Tourism Breaking News

SriLankan adds Airbus A320neo to its fleet

SriLankan Airlines has inducted the first of its latest Airbus aircraft—A320neo. The aircraft arrived on March 6 and will be the first of the A320neo and A321neo family aircraft in its fleet. Ajith Dias, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines, said: “Our airline realigned its strategic focus during the last quarter of 2016 to capitalize on market opportunities in the rapidly growing travel and tourism industry in Asia, which included the launch of services to 11new destinations throughout the Indian Ocean and Middle East regions. The arrival of the A320neo and A321neo aircraft will better align our fleet to this objective, as these aircraft are more suited to our medium-haul operations, while we already possess an excellent fleet of A330 aircraft for our long-haul routes.”

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PATA & Equator Learning launch travel agent initiative

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), in conjunction with England-based Equator Learning, is launching a travel agent initiative to support organisations with travel trade marketing efforts. The Asia & Pacific Expert is an online learning tool for travel agents that is applicable for all markets worldwide. It supports and promotes the destination as well as any pre-existing learning platform. Chris May, Managing Director – Equator Learning, says, “Knowledge is power. You have heard that many times before and know it to be 100 percent correct. Travel agents are becoming increasingly time poor and picking up un-qualified knowledge. This can damage a destination and its reputation. The Asia & Pacific Expert is a user-friendly solution for all destinations, providing a clear and reliable source of information for travel agents.” This initiative offers PATA members the opportunity to create a 30-minute learning module that will provide agents with essential information about a destination, empowering them with the ability to sell it correctly. Unlike any existing stand-alone learning platform the Asia & Pacific Expert gives agents all the facts they need to gain confidence while providing a new avenue to promote and link to an organisation’s existing site. In addition, this will offer an agent a friendly portal for all Asia Pacific destinations – providing the first one-stop shop for the region.

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Jet, Fiji Airways sign codeshare agreement

Jet Airways and Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national airline, have announced a codeshare partnership which offers guests travelling on both carriers seamless connectivity between India and Fiji via Singapore and Hong Kong. The codeshare agreement, a first-of-its-kind between the airlines of the two countries, will address the growing demand for travel between India and Fiji. Codeshare bookings are now open for sale for travel effective March 09, 2017. Jet Airways will place its ‘9W’ code on Fiji Airways’ flights from Singapore and Hong Kong to Nadi, and Fiji Airways will place its ‘FJ’ code on Jet Airways’ services between Singapore and Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai as well as between Hong Kong and Mumbai and Delhi. All codeshare flights will allow through check-in to the final destination of any journey. What’s more, JetPrivilege members will also be able to accrue and redeem JPMiles on the codeshare flights operated by Fiji Airways flights; and the accrued miles will count towards their tier status as well. Gaurang Shetty, Whole-time Director, Jet Airways said, “Our codeshare agreement with Fiji Airways reflects our continuing commitment to the travelling public, to offer the best possible connections to more and more destinations around the world which now extends to the beautiful paradise of Fiji. Ties between the people of India and Fiji can be traced back over a 100 years and with the governments of both countries making focused efforts to further strengthen trade, tourism and cultural ties, we believe this codeshare partnership will play a pivotal role in these endeavours by enabling seamless connectivity between both countries.” Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways’ Managing Director and CEO said: “This is a very significant achievement for both airlines. Demand for …

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AP Tourism promotes Vizag

The Confederation of Indian industry in Andhra Pradesh in association with Andhra Pradesh Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh, recently organised a conference on ‘Destination Vizag: A Hidden Paradise of the East’ in Vishakhapatnam to promote the destination. About 25 representatives of various destination management companies attended the conference and were later taken on a tour to Thotlakonda Buddhist circuit, Bheemli Beach and Kailash Giri as well as an eco tourism tour to Araku Valley hill station in Visakhapatnam district. While addressing the conference Pravin Kumar, IAS Collector Vizag said that most of the tourist attractions in Visakhapatnam are unexplored, and mentioned that through promotional initiatives and marketing the city could emerge as major tourist destination. Visakhapatnam’s hilly region and tribal lives could be attractions for foreign tourists. Sreekanth Nagulapalli, IAS, Secretary, Tourism, Go AP shared tourist attractions in Andhra Pradesh and Government’s tourism policy to promote infrastructure in tourism sector. He also shared proposed initiatives to promote Vishakhapatnam as destination of hills and beaches. Dr Subhash Goyal, Chairman, STIC group said that Vishakhapatnam needs to be marketed well. He suggested to form a joint working group to initiate the discussion Andhra Tourism Mart. He also suggested various policy initiatives to the state government which could increase tourist arrivals into the state. Chetan Gupta, General Secretary, ADTOI suggested for more air connectivity, a need for Tourism Information Offices in the micro cities and need for developing package tours.

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Thailand to celebrate Thai culture in Mumbai on March 11-12

To mark the celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and India, the Royal Thai Consulate General in Mumbai will organise a cultural commemorative titled ‘Namaste Thailand in Mumbai’ on March 11-12, 2017 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (Prince of Wales Museum) from 4.30pm onwards with no entry fees. The spectators can witness classical Thai dance and music along with a variety of shows and unique dance forms from different parts of Thailand. Muay Thai and different forms of martial arts too will be performed by the professionals. There will also be a photo exhibition area where the pictures from the #FocusThailand contest will be displayed.

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AccorHotels launches new tool for leisure group bookings

AccorHotels has announced a new group online booking tool— Leisure Online ( LOL)—for its travel trade partners. The digital solution provides travel professionals with real time availability and best rates guaranteed for leisure group bookings of 15 to 60 people (from 8 to 30 rooms) at more than 900 hotels and resorts worldwide, including India. Leisure Online is  user-friendly and designed like a booking engine for easy use. It is available anywhere, anytime giving bookers the flexibility to make reservations with ease and in no time. It allows bookers to consult single, double and twin room availability in real time, receive automatic access to the best available rate (rates are dynamic net rates and inclusive of breakfast) with an option to confirm instantly. Accessed via www.accorhotels.com/tourism, the Leisure Online booking tool also enables online users to pre-book directly in the hotel’s system, including additional services such as restaurant bookings and porterage at the click of a button. Further, being an online tool, Leisure Online notifies hotels in real time and they respond to requests within 24 hours. Arif Patel, Vice President Sales, Marketing, Distribution & Loyalty, AccorHotels India, said, “Indians today have emerged as the world’s newest globetrotters, spurred by a vastly improved spending power coupled with declining airfares, improved connectivity and strong uptake for Visa on Arrival and evisas. Increasingly more Indians, especially from non-metro cities are turning to travel as the primary leisure option and the trend will continue to stronger in times to come. That said, group bookings remain a cumbersome task for tourism fraternity.”

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Celebrating 70 years of India-Thailand relations

The Royal Thai Embassy presented Namaste Thailand Festival 2017 in New Delhi at the Bridge, DLF Promenade Mall and Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj. Visitors were treated to Thai food, Thai products, Thai cultural performances and fun activities, at the festival, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and India. Along with the Royal Thai Embassy, New Delhi, the festival was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of Thailand, Thai Trade Center New Delhi, Tourism Authority of Thailand New Delhi, Thai Airways New Delhi, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)

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AccorHotels and Rixos Hotels enter strategic partnership

AccorHotels and Rixos Hotels have entered into a strategic partnership illustrating AccorHotels’ strategy to expand its presence in the Upper Upscale/Luxury market, with a primary focus on developing global activities in the resort segment. Under a long-term joint venture, both parties intend to collaborate, develop and manage Rixos branded resorts & hotels worldwide. Upon closing, AccorHotels will own a 50% interest in the joint venture management company. Through this joint venture, AccorHotels will integrate in its network 15 iconic hotels that are ideally located in premium resort markets in Turkey, UAE, Egypt, Russia and Europe and which benefit from strong room rate performance. As part of this transaction, Rixos plans to reflag five city-centre hotels to AccorHotels brands which will also be managed by AccorHotels. To this portfolio, Rixos will add a second iconic hotel in Dubai in the very short term as well as two other properties by the end of 2018 in Abu Dhabi and the Maldives highlighting the expansion of the Rixos brand into this key resort market. Rixos is one of only a handful iconic resort brands in the region that caters to both high-end transient and group customers. It is recognized as one of the leading luxury destination brands in Turkey and the Middle East due to its best-in-class facilities, dining options and entertainment venues. Each unique property is able to capture the traditions of its surrounding while providing signature experiences, unforgettable sensory offerings, and unparalleled level of tailored services. The Rixos collection includes notable landmark assets such as Rixos Premium Belek in Turkey and Rixos The Palm in Dubai. Additionally, Rixos has invested in Turkey’s largest life and entertainment center, The Land of Legends …

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ETAA’s Domestic Convention 2017 sees pan-India participation

Enterprising Travel Agent’s Association (ETAA) took their second Domestic Convention to Hyderabad which was held from Mar 3-5, 2017, at Leonia Holistic Destination. The event gathered over 200 attendees, informed Jagat Mehta, President, ETAA, and added that the edition saw a pan-India participation from different states of the country such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, New Delhi, West Bengal, to name a few. He elaborated, “We were very satisfied with the turnout and the response. While there were a few last minute cancellations, it did nothing to deter the spirit. Our first domestic convention was held back in 2011 with 180 members from Mumbai, Pune and a few from Gujarat so in comparison to that, we’ve managed to bring together a diverse crowd. Yes, business is the main aim but so is forging and strengthening bonds.” The three-day convention involved B2B meetings between buyers and sellers that was effective in connecting travel agents and tour operators from Tier II & III cities to travel suppliers, and also saw a host of team-building activities take place in the sprawling 150-acre property.

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Czech Republic visa application centre now in Kochi

The Embassy of the Czech Republic and VFS Global have launched the 11th Czech Republic Visa Application Centre in Kochi, bringing access to visa application facilities for residents of Kochi. The centre was inaugurated by Martin Smolek, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and H.E. Milan Hovorka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in India and, Mayor of Municipal Corporation of Kochi, Hon. Soumini Jain on March 3, 2017. This new centre in Kochi is centrally located at 1st Floor, Coastal Chambers, M G Road, Ravipuram. In the last one year, Kochi is the eleventh city in India where VFS Global has launched a Visa Application Centre for the Czech Republic, to provide for the growing demands for visas to the country among Indian tourists. This comes immediately after a new Czech Republic Visa Application Centre was opened in Jaipur.

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