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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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Revival of 'Brand India' Through Tourism

Mr. Shripad Yesso Naik, The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture & Tourism has said that during the year 2013, India received 6.97 million international tourists and the country was ranked 42nd in World Tourist Arrivals. The number of Foreign/International Tourist Arrivals in Singapore and Thailand during 2013 was 15.57 million and 26.55 million, respectively. The number of International/Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Thailand is much higher than India.

Mr. Naik also said that the Ministry of Tourism promotes India as a tourist destination in the domestic and international markets through print, electronic, online and outdoor media campaigns.  Besides this, the Ministry through its overseas offices, inter-alia, organizes Road Shows, Know India Seminars, Workshops, participates in various Fairs, Exhibitions and Events to promote various Indian tourist destinations and products under the brand line ‘Incredible India’. The campaigns of the Ministry of Tourism include holistic promotion of various Indian tourism products and destinations of the country.

He further added that the Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance to State Governments & Union Territory Administrations for tourism projects including Sound and Light Shows, based on proposals, received from them. The Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned a project for 3D Projection of various Indian monuments from all States/UTs on India Gate, New Delhi in the financial year 2013-14.

The details of initiatives/steps taken to attract Foreign Tourists and promote tourism in the country:

1. Visa:

a) The Government announced Tourist Visa-on-Arrival in 2010. At present, it provides Tourist Visa on Arrival facility (TVoA) to the nationals of 12 countries namely Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and South Korea. South Korea was added to this list on 15.04.2014.

b) The facility of TVoA was initially available at the international airport of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. However, with effect from 15 August, 2013 this facility has been extended through Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

c) The restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India on Tourist Visa and Tourist Visa on Arrival has been lifted. d) Ministry of Tourism organised a two day training program covering 450 officials of Bureau of Immigration handling Tourist Visa on arrival at Kochi, Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad Airports.

e) Tourist Visa on Arrival fee payment can now be made by credit cards. Earlier it was only to be paid in rupees.

2. Low Cost Airlines:

The Ministry of Tourism regularly interacts with the Ministry of Civil Aviation in matters pertaining to air connectivity to the tourist destinations and development and upgradation of airports. Government has identified development of low cost airports in the Tier II and Tier III cities as one of the thrust areas.

3. Safety of Women Tourists:

The measures taken by the Ministry of Tourism towards safety and security of domestic and foreign tourists including women travelers are:

a) Grant of Central Financial Assistance to Governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh for setting up of Tourist Facilitation and Security Organisation (TFSO) on a pilot basis.

b) Adoption of code of conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism which contains a set of guidelines to encourage tourism activities to be undertaken with respect to basic rights like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourists and local residents, in particular women and children.

c) Letters have been written to all the Chief Ministers of the State Governments and Administrators of Union Territory Administrations to take immediate effective steps for ensuring conducive and friendly environment for all tourists and also request them

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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

Outrigger Appoints Barton Jackson to Regional Office in Phuket

Outrigger Enterprises Group is announced the appointment of Mr. Barton Jackson as director of finance and analysis, Asia Pacific.

Mr. Jackson joins the company's Asia-Pacific (APAC) team based in Phuket, Thailand, and is responsible for financial operations oversight of the Outrigger Enterprises Group- APAC region of properties, working closely with resort executive teams and property financial controllers in all areas of financial management and reporting.

Mr. Jackson has 19 years of experience with Inter Continental Hotels Group working in Australia, Vanuatu and Thailand and for new markets for Singapore and Indonesia. Most recently, he was director of finance and business support for IHG Shared Services in Thailand and prior to that area director of finance and business support - Thailand for Holiday Inn Bangkok Silom. Jackson has also worked for Parkroyal Canberra and National Convention Centre; Le Lagon Parkroyal - Port Vila in Vanuatu; and Holiday Inn Brisbane and Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Esplanade in Darwin, Australia.

Mr. Jackson holds a CPA (Australian Society Certified Practicing Accountants) Associate Status and a Bachelor of Information Technology (Commerce) from Australian National University.

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Airline News

QATAR AIRWAYS PLACES THE LARGEST SINGLE AIRCRAFT ORDER IN HISTORY

QATAR AIRWAYS PLACES AN ORDER FOR 100 BOEING 777-9X -THE LARGEST SINGLE AIRCRAFT ORDER IN THE AIRLINE’S HISTORY

Order finalised for 50 777-9Xs and purchase rights for an additional 50 aircraft

Qatar Airways and Boeing have finalised an order for 50 777-9Xs. The 777X order was first announced as a commitment at the 2013 Dubai Airshow and was part of the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history.   In addition, Qatar Airways announced a commitment for 50 additional 777-9X purchase rights which if exercised, could take its 777X order tally to 100 airplanes, valued at around US $40 billion at list prices. Qatar Airways also announced its intent to order four 777 Freighters and options for four more, with a combined value of around US $3 billion at list prices.

"Qatar Airways continuously builds upon its successful fleet programme, and this latest announcement demonstrates our investment in quality equipment to deliver our signature Five-Star service," said Mr. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways. "The Boeing 777 is a key component of our fleet and we look forward to building on this with the next-generation 777-9X.”

“Qatar Airways took delivery of its first 777 a few short years ago, and we are honored to see this partnership continue to grow and strengthen,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “Today signifies a new chapter in our relationship, with Qatar Airways’ endorsement of the 777X as well as their ongoing confidence in the value of the 777 Freighter. These orders validate the market leading role that the 777 and now the 777X will continue to play in the Middle East’s passenger and cargo market.”

The 777X will introduce the latest technologies including the most advanced commercial engine ever \" the GE9X by GE Aviation - and an all-new high efficiency composite wing that has a longer span than today’s 777. The 777X family includes the 777-8X and the 777-9X, both designed to respond to market needs and customer preferences.

The 777-9X will be 12 percent more fuel efficient than any competing airplane - necessary in today’s competitive environment. The 777-8X is 5 percent more efficient than its competitor at all ranges while providing for new network opportunities.

Design of the 777X is underway and production is set to begin in 2017, with first delivery targeted for 2020. To date, the 777X has accumulated 300 orders and commitments from six customers worldwide.

Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 134 aircraft to 144 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

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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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The international film industry’s New Zealand love affair is well documented with picture perfect landscapes capturing the imagination and hearts of film stars, producers and movie-goers the world over. And, with New Zealand featuring in a list of top foreign places to shoot Bollywood movies, it seems that Indian film-makers and their audiences are in agreement. The diversity of New Zealand culture and landscapes first caught the attention of Bollywood film makers with the 2008 movie, Love Has No Language.

The romantic comedy, starring Bollywood actress and former Miss India Universe (2001) Celina Jaitley alongside Kiwi actor Ben Mitchell, featured the urban landscapes of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, and the year-round alpine resort of Queenstown.

Queenstown in Winter

The striking landscapes, snow-capped mountains and crystal clear lakes of Queenstown took centre-stage once again with the Bollywood smash hit I Hate Luv Storys, filmed in New Zealand and released to instant box office success in 2010.

 The movie - staring Indian heart-throb Imran Khan and the beautiful Sonam Kapoor - ranked as India’s 12th best net-grossing movie of all time on its opening day alone. But it wasn’t just movie-goers who fell in love with the untouched landscapes, director Punit Malhotra, who came to New Zealand looking for "picture perfect postcard locations" was also bitten by the New Zealand love-bug.

 "As a film maker in Queenstown you don’t have to hunt for good locations. The place itself is one giant exquisite locale," Malhotra told H T Cafe magazine at the time of release. With starring roles in other Hollywood movies such as The Lord of the Rings, Wolverine, The Water Horse, 10,000 BC, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Vertical Limit, Prince Caspian and The Hobbit Trilogy, Malhotra summed up the South Island alpine resort town perfectly when he said that Queenstown is not just a location, but a character.

 "I can’t ever forget the fried fish and chips ... but you should also have the great fresh bread, fruit, coffee, ice cream and the exotic cheeses that the locals make."

Khan and Kapoor in Queenstown

New Zealand also proved to be a dream location for the stars of the movie. Both Khan and Kappor enjoyed exhilarating adventures like bungy jumping from Queenstown’s famous Kawarau Bridge to experiencing the thrills and spills of the iconic Shotover Jet and taking a leap of faith with a skydive above Queenstown’s towering mountains and glistening Lake Wakatipu.

The lure of New Zealand’s landscapes saw Bollywood return in 2011 for the filming of The Players - a Bollywood remake of the 1969 classic hit The Italian Job. As well as featuring Sonam Kapoor, Players brought another A-list Indian actor, Abhishek Bachchan, to its shores.

This time it was Wellington - the film capital of New Zealand -that had a chance to shine on the silver screen. Wellington’s urban terrain, steep streets, dramatic coastline and stunning harbour showcased the capital city to the world, as well as a thrilling high-speed car chase along the runway at Wellington International Airport.

Weta Cave, Wellington

Filming also took place in Auckland - New Zealand’s largest and most culturally diverse city with sweeping aerial shots of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the boat-filled Waitemata Harbour and the 328-metre-high Sky Tower making the city look like a movie star in its own right.

With a large Indian population, Auckland is the city of choice for high-profile Bollywood stars wanting to experience New Zealand’s breath-taking, adventure-filled landscapes in the heart of a flourishing, world-class urbanised city.

Along with yacht-filled harbours, designer boutiques and celebrity-chef restaurants, Auckland is only a short drive or cruise away from uncrowded beaches, wildlife, and ancient volcanic craters.

The latest internationally recognised Bollywood star to enjoy Auckland was Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan. Hailed as ‘the world’s biggest movie star’, SKR brought his colourful Bollywood-inspired show Temptation Reloaded along with some of Bollywood’s most-loved and famous actresses Madhuri Dixit, Rani Mukerji and Jacqueline to Auckland’s premier events complex Vector Area in 2013.

But it’s not just the stars of Bollywood who’ve fallen for New Zealand’s bountiful beauty, some of India’s high-profile and much-loved cricket stars have also been swayed by its charm and versatile adventures.

Sachin Tendulkar and Indian cricket team 2009 in sky walkSachin Tendulkar

In 2012 Indian cricket’s most famous son, Sachin Tendulkar and team-mates enjoyed panoramic views of Auckland and its expansive harbour from 192 metres above ground while enjoying the Auckland Sky Tower’s thrilling SkyWalk adventure.

The team including Laxmipathy Balaji, Venkatesh Prasad, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Laxmipathy Balaji also enjoyed some time away from the game with a spot of sailing on board an America’s Cup yacht - on the sparkling harbour filled with so many boats it has earned Auckland the title of ‘City of Sails’.

Auckland skyline at night

In 2015 New Zealand will once again take cricket’s centre stage when the Cricket World Cup - co-hosted with Australia - begins. Cricket fans looking to enjoy the same magical Auckland lights up at nightexperiences as Bollywood stars and cricketing royalty can take in all New Zealand has to offer with 27 Cricket World Cup matches shared between seven host cities.

Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Wellington in the North Island and Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin in the spectacular south offer spectators and visitors to New Zealand so much to see, do and explore between the big games, and on the doorstep of the host venues.

Along with sporting action and diverse landscapes to be explored, the Cricket World Cup is promising to be a captivating tournament with an electrifying Kiwi party atmosphere to add to the experience.

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IHG and Sikka Set to Develop Crowne Plaza Taj Expressway Noida

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a management agreement with New Delhi real estate developer Sikka to develop Crowne Plaza Taj Expressway Noida. This is part of Sikka’s master plan to develop more than 7 million square feet of real estate in the northern part of the country, spanning 12 projects across different cities.

The 150-room hotel will be a part of "The Downtown" development in Sector 98 Noida, a mixed-use development which also comprises corporate offices and retail spaces. Strategically located in close proximity to the Noida Golf Course Sector-34 whilst conveniently situated just 10 minutes from the popular Atta Market, the hotel boosts convenience for corporate and leisure travellers alike.

The newly-signed hotel will add to IHG’s strong pipeline of Crowne Plaza properties in the country. IHG has seven Crowne Plaza hotels open across India and another six due to open in the next three to five years. The new hotel, expected to open in 2018, will be the second IHG hotel in the city, joining Crowne Plaza Greater Noida which opened at the end of last year.

Commenting on the partnership, Gurneet Singh Sikka, Managing Director, Sikka said “Hospitality is an important business vertical of Sikka and we are working on strengthening this expertise. IHG is an ideal partner for us as the company brings with it many years of international hotel management experience with leading global brands such as Crowne Plaza. This will complement our local business knowledge and add to our success.” 

Pascal Gauvin, Chief Operating Officer, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG commented, "India is a key market for us. It holds our third largest development pipeline globally, behind the US and China and over the next three to five years we will grow by nearly 300 percent there. The new Crowne Plaza Taj Expressway Noidamarks our expansion in a city we've just entered and we look forward to working with Sikka to growing our presence in Noida."

IHG currently has 19 hotels in India across four brands: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. There are 46 hotels in the development pipeline, of which six are Crowne Plaza properties due to open in the next three to five years.

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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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