Tourism Breaking News

Ashwani Lohani named Chairman of Railway Board

Ashwani Lohani has been named the Chairman of the Railway Board after A.K. Mittal resigned from the position. Lohani continues to be the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India until further notice. An officer of Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineering (IRSME) cadre, Lohani has held the position of DRM, Delhi Division, as well as National Rail Museum; and Chief Administrative Officer, Rail Alternate Fuel. Mittal reportedly resigned owing moral responsibility of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailment in Uttar Pradesh. Lohani has to his credit a Guinness World Record of running the world’s oldest working steam locomotive—‘Fairy Queen Express’. Before Air India, he was at the helm of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and India Tourism Development Corporation. With four engineering degrees, Lohani has even authored two books.

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TBO launches 1st BOHO Hotel in Rishikesh

Travel Boutique Online (TBO) Group has launched its budget hotel chain under the brand name- BOHO Hotels. “The focus with BOHO Hotels is to cater to the budget segment of travellers. We believe there is a lot of demand for budget hotels in the market and especially with GST being implemented, we felt it was the right time to venture into the Tier-II and Tier-III cities. To begin with, we have opened the first hotel in Rishikesh. The second hotel will be launched in a few months in Delhi,” said Ankush Nijhawan, Managing Director, Nijhawan Group of Companies. The company will soon venture into other cities like Jaipur, Pune, Hyderabad and Cochin, added Nijhawan.

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Travelport and MakeMyTrip join hands

MakeMyTrip and InterGlobe Technology Quotient, the official distributor of Travelport in India have forged a strategic alliance that will allow the OTA access into Travelport’s Travel Commerce Platform. Under the agreement, MakeMyTrip can expand the use of Travelport’s technology from the Ibibo Group to their other primary distribution channels starting in the second half of calendar year 2017. Gordon Wilson, Travelport’s President and CEO, commented, “India is a market with enormous growth potential where Travelport, working with our distributor ITQ, has grown in air booking terms by 14 per cent in the first half of 2017 when the GDS air market has grown by 11 per cent. Securing a partnership with the leading online travel agency in the market, with a high growth profile and tremendous track record, gives even further impetus to our plans in the country.” Deep Kalra, Founder, Chairman and Group CEO, MakeMyTrip, added, “This is an exciting time for MakeMyTrip and we are delighted to partner with Travelport and ITQ as part of our growth strategy in the service of the travelling Indian consumer.” Travelport currently boasts a portfolio of approximately 400 airlines, including the merchandised content of over half of these carriers such as fares families and ancillary products (paid seat assignments, baggage fees, priority boarding, etc). MakeMyTrip, along with its other entities Goibibo and redBus receives over 33 million visits via its desktop and mobile-web platforms and serves over 40 million mobile app active users each month.

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VFS acquires visa service provider TT Services

VFS Global has completed the acquisition of visa service provider TT Services (TTS). The transaction enables VFS Global to leverage on core competences and brands and to further enhance operating performance. UK-based TTS is a provider of integrated visa processing solutions with global presence and a comprehensive portfolio of services. The company operates 51 application centres in more than 35 countries and has 216 employees and offers a range of visa services for its client governments, partners and applicants. Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global Group, says, “TT Services has, like VFS Global, extended industry experience of more than 15 years and is a trusted service delivery partner for its clients. I see a strong fit by TTS joining VFS Global. This will enable us to further enhance and extend our services towards our client governments and visa applicants.” The change of control will have no bearing on the business operations of the parties and act as a catalyst to improved services and enhanced client and customer satisfaction.

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UNWTO launches ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect’ campaign

In the framework of the International Year on Sustainable Tourism for Development, 2017, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is launching a consumer-oriented campaign aimed at raising awareness of the value and contribution that sustainable tourism can make towards development. The ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect’ campaign wants to engage tourists in making the sector a catalyst for positive change. The main message of the campaign is summarised by the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai: “Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to: respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host. You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future. Travel, Enjoy and Respect.” The campaign, which will run in various languages and outlets around the world, includes a manual of ‘Tips for a Responsible Traveller’, developed by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The manual provides travellers with a set of recommendations to help them make responsible choices when travelling and have a positive impact on the destinations they visit. “Today more than ever, ensuring that tourism is an enriching experience for visitors and hosts alike demands strong, sustainable tourism policies and practices and the engagement of national, as well as local, governments and administrations, private sector companies, local communities and tourists themselves,” added Rifai. The message will reach consumers through campaign supporters including among others CNN International, the Government of Andorra, the Madrid City Council, Iberia, the Spanish National Railways System (Renfe), Minube, PR MEDIACO, Cleverdis and Air Mauritius. Destinations and companies from around the world are invited to join the campaign and celebrate the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development …

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Australia announces programme for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018

Tourism Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia for leisure and business events, this year celebrates five decades of promoting Australia in key markets across the globe. On this occasion, Tourism Australia announced the tourism programme for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, in the presence of ace shooter and former Olympic and Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Abhinav Bindra. The Games will be held in Gold Coast. To celebrate Tourism Australia’s 50-year milestone a number of key distribution partners in India have developed special the 50th Anniversary packages, offering significant value-adds to travelers. Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan said, “Our global consumer campaigns such as ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ – most recently brought to life with its ‘Aquatic and Coastal’ and ‘Restaurant Australia’ iterations – continue to evolve to showcase some of the very best attractions, experiences and food and wine options Australia has on offer for travellers. However, Australia’s success would not be possible without the incredible support and passion of our trade partners with whom we work with across the globe. In India, we are amplifying our marketing initiatives to reach and attract our growing target audience of prospective travellers to Australia. India is currently the 8th largest inbound market for Australia, and is expected to be within the top 5 markets by 2025, with around 500,000 Indian visitors annually. The increasing visitor numbers from India confirms that we are well placed to achieve our long-term Tourism 2020 targets for arrivals and out of region market share for India, well ahead of time.” Fanatic Sports was also present at the event which is the authorised ticket reseller for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Raghav Gupta, Founder …

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15% growth in Indian visitors to Vienna during Jan-June 2017

Vienna recorded 64,000 Indian overnights during January-June 2017, registering a 15 per cent growth over the same period in 2016. According to figures released by Vienna Tourist Board, this growth has placed India among the high growth tourist markets for Vienna along with China, Russia and Australia. Vienna continues to attract Indian families, honeymooners and young travellers looking to explore its imperial history, soak in its rich tradition of music, and experience its romantic offerings. “City breaks to Vienna continue to boom: the city established a new record in the first half of 2017, with visitor bed nights increasing 4.2 per cent to around 6,924,000,” said Norbert Kettner, Director, Vienna Tourist Board. The Austrian capital recorded almost 7 million visitor bed nights, the highest till date for Vienna between January-June 2017 registering a 4.2 per cent growth over the same period in 2016. The Board further added that the meetings industry also played an important role, accounting for 11 per cent of the total volume of bed nights in 2016. Nearly 4,000 congresses, corporate events and incentives were held in Vienna last year, another new record for the Austrian capital.

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63-room Fortune Park BBD, Lucknow opens doors

Its first hotel in Lucknow and 46th in the country, Fortune Park BBD has been designed as an upscale, full service, contemporary hotel that offers a wide range of facilities and amenities for business and leisure travellers. The hotel is offering inaugural room rate starting from Rs 4,999 per night. Strategically located on Rana Pratap Marg, Fortune Park BBD is in close proximity to Hazratganj – the iconic commercial centre of Lucknow, the High Court, and all other major attractions of the city. Fortune Park BBD offers a selection of 63 well-appointed rooms, two restaurants and a bar & lounge and an in-house patisserie. The hotel also offers high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, swimming pool, well-equipped gymnasium, board room, travel desk and airport transfers. It is equipped with state-of-the-art conference and banquet facilities that can accommodate up to 450 guests.

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Ark with Star Cruises hosts 400+ agents onboard Gemini

Ark Travels, the Preferred Sales Agent for Star Cruises in India, recently hosted its annual get together titled ‘Big Bang Nautical Fiesta’ from August 13-16, 2017 onboard SuperStar Gemini. More than 400 of its travel agent partners were hosted for this event who came from all over India including smaller cities like Indore, Surat, Rajkot and Karimnagar near Hyderabad. The three-night itinerary included Singapore-Penang-Port Klang-Singapore. Kishan Biyani, Managing Director, ARK Travels, says, “The idea for this annual event was to start with two days which was held at Lavasa, to three days this year, and five days in 2018. This event is to say thank you to all our partners. We started nine years ago and with their support we have grown tremendously over the years. This event was to also showcase not just the cruising experience but also to show the partners what charters can offer. They deliver more value to the customer at almost the same price. Next year you will see a lot more charters in co-operation with Star Cruises. It could be from Bangkok or Malaysia.” For the forthcoming travel season, Ark Travels will be focusing on promoting other Star Cruises ships like SuperStar Libra (ex-Port Klang) and SuperStar Virgo (ex-Shanghai). Naresh Rawal, VP Sales – India, South Asia, Russia, Middle East and South Africa at Star Cruises, also announced at the event that the event will be held onboard Dream Cruises, one of the most spacious ships in Asia. “This year we started with a contemporary brand – Star Cruises. Next year we plan to have the event on Dream Cruises. The year after that, Crystal Cruises!” Rawal revealed.

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Centara Hotels & Resorts hosts first roadshow in India

Centara Hotels and Resorts recently organised its first roadshow in India in two metro cities – at St. Regis in Mumbai and at The Leela Palace in New Delhi. Centara is a large Thai hotel chain with its strong presence in Thailand, Srilanka , Maldives, Vietnam and Oman. Paul Wilson, V.P Sales, Centara Hotels and Resorts, says, “The growth of Indian traffic to Centara has been astronomical and Centara wants to be at the forefront of every Travel agent who thinks about any of the countries where Centara is present.” The group has plans to organise roadshows in more cities and frequently. Centara’s tradition goes back over 30 years, continues to grow and expand in destinations, which include China, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, Indonesia, Laos, the Maldives, Vietnam, Combodia and Thailand. With hotels in prime destinations and a wide array of services, Centara has properties to suit any need. Whether it is a family holiday trip, travelling on company business or organising a corporate meeting or conference Centara caters to all.

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