Tourism Breaking News

Sheraton Grand Pune opens doors

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announced the opening of Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel, a newly renovated property set to welcome business and leisure guests. The hotel recently completed an extensive rebranding and renovation, featuring a complete transformation of its 177 well-appointed guest rooms, lobby and public spaces as well as added meeting facilities. The new hotel joins a portfolio of 36 Sheraton Grand properties. Owned by BrahmaCorp, Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel is the second ‘Sheraton Grand’ hotel in India and the fourth Sheraton hotel in the country. Jaswinder Narang, Complex General Manager of Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel, said, “We are thrilled to expand the Sheraton Grand presence in India with the opening of our second premier-tier hotel in the country. As Pune continues to make it possible for business travelers to find success as the IT capital of India, Sheraton is committed to delivering luxury to guests through excellence in service. Through this renovation and opening, we have worked diligently to solidify Sheraton as a leading global hotel brand of choice.”

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Spain outsources visa facilities to BLS International

New Delhi-based BLS International Services, a specialist provider for outsourcing of visa, passport and attestation services across the globe was awarded with a 175 million euro contract by the Government of Spain. With this agreement, BLS International will open almost 100 Global Consulate Offices in more than 38 countries for exclusively processing Spanish visas globally. The company expects to process approximately 1.8mn applications every year. Of the total, 53 Spanish Visa Application Centers (VACs) will get operational in December 2016. Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint MD, BLS International Services, said “This year has been phenomenal for BLS International as we have seen exponential growth in our business. The exclusive global agreement with Spanish Government is a testimony to the fact that we have delivered to our promises made to our customers. The contract with Spanish Government will expand our global footprint and help catering to wider range of customers, hence adding to the overall profitability for the company.”

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ETAA Domestic Convention from March 3-5 in Hyderabad

The Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA) of non-IATA travel agents has announced its second Domestic Convention to be held at Leonia Resorts, Hyderabad from March 3 to 5, 2017. Jagat Mehta, President, ETAA, said, “With a tourism focused government, we as a leading trade association decided to do our bit in promoting our country by announcing a Domestic Convention this year specially in the newly crafted and youngest state of Telangana. We expect over 250 of our members from across the country to attend the same owing to capacity constraints. The convention will provide a perfect setting for enhancing destination and product knowledge about the state and the resort and will also present excellent networking opportunity among the members and the suppliers and exhibitors who participate at the convention during the planned B2B sessions.” The association plans to expand its footprints with an East India Chapter in the near future.

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Tourism New Zealand appoints new CEO

Tourism New Zealand has announced the appointment of Stephen England-Hall to the position of Chief Executive at Tourism New Zealand. He will commence in the role in early April 2017, based in Auckland. He will join Tourism New Zealand after three years as Chief Executive at Loyalty New Zealand and prior to that Chief Marketing Officer with Syncapse Corporation and Chief Executive Officer for Razorfish in London. England-Hall was born in Papakura and spent his teenage years in the Manawatu. He has worked across New Zealand, the United Kingdom and North America as a senior executive of leading digital marketing, data and technology companies. He holds an MBA from Cambridge University and also attended Victoria University in Wellington

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Capt. Swadesh Kumar is ATOAI President for 2016-18

Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) has elected Captain Swadesh Kumar, Managing Director, Shikhar Travels India, as President for 2016-18. The office bearers were elected unopposed. Ajeet Bajaj, Managing Director, Snow Leopard Adventures is the new Senior Vice President; Tejbir Singh Anand, Managing Director, Holiday Moods Adventures has been elected as Vice President; Rajesh Ojha, Co-founder, Banjara Camps and Retreats is the new Secretary while the position of Honorary Secretary will be held by Vaibhav Kala, Founder, Aquaterra Adventures. “The association will shift its trajectory from Himalayan centric to a pan-India focus for adventure tourism. Since around 22 million Indian travellers go abroad to experience adventure holidays, we plan to involve international members into the association and also focus on outbound segment of travel for adventure tourism,” says Kumar. The elected Executive Committee members are Mohan Tickoo, Managing Director, Kash Venture Travels; Sanjay Basu, Managing Director, Far Horizon Tours; Vishwas Makhija, Managing Director, India Insight Tours; Shashank Gupta, Director, Rucksack Tours; Vinayak Koul, Director, Snow Lion Expeditions and Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Exploration, who is also the Immediate Past President.

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Travkart by HolidaysBySahibji launches mobile app

Travkart, the travel service portal by Holidays bySahibji has launched its mobile app. The 5.08 MB app will allow travellers to choose fixed departure packages for all air, land and cruise packages from the live inventory with instant confirmations as well as to book activities and tours on the go. The app will also offer a host of seamless payment options making the mobile booking experience all the more enjoyable. In addition, users can refer the app to friends on social platforms and earn discounts and cashback. Manheer Singh, Co-founder, Travkart.com said, “We endeavor to make everyone’s travel dreams come true by creating the finest experiences for them. Our app is here to make beautiful holidays more accessible than ever before, at irresistible prices. Our simple and user-friendly processes are designed keeping in mind the comfort and convenience of the customer, whereas the unique features like booking themed holidays, viewing booking details, making payments online via credit points and instant confirmations promise to make the entire experience with Travkart simply delightful.”

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North East desk in Mumbai to promote tourism and trade

A North East desk in Mumbai will be set up to promote tourist and trade investment from Maharashtra and other western parts of country in the northeast region. This decision was taken at a meeting Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space held in Mumbai with members of Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) and the Maharashtra State Tourism Minister. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jitendra Singh said that the North East has lot much to offer, but the attributes remain unexplored because people outside are either not aware of it or do not find it convenient to venture. He further highlighted that a highly scenic destination like Shillong attracts more number of European and foreign tourists compared to domestic or Indian tourists because of lack of awareness in other parts of the country. Dr Jitendra Singh also proposed the idea of Medical Tourism and flagged the idea of combining tourism with the Start up India programme which could simultaneously help in engaging youth and generating employability.

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SQ to increase frequency to Ahmedabad from Mar 26

Singapore Airlines will increase flight frequency to Ahmedabad to four times per week, up from the current three, with effect from 26 March 2017. While Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka will be served 10 times per week with effect from July 19, 2017, up from the current seven flights per week, Bangkok flight frequency will increase to six per day from five with effect from 26 March 2017. Ho Chi Minh City will be served 19 times per week from the same day, up from the current 17 per week. The airline plans to increase flight frequency to points in Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia and West Asia in the Northern Summer operating season (26 March 2017 to 28 October 2017) to meet growing travel demand. In Australia, Melbourne will be served with 31 weekly flights, up from 28, with effect from 17 July 2017, while flight frequency to Brisbane will increase to 28 per week, up from 24, starting on 22 August 2017. From 4 June 2017, Sydney will be served 33 times per week, up from 31 times per week. To cater to peak period demand, flight frequency to Sydney will be further increased to 35 weekly flights from 18 June to 30 September 2017. In Europe, Rome will be served four times per week from July 2017, up from the current two weekly flights. As previously announced, Moscow will be served five times per week, up from four times, with effect from 30 May 2017, when services beyond Moscow to the new destination of Stockholm are introduced. The additional services are subject to regulatory approvals.

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SITA to transform AI’s communications network

Air India’s outstation and domestic hubs are set to receive faster, cutting-edge connectivity through SITA. The global airport transport IT provider will provide faster, more reliable connectivity to the airline as part of a package of solutions aimed at transforming its communications and network infrastructure. Ashwani Lohani, Chairman and MD, Air India, said, “Having been a long-standing technology partner in aviation, SITA is able to fulfill the vision of passenger experience by identifying appropriate innovations covering network and communications that can help the airline to become more efficient and cost effective. This will help us benefit from the opportunities in the fast-growing Indian aviation market while elevating our international competitiveness.” The seven-year deal will see SITA roll out the latest communication technology both in India and internationally. Through SITA Connect – the largest communication network in the air transport industry used in over 220 countries and territories – Air India will be able to link all 93 international outstations and its six biggest airports in India to the airline’s central hubs in New Delhi and Mumbai. In addition, the airline will be able to leverage AirportHub™,  SITA’s unique shared infrastructure which allows airlines to connect all their applications and IT systems at an airport quickly and easily. It removes the complexity of dealing with local telecom providers and adds flexibility and agility to route management. AirportHub™ has already been deployed at over 300 airports around the world. SITA will also provide access to services, applications and data on any device and in any location through its End-User Computing solution. As a single-source provider embracing both traditional desktop and the latest technologies, SITA will provide both hardware and support to more …

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Travel Experiential Show witnesses 650 meetings

The first-ever Travel Experiential Show concluded with 650 meetings conducted among 23 exhibitors and 25 buyers on Dec 18, 2016 at Le Meridien Gurgaon where representatives from destination management companies, hotels, travel agents and tour operators, among others, met under one roof to network and explore opportunities. “From the feedback we’ve received, the show was a huge success,” stated Punam Singh, Associate, Pacific Leisure Group. “We welcomed a lot of familiar faces but also some new ones and the platform helped them discover newer avenues to further their business. We will surely be back next year to bring more people together.” Speaking at the inauguration, keynote speaker Sushil Shamal Wadhwa, Founder & CEO, Platinum World Group, highlighted, “The whole idea of experiential travel is presenting something exclusive and unique, be it the most expensive dinner that costs $300,000 for five people, or activities like archery and falconry in a destination like Mongolia. Experiences like these first turn you speechless and then into a storyteller. As the demand for luxury increases and people become more open to trying newer experiences, the segment will continue to evolve and grow.”

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