Tourism Breaking News

Diwali-inspired MRT trains in Singapore

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA), in collaboration with the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA), has launched a Diwali-themed train that will run on the city’s famous Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. The train is on the city’s North-East line, that includes a stop at the Little India station, from where one could go and take in the festive lights that decorate the main artery road of Little India. The train is decorated with colourful, Rangoli and Indian garlands-inspired designs, lotus and peacocks, symbolizing good luck. The train was launched on October 15, 2016, by Singapore’s Minister for Transport, Khaw Boon Wan and will run through mid-November. GB Srithar, Regional Director, South Asia, Middle East & Africa, Singapore Tourism Board, invited Indian travelers to visit Singapore, saying “Singapore is a year-round festive city. During the Festival of Lights, the whole Little India area comes alive with lighted up streets, Diwali bazaars, eateries serving great food and much music in the air. I can say, in a candid festive spirit, it’s a great time to visit the city where even the train gets dressed up for Diwali.”

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Raffles Hotel Singapore to undergo restoration from Jan 2017

The iconic Raffles Hotel Singapore will embark on a careful and sensitive restoration programme. The restoration of this heritage hotel, owned by Katara Hospitality, will be conducted over three phases to ensure every detail of the programme is approached with careful consideration. Phase one of the programmes will begin in January 2017 and see the Raffles Hotel Arcade undergo restoration works while other areas of the property operate as normal. The Raffles Hotel Arcade houses 40 regional and specialty shops, indoor and outdoor function areas including The Ballroom and The Lawn and a variety of restaurants and bars including well-known Long Bar, home of the iconic Singapore Sling. Phase 2 will begin in mid 2017 when restoration efforts will commence on the main hotel building and Lobby as well as a portion of the hotel suites. Following that, Raffles Hotel Singapore will close for the final phase near the end of 2017 before a grand reopening in the second quarter of 2018. “Raffles Hotel Singapore has always evolved to stay distinctive and relevant, moving with the times and adapting to the changing needs of today’s traveller. We have a rich and colourful history and are about to begin a new chapter in our ongoing story – a sensitive restoration that will enable us to continue to offer what our guests expect and value,” said Diana Banks, Vice President, Raffles Brand, Raffles Hotels and Resorts. The last restoration was conducted from 1989 to 1991 where the hotel closed for two and a half years.  The luxury hotel has 103 individually designed suites – 84 Courtyard and Palm Court Suites, 12 Personality Suites, 5 Grand Hotel Suites and 2 Presidential Suites. Raffles …

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Telangana Govt signs MoU to provide skill development for hospitality

Government of Telangana and O2 Skills Academy have signed MoU to train 1,260 men and women between the ages of 18-35 over the next 3 years. This collaboration will aim to provide employment linked, market-oriented vocational training that will enable filling in the gaps the spa and hospitality industry faces by providing trained resources. The role of O2 Skills Academy will be to ensure effective mobilisation, training, certification and finally placement into apt jobs. This agreement is within the purview of the Telangana Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM) which falls under the Department of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development. The first batch of students under this program starts classes from the 17th of October 2016. A maximum of 35 students per batch will undergo practical and theoretical classes for 3 months with an option of being trained in Wellness therapies, Hair and Beauty treatments in addition to Hospitality (F&B and Housekeeping).The curriculum is designed and approved by the Government of Telangana (EGMM).

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SpiceJet to start 8 new flights from Nov 15

SpiceJet has announced new additional flights for this winter with effect from November 15, 2016. The airline has inducted three Boeing 737-800s to operate the eight new flights and eight new connections. With the introduction of the new and additional flights, the airline will operate 334 flights a day. With ‘regional connectivity’ as the macro theme, SpiceJet has been rendering constant focus on the agenda while undertaking network expansions and has most recently introduced three new flights to Northeast. The new schedule also focuses on connecting the key metros with special emphasis on Bengaluru and Hyderabad catering to the seasonal demand. The airline has also increased its frequency for Ahmedabad to key metros besides Goa. Shilpa Bhatia, Sr. VP, Commercial, SpiceJet, says, “Our new winter schedule strikes the right balance with equal emphasis on metro and non-metro connectivity. The induction of three new aircraft will cater to the enhanced seasonal demand while offering flexibility to customers with more flight options to choose from. Besides, with the introduction of additional direct flights, the schedule will offer seamless connectivity to business and leisure travellers alike.”

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MakeMyTrip & ibibo Group announce merger

Leading online travel groups, MakeMyTrip Limited and ibibo Group, have agreed to pursue a transaction that will combine the two businesses under MakeMyTrip. The combination will bring together a bouquet of leading consumer travel brands, including MakeMyTrip, goibibo, redBus, Ryde and Rightstay, which together processed 34.1 mm transactions during FY2016.Following the closing of the proposed transaction, Founder Deep Kalra will remain Group CEO and Executive Chairman of MakeMyTrip and Co-founder Rajesh Magow will continue to remain CEO India of MakeMyTrip. Founder and CEO of ibibo Group, Ashish Kashyap, will join MakeMyTrip’s executive team as a Co-founder and President of the organization. The transaction is expected to unlock value for customers, supply partners and shareholders, by combining the complementary strengths of each business. Naspers and Tencent, through their jointly owned holding company (91% owned by Naspers and 9% owned by Tencent), are selling ibibo Group to MakeMyTrip in exchange for an issuance of new shares by MakeMyTrip. Upon closing of the transaction, MakeMyTrip will own 100% of ibibo Group. Naspers and Tencent will become the single largest shareholder in MakeMyTrip, owning a 40% stake, and will contribute proportionate working capital upon closing. Deep Kalra, Chairman and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip, said: “Today’s announcement is a significant step forward for the rapidly growing travel industry in India. We expect this deal to create an even more scalable business with the expertise to transform the booking experience for Indian travellers. I am delighted to be leading such a strong team in our next chapter of high-growth in this dynamic industry.” Rajesh Magow, co-founder and CEO India of MakeMyTrip added: “We welcome the ibibo team to the newly expanded MakeMyTrip family. The combination of these two …

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ITDC marks 50th year with great fanfare

India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) celebrated the completion of 50 years at a gala event at The Ashok, New Delhi. The event was graced by the presence of Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Umang Narula, Chairman & Managing Director, ITDC. The who’s who of the travel and hospitality industry joined the celebrations and raised a toast to ITDC.

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South African Tourism partners with Thomas Cook for Diwali & Christmas packages

South African Tourism has joined hands with Thomas Cook to offer travel packages and deals for Indian travellers especially during Diwali and Christmas holidays. They can now have the opportunity to take advantage of the special, fun-filled, activity and experience rich holiday itineraries from Thomas Cook in association with South African Tourism. Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, South African Tourism,said, “We constantly endeavor to create exciting and innovative experiences for our visitors. We would love for more Indians to come and witness the wonder that is South Africa – to truly experience and know the country like the locals. In close partnership with a leading travel trade partner like Thomas Cook, we hope to ensure that our Indian visitors have the best and most memorable experience from the minute they begin planning their trip. With a favorable exchange rate, Indian travellers going to South Africa will get an exceptional value on the ground as they can partake in so many more activities and experiences in their desired budget.” Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head – Leisure Travel & MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd says, “For our Teams at Thomas Cook India, our partnership with South Africa Tourism has had a significant positive impact- South Africa has now emerged as one of our fastest growth long haul destinations for Indian outbound travelers!  Our upcoming campaign is strategic and focused on a 3 pronged delivery: strong growth of over 15%; inspire demand not only for  popular choices across individual and group travellers (Cape Town, Garden Route, Johannesburg, Sun City), but equally showcase newer regions like Kruger, Franschhoek, etc., and thirdly, catalyse uptake for fresh new opportunities like self-drives and winter-travel.”

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China Southern to connect Guangzhou to Adelaide and Toronto from Dec 7

China Southern Airlines has launched two new connections — Guangzhou-Adelaide and Guangzhou-Toronto. Starting December 7, 2016, the double daily flights would offer further connections for Indians travelling to these destinations, especially with a great frequency on the airline between Delhi and Guangzhou. Chen Yongguang, General Manager, China Southern Airlines, announced the new connections at an evening of cocktail and dinner at The Lalit, New Delhi, in the presence of representatives from the travel trade and media. He said that the new flights would be beneficial to Indians travelling to Australia and Canada, and that too at a good price.

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90-room Ginger hotel opens in Vapi

Ginger Hotels has announced the opening of 90-room Ginger Vapi. Strategically located 7 kms from the railway station on the Mumbai-Surat highway, Ginger Vapi is in close proximity to the GIDC industrial area and provides convenient access to the city’s thriving industrial sector. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a well-equipped fitness center, reliable security and efficient meeting facilities. The hotel is also a great option for travelers visiting the Daman and Jampore beaches. Sharing his thoughts on the opening, Rahul Pandit, MD & CEO, Ginger Hotels, said, “We are proud to expand our presence in Western India with the opening of Ginger Vapi, our fourth hotel in Gujarat. Ginger is the pioneer and the largest chain of branded budget hotels in India with a resilient promise of safety, cleanliness, relaxing sleep experience, refreshing shower experience, a hearty breakfast and seamless Wi-Fi. We assure travelers of a consistently pleasant experience with us.”

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Singapore Airlines gets its sixth Airbus A350-900

Singapore Airlines’ sixth A350-900 is the 10,000th aircraft delivered by Airbus. The delivery milestone was celebrated at a special ceremony in Toulouse attended by Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong and Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders. “Singapore Airlines is honoured to be receiving the 10,000th aircraft that Airbus has delivered. Airbus aircraft have contributed greatly to Singapore Airlines’ successes over the decades, and we are proud to be sharing in this important milestone with our longstanding and trusted partner,” said Goh. Enders added, “We are especially proud to celebrate this milestone with Singapore Airlines – one of our longest-standing customers and a true partner. Today, the SIA Group operates aircraft from across our complete product line and with the highest levels of technical excellence. There is no better endorsement for our products and we thank the entire SIA Group for its ongoing confidence, partnership and support.” Singapore Airlines placed its first order with Airbus in 1979, for the A300B4. The SIA Group has since operated aircraft from all of Airbus’ product lines – the A300, A310, A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380 families. The SIA Group currently operates aircraft from all of Airbus’ in-production product lines. The A350-900 is the newest addition to the Singapore Airlines fleet. The Airline is the largest A350-900 customer with commitments for 67 firm orders, including seven of the ultra-long-range A350-900ULR variant. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the A350-900ULR, for which deliveries will begin in 2018. The aircraft will be used to re-launch non-stop flights between Singapore and the US cities of New York and Los Angeles. The A350-900 delivered has a special “10,000th Airbus Aircraft” logo and will be used to launch …

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