Tourism Breaking News

Lords earmarks 30% of portfolio for pilgrimage segment

Lords Hotels & Resorts has broadened its portfolio of hotels to better accommodate the needs of the leisure tourist, the business traveller, the bag-packer as well as the pilgrimage tourist. It will now also target at becoming the fastest growing pilgrimage hotel chain in the country. “Our next big focus is to serve the pilgrimage tourist for whom today the stay options fall largely in the unorganised domain. Out of the 26 properties that we currently operate, 7 are in the heart of such pilgrimage destinations and we are aiming at maintaining at least 30 per cent of our portfolio for pilgrimage tourists. We have identified Katra, Mathura, Vrindavan and a couple others for our upcoming projects dedicated for pilgrimage tourists,” says Rishi Puri, Vice President, Lords Hotels & Resorts. “Our hotels across the country have registered room occupancies in the range of 70 – 75 per cent in the last Financial Year. While there was only a marginal rise in ARR, the RevPAR grew by almost 8-12 per cent. This is an indication of demand outpacing supply and the need for increasing room inventories,” says Mr P R Bansal, Chief Operating Officer, Lords Hotels & Resorts. In the current financial year, the hospitality chain has plans of establishing hotel properties in Kolkata and Bhubaneswar in the East, and in Hyderabad and Chennai in the South. “We have identified potential projects in the East where Lords Hotels & Resorts has not made a mark yet and also in the South where we see tremendous growth in the coming years,” adds Bansal.

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Majority of people prefer wedding destination near home town: Survey

Most of the people prefer destinations wedding near their hometown, according to a Travel Wedding Show Survey. 67 per cent of the people responded positively while 33 per cent preferred the destination wedding far from their home town. Destination wedding for the next five years will be the biggest thing. Weddings are big business, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. If as wedding planners we have to survive, we need to go out, to different cities and destinations and procure more business. Indian and international destination weddings will remain, the next business thing,” says Rajeev Jain, Founder and Director, Rashi Entertainment.

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Travel and Tourism’s contribution to employment witness positive trend

The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment was 41,622,500 jobs in 2017 (8.0 per cent of total employment), according to a report by World Travel and Tourism Council. This will rise by 3.1 per cent in 2018 to 42,898,000 jobs (8.1 per cent of total employment). By 2028, travel and tourism is expected to support 52,279,000 jobs (8.4 per cent of total employment), an increase of 2.0 per cent per annum over the period, the report said. Meanwhile, Travel & Tourism generated 26,148,000 jobs directly in 2017 (5.0 per cent of total employment) and this is forecast to grow by 2.8% in 2018 to 26,883,000. This includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services). It also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists.

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Singapore recorded 6.1 lakh visitors from India from Jan-May 2018

Singapore has received over six lakh visitors from India between January to May 2018, reporting a 17 per cent year-on-year increase from 2017. The year 2017 was a record year for STB as visitor arrivals from India had crossed the one million mark for the third time in a row, showcasing the highest growth rate at 16 per cent in comparison with all markets. India also continues to be the top source market for visitor arrivals in the cruise segment for Singapore. Last year, 127,000 cruise passengers from India sailed out of Singapore’s shores, showing a year-on-year increase of 25 per cent from 2016. While speaking about STB’s efforts to showcase Singapore as a destination of choice among Indian travellers, GB Srithar,  Regional Director – South Asia Middle East & Africa (SAMEA), STB, said, “STB has been steadfastly engaging travellers through partnerships and various marketing initiatives. Last year, India moved up a spot to become the third largest source market for Singapore in terms of Visitor Arrivals. We are looking forward to working closely with both Indian and Singaporean travel trade partners to continue the momentum and entice more Indian travellers.” This year, the STB has lined up a series of collaborative initiatives to welcome more Indian travellers to Singapore in 2018. They embarked on an 8-city roadshow from July 16-26 with close to 40 stakeholders to grow their partnership with in-market travel agents. This is part of STB’s ongoing efforts to take the ‘Passion Made Possible’ brand messaging forward and showcase Singapore’s diverse offerings to the target audience.    

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Kuldeep Bhartee elected as president of Skål Bombay

Kuldeep Bhartee, General Manager (Area Manager – West) ITC Hotels, and General Manager, ITC Maratha, was elected unopposed as the President of Skål International, Bombay Club in its recently-held 62nd Annual General Meeting at the West End Hotel in Mumbai. More than 80 members attended the event. Bhartee gave a presentation on his vision and goals of the club along with the roadmap which lay ahead. He said, “Mumbai has witnessed a tremendous growth in international and domestic tourist arrivals in 2017. This strong momentum is expected to continue in the coming years. Being an elite club, the management committee of the club will rise to the occasion and will work closer with all stakeholders to ensure it benefits every member.” The new Skål Club of Bombay committee members are Kuldeep Bhartee as President, Sunil Chopra as Vice President, Vaibhav Kedia as Vice President, Sunil Acharya as Secretary, Kunal Sampat as Jt Secretary and Arvind Tandon as Treasurer. The Committee Members are Suresh Gulrajani, Rosita Haribal, Jyot Jhaveri, Vinayakk Laud and Sujata Mariwala. The Co-opted Members are Rakesh Marrott and Jason O’Conner.    

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TAFI Western India launches credit facility scheme with IHCL

The Western India Chapter of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) became the first association chapter to initiate a joint bank guarantee scheme for its members for hotels. It has started the pilot project with India Hotels Company Limited (IHCL). Abbas Moiz, Chairman, TAFI (Western India), said, “TAFI has signed an agreement for credit facility for small and mid-sized agents on the lines of a joint bank guarantee arrangement. With this, mid-sized agents will be able to get credit from IHCL for their domestic hotels for booking of up to eight rooms. This is a pilot that IHCL is running with the Western Indian Chapter of TAFI. It could be a new stream of income or business for agents. It is like getting recognition directly from the hotel rather than going through a third party aggregators or online portals. You are now getting a chance to create an identity for yourself and building a relationship with them with a very good arrangement and at a very good price.” Moiz adds that while some of them are already booking the hotel directly, this way offers a bit of leeway and extends a credit facility for at least for a month as long as they don’t cross that slab. “It allows you to pay through a centralised billing and accounting is not an issue here. It has its advantages and that is why we thought of offering this to our members,” he says.

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Travstarz Global Group opens Mumbai office

Travstarz Global Group has recently opened its Mumbai Regional Office. Speaking on the development, Pankaj Nagpal, Managing Director, Travstarz Global Group, added, “We already had presence in Mumbai with our sales team, but we have now opened our full-fledged office with our Sales and Operations teams to be based in Mumbai to look after the entire West India region catering to Gujarat, Maharashtra and even MP. The team will be led by Hema Manghnani, Executive Director of the company based in Mumbai. The team size will be around 15 for the time being in addition to the sales teams at various locations”. Hema Manghnani said “We expect a huge surge in business from the Western Region after the opening of our office and with our operations team stationed here as local presence and local language speaking team makes a big difference.” Sucheta Nagpal, Director & CEO, Travstarz Global Group, also announced the start of their DMC operations for Egypt. “As per our expansion strategy, we have been making strategic investments overseas and Egypt is our latest addition for our DMC operations. With our own fleet of vehicles, we are contracted with all major hotels in Egypt.” He added    

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TBO Group gets stronger as SCPE acquires Naspers’ stake

TBO Group seems to have come out stronger as Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) acquires Naspers’ stake in TBO Group. SCPE now owns 49 per cent of the stake vis-a-vis Nasper that earlier owned 52 per cent with both co-founders currently owning 51 per cent stake. Ankush Nijhawan, Co-founder, TBO Group, says, “SCPE now believes in our business model that we have built in the last twelve years; I think the game has just begun.” In his message to travel agents, he added, “TBO has been known for innovations in tech-segments. TBO Academy is something we just built and started, and we have also recently launched the Roamer App. We will also bring cruises online by the end of the year.” Talking about SCPE’s plans for TBO, Nijhawan said, “SCPE is very bullish on our business plans, they believe in us and they are going to be the growth drivers for us in the global market as well as India. They will back us in whatever we think is great for the company.”  

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MOT & PATA India’s roadshows in Europe from Sep 25-Oct 4

In an effort to promote inbound tourism from important source markets, PATA India Chapter, in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism, will conduct India Tourism B2B Meet to Europe from September 25-October 4, 2018. Meetings are proposed to be held with travel agents and tours operators in Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Geneva and Paris. The roadshow will commence with an introduction of sellers and a 15-minute Incredible India presentation, followed by a 5-minute product presentation by Air India. Each roadshow will have a two-hour B2B session between Indian sellers and local tour operators and travel agents. All these markets have a variety of travellers representing both high end as well as mid-market. Their interest in India as a preferred destination is well established over many years and is focused on its history, culture, wellness, beach tourism amongst others. Air India will support the association with preferred air fares for delegates participating in these roadshows. 100 per cent of the basic fare will be waived on each ticket as per the applicable booking class for such tickets. Participants will only be charged applicable taxes, fuel surcharge and government levies for travel. Authority for tickets will be issued on a first come first serve basis, only after full non-refundable participation fee has been paid by the participating organisation.    

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