and being the longest, fastest, safest and cheapest ever snake boat made of steel. It was featured in the Limca Book of World Records and Asian Book of Records as the longest steel made snake boat. The snake boat conceived by Naval Architect Sohan Roy became a prominent shooting location for more than hundred movies including Oscar qualified

DAM999, short films, advertisements, music albums etc due to its uncomparable beauty and 24x7 availability.

Punnamada’s pride

The snake boat is a tribute to people of Punnamada, where the famous Nehru Trophy Boat race is conducted. “At that time Punnamada was lacking a snake boat in annual water regatta. Most of the snake boats were from other parts of Alappuzha and the

Aries Group also has the credit of launching Safe Botel, first of its kind, the unsinkable houseboat in India region was ruling the race. As people from Punnamada cannot afford the huge expense of constructing a snake boat and maintain it properly, we decided to build an exclusive snake boat for the citizens of Punnamada without costing anything on its maintenance for more than a decade. And we titled our snake boat as Aries Punnamada Chudan because it was initially operated and managed by the people of Punnamada,” he said.

Setting new track

The entry of Aries Guinness Chundan became a turning point in the history of Kerala Tourism and it could have set new benchmarks in snake boat construction and race if it was not officially banned August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

from taking part in Nehru Trophy Boat Race due to some cheap political reasons eleven years back irrespective of getting full support from High Court. Aries Group also has the credit of launching Safe Botel, first of its kind, the unsinkable houseboat in India. This partially solar powered steel houseboat with eco-friendly features played an instrumental role in framing very strict norms for boats operating in the back waters of Kerala especially emphasising the safety of the passengers.

Array of hurdles

He added that the snake boat was launched surpassing lot of hurdles including lack of local infrastructure facilities at Punnamada, raw materials, trained manpower and approvals. “We faced lot of hurdles during construction. But determination, dedication and unity of our team led by traditional Thachan (carpenter) Babu helped to launch the boat with unique features in record time.”

Uniqueness

Another highlight is ladies can enter this snake boat. Normally ladies are not allowed in traditional snake boats as per Thachan Sastra. “But lot of foreigners including ladies used Aries Guinness Chundan for the first time to experience the beauty of sailing in snake boat and to explore exotic locations in Alappuzha. 19


The Grand Hotel, Goa

The ‘grand’ way of living

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here is no dearth of hotels for comfort accommodation at Goa especially in a prominent tourist destination like Calangute. Since the beach literally throngs with domestic as well as foreign tourists,

D. Sekar, CEO of Neelam - The Grand & The Glitz Hotels, Goa

there are plenty of options ranging from economy to high class accommodation facilities. Neelams, The Grand Calangute is known for providing wonderful accommodation facility within the budget of travellers. The Grand Calangute has got 150 rooms in total including the suite rooms.

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True to its name, the settings are grand. The rooms reflect the richness and are well furnished. The overhang of flower beds welcomes the guests to the reception area of the resort. One gets the feel that the resort easily blends the architectural wonder with contemporary feel. The old Goan Portuguese hospitality is evident in the well trained and polite operations of staff. All air conditioned rooms and suites are equipped with large 32” LCD satellite linked televisions, minibar, fridges, tea coffee makers, electronic safes and duvets. Well appointed ensuite bathrooms have hot water, hair dryers and vanity mirrors. Most of the suites have their own private balconies. Ensure that you book your room or suite with balcony which opens on to the sides of pools for that magical stay at The Grand Calangute. It will be hard to miss the blue azure swimming pool which is the focal point of the resort. There is a swim

up bar with cushioned sunbeds and colourful parasols. Prakriti the full Ayurvedic Centre offers rejuvenating treatments

It will be hard to miss the blue azure swimming pool which is the focal point of the resort. There is a swim up bar with cushioned sunbeds and colourful parasols and massages. For fitness aficionados there is an equipped Gymnasium and Yoga available on the premises. Pan Global is the world cuisine restaurant of The Grand Calangute. It is located just across from the lobby on the elevated first floor, accessible both by an elevator and independent entrance. It is an exclusive fine dining a’la carte restaurant that serves fares spanning the entire globe. Chefs have been handpicked to provide the authentic taste and experience from each known gastronomic location. The range of food varies from Mexico, Mediterranean, Arabic, Oriental and Japanese.

There are 4 different halls of varied sizes and can host simultaneous seminars, training sessions and corporate meets ranging from a seating capacity of 40 to 200 people. All halls are equipped with state of the art audio visual equipment. The Grand Calangute is also a preferred venue for beach weddings. In fact there is a single window service to make facilities and all necessary documentation of national as well as foreign tourists who want to get married here. There are four beach wedding packages exclusively for them to select. The packages are Dream Wedding, Exotic Wedding, Romantic Wedding and Grand Royal Wedding according to the number of guests, rooms, days and beach venues. The package covers everything starting from transfer to hotel from airport, the number of rooms, welcome party, mehndi function, wedding venue arrangements to complimentary Honeymoon packages at one of the best Hill Stations across the country. The Grand certainly lives up to its name! ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


Around the world

Explore Taiwan through Tourist Shuttle Service Taiwan located in the western Pacific Ocean 160 km (100 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland is a convenient getaway for the Indian travellers. With a number of airlines such as China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern and Thai Airways fly directly or with a stopover in to Taipei’s an International Airport from the Indian metros of New Delhi and Mumbai and the average flight time of about 6.5 hours, Taiwan is one of the friendliest nations to tourists from all over the world

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aiwan possesses an endless variety of terrains, forests, agricultural products, and marine ecologies, as well as a diversity of ethnic cultures along with enchanting human customs and practices. “It is a hugely underrated gem of Asia and any time you spend here will be richly rewarded,” praised internationally acclaimed travel writer David Code on Taiwan’s beauty. The hidden gem of Asia is busy pursuing sustainable tourism development this year. It has initiated Ecotourism Year 2017 with several in-depth tourism activities including firefly-watching, dolphin and whale-watching, migratory bird watching, raptor watching, purple butterfly watching and so.

August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

The Taiwan-based Tourist Shuttle service is a phenomenal way to travel and explore Taiwan. It is not only a more efficient way to travel but is also the most economical means of transportation for interstate travel. The Shuttle Service transport operates all across the country, from every Taiwan Railway and THSR (Taiwan HighSpeed Rail) stations to all the major scenic spots of Taiwan. The service is designed especially to help tourists travel across the island nation. For those not looking to drive long distances or wishing to travel in a group, the Tourist Shuttle is the best option. Keeping in mind the sensitivities of the fragile ecosystem and the excess of carbon emissions which

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Taiwan story

are harming it, the shuttle service is much encouraged in the country as it is an environmentally friendly way to explore a new place. Amongst the popular destinations that are explored within the tour are; Nanzhuang believed to be full of Hakka charm, Sun Moon Lake nestling amidst the mountains, the mount of Alishan basking within carpeted plantations of aromatic Taiwanese Tea and Hengchun located in the southernmost tip of Taiwan dotted with coconut groves upon white sandy beaches. Travellers will be happy to learn that some of the most coveted destinations in Taiwan can be explored in an environment friendly way. Nanzhuang is the perfect place to understand Hakka culture and history. With Taiwan planning to launch the Hakka Romantic Avenue along a 150-km section of Provincial Highway No. 3 linking Hakka villages in 16 townships, stretching from Longtan District in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan City through the counties of Hsinchu and Miaoli to Dongshi and Shigang districts in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, the tourist flow to explore this unique culture will be high. 18 % of the country’s over 23 million citizens are Hakka, and roughly half of Taiwan’s Hakka population lives in the four cities and counties highlighted under the project. The featured villages are well known for their

Hakka architecture, cuisine and history. The Sun Moon Lake surrounding Lalu Island is the perfect location to spend a lazy afternoon. The lake gets its name from the different views of Lalu island- from southern part like a new moon and from the northern part like a sun. Find it out all by yourself here. Also catch the

Travellers will be happy to learn that some of the most coveted destinations in Taiwan can be explored in an environment friendly way famous sights of Itashao, Lalu Island, the Xuanzang Temple, the Ci-en Pagoda, and the Wenwu Temple and so on. The natural forests bordering these roads are good places for bird watching. There are a lot of birds that live on the mid-elevation, such as the Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Grapthroated Minivet, Formosan Yuhina, Gray Tree Pie, Bamboo Partridge, Chinese Bulbul, Muller’s Barbet, and the Black Bulbul. Apart from the tea plantations, Mount Alishan is also noted for its mountain wilderness, forest railway, waterfalls and a number of hiking trails. Many travellers visit Mount Alishan to catch the view of scenic sunrise from here. It is also home to Thao people, the indigenous people of the area recognised as a discrete ethnic group. Hengchun, the southern tip of Taiwan enjoys spring-

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like weather year-round. The old city dates back to 1873 and the parts of city wall around 2.700 m long with gates is still protected. The Hengchun area is also known for its pristine beaches and a vibrant tourist industry. It is also located within Kenting National Park acting as the gateway to the tropical beach resorts and night markets of downtown Kenting. By using electronic tickets for the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle, you can save 50 % of your bus fare and get discounts at more than 260 shops. The Taiwan Tourist Shuttle not only saves you money on excursions and mini trips, but also provides savings on your dining and other activities. By showing the receipt from the bus drivers at the shops you will receive discounts and free goodies. This program includes more than 260 shops such as restaurants, accommodations, souvenir shops, attractions, theme parks, factory tours, and leisure farms. Tourists can also choose from a variety of economical combo tickets to utilise this service and plan their own relaxing trip. Taiwan Tourist Shuttle has the most direct routes that take people to their destinations in the most efficient way. Its fare is inexpensive, the wait is never long, and the stops are conveniently located. If you want to appreciate Taiwan in a deeper way, opt for Taiwan Tourist Shuttle and discover the country’s unique beauty. The punctuality of the shuttles is well renowned and have an unblemished track record in customer satisfaction. ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


golf tourism

Spain calling

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njoy your free time playing golf on some of the best European courses, in outstanding surroundings and with the chance to discover an extraordinary cultural heritage. If this is what you want your holidays to be like, the major Spanish cities can make your wish come true. It’s an attractive combination which lets you enjoy yourself to the full while you play your favourite sport, with all the comforts of city life close to hand. Big cities in Spain give you the chance of combining your passion for sport with an unforgettable holiday experience. There are excellent golf courses set either in the cities themselves or nearby, designed by outstanding figures in the sport and which are considered among the best in Europe. There’s no doubt that playing golf in Spanish cities makes for a wonderful holiday, with plenty of other attractions to ensure you are

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Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a cosmopolitan city that combines the most modern infrastructures and the status as an economic, financial, administrative and service centre, with a large cultural and artistic heritage, a legacy of centuries of exciting history. Take a stroll on the Plaza Mayor which is the artistic city center, visit the extensive and beautifully maintained parks and gardens like Retiro Park, the Casa de Campo and the Juan Carlos I park or enjoy art walks, tapas tour, shopping and nightlife of the beautiful Madrid city

entertained full-time. And if golf is your thing, then Madrid (Spanish Capital) is the place for you! There are 34 world renowned golf courses in Madrid and it´s the only European city with top notch 18 golf courses near the city center. In a ratio of 15 to 50 km, you can find 25 courses designed by legends such as Severiano Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Van Hagge, Olazabal among others. One of the main assets of the region is the amazing climate with an average of 2,769 hours of sun per year which makes it possible to play golf throughout the season. There are about 12 golf courses which are at less than 50 minutes from the Madrid City Center. Some of them are as close as 10 to 15 minutes close to the City Center of Madrid. This gives you a chance to not only enjoy your sport but also soak into the vibrant city of Madrid. Madrid’s Golf Courses new motto is ‘strength

through unity’. And that is why they are happy to present travellers the brand new Madrid Golf Course Association. It has been set up for the purpose of promoting all together Madrid as a top-notch golf destination. Such platform is endorsed by Madrid’s Tourism Association and Madrid’s Golf Federation, being the main channel to broadcast the different opportunities that Madrid presents in order to practice this amazing sport. Together they will offer a set of services associated with golf tourism. The association is formed by collaboration between all the agents that are related to the golf world – this includes not only golf courses but also clubs and tour operators – in order to establish the best conditions for all golf lovers to come to Madrid and enjoy their stay. Some of the clubs and golf courses that are already participating are the best of

the region including:

Centro Tecnificacion Golf Madrid - 9 holes

It is located in the current Sports Park Puerta de Hierro (former Union Park) around 8 kms (10 minutes) from Madrid´s City Center. This is a set of the Madrid Golf Federation and the Community of Madrid to offer all the locals the opportunity to more easily access the sport project.

Centro Nacional - 18 holes

Urban and public 18hole golf course reachable by underground or bus since it is located around 10 kms (15 minutes) away from Madrid City Center. Opened in 2005, has been host to the Madrid Masters 2009, Spanish Open 2007, Challenge of Spain 2006.

Golf Santander - 18 holes

The course, 18 holes par 72, was designed by Rees Jones in collaboration with Seve Ballesteros. The Course is actually in the 8th position as the best golf course in Spain by Golf Digest magazine. It is ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


located about 20 minutes (17 kms) from the city center.

Golf El Encin - 18 holes

Located in Alcalá de Henares and opened in 2011, is a long, modern and very demanding golf

course, Robert Von Hagge’s posthumous design. El Encín Golf has been host to the Madrid Masters 2011 plus two Challenge Tour events. The proximity of this golf course makes it a great pick; it is located around 36 kms (35 minutes) from the

centre of the city.

Golf La Herreria - 18 holes

Real Club de Golf La Herrería was established in 1966, it is unusual to enjoy golf in such a historical and privileged environment. The 18 holes golf course, 6,091

meters long, runs through an oak forest. You can reach this golf course within 50 minutes from the city center of Madrid. Any many more golf courses that you can explore and so, kit up and come and enjoy your swing in Madrid!

San Sebastian Gastronomika 2017

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or Indian tourists visiting Spain, there is another delight. The new great challenge for San Sebastian Gastronomika – Euskadi Basque Country 2017 is India. The international culinary congress San Sebastian Gastronomika, which will be held between October 8 and 11, turns its gaze to India as a guest country. A group of 14 Indian chefs led by Gaggan Anand will be representing the country and revealing the culinary diversity of India. San Sebastian, located in the north of Spain and recognised as one of the cities in the world with more Michelin stars per square meter, celebrates this year the 19th edition of Gastronomika; a summit where some of the most prestigious chefs, food experts and critics come together to share their insights on culinary techniques and innovations to provide a snapshot of the culinary world. The aim of this year is to unveil

August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

the diversity of the Indian cuisine from its traditional to the most avant-garde proposals through the visions of 14 Indian chefs. Gaggan Anand, Gaggan (Bangkok) will be the captain of the Indian team accompanied by Manjit S. Gil, President Indian Federation of Culinary Association; Gulam Qureshi, Dum Pukht (Delhi), J.P. Singh, Bukhara (Delhi); Praveen Anand, Dakshin (Delhi); Varun Mohan, Royal Vega (Chennai), Thomas Zacharias, Bombay Canteen(Mumbai); Saurabh Udinia, Masala Library (Delhi); Srijith Gopinathan, Campton Place (San Francisco); Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent (Delhi); Sriram Aylur, Quilon (London); Vineet Bathia, Vineet Bathia (London); Karunesh Khanna, Amaya (London); and Camelia Panjabi, MW eat (London). As every year, the landing party from India will be rounded off by a team of nearly 30 of the

most renowned Spanish chefs as Joan Roca, El Celler de Can Roca; Carme Ruscalleda, Sant Pau; Dani García, Dani García; as well as the members of the technical committee, Hilario Arbelaitz, Zuberoa, Elena and Juan Mari Arzak, Arzak; or Martín Berasategui, Martín Berasategui; amongst others. In total around 50 Michelin stars, including the international José Avillez (Belcanto, Lisbon) and Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur, France) complete a program with novelties and surprises. San Sebastian Gastronomika has become the most important culinary congress in Spain. In 2016, the congress gathered 13.071 visitors, 526 conference delegates from 45 countries, 70 chefs and 150 exhibitors. In order to increase its recognition and consolidate it as an international reference, this year programme includes four major parts:

Alta (9th to 11th October)

The Haute Cuisine conference where the speaker Chefs will present their proposals and the audience would be able to taste their creations in real time.

Off (9th to 11th October)

It is dedicated to the service, wine, cocktails… everything that comes together with the best gastronomy. The highlights are the Wine Tasting Sessions and the Wine & Win Competition.

Popular (8th October)

An event dedicated to general public where top traditional and modern Indian chefs will be showing for first time in Spain the aromas and flavours of Indian cuisine.

Market (9th to 11th October)

A trade fair for products, companies and hospitality services which gathers exhibitors from all over the world. It includes the celebration of Sinergia, an exclusive session for hospitality entrepreneurs and professionals.

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khof Football Tournament

Some moments from the recently held KHOF Football Tournament at Alappuzha.

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


TAMIL NADU TRAVELLER

The Nilgiri Toy Train Dr. S. Bakthavatchalam

This time around Dr. S. Bakthavatchalam, Additional Director, Tamil Nadu Tourism talks about the story and pleasures of the much loved Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Additional Director, Tamil Nadu Tourism

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stablished in the early 19th century by the British as the summer headquarters of the Chennai government, Ooty now draws tourists wanting to enjoy the pleasures of a hillstation surrounded by Nilgiri mountains. Every traveller visiting Ooty makes it a point to travel in the enchanting Nilgiri Mountain Railway. The rush is so high that the tickets have to be booked months

prior to the journey or else you will not get a chance to travel in this route. Built by the British in 1908, Nilgiri Mountain Train which connects Udhagamndalam and Mettupalayam is 46 km. But to reach there the train goes through 208 serpentine curves, 16 tunnels, 250 bridges, waterfall hood, cliff edges and vast tea estates. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most picturesque toy train journeys in India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the engine of the toy train X 37389 was built in 1925 at the Swiss Locomotives and Machine Works factory in Switzerland. It was operated 28

between Mettupalayam and Coonoor and was withdrawn from service in 2012. It was replaced with a new oil-fired steam engine in 2012. The total weight of the engine was 50.3 tonne and its hauling capacity was 979 tonne. The engine’s overall dimension was 10380 X 2590 X 3430 mm and its speciality was that it ran on rack and pinion ghat section. Travellers can catch a view of this locomotive

engine at the entrance of the Coimbatore Railway Junction as it has been mounted on a pedestal there. Even when in use, the engine used to change for a more powerful diesel engine at Coonoor to provide greater traction for the steep climb up to Ooty.

and twist and blends through 13 tunnels. After a steep climb, the train enters Coonoor, the little hill station known for its tea plantations. From here, the track is uphill till you reach Fern Hill at a height of 2,218 m, the highest point on the railroad. Shortly before Ooty, the line dips downhill. The numerous twists and turns, the experience of sitting in a train running across tall girder bridges, and over green hills before gently meandering through rolling tea estates will all heal your souls. However the stretch from Metupalaiyam to Coonoor is considered as the most rewarding phase of the journey filled with picturesque scenery. For safety reasons, the

train travels really slow offering travellers enough opportunities to focus their cameras and capture the views around. The proposed heritage walk around some of the important monuments of the Nilgiri Mountain Rail will include a guided tour around the Nilgiri Mountain Railway musuem, locomotive maintenance facility, track maintenance facilities and staff quarters allowing the travellers to know the hardships behind this mountain rail. Already the exclusive museum for the mountain railway at Mettupalayam and the shop selling souvenirs of Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Coonoor are favourite spots for tourists.

The train offers both first class and second class seating. Though there are unreserved tickets at the counters, it sells like hotcakes. Extensive rice fields surround the 7 km stretch between Mettupalayam and Kallar. Soon after is an impressive 21 km section through truly rocky terrain. The track passes over 26 viaducts, ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


NEWSLINE

Boeing delivers first 737 MAX 8 to flydubai Boeing and flydubai celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 737 MAX 8, making the Middle East carrier the first in the region to operate Boeing’s newest single-aisle airplane. The delivery is the first of 76 737 MAX airplanes the airline will be adding to their all-Boeing fleet of Next-Generation 737s. “We are delighted to receive our first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from our order made at the Dubai Airshow in 2013,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer, flydubai. “This marked the largest single-aisle Boeing aircraft order placed in the Middle East. With this new chapter, we are looking forward to continuing our work with Boeing as we benefit from increased efficiency and are able to offer an enhanced customer experience.” flydubai currently operates a fleet of 58 NextGeneration 737-800s and has built a network of more

than 95 destinations in 44 countries, from Russia in the north, Czech Republic in the west, Thailand in the east and Tanzania in the south. “flydubai’s growth in just nine years has been remarkable and Boeing is honoured to have been part of this journey,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister. “This delivery marks another significant milestone in our partnership. We are confident that the marketleading efficiency and reliability of the 737 MAX will play a key role in flydubai’s continued success and complement its current Boeing fleet.” The 737 MAX family has been designed to offer customers exceptional performance, flexibility and efficiency, with lower perseat costs and an extended range that will open up new destinations in the single-

aisle market. “As the first MAX customer in the region, we look forward to the further fuel and operating efficiencies that this aircraft will bring to our young modern fleet,” said Ken Gile, Chief Operating Officer, flydubai. “Our flight crew share our excitement in operating one of the most highly anticipated commercial aircraft to enter service on our network.” The 737 MAX incorporates the latest

technology. CFM International LEAP1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays, and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 3,800 orders to date from 88 customers worldwide.

Rajiv Bansal takes over charge as CMD of Air India Bansal has a rich experience of working in the civil aviation sector.

Rajiv Bansal, has taken over as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India. He succeeds Shri Ashwani Lohani, who has now become the Chairman, Railway Board. Shri Bansal has earlier served as Director in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and had played August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

a crucial role as a Board member of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) during the formative years of the merged national carrier. He has also earlier served as a board member of the Alliance Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India. Shri

After taking over charge at the Headquarters of Air India, Shri Bansal said, “I feel happy and proud to be given this opportunity to lead the national carrier. The company has been growing from strength to strength - inducting new aircraft and introducing new routes. We will plan to work on profitability with a missionary zeal, improve our On Time Performance and ensure customer satisfaction. I seek the support of all fellow Indians to fly Air India our national carrier - Air India – Truly Indian!” An IAS officer from the Nagaland Cadre of 1988 batch, Shri Bansal has earlier been Joint

Secretary in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) where he was looking after Digital Payments, IT Act, Aadhaar, and Internet Governance. Shri Bansal brings with him an extensive and rich career-experience of 30 years holding key portfolios, like Secretary, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and Joint Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, Government of India. He has also served on the Boards of BHEL, AYCL, HMT and the GITA. Shri Bansal is a Civil Engineer by profession having graduated from IIT, Delhi in 1986 and has a Diploma in Finance from ICFAI, Hyderabad and an Executive Masters in International Business from IIFT, New Delhi. 29


NEWSLINE

Jordan Tourism Board holds tourism educational seminars in Mumbai, Bangalore & New Delhi Taneja, Country Manager, Jordan Tourism Board’s Representative Office in India along with Think Strawberries team.

Jordan Tourism Board through its representative office Think Strawberries held multi-city Educational Seminars in the major outbound cities of India, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore recently. The aim of these seminars was to educate the travel agents and tour operators of the fabulous offerings that Jordan has and to announce the success of its activities and plans through 2016-2017. The seminars were conducted to reach out directly to the travel agent and tour operator community and to make Jordan a strong contender in their itineraries for the coming season. The event was attended by Mr. Majd Abuarqub, the India market in-charge from Jordan Tourism Board and Ashit

Mr. Abuarqub spoke about his excitement to be in India; and meet the agents and have one on one interactions with them on such an active platform. He concluded that the seminars were very fruitful as it helped them develop and foster healthy relationships and enrol almost 400 visitors at the end of the seminars. The event was very well attended by the agents in all the three cities. A detailed presentation was conducted to the visitors to educate them on the various offerings and USPs of Jordan, highlighting the important factors like the Jordan Visa on Arrival policy, the Jordan Pass, and the Jordan Specialist program in addition to the multiple infrastructure developments which are taking place. There was a very strong response

from the attendees during the seminars as an exchange of multiple questions and answers and animated discussions were observed in each city. At the end of each seminar, a raffle draw was also conducted, with one winner getting a fully sponsored fivenight trip to Jordan. Ashit Taneja began proceedings with a welcome note which was followed by an extensive presentation on Jordan where he highlighted various aspects about the destination, especially the Visa on Arrival which Jordan offers for the Indian tourists. ‘We are delighted that our company Think Strawberries has been chosen as the India representative office for JTB for the past five years as we have shown a positive growth trajectory for the destination from India,’ said Taneja.

that uses Virtual Reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to “look around” the artificial world, and with high quality VR move about in it and interact with virtual features or items. VR headsets are headmounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes. “We have established Jordan as a year round destination with top of the mind recall for Indian travellers and is a destination that caters to all segments of Indian traveller, thanks to its close proximity to India,” concluded Taneja.

During the Roadshow, a film showing the Virtual Reality project shot in Jordan was also shown. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology

The Leela launches first-ever sweepstakes offer The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts, India’s premier luxury hospitality brand, has launched its first-ever sweepstakes, ‘Book Direct and #getMore’ offer which is open for bookings until October 6, 2017. Guests who

book the ‘Restricted Rate’ option on www.theleela. com will be eligible to enter the sweepstakes and stand a chance to win over 100 exciting prizes. The wide array of prizes include NEXA cars,

international stays in Dubai, Florence, London, Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Oman, Zambia, sponsored by Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas, AVANI Hotels & Resorts, The Bloomsbury, a Doyle Collection hotel and Lungarno Collection, exclusive timepieces from Daniel Wellington, highend clothing from AM:PM, fashion Jewellery from Isharya and The Leela Gift Vouchers. The prizes will be

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announced on a fortnightly and monthly basis, followed by the Grand Bumper to be held on October 12, 2017. The winners will be chosen through lucky draws held in the presence of key dignitaries, sponsors and select residential guests as invitees. The sweepstakes promotion is a first of its kind in the hospitality industry and encourages guests to book direct on www.theleela. com and qualify to win the exciting prizes. ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


NEWSLINE

Qatar waives entry visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways announced last week that Qatar will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, effective immediately. Citizens of those countries* wishing to visit Qatar will no longer need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket. Depending on the nationality of the visitor, the waiver will either be valid for 180 days, from the date of issue, and allow the visitor to spend a total of 90 days in Qatar (multipleentry waiver); or it will be valid for 30 days from the date of issue and entitle the visitor to spend up to 30 days in Qatar with the possibility of applying for an extension of the waiver for an additional 30 days (multipleentry waiver). According to this Indian Nationals will not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar valid for 30 days. These developments come as part of a series of measures that Qatar has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last month, Qatar launched an e-visa platform, www.qatarvisaservice.com, through which travellers of all nationalities can apply for tourist and visitor visas with more efficiency and ease. The country is also considering further enhancements to its visa policy, such as waiving visa requirements for holders of a residence permit or a valid visa from the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the Schengen August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

countries. This waiver would allow eligible visitors to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation by completing a simple online application at least 48 hours prior to travel. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Today’s announcement places the State of Qatar as the most open country in the region. This is a momentous occasion for Qatar, making the number of nationalities eligible to enter our country without a visa the highest in region, which is something that we are very proud of. “Qatar Airways is the patriotic flag carrier for the State of Qatar and as such we are extremely honoured to bring millions of people each year to our beautiful, welcoming and historic country. This important initiative from the Ministry of Interior and Qatar Tourism Authority will provide an opportunity to welcome even more visitors, from even more countries, to experience the many exciting attractions that await them.” According to Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at QTA, visa facilitation is a critical component of the national tourism sector strategy, which QTA is currently reviewing in partnership with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. With renewed focus by the country’s leadership on diversifying the national economy, a revised strategy which empowers various players to boost the growth

of tourism is set to be launched on 27 September 2017, when Qatar hosts the official celebrations of World Tourism Day. “Easing entry to Qatar is a key enabler for the growth of Qatar’s tourism industry. With this announcement we are already turning the pages of the Next Chapter of Qatar’s journey towards 2030,” commented Al Ibrahim. “Together with our partners in the public and private sectors, we have examined all of the elements needed to create a smooth and enticing experience that can attract visitors from around the world. There is no doubt that facilitating and streamlining access at all ports of entry are key factors in creating a positive first and lasting impression of Qatar.” Al Ibrahim added, “With 80 countries eligible for a visa waiver, Qatar is now the most open country in the region and we are delighted to invite visitors to discover our renowned hospitality, cultural heritage and natural treasures.” Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq, Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs at MoI, commented, “We are very pleased to announce that nationals of 80 countries are now eligible for a visa waiver and can enter Qatar without requiring any prior visa arrangements. Together with our partners at QTA and Qatar Airways, we have been working to enhance our country’s visa policies and implement solutions to better facilitate travel to Qatar.

Further enhancements are being studied and we look forward to announcing them in due course.” In November 2016, Qatar introduced a free transit visa, which allows passengers of all nationalities transiting in Qatar for a minimum of five hours to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days). In May 2017, QTA launched +Qatar, an initiative to promote the country as a stopover destination, with the national carrier, Qatar Airways. These measures, along with intensified international marketing, have resulted in a 39% increase in the number of stopover visitors during the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period last year. As part of Qatar Airways’ and QTA’s combined efforts to boost tourism in the country, the award-winning airline has accelerated its global expansion plans, and recently announced the launch of a number of new destinations that it is adding to its network by the end of August including Kiev, Ukraine and Prague, Czech Republic. Yesterday, the airline launched Sohar, in the Sultanate of Oman. Qatar Airways also recently launched a direct service to Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France; and Skopje, connecting even more people to more places, and making it easier than ever for passengers to visit Qatar as part of their journey. *visit www. qatarvisaservice.com to know the complete list of nations. 31


NEWSLINE

SWISS raises first-half earnings to CHF 200 million Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) generated total revenue of CHF 2.36 billion for the first six months of 2017, a 3% increase on the same period last year (H1 2016: CHF 2.28 billion). First-half earnings before interest and taxes or EBIT amounted to CHF 200 million, a 31% improvement on the prior-year period (H1 2016: CHF 153 million). The substantial EBIT increase is attributable in particular to efficiency gains deriving from the current fleet renewals. First-half earnings were further boosted by larger traffic volumes and resulting higher revenues on both the passenger and the cargo front. SWISS expects to report a full-year EBIT for 2017 that is an improvement on the prior-year result. SWISS has posted strong 2017 first-half results. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the period were raised 31% to CHF 200 million (H1 2016: CHF 153

million). The improvement was achieved on total revenue of CHF 2.36 billion, a 3% increase on the prior-year period (H1 2016: CHF 2.28 billion). The positive results trends are attributable above all to efficiency gains deriving from the current modernisation of the SWISS aircraft fleet. The company has now received and deployed nine Boeing 777-300ERs to replace Airbus A340-300s on its long-haul services, and has ten Bombardier C Series aircraft – eight CS100s and two CS300s – in service on its short-haul network, where they have replaced the Avro RJ100. With their state-of-theart engine, systems and materials technologies, the two new aircraft types offer substantially-improved operating economics, which are having a correspondingly positive impact on cost structures. SWISS’s first-

half earnings were also boosted by higher traffic volumes, and thus increased revenues, in both its passenger and its cargo business. Systemwide seat load factor for the first six months of 2017 stood at 80.6%, a 2.1-percentage-point improvement on the prioryear period.

performance, which shows that our investments in our fleet are really reaping their rewards,” says SWISS CEO Thomas Klühr. “To further strengthen our market position,” he continues, “we will continue to consistently develop and refine our products and services both in the air and on the ground, together with our partners in the Lufthansa Group. And we will be working harder than ever to offer our customers the added value they seek from us a premium carrier.” SWISS is confident of offsetting the negative impact of these factors on its earnings results, and expects to report an annual EBIT for 2017.

SWISS saw a continuation of the positive earnings trends of the first quarter of 2017 in the second three months of the year. Secondquarter EBIT amounted to CHF 163 million, a 24% improvement on the prioryear period (Q2 2016: CHF 131 million). Second-quarter revenue was also up 4% at CHF 1.26 billion (Q2 2016: CHF 1.21 billion). “We can be very satisfied with our first-half business

Tourism Authority of Thailand scores big with Tuk Tuk at Hungarian Formula 1 from Bangkok to Prague. In a move to create more visibility and awareness of the desirability of Thailand as a preferred tourist destination in Eastern Europe and to promote self-drive holidays in the kingdom, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has made its first-ever participation at the Hungarian Formula 1 held from 28th to 30th July, 2017. At the Formula 1 race in Budapest, Hungary TAT displayed an icon of Thailand – a 34-year-old Tuk Tuk that had been driven 32

Mr. Chattan

Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT’s Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, said, “With the Hungarian F1, we wanted to deliver something unique and memorable. We have managed to track down a Thai icon – a Tuk-Tuk – that was driven from Bangkok to Prague in the Czech Republic by an adventurous young man Martin Méchura. So Martin and his tuk-tuk, became the star attraction at the

Amazing Thailand Pit Stop marquee.”

Thailand,” said Mr. Chattan.

The theme for the Amazing Thailand Pit Stop Hungarian Grand Prix is all about the opportunities that a driving holiday in Thailand offers the more adventurous traveller.

Mr. Martin Méchura, who purchased and drove the Tuk-tuk around Thailand before deciding on a whim to drive it all the way home to Prague, said “I came to Thailand to explore more off-the-beaten track destinations, and this Tuk-tuk allowed me to do just that. Everywhere I went, I was met with smiles and laughter that a ‘farang’ (foreigner) was driving a traditional Thai ‘taxi’. I drove thousands of kilometers throughout Thailand and bar a few mechanical issues, it was one of those

“As much as Thailand has a worldclass airline, train and bus networks that reaches into every corner of the Kingdom, we’re encouraging visitors to consider ‘self-drive’ holidays that enable our guests to stop along the way and take in the local culture, food and the natural Thai hospitality that is pervasive throughout

bucket-list moments in time – and it was surreal that even in the deserts of India or the back roads of Romania, people asked me if I had come from Thailand – she is that recognised as a symbol of Thailand”. He received a round of applause when he started up the tuktuk after an 18-month hiatus. The appearance of the Thai vehicle at the F1 was to promote the fun of driving in Thailand, as well as underlining the uniqueness of Thai culture and the Thai way of life, which always contain an element of fun and relaxation.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | August 2017


NEWSLINE

Womens Journey Thailand 2017 campaign launched to boost female visitors Fifty-six well-known women celebrities and bloggers from all around the world attended the Women’s Journey Thailand 2017 Campaign launched to boost female visitors at a gala welcome reception at Nai Lert Heritage House in the heart of Bangkok. Organised for the second year by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the event was presided over by H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, and joined by Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor. The month-long campaign is designed to attract international and local female travellers to visit Thailand and enhance the kingdom’s positive image as one of Asia’s most female friendly destinations. The global female celebrities and bloggers appointed representatives of “The Lady Celebrities to Thailand” and “The Lady Bloggers to Thailand” projects who are in Thailand for the launch are Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss

Universe 2015; So-Hyun Kim, a famous Korean actress; Tanya Sharma, an actress from India; two representatives of Nogizaga 46, a Japanese female idol group; Li Zhenying, Miss Universe China 2016; Anika Morjaria, a famous Indian moderator and presenter; Hadia Ghaleb, an Egyptian fashionista; Naeema Al Maqbali, an actress, moderator, and social media influencer; Oman; Ho Ngoc Ha, a singer, actress, and model, Vietnam; Vaniphone Phumexay, Miss Vientiane 2017; Ei Kywat Khaing, Miss Myanmar World 2017; Do My Linh, Miss Vietnam 2016; Esma Voloder, Miss World Australia 2017 and 4 runnerups; Mary Ornborg, Editor in Chief, First Class Magazine, and Lottie Knutson, a Swedish journalist, photographer, and writer. TAT has launched a special “Women’s Journey Thailand” mobile app, which can be downloaded after registering for the access code. Registrants will get a “Welcoming Package” including such “goodies” as a

free welcome drink by Coffee World, 7-days free Sim Card with WiFi by DTAC, and 300 Baht discount by Grab Taxi. They will also get 20% discount at King Power Dutyfree Shops (except the airport branch), special airfare for the domestic sector, starting from 1,290 Baht by Bangkok Airways, special car rental fee by Thai Rent A Car (499 Baht/day), 500 Baht discount voucher by the Siam Discovery Department Store (for women visitors) and free ice-cream cone by McDonalds Thailand (only during August 2017). Thailand has recorded a significant rise in female visitors over the past few years. Mrs. Srisuda Wanapinyosak, TAT Deputy

Governor for International Marketing – Asia and South Pacific said, “Today women are significant decision makers and influential with high-spending power. With a full range of products and services that can serve women’s needs, Thailand can definitely be the ideal destination. The Women’s Journey Thailand campaign will showcase how women travellers can enjoy these products and services at very attractive prices when they visit Thailand in August.” TAT is launching many other activities as part of the campaign including the Lady Golf Challenge, Lady Celebrities to Thailand, Thailand through Her Eyes, Lady in Thai Fabrics, and Lady Bloggers.

SOTC Travel conferred the 2017 Today’s Traveller Award for ‘Best Outbound Tour Operator’ 2017’ at Taj Palace, New Delhi. SOTC India, one of the leading travel and tourism companies in India is active across various travel segments including Leisure Travel, Incentive Travel and Business Travel. SOTC Travel Limited, the step-down subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Group held through its Indian listed subsidiary, Thomas Cook (India) Limited (TCIL) was conferred the ‘Best Outbound Tour Operator’ at the 11th annual ‘Today’s Traveller Awards August | ASIAN TRAVELLER

Today’s Traveller Awards, the most respected awards in the travel industry, has always recognised the achievements and accomplishments of pioneering companies and leaders from the industry, Daniel D’souza, Head Sales, India and NRI Markets, SOTC Travel received the

award at a gala evening of celebration. The Today’s Traveller Awards by Gill India Group is one of the acknowledged awards presented to corporate, hospitality, travel and tourism sector in India. Speaking on the occasion, Daniel D’souza, Head Sales, India and NRI Markets, SOTC Travel said, “It’s an honour to receive this prestigious award. The award recognises SOTC’s significant contribution to Outbound Travel. Our endeavor has always been to facilitate breakthrough services and be a trusted and preferred Outbound Tour Operator to our customers. The Today’s

Traveller Award creates high levels of motivation and zeal at SOTC to continue to perform, strive for excellence and be leaders in the travel and tourism industry.” SOTC was established in 1949. Since then, it has escorted lakhs of travelers across the globe for more than 68 years to various destinations around the world. It is one of the leaders in segments, namely Escorted Group Tours, Customised Holidays, Holidays of India and Incentive Travel amongst others. A new age innovative holiday maker, SOTC strives to make holidays a priority for every Indian. 33


TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE CONTEST - 111 1. Which hill station is popularly known as the Queen of Hill Stations in India? 2. Name the largest flower and the place where it is found? 3. Which city is known as the City of Cycles? 4. Which country is referred as Ceylon in the olden times? Melanie Munoz

appointed as the Food and Beverage (F&B) Manager at Kempinski Hotel Ajman Communications at Niyama Private Islands.

Chandrasekhar Jha

appointed as the Finance Manager at U Tropicana Alibaug.

Debabrata Banerjee appointed as the Food & Beverage Manager at Alila Diwa Goa.

5. Name the capital of Myanmar? 6. The land of the midnight Sun is the sobriquet attached with which city? 7. Name the famous flower which blooms once in 12 years in the hill station of Munnar? 8. Who invented Chinese martial art Kung Fu? 9. Which country has the highest number of Buddhists? 10. The capital of Taiwan?

Lars Pursche

appointed as the General Manager at Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay.

Manoj Aswal

appointed as the Executive Chef at Kempinski Hotel Ajman.

Soju Philip

appointed as the Executive Chef at Ramada Cochin Resort

Send in your answers to editor@mediastepsindia.com with TYKC 111 in the subject line. Answers should reach us before the 30th of this month.

Answers to TYKC - 110

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7. Pangong Lake, Ladakh

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Asian Traveller August 2017  

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