Tourism Breaking News

IndiGo to start flights on Doha-Kochi route in July

IndiGo Airlines is all set to start its flights on the Doha-Kochi route in July. Speaking on the new additions, Aditya Ghosh, President & Whole Time Director, IndiGo, said, “In July, we are looking at more flights to Doha from Kerala. We also have flights from Bengaluru to Singapore. We will then have more flights from Doha to Kerala, and may be later, we could start flights to Hyderabad as well as Delhi from Doha. After that, we are looking at Dhaka as a possible new international destination.”

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MoCA’s DigiYatra to make air travel seamless

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will be adding a digital experience for air travellers through DigiYatra Platform, which is an industry-led initiative co-ordinated by the Ministry. The move comes in line with Air Sewa which brings together all the stakeholders on a common platform for handling customer grievances and disseminating real-time data. Union Minister for Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju claimed that DigiYatra initiative will transform the flying experience for passengers and position Indian aviation amongst the most innovative air networks in the world. Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, launched a report on DigiYatra on June 8 and said that this initiative aims to bring together entire industry to develop a digital ecosystem that will deliver Indian customers a seamless, consistent and paperless service experience at every touch point of their journey. The Ministry has created a Technical Committee comprising industry stakeholders which will submit its recommendations in 30 days. These propositions would be open for public comments and discussions for another 30 days. These would then be translated into a time-bound action plan. He informed that all aviation stakeholders – airlines, airport operators, security and immigration agencies, cab operators, retail establishment and others are working to devise digital standards which can enable seamless exchange of data and information. He said that these standards can power unique applications which can deliver a delightful experience for air travellers. Sinha also said that the platform will be built on 4 key pillars—Connected Passengers, Connected Airports, Connected Flying and Connected Systems. DigiYatra would offer which can make it possible over a period of time for passengers to plan their trips efficiently by identifying price trends and estimate future airfares …

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Hotels with 3 or more stars to reopen bars in Kerala

The dry spell is over in Kerala with the state government reversing the restricted liquor policy of the previous government and allowing bars to function as usual. The government will allow the bars to function in hotels with three-star status and above. The five-star hotels are already allowed to open bars. Hotels below three-star category will be allowed to run beer and wine parlours. The bars will remain open from 11 am to 11pm. Bars will be allowed to remain open from 10 am to 11pm in tourism centres. Both international and domestic terminals of the airports will be allowed to sell liquor. The permissible age limit for consuming liquor has been increased from 21to 23. The new liquor policy will protect the interests of the traditional liquor, toddy. Bars, including the 5five-star ones, will be allowed to sell toddy. Toddy Board will be constituted to protect the interests of the industry. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the UDF policy of restricted liquor policy was a failure. “It has led to an increase in the demand for drugs. The Supreme Court order on closure of bars and liquor stores on the highways will be implemented,” he added. (Source: Economic Times)

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MTOA conducts GST seminar for members in Mumbai

Following close on the heels of national travel trade associations, the Maharashtra Tour Organisers Association (MTOA) recently conducted a seminar on the impending GST for its members in Mumbai. It was conducted on June 5, 2017, by noted Service Tax expert Manish Gadia, Partner, GMJ & Co, who conducted similar sessions for TAAI as well as IATO. Sudhir Patil, President, MTOA, says, “We welcome the new GST regime though there is a lot of fear factor attached to it. Complications are expected. But I hope that more seminars will help us make this a smooth transition.” The association also launched its website (www.mtoa.co.in) on the same day.

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Jet, Aeromexico enter codeshare agreement

Jet Airways and Aeromexico, the flag carrier airline of Mexico, have signed a MoU that outlines cooperation in the areas of enabling codeshare flights and frequent flyer programs. As part of the arrangement, both carriers will code on each other’s services between India and Mexico via common gates in Europe (London Heathrow, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Amsterdam). To begin with, Jet Airways will place its marketing code ‘9W’ on Aeromexico flights from London Heathrow to Mexico City. In turn, Aeromexico will place its marketing code on Jet Airways’ direct services from London Heathrow to Mumbai and Delhi. The MoU was signed by Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal and Aeromexico’s CEO Andrés Conesa, on the sidelines of the IATA’s AGM in Cancun, Mexico. Goyal said, “We are confident that this new codeshare partnership will stimulate the demand for business and tourist travel between India and Mexico. This comprehensive MoU signed between the two carriers, also includes cooperation in the area of reciprocal Frequent Flyer benefits for members.” Conesa added, “This will build new bridges and connect Mexico to India more easily. This achievement is a manifest of our will to continuously offer new flight destinations to our passengers. Also, by connecting with an important country as India, Aeromexico creates new cultural bonds and tourism exchange between both nations.” The initial codeshare flights via London Heathrow will open for sale as well as travel later this year, subject to government approvals. Flight tickets under the codeshare agreement can be purchased via preferred travel agents or through the two airlines’ sales offices, websites and call centers.

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StayWell Hospitality Group launches Leisure Inn Shrey, Jodhpur

Australian hotel management company, StayWell Hospitality Group has extended its international footprint with the opening of its fifth property in Rajasthan, the Leisure Inn Shrey in Jodhpur. Rohit Vig, Managing Director for StayWell Hospitality Group in India, said that the opening of the new property solidifies the brand’s presence in the region. “We have signed 12 hotels under the Park Regis and Leisure Inn Brands, which will result in the opening of properties in Hyderabad, Goa, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Gurgaon–Sohna Road and Greater Noida,” he said. The opening of Leisure Inn Shrey in partnership with Hukam Constructions & Hotels Pvt. Ltd will deliver a roof-top restaurant and conference facilities along with well-appointed rooms and international service standards that the Leisure Inn brand is famous for. Additionally, the hotel will house the famous vegetarian restaurant ‘Grand Chanakya’ which has a sister restaurant under the same name in Jaipur at the Leisure Inn Grand Chanakya. Shranik Jain, Owner of Hukam Constructions & Hotels Pvt., said that the partnership with StayWell Hospitality Group was about aligning with the best possible global partner to enter the hospitality sector for the first time. “Our partnership will deliver premium hospitality expertise and a world-class experience to not only our guests but to the region, it’s an alignment we are extremely proud of as we feel we are in the best possible position for future success,” he said.

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Air India to start new flights from Lucknow

Air India is all set to start new flights not only under government’s Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme, but non-UDAN flights as well to strengthen its domestic network. Ashwani Lohani, CMD, Air India, informs, “We will be starting flights under UDAN to Pathankot and Ludhiana. There will be non UDAN flights as well, and we will be starting new flights from Lucknow from June 25 on Lucknow-Jaipur, Lucknow-Dehradun and Lucknow-Bhopal routes. In South India, we will be putting an airplane in Bengaluru this month, which would be flying to Coimbatore, Chennai and Madurai.”

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Don’t let tourism suffer in Gulf crisis: UFTAA

Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association (UFTAA) has expressed concern over the impact on tourism of Gulf crisis due to Saudi–led grouping of Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, Yemen and Maldives, cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar. Sunil Kumar, President, UFTAA, said, “UFTAA appeals to the involved countries to not involve Tourism at large and Aviation in specific for political purposes. Tourism is a vehicle for peace and understanding between nationals even if the politicians think otherwise. The right for free movement of people is very basic.” He was speaking on the sidelines of IATA’s Annual General Meeting at Cancun, Mexico.

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Palace on Wheels to be discontinued

Prominent heritage train, Palace on Wheels (POW) will acquire a significantly different appearance during the coming tourist season. The original Palace on Wheels, in existence since 1982, will be discontinued since it has completed its life-cycle. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW) will now be rechristened as Palace on Wheels (POW). N.C. Goel, ACS (Tourism) and Chairman, RTDC, arrived at this decision following intimation from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) about the current POW having completed 35 years of operation. The rake requires replacement after 25 years on account of corrosion-related problems and codal life basis. The corporation, instead of investing in new rakes, has decided to use the old rakes of Royal Rajasthan on Wheels from the coming season. “Over the last 35 years of operation, POW has established itself as a prime tourism product and acquired a phenomenal image branding in the world travel trade. We want to retain its name and continue its operation as a flagship project of the RTDC and Indian Railways. With only one train, we would like to build on the POW product. There is a meeting with the railway board on Monday, where they will take a call on our proposal,” stated Goel. “Travel trade stakeholders are confident that this would get us more business,” he added. RROW, in existence since 2008, is recognized as India’s most luxurious train with an accommodation capacity of 82 passengers. “The rechristened train will run on the present itinerary, tariff and revenue sharing pattern (56:44) under the existing agreement of Palace on Wheels between the Indian Railways and RTDC. With this, the operation of RROW will stand discontinued from the ensuing season. We already have advance bookings …

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Lemon Tree Hotels-operated Sandal Suites opens doors

The launch of Sandal Suites, operated by Lemon Tree Hotels, marked the opening of Noida’s first upscale serviced suites. Sandal Suites features 195 suites, extensive banqueting facilities, numerous dining options, and an array of recreational facilities, in a contemporary setting. These serviced apartments, situated just off the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway, are located within Assotech Business Cresterra, the LEED Gold Certified office complex in the IT hub of Sector 135, Noida. Speaking at the launch, Rattan Keswani, Deputy Managing Director, Lemon Tree Hotels and Director, Carnation Hotels Pvt. Ltd., said, “This occasion marks a few ‘firsts’ for Lemon Tree Hotels – it is the first property Lemon Tree Hotels (through our management arm, Carnation Hotels) will be operating in Noida, and our first foray into the upscale serviced suites space. This is also our first partnership with Sandal Suites Pvt. Ltd., one that we hope to see grow in strength in the coming years. “The launch of Sandal Suites is in response to the growing demand for comfortable and convenient extended stay accommodation options for business and IT professionals in our vicinity. It is the only upscale accommodation available within an 8 km catchment and is the perfect address for those looking for a “home away from home” – be it business travellers, project teams or relocating families,” he added.

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