Tourism Breaking News

Minar Group to introduce new leisure and MiCE vertical

The Minar Group is set to come up with a new leisure and MiCE vertical known as ‘Wishcover- Inspire journeys by Minar’. The new vertical is headed by Jasmine Duggal, Director, Minar Airways. Attempting to create a benchmark in the outbound market, Wishcover will focus to provide an inspired experience to travellers within India and abroad. The group has set a target of generating 20 crore by 2020 with the new vertical.

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India to gain an additional 359 million passengers by 2037

India is forecast to gain an additional 359 million passengers by 2037, compared to 2017,  according to a report by IATA, titled ‘The Future is Bright…But Not Without Its Challenges’. This means that, by 2037, there will be almost 520 million passengers flying to/from and within India each year. Domestic passengers will account for around 63 per cent of the total growth over this period, or 228 million additional passengers. Foreign passengers will contribute less to overall growth, representing 37 per cent of the total market growth, equal to 131 million additional passengers.

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Indian Railways earmarks investment of Rs 856,000 crore for rail infrastructure

The Indian Railways has put an ambitious target towards augmenting rail infrastructure, earmarking investment of Rs 856,000 crore between 2015-16 and 2019-20. Network decongestion and expansion, and safety comprise 60 per cent share of the overall capital expenditure. The capital investment on infrastructure creation is expected to sustain at high levels on the back of long-term financing via Life Insurance Corporation of India, funding by multilateral agencies, and building relationships and partnering with the private sector. Over the last three years, 33 per cent of the total capital investment was towards construction of new lines, track renewal works, gauge conversion and safety works. Likewise, broad gauge line and electrification projects gather momentum. The commissioning of both in the last three years almost doubled, from 1,500 km during 2008-09 to 2013-14 to 3,000 km in 2016-17 for broad gauge, and 1,100 km to 2,000 km for electrification.

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Indian airlines to order 2,100 planes over the next 20 years

In a recent forecast by Boeing, Indian airlines are expected to order as many as 2,100 planes worth US$290 billion over the next 20 years. As per a study by FICCI-Yes Bank report titled ‘Opportunities and Financing Outlook for Aviation Sector’, this increase is led by strong passenger demand, low fuel prices, high load factor, strong local currency and strong economic growth. Indian carriers operated 496 aircraft in FY17 up from 381 in FY08. At the end of FY17, Indian airlines had ordered more than 800 planes. Boeing projects a worldwide demand for 41,030 new airplanes over the next 20 years, with India carriers needing more than 5.1 percent of the total global demand.

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IHG debuts in Udaipur with Holiday Inn Udaipur Urban Square

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a management agreement with Bhumika Enterprises for Holiday Inn Udaipur Urban Square. The 195-room hotel will be the first Holiday Inn hotel in the city and is expected to be operational by 2022. Boasting of an excellent location, Holiday Inn Udaipur Urban Square will be an integral part of the upcoming ‘Urban Square’, an integrated hospitality, retail and family entertainment destination spread over 1.8 million square feet. Sudeep Jain, Vice President—Development, South West Asia, IHG said, “We are delighted to partner with Bhumika Group to mark IHG’s debut in Udaipur, under the Holiday Inn banner. Urban Square is set to develop as a landmark destination for hospitality, retail and family entertainment in Udaipur and we are pleased to be a part of this prestigious development. The Holiday Inn brand family is our growth driver in the midscale hotel segment in India, and we have accelerated our expansion this year with a number of signings across the country.” Uddhav Poddar, Managing Director, Bhumika Group, said, “IHG is a leading hospitality player, globally and we are very pleased to partner with the company to launch Holiday Inn Udaipur Urban Square. We are confident that the Holiday Inn brand will further enhance the bouquet of services that the Urban Square has to offer to travellers.’’  

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Thomas Cook launches Forex Card mobile app to manage multiple currencies

Thomas Cook (India) has delivered on a series of innovative mobile-first initiatives: the thomascook.in Holidays, Visa & Forex Online Stores and Apps, iLead-a CRM-integrated Holiday Sales App, Tour Manager App and customer self-service App, Click2Book for business travellers, an advanced web-technology platform Astra, robotics and machine learning, Voyager-a customised holiday bundler, etc. With a YoY growth of 16 per cent, the highest estimated growth rate by any country in the world, more than a quarter of India’s population is expected to be using smartphones by the end of 2018 (337 million users), according to eMarketer. Not surprisingly, the adoption of mobile apps has seen rapid evolution- across not merely travel, but also foreign exchange transactions. Data from Thomas Cook’s Foreign Exchange business highlights the clear shift with a 47 per cent growth in mobile transactions. Hence, in a strategic move to empower the new age, mobile-first Indian traveller, the company has launched the Thomas Cook Borderless App. The first-of-its-kind app enables its multicurrency Borderless Prepaid Forex Card users to access and manage their Borderless Prepaid Card account anywhere, anytime, from the convenience of a smartphone. Kailash Gupta, Senior Vice President & Head, Payment Solutions Thomas Cook (India), said, “Today’s impatient new-age traveller is increasingly opting for convenience and we are witnessing a significant consumer shift to mobile-led platforms for both travel and foreign exchange. Hence, in our digital focus to empower our travellers, we have launched a dedicated app for our Borderless multicurrency prepaid card users. The app, with its real time services, will significantly improve customer experience and enhance convenience and safety-security.”

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Travelport wins tender for sole distribution supplier to Air India

Travelport has announced that it had won a competitive tender process undertaken by Air India for the sole provision of distribution of its domestic flight content. The contract awarded to Travelport will begin to come into effect from November 2018 and be fully implemented by the end of 2019. The agreement confirms Air India’s continued deployment of Travelport Rich Content and Branding, now used by over 270 airlines. This displays airlines’ graphical content, their fares families and a full range of ancillary products. Travelport has seen a rapid expansion in India in recent years following the acquisition of business from the largest online travel agencies like MakeMyTrip, Ibibo, Yatra, EaseMyTrip and ClearTrip as well as working with the major corporate travel agencies and new entrants to the travel sector such as Paytm. Pradeep Singh Kharola, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India, said, “Air India is pleased to award this important contract to Travelport. In written submissions and in discussion with their team, the company demonstrated a clear understanding of our needs and displayed impressive technological and financial capability. As we make the switch to Travelport, we hope to be able to deliver even better value for money and a superior distribution to our customers in India and abroad.” Gordon Wilson, President and CEO, Travelport, commented, “Travelport is delighted to have been selected by Air India to provide these services. It is another welcome endorsement of our technology and our services in India. We look forward to implementing the agreement and delivering a world-class service to the airline.”

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Henley Passport Index 2018 ranking puts India on 81st spot

India has secured 81st spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 60 destinations. The current ranking is an improvement from last year’s, when India stood at 86. The 2018 Henley Passport Index is a ranking of all the passports of the world according to the number of countries their holders can travel to, visa-free. As per the index, Indians have access to travel without a visa to 60 countries, which includes Bhutan, Mauritius, Nepal, Fiji, among others. Japan has overtaken Singapore in terms of the most powerful passport. The island country now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. ‘Japan and Singapore have been neck and neck on the index since they both climbed to first place in February — following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan — and pushed Germany down to second for the first time since 2014,’ the statement said. In this year’s ranking, both UK and US have slipped the charts with 186 destinations. ‘‘With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers such as Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, it seems increasingly unlikely that the US and the UK will regain the number one spot they jointly held in 2015,’’ the statement said. Afghanistan and Iraq were ranked lowest on the index, as they have free-visa access to only 30 countries.

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France welcomes 89 million global tourists and 600,000 Indians in 2017

The year 2017 continued to be a record year for tourism in France, highlights Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India. The country had the honour of welcoming 89 million global tourists last year whilst retaining the position of being the most popular choice in the tourism industry. France also welcomed over 600,000 Indian visitors, being the number one destination in Europe for Indians.  Indian arrivals to France have doubled in the last four years and grew at approximately 20 per cent each year. The figures for 2018 already look very positive especially with the support of the embassy and visa efficiency. Two years back, the French embassy committed to take a visa decision within 48 hours of receiving an application and this has helped further promote the destination in India.  

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Air India to start Bengaluru-London direct from November 17

Air India is set to directly connect Bengaluru with London via a three-times-a-week flight starting November 17. The new flight will be operated by a Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) aircraft on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Bengaluru and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from London. The national carrier has also offered special introductory two-way fare of Rs 1,29,500 for business class travel and Rs 35,220 for economy for the proposed flight. The flight AI 177 will depart Bengaluru at 05:25 hours and arrive London at 11:05 hours. In its return journey, the flight AI 178 will leave from London at 13:00 hours and arrive in Bengaluru at 04:00 hours, the airline said.  The non-stop flight will fulfil the long standing demand of IT professionals and health tourism in the region. Source: PTI

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