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Vol. XX No. 23; December 1 st issue 2008

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Cox & Kings-IRCTC to wheel out luxury tourist train by 09 ....03 Tourism industry optimistic despite economic downturn..........08 ‘The Lalit’: Bharat Hotels adopts new brand identity................19

Paramount mounting its national footprint PARAMOUNT AIRWAYS

Continuing with its 5 per cent agent commission, Paramount plans to have a pan India presence by the year 2011. S H AYA N M A L L I C K aramount Airways, hitherto known as a regional carrier of South India, is now looking at fast expanding its national footprints. Now in its third year of operation, the carrier, after establishing a strong footprint down south has entered Western India. The last M Thiagarajan, three months, MD, Paramount Airways September, October and November, have witnessed Paramount launching operations in quick succession to Ahmedabad, Goa and Pune respectively in Western region. Paramount's foray into the Western region opens up new routes for the airline to take advantage of a lucrative traffic that exists in this sector.

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Contd. on page 5 u

Industry comes together to fight terror attack For the first time, the tourism industry in India has sustained colossal damage across the country owing to the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. TRAVTALK spoke to industry leaders to assess the immediate and long-term impact of the catastrophe, especially at a time when the industry is busy tackling global meltdown. T T B U R E AU any lost their lives, numerous people injured, and

M were

this terrorist attack has pulled down our economy even further, with the tourism industry as its worst casualty. According to

juncture. The repeated news on 24x7 TV channels and linking the previous events in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Delhi, Surat, etc. give

PRS Oberoi,

KB Kachru,

Peter J. Leitgeb,

chairman, The Oberoi Group

executive vice president, South Asia, Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific

president & CEO, The Claridges Hotels & Resorts

almost all of us are shaken by the catastrophe that recently hit Mumbai. The economic condition world over is already in shreds and

Vijay Thakur, president, IATO, the series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai has sent a message to global travellers that India is not safe at this

the impression that terrorists are spreading the activities all over India and hence it is not safe. However, in reality it is Contd. on page 6 u

Our sincere condolences and sympathies to the friends and families of those killed and injured. Our prayers are with them at this distressing time. We also salute those who gave up their lives while saving guests. This exemplary sense of duty has made Indian hospitality stand head and shoulders above the rest. We bow to these heroes.


NEWS

Cox & Kings-IRCTC to wheel out luxury tourist train by 2009 COX & KINGS AND IRCTC Encouraged by the successful running of

luxury trains, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation, (IRCTC) in collaboration with Cox & Kings will launch a luxury tourist train. P R E M KU M A R ndian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will shortly sign an agreement with tourism major Cox & Kings to run the first pan Indian tourist train as a joint venture. The proposed company will be called the Royale Indian Rail Tours, which will manage and operate the luxury tourist train. The train will start its journey from Mumbai. The itinerary of the train will be divided into four regions: north-

I

Peter Kerkar,

Nalin Singhal,

global CEO, Cox & Kings

managing director, IRCTC

ern, southern, eastern and western regions. The tourist train is likely to start running in the third

quarter of 2009. The train will have a total of 23 coaches, out of which 15 will be residential

coaches. There will be four classes of passenger accommodation such as deluxe suits, super deluxe suits, luxury suits and presidential suits. The total capacity of the train will be 100 passengers at a time. The internal furnishing of the coaches of train will be done by an eminent architect. The train is to have two dining cars, one pantry car, boutique, one bar-cum lounge, an observatory car to get outside view, a modern kitchen, one staff car and two power cars.


# 1

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C I R C U L AT I O N

&

REPORT

R E A D E R S H I P

TRAVTALK EDITORIAL

The aftermath

Asia, a lucrative second home for Western retirees WTM REPORT According to the World Travel Market – Global Trends

Report 2008, the more astute Asian countries would do good by going that extra mile to attract long staying retirees with incentive programmes.

The worst, we pray, is over. As planned, the crisis management should be in place, is it? Probably for the first time, crisis has hit the travel industry on all fronts – inbound, outbound and the airline industry. The agents stand worried about the inbound season, which has been washed away. Even today the industry is receiving messages on booking cancellations from their overseas clients. The outbound, on the other hand, is worried about the high airline prices coupled with the escalating dollar prices, which has gone up from Rs. 39 to 51 in last couple of months. This huge jump has made overseas travel beyond reach for a majority of people.

sider setting up a second home in South-East Asia with their increased spending power.

It is clear that some Asian countries are natural magnets for people seeking to retire abroad, especially since non-Asian retirement alternatives such as Mexico and Central America are becoming more expensive in comparison.

Healthcare is a primary consideration The cost of living and the availability of basic necessities such as good healthcare factor heavily in the minds of retirees looking to set up second

Attracting the silver market With this trend in mind, the more astute Asian countries go the extra mile to attract longstaying retirees with incentive programmes.

T T B U R E AU sia, particularly South East Asia, is becoming a destination for older Europeans looking for an unhurried, extended holiday without extending the budget. The percentage of holiday takers aged 65 and above in developed Western countries such as US, UK, France, Germany, has increased steadily. Overall tourism arrivals from the US, UK, France and Germany to China, India and Thailand take

A

For ticketing agents in the country, the situation is critical at this juncture. As if the global economic meltdown and its effects on the Indian economy were not enough, the unilateral decision of the national carrier to totally abolish agency commission as well as the transaction fee has posed a serious problem. Where does this lead us? Where do we go from here? It is time to come together, to leverage the industry’s collective strength and create a powerful lobby to ensure the survival of the industry. It is significant that the industry associations have NOW decided to work together. We need more of this. The need of the hour is to launch an image building campaign across the world and make people aware that India is ready for its tourists.

Vikramajit Chairman SanJeet Publisher Rupali Narasimhan Editor

Editorial Luvleena Walia Associate Editor Sriprakash Menon Sr. Assistant Editor (Mumbai) Desk Priyanka Saxena Barnali Gogoi

Advertising Gunjan Sabikhi General Manager Ankur Verma Marketing Manager Geetika Pathak Manager Advertising Abhinav Malhotra Asst. Manager Marketing Manish Mangla Asst. Manager-Marketing Nidhi Chopra Sr. Marketing Co-ordinator Amit Sarkar Marketing Co-ordinator

centrestage amongst the Asian nations with tourist arrivals doubling in number in the next five years, according to Euromonitor International. Based on 2007 data of The Economist’s ‘Big Mac Index’, Asian currencies such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been trading below their benchmarks. Retirees in countries enjoying the benefits of the strong Euro and British pound are hence able to enjoy a higher disposable income abroad than at home. This, in turn, entices them to con-

Advertising (Mumbai) Suchita Saran Branch Manager Harshal Ashar Sr. Manager Advertising Divya Kumbhatil Sr. Executive Advertising Design Nityanand Misra / Sudhir Mudgal Circulation: Ashok Rana Production: Anil Kharbanda

home. Countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore scored almost perfect marks, with other major cities in Asia having little or no problems with world-class sanitary facilities. The relatively cheaper medical treatments bundled with an inexpensive vacation has made medical tourism a big tourism earner for Asian nations. The industry grossed an estimated US$60 billion worldwide in 2006 with Thailand, India and Singapore as the main Asian beneficiaries.

TRAVTALK is a publication of Durga Das Publications Private Limited. All information in TRAVTALK is derived from sources, which we consider reliable and a sincere effort is made to report accurate information. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. The publisher regret that he cannot accept liability for errors and omissions contained in this publication, however caused. Similarly, opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract and/or in interviews are not necessarily shared by TRAVTALK. However, we wish to advice our readers that one or more recognised authorities may hold different views than those reported. Material used in this publication is intended for information purpose only. Readers are

advised to seek specific advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. Contents of this publication are copyright. No part of TRAVTALK or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publication in writing. The same rule applies when there is a copyright or the article is taken from another publication. An exemption is hereby granted for the extracts used for the purpose of fair review, provided two copies of the same publication are sent to us for our records. Publications reproducing material either

Malaysia has a programme called “Malaysia My Second H ome” open to all foreign citizens, which is endorsed and promoted by the government. The programme allows a participant to have easy immigration access through a ten-year visa, own property and businesses as well as invest. In 2006, 8,700 successfully applied for the programme. Thailand also introduced a retirement visa with 12,000 foreigners successfully getting the nod in the first seven months of 2006 and is marketing luxurious

in part or in whole, without permission could face legal action. The publisher assumes no responsibility for returning any material solicited or unsolicited nor is he responsible for material lost or damaged. This publication is not meant to be an endorsement of any specific product or services offered. The publisher reserves the right to refuse, withdraw, amend or otherwise deal with all advertisements without explanation. All advertisements must comply with the Indian and International Advertisements Code. The publisher will not be liable for any damage or loss caused by delayed publication, error or failure of an advertisement to appear.

beach homes in Phuket, Pattaya, and Koh Samui to the retiree crowd. Helping the retirement dream come true Not only do Asian countries have programmes to ease the entry of long-term guests, some Western countries have also put in place policies to make the move abroad smoother. In April 2006, the UK government introduced a ‘Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pensions Scheme’ which allowed its citizens to transfer their entire retirement savings to a foreign pension plan, without having to pay any additional taxes to the government. Technology has also lowered the barriers to moving abroad. Taking the rough with the smooth Naturally there are some possible downsides to retiring abroad. Not everyone is able to adapt to the culture and lifestyle of the newlyadopted country. The longterm trend is still likely for more expatriates to retire in Asian countries, given the relatively cheaper costs, rising standards of living, and the ease of keeping in touch with relatives back home using technology. For retirees who want to make a difference to their second homes, companies can look into providing avenues for them to contribute to society, such as initiating social responsibility programmes or participating as volunteers in environmentallyfriendly taskforces. This makes their retirement more meaningful and participatory.

MUMBAI: 504, Marine Chambers, 43, New Marine Lines, Opp. SNDT College, Mumbai - 400 020, India, Ph.: +91-22-22070129; 22070130,

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AIRLINES

Paramount Airways to take wings to north t Contd. from page 1

M Thiagarajan, managing director, Paramount Airways sounding upbeat on the development, says, “We believe in sustainable growth. We wanted to saturate and dominate the South Indian market before we move out. Today we provide the maximum frequencies on any of the routes we fly on in South India. And now that we have entered the Western India market we want to replicate the same model here,” adding, “Until last year our market share was 26 per cent which has now gone up by 1 per cent whereas due to the economic slowdown the total market size has decreased. We have even registered growth in the meltdown.” Started a little over three years ago as India's first all Business Class Service airline, the carrier now operates in South and West of India with plans of establishing a national footprint by 2011. “The carrier’s next foray, after expanding and consolidating its presence in the Western region, will happen in North. After we establish a pan-India presence we would offer connectivity to Singapore and destinations in the Far East,” informs Thiagarajan. Paramount currently oper-

The airline has continued to support agents with their 5 per cent mark-up and expects to receive whole-hearted franchise from them.

M Thiagarajan

ates a fleet of seven aircraft and expects to have a fleet of 40 aircraft by 2010 end with maximum connectivity in South, West and Northern markets. Thiagarajan also informs that the agents contribute to about 60 per cent of ticket sales and the rest is through its own sales offices, call centres and online bookings. And the airline has continued with its 5 per cent agent commissions and expects to receive whole hearted support from the agents across India. “Our business model of offering AllBusiness class comfort at economy rates of other airlines has contributed largely to the success of the airline. Today, many of the Business class travellers of Jet and Kingfisher have switched to Paramount,” says Thiagarajan. Paramount Airways boasts of a very young fleet 70 seater Embraer jets along with the trappings of luxurious seat recline, ample leg space between seats. Passengers can book their tickets on the Website by selecting their seat and menu while requesting any other special requirements. Or they can contact their travel agent. Its frequent flyer programme ‘Paramount Royale’ is designed to offer

myriad benefits to passengers. Besides routine up gradation and mileage redemption facilities, the programme would also offer golf memberships, spa experiences and invitations for major cultural programmes for its members. Frequent fly-

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

TRAVTALK

5

ers can now enrol themselves with the newly-launched frequent flyer programme by registering online with www.paramountairways.com. All mileage earnings as per eligibility will be automatically logged to the passenger's account.

Connectivity in West Ahmedabad Goa Pune

Connectivity in South Chennai

Vizag

Madurai

Kochi

Coimbatore

Trivandrum

Bangalore

Trichy

Hyderabad


6 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

COVER STORY

Industry needs to stand united t Contd. from page 1

limited to Mumbai and all other parts of India are safe. Indian tour operators are in touch with their foreign counterparts to give an update of the situation and reassure that the government has beefed up security and all citizens and tourists are safe. Tour operators apart, thousands of travel agents are seriously concerned about their survival now. “The terror attacks in Mumbai could well aggra-

frustration, retaliation and chaos,” said Rajji Rai, president, TAAI. “The meltdown, its effects on Indian economy and the national carriers’ decision to abolish agency commission were a potentially lethal combination,” he added. Ankur Bhatia, ED, Bird Group said, “We are living in worst times, both financially and politically. The Mumbai attacks with the singling out of foreign nationals sends out wrong signals to the world. The

few days. Overall bookings are lower by 60 per cent as compared to 2007. This is a worrying trend right ahead of the peak season.” Ajay K. Bakaya, executive director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, observed that Mumbai attack has created a very negative atmosphere. Due to advisory issued by USA and some European countries the number of visitors is likely to come down sharply in the coming weeks and months. The

in the four corners of the country, along with coastal patrolling and systems that enable strong security measures for land, sea, air or rail travel. This should provide requisite safety. Also with support coming from USA, France and other nations, the travellers would be reassured,” he maintained. Taking cue from Bakaya, Peter J. Leitgeb, president & CEO, The Claridges Hotels & Resorts said that corporate

an important market,” he felt. He pointed out that the core feeder markets like US, Europe, Asia believe that India is a safe destination for tourists. “The department of tourism should increase

Vikram Madhok,

Homa Mistry,

managing director, Abercrombie & Kent India

director and CEO, Trail Blazer Tours

Vijay Thakur,

Rajji Rai,

Ankur Bhatia,

Ajay K. Bakaya,

president, IATO

president TAAI

executive director, Bird Group

executive director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts

The series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai has sent a message to global travellers that India is not safe at this juncture.

Mumbai attacks could be a death knell for a number of agents who might be compelled to down shutters.

Almost 15-20% drop in traffic is expected over the next few days. Overall bookings are lower by 60% as compared to 2007.

The travellers must be reassured as support is coming from USA, France and other nations which have tackled terrorism.

vate the situation beyond redemption and sound a death knell for a number of agents who might soon be compelled to down shutters for good, leading to mass unemployment,

impact is significant with fear perpetrating cancellations in bookings both in domestic and inbound traffic. Almost 15-20 per cent drop in traffic is expected over the next

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Chennai in January is likely to be the immediate casualty. “The PM has directed formation of a federal agency and NSG divisions

and leisure segment will be severely affected by 20-30 per cent for at least 4-8 weeks. “I believe that business traffic will increase around January 15, 2009 because India is

are absolutely safe. In the meanwhile, the company is getting messages from its overseas clients for cancellations of hotel bookings in Mumbai. “There was 100 per cent booking cancellation for

There was 100% booking cancellation for the next two to three days after the incident and no cancellation fees was charged.

Overseas customers have cancelled their bookings made for immediate and future trips to Mumbai.

marketing initiative through roadshows, sales promotions, advertisement campaigns, etc. to stimulate traffic appreciably,” he added. Likewise, Homa Mistry, director and CEO, Trail Blazer Tours, said, “Overseas customers have cancelled their bookings for immediate and future trips to Mumbai.” He clarified that the company will not charge any cancellation fees. Vikram Madhok, managing director, Abercrombie & Kent India said that their guests, who are staying at Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai,

the next two to three days after the incident. The company will not charge any cancellation fees and is hopeful that the hoteliers will agree to this,” he said. According to KB Mahanta, director, KSM Hotels, the economic crisis followed by terror attacks has severely affected tourism. “We have received cancellations from Japan and China and are also losing business from Asian countries. Japan and China governments have issued a notification to stop visits, especially to Mumbai.

Contd. on page 14 u


EXHIBITIONS

Tourism industry optimistic despite economic downturn WTM 2008 held in London from November 10-13 was the largest show ever as it attracted over 50,000 international attendees. Though the meltdown appeared to have an impact on this international event, participants from India expressed optimism. TRAVTALK has details. T T B U R E AU he World Travel Market (WTM) 2008 attracted over 6,000 exhibitors from over 190 countries and regions. “Notwithstanding the downturn, it was very encouraging to see our visitors increase by over 12 per cent from 23,722

remains buoyant and positive, which will continue. Everybody's united approach to move forward in these challenging times was very impressive,” he added. There was a lot of talk about the industry scenario in 2009. “I think the markets will balance out and settle lots of tour

Simon Beck,

Jagdish Chander,

regional account manager - Asia/Pacific, Africa and ME, World Travel Market

director, India Tourism, London

T

This year India came up with a great new stand design and lots of Incredible India branding.

buyers in 2007 to 26,498 in 2008,” said Simon Beck, regional account manager - Asia/Pacific, Africa and Middle East, World Travel Market. “The quality of stand designs gets better and better every year and this year’s show looked particularly impressive as each region had an excellent feel about it,” said Beck. ”The Indian delegation of over 220 companies was the largest ever as India came up with a great innovative stand design and lots of Incredible India branding. The private sector showcased itself extremely professionally,” he added. “The travel industry in these difficult times

show is reflecting all the developments in the market. The 2009 show will be our 30th exhibition and we will build it on our earlier success.” Speaking about his WTM 2008 experience, R N Nanda, director, Orissa Tourism said, “We had a very good experience as we interacted with tour operators from Europe who showed interests in Orissa. We will now be able to attract a large number of tourists from UK, France, Germany and Italy. We showcased our Buddhist Circuit to buyers from Japan and South East Asia.”

and Goa out of which the Golden Triangle is of primary interest to us. We expect our efforts translating into actual business. The repositioning, brand enhancement and service upgradation exercise of The Claridges, New Delhi and The Atrium started last year has begun to bear fruit and our client base from the UK and European markets has significantly expanded in the last one year,” he informed. Shukla said that WTM provides a unified platform for buyers and sellers to share their concerns as a unanimous business

Participants from UK were happy about the tourism products showcased at India Pavillion. ’India Evening’ was the best and the branding of Incredible India was excellent.

operators. India has had continued double digit growth for many years. The market knows that for long-term this isn't sustainable and the industry will level out. Most people seem confident for the first half of 2009, it's the second half that people are concerned about,” he said. “The seminar content and programme at WTM was the largest ever and we hosted over 70 events. This ensures that the

R N Nanda,

Jayesh Ranjan,

director, Orissa Tourism

managing director, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation

We will now be able to attract a large number of tourists from UK, France, Germany and Italy.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev Shukla, general manager – sales & marketing, The Claridges Hotels & Resorts felt that the international event was fairly successful in terms of business and networking. “We did meet new tour operators from Europe and UK which has resulted in an expansion in our client base. Major queries continue to focus on the Golden Triangle, Kerala

Recession dampened the mood at WTM. High-end leisure segment tourists were not enthusiastic but there were some inquiries about Andhra Pradesh.

segment. It enables them to get a better feel of the market and have a greater appreciation of the market scenario in the global context because of the diversity of representation and


10 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

EXHIBITIONS

participation of delegates in such an event. ”Recession will have an impact on WTM because participants manage their costs more carefully in the face of declin-

WelcomHeritage observed that due to meltdown the number of people appeared a bit less compared to the previous years. ”Most people at WTM were anxious to know how we were

upbeat and growth plans remain strong.” Sarabjit Singh, MD, Travelite India, wished the WTM organisers were more reasonable on the time available for business

between the buyers (tour operators, travel agents, etc.) and the sellers (hotels, car rental companies, airlines, etc.). We also noticed more empathy between both the sides

tified some new business and rationalised some existing business relationships for a better yield,” he added. According to Vijay Thakur, present,

Sarabjit Singh,

Vijay Thakur,

Pronab Sarkar,

Sanjeev Shukla,

Sunil Sikka,

managing director, Travellite India

president, India Vision Tours

managing director, Swagatam Tours and Travels

general manager – sales & marketing, The Claridges Hotels & Resorts

head – marketing & business development, WelcomHeritage

The WTM organisers have to be more reasonable on the time available for business interaction. More time is wasted in commuting to the convention venue.

Regarding India market, buyers adopted the wait and watch policy with elections scheduled for 2009. However, queries about the country’s tourism products were very promising.

Swagatam Tours and Travels is planning a new electronic brochure containing new packages in India which will include Orissa, North Kerala and Karnataka.

ing revenue. They would be forced to choose between participating in fairs that may have more business relevance to them than WTM and hence the number may reduce. Also the number of buyers may decline due to slower demand in their markets. However, it is a matter of individual company priorities,” he added. WTM is a great occasion to meet people from the travel trade. Sunil Sikka, head – marketing & business development,

doing and how we would sustain a chain of 60 properties,” he said. “Our efforts have always included a focus on domestic travellers and others residing in India, through our summer and winter holiday packages,” he replied. ”The impact of recession could be seen and felt. Numbers were less and activity was low in general. Many had scaled down on space and handouts. But I am happy that I went there. It is an indication that Welcom-Heritage is

interaction. “More time is wasted in commuting to the convention venue” Singh complained. He, however, acknowledged the importance of WTM for India’s tourism industry. Travelite is a participant since 1992. On the contrary, Jai Sreedhar, director sales and marketing, The Leela Kempinski, Goa felt that WTM 2008 was well attended. “The response in spite of uncertainties was heartening. We have noticed a better synergy

We did meet new tour operators from Europe and UK which has resulted in an expansion in our client base.

I am happy that I went there. It is an indication that WelcomHeritage is upbeat and growth plans remain strong.

and a strong willingness to work together in these tough times,” he said. ”There is a lot of interest in new destinations, products and a better value proposition to the travelling dollar. The information of Leela opening its much awaited hotel in Udaipur elicited a lot of enthusiasm. There was a lot of interest on ‘Heritage Circuits’ and beach and ayurveda tourism. The demand for ‘gateway’ cities is showing a definite increase. A lot of entrepreneurs, smaller TAs and TOs attended the event and a lot of e-commerce oriented business was transacted. We have iden-

India Vision Tours, WTM 2008 appeared to have an impact due to economic slowdown. “Regarding India market, buyers adopted the wait and watch policy, with a general election scheduled for 2009. However, queries about the country’s tourism products were very promising,” he said. For Pronab Sarkar, managing director, Swagatam Tours and Travels, the show was very satisfactory. “The company has got new contacts from new markets, especially from North America. Palace on Wheels and medical tourism were the major areas of query apart from

traditional products. Swagatam Tours and Travels is planning a new electronic brochure containing new packages in India which will include Orissa, North Kerala and Karnataka,” he informed. Speaking about the feedback Andhra Pradesh Tourism got from WTM 2008, Jayesh Ranjan, managing director, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation said, “Recession dampened the mood at WTM. Tourists of high-end leisure segment were not enthusiastic but there were some inquiries about Andhra Pradesh. We tried to create awareness about Andhra Pradesh and highlighted its potential as a MICE destination. We hope to gain from the business segment.” Even Jagdish Chander, director, India Tourism London, felt that WTM was a great show in respect to the success it achieved. Participants from UK were immensely happy about the tourism products showcased at India Pavillion. “’India Evening’ was the best ever organised and the branding of Incredible India was excellent. The branding would be continued in the months to come across UK. It is also remarkable that India Tourism received the World Travel Award for its success in responsible tourism,” he added.

WTM 2008 • Visitors increased by over 12 per cent • European tour operators showed interest in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh • Major queries focussed on the Golden Triangle, Kerala and Goa


12 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

STATES

Sikkim expects winter to Madhya Pradesh focusses herald springtime in tourism on intra regional tourism SIKKIM, the stamp-size state in the North-East, is

MADHYA PRADESH TOURISM is developing new tourist

waking up to the immense possibility of winter tourism and more. Sikkim Tourism has set a goal to double the number of visitors to a million in four years. SBS Bhaduria, tourism secretary, Sikkim discusses the plans.

spots around its four major cities - Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal & Jabalpur. Ashwani Lohani, managing director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation talks about MP Tourism’s initiatives and strategy.

P R E M KU M A R ikkim, a small and beautiful state of India in the Eastern Himalayas, is an amazing place to visit. With winters setting in, the state tourism department is showcasing Sikkim as a hot winter destination. SBS Bhaduria, tourism secretary, Sikkim said, “At present we are promoting and focussing on winter tourism. Sikkim receives a lot of snowfall, which would attract winter tourists. We are contemplating to promote trekking, skiing and snow sports.” He added, “We are promoting various kinds of tourism, such as adventure, pilgrimage, eco, health and rural tourism. We have immense potential in all these areas. We are promoting and organising many local festivals to attract tourists.” Tourism plays an important role in the state’s economy as well as in providing employment. The state government has assigned top priority to the tourism sector. Sikkim has seen a significant jump in the inflow of tourism from across the country and the world recently. The Himalayan state, blessed with snowcapped hilly terrain and lakes, monasteries, natural vegetation, horticulture, has become one of

S

SBS Bhaduria, tourism secretary, Sikkim

Sikkim receives a lot of snowfall, which would attract winter tourists. We are contemplating to promote trekking, skiing and snow sports.

the preferred tourist destinations in the country. The state has set a target of doubling the number of tourists' inflow at about 10 lakh in the next four-five years for which infrastructure development like hospitality sector and transportation facilities have received top priority. Bhaduria said, “We are developing basic tourist

infrastructure, such as accommodation, transportation, wayside facilities,” adding, “many hotels and related infrastructure are coming up in various parts of the state, including villages.” He further added, “The transport facilities will also improve with the state having its own airport at Paykong in the 11th Five Year Plan. The works for the construction of this airport is in progress.” The thrust of upcoming infrastructure is focussed around development of village tourism, eco tourism and adventure tourism in rural areas, he said. The state is also developing Buddha Park (Sakyamuni Project) in Ravangla in South Sikkim. A big statue of Lord Buddha is being installed in the park. The state government is also developing the Buddhist Circuit in Sikkim. This project will boost tourism and attract pilgrim tourists to the area.

Winter Tourism • Sikkim is promoting winter tourism • The state is also developing Buddhist Circuit to promote pilgrimage tourism • An airport is coming up at Paykong

P R E M KU M A R he image of Madhya Pradesh as a tourist destination has changed. The tourism sector in the state has made tremendous progress and is growing at a very fast pace. Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has achieved many milestones in recent years. The corporation, which was in loss till four years back, has started earning profits. The state tourism has gradually been coming up with new initiatives to promote tourism. Talking about new initiatives taken by MP Tourism, Lohani said, “There are many new initiatives, almost in every sphere of development and promotion of tourism. Development of new spots around the four major cities of the state and focussing on intra regional tourism within the state is a major initiative.” Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to promote tourism in the state and because of its constant endeavour it has turned its entire commercial units including hotels into profit making units. Speaking of the strategy adopted by MP Tourism for the development of tourism in the state,

T

Ashwani Lohani, managing director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation

Sustained action in all the facets of tourism development and promotion is our strategy.

Lohani said, “The strategy is simple and based on deliverance. MP Tourism does not believe in talk, but action and that is what makes us different from others. Sustained action in all the facets of tourism development and promotion is our strategy.” Commenting on the prevailing condition of tourism infrastructure in the state and steps undertaken for upgrading

the existing tourism infrastructure, Lohani said, “Roads have improved. Many new hotels have come up in the private sector in the state. Tourist infrastructure is being improved at destinations at a rapid pace covering almost the entire state.” The state is creating a new tourism destination at Sewaniyagond in Bhopal city. Lohani informed, “This would be ready by March 2009 and shall be one of the finest spots in Bhopal.” The state has taken some initiatives for the development of cruise tourism. Talking about the steps taken in this regard, Lohani said, “Cruise tourism in rivers over long distances is not possible due to a large number of dams on rivers. Cruises are being made operational in small stretches on rivers and water bodies.”

What MP is upto • New spots around the four major cities of the state are being developed • The state is focussing on intra regional tourism within the state • Cruises are being operationalised in small stretches on rivers and water bodies.


14 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

COVER STORY

MOT, tour operators and hotels coordinating closely t Contd. from page 6

I don't think we will be able to make up in the next six months,” he informed. EM Najeeb, CMD, Airtravel Enterprises India, showed serious concern over nationwide impact of the attack. “About 25 per cent bookings were cancelled for trips to even southern parts of India and it would increase to upto 50 per cent in 2009,” he informed. He further said

nels for sending wrong signals to the world. “We should sit together and launch a positive campaign with a common language,” he appealed. He felt that the industry can only bounce back after adopting creativity at this time of slowdown. Meanwhile, Orhan Abbas, vice president India & Nepal, Emirates, believes that there has been some impact in terms of bookings in the short-term. “We expect

traffic. I am impressed the way Mumbai has fought back every crisis. There is economic slowdown but again I am confident that this will not last for long. The government and the hospitality industry should take up the issue of security seriously.” So far Cathay Pacific has not faced major impact. “We are operating normal schedules. We are currently dealing with the Bangkok-Mumbai flights,” he informed.

KB Mahanta,

EM Najeeb,

Himmat Anand,

director, KSM Hotels

CMD, Airtravel Enterprises

MD, Diethelm Travel India

We have received cancellations from Japan and China and are also losing business from Asian countries.

About 25% bookings were cancelled for trips to southern parts of India and it would increase to upto 50% in 2009.

We should sit together and launch a positive campaign with a common language.

that tour operators in Kerala have fixed a meeting with the government at the state level to obtain a bailout package. To supplement Najeeb, Himmat Anand, MD, Diethelm Travel India, maintained that it will take ample time to recover from the situation. “In my opinion things will take a positive turn only in the winter of 2010. In 2009, bookings will be down by 50 per cent compared to 2008.” According to Anand the need of the hour is to initiate a continuous campaign by maintaining contacts with overseas tour operators, media and tourism bodies. He criticised the TV chan-

this will return to some degree of normalcy over the following weeks. As always, Emirates is committed to the Indian market and our flights continue to operate as per schedule. We appreciate efforts undertaken by the airport authorities to assist travellers and maintain operations at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport." Tom Wright, general manager - India, Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Cathay Pacific felt that the attack will definitely have an impact on travel industry. He maintained, “I am sure this is going to be a short-term phenomenon. We shall soon start seeing

Partha Chatterjee, chief marketing officer, Berggruen Hotels, unveiled the security limitations at the hotel. "Hotels take the security of their guests very seriously and there are rigorous security arrangements at every 5-star hotel in Mumbai and across the country. But if a person has such a serious intent of killing and shoots at hotel patrons indiscriminately, then there is little that the hotel security staff can do to prevent the assault.” Meanwhile, PATA India has started overseas campaign by writing letters to their counterparts immediately after the

incident. The letter says, “There have been security concerns on account of terror strikes in Mumbai. The Indian Security forces are in control and the situation is being constantly monitored at the highest level. Central Security Agencies and the State Governments have also acted swiftly and the security all over the country is being beefed up to ensure the safety of all the citizens and tourists. Ministry of tourism and tour operators along with hotels are closely coordinating and assuring travellers that India is a safe destination. India is a large nation and an incident in one place does not impact tourism and day-to-day life in the rest of the country. There is buoyancy in tourism and business in the rest of the country.” According to K B Kachru, executive vice president-South Asia, Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific, in the immediate future there will definitely be a negative impact on international and domes-

would be a rub off effect on travel to India in connection with sports, culture and medical tourism. Talks are already going on about changing the venues from India for the Cricket World Cup in 2011

the sentiment would not change and confidence building measures would be fruitless,” he said. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, director - New Delhi Office, Tourism Authority of Thailand

Partha Chatterjee,

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya,

chief marketing officer, Berggruen Hotels

director, TAT New Delhi Office

Our sincere condolences and sympathy to all those affected. We stand prepared to assist you in this difficult time.

and the Common Wealth Games in 2010. “In the long term, needless to say India needs to beef up the

(TAT) expressed solidarity to Indians. “We are deeply shocked and saddened with the series of terrorists attacks in Mumbai. Our sincere condolences and sympathy to all those affected. We hope the authorities will endeavour to bring normalcy swiftly. The TAT, New Delhi Office, stands prepared to assist you in this difficult time.” “We all must stand united against terrorism. These acts of terrorism seek to disrupt our normal lives. If we bow down to such pressure, we are helping the terrorists succeed in their mission. Our hearts go out to the families of all those who have lost their lives or have been injured in this act of terrorism,” said P.R.S. Oberoi, chairman, The Oberoi Group.

Orhan Abbas,

Tom Wright,

vice president, India & Nepal, Emirates

general manager, India, Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Cathay Pacific

We expect bookings to return to some degree of normalcy over the following weeks.

tic travel in India. There is a likelihood of cancellations by tourists and corporate travellers, who would only visit India if absolutely essential. It is also likely that there

Hotels take the security of their guests very seriously and there are rigorous security arrangements at every 5-star hotel.

I am sure this is going to be a short-term phenomenon. We shall soon start seeing traffic.

security arrangements. We have to face ground realities as perception is equally important. Unless things actually cool down and no future major terrorist activity is reported,

Trying times • Recent Mumbai terror attack is an eye opener • Drop in traffic, booking cancellations were immediate • Even in 2009, the impact is expected to continue


16 TRAVTALK

NTO

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

Turkey creates awareness in Indian market through workshops TURKEY TOURISM The tourism board along with Turkish tour operators recently showcased various aspects of Turkey to the Indian travel trade. Workshops were organised in Mumbai and Delhi with the aim of increasing tourist traffic from India. TT BUREAU urkey Tourism recently held workshops in Mumbai and Delhi to showcase Turkey as a destination. “The aim of conducting the workshops was to create awareness in the Indian market and work closely with the travel agents. We also want to contribute to the recovery from this situation of industry crisis,” said Sevgi Boz - culture and tourism counsellor, Turkey Tourism. “Turkey has 48 airports ferrying 50 million passengers with 16 airports open to international flights. The bed capacity has increased to 1,000,000. There are 15 golf complexes with the government planning another 100 in the coming years. Turkey is a place of

T

Sevgi Boz, culture and tourism counsellor, Turkey Tourism

many religions with diversified and unspoilt nature,” said Ela Atakan, director corporate affairs - Tursab. The number of visitors to Turkey in 2007 was 23 million and till the end of this year it stood at 25 million people. By 2023, the tourism

Ela Atakan, director corporate affairs, Tursab

board expects 63 million visitor arrivals. Talking about the main attractions at Turkey, Atakan said, “One of the main tourist spots of turkey is Istanbul which bridges Asia and Europe. This area has open air museums, wooden hous-

es, the Topkapi Palace, the Blue mosque, Obelisk of Theodosius and many more. Cappadocia is famous for hot air ballooning, Bursa is known for its ski resorts, Bolu is a popular nature friendly destination, the Black sea region is quite

green and Izmir has old archeological sites.” Other activities that one can indulge in, include skiing, fishing, mountaineering, trekking and shopping at the spice bazaar and grand bazaar. The country also boasts of attractions like the F1 Grand Prix and the World Water forum to be held next year. For the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions (MICE) travellers there are state-of-the-art convention centres. Turkish Airlines operates in 69 countries with 116 aircraft; three Boeing 777s will be further added. The connectivity from India through the Turkish airline has been three flights from Mumbai and four from Delhi. Daily flights on the Delhi-

Istanbul route will commence in the summer of 2009. The Marmara Hotels and Residences has 10 properties with three hotels and three residence apartments in Istanbul. They have a deluxe hotel at Esmasultan, and one Marmara property each at Antalya and Bodrum. This property boasts of banquets and conference facilities and even state-of-theart revolving rooms. “Turkey is looking at an increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the coming years and the board is chalking out more marketing and promotional activities. The local tour operators are designing packages for their Indian clients. There has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of arrivals every year and we are confident that this will continue,” stated Boz.

Turkey beckons • 48 airports • Bed capacity 1,000,000 • 2007-23 million people • 2008 -25 million people • 15 golf complexes


18 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

NTO

Visit Finland to target travellers who have already visited Europe VISIT FINLAND has agents’ specialist programme on the anvil to spur demand for

the destination. Currently, efforts are on to look at other potential markets beyond the conventional Delhi and Mumbai markets. TRAVTALK has details. TT BUREAU egardless of the reference to the global financial meltdown and inflation, Finland still managed to clock 50,000 overnights by September this year - a figure that was achieved in 2007. Papori Bharati, marketing manager, Visit Finland, said, “We are well set to achieve and exceed our target of 60,000 overnights from India this year.”

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Visit Finland, now with about two years of destination marketing experience in India is strategising some sound marketing plans based on the trends it has observed over the last couple of years. Informs Bharati, “Our renewed focus is not much on first time travellers. We are now targetting people who have already been to Europe. We will also strongly focus on travellers who have been to Finland for a day or two as part of a larg-

er European itinerary. These people have seen Finland and know that there is much more potential which can be explored.” Other potential visitors, said Bharati, could be young people with good disposable incomes, newly-married couples and small families. Bharati added that Indian market holds great promise for Finland and the NTO is working hard to generate awareness about destination Finland in India and

position it as a standalone destination for Indian travellers. Our effort is also to look beyond the Mumbai and Delhi markets and we are also looking at other potential cities like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh and Chennai. “India now ranks in the top 15 from last year’s 19th position as source market of Finland,” informs Bharati. Finland’s other important source markets are Russia, Sweden, Germany, UK and France. Visit Finland is in the process of launching an agent specialist programme next year. The specialist programme will seek to address the lack of awareness amongst the agents about destination Finland. “We will start with a few hand-

Papori Bharati, marketing manager, Visit Finland

Our renewed focus is not much on first time travellers. We are now targetting people who have already been to Europe.

picked Europe Specialist agents who would be exposed to Finland’s diverse tourism products through specially designed interactive web programmes and would be certified accordingly. Gradually, we would grow this programme and include more agents from different part of the country.” Speaking of Finland’s potential as a multi-purpose tourism destination, Bharati said, “Once we reach a critical figure in terms of number of tourist arrivals from India, which we expect to accomplish in about two to three years, efforts will be directed at promoting Finland as a destination of culture and heritage as it holds immense promise to spur demand further.”

India’s overnight Year

Overnight

2006

39,513

2007

49,589

2008 (Jan-Sep)

49,635


HOTELS

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

‘The Lalit’: Bharat Hotels adopts new brand identity BHARAT HOTELS recently adopted its new brand identity – The Lalit (formerly The Grand), which will be the brand name for all its top line hotels under The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group (formerly The Grand group of hotels). TRAVTALK has details. TT BUREAU harat Hotels is one of the largest privatelyowned hotel companies in India. According to the company, The Lalit pays ode to the spirit and dynamism of its founder chairman late Lalit Suri. The new identity was introduced by Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing

B

director, Bharat Hotels. From now onwards, all the properties under the Bharat Hotels banner will be known as The Lalit instead of the previously named The Grand. Speaking on the occasion, Suri said, “This is a proud moment for us as we embark on a new journey with The Lalit. While we carry forward the legacy of Lalit Suri, our new

Jyotsna Suri, CMD, Bharat Hotels addressing the press conference

identity also reflects an evolving, progressive and dynamic group, with a promise of offering limitless hospitality.” She added, “The Lalit is not only an inspiration

from our founder chairman’s name but also has great Sanskrit meanings like luxurious, cultured, charming, beautiful, etc. The logo is a brilliant red square, which offsets a stylised ‘L’ and bears resemblance to the Ganesha form which symbolises an auspicious beginning. Besides, Lalit Suri was also known for

his magnificent collection of Ganeshas.” Bharat Hotels boasts of 17 destinations, of which seven are operational and 10 under development, including two overseas projects. In terms of inventory, the company offers 1,500 rooms spread across seven locations in 5-star deluxe segment. Besides, the upcoming 10 properties collectively account for about 2,100 rooms. The hotel company has recently taken over a resort in Koh Samui, Thailand, which is currently under renovation. Bharat Hotels’ other international project was announced last year with Nakheel in Dubai. This hotel will be known as The Lalit Grand Fort Dubai. Bharat Hotels is also gear-

TRAVTALK

19

ing up to open its eighth property at Bekal in Kerala, The Lalit Resort & Spa Bekal. Besides, the hotel company recently completed a total product enhancement of its flagship hotel The Lalit New Delhi. Bharat Hotels has ended its alliance with InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) but the Mumbai and Goa hotels will continue their association with IHG and be called InterContinental The Lalit Mumbai and InterContinental The Lalit Goa Resort as it is still 18 months before the contract expires.

In the pipeline • The Lalit Resort & Spa Bekal (Kerala) • The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata • The Lalit Ahmedabad • The Lalit Chandigarh • The Lalit Jaipur • The Lalit Noida • The Lalit Grand Fort Dubai • The Lalit Resort & Spa Koh Samui (Thailand)


20 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

FAMILY ALBUM

WTM 2008: A good show despite challenges The World Travel Market (WTM) 2008 was held at ExCel London from November 10-13. Though the meltdown appeared to have some impact on this international event, it was the largest show ever as it attracted over 50,000 international participants and 6,000 exhibiting companies. The show was quite successful as Indian participants in general expressed optimism to tide over the current economic scenario.


HOTELS

JHM Interstate introduces third party management concept in India JHM INTERSTATE HOTELS With a portfolio of about 254 hotels globally

and touted to be the largest third party management company in the world, the company offers franchised opportunities to developers from well-established international hotel brands. TRAVTALK has details. S H AYA N M A L L I C K HM Interstate Hotels, headquartered in New Delhi, is now getting aggressive with its panIndia expansion plan with stepped up effort to generate hotel management agreement with both existing as well as future hotels in India. Formed in February 2007, JHM Interstate, a Joint venture between America’s JHM Hotels and Interstate Hotels & Resorts, boasts of being the largest third

J

party hotel management company in the world. Under the third party management model, a newer concept in India, JHM Interstate will manage all its properties and provide hotel owners with franchise opportunities from well-established international hotel brands from leading international hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, IHG, Wyndham, etc. Anil Kumar Bhandari, managing director, JHM Interstate Hotels, says, “We started in India looking at the future wherein we would position JHM Interstate as a sought after hotel management company in India under the third party management concept. To owners and developers we provide a one-stop complete hospitality solution starting right from the greenfield stage. And for our hotel partners, we develop their brands further because of our expertise of working with leading international brands across major markets. We are fully aware of their requirement and follow

Anil Kumar Bhandari, managing director, JHM Interstate Hotels

the specifications to the T. Brand standards

are never compromised.” Elaborating further he said, “Our services start right from the feasibility study, conceptualisation and site validation that

We started in India looking at the future wherein we would position JHM Interstate as a sought after hotel management company under the third party management concept. Anil Kumar Bhandari, managing director, JHM Interstate Hotels

also includes business plans, brand selection and negotiation, project management, design and construction and once the

hotel is ready we take over the management of property and offer services across operations & sales, finance, human resource, IT and purchasing, covering the entire gamut of hospitality services.” He further adds that the company offers to be an extremely cost effective proposition for owners and offer world-class services at the most competitive management fees as it is based locally unlike others who operate their Indian operation

from overseas offices. Bhandari also points out that JHM Interstate is an Indian company and draws immense expertise out of its presence in major international market and is well versed with the local requirements along with deep understanding of the customs, cultures and laws of the land. Bhandari also says that if in case a change of brand is required for a property, the business of hotel will not be hit due to one management moving out and a new management taking over, the management still remains the same and the business steady. Combined, JHM and Interstate manage over 254 hotels as franchise of leading international hotel brands from the house of Marriott, IHG, Hilton, Wyndham, Starwood totaling over 50,000 rooms across markets like US, Russia, Canada, Belgium, Mexico and Ireland. “Internationally, our properties boast of better gross operating profit than those

hotels being managed by the individual owners or other hotel management

JHM Interstate’s first hotel opens up in Vishakhapatnam in Jan ’09. companies and therefore we are the preferred third party management partners of companies like

Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, IHG, Hyatt and Wyndham,” informs Bhandari. Besides, the company also boasts of association with other hospitality giants like Best Western, Carlson Hotels, Choice Hotels, Taj and others like Dora, Tesoro, Amerisuites etc. The company expects to have about 35 odd hotels under management in 5 years. JHM Interstate’s first hotel, a 124 room property, opens up in Vishakhapatnam in January 2009. Other projects under development are at Surat and Ahmedabad. Besides, active negotiations and discussions with owners are currently underway in Gurgaon, Karnal, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Indore, Jaipur, etc.

Global portfolio Marriott

- 32 per cent

Hilton

- 29 per cent

Wyndham - 11 per cent IHG

- 8 per cent

Starwood - 6 per cent Others

- 14 per cent


22 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

FAMILY ALBUM

Over 50,000 international participants at WTM ’08


24 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

FAMILY ALBUM

Exhibiting the spirit of WTM, fellow travellers look ahead


HOTELS

IHG prioritise management over franchising IHG Driven by assurance of quality and not quantity,

the hotel company’s strategy would be to develop and expand under InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands across tier I, II and III cities. S H AYA N M A L L I C K ecognising India as an important market that offers major growth opportunities, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) has, recently, shifted its development strategy and is now looking towards expanding under the management model. “Although we are not totally closed to franchising our brands in India, our preferred business model will now be to manage hotels in this market,” said Michael G Herrmann, director - operations (South West Asia), InterContinental Hotel Group. Herrmann further said that since the launch of Crowne Plaza Today, Gurgaon, IHG’s first managed property in India in June last year, it has received as many as seven accolades and recognitions for its service standards and excellence. “On an average, the hotel is

R

InterContinental Hotel Group recently announced that its development strategy has resulted in 20 new hotels (about 5,000 rooms) to be added over the next three to four years.

receiving an occupancy of 80 to 90 per cent,” informed Herrmann. “Therefore, managing a property allows us to provide world-class service standards as well as to maintain the brand equi-

Michael G Herrmann, director – operations (South West Asia), InterContinental Hotel Group

Although we are not totally closed to franchising our brands in India, our preferred business model will now be to manage hotels in this market.

ty that our globally respected brands carry”, he added. Herrmann strongly emphasised that the company’s future expansion, in line with its strategy worldwide, would be driven by quality and not by quantity. To elaborate further, he said, “We look forward to partners who share the same vision and goals as we do. We want to associate ourselves with people who make strategic sense to us and who are looking at long-term profitability and sustainable growth.” IHG, in India since 1964, has so far seen all its development across the three brands namely InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts. The hotel company recently announced that its development strat-

egy has resulted in 20 new hotels (about 5,000 rooms) to be added over the next three to four years. The company, currently, boasts of 13 operational properties in India, accounting for 2,447 rooms. On the question of whether IHG plans to introduce other brands in India, Herrmann said, “We see great development opportunity for the three brands we are currently operating in India and, as of now, there is no immediate plan for bringing other brands. However, we would certainly look forward to introducing new brands as and when the opportunity arises.” IHG has a portfolio of seven hotel brands namely InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. The hotel company manages, what it claims, the world’s largest hotel loyalty programme, Priority Club Rewards, with 40 million members worldwide.

IHG in India • Crowne Plaza Today, Gurgaon is IHG’s first managed property in India • IHG, in India since 1964, has so far seen all its development across the three brands namely InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts • The company, currently, boasts of 13 operational properties in India, accounting for 2,447 rooms • The hotel company manages Priority Club Rewards, with 40 million members worldwide • IHG has a portfolio of seven hotel brands


26 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

FAMILY ALBUM

WTM 2008: Bonhomie in London


28 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

AIRLINES

Virgin Atlantic in a phase of consolidation despite meltdown VIRGIN ATLANTIC In the wake of the industry trying to move out of this recessionary

period, Michael Burke, GM - India, Virgin Atlantic Airways maintains that the airline is in a phase of consolidation, which is not such a bad thing, given the present situation. He speaks to TRAVTALK about this and other plans of the airline. LU V L E E N A WA L I A & D E V I KA J E E T n expansion plans with regard to economic slowdown, Burke said, “We are in a phase of consolidation at present, which is not such a bad thing, considering the global economic environment we are facing. We strongly feel that this strategy will enable us to quickly move out of this recessionary period in much better shape than the majority of our competitors. This will also allow us to take advantage of the opportunities such a downturn inevitably presents to the nimble, opportunistic and well run businesses of the world, such as ourselves.”

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Consolidation has enabled the airline to grow

Michael Burke, GM - India, Virgin Atlantic Airways

into a lot of the new capacity, added over the past few years, said Burke adding, “We have averaged an

annual growth rate of approximately 10 per cent for the past ten years.” Working closely with NTOs like VisitBritain, Tourism Ireland, British Council and other partners has enabled the airline to extend its reach across a broader base. “We are very happy with the results of such partnership,” he stated. Marketing and promotions don’t stop here with the airline as this year the concentration has been to promote the economy class to the travellers. “We have used a mix of print campaigns, outdoors campaigns and Internet among others. Marketing and promotions for next year look equally exciting and we are work-

We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the trade in India over the past eight years. We intend to continue this relationship.

Michael Burke

ing on the plans for the next year,” he added. With more and more airlines flying to London, Virgin aims to be different from the lot. On this Burke commented, “We believe that we offer the best value-for-money

in the market in spite of strong competition. Our strategy has, and will continue to be to provide best possible service at a great price, so that in every market we offer the best value-for-money proposition to passengers.” On being asked about the traffic being generated by the airline, he said, “On an average throughout the year the total number of customers originating in India versus the UK on our flights is around 40 per cent. This is typical and is in line with the industry standard and all the passengers are important to the airline.” Commenting on the current ongoing transaction fee and commission scenario Burke detailed,

Air India comes onboard Star Alliance; promises better connectivity AIR INDIA Notwithstanding the economic meltdown, Air India has become a member of

Star Alliance, the activation process of which is currently on. Lalit Kapur who recently took over as deputy general manager - sales and marketing, Northern region (international & domestic), Air India spoke exclusively to TRAVTALK about the airline’s growth and future plans. LUVLEENA WALIA & DEVIKA JEET xcited about his profile, Kapur said, “A lot is taking place with us at the moment, as we have become a Star Alliance member. The activation process is currently on and this will entitle the airline to much more facilities along with better connectivity to its travellers. It will also give us accessibility across the world through the member airlines of Star Alliance.” Currently, with 18 per cent of the market share in the international market, Kapur is now looking towards strengthening the airline’s hold in the region. “We get 80 per cent traf-

E

fic from Delhi with Jalandhar being the second largest contributor.

Lalit Kapur, deputy GM - sales and marketing, NR (international & domestic), Air India

Amritsar, Lucknow and Jaipur are also the key stations from where we oper-

ate international flights. We will also be looking at other markets like Varanasi, Ludhiana and Chandigarh,” he said. This is not all for Air India as the airline has ordered 111 new aircraft in total, out of which 68 are Boeings and 43 are Airbuses. “Out of these, 38 have already been delivered and we are expecting the rest 73 to be delivered in phases by 2012. The delivery would also include 27 Boeing 787 dream liners, which would start coming in by next year,” he explained. He further informed, “With the delivery of new aircraft, new routes would also be considered but, currently, we are just

Thanks to last year’s merger, the airline now offers seamless transfer from interior points of India to all international destinations at the same price. Lalit Kapur, deputy GM, sales and marketing (Northern region), Air India

going to concentrate on the existing routes. We

want to provide best facilities to our passengers in terms of onboard services and others. Thanks to last year’s merger, we now offer seamless transfer from interior points of India to all the international destinations at the same price.” Further elaborating on the unique selling proposition (USP) of the airline, he said, “We offer non-stop flights with new aircraft and are very hospitable in terms of in-flight services and offer the most competitive fares to our passengers.” With 51 weekly flights to 12 international destinations, Air India is shifting its focus to corporate

“We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the trade in India over the past eight years. We intend to continue this relationship. If we see enough reward in the short-term in paying 5 per cent commission ( by that I mean if we see enough incremental business to justify that five per cent we give away) then I see no reason why we would move zero per cent. Virgin Atlantic is happy to support the travel trade partners and feels they provide a good and valuable service to us. We would need to see their support in return or it will prove very difficult for us to justify - in such cost-conscious times why should we remain at 5 per cent when others are not.”

Virgin Atlantic camp • The airline has used a mix of print campaigns, outdoors campaigns and Internet among others • Averaged an annual growth rate of approximately 10 per cent for the past 10 years

travellers. “The kind of traffic that we cater to varies from time to time but we would now like to concentrate more on corporate travellers.” With regard to marketing and promotions, he added, “Promotions and sales calls are an ongoing process. Though, 80 per cent of our business is through a travel agent, we keep coming up with innovative prices and facilities to add value to our passengers from time to time.”

Air India • Air India has become a member of Star Alliance • This will entitle Air India to much more facilities • Air India passengers now can avail better connectivity • The airline offers 51 weekly flights to 12 international destinations • Air India has ordered 111 aircraft - 68 Boeings and 43 Airbuses


30 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

EXHIBITIONS

New entries, workshop on religious tourism to mark BIT 2009 BIT 2009 The 29th edition of BIT becomes more international and innovative as it takes

place from February 19-22, 2009 in Fiera Milano, the trade exhibition centre in Rho, Italy. TRAVTALK has details of the event that will also feature the first workshop on religious tourism. TT BUREAU ith more than 5,000 exhibitors, nearly a third of them from outside Italy, expected to display their travel and hospitality products, the 29th edition of BIT is poised to be a major travel industry event. The exposition is scheduled for February 19-22, 2009 on a floor area of 60,000 sq m at

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BIT has become more international and innovative with new entries such as Bulgaria and Kenya and new foreign agreements.

Fiera Milano, the trade exhibition centre in Rho, Milan metropolitan area, Italy. With many promotional and special activities on cards, BIT 2009 is likely to retain its special position in global tourism mart. BIT is expanding its

Agents’ Association (UFTAA), and World Travel Market (WTM). The show will repeat its multi-target formula – four days for trade visitors exclusively and a weekend for trade and travelling public.

Catholic Pilgrims a year to different holy sites in Middle East and Europe in chartered Boeing Planes ‘with fares ten per cent lower than their competitors’. ICORET, the 1st international conference on

this highly promising sector of tourism. BIT will feature its first workshop dedicated to Religious Tourism, organised in cooperation with Aurea, Borsa del Turismo Religioso, and Spazio eventi, on February 20,

tourism. It has thousands of historic churches, which are architectural and artistic marvels. Rome alone has 900 churches, with at least two dozen being as old as 4th century. BIT Channel is a revolutionary platform designed for industry professionals but also available to vast audience of Italian and international audience. BIT Channel is a free telecast service of tourism-centric video content where video broadcasting costs are borne by BIT channel. Bit Channel's editorial staff collects high-quality tourism videos produced by exhibitors or travellers. The videos are selected and organised in a special structure based on tourism keywords. The editorial service and videos, plus the broadcasting platform, are available to BIT exhibitors. The service that unites corporate marketing with travellers’ real-life experiences continue to find a greater audience. It is available at www.bitchannel.com BIT ’08 was a roaring success. It drew a record turnaround of 155,000 visitors including 108,500 members from travel &

CerticiBit, a feature first introduced in 2008, will focus on tourism linked to good food and high-quality speciality products. international dimensions with new entrants like Bulgaria and return of Kenya; and new foreign agreements, with the likes of Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), annual congress United Federation of Travel

most esteemed operators on the basis of votes directly cast by travellers on www.bitaward.it. The travellers stand a chance to win prizes under BIT Channel Competition for best videos of their holidays posted on www.bitchannel.com. There will be prizes even for those who vote. CerticiBit, a feature first introduced in 2008, will focus on tourism linked to good food and high-quality speciality products. There will be two other workshops: Buy Club International, the first Italian workshop focussed on the world of corporate clubs and associations and BuyItaly, addressed to buyers and sellers of Italian tourist products, which in the last edition involved 566 buyers from Poland, Hungary, Korea, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and, for the first time, Serbia. The premier positioning of BIT is revealed in the results of the last show, when there was a certified attendance of 155,000 (+3 per cent increase over 2007) including 108,500 trade visitors of which 20,500 came from abroad. The BIT show next year will have even more international resonance. The 29th edition will feature a new website www.bit.fieramilanoexpocts.it with a new layout and confirm its great attention to the Web 2.0.

BIT bytes • BIT ’09, 29th international tourism exchange, will be held in Milan from February 19-22, 2009. • More than 5000 exhibitors from 152 countries are expected to participate. • BIT’s first ever workshop on religious tourism on February 20. The workshop will feature more than 200 operators, sellers & buyers • The 29th edition will

Pilgrimage, world’s earliest form of tourism, has only grown with time. Religious tourism, also called faith tourism, is one of the fastest growing segments of holiday tourism. Vatican City says its flies some 150,000

religious tourism, was organised in Nicosia, Cyprus from October 19-21, 2006 as a joint initiative of Cyprus Tourism Organisation and UN World Tourism Organisation. This time BIT has bitten the bait on

2009. The workshop will feature more than 200 operators, sellers and buyers including travel agencies, diocesan centres, parish organisers etc. Italy, lying at the heart of Catholic world, has high potential of religious

hospitality trade. More than 5,000 participants from 152 different countries participated in the show. BIT ’09 will include 3rd BIT Tourism Award. The award, promoted by BIT, rewards the most popular destinations and

feature a new website www.bit.fieramilanoexpocts • Will feature workshops Buy Club International, focussed on the world of corporate clubs and association; and BuyItaly, addressed to buyers and sellers


32 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

FAMILY ALBUM / AGENTS

Pearl gives a grand farewell to Werner Heesen Rita & Krishen Seth, chairman, Pearl International Tours & Travels threw a bash to bid farewell to Werner Heesen, former general manager, passenger sales India and director -South Asia, Lufthansa and welcome Axel Hilgers, Heesen’s successor. Terming Heesen as one of the finest managers in the country and very agent friendly, Seth said he was a great asset to Indian aviation.

Cox & Kings reinvents ‘Land of Pharaohs’ as popular MICE destination COX & KINGS Egypt is being promoted as a perfect destination with its pyramids and rock

temples to international fishing tournaments. There are 100 reasons for visiting Egypt, yet the most compelling one now seems to be its popularity as a MICE destination. TRAVTALK has details. TT BUREAU here is a steady increase in tourist arrivals in Cairo from India in the last few years. Hence, Egypt tourism is looking forward to exploring the immense

“T

Egypt has several interesting destinations besides Cairo. possibilities of tapping the meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions (MICE) market,” said

Karan Anand, head - relationships and supplier management, Cox & Kings. Egypt as a destination has become popular with Indian travellers and the tourists are now looking for new destinations other than Cairo, he said explaining that Cox & Kings is keen on developing Cairo’s potential, especially in the context of the MICE segment. He added that the pyramids and other ancient heritage sites around Cairo provides a perfect setting for business travellers. Hence, Cox & Kings is partnering the Egyptian Tourism Office to promote Egypt as a ‘MICE destination’.

Karan Anand,

Samy Mahmud,

head - relationships and supplier management, Cox & Kings

tourism counsellor - Mumbai, Egyptian Tourist Authority

He further said that Egypt is not just Cairo; it has other fascinating destinations like Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.

“Egypt offers a warm welcome through its friendly people and has a rich blend of culture and cuisine combined with abundant coral reefs and luxurious beach

resorts,” he observed. Samy Mahmud, tourism counsellor Mumbai, Egyptian Tourist Authority, informed, “Egypt has several interesting destinations besides Cairo. Egypt Sinai has beaches, several tourist attractions like citadels, museums, summer and winter resorts, and adventure and safari tourism products. In addition, Egypt has diverse touristic spots like archaeological sites, monuments, oldest markets in the world, cruises through the Nile and desert camps.” Meanwhile, Ahmed Wasfy, regional manager - India, Egypt Air said,

“The connectivity between India and Egypt will further improve as Egypt Air is planning flights from Cairo to Delhi and Bengaluru early next year. The present load factor has been very good and we have increased our flights from Mumbai in October with four weekly flights between India and Egypt.” Presently, Egypt Air has a capacity of 1,072 with 96 business seats and 976 economy seats every week on MumbaiCairo route.

Egypt tourism • Tourist arrivals in Cairo from India has gone up in the last few years • Egypt is planning to explore the MICE market • It has destinations like Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, etc. • Egypt Air is planning flights from Cairo to Delhi and Bengaluru early next year


AGENTS / ASSOCIATIONS

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

Diethelm to penetrate India market, focus on tailormades & incentives DIETHELM TRAVEL is an established and respected name in Asia for over 50 years. On December

1, 2008 the company appointed Himmat Anand as managing director of Diethelm Travel India (DTI). In an exclusive interview with TRAVTALK , Anand shares his plans. TT BUREAU o establish the presence of DTI in India, the company’s objective will be to create strong relationships with tour operators in India, which it already has with tour operators worldwide. “Quite obviously, we would have to deliver high standards of service and care that Diethelm Travel is known for,” informed Anand. He believes that brands like Diethelm Travel, which provides very high service standards, can afford to charge a premium for their service that clients willingly pay for. “We will not be in the number game and will demonstrate our success through innovation, quality and care,” he clarified.

T

Himmat Anand , managing director, Diethelm Travel India (DTI)

Anand’s first priority will be to establish the brand identity of the company in India. “We are still relatively unknown here and a series of initiatives are being launched,” he admitted. He informed that it is equally important to put together a team of like-minded people who

believe in this strong brand and have total commitment towards it. When questioned about the present market scenario under which the company has to script the success story for this market, Anand pointed out, “Developments of the last couple of years seem to demonstrate that the global economic base is shifting from America and Europe to the Far East, Middle East, Russia and some parts of South America. While we cannot ignore America and Europe, our sales priorities will be guided accordingly. We will focus on tailormades, incentives, corporate meetings and special interest tours.” Significantly, DTI will look at introducing tours like an India-Myanmar itin-

We will not be in the number game but demonstrate our success through innovation, quality and care. Himmat Anand

erary. “Both these countries have historical and trade links and since we have a strong inbound presence in both, it could make an interesting product offering,” he emphasised. Accepting the fact that DTI is more at a start-up stage in India, Anand shared that India is not a

market that anyone can plunge into and show immediate results. “I will be pushing myself and the team to deliver positive results in the not too distant future,” he quipped. DTI will, at some stage, also look forward to niche outbound travel from India to exotic Asian countries like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and others where Diethelm Travel has a strong knowledge and operations base. Anand appeared quite confident about sailing through the present economic slowdown. “In a way, downturns like the present one have some positives. For one, it forces you to sit up and start looking at alternate options and to think differently. Creativity is rekindled. I am in a way,

Reunited, associations decide to boycott Jet Airways IAAI, TAFI, TAAI, IATO, ADTOI have all once again reunited to launch a joint agitation

in protest against zero commission. The associations have now decided to boycott Jet Airways whereas Jet has sought a dialogue with the travel agents associations. TRAVTALK has details. TT BUREAU ir India’s decision of not imposing the transaction fee on tickets bought from them directly as against their earlier agreement with agents that the transaction fee would be reflected on the tickets until December 31, 2009 under the OC code and would also be charged on tickets bought directly from their city ticketing offices, airport ticketing offices and online sales to maintain parity, has once again brought all the travel associations together which were earlier divided in their approach in negotiations with the airlines.

A

IAAI, TAFI, TAAI, IATO, ADTOI have all once again reunited to launch a joint agitation in protest against zero com-

ciations have unanimously decided to boycott Jet Airways and Jetlite on all its domestic and international routes until the air-

in every nook and corner of the country to create a crippling effect. Biji Eapen, president, IAAI (IATA Agents

Association heads addressing the press conference

mission. The associations have now decided to jointly demand that the five per cent agents’ commission be reinstated at the earliest and the commission should also include fuel surcharge. To make their voice heard the asso-

line chooses to hold a meaningful discussion to address the agents’ concern. All the associations’ party high commands have duly instructed their regional chapters to spread a word on the same among the members

Association of India), spearheading the demand for the reinstatement of agents’ commission said, “The boycott of Jet Airways and Jetlite is the first of the many more strong exceptions the industry will witness if the

14 airlines, which have said no to commission do not roll back their decision and listen to the agents’ legitimate demand.” Pooh-poohing the zero commission regime as a global phenomenon, Eapen said countries like Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, among others, are still paying the commission. “We must earn commission of five per cent and that must include the surcharge. The airline did not pay agent commission because of the spiralling ATF costs and now that the ATF cost has come down to US$ 50 from about US$ 160 earlier, they must now put agents’ commission back”, said

TRAVTALK

33

fortunate to be taking on this position at this time as it allows me to structure ourselves based on how inbound tourism will behave in the next 18 months,” he explained. He maintained that while relationships are one thing, demand and supply always rules the roost at the end of the day. “The only way to survive this downturn is not to take measures in panic. Do not cut down on sales efforts but cut down cost of sales; do not cut down on staff but cut down those who under deliver; take this time to experiment and innovate so that you are ready when things bounce back beginning 2010,” Anand concluded.

DTI’s priority • To establish the brand identity of the company • To set up a team of likeminded people who have total commitment • To introduce tours like an India-Myanmar itinerary • To look at the company’s presence in Nepal

Pradip Lulla, acting president, TAFI. Lulla further said that the hefty fuel surcharge in ticket price mars the agents of their remuneration and the government of taxes. Rajji Rai, president, TAAI reacting to some of the reports that recently appeared in some papers saying that airlines have brought down the fares said, “The airlines have done nothing of that sort. They have just removed the transaction fee from their system which they were committed to charge to customers to maintain parity.”

Important Highlights • IAAI, TAFI, TAAI, IATO, ADTOI have once again reunited • All associations to be present in future dialogues with the airlines • The associations have decided to boycott Jet Airways • Jet has sought a dialogue with the travel agents associations


34 TRAVTALK IN BRIEF

JetLite launches new Website n JetLite announced the

launch of its all-new Website www.jetlite.com. Customers can now avail online booking facility, Web check-in facilities, view schedules, avail of special fares and check flight status, among others. That apart, SMS check-in facility is also available.

AI starts direct AurangabadJeddah flight n

Air India’s maiden direct flight from Aurangabad to Jeddah for Haj pilgrims was flagged off by Vilasrao Deshmukh, chief minister of Maharashtra and Praful Patel, Union minister of state for civil aviation at the Aurangabad airport. This was the first flight to take off from the new terminal of the airport.

Park Plaza opens in Noida n Park Plaza under the

franchise of Sarovar Hotels opened in Noida. This new hotel is the sixth Park Plaza in the country and has 88 rooms. The property is located near the Commonwealth Games Village site.

Travelguru partners iXiGO.com n

All airline searches and bookings on Travelguru will now be powered by iXiGO's travel search engine, enabling travellers to search for lowest airfares and then book them directly on airline sites. This will allow travellers to save on the booking fees charged by some travel portals.

Charson Advisory joins Lotus Network n

NTO

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

Charson Advisory Services has become the first Asian member of the Lotus Network Travel Marketing & Communications. This membership will give clients of Charson Advisory Services access to the European market and Lotus Network clients will now have better access to India.

Tourism Queensland chalks out a ‘Mission in India’ As a part of promotional activity, Tourism Queensland plans to hold workshops in seven different cities of India in 2009. TRAVTALK has details. TOURISM QUEENSLAND

AA H A N A P E R E I RA ourism Queensland (TQ) aims to grow at 11 per cent in 2009. Hence, TQ has chalked out a ‘Mission in India’. “We want to promote different locations of our destination to the travel agents in India. The Queensland Tourism Board will come down to India in January. About 20 operators from Queensland will visit seven cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad,” said Paul Buggy, regional director - Korea, India, Middle East, South Africa & Inbound, Tourism Queensland. Australia received one lakh Indian visitors in the

T

Paul Buggy, regional director Korea, India, Middle East, South Africa & Inbound, Tourism Queensland

last 12 months. Fifty per cent of these travellers landed down in Queensland. “Indians are keen on visiting a unique destination. Australia has lots of options for tourists. Queensland offers a variety of attractions like swim-

ming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, yachting, alfresco waterside dining, sea kayaking, twilight sailing, game fishing, scenic flights, diving, cuddling a koala, bushwalking, relaxing by the pool, waterskiing and more,” Buggy informed. This state of Australia is fiercely promoting the Great Barrier Reef and the area of Gold Coast. “Queensland boasts of five World Heritage listed areas out of Australia’s 16, including the spectacular Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest in Cairns. The Whitsundays in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef consists of 74 idyllic islands. Magnificent beaches take up much of the expansive 7,400 km coastline from the inter-

nationally-renowned surfing beaches of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in the state’s south-east,” added Buggy. Packages have been designed, especially for Indian tourists. “As of now, we have the Gold Coast package of 4 nights at Surfers Paradise and one night at the Tangalooma resort with daily breakfast, all transfers, and visits to the Movieworld, Dreamworld and Seaworld. The Superior package includes 4 nights at the Palazzo Versace and one night at the Tangalooma resort with daily breakfast, all transfers, visits to the Movieworld, Dreamworld and Seaworld and the Zingara show,” he said.

Italy eyes Indian honeymooners and MICE ENIT roadshow in Mumbai and Delhi focussed on new segments pro-

moting Italy as a MICE and honeymoon destination. ENIT is also focussing on Bollywood to attract film producers to shoot their films in Italy. TT BUREAU ncouraged by a fabulous response to its roadshow ‘Fascinating Italy’ in 2007, ENIT organised the fifth edition of its roadshow titled ‘Italy, where dreams come true’ in Mumbai and Delhi recently. Nicolo Tassoni, counsellor head - economic & commercial, Italian Embassy in India, who was the chief guest at the occasion said, “India is a very important and substantial market for Italy. Italy is a stand-alone destination for Indian travellers. The Indian market has great potential for Italy as a destination. Italy is known for its great variety of things.” Speaking on the occasion, Salvatore Ianniello, representative, ENIT, said, “We are looking at new segments of Indian mar-

E

ket such as luxury, business, honeymoon and Bollywood to attract Indian tourists to Italy.”

ENIT has taken various steps to promote meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) seg-

Ahmedabad. We launched a MICE catalogue that showcases Italy as an attractive destination for

The approximate price of the Standard packages is Rs. 37, 545 onwards and Superior Rs. 53, 395 onwards (price varies from package to package, airfare, optionals excluded). TQ wants to woo Indians and their main targets are honeymooners and the family segment. Apart from this, the MICE crowd is important. “We have six convention centres in Queensland and we provide good accommodation for MICE and leisure travellers. Also for the honeymoon and family audience, we have developed a luxury resort called ‘Qualia’ at the Barrier Reef,” said Buggy. The air connectivity to Queensland has been a major factor behind increased traffic.

Luring tourists • Workshops in seven Indian cities being organised • TQ aims to grow at 11 per cent in 2009 • TQ is opening ‘Qualia’ luxury resort in Barrier Reef

from Italy and buyers from India. Apart from Delhi the roadshow was also organised in Mumbai. On the occasion, Subhash Verma, vice chairman - northern region, TAAI spoke on the subject: ‘Indian honeymooner segment: Current trend and potential’ and raised problems that the honeymooners face while visiting Italy. Apart from MICE and Honeymooners segments, ENIT is also focussing on Bollywood. Recently released film 'Bachna Ae Haseeno' by Yash Raj Films was shot in Italy. Around 1.5 lakh Indian tourists visited Italy in 2007. This number is 20 per cent more as compared to the previous year, and Italy is expecting 20 per cent more tourists this year.

Italy beckons

On account of the continuous efforts of ENIT, the year 2008 has seen even greater success than in the past with Italy’s rising popularity in the Indian market.

ment by simplifying the visa process. Speaking of ENIT’s major achievements in India in 2008, Ianniello said, “We focussed on new potential market in India like Hyderabad and

business travellers.” He informed that ENIT would organise a threeday workshop either in Goa or Udaipur in the coming year. The workshop will have sellers

• The theme of roadshow was ‘Italy, where dreams come true’ • ENIT to organise a 3-day workshop in India next year • ENIT is also focussing on Bollywood


AIRPORTS

Aurangabad unveils upgraded airport; Ahmedabad to get one next year AIRPORTS AUTHORITY OF INDIA (AAI) Western region will have some of the best

airports by 2009 as AAI is working on both big and small airports in the region. Recently, the new upgraded international airport at Aurangabad was inaugurated. SRIPRAKASH MENON irports Authority of India has been involved with the development and upgrading of 12 airports in the western region and the recently-opened international airport at Aurangabad is at par with any international airport in the world, Prakash Pai, regional executive director, AAI told TRAVTALK . He said AAI spent about Rs 95 crore besides funding of Rs 60 crore by Japanese government. The airport has modern amenities besides the integrated terminal building which can be termed as state-of-the-art airport. Pai said for the last one year they have been in the process of upgrading Nagpur and Ahmedabad airports as well. “The new upgraded Ahmedabad airport will be

A

Prakash Pai, regional executive director, AAI

Ahmedabad airport will be ready by March 2009 which would have modern facilities besides aerobridges and a commodious passenger area.

ready by March, 2009 which would have modern facilities besides aerobridges and a commodious passenger area. We are trying to be as global in our approach both in terms of designing of the terminal building and traveller conveniences. Moreover, we have been costeffective and fast in our up gradation plans,” he stressed. AAI manages and operates 126 airports including 11 international airports. “We not only control and manage the

Indian airspace; we are involved with design, development, operation and maintenance of international and domestic airports and civil enclaves. We are also involved in the development and management of cargo terminals, expansion of operation area like runways, aprons, taxiway, etc besides creating provision for communication and navigational aids ILS, DVOR, Radar, etc,” he explained. Integrated upgraded airports at Pune and

Goa will also be available by early next year, he said citing that these airports will have centralised AC passenger halls, visual talking system, glass elevators, CCTVs, modern snack bars, restaurants, adequate parking space, night landing facilities, etc. “We developed Aurangabad airport within a year and half,” he stated. “In Maharashtra alone we have 26 airports under our control. We are also developing Surat and Baroda airports

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

TRAVTALK

35

besides many other smaller airports in the western region. In Mumbai, we are handling the air traffic control (ATC), communication and navigational systems. We have state-of-the-art equipment in our airports and are presently handling about 650 aircraft movements (including the no schedule ones). The cross runway operation in Mumbai handled by us has helped in reducing the runway occupation time. AAI has highly competent staff and our people have been doing a great job,” he emphasised.

What’s on • Integrated upgraded airports at Pune and Goa will also be available by early next year • Airports Authority of India has been involved with the development and upgrading of 12 airports in the western region


36 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

FAMILY ALBUM

DELHI

Travel to Turkey: Workshops in Mumbai & Delhi

Turkey Tourism Board along with Turkish tour operators showcased a variety of travel products of Turkey to the Indian travel trade. Workshops were organised in Mumbai and Delhi with the aim of increasing tourist traffic from India. The workshops were successful in attracting a large number of travel agents from both the countries.

MUMBAI


38 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

HOTELS / AGENTS

Synergy with JAL to improve ‘dynamix’ of hospitality D B HOSPITALITY Mumbai-based Dynamix Balwas Hospitality, which owns Le Royal Meridien,

Mumbai and Le Meridien, Ahmedabad, has signed a comprehensive agreement with Tokyo-based JAL Hotels that will see the launch of a number of world-class hotels. SRIPRAKASH MENON he signing of this agreement will bring mutual benefits to both the parties and JAL Hotels intends to have its presence in rapidly growing Indian market. The nine cities identified for the new hotels are Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” explained Julian R Groom, (COO) and executive director, DB Hospitality. Groom said, “We are planning to invest over US $ 1 billion to expand our portfolio of hotel assets in India over the next 4 years. JAL Hotels will manage a substantial portion of DB Group’s hotel assets.” Citing the progress of work, he said,

“T

“Hotel projects have started and will see our prop-

Julian R Groom, COO and executive director, DB Hospitality

erties coming up from 2010 onwards.” DB Hospitality is part of DB Group, a well known name in real estate and has diverse business

interests like construction material manufacturing, diary products, telecommunication, etc. “We are presently operating two restaurants each at Chennai and Ahmedabad airports besides in-flight catering. We chose JAL Hotels as it will be an exclusive hotel brand to enter Indian market. They are international class five star hotel group and is keen on making a mark in the hospitality sector in India,” he stated. JAL Hotels also believes that India and Japan will have lots to do in business in the near future with more Japanese investments flowing into India and this gives them an opportunity to be significant player as well. “They are number 1 in Japan in

terms of their size, “Groom observed. The global meltdown will not particularly affect D B Group, he said, “We are trying to take advan-

We chose JAL Hotels as it will be an exclusive hotel brand to enter Indian market. Julian R Groom

tage of the falling land prices to develop infrastructure and are looking at projects which are incomplete and wanted us

to take over. So we will be in a position to start our projects when the economy gets more stable in another couple of years and so we are accelerating our plans to cope up with the market trend. Gestation period for a hotel is about 3 years by the time we are hoping that the economy will be on the up swing. We wanted our properties to be ready before the economic upturn.” DB Hospitality will also add up another 1,000 rooms with three properties - Hyatt Park in Mumbai (2011), Grand Hyatt in Goa (2009 end) and Pune (2010). “These properties are being uniquely designed and after they come up, they will create a buzz in the hospitality sector especially our Goa prop-

erty,” he remarked. “Our Meridien properties have already given us an important position in India, so we are not known to hotel industry but in another couple of years, we would surely be much more widely known in the hospitality segment,” he noted. “All our new properties will be five star though we are also looking at developing first class (four star properties) in smaller cities and towns. We have to still firm up the deals before announcing these projects,” he said adding, “We are looking at comprehensive deals where both parties have immense flexibility in their own expansion plans.”

In the offing • DB Hospitality planning to invest $1 billion in India over the next four to five years. • Will also add up another 1000 rooms with three properties - Hyatt Park in Mumbai (2011), Grand Hyatt in Goa (2009 end) & Pune (2010)

Safir leads to ‘northern Eastend Hospitality in lights’ through ‘Oslo Pass’ God’s Own Country SAFIR TOURS is promoting Scandinavia as a winter destination. The outbound tour operator has recently been appointed as an agent for Hurtigruten cruises and is aggressively promoting ‘Hunting the Light’. T T B U R E AU afir Tours, a Hyderabad-based outbound tour operator, has proven that three years is a long time in tourism. It has emerged as a primer tour service provider to snowy Scandinavia. Recently authorised by ‘Visit Oslo’, the tourist marketing and service institution of Norwegian capital, to sell the ‘Oslo Pass’, Safir is actively promoting Scandinavia as a winter destination. The Oslo Pass is an easy and economic way to experience Oslo. The pass serves multiple purposes. Travel agents can earn commission on those passes. The official web-

S

Nayaz Noor, CTC, DS, CEO, Safir Tours

site www.visitoslo.com provides more details. Safir Tours, which has recently been appointed as an agent for Hurtigruten cruises, (www.hurtigruten.com ) is aggressively promoting ‘Hunting the Light’ this

winter. It refers to the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights visible in northern Scandinavia, especially Norway. A special 2-for-1 promotion is on for January to March 2009, on selected departure dates and cabin types for a 4, 5 or 6 night cruise, sailing from Kirkenes or from Bergen. “This is the best time to view the Aurora Borealis,” said Nayaz Noor, CEO, Safir Tours. Doing research upon new destinations is what interests Noor. Safir Tours has signed a cooperative agreement with South American Tours (SAT) to sell their scheduled departure tours covering places like Argentina, Brazil, etc.

EASTEND HOSPITALITY has prominent properties in Kerala. Eastend Munnar is a luxurious hotel; other such properties are Eastend Bungalows, Eastend Farmyard, Eastend Lakesong, etc. T T B U R E AU ntil the early 1980s, Kerala was a hitherto unknown destination. Then, a few entrepreneurs came to the conclusion that it was high time the outside world be invited to share the spirit of Kerala. One among them is E J Varkeychan, a man with a vision who trod into the hospitality industry with the establishment of Eastend Hospitality. Munnar was chosen for the maiden venture of Eastend Hospitality with the opening of Eastend Munnar. Set on the picturesque Munnar hills, the Eastend Bungalows were the homes of the colonial tea masters during the British rule.

U

Meanwhile, Eastend Farmyard is a resort at Adimali that is ideal for the travellers to have a break from the tedious journey through the high range of Munnar. Likewise, Kumarakom is also a charming emerald peninsula jutting into the ever-effervescent Vembanad Lake. The fresh water of the lake runs into the mainland making a labyrinth of lagoons, brooks, canals and waterways, which have plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes. In addition, the backwater houses a variety of species of fauna and flora. Meanwhile, Eastend Lakesong is situated along the shores of this most

invigorating, fascinating paradise in God’s Own Country. Eastend Ayurkshethra, meanwhile, is an authentic ayurveda and yoga retreat centre on the banks of Vembanad Lake. Ayurkshethra, located within the Lakesong resort complex, brings forth the true concept of ayurveda.

Eastend Hospitality • E J Varkeychan established Eastend Hospitality • Eastend Munnar is the maiden venture of Eastend Hospitality • Eastend Farmyard is a resort at Adimali


40 TRAVTALK

OTHERS

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

Hong Kong Tourism Board IGI airport claims less opens MEHK office in Mumbai hassles during fog time THE DELHI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (P) LIMITED the Indian MICE market, Hong Kong Tourism Board (DIAL) recently organised a workshop to provide an has set up Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong update about the steps the airport is going to take to reduce hassles due to fog and low visibility. (MEHK) office in Mumbai. HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD In an effort to tap

T T B U R E AU EHK office has been opened in Mumbai’s prime location Andheri to attract the MICE business from India. The aim of the tourism board is to create awareness of the destination and strengthen relationships with the travel agents. “We aim to showcase Hong Kong as a MICE destination. India is a high potential market and the newly-opened office will ensure that Hong Kong stays ahead of the competition in the global MICE sector,” said James Tien, chairman, HKTB. “HKTB has appointed a market representative in India to help set up MICE promotions. By working in concerted effort with the Indian companies, industry associations and our trade partners, we will launch targeted local promotions to cultivate new business contacts and build awareness of Hong Kong’s MICE brand,” Tien cited. As a division of HKTB, the MEHK office will con-

M

sist of three teams to offer services. The MEHK office will mobilise the collaboration of different sectors of the community to device customised solutions and value-added

James Tien, chairman, HKTB

Tien said, “14 days visa-free travel facility for the Indian passport holders and additional flight capacity between India and HK will work out smoothly.” Hong Kong received 3, 17, 510 visitors in 2007 and 2,68,916 in the first nine months of 2008. The increase in growth was 13.5 per cent. Over 1,300 yearly MICE events are held at Hong Kong with the Asia-Pacific tourism spending amounting to 11 billion HK dollars. “The launch of MEHK initiative is the first in our efforts to enhance Hong Kong’s MICE business in potential markets. We also aim at developing Website for itineraries and increase number of venues for hospitality and immigration centres,” cited Tien.

hospitality offers. The office will also work closely with members of the Alliance Group, including Hong Kong Trade Development Business Council, Invest Hong Kong • 3,17,510 visitors in 2007 Economic and trade offices • 1,300 yearly MICE events to maximise • 14 days visa-free travel facility synergy.

T T B U R E AU ndrew Harrison, COO, DIAL announced that the airport was taking adequate measures to reduce

A

advance and adequate facilities for their comfort at the airport, when flights get delayed due to fog. At present IGI airport handles 42 flights per hour and

(L-R): Andrew Harrison and RK Jenamani

cancellation of flights and hassles to the passengers caused by fog, especially during December and January. Apart from installation of CAT IIIB Instrument Landing System on all the three runways to have runway visibility up to 50 metres, the airport will also provide more information through its channels (both manual and online) to the passengers about the flight condition, 6 to 24 hours in

about 60 per cent flights get cancelled during the dense fog hours (normally during 11 pm to 10 am). According to RK Jenamani, director, met office, IGI Airport, New Delhi, a bulletin of prevailing fog conditions will also be available after every 30 minutes along with a trend forecast for the next two hours and Aerodrome Forecast-TAF- each on three hourly basis. “Meteorology (Met) inputs

Shape Vacations becomes selective, cuts margin to combat recession SHAPE VACATIONS The strategy of Shape Vacations is to select a few popular destinations

and hotels and reduce costs to attract customers and get big volumes. In his interview with TRAVTALK , Ravi Saxena, director, Shape Vacations explained this strategy. TT BUREAU n account of worldwide economic meltdown, the travel industry is going through one of the worst phases. The hoteliers are suffering as there are not many hotels in all the categories sought by the clients. Moreover, whatever number of hotel rooms is available, the prices are too high. Hence, travel companies are finding it diffi-

O

cult to maintain the growth of their businesses. However, Saxena is not at all bothered about the emerging scenario that has gripped most sections of the tourism industry. As a matter of fact, he has devised an effective strategy to beat recession and maintain his business as usual. His strategy is simple: to be selective in promoting destinations and hotels and to reduce margins

Ravi Saxena, director, Shape Vacations

on sales in order to attract more customers, and therefore, gain in the process. Elaborating on his strategy to beat the impact of economic slowdown on his business, Saxena further said, “What we have done is that we have identified the destinations which are selling the most and in those destinations we have identified and selected a few popular hotels, which

are more saleable and cost-effective.” He added, “We go personally to popular hotels at the selected destinations to renegotiate the room rates based on the quantum and we visit only specific hotels to renegotiate prices. We are not looking for all the hotels as nobody can get the best rates from all these hotels.” He further added, “We explain to the hoteliers that reducing the room rates will boost the

and met plans for better fog management at IGI Airport (2008-2009) will be in place,” added Jenamani. Dense Fog (visibility below 200 M) is most likely to occur during December 10 to January 31. The airport, in consultation with airlines, ATC, CISF, BCAS, met department, Delhi Police and the civil aviation ministry has drawn up a strategy to provide additional facilities to passengers during the fog season. In this regard, already a brand new wing in the security hold area of Terminal 1B has been commissioned recently.

New Developments for 2008-2009 • New Four World class Automatic Met. Instrume nts at RWY 27/RWY 29 • Readily availability of weather of Alternates (Web) • IVR System with DIAL for IGI (In the proposal)

demand for their hotel and increase their occupancy rates and volumes. Eventually, they understand that this strategy is going to be beneficial for their business in the long-run.” Other strategy Shape Vacations has adopted to sell destinations and hotels is to eliminate the role of intermediaries and deal directly with the hoteliers.

The strategy • Be selective in promoting destinations and hotels • Reduce margins on sales to attract more customers • Do away with middlemen • Allow customers to enjoy value for money


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42 TRAVTALK

DECEMBER 1 ST ISSUE 2008

MOVEMENTS

Malaysia Airlines

Amadeus

Shiv Vilas Palace Hotel

Azahar Bin Hamid has been appointed regional

David V. Jones has been appointed as the

manager - South Asia Region of Malaysia Airlines. With his extensive service experience of 26 years, he will be manning the markets of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives. He will be operating out of the airline’s New Delhi headquarters. Hamid’s professional career with Malaysia Airlines started in the year 1982 as a management trainee. In his over twodecade association with the airline, Hamid has successfully carried out numerous innovative projects in network and fleet planning, budgeting and aircraft utilisation project.

president & CEO, Amadeus IT Group w.e.f January 1, 2009. Jones has headed Amadeus global commercial operations since 1992 and has a deep knowledge and experience of the travel industry and Amadeus’ business. He has worked side by side with José Antonio overseeing the evolution of the company from the newest and smallest GDS competitor, to its current position as the world’s leading supplier of travel distribution and IT solutions for the global travel industry.

Hareshwar Dayal has been appointed as the vice president, Shiv Vilas Palace Hotel, Jaipur. He has more than 33 years experience in the hospitality industry and has worked with various leading brands including The Taj Group of Hotels, Sarovar Park Plaza and Radisson. His last posting was with Ramada Plaza in Varanasi as vice president. He enjoys and excels in cultivating relationships and counts on the support of a large network of friends and professionals in the travel and tourism industry, throughout India and abroad. Dayal strongly believes that successful businesses and relationships can be built only on the foundations of courtesy, honesty and integrity.

Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai Anurag Bhatnagar has been appointed as general manager, Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai. Prior to his new assignment, he was the general manager of Le Meridien, Jaipur. Bhatnagar is an alumni of IHM Pusa, New Delhi, and a graduate from the Delhi University. He has over 19 years of enriching experience in the hospitality industry. He spent around 10 years with The Oberoi Group, and over eight years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Bhatnagar had held key positions in The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata and Le Royal Meridien, Mumbai. His role will include facilitating Le Meridien brand initiatives in the region and also rolling out signature services and programmers in Mumbai.

The Chancery Group of Hotels Stephen Beale, general manager, the Chancery Pavilion has been promoted to the prestigious position of vice president (operations), the Chancery Group of Hotels, Bengaluru. Beale has almost two decades of global experience in the hospitality sector and also has knowledge in international dynamics and operations. Prior to making Bengaluru his home base, he was the group’s general manager for two years at Sari Pacifica Resorts in Malaysia.

The Claridges Hotels & Resorts Herman von Treskow has been appointed as

Mehul Sharma has joined The Claridges, Delhi

general manager – total quality management, the Claridges Hotels & Resorts. Treskow comes with a rich experience of over 30 years in the luxury hotel industry in Asia, Europe and the USA. In his current position, he will spearhead the Total Quality Management initiative at the Claridges Hotels & Resorts.

NCR, as director of sales. He comes with over eight years of experience in the hospitality industry. Sharma brings extensive expertise to his new position as director of sales, which involves overseeing the entire sales operations of The Claridges, Delhi NCR, towards fulfilling the vision of establishing the hotel as the ultimate leisure and corporate brand in the country.

Diethelm Travel India Himmat Anand has been appointed managing director, Diethelm Travel India (DTI). He comes with over 25 years of crossfunctional management experience in the inbound tourism industry in India. Having spent most of his career with SITA Travel, he has also worked for 10 years in Germany, the United Kingdom and France promoting India as a tourist destination. His last position was as chief operating officer, India and South Asia, Kuoni Destination Management.

Tiger Balloon Safaris Vir Rawlley has been appointed as the director, Tiger Balloon Safaris. The company is launching commercial hotair ballooning through non-scheduled operator permit (NSOP) from the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA). Rawlley will be overseeing the deployment and promotion of hotair ballooning as well as sales for Pench Jungle Camp and the setting up of a new first class resort in Kanha in Madhya Pradesh. Rawlley has served over 29 years in the segments of inbound tours, hotels sales and marketing.


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Postal Reg. No.: DL(ND)-11/6044/2006-07-08, Licence to Post without Pre-payment No.: U(C)-178/2006-08 for posting on 7-8 and 21-22 of the same month at New Delhi P.S.O., RNI No.: 53492/91

END MARK

TAT plans to concentrate on new destinations in Thailand TAT With so much happening in Thailand, from airports being shut to flights

to Thailand getting cancelled, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) who spoke to TRAVTALK feels that tourism from India will not be affected in the long run and shared his plans for the next year. LUVLEENA & D EVIKA iven the current situation, a section of travel and tourism industry sees a slowdown in tourism to Thailand. However, Thai tourism officials are still very optimistic. “From enquiries we have made to travel agents and airlines in India, the shutdown of Suvarnabhumi Airport has led to cancellations of bookings in the short-term, but many agents are holding onto long-term bookings and are still receiving bookings. Tourism industry partners here are not overly concerned about client safety in Thailand. They understand that Thailand remains a great tourism product that is value for money. Many have confirmed that they will continue to send tourists to Thailand after international flights resume,” said Chattan. Optimistic about the Indian market, he said, “India is a primary short haul market for us. There’s lot of potential for growth in the market. Tourism between the two countries is doing very well.” He further informed that till the end of this year, tourist arrivals are expected to reach close to 6 lakhs while last year, the arrivals were around 5.1 lakhs, which shows a growth of 17 per cent. “India is among the

G

top ten destinations in terms of source market for Thailand,” he informed. Tourism Thailand plans to concentrate on new destinations in Thailand and fashion it well. “As lots of Indians have been traveling to Bangkok, we wish to explore new destinations and activities and we want to promote destinations like Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, director, TAT

There’s lot of potential for growth in the market as tourism between India and Thailand is doing very well.

Pattaya, Ko Samui, among other unknown destinations,” Ayudhya added. Tourism Thailand will be consistently working on marketing and advertising campaigns in India. “We aim to make our Amazing Thailand campaign more visible to everyone. We want to promote MICE segment for which we aim

to work closely with the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau to attract more traffic to Thailand.” He further elaborated on the relationship with the travel agents. “For the agents across India, we organise the agent’s specialist programme, which was held in Goa last year and will be held in Lonavala this January,” he said. Ayudhya feels that even the Thai hoteliers and agents need to know Indian travellers and their requirements in a better way. “We also encourage Thai hoteliers and tour operators to come to India and know the Indian market better,” he said. With an average of seven overnights to two destinations in Thailand

from India, Ayudhya ensured that tourism will only increase further. “This year, we had organised roadshows in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. We are also looking forward to tier-two and three cities across India from where we get good traffic.” Currently, they get 50 per cent of MICE and business traffic and 50 per cent of leisure traffic. A lot of growth potential in leisure traffic is foreseen. Ayudhya is not worried about the growth of tourist traffic in other countries like Malaysia, for instance. Ayudhya plans to make next year - the Visit Thailand Year 2009.

Thailand tourism • Airport shutdown has led to cancellations of bookings • Many agents still holding onto long term bookings • Tourism Thailand plans to concentrate on new destinations • Roadshows in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru were held in 2008

TRAVTALK DEC 08  

TRAVTALK DEC 08

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