Tourism Breaking News

Rakesh Sarna resigns as IHCL MD and CEO

Taj Group has announced that its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Sarna has resigned owing to personal reasons. Sarna had joined Indian Hotels Company Limited as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer on September 1, 2014. IHCL Chairman N. Chandrasekaran said Sarna had chosen to resign upon completion of his three-year tenure as MD and CEO, adding “The board respects his decision and has requested him to continue till September 30, which he has kindly agreed to”. IHCL runs the Taj Group of hotels. He had joined IHCL in September 2014 replacing the company’s long-serving head Raymond Bickson. Before he joined IHCL, Sarna was the Group President -Americas of Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

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Expedia TAAP Appoints Dex Group as India GSA

Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program (TAAP), the largest global travel agency affiliation program, has appointed Dex Group as its GSA in India with effect from May 21, 2017. This association will increase the number of travel agents in the TAAP by up to 20%. Dex Group, with a history of 50 years in India’s travel industry including representation of various international airlines in India, will henceforth be responsible to promote and manage sales distribution of Expedia TAAP in India. With Expedia TAAP, travel agents can search and book competitive rates at over 321,000 hotels, 400 airlines, plus thousands of rental car companies, dynamic packages, and attractions worldwide.

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Finnair becomes PATA’s newest aviation member

Finnair, the flagship carrier for Finland, has joined the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Dr. Mario Hardy, CEO, PATA said, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Finnair to the PATA family as our newest aviation member and the first Nordic airline to join in recent years. The airline is not only a leader in sustainable practices but also in pioneering new technologies such as testing face recognition technology for use by travellers when checking in for flights departing from Helsinki airport.” “Finnair is proud to join PATA, as Finnair’s growth strategy is strongly linked to the Asia & Pacific region. We want to further develop our business and intensify the ties between us and important local tourism authorities, associations and regional/local companies,” states Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Board Member at Finnair.  

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Thailand saw 17% increase in Indian arrivals in first four months of 2017

Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism released figures showing that during the first four months of this year, 12 million visitors came to Thailand spending around 620 billion Baht, an increase of 4.71 per cent when compared with the same period in 2016. The kingdom also witnessed a growth of 17 per cent in the number of Indian arrivals compared to 2016 in the same period. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “Thailand attracts many tourists because it offers experiences that are new and unique, no matter how many times you visit. In the first few months of the year, the combination of lovely weather and amazing festivals; such as, Songkran or the Thai New Year celebrations means there’s much to enjoy for travellers, not to mention locals.” The ministry projects Thailand’s tourism-related revenue in 2017 will reach THB2.71 trillion. Of that, THB1.78 trillion will come from foreign visitors and THB930 billion from domestic travellers. In 2017, Thailand intends to focus on specific tourism segments such as sports, medical and wellness and weddings.

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IndiGo opens gym in Jammu under FitToFly

IndiGo has opened a fully-equipped gym for the police officials in Jammu as part of its FitToFly programme. Commenting on this initiative, Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole-Time Director, IndiGo said, “We are absolutely delighted to see our FitToFly programme being extended to different parts of the country. After a successful launch of FitToFly gyms in twelve cities, we are happy to collaborate with the Jammu police force. At IndiGo, we feel for our police force who work day and night to provide us the security we need. Setting up gyms for them is an important move to encourage them to start making choices to live a healthier life by choosing to be holistically fit.” The FitToFly gyms will be fully equipped with multi-purpose machines, cross trainers, treadmills, bench press and other facilities. As a part of this multi-city campaign to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle – IndiGo launched its first gym at Jaipur international airport, in February this year followed by Gurugram, Dimapur, Chennai, Dehradun, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Raipur, Goa, Udaipur, Guwahati, Indore, and Varanasi.

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Sarovar Hotels launches The Lazizi Premiere Nairobi

In one of its most momentous steps, Sarovar Hotels launched The Lazizi Premiere Nairobi, a luxury hotel positioned inside the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The hotel, managed by Sarovar Hotels, was inaugurated by H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the 144-room premium hotel as part of the government’s tourism and hospitality transformation strategy. Conveniently located inside the JKIA airport, The Lazizi Premiere Nairobi is designed to be the best and most luxurious hotel in the area. Speaking at the launch, Ajay K. Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels, said, “Kenya is the business hub for Africa and has one of the most diverse accommodation facilities. Nairobi being the hub of East Africa offers a great launch pad for our expansion and growing our footprint in the African region. Travellers in transit, airline crews and other local and international visitors intending to avoid traffic enroute to the airport have not had much luck as most hotels are still quite a distance from the main international airport in the capital city. We are aiming to tap that segment with The Lazizi Premiere”.

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Associations rush to conduct GST workshops for members

Various national travel trade associations in the country are rushing to conduct workshops on GST for their members and inform them on how the tax structure will impact their business. The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has organised a seminar with noted Service Tax expert, Manish Gadia, Partner, GMJ & Co to talk on Service Tax and GST and to reply to member queries. The Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) has also conducted a speaker session on GST. Following close on its heels will be the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI). Revealing this is Jay Bhatia, National Treasurer and Chairman (Tourism Council), TAAI, who said that the association will be doing a series of workshops on Service Tax and GST along with consultant Manish Gadia across the country.

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UDAN Phase-II to link metros with smaller cities in August

The Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) Regional Connectivity Scheme, in its second phase starting in August, would help link smaller towns with bigger cities, revealed R.N. Choubey, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation. He said, “There are various routes like Lucknow-Varanasi, where there is no connectivity. During the second phase, we are expanding the scheme to unserved routes too. We have not decided on the number of unserved routes and we would like to leave it to the market and the airlines to decide on it. These routes, however, do not necessarily have to be between two unserved airports and could be between two well-connected airports too.” The ministry also proposed more changes, which include reductions in the minimum distance for an RCS flight to below 150 km, and the number of years of exclusivity to one from three years in the first phase.

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Over 100 UTA member attend Ark Travels’ workshop in Mumbai

Ark Travels recently organised a training workshop for travels agents in Mumbai. The event was organised in collaboration with United Travel Agents (UTA) and witnessed the participation of over 100 travel agents. Agents were informed about the products and services offered by Ark Travels, which included a presentation on Star Cruises, Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises and Club Med, a French resort vacation company. The training workshop is part of Ark Travels’ strategy to connect with their network of agents. The event was organised keeping in mind the current trends and demand for cruise vacations. The highlight of the event was the announcement about Singapore Airlines as the official airline partner for the second edition of ‘The Big Bang Nautical Fiesta’. Kishan Biyani, Managing Director, Ark Travels Pvt Ltd. said, “Today training workshop has become immensely important as industry is witnessing tremendous demand and supply gap. Travel agents are aware about cruise tourism as a segment, but are unable to encash on such a booming travel niche. We intend to start our pan-India training workshop from June 15, 2017.”

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FICCI’s first Wedding Tourism Summit kicks off

Realising the potential of the Indian wedding industry, FICCI organised the first-ever Wedding Tourism Summit at The Lalit to give impetus to the booming segment. The gathering was welcomed by Dr Jyostna Suri, Past President, FICCI and Chairperson – FICCI Tourism Committee. Also present at the inauguration were Ajay K Sharma, Deputy Director – Tourism, Govt of Rajasthan, along with Siddharth Chaturvedi, CEO, Eventcrafter and Secretary, EEMA. The Wedding Tourism Summit will conclude on May 26, 2017. The two-day summit gives buyers and suppliers an opportunity to interact and explore potential business opportunities under one roof and also address issues and concerns pertaining to the wedding segment. Suri said, “Weddings not only benefit the hotels where the events take place, but also the destination as well as ancillary services like florists, caterers etc. We need to tap countries like UK where there are many tourists looking for good destinations to get married in and what better place than India, with its historic hotels and other sites. The objective of this platform is to create a bigger awareness of India and the various destinations as a sought-after wedding location.” Suman Billa, Joint Secretary – Tourism, Govt of India delivered the inaugural address where he stated, “If we want to achieve our target of attaining 2 per cent of global international tourist arrivals into India by 2025, we need to address all segments that have the potential to grow, and weddings is definitely one of them. People who come for weddings stay longer and spend more so there is a need for us to come up with a game plan on what we need to do to promote it. We need to look …

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