Tourism Breaking News

Trade has come to a standstill

The travel market has come to a standstill after the scrapping of the 500 and 1000 currency bills, says Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, OTOAI. “Most of our dealings usually happen in cash as not many people use credit cards. However, ever since the announcement, we are not accepting cash from anyone. People can buy the ticket from airport, but not from the travel agent. When a travel agent starts the booking for a tour, there is some advance needed. We can’t take that from the client as of now, and I think this would continue till things become normal, with the new currency flowing in the market,” he added.

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Industry will suffer, but it’s for the greater good

With a view to curb Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) and eliminating black money, the government has decided to cancel the legal tender character of the high denomination bank notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denominations issued by RBI till now, with effect from November 9, 2016. Tourism Breaking News finds out from industry leaders how this unexpected drive will affect the travel and tourism trade.

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MTDC to assist JICA team for Ajanta Ellora tourism development project

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will assist the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) team for the Ajanta Ellora conservation and Tourism Development Project Phase II. JICA India office (JICA, New Delhi) had recently send a letter to Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation regarding the external evaluation of the JICA ID – P150 ( i.e. AEDP – Phase II project). The JICA team will visit the sites between November 27, 2016, and December 24, 2016. Following the visit, studies will continue for almost one year, i.e. up to October 2017. Various respected diverse agencies have also assigned to complete the allocated components which include Central Government agencies such as ASI, AAI along with MTDC and other State Government Institutions, etc. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and its branches have completed the assigned components given of the projects (for example, Ajanta Visitor Center and Ellora Visitor Center was completed by work branch of MTDC, Public Awareness by Publicity branch, HRD by Development Branch and IT related work by IT branch).  MTDC has further requested its respective officer to note the tour program and assist JICA team. Satish Soni, Joint Managing Director of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation stated, “The Ajanta and Ellora Caves are UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the Aurangabad district in the state of Maharashtra, approximately 400 km northeast of Mumbai.  The Ajanta-Ellora Conservation and Tourism Development Project was initiated in 1992 and Phase I was initiated in March 1993. Phase I was successfully completed in 2004 and phase II was completed in-between year 2004 to 2017. Now external evaluation of phase II will take place in the year 2016 – 2017. Our aim is to conserve the cultural heritage and its surrounding environment, …

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Thailand ends 30-day restriction on public entertainment and festivities

The Thai Government has lifted the 30-day restriction on public entertainment and festivities, informs the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB). Now entertainment venues, musical, theatrical and festive celebrations will resume operations as normal. This allows all business events and festival events to proceed as usual. However, business travellers are invited to respect the traditions of mourning and to act and dress appropriately during this time. Accordingly TCEB has advised all business travellers to Thailand to continue with their travel plans as normal, and to recheck programmes in case of changes.

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Booking.com launches platform for travel agents

Booking.com has announced the initial test pilot of Booking.com for travel agents, the first iteration of a new platform designed specifically with the unique needs of travel agents in mind. The platform features a suite of easy-to-use tools that empower travel industry professionals to seamlessly make and manage accommodation reservations for their clients via Booking.com. “We’ve seen increasing numbers of travel agents using Booking.com to manage bookings for their customers,” said Bryan Batista, Senior Director of Global Partnerships at Booking.com. “We’re pleased to now offer professional travel agents a platform and a programme that has been created just for them, with the special features they need to easily book and manage reservations for their clients, as well as the choice, diversity and seamless experience that they’ve come to love and rely on from Booking.com.” Booking.com for Travel Agents is an extension of the company’s existing Affiliate Partner Programme and leverages technology and infrastructure being developed for Booking.com for Business. Travel Agents who join the platform will be eligible for similar partner benefits as all Booking.com affiliate partners.

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Thomas Cook to host closed-door summit in Mumbai on Nov 16

Thomas Cook India Limited will be organising a summit titled ‘India Travel Summit’ on November 16, 2016 in Mumbai. It will be a half day conference by invitation only. Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head- Marketing & Service Quality, Financial Services & Innovation-Thomas Cook (India) Limited. He said, “We looked at our increased stake in both inbound and outbound space in India and we realised that we really didn’t have an India equivalent of something like World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit. So we saw the need to create a platform which would allow everyone in the eco-system to come together. We were hoping somebody does it but it hasn’t happened in the travel space. We wanted a summit where we get the opinion-makers and leaders of the industry and by invitation only to come together for a conversation. We expect a 100-odd people to attend the event. This year is in Mumbai but we are seriously considering doing this in Delhi next year.” The tour operator plans to make it an annual event. The half-day summit will have three sessions lasting an hour each. The first one will focus on visa issues and will have Consul Generals from four countries on the panel. This will be followed by a discussion on India’s outbound market and will have four India heads of NTOs as speakers. The last one will focus on inbound and will have three speakers: Suman Billa IAS, Joint Secretary of (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Chinmai Sharma, Chief Revenue Officer, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and Ragini Chopra, VP (Corporate Communications), Jet Airways. 

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Direct Gorakhpur-Badshahnagar Express starts

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu flagged off  the 15069/15070 Gorakhpur-Badshahnagar (Lucknow) Express at Rail Bhawan through video conferencing.  Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain graced the occasion with his presence. Chairman, Railway Board, A. K. Mital, Member Traffic, Railway Board Mohd. Jamshed, other Railway Board Members and senior officials were also present.  Local Members of Parliament of Gorakhpur and other districts were also present to grace the flag off function at Gorakhpur end. Prabhu said that Uttar Pradesh is a big and populous state and thus it requires better railway network. He said that Gorakhpur is a big city which has historic importance too, this new intercity train service will help the Gorakhpur people to grow in social and economic terms. Gohain said that the rail is the cheapest mode of travel in India. Thus, Railways intends to expand rail network throughout the length and breadth of the country so that every citizen can be benefitted. He said that Railways will introduce some more new trains services soon.

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First Manali Travel Mart from Nov 19

The first Manali Travel Mart is being organised by Manali Hoteliers’ Association in partnership with Himachal Pradesh Tourism Board from November 19-21 in Manali, Himachal Pradesh. The venue for the event is Him Valley, Bahang, Manali. It is assumed that the three day event will see a large number of travel agents from around the country will be attending the event. Gajender Thakur, President, Manali Hotelier’s Association, said, “We are expecting around 400 travel agents to attend the event. Hotels, big and small, across Himachal Pradesh will be exhibiting at the mart.” The objective behind the event is to market and promote Manali as a round the year destination. Manali happens to be a hot selling destination during the summer holidays and this event will attempt to showcase the potential of the destination during the winter season. Special attention will be given to promote the various activities and the sightseeing spots open during the winter season.

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Close to one billion international tourists between Jan-Sept 2016

India has recorded a 16 per cent increase in international tourism expenditure during the first three to nine months of 2016. Destinations around the world welcomed 956 million international tourists between January and September 2016, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This is 34 million more than in the same period of 2015, a 4 per cent increase. Among the top five source markets, China, the world’s top source market, continues to drive demand, reporting double-digit growth in spending (+19%). Likewise, robust results come from the United States (+9%), which benefited many destinations in the Americas and beyond. Germany reported a 5% increase in expenditure, the United Kingdom, a 10% increase, and France, 3% growth. Demand for international tourism remained robust in the first nine months of 2016, though growing at a somewhat more moderate pace. After a strong start of the year, growth was slower in the second quarter of 2016 to pick up again in the third quarter of the year. While most destinations report encouraging results, others continue to struggle with the impact of negative events, either in their country or in their region. Tourism spending grew notably in Australia and the Republic of Korea (both +9%), and moderately in Italy (+3%). By contrast, expenditure from the Russian Federation declined 37% and from Canada a slight 2%. Beyond the top 10, eight other markets reported double-digit growth: Egypt (+38%), Argentina (+27%), Spain (+19%), India (+16%), Thailand (+15%), Ukraine (+15%), Ireland (+12%) and Norway (+11%). “Tourism is one of the most resilient and fastest-growing economic sectors but it is also very sensitive to risks, both actual and perceived. As such, the sector must continue to work …

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Yatra signs MoU with Uttarakhand to promote homestays

Yatra.com has signed an MoU with Uttarakhand Government to promote homestays in the state as well as highlight the state’s unique tourist attractions. Yatra will promote all the state tourism approved homestays, wherein guests (travellers) can rent a room in the home of a local family (host) or the entire house. Enhancing the segment further, Yatra and Uttarakhand Tourism together will organise an orientation session for homestays where the villagers will be trained in guiding, cooking, hospitality and the cultural and natural heritage of the state. This partnership will give the tourists a chance to experience the hospitality of various families throughout Uttarakhand and enjoy wonderful home cooked food. Speaking on the partnership, Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com said, “We are delighted about this strategic alliance with the Government of Uttarakhand to boost the state’s tourism. With the peak season rolling in, we see this an opportunity to promote the rapidly growing Homestays segment in sync with the needs of travellers. Yatra is also seeking more such partnerships with other State Governments to promote local tourism and offer a taste of Indian hospitality and a very unique traveller experience.” As a part of this partnership, Yatra will list over 500 homestay properties on its website and encourage the growth of homestays in Uttarakhand, giving tourists a very homely experience.

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