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  • Governments must work together to guarantee long-term sustainable growth of Travel & Tourism

    Governments need to work collegiately and take a long-term view of the economic importance of Travel & Tourism to ensure the sustainable growth of the industry. That is the message from Mr. David Scowsill, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), who is speaking on the occasion of the 98th UNWTO Executive Council.

    Speaking in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Mr Scowsill says, for Travel & Tourism to grow in a sustainable and successful way, governments need to be better coordinated and to engage properly with the private sector; “WTTC understands the limitations faced by some government departments responsible for Travel & Tourism, whose influence and decision-making power is often limited and competes against other stronger elements in government. But for visa facilitation and infrastructure projects to work for the sector, and for true transport connectivity to be realised, this requires understanding and support across many government ministries. Our Members frequently tell us of the need for governments to take a long term view \" often one that will stretch for periods beyond the length of individual government terms of office”.

    Mr Scowsill set out the economic importance of the industry worldwide, explaining that it accounts for 9% of GDP, a $7 trillion contribution to the global economy and 266 million jobs.

    Speaking on the occasion of World Environment Day, Mr Scowsill emphasised that the industry needs to be proactive about ensuring benefits for all; “We need to prove that we a Force for Good and not a ‘force for destruction’ as many critics fear we may become. We must embrace our belief in Tourism for Tomorrow. Our standards of ethics and sustainability must be of the highest order”.

    “The Travel & Tourism Industry cannot hope that someone else will solve the world’s problems. Most importantly, it is time to stop talking and start acting. The sector needs to focus consciously on whether it wants to be ‘just good enough’ or become a ‘leader’ in sustainability. This requires concerted action and coordinated commitment from both the public and private sectors”.

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  • Advancing innovation and talent development in tourism and air travel is the core component of the first Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNWTO and The International Air Transport Association (IATA). The MOU is part of the objectives set by both organizations of bringing the tourism and air transport agendas closer together (Madrid, Spain, 10 June 2014).

    UNWTO and IATA have formally agreed to jointly advocate for innovation and talent development in the public and private sectors as a means to promote competitive and sustainable tourism development, with a particular focus on the air transport industry.

    In line with the agreement, IATA will support the creation of a new category within the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism, which will recognize innovation in marketing, product development with the objective to enhance connectivity and increase travel accessibility by airlines, travel agents and other travel and tourism companies. IATA will also be a leading implementing partner in the UNWTO Knowledge Network Talent Development initiative, which aims to support young talents in the tourism sector through internships, knowledge transfer and research.

    “This agreement is an important step to further strengthen our close relationship with IATA, a valued Affiliate Member of UNWTO” said Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO Executive-Secretary of Member Relations, on the occasion of the signing. “Air travel is a key driver of tourism development around the world and we are looking forward to joining forces with IATA in promoting the important innovations spurred by travel companies and further fostering young talents in the tourism and air transport sectors”.

    The head of the IATA Global Partnership and the Travel & Tourism Unit, Ismail Albaidhani, highlighted the strong linkages between air transport and tourism. ”Passenger experiences expand beyond the travel by air, involving other tourism components including tour operators, car rentals, railway companies as well as hotels”, he said. “IATA works with over 60,000 travel and tourism organizations offering a solutions portfolio ranging from professional identification, digital coding and training products, to financial, billing and settlement services. We are now working very closely with UNWTO to strengthen the collaboration between the various travel and tourism value-chain partners, and today’s important agreement establishes a solid platform to launch crucial joint-industry initiatives worldwide”, he added.

    On the occasion, UNWTO and IATA further agreed to organize a joint event on air travel and tourism value chains to be held next January in the framework of the UNWTO Awards taking place in Madrid, Spain.

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AIR INDIA JOINS STAR ALLIANCE

First Indian Airline to join Global Airline Alliance

Star Alliance, the way the Earth connects, welcomed Air India as a full member of its global family of airlines, opening the national carrier’s strong domestic network in the fifth largest aviation market to Star Alliance customers worldwide.  Air India now offers all Star Alliance customer benefits to the more than 600 million passengers who travel on the network every year and Air India’s customers enjoy the same benefits when they travel on any of the other 26 member airlines across the network.

“This is an important day for us. We have said for many years that we needed a strong home carrier in the Indian market and by welcoming Air India to our Star Alliance family, we have achieved this goal” said Mr. Mark Schwab, Chief Executive  of Star Alliance. “We know that the ‘new’ Air India is looking forward to providing the Star Alliance customer benefits to many more travelers.“

Mr. Rohit Nandan, Chairman and Managing Director of Air India said, “Air India is proud to be a member of this prestigious airline Alliance. From today, we  open up a completely different world for our passengers, who can now travel to over 1,300 destinations right across the network and enjoy world-class service, better connectivity and seamless travel wherever they go.”

Air India adds a total of 400 daily flights and over 40 new destinations in India to the Alliance network. The biggest growth will come from its home market which has up to now been served by 13 Star Alliance members flying to 10 destinations and holding a 13% market share. As a result of the addition of Air India, the Alliance’s market share in India has risen to 30%. Globally, passengers further benefit from a wider choice on routes connecting North America, Europe, Asia and Australia via the Indian Subcontinent. In total the Star Alliance network counts 27 member airlines, offering more than 18,500 daily flights serving 1,316 destinations in 192 countries.

Air India now offers through check-in to the final destination for connecting flights operated by any Star Alliance member airline for both passengers and baggage, hence providing seamless travel. Passengers benefit as they do not need to collect their boarding passes for connecting flights at the transfer airports and, where permitted by local customs regulations, baggage will also be sent through to the final destinations.

Reciprocal frequent flyer benefits between Air India’s Flying Returns programme and those of the existing member carries are now activated. These provide customers with more options in earning and redeeming, upgrading and obtaining Star Alliance Gold status.

Flying Returns members who hold Maharajah Club or Golden Edge Club status now automatically also have Star Alliance Gold status, giving them access to more than 1,000 lounges across the global network. Gold status customers can also check in at specially designated counters, are offered an increased baggage allowance and receive priority boarding and baggage delivery. All these benefits are also provided by Air India to customers holding Star Alliance Gold status in other frequent flyer programmes.

Air India’s network comprises 50 destinations in India and 33 internationally, serving 23 countries. The addition of over 40 unique destinations domestically offers passengers excellent connectivity between major business centres. New destinations include the industrial hubs of Aurangabad and Vadadora; Indore, which is home to many pharmaceutical producers; textiles and engineering centre Coimbatore and Jamnagar, India’s “Oil City”. Air India also serves popular tourist destinations such as Goa, Kochi, Maduria and Jaipur.

As part of its Star Alliance membership, Air India now participates in several of the Alliance’s fare products and business solutions.

For the business travel sector, Air India flights can be included in Star Alliance Corporate Plus agreements, which are aimed at large multinational companies. For the Conventions and Meetings market, Air India will now offer Star Alliance Conventions Plus and Meetings Plus, the dedicated products for the meetings and conventions industry*.

Air India also boosts the attractiveness of the Alliance’s most popular fare product, the Star Alliance Round the World Fare (RTW). Available in First, Business and Economy Class, this fare allows customers to travel around the globe making use of the 27 member airline network. Customers can now make use of all Air India flights when booking their RTW fare, either through the Book & Fly online booking tool*, via an airline or through a travel agency.

Some of Air India’s flights will also be included in the Star Alliance Circle Pacific Fare which allows circular round-trips covering the Asian countries bordering the Pacific, the main international hub airports on the Pacific Coast of Canada and the USA, as well as the South Pacific (mainly Australia and New Zealand).

And finally, Air India is now included in the Asia Airpass alongside all other Asia based Star Alliance member airlines. This special coupon and mileage based fare is available to all overseas visitors to the region travelling on a Star Alliance member airline and allows customers to travel around Asia, selecting from a total of 277 destinations.

*Note: Book & Fly, Meetings Plus and Conventions Plus will be updated to include all Air India flights during the month of July.

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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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Appointment

Ms. Ratna Mehta, new Marketing Manager of Tourism Malaysia

Ms. Ratna Mehta  has been appointed as Marketing Manager of Tourism Malaysia for its  Mumbai operations. Ms. Mehta will look after marketing and promotional activities for Tourism Malaysia with a concentrated focus on the Indian market. Through innovative marketing initiatives and ground level connect with the target audience; Mehta’s mandate will mainly entail promoting the brand and enhancing positive publicity for Malaysia among all stakeholders. Mehta comes with a vast experience in the travel trade sector from developing SOPs to quality control tools and has worked with some of the leading names in this sector.

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Airline News

Etihad Airways enters Spanish market

With launch of daily flights to Madrid in March 2015

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will commence daily flights to Madrid on 29 March 2015, marking its first service to Spain and its 20th destination in Europe. The new route will be operated to Madrid Barajas Airport using a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, offering a total of 22 seats in Business Class and 240 seats in Economy Class.

In addition to providing the first ever direct connection between the Spanish capital and Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, the upcoming service will offer convenient onward flights to destinations across the GCC region, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Mr. James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “The introduction of daily flights to Madrid will strengthen our network in Europe and provide a much-needed direct link between Spain and Abu Dhabi. Demand is expected to be strong, boosted not only by strong tourism links, but also the UAE’s position as Spain’s largest trade partner in the GCC region, with trade between the two countries increasing by 75 per cent between 2009 and 2012.

“Travellers will also benefit from connections to other destinations, through our global network and codeshare partnerships with other airlines. The initial response towards our codeshare operations with Spain’s Air Europa, which launched in April 2014, has been particularly strong and we look forward to extending this cooperation in the future, subject to regulatory approval.”

More than 60.6 million international tourists visited Spain in 2013, with its capital and largest city, Madrid, placed at the heart of the country’s tourism industry. Popular activities include a visit to the largest royal palace in Western Europe, Palacio Real, the restaurants, shops and architectural wonders on offer at Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía and Puerta Del Sol, and family fun at Retiro Park’s picture-perfect gardens, boating lake and street theatre.

In addition, Madrid is a leading destination for art connoisseurs and home to the acclaimed ‘Golden Triangle of Art’, comprising the Prado, Thyssen Bornemisza and Reina Sofia Museums.

Etihad Airways’ Madrid route will offer a 168-tonne cargo capacity per week in both directions, supporting a number of Spanish industries and the country’s overall economy, which is ranked the 15th largest in the world and fourth largest in the Eurozone.

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Destination Review

Going against a general tendency to lie low during off-season, the Kerala government is bracing up with a novel scheme aimed at wooing visitors -  especially from upcountry.

The state Tourism Department has embarked on a campaign titled ‘Dream Deals’ in a bid to leverage the potential during what is traditionally dubbed ‘off-season’ during the peak-summer months of April-May, followed by the monsoons.

The discount-rate scheme, which is on from April until the end of September, is now poised to provide a new phase of experience for visitors, as the three-month monsoons are set to hit Kerala on June 1.

‘Dream Deals’, the details of which can be accessed from the Kerala Tourism website, have been published on a microsite ( http://www.keralatourism.org/dreamdeals) for the user or wannabe visitor to create one’s preferred itinerary at a much economical rate.

 

Mr. A P Anilkumar, Kerala Tourism Minister  said the response has been encouraging. “This is also because June is peak summer and school-holiday time in North India, where rains are few and far between,” he noted. “Tourists from that part of the country would be particularly tempted to sense the cooler climes of Kerala till end-August.”

Mr. Suman Billa IAS, Tourism Secretary  revealed that the lean season has yet another advantage: discounts on hospitality expenses. “For the domestic traveller, the charges will be lower by around 30 per cent,” he informed.

 As for the microsite which will enable the user to create a preferred itinerary, the proposed visit plan will then be automatically forwarded to five accredited tour operators in the state. They will get back to the applicant with the best rates, Billa added.

 Besides helping create itinerary-based destinations, budget and the number of days to spend in Kerala, ‘Dream Deals’ will give users the option to “play around mixing and matching various destinations into the itinerary until they get the most comfortable one”.

In fact, “once they have finalised, they can share their itinerary with Facebook friends,” the Tourism Secretary pointed out. Soon, this will be an online ad campaign on various internet platforms: Google, Yahoo and Facebook networks.

To boost this year’s campaign outside the cyber world, Kerala Tourism will shortly be launching a print ad campaign in leading English and regional dailies besides general-interest and travel magazines. It will tie up with some of the airlines to have the Dream Deals brand on the back of boarding passes. Also, there will be ads displayed in Delhi Metro stations.

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Jamaica, known as the land of wood and water offers varied experiences to satisfy the adventurers and nature lover's quest. The island is an ideal destination for an action packed family vacation offering an exhilarating experience and enough ingredients to incite your perfect Caribbean vacation. A home away from home, Jamaica offers a thrilling choice of activities for all age group – from family fun to adventure enthusiasts. With its glorious vistas and verdant undulating terrain, Jamaica is a haven for adventurous attractions and activities. Below are few activities for the adventure lovers to explore in Jamaica.

One of the best scenic detours in the Caribbean is the Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour. Families can enjoy a leisure downhill bicycle ride through lush tropical rain forest, home to a number of species of bird, blossoming plants and view the world-famous Blue Mountain coffee plantations.

At Dolphin Cove, swimming amidst the friendly dolphins to feeding and swimming with the sharks is yet another experience. Whether children or adults, everyone can have a close and personal encounter with the world's friendliest mammals and sharks. The sight of dolphins performing their antics is enjoyable while swimming in the deep sea.

One of Jamaica's most-treasured locations and a picturesque spot, Dunn's River Falls, offers a hint of adventure to those with a willing spirit. Climbing the waterfall from the foot of the beach and gradually moving up the thundering cascades is a thrilling trail. The exhilarating blast of ice-cold spring water is a sheer majesty of nature for the daring scaling the waterfalls.

A prominent natural attraction of Jamaica, Green Grotto Caves is known for its striking structure of caves. The caves offer a unique adventurous experience with the central feature being the large labyrinth limestone cave with its unique rock formation. With an abundance of overhead ceiling pockets, visitors can also spot nine species of bats in the caves, three of which are indigenous to Jamaica. 

Rick's Café in Negril is renowned for its serene sunset and Caribbean cuisines. It is also famous spot for cliff diving into the azure waters. Guests with a daredevil spirit can indulge in cliff jumping from different levels of height. The highest platform jump is 35 feet and ensures the thrill of a lifetime, though some choose to jump from even higher points, the tree limbs. After the dive, one can take a relaxing swim or snorkel in the cliffside coves.

Going on a guided tour on adventures is an enriching experience as some local organizations specialise in guided adventure tours. Chukka Caribbean Adventures is one such organization offering a gamut of adventurous activities such as Horse Back Ride & Swim, River Tubing Safari, Kayak Safari, Zipline Canopy, ATV Safari, etc for those who want to explore the adventurous side of Jamaica. The island is also famous for variety of Equestrian Activities including riding lessons and adventurous trail rides through Jamaican countryside and swimming with horses as part of the beach ride, etc.

From exciting hikes through mysterious landscapes to heart-stopping dives into dark caves and deep waters, Jamaica has something for everyone to see and do. An idyllic tropical retreat, Jamaica has it all to add up to your adventure trail.

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Soul Souffle restaurant in Goa

Somewhere nestled among Goa’s lush green countryside is a venue that is as picturesque as it is perfect. Situated on the banks of the Uddear waterfall, Soul Soufflé has steadily grown to become one of Goa’s foremost venues for intimate soirees, cocktail parties or Sangeets. Split over an indoor cocktail bar and al fresco courtyard, here you can accommodate up to 250 guests with menus that are carefully crafted in keeping with your diner’s preferences.  Tightly ensconced by huge mango trees, silver oak and lush green foliage, Soul Soufflé is away from the beaten path of shopping streets and beaches. Therefore, the clientele at Soul Soufflé is looking for a private and exclusive evening and Soul Soufflé caters to just that. The interiors of the restaurant resemble a typically plush Goan balcony. The restaurant has two distinct sections - the bar and the indoor dining. The bar area has a pool table as well as an outdoor seating area under a huge canopy of trees. The indoor section is chic and sophisticated with rust gold drapes, handcrafted chandeliers and the choicest glassware and elegant cutlery.

Winner of the Times Good Food Award, the menu at Soul Soufflé ranges from the freshest Goan seafood, to succulent kebabs and Mughlai and rustic Italian that’s whipped up with the same amount of love and passion that this cocktail bar and bistro is most loved for. Handcrafted cocktails, an elegant selection of wines and the largest collection of fine spirits has led to Soul Soufflé being featured on the TravelXP’s  famous show 69 Cocktails’ as the best cocktail bar in Goa. Here the classically laid back Goan vibe is all prevalent. This is where the sounds of laughter, the strains of smooth jazz, and the clink of champagne flutes all gather into a merry melange of joy and camaraderie. Soul Soufflé sets the benchmark for artisan cocktail making. From the Rosemary Feni Martini to a decadent Coffee and Kulfi Jugalbandhi, the cocktails here are some of the best cocktails in Goa.

The entertainment here is cantered around Indie Music, Smooth Jazz and live performances from bands like Spud in the Box, Tejas Menon and Kanchan Daniels (tbc). Apart from that we already have a live Indie music scene happening as well as other performances like supper theatre and stand up comedy.

Soul Soufflé is personalised dining at its best. Here you can dine unobtrusively in one of the classically beautiful Goan locations. From hosting private get togethers, sangeets or corporate parties, Soul Souffle can ensure whatever your need, there’s someone to take care of it, so that you can relax and Eat, Drink and Celebrate!!

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IHG OFFERS DOUBLE POINTS FOR REWARDS CLUB MEMBERS

IHG ANNOUNCES DOUBLE POINTS PROMOTION AT INTERCONTINENTAL® HOTELS & RESORTS WITH IHG® REWARDS CLUB

Guests will have an even more rewarding stay and earn points faster from 1 July to 31 October 2014

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, announced that from 1 July to 31 October, 2014, IHG® Rewards Club members who stay at any of the 68 InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts in Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) will earn Double Points per every $1 USD of incidental spend  during their stay, as well as the standard ten points per every $1 USD spent  on qualifying revenue during stays under the newly launched earning structure.

The Double Points can be earned from any guest spend charged to the room, excluding room rate, but including food and beverage, laundry services, telephone calls and room-service. Members can simply register on the promotion microsite http://www.InterContinental.com/2X / to be eligible for the Double Points promotion. Guests who are not yet IHG® Rewards Club members can also sign up to the award-winning loyalty programme through the page.

Karin Sheppard, Chief Commercial Officer, Asia Middle East and Africa, IHG said: “Our new Double Points promotion is launching in parallel with the new IHG Rewards Club earning rate which we introduced across all InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts globally. Our IHG Rewards Club members are our most valued guests and we want to reward them for their continuing loyalty by providing them with industry leading benefits. We’re making their stay even more rewarding, whether they are treating themselves to dinner at one of our outstanding restaurants or simply getting their laundry done.”

The Double Points promotion is available to all IHG Rewards Club members globally who stay at any one of the 68 InterContinental® Hotels and Resorts in AMEA. 

The InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts brand is part of IHG’s diverse family of brands in nearly 100 countries and territories, and meets the needs of guests, whatever the occasion \" whether an overnight getaway, a business trip, a family celebration or a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

IHG® Rewards Club, the industry’s first and largest hotel rewards program with 79 million members, is free. Guests can enroll at IHGRewardsClub.com, by downloading the IHG® app or by inquiring at the front desk of any of IHG’s more than 4,700 hotels worldwide. The programme offers industry-leading benefits, including free internet for members across IHG’s family of nine trusted hotel brands.

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