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Volume IV Issue III December 2017


High taxes encourage our people to travel abroad says ADTOI President


On the Cover : St. Michaels Catholic Church Shimla

In Focus

Andhra CM reveals ambitious plans for tourism under Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029 P-20 Destination

Most Stunning Places for Winter Vacations in







CONTENTS Editor Rajesh Tiwari +91 9818525672

Correspondents Jai Kishan Kaparwan Nisha Awasthi

Art Director






Mithlesh Gupta




Commercial Director Dheeraj Anand +91 9560444678 Advertising Manager (North-West) Solomon Saxeana +91 9999810390 Advertising Manager (South-East) Santosh K Mishra +91 8447786636 Marketing & Events Manager Lakshman Vashisth +91 9911907050

36 WORLD 37




A sense of true hospitality helped me to reach this position says Ratna Kumar

Principal Advisor Anil Prakash

Legal Advisor


Advocate Brijesh Tiwari

Production & Distribution Production Manager Subhash Solanki Distribution Executive Anoop Singh

Accounts CA Rishabh Rana

Technical & Web Support Amit Agrahari

All information in Whereabouts is derived from sources, which we consider reliable and a sincere effort is made to report accurate and up to date information. All contents of this publication are reserved worldwide. Reproduction in any manner without prior written permission is prohibited. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of component courts and forums in Delhi only. Whereabouts is own, printed & published by Rajesh Tiwari. Whereabouts is printed at Pritika Printers, A-21/27, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase-II, New Delhi 110028 and published from E-8/401, Nehru Vihar, Delhi 110094. Editor Rajesh Tiwari


Andhra CM reveals ambitious plans for tourism under Sunrise Andhra Pradesh 20 Vision 2029


DESTINATION Most Stunning Places for Winter Vacations in



Dear Readers, The previous month, I had an opportunity to listen the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu in Visakhapatnam. Having a direct interaction with the dynamic Chief Minister, the one thing I am sure about – Andhra is poised to join the list of elite states of India, and definitely one of the top sates in tourism sector. It’s good to know that under the dynamic leadership of Mr Naidu Andhra Pradesh Tourism have ambitious plans for the industry and its stakeholders. Under ‘Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029’, (launched in September 2016), it is envisioned to position Andhra Pradesh as one of the most visited states in the country. The ‘Sector Paper’ has critically identified the challenges faced by the sector; and in response to these challenges it has chalked out the theme based strategic roadmaps. In this issue, our readers will have an opportunity to read about the massive plans Andhra Pradesh tourism.


Meet Santa Claus


Away From The Madding Crowds: Tourism in Off-Season A New Trend

Also, in a latest development our travel associations; Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) have elected new Office Bearers and Managing Committee Members.


We extend our warm wishes to the elected members of the team!! Kindly share your feedback with us at rajesh@ Have a happy reading…

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Sunil Kumar R re-elected as TAAI President WH Desk


Thomas Cook (I) focuses on improving gender diversity WH Desk


homas Cook (India) Group was recently selected as one of the Working Mother & AVTAR 100 Best Companies for Women in India 2017. The companies within the Thomas Cook India Group that were a part of the survey included SITA-Travel Corp (India) Ltd, Thomas Cook India and SOTC. In India, women who work full time are also responsible for managing household chores ranging from cleaning, cooking, taking care of their children, social and religious obligations, etc. Unfortunately the maturity to accept women as equals is often lacking in the country, with a rather traditional/patriarchal attitude exhibited.


he Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has elected the new Office Bearers for the term 2017-19 during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on November 28, at The Lalit Mumbai. Having a successful term as the President of TAAI Sunil Kumar R has been re-elected for the post while Sanjay Narula and Jyoti Mayal has been elected as the Vice President and the Hony. Secretary General respectively. Imitiaz Qureshi has been elected to the post of National Treasurer. The newly elected members of TAAI’s Managing Committee include Anil Kumar – Acma Travel Tours, Bengaluru; Anoop B. Kanuga – Bathija Travels, Mumbai; Bhagwan T. Ramnani – Vensimal World Travel Agents, Kolkata; Devaki Thiyagarajan - Avocet Tours & Travel, Chennai; Gurmeet Singh Vij - Nova Tours & Travels, Nagpur; P. Saravanan - Viking Tours & Travel, Chennai, Rajan Sehgal - Airborne Travels, New Delhi.

Against this backdrop, it was important for Thomas Cook India to take a stand and empower its women workforce to get their fair share, be confident and feel safe in their work environment. The Company launched a unique initiative, Women of Will (WOW), as a platform for this dynamic workforce, enabling them to share their dreams, their challenges and support each other and the organization to achieve their professional and personal goals. Thomas Cook India aims at establishing a working environment that encourages all its employees to fully demonstrate their capabilities in the workplace and has incorporated various measures, policies and programmes that address issues such as organizational development. Mona Cheriyan, President & Group Head, Human Resources, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., said, “We have a fair number of women leaders and continue to mentor women in the workplace to take on more strategic roles. The leisure industry lends opportunities for women and we ensure that some roles where women have special skills and an eye for detail are staffed with female employees.”

OTOAI elects new office bearers; Mahendra Vakharia takes over as President WH Desk


utbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) has elected the new Working Group Committee and Executive Committee Members for the term 2017-19. Under the supervision of Sanjay Dutta as the Election Officer the election was held on 27th November 2017. Mahendra Vakharia, Managing Director, Pathfinders Holidays has been elected as the President while Himanshu Patil, Director, Kesari Tours is the new Vice President. Chitra Bhatia, Director, Aashman Air Travels has been elected as new General Secretary. Gurdeep Gujaral, Founder Director, Gujral Tours and Travels continues to hold the post of Joint Secretary while Siddharth Khanna, Partner, Khanna Enterprises is the new Treasurer.

6 December 2017

While speaking to the media the newly elected President says that the new team is committed to make OTOAI bigger, better, stronger and an effective Association of impeccable integrity.

Working Group Committee President: Mahendra Vakharia, Pathfinders Holidays, Ahmedabad Vice President: Himanshu Patil, Kesari Tours Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai General Secretary: Chitra Bhatia, Aashman Travels, New Delhi Joint Secretary: Gurdeep Singh, Gujral, Gujral Tours & Travels Pvt.Ltd., New Delhi. Treasurer: Sidharth Khanna, Khanna Enterprises, New Delhi

Executive Committee Members Riaz Munshi, N Chirag Travels, New Delhi. Shravan Bhalla, High Flyer, New Delhi. Ankush Nijhawan, TBO, NCR of Delhi Rajeev Sabharwal, Gaurav Travels, New Delhi Sujit Nair, Akquasun Holidays India P. Ltd., Mumbai Adl Abdul Karim, Creative Tours & Travel, Mumbai


Andhra Pradesh poised to become the land of mega tourism events The Department of Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh has planned 24 four mega events to engage tourist round the year. With the events like Araku Baloon Festival, Sounds on Sands and Social Media Award Summit etc. the state is poised to become the land of mega tourism events. Rajesh Tiwari


s our Chief Minister N Chandrabadu Naidu says, we should strive to become first of the top states in terms of tourist footfalls and facilities, says Bhuma Akhila Priya, Minister for Tourism, Govt of Andhra Pradesh. In order to achieve this we have planned 24 mega events this year. We have already completed four of these so far with the most recent Araku Baloon Festival at Araku Valley and Sounds of Sands at Visakhapatnam,” says Ms Priya. She was speaking at the outset of 8th ADTOI Annual Convention in Vishakhapatnam. She opines that for holistic development of tourism, the government should enable the tourist to have a firsthand experience of hospitality and atmosphere that the state offers. According to her, the maiden Araku Baloon Festival attracted around seven thousand tourist per day. Similarly the Sounds on Sands attracted 20,000 tourists per day including a large chunk of travellers from outside of the state. Social Media Award Summit concluded on

Bhuma Akhila Priya Minister for Tourism Govt of Andhra Pradesh

18th November at Vijayawada which was attended by Deepika Padukone attracted a huge attention. A R Rahman’s Concert at Kakinada will be organised in December this year. Also, the well known F1H2O race is scheduled to be organized in Krishna River at Vijayawada next year. “Having experienced an overwhelming response to these events we are very confident that the state will attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists for its mega tourism events in near future,” she added. Furthermore, as the minister says, with the proactive policy making and promotional activities, Andhra Pradesh is enduring to project and highlight its destinations and tourism products at different forums all over the country and the world as well. “This will

create a positive and inviting atmosphere for the travellers who visit our state,” says Ms Priya. Working on those lines the state is developing sufficient infrastructure and creating more activities to engage tourist. The state is poised to set up an Adventure Sports Academy at Gandikota in Kadapa district and a Formula One Car circuit in Anantapur district of the state. Elaborating on the importance of ADTOI Convention she further said that the conference-cum-exhibition creates an opportunity for the state to leverage the potential of tourism through representative of this industry. “Our state has been at forefront in promotion of domestic tourism since its inception. Therefore, I would invite all of you to actively and aggressively promote Andhra Pradesh tourism to make it a profitable venture,” concludes Ms Priya.

Sixth ITM at Gauhati highlights varied tourism products of north east

MOT to close 7 foreign offices, new office at Moscow on the cards

WH Desk

WH Desk



he Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with the North Eastern States has organised the 6th International Tourism Mart (ITM) in Guwahati, Assam from 5-7 December, 2017. Held at Taj Vivanta, the event was inaugurated on 5th December by His Excellency, Jagdish Mukhi, Governor of Assam in the presence of Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister Assam and K.J Alphons MoS (IC), Ministry of Tourism & MoS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Union Secretary Rashmi Verma and other dignitaries from Central Ministries and North Eastern States.

he Ministry of Tourism has decided to close its foreign offices at Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, Amsterdam, Paris, Milan and Johannesburg. It is expected that the Ministry of Tourism will be closing a few more international offices in the near future. However, opening a new office at Moscow is on the card. From now onwards the India Tourism will have its offices at New York, Dubai, Frankfurt, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore and London.

December 2017 7


High taxes encourage our people to travel abroad says ADTOI President Rajesh Tiwari


t a time when India is becoming the biggest source market for the world countries, we are not able to leverage the potential of our travellers going abroad. Definitely it’s not the beauty that attracts our people to go abroad but it is the high taxes that encourage them to visit foreign countries, says PP Khanna, President of ADTOI. He was speaking at the outset of 8th ADTOI Annual Convention in Vishakhapatnam. “Whether it is a tour operator, hoteliers, transporter or any other service provider of this industry is suffering a lot; high GST rates on hotels makes our package costlier, our margins have been squeezed because of the competition with OTA’s that creates a lot of challenges in running our business,” he explained. Elaborating on the importance of tourism sector Mr Khanna further said that it has become a major sector of the world economy. It is a significant contributor to the employment generation and states’ GDP. Various developments in tourism and hospitality sector helping in elevation of poverty by providing job opportunity. According to him, Domestic tourism – which offers huge potential, is the base

of pyramid of tourism industry. Domestic tourism is a powerful tool to connect people, culture, heritage, cuisine, attire and so many things from one state to other state. The launch of several branding and marketing initiatives by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India such as Incredible India campaign, the slogan – Atithi Devo Bhava, has made our culture so rich. He opines that along with other prominent segments of tourism Andhra Pradesh must promote Buddhist Circuit, Tribal Tourism – the hidden treasure of the state. Most of our fraternity members have not experienced these segments. “We should bring these segments of tourism in the world map so that it can attract more tourists to the state.” Talking about air connectivity to Visakhapatnam he suggests that more flights are required to make travel convenient to this part of the world.

ADTOI launches Andhra Pradesh Chapter At the outset of Eighth Annual Convention of the Association, ADTOI launched its Andhra Pradesh Chaptre. This initiative is a giant leap for the association to strengthen its presence in Southern part of the country. Speaking on the occasion,

Whether it is a tour operator, hoteliers, transporter or any other service provider of this industry is suffering a lot; high GST rates on hotels makes our package costlier, our margins have been squeezed because of the competition with OTA’s. Rajat Sawhney, Vice President, ADTOI, said, “The majority of the membership of ADTOI is based on North, East and Western part of the country. In the South, barring Kerala we had less presence in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.” Vijay Mohan, the President of Tour & Travels Association of Andhra Pradesh – which has around 187 members, will head this chapter for the association.


Travelport launches PCI DSS Certification Wizard Tool WH Desk


ravelport has announced the launch of an online PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance referral service to help its customers businesses achieve PCI DSS certification. With fraud and hacking in the travel industry on the rise, maintaining a set of security standards to combat this criminal activity is critical when dealing with customer credit card information. Furthermore, as from March 2018, any IATA agent that accepts card transactions against its own merchant agreement or issues Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) card transactions is required to provide proof of PCI DSS compliance to IATA.

8 December 2017

In response to customers asking for guidance on PCI DSS certification and after a lengthy selection process, Travelport chose to partner with SecurityMetrics, a leading provider and innovator in data security and compliance for organisations worldwide. Making what is considered to be a very complex process, as simple, low cost and streamlined as possible, the PCI DSS Certification program provides customers with an online Wizard Tool to guide agents through the selfassessment questionnaire process. The multi-language tool enables Travelport’s agency customers worldwide to achieve PCI DSS compliance, a requirement by the card industry for every business that touches card payments.

With the support of the SecurityMetrics team, level three & four category merchants, processing fewer than one million card transactions annually, can already start their PCI DSS assessment online at http://info.securitymetrics. com/travelport-pcidss-compliance. Enterprise level agents known as Level one & two merchants (processing more than one million card transactions per brand scheme annually) can also benefit from more comprehensive assistance and creation of a bespoke compliance program.

December 2017 9


Israel records 34% growth from NYC reveals new global campaign January to October 2017 ‘True York City’ WH Desk


srael, for the second consecutive year has broken its tourism record in India along with reaching a whopping 3 million tourists arrival mark this year. More than 49,000 Indians have already visited Israel until October, 2017 marking a growth of 34% from January to October vis-à-vis the same period last year as per statistics released by Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT). Speaking about the growth, Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism India said, “This has been the best year of incoming tourist arrivals for Hassan Madah Director Israel and India Israel MoT India continues to be an important contributor for us. Our effort towards promoting Israel as a dynamic holiday destination as opposed to its otherwise restricted perception as a religious

destination is yielding positive results and we are witnessing successful outcomes of our increased investments in the Indian market.” He also added, “Tourism is an important contributor to the Israeli economy and since the beginning of the year, tourism has brought in $4.1 billion into the economy. In 2016, 45,000 Indians visited Israel and we have surpassed that number by October itself this year. We hope to have 60,000 Indian arrivals to Israel by end of 2017.” As Israel reaches its all-time record, and 2017 is expected to close as Israel’s record year for incoming tourism, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said, “This is a special day and an historic milestone as we break the 3-million-tourist barrier and we are set to end the year with an amazing achievement, the likes of which have never been reached since the establishment of the State. The huge investment that we are making in marketing Israel around the world and our collaborations with airlines and tour operators is bearing fruit.” The Ministry of Tourism worked with several airlines to increase their flights and seat capacity into Israel.

WH Desk


YC & Company revealed a new global tourism campaign titled ‘True York City’ with advertisements and promotion now live around the world. The campaign showcases the unique culture produced by the 8.5 million residents of New York City’s five boroughs. The campaign invites travellers to discover the iconic experiences we are known for, as well as lesser-known aspects that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. “When people think New York City, they think authenticity,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As the safest and most dynamic big city in America, we have endless cultural offerings that continue to make the five boroughs a global draw for tourists. But now with ‘True York City,’ we can give those travelers an even more genuine, bona fide New York City experience while helping our businesses and communities thrive at the same time.” True York City is being introduced through NYC & Company’s most expansive campaign presence to date, with media and partnerships running across 17 countries including the US this fall through next spring.

New Zealand leads world tourism trends with record international visitor WH Desk

2017 (UNWTO World Tourism Barometer).


In their Annual Report foreword, Tourism New Zealand chair Kerry Prendergast, and Chief Executive Stephen England-Hall said: “One of our key objectives for FY17 was to continue our work in shifting the seasonal profile of arrivals by investing all marketing funds into promoting New Zealand holidays in the shoulder and off-peak seasons. We are thrilled to see this working with a combined 13.1% increase in spring 2016 and autumn 2017 arrivals against peak summer growth of 8.3%.”

ccording to its recently released Annual Report for 2016/17, New Zealand saw total visitor arrival numbers increase by 10% to 3.6 million last year, and holiday arrivals increase by 12% (1.9 million). This puts the country ahead of global tourism trends, which show international visitor arrivals, grew by 3.9% for the 2016 calendar year Stephen England-Hall Chair Kerry Prendergast & CE and 6% in New Zealand January-June

10 December 2017

Among its activities in FY17, Tourism New Zealand launched several programmes focused on increasing international visits to regions less visited. This included a campaign targeted towards the China market focused on Wellington, Tasman, Marlborough, and Nelson, which was wellreceived by key operators who reported an

uplift in Chinese visitors over the campaign period. “We began the year launching a new 100% Pure New Zealand campaign with Hollywood director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron sharing their personal stories and insights while exploring some of our most beautiful places. Australian supermodel and actress Megan Gale continued as our ambassador promoting spring and autumn holidays to Australian cyclists, and Pete’s Dragon lead actress Bryce Dallas Howard has now joined Tourism New Zealand as an ambassador,” said England-Hall. The leading source markets for visitors to New Zealand remained Australia (with 1.4 million visitors, up 6.2%), China (up 0.3%), the US (up 26.4%), UK (up 14.3%), Germany (up 14.6%), and Japan (up 7.3%).


Scandinavian nations to get advantage of direct flight to woo more travellers

Jai Kishan Kaparwan


n a bid to spread awareness and attract Indian travellers, the Scandinavian Tourism Board along with Denmark, Sweden and Norway interacted with travel trade fraternity recently in New Delhi followed by Chennai and Mumbai. The three Scandinavians nations are still largely unexplored by Indian travellers.

last year. “We have registered a consistent growth of 10 percent year-on-year from this market. We saw almost every segment of tourism whether it is small group, family groups, leisure and fix departures grew for us. While leisure segment is dominating, a growth of 20 percent is expected in Incentive segment.” “With the start of direct flight we are looking at somebody like MakeMyTrip going from four fix departures this year to 20 fix departures in next year,” he added.

Elaborating on the roadshow he said that the Scandinavian nations are promoting themselves in three Indian cities New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai for last nine years. “Apart from the workshop we are inviting them to experience our destinations. Mohit Batra Ruth Dolla India Representative Project Manager India In an attempt to enhance their (trade Scandinavian Tourism Board Visit Sweden partners) knowledge about these destinations we have launched Earlier connected via Dubai; Air India a website this year which has a lot of has launched a direct flight from India to information for Indian trade partners.” The Stockholm and Copenhagen. cities like Kochi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Elaborating on the traffic from India Ahmedabad would be the next line of cities to Scandinavia Mohit Batra, India to promote Scandinavian destinations and Representative, Scandinavian Tourism Board thereafter Pune, Chandigarh and Ludhiana. informed that as per the latest data available According to Flemming Bruhn, Director nearly 3.5 lakh room rights have been of Visit Denmark there has been a doubleconsumed by Indian travellers in the region

WH Desk

digit growth in number of travellers visited Denmark from this part of the world. “Since Denmark has so much to offer so just to give an idea we have launched five different routes for Indian market. Each of these routes takes five to seven days to visit Denmark. It could be more or less with an option to pick and choose whatever suits to the travellers.” “Also, we will increase hotel capacity by 20 per cent in the next two years to accommodate the rising number of travellers,” he added. Sweden has a lot of potential and so much to offer to the Indian travellers which undiscovered as of now says Ruth Dolla, Project Manager India, Visit Sweden “We have registered 18 percent growth from here in 2017 as compare to 2016. We had 176000 bed nights in 2016 from January to December.” After the launch of direct flight I believe this number will go up. The direct flight has actually helped to build a very strong bridge between Sweden and India.” As she informed, Delhi Mumbai and Pune are emerging as the top cities for Sweden. While elaborating on her interaction with travel agents she said, “I am expecting to meet around top 300-400 tour operators in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.”

Ocean Park Hong Kong launches Virtual Reality Rollercoaster at Christmas Sensation


cean Park Hong Kong Christmas Sensation will begin on 11 December 2017 with park-wide festivities. Headlining this year’s celebration will be the first-ever virtual reality (VR) rollercoaster in Hong Kong, as the Park combines the popular Mine Train with cutting edge technology to deliver a brand new and exciting sensory experience to guests. The Park will also partner with to present Ocean Park x Pinkoi Festive Market place for the first time. Together with the Park’s signature 40-foot Christmas Tree, Santa’s Cottage, Garden of Romance and artificial snow, the Christmas Market will transform Water front Plaza into a romantic Christmas village. Christmas Sensation will be held from 11 December 2017 to 1 January 2018. To

experience Hong Kong’s first VR roller coaster, Mine Train presented by Samsung Gear VR, guests can put on special VR headsets and feel a surge of multi-sensory excitement during the ride. In the hyperrealistic world of virtual reality, guests can take a breath taking glide through a rainforest canopy, float along wild rivers, dive into the ocean and come face to face with the amazing animals living in the rich biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest, while experiencing the sensations of high speed and centrifugal force as the train rockets over the ups and downs along the tracks. This one and only VR rollercoaster ride in Hong Kong will be a must-try for thrillseekers. Moreover, several VR game zones will be set up to test the speed and strength of guests in action-packed game challenges.

December 2017 11


KTO organises Korea Culture & Bern most Instagrammed Tourism Festival for Indians place in the world WH Desk


n initiative by KTO, Korea Culture and Tourism Festival 2017 showcased famous South Korean tourist destinations, delicacies, art, culture and the country’s heritage. The festival displayed food counters to give a taste of the local Korean flavours to serve Indian taste buds besides featuring experiential attractions like face mask painting, Hangeul calligraphy and video gallery exhibiting Korean history & cultural assets. A two day Korea festival showcasing Korea’s rich art, culture and heritage was inaugurated by Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO), Executive Vice President Min Hong Min at Ambience Mall, Gurugram along with Suman Billa, Joint Secretary Ministry Of Tourism. The inauguration also witnessed the presence of other

eminent representatives from regional Tourism Boards of South Korea and related organizations such as Gyeonggi Tourism Organization, Gimhae City, Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Tourism Organization, Jeollabuk Do, Gwangju Metropolitan City, Gwangju Convention & Visitors Bureau, Incheon International Airport Corporation and Visit Korea Committee.

The two day festival also marked the signing of the MoU between leading Korean companies such as LG, Hyundai, Samsung and KTO with an aim to promote the tourism through organizing MICE groups to Korea for their employees and dealers. An endeavour to give a boost to the existing MICE tourism business to Korea, the association would bring public- private bodies together to achieve larger growth in the tourism arena. Speaking on the inauguration, Executive Vice President Min Hong Min said “We have organized Korea Culture & Tourism Festival for Indians to feel and experience Korean traditional & modern culture represented by Korean Wave. I hope this two days’ event will help Indian people understand and feel Korean ethnicity.

in winter WH Desk


ern, a city in Switzerland, has been the most popular location to Instagram when the winter season gets in. According to a research by laser eye surgery clinic Focus Clinic, known for its medieval landmark clock tower and stunning neo-Renaissance buildings, Bern is officially Instagram users’ favourite winter city to upload in their social media accounts. Focus Clinic, a popular laser eye surgery clinic in the United Kingdom, who gathered the 20 most popular winter travel destinations across the world based on Google search and ranked each by the number of times a city’s hashtag was used on Instagram to determine its popularity on the photo-sharing app. The ‘Bern’ hashtag has been used more than 1,082,440 times, according to the research, with Aspen, Colorado, taking second place with 935,000 tags, reports The Independent. Not only is it the capital of Switzerland, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Abu Dhabi enhances tourist experience with New Visa on Arrival process WH Desk


he Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, jointly with Abu Dhabi Airports, Etihad Airways and General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi, announced the launch of a new visa counter to facilitate the visa application process and grant both transit and arriving passengers visas to Abu Dhabi within 15 to 30 minutes. The new service, located at the Terminal 3 transit area at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), includes activation of the new four-day, or 96-hour, transit visa for all nationalities travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport. The new counter will issue several types of mission and tourist visas available to travellers who do not fall under the current visa upon arrival scheme. Passengers can now approach the visa counter in T3 to apply for, and obtain the relevant visa within a maximum 30 minutes.

12 December 2017

In addition, the visa counter is now issuing the new 96 hour transit visa, which is a key part of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing efforts to attract more visitors to the capital. This project is being jointly implemented by several parties including Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Abu Dhabi Airports, General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways and Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi. The AED 300-visa can be used by passengers with planned trips from AUH, or with intermediate flights through Abu Dhabi en route to their destination if their layover exceeds four hours. The transit visa can be applied for both at the new visa counter on arrival, or through the online designated portal, provided passengers meet the application criteria. Travellers can also request to change their transit visa to a tourist visa at the airport if they are planning to extend their stay in the capital.

Ten most Instagrammed winter cities in the world

1. Bern, Switzerland - 1,082,440 photos. 2. Aspen, Colorado, USA - 935,040 photos. 3. Northern Lights, Troms, Norway - 768,516 photos. 4. Chamonix, France - 611,675 photos. 5. Yosemite National Park, California, USA - 596,214 photos. 6. Zermatt, Switzerland - 400,215 photos. 7. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA - 314,870 photos. 8. Bled, Slovenia - 306,285 photos. 9. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic 179,914 photos. 10. Grindelwald, Switzerland - 149,836 photos


Grand procession ushers in ‘Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018’ WH Desk


he Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) kicked off the ambitious ‘Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018’ campaign with a spectacular procession through the heart of Bangkok. The opening ceremony, held at Siam Discovery, was presided over by H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, and brought to life the campaign’s

From Left: Pongpanu Svetarundra, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports; H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports; H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister; Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Board of TAT; and Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, jointly declared the opening of the Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018.

focus on sustainable, quality tourism in line with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, said: “Today marks the beginning of the Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018, which is at the heart of the Royal Thai Government’s ongoing efforts to foster the success of the tourism industry, as a key economic driver. Our outstanding programme of major events throughout the year will once again put Thailand in the spotlight as a preferred destination for international travellers.”

region of Thailand, including miniatures of Wat Phra That Sri Chom Thong, Chiang Mai (Northern Region), Wat Phra Mahathat, Nakhon Si Thammarat (Southern Region), Chon Buri’s Kong Kao – or rice mould – Festival (Eastern Region), Phrathat Phanom Chedi, Nakhon Phanom (Northeastern Region), and the Mon Songkran Festival in Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi (Central Region). The third parade presented a taste of Thailand’s wide variety of distinctive foods, desserts, and ingredients, while the fourth and fifth parades showcased the various outstanding festivals and major sporting events set to be hosted in the Kingdom in 2018. The procession was capped off by the sixth parade, which exemplified Thailand’s role as a gracious host. The Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018 aims to boost Thailand’s reputation as a preferred destination, while increasing visitors’ average length of stay, expenditure and repeat visitation. The campaign places the spotlight on activities in 13 categories; sports, gastronomy, maritime tourism, weddings & honeymoons, medical & wellness, community-based tourism, leisure, green tourism, night tourism, MICE, trade fairs, B2B marketing activities and logistics. Each of these categories has a packed schedule of local and international events. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor added, “Today’s procession offers a glimpse of what each and every visitor to Thailand can look forward to as part of the Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018. And one point to be emphasised is expressed in the last procession, which features the many occupations in the tourism industry, and reiterates that Thailand is a very hospitable country and has welcomed international visitors with open arms throughout its history.”

TAT launches Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018 calendar of events

Started from November 2017, TAT will spotlight activities categorised as follows: Sports, Gastronomy, Maritime Tourism, Wedding &Honeymoon, Medical & Wellness, CommunityBased Tourism, Leisure, Green Tourism, Night Tourism, MICE, Trade Fairs, B2B Marketing Activity and Logistics. Though too numerous activities to list here in the beginning of 2018 includes Wat Arun Ceremony/Wonderfruit Festival (Bangkok/Pattaya December 2017); Thailand Tourism Festival (January 2018); Thailand International Kite Festival/Thailand Marathon (Songkhla/ Bangkok, February 2018); International Balloon Festival (Korat, May 2018); Chiang Rai Flower Festival (July 2018); Queen of Thai Silk Exhibition (SACICT, August 2018); Nationwide Vegetarian Festival (October 2018) and Bangkok Art Biennale (November 2018). Night Tourism activities include; Ong Bak and the Siam Niramitr Muay Thai live exhibition at Asiatique and Festival of Lights along the Chao Phraya River (Wat Arun). MICE Tourism is also primed for a busy year including the following events; Bangkok Gems and Jewellery Fair (February 2018); AsiaWarehousing Show (March 2018); ProPak Asia 2018 (June 2018); Medical Devices ASEAN (July 2018); Agritechnica Asia (August 2018) and Batik Design Week (Phuket, October 2018). Other noteworthy events include the annual Thailand New Year’s Eve Countdown, Thailand Chinese New Year, World Wai Kru Muay Thai, and Songkran Festival.

The procession featured six parades, which joined a 3.5 km route from the National Stadium to Lumphini Park. Each parade represented a treasured aspect of Thai tourism, with the first showcasing the Lotus Goddess, a symbol of the Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018, signifying harmony and happiness. The second parade highlighted amazing architecture and sculpture from each

December 2017 13


VITS hotels debuts in Amritsar with launch of ‘VITS Park Maple’ WH Desk


itizen Hotels has launched VITS Park Maple Amritsar, the group’s first hotel in the city. The hotel is strategically located near Amritsar Junction Railway Station, adding to the convenience of both business and leisure tourists visiting the holy city. The sacred Golden temple, Durgiana Temple and other popular attractions including Gobindgarh Fort, Jallainwala Bagh Memorial and Wagah Border are just a few kilometers away the hotel. Announcing the launch, Vikram Kamat, Managing Director, Vitizen Hotels says “Amritsar offers immense tourism potential for both leisure and business travelers alike. We are delighted to launch our first property in Punjab in the sacred city of Amritsar that would enable us tap the growing potential of tourist inflow. VITS Park Maple will exceed expectations of our guests with gracious hospitality and exceptional services. We are extremely upbeat on the exponential growth prospects in the region”. G. S. Khurana, Managing Director, VITS Park Maple says, “We wish to welcome our esteemed guests with our refined elegance, finest services and contemporary amenities thereby setting new benchmark in hospitality services. VITS Park Maple brings fresh flavor to the city’s hospitality landscape that will make every guest’s stay a pleasurable experience”.

VITS Park Maple offers 40 well furnished Deluxe and Super Deluxe rooms that seamlessly fit into the traveler’s scheme of things. The rooms are embellished with soft tones, classy settings and soothing color palettes. Sophisticated, elegant and spacious the rooms are fully equipped with king size beds, LED television, WI-FI internet connectivity, tea/ coffee maker and electronic safety lockers. It offers stunning array of facilities that include well equipped conference room, travel desk, coffee shop, multi-cuisine restaurant‘Backbencherz’, an open air terrace restaurant- ‘Breeze’ and large banquet hall that can accommodate 150 guests. Mohammed Aslam Syed, General Manager Operates, VITS Brand concludes, “With the launch of VITS Park Maple Amritsar, VITS Hotels now operates 10 properties nationally. We have a strong sales network Pan India and has loyal customer database. The hotel chain presently has inventory of 900 Plus rooms with host of banqueting, conferencing, restaurant and lifestyle facilities. As part of its expansion plans VITS Hotels will unveil the VITS hospitality experience in Mumbai (Colaba), Nanded, Dahej, Ahmedabad and Mangalore by April 2018”.

Celebrate the Year-End Festive Season at Alila Diwa Goa WH Desk


t is that time of the year when Goa comes alive with the Christmas spirit and gears up for a splendid New Year. We invite guests to join us with family and friends and be a part of this joyous time. Enjoy the excitement and anticipation the season brings in, by embracing the festive surroundings at Alila Diwa Goa. CHRISTMAS FAMILY FAIR Unlimited BBQ and beers, fun carnival food, games for all ages, drinking duels, eating contests, live music by Siddharth Cotta and Nadia Rebello, a unique petting zoo, illusionists and, of course, Santa and his elves. An evening that’s sure to kick start your festive season in a surprisingly different way! Date: Friday 15 December 2017 Time: 6 pm to 10 pm Venue: Event Lawns Price: INR 1299 all-inclusive per adult and INR 999 per child CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY Date: Saturday 16th December 2017 Time: 6:30 pm onwards Venue: Main Courtyard, near the Lobby Price : By invite only KID’S CHRISTMAS PARTY WITH SANTA Date: Saturday 23rd December 2017 Time: 4:00 pm Venue: Vivo Lawns Price : Complimentary to in house guests

14 December 2017

SUNDAY LAZY LUNCH Date: Sunday 24th December 2017 Time: 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm Venue: Vivo and Vivo Lawns Price: INR 1799 inclusive of taxes per person with IMFL brands and INR 1499 inclusive of taxes per person with soft beverages. CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER UNDER THE STARS Date: Sunday 24th December 2017 Time: 7:30 pm onwards Venue: Event Lawns Price: INR 5000 all-inclusive per person NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA DINNER Date: Sunday, 31st December 2017 Time: 8:00 pm onwards Venue: Poolside, Main Courtyard and Vivo Lawns


A sense of true hospitality helped me to reach this position says Ratna Kumar A Ratna Kumar, Generak Manager, Best Western Ramachandra / Ramachandra Ridge, Visakhapatnam shares his experience and latest trends of the hospitality sector in an exclusive conversation with Whereabouts. Jai Kishan Kaparwan

Q. Give us short background of your journey in hospitality industry? Ans: I have started my career as a Restaurant Captain; preferred to know about all the departments, I have taken up many positions like Restaurant Captain, Restaurant Cashier, Night Auditor, Night Manager, Training Manager, Sales Manager, Housekeeping Manager & Front Office Manager in familiar group of hotels like ITC, Best Western etc.

Q. What are some important lessons that you learnt from your experience? Ans: Its a great question to answer. The true meaning of hospitality – serving our guests with full humbleness, keeping ego aside and going out of the way to satisfy them have been the precious leanings of my professional career. Offering my guest a value for money experience has been my priority. Dealing with the tough situation and finding a solution enhanced my skills over the years. I love training, motivating and see my strength in my team.

Q. What changes did you initiate after taking charge as the GM of Best Western Ramachandra? Ans: I took over this property as a pre-opening GM, which was launched in the year 2011. It was a big task to open and run a property. I personally took up the responsibility of running the hotel without sales and marketing support, which I did quite well. I have launched a number of marketing and publicity initiatives which include, best offers at our restaurant, organising food festivals, children’s carnival, and social activities like participating in Clean India Campaign and distributing plants to private companies etc. I focused on best available rates to increase our revenue. Creating a favourable working environment with great teamwork was my priority.

Q. Give us a short background of your property?

Ans: With well equipped four categories of rooms and suites, we are one of the best Business hotels of the city. In terms of services, whether it is room or food, we are among the leading hotel properties. At our property we have five Banquet Halls, two Restaurants, SPA, Fitness centre & Business Centre for our guest. Our location is a great advantage for us as we are located very close to the airport and best tourist spots of the city such as Yarada Beach, Araku Valley, Borra Caves and major industries of the town.

Q. Kindly throw some light on your clientele; which segment is generating more business for this hotel? Ans: Our clientele includes 60 percent business and 40% is leisure, incentive and FITs. We are registering a growth in leisure segment this year.

Q. How has been the business so far in 2017? Kindly throw some light on your plans for the year ahead any special package or discount for B2B partners? Ans: We have done a good business as far as 2017 in concerned. And I am quite confident to sustain this momentum in 2018 as well. I have designed week end family tour package like 2 Nights 3 days which includes all meal, sightseeing, SPA & Fitness Canter usage. Domestic travel agent needs to be encouraged to increase the revenue of the hotels. As I am heading two more hotels, domestic travel agents can be accommodated in middle and lower segments to fit in to their budget

Q. What revenue-enhancing strategies have you adopted at the property? Ans : We have opted a number of revenue-enhancing strategies that include offering best rates, best offers at our restaurant, offering guaranteed services, focus on increasing repeat guest clientele, yield management, suggestive selling etc. which helped hotel to stand with 90 to 95% guest satisfaction with good occupancy.

Q. Have you noticed any latest trend among your guests in Visakhapatnam? Ans: Guests diverting towards digital marketing and free wifi.

December 2017 15


Four Points by Sheraton launches new menu WH Desk


anash, the exclusive Pan-Asian restaurant at Four Points by Sheraton continues to enchant patrons with the best Oriental flavours through its large spread of Thai, Chinese and Japanese savouries. The sumptuous vegetarian and non vegetarian spread is an amalgamation of the finest ingredients and exotic Asian condiments making it an all time favourite amongst food lovers. Speciality Chef Tenzin Nyandak personally curates the menu making Panash the best in town for Oriental cuisine Asian food has a wide range of lip smacking recipes. Panash has carefully selected the most unique and delicious recipes that will quench your oriental gastronomical urge the best way. Some of the delectable dishes flavoursome Crispy Rice Prawns; aromatic Shake Tataki, rich glazed Pork Belly, delightful Lianhua Jung, variety of delicious Sushis like Tobikko, Maguro, Tai, Ika and scrumptious Platters such as Panash Chef's Platter, Nigiri Platter and an array of lip smacking Sashimis. Patrons can also experience a live Teppanyaki counter that will transcend them into a magical culinary

journey. The flavour bursting and authentic spread will also include a variety of seafood dishes made from fresh and succulent crab, tuna, prawn, red snapper, shrimp, salmon to name a few. The indulgent dessert spread is equally irresistible. Larger than life Crispy fried seven treasure ice- cream with rambutan spring rolls is an all time favourite and will leave every food lover asking for more. Yummy Panash Chocó dim sum, mouth watering Matcha Pudding and smooth Lemongrass Pannacotta along with juicy Coconut pancake served with ice cream are select few dishes that will give your meal a perfect ending. Along with the delightful food, Panache is also known for its splendid oriental decor. Right from the time you step into the uber restaurant to the time you walk out, each experience of the visitor is wrapped into resplendent Asian flavours.


Rupam Das takes over as Regional Director, Clarks Inn Group of Hotels


upam Das has been transferred and promoted as Regional Director – Operation & Business Development at Clarks Inn Group of Hotels. In the current profile Rupam will be responsible to bring in increased efficiency in hotel operations, enhanced brand visibility as well as oversee growth of the company’s hotel portfolio through new acquisitions across its various brands. Additionally he is also heading Clarks Holidays, a vacation ownership offering by Clarks Inn that seeks to redefine leisure experiences of discerning holiday travellers, both in India and overseas. Rupam joins Clarks Inn’s corporate office from his previous role as Area Director – Operations, South & Western India at Clarks Inn where he was heading operations & business development across Southern and Western India and has played a leading role in establishing Clarks Inn’s strong footprint in the Southern state of Karnataka.

Atlantis, The Palm Instagram’s most photographed hotel in Dubai WH Desk


ecided through Instagram’s annual ‘Year in Review 2017’, the top 10 list is pulled together by analysing data from Instagram’s 375 million active users, to see which hotels captured the hearts and minds of thousands of selfie snappers across the world. Situated on the apex of the Palm in Dubai, the award winning, five-star resort is a firm favourite with celebrities, sports men and women and tourists from all over the world and has been the most iconic landmark on the Dubai skyline since its opening in September 2008. With the average number of posts uploaded reaching 350 everyday,

16 December 2017

the platform see’s 2,500 posts tagging the resort every week and 147,762 uses of #AtlantisThePalm. Consistently a feature on Instagram’s list of top hotels, Atlantis, The Palm is the only resort in 2017 to retain its spot for a second year running, narrowly missing out on the top spot by Marina Bay Sands Singapore and Las Vegas institutions The Bellagio and The Venetian. With selfies being the most popular choice of Atlantis Instagram posts, there are hundreds of unique locations to choose from within a resort that’s the size of 64 Wembley football pitches. Some of the top locations include Atlantis’ signature Royal Bridge Suite which measures in at 924

square meters and costs US$27,000 per night, in front of the priceless Dale Chihuly sculpture in the Grand Lobby of Atlantis which was created using 3000 hand blown pieces and within one of Atlantis, The Palms 23 restaurants including three outlets by celebrity chefs, Nobu Matsuhisa, Giorgio Locatelli and Gordon Ramsay.


ITDC invites State Tourisms for a Round Table to take Tourism Industry to new heights WH Desk


he Management of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), the public sector undertaking under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism invited State Tourism Corporations/Departments from Pan India for a Round Table to find possible solutions to develop tourism for respective states leading to overall growth of Indian Tourism Industry at The Ashok.

The Session was presided over by Ravneet Kaur, IAS, Chairperson & Managing Director, ITDC in presence of Piyush Tiwari, Director Commercial & Marketing, ITDC; and other respective heads of the divisions. Shivdular Singh Dhillon, IAS, CEO, Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board and Suman Thapa, SCS, CEO, Sikkim Tourism Development Board were among the senior delegates that attended the meeting. Other State Tourism Corporations/ Departments present in the meeting were from states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat,

Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura. The Agenda of the meeting was to discuss the possible areas of synergies for collaboration between ITDC and State Tourism authorities that can yield and contribute to overall development of Tourism Industry in the country to enhance tourist convenience and overall experience. Strategic Business Units of ITDC – Ashok Consultancy and Engineering Services, Sound and Light Show, Ashok Travels & Tours, Ashok Events, Ashok Institute of Hospitality & Tourism Management presented the wide spectrum of services through which State Tourisms can collaborate with ITDC. ITDC is a nodal execution agency of Ministry of Tourism for various tourism infrastructural development projects. Ashok Consultancy & Engineering Services (ACES) has made considerable contribution in the overall progress of ITDC through execution of many renovation and infrastructural

Ravneet Kaur, IAS, Chairperson & MD ITDC

Piyush Tiwari Director Comm. & Mktg, ITDC

projects. It has actively participated in development of tourist destinations and circuits as sanctioned by Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India The Sound & Light Show (SEL) division of ITDC is ISO 9001:2015 certified for implementation of sound and light show at different historical monuments and other important tourist destinations besides various creative projects. It also undertakes projects related to lighting of monuments and impact assessment study. Ashok Travels and Tours is an approved travel agency of Government of India and provide various travel related services like air ticketing, transport, cargo, tours and travels etc.

Carlson Rezidor accelerates growth momentum with 12 new hotel signings in 2017 WH Desk


arlson Rezidor Hotel Group accelerated its expansion plans in India by signing 12 new hotels in 2017. The signings add to Carlson Rezidor’s robust pipeline in India where it currently holds a portfolio of 140 hotels in operation and under development across 60 Indian cities, including 16 state capitals. The hotel group is actively pursuing opportunities through management and selective franchising contracts in emerging cities of India.

“The signing momentum is indicative of the strength of our brands and the value we bring to our owner relationships. We are a dominant international brand in India and our robust pipeline is targeted at state capitals and regional markets with efficient connectivity. We have 85 hotels in operation in the country where we continue to sign a new hotel every four weeks and open a hotel every six weeks”, said Raj Rana, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

The new hotel signings are focused across Carlson Rezidor’s global brands Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson. With the announcement of Radisson RED in Mohali, Chandigarh last year, Carlson Rezidor’s South Asia portfolio now constitutes six well-established and differentiated global brands. Upcoming Hotels: ŠŠ Radisson Blu Dehradun, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 2021 ŠŠ Radisson Jodhpur, Jodhpur, Rajasthan December 2017 ŠŠ Radisson Mumbai Goregaon, Mumbai, Maharashtra, December 2017 ŠŠ Radisson Bengaluru City Center, Bangalore, Karnataka, Q1 2018 ŠŠ Radisson Zirakpur, Zirakpur, Punjab, Q2 2018 ŠŠ Radisson Mumbai Andheri MIDC, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 2019

ŠŠ Radisson Goa Baga, Arpora, Goa, 2019 ŠŠ Radisson Bhopal, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, 2020 ŠŠ Radisson Kufri, Kufri, Himachal Pradesh, 2020 ŠŠ Radisson Rewa Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, 2020 ŠŠ Park Plaza Kaushambi, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, Q4 2018 ŠŠ Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, 2021

December 2017 17


WH Desk

ICPB reveals plan of action for the year 2018


he India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB) has emerged as the frontal Organization in promoting India as a preferred MICE destination. Apart from having a successful convention in the August this year, the major achievement for ICPB was creating a confidence among MICE fraternity and the Ministry of Tourism through its various activities.

“We in ICPB strongly believe the time has come to adopt a very aggressive approach and to have a new strategy in place. The newly formed Board of ICPB has started deliberating not only on the various Chander Manshramani Vice Chairman activities which ICPB the association

has been organizing over the years but also working towards how we can strengthen ICPB and a strategy for marketing India as a preferred Convention destination,” said Chander Manshramani, Vice Chairman, ICPB. “We are now working towards bidding for International Conferences. We already had an opportunity for bidding for a large International Conference to be held in 2020. For all future biddings we are working on to formalize the process,” informed Manshramani.

According to him, a lot of importance is being given to skill development. While explaining on the issue he further said that handling International Event requires a trained manpower that could provide the services of International standards. “We had in the past organized two very successful Certified programs in collaboration with ICCA and SITE , the same we will be taking it forward by organizing series of Guest lectures by International faculty and Certified training programs in collaboration


with International Agencies like ICCA and MPI to enhance the professional handling of the Event,” added Manshramani. The other priority area for ICPB is to create Chapters. As of now the plans are to open four Regional State Chapters in Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Jaipur. To initiate the process ICPB is planning to have roadshows in the above Cities. The first roadshow has been planned in Kolkata. The other purpose of the roadshow is to create business platform for its members to interact with potential Conference Organizers of the State. ICPB in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism for the first time will be organizing an International roadshow in the cities where most of the world organizations have their head quarters mainly Geneva, Brussels and London. The roadshow will be in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism. The Action plan is already in place. The Working Committees have been formed for their recommendations to the Board for implementation. NTO

Nafex India Aims to Simplify Money Changing for International Travel

California Eyes India for Tourism Growth to the Golden State



According to Annie Kumar, co-founder and Managing Director, Nafex India “ The money changer market in India and several parts of the world is going through a disruptive phase. Monopolistic rates controlled by few agencies are no longer working out with consumers. Flexibility, transparency, convenience and value are emerging as key considerations for forex buyers and sellers. Nafex India endeavours to safeguard interests of consumers and build trust in transactions.”

“We are very excited for the opportunity that the India market presents for travel to California and see this mission as an important step in introducing California to Indian travellers,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California president & CEO. “This visit will provide critical learnings on how we can best prepare our state to welcome Indian visitors as the market continues to grow.”

WH Desk

oreign exchange buying and selling is now a transparent and convenient process with the rates aggregation platform from Nafex India. Nafex India has collaborated with more than Nine hundred RBI approved money changers and authorised dealers, who bid real-time for any individual currency, prepaid forex card or remittance requirements put up on the platform. Rates comparison allows consumers to compare rates offered, the proximity of the money changer, and make an informed decision to get the best deal for their forex requirements.

The promoters of the company, Jeethmal Mutha and Annie Kumar, have spent two decades in the forex and travel & hospitality industry. The company has tied up Pan India Money changers like Weizmann, Poundwize, UAE Exchange, Spice Money, Centrum along with several hundreds of regional money of changers are participating in the reverse auction. Leisure travel, education, medical treatment are key areas of focus for Nafex India.

18 December 2017

WH Desk

ed by Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta, a delegation of 11 CEOs will embark on the first-ever California tourism CEO mission to India on Nov. 13. The mission started in Mumbai with meetings and events with key tourism and film industry officials, before moving to New Delhi. Throughout the week, the CEOs made invaluable relationships and created excitement around the Golden State’s commitment to the Indian market.

Market education is the primary goal of this mission. Leisure travel from India to California is forecasted to grow by double-digits for the foreseeable future, and California’s tourism industry is intent on better understanding the Indian travel and consumer landscapes.

December 2017 19


Andhra CM reveals ambitious plans for tourism under Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029 Recognizing tourism first among the best sectors to create employment the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu is very optimistic about the remarkable growth of this industry in near future. While speaking at the outset of ADTOI Convention in Visakhapatnam, he informed that under Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029 the state has come up with massive plans to accelerate the growth of tourism and hospitality business in the state.

Pradesh Vision 2029. Under this Vision the government aims to raise its tourism contribution to GSDP to INR 73, 218 crore by 2020 and about INR 2, 94,336 Crore by 2029. “In terms of tourist arrivals, we aim to receive 178 million domestic and 5 lakh international tourists by 2020 while 432 million domestic and about 5 million international tourists by 2029. We are looking at INR 10,000 crore ‘Investment in Tourism’ by 2020 and INR 20,000 crore by 2029. We want to create about 5 lakh additional jobs by 2020 and 10 lakh by 2029 from tourism sector,” informed Mr Naidu. Under ‘Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029’, (launched in September 2016), it is envisioned to position Andhra Pradesh as one of the most visited states in the country. The ‘Sector Paper’ has critically identified the challenges faced by the sector; and in response to these challenges it has chalked out the theme based strategic roadmaps.


The present state of tourism in the state face challenges in a number of areas which are critical for a thriving tourism sector. Each of these areas where significant improvements can be made are: lack of data, low vitalization of tourism assets, insufficient tourism infrastructure, low private sector investment, lack of institutional structure for Interdepartmental coordination, wide skill gap, low returns to local economy and poor technology adoption rate. The Vision 2029 has been broken down into different programme phases. The Vision 1.0 programme phase is from 2015-2019.

The Chief Minister informed that the government of Andhra Pradesh is aggressively working towards its Sunrise Andhra

In an attempt to accelerate the growth of this sector, Andhra Pradesh is focusing on Hotel Industry in a big way. The Chief Minister believes without hotels tourism cannot be promoted. “I am always saying the taxes on hotels and restaurants should be reduced to boost the growth of tourism industry. As far as GST (Goods & Service Tax) on hotels in concerned, we will definitely take up this issue with the government of India.” He reveals

Rajesh Tiwari

ven for the government, the maximum revenue is coming from tourism sector, not from Industry (manufacturing) not from Agriculture,” says Mr Naidu. “We are giving a number of incentives to the industries (manufacturing including others) even after that they may not be repaying the revenue for five to ten years. While in Agriculture if you tax further they are in trouble. However, tourism being one of the important components of the service sector is one area where you can see least spending,” he explained.

20 December 2017

IN FOCUS that the state aims to have approximately 20,000 approved hotel room inventory by 2020 and approximately 40,000 by 2029. While further elaborating on the hotel segment the Chief Minister opines that India is lacking in this area, “Even the smaller countries like Singapore and Turkey have more hotel rooms as compare to India. Though they don’t have better resources and scenic places than us but their consistent approach to get more from tourism, has made this possible. We need to work with that spirit,” he added. To give a boost to the MICE segment emphasis is being given on development of Convention centres in emerging cities of the state. While addressing the gathering he informed that the ten acres of land has been given to Lu Lu Group to develop a Convention centre in Visakhapatnam. Along with this the city will have a shopping mall and a number of hotels in next three to four years. “Not only here I want a best convention centre at Amravati as well,” says Mr Naidu.

“If necessary, we will improve the Tourism Policy every year” Andhra CM is very keen to boost the number of domestic and international tourists to the state. The government is planning to come up with a ‘Tourism Policy’ to create the required infrastructure across the state. The Chief Minister called upon the industry stakeholders to share their ideas to create an effective Tourism Policy. “If necessary, we will improve the Tourism Policy every year,” assured Mr Naidu.

“In terms of tourist arrivals, we aim to receive 178 million domestic and 5 lakh international tourists by 2020 while 432 million domestic and about 5 million international tourists by 2029. We are looking at INR 10,000 crore ‘Investment in Tourism’ by 2020 and INR 20,000 crore by 2029. We want to create about 5 lakh additional jobs by 2020 and 10 lakh by 2029 from tourism sector,” N Chandrababu Naidu Chief Minister Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is creating tourism hubs at places such as Amravati, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Anantapur and Rajahmundry. The department of tourism is looking at all the opportunities available around these places. The state’s new capital – Amravati is being developed to be among the world’s best five cities. The Chief Minister invited the innovative ideas from industry stakeholders to avail world class facilities, and Public Private Partnership for infrastructure development. According to him, Health and Agriculture Tourism are two potential segments that can be promoted in Andhra Pradesh for further growth of this sector. The Chief Minister opines that on the lines of Dubai Festivals, a ‘Calendar of Events’ can be prepared to engage tourist round the year. The industry stakeholders can connect to the designated event mangers to share their ideas in this regard. As compare to other states Andhra Pradesh has so many advantages. The state has thousands km of sea coast, excellent beaches, historical places, hill stations and good shopping centres. While elaborating on the beauty of Vizag Mr Naidu said “One side sea one side hills, cleanest city and docile people you wouldn’t find such atmosphere anywhere in India. And just one hour from here you can go to Araky Valley – the most scenery place in Andhra Pradesh.” He finds that India is emerging the biggest source market for many countries. If we could leverage the potential of Indian travellers going abroad the domestic tourism can increase many folds. “India is having all the advantages whether it is historical monuments, world’s best temples, beautiful hills, best rivers, best beaches, wildlife, adventure sports etc everything is available here; only we are unable to exploit the resources fully, concludes Mr Naidu.

December 2017 21


Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh inaugurates Eighth Annual Convention of ADTOI Jai Kishan Kaparwan

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, along with Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya (right) and PP Khanna President ADTOI (left) inaugurating the trade exhibition

Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu lighting the lamp (centre) while (from L-R) Rajat Sawhney – VP ADTOI, Ashima Mehrotra – Director MoT, Bhuma Akhila Priya, Tourism Minister Andhra Pradesh, PP Khanna – President ADTOI, Mukesh Kumar Meena – Secretary AP Tourism, Chetan Gupta – General Secretary ADTOI can be seen in the picture


hief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated the Eighth Annual Convention of Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) hosted by Andhra Pradesh Tourism in Visakhapatnam from November 17-19, 2017. The Convention was aimed to promote Andhra Pradesh among the domestic travellers of the country.

Aashima Mehrotra, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India lighting the lamp

While speaking at the inaugural session of the Convention the Chief Minister said: “Tourism is one sector which gives the maximum benefits with little investment. Along with the investors the Government is also getting maximum revenue with little a spending. While in other sectors like industry and agriculture, the government was extending various incentives and concessions, the returns were not guaranteed.” Speaking at the outset of the convention Mr Naidu called upon the domestic tour operators to make Vizag as a tourism hub. Well renowned attractions of the State Araku and Borra Caves are just 100 km away from the city of Vizag. “We are for the promotion of both domestic and international tourism in Andhra Pradesh,” he added. He informed that Lu Lu Group to establish a convention centre and shopping mall on the APIIC Grounds near the RK Beach in next three years.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is talking to (right to left) the President of IATO – Pronab Sarkar, PP Khanna – President & Rajat Sawhney – VP of ADTOI

Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya spoke on the efforts being made to promote adventure sports and cultural traditions. A tourism calendar has been prepared to hold 24 mega events during the year. The Convention was attended by more than 300 prominent domestic tour operators from across the country. On the occasion the Association ADTOI launched its Andhra Pradesh Chaptre. Himanshu Shukla, IAS, CEO, Andhra Pradesh Tourism after making an impressive and educative audio-visual presentation on Andhra Pradesh tourism potential conducted the Valedictory Session of the Convention proceedings along with Aashima Mehrotra, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India and felicitated the supporting officials.

22 December 2017

PP Khanna (right) President ADTOI welcoming (left) Himanshu Shukla, IAS, CEO, Andhra Pradesh Tourism


Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu releasing the ADTOI Manual while Chetan Gupta – General Secretary ADTOI, Ashima Mehrotra – Director MoT, Bhuma Akhila Priya – Tourism Minister Andhra Pradesh, PP Khanna – President ADTOI, Rajat Sawhney – VP ADTOI, Mukesh Kumar Meena – Secretary AP Tourism, can be seen in the picture

December 2017 23


24 December 2017


JetEscapes offers attractive package for Dubai Shopping Festival WH Desk


et Airways’ JetEscapes has introduced exciting all inclusive holidays for guests traveling to the world renowned Dubai Shopping Festival, for travel effective December 26, 2017 to January 28, 2018. The month-long, world famous shopping and bargain bonanza is scheduled from December 26, 2017 to January 27, 2018. An annual pilgrimage for shoppers’, the Dubai Shopping Festival is replete with fashion shows, fireworks, and mega sales, and completely transforms the entire city. This year, JetEscapes has announced its four nights/five days twin holiday options - ‘Magic’ and ‘Mania’, that have been especially created in response to the needs of travellers keen to experience this global extravaganza.

While the ‘Magic’ package starts from INR 34,800 ‘Mania’ package begins from INR 41,950. Guests choosing the ‘Mania’ package will be delighted with special add-ons such as Dubai Parks – Bollywood Park, the Dhow Cruise with dinner and Desert Safari with Barbeque dinner. Attractively priced, and aiming to offer an enhanced shopping experience, these packages include return Economy air fare, Airport transfers, 4N/5D hotel accommodation with breakfast, city tour, travel insurance and the chance to earn 5 JPMiles on every Rs.100 spent. **Visa provided at an additional cost of INR 6,500 per person.

Alliance Air launches AgraJaipur flight WH Desk


ir India’s Alliance Air launched a direct flight between Jaipur and Agra from December 8, 2017. The flight will be thrice a week and depart every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 11 am from Jaipur and reach Agra at noon. Alliance Air, which is launching the flight under the UDAN scheme, will use an ATR aircraft. During the return journey, the flight will depart from Agra at 1.15 pm and reach Jaipur at 2.15 pm.

Gaurang Shetty, Whole time Director, Jet Airways, said, “Tourists including families, are spoilt for choice with the presence of every major global retail and lifestyle brand at the Dubai Shopping Festival. The annual extravaganza in its 22nd edition doesn’t just offer unbeatable shopping deals to travelers, but also brings an exhaustive and equally impressive choice of restaurants and entertainment options.”

Etihad Airways deploys Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Abu Dhabi – Geneva route WH Desk


bu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) – Etihad Airways’ flights to and from Switzerland will become an all-Boeing 787 Dreamliner operation with the aircraft being deployed on the Abu Dhabi – Geneva route, effective 25 March 2018. The Dreamliner flights to Geneva will complement the airline’s existing 787 Dreamliner scheduled services connecting Abu Dhabi and Zurich, becoming the fifth European city to be served by the carrier’s rapidly growing fleet of next generation aircraft. Etihad Airways currently operates daily flights between the UAE’s capital city of Abu Dhabi and both Geneva and Zurich. Introduction of the 787 Dreamliner will also see a scheduling change that will continue to provide attractive timings for customers travelling to and from

Geneva. Etihad Airways will be the only airline operating out of the UAE to offer an early morning arrival into Geneva, and the revised timings will also improve connectivity to a wider network of destinations across Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Etihad Airways has a fleet of 18 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners operating from Abu Dhabi to 17 destinations worldwide – Amman, Amsterdam, Beijing, Beirut, Brisbane, Düsseldorf, Madrid, Melbourne, Nagoya, Perth, Riyadh, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington and Zurich. Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are giving more guests the opportunity to experience our next generation aircraft. The Geneva services cater to business and leisure travellers in Abu Dhabi, Switzerland’s second largest city, and

offer connections over our hub to and from many destinations across our global network.” “The Dreamliner is fast becoming our flagship long-haul aircraft and as more join the fleet, we will continue to look at upgrading existing routes offering ground-breaking cabin interiors that have set a benchmark for high service levels in the region and across the world,” he added.

December 2017 25


Air Astana exploring opportunity of launching new flights WH Desk


ir Astana – a full-service carrier of Kazakhstan is celebrating 13 years of connecting India to Kazakhstan and Eurasia. The carrier’s plans for the future will see an increase in the number of Astana–New Delhi flights from three to five times a week. Air Astana is also exploring the opportunity of launching new flights from Kazakhstan to other cities in India. Elaborating on the importance of India market Peter Foster, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Astana said that India is an important destination on Air Astana’s network. “Air Astana is proud to add New Delhi to our growing network of flights to global capitals. New Delhi is a great new destination for us and we expect to carry both business travellers and holidaymakers between the two capitals, and also between India and cities in Russia and other countries on our network to and from Astana,” he added. Air Astana commenced operations to India in 2004 with flights between Almaty and

New Delhi. Today, the airline operates 10 flights between Kazakhstan and India each week, including a daily service between Almaty and New Delhi and three frequencies between Astana and New Delhi. Air Astana launched direct flights from Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, to the capital of India – New Delhi in July this year. The three-times weekly service currently operates using Airbus A320 and Embraer 190 aircraft. Travel between the two countries continues to grow. The total number of passengers carried between Kazakhstan and India during 2017 reached 43 459, an increase of 43% compared with 2016.Furthermore, Air Astana offers its passenger travelling via Almaty convenient connections to other international destinations such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Istanbul, Tbilisi and Bishkek. As a result the number of transit passengers travelling from New Delhi via Almaty to other international destinations

grew by 33% year-over-year in 2016. Passengers travelling via Astana are also offered arange of flight connections, with services to international destinations including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Kiev, Baku and Tbilisi as well as to many cities across Kazakhstan. The airline aims to constantly enhance the passenger experience whether on-board or on the ground with products such as the MyUpgrade service, Air Astana Stopover Holidays, KCTV Stream and many others. These efforts earned Air Astana the prestigious 4-Star service excellence rating by Skytrax.

Andre Blattmann joins AAI replaces Instrument SWISS Board of Directors Landing System at WH Desk


ndre Blattmann, former Chief of the Swiss Armed Forces, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). He will take up his position on 1 January 2018. Current Board member Jacques Aigrain will also be relinquishing his mandate in mid-2018. After training in commerce and earning an HWV Degree in Business Administration, André Blattmann went on to complete a Master’s in Business Administration at Zurich University. He was admitted to the Swiss Armed Forces’ flying and antiaircraft troops’ instructor corps in 1984, and served as an instructor at recruit schools for anti-aircraft troops. He went on to hold various further positions (including some outside Switzerland), before being appointed Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces in 2008 and Chief of the Armed Forces the following year. He left the Swiss Armed Forces at the end of 2016. “In André Blattmann we have secured the services of an individual who is highly regarded in business and political circles and can draw on extensive expertise and experience in both high-level leadership and international economics,” says Reto Francioni, Chairman of the SWISS Board of Directors.

André Blattmann Director SWISS Board

26 December 2017

Chennai airport WH Desk


irports Authority of India in pursuit of augmenting the air navigation services for safety of the aircraft and travelling public has replaced the existing Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Chennai International airport at a cost of Rs. 5.0 Crores. The ILS provides the necessary guidance to the pilots while they approach for landing at the runway. The state of the art equipmentis manufactured by M/s IndraNavia AS, Norway. The new ILS will facilitate smooth landing of the aircrafts at Chennai Airport even during rain, low clouds, smog etc. and provide an improved guidance to the Aircrafts. The new system uses an antenna which is highly directional “Wide Aperture Log Periodic Antenna Array [LPDA]” system. This antenna system has also mitigated the coverage restrictions of old ILS, thereby, providing guidance to the aircraft to a much lower height with improved precision and enhanced safety during landing phase of the aircraft. The complete installation, alignment, testing, flight inspection and commissioning of the new Instrument Landing System has been done in-house by AAI’s CNS Technical Experts.

December 2017 27


Kerala Tourism launches ‘Ayurbodha’ at WTM WH Desk


adakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Kerala has launched ‘Ayurbodha’ a unique tourism product at the World Travel Mart in London. The newest offering from Kerala Tourism Development Corporation is aimed at blending tourism and the knowledge of Ayurveda. Under the initiative, the traveller can stay at any of the KTDC resorts located in Kerala and learn about the ancient medicinal stream of Ayurveda. The focus will be on basic home remedies and diet regimes, Ayurvedic practices for the rejuvenation of the body and soul, secrets of pressure points, basics of ‘Panchakarma’.

“Ayurveda, as a wellness system and a mainstream tourism product, has been largely confined to treatments and massages. While Kerala is known as a destination for enjoying serene and peaceful holidays, our time-tested tradition of Ayurveda can enrich every visitor’s experience,” said Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Kerala. “It is a unique experiential tourism initiative that has enormous potential to increase footfalls in God’s Own Country. It unfolds new

vistas of Ayurveda as an enticing tourism offering and will surely appeal to the visitors from both India and abroad,” said Dr. Venu V. IAS, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism. The 15-day Ayurbodha package has been priced at 100 dollars a day per person and includes accommodation and a complimentary breakfast as well. The location can be chosen according to one’s preference and a certificate for gaining knowledge of Ayurveda is also given. The launch was attended by Dr. Venu V. IAS, Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism, R. Rahul, Managing Director, KTDC, and industry buyers from various countries, among others.

Andhra Pradesh hosted first ever hot-air balloon festival WH Desk


his November, Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh hosted its first-ever international balloon festival. Supported by Andhra Pradesh tourism, the three-day extravaganza from 14-16 November had a line-up of 16 balloons from 13 countries including Australia, USA, South Korea, Brazil and India.

Located at an altitude of 1300m above sea level, Araku Valley—a threehour drive from Vizag—is a popular hill station and one of the most scenic spots in the state. The drive to the valley is just as enticing as the actual destination as you pass tunnels, orchards and water falls on the way to the campsite.

Highlights of the Araky Baloon Festival Hot Air Ballooning: 16 Balloons from 13 countries flying over the magnificent Araku Valley presented a visual delight for spectators on the ground and guests on board the balloons. There was one morning flight followed by tethered flights in the evening. The night glows were another grand spectacle where the inflated balloons were created a magic of light and colours. Para-Motoring: The festival witnessed its share of hi-octane adrenaline pumping flights by para motorists that were sure to wow the assembly of spectators.

28 December 2017

Camp Stays: Araku Balloon Festival showcased a glamping experience of a different level. Difficult to describe in words, this can only be experienced. Excursions: The picturesque Araku Valley has many facets for an explorer to seek. Daily guided excursions were planned within the quantum of time in hand.


Karnataka Tourism announces maiden edition of KITE Bengaluru December 05, 2017: Karnataka Tourism’ announces the inaugural edition of ‘Karnataka International Travel Expo’ in Bengaluru from the 28 February – 2 March 2018. The event will be organised at Bangalore International Exhibition Center (BIEC). WH Desk


he Inaugural edition of ‘Karnataka International Travel Expo’, is set on a B2B platform with over 400 registered Buyers and Media from over 25 countries exploring business opportunities for discerning travel and tourism products, which will make the event one of the most sought-after travel events in the country and enhance the marketing efforts of the state to promote Karnataka as a destination which is diverse, fascinating and safe!

range of products is fast emerging as one of the most interesting and productive states for the travel trade industry both for leisure and business travel. A globalized one-stop sourcing platform is vital for stakeholders within the tourism industry to effectively reach out to the Karnataka travel market,” said Secretary – Tourism, Govt. of Karnataka TK Anil Kumar. The event is supported by major travel – trade and hospitality association in India such as ‘Association of Domestic Tour Operators Association of India (ADTOI), Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) and Indian Association of Tour Operators, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), SKAL, FKCCI, Karnataka Tourism Forum, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), etc

Priyank Kharge, Minister for Tourism, IT & BT, Govt. of Karnataka said: “Karnataka International Travel Expo being held for the first time will provide the impetus to the inbound travel and tourism industry and would enhance the marketing efforts of Karnataka Tourism to promote our destinations to the travel trade from all over the world.”

Destination Karnataka: The exclusive pavilion of Karnataka shall showcase the different facets of the state such as festivals of Karnataka, its beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, The Coastal & Hyderabad – Karnataka Regions, Pilgrimage Destinations, Wildlife and National Parks, Medical Tourism, Destination Management Companies, Travel Agents and Tour Operators, Handicrafts, Cultural Vistas, etc.

The 2018 event will showcase both the rich cultural heritage and high-tech features of the city of Bangalore in the state of Karnataka. “Karnataka with its diverse

KITE will attract over 1,000 delegates from over 25 countries for the three-day event, facilitating over 10,000 pre-matched appointments and bringing together

Priyank Kharge Minister for Tourism, IT & BT Govt. of Karnataka

qualified international buyers and sellers for face-to-face meetings, educational forums and networking functions. Key Features of the event are: ŠŠ With over 400 Hosted delegates from 25 countries, it will be the biggest Hosted Buyer Travel-Event in the country. ŠŠ Pre-fixed B2B meetings with buyers. ŠŠ Over 15 different tourism segments. ŠŠ An Exhibition to showcase and market the varied tourism products. ŠŠ Post event FAM trips. ŠŠ Captive Audience ŠŠ Extensive Marketing and Branding ŠŠ Familiarisation trips to give an idea of the diversity that Destination Karnataka has to offer ŠŠ Supporting programme for networking and renewing contacts ŠŠ An Exciting edition of ‘Destination Karnataka’ Blogathon

Foreign Exchange Earnings tourism in October 2017 WH Desk


inistry of Tourism estimates monthly Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) through tourism in India, both in rupee and dollar terms. Based on the credit data of Travel Head from Balance of Payments of RBI. The highlights of the estimates of FEEs from tourism in India for October 2017 and Jan-October 2017 are as below.

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) through Tourism (in Rs. terms)

increased to 18.6%, compared to 14.7% in October 2016 over October 2015. ŠŠ FEEs during the period January- October 2017 were Rs.1, 44,225 crore with a growth of 16.9% over same period of previous year. The FEEs during JanuaryOctober 2016 were Rs.1, 23,329 crore and registered a growth of 13.8% over JanuaryOctober, 2015.

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) through Tourism (in US $ terms)

increased to 21.7% compared to the growth of 11.8% in October 2016 over October 2015. ŠŠ FEEs during the period January-October 2017 were US$ 22.089 billion with a growth of 20.2% over same period of previous year. The FEEs during JanuaryOctober 2016 were US$ 18.374 billion and registered a growth of 7.9% over JanuaryOctober 2015.

Estimates of FEEs are based on following factors:-

ŠŠ FEEs during the month of October 2017 were Rs.14, 354 crore as compared to Rs.12, 100 crore in October 2016 and Rs.10, 549 crore in October 2015.

ŠŠ FEEs in US$ terms during the month of October 2017 were US$ 2.205 billion as compared to FEEs of US$ 1.812 billion during the month of October 2016 and US$ 1.621 billion in October 2015.

ŠŠ Per capita FEEs during October – December- 2016= RBI’s credit figure for travel (Oct-Dec 16)/FTAs (October – December 2016)

ŠŠ The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms in October 2017 over October 2016 has

ŠŠ The growth rate in FEEs in US$ terms in October 2017 over October 2016 has

ŠŠ Inflation factor based on CPI (U) for October 2017.

ŠŠ FTAs for October 2017.

December 2017 29


Most Stunning Places for Winter Vacations in

HIMACHAL Himachal Pradesh sees a good amount of snowfall in the months of December, January and February in many towns of the state. Manali, Nakansa, Kufri and Shimla get covered under a thick blanket of snow and Rohtang and Keylong remain frozen almost all through the year. Whereabouts brings more on this fascinating destination. WH Desk


imachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful destinations in India for Hill stations, full of mystical dreamy charms, enveloped in a unique mesmerizing appeal. Along with adoring heavy snow fall, visitors can also indulge in exciting adventure sports such as Ice-skating and Heliskiing. Thousands of travellers head to celebrate the New Year in Shimla, Chail, Solan, Manali, Kullu, Dharamshala, Dalhousie and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.

30 December 2017



The winter winds carry the delights of ice-skating at Shimla. The extravaganza of the Ice-Skating Carnival is normally reserved for December. Christmas celebrations overtake Shimla and Dalhousie (Chamba) and as the church bells chime, they carry away another event-packed year. To visit the traditional fairs or to participate in the festivals, do confirm the dates as many vary from year to year. A range of accommodation is available at, or close to almost all the places.

The Mall: This is the hub of Shimla’s social life. Lined by shops and restaurants this pedestrian thoroughfare loosely resembles an English Home County’s marketplace. The Gaiety Theatre, which is a reproduction of an old British theatre is a center of cultural activities. A passenger lift operated by HPTDC can be taken from the Cart Road to The Mall. Lakkar Bazaar adjacent to the Ridge is popular for its wood crafts and souvenirs.

Its easy accessibility and several other attractions have made it one of India’s most popular hill resorts. There are many unforgettable walks, day-excursions by the dozen, a variety of convenient shopping and entertainment museums, and ice-skating in winter. Shimla is the base or the unwinding point for numerous exhilarating routes to the state interior.

Christ Church: Christ Church standing tall through the tough rapids of time is one of the most important buildings of Shimla. It tells the story of a part of the town’s rich history – and its pews mark the seats of the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief and the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, while the fascinating memorial tablets in brass and marble sound a roll call for some who shaped what was the British Empire.


Chail: Chail was the summer capital of the former princely state of Patiala built by Maharaja Bhupender Singh on a hill that was within sight of Shimla but a good hundered meters above Shimla’s average height. There is a famous shrine known as the Sidh Baba Ka Mandir and is revered by many who claim that the sage has the power to grant boons. Bhupinder Singh had another site levelled out and a splended mansion was built and sumptuously furnished. Summer Hill: Summer Hill is a picturesque superb on Shimla-Kalka Railway line. This place offers shady walks in quiet surroundings. The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Shimla lived in the elegant Georgian house of Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here. Naldhera: Located at distance of 22km from Shimla, Naldehra is a heaven for tourists. It boasts of the oldest 9-hole Golf Course in the country. The well groomed Golf Course is a lovely verdant, perhaps one of the finest and sporty in India. Crowned with a springing turf the Golf Course was suggested by Lord Curzon. He was so enchanted by the place that he gave his daughter Alexendra, ‘Naldehra’ as her second name. It is the venue of many competitions. The Nag Temple is also situated here and Naldehra derives its name from it.

Narkanda: On the Hindustan Tibet road, Narkanda offers spectacular views of snow ranges. An uphill trek through Deodar woods leads to Hatu Peak (8 Km). Ancient temple of Hatu Mata is alive with skiers. HPTDC runs Hotel Hatu and in winters short skiing courses are organised.

Dharamshala This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 17km north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town

while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to make a day’s trek to a snow-point after an early morning’s start. Dharamshala is also the headquarters of the Kangra district.

Kufri Kufri is a small hill station in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. It is located 20km from the state capital Shimla on the National Highway No.22. The name Kufri is derived from the word kufr meaning lake in the local language. The highest point in the surrounding region, Kufri has a Himalayan wildlife zoo which hosts rare antelopes, felines and birds including the Himalayan Monal – the state bird of Himachal Pradesh. During winter a meandering path through the potato plantations turns into a popular ski track. At Kufri Fun Campus – an amusement park a day will be a lifetime experience of adventure at the height of 9000 feet. This park is an excellent destination for family to make a memorable day. It is equipped with various rides, pools and world’s highest go-kart track. Huge number of children, teenagers and adults visit this place. Keylong Keylong is the administrative centre of the Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, 126km north of Manali and 120 km from the Indo-Tibetan border. It is located along the Manali-Leh Highway, about 7 km north-east of intersection of the Chandra Valley, the Bhaga Valley, and the Chenab Valley; on the banks of Bhaga River. The summer, which begins in May and ends in October is the best time to visit Keylong. The weather is pleasantly cool and light woollen clothing during this time

December 2017 31





The most charming and beautiful Kullu valley spreads out its charm on either side of river Beas. The valley runs north to south of this river and is 80Km long and about 2Km at its broadest. Yet with awe inspiring glens and mossy meadows encircled by the rushing streams and meandering brooks, flung east and west, a fairly wide area is open to the tourists, the trekkers, the mountaineers, the artists and to anyone who wishes to escape the heat and dust of the plains to breathe the exhilarating air of the Himalaya and enjoy the spectacle of the variegated mountain scenery. The valley is also famous for its exquisitely woven colourful handmade shawls and kullu caps. Visit anytime between December to February to enjoy snow-skiing and heli-skiing.

On a mid-night towards the end of December-January, festival of Phagli begins in Lahaul’s Pattan valley which the locals celebrate by filling inside a conical basket called Kilta. In February, Lahaul celebrates the festival of Lossar marked by ritual dances and an unbelievably rich imagery. This is celebrated in Buddhist areas throughout the state while Lahaul’s monasteries have some of the most spectacular performances. On its eve, the stylized Chhaam dance with elaborate costumes and masks, commemorate the assassination of the cruel Tibetan king, Langdarma of the 9th century. Often though wrongly - called ‘the devil dance’, it symbolises the triumph of good over evil.

Baba Barbhag Singh Mela is held in Una to honour the sage who was renowned for his magical powers. In the month of February, Basant Panchmi marks the arrival of spring in the lower areas, and every town seems to keep a reserve of colour for the occasion and the skies are filled with a medley of kites.

REACHING HERE By Road: The roads are tough and reliable. Besides there are affordable bus services organized by the State Government that also connect well to other important cities like Kashmir, Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh. By Train: For tourists opting for railway travel, the best option to reach Himachal is the Kalka Railway Station, located approximately 90 kilometers away from Shimla. From here, you either have the choice of travelling by road or ride the famous toy train (A UNESCO World Heritage) into the picturesque hilly regions of this amazing destination. By Air: Jubbarhatti Airport in Kullu, Bhuntar Airport in Shimla and Gaggal Airport in Kangra, connect by flights to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chandigarh.

32 December 2017


Meet Santa Claus Santa may only visit your home once a year, but he welcomes everybody to visit him during the rest of the year. The Santa Claus Village has a unique meeting place where hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world come to meet Santa Claus on every day of the year; a place where the fairytale becomes true. WH Desk


veryone knows Santa – the one and only – comes from Finland. What some people don’t know, however, is that it is possible to meet him in person all year round. Santa’s official office, situated on the mysterious Arctic Circle, is open to each and everyone. Open each day of the year in the city of Rovaniemi, children and adults can visit Santa’s office, enjoy a private chat with him and revel in the enchanted atmosphere. As all know, Santa’s annual mission is to deliver happiness around the world with the help of his team of furry reindeer friends.

The Santa Claus Village You can meet Santa Claus and cross the magical Arctic Circle every day at the Santa Claus Village in Lapland in Finland. When Santa Claus declared Rovaniemi as his hometown, he told how his home at Ear Mountain (Korvatunturi) was revealed at the beginning of the last century and how this closely guarded secret spread the world over. In order to retain the privacy of his secret location, the Elf folk decided to build

a place where Santa could meet people from near and far at the Northern Arctic Circle. Santa Claus spends his time at the Santa Claus Village every day of the year to take care of his mission in life; to enhance the wellbeing of children and the kindness of grown-ups, as well as spreading the message love and goodwill of Christmas Spirit throughout the globe. Christmas House Santa & Christmas exhibition The main building of Santa Claus Holiday Village (also called Christmas House) hosts unique Christmas-theme exhibition and

a photography service with Santa Claus. The exhibition covers today’s Christmas customs as well as centuries-old Finnish and foreign Christmas traditions. The permanent exhibit includes also fascinating Christmas videos. The exhibition includes two fascinating exhibits covering around 400 m²: ŠŠ Finnish Christmas, Christmas traditions and Lapland’s Santa Claus, ‘Joulupukki’ ŠŠ Most recognized Christmas traditions around the World

December 2017 33


Away From The Madding Crowds: Tourism in Off-Season A New Trend Lower airfare, shorter lines, less crowds and the freedom to travel at leisure; travelling in off-season is a trend that’s really picking up and the advantages are plenty! So what are the factors that you should keep in mind when making your plans? Viren Batra


or starters, if you’re paying cash for your airfare, compare multiple ticket sources. Also check those fares against the airlines. Book with a rewards credit card, especially if you have a card for the airline you’re booking with to get extra miles and a free checked bag. And of course, check travel deals including hotels, airfare and vacation packages. Weather is often a reason why a certain time of the year is considered a destination’s off season. Be prepared for what the climate is and any weather changes that could occur. Check the weather report before packing. During off-season, some restaurants and attractions may be closed or have limited hours so understood what’s available. In many places, warmer weather may equal higher prices. But also consider that summer in many cities often means free festivals, concerts, and other free entertainment. Weigh the costs to decide what’s best for you. Now that we’ve gotten

that out of the way, here are some great destinations and the best (off) season for a visit! With summer and holiday travel over between January and February, U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City can offer better rates. Summer and holiday breaks are busy times for Orlando, but during these months you’ll find deals for the theme parks along with discounted hotels. January is also a slow time for Mexico travel. March is the time to visit Brazil since you’ll miss the crowds from Carnival (in February), and escape the summer crowds. Boston is a great place to visit in April. It’s still a little chilly, but still warm enough for you. In May ports calm down from cruises, and Alaska has reduced rates on hotels and plane tickets as well. Miami is great in June, as snow birds and spring breakers are gone. Enjoy less crowded beaches. Las Vegas doesn’t have too much of an “offseason,” but with desert temperatures that could be in the triple digits plus a tendency for rain, July tends to be a little slower, especially during the week. July, along with early August, is also a good time to visit Phoenix and cities in Texas if you can handle the heat. Colorado’s mountain destinations like Aspen, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Vail, and Winter Park are

Viren Batra, Co-founder Nirvana Travel

much cheaper during the snow-free months. My favorite time to visit Beaver Creek is during August with scenic hiking, golf, spas, restaurants, festivals and events, and 35 percent off lodging. September is a good month to go to Orlando because most kids are back in school. September is also hurricane season so rates are usually cheaper for the Caribbean, even though you should make sure to keep an eye on the forecast before you make the trip. Greece and other Mediterranean destinations have pleasant weather in October and hotel rooms are much cheaper than in summer. You’ll also find cheaper rates in San Diego and Hawaii. Canada, Cayman Islands, Lake Tahoe, Vail in Colorado, ABC islands are also hot destinations to visit. Europe is significantly cheaper from November through March. You’ll find much cheaper flights to China during this time as well as discounted admission to events. Canyonlands National Park can also be visited.

Conclusion Since travellers have discovered the myriad advantages of travelling when the other tourists aren’t out and about, off season travel has become quite a global trend as tickets, food, accommodation, sight-seeing and everything is a lot cheaper. Also, if you’re planning a destination wedding, then bang on. This guide is probably worth its weight in gold. So have a happy 2018 and travel to your heart’s delight in the upcoming year.

34 December 2017

December 2017 35


WH Desk

SITE Foundation alters approach to meet changing needs of Incentive Travel Industry


ociety for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Foundation has altered its approach to meet the demands of its members and the industry in an ever-changing global marketplace. While research continues to be an important component to build the business case for incentive travel, research is now just one of many types of content the Foundation produces, aligned with its updated mission: to create compelling content to inform business professionals of the bold results incentive travel produces, and to provide industry insights to further careers of current incentive professionals.

Three annual fundraising and business networking events – SITE Classic, SITE Nite Europe and SITE Nite North America provide a majority of the Foundation’s funding. In September, SITE Classic brought an exclusive group of 250 incentive travel leaders and decision makers to Los Cabos, Mexico for valuable business networking and education. SITE Nite Europe, held in May in John Iannini Frankfurt, gathered IMEX Hosted President Buyers, SITE members and industry SITE Foundation colleagues to bridge distances and forge connections with peers around the world. SITE Nite North America, one of the most popular events of IMEX America week, sold out with more than 1200 people in attendance at the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas. And, for a third year, the Foundation hosted Auction 2.0, an online auction, where the public was invited to bid on more than 70 unique travel experiences.

“On behalf of the Foundation Trustees, I would like to thank all of our sponsors and guests for their generous support of our fundraising initiatives. Through this year’s events, along with the silent and live auctions and raffles, the Foundation raised over $500,000 to enable continued investment to advance our mission, respond quickly to shifts in the marketplace and translate new intelligence into strategies that meet the needs of our customers and members,” said Rhea Stagner, CIS, SITE Foundation President and division VicePresident, sourcing and supplier relations, Maritz Travel – a Maritz Global Events Company. Since July of 2016, the Foundation has amped up investment to provide a regular cadence of valued incentive content. This year the Foundation unveiled Motivate - a dynamic online intelligence hub that serves as a repository of content for the incentive travel industry, centralizing all resources in a single, online location. Motivate features a comprehensive array of timely, relevant thought leadership content produced by the Foundation, as well as content created in collaboration with other organizations, sponsors and influencers. During the SITE + MPI Global Forum in January in Rome, John Iannini, CIS, CTC, Vice-President meetings and events North America, Melia Hotels International, will accept the gavel as SITE Foundation President 2018. “I am honored to be serving as SITE Foundation President working with our Board of Trustees to carry-out our mission. For next year, the Foundation has committed to invest nearly $400,000 for new curriculum development (intermediate level certification), content creation and member and chapter grants. We continue to achieve our vision to ignite passion for incentive travel through knowledge sharing, by enhancing the knowledge and professional growth of our members and providing proof of the connection between incentive travel and business results.

Pacific Tourism Insights Conference examines the future of tourism in the Pacific WH Desk


he inaugural Pacific Tourism Insights Conference (PTIC), successfully brought together over 180 delegates to explore the key influences that will drive and shape future thinking in terms of tourism marketing, destination development and the challenges of crisis and recovery in the South Pacific region. Planned and implemented by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in partnership with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO), the event took place in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Wednesday, October 25. PATA’s Regional Director – Pacific Chris Flynn said, “The event yielded a new era in the Pacific tourism conversation

36 December 2017

by exploring regional opportunities and challenges in line with global trends and influences. It became obvious throughout the proceedings that a new way of thinking is required if we are to plan for a better future.” He further added, “A future that embraces change and understanding that each of us has a duty to leave our industry in better shape for those who will follow in our footsteps. This can only be achieved by working together to build strong foundations. Foundations that become a legacy protect our unique culture and heritage, and not squanders this opportunity through short term vision.” Key topics analysed and discussed during the insightful event contributed towards achieving the objectives of the Pacific Tourism Strategy 2015-2019 which provides

the strategic framework to support the development of tourism in the Pacific. The conference opened with a keynote address on ‘Cathedral Thinking’ from Rick Antonson, Author and former CEO of Tourism Vancouver and featured presentations from international tourism experts and thought leaders including Dr Mathew McDougal (CEO – Digital Jungle); Sarah Mathews (PATA chairperson and Head of Destination Marketing APAC at TripAdvisor); Stewart Moore (CEO – EarthCheck); and Carolyn Childs (Director – who made her presentation via video. The conference was supported by BBC World News with both panel discussions being moderated by international news correspondent Phil Mercer.


TripIndex Cities report revealing prices of a three day break in eight major cities WH Desk


ripAdvisor announced the seventh edition of its annual TripIndex Cities which compares the cost of a three-day break for the month of December in the eight major cities across India - New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Jaipur. The data takes into account typical in-destination costs for two people and these include a fourstar hotel for three nights, a visit to five attractions, lunch each day, a taxi to and from dinner each day including the cost of dinner. The study found that among the Indian cities the average price for a short break is INR 39,693 (excluding flights) with prices varying significantly from the least to the most expensive. Pune is the lowest cost destination at INR 34,704, while Jaipur costs the most at INR 45,351 for a three day break in the city. “For price conscious Indians planning a December domestic break regardless of destination, using TripAdvisor will ensure you are getting the best value for your money. TripAdvisor’s Tripindex Cities report is a great indicator of the costs involved for a short stay during this period andhelps travellers to assess the various aspects of their travel so they can feel confident of their choices and of making the absolute most of their trip,”said Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India.

attractions are a key part of the overall cost like Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Tripindex Cities

Interesting Nuggets

From the least expensive to the most expensive city (green and red indicate least and most expensive destinations for each item respectively):

ŠŠ Eating out three days in Chennai comes out to be the same as accommodation for three nights in the city

S. No.

Destination (in INR)

Accommodation (in INR)

Lunch (in INR)

Dinner (in INR)







ŠŠ For the cost of accommodation in Delhi and Kolkata, one can cover meals, taxi and visit popular attractions Attractions Taxi Total in Hyderabad and still have money left (in INR)

(in INR)

(in INR)

































New Delhi










*The figures above have been rounded off. For Eating Out, travellers can get the best value for lunch and dinner in Kolkata at INR 2,730 and INR 8325 respectively while Chennai is the costliest for dinner at INR 13,326 and New Delhi for lunch at INR 4,188. Three Taxi Journeys of six kilometre each in New Delhi can set you back by INR 1,440 while the same distance in Pune, Jaipur, Bangalore and Hyderabad are almost half at INR 756, INR 708, INR 696 and INR 636respectively. Prices to Visitor Attractions vary significantly, with some destinations predominantly offering free or low entrance fee such as Pune and Chennai as compared with other destinations where

ŠŠ Dinner for two over the course of three days is cheaper in both Mumbai and Delhi when compared to Chennai


ŠŠ The TripIndex Cities 2017 destination list comprised of 8 key cities 1140 42,462 including in India – New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, 1440 43,845 Jaipur and Hyderabad.TripIndex Cities 708 45,351 prices out the daily cost for the following items in each destination, multiplied by three to represent the cost of a three-day city break for two people. 636


ŠŠ Lunch: Meal and soft drink ŠŠ Dinner: Starter, main meal and bottle of wine to share ŠŠ Taxi: Return taxi journey of three km each way ŠŠ Attraction: Average cost of entry to five popular attractions ŠŠ Hotel: Accommodation in a 4-4.5 star hotel Research was conducted by local team and prices were collected through telephone and web search for all components except the hotel stay.Prices in each market were taken in INR between 1 August and 18 August 2017.

December 2017 37


Aditya Shamsher Malla General Manager Doubletree by Hilton Pune - Chinchwad

Vivek Singh Regional Revenue Opt. Manager StayWell Hospitality Group

Paul Massot Group Development Director Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

An industry veteran with more than two decades in the business, Aditya has been a part of some of the best global brands such as Marriott, Hyatt, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Shangri La International and Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. In his new role as the General Manager, Aditya will be responsible for curating strategic initiatives that will lead the hotel to continue it’s guest focused approach and consolidate its leadership position. He will focus his efforts to deliver year-onyear growth, focus on staff engagement activities and spearhead corporate social activities.

Vivek Singh has been appointed as the Regional Revenue Optimization Manager at StayWell Hospitality Group. He will be responsible for the overall revenue management of the group with key focus on generating maximum revenues. He will be actively involved in short and long-term planning and preparation of the marketing strategies, hotel policies, procedures, relevant legislations and the annual budget.

Paul Massot has been appointed Group Development Director, responsible for driving the company’s global development strategy and development pipeline. He is based at the Group’s London corporate office, and has recently appointed additional regional development resources to support the Group’s expansion strategy.

Vivek brings with him, an experience of over 11 years in hospitality industry. In his illustrious career span, he has been associated with recognized global brands like Hyatt, IHG, Starwood, Accor, Marriott to name a few.

Paul joined the Group’s flagship, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong in 1990, before moving to the corporate office in Hong Kong as Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Asia Pacific. In 2001, he joined the Group’s corporate office in London as Senior Vice President of Sales Worldwide.

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Volume IV Issue III December 2017


High taxes encourage our people to travel abroad says ADTOI President


On the Cover : St. Michaels Catholic Church Shimla

In Focus

Andhra CM reveals ambitious plans for tourism under Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Vision 2029 P-20 Destination

Most Stunning Places for Winter Vacations in







December 17  
December 17