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  • UNWTO has opened the call for applications for the 11th edition of the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism. Interested candidates can apply until the 31 October 2014. The Award Ceremony will be held during the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair FITUR in Spain on 28 January 2015.

    The Awards recognize innovative tourism initiatives and contributions to the sector, in line with the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. Since its inception in 2003, the UNWTO Awards have acknowledged more than 70 scholars, visionaries and institutions, from the public and private sectors, as well as NGOs.

    The UNWTO Awards distinguish the following categories:

    Awards for individuals:

    ·         The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge

    ·         The UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement (not open for nominations)

    Last year, Dr. Tej Vir Singh, a scholar with lifelong dedication to tourism education and research, was awarded the Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge and journalist Richard Quest with the Award for Lifetime Achievement. Both have contributed to inspire competitive and sustainable tourism development, be it through academic research or reporting.

    Awards for tourism initiatives:

    ·         UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance

    ·         UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Enterprises

    ·         UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organizations

    ·         UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology

    For the second consecutive year, the UNWTO Awards ceremony, taking place on 28 January 2015, will be co-hosted by UNWTO and IFEMA|FITUR, the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair. The day before the ceremony, the UNWTO Awards Symposium will highlight the importance of innovation in tourism and share the knowledge and achievements of UNWTO Awards finalists.

  • The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to supporting countries’ efforts to adopt renewable energy, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, have joined forces to promote the use of renewable energies in Islands.

    In a Joint Statement on Renewable Energy and Tourism in Islands, released at the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, IRENA and UNWTO commit to encourage investment in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions that reduce the reliance of islands on carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

    Islands are burdened by high energy costs due to their reliance on costly imported diesel fuel. In spite of efforts to improve energy efficiency, more than 90% of SIDS´ energy consumption is met through oil imports, which represent up to 20% of their annual imports. Many islands have goals to expand the use of renewable energy options and reduce this oil dependency. Since tourism is an economic mainstay for many islands, investment in such options by hotels is key to achieving these goals. Renewable options for water heating, air conditioning and electricity generation can cut hotel operating costs, advance sustainability while making them more appealing for tourists.

    The Statement also calls for hotels to document the energy savings and cost reductions from these applications and to share the information through the Global Renewable Energy Islands Network (GREIN). Finally, it recalls that greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is fundamental to build a more sustainable, competitive and resilient tourism sector worldwide, and particularly, in islands.

    In signing the Statement, IRENA Director General, Adnan Z. Amin, and UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai paved the way to cooperation with hotels and tourism authorities in pursuit of these aims.  “Investment by island hotels is vital to demonstrating the business case for renewable energy, which is essential to addressing the burden of costly fossil fuels that inhibits islands’ economic and social development” said Mr. Amin.

    “Tourism is a primary economic sector for many SIDS and a dominant force driving inclusive socio-economic growth. Yet, sustainable tourism development in small islands continues to face many challenges; one of the major ones is their high dependence on fossil fuel. The synergy of tourism and renewable energy represents a powerful force that will pave the way for win-win solutions in driving the sustainable agenda of islands forward”, said Mr Rifai.

    In 2013, 41 million international tourists visited the SIDS, generating US$ 61 billion in foreign earnings. Tourism accounts for over 20% of the GDP of 16 out of 48 SIDS for which data is available and 9% of total SIDS exports.


Stage set for a high-tech Kerala Travel Mart 2014

Chief Minister to inaugurate three-day event on September 17 in Kochi

The eighth edition of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), which begins on September 18, is going to be most digital and social media savvy ever, with a range of innovative tools to connect the more than 1,500 tour operators from across the world gathering in Kochi for the event.

KTM 2014 has, for the first time, launched a mobile application enabling buyers and sellers at the mega event to schedule meetings and discuss business opportunities. Each buyer will get mobile alerts on their meetings as well as the program schedule.  The buyers and sellers will be listed on the app and appointments can be made online.

Mr. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala  will formally inaugurate KTM 2014 at 7 pm on September 17 at the Le Meridian Convention Centre, Kochi. Mr. Sripat Yasho Naik, Union Minister for Tourism will be the Chief Guest and  Mr. A P Anil Kumar, Tourism Minister of Kerala will preside over the function. The Mart itself will be on for three days from September 18-20, 2014 at the Samudrika Convention Centre, Cochin Port Trust, Willingdon Island, Kochi.

“KTM will promote Kerala as the best tourism and business destination in the world. It will be a chance for tour operators and international buyers from new markets in the world to know the state better. To that effect we will be making the most of available technology to promote the event as well as the destination,” said Mr. A P Anil Kumar at a press conference.

“Our promotional efforts this year extend to Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube and live Twitter feeds and Tweet mirror are being used to attract buyers,” the Minister said. “KTM 2014 is undoubtedly a great platform for B2B networking; we expect it to host around 8,000 B2B meetings this time. Our preparatory activities have been very successful. Although registrations closed on 15th July for buyers, we are still getting more and more enquiries every day.”

MICE tourism, wedding destinations and the charm of villages will be among the key themes of KTM 2014. Around 282 international buyers from nearly 60 countries and 938 domestic buyers have already confirmed participation this year, said Mr. Abraham George, President of the KTM Society. 

“UK, Spain, Germany France and Russia top the list of international buyers with around 25-30 from each country attending KTM 2014. However, the distinctive feature of this edition of KTM is the participation from relatively new markets for Kerala, like Australia (30) South Africa (12)  Malaysia (36), and a strong presence from Scandinavia, Netherlands, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin American countries including Chile and Peru,” he added.

Exhibitors at KTM 2014 will include Hotels & Resorts, Tour operators & DMCs, Homestays, Houseboat operators, Ayurveda Resorts, Ayurveda Centres, Hotel Management consultants, Adventure tour operators, Farmstays and Tourism associations. Apart from visiting various places under the familiarisation programme, the international buyers and participants of the KTM will also visit the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple to see and enjoy the Vallasadya - an annual event which Kerala Tourism is hoping to promote as an attraction for travelers.

The participation of so many international buyers will be of particular benefit to small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector and will be a great opportunity to promote homestays, said KTM Society Secretary Mr.  P K Anish Kumar. “We believe the seven previous editions of Kerala have served to introduce Kerala as a destination to nearly 10,000 national and international tour operators,” he said.

Mr. Suman Billa IAS, Tourism Secretary, Mr. P I Sheik Pareeth IAS, Director of Kerala Tourism, Ms. T V Anupama IAS, Additional Director (General) of Kerala Tourism and  Mr. E M Najeeb, President, Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry and former KTM president were present at the press briefing.


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Air Transport and Tourism to Grow Together

The 2013 UNWTO and WTM Ministers´ Summit at the World Travel Market (WTM) will put a spotlight on the essential connection between air transport and tourism, debating the challenges and opportunities of promoting higher policy coordination between aviation and tourism.

Air transport, being an important factor in outbound or inbound tourism, plays a vital role in foreign tourist arrival in India. Therefore, the discussions on the matter must be considered as important for the tourism industry in the country. New alliances with tourism boards and airlines all around the world is needed  to boost the business. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on all partners and stakeholders involved in passenger travel to work together to deliver greater value to passengers. This is a remarkable decision that will encourage travellers all around the world to visit foreign countries.

Air travel is one of the major part, travellers worried about in their journey. Addressing their issues is the most important thing for the sector to grow their business. According to IATA Director General and CEO, Mr. Tony Tyler, Aviation makes possible $2.2 trillion worth of economic activity and supports about 57 million jobs around the globe. Every day more than 8 million passengers take advantage of the safety, speed and convenience of air travel. Therefore, any new strategy implemented will work as a catalyst that makes big changes.

The alliances by airlines also play a major part in air transport. The recent joining of Qatar Airways in “Oneworld” shows a positive approach by major airlines that hold major part of the market share. These alliances give the consumer better offers, which encourage them to travel frequently. The initiatives by WTM and IATA are expected to give new possibilities for air transport and tourism to grow together. Let's hope for a better connected world that encourages people to travel and make the tourism industry to grow to a new level.


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59.7 % Growth in “Tourist VoA Scheme: Aug 2014

59.7 % Growth in “Tourist Visa on Arrival” (VoA) Scheme : August, 2014 As a facilitative measure to attract more foreign tourists to India, the Government  launched the “Visa on Arrival” (VoA) Scheme in January 2010 for citizens of five countries, viz. Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore, visiting India for tourism purposes. The Government extended this Scheme to the citizens of six more countries, namely Camb ...
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Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the term used to describe a single session of heavy alcohol intake (normally five or more drinks for men, and four or more drinks for women). The result is almost always intoxication, with an increased risk of severe dehydration, diziness, vomiting and alcohol poisoning. Many people, especially of the younger generation, are under the allusion that if they drink nothing all week, they can 'save up' their recommended un ...
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WTM 2014 To Be Opened By Retailing Royalty Justin King

World Travel Market 2014, the leading global event for the travel industry, will be opened by retailing royalty Justin King CBE, former CEO of J Sainsbury’s and one of the UK leading business leaders. King, who recently stepped down as CEO at Sainsbury’s after at ten year stint, oversaw an increase in transactions from 10 million to 24 million a week, and annual sales growth from 10.3 billion in 2004 to 26.4 billion for the 12 months ...
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TECHNOLOGY selected as a 2014 Red Herring Top 100 Asia, India’s largest travel community has been selected as a 2014 Red Herring Asia top 100, a prestigious list honoring the year's leading private companies from Asia, celebrating these startups’ innovations and technologies across their respective industries.  “Choosing the companies with the strongest potential was by no means a small feat,” said Mr. Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. “After rig ...
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“TALK THE TALK” WHILE TRAVELING GLOBALLY Modern luxury meets modern tech with innovative mobile app for guests English may be the universal language, but to feel truly immersed in the culture and vibe of a local destination, there’s nothing quite as authentic as speaking like the locals do. So, modern luxury line Celebrity Cruises,  with vacations visiting all seven continents, and a focus on enhancing the destination experi ...
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TRANSPORTATION introduces ‘BusMeal’ for journeys from Hyderabad

In another first-of-its-kind initiative, India’s fastest growing online bus ticket booking portal, has introduced a unique ‘BusMeal’ for passengers who book tickets on their site for journeys which originate from Hyderabad. The website has partnered with Foody’s, which is a call center-driven food delivery service that caters from some of the popular restaurant brands in Hyderabad. The BusMeal service started from Septem ...
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Steven Dixon new RM- South & SE Asia of Tourism New Zealand

Tourism New Zealand announces changes to offshore team

Tourism New Zealand has announced changes to its Singapore based business events, trade and management team.

Mr. Steven Dixon, Tourism New Zealand's existing Business Events Manager North America, has been appointed to the role of Regional Manager - South and South East Asia, effective from November.

Gregg Anderson General Manager - Americas and Europe says, "Steven joined Tourism New Zealand in 2011 to lead our expansion into the business events sector and has achieved significant milestones, effectively solidifying New Zealand's offering with the North American convention and incentive trade."

Prior to joining Tourism New Zealand Steven worked in hotel management and development roles in Dunedin and Christchurch for five years including the highly successful launch of Hotel So in Christchurch. Before that Steven spent time working in Japan and managing the New Zealand arm of a Japanese Inbound Tour Operator.

"While Steven will be missed greatly in our business events team, it is fantastic to see such a valuable team member progress within the organisation and I wish him all the very best in his new role."

The promotion follows the departure of MischaMannix-Opie in October when her contract ends.

Mr. David Craig, General Manager Asia, says, "Since joining us in 2006 as Marketing Manager North America, Mischa has excelled in leadership roles. In 2008 she returned to Wellington to take up the Business Development Manager role before heading to Singapore in 2011 as Regional Manager South and South East Asia.”

"Over the last three years Mischa has provided strong management for the team across the important South East Asia market, overseeing the significant expansion of the India and Indonesia based teams in the last year as well as our activity across trade, marketing, PR and stakeholder engagement.”

"I wish her every success for the future and am sure our paths will cross frequently in the coming years."

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Airline News

Tigerair celebrates 10 roaring years in Asia Pacific

Introduces INR 10 special one way fare to Singapore for Indian passengers  

 Tigerair, the leading Singapore-based budget carrier, completed 10 years of operations. The airline has announced a special one way fare of INR 10 to Singapore exclusively for Indian passengers to commemorate the occasion.

 INR 10 one way special fares is applicable only on round trips tickets originating from India. During the offer all-in return fares to Singapore as low as 7499 INR.

 Passengers can book the journey tickets from 15th September 2014 till 21st September 2014, for travel period commencing from 12th January 2015 to 31st March 2015 and 21st July 2015 to 22nd September 2015.

Celebrating the Indian festive season, the airline is also offering special all in return fares starting from INR 11,999 to  amazing Asian destinations like, Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Perth, and Hong Kong, Sydney, Gold coast via Singapore . Flights to Sydney and Gold Coast are operated in collaboration with Scoot.

Passengers can avail this on the airline’s official website - for travel to Singapore and beyond from any of the five Indian cities which include Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi and Tiruchirappalli.

Commenting on the offer Mr. Robert Yang- Commercial Director, Tigerair said, “We at Tigerair are proud to celebrate over 10 years of service amongst our most valued patrons. The generous support, trust and confidence of the millions of passengers who have flown and loved our services helped us achieving this milestone. This special offer is introduced in appreciation of the support and response extended by our passengers this offer will enable Indian families an option to plan their trips in advance to Singapore and beyond.

Tigerair operates total 37 weekly flights to Singapore from six Indian destinations. The airline also connects to Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Perth, Taipei via Singapore, the gateway to amazing destinations in Asia Pacific. Connect to Sydney, Gold Coast and 11 more destinations with 50 weekly flights via Singapore in collaboration with Scoot.

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Destination Review
The international tourist's dream spot,this haven of a place is surrounded by the serenity of the sea.This ancient fort is ridden with mysterious caves,wells and hideouts.Besides, it has one of the most magnificent beaches in the country.Bekal Fort is situated at a distance of 16 km from Kasargode. Just about a kilometre's distance away is Pallikkara railway station.Safari rides on horses and camels are available nearby.There is also a Bekal Beach Park which is open on all days from 8am to 7pm.
Bekal Fort is the biggest fort in Kerala spreading over forty acres. The unique Bekal Fort stands amidst the roaming but heartening music of the seas along with the eternal note of the unending waves, carrying the thrilling memories of a bygone era. This foremost souvenir of the 'Gods own Country' remains undeterred over the ages as a silent witness to centuries of eventful yester years. The Bekal Fort has been a source of attraction for historians, tourists and nature - lovers for centuries since it embodies memories of a glorious past.
The Fort appears to have been built up from the seas since almost three fourth of its exterior is drenched and the waves do stroke the citadel. The Hanuman temple and the ancient Muslim Mosque nearly hold testimony to the age-old religious harmony that prevailed in the area. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort show the defence strategy connected with the fort.
Bekal Fort happens to be the biggest fort of Kerala spreading over forty acres. The important features of this fort are the tank with its flight of steps, the opening of the tunnel towards the South, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad and wide steps leading to the Observation Tower is a rarity. From there one has ample view of all the important places in the vicinity like Kanhangad, Pallikare, Bekal, Kottikulam Uduma etc. This observation centre has strategic significance in finding out even the smallest movements of the enemy and ascertaining the safety of the Fort. 
Unlike most other Indian Forts, Bekal fort was not a center of administration for no remains of a Palace are found within the Fort. Probably the fort was built for fulfilling the defense requirements. The holes on the outer walls of the fort are so remarkable that they are specially designed to defined the fort effectively. The holes at the top are meant for aiming at the farthest points; the holes below are meant for hitting when the enemy is nearer and the holes under neath facilitate attacking when the enemy is very near to the fort. This is a remarkable evidence for the medival technology of defence strategy. Apart from this, the wild and ecstatic beauty of the setting sun is a glorious presence in the fort.
Bekal is the ideal tourist destination that covers all the different aspects of tourism such as adventure tourism,backwater tourism and beach tourism.No wonder then that this mini-paradise in Kerala is referred to as " God's Own Country in capsule form".
Trekking Spots/HillStations
Shola woods, monsoon forests and grasslands ….. Ranipuram, 58 km from Bekal is a stunning landscape in every shade of green. Situated at a cool 750 m above sea level, it is popular not just as a natural haven, but also as an adventure hotspot. Hidden beneath the evergreen canopy are delightful trekking trails that nature enthusiasts are slowlydiscovering.
Formerly known as Madathumala, Ranipuram's extensive forests merge with those of the nearby State of Karnataka . While the varied vegetation makes this place a favourite with nature lovers, the wild elephants that wander the mountains offers the experience of a lifetime for wildlife enthusiasts. 
Kottancherry (30 km north east of Kanhangad) 
Visitors can have more of adventure at Kottancherry which resembles the famous hill station of Kodaikanal in its scenic beauty. The rainforests near Konnakkad present excellent options for trekking. 
Ideal for an enchanting one-day tour is Possadigumpe, located on a hillock 323 m above sea level and 18 km east of Mangalpady in Dharmathadka. The delightfully cool environs of this place makes it just the right place for a picnic.
The most beautiful backwater stretch of Kerala, Valiyaparamba is 19 km from Bekal.Four rivers give shape to this network of waterways that lazily snake through the land, between palm groves and paddy fields. 
A ride in a Kettuvallam - the traditional houseboat of Kerala - gives one an unmatched experience of the backwaters. The rustic charm of Kasaragod makes one engrossed with the beauty; the refreshing glimpses of life around the waterways makes this goods carrier turned leisure boat much sought after by tourists . And, while gliding past little thatched houses, past the clusters of green; past fleets of ducks you'll finally discover that serenity has a name. 
A visit to the turtle hatchery centre nearby provides the perfect finale.
Unveil more frames of tranquility at Chandragiri River . Flowing beside the famous fort by the same name, boat trips are available from here to nearby islands and palm groves. 
Kappil Beach
Five km away is Kappil Beach . Vast, remote and secluded, it is refreshingly different from popular beach destinations in its inspiring settings and ambience. Nearby is the Kodi Cliff that looks as if it sprang straight out of the sea. Take in one of the most panoramic views of the sea from here.
Kanwatheertha Beach
Located 3 km from Manjeswaram, is a large swimming pool-like formation of the sea on the vast beach which is the main attraction of Kanwatheertha Beach. 

Azhithala Beach
Serene, secluded and punctuated with casuarinas trees, Azhithala Beach , located 25 km to the south of Bekal, is the ideal setting for long walks and out-of-this-world moments.
Bekal Beach
An unmatched experience of the sun, sea and the sand is this shallow beach, that offers, apart from the charm of unexplored nature, spectacular views of the Bekal Fort nearby. Adding more charm to the spectacular landscape are the swaying palm trees that border the beach.
Bekal Fort Beach
Location: About a kilometre from Bekal Fort, about 16 km south of Kasaragod on the national highway,Kasargode district, north Kerala. 
Kasargode, the northernmost district of Kerala is renowned as the land of gods, forts, rivers, hills and beautiful beaches. The imposing circular fort at Bekal is one of the largest and best preserved forts in Kerala. 
The beautiful expanse of the shallow beach near the Bekal fort known as Bekal Fort Beach has been developed as an exotic beach location by the Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC).
Beautification: Beautification of the site includes installation of two sculptures of Theyyam created using laterite at the beach and a shed with walls adorning murals created by artisans from Nilambur.
Apart from these a rock garden at the parking area has been developed where laterite boulders of various sizes have been utilised. Under the social forestry scheme, planting of trees has been done in the beach area. 
Parking facilities: BRDC has developed about 7000 sq. m land for parking different types of vehicles. 
Walk way: A beautiful walk way has been constructed for the visiting tourists to explore the beauty of the fine coastal line and enjoy the panoramic view of the Bekal Fort. 
Beach Illumination: The beach remains illuminated during the evening hours so that tourists can more spend time at the beach even after sunset. 
Resting facilities: Multi- sheds and Eru madams provide the tourist enough facility to take rest and enjoy the sea breeze. By using locally available materials, seating arrangements have been provided for the tourists at the beach. 
Toilets: Toilets have been provided for the use of tourists and eco-friendly bamboo waste bins have also been provided in the entire beach area for keeping the site clean.
Children's park: A park has been developed here for children below 14 years. 
In order to maintain the developed site, a nominal charge of one rupee from each visitor is being collected as entry fee.Similarly, a nominal vehicle parking fee is also collected. 
BRDC also aims to develop in future another 11 acres of land at the beach for constructing a water park and a theme park. 
BRDC was set up by the Government of Kerala to develop Bekal as a planned eco-friendly destination. BRDC has utilised 19 acres of land for the development of the Bekal Fort Beach at a cost of approximately Rs. 25 million, including land acquisition charges.
Getting there:
Nearest railway station: Kasargode, on the Kozhikode-Mangalore-Mumbai route.
Nearest airport: Mangalore, about 50 km from Kasargode town; Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode, about 200 km from Kasargode.
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Jordan plays host to Indian television stars in the Telly Calendar shoot 2015 

Jordan Tourism Board in association with Marinating Films took the small screen stars of India to Jordan recently to shoot the glamorous Telly Calendar 2015! The stunning sites of Jordan including Dead Sea, Jerash, Automobile Museum, Citadel, Mount Nebo, Madaba, Ma’in Hot Springs, Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra were used as stunning backdrop for the photos that the stars posed for.

The celebrities who shot in Jordan included Krystle D' Souza, Nia Sharma, Surbhi Jyoti, Anita Hassandani, Barkha Bisht, Pooja Gor, Sukirti Kandpal, Sara Khan, Rubina Dialik, Srishty Rode, Tina Dutta, Aditi Gupta and Vrushika Mehta. Male celebrities included Indraoeil Sengupta, Paras Chabra, Nandish Sandhu, Vishal Singh, Ajay Chowdhary, Anirudh Dave and Nishant Tiwari.

The celebrities were fascinated with Jordan’s natural beauty, fabulous food and the ease and safety of travel, especially for women.

The group were unanimous in their opinion that they loved the Jordanian hospitality, its food, culture and much talked about and famous Petra, Dead Sea and Wadi Rum experience.

The stars had a fantastic time shooting and relaxing in Jordan. They have all promised to return on a longer holiday with their family and friends; so they can spend more time at leisure exploring this exotic destination.

For more details on the shooting in Jordan with your favorite TV celeb watch Aaj Tak, ABP News and Zoom TV daily and get updates on your favourite stars direct from Jordan!   

Channel: ABP

Show Name: Saas Bahu Aur Sajish

Timings: 2:30pm Everyday followed by 2 repeats  

Channel: Zoom TV

Show Name: Telly Express & Telly Talk

Timings: Telly Express (weekdays: 1pm ) Telly Talk (weekend: 1pm) , Both shows followed by 2 repeats   

From 8th to 14th of September, you can catch the Telly Calendar Promos and calendar shots content...

15/09/2014         Krystle D' Souza                              

16/09/2014         Nia Sharma                       

17/09/2014         Surbhi Jyoti                       

18/09/2014         Anita Hassandani            

19/09/2014         Barkha Bisht                     

20/09/2014         Pooja Gor                          

21/09/2014         Sukirti Kandpal 

22/09/2014         Sara Khan

24/09/2014         Srishty Rode

25/09/2014         Tina Dutta

26/09/2014         Aditi Gupta

27/09/2014         Vrushika Mehta

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a modern, vibrant nation and one of the most politically stable nations in the Middle East. From the haunting, primeval starkness of Wadi Rum, to the teeming centre of urban Amman, from the majestic ruins of bygone civilizations to the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea, Jordan is unveiled as a unique destination offering breathtaking and mysterious sights, high standard accommodations, exquisite cuisine and countless activities for all segments of travellers, be it a family holiday, honeymooners, or a MICE event. A mere 6.5 hour flight from Delhi and a 5.5 hour flight from Mumbai - Jordan is frequently connected to India by its national carrier Royal Jordanian Airlines and other carriers.

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Somatheeram- the world's first Ayurveda resort

By Rhiannon Long
In my first session of meditation at the Somatheeram Ayurveda resort, I was told to visualise a forest. A forest of towering trees, which form a canopy of green leaves and coconuts high above my head. Imagine the repetitive sounds of the ocean waves breaking, and continuous birdsong in the distance. Imagine the feel of the slight sea breeze, and visualise the rustle it makes through the canopy of leaves above. Imagination wasn't difficult, however, as this was a pretty accurate description of Somatheeram itself. 
Everything about Somatheeram was carefully designed to get you back in touch with nature. It would be impossible for me to refer to it as a hotel; it was more like a quaint little village set within  a beachside forest. There was no characterless high-rise hotel block; meandering paths and stone steps weaved their way round individual cottages and gardens. Somatheeram is the exception to every rule you thought existed for hotels. 
Next I was told to picture a huge garden, filled with plants and greenery. Picture the flowers, focus on the hundreds of vivid colours and shades of every petal. Again, no imagination was necessary. As I wandered the paths I noticed plants surrounding and lining each one, most with their names signposted in English and Malayam. My guide informed me that each plant has a unique medicinal property which is utilised in the resort's Ayurveda treatments. The setting was Garden of Eden-esque; beautiful greenery surrounded me at every turn, and that's no exaggeration. What's more, the slight shimmer of the blue ocean and long stretches of beach weren't ever far from sight, meaning I was never bored of my surroundings.   
All activities at Somatheeram relax the body, mind and soul. At the first opportunity I tried meditation; a chance to exercise the mind. The setting was perfect; an open-air stage on the edge of the hill, providing panoramic views of the sea and fishermen working on the beach. Meditation was the ideal precursor to yoga; a test of both the mind and body, a focus on the equilibrium between both. There are three levels of yoga offered, meaning every guest can achieve its union of mind and body. I somehow managed to find myself in intermediate's yoga; still enjoyable, but I think I slightly underestimated the test it would bring. 
Whilst meditation releases the tensions of the mind, Ayurveda releases the tensions of the body. A resort designed specifically for Ayurveda treatments, this truly was the crowning glory of my stay. Traditionally the resort offers Ayurveda packages tailored to every guest, with stays as long as 22 days. The packages range from simple rejuvenation to treatment of specific ailments, like obesity  and weak joints.
Although I was unable to experience a full course, a ninety minute rejuvention massage gave me an idea of the effects of Ayurvedic treatment. It's hard to describe the sensation; relaxing just isn't a strong enough word. Imagine the individual sensations in your body melting away; tensions are released from the muscles, aches leave the joints. Your senses are numbed and your surroundings are drowned out, like a state of conscious sleep. An hour paassed in minutes, and I was given fresh coconut juice on the veranda to finish.
When I was given the chance to speak to the resort's Corporate General Manager, Mr. Subhash. C. Bose, he told me that the resort was entirely focussed on providing guests with the benefits of   Ayurveda. “This was the first Ayurveda resort in the world,” he told me. “Before this there was no combination of Ayurveda and resort, only Ayurveda hospitals.”   This theme of Ayurveda and the qualities associated with it pervade every aspect of the resort. The scent of the herbal Ayurveda oil is noticeable everywhere, and even the resort's menu is Ayurveda inspired.   
Dining at Somatheeram was an experience in itself. The array of healthy foods and fresh ingredients was attractive and refreshing, especially from the perspective of a Western diet. I was given herbal tea instead of water, which admittedly made an interesting change, although in my opinion could never compare to regular tea. The buffet was predominantly vegetarian, separated into different Ayurveda counters. The dish you chose was based on the recommendation from your Ayurveda specialist; different treatments require different diets. The choice of food was astonishing; I could have had my fill on the various salads alone. 
The nutritious food was accompanied with a view of the sea and traditional Keralan performances. Being there for Indian Independence Day I was lucky enough to see a Kathakali performance, a classical style of dance and drama performed in elaborate costumes and make-up, which succeeded in impressing the guests and frightening the young children. It was a brilliant celebration of Keralan culture and heritage. 
With such a beautiful and unique setting, it hardly mattered what the room was like, but clearly the designers of Somatheeram didn't agree with this theory. Each room was an individual cottage, beautifully and traditionally furnished. But my favourite feature was outside of the room. Each cottage had its own veranda, complete with chairs, table and hammock. My favourite way to spend the afternoons was on this veranda surrounded by the greenery, enjoying the scenery or the ocean view.   
Somatheeram was a totally unique hotel experience in every aspect, from setting to dining to the room itself. Admittedly this means it's not a stay suited to everyone; I can imagine there are holidaymakers who would reel at the idea of three weeks of massages and vegetarianism. But I believe what has been created at Somatheeram is totally unparallelled in qaulity, originality and relaxation. Thanks to incredible service and attention to detail, I  left the resort with my body free of toxins, my mind free of stress and a holiday experience in my memory unlike any other. 

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The flagship property of the The Leela group in New Delhi introduces KAMAL, an experience of its kind, thoughtfully created to offer maximum comfort and privacy to single lady travellers. Named after Kamal, which literally means Lotus, the national flower of India, this quintessential package is replete with bespoke female-friendly services.

The celebration of luxury begins at the touch down when a guest is received by the dedicated Leela team at the airport and ushered into the multi-faceted city in a chauffeur driven BMW sedan. With hand-picked in-room amenities ranging from special Food & Beverage welcome and turn down amenities, luxury toiletries by Gilchrist and Soames, choice of lifestyle magazines and newspapers, selection of books by leading female Indian authors, yoga mats, styling accessories, high-speed internet access and a fully-equipped business desk, KAMAL certainly is every woman’s choice. KAMAL guests experience personalised yet unobtrusive round-the-clock services by the dedicated female housekeepers, butlers, concierges, personal shopping assistants and guides along with an access to a personal chef who curates gourmet experiences including gluten free and healthy lifestyle menus. Wide array of KAMAL services can be added to an accommodation category of choice at an introductory price of INR 2000 per night* only, plus taxes.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Louis Sailer, General Manager, The Leela Palace New Delhi said, “KAMAL is The Leela Palace New Delhi’s ode to every female traveller from across the globe. Having spent endless hours in anticipating and addressing the unique needs of our discerning guests, thereafter, perfecting our vast repertoire of handcrafted amenities and well thought out features, I am confident that KAMAL is sure to spoil you for choice.”

In addition, guests can take advantage of a unique range of on-request services including exclusive offers on spa treatments at ESPA, private yoga session, live cooking demonstration by the Master Indian Chef, on-call make-up artist, a guided day tour to Taj Mahal, Agra and more.

 The finest hotel in Delhi offers to its guests an impressive range of recreation facilities including capital’s only rooftop temperature-controlled swimming pool with panoramic views of city’s skyline, a fully equipped gymnasium, a luxury hand and foot finishing studio within the award-wining Spa by ESPA and a lifestyle boutique, Amalya. 

*Introductory price is applicable on minimum length of stay of two nights, plus applicable taxes. For terms and conditions, cancellation policy and reservations, please contact or visit us on


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