Tourism Breaking News

MoCA, Puducherry and AAI sign MoU for regional connectivity

The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Puducherry Government and Airports Authority of India have signed a tri-partite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Regional Connectivity Scheme thereby initiating the collaborative partnership. The MOU was signed at New Delhi in the presence of Jayant Sinha, Minister of Civil Aviation for State; V. Narayanasamy, Chief Minister of Puducherry, and Malladi Krishna Rao, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation of Puducherry,. Under the MoU, the State Government of Puducherry has formally agreed to provide the concessions required from the State Governments in the Regional Connectivity Scheme. The MoU is signed by Manoj Parida, Chief Secretary, Puducherry; Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and A.K. Dutta, Member, Airports Authority of India. Speaking on the occasion, Sinha said that he hoped the subsidies would attract airlines which also needed to find the appropriate aircrafts and pilots to service the regional sector. Narayanaswamy said that he was happy to cooperate in promoting the Regional Connectivity Scheme as it would improve the connectivity to Puducherry. The Ministry of Civil Aviation had earlier released the draft Regional Air Connectivity Scheme (RCS) for stakeholder consultation, with the twin objectives of promoting balanced regional growth and making flying affordable for masses. The RCS is the key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy which was released by the Ministry on 15th June 2016. The scheme, which would be in operation for a period of 10 years, envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. This would be achieved through a financial stimulus in the form of Central and State government concessions, as well as Viability Gap Funding to the …

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5th International Buddhist Conclave begins in Varanasi-Sarnath

With a view to showcase and project the Buddhist heritage and pilgrim sites of India, the Ministry of Tourism is organising the ‘5th International Buddhist Conclave, from October 2 to 6, 2016, in Varanasi-Sarnath in collaboration with the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Conclave was inaugurated by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister for Tourism & Culture on October 2 in New Delhi. Ministry of Tourism has received over 250 nominations from 38 countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, USA and Vietnam for participation in the Conclave. This year’s International Buddhist Conclave is very special as ASEAN as a Guest of Honour partner and a large participation is expected from ASEAN Countries which are also major source markets for India in general and the Buddhist Heritage sites in particular. Participants in the Buddhist Conclave will include international Buddhist opinion makers, tour operators and media, as well as state governments and domestic tour operators promoting pilgrimages to the Buddhist sites in the country. The Conclave will include Presentations, Panel discussions, Business to Business Meetings between international and domestic tour operators and State Governments, an exhibition highlighting Buddhist attractions in India, as well as visits to important Buddhist sites in and around Varanasi, Sarnath and Bodhgaya. The event will give the participants an opportunity to interact, promote, package and sell pilgrimage itineraries to the Buddhist sites in the country, for overseas visitors. International Buddhist Conclaves have earlier been organized in New Delhi and Bodhgaya (February …

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Delhi’s hotel occupancy sees 7.2% growth in August

In August 2016, the Indian capital’s average occupancy was 61.5 per cent last recording a 7.2 per cent increase compared to the same month the previous year, according to the latest data released by STR. Coupled with a 1.4 per cent rise in average daily rate (ADR) to Rs. 5,376 (approx. $81), Delhi’s revenue per available room (revPAR) rose by 8.7 per cent to Rs. 3,304. The upscale and upper midscale sector reported the strongest revPAR growth in Delhi in August, rising 11.7 per cent. International arrivals to the country increased 12 per cent in August along with consistent double-digit growth in terms of domestic air travel. Delhi Airport alone welcomed more than a quarter (28%) of these inbound visitors.

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Marriott adds 30 hotel brands with Starwood merger

Marriott International has announced that it has expanded to include 30 of the most desirable hotel brands with the addition of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts portfolio. With more than 5,700 hotels and 1.1 million rooms in over 110 countries across the globe, guests now have access to the best hotels and resorts wherever they travel. Members of Marriott’s leading loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards – which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), are also invited to link their accounts to enjoy the benefits, recognition and experiences each program has to offer. Members will have their status matched across programs and be able to transfer and redeem points across programs for travel to more destinations than ever before. Members who link their accounts will be able to transfer points at a three-to-one ratio.  

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Mahan Air connects Delhi to Mashhad

Mahan Airlines operated its inaugural direct flight from  Mashhad to Delhi on November 4, 2016. Mehdi Shiri, Station Manager, Mahan Air, India, informed that to cater demand of Indian passengers for direct flight to Mashhad, this flight has been launched. The aircraft and crew was given warm welcome at IGI Airport, Delhi. H S Duggal, Managing Director, Minar Travels India Pvt. Ltd., GSA for Mahan Air in India was upbeat and mentions, “with lifting of sanctions in Iran, Mahan has extensive plans to connect more Indian cities with Iranian cities to facilitate business and tourism traffic to grow.

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ITDC declares Rs. 22.55cr profit after tax

India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), the public sector undertaking under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism, recorded net profit before tax of Rs.32.42 crore during 2015-16, profit after tax of Rs.22.55 crore and a total turnover of Rs.465.69 crore during the financial year 2015-16. The information was revealed during the Group’s 51st Annual General Meeting at the Group’s hotel, The Samrat, New Delhi. The highlights of the AGM was the declaration of a dividend of 15 per cent amounting to Rs.12.86 crore approximately as recommended by the Board in the meeting held on May 30, 2016. Out of Rs. 12.86 crore, an approximate amount of Rs.11.20 crore will go to the Government of India. The meeting was chaired by Umang Narula, IAS, Chairman & Managing Director, ITDC. The overall occupancy during 2015-16 was 52 per cent as against 47 per cent during 2014-15 with flagship Hotel ‘The Ashok’ recording occupancy of 54 per cent during 2015-16.

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Vistara to fly daily to Port Blair from Delhi and Kolkata

Vistara inaugurated operations to Port Blair, as its flight UK 747 took off from Delhi for Port Blair via Kolkata, at 0720 hours on Sept 30. With the addition of Port Blair, Vistara now serves 18 destinations across the length and breadth of the country. The new service to Port Blair offers a daily flight from Delhi and Kolkata (same aircraft service via Kolkata), with arrival and departure timings that allow for convenient connections to ferry and catamaran services between Port Blair and Havelock Island. Commenting on the launch of the new services, Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO, Vistara, said, “We are delighted to add Port Blair to our fast-growing network with a daily direct flight from Delhi via Kolkata. The Andamans are a beautiful part of India with rich history and breathtaking natural beauty. We are pleased to offer both the visitors, and the wonderful residents of this region, the chance to experience ‘the new feeling’ of flying Vistara, an airline that is setting new standards of service excellence, when they travel to and from Port Blair.” Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, Vistara, added, “Delivering on our brand promise to provide seamless, thoughtful and personalized services, we are pleased to introduce a variety of attractively priced packages in cooperation with top travel entities to offer our customers the most convenient travel in the Andamans. While Port Blair itself offers a lot to see and do, including the historic Cellular Jail and an excursion to the neighboring Ross Island, we have also timed our flights to offer the most convenient connections to and from the most popular inter-island ferries such as to Havelock Island.” Vistara also announced the addition …

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International tourist arrivals up 4% in the first half of 2016

International tourist arrivals worldwide grew by 4 per cent between January and June 2016 compared to the same period last year. Destinations worldwide received 561 million international tourists (overnight visitors), 21 million more than in 2015, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Growth accelerated in Asia and the Pacific with international arrivals up 9% through June, driven by robust intraregional demand. Oceania (+10%) led growth, followed by North-East Asia, South-East Asia (both +9%) and South Asia (+7%). “Tourism has proven to be one of the most resilient economic sectors worldwide. It is creating jobs for millions, at a time when providing perspectives for a better future to people of all regions is one of our biggest challenges. But tourism is also creating bonds among people of all nations and backgrounds, bringing down stereotypes and fighting fear and distrust”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Safety and security are key pillars of tourism development and we need to strengthen our common action to build a safe, secure and seamless travel framework. This is no time to build walls or point fingers; it is time to build an alliance based on a shared vision and a joint responsibility.” he added. China, the world’s top source market, continued to report double-digit growth in expenditure on international travel (+20% in the first quarter of 2016), benefiting destinations in the region and beyond. The United States, the world’s second largest market, increased expenditure on outbound travel by 8% through July, thanks to a strong currency. Third largest market, Germany, reported a 4% increase in expenditure through July. Other markets that showed robust demand for outbound travel in the first half of 2016 were Spain …

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20% growth in Irish visas for Indians

Ireland witnessed a growth of 20 per cent in the number of visas issued to Indians travelling to the destination. This was revealed by Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland, at their sales mission in Mumbai and New Delhi. Gibbons informed that the destination witnessed 27,500 Indian tourist arrivals in 2015, corresponding to 14 per cent increase over 2014. Also, the total number of tourist arrivals from January to August, 2016, was up by 12.3 per cent with 6.55 million people visiting the destination during this period. “With Northern Island also a part of Ireland, we expect to have 10 million visitors by the end of 2016 with a double digit growth. Our traditional markets are Great Britain, North America, Germany and France, comprising 70 per cent of the tourism business but we feel the potential of India as a market is huge for Ireland. The number of visa applications for Indian nationals has seen a growth of over 20 per cent and the BIVS scheme has also facilitated many Indian visits. We have interacted with over 150 companies in New Delhi alone,” said Gibbons. He also added that Tourism Ireland is committed to grow visitor numbers to Ireland from India and the sales mission will play a significant role in helping to achieve this goal. “Our sales mission is a key element of our promotional programme in India. It will give our tourism partners a platform to inform, influence the Indian travel trade about what the island of Ireland has to offer and importantly encourage them to include the destination in their brochures and programmes,” he said.

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Praveen Chugh elected as WTAAA Treasurer

Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) President Praveen Chugh has been elected as the Treasurer of World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) of which TAFI is a member. WTAAA held its Annual General Assembly and bi-annual Board meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, recently and elected a new board. The new WTAAA Chairman is Otto de Vries (CEO of Association of Southern African Travel Agents), and Mark Meader (Vice President of Industry Affairs American Society of Travel Agents) is the new Vice Chairman. WTAAA brings together 56 countries and represents more than 80 per cent of the BSP worldwide. WTAAA is a global voice for the travel agency distribution channel and regularly engages with IATA, UNWTO, WHO, Media, GDS, European Union, DOT and other regulators and bodies around the world. The mission of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) is to act as the global travel agency voice through the exchange of ideas and information. WTAAA members include the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), Association of Brazilian Travel Agents (ABAV), European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA), Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA), Travel Agency Federation of India (TAFI) and Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) Spanish Federation of Travel Agents (CEAV), Federation of Asean Travel Agencies (FATA).

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