Tourism Breaking News

Stayzilla ties up with Agri Tourism Development Company to promote rural tourism

After strategic tie-ups with eight state tourism departments across India, Stayzilla gets on board with Agri Tourism Development Company Private Limited (ATDC) to promote Agri Tourism homestays. ATDC is a private organization which stands to endorse agriculture tourism to achieve income, employment and economic stability in rural communities in India. It also helps to boost a range of activities, services and amenities provided by farmers and rural people to attract urban tourists to their area, thus providing opportunity for urban people to get back to the roots. The MoU was signed between Western Region Office of Stayzilla and ATDC Pune Headquarters. Ankit Rastogi, Vice President Marketplace, Stayzilla, said “India is largely an agrarian economy and most of the festivals and culture are centered at agriculture. The real taste of Indian culture lies in the villages and adding agri-tourism to the portfolio is a logical progression. With this collaboration Stayzilla becomes the strongest proponent of experiential tourism in India. Our associations with different state governments also share the same vision towards rural tourism.” Stayzilla will collaborate with ATDC to promote agri tourism by empowering the farmers to market their homestays with the support of Stayzilla’s platform. Under this MoU, more than 300 agri tourism stays will be listed on Stayzilla to provide an enhanced experiential stays for the tourists where they can stay with the local people in the rural areas. The MoU also provides for joint workshops by Stayzilla and ATDC in which the farmers will be trained on travel technology and Agri- tourism. “The sole objective of ATDC is to promote agri tourism by all means possible and take up initiatives that works for promotion of our rural communities. Promotion …

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Kerala Tourism’s impressive debut at Dutch trade event

Kerala’s highlights as tourism destination were on full display for the Dutch and other European travelers at the five-day Vakantiebeurs 2017, the biggest tourism trade event in the Netherlands. Laidback cruises on serene backwaters and Ayurveda rejuvenation therapies showcased at the Kerala pavilion grabbed attention and generated several inquiries at Vakantiebeurs 2017, which was held in Utrecht from January 10-15 and drew up to 1,08,000 visitors. The pavilion spread over 18 sq m, marked Kerala Tourism’s first appearance at the trade fair which is held annually in the second week of January in Utrecht and provides a gateway to the Dutch and European markets. For Kerala Tourism, the Netherlands is the 11th biggest originating market with 22,276 tourist arrivals registered during 2015, a 40% increase from 2010. “South India is yet to get as much attention in the Dutch market as the north of the country, and Vakantiebeurs was a chance for us to close the gap,” said Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran. “Our promotional campaigns in such prestigious fairs will help Kerala compete not just with north Indian destinations but international ones such as Sri Lanka and Thailand.” Kerala Tourism’s pavilion had the theme ‘Slow Down in God’s Own Country’, a nod to the relaxing and rejuvenating offerings of the state. The Dutch are big-time travellers and are keen to gather more information on new destinations, said Dr Venu V, Principal Secretary, Tourism. “Our pavilion attracted many enquiries which we expect to translate into holiday bookings over the next two years,” he added. Surveys show that of the Dutch people who visited the Vakantiebeurs event, 64% were there to gather information on holidays still to be booked and 54 per …

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Deccan Odyssey launches ‘Companion Scheme’

Deccan Odyssey, the award-winning luxury train operated by Cox & Kings, has launched an exclusive companion offer on select journeys starting January 2017. Travellers can book a twin-sharing cabin in Deccan Odyssey and avail flat 50% discount for their companion. The offer is applicable on bookings made from January 1–April 30, 2017. The scheme is open to all including Indian citizens, Foreign diplomats/expats resident in India having work/resident permit. The Deccan Odyssey has 21 luxury coaches of which 12 are guest cabins. The train is also home to four Presidential Suites.

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Trafalgar conducts workshop for Chennai agents

Trafalgar Travel, along with its General Sales Agent Comfort Leisure, recently conducted a first of its kind workshop for travel agents in Chennai. The presentation showcased the new destinations and itineraries offered by Trafalgar Travel for Summer 2017. Sanjay Temkar, Director-Sales, Trafalgar Mumbai, highlighted the products that Trafalgar offers travellers with varied interests and preferences. “For example, the At Leisure itineraries are slow-paced. Guests spend more number of days at a single destination and can start their day at 9:00am in the morning instead of 7:30am. For guests who like to go off the beaten track, the Hidden Journeys itineraries are ideal as they explore ‘treasures’ that not typically frequented by tourists,” he said. Trafalgar Travel has been creating guided holidays for over 70 years and Comfort Leisure has been its General Sales Agent for 15 years. it was the first company to introduce Trafalgar Travel, in association with TT Travels, to the Indian market.

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BLS to open 150 VACs for Spain in 45 countries

After bagging the contract from Spain MAEC (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation – Spain), BLS International will open nearly 150 Spanish Visa Application Centers in 45 countries to support the Spanish Embassies and Consulates globally. Out of a total 128 Spanish Visa Centers, 53 are already operational from December 2016, and together the company expects to process approximately 1.8 million applications annually. The five-year contract is worth €175 million (Rs 1,300 crore), Recently, BLS International also announced the renewal order for four years from Russia and Singapore for outsourcing services to the Indian Embassies and Consulates. Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director and Additional Director, BLS International Services Limited said, “Through our association with Spain government, we intend to provide Spanish Visa’s effortlessly accessible by providing services in many small countries like Algeria, Ecuador, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Mauritania etc. We aim at expanding our foreign mission category by bagging global contracts particularly from Thailand and Canada governments, via a competitive process.” BLS International has commenced one Spanish Visa Application Center in each Delhi and Mumbai and at least one center in other countries around the globe including, Russia, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, China, India, South Africa, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Dominican, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Senegal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Oman, Kenya, Cameroon, Scotland, Israel, Ghana, Qatar, Ukraine, Thailand, Philippines, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Tunisia, Nigeria, Armenia, Belarus, Iraq, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. The company plans to open several more offices in these locations in 2017.

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43 proposals from 11 bidders received under Regional Connectivity Scheme

Under the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) Regional Connectivity Scheme, the Airports Authority Of India (AAI) has received 43 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering 190 routes. These proposals are now open for counter-bidding. Under the scheme, 30 currently served airports, 12 currently underserved airports and 50 currently unserved airports (making a total of 92 airports) are expected to be connected based on the initial proposals.

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600 buyers, 108 exhibitors attend GPS Nagpur

Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) was inaugurated on January 20, 2016, at Hotel Centre Point, Nagpur in the presence of Satinder S. Ahuja, Honorary Counsul, Consulate of Georgia, Marzban Antia, Vice President, TAAI, Ankush Nijhawan, MD, Nijhawan Group, and SanJeet, Vice Chairman, PATA India and MD, DDP Group, among other dignitaries. Harmandeep Singh Anand, Co-founder, GPS and MD, Jagsons Travels, informed that 108 exhibitors showcased their various products and offerings for the Tier II and Tier III markets. The event was attended by over 600 buyers. “If we see the multiplier effect, then approximately for 108 exhibitors and 1,000 buyers, 100,000 meetings can be done. This is a huge number. We have witnessed 99 per cent success in terms of exchange of e-cards.” The GPS mobile application launched for the 5th edition has been a huge success, Anand informed adding that the application is undergoing constant upgrade. He informed that to facilitate live feed and news, TravTalk will be integrated in the application. In the upcoming events, video conferencing facilities will also be made available to the attendees. “The buyers and exhibitors can maintain the database and keep in touch even after the show. All data can be found at one marketplace which will bring together the big and small service providers as well as all kinds of travel agents and tour operators in the Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Vidarbha a region” he added. He further informed that five per cent of the profit from GPS this year will be contributed to Dr. Amit Samarth, a doctor by profession but a sports and fitness promoter in India, in order to fund his endeavour to compete in race across America challenge in 2017. …

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OTOAI urges FinMin to amend tax abatement for agents

The Outbound Tour Operators Association of lndia (OTOAl) has written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley regarding the recent amendment in Service Tax, which would impact outbound tour markets. Explaining how the agents will not be given any input credit on the tax they pay, OTOAI has said that this would hamper the growth of the tourism industry. OTOAI has urged the finance minister to consider that the abatement available to tour operator should be amended to provide a choice to the tour operator to opt for a lower abatement along with CENVAT credit on input services or opt for a higher abatement without claiming the CENVAT credit on input services. The letter undersigned by OTOAI President Guldeep Singh Sahni reads, “As the actual margin earned by the tour operators is only 3 to 5 per cent, the increase in taxable value to 60 per cent will significantly negatively impact the sector and increase the cost of outbound tours.”

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Maharashtra emerges as the largest source market for Tourism Australia

Tourism Australia has yet again witnessed noteworthy growth statistics from Maharashtra, retaining the State’s position as a key tourism source market in India. As of year ended (YE) September 2016, Maharashtra has recorded an increase of 25 per cent in tourist arrivals, and a remarkable increase of 18 per cent in spend. The state witnessed 53,800 visitors to Australia, contributing A$232 mn (Rs. 1,160 crores) to the Australian economy, with an average spend of Rs 2.15 lacs per person. Total arrivals from India for the year ended November 2016 were recorded at 256,400, an increase of 11.5 per cent relative to the same period the previous year, making India the 9th largest inbound market for Australia. Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, said, “We are extremely delighted that all our focused consumer and distribution initiatives in Maharashtra have paid off, resulting in a stupendous increase in arrivals and spend from the state. Going forward, we are positive that our extensive analysis of the market, in tandem with our key distribution partners and airlines, will provide us with the requisite insights to modify and transform our approach to cater to the requirements of travellers from Maharashtra. We will continue to reach out to our audience through a mix of traditional and evolving communication platforms. Maharashtra has undoubtedly been our fastest growing market and we will put in our best efforts to keep up the momentum and further drive visitation to Australia.” Tourism Australia has undertaken several focused activities in Maharashtra. One such successful association was that with Veena World. As part of the collaboration, eminent Marathi television and film stars who travelled to Australia for MAAI (Marathi Achievers …

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Oaks debuts in India with 78-room Oaks Bodhgaya

Australian accommodation provider Oaks Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of Oaks Bodhgaya, marking the brand’s debut in India. Part of Minor Hotels portfolio of brands, the group has partnered with GP Group and Top Travel & Tours to open the new hotel, which represents an overall investment of $6.7m. The 78-room hotel includes 74 deluxe rooms offer 30 square metres of space and feature twin beds, a walk-in shower and some have a bathtub. Three suites, each offering 66 square metres of space, feature a king size bed, two bathrooms with a bathtub, a lounge and dining area. Designed specifically with disabled access, a deluxe suite of 40 square metres is equipped with two bathrooms featuring walk-in showers, along with well-planned living and dining areas. Business and event guests can take advantage of the banquet hall. “We are very excited to announce the opening of Oaks Bodhgaya which represents Minor Hotels’ debut in India,” said Thomas Meier, Minor Hotels Senior Vice President Operations – Asia. “Minor Hotels has been looking for the right opportunity to expand its footprint into India and we are pleased to have partnered with GP Group and Top Travel & Tours Pvt. Ltd to launch our Oaks brand in this new market which has huge potential.” Sanjog Modgil, Vice President Hospitality, of GP Group, commented, “The GP Group has long recognised the potential of the Indian Buddhist Circuit and we are delighted to partner with Minor Hotels and Top Travel & Tours Pvt. Ltd to launch Oaks Bodhgaya, which marks the first step in establishing our presence on this world famous circuit in India.” Home to Mahabodhi Temple, where Buddha is said to have …

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