Tourism Breaking News

SilkAir to be merged with SIA, cabin products to be upgraded

Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) regional wing, SilkAir, is set to undergo a significant investment programme to upgrade its cabin products as part of a multi-year initiative that will ultimately see it merged into SIA. The programme will comprise investment of more than $100 million to upgrade the wholly owned subsidiary’s cabins with new lie-flat seats in Business Class, and the installation of seat-back in-flight entertainment systems in both Business Class and Economy Class. This will ensure closer product and service consistency across the SIA Group’s full-service network. “Singapore Airlines is one year into our three-year Transformation Programme and today’s announcement is a significant development to provide more growth opportunities and prepare the Group for an even stronger future,” said Goh Choon Phong, CEO, SIA. “Importantly, it will be positive for our customers. It is another example of the major investment we are making to ensure that our products and services continue to lead the industry across short-, medium- and long-haul routes.” Aircraft cabin upgrades are expected to start in 2020 due to lead times required by seat suppliers, including to complete certification processes. The merger will take place only after a sufficient number of aircraft have been fitted with the new cabin products. Specific details will be announced progressively as the programme develops and timelines are finalised.  

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Udan scheme to be extended to all underserved destinations

In a high level meeting held by K J Alphons, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, with Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Civil Aviation; Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation (MoCA), along with senior officials, it was decided that MoCA shall under-write any loss making route, if it is not already covered under Udan scheme. It was also decided that Udan scheme could be extended to all the under-served destinations at the earliest. During the meeting, Alphons requested for daily Air India flights to Khajuraho, better connectivity to Aurangabad for accessing Ajanta-Ellora, Triangular flight on Kochi-Goa-Jaipur sector, more international flights from Kozhikode, international flights to South East Asian countries from Guwahati Airport, commissioning of Kannur Airport, direct flights from Delhi to Kozhikode, daily flights from Kolkata to Shillong and more flights to Varanasi, direct flights from Ahmedabad and Kolkata to Srinagar and also opening the new airport in Sikkim. It was also requested that more flights be operated to Jindal Vijaynagar Airport to get better access to Hampi. MoCA assured immediate action in consultation with airline operators to provide better connectivity.

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PATA Annual Summit 2019 to be held in the Philippines from May 9-12

Cebu, Philippines has been chosen as the destination to host PATA Annual Summit (PAS) 2019. The event will be held from May 9-12, 2019. This year’s PATA Summit in Gangneung, South Korea was attended by 372 registered delegates from 182 organisations representing 41 countries. Organised in association with the Korea Tourism Organisation and the Gangwon Province, PAS 2018 focused on building bridges, connecting people and how collaboration creates opportunities.

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In-flight Wi-Fi could be game changer in enhancing business traveller experience

FCM Travel Solutions and KPMG’s recent whitepaper titled ‘The Digi-Smart Indian Business Traveller’ forecasts that Indian travellers have higher inclination towards in-flight Wi-Fi as compared to travellers from other countries, according to a survey by Inmarsat. With current nil penetration and high demand amongst Indian travellers, in-flight Wi-Fi can be a potential game changer in enhancing business traveller experience considering that fliers are potentially willing to shift travel experiences for onboard Wi-Fi. For business travellers, the need for seamless connectivity makes them natural users of these services. While the use of in-flight Wi-Fi should be encouraged, it is necessary to consider various factors including aircraft upgrade requirements, connectivity speed and quality, cybersecurity concerns, etc.

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Online sales of travel booking to increase at a CAGR of 14.8% during 2017–21

The online sales of travel booking is likely to increase at a CAGR of 14.8 per cent during 2017–21, according to FICCI and KPMG India’s latest knowledge paper titled ‘Expedition 3.0- Travel & Hospitality Gone Digital’. This uprising of digital travel in India can be attributed to the increasingly digitally savvy Indian travellers. In 2017, India was projected to have accounted for 3.7 per cent of the global digital travel sales — making it the third-largest market by value in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The Indian government’s move to remove high currency notes out of circulation in November 2016 is expected to have further catalysed the growth of digital travel sales in the country 2017. The most significant reform in travel has been brought by mobile applications, which have enabled the whole user experience to be available on-the-go. These include usage of mobile tickets/boarding pass, mobile check-in for hotel rooms, cab hailing applications, and even cloud passports in some countries — in addition to the basic features such as search, booking, payment, invoicing and customer support.

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India’s leisure travel spending to grow by 7.6% in 2018: WTTC

According to a latest report by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on the economic impact of travel and tourism industry in India, leisure travel spending (inbound and domestic) generated 94.6 per cent of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2017 (Rs 13,135.2 bn) compared with 5.4 per cent for business travel spending (Rs 755.9 bn). Leisure travel spending is expected to grow by 7.6 per cent in 2018 to Rs 14,127.1 bn, and rise by 7.1 per cent pa to Rs 28,154.5 bn in 2028. Business travel spending is expected to grow by 6.7 per cent in 2018 to Rs 806.4 bn, and rise by 7.0 per cent pa to Rs 1,589.7 bn in 2028. Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC, said, “2017 was one of the strongest years of GDP growth in a decade with robust consumer spending worldwide. This global growth transferred again into travel and tourism with the sector’s direct growth of 4.6 per cent outpacing the global economy for the seventh successive year.”

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Maharashtra hosts Global Exhibition on Services in Mumbai

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has participated in the Global Exhibition on Services (GES) to showcase the tourism potential of the state in agritourism, medical tourism, Buddhist tourism, etc to attract visitors from around the world. The fourth edition of GES aims to increase trade services between India and the globe. On the occasion of World Agritourism Day, MTDC is promoting agritourism as the state has huge potential and farmers can take up agritourism to boost their income. It is also promoting medical tourism and Buddhist tourism to tap the new avenues of tourist attraction. MTDC is also encouraging Buddhist pilgrimage in Maharashtra by developing sites where Lord Buddha was born, taught, preached and attained nirvana. Jaykumar Rawal, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, who was present at the inauguration, said, “This is an excellent platform to grow our businesses and meet the new stakeholders from across the world. GES 2018 is a wonderful opportunity to aggressively market the tourism inventories, lively culture, exclusive destinations and investment prospects in Maharashtra.” Vijay Gautam, (IAS), Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, added, “We have observed that tourism as one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. Through GES 2018, we are promoting our tourism inventories like medical tourism, agritourism and Buddhist tourism. We are now looking to create a unique identity by offering best services for the world and establish ourselves as the best tourism destination and it will pave a way for creating a roadmap for the state.”

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Jet Airways to start fifth direct service between India and UK

Jet Airways has announced that it will launch its first non-stop service between Mumbai and Manchester, beginning November 5, 2018, thus further strengthening its connect to the United Kingdom (UK). This new service is the first non-stop service connecting India, via its economic capital with Manchester. Jet Airways will deploy its wide body A330-200 with 254 seating for the service, which will operate for four days every week including Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Manchester will become the 21st international addition to the Jet Airways network and with the introduction of this new flight – the carrier’s 5th non-stop service to/from the UK. The launch of this new service will provide seamless connectivity to several domestic destinations to and from India via Mumbai. The new service will complement the carrier’s existing thrice daily, non-stop services between Mumbai – London Heathrow and a daily service between Delhi – London Heathrow. Vinay Dube, Chief Executive Officer, Jet Airways said, “The new service will bring Manchester into our global network, reinforcing our footprint as well as expanding the choice of connectivity to/from the United Kingdom for our guests with the four-day/week, non-stop service. With the new flight, Jet Airways will have over 8000 seats on offer every week, making it increasingly convenient for both business as well as leisure travellers.”

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Cox & Kings opens Thai Visa Application Centre in Chennai

Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) has recently opened a new Thai Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Chennai. Located at Wellingdon Estate Building, the centre will serve as the Hub VAC for its South India operations and cater to all categories of visas such as tourist, transit, non-immigrant, business, work, crew and medical visa. The new centre was inaugurated by Her Excellency Krongkanit Rakcharoen, Consul-General, Royal Thai Consulate-General, Chennai in the presence of senior CKGS officials. Speaking on the occasion, Rakcharoen said, “Thailand has emerged as one of the most favourite destinations for Indians with the number of travellers crossing a million mark. Considering the growing number of travellers from Chennai, it was essential to start the visa application service centre for this region. With CKGS, we aim to continue hassle-free visa processing for Indian travellers and maintain high professional standards.” Commenting on the opening, Venku Murthi, Chief Operating Officer, CKGS said, “We are expanding out footprints in south India with the commitment to ensure excellent visa services to applicants who want to travel to Thailand.’’ The visa application form can be filled online but the applicants would have to visit the VAC to submit printout of the duly signed application form along with other required documents and collect them once the visa has been issued.

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Cox & Kings’ Self-Drive 365 to pave way for road journeys in India & across the world

Setting off a new trend of self-drive holidays, Self-Drive 365 powered by Cox & Kings, aims to encourage travellers to discover and be a one-stop road trip planner while offering a wide array of road-trips within India and across the globe. The new segment will ensure a 24*7 support crew that will never throw a spanner in the works of a road-trip be it in any part of the world. The brand allows customisation basis experiences, terrains and several enticing activities. Be it a winding hill-climb, arrow-straight highways, tunnel of trees or beach-hugging coastal roads, each route is fun for a different reason. Speaking at the launch, Debolin Sen, Business Head, Self-Drive 365 said, “With a highly experienced expert panel, round-the-clock assistance, hassle-free paperwork and series of thematic routes, Self-Drive 365 is set to be the pioneer of self-drive tours in the country”. Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings said, “In line with the emergence of experiential travel, the market for self-drives is growing. Through this unique offering, we wish to ensure, our travellers don’t miss the important part of local exploration.” ‘The USA – The Great Pacific Drive’, ‘Spain – Spanish Tango’, Ireland – The Wild Atlantic Drive’ are few of the international drives whereas the ‘Heart of the Himalayas’, ‘Into the Tiger’s Lair’ and ‘East Coast Life’ are some that lets the enthusiasts explore India by road.

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