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India | Thailand | Singapore | Malaysia | UAE | Sri Lanka | Maldives | Germany | UK | Australia | Switzerland | Canada | USA | African & Latin American Countries


2

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


through the pages VOL. 7.  NO. 12.  SEPTEMBER 2014

86

74

72

KTM SPECIAL

TRAVELLER

6

40 An Abode Up in The Welkin Andhra Pradesh Traveller

8

CM to Inaugurate KTM 2014 Kerala Goes Adventurous

10 Let's Tie The Knot in Kerala 14

20

On A Divine Trail to Agasthya Mala

Holiday Inn - For A Memorable Stay!

NEWSLINE

78

Gujarat to Be The Nex t Medical Tourism Hub

88

Thailand Visitors to Get Insurance Coverage

82 92 95

Ministry to Promote India as Holistic Destination SCTA Plans Tourist Program for Haj Pilgrims

MENA Becomes Top Wellness Tourism Market

44 Karimnagar Sparkles for Telangana Telangana Traveller 50 Embrace Nature Like Never Before Karnataka Traveller

72 The Vanishing Sea of Chandipur Odisha Traveller

SPECIAL FOCUS

74

Feel The Heartbeat of Asia

INTERVIEW

97 Taiwan Tourism Riding High on Wedding Photography

HOSPITALITY

52 Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere Luxury Has A New Name

53

The Leela New Delhi Ensures Safety of Women

61

Embrace Mother Nature at KTDC Thanneermukkom

55

Deepak Ohri

Ashit Taneja

Pran S Dasan

Azran Osman Rani

Shikha Mishra

JW Marriot t Expands Luxury Port folio in China

FEATURE 86

Thomas Chandy

The 'Land of Smiles' Beckons Globetrot ters

COVER PHOTO: Interior of a houseboat - by Salim Pushpanath


EDITOR'S NOTE

I

t's revival time for the tourism and hospitality sector in the God's Own Country. No matter whether it is in the attractive projects, new water-based adventurous activities, development of new destinations, the tourism sector in Kerala is all poised to enter into a new phase of development activities to be the number one in the Indian subcontinent. On one hand, the government has taken myriad number of initiatives to make the rules and regulations lenient to propel the tourism sector in the state, while on the other hand, the much awaited event Kerala Travel Mart is about to hit Kerala, providing the domestic players an opportunity to meet global giants and appraise them of the winds of change sweeping through the industry. The God's own Country is about to witness a gathering of tens of thousands of hospitality and tourism professionals, where innovative ideas and the interactive sessions between the buyers and sellers will be diffused for the better future of the tourism sector. This year, the Kerala Travel Mart aims to promote Kerala as a 'dream wedding destination'. Those who would like to tie the knot in the God's own Country will have a plethora of locations to choose from. From the pristine beaches of Kovalam, Varkala, Kappad, Chavakkad, Beppur and Marari to the tea gardens of Munnar and the backwaters of Alleppey, and the peaks of Thekkady or Wyanad, Kerala's attractions can be myriad. It is said that 'Marriages are made in Heaven' and there is no other place than the God's own Country to be called a heaven for that matter. Let more marriages happen and let more tourists hit the state and be awestruck looking at the marvelous and majestic beauty of this 'holy' land.

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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 Š 2014

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KTM SPECIAL

CM to Inaugurate KTM 2014

T

he Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Oommen Chandy will inaugurate KTM 2014, the eighth edition of the Kerala Travel Mart, on 17th September 2014 at Le Meridien Convention Centre, Cochin. The function will begin with a cultural extravaganza at 7 pm followed by the formal inauguration. Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister for Tourism, Government of India will be the Chief Guest while A P Anil Kumar, Minister for Tourism, Government of Kerala, will preside over the function. Around 242 International Buyers and 750 Domestic Buyers have confirmed their participation. The appointment schedules between the buyers and the sellers will be finalized in a few days. The Samudrika Convention Centre, Willingdon Island, Cochin is all geared up to accommodate 256 stalls of various sizes. The premises will have a village theme as well as highlight Kerala as an important wedding destination. The venue will be inaugurated at 9.30 am on 18th September 2014 and the business hours are from 10 am to 5.30 pm on all the days. Around four seminars will be organized during the three days of the Mart. Parvez Dewan IAS, Secretary-Tourism, Government of India, will be the chief guest at the valedictory function on 20th September 2014. "Whatever is available in Kerala will be showcased at the KTM. Attracting more tourists by offering ayurveda treatment could rejuvenate the industry that is currently in a crisis", said Abraham George, KTM Society President. The highlight of this year will be the promotion of innovative tourism products like 'village life experience', 'cultural tours' 6

Paul Antony, Chairman of Cochin Port Trust, announcing Kerala Travel Mart-2014 themes in Kochi. Abraham George, President, KTM Society, Jose Pradeep, Treasurer, KTM, and Anil Kumar P K, Secretary, KTM, are also seen.

Abraham George, KTM Society President

and 'destination wedding' theme. A huge turnout of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) operators and wellness and adventure tour operators are expected this time. According to Abraham George, the new theme would likely help in bringing more tourists to Kerala. At present, the focus is to market the tourism potential of the state by changing the topic in promotional activities. KTM Society chief executive officer Mathew Philip said that there was no reduction in the number of operators registering to participate in the KTM, compared to the

previous years. "Around 250 foreign operators and 850 domestic operators will be participating in this year's event. There are also several operators who are coming to Kerala for the first time. This time, they are not coming for business tie-ups, but to know

what Kerala can offer to their clients", he said. This time all the appointments will be through a new software that the KTM has launched. It will connect the buyers and sellers in fixing appointments with one another. The buyers could view the list of sellers and request for appointments online. Likewise the sellers could also view the buyers and go ahead with appointments. A noteworthy feature of this KTM edition is the participation from relatively new markets like Australia, South Africa, Malaysia and a strong presence from

Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Britain, Spain, Germany, France and Russia top the list of international buyers. The post-mart tours to seven different circuits have been another major highlight of the KTM with most of the tours already booked to capacity where buyers are taken to different destinations for a true feel of Kerala. Abraham George said that various wedding themes would be showcased at the 3-day event to attract tour operators. "The event will boost Kerala's potential as a wedding destination. A village life will be recreated, which will give a charming view of the Kerala countryside", George said. This year, the KTM will witness the participation of 282 international buyers and 938 domestic buyers. The participants include hotels and resorts (137, including groups); tour operators and destination management companies (52); home-stays (12); houseboat operators (7); ayurveda resorts (8); ayurveda centres (7); and hotel management consultants (8).

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


25th Sep. - 4th Oct.

Mysore Dasara


KTM SPECIAL

Kerala Goes Adventurous

O

ver the years, people from all areas have been criticizing the Government of Kerala, for not utilizing the potential of its water resources for the growth of tourism. The State is all set to answer back to them by coming up with myriad number of projects which can tap the resources without harming the environment. One such project is the 'hopon hop-off' boat services and water taxies in the backwaters of Kochi and Muziris region, an integral part of the historic spice route, to ensure 'last mile connectivity' to tourist destinations. The water taxies will operate from point to point and will be available on a telephone call like call taxies. For the tourists, it will be quick transportation enjoying the scenic beauty and can save considerable time. Billed as the first of its kind in the country, the 'hop-on hop-off' services and water taxies will be introduced in the backwaters of Kochi and Muziris region, an integral part of the historic spice route. One of the flagship projects of Kerala Tourism under Mission 676, the services are part of the plans to introduce waterbased tourism facilitations. "Three 'hop-on hop-off' boats and three water taxies are being launched initially. The ` 2.83-crore needed had been made available from Plan funds and the services will be launched in next one month,'' said Suman Billa, Secretary, Tourism. "Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited had been entrusted with operating the services to ensure the standards set. The air-conditioned boats can ferry 25 tourists and the air-conditioned taxies six. The services will be available only during daytime. Tourists will be offered a single ticket in the boats with which they can move to Marine Drive, 8

A P Anil Kumar

Minister for Tourism

PI Sheik Pareth

Director of Kerala Tourism

Suman Billa

Secretary, Kerala Tourism

Bolghatty, Vypeen, Fort Kochi, and Mattanchery any number of times during the day. The tourists can get down at these places and board the boats after exploring the tourist attractions. In the next phase, bicycles would be made available at these jetties for tourists to move around," informed Billa. The water taxies will operate from point to point and will be available on a telephone call like call taxies. For the tourists, it will be quick transportation

is to showcase Kerala's diverse options for whitewater enthusiasts. "The Kerala Government will set up a Kayaking Academy at Thusharagiri in the district to boost adventure tourism in the State. Land for the project, which will come up under the State Tourism Department, has been identified," said AP Anil Kumar, Minister for Tourism. Water sports like whitewater kayaking, parasailing, seaplanes, mini-cruise ships and development of adventure

enjoying the scenic beauty and can save considerable time. The State has also arranged the second season of white-water kayaking contest at Thusharagiri in Kozhikode where around 20 foreign teams participated. International Kayakers from 14 nations participated in the three-day event. This year the contest concluded with much fanfare making the tourism department realize the potential of conducting such events time and again. The main aim of the festival

sports in the State's lakes with water scooters should also be explored. Apart from all the new projects coming up, the tourism department has given special attention for Wayanad and had already decided to spend ` 4 million for various water-based projects in the district. The prestigious seaplane services are expected to be launched during Onam, which falls on the first half of September. "All hitches have been cleared and this is going to change the face of Kerala

tourism as tourists can depart from major destinations like Kollam, Alapuzha, Bekal and Bolgatty," Anil Kumar said. He said the tourism and ports departments have jointly worked out a new product by launching a luxury mini-cruise ship which will be open for service on the sea between Kochi and Vizhinjam, near Kovalam, in September. "It's going to be a mini-ship with around 200 seats and the journey would be through the sea and is expected to take around six to eight hours," the minister said. "The abundant water bodies across the state will be strategically leveraged to effectively implement this project. The service shall provide unique experience to travellers both as a joy ride and as an effective mode of air transport to distant destinations," said Anil Kumar. "The objective of the seaplane project is to provide service initially in the priority circuit, consisting of the three airports of Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut and the prime destinations such as Astamudi, Punnamada, Kumarakom, Bolgatty and Bekal in the state," Anupama T V, Additional Director General, Kerala Tourism. The ministry has also plans to launch parasailing in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. Joining hands with the Ports Department, the tourism wing is all set to launch a luxury mini cruise ship, which will be open for service between Kochi and Vizhinjam, near Kovalam, in September. The rivers and backwaters in the State offer some of the best spots in India for kayaking and other water sports but they need to be developed as well. Let's hope that the new initiatives and the developments will bring in a positive change to the tourism sector in Kerala.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


Let's Tie The Knot in Kerala

I

f you're looking for a unique way to say "I do", a destination wedding in a romantic location is ideal. Having a destination wedding in the God's Own Country allows you to exchange vows in a stunning paradise. Whether you envision your ceremony on a white-sand beach, atop a cliff overlooking the ocean, within a blooming garden, or surrounded by mountains, the options for destination wedding locations in Kerala are as limitless as your imagination. Come to the land of natural harbors, lagoons and pristine beaches which is one of the most exotic venues for your wedding. The attraction of Kerala as wedding destination is just being discovered. If you are planning a wedding in Kerala, the first thing to consider is the natural theme and you have so many choices to pick from. There are a variety of locations in Kerala from where you can 10

choose your ideal location for wedding. Kerala has world famous beaches and beach weddings in Kerala are quite popular. From the golden sands to the palm groves, the beaches of Kerala are beautiful and exotic. Choose your wedding venue from the innumerable beach resorts in Kerala. The beaches are generally clean and areas attached to resorts are isolated. The golden sands and blue waters instills in you a sense of romance and magic that makes your much awaited occasion special and memorable. For wedding in Kerala the beaches like Kovalam, Varkala, Somatheeram, and Shanghumukham are the ideal destinations. Enjoy the setting rays of the sun as you exchange your vows for a lifelong journey filled with love and

togetherness. Resorts such as The Leela and Udaya Samudra Resorts in Kovalam arrange beach weddings. The backwater destinations of Kerala are also quite popular wedding venues. They hold much appeal for those who want a quiet and picturesque wedding in a tropical setting, along the banks of a lake or palm fringed canal, with food served on banana leaves. Amidst palm groves and

emerald green waters, start your journey towards a new life and relationship. There are a number of resorts that cater to such weddings. The luxurious Zuri Kumarakom, near Alleppey, is one of the most popular. After the wedding, head off on a honeymoon along the Kerala backwaters in a traditional style houseboat. The houseboats in the lake are the ideal destination for the

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


KTM SPECIAL honeymoon couples. One can go for English Weddings or Indian style weddings. The traditional wedding in Kerala is is an elaborate affair accompanied by folk music performance, floral decor, and bridal bouquet and groom's boutonniere. From exchange of garlands to the blessings by the priest, the traditional Kerala wedding involves everything. Finally groom ties the nuptial thread amidst the music of the band and the flowers are showered on the bride groom. If you wish to follow the traditional way then you can ride an elephant to reach the bride's place or the decorated pandal. The feast is generally served on banana leaves. The wedding ends with a performance of a classical dance troupe. Logistically Kerala is well

connected with majority of international destinations via direct or indirect flights (via Mumbai). Traditional

Kerala Tourism, UNESCO to Revive Ancient Spice Route

K

erala Tourism and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise a framework for cooperation in cultural heritage protection and promotion of historically important sites in states associated with the ancient Spice Route. The MoU was signed by Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka; and Suman Billa, Secretary, Tourism,

Government of Kerala, in Kochi. The Spice Route project will create a unique collaboration with countries across different continents, informed Billa. Kerala Tourism intends to bring together countries that were part of a network through which spices from Kerala were transported to the rest of the world. Kerala Tourism also plans to hold an international conference on the Spice Route trail in Kochi later this year, for which the stakeholding countries' representatives will be invited.

Kerala Tourism Hits 1 mn Mark

K

erala Tourism reached another milestone as the number of it got a million followers on Facebook to become the first tourism board in the country to post this achievement. Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar said, "We are deeply heartened by this achievement as we have been 12

in the forefront of embracing social media to reach out to the people". Suman Billa, Tourism Secretary, said, "We owe our success to fans of Kerala all over the world. It is a top priority for us to be in constant touch with people globally and help them understand the state better".

as well as western weddings could be well planned and there is an easy access to decorators, florists, and

entertainment companies, services like Wedding Minister, photographers and videographers.

Foreign Tourist Arrival Figures Go Up in Kerala

O

ver 8.58 lakh foreign tourists visited Kerala in 2013, marking a growth of 8.12 per cent from last year, a top Kerala Tourism official said. Foreign tourist arrivals went up from over 7.94 lakh in 2012 to over 8.58 lakh in 2013. "Foreign exchange earnings received by the tourism industry in the God's own Country went from ` 4,571.69 crore in 2012 to ` 5560.77 crore in 2013," said, Anupama T V, Additional Director (General), Kerala Tourism.

The domestic tourist arrivals also registered a 7.75 per cent variation with arrival going up from 10.07 cr in 2012 to 10.08 cr in 2013, she said, adding, Kerala gets over 5 lakh tourists from Rajasthan alone every year. Kerala Tourism is looking at 10 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in 2014 on the back of new initiatives undertaken to enhance the travel experience to the state. Kerala attracted 8,58,143 foreign and over one crore domestic tourists in 2013. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


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www.niraamaya.in Surya Samudra, Kovalam | Cardamom Club, Thekkady Launching soon: Kumarakom | Chikmagalur | Goa


View of Agasthya Mala peak from Athirumala

On A Divine Trail to Agasthya Mala

Agasthya Mala Peak, also called the Agastyarkoodam is 1868 metres tall. Many rivers including Karamana, Neyyar and Thamirabharani originate from the peak. Agasthya Mala Peak is also famous for its abundant medicinal plants. R Viswanath takes you to the peak for a trekking experience‌

A

lthough the yatra season had begun and the train was packed to the core, I somehow managed to reach Trivandrum in the wee hours of that chilly morning. After munching a few appams for breakfast I headed straight away to a place called Kottur and after a bumpy jeep ride reached a small sleepy hamlet of Kanni tribe settlement called Podium in the afternoon. It is cozily tucked away inside the Peppara wildlife sanctuary about 70 kms from the capital city. Refreshing under a perennial waterfall nearby, I reclined over a rock overlooking the hill. The monolithic giant rock face of Agasthya Mala rising 14

above 6300ft was looming in the distance dominating the landscape. I was on an adventurous trek to that sacred hill situated in the heart of the sanctuary. My friend and guide Surendran, for the next few days, narrated a few of the mythological stories related to the sacred hill and the sage Agasthya. Spread over 23 sq km Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve straddles the borders of Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts in Kerala, and Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari Districts in Tamil Nadu, at the southern end of the Western Ghats. The Agasthyamalai Hills,

also called the Ashambu Hills or Agasthyagoodum, lie at the extreme southern end of the Western Ghats mountain range along the western side of South India. The hills are notable as the habitat for over 2,000 species of medicinal plants among which 50 plants are very rare and declared endangered. The hills are home to a variety of flora and fauna. Rare species of orchids are found in the dense forests here. The Agasthya mountain region is known to show exceptionally high levels of abundance among plants, many of which are restricted in their distribution. The mountain region receives intense rains for more than

six months. Over 170 species of plants in undisturbed forests, which includes over 75 species of canopy trees, 50 species of shrubs and nearly 25 species of lianas and herbs. Clinging on the branches of Cullenia and Elaecarpus tuberculatus one may see exotic orchids of which there are 25 and more species. We spotted a few butterflies such as Red Admiral, Blue Tiger and Great Egg Fly. Agasthyamala has also the origins of many rivers like Kallada, Achankoil, Vamanapuram, Karamana and Neyyar River in the Kerala side and the Thamirabarani, Ramanadhi, and Manimuthar in Tamil Nadu side.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


KTM SPECIAL Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site. These hills contain areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. The hills contain outstanding examples of ecosystems and communities of plants and animals representing significant ecological and biological processes. The hill is blessed with rare species of herbs and medicinal plants. A very rare and special herbal plant named Aroggya pacha (Trichopus zeylanicus) famously known as Plant of Eternal Health, is a specialty of Agasthyamala, and it attracts many researchers to this area. The sides and slopes of Agasthyakoodam is natuarally gardened with a special type of green herbs. Neelakurinji (Strubhilanthus Kundiyanthus) which usually blooms once

in 12 years is also found here. When it blooms, the entire area will be carpeted with the violet-coloured flower and it is an eye catching sight for the nature lovers. This place is also home to many endangered species of wild animals, like Lion-Tailed Macaques, Bengal Tiger, Nilgiri Marten, Nilgiri Tahr, Malabar Spiny Dormouse, Great Pied Hornbills, Gaur, and Sloth Bear. Reptiles found here include the Green Calottes, Skinks (The Common Blue-tailed skink is found only in the Western Ghats), and snakes like the Bamboo Pit Viper, ShieldTailed Ocellate, Vine Snake, Rat Snake and the Cobra. Agastyamala is home to the Kanikkaran people, one of the oldest surviving hunter-gatherer tribes in the world. Agasthyar was a Dravidian sage, and is considered to be one of the seven Rishis (Saptarishi) of Hindu mythology. The Tamil

language is considered to be a boon from Agasthyar. Europeans, particularly those from England, are said to be

the first to establish tea gardens around the base stations of Agasthyarkoodam at Brimore, Bonacaud and Ponmudi.

Fact File By Flight: The nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, around 70 km away. By Train: Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station is the nearest railway station to reach Agastyarkoodam. Ambasamudram Railway Station in Tirunelveli District is the nearest railway station for tourists visiting from Tamil Nadu. By Road: Agasthya Mala is situated 32 km from Neyyar Dam and around 70 km from Thiruvananthapuram City.

R Vishwanath

An avid trekker/mountaineer and photographer

Best Time to Visit: December - March Accommodation: Forest Rest House; Athirumala For Permits, contact: The Wildlife Warden, Agasthyavanam Biological Park, Rajeev Gandhi Nagar, Vattiyourkavu PO, Trivandrum 695013

Kerala Tourism-GoAir Deal to Bring More Tourists

A

s part of its aggressive marketing strategy, Kerala Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with leading Indian carrier GoAir to offer exclusive discounted fares to visitors to God's Own Country. The MoU, signed by P I Sheik Pareeth, Kerala Tourism Director and Manoj Dharmani, GoAir Vice-President under a new 'Destination Promotion' campaign that looks to 16

capitalise on the increasing propensity for travel in the domestic market, will make travelling to the state easier and cheaper. The offer, applicable only as a bundled package along with a Kerala holiday, will be available on GoAir flights to Kerala from as many as eight cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Nagpur. The airline will offer a fixed allocation of seats under the

MoU, which has been signed for two years, with the fares reviewed every 3-4 months. Special fares under the promotional scheme will be available for bookings made from September 1 through tour operators accredited by Kerala Tourism. The initial scheme will continue until January 2015. The packages can be booked exclusively from the official Kerala Tourism site www.keralatourism.org where a link will take the user to the list of accredited tour operators, a release stated. Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar, said, "The MoU opens a new chapter in domestic tourism. It shows our commitment to support the tour operators' fraternity in Kerala and other industry stakeholders, as well as our efforts to offer the best services to visitors". The timing of the scheme will also ensure that tourists

visiting Kerala are protected from the high cost of air travel during the festival season, he added. Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa said the exclusive discounted fare package to travellers during the peak season has taken domestic tourism to a new level by eliminating the pressures of the market. Kerala Tourism Director Sheik Pareeth said the MoU is expected to help cement Kerala's reputation as a top tourist destination among both international visitors and the increasingly travelsavvy Indians. GoAir Vice-President, Manoj Dharmani, said, "Our aim is to positively participate in the growth of tourism in God's Own Country. We are hoping to bring more tourists, especially from North India to Kerala, which is he described as a "much-sought after dream destination".

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


KTM SPECIAL

P S Rajeev is the face of Tourfed, a unique agency supported by the government of Kerala, to provide tourism related services like tour, travel operations, sightseeing trips, tourism product promotions, destinations marketing and marketing for tourism investments and ventures. Tourfed is all set to venture into the academic sector by launching courses in hospitality, aviation and tour packages. Though in the midst of many such new initiatives, Rajeev finds time to talk to Asian Traveller and elaborates about the functioning of Tourfed and their new initiatives. Read on‌ P S Rajeev

Managing Director, Kerala State Co-operative Tourism Federation Ltd (Tourfed)

How different is Tourfed compared to other tourism related organizations in Kerala? Tourfed is the apex body of tourism co-operative societies in the State. It functions under Department of Co-operation. This is the only State level Tour Operator under any Government organization in the State. We operate for providing better service at affordable rates with only a marginal profit. We provide what we offer in our tour packages. There is no alteration once the package is confirmed. Though we have a Government touch, we are operating like a private professional institution competing with all the institutions in the field. We believe in 'honest travel deals'. All our dealings are like this. Customers can believe us in all angles. How well is Tourfed working as an apex body of Tourism Co-operative Societies in Kerala under Department of Co-operation? We have full support of the department and we are comfortable to operate under 18

Department of Co-operation. There are inspirers, guides, supporters in the department who also contribute to the development of Tourfed. Every employee is so supportive to Tourfed in Department of Co-operation as well as in Registrar of Co-operative Societies. Many employees often direct many people to Tourfed for tour and travel packages. Is Tourfed working in collaboration with Tourism Department or Independently? At present, Tourfed is working independently. We are ready to collaborate with Tourism Department in whatever areas they would like our partnership as we have many innovative ideas for the development of tourism. Tourfed's one day tour programmes are considered pretty good and well organized but yet to reach to more people. What do you think is the reason? What are your plans to improve the current system? Tourfed's one day programme has been utilized by many people in the

state. We had not given any advertisement for this one day programme as the profit from this programme was meagre. But people flocked on the basis of mouth-to-mouth campaign by the customers who have availed this programme. Various printed media have helped us in the past by carrying features about the day tour programmes. The responses from them have been immense and benefitted us a lot. We have now started marketing aggressively in the state and started releasing advertisement intermittently in newspapers, facebook, twitter, linkedin etc. We are going to strengthen our marketing with more professionals. We plan to increase our presence in social media like facebook, twitter etc., more aggressively; increase google advertisements, magazine advertisements etc. What are the other major projects of Tourfed? Tourfed is planning to enter academic sector by starting diploma courses in Hospitality, Aviation, Tour

Packages etc. We would also like to develop entrepreneurs in Travel and Tourism sector by giving training to the interested candidates in air ticketing, tour package, marketing, sales etc., so that after this training the persons will be able to start their own enterprises. Entrepreneurship development in tourism and travel field is one of the objectives of Tourfed. Tourfed would like to establish a 24-hours telephone/ online assistance centres, with multi lingual operators, in the State with the assistance of Tourism Department. Likewise, the Federation would like to refurbish the present information centres into a complete tourism service providing centres (Tourism Information Hub) so that even a layman can approach these centres and start travel from the centre without any hassle to their dream destinations. Every service can be provided from these centres like hotel booking, air ticketing, taxi services and even a complete tour package can be arranged from these centres.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


PROFILE

Holiday Inn

For A Memorable Stay!

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oliday Inn Kochi joins the elite club of posh and luxurious hotels in Kerala's commercial hub of Kochi with 211 spacious and lavishly furnished rooms with all modern amenities. Situated just 5 km from the cosmopolitan city centre on the NH Bypass, Holiday Inn Kochi houses 5 dining options, an outdoor pool and a gym. Wi-Fi is accessible throughout the hotel. The hotel is about a 40-minute drive from the Cochin International Airport. Kochi's IT hub of Kakkanad Infopark and the International stadium are just 5 km from the 20

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


PROFILE

hotel. The hotel houses Kochi's only sports themed bar 'Stadia' and a pool side bar 'Oasis' plus a 24 hour coffee shop and in room dining facilities. The hotel also houses five Food and Beverage Outlets. 'Masala' is a multi-cuisine buffet restaurant which has an รก la carte menu, while 'Roma' serves Italian dishes at lunch and dinner. 'Deli KC' offers snacks and beverages. Spacious modern rooms at Holiday Inn Kochi feature a personal safe, fax facilities, a flat-screen TV with cable and pay-per-view channels, tea/coffee making facilities and a minibar. Wireless high-speed Internet access is

provided. All accommodations provide desks, complimentary newspapers, and phones. Bathrooms offer bathtubs or showers, bathrobes, hair dryers, and slippers. Some guestrooms have partially open bathrooms. Additional amenities include irons/ ironing boards and complimentary toiletries. In addition, a turndown service is offered nightly, housekeeping is available daily, and amenities available on request include hypoallergenic bedding. Additional amenities include a children's pool, multilingual staff, and tour/ticket assistance. For a surcharge,

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

guests receive transportation including a roundtrip airport shuttle (available on request) and a train station pick-up service. Guests can also arrange for a day trip at Holiday Inn Cochin's tour desk. The 24-hour front desk can assist with laundry and dry cleaning services. Valet parking and self parking are complimentary. The property has designated areas for smoking. Guests can maintain their exercise regime in the Health Club, rejuvenate at the Jacuzzi, Steam and Sauna or unwind with a dip in the outdoor pool. The spacious swimming pool is another attraction at Holiday Inn.

Health club staffs at the hotel are experienced and specially trained for hospitality. There are special accommodations for men and women at health centre. Hotel Gym offer modern cardiovascular equipments and various fixed and free weight options. Holiday Inn is the ideal platform for your business meets. Fully-equipped business centre is equipped with state of the art A/V and conference facilities. Banquet Hall can be used as one large banquet area or divided into three separate halls to accommodate various sizes and types of meetings and gatherings up to 150 persons. 21


KTM SPECIAL

Dr Aparna Poomully Mana (Saraswathy M) is the Chief Resident Physician at Poomully Mana Heritage Ayurveda Treatment Centre, one of the pioneering Ayurveda treatment centres of Kerala. She sees Ayurveda as a holistic treatment or well-being formula. Being brought into a legendary family, she now shares the responsibility to preserve the ancient Ayurvedic texts of Poomully Mana and to conduct research on various unique Ayurvedic formulations to keep alive the glorious spirit of the Poomully Aramthampuran. Asian Traveller talks to Dr Aparna to know more about Ayurveda and the treatments offered at the Mana. Excerpts‌ Dr Aparna Poomully Mana

Chief Resident Physician, Poomully Mana Heritage Ayurveda Treatment Centre

How long you have been associated with Poomully Mana? I completed my professional course on Ayurveda from Sri Sri College of Ayurvedic Science & Research at Bangalore successfully, ranking 3rd in my University. Following my marriage in 2011 with Neelakandan Poomully, grandson of the Late Aramthampuran, I became a member of the Poomully Mana and moved into the Mana's Heritage Ayurveda Treatment Centre as Chief Resident Physician. Tell us about the special treatments offered at Poomully Mana? Poomully Mana offers several treatments that cover all aspects of Ayurveda. We offer specialized treatments for spondylitis, arthritis, slip disc and chronic low back pain, sports-related injuries, bronchial diseases, breast/uterus cancer, stress, depression, diabetes, ENT diseases, epilepsy, paralysis, migraine, Parkinson's disease, pediatric diseases (hyper 22

our treatment. activity, delayed walking, What are the types of motor neuron disease, ADHD, treatments in which you are etc.), neurological complaints, specialized? obesity, psoriasis and other I look at Ayurveda as a skin problems, haemorrhoids holistic treatment/well-being and anorectal diseases, gastric formula. All branches of and liver problems, toxicology Ayurveda are important to me. and Rasayana Chikitsa I believe in being equipped and (Vatatapikam), and so on. able to provide cure/treatment What kind of Ayurveda is for as many diseases as possible, practiced at Poomully Mana? than specializing in one We base our treatment on particular branch of this great authentic, classical Ayurveda and ancient medical science. texts that include Charaka What is the ambience that you Samhitha, Shusrutha Samhitha, Ashtangahrudayam, etc. We give have set for Poomully Mana? a lot of focus and importance "Nripavaidyadhvichadinam in ensuring that there is a saadhunaam punyakarmanaam balance among our treatments/ Nivaase nirbhaye shaasthe therapy, internal medication, prapyopakarano pure" diet (pathya)—all of these based This is part of an ancient on the dos and don'ts included Sanskrit verse, which explains in Ayurvedic texts. Each the ideal place for setting person's treatment/therapy, up a kuti (treatment centre) internal medication and diet that will provide Ayurvedic is decided based on his/her treatments, Rasayana Chikitsa, unique recovery requirement, etc. According to this verse, body composition, etc. We historical places, homes of also closely monitor a patient's Brahmins/rulers/doctors response to our medication/ or other saintly places are treatment and modify our considered most suitable measures to ensure maximum to undergo an Ayurvedic impact. We follow a 'no treatment or a Rasayana Chikitsa. compromise' approach in

The building needs to be built as per the Vastu Shastra (traditional Architectural Sciences) and must offer a safe and serene environment that sends out positive vibrations. Personally, I believe that maintaining such an environment is a more tedious task than setting it up initially. At Poomully Mana, therefore, we ensure an ambience necessary for an authentic Ayurvedic centre. We have: expert doctors and therapists; fresh medicines (without addition of any preservatives); eco-friendly and green surroundings; spacious bed rooms (with furniture designed in the antique model); attached bathrooms with hot water facility; and Internet to help people stay connected to the rest of the world. Our buildings are of the typical Kerala architecture, surrounded by herbal plants and trees, complete with natural traditional ponds. We also have a Kalarippayattu training centre, a manuscript library, a Kathakali costumes center, etc., in addition to everything else.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


KTM SPECIAL

As a representative of the Kuttanad constituency in the Legislative Assembly of the state of Kerala, and the owner of Lake Palace, ` 200-million resort in Alappuzha, Thomas Chandy's contribution to the tourism sector in Alappuzha is a major one. Lake Palace Resort is one of the foremost luxury backwater resort situated in a private island on the evergreen banks of Vembanadu Lake in Alappuzha. He is outspoken and has a clear vision about what he wants to achieve and where he wants to see himself, in the future. In this brief interview with Asian Traveller, Thomas Chandy, Chairman and Managing Director, Lake Palace Resort, talks about his grandiose plans for the property and the challenges faced by the tourism sector in Alappuzha. Thomas Chandy

Chairman and Managing Director, Lake Palace Resort, Alappuzha

What motivated you to set up Lake Palace and how has the resort evolved over the years catering to tourists in Alappuzha? As you may know, Punnamada is the hub of houseboats in Kerala. Around 15 years back there weren't any good hotels in this area for high-end tourists to stay during their visits to the backwaters of Alappuzha. Houseboats weren't good enough for spending nights those days and for extended houseboat cruises, tourists had to leave for Malabar hotel in Kochi by evening and return the next day. I felt that this situation had to be addressed and that how the idea behind Lake Palace was conceived. In 1995 I bought around 4 acres of land to set up the resort. Later I procured more land after rehabilitating the families living in the neighborhood to construct the four main buildings and the Kerala cottages. By 2003 the resort started functioning with 38 rooms. Twenty more rooms 24

were added later and an elevator was also installed. A specialty restaurant serving seafood, Chinese and Arabic cuisines will open soon. Once the restaurant starts functioning the resort will receive 5-star accreditation. Another high rise building is also under consideration to avoid the shortage for rooms while hosting conferences. A host of political dignitaries like Sharad Pawar, Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid, among many others have visited and enjoyed the hospitality of Lake Palace. Top notch movie stars like Rajnikanth, Nayanthara, Meera Jasmine have also visited the resort. Considering the abundance of water bodies, what is your view on developing Alappuzha as a water sports tourism destination? It is a very good idea and I am totally in favour of it. You will come across a lot of ideal locations for the purpose but the implementation of such projects is quite demanding. The much anticipated sea plane

project is still in the pipeline due to politically motivated obstructions. The adverse political environment is one of the major reasons why the resources of Alappuzha remain unexploited. Unless the leaders of political and labour organizations work in a cohesive way no real development is possible. Do you have any plans to turn Lake Palace into a Wedding Destination? We do host a lot of weddings at the resort by erecting a pandal adjacent to the conference hall. It will take at least a year or two to turn this place into a Wedding Destination. To begin with, the road to the resort has to be widened. A hall capable of accommodating around 1500 people is also being planned. Once both are in place, this resort can be a good Wedding Destination. What efforts are being made to improve the infrastructure at the resort? The roads to the resort were laid with the help of

an MP who once stayed at the resort. I had to leave for US a couple of times for treatment due to which many plans have been delayed. In another two years you will see a lot of changes around here. We are striving to make Lake Palace better to cater to the high-end tourists who visit Alappuzha. Do you think that the Government should provide more support to private tourism operators? I think our authorities should watch and learn from the way foreign governments support their tourism industry. China witnessed an industrial boom due to the support provided by the government through land and loans. Our government is not providing any kind of support to the tourism industry. Apart from conducting events like KTM they are of no assistance to the individual private operators. A good number of resorts and hotels in the state have become moribund due to lack of support from the government. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


THIRUMALA WARD, CHUNGAM, ALLEPPEY, KERALA, INDIA. 688 011 +91 477 2239701 (02/03/04) +91 477 2239705 info@lakepalaceresort.com www.lakepalaceresort.com

The name brings images of sprawling backwaters and serpenting canals strewn with canoes, houseboats and adorned with green islets. It's a historic port city that had trade relations with Greece and Rome in the Middle Ages. The home of Kuttanadu, the rice-bowl of Kerala. A haven of religious harmony and peaceful coexistence. The centre of coir industry in Kerala. In short – a land of vivid excellence. Lake Palace Resort. Engagingly Vivid.

Alappuzha


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF Heritage Tourism Gets a Boost in UP

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he Uttar Pradesh (UP) government is keen to promote Heritage Tourism across the state. The move will involve converting historical forts, 'havelis' and palaces scattered across UP into hospitality spots or 'heritage hotels'. The state houses a number of erstwhile princely estates with their descendants in possession of such heritage properties spread over hundreds of acres. Amrit Abhijat, Director General, UP Tourism, recently held a meeting with owners of such heritage properties to discuss the way forward. The Tourism Department has decided to formalise a regular coordination and dialogue process with heritage property owners, so as to address their grievances and speedily take up their proposals for clearance.

Entry to Taj Mahal to be Restricted

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he Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is planning to restrict the number of tourists allowed entry to the Taj Mahal in a day to avoid damage to the marble monument. An ASI official said, "Many times, during peak seasons and several other occasions, the number of tourists inside the complex crosses 60,000 to 70,000. This could prove harmful for the foundation of the monument". The official added that a study by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) will specify how many tourists should be allowed to stand on the main mausoleum, the central tank and other spots of the complex, at a time. Accordingly, modifications will be made in the pattern of issuing tickets to visitors and facilities, like waiting areas will be developed.

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New Plans to Boost Tourism in India

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ndia is planning to increase the number of international arrivals it welcomes each year. The country's Minister of State for Culture & Tourism, Shripad Yesso Naik said that India's tourism sector was being held back by several factors, including "air connectivity, extent of awareness amongst the source countries, availability of trained guides, reasonably priced hotel accommodation and good tourism infrastructure". To combat this,

Naik reiterated the slew of measures the Indian government is now undertaking to boost arrivals such as the expansion of its visa-on-arrival scheme, the development of the low-cost aviation sector, moves to improve the cleanliness and hygiene of tourism sites, the development of transport infrastructure including railways and highway facilities, the training of tour guides and a rationalisation of taxes.

AP Attracts More Domestic Visitors in 2012

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n Assocham study titled 'Indian Tourism Industry: The Way Forward' find that undivided Andhra Pradesh had emerged as the most-preferred tourist destination for domestic travellers with about 20 per cent share in the total domestic tourist visits of over 103 crore across India in 2012. Clocking the Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of over 85 per cent, the undivided AP recorded a significant

surge in domestic tourist arrivals in the state, which crossed 20 crore mark in 2012 from a level of 11 crore in 2006. However, the erstwhile AP did not figure in the list of top 10 states in terms of foreign tourist arrivals in India as the state attracted only about 2.9 lakh foreign tourists in 2012, while in 2011 the figure stood at 2.6 lakh. The erstwhile AP, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra are the top five states with the highest share in domestic tourist arrivals. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan had the highest share in attracting foreign tourist arrivals. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha are leading states attracting significant investments in hotels and tourism industry.

Chhattisgarh to Bank on Central Aid for Eco Tourism Promotion

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hhattisgarh is keen to promote eco tourism and develop a few centres as dream destinations for the tourists. "Chhattisgarh tourism minister Ajay Chandrakar met the union minister for culture and tourism Shripad Yasso Naik and submitted the proposals demanding ` 113.15 crore for the development and expansion of services in the tourist places", a senior official with the tourism board said. The destinations that the state

government had planned to develop as eco tourist spots included Gangrel dam besides Sirpur-Kodar-Raipur-Tandula that would be shaped as mega eco tourist circuit. Chandrakar said the state government was working on a plan to increase the flow of tourists in the state. "Under the plan, the government had aimed to increase the number of tourists from 20 million in a year to 100 million in next 10 years", the minister said.

Telangana Tourism Calls for New Public Limited Firm

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he Telangana government is proposing to register a new public limited company, Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation Limited (TSTDC), under the Companies Act 2013, according to BP Acharya, principal secretary, Department of Tourism and Cultural. "The existing Andhra Pradesh Tourism

Development Corporation (APTDC) is required to be bifurcated at the earliest to ensure uninterrupted services to the tourists and also for promotion of tourism activities in the state", he said. "The new corporation for Telangana could be operational immediately after the registration of the new company", he added. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

'Incredible India' Mobile Application Unveiled

Oman's Food and Hospitality Expo Kicks Off

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he ninth Food and Hospitality Oman exhibition and the fourth Oman Health Exhibition & Conference kick started at the Oman International Exhibition Centre. The expo was inaugurated by H E Dr Ahmed bin Nasser bin Abdullah al Bakri, undersecretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The exhibition this year has made arrangements to enable international companies and brands to directly connect with potential buyers and partners in the local market as well as tap business opportunities in Oman.

Thomas Cook India Expands Its Franchisee Network

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homas Cook (India) (TCIL) has launched two new retail stores at Malad and Kharghar in the last month. The new outlets were inaugurated by Jatinder Paul Singh, Senior Vice President & Head Sales & Distribution, Leisure Travel (Outbound), TCIL. Singh said, "I am delighted to launch our Gold Circle Partner (franchise) outlets at both Malad and Kharghar. This is a reiteration of our strategic intent at Thomas Cook India - to expand our footprint across key markets via our impactful Gold Circle Partner Franchisee Model. Mumbai and Maharashtra have been a powerhouse in our success story and these new retail outlets at Malad and Kharghar will take us a step closer to our consumers' doorstep!"

Kashmir Hospitality Saves Many

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ood hospitality along with humanity of local Kashmiri people helped many tourists stranded in the recent Jammu & Kashmir floods. Many tourists survived because of the locals' hospitality as they provided everything, included warm clothes, water and food to stranded tourists as they were taken in by local families. Floods and landslides have cut off more than 1 million people from basic services, triggering a massive military rescue operation that has so far evacuated 80,000 from villages and city rooftops.

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he much awaited 'Incredible India' mobile application recently launched by India's tourism ministry is expected to provide a boost to country's tourism sector. The mobile application will assist international and domestic tourists to access information about ministry recognized tourism service providers namely approved inbound tour operators, adventure tour operators, domestic tour operators, tourist transport operators, travel agents, regional level guides, classified hotels available in respective cities/tourist centres. This new application developed by

the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will also help the tourists in seeking services from government of India recognized service providers and receive quality and reliable services from them. The app demonstrates ministry of tourism's commitment use of technology for service delivery. Details of the same will be given through this application to the tourists on their mobile phones based on their current location. Tourist can also query similar details for any other city he plans to travel to in future. In addition to this, the application will provide places of interest. This mobile application has been developed as part of the initiative of the new government in taking important positive decisions, especially, affecting the general public since its taking over the charge. Incredible India Mobile Application (IMA) is available for the Android Phones on the Google Play store and for iphone this will available in App Store during coming week.

MEHAIR, MTDC Launches Maiden Seaplane Service

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aritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd (MEHAIR) and the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) flagged off the first commercial flight from Mumbai to Pavana dam (Lonavala) in Mumbai. The amphibian planes will eventually connect Mumbai with multiple state tourist destinations adjacent to 4 suitable water bodies even though there are no runways at these destinations. The flight from Mumbai to Pawana Dam, Lonavala is priced at ` 2,999 per person one way.

"These services will boost tourism greatly. Seaplanes will turn vacation destinations into weekend destinations", said Jagdish Patil, Managing Director of MTDC. The service will save a lot of travel time for the users given that the aircraft will take a far lesser time to connect two points as opposed to road or rail journeys. The service is being launched in Maharashtra with Cessna 208 Amphibian aircraft (9-seater) and Cessna 206 Amphibian (4-seater).

Google Maps to Become Tourism-Friendly

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n a new move announced by Google, anybody can now add tourism businesses and places of interest as pins and markers on Google Maps.

Previously, you needed to be a business claiming a Google My Business page to tell Google to put you on the map. Or you had to rely on Google picking up your business from other listings. Now anyone can place a pin on the map and make a range of tourism businesses and places of interest visible to tourists. MyTravelResearch.com, an

independent tourism research company, says that if you are a destination, a regional tourism entity or a local government, you now have the power to ensure that there is a large amount of geospecific information available online for travellers passing through your region. Google still runs an internal verification process that ensures markers and pins are legitimate. The move is significant because Google predicts that by the end of 2014 more searches will be done on mobile devices than on desktops. Google started with Australia but will roll out the freedom to add red pins and markers to other countries soon. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


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NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

China Invites India to Join Its Silk Route Project

One&Only Forays Into Bahrain

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erzner International Holdings has entered into an agreement with Sevens Holding, a diverse company catering to different segments in the private sector including hospitality and real estate, to develop and operate a new One&Only resort in Seef, Bahrain. This new resort is scheduled to begin welcoming guests in 2016. The resort will boast extensive meeting facilities with easy accessibility. "I am thrilled we are able to partner with Sevens Holding to develop this world-class destination," said Alan Leibman, CEO, Kerzner International.

IndiGo Launches 6 New Flights

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ndiGo has launched four new domestic and two new international daily non-stop flights connecting Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Bangkok. IndiGo now operates daily non-stop flight between DelhiJaipur and from 26 September, a second daily non-stop flight will operate between Ahmedabad-Kolkata and Kolkata-Bangkok. Effective 26 September, with 532 flights connecting 36 destinations across the nation and abroad, these new flights will further consolidate IndiGo's position as the fastest growing airline in India.

Punjab Promotes Film Tourism

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unjab Heritage & Tourism Promotion Board is planning to come up with a policy to promote their destinations for film tourism. The Tourism Promotion Board of the state is working closely with National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) to formulate a policy which would accord single window clearance for film production in the State. Basanta Rajkumar, Executive Director, Punjab Heritage & Tourism Promotion Board, said, "There are lots of sensitive locations in the state, and permissions are bit cumbersome for film units if they approach individually. The department will also help units to get "extras" required for production, which eventually will "generate employment" for local people".

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iving final touches to its most ambitious plan to build a wide network of new silk roads on land and seas to enhance global connectivity, China has invited India to join President Xi Jinping's pet project that would revive the ancient trade route and benefit the region. "From historical point of view India is the converging point of Maritime

Silk road (MSR) and the ancient Silk Road on land. For more than 2,000 years India had very good exchanges with China through the passage of the South Silk Road," Gao Zhennting, councillor, department of international economic affairs, said. "So in China we have a belief that China and India both placed the trail of silk roads and MSR and we both have benefited from the roads," said Gao, who oversees the Silk Roads projects. "The Chinese government believes that India naturally is an important partner in this One belt and One Road," Gao said. He denied the new projects were aimed at establishing China's influence, saying Beijing is not aiming to establish influence nor will it establish a new mechanism for the Silk Roads.

Modi Govt Seeks 12% Annual Tourism Growth

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fter identifying tourism as one of the pillars to strengthen country's economy, the new Indian government led by Narendra Modi will be seeking a 12 per cent annual growth in tourism. The Working Group on Tourism for the 12th Five Year Plan, set up by the Planning Commission, has recommended increasing India's share of ITAs to at least 1 per cent by the end of 12th Plan – requiring an annual growth of about 12 per cent. India's tourism minister Shripad Yesso Naik said tourism sector has a major role to play to promote faster, sustainable and more inclusive economic growth. This is because tourism is labour intensive and involves a collection of activities, services and industries comprising transportation, accommodation, eating establishments, retail shops, entertainment businesses and other hospitality services provided to individuals or groups travelling away from home for leisure, business or other purposes and the broad scope of economic activities involved enables wide participation in its growth, including participation by the informal sector.

Naik added, "As per the 2nd Tourism Satellite Account of India 2009-10, the contribution of Tourism in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment generation in the country in 2009-10, has been estimated to be 6.8 per cent and 10.2 per cent, respectively. The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the years 2002-2012 were ` 5,22,206 crore". "The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India has continuously shown a better growth than the world average of International Tourist Arrivals during the last four years. Domestic Tourist Visits (DTVs) have also shown significantly higher growth during the same period", said Naik. Naik added, "Although the tourism sector in India has grown in recent years, it is felt that with India's vast bounties of nature, its great treasures of art, architecture and philosophical thought, its rich cultural heritage, its varied rural countryside and wildlife, age – old practices of Yoga, Siddha, and more, spread across different States/Union Territories (UTs), there is immense tourism potential to tap, which can lead to further growth in tourism".

Sirpur to Be Developed as Buddhist Hub

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hhattisgarh government is planning to develop Sirpur, located on the banks of the river Mahanadi and is known for its archaeological monuments, as a Buddhist destination to woo foreign visitors. For this, the government plans to organise national dance and music

festivals that will help create awareness about Sirpur and its historical importance. "We want to promote Sirpur especially is the South Asian countries, where Buddhism is popular", Santosh K Misra, Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, said. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF HRH Stands Tall at GIWA 2014

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RH Group of Hotels has won the Great Indian Wedding Awards 2014 (GIWA 2014) award in the Best Wedding Hotels category. The award was accorded to their twin properties - Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur. HRH Hotels also bagged the Gold and the Silver award in the Best Wedding Venue category for their property Jagmandir Island Palace: a palace on an island in Lake Pichola, Udaipur and Manek Chowk at The Palace, Udaipur. The awards were presented during the International Convention of the Wedding Fraternity (ICWF) held from August 21 to 23, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt, Goa.

KTO Launches New Package

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n conjunction with 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014, Korea Tourism Organization has launched a special tour package for Indians, which includes a four-day itinerary with return economy tickets and 4-star hotel accommodation at a special rate. Customers can book these new packages through MakeMyTrip, the sole partner offering these products.

IITT Wins Best Emerging Travel & Tourism Expo Award

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ndia International Travel & Tourism Exhibition and Conference (IITT) won the award for the best emerging travel & tourism expo in India at the West Region India Travel Awards 2014. Addressing the trendsetters and game-changers of the Travel & Tourism fraternity, event head for IITT, Mohit Mewani proudly invited the people to come witness this travel extravaganza in 2015 excitedly exclaimed, "In order to standout from other travel expos, IITT has a lucrative budget running into crores for its cutting-edge marketing campaigns to leverage its USP—the fully hosted buyer program, online business matchmaking program, pre-scheduled appointments and much more. The team has worked hard to ensure it is unmatched in every aspect and standard. IITT is a must-visit exhibition if you are involved in selling or buying travel products and services whether inbound, outbound or domestic tourism". The India Travel Awards West Region 2014 concluded with an overwhelming success at Pune on 25th July with five

MoT to Commence National Survey on Indian Cuisines

Seaplane Goes to Mula Dam

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fter the successful launch of seaplane services in Maharashtra between Mumbai and Pawana dam (Lonavala), MEHAIR and MTDC have announced that the next destination of the seaplanes service will be Mula dam. Tickets for flights from Mumbai to Mula dam are available at an inaugural price of ` 5,499 per person one way. Besides Pawana and Mula dam, MEHAIR is also poised to launch services to Gangapur Dam in Nashik and Dhoom Dam in Mahabaleshwar (Satara district).

SIA Announces Diwali Plan

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ingapore Airlines (SIA) said it will operate additional flights on the Mumbai – Singapore sector to cater to Diwali demand. It currently offers two daily services to Mumbai. The airline will deploy a Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft for this additional flight, which will depart from Mumbai on October 25.

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star property, Hotel Novotel, as its host. Deemed as the highest accolade in travel and tourism in the country, the gala awards night featured behemoths from the entire fraternity. With its inception in South India, the India Travel Awards have come a long way by creating an all-India platform to recognize those behind the success of the travel and tourism industry and to make them feel like achievers. The awards recognized the efforts of achievers from different segments of the industry, including those from the aviation sector, domestic and international tourism boards, hotels and resorts, GDS's as well as travel agents and tour operators. These awards are supported by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and esteemed trade bodies namely, IATO, PATA, ADTOI, ATOAI and OTOAI to name a few. Based on a unique system of jury judgment and voting, these awards are fair and unbiased, finally culminating in a formal black-tie ceremony that is glitzy, glamorous and graced by the who's who of the travel industry.

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inistry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India will soon launch a national survey on cuisines of India, which will be flagged off from Delhi. The objective of the survey is to retrieve and create a national databank of Indian culinary traditions, recipes,

etc., and make it available for references, researches, etc. The exercise of compiling the cuisines and their recipes will be carried out by the students and faculties of Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) under the National Council for Hotel Management & Catering Technology (NCHMCT) in every region in the country. They will go to every village in the country and compile the data. The target is to compile at least 6,000 recipes initially. At a second stage, people behind these recipes will be invited to demonstrate the cooking before an eminent panel of chefs and will be recoded and kept for future references.

Goa Gears Up for 15 Per Cent Growth in Tourist Arrivals

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oa expects the number of tourist arrivals to the state to touch 40 lakh this year, an increase of 15 per cent from the previous year. "This will be achieved by initiatives undertaken and planned by Goa Tourism and also due to the decennial exposition of the holy relics of St Francis Xavier from November 22, 2014 -January 4, 2015", said Nikhil Desai, Director - Tourism, Government of Goa and Managing Director, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC).

"Goa Tourism is focusing on initiatives to highlight Goa as a destination for festival tourism, weddings, leisure, MICE, adventure and for charters", he added. "With an aim to promote Goa as a year-round destination efforts are being made to further popularise the state's local festivals in the rest of the country. We are also planning to build a marina, theme park and convention centre to improve infrastructure. All this will be done in a joint venture with the private sector", Desai said. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


INDIAN PANORAMA

India Tourism Treasures

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ndia is home to one sixth of humanity and for that reason has a lot to offer by way of differing cultures, traditions and unique experiences and, of course, pure natural beauty. From the snow-capped regions of the north, the innocence of the North East, the spirit that characterizes the major cities, the deserts of Rajasthan and the lush green countryside of Kerala interspersed with rivulets and streams and graced by the renowned backwaters throw up many interesting options for tourists. If one travels the length and breadth

of the country he or she will be wonderstruck at the amazing variety and beauty that holds this country together. It is no wonder that India is home to a multitude of heritage sites notified by UNESCO. The columns and pages of this publication will be too small to furnish you information about all of them. They are well known and range from the temples of the South, the Mughal monuments of the North to the wildlife sanctuaries of the North East. Each one of these heritage sites has a history of its own that will arouse and hold the curiosity and interest of all.

Agra Fort

Photo: geobricolage.wordpress.com

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What we can do is to take you through five of these locations. Our choice does not indicate any priority or preference and, for all practical purposes, is a random selection.

AGRA FORT

Agra Fort is located about 2.5 kilometres from the famous Taj Mahal, the monument has history written all over it, though it is not known who built it and when it was built. The structure that presently exists was, however, built by the Moghuls. The Moghuls captured the fort during the first battle of Panipat in 1526

and the captured treasures included the famous Kohinoor. The fort then changed hands many times. Emperor Akbar made Agra his capital and his grandson Shahjahan gave the fort its present shape. Semicircular in shape, the fort has fortifications and a layout that made attacks on it very difficult. It has four gates out of which two are famous, the Delhi Gate and the Lahore Gate. The Lahore Gate is also known as the Amar Singh Gate. The Delhi gate is the most imposing and monumental of all the four gates. Tourists are allowed entry through the

Sun Temple, Konark

Photo: upload.wikimedia.org

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


INDIAN PANORAMA Lahore Gate. The mix of Hindu and Muslim architecture in the fort is testimony to its history and the fact that it was ruled by kings belonging to both faiths.

SUNDERBANS

Literally translated in Bengali as "Beautiful Forest", the Sunderbans deserves this name. Located in India and Bangladesh, it has a diverse ecosystem and is home to the famed Royal Bengal Tiger. Sunderbans is inhabited by about 250 tigers. Apart from tigers, this region also has other forms of wildlife like various types of shrimps, crabs, small fish that can live and reproduce in the myriad network of roots. Just for the record, it is estimated that the Sunderbans has 150 species of fish, 270 species of birds, 42 species of mammals and 35 species of reptiles. The

conservation, however, are intense and these efforts are being supported by aid from the Government and the World Heritage Fund. The best way to visit the Sunderbans is to be part of a tour by operators who know the area and the related intricacies. Travelling there independently can be laborious.

KONARK

Located on the eastern coast of India, in Odisha's Puri district is the temple town of Konark. The Sun Temple of Konark is another UNESCO Heritage site. The Sun Temple is an outstanding example of fine temple architecture of the Kalingan dynasty. It was built in the thirteenth century during the reign of the Hindu Kingdom of Orissa under King Narasimha Deva. It is a distinctly Brahmin temple

the main cities of Odisha.

ELEPHANTA CAVES

Not far from the city of Mumbai is another Heritage site notified by UNESCO. The Elephanta Caves are a "must see" for visitors to Mumbai. In fact some people come to Mumbai just to go to the Elephanta Caves. It is easily approachable by ferry from Mumbai and is located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, about 10 kilometres from the city. The Elephanta Caves are divided into two groups. Five caves depict the Hindu faith, and two Buddhist caves. Very little is known of the history of the caves and when they were built, though historians claim that they date back to the period between the fifth and eighth century AD. The caves were a Hindu place of worship till the Portuguese took over the island in 1534.

Sunderban Tigers

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promoting the cult of Surya or the Sun God. Narasimha Deva built this temple to celebrate his victory over the Muslims. Later, in the seventeenth century it was desecrated by an order of King Jahangir. After this the temple fell into disuse and was not preserved. It is said that the first rays of the Sun always fall inside the temple. The temple depicts a massive chariot being drawn by seven horses, out of which only six exist today. The architecture is worth seeing. Konark is well connected from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack,

KAZIRANGA

To see and experience the flavour of nature at its very best, very few places can equal the magic of the Kaziranga National park in the Northeastern State of Assam. Two thirds of world's one horned Rhinoceroses inhabit this area, which is also famed for its relatively high number of tigers. Wild elephants, deer and water buffaloes are also found here. The park is also known for its large bird population. The park with its tall grass, marshland and the rivers and streams form the ideal habitat for

Kaziranga Rhino

Photo: indiatravels.com

mangroves of the Sunderbans are said to be the largest mangrove system in the world, covering an area of 20,400 square kilometres. More than half the known mangrove types in the world are found in this region. The Sunderbans National Park is an area covered by Mangrove Forests. The Sunderbans Sanctuary is a UNESCO site and is known for its mangroves and its flora and fauna. One of the most densely populated regions of the world, the Sunderbans area is endangered by illegal deforestation. Efforts at

houses the Hindu caves with sculptures of Lord Shiva in various forms. The caves on the Eastern part of the island house Buddhist monuments. There are frequent ferries that take you to Elephanta from the gateway of India.

Photo: upload.wikimedia.org

The Portuguese changed the name of the place to Elephanta because of the huge statue of an elephant at the entrance to the caves. This statue was later shifted to the Jijamata Gardens in Mumbai. Elephanta was earlier called Gharapuri or the "city of caves" before the Portuguese came in. The caves were partly destroyed during the rule of the Portuguese and were a neglected site till 1970 when the caves were renovated. In 1987 they were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The western part of the island

these species. The river Brahmaputra passes through the area. With a length of 40 kilometres from east to west and a breadth of 13 kilometres, Kaziranga has fertile patches formed by the deposition of silt from the Brahmaputra. It also has elevated regions providing shelter to animals during floods, which are very common. UNESCO notified Kaziranga in 1985. Kaziranga is located about 220 kilometres from Guwahati and about 100 kilometres from Jorhat. The article is written by Shikha Bhangadia

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


INTERVIEW

Tourism Minister for Andhra Pradesh, Dr Palle Raghunatha Reddy is man who is modest, makes you feel at home and always lend an ear to you. There is no air attached to him. He knows what is required of him as the head of the sector in the state and sees to it that he makes every right move to bring name to it. In a candid conversation, he shared his plans for the industry and cut a clear picture of the sort of things Andhra Pradesh needs to do, for a shining tourism industry. Edited Excerpts: Dr Palle Raghunatha Reddy

Tourism Minister, Andhra Pradesh

Could you please brief us about your plans for Andhra Pradesh Tourism? No stone will be left unturned by the Andhra Pradesh government to give a boost to tourism. Last year, the state has received ` 220 crore as Central assistance and this year, a ` 48 crore project has already been sanctioned by the Government of India for the Anantapur-LepakshiPenukonda-PuttaparthiThimmamma Marrimanu (Kadiri) circuit. The state has also set up plans to celebrate the 504 year of the coronation of Emperor Srikrishnadevaraya at Anantapur and ` 32 lakh was sanctioned in this regard. What is the USP of the state? Andhra Pradesh is gifted with a 972 km long coastline and scores of temples. The

culture of Andhra Pradesh is extraordinary, incomparable and excellent as compared to other states. The state manifests a magnificent blend of rich nizami tradition and royal heritage. The rich cultural heritage, ancient architecture and historical importance have made Andhra Pradesh one of the top tourist destinations in India. Places like Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Nelloor, Chittoor, Anantapur, Puttaparthi and Srikakulam speak about the glory of the state's culture. Special importance will be given to develop these places, including the major and lesser known ones. How important a role tourism plays in the development of the economy of Andhra Pradesh? Across the world tourism

is getting much importance as it is the base of economic development. Nowadays it has been seen that most of the foreign countries like South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore are giving due importance to tourism. Just like how these countries support tourism, the government of Andhra Pradesh also understands the potential of the sector and has decided to continue the support it has been giving to the sector in a much improved way. After the agricultural department, tourism is the only department which brings maximum revenue to the state. The tourism sector in the state had managed to bring in revenue of ` 130 crore in 2013. This year too we are sure that the state

will perform well. Last year, we have got tremendous support from the Central government and this year too, we are getting the much needed support. The Centre granted ` 104 crore during 2012-13 and ` 50 crore during 2013-14. How do you see the birth of Telengana? Do you think that the new born state is a threat to the AP tourism? Telangana cannot be treated as a rival state. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are like two brothers. I don't think that there is a need to get into a fight with Telangana for anything. As far as tourism is concerned, Andhra Pradesh is not going to get affected in any way. Only politically, we are two separate states. The split will not affect the tourism industry.

an important destination of northern India and we are delighted to bring Holiday Inn Jaipur City Centre to the city. The comfort, convenience and friendliness that the brand is recognised for worldwide will

be greatly welcomed by both international and domestic travellers". IHG expects to open another 45 hotels across India over the next three to five years, including 21 Holiday Inn hotels.

Holiday Inn Forays into Jaipur

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nterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has opened Holiday Inn Jaipur City Centre, a 172-room hotel, which is the ninth Holiday Inn hotel in India, in Jaipur. Pascal Gauvin, Chief Operating Officer, 38

IHG, India, Middle East and Africa said, "Growing the Holiday Inn brand in key Indian cities is core to IHG's development strategy in India. Jaipur is

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


ANDHRA PRADESH TRAVELLER

Photo: blogspot.com

An Abode Up in The Welkin The pristine air, breathtaking view of surrounding hillocks and dense forests, perfect weather and tranquility makes the picturesque hill station of Horsley Hills in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh the perfect haven for a weekend sojourn.

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estled at a vertiginous height of 4,312 feet above sea-level, the untouched and serene surroundings of Horsley Hills in Andhra's Chittoor district overlook breath-taking, panoramic view of the lush expanse of the broken hill ranges of the southern portion of the Eastern Ghats. Located near the South Western border of Andhra Pradesh, this "Andhra Ooty", with its rich foliage, wildlife and pleasant climate is undoubtedly one of the underrated hill stations in the country. 40

It is a largely unknown fact that these hills, called Archeans, are geologically one of the oldest. The idyllic hill station has temperatures that range from 5 degrees celcius to a maximum of 32 degrees celcius. And on most days, the occasional clouds that pass by, leave you in awe. Situated at a distance of 56 kms from Madanapalle, it is well-connected to Hyderabad, Tirupathi, Bangalore and Chennai, and boasts of several tourist spots and adventure sports in the vicinity. The area is a treasure

trove of deciduous flora and fauna and rich in eucalyptus, silver oak, mahogany, coffee, jacaranda, allamanda, gulmohar and flowering plants. It is also famous for red sanders and sandalwood. The dense forests are home to several wild animals and birds. Panthers, sambars, wildboars, bears, four-horned antelopes, jungle-fowls, porcupine are found in the ravines. The charming hill station is home to several species of birds. Great Indian bustard, for one, is the more famous and fast-disappearing species

found here. The hills are also frequented by migratory birds like the red-throated flycatcher, montagu's harrier, blue-headed rock-thrush, ultramarine lycatcher etc. The exhilarating scent of the eucalyptus trees, the soulstirring sights of the underlying expanse, the echoing chirp of exotic birds and the tranquil aura that encompasses the hill station make it the perfect getaway for adventure-loving friends, couples and families alike. The hillocks got their name from WH Horsley, a British civil servant who served

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


ANDHRA PRADESH TRAVELLER as the Collector of Cuddapah (Kadapa) between 1863-1867. In awe of the idyllic environs, he built the first building here - a summer bungalow in 1862, that is now called 'Forest Bungalow'. The tiles used for flooring were imported from England in 1863. Originally, the hillock was called Yenugu Mallamma Konda by locals and the name has a rather interesting folklore history associated with it. According to local folklore, it got its name from Mallamma, who was a saintly lady, raised by elephants in these hills around 300 years back. A temple

in her name exists 20 kms from Horsley Hills. Also situated 20 kms outside Horsley Hills, en route Madanapalle, are three hillocks situated in a straight line that house three Mallikarjunaswamy temples on their respective summits. The famed Rishi Valley School that was founded by Madanapalle-born philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, is located at the foot of the very hills. The Environmental Park, known as EEC centre, built by Hyderabadi environmentalist Balijepalli Venkata Subba Rao is yet another attraction. The lush park is a mini-

ecosystem in itself, complete with trees, coffee plants, a crocodile enclosure, a mini-zoo, lake Mansarovar and a nature study centre. Wind Rock, the hillock that boasts of a cliff slope, made of a single rock that extends several thousand feet downwards, is worth a visit. One can walk down the entire hillrock, admiring the unobstructed view of the low-lying expanse. The highview seeing point is the most popular spot located at the highest summit that offers all-encompassing view of the underlying ravines, valleys, broken hillocks and

dense forests. The view of the endless expanse, dotted by hills and forests is in itself worth the trip to the hill station. Do visit the 148-year-old eucalyptus tree – 'Kalyani' – that is visible from the KadiriMadanapalle road, that is 70 kms away, on clear days. Planted by WH Horsley in 1859, the tree was awarded the Maha Vriksha Puraskar a few years ago. Lake Gangotri is located at the entry of the hills, while Manasarovar is found next to the study centre in the Environmental Park. Folklore has it that both lakes never dry up.

Giving 'Incredible India' on A Platter

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ntersight is one of the top holiday brands in India that exclusively caters to the unique needs of travellers worldwide. With a global approach and local knowledge, Intersight takes your India holiday experience to an allnew level. The company understands the diverse holiday needs of customers and offers full-fledged integrated travel services by air, land and water. With a good network of branches across India, it is the perfect solution for all your travel related requirements. Intersight is a fast growing company with more than 1,00,000 satisfied customers every year and over 1500 associates across India. The expert team offers quality services through innovation and implementation. Intersight is a name that stands for commitment, expertise and tailored services. Intersight holds their customers from the beginning to the end, thereby enabling them to make the most of every moment. Expert advice is provided on the most splendid locations to visit and the finest shopping and dining options in India are provided. By fostering strategic relations, the best possible rates and services from the finest hotels, resorts and home stays

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are offered. Unique tailor made travel packages are also undertaken. Intersight was the winner of State Tourism Award for the Best Inbound Tour Operator of Kerala for three consecutive years, 2009-2010, 20102011 & 2011-2012. It has also won the Best Marketing Agent award of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation for the year 2009-2010. Being an integrated travel and tour operator, Intersight offers a complete range of travel related services for

Abraham George

Chairman & Managing Director

your India holidays. All staffs are well trained in the hospitality sector and are passionate about their work. They are always eager to meet the customer's requirements round the clock, with impeccably planned trips drawn from hands-on experience and in-depth researches. With a vision to gain service

excellence and employee pride through innovation and customer centric services, Intersight has been striving hard to provide unmatched holiday experiences for the customers with the best services while holding high the values such as reliability, dedication and customer satisfaction. Intersight Tours and Travels ensure a positive contribution to the growth of Indian tourism without disturbing nature and the rich cultural heritage of India. It endeavours to develop tour packages which are 100 per cent natural, environment friendly and upholding the essence of Indian culture. Tour packages with a true Indian flavour are created with the involvement of local communities. The various forms of sustainable tourism like 'heritage tourism', 'ecotourism' and 'cultural tourism' are part of the holiday plans. It helps the people with an exciting educational holiday and also benefits our country. The team personally inspects each accommodation to ensure that they reach the expected standards for an authentic experience. Tie ups are in place with the best home stays at each location to make your travel experience 100 per cent authentic, filled with the flavour and warmth of Indian hospitality. With Intersight, experience your holidays exactly the way you had dreamt it.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


TELANGANA TRAVELLER

Karimnagar Sparkles for Telangana Telangana offers some of the most prominent historical as well as tourist attractions. District of Karimnagar is home to oldest monuments as well as temples. Since ancient days Karimnagar has been one of the best cultural centres. The district is also known for its wildlife and architectural excellence of the bygone days‌

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ewly formed Indian state of Telangana offers many tourist attractions of all seasons to frequent travellers. Karimnagar, one of the districts in the state is an ideal place to visit during monsoon and winter seasons. Karimnagar is bounded by the state of Chhattisgarh in the east, Nizamabad district in the west, Warangal and Medak districts in the south and Adilabad district in the north directions. The Godavari and Maneru rivers flow through the district giving it a rich cover of verdant and green forests.

you can enjoy the various historical artefacts from important moments in history. Let's take a look at some of the major tourist attractions of the district. Elgandal Fort (Khilla) is the pride of Karimnagar district. The Khilla fort is located in Elagandula village which is 18 kms away from Karimnagar. Its height is 200 feet and has an area two and half miles. It attracts many visitors. Dharmapuri is a temple town in the district. Situated on the banks of River Godavari,

130 kms from Karimnagar, 32 kms from Manthani and lies on the confluence of the River Pranahitha and the River Godavari. Manair Dam, located at a distance of 3 km from the main town, is one of the most famous tourist places in Karimnagar. This dam is the main source of drinking water for the people of Karimnagar town. Its scenic beauty is wonderful. It has got 19 gates. Boat riding is an attractive event there. A wonderful animal park is located near Manair dam. It has got a variety of animal

Photo: flickr.com

Elgandal Fort, Karimnagar

Karimnagar initially was called Elgandal, which is representative of the Telangana people. The district and town get their name from a Muslim saint called Syed Karimullah Shah Saheb Quadri. Karimnagar holds many important historical locations and showcases an eclectic and beautiful mixture of old monuments and new age attractions. Most of the historical monuments in Karimnagar are visited by large number of visitors, from all over the world. There are many historical museums also located in Karimnagar where 44

78 kms from Karimnagar, the 15th century temple town was an ancient seat of learning languages, literature, dance and music. Among the prominent temples in the town are the 13th century Sri Lakshmi Narsimha Swamy temple, Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple, Sri Ramallingeshwara Swamy temple where Shiva & Vishnu temples exist side by side. River Godavari adds to the scenic splendour. Kaleshwaram, a picturesque spot, surrounded by thick forests is located

the way from Karimnagar to Manthani. One needs to follow the Karimnagar-Manthani road till Begumpet X roads and take right diversion to reach the Begumpet village. The fort is around 2 kms from there and can be reached only on foot. The nearest railway station is Peddapalli which is located on the NewDelhiKazipet line. Ramagiri Khilla is around 20 km from there. Shivaram Wildlife Sanctuary is an undulating natural terrain for wildlife in Karimnagar. The 37 square km riverside stretch forest is

Photo: madhavphotography143.weebly.com

Lower Manair Dam, Karimnagar

species such as deers, sambars, peacocks and parrots etc. Ramagiri Fort is another major tourist attraction in Karimnagar. Often referred as Ratnagarbha, believed to be used by Satavahanas and Kakatiyas as their military establishment. This fort is remarked as the unconquerable fort in Telangana region. The hills and surroundings here are astounding to watch and contain many herbs of medicinal importance. Ramagiri Fort is situated in Kamanpur village at around 60 km from Karimnagar. This fort is on

about 10 km from Manthani and 80 km from Karimnagar. In this forest, you find teak and terminalia. It is home to marsh crocodiles, leopards, black buck, sloth bears, nilgari, cheetahs, langurs and pythons. Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Temple, Vemulawada is situated at about 11 kms to the Northeast of Sirsilla and 36 kms from the Karimnagar on the Karimnagar, KamaReddy bus route. This place owes its importance to the sacred and famous temple of Sri Rajarajeswara, an incarnation of Lord Siva.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


AVIATION

After four years of its India operations, the Dubai-based flydubai extended its operations to Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram recently. flydubai has seen strong demand for its flights in India especially after Pran S Dasan took over as Regional Manager India, Nepal & Sri Lanka. He feels that the carrier, offering passengers convenient and reliable services and an unrivalled onboard experience needs more routes in the subcontinent to grow further. Asian Traveller spoke to Pran S Dasan to know more about his plans and strategies. Excerpts‌ Pran S Dasan

Regional Manager India, Nepal & Sri Lanka at flydubai

Give us a brief overview of flydubai's operations in India. flydubai began flights to India in 2010 in our first year of operation with flights to Lucknow, followed by Hyderabad and Ahmedabad in 2011. In June this year we doubled our network in India with the addition of flights to Delhi, Kochi and Trivandrum and we have just announced the launch of flights to Mumbai which are due to start in October. Mumbai brings the total number of destinations we serve in India to seven. What have been some of your challenges at flydubai and how have you been able to overcome them? The aviation industry is

complex. Increasing fuel costs made up 39.5 per cent of our total operating costs in 2013. We are fortunate to be based at Dubai's global trade, travel and tourism hub and Dubai's open skies policy has been a key factor in the growth of the aviation sector. Any new destinations in India that you are looking at? India has always been an important market for flydubai and we will continue to work with the authorities to deliver more options to passengers who are looking to travel to India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Apart from India, what are other key markets for flydubai? The GCC is an important market for flydubai. We operate

one of the most comprehensive networks in the market with 16 points. Russia is another market that is important to us. In 2013 we doubled our network in Russia and with the start of flights to Moscow on 23 September we will serve nine cities in the country. With an increasing number of destinations, East Africa is another key market for flydubai. What sets flydubai apart from competitors? Operating within a five-and-a-half-hour radius from Dubai, gives 2.5 billion people access to our network and direct flights to Dubai International Airport. We operate a modern fleet of 38 new Next-Generation Boeing

737-800 aircraft with the latest technology and features available including our inflight entertainment system offers passengers 1,000 hours of highdefinition entertainment. In October 2013, we also launched Business Class on many routes that previously didn't offer the service, providing passengers with greater convenience and comfort as they travel. Where do you place flydubai 10 years down the line? flydubai will continue to serve underserved markets within a five-and-a-half-hour flying radius of Dubai and with our latest aircraft order for more than 100 aircraft, we are well placed to serve more destinations, more frequently.

sanctuary. The spa is among the first in the country to elevate the concept of Thermal Suites based on the ancient spa wisdom of Senus Per Aquam

or healing through water. The expansive Suites, separate for men and women, feature deep, dynamic vitality pools with lounge beds and body jets.

ESPA Opens at The Leela Chennai

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he Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts have added another world class product to its offerings with the opening of ESPA at The Leela Palace 46

Chennai. The 16,000 sqft spa combines the best in wellness from the world-renowned ESPA with innovative design and one-of-a-kind urban

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


AVIATION

Lufthansa to Launch A380 in India

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ufthansa will start flying the Airbus A380 super jumbo aircraft to India by the fourth quarter (Q4) of this calendar year, subject to approval from the Government of India. The airline will fly the plane on the Mumbai-FrankfurtMumbai and Delhi-FrankfurtDelhi sectors. The super jumbo A380, which has a three-class configuration, accommodates

526 passengers. Wolfgang Will, Director South Asia, Lufthansa, said that during winter, there is an increase in volume of travellers, and therefore it is beneficial to launch the A380 services to India during that time. Once launched, Lufthansa’s A380 will gradually replace its Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 747-8 that are currently operational on the Mumbai and Delhi routes.

Malindo Air Begins Kochi Operations

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alindo Air has launched its maiden flight service from Kochi with a nonstop flight to Kuala Lumpur. The inaugural flight, a brand new 180-seater Boeing 737-900ER, took off from the Cochin International Airport on April 28. Kochi is Malindo Air's fifth

destination in India and the 10th international destination for the one-year-old carrier. The airline in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia is organising a Malaysia Travel Fair at 'Lulu Mall' in Kochi. Visitors to the fair will get exclusive promotional rates

only available at the fair as the carrier intends to woo more visitors from Kochi to Malaysia for 'Visit Malaysia year 2014'. Malindo Air will be offering free seats to newly launched Kochi service route, excluding airport taxes, valid for one way only. The promotion will

run up to May 25. The airline, which began its operations in March last year, operates a network of scheduled passenger services throughout Malaysia and has expanded to regional destinations such as Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India.


AVIATION

Under his guidance, AirAsia X has expanded from one aircraft to fifteen, breaking the RM 1 billion revenue mark in 2010, in its third full year of operations, and RM 2 billion revenue in 2012. In July 2013, AirAsia X became a public-listed company with a market capitalization of RM3 billion (US$ 1 billion), the first ever long-haul LCC airline to do so. In this brief interview with Asian Traveller, Azran Osman-Rani, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia X, gets candid about the future plans and prospects of the airline. Azran Osman Rani

Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia X

Kindly brief us about the future plans of AirAsia X? We want to keep doing in the future what we love to do now: open up more x-citing destinations for our guests to dream of and explore, adding more flight frequencies and connections to make travelling more convenient, improving our services to make travelling with us more fun, and finding new ways to operate more efficiently so that we can keep offering affordable and attractive fares. Being true to our brand, our focus remains on growing here in Asia, especially connecting Southeast Asia to North Asia and Australia. We're excited about the launch of our cousin, AirAsia India, as that paves the way for our future expansion into the Indian market with its massive potential, and further west to the Middle East. What is the motivation behind Free Seats promotion? That's why our guests love 48

to fly with us. Free seats create impulsive and spontaneous reasons to fly to places our guests may not have thought of visiting before. They share their experiences with their friends and family, and multiply the excitement and buzz about the journeys and adventures, as well as sharing the experience of flying with us. Who doesn't love a free flight? Is it true that AirAsia X is currently engaged in a price war with Malaysian Airlines? We're doing what we've always been doing and we have not changed. AirAsia X is always about lowest fares to our destinations. We also offer a comfortable flight experience on new aircraft, service with a smile, and a convenient way to purchase and interact with us via our online platforms. Its our tried and true recipe everywhere we fly. According to you, what are the key aspects of human resource management?

Firstly, we don't even call it 'human resource management'. We call it 'people management'. Our Allstars (employees) make our airline. They make all the difference. We believe if we practice mutual trust and respect, create an environment for healthy two-way communication by being accessible, and create great opportunities for growth and advancement, people will always want to be part of our team. Most importantly, I subscribe to the simple adage: 'say what you mean, and do what you say'. What have been the impacts of the mysterious disappearance of MH370? We are not involved. What is the secret behind the exponential growth of AirAsia X in a fiercely competitive aviation market? Be bold. Move fast. Have a thick skin to endure all the criticisms and a high tolerance for pain – by finding the 'fun' in everything that we do.

What kind of role has Stanford played in your successful career? Stanford was a great environment to discover myself. It helped to shape a zany sense of curiosity, confidence with ambiguity and uncertainty, and an unquenching thirst for adventure. It made me who I am. Is it an advantage being a low-cost long-haul airline? Haha. Many would suggest otherwise. You need to be masochistic to be a long-haul LCC. We believe the advantage comes only when we are the fastest, the largest, and the most fun in the space that we compete in. What are your targets for 2014? This is our most x-citing year! We're expecting to turbo-charge our growth at a 40 per cent rate this year, fuelled by the capital we raised from last year's IPO and fuelled by the passion that courses through our veins to become the undisputed top dog in the long-haul LCC space globally.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


AVIATION

Gulf Air Adds More Flights to Kuwait

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ahrain's national carrier, Gulf Air, will increase its flights between Bahrain and Kuwait from 40 to 42 flights per week following an increase in passenger demand. Gulf Air's acting chief commercial Ahmed Janahi said, "We are delighted to

announce two additional frequencies between Bahrain and Kuwait. With 42 weekly flights between Bahrain and Kuwait, travellers from across the Gulf Air network can take advantage of our fast and easy connections via Bahrain." The two additional

Oman Air Commences Flights to Duqm Airport

AirAsia to Expand to North India

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man Air has started serving the new Omani Regional Airport at Duqm. The service consists of four flights per week, operating Oman Air's Embraer E175 aircraft. The importance of Duqm as an industrial centre in Oman has grown rapidly in recent years, as USD two billion worth of investment have facilitated

the construction of quays, dry docks, roads and hotels, in addition to the new airport.

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ew no-frill carrier AirAsia India will fly to Chandigarh in two months as part of its expansion plans to North India, Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, AirAsia Berhad has said in Singapore. "In two months we are going to Chandigarh," said Fernandes. "We are going to put six planes in India", said Fernandes, adding that expansion was underway to

weekly frequencies between Bahrain and Kuwait will operate on Saturdays and Sundays departing Bahrain at 13:15 to arrive into Kuwait International Airport at 14:20 and departing Kuwait at 15:05, arriving in Bahrain International Airport at 16:05.

many destinations in India including Jaipur. Fernandes said he was also getting good response from many other state governments in India as they see what AirAsia 'can do'. He also said that he was thrilled by the AirAsia India operations so far. "The team is doing great in India," he said. AirAsia India currently operates flights from its current base Bengaluru to Chennai, Kochi and Goa.


KARNATAKA TRAVELLER

Embrace Nature Like Never Before

Tucked away in the midst of mountains, ravines, a mighty river, jungle sounds, and succulent greenery, the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is an idyllic getaway where anglers and nature enthusiasts can get a whiff of raw adventure and a view of the majestic Cauvery as it bounces over jagged rocks.

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uench your thirst for adventure and add a dollop of thrill to your holidays with a trek to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the Cauvery flowing through the picturesque valley below or by rafting down the rapids of the mighty river. The less adventurous can visit the ruins of the magnificent sculpted Shiva temple, a place of worship for the local Soliga tribes or even indulge in a game of fishing. 50

Located at a distance of 100 kilometer from Bangalore city, with river Cauvery as the northern and southern boundary, the sanctuary attracts nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers. There are a number of low hills, rocky knobs and outcrops all along the length of the Cauvery as it leaves several waterfalls in its path towards the sea. These waterfalls form the backdrop for famous Bangalorean

weekend getaways Mekedatu, Hogenakal falls, Sangama and Muthathi. Sangama is the place where two tributaries of the mighty Cauvery join the main river. Muthathi is a place mentioned in the Ramayana and thus is an important pilgrim place. This sanctuary has the famous Cauvery fishing camp and is one of the best places to have a great time on the banks of a river. Declared a sanctuary on

January 14, 1987, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary forms an important part of the drier forests of Karnataka spread in Chamarajanagar, Ramanagar and Mandya Districts. The sanctuary has riverine and dry deciduous forests and some patches of scrub forest. Along the river, trees such as Terminalina arjuna and Syzygium cumini dominate the vegetation. Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), Hardwickia binata, Acacia

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


KARNATAKA TRAVELLER

amara, and other species of acacia represent the vegetation in the rest of the sanctuary. The jungle contains very valuable trees like rose wood, teak, mahony and other hardwoods. It supports good densities of Asian elephants depicting the ecological importance of the sanctuary. Some of the large mammals found in the sanctuary include tiger, leopard, wild dog, striped

hyena, sloth bear, elephant, gaur, sambar, chital and four-horned antelope. Smooth coated-otter and marsh crocodile are two important riverine wildlife species found here. Cauvery is the only place in Karnataka where the endangered grizzled giant squirrel is found and also has good densities of fourhorned antelopes making it an important area for the

conservation of these two species. The sanctuary is also famous for the endangered fish Deccan Mahsheer. Recently an additional area of about 500 square kilometer was added to Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary from adjacent forest divisions, making it one of the largest contiguous wildlife habitats. Birds found in the sanctuary are typical of drier areas. They include the Sirkeer,

Cuckoo, Greenbilled Malkoha, Whitebrowed Bulbul and Pigmy Woodpecker, Orsprey, Grey headed Fish Eagle, Green Imperial Pigeon, River Tern, Brahminy Kite, Black Eagle, Indian shag, Darter, Purple heron, Little green heron, Median egret, Black ibis, Spoonbill, Lesser whistling teal, Pintail etc. Best time to visit Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is between May and November.


Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere

Luxury Has A New Name

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asundhara Sarovar Premiere Alleppey is definitely one of the most exciting places to be in where traditional Kerala culture and luxury merged brilliantly to a vibrant stream of hospitality. Situated by the serene backwaters of Vayalar, Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere offers you the multilayed slice of Kerala with all its versatility and culture. The moment you step into the hotel, you can feel the difference as the resplendent walls at the reception shows off vivid murals inspired by temple art, telling fantastic tales of heroes and legends. As you wander through the resort, where lush gardens intersect with calm water bodies creating an aquatic masterpiece, you can see untouched hues of sunrises and sunsets make perfect backdrops of Vasundhara 52

Saraovar's yoga deck. Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere has 60 well furnished and designed Villas and Suites categorized as Heritage Villas, Floating Cottages, Luxury Houseboat, Deluxe Suites, Presidential Suites, Deluxe Rooms and Superior Rooms. Heritage Villas consists of a century old Kovilakam (prince's palace) with 4 rooms and a Naalukettu (a traditional Kerala home) with 2 rooms on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, complete with a private sit out, garden, and courtyard it offers royal charm and heritage. Deluxe Suites and large luxury rooms at Vasundhara Sarovar carries different themes based on different plants or herbs and offers views of the entire property and water bodies around it. The alluring design and ultimate comfort of rooms

at the hotel connect new and old ways with the spirit of Kerala. Traditional and holistic spa treatments at the hotel and a multi cuisine menu pamper your personal fulfilments while an extensive range of facilities and play area keeps your little ones entertained. Vasundhara Sarovar offers you a plethora of facilities and activities, whether you're interested in sightseeing, shopping, nature or adventure. Within the property, too, there are a host of things to keep you and family entertained, relaxed and energized. A 24 hour concierge fulfils your

every need. The hotel has an open air amphitheatre where you can enjoy the dramatic and colourful traditional performing arts and music of Kerala like Koodiyattam, Kathakalai and Mohiniyattam. Other activities include fishing expeditions, water sports with speed boat trips, pedal boats, a canoe, a row boat and sunset cruises, walking/jogging trail around the property, cycles available to explore the property and around. Whether it's a romantic escape, family holiday or offsite event, Vasundhara fulfils every requirement.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


HOSPITALITY

The Leela New Delhi Ensures Safety of Women

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he Leela Palace hotel in New Delhi is all set to offer Kamal (lotus) package for single women travellers to make them feel safe while on their trip to New Delhi. The package includes complimentary pick-up and drop from and to airport with trusted drivers to women tour guides for guests. Kamal guests at the Leela will be given a female-only floor,

Hospitality Leads in Job Creation

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ospitality Industry in India is growing faster than IT, BPO, Retail and BFSI segment in the country. According to a recent report, talent demand in the hospitality industry is higher than high volume industries of the above mentioned sectors. Hotel professionals have the highest number of jobs in the industry. The Travel and Hospitality industry reported a 15 per cent growth in demand for talent. Demand for hospitality professionals recorded a 30 per cent increase in a month and their demand is driven by tourism and food services sector. There are jobs available for hospitality professionals in distinct sectors such as Consulting Services and BPO, the report added.

Suba Enters UAE

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ndia's Suba Group of Hotels has opened its first property - a 4-star 92-room hotel – in Dubai and said it has plans to expand to other Gulf countries over the next three years. Suba has plans to open up a couple of hotels in the Middle East and the GCC. They have planned to open at least 3 hotels in the next 3 years. We are scouting for available venues. The next probable hotel will be in Doha. At the moment the priority region is the UAE as well as Qatar. They have four hotels planned in India in the next few years, the first being in Baroda, followed by Goa, Bangalore and Bhuj.

with all-women check-in staff, concierge, housekeeping staff and butlers. The special package guests will also have access to a private or all-female spa. The hotel will ensure security cameras in all corridors, stair cases and any other public place. The special women package will be launched by Leela on September 15. The move is an effort to win back tourists.


HOSPITALITY

With a collection of 5-Star hotels and fine restaurants in Thailand, New Zealand and India, Deepak Ohri, CEO, lebua Hotels & Resorts, is now focusing on expanding the lebua brand globally. Born in India, he worked with Kempinski, Oberoi and Taj hotels before founding The Dome at lebua , a collection of six bars and restaurants including Sirocco, in Bangkok in 2004. In addition to the Bangkok flagship hotel, he also operates lebua Lake Okareka Lodge in New Zealand and Devi Garh by lebua, lebua Resort and lebua Lodge at Amer in India. In this brief interview with Asian Traveller, Deepak Ohri gets candid about his company's performance in India and expansion plans.

Deepak Ohri

CEO, lebua Hotels & Resorts

Kindly share with us the expansion plans of lebua Hotels and Resorts. As we speak, lebua is expanding its dining concepts to Europe through a strategic partnership with Steigenberger Hotel Group, which will begin with the 2015 launch of Breeze in Frankfurt, Germany, and is exploring hotel management contracts in city and resort destinations worldwide. How is lebua performing in India? The hospitality sector has been facing unprecedented challenges in India in terms of increased capacity and the unfavourable domestic and global economy. Despite the current pressures, however, our hotels in India are growing their RevPAR and reaching new milestones. The tastes and expectations of our Indian guests have been evolving over the years to the point where they appreciate the luxurious experience offered by our hotels. Meanwhile, India's relaxed visa policy should further help to grow our business from overseas markets. 54

You have once said that 90 per cent of restaurants fail in the first year. What made you say so? In a competitive environment, the key factors that can influence a restaurant's success or failure are its physical location, how it differentiates itself, and how fast it grows. While a restaurant can benefit from being close to the competition, it could find itself in a cluster of restaurants within which it cannot compete, and while small companies tend to be positioned for growth, if that growth occurs too quickly, the ensuing financial pressure can lead to failure. How do you choose the countries for your hotels? We aspire to grow lebua Hotels & Resorts globally by realizing our potential for creating memorable, personal and exceptional experiences for our guests, replicating the high profitability model of the Bangkok property in current and future properties and being the leader in the luxury class in all markets.

It is a delicate balance between maintaining our niche market and remaining profitable. Tell us about your participation in the Forbes Global CEO conference. In 2008 and 2009, I was invited to participate in the prestigious Forbes Global CEO conference which drew together some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs, multinational and emerging company CEOs, financiers and thought leaders under one roof. It was a truly extraordinary event. You have won a slew of awards. Which one means the most to you? Of course I am deeply flattered by the awards I have received personally, but feel even more fulfilled by the awards received by our hotels and restaurants as they affirm that our somewhat iconoclastic approach to hospitality and luxury is working. Among these, the awards that represent the votes of our guests are the ones that mean the most. What has been the most challenging undertaking of your entire career? That would be the launch of Sirocco and the food & beverage outlets that followed at The Dome at lebua. We pioneered al fresco restaurants and bars in Thailand. That Sirocco recently earned the

distinction of becoming the only restaurant in Thailand since 2010 to score a Perfect Ten on the 'Thailand's Best Restaurants' list is an affirmation that our concept was successful, as is the iconic status of these destinations among both local and international guests. Afterwards, the challenge was to build on this success to create the lebua Hotels & Resorts brand and make it just as successful in the hospitality sector, then see to it that the F&B and hospitality operations grew together and became synonymous with the overall concept of luxury in the minds of our guests. How much has the stints at Kempinski and Taj Hotels helped your career? I appreciate the opportunities I had to work with iconic brands like Kempinski and Taj Hotels. The experience I gained there has allowed me to bring a new dimension to my role as CEO of lebua and make it one of the most successful hospitality businesses in the world. Do you have a particular target clientele? We target international travellers with the wealth to experience luxury travel and destinations as well as local markets that are well educated in the concepts of service and design. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


HOSPITALITY

IFC Puts $21 Million into SAMHI Hotels

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nternational Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has invested USD 21 million in SAMHI Hotels to help them increase capacity in affordable and mid-market hotel segment. This is IFC's first investment in the hotel sector in India. IFC expects this financing

in SAMHI Hotels will create 2,600 new jobs across the hotel company's various hotel projects in India. With this third round of funding, SAMHI will expand its portfolio by

developing Greenfield hotels and through acquisitions in tier I and tier II cities. "IFC's investment is an affirmation of the support it provides to affordable hotels in countries with increasing domestic travel and rapidly growing middle classes", said Vipul Prakash, Director for

Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and Services, Asia Pacific, IFC. Since its incorporation in 2011, SAMHI Hotels has partnered with global hotel operators such as Marriott, Starwood Hotels, Accor and Hyatt to manage its portfolio of 25 hotels comprising over 3,700 rooms.

JW Marriott Expands Luxury Portfolio in China

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W Marriott Hotels & Resorts unveiled the 416-room JW Marriott Hotel Zhengzhou in Henan Province of China under

an agreement with the owner partners, Henan Greenland Zhongyuan Real Estate Development and Shanghai Greenland Business Group. "This is our first hotel in Zhengzhou which is an important transportation, business and convention hub in central China. We are on course to

open new JW Marriott hotels in Macao, Chongqing, Kunming and Shenzhen over the next 12 months", said, Simon Cooper, President & Managing Director, Marriott International Asia. This new hotel is located on the top floors of the Millennium Royal Plaza, which is the tallest building in Central China. The JW Marriott Hotel Zhengzhou is the seventh JW

Marriott hotel in the Greater China region. The JW Marriott Hotel Zhengzhou offers more than 2,500 square meters of stunning function and event space, including the 1,000 square meters JW Grand Ballroom with an LED wall panel, six meeting rooms – each with natural daylight – and a spacious pre-function ballroom foyer.


HOSPITALITY

Hemal Jain does not mince words when he says that there are no shortcuts to success, but a constant strive towards achieving one's goal and a never ending desire for learning, to keep oneself abreast with the latest developments in one's walk of work. He started his career as a Front Office Assistant and then went on to hold various positions with Park Hyatt, Four Seasons, Hilton and Oberoi across India. He first joined the Alila Hotels & Resorts family in 2009 as a Front Office Manager. He has been part of the team at Alila Bangalore since mid-2010 when he joined the hotel as Front Office Manager before progressing to Director of Sales and Marketing. Today, he is the General Manager of Alila Bangalore. In this brief interview with Asian Traveller, Hemal Jain talks about the ever-changing and ever-challenging hospitality industry. Hemal Jain

General Manager of Alila Bangalore

Being a hotelier, what were the hurdles you faced from the industry? The hospitality scenario has evolved over the past few years; rapid industrialization followed by increased global traveller traffic has paved the way for increasing number of hotels, thus having a disproportionate impact on the demand supply aspect. Often, over supply has been noticed as the most detrimental factor to the overall business. Tell us from your experience how you have handled demanding situations with calm and dignity? A demanding situation needs to be heard patiently and immediate solutions have to be provided in the face of a critical situation or a guest. I have observed, that

when guests are heard and responded to in an amicable manner, they too respond positively. At Alila Bangalore, we stress on the need of having honest conversations with the guest which will immediately set the expectations and there will be no scope for conflicting situations. I personally get involved in resolving conflicts with the relevant teams to empower them and help them serve our guests better. The guests are more demanding as far as the amenities provided are concerned. How do you see this change affect the hotel industry? What are the changes you suggest to be at par with guest expectations? Guest satisfaction is the ultimate goal of any hotelier. The present generation is well

traversed and have greater awareness levels which make them rightfully demanding. They want it now – and they want it right the first time. A single poor experience can mar the relationship with the guest and hence we take great card by way of digital profiling of the guest thus taking care of their preferences. To top it up, I personally make it a point to meet and greet guests which helps me understand gaps if any. Personalized conversation is my top priority as it has always provided me with deeper insights into guest expectations which help create lasting experiences for the guest. The tourism industry is ever changing. How do you see the changes in the industry? The ever changing nature

of the industry is such that it affects the predictability of the business at all point of time. However, I believe there is immense potential in the growth of the sector resulting from numerous start ups across the country, increasing industrial set up, FDI and much more. What are the major challenges faced by the hospitality industry players? Due to the increasing number of hotels mushrooming across the length and the breadth of the country, lower occupancy continues to remain a concern. Over the next few years, the country is expected to witness the highest number of new hotel rooms which will continue to remain a challenge for the hospitality sector.

to open by 2016. Grey Fox Project Management Company, the project management subsidiary of Lemon Tree and Valerian Management

Services, their architectural and interior design firm, will be active advisors to Laskhana Consultants and Hoteliers for this project.

Lemon Tree Comes to Coimbatore

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arnation Hotels, the hotel management joint venture partner of Lemon Tree Hotels, has signed a management contract for building a Lemon 56

Tree Hotel with Laskhana Consultants and Hoteliers. The 60-room hotel is presently under development at Kalapatti in Coimbatore and is expected

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


HOSPITALITY

Lords Hotels and Resorts Launches Resort in Sasan Gir

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ords Hotel & Resorts has recently launched its 56-room hotel in Sasan Gir to cater to both the domestic and international traveller. The Group, presently owns and manages 22 hotels, has aggressive expansion plans with five more property in different parts of the country being planned to be brought under it folds in next six months. By 2016, the chain intends to take the number

to 49 hotels, making it the largest operating in its category in the country. "Sasan Gir needs no introduction and it's a sought after destination for high end domestic and foreign tourists. With the opening of this resort, we are looking towards delivering our services to match up to their expectations", said Rishi Puri, Vice President Lords Hotels and Resorts. The resort has well

Ganga to Have Floating Hotels

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dip in Ganga is believed to wash away all your sins. And, what about staying the whole day/night in the holy waters of the Ganga? Floating Hotels are being planned to boost tourism on the sacred river Ganga. The first such project under the

Ganga rejuvenation scheme is likely to commence near Patna. The hotel will be different from a cruise in that it will not sail from one point to another. And, unlike a houseboat, it will travel only short distances and offer sightseeing tours on the Ganga.

furnished rooms and suites designed to take care of wide and varied needs of the tourists. With the facilities like swimming pool, dedicated play areas, 24 hour in room

dining, it is a perfect place to rejuvenate and unplug oneself. The 24 hour multicuisine restaurant-Blue Coriander further adds to the dining option.

Tune Hotels Aims to Expand in South India

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une Hotels is all set to spread their properties across South India. Tony Fernandes, CEO, AirAsia said his hospitality venture Tune Hotels will focus more on expanding in South India. "Like AirAsia, Tune Hotels will grow in India. We will focus more on South India. Wherever AirAsia flies we would have a hotel there", he said. Sources close to the maverick entrepreneur said the hotels would attract around

USD 30 million in investments. Tune hotels opened its first India hotel in Ahmedabad in 2013. The hotel which has 100 rooms is part of the 4-D Square Mall, located on the Vista-Gandinagar highway. Currently, four hotels are being constructed in Biwadi, Neemrana, Daman and Chandigarh. These are likely to be operational in the next one year. Sites have also been earmarked in Mumbai, Coimbatore and Goa.

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HOSPITALITY

Though the hospitality industry offers a vast range of opportunities to young and enterprising individuals, demand for good hospitality professionals has skyrocketed alongside the growth in the supply of hotels. Rishi Puri, Associate Vice President-Operations at Lords Group carries more than two decades experience in the hospitality industry, is a good example of a quality hospitality professional. An alumnus of IHM Lucknow, he has worked with major brands like Welcomgroup, Holiday Inn, Wyndham, Carlson etc. In his new assignment, he heads the Operations of the Lords Group and closely handles new hotel development and business advancement of the group. Asian Traveller talks to him to know further about his new role and that of the industry in this brief interview‌ Rishi Puri

Associate Vice President-Operations at Lords Group

The last couple of years have not been very easy for hotel industry in India. How did Lords hotels perform during the tough operating climate? The hotel industry has witnessed some very tough time during the past few years. Being an integral part of the industry, Lords has also faced the impact of the same though marginal. This was because Lords has positioned itself so very well especially in Tier 2 & 3 cities where impact was not very severe. The decline in domestic and international tourists was well reflected at our properties but we coped up well. Lords phased it out in an organized manner by ensuring that the bottom line remained constant or grows by minimizing the energy related expenses as long as it did not compromise with the guest's comfort. Further on, we started introducing value added packages to those taking high number of room nights, which did not lead to compromise on financials. For Lords, it was a period of consolidation and careful and calculated steps. 58

How important is Indian market for Lords and what are your projections in terms of number of hotels, room inventories, etc. in this market? Indian market contributes approximately 85 percent of business to Lords. Having our presence in more than 22 cities across India and enjoying the status of being the largest Chain in Gujarat, we definitely cater to a large number of Indian tourists compared to foreigners. Despite the slow-down in recent years, this segment has grown. With a stable government at helm of affairs, the positive business sentiments are playing out in economy, we expect this segment to grow further. Lords has a large inventory of 1400 plus keys. Having a futuristic vision, Lords has ambition to have 49 hotels by the end of 2016 specialising in Tier 2 & 3 cities and also religious destinations which definitely carry a good potential. Skill shortage is a major concern for hospitality industry in the country. How

Lords Hotels is dealing with this issue? Skill shortage is a major concern in the trade today. At Lords we are faced with similar circumstances as we have our hotels at remote locations. However, to enhance the skills of our employed force and new recruitments, we hold regular training & proper Induction sessions. These training modules are scientifically designed and are easy to grasp for any employee at grass root level. Besides trying to recruit people from the reputed institutes we also have certified trainers & in turn they follow the unique T3 (Train The Trainer) program. Lords envisaged the need for skilled employees and launched their own Hotel Management Institute at Surat which specializes in training the new hotel professionals apart from updating skill sets of existing team members. What does the economic scenario look like for the Indian hospitality sector? The economic scenario at the moment appears very

bright. With the pro tourism policies of the new government and their laying special emphasis on tourism growth, times to come might be better than any one's expectation. For us it is a period of Treading with Caution How significant is the inclusion of tourism in the new government's agenda for the hospitality sector? It is most significant that the new government plays a vital role in promoting tourism and adopts various policies like single window concepts etc to further ensure that new players are encouraged. Tourism alone can contribute a large chunk to GDP apart from getting the much needed foreign currency. Tourism has potential to contribute greatly to employment generation. Lords with its strong presence across the country also stand to benefit greatly. India's image as tourist destination has taken a beating after recent reports of attacks on foreign tourists, especially women. Does this pose problems for the

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


HOSPITALITY country's hospitality sector? Yes these negative few incidents do discourage the foreigners and also the local tourist. Most certainly attacks on tourists will reflect in the incoming traffic of the tourists. How did the idea of setting up the brand at Sasan Gir emerge? A very valid question,

Please note that since it's a national park and quite popular in Gujarat which enjoys both domestic and International tourists. Lords wanted to ensure that these guests came with high expectations of catching a glimpse of Asiatic Lions have a place to rejuvenate them. Hence we set on a target to

get a beautiful resort there that catered to the needs of esteemed clients, who like to enjoy the natural beauty without compromising on comfort. What other markets in India are you looking at currently? We are looking at adding more hotels both nationally & internationally and are now working on a pilgrimage circuit

as we already have presence in many destinations like Kathmandu, Katra-Vaishno Devi, Shirdi, Somnath, Dwarka etc. We are also looking to make our presence in the South and North of the country. We are already present in many industrial port destinations and would continue to cover more ports within the country.

PM Calls for Cleanliness to Boost Tourism

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mphasizing on cleanliness that would support country's tourism potentials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his maiden Independence Day speech has urged for all out national campaign to make cities, towns and villages of the country clean and tidy. In his hour-long speech from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on nation's 68th Independence Day, the Prime Minister, among various other

things spoke extempore about Tourism and the government's vision to make India a tourism friendly destination. The Prime Minister said that the government wanted to promote tourism because the sector has got the potential to create and provide employment and livelihood to poorest of poor in the society including tea vendors, taxi operators, gram sellers, etc. However, the Prime Minister said that the

filthy and untidy environment create bad impression about the country and our destinations. He urged people to unite and work towards making their surroundings in cities, towns, and villages clean. The new government has taken Cleanliness as a major mission for itself since taken office, he informed. The Prime Minister also announced a four-year long campaign, Clean India, for this purpose

which will culminate with the 150th birth anniversary in 2019. Cleanliness and sanitation were close to Mahatmaji's heart, he informed. The Prime Minister also urged the youth in the country to take active part in national building activities by acquiring necessary skills. Pronouncing the government's openness in inviting new investments, the Prime Minister urged investors to 'Come, make in India'.

Light House Beach, Kovalam, Vizijnam P O, Trivandrum- 695 521, Kerala, India. Tel: +91-471-2481476, 2481077 Email: goldensands@email.com, web: www.goldensands.co.in


HOSPITALITY

Dubai's Hotels Attract More Than 5.8 Million Visitors in H1

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ore than 5.8 million visitors stayed in Dubai's hotels during the first half of the year, up from around 5.5 million visitors during the same period in 2013, according

to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The visitor numbers were the highest ever recorded for the first half of the year.

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Launches Spa by JW

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts unveiled Spa by JW, a new concept created to demystify and re-imagine the spa experience that offers guests an intuitive experience that is luxurious yet purposeful with treatments and products designed to address four core benefit states: Calm, Indulge, Invigorate and Renew. The first Spa by JW will debut in September at the new

JW Marriott Houston Downtown, followed by the JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar in December, with more than 20 Spa by JWs in the pipeline. "Spa by JW offers an environment where you can choose exactly what you want, when you want, without any of the intimidation or hassle," said Mitzi Gaskins, Vice President and Global Brand Manager for JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts. Designed for guests who do not have the luxury of time, Spa by JW express treatments provide on-demand services that start at a 12-minute entry point and are bookable without an appointment.

IHCL to Add 3700 Rooms in 3 Years

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he Indian Hotels Co. Ltd (IHCL), a part of Tata Group announced big expansion plans to add 33 hotels with 3,700 rooms and has committed ' 440 crore for the next three years. The Mumbai-based hotel chain, 60

which currently has 125 hotels, will add 33 new hotels across its four brands - Taj, Vivanta by Taj, Gateway, and Ginger. These 33 hotels together will have 3,700 rooms, which will take IHCL's total number of rooms to about 20,000.

Guest numbers amounted to 5,828,449, bringing in Dh 12.74 billion in revenue, up 10.9 per cent over the first half of 2013. Hotels and hotel apartments' room and food and beverage revenues rose 15.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively. "The figures show an increase in visitors from many of our key source markets — for example we are seeing strong growth from China, Brazil, Australia and many countries in Europe," stated Helal Almarri, director-general of the DTCM. Saudi Arabia continued to be Dubai's top source market, followed by India, the UK, the United States, Russia,

China, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Germany. The number of visitors from different source markets has shown growth, but Chinese visitors in particular have gone up by 26 per cent year-on-year. Guest nights spent increased by 6.7 per cent for hotels and 4.1 per cent for hotel apartments. Meanwhile, the length of stay in hotels and hotel apartments grew to 3.4 days and 5.7 days, respectively. Dubai is diversifying its tourism offerings and adding more hotels to attract a range of visitors. Since June last year, more than 7,000 rooms have been in the emirate, bringing the total number to 88,680 across 634 properties.

Embassy Group to Invest Heavily on Hospitality

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angalore-based Embassy Group is planning to invest about ' 1,500 crore for the expansion of its hospitality business and is in the process of buying out the property on which the Four Seasons hotel is located, entailing an investment of ' 600 crore. Embassy announced the opening of Hilton hotel in Bangalore, with an investment of ' 350 crore for a 247 room

hotel spread over four acres. With this, the total rooms operated by the hotel major have gone up to 2,000 in India. The group is also in talks with several other Indian companies to expand its hotel presence in the country. Embassy Group would open its DoubleTree hotel brand at Agra in October this year and Conrad hotel brand at Pune next year.

Aloft Hotels to Get Robotic Butlers

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loft, a brand under Starwood Hotels and Resorts will soon introduce A.L.O. pronounced "el-oh", the hotels' first Botlr (short for robotic butler). At the Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California, A.L.O is being fine-tuned for the official launch of this pilot program. Standing just under 3 feet tall, A.L.O. comes dressed in a vinyl-collared butler uniform and will be on call all day and night to fulfill requests from guests. All guests of the hotel have to do is call the front desk, where staff will load up the Botlr with requested items,

punch in the guest's room number and send it off to make the delivery. The bot can navigate hallways and even call for the elevator using Wi-Fi. The Botlr was designed and built by Sunnyvale, California, start-up Savioke.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


HOSPITALITY

Embrace Mother Nature at KTDC Thanneermukkom

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he Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) run Thanneermukkom Ayurvedic Lake Resort is a great place to spend peaceful vacations and is also an abode to experience the green therapy of Kerala's typical Ayurveda. It is one of the best options of accommodation while on a tour to Kerala. Garlanded by majestic coconut trees with

flocks of water birds blanketing its skies, the resort is strategically located beside the Thanneermukkom bund in Alappuzha district. This magnificent resort also provide curative and wellness treatment based on Ayurveda, yoga along with other facilities. With lush green surroundings and tranquil ambience, the more than 120 year old traditional Kerala resort brings guests close to the Mother Nature. It is decorated magnificently and possesses all the facilities that are required for a comfortable stay. For all visitors, the resort offers rejuvenative and

Enjoy

therapeutic treatments for various ailments with a stamp of authenticity. With rooms facing the backwaters, one may experience Ayurveda, through a team of well-qualified physicians. It also offers Yoga and Meditation along with Ayurveda Packages. Guests can also visit the nearby coir village and handicraft centre. Fishing, backwater cruise and Kathakali dance performance are some additional activities one can indulge in during a stay. The resort comprises 43 rooms which are like cottage type block of rooms having its own garden front and some having lake view. Rooms have private balconies or patios. 32-cm LCD televisions with premium TV channels provide entertainment, with wired and wireless Internet access

available for a surcharge. Each room is attended to room service and has an attached bathroom with roundthe-clock supply of water. For enhancing the comfort level of guests, the resort offers facilities like parking, doctor-on-call and laundry. The resort serves fresh and hygienic food at its on-site restaurant, which boasts of nice seating arrangement. The dining facilities at the Thanneermukkom Ayurvedic Lake Resort provide the guests of the hotel with a taste of the authentic cuisine of Kerala. As per the changing demands of guests, it keeps on adding new items to its menu. Banquet and conference facilities are also available at Thanneermukkom Ayurvedic Lake Resort.

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your mind

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Facilities RESORTS

Feel the magic of nature

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Lake n Hills Resort Sengulam P.O., Munnar, Idukki Dist., Kerala State, India. Pin - 685 561 Call: 9656037048, 04865 263355 E-mail: lakenhillsresorts@gmail.com


HOSPITALITY

Sarovar Hotels Open Rajasthan, Gujarat Property

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arovar Hotels & Resorts opened new hotels in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Optus Hometel in Bhiwadi is the fourth property for Sarovar in Rajasthan while Ambar Sarovar Portico, business hotel in Gandhidham is the groups third in Gujarat. Guest rooms and suites at Optus Hometel are modern in appeal and offer all contemporary amenities for a comfortable stay. Onsite dining options include

Flavours, the all day dining restaurant and Chill, the lounge bar. The banqueting space at the property can accommodate up to 500 guests. Ambar Sarovar Portico features 58 rooms and suites for the modern traveller.

The hotel offers all the contemporary amenities such as flat-screen TV, mini bar, wireless internet, writing desk and much more in its superior rooms. Anil Madhok, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts said "Bhiwadi is emerging as the next big industrial and real estate hub in NCR region. The Optus Hometel in Bhiwadi will help fulfill the requirement for good quality accommodation

and services that discerning business travellers are already seeking in the region and Gandhidham is one of the biggest ports of India and is also known for its Jain temples. So it attracts both business and leisure travellers throughout the year". The hotels offer guests a multi-cuisine dining experience and features stateof-the-art business facilities and conference rooms with banqueting facilities.

Occupancy Rate Remains Low at Indian Luxury Hotels

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ndia's luxury hotel segment witnessed an occupancy rate that remained below 60 per cent in the first quarter this year, marginally better than the last year's level. All-India average room rates in the quarter declined 3 per cent, hovering at ` 5,500/night. Overall, tariffs have dropped 40 per cent in the

last four years. Experts attributed the poor industry performance to the growing supply of rooms and the general economic slowdown. Branded-hotel room inventory has risen close to 40 per cent, or 96,000 rooms, in the last four years while demand has grown lower at 15 per cent. The elections have

also added to the slowdown. According to hotel consultancy HVS, India is expected to

Ministry of Tourism Eases Norms for Hotel Classification

Get Rewarded For Your Stay at Premier Inn

P

remier Inn has announced the launch of its Loyalty Rewards Card programme for guests at all its properties across India. To avail this programme, guests need to enroll in the programme after which they are issued a stamp card. For every thousand rupees spent at any of the properties, the card is stamped and the guest can avail exciting offers on their next visit.

Rewards increase with each stamp, starting with complimentary beverages and food and culminating in a free room night for two after the fifth stamp. The offer can be availed at all the existing Premier Inn properties in India across New Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune. The Loyalty Rewards Card Programme is now on and valid till 15 December, 2014.

add another 54,000 branded rooms in the coming three to four years.

T

he tourism ministry has cut down the number of mandatory approvals for hotels from 17-18 down to two. The ministry approves and classifies hotels according to the amenities and facilities provided to guests. The ministry will only seek 'trade' and 'bar' (where applicable) license from the hotel owner. Earlier, the

ministry sought certificates of clearances from environment ministry, police, pollution board, fire services and airport among others. "We are working to simplify various processes and procedures without compromising on quality. In this regard, we have simplified the hotel approval and classification guidelines", said Shripad Naik, Tourism Minister. Instead of numerous approvals, a hotel owner must now produce an affidavit with an undertaking that the approvals have been taken from the respective authorities. The ministry will restrict its role to inspection of the "look and feel'' of the hotel and the amenities it provides a customer.

Brigade to Open Eight New Hotels in South

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rigade Hospitality Services is planning to open eight new hotels in South India over the next five years. The company is expected to invest ` 750 crore in five and three star hotels to be managed by international operators. 62

Brigade has entered into partnerships deals with international hospitality chains like the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Star Wood Hotels and Resorts and is scouting for strategic locations in cities, including Bangalore,

Mysore, Cochin, and Chennai. The company would open a 202 room five star HolidayInn hotel in Chennai and the 150 room five star Grand Mercure hotel in Mysore in the second or third quarter of FY 2015, which will be under the

management of Holiday Inn and Accor hotel chains. The company has also lined up three hotels under Holiday Inn Express brand in Mysore, Cochin and Bangalore in the three-start category, which will be in the 150-200 room range. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


EXTRA

Seychelles to Woo More Indian Tourists

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n an attempt to boost tourism potentials and to position the country as a perfect holiday destination to Indians, a high powered delegation from Seychelles tourism and business community visited New Delhi and Mumbai. The delegation led by the Minister of Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange met

his India counterpart Shripad Yesso Naik to discuss tourism cooperation between the two countries. Alain St. Ange stressed upon India's significance as a potential market for Seychelles Tourism Board and presented the vision to deepen the core of this co-operation over the next five years with a view to

position Seychelles as an exotic and all-inclusive destination to target Indian travellers. The Q1 of 2014 has seen a 15 per cent growth as compared to the Q1 of 2013 and they expect this upward trend to continue across 2014 and 2015. Besides the flow of Indian tourists to Seychelles, Indian filmmakers also have a great opportunity to gain access to the stunning and unexplored filming locations of the exotic islands. An association with filmmakers is in turn going to be beneficial for positioning Seychelles as a complete holiday destination for Indian travellers. Alongside this strategic visit, a first ever Seychelles Road show was held in New Delhi and Mumbai where

tourism trade partners of India met Seychelles tourism operators to kick start a seamless working relationship. Lubaina Sheerazi, Head, Blue Square Consultants, Representative Office of Seychelles Tourism Board, who conceptualizes and implements marketing strategies for Seychelles in India, said, "We are targeting honeymoon, luxury, adventure and experiential travellers and leveraging various mediums to reach out and engage with them. We will also be conducting road shows, destination trainings, participating in trade fairs, investing in both ATL and BTL activities and scheduling familiarization trips as a part of our strategy".

Hotel Sea Face THE SEASIDE RESORT

N.U.P. Beach Road, Kovalam, Trivandrum - 695 527, Kerala State, India, Fax: +91 - 471 - 2481320, Tel : +91 - 471 - 2481835, 248836, 2481591 Website: www.seaface.com, e-mail: tvm_seafaceh@sancharnet.in, seafaceh@gmail.com

A Land Mark of Kovalam SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

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INTERVIEW

Seychelles Tourism Board is looking to lure the honeymoon, luxury and adventure travellers from the Indian market with an array of tourist attractions. In this brief interview with Asian Traveller, Rose-Marie Hoareau, Director of Marketing, Seychelles Tourism Board, talks about the importance of the Indian market and plans of the Tourism Board for the country. With over 25 years of experience in the tourism industry, she is well versed in the aspects of marketing Seychelles as an ideal holiday destination. She was also a member of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association marketing committee. Edited Excerpts: Rose-Marie Hoareau

Director of Marketing, Seychelles Tourism Board

How important is the Indian market for you? The Indian travel and tourism industry is on the verge of becoming one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Increasing disposable incomes and conspicuous consumption of the young population of India, and the surge in the numbers of HNIs and UHNIs are few of the many favourable factors. We are currently targeting honeymoon, luxury and adventure seeking travellers and the trends in these segments are quite encouraging. Approximately 10 million weddings take place in India every year. The young couples looking for destinations for honeymoon have higher disposable incomes and are more experiential. They are looking for newer and exotic locations for a memorable honeymoon. In the luxury travel segment, we're noticing that travellers are seeking 64

authenticity from their travel experiences over ostentation. Adventure travel segment is also expected to grow significantly. All these factors make India a favourable emerging market for us and we are excited to be present in the country. How are you planning to capture the Indian market? India's outbound tourism potential is unparallel. Like I mentioned before, Indian travellers are now looking for newer destinations and authentic experiences. Seychelles becomes a perfect choice. Seychelles is a hasslefree destination for Indians – visa is on arrival and free upto one month of stay, the islands are outside the cyclone zone, it does not have risk of any tropical diseases and is blessed with a year-long warm tropical climate. Currently we are concentrating on creating awareness and educating

the travel trade and the end consumer about Seychelles and its uniqueness. We are investing in various events where we can engage directly with the end customer/ traveller and joint promotions with select travel trade partners. We practice an open-door policy with the press. We proactively engage with the press community to maintain consistent flow of information and develop Seychelles' evangelists. The best promoters of a destination are the ones who believe in it. What activities have you planned for your trade partners in India? We are glad with the positive response of the Indian travel trade for Seychelles. An apt testimony for this is the high quality attendance from the travel trade community who participated in our recently held New Delhi and Mumbai road shows. We are currently working

towards getting the trade community familiarized with the destination and support them in designing market sensitive products. We also constantly conduct destination trainings, participate in trade fairs and organize familiarization trips. This will also help in fortifying relations between the travel trade of both countries. What are the hurdles you face? The only hurdle we face is that India is geographically huge with target traveller segment scattered across the country. However, we are working towards overcoming this challenge. Another challenge was lack of direct air connectivity between the Seychelles and India. But we are very excited to share the news that Air Seychelles will start direct flights between the two countries from December 2014. There will be multiple flights in a week and the duration of the flight being just ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


INTERVIEW around 4 hours. What are the objectives that you are working towards? Our objective is to convey the uniqueness and diversity of the Seychelles islands, a place where tranquility and simplicity can still be found. Seychelles can offer the best of whatever you want – a perfect lazy tropical retreat or a holiday filled with adrenaline pumping activities or a combination of both. Seychelles is a place that's truly different and magical. Our tagline – "Another World" stands for the diverse wonders

and attributes of our islands, the vibrant culture and the exceptional natural beauty that qualify the Seychelles islands as a world apart… and another world entirely. Seychelles enjoys a yearlong warm tropical weather which makes it a perfect destination to visit anytime of the year. Though traditionally Seychelles has been known for its gorgeous beaches and as a honeymoon destination it has much more to offer. Seychelles islands offer such diversity – not only in the

islands themselves (74 lowlying coral atolls and 41, steep, granitic inner isles), but also in their flora, fauna, ethnicity, architecture, cuisine, traditions and activities. Interesting products like island hopping, adventure, eco-tourism, spa and wellness offer something for every type of traveller of all ages.. Hence, another objective for us is to widen the target customer base because apart from honeymooners the islands are also perfect for family and small groups. How has the growth in arrivals

from India been so far? It's been just around a year since the Seychelles Tourist India office started operating. However, there has been an encouraging response from our target traveller segments. The Q1 of 2014 itself has seen a rise in the number of Indians travelling to Seychelles by over 15 per cent in comparison to Q1 of 2013. We hope that this trend continues and we look forward to welcoming more Indians to the beautiful islands of Seychelles.

Raj Hospitality Wins Business Excellency Honours

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aj Hospitality, after spreading its wings in India, is planning to come up with properties in abroad also. It has won the BIZZ 2014 award for Business Excellence from World Confederation of Businesses, Houston. The

Award ceremony will be held on 28th September 2014 at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. The hospitality group also won the International Star Award 2014 for Quality from Business Initiative Directions and World Luxury Hotel Awards for

An ISO 22000:2005,

Certified Hotel

the Best Hotel Management Company in Asia Continent for the years 2013 & 2014. Raja Gopaal Iyer, Founder & CEO of Raj Hospitality, has been awarded with the Honorary Doctorate in the field of hospitality industry

with specialization in Business Administration. The Doctorate was awarded by Indian Virtual University for Peace and Education on 14th June 2014 in a ceremony conducted at Bharathiya Vidhya Bhavan, Bangalore.


INTERVIEW

Jamaica is not only a vibrant and distinctive premier tourist destination in the Caribbean, it is a haven for adventure attractions and activities for a complete family experience. The island, with its glorious vistas and verdant undulating terrain, is known to produce super sprinters like Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Jamaica celebrates a number of festivals and events all year round which brings out the vibrant colours and culture and contributes towards the increase in footfall of visitors. In a brief interview with Asian Traveller, Kavi Ghei, Chairman, TRAC Representations (I) Pvt Ltd, Jamaica Tourist Board, India, talks about their plans to promote Jamaica in the Indian sub-continent. Kavi Ghei

Chairman, TRAC Representations (I) Pvt Ltd, Jamaica Tourist Board, India

How important is the Indian market for you? Indians are willing to spend more and more on unique and experiential accommodation, moving beyond star category rooms and hotels. Indians are booking luxury-tented accommodations, double pool villas and historically luxurious suites when they travel abroad. This trend has made Indians the highest spenders on an average when travelling overseas. Indians are discovering self drive holidays, which provides them with the luxury of exploring a destination at their own pace and interest. Indians are indulging in vintage car drive and Ferrari self-drives. The dreams of Indian travellers have evolved to experience plush hotels and resorts. With its glorious vistas and verdant undulating terrain, Jamaica is a haven for adventure attractions and activities for a complete family experience that includes Blue mountain bicycle 66

tour; swimming at Dolphin Cove; climbing the Dunn's River falls; Chukka Caribbean adventures like Horse Back Ride & Swim, River Tubing Safari, Canopy tour through the jungle or a raft ride down the Martha Brae and many more exciting activities. How are you planning to capture the Indian market? Jamaica's current campaign, JAMAICA – GET ALL RIGHT, is a call to action for travellers to visit the island. The campaign aims to evoke the feeling of what it means to "get all right" in Jamaica. As Jamaica is regarded as a synonymous with relaxation, the phrase is used to reinforce the relaxed, calm state of mind that can be experienced on island. Also known as a paradise for avid shoppers, from original Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee to Appleton rum, straw hats and ceramics to reggae music and clothing the treasures of Jamaican culture are no longer secrets

among savvy Indian travellers. Saint Ann's, Portland, Spanish Town, Falmouth, etc are a few other places in Jamaica gaining popularity for its serenity and natural charms. What are the objectives that you are working towards? What activities have you planned for your trade partners in India? JTB uses an integrated marketing strategy with maximum thrust on public relations and promotional activities dovetailing into one message. These integrated tactics are used to reach the travel trade as well as consumers. Jamaica Tourist Board has participated in Travel Trade Fairs like SATTE and OTM over the last few years providing a platform to interface between Jamaican Suppliers and India Travel Agents. Jamaica celebrates a number of festivals and events all year round which brings out the vibrant colours and Jamaican culture and contributes towards the

increase in footfall of visitors. Jamaica Tourist Board aims at promoting in the India Market, world renowned festivals in Jamaica like International Jazz Festival, Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica Restaurant Week, etc. How has the growth in arrivals from India been so far? Jamaica broke the 2 million mark for 2013 stay over visitors in December, marking the first time that the country has welcomed 2 million visitors in a year. Jamaica in 2012 totalled 1.8 million stay over visitors. The increasing numbers prove that Jamaica has been gaining popularity in the Indian market. Jamaica in 2014 is positioned as a vibrant and distinctive premier tourist destination in the Caribbean targeting the matured Indian traveller. Effort has been to promote Jamaica as a standalone destination and as add on destination for people travelling to the USA.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


Divinity at Its Best

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ho would not want a holiday that will remain etched in one's heart for a long time to come? It is not just the destination that makes your holiday the best, an equal and important share of your enjoyment goes to the place that you are going to check into. There's no doubt that the palm-fringed bays, boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea, miles of white sandy and

Ayurveda being the soul and essence of Somatheeram, it has rightfully earned the name 'The Ayurveda People'. "To provide the ancient healing methods of Ayurveda in its purest form to our guests is our prime concern", said Baby Mathew, Chairman & Managing Director of Somatheeram Ayurveda Group. Somatheeram is dedicated to providing uninterrupted health and wellness services

"To provide the ancient healing methods of Ayurveda in its purest form to our guests is our prime concern" Baby Mathew

Chairman & Managing Director

rocky promontories make Kovalam a beach paradise. But, to make you feel like king and queen, there is no other option than the Somatheeram Ayurveda Group Resorts. The usual standard of luxury is not what welcomes you to Somatheeram. Every nook and corner of Somatheeram carries the healing power of Ayurveda, one of the oldest and intricate systems of healing, which purifies the mind and the soul. With

to its vast clientele. Keeping in mind the authenticity factor, there has been absolutely no change in the Ayurvedic therapies, procedures along with the ingredients being used in several oils and herbs at the centre. All the medicines are prepared as per the traditional Yogam (authentic recipe from the traditional palm scripts) in its own Ayurveda medicine manufacturing unit (GMP licensed), which is under close supervision of their team of doctors. Located just 9 km south to Kovalam beach, Somatheeram is an internationally renowned

Ayurveda treatment centre known for its conscious efforts towards the Overall Health of Humanity, Social Responsibility, Eco-Friendly Concept and Environmental Preservation. At Somatheeram, a research and development wing is in

operation all the time as they develop new packages and special Monsoon packages. Somatheeram, with all its amenities and the rejuvenating Ayurveda packages, will surely get you an ethereal experience that you will never forget in your lifetime.


INTERVIEW

Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) has been striving hard to establish the country as a stand-alone destination in India and to attract greater traffic from leisure and MICE segments. In this brief interview, Ashit Taneja, Country Manager, Jordan Tourism Board, India Office talks to Asian Traveller about the USPs of the destination, the potential of the Indian market and plans to tap it. He has been instrumental in key PR and Marketing initiatives undertaken by the tourism boards and understands the mix of business in India. Ashit Taneja

Country Manager, Jordan Tourism Board, India

How important is the Indian market for you? The outbound from India is growing at a very fast pace. Considering the outbound numbers from India will reach to 50 million by year 2020, there is a scope of huge potential to be tapped. As per 2013 statistics, 50,000 Indians travelled to Jordan for Leisure and Holyland tour. We plan to increase it manifold in the coming years. How are you planning to capture the Indian market? What activities have you planned for your trade partners in India? The travel trade is the key to success for a destination as they are the experts to advise, convince and finally draw up packages for the traveller. Therefore to ensure that the travel trade is well educated about Jordan we have conducted various FAM trips in the past taking trade partners from multiple 68

cities, sales calls in tier II cities to educate the front line staff. Online training program along with corporate evenings with trade partners are few of the major activities undertaken by us. What are the hurdles you face? Although there is instability around the region, Jordan remains a safe destination that offers diversified tourism experiences. People of Jordan remain as welcoming and hospitable as ever, greeting guests with open arms and a warm smile. Now is a good time to visit the beautiful Kingdom. Jordan is currently experiencing cool summer nights, warm summer days and festivals that will satisfy any cultural craving that a traveller might have. We have been working for a while to convey the political and safety scenario of Jordan to the trade fraternity and consumers. Are you planning on any joint promotions?

Joint promotion with select trade partners is an ongoing activity for Jordan Tourism Board. It is a year round practice. The main aim is to promote Jordan more effectively and on a bigger scale and further encourage traffic to Jordan. The joint promotions are conducted in view point to provide 360 degree presence. Therefore we had conducted promotions on newspapers, billboards, online and even on social media. What are the objectives that you are working towards? We are targeting the Indian leisure and MICE segment along with religious travellers so that they can experience the prominent Biblical sites Jordan boasts of. The strategy is to focus on marketing activities that will be aimed at travel agents, media and the consumer to promote Jordan as a diverse tourist destination. The initial focus cities for

these activities are Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. Further along, we will have stronger presence across tier II cities in India. How has been the growth in arrivals from India so far? We have experienced positive growth and we expect this to show an upward swing. The overall visitors have increased by 4.7 per cent till May 2014 with same day visit reducing by 11.3 per cent. Indians are becoming increasingly adventurous and thirsty for new destinations and experiences. Jordan has a lot to offer in terms of historic sites, wellness, culture, religious, and leisure options. Amman, Wadi Rum, Petra, Aqaba and the Dead Sea are all unique sites and give a 360 degree diverse experience to the traveller as it includes the sea, mountains, desert and a number of historical and architectural highlights.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


EXTRA

God's Own Country to Promote Caravan Tourism

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erala, God's Own Country is taking major steps to promote caravan tourism in the state that will also support the increasing demand for eco, adventure, wildlife, and pilgrimage tourism. Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited (KTIL), a government undertaking, will promote caravan tourism initially in the properties of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), Forest Department, and the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC). Around 13 destinations of the KTDC, eight of the Forest Department/Forest Development Agency and eight of the KFDC had been identified for providing infrastructure for the initiative. The facilities available at these properties such as security, parking spaces, restrooms, restaurants, electricity, and water connection will be made available to caravan tourists. The agencies had been given the permission to collect a fee for providing the facilities on a daily basis. The properties at Gavi, Nelliampathy, Silent Valley, Meesapulimala, Wagamon, Purekkad, and Kampamala of the KFDC; Athirappilly, Vazhachal, Parambikulam, Arippa, Nelliampathy, Muthenga, Tamarind Easy hotels, budget hotels, and motels of the KTDC will feature in the project. Caravan tourism, though popular in western countries is yet to receive due credit in India and particularly in Kerala. Caravan tourism promotes family oriented tours, it is popular across the globe owing to the freedom and flexibility it provides while holidaying using recreational vehicle, campervans, and motor homes. Caravan tourism involves visiting and staying in remote areas, forests, and riversides, where there is shortage of quality accommodation. Caravans will also come in handy at places where permanent construction may neither be permissible nor feasible, the

sources said. A wide range of market segment, including young people, families, senior citizens, and international tourists, can be targeted. One of the prerequisites is the presence of sufficient caravan parks providing basic or advanced amenities where caravans can stay overnight. Full-fledged caravan parks at private properties will be taken up in the next phase, a KTIL official said.

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INTERVIEW

Meeting and conversing with Shikha Mishra in itself is a pleasant experience that one will cherish for a while. Imagine, how great an experience it would be then to talk to her about the ever beautiful and magical landscapes of Maldives! In an interview with Asian Traveller, Shikha Mishra, Media & PR Manager, Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation, India, spoke in detail about various tourist attractions and the steps the islands of Maldives have taken to position it as a favourite destination among all segments of international travellers. Edited Excerpts: Shikha Mishra

Media & PR Manager, Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation, India

How important is the Indian market for you? Maldives is putting special emphasis on India to ensure that people from the country's growing mid-market sector perceive Maldives as a preferred holiday destination. Tourists from India to the beautiful island country have grown steadily over recent years. Of late, India has emerged as the second largest market for Maldives in Asia Pacific region. How are you planning to capture the Indian market? We are planning a number of marketing activities in the Indian market to promote Maldives in India. This will be in conjunction with ongoing

sales, media and PR activities. What activities have you planned for your trade partners in India? Maldives has carved a niche for itself in the Indian market. Going forward, we plan to conduct more consumer oriented activities to create an image for Maldives as a honeymoon destination par excellence. We are also planning to capture the tier II cities as well to create awareness and increase the knowledge about the destination and its offerings. What are the hurdles you face? Lack of direct flights from major Indian cities is a challenge and acts as a barrier. Direct flight connectivity from

source markets boosts tourism which in turn increases tourist traffic. Currently the direct flight from India to Maldives is operational only from Thiruvanathapuram. There is no direct flight connectivity from major metros of Delhi and Mumbai to the island country, but there are regular flights with intermediate stops on various airlines such as Sri Lankan Airlines and SpiceJet. What are the objectives that you are working towards? Maldives is one of the world's most exotic beach destinations and is ideal for diving holidays as it boasts of some of the most extraordinary diving sites. It is also home to a number

of exclusive, private and romantic island resorts which make it a perfect destination for honeymooners. In view of this, we want to position Maldives as a perfect escape for that once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon experience. How has the growth in arrivals from India been so far? The year 2013 proved to be a very successful year for Maldives. Achieving a new milestone; Maldives reached its targeted one million visitors mark by the end of 2013 out of which close to 33,000 were Indians. Also, from January to June this year, 22,183 Indians visited Maldives, which is an increase of 14.2 per cent vis-Ă -vis last year.

Starwood to Expand in Turkey

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tarwood Hotels and Resorts have expanded its portfolio of hotels in Turkey with the signing of a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Istanbul. The new-build, Four Points by Sheraton Istanbul Dudullu, scheduled to open at the end of 2014,

70

will mark the entry of the brand into Turkey, and will be the first Starwood hotel to open on the Asian side of Istanbul. Located in IMES, the 182-room property will be one of the largest hotels on the Asian side of Istanbul, providing a convenient

business option for the 1,000-plus companies in its surrounding area. The group also has plans to open five new hotels in Nigeria, which includes Four Points by Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, Benin City, Ibadan, Ikeja and Le Meridien in Ikoyi.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


PROFILE

A Regal MICE Centre

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quipped with the most advanced conference facilities, Lulu International Convention Centre is the largest one of its kind in Kerala and the second largest in India. Flexibility and versatility are the hallmarks of this state-

of-the-art technology-driven center. A professional and dedicated team at the center takes service excellence and event management to a totally different level. With a total area of 1,50,000 sq.ft, Lulu boasts of seven

upscale venues which can accommodate up to 5,000 people at a time. Located in the cultural capital of Kerala, Thrissur, it is the ideal venue for MICE events, seminars, product launches, mega shows, domestic celebrations, get-togethers and marriages. The centrally air-conditioned main hall, Lulu Grand and Ruby Banquet Hall have capacities of 2,200 and 1,100 people respectively. The non a/c Banquet Hall, Lotus can accommodate 1,000 people. The Grand Hall is equipped with the most modern audiovisual facilities. The mini-conference Safina I, II, III is an air-conditioned and carpeted hall which can be segregated into three

different halls with a seating for 20 to 450 people. The Central Courtyard Lulu Greens is a lush green open air venue apt for evening functions and get-togethers which can easily seat up to 2,000 people. It can also be facilitated with audio-visual arrangements. The place also holds Lulu Garden hotel with fully air-conditioned luxurious rooms and five suites with double occupancy. The Clay Oven restaurant offers international cuisines for the gourmet's delight. It also has a well equipped health club and a kid's play park. With MICE tourism all set to flourish in the state, Lulu International Convention Centre has a sizable potential to boost Kerala as a MICE destination.

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ODISHA TRAVELLER

Photo: siximages.me

The Vanishing Sea of Chandipur

An extraordinary spectacle that is seldom witnessed in any other part of the world, the sea recedes by as much as five kilometres every day on the Chandipur beach of Odisha in eastern India, not just mesmerising the onlooker but also offering an opportunity to take a stroll in the sea.

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ne of nature's many miracles, the sea recedes substantially from the beach during ebb due to the gradual gradient of the beach and returns to fill the void during high tide. This hide-and-seek of the sea comes to play twice a day at one of the widest beaches in the country and seeing the sea disappear and then return is an experience to cherish. Relatively less popular, Chandipur beach in Balasore district of Odisha is known for its pristine charm and scenic beauty. Known as the 'land of hidden treasures', Chandipur 72

beach is about 200 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. One can either take the train to Balasore, the nearest town at a distance of 10 km, and then travel by road, or take the entire journey by road on National Highway 5. One can be assured of a good journey thanks to the green scenery that follows you throughout and good roads. Due to the gradual gradient, the seawater flows in at a slow pace unlike other beaches where the water rushes in with a great force. The slow advance of the sea is very soothing to watch. In moonlight, the sandy beach shimmers which lends

the beach its name 'the town of the silvery moon'. The calm waters give tourists an unexpected freedom to play with the waves and walk on the beach without

fear of being swept away. When water recedes to its farthest point, you can take a jeep ride. The beauty of the exposed bosom of the beach is further enhanced by the small

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


ODISHA TRAVELLER red crabs. If a beach comber, you will be delighted with its abundant wealth of sea shells and drift wood. Considering its uniqueness, the beach supports a varied range of biodiversity. A day's stay is required to enjoy the unusual phenomenon of seawater during tides. Adding to the peaceful ambience are the swaying casuarina trees and the solitary sand dunes, with the constant hum of the waves as they rise

and fall gently. Chandipur and surrounding places have high religious importance. Panchalingeshwara near Chandipur is known for the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with its five lingams. Chandi Temple, Jagannath temple in Nilagiri and the Kuldiha Sanctuary can be clubbed with a visit to Chandipur. Most tourists who visit Chandipur also visit Balaramgadi beach which is

Photo: siximages.me

about two kilometers away from Chandipur. You can relax with a rejuvenating walk on the beach as you enjoy the sunset. Chandipur is also known for its cuisine. Prawns curry is a popular local dish. Being on the coast, seafood especially prawns are very cheap. For those who love sea food, here's a place which can offer you plenty. An elaborate beach festival, showcasing the dance

forms, art and culture of the state, has become an annual affair here and takes place every February. The Chandipur beach is also well known for its proximity to the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) Integrated Test Range. A number of missiles have been launched from here, including Akash, Agni, Prithvi and Shaurya ballistic missiles.


SPECIAL FOCUS

Feel The Heartbeat of Asia

Visualise a land where snow-capped peaks and sparkling white sand beaches are juxtaposed, where indigenous people continue to practise erstwhile customs and where some of the most enticing and satisfying food is served by vendors in night markets and side streets. Asian Traveller takes you to such a place called Taiwan.

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aiwan remains largely undiscovered and seriously underrated, but those who make it here are in for a real treat. The diverse culture on the island is an amalgam of Chinese, Western, Japanese and indigenous influences. It has sensational food, traditional Chinese and aboriginal festivals and exuberant temples, yet Taiwan's hinterland steals the scene with towering mountains, eight national parks, a selection of alluring offshore islands and numerous hot-spring resorts. One of the most endearing things about the island is the overwhelming friendliness of its people as Taiwan is one of the most welcoming countries in the world, and you are bound to encounter numerous acts of generosity or kindness throughout your travels, whether it's a taxi driver rounding down a fare, a stranger helping with directions or a family providing a bed for the night. Eating in Taiwan comes a close second with a vast array of Chinese food and local delicacies on offer. Here are a few things that should not be missed during a visit to this rich country.

Taiwan's Wonderful Sun Moon Lake Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of 74

fresh water in Taiwan. The lake situated in Yuchi in Nantou County is a well know tourist attraction nestled in a basin surrounded by picturesque mountains. Sun Moon Lake welcomes more than six million visitors a year who come in awe of its beauty. The Lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu. The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name. Sun Moon Lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of Taiwan's 11 aboriginal tribes. It is also called the "Heart of Taiwan" for its role as a major hydropower generator.

Engineering Wonder of Taipei 101

The Taipei 101 is one of the tallest buildings in the world with a height of 1,669.9 feet or 509 meters. Opened on New Year's Eve 2004, it cost nearly $2 billion to complete this true architectural wonder. It took 8 months just to analyze the soil to determine whether the site was suitable for a building of this size, and a further 15 months just to complete the foundations. However the whole building was constructed in six years. Taipei 101 comprises 101 floors above ground and five floors underground. The

tower is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. One of Taipei 101's most famous engineering features is its tuned mass damper, which is the secret weapon behind its disaster survival techniques. It's essentially a giant pendulum, which swings in the opposite direction of the sway of the building, preventing it from swaying too far. It also has the world's fastest elevators which ascend at speeds of 16.83 meters per second. Other interesting numbers include its massive amount of electrical cabling, which could reach New York and back if stretched end to end, and the 40,000 people who come in and out of the building each and every day makes it a city itself. The building changes it's unique in many aspects as one of the most interesting ones is that it changes its colours at night, depending on what day of the week it is.

The Grand Canyons of Taroka

Located in the Hualien County of Eastern Taiwan, not far from the Pacific Ocean, is one of the most enchanting places in the world, Taroka Gorge. Rendering sheer justice to the word Taroka, which in the local aboriginal ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


SPECIAL FOCUS language is a synonym for anything "magnificent and beautiful", Toroka Gorge is the cynosure of all eyes with huge marble cliffs freckled with tropical vegetation, blue rivulets and pagodas enveloped by green forests. Owing to the reduction of Philippines oceanic plate to the east, this part of Taiwan is rising, say the geologists. Just like a saw wire that rips through a marble slab pushed against it, the Liwu River has been cutting through a humongous marble and gneiss body, slowly and steadily, for the last few million years, giving birth to one of the most spectacular canyons in the world. A 20-kilometer stretch of vertical cliffs with some part over 1000 meters, this jaw-dropping spectacle is home to a plethora of attractions.

Rendezvous with Ami Tribe

The Mataian Wetland Ecological Park is the traditional homeland of the Mataian Ami people, which is an ideal place for farming and fishing. The Ami tribe developed their unique "Palakaw" ecological fishing method. It is also possible for the visitors to sample the fish

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

A Multifaceted, Fun-Filled Amusement Park

and shrimp caught in the Fudeng River, as well as the red sticky rice and salt roasted scaly fresh tilapia - the specialty of the Mataian Wetland Ecological Park. Visitors to the Mataian Wetland Ecological Park can also sample a variety of unique, tasty edible wild herbs, including. pigeon peas, the fruit of bread fruit trees, yellow rattan palm, tender bamboo shoots, betel nut flower ears and betel nut palm, gesian rice, western vegetables, water celery, wild bitter melon, and Cochinchina momordica seed.

The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is an amusement park in Yuchi Township. The park contains the tallest free-fall ride in Taiwan as well as Taiwan's largest European gardens and bell tower. Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village has the largest outdoor museum in Taiwan dedicated to displaying the traditional homes and architecture of Taiwanese nine principal aborigine tribes. The nine villages are arrayed over an expansive section of hillside to give visitors a feel of what native Taiwanese villages looked like so many years ago. All buildings were reconstructed based on fieldwork research and blueprints drawn up by anthropologists in the 1930s and 40s. Trails through this area separate each tribal community so that visitors are able to observe clearly the differences and similarities between tribal building styles. Because the environment in which each tribe lived differed from others, you will find associated differences in building materials (stone, wood, bamboo) and other aspects.

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NEWSLINE IN BRIEF IHCL's Sea Rock Hotel in Troubled Waters

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he Indian Hotels Company's (IHCL) plan to redevelop and integrate its Sea Rock Hotel at Bandra in Mumbai with the nearby Taj Land's End still remains on paper. The project, said Cyrus Mistry, chairman, has been delayed because of pending municipal approvals. IHCL had paid Rs 680 crore to acquire the erstwhile Sea Rock property and the redevelopment work was supposed to start in 2010. However, the project has been stuck due to the extra floor space index (FSI) allocation dispute.

MoT Organises Bed and Breakfast Workshops

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n a bid to aggressively promote the Incredible India Bed & Breakfast/Home stays concept in the North, the Northern India office of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India conducted a spree of sensitisation work shops across the region. In coordination with the state governments, the Northern India office of MoT organised a roadshow across 10 cities, namely Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Agra, Shimla, Srinagar, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Dehradun and Faridabad. Industry stakeholders ie. owners of existing B&B establishments, travel agents, hotel management institutes, state government/union territories and tourism officials actively participated in these road shows.

Hampi Most Searched Heritage Site In Karnataka

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f the Google search trends for the past six months are anything to go by, there is a rising interest for Hampi among tourists as it emerges as the top searched historical site in Karnataka. Hampi, which also finds place in UNESCO World Heritage sites, is one of the most famous international tourist spots in India. Built by the Vijayanagara Empire, it is well known for its architecture and showcases splendid art and beautiful sculptures. Hampi has been searched the most in Goa followed by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Hampi temple remained one of the top queries on Google. Mysore Palace, also known as Ambavilas Palace is the second most famous heritage site searched in Karnataka. It has been searched the most by Karnataka and followed by

Gujarat All Set to Perk Up Tourist Footfall

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iming upto 18 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in Gujarat, the State Tourism Corporation has planned to spend Rs 550 crore this financial year to upgrade infrastructure and public amenities. "We will continue to aggressively market Gujarat as a tourist destination in India as well as abroad. This year we are targeting for 17-18 per cent growth," said Sanjay Kaul, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) MD. The total tourist flow during the year

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2013-14, to Gujarat was 287.88 lakh, according to government data. The state government has lined up Rs 550 crore to further improve public amenities, like parking, public toilets, provision of safe drinking water, and food kiosks among others. Besides infrastructure, the government is also promoting festivals to attract tourists in the state via Mango festival, Monsoon festival, Tarnetar fair, Navratri festival and The Rann Utsav.

Kingdom of Dreams Launches ShowShaa Theatre

Gurgaon Hosts 78th Edition of IITM phere Travelmedia & Exhibitions conducted the 78th edition of 'India International Travel Mart' (IITM) from September 5-7 at Ramada Gurgaon Central in Haryana. The participating countries at IITM were China, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Haryana was the host state while West Bengal and Culture were partner states. Karnataka, Goa, Madhya Pradesh were the feature states and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Tripura were focus states. Oyo Hotels was the associate hotel partner for the event.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Other famous place of historical importance includes Gol Gumbaz and Bahubali being largely searched from Karnataka. They have been searched the most by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The forts reflect the success of Deccan architecture and attract many tourists especially from nearby states.

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ingdom of Dreams, India's majestic and ultimate live entertainment destination launched its second, plush multi-purpose venue ShowShaa Theatre which is an ideal venue for hosting business meetings, conferences, exhibitions, grand launches, exclusive receptions and private parties. With ShowShaa Theatre, Kingdom of Dreams has introduced a grand, stateof-the art MICE venue in the country.

ShowShaa can be a 250 seat auditorium in the day for corporate functions. On the touch of a button its automatic recessing seats can transform it into a banquet hall in the evening for social functions and a glitzy high energy night club on the weekends. Mr. Viraf Sarkari, Director, Kingdom of Dreams, said, "We are proud and excited to launch a second venue in the complex the ShowShaa Theatre. We are sure that corporate and business entities will find this a perfect space for their events and conferences". This unique concept at Kingdom of Dreams has now created a cluster of venues inside the magical Kingdom of Dreams where artistry, grace and entertainment combine to add luster and excitement to dull business meetings and corporate affairs! ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE

Lanka Kicks Off Campaign in UK

Mandarin Plans Dubai Property

ri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau has launched an International Tourism Promotional campaign in order to increase awareness of destination Sri Lanka in countries around the world. Around 1200 taxis will be branded featuring key tourism attractions of Sri Lanka in major destinations around the world including UK, France, Germany, Korea and Japan. Sri Lanka Tourism has branded and launched 450 taxis in three of the UK's biggest cities: Manchester, Birmingham and London, recently. The first

andarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to manage a luxurious urban resort in Dubai which is currently under development and due to open in 2017. The resort will be located on Jumeirah Beach Road. The resort's 200 luxurious rooms and suites will include 12 spacious and exclusive

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fleets of 300 taxis of this campaign were launched on 4th August in London. The campaign will run for a total of 12 weeks in the UK. The UK campaign will create a huge impact with the three chosen locations offering the biggest and wealthiest audiences in the UK.

Lakes & Lagoons to Open Three New Properties in Alappuzha

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akes & Lagoons, Alleppey plans to open three new properties in different locations in the district to enhance the already magnificent hospitality it offers to each and every guest. The properties, named El Oceano Beach Villas, Pathiramanal Villas and Palma Laguna, are proposed to be full-fledged in operation by October 2014 onwards. At El Oceano Beach Villas, coming up at Kattoor near Marari with 12 Rooms & 2 rooms annexed at the beach, one can enjoy the stay with the spirit of Ayurveda with all the modern amenities. Facilities at El Oceano Beach Villas include well appointed air conditioned rooms with television, wi-fi, mini bar,

tea/coffee maker, swimming pool, travel desk, cycling through the village, indoor games, multi cuisine restaurant, ayurvedic consultant and backwater cruise reservation facilities. Pathiramanl Villas at Muhamma (opposite to the Pathiramanl Island) is a boutique service villa with six rooms offering guests an amazing view of the Lake surrounding the Pathiramanal. Palma Laguna, the luxury villa with five rooms is nearing completion at Ponnad, Mannancheri (near Muhamma). The elegant villa offers splendid views including the widest view of Vembandu Lake from a palm fringed land to cherish the dreams of every guest forever with unmatched luxury.

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

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over-the-water villas, accessible via a private bridge. Each villa will have its own infinity edge pool and a private swim platform, allowing for direct access into the calm waters of the Arabian Gulf. It wiill have 12 exclusive over-water villas, accessible via a private bridge, and each villa will have its own infinity edge pool.

MTPA Conducts 4-City Roadshow in India

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auritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) conducted a 4-city road show from 25-30 August, 2014 in Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. With approximately 30 stakeholders, such as Air Mauritius, Hotels, DMC's and activity companies participating in the event, MTPA created a platform where the Indian travel trade

partners can interact with the stakeholders and learn more and understand the destination better. Vijaye Haulder, Deputy Director, MTPA, said, "Mauritius is a round the year destination and we welcome all segments be it Leisure, Adventure, Honeymoon, Destination Wedding or MICE from all over India to this exotic island".

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NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

VoA Facility at Varanasi, Bodh Gaya Airports Soon

India Remains Top 5 Budget Tourist Destination

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ndia remained a top five tourist budget destination which can be visited for less than $50 per day, according to Huffington Post website. The website said India along with Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia remains an affordable destination, thanks in part to the favourable exchange rate for the US dollar, travellers can easily get by on $20 a day.

E-Visa for Tourists to Roll Out by October

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tepping up efforts to boost tourism and attract more foreign tourists, the government plans to roll out e-visa system by the beginning of the tourist season in October. Asked whether the Home and External Affairs ministries have any reservation over the e-visa scheme, Shripad Yesso Naik, Tourism Minister, said, "There is no reservation over the scheme. The discussion is on with all ministries concerned and the scheme will be rolled out in phases". According to the plan, the e-visa facility will be extended to all countries except 10 nations including Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.

DGCA Beefs Up Security Checks

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n a move to ensure better safety for flyers, The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to conduct surprise checks on Indian and international scheduled carriers as well as non-scheduled operators. "Surprise checks will be conducted on two domestic and two international carriers, plus one non-scheduled operator every month", said a senior DGCA official. The aviation regulator had stepped up safety and surveillance checks of aircraft close on the heels of India's safety rating coming under scrutiny and being downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January this year.

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he government is working to provide visa-on-arrival facility for tourists arriving from European and western countries at Varanasi and Bodh Gaya airports, Union Minister for Tourism Shripad Naik said. "The tourism ministry is working towards providing visa-on-arrival facility at Varanasi and Bodh Gaya airports to the tourists coming from European and Western countries," Naik said while addressing a gathering at the inauguration of the 17th convention of Tourist Guides Federation of India (TGFI) in Varanasi. "Our ministry is already in touch with various other ministries for its earliest implementation," he said. Naik also said tourist guides are 'cultural ambassadors' of India and they play a vital role in promotion as well as growth of the tourism sector in the country. The minister said the tourism ministry

will introduce a pension and an insurance facility for the benefit of guides soon, and a proposal by the ministry has been made in this regard. "Tourist guides make an important contribution in the image building of the country and when these tourists return to their country, they go back with a positive image of India," he said. "To make guides fluent in a particular language of their choice, the ministry is also willing to introduce special language courses for tourist guides, as fluency in language attracts foreign tourists," the minister said. He said that a special plan was being chalked out for Varanasi city and a significant amount of funds proposed for tourism promotion in the Union budget would be spent on the holy city. The cleanliness and maintenance of historic ghats of the city will be improved with the participation of corporate sectors, the minister said, adding, maintenance of six ghats of the city have been given to NGO, Sulabh International. "An additional fund of ` 70.60 crore would be spent for tourism promotion of the temple town," he said, adding, "the tourism department would spent a fund of ` 12.5 crore for beautification of 24 railway stations including the Varanasi railway station".

Gujarat to Be The Next Medical Tourism Hub

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ujarat is all set to emerge as a medical tourism hub with low cost treatment offerings in place. In a recent study done by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) on Medical and Wellness Tourism opportunities in India, it is estimated that Indian Medical Tourism expected to touch $ 6 billion by 2018. The report further highlights the vast medical and wellness tourism opportunities that exist in states like Gujarat & Maharashtra in western India. According to the report, India had made to top five spots because of hosting a nearly 166,000 medical tourists from all over the word in 2012. India is more popular among medical tourists interested in wellness, orthopedic and cardiac procedures. The chamber, however, adds that the Indian medical tourism segment in value

Photo: Madhubhan Resort & Spa

terms would be growing at CAGR 20 per cent between 2014 and 2018. Currently, the size of the segment in India in value term is estimated at little over $ 3 billion with tourist arrivals estimated at 230,000. "Ahmedabad has already earned a reputation as preferred knee replacement surgery destination, and on an average, around 5,000 - 7,000 such surgeries happen in the city per year", said Abhijat Sheth, Director, Medical Services, Apollo Hospitals, Gandhinagar. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF Ironman Malaysia in September

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alaysia's Tourism and Culture ministry is organizing the Langkawi version from September 27 with collaboration from World Triathlon Council (WTC) and Malaysia Major Events (MME). Ironman Malaysia is one of 32 qualifying races on the global Ironman circuit that culminates with the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii each October. Professional athletes will be competing for a total prize of US$40,000 (RM 127,000) for Ironman Malaysia. Held in KailuaKona, Hawaii, it is a grueling race that starts out with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run.

Tamil Nadu to Revive Tourists Friendly Schemes

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amil Nadu tourism has announced plans to revive a few of its touristfriendly schemes to involve improved safety for tourists, cleanliness of tourist spots, bed and breakfast initiatives, involving local communities, skill development to create manpower for hospitality and tourism and promoting meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions (MICE) and medical tourism. Central Tourism ministry has asked the state to train people specifically for monuments, historical places, archaeological sites, niche products

Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart in Oct

ixigo.com Launches Travel App

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xigo.com has launched travel app on the Windows Phone Store. The ixigo Windows Phone app is already available on all leading platforms including Android and iOS. The app allows travellers to compare rates of 300,000+ hotels in India and across the world, compare information and prices from 100+ travel sites to get the best airfares, and check real-time availability and track live train status for over 2500+ trains running under the Indian Railways. Whether it is finding hotel amenities, room rates, checking availability, reading reviews and accessing location and maps, users can benefit by making an informed decision and book conveniently on the website of their choice.

Free Internet for Tourists in Japan

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iming to attract more foreign tourists prior to the 2020 summer Olympics, Japan plans to make wireless Internet connections available free of charge at all public tourist attractions. Japans tourism ministry said it will help local governments pay for the cost of providing hot spots at around 5,000 places, including historical sites, temples, shrines, museums and park rest areas, starting in fiscal 2015. The ministry will seek around 1.5 billion yen ($14.2 million) in funding for the effort for fiscal 2015.

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

like medical tourism and MICE, tourist destinations and circuits to enhance employment opportunities in the sector. Medical tourists are arriving because of involvement of hospitals and private sector is offering budget accommodation for the patients around hospitals Tamil Nadu had earlier launched a few initiatives such as tourism police and recruiting tourist guides from local communities in an effort to make various destinations tourist-friendly but these schemes fizzled out in the last two years. Even eco-tourism wasn't successful. Now, these steps will have to be revived.

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he inaugural edition of Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart - The 'Wildlife, Heritage, Culture and Tourism Showcase', will be held at Palash Residency, Bhopal from October 17-19. The B2B event will have 100 Registered Buyers and media from over ten countries exploring business opportunities for travel and tourism products. The event will be managed by Sphere Travelmedia & Exhibitions Pvt Ltd and will offer two

exhibitor segments, namely Destination Madhya Pradesh and Incredible India Section. The exhibitors at the event will include National Tourist Organisations, State Tourism Boards, Trade Associations, airlines, charters, railways, ground transporters, car rentals, shipping, cruise liners, travel agents and tour operators, destination management companies, online travel agents, inbound tour operators, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions/Conferences, Exhibitions), convention and exhibition centres, hotels and resorts. The buyer programme at the maiden Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart will have a refundable caution deposit system for all buyers to enhance the seriousness of the event. The amount will be refundable on the successful completion of the mandatory seller appointments.

Bihar Mulls Over Formation of Tourism Cabinet

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he Bihar government is considering the possibility of forming a 'tourism cabinet' similar to the one existing for agriculture to spur the tourism industry which is a potential revenue earner. "We will take forward the idea of constituting a tourism cabinet combining different related departments like the one for agriculture to boost tourism potential of the state," Principal Secretary (Tourism), Deepak Prasad, said. Highlighting that Bihar is a treasure trove of history and culture, having

many sites of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Sikhism, Prasad said there was a need to have more 'story tellers' to popularise the sites. He said efforts would be made to tap famous personalities from the state like Bollywood actor-turned politician Shatrughan Sinha, his actordaughter Sonakshi Sinha and Shreya Singh who won silver medal in shooting in Commonwealth Games in the role of 'story tellers' like Amitabh Bachchan for Gujarat. 79


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF Monte Carlo Stars Embraces Home Cooking

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onte Carlo Stars (MCS), a popular dining destination in Dubai Marina, has decided to bring a touch of home cooking to enrich its culinary offering. Housewives can add their own dishes to the menu, supervised by the restaurant's head Chef. Housewives can share their unique dishes with the head Chef of Monte Carlo Stars, who will be authorised to take a decision on adding it to the restaurant's main menu, bearing the name of the person submitting it. The new dishes will be added under a new section in the main course menu.

AP to Develop All Temples as Tourist Centres

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ndhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said all the temples in the state will be developed as tourist centres and tourism department will be developed as a priority sector. Reviewing plans of the tourism department, Naidu said state government has identified coastal areas in the state to promote beach tourism and proposes seven missions for the speedy and integrated development of the state. He said if the tourism sector is developed, job opportunities will

India Luxury Wellness Tourism Segment to Grow Sharper

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ndia's luxury wellness tourism segment is estimated to grow nearly 50 per cent faster than the other aspects of global tourism in 2017. Now poised to become the fifth largest consumer market globally by 2020, India demonstrates all the demographic advantages of a market for leading international spa and wellness brands. UAE is one of the top spenders from the GCC to vouch for holistic treatments in India. Statistics show UAE residents spent an estimated $6.6 billion per year on international holiday trips of which $4.0 billion is spent on medical and luxury wellness tourism. Six million visitors from UAE are stated to fly to India for luxury wellness tourism and India's total wellness market is valued at $18 billion in the next four years.

Marathon Competition in Puducherry

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he ruling government, headed by N Rangasamy, organized the Pondy Half Marathon-2014 as part of the efforts to promote tourism in a big way in the Union Territory. The marathon was flagged off by Tourism Minister P Rajavelu at Gandhi Thidal. For the men, the distance to cover was 21.1 km and for the women, it was 10 km. The 21.1 km run started at the Gandhi statue on the Beach Road and passed through the airport, Tagore Arts College and back to Gandhi statue. Tourism Minister P Rajavelu gave away the cash prizes to the winners in all categories.

Railway Tourism Gets Nod

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n order to promote railway tourism and improve infrastructure, the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Railway in India have gathered together to identify railway stations which need to be improved to cater to tourists. The stations are Gaya, Puri, Tarapith, Agra Cantt, Guwahati, New Jalpaiguri, Amritsar, Rai Bareilly, Varanasi, Hardiwar, Delhi Safdarjung, Kurushetra, Jaipur, Ajmer, Hyderabad, Tirupathi, Aurangabad, Nanded, Madurai, and Thiruvantapuram, among others. While the railways will build the improved stations, the Tourism Ministry will fund the projects.

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grow simultaneously and at the same time, it will boost the state economy to a great extent.

India Medical Tourism Industry to Hit $ 6 Billion by 2018

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ndia's medical tourism industry is expected to reach an estimated value of $6 billion by 2018 as the country remained a top medical tourist spot in the world having hosted nearly 166,000 medical tourists from across the globe in 2012, according to a PHD Chamber's Medical and Wellness Tourism Report. The report further mentioned that highly-skilled doctors coupled with improvement in medical infrastructure are attracting medical tourists. Meanwhile, Parvez Dewan, secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India opined that the growth of medical tourism in India has led to the enhancement of better and advanced medical facilities in the country. "More tourists are coming to India

because cost of treatment here is much less compared to the US and the European countries. We are also trying to integrate medical tourism with normal tourism and the guidelines for the new electronic visa has been finalized last week and we are also in support of offering incentives for the promotion of medical and wellness tourism," he added. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


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NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

Ministry to Promote India as Holistic Destination

Sikkim Tops Northeastern States in FTA

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ikkim has become the most favoured destination of foreign tourists in the north-eastern states of the country. While the state received 23,602 tourists in 2011, the figures were 26,489 in 2012 and 31,698 in 2013 respectively. Tourism development has been the priority of the Sikkim Democratic Front government and the state government has been working for tourism development for a long time creating world class tourism infrastructure in the state. Sikkim has already been recognised as the best place to visit, in the world famous travel guidebook 'Lonely Planet'.

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ndia's tourism ministry said it has plans to promote the country as a holistic destination in the domestic and international markets through media campaigns, tourist literature and publicity material. In a written reply to Lok Sabha, Shripad

Karnataka to Create Tourism Funding Agency

Travel Planet Focuses North

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he Travel Planet is trying to woo the travellers with attractive tailor-made and competitively priced North India packages. Selva Kumar, Director, Travel Planet, said, "Destinations in the North like Manali, Shimla, Srinagar, Nainital and Dehradun have always been popular with tourists. There are also many pilgrimage tours conducted in this sector like Vaishnodevi and Char Dham Yatra, which attract tourists. We will be promoting these destinations for family tours as well as for college groups and honeymooners".

IMA Bats for Medical Tourism in Vijayawada

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ost of the doctors who attended the Indian Medical Association (IMA) - Bezwada chapter's seminar on Medical Tourism - Prospects in Andhra Pradesh, opined that Vijayawada offers basic infrastructure and there is scope to develop it as a hub for medical tourism. However, IMA AP Association president P Venkateswarlu said that there was a need to have an international airport with night landing, helicopter ambulance service.IMA Bezwada chapter president Indla, Ramasubba Reddy said that experts' suggestions and recommendations would be sent to Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu, Health Minister, K Srinivas and other senior authorities.

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Yesso Naik, Tourism Minister of India, said, "Promotion and Marketing of India as a tourism destination is an ongoing process and the ministry is formulating schemes for improvement of existing tourist products to develop new tourist products to international standards and also to develop Tourism Circuits and to create a National Mission for infrastructure improvement of pilgrimage centres". The minister also said that the Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) through tourism in India during 2011, 2012 and 2013 were Rs 77,591 crore, Rs 94,487 crore and Rs 1,07,671 crore, respectively.

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o improve tourism infrastructure in the state, Karnataka is planning to create a separate corporation to raise funds for projects instead of depending on the finance department for it. Karnataka Tourism Minister, RV Deshpande, said, "The state has identified new potential tourism arenas such as pilgrim sites, coastal landscape, wildlife parks, eco-tourism, wellness (medical) tourism – alternate lifestyle/ yoga, and adventure tourism."

The State government is also planning to come out with a 'Karnataka Tourism Policy 20142019' in two to three months. An Act on the lines of Karnataka Industries Facilitation Act is also planned for tourism sector to create conducive atmosphere by involving private players. The proposed policy will encourage a shift in attitude – from regulation and control to empowerment, from patronage to partnership, and from linear government-lead structures to alliances with diverse stakeholders in the sector. The draft policy states that there is a potential for 4.3 million new jobs in the sector, based on global norms of 10 per cent employment in tourism.

Arunachal Pradesh Needs More Tourism Circuits

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ll Arunachal Pradesh Tour Operators' Association (AAPTOA) has demanded the government to allocate more funds to create tourism infrastructure in the state. The association also asked the government to open new tourist circuits and to extend existing ones. AAPTOA general secretary Duyu Tamo said new tourist circuits can be created for Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts as these regions have potential to boost cultural and festival tourism. He also demanded the extension of existing tourist circuits such as Nacho-Limeking-Taksing, TutingGelling-Singga and Miao-Vijaynagar. The Association, calling tourism an industry which can engage locals and

minimize rural-to-urban migration, also appealed to the Union Home Ministry to include the Buddhist circuit in its national action plan as it can attract more Buddhist tourists to this landlocked state, adding that the Greenfield airport at Hollongi must be constructed immediately to increase tourist influx. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

KPMG, SL (T&L) to Prepare 25 Yr Goa Master Plan

Northeast Foreign Tourist Visits Climbing

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ndia's Northeast states have recorded a high and positive growth of 12.5 per cent in Foreign Tourist Visits (FTVs) during 2012 over 2011, which further rose by more than 100 per cent to register a growth of 27.9 per cent during 2013 over 2012. Among the North Eastern States, highest growth in FTVs during 2013 over 2012 was observed in Manipur (154.7 per cent) followed by Arunachal Pradesh (111.2 per cent), Tripura (51.2 per cent), Nagaland (32.7 per cent), Meghalaya (27.5 per cent), Sikkim (19.7 per cent), Mizoram (7.5 per cent) and Assam (0.5 per cent).

Cox & Kings to Operate Deccan Odyssey

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aharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has appointed travel company Cox & Kings (CKL) as its outsourced partner to operate the luxury train Deccan Odyssey from October 2014. Under this partnership, CKL will manage on-board and offboard services, sales, marketing and operational activities. The agreement is for a period of 5 years with scope for extension for another 5 years.

IHM Curriculum to be Revived

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he National Council of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (NCHMCT) has entered into a partnership with Lausanne Hospitality Consultancy (LHC) to upgrade the IHM curriculum, training of the faculty, and advise on improvements in education infrastructure in the centrallymanaged institutes in the country. Parvez Dewan, Secretary-Tourism, said that the government had adopted a 'transparent process' in selecting the partner from six identified global institutes and the revised curriculum will be implemented from the next batch. National Council has identified 72 faculties from different institutes in India for the Faculty Development programme who will undergo training programme in six batches comprising 12 faculties in each batch over a two-year period.

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

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n another attempt to focus on right kind of tourism products and to identify the potential tourists visiting the state, Goa government appointed a consortium of KPMG Advisory Services and Spanish consultants Tourism and Leisure Advisory Services SL (T&L) to prepare a 25-year master plan. Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, said, "The focus is to create an implementable master plan rather than blindly copy tourism products of other places, which might not work in Goa" . The master plan adequately considers the impact on the Goan economy as well as focuses on preserving the social, environmental and cultural fabric of the

state. The master plan is expected to lay down the framework for deciding which tourism products to focus on and identify the 'right type of tourist' for Goa. It will develop a vision for tourism in Goa over the short-term (five-year), medium-term (15-year) and long-term (25-year). This includes setting clear goals on elements such as number of tourists, average days spent and expenditure per tourist, contribution to the state's economy, job creation and entrepreneurship opportunities for Goans, and increasing environmentally sustainable tourism, it said. A study of the state's tourist carrying capacity is also proposed to provide guidance while quantifying the vision elements. It will also suggest changes to each element of the tourist value chain, including direct tourist products and activities like hotels, events, car rental among others and indirect ones like food suppliers, furniture and handicraft suppliers. The time frame for drawing the plan is 38 weeks from the date of commencement and the consultants will be responsible for converting the master plan into executable projects.

Lavasa Introduces Segway Ride

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ndia's first Segway ride, a unique mode of green transportation, has been introduced in Lavasa, country's first planned hill city. Visitors to Lavasa will now have the option of exploring the picturesque hill city in an eco-friendly, safe and exciting way with Segway. Segway is a rage globally and many international tourist destinations are offering the self balancing mini-bicycle powered by a battery to tourists for personalised, unhindered and thrilling exploration. These battery powered

vehicles are not only conducive to be used on regular roads but also for mountain and adventure tours. The services at Lavasa are being offered by Ecomantra Nature Adventure Pvt Ltd.

Coffee Table Book on 'The Ashok' Unveiled

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s part of celebrating its glorious past, India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) unveiled "The AshokCapital Icon" a Coffee Table Book at The Ashok in New Delhi. Tourism Minister Shripad Naik, unveiled the book at a glittering ceremony attended by Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Tourism and Dr Sameer Sharma, MD, ITDC and other prominent guests and stakeholders from Travel & Hospitality sector. The book is written by well-known and veteran travel writers Hugh and Colleen Gantzer. 83


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF Kt'ka Likely to Offer heli-tourism

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shok Chowta, a city-based industrialist, has plans to buy a helicopter to operate between various tourist destinations, including pilgrimage centres, in the state. Chowta said this can be used to promote wellness tourism. The businessman has tabled this proposal before a meeting chaired by tourism minister R V Deshpande.

Chhattisgarh to Develop Buddhist Circuit

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hhattisgarh is developing a Buddhist circuit in association with neighbouring states to boost tourism. "We have initiated discussions with the governments of Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to jointly promote the Buddhist Circuit that will boost tourism. We will work out the routes and the places by the end of this month and the concept is expected to take off by early next year," Santosh K Misra, Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, said.

Hilton Worldwide Extends Presence in India

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ilton Worldwide announced the signing of a management agreement with Hirise Hospitality Private Limited for DoubleTree by Hilton Ahmedabad. With 174-rooms, the hotel will feature three dining outlets, an outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour fitness centre and a full service spa. The conference and event facilities will include a 9,000-square foot space ideal for mid- sized business events and social gatherings, and a 24-hour business centre. "We are pleased to enter into an agreement with Hilton Worldwide, a leading global hospitality company", said Tanmay Bathwal, Director, Hirise Hospitality Private Limited. Earlier this year Hilton Worldwide had launched three new hotels - DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore, Hilton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks and Hilton Jaipur. Later in the year, Hilton Worldwide will enter Agra with the launch of DoubleTree by Hilton Agra.

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India Ranked Third in Global Medical Tourism

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ndia remained third in global medical tourism rankings by volume of patients as the concept is taking on a completely different persona to what was earlier envisaged. According to a recent survey by Frost & Sullivan, Thailand is ranked number one in the list while Hungary is in second position followed by India, Singapore and Malaysia. Although the exact market size of the medical tourism market is difficult to predict, the survey predicts the market at around $50 billion to $65 billion in 2014, growing at approximately 20 per cent. The global healthcare systems are undergoing significant challenge with the globalization of information and the empowerment of the consumer, medical tourism involves individuals acting as a consumer, making their own decisions regarding their health needs, deciphering how they can best be treated, and then finding the most appropriate provider. Conversely, many countries across the world are getting more competitive and developing their own health tourism strategy – competing on quality and price. Supported by disruption caused in the aviation industry via low cost airlines and social media, the flow of

patients from developed nations to other regions makes medical tourism a considerable norm rather than something reserved only for the affluent. In addition, a large number of medical tourists are immigrants to the US, returning to their home country for care. Asia is and has been a popular destination for elective and cosmetic procedures, but in recent years, this trend has expanded to include more complex procedures. Increasing pools of patients are opting to have heart and orthopedic procedures performed in countries like India and Singapore. Already, India and Singapore has become the standard model for cardiac care, globally. There is growing interest in other types of health services like alternative medicine, holistic and wellness programs other than Western treatment and procedures. Alternative medicine such as Ayurveda, acupuncture and homeopathy are gaining popularity among medical tourists. Today, medical tourism is no longer about cheaper procedures and holiday trips. It is also about the quality of doctors and technology, and care models that many of these countries are pursuing that make this form of health tourism different.

IRCTC Launches Air-Travel Tour Packages

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ndian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched an air-travel tour package for Kerala and Goa. The package operates from Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore. The tour package can accommodate 20 tourists who will depart Bangalore for four days and three nights in the two most popular tourist states. The tour is priced at ` 13,898 which includes the two-way

journey tickets by flight, hotel accommodations for 3 nights, airport transfers and sightseeing tours in AC coaches. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are also included in the ticket price for Kerala bound tourists and breakfast and dinner are taken care of for Goa bound tourists. A pilgrimage train is also launched for taking pilgrims to Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram and Madurai. The train departs from Bangalore on Thursdays.

'Go India' Smart Card by Railways

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ailways launched 'Go India' smart card to enable passengers to pay for tickets for long or short distance journeys in reserved and unreserved class including suburban service. The smart card can be used at 12 nominated stations for now. It can be used at nominated counters

and Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) for reserved and unreserved tickets. Six stations on New Delhi-Howrah sector have counters for use of this smart card, while six other counters will be available in New Delhi-Mumbai sector. The card can be issued by paying ` 70 where passenger can get ` 20 balance at the designated station. After that the card can be recharged for ` 20 or in multiples of ` 50 up to ` 5,000. Maximum limit of the 'Go India' card is being kept at ` 10,000. The smart card has lifetime validity. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


FEATURE

The 'Land of Smiles' Beckons Globetrotters

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fter months of protests and uncertainty, Thailand is all set to make new records in the tourism map. The country is more stable and more committed than ever. The country has been battling political woes since January 2014 and has suffered its biggest drop in visitors after the army took power on May 22 in a bid to end tensions and get economic activity going again. Frightened travellers abandoned their vacation plans and tourism plummeted by about 20 per cent in the country. A good number of Indian journalists and tour operators recently ventured to Thailand for the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) and found out that the reality is entirely different from what has been reported in media. The tours were carefully packaged and organised in the form of ready-made itineraries, which tour operators can start selling virtually instantly. 86

They included everything from luxury yacht trips and visits to the famous Royal projects to experiencing a massage by Thai visuallyimpaired people, as well as opportunities to learn how to make Thai crafts and herbal products. "The NTO was forced to revise down its original target of 28 million arrivals and revenue of 1.4 trillion baht, but remained bullish that tourism would bounce back. We are planning a number of special festivals and events to attract tourists", informed Governor Thawatchai Arunyik. "TAT has arranged for a major international singer to perform in Thailand, is bringing 1,000 top travel buyers for a major fam trip, and pushing for an additional undisclosed marketing budget that should help it net 25.9 million arrivals", he said. The governor said he will also work with local specialist groundhandlers to strengthen ties with China. Plans to

develop an insurance fund for tourists are also underway. The 2014 edition of Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) Plus, held between 4-6 June remained a major success as majority of the 1500 buyers who attended the event have given it an overwhelmingly satisfactory rating. They said the event was useful in helping them find the kind of niche products and services they were seeking to maintain their competitive edge in a rapidly changing trading environment. A total of 177 questionnaires were filled out by the 343 buyers (from 45 countries as well as domestic markets) who attended Thailand's most important travel trade event organized under the theme of "Experience with Us" at Impact Muang Thong Thani Convention and Exhibition Centre. An analysis of the responses indicated the following: Most buyers were satisfied with the event (average score of 4.36 out of 5); they found the products and services in line with their

market needs (4.26); the event offered appropriate products suitable for niche markets (4.13); it offered interesting products from the Greater Mekong Subregion countries (4.03). Thailand Media Briefing 2014_5 The top five categories of sellers most sought by buyers were Hotels & Resorts (65 per cent), Tour Operators/ Travel Agents (61 per cent), Weddings & Honeymoons (36.7 per cent), Ecotourism (28.2 per cent), Entertainment Venues and Health & Wellness (25.4 per cent). A total of 75.7 per cent of buyers said they achieved their main purpose of attending, which was to meet sellers of new products and services. In addition, 87 per cent of buyers also expressed interest in developing future tourism programmes between Thailand and the GMS countries. The analysis also showed that 176 buyers (51 per cent) were first-time participants at the TTM Plus, up from 46 per cent who were first-time

ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


FEATURE

buyers at the TTM 2013. Of the international buyers, the top three countries were China (30 or 10.49 per cent of international buyers), United Kingdom (27 or 9.44 per cent or international buyers), Australia and India (20 each or 6.99 per cent of international buyers). The responses also included a number of valuable suggestions on improvements that could be made at the next show, especially related to transportation, appointment scheduling and meals. Amongst the sellers, the event was attended by representatives of 399 organisations, an increase of 1.27 per cent over the TTM Plus 2013. Most sellers were from Southern Thailand and

66.67 per cent of the total, followed by Tour Operators/ Travel Agents (6.27 per cent); Ecotourism (5.01 per cent); Entertainment venues (3.76 per cent) and GMS (3.76 per cent). The sellers gave the event an average satisfaction score of 3.56 out of 5. A total of 46.7 per cent of the sellers expected their sales revenue to increase over 2013 as a result of business done at the TTM Plus 2014 and 42.9 per cent of sellers expected their sales revenue to remain the same as last year. The event also furthered Thailand's new strategy of attracting the luxury-seeking tourist. Buyers and Sellers attended two separate forums focussing on the theme "Amazing Thailand – Simplicity to Luxury". The Buyers learned

new military rulers. However, authorities have granted special dispensation to those travelling to and from the nation's airports during that time. Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said in his speech, "Your cooperation and strong belief in Thailand always touches our hearts. We plan to launch the campaign Thailand Best Friends Forever as a Thank You greeting for all our friends who are tourists, media, social media influencers as well as our travel and business partners". Thailand's loyal following of travellers, travel agents and media can also expect special events; such as, the "street festival" which will be

TTM+ saw 403 sellers, out of which 77 per cent were repeat sellers and 23 per cent were new. The event also hosted 314 buyers from 45 countries, out of which 51 per cent were repeat buyers and 49 per cent were new. "When the political situation recovers, TAT projects the number of international arrivals in 2014 at 25.6 million, a slight drop from the statistics of 2013. For the revenue, we expect to gain 1.23 trillion Baht (38.4 billion USD), up 2.18 per cent over last year. The political situation effects mainly in Bangkok area. The statistic of international arrivals at Bangkok has slightly dropped since November 2013. However, the figure in the other area; such as Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi, and Samui has been increased significantly", said the governor. Tourism is a major revenueearner for Thailand, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the economy. In the first seven months of this year, tourist arrivals totalled 13.62 million, down 10.7 per cent from 15.26 million a year earlier.

Bangkok (38.48 per cent and 34.18 per cent, respectively), followed by the Northern, Central, Eastern, and Northeastern regions. Sellers from the GMS countries comprised 4.05 per cent of total number of sellers. Of the exhibitors, 92 organisations or 23 per cent of the total, were first-time participants, up from 21 per cent who were first-time participants at the TTM 2013. Hotels & resorts comprised

about many interesting Thai cultural, religious, social and lifestyle activities that could be offered to luxury travellers who are increasingly looking for "experiential holidays". And sellers learned how to package the destination and assure travellers of its safety and security. The largest hindrance to both Thais and foreigners remained a nationwide curfew, from 10 pm to 5 am, implemented by the country's

held in tourist destinations around the country including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Cha-am, and Pattaya. "We will also work closely with travel partners both in Thailand and overseas for special promotions offered to tourists worldwide", Arunyik added. Sethaphan Buddhani, director, TAT Mumbai Office said, "We have an ambitious target of 1,070,000 arrivals from the Indian market this year. I trust that TTM+ will aid us in achieving this goal".

The authorities have taken several measures in a bid to woo back visitors. These include waiving visa fees for Chinese tourists, who constitute the largest group of visitors to Thailand, and extending the maximum permitted length of stay for tourists from 48 countries. Campaigns have been organised in ASEAN countries like Singapore and Indonesia in a bid to persuade their nationals to visit Thailand again…

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

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NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

Thailand Visitors to Get Insurance Coverage

Responsible Tourism Awards in November

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ver 200 tourism organizations, initiatives, businesses and projects have been nominated for the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2014 across 11 categories. These categories include animal welfare, conservation, poverty reduction, and air travel emissions reduction. Each longlisted entrant is picked by travellers and the tourism industry. Now in their 11th year, the awards, organised by Responsible Travel and the International Center for Responsible Tourism, have been sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism. The winners will be announced at the World Travel Market as part of the World Responsible Tourism Day ceremony, on November 5.

Facebook Campaign to Promote Thailand Tourism

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n order to promote Thailand's unique culture and destinations, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and Thai Airways have come up with 'Dream Meeting', an interactive online activity on Facebook. 'Dream Meeting' is a fun photo editing application where participants can create their special meeting by uploading photos of themselves and their friends – five persons in total – onto the meeting venues chosen by TCEB to capture their imagination. To win, participants have to share the photo on Facebook and earn the most like and shares. The winner, along with friends in the picture will win a dream-cum-true trip to Thailand with tickets from THAI Airways, plus complete fullboard accommodation and a package tour for 3 days and 2 nights at Doi Tung Development Project, Mae Fah Luang Foundation in Chiang Rai. TCEB and Thai Airways aim to increase awareness of Thailand as one of the world's premier business events destination, a place packed with remarkable and memorable experiences.

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ourists planning a visit to Thailand can now avail of a special online insurance coverage scheme known as the "Thailand Travel Shield", which will be set up by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with four reputed Thai insurance companies, Muang Thai Insurance, Chao Phaya Insurance, Siam City Insurance, and Krungthai Panich Insurance. All are reputable, publiclylisted companies. Effective July 25, 2014, visitors will be able to buy the insurance coverage online for a broad range of unforeseen events ranging from accidents, trip cancellation, loss or damage of baggage/ personal belongings, emergency hotel accommodation, etc. These travel insurance policies provide

instant coverage up to the value of 1,000,000 Baht for the packages starting at 650 Baht, and up to the value of 2,000,000 Baht for the packages starting at 1,100 Baht. The period of coverage ranges up to 60 days, but it can also cover visitors making annual trips to Thailand In addition, everyone purchasing this insurance can take advantage of the 24-hour emergency assistance offered by the well-known Allianz Global Assistance. The Medical and Travel Assistance Services will allow visitors to get pre-trip information; such as, inoculation, weather, exchange rates, telephone medical advice, medical service provider referral, assistance in case of loss of luggage, passport assistance, and embassy referral. Visitors availing of the scheme are also advised to read the fine print to see what is excluded from the coverage; such as, accidents while under the influence of alcohol, indulging in extreme sports, motorcycle riding, getting involved in public brawls, etc.

Thailand Offers Free Tourist Visas to Chinese, Taiwanese

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hailand has decided to offer free visas to Chinese and Chinese Taipei citizens for three months during August-October in an attempt to boost tourism. As per the short time waiver, passed by Thailand's ruling National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), holders of Chinese and Chinese Taipei passports will be exempt from paying the visa fees when visiting Thailand purely for the purpose of tourism for the period. Chinese visitors were selected for the exemption as part of commemorative

activities marking the 40th Anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Thailand and the People's Republic of China. The exemption will apply only to visitors coming to Thailand for tourism, and submitting their applications at Thai diplomatic missions or via the visa-on-arrival desks at the immigration checkpoints. Only a Tourist Visa is applicable to this measure; visitors who apply for other categories of visa; such as, Transit Visa or Non-Immigrant Visa still have to pay for the visa fee as normal.

A Road Trip to Thailand in Vintage Cars!

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he buzz word these days is 'retro' or 'vintage'. Yes, this is the time where people are going after getting the feel of the yester years. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has recently organized a road trip to Bangkok-based international media and travel bloggers to explore some of the world famous tourist attractions in the kingdom such as the province of Kanchanaburi, a lush green region with a range of historical and natural attractions. The two-day/one-night "Road Trip with… Amazing Thailand" was organized

with an effort to keep travellers up to date with all developments in Thailand and make sure they are confident about visiting the nation. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF Uniworld Launches Luxury Ganges Cruise

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niworld Boutique River Cruises has announced the newest addition to their collection of boutique river cruises and tours—"India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges" from New Delhi to Kolkata—set to debut in January 2016. The 12-night itinerary includes seven nights aboard the new all-suite Ganges Voyager II, the ultra-luxurious river cruise ship sailing the Ganges River with a maximum capacity of 56 guests. Uniworld's new India program will be open to book on 15 October 2014.

Visit Florida Launches Online Programme

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isit Florida has launched an online specialist programme for the Indian market. Unveiled at an event in Bengaluru, the Visit Florida Travel Trade specialist programme has been created to aid Indian travel agents to better plan itineraries to the US state. The networking event was attended by over 120 travel agents and tour operators. The specialist programme showcases the different aspects of Florida, highlighting general as well as specific aspects of the destination, thus helping understand the major USPs of the state, such as attractions, shopping, art and culture, nightlife, music and theatre, festivals and events, accommodations, beaches and water activities, spas, and golf.

Thailand Hosts the Biggest-Ever Fam Trip

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hailand hosted the biggest BFF Get Together consisting of a Mega Fam Trip and Happiness Street Festival at the end of July 2014. More than 900 travel media, bloggers, celebrities and travel industry executives from 47 countries and territories around the world converged in Thailand for one of the largest fam trips ever hosted by the Thai tourism industry as part of its post-crisis recovery campaign. Called "Thailand's Best Friends Forever Mega Fam Trip" (Thailand's BFF), the event was designed to convey a powerful message that the Thai tourism industry is back to normal. The event helped dispel any lingering doubts about the return to normalcy, and restored visitors' confidence in returning to Thailand for leisure, business and MICE events. Thawatchai

Thailand to Host First IOGT Congress in Asia

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he IOGT International, the largest worldwide community of nongovernmental organizations with a mission to independently enlighten people on adopting a lifestyle free from alcohol and other drugs, thus leading to a richer, freer and more rewarding life, has chosen Thailand as the venue of its first congress in Asia, to be held in the beach resort of Cha-Am between 26 – 31 October, 2014. Over 300 attendees are expected to participate in the IOGT International 68th World Congress at The Regent ChaAm Beach Resort. IOGT International is the largest worldwide community of non-governmental organizations with a mission to independently enlighten people on adopting a lifestyle free from alcohol

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SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

and other drugs, thus leading to a richer, freer and more rewarding life. The IOGT International World Congress is held every four years. This year's event is divided into two parts: 1) The main Congress to be held between 26-31 October, 2014, in cooperation with two member organizations of IOGT International and IOGT Thailand and Stop Drink Network. 2) A Youth Camp to be arranged in cooperation with the regional office of the IOGT-NTO movement, which is based in Chiang Mai, and supports the organizers by bringing young people from the ASEAN region to the World Congress. The Youth Camp will be organised at the Rama VI Border Patrol Police Camp, Cha-Am, and Phetchaburi Province.

Thailand Breaks Into List of Top Tourism Destinations

West Bengal Boosts Tourism Promotion est Bengal Government has taken several initiatives to participate in all major travel and tourism festivals spanning across India consequent upon the realisation with the growing trend of tourism in the domestic market would ensure a prosperous economy. The department has confirmed participation in tourism fairs at Surat, Pune, Hyderabad and Kochi, among others, in addition to the metro cities, for ensuring better business to cater inbound travel market.

Arunyik, Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand said, "This fam-trip will be a critical component of our recovery programme, especially for the second half of this year, when we have to double our efforts to bring visitors back". A real-time webcast of the event attracted 16,545,000 viewers over the two days, including a total of 157,257,193 views through various social media, such as; Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Line and TAT mobile applications.

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olstered by the record-breaking visitor arrivals in 2013, Thailand has moved into the list of the world's top 10 tourism destinations in terms of both visitor numbers and visitor expenditure. The Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organisation has recently released the Tourism Report 2014, which is an overall

assessment of international tourism in 2013. The report states, "Thailand moved up two positions in the ranking by international receipts to 7th, while it entered the top 10 by arrivals in 10th position, in a bumper 2013 when international arrivals were up by 19 per cent to 27 million and receipts by 23 per cent to US$ 42 billion." It is the first time that Thailand entered the top 10 list in terms of arrivals. Thailand was ranked No. 11 in 2012, when the number of tourists was 22.4 million. In terms of tourism receipts in 2013, Thailand was ranked No. 7, up from No. 9 in 2012, as revenue increased from 33.8 billion dollars (about 1.01 trillion Baht) to 42.1 billion dollars (about 1.26 trillion Baht). 89


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF Vistara May Take to The Skies in October

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istara, the Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture, is likely to start operations on October 15, 2014, commemorating JRD Tata's flight from Karachi to Mumbai on the same date in 1932. Vistara is awaiting approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to start service and is expecting its first Airbus A320. Together, the two companies have committed initial investments worth USD 100 million in the airline. The delivery of the first aircraft is expected to be in the second week of September. Vistara plans to conduct 'proving flights' in the next four weeks.

TAT Plans To Woo More Russian Tourists

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he Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Moscow Office and 13 leading tour operators in Russia are planning to launch a range of winter promotions in September 2014 to promote Thailand's many tourism attractions and attract high-end travellers from Russia during this coming winter season. In a preliminary discussion, winter promotions would be promoted alongside an introduction of some 3,240 special charter flights from 35 cities in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including Russia's Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Ukraine's Kiev, and Kazakhstan's Almaty and Astana. The flights are set to bring holidaymakers to leading tourist cities in Thailand including

TAT Conducts Caravan Tour Shows

Mumbai Rated 3rd Best Smart City Globally

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ational Geographic has awarded the title of '3rd Best Smart City' to Mumbai for its artsy infrastructure including 'Jaya He – GVK New Museum' at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) T2, in its 2014 Traveler 50: World's Smartest Cities list. The list comprises only 50 cities from world over and 'Jaya He' is instrumental in propelling Mumbai to the same. It is also a significant milestone as Mumbai is the only Indian city that has been featured in this list.

Liquor Policy Too Sensitive for Tourism

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erala Tourism sees the newly adapted liquor policy of the state too sensitive that can push the state's tourism industry on the cusp of a catastrophe, much to the delight of competing destinations. State Tourism Secretary Suman Billa said the biggest threat to tourism is the flight of group movements like the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, commonly known as the MICE segment, as cocktails are an important part of the networking events. With some effort, the imperatives of social concern and robust economic sense can be married. "The state can just not afford to get it wrong and lose its primary economic engine," he added.

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Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi. In the first seven months of 2014, the number of visitor arrivals from Russia totaled 1,028,231 travellers, representing a year-on-year increase of 6.54 per cent. In 2013, Russia ranked third among the six Asia-Pacific countries that contributed more than one million visitor arrivals, with 1.74 million arrivals (a 32.66 per cent growth). Five other markets are China at 4.6 million arrivals (a 66.40 per cent jump), Malaysia at 3.04 million tourists (up 19.05 per cent), Japan at 1.53 million tourists (an 11.84 per cent increase), South Korea at 1.29 million arrivals (up 11.32 per cent), and India at 1.05 million visitors (a 3.71 increase).

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he Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has organised a caravan tour from 9-10 August 2014, as part of its Pak Thong Thiao Thai (flying the Thai travel flag) campaign. The caravan tour was joined by 20 vehicles and 300 travellers showing them the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya as well as other local attractions, which cater for visitors with disabilities. The trip was aimed at giving the special group, which included visually impaired travellers and travellers confined to wheelchairs, a fun and memorable

travel experience and to show that living with the physically impaired does not mean missing out on the many historical sites and activities that Thailand has to offer. All around the country, many attractions are improving their facilities, infrastructure and access so they can be enjoyed by everyone including people with disabilities. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, "This caravan tour is to show people with disabilities all over the nation that they are being catered for when it comes to travel. They can expect better access and facilities to meet their needs and attractions that make allowance for impairment. There are many families who have members with disabilities and we want them to be able to travel together and enjoy the same activities as far as possible. We have a duty of care for all our citizens and we want to show that we are meeting this commitment".

Tourism New Zealand Organizes Kiwi Link India

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ourism New Zealand provided an opportunity for Indian travel trade and airline companies to truly understand New Zealand's multiple offerings with the biggest ever annual travel trade event, Kiwi Link India, across Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi. Over 33 companies from New Zealand, including exhibitors, travel tour operators and Regional Tourism Organisations and Immigration New Zealand participated at the event. Approximately 200 Indian travel companies and over 500 Indian delegates attended the six-day road show.

This year, Kiwi Link India saw new attendees such as Agroventures Adventure Park, Skydive Wanaka and SKYCITY Entertainment Group in addition to the all-time famous attractions, exhibitors and inbound operators like AJ Hackett Bungy NZ, Hobbiton movie set tour, Whale Watch Kaikoura and NZONE Skydive. David Craig, GM Asia, Tourism New Zealand said, "The event highlights the new trends and products that are available to our partners". The travel trade event is an annual feature in Tourism New Zealand's calendar. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF New 5-Star Hotel Near Dubai Healthcare City

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ime Hotels Management has signed a management contract to run a Dhs 200 million five-star hotel located close to Wafi Mall and Dubai Healthcare City. The hotel will "capitalise on the location accessibility for Dubai Healthcare City" as Dubai further plans to become a global medical tourism hub. The 277-room hotel is being developed by Awtad Investment Company and is set to open in 2016. The company has a pipeline of five new properties in Abu Dhabi, Doha and Egypt and will operate 13 properties by 2016.

Best Western Enters Malaysia

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est Western International is planning to hit the Malaysian market with the launch of its first hotel in Shah Alam. Strategically located in the heart of this up-andcoming city, Best Western i-City Shah Alam will be a modern midscale hotel, offering optimum comfort, convenience and connectivity for both business and leisure travellers. Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2014, the hotel will feature a total of 216 contemporary guest rooms and suites, all equipped with such modern amenities as 32-inch LCD televisions, minibars, working desks and tea and coffee making facilities.

Apple Watch Will Unlock Your Hotel Room Door

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he guests at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will soon be able to unlock their doors by simply holding the Apple Watch in front of it and tapping the screen. The device will be available in early 2015, priced from US$ 349. The users will also need to have a compatible iPhone to use with it. The app, developed for its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programme, will be available for use at its W Hotels-branded properties around the world from 2015. Meanwhile, Hilton Worldwide has announced that it will roll out a service next year which will allow guests to unlock their doors with their smartphone.

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SCTA Plans Tourist Program for Haj Pilgrims

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audi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) will implement the 'Umrahplus' tourism program to allow Haj pilgrims to visit the Kingdom's tourist resorts by the end of the upcoming Haj season. "Pilgrims from more than 65 countries would benefit from the program, which would be introduced with the support of Foreign and Interior ministries", said Prince Sultan Bin Salman, president of SCTA. The SCTA will also target

expatriates working in the Kingdom, as well as foreign visitors, in a bid to boost domestic tourism. Prince Sultan said, however, that tourist visas would not be issued yet because of big pressure on domestic tourism and delays in implementing tourism projects and developing infrastructure facilities. He also said that SCTA would press for government loans to implement tourism projects, including hotels and recreational centers, adding that he would discuss the matter with Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf. "We provide facilities for the guests of God. As I said before, we will help Umrah pilgrims to visit the Kingdom's tourist resorts", he added.

Australia Gets a Culinary Makeover

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ust like the destinations, the culinary experience also makes a holiday wonderful and memorable. Of late we have been hearing a lot about the Thai, Chinese, Latin American and Arabic tastes. And now, it's the time for Tourism Australia, which is gearing up to lure more tourists with a $10-million global

campaign, 'Restaurant Australia' that aims to project the country as the culinary capital of the world. "We hope to show the world through this campaign the quality cuisine and fresh local produce that Australia has to offer", says Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager (India & Gulf), Tourism Australia. 'Restaurant Australia' will showcase the best of Australia's people, place and produce", says Kashikar. Let's wait and see how the globetrotters' taste buds will be treated by the authentic Australian delicacies.

Private Jet Users on the Up in Arab World

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ff late it is reported that CEO's across the world are using private jets for their leisure travel expeditions. Private Jet Charter (PJC), one of the world's largest independent private jet charter consultants, said use of corporate jets is making a comeback globally and more particularly in the Middle East, a trend that is different from the one prevailing five years ago when most corporations had curtailed such expenditure due to the global financial crisis. PJC reveals that nearly 10 per cent of CEOs in the Arab world use private jets for leisure travel, compared to 30 per cent in the United States, which demonstrates the high potential of the industry in the near future. The trend among Arab CEOs to opt for private jets for vacations is expected to pick up further momentum, driven by the growing awareness of the benefits offered by private jets in terms of convenience,

luxury, comfort, customization and costs when flying in a group. PJC attributed the higher international use of private jet in business to the fact that most CEOs in Europe or United States are in charge of larger geographical areas than CEOs of the Middle East. "This trend is gaining greater momentum in the Middle East because of the upgraded civil aviation infrastructure with improved services for private jets", said Ross Kelly, Managing Director for Middle East, PJC. "We expect private jet travel to gain acceleration over the next five years as a result of an economic rebound in the region and greater interconnectivity amongst GCC countries". A review of Federal Aviation Administration flight records revealed that dozens of jets operated by publicly traded corporations made over 30 per cent of their trips to or from resort destinations. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

New Visa Regime to Promote Cruise Tourism in Dubai

PATA, TripAdvisor Strengthens Partnership

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he Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has announced the extension of its strategic partnership with TripAdvisor, which will facilitate further engagement on joint initiatives in publishing, research, surveys, events and advocacy. TripAdvisor has the largest travel community in the world with over 60 million unique monthly visitors and sites in 30 countries worldwide. Commenting on the announcement, PATA CEO Martin Craigs said, "This is a complementary partnership leveraging each other's strengths as the travel world becomes ever more digital, mobile and consumer direct".

Taj Travel Awards Honours Travel Trade Partners

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aj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces recently organised the Taj Travel Awards to celebrate the excellence of its travel trade partners at Taj Palace, Delhi. The travel partners who were honoured include Le Passage to India, SITA, Abercrombie & Kent, Banyan Travels, Ventours, Designer Holidays, Travel World Experiences, Trail Blazer Tours, etc. The event drew prominent trade officials from across the city and was hosted by Deepa Misra Harris, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces. Taj also showcased the launch of their new Performance Art campaign at the event.

TripAdvisor Acquires Viator

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ripAdvisor has completed the acquisition of Viator, an online resource for researching and booking destination activities around the world. It is the fourth acquisition this year for TripAdvisor, which is believed to have paid around US$ 200 million for the company. The Viator website offers 20,000 tours and activities spanning 1,500 destinations and hosts over 600,000 reviews and photos posted by travellers. The other three companies that recently came under the TripAdvisor umbrella are lafourchette, Tripbod, and Vacation Home Rentals.

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

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ruling to implement a new visa and fees system was signed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The changes include a new multiple entry tourism permit for cruise passengers and a range of new entry permits for medical tourists. The move aims to transform Dubai's cruise sector as the visa options will make travel between

UAE and visiting nearby countries easier for travellers who need to make multiple stops whether by air, land or sea. The new multiple entry tourism permit for cruise passengers at just AED 200 (US$ 50) will now make their travel more cost effective and logistically more convenient with particular impact on a number of key markets including India, China, Russia and CIS, South Africa, and Brazil. Hamad bin Mejren, Executive Director of Business Tourism, Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said, "The announcement will have a significant impact on cruise tourism in the Arabian Gulf, and is one which has been received very well by our partners within the cruise industry".

Whale Shark Tourism in Maldives

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recent study, revealing that whale shark tourism in the Maldivian Atoll accounts for nearly three per cent of all shark tourism across the globe, forced the researchers from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) to take stock of the island nation's economy and annual tourism numbers. The study found that whale shark ecotourism accounted for nearly half the island nation's tourism, with the South Ari atoll Marine Protected Area (SAMPA)

attracting 77,000 tourists and making $9.4 million in 2013 alone. The study found that Maldives make about $20 million off whale shark tourism alone.

Vietnam Holds 'Gold Tourism Month'

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ietnam is holding 'Gold Tourism Month' in the central province of Thua Thien on the occasion of the country's national day (September 2). During the month, visitors enjoy a discount on entrance tickets to relics and transit service via electric buses. From now to the end of this year, the

province steps up its tourism promotion activities and plans to invite farm trips from Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand to inquire into Hue ancient imperial city and central provinces. It will organize road shows in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and central region with the aim of luring more visitors from the localities.

Scotland Expects to Bring More Visitors

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cotland's tourism body VisitScotland said Glasgow's hotels and restaurants have had some of their busiest days on

record during the commonwealth games with many businesses expecting the "Games effect" to bring more visitors to the city. VisitScotland said some visitors to the Games have also reported a desire to extend their stay in Glasgow or return again in future. The tourism body, in a recent survey, said it has also revealed that up to 100,000 spectators are combining their Glasgow experience with a longer trip around Scotland. 93


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

Botanical Gardens Help Boost Sri Lanka Tourism

Tourism Toronto Conducts Maiden Road Show in India

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ith the aim to introduce Toronto as a preferred MICE destination, Tourism Toronto recently organized road shows in Bangalore and Kolkata. The objective of this program was to educate travel agents within these cities on various features offered by the destination as well as aid them in planning itineraries and handling MICE queries. The road shows witnessed participation from over 80 potential agents from key target markets – Bangalore & Kolkata. The event consisted of a product briefing and a FAQ round with the travel agents. The seminars served as a promotional platform to engage with travel trade and create awareness about Toronto and its significance as a MICE location.

New travel app launched in UK

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ourism Australia has partnered with Britain's Telegraph Media Group to launch a free destination app to help potential UK holidaymakers plan their own Australian adventures. The travel app offers Australian holiday itineraries as well as seven downloadable standalone travel guides each representing a different region of Australia. The free app can be downloaded by searching for 'Telegraph Travel Guides' in your iPhone App Store or via the iTunes site.

Peppermint Strikes New Deal

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eppermint Hospitality has acquired Bangalore-based Boutique Hotel Management & Marketing Services Ltd, which has 60 hotels in its portfolio and has aggregated close to 2,200 operational hotel rooms across the country. The deal gives Peppermint, access to standalone hotel properties that have an inventory of 30 to 60 rooms each and gives them elbow room to push Peppermint brand across multiple market segments. The bulk of the aggregated hotel inventory is located in south India, largely in Kerala. Only twelve hotels are located in the north and other parts of the country.

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he Sri Lankan government says that there is a considerable increase in the number of foreign and local tourists visiting the botanical gardens in Sri Lanka last year as well as this year. In 2013 the country has earned 416.5 million Sri Lankan rupee from the botanical gardens and in the first five months of this year the income has been 219.8 million rupee. Minister of Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation Jayaratne Herath has proposed to established new botanical gardens and improve the facilities at

the existing gardens with the view to developing tourism industry in the island. The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the Minister's proposal and accordingly a new Wet Zone Botanical Garden is due to be opened at Avissawella in September 2014. The cabinet has also given approval to develop the remaining land area under the 2nd Phase of the Mirijjawila Dry Zone Botanical Garden in Hambantota and for relevant activities at the Hakgala Botanical Garden. A recent report citing the Director General of Department of National Botanical Gardens said that ten botanical gardens would be established in the island within the next two years. According to the official, a herbal botanical garden is being built in Ganewatta in Kurunegala and other botanical gardens will be established in Sripada, Knuckles, Horton Planes, Sinharaja, Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya and Ambagamuwa for each distinct bio diversity zones.

Brand USA Holds Sales Mission

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rand USA is to organize its' third sales mission to India from September 7 – 13, 2014. The mission will bring US organizations and India's travel buyers to provide an in depth look at US destinations and experiences to increase cooperation and travel bookings. The travel trade mission will provide an appropriate platform for US suppliers to interact directly with India's leading tour operators, airline representatives, travel agents and media. Around 43 participants representing 31 US companies including destinations, attractions, hotels

and receptive operators are scheduled to hold a buyer-seller meet in Bengaluru on September 8, Mumbai on September 9 and New Delhi on September 12.

China to Develop Domestic Tourism

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hina aims to double domestic spending on tourism by 2020 by offering financial and other support to develop the sector as it seeks to boost spending at home to spur economic growth. China has seen an

explosion in tourist numbers in recent years but infrastructure has struggled to keep up. The new guidelines seek to bring some order to this chaos, and get Chinese people to spend more of their money at home. By 2020, the government is aiming for spending on domestic tourism to reach 5.5 trillion yuan ($894 billion), more than double the 2013 figure of 2.6 trillion yuan, with tourism accounting for more than five percent of GDP. Tourism companies will be encouraged to list on the stock market and loans and other financial support will be given to small firms operating in the sector, especially at the village level. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

MENA Becomes Top Wellness Tourism Market

Uttarakhand to Revive Pilgrimage Tourism

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fter last year's disaster and calamity, Uttarakhand is geared up to meet the challenges to conduct the annual pilgrimages to the highaltitude shrines. Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Harish Rawat, said the state was meant to revive tourism and gave utmost priority to restore pilgrims' confidence about safety and focused on the safe conduct of the Char Dham and Nandadevi Raj Jat yatras. Rawat said all care has been taken for the safety, sanitation and health of pilgrims participating in the Raj Jat yatra. Communication facilities have been put up along the way and special arrangements have been made for pilgrims for their safe passage through muddy and slippery tracks.

Travel Planet Focuses North

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he Travel Planet is trying to woo the travellers with attractive tailor-made and competitively priced North India packages. Selva Kumar, Director, Travel Planet, said, "Destinations in the North like Manali, Shimla, Srinagar, Nainital and Dehradun have always been popular with tourists. There are also many pilgrimage tours conducted in this sector like Vaishnodevi and Char Dham Yatra, which attract tourists. We will be promoting these destinations for family tours as well as for college groups and honeymooners".

UP Going The 'Eco' Way

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n a bid to promote eco-tourism in the state, the UP Government is now offering eco-tourism packages in selected sanctuaries including the Nawabganj bird sanctuary. At the start of the tourist season in October, there will be eco-tourism packages for Sandi (Hardoi), Katarniaghat, Chuka (Pilibhit) and Samaspur (Rae Bareli). Bookings of rest houses will be made online, making the allotment process fair. "We plan to first equip a few centres with all tourist facilities", said forest corporation MD Iqbal Singh. The forest department's website has information on different categories of eco-tourism packages.

SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

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ENA or Middle East/North Africa is the fastest growing wellness tourism market in the world with a growth rate of 16 per cent annually, according to Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC), a division of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). It forecast that the Middle East/North Africa market will grow more than triple by 2017; Sub-Saharan Africa will see strong 12.6 per cent growth; and UAE will be number one and the growth leader

across the entire region. The Middle East/North African wellness tourism market (domestic and international combined) is worth $5.3 billion annually, the report noted. Sub-Saharan Africa market expenditures total $2 billion each year for a combined $7.3 billion Middle East/African market. Moreover, the Middle East/North African region drives 4.8 million wellnessfocused trips (inbound and domestic) annually, while Sub-Saharan Africa generates 2.2 million - for a combined regional total of 7 million trips. "Luxury wellness tourism is a reality and the numbers are staggering," the Global Wellness Institute said. Luxury wellness tourism is already a $439 billion market or more than one in seven of all tourist dollars - and is set to grow to $678.5 billion by 2017.

Jordan Offers the Ultimate MIC-E-xperience

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ordan's MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibition) industry understands the unique demands of the meetings and incentives market, and strives to exceed expectations. It has harnessed the ingredients needed for a successful event that touches the hearts of the most discerning delegates and resides in their memories. Located at the crossroads of 3 continents, Jordan boasts a fine array of international hotels, with new investments constantly adding a number of exciting developments to the portfolio. All of Jordan's top hotels have fullyequipped conference and banqueting rooms with dedicated, friendly staff. Both the Zara Conference Centre in Amman

and the King Hussein Conference Centre at the Dead Sea provide world-class facilities for very large events. Whether it is a conference for 5000 people, a lavish dinner in the peerless desert of Wadi Rum, a barbecue at the shores of the Dead Sea, or a reception atop a medieval castle overlooking the Jordan Valley, the amicable and competent people of Jordan will ensure a once in a lifetime experience. Jordan remains one of the most politically stable and safe countries in the Middle East. It embraces its heritage and culture but is still a modern and cosmopolitan country what makes it a perfect choice for any Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition needs!

Jordan Tourism Board Hosts "Moments of Wellness"

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ordan Tourism Board (JTB) in association with Fashionomical – India's first & most viewed fashion and lifestyle magazine, organised the "Moments of Wellness" event at the Third Eye - Eros Hotel, New Delhi.

The event was hosted by Ahmed Kraishan, Senior Area Market Manager, Jordan Tourism Board who revealed JTB's plans to promote Jordan's wellness tourism in India. "I would like to invite the travellers from India to come to Jordan and visit the Dead Sea for wellness, Wadi Rum for its adventure activities, Petra for culture and history, Aqaba for water sports and the country as a whole for a fun-filled family holiday," he said. Guests were greeted with a 'wellness' kiosk where they could enjoy the mineralrich, revitalizing Dead Sea Mud and Salt. There was also a fashion preview by prominent fashion designers. 95


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

Malaysia to Host South Indian Movies Stars

Tourism Ministers Meet in Delhi

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he Ministry of Tourism, Government of India convened a national conference of state tourism ministers in New Delhi. The conference provided a platform to state governments and stakeholders to share their experiences and best practices towards making collective efforts to push the tourism sector forward. The topics discussed were centrally financed tourist infrastructure projects, safety and security of tourists, electronic tourist visa on arrival, rationalisation of taxes, development of theme-based tourist circuits, National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD), cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation around tourist destinations, capacity building programmes, harnessing technology for delivery of online services, and making tourist destinations accessible for differentlyabled tourists.

Punjab Seeks Funds for Tourism Projects

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he central government must own the responsibility to fund tourism products of national importance in Punjab, according to Sohan Singh Thandal, tourism and cultural affairs minister of the state. "We will soon urge the Centre to release money for such projects so as to give new impetus to the tourism industry in the state", the minister said. The Centre would be requested to release funds for a museum project at Ram Bagh, Amritsar, and the Shaheed Bhagat Singh museum at Khatkar Kalan, Nawanshahr. The union minister would also be requested to clear the proposal for setting up a Food Craft Institute of India at Mithran in Kapurthala, besides an institute for culture promotion at Boothgarh in Mohali district, and funds for setting up a Guru Ravidass memorial at Khuralgarh in Hoshiarpur.

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he South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) will be held on September 12th and 13th and will see

the South Indian super stars reach out to their fans in Malaysia. Manoharan Peraisamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia said, "Malaysia is delighted to be associated with SIIMA and we are glad to host the most prestigious South Indian Movie Award in our country. Indian movies have always been popular in Malaysia especially the South Indian movies. With a huge fan base, this event will be a big treat for Indian film lovers in Malaysia".

Asia Pacific Region Leads in Tourist Arrivals in Asia

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he Asia Pacific region (APAC) retained the top position for overall international tourism arrivals in the Asian continent as the region grew by 6 per cent through the first four months of the year, outpacing the global average with South Asia and North East Asia showing the strongest sub regional growth at 8 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals worldwide grew by 5 per cent January to April 2014. Destinations received an estimated 317 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2014, 14 million more than in the same period last year. This exceeds UNWTO's long-term trend projection of 3.8 per cent growth in overnight stays for the period 2010-2020.

By region, the strongest growth was registered in Asia Pacific and the Americas at 6 per cent, followed closely by Europe and Africa at 5 per cent. By sub-region, Northern Europe, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North Africa and South Asia, were the star performers with arrivals up 8 per cent. Prospects for the current peak tourism season remain very positive with over 460 million tourists expected to travel abroad in the May-August 2014 period. This will be driven by strong growth in outbound travel from emerging markets – namely China, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and India. Moreover, demand from advanced markets is strengthening as the economic situation improves, with encouraging growth registered in expenditure from Italy, Australia, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Malaysia to Tap Halal Medical Tourism

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he number of foreigners seeking care in Malaysia more than doubled over five years to 770,134 in 2013. Most patients are from Indonesia, followed by the Middle East and North Africa, areas with plenty of new money and where healthcare is inadequate or dogged by long waiting lists. Lower costs, a shorter recovery time and high quality care have helped put Malaysia on the radar. Malaysia is also pursuing a larger share of the Muslim market through halal treatments, which exclude products forbidden under Islamic law, such as those derived from pork.

Malaysia is also working to produce the world's first halal vaccines for meningitis and hepatitis by 2017. The target would be Muslim pilgrims going for the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, which requires visitors to be vaccinated for meningitis. ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


NEWSLINE IN BRIEF

Taiwan Remains Tourist Surplus Nation

Waldrof to open Indonesia resources in 2018

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aldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts signed a new management agreement with PT Sharandy Land for a third Waldorf Astoria property in Indonesia. Scheduled to open in 2018, the 100-key Waldorf Astoria Bali, Ubud will be the fourth Waldorf Astoria property in Southeast Asia following the planned openings of Waldorf Astoria properties in Bangkok, Bukit Pandawa-Bali and Jakarta. Located in Ubud, the new Waldorf Astoria property will offer guests a tranquil, cultural experience amidst the charming surrounds of rice paddy fields and rich foliage. It is also a further step in the expansion of Hilton Worldwide's luxury segment to Southeast Asia.

North Korea Woos Tourists

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orth Korea, one of the most alienated and secretive countries of the world is changing gears to move forward in tourism as the country plans to welcome more tourists, especially western tourists. The hermit kingdom witnessed a surge in tourists ever since it loosened travel restrictions for American visitors in 2010. Since then, many tour operators say that the number of Western visitors to the country is growing every year. Although no official figures are available from anywhere, it is estimated that around 5000 western tourists are visiting the country every year since 2010.

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aiwan remained a tourist surplus country for the third year as revenues from inbound tourists since 2011 remained higher than the amount spent by Taiwanese tourists overseas. Taiwan Tourism Bureau noted that tourism revenues amounted to NT$366.8

Taiwan and Google Team Up for Tourism Promotion

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aiwan's Tourism Bureau and Google have announced a global campaign that will take the form of a video competition on YouTube to promote Taiwan's tourism. Dubbed "Anytime for Taiwan – Film Taiwan, Action!" the competition invites tourists to capture the best scenes of Taiwan on video, on any topic imaginable. The contest's winner, to be chosen by the Tourism Bureau based on the number of online votes, will be given a round-the-world air travel ticket. As an

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SEPTEMBER 2014 | ASIAN TRAVELLER

incentive to attract high participation, the organizers will pay the competitors NT$1 (US$0.03) for each vote received, up to a total maximum of NT$2 million, for use as a travel subsidy in Taiwan. "Instead of using traditional campaigns that offer only travel-related information, we want to shift the focus to travellers' personal experience to make travel more fun and attractive," said the bureau's director-general David Hsieh. After seeing 8 million foreign national arrivals last year, Taiwan is aiming to hit 9 million by the end of 2014.

Taiwan Tourism Riding High on Wedding Photography

Jumeirah Revives Venu umeirah Group revived its fourstar hotel brand, Venu to make its foray into the four-star hotel market. Jumeirah is in talks with Meraas Holding to open its first hotel under the Venu brand in the Bluewaters Island project. Jumeirah is also interested in introducing the brand in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates, as well as European markets, such as London, Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin and Rome. The group is in final stages of negotiations with other developers in the UAE and Asia Pacific to open Venu hotels.

billion last year, while Taiwanese travelling overseas spent NT$366.3 billion. It also noted that the gap in the ratio of outbound to inbound tourists has fallen to 0.27 in 2013 from the 0.62 in 2004, which it said is better than the figures for Japan and South Korea. The bureau stressed that it is targeting many places for sources of tourists and does not focus just on one single market. Tourist arrivals grew by 26.69 per cent in the first six months of this year, the bureau went on. Among these arrivals, growth in the number coming from South Korea was the highest at 79.81 per cent, followed by visitors from China at 38.45 per cent, Malaysia at 27.36 per cent, Hong Kong and Macao at 18.55 per cent and Japan at 18.55 per cent.

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he inbound wedding photography market is growing in Taiwan, attracting more than 5,000 couples to the country per annum, according to the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. "Alishan, Sun Moon Lake and the north coast are among the top destinations for foreign couples to capture their memories", a bureau official said.

The bureau has set up makeup booths and related amenities offering free services in various scenic spots Taiwan wide. It is estimated that the facility at Xiangshan Visitor Center in Sun Moon Lake has welcomed 150 couples per month since its opening last August. Chou Tai-feng, director of Taipei Wedding Photography Business Association, said most of the couples taking wedding photography trips to Taiwan are from Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore. With the bureau ramping up promotional efforts for this increasingly lucrative segment of the tourism market, officials are eyeing an annual target of 10,000 couples generating NT$2.5 billion in revenue. 97


VARIETY

Byugnsun Lee appointed as Director for Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) India

Soraya Homchuen appointed as Director at Tourism Authority of Thailand Mumbai Office

Rakesh Sarna appointed as MD and CEO at IHCL

Nikhil Sharma appointed as the Chief Operating Officer, Red Fox Hotels

Thomas Mangas appointed as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Simon Casson appointed as Regional Vice President & GM, Four Seasons Resort Dubai

Devraj Singh appointed as General Manager, The Gateway Hotel, Jodhpur

Rishu Roshan appointed as General Manager, Marasa Sarovar Premiere, Tirupati

Shalabh Verma appointed as Director of Sales and Marketing, Kempinski Ambience Hotel Delhi

Maulina Gupta appointed as Director of Sales and Marketing, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon

Manvinder Singh appointed as Executive Sous Chef, Hyatt Regency Chennai

Subrata Debnath appointed as Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Chennai

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE CONTEST – 80 1. Which city in Poland is called 'Copernicus Town' being the birthplace of the astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus? 2. Who is known as 'Mother of Miami'? 3. Which is the only state in India that has Sanskrit as one of its official languages? 4. Which three countries are called the Baltic states? 5. If Southern Rhodesia is Zimbabwe, what is Northern Rhodesia? 6. Which country has beach as its emblem? 7. Where is India's only active volcano located? 8. What does 'Kalahari', the desert in Africa mean? 9. The Palk Strait is between India and Sri Lanka. Who was it named after? 10. The world's tallest building 'Burj Khalifa' is patterned on a flower for its model. Which is that flower?

Answers to TYKC 79 1. United Arab Emirates 2. Canada (3 million lakes) 3. Mexico 4. Naples is a contraction of 'Neo Polis' meaning 'New City' 5. In Vishakhapatnam 6. Brazil (Viação Aérea São Paulo, South America,

1933-2005) 7. End of Strife (literally, 'Enemies Runout') 8. A large heavily built goat antelope of eastern Himalayan area 9. US President FD Roosevelt 10. Moscow Compiled by DEEKAY

Send in your answers to info@mediastepsindia.com with TYKC 80 in the subject line. Answers should reach us before the 30th of this month.

WINNER OF TYKC - 79 Jagadeesh Pillai

N-3/75-R-24, Pragya Nagar Colony, Sunderpur, Varanasi - 221 005 (UP)

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | SEPTEMBER 2014


Profile for ASIAN TRAVELLER

Asian Traveller | September 2014  

The September 2014 issue of Asian Traveller is out!

Asian Traveller | September 2014  

The September 2014 issue of Asian Traveller is out!

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