Tourism Breaking News

AI’s check-in counters at New Delhi metro station

In a bid to offer convenience to its passengers, Air India has set-up two specialised check-in counters at the New-Delhi metro station of airport express line. The counters that will provide enhanced facility to the passengers were inaugurated by Air India CMD, Ashwani Lohani and became functional on July 27, 2016 at 1600 hours. The newly introduced counters shall allow the Air India passengers flying on international and domestic routes to book tickets, get desired flight information and also check-in the extra luggage. The flight check-in facility shall close two hours before the departure of the scheduled flight. With the inception of this facility the airport passengers can obtain their boarding pass, check-in at the city check-in counter and can enjoy sightseeing in the national capital. These counters shall remain open from 4am in the morning to 11:30pm in the night. Lohani, said, “We are pleased to extend the facility of city check-in on both the domestic and international flights operated by Air India. Earlier, city check-in was available only for domestic sector flights and on a few gulf countries only. But to supplement the efforts, we have set up this Air India flight information cum excess baggage cum ticketing counter at each of the two stations. The objective of this is to enhance the overall travel experience and make it less hassling for passengers.”

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UFTAA’s 50th Congress from Nov 21-23

Sunil Kumar, President, United Federation of Travel Agents Associations (UFTAA), revealed that UFTAA’ Golden Jubilee Congress will be held on November 21-23, 2016. “The board wants to do it on the same day as the anniversary which is on November 22 and there are no major shows happening around that time. We have also closed on the venue but we will announce it only later as we are still watching the situation there. It will be held outside India,” Kumar said. UFTAA will also be getting ready for the Passenger Agency Conference (PAConf) that will take place in September in Singapore, he added.  

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ITC Ltd. names Sanjiv Puri as COO

ITC Ltd has appointed Sanjiv Puri as its Chief Operating Officer, signalling that he’s most likely to take over from YC Deveshwar as CEO when he steps down in February after two decades at the helm. As COO, 53-year-old Puri becomes the second most important executive in the tobacco-FMCG-hospitality conglomerate after Deveshwar, who will be staying on as non-executive chairman, according to the schedule announced last month. Puri will now oversee day-to-day operations of the company as COO, a position created for the first time at ITC. Puri is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and joined ITC in 1986. He has handled a wide range of responsibilities including manufacturing, operations and the IT business.

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9,77,479 foreign tourists visited Kerala in 2015

Kerala received 9,77,479 foreign tourists in the year 2015 recording a growth of 5.86 per cent over the previous year’s figure of 9,23,366. Domestic tourists footfall during the same period was 1,24,65,571 with a growth of 6.59 per cent over the previous year’s figure 1,16,95,411. Nandakumar K P, Deputy Director, Kerala Tourism, recently informed at a roadshow held in New Delhi. He also said, “Tourist figures to Kerala have been growing vigorously for the past twenty years. We only saw a little bit of slow down last year and previous year but we are still growing. So, this year we are coming out with a five year action plan to increase footfall. We are going to increase the accommodation facilities and availability and increase the number of classified hotels. We are going to introduce more than 1000 home stays also. We are also going to tap new international markets like the Eastern Europe which is an emerging market for us.” He also informs that the state aims to add 5,00,000 more employment opportunities in the tourism sector in the next five years.

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RezNext launches mobile App for distribution

RezNext has launched its purpose-built mobile application, ReX, for distribution. This application addresses the gap for instant rate updates and inventory changes while on the move. The App is available on iOS and Android. The App also allows hoteliers to work offline and all changes then sync-up once connected back with the network. Avinash Lodha, Chief Executive Officer, RezNext Global Solutions, said, “Hoteliers are challenged with using a full blown mobile application. Typically, when on themove, a feature rich application takes time to load and many-a-times hoteliers are unable to use it as desired. Hence, we recognised the need for a purpose-built application that allows general/revenue managers to quickly take action on their rate and inventory controls. Designed to deliver a robust experience, our mobile application is powered by speed and provides instant update notifications in sub-second response time.” According to Raghu T Guptha, Operations Head at Best Western by Jagadish, “ReX mobile application is very user-friendly and we are able to quickly update rates and inventory round-the-clock from anywhere. Our staff finds this very helpful, especially when they are away from the hotel be it on a holiday or business travel. The best part is that the rate updates are done instantly.” “At Vivaana, we have been able to use RezNext’s mobile application to get us more sales with the quick rate updates that we do for last minute deals. We find the mobile app super-fast and user-friendly to operate,” said David Issac, Assistant Manager Marketing, Vivaana. Key functionality of the mobile application includes • Optimised for fast speed of loading • Know status of updates real-time to ensure the right inventory and price is displayed across all channels …

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Italy next on eTV list

The Ministry of Tourism has confirmed that they are looking to extend the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) facilities to 36 other countries, among which Italy is one of the key countries. “The e-Tourist Visa has been the biggest game-changer for the industry,” commented Suman Billa, Joint Secretary-Tourism, Government of India. “Initially, we began with a handful of countries which were our eight major source countries. We now stand at 150 countries and are looking to expand the list. Most of our most important source countries have already been included but Italy is one of the other major markets that will receive this facility after approval.” During January-June 2016, a total of 4,71,909 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 1,26,214 during January-June 2015, registering a growth of 273.9 per cent. A total of 36,982 tourists arrived in June 2016 on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 15,557 during the month of June 2015 registering a growth of 137.7 per cent.

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German media giant Bertelsmann invests in Treebo

The international media, services and education company Bertelsmann is leading a Series B round of financing for Treebo, an Indian branded managed marketplace for budget hotels. Existing investors SAIF Partners and Matrix Partners are also participating in this fundraise. Pankaj Makkar, Managing Director of Bertelsmann India Investments, said, “Treebo serves a huge unmet need in the budget travel space – that of reliable and affordable accommodation. Over the year since the group was established, they have focused on delivering a great guest experience, and have extensively deployed technology in all parts of their operations to accomplish this objective. We are excited to partner with them on a journey towards building one of the most innovative and popular consumer brands in the hospitality space.” Treebo offers moderately priced accommodations for travellers. The brand guarantees free breakfast and beverages, free internet access and high standards of cleanliness. Treebo helps its partners that operate under the umbrella brand to keep developing these standards and uses innovative technologies, marketing strategies and events to ensure consistently high occupancy rates and customer satisfaction. Treebo Co-founder Rahul Chaudhary said, “Bertelsmann is a globally respected business partner. They are known for taking a long-term view of their investments, and for supporting companies that create sustainable, long-term value.” Treebo plans to use the new funds to drive its own expansion, strengthen its marketing, and make investments in technology. It is the ninth company in the Bertelsmann India Investments portfolio and the fourth new investment in 2016.

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Cinnamon Hotels enages Delhi agents

The resorts team from Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, a chain of 14 hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, visited Delhi last week to meet with the travel agents. The team led by Sunimal Senanayake, Sector Head, Cinnamon’s resort properties in Sri Lanka & Maldives, included Senior Vice President Sales, marketing communications manager and sales manager of the resort properties, who were pleased to meet the travel agents and understand the perspective of the Indian traveller. Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts also participated in GPS, Chandigarh which was held on 21st and 22nd July 2016.

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Rail link to connect India-Bangladesh

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu will lay the foundation stone for a new cross-border line on July 31 linking Agartala in Tripura, with Akhaura, in Bangladesh’s Chittagong region. The project is expected to cost Rs 9.68 billion (US$144 million) and will run for just 15 km either side of the border – 5 km on the Indian side and 10km on the Bangladeshi side. However, the link will help increase accessibility between the remote state of Tripura and the rest of India. The 1,650 km distance between Agartala and Kolkata will be reduced to only 550 km once the new rail track is linked. Presently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal.

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Subhash Verma v/s P.P. Khanna for ADTOI President

The Association of Domestic Tour Operators (ADTOI) has released the final nominations list for its biennial election scheduled for Aug 10. Subhash Verma and P.P. Khanna are in the run for the President’s position with their respective teams in place. P.P. Khanna’s team has Rajat Sawhney contesting for the position for Vice President; Chetan Gupta for General Secretary; Rajesh Arya for Treasurer; and Dalip Gupta for Joint Secretary. Their team members contesting for EC Members include Manoj Varsheny, Rajeev Sobti, Ved Khanna, Sandeep Bhagat, Gaurav Chawala, Jatinder Bhatia and Reena Chopra. On the other hand, the team headed by Subhash Verma has Sanajy Aggarwal contesting for Vice President; Anurag Aggarwal for General Secretary; Kamal Gandhi for Treasurer; and Debashish Dey for Joint Secretary. Their nominations for EC Members include Arvind Khanna, Ankit Miglani, Ashish Sehgal, Manoj Mehta, Rajiv Chawal, Rajiv Arora, Sanajy Saxena and Vishal Joshi. Apart from these two teams, there are two independent candidates contesting for EC Members—Sandeep Bhagat and Vinay Ahuja.

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