Tourism Breaking News

West Bengal & France sign MoU to redevelop Chandannagar as heritage tourism destination

Heritage and tourism in Chandannagar got a boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently between France and the Bengal government on the sidelines of the Bengal Global Business Summit. French ambassador Alexandre Ziegler, who was in Chandannagar to unveil plaques on three buildings enlisted by the West Bengal Heritage Commission, tweeted the event after signing the MoU late on Wednesday. “The agreement will initiate a very important revitalisation of Chandannagar’s Indo-French heritage,” he wrote. Tourism and home secretary Atri Bhattacharya said, “We have signed an MoU to together explore ways to redevelop Chandannagar heritage. There are some buildings that are either government property right now or can possibly be acquired. The French will do research and provide expertise in restoration and we will see in what phases we can fund restoration of heritage precincts.” Ziegler said, “With the MoU, we have now created a bilateral arrangement whereby we will provide technical expertise. Specialists in restoring monuments will come before summer for the first visit.” The MoU mentions only the Registry Office, the former French courthouse, by name. It was one of the buildings where a heritage plaque was unveiled on Wednesday. An estimate of the restoration cost will be drawn up with the help of French experts. The ambassador, on his fourth visit to Chandannagar , described the former French colony as “a jewel”. “You have history, charm, proximity to Calcutta… the potential for tourism is immense. Demonstrating what can be done in one building can have a snowball effect. Through honouring the past we are setting up a dynamic for the town’s economic development,” Ziegler said. Source: The Telegraph

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Austria witnesses 8.6 per cent growth in Indian arrivals in 2018

Strengthening its presence in the Indian market, Austria has registered 8.6 per cent growth in the number of tourists from India in 2018. The central European country welcomed 192,000 visitors in 2018. The Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) is looking to focus on families this year. Addressing a press conference at Le Meridien, Delhi, Christine Mukherjee said that 40 million tourists from over the world travel to Austria every year. “India is very a crucial market for us. I am happy to inform that overnight stays by Indian travellers has doubled over last one year.” ANTO organised a three-city workshop in India which started in Mumbai, followed by Ahmedabad and concluded in Delhi. According to Mukherjee, 140 tour operators attended the workshop in Mumbai, while over 100 and 110 agents turned up for the workshop in Ahmedabad and Delhi, respectively. Industry partners and representatives from Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Swarovski Crystal World also attended the workshops and showcased their products to the travel trade. Thomas Bachinger, Market Management, Vienna Tourist Board; Andreas Reiter, Market Management—Spain, India and Arab Countries, Innsbruck Tourism; Klemens Kollenz, Sales and Marketing Manager, Salzburg Tourism and Christiane Gasser, Head of Marketing & Communication, Swarovski Tourism Services, interacted with members of the press on what each destination had to offer to Indian tourists.

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Kerala to cut tax on aviation fuel to 5 per cent for domestic airlines

To promote airlines to extend their service to Kerala, the Kerala government has decided to slash the tax on aviation fuel to 5 per cent from the current 28.75 per cent for domestic airlines. Making the announcement in the assembly during the discussion on the state budget for 2019-20, state’s Finance Minister TM Thomas Issac said that not only airports under the UDAN scheme but also non-UDAN airports would get the new tax breather in the state. “The tax on ATF will be reduced to 5 per cent from the existing 28.75 per cent for domestic airlines operating service from the state airports. A revenue loss of Rs 100 crore is expected through this,” he said. The tax cut is expected to benefit Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode international airports as the government had already decided to levy only 1 per cent fuel tax from airlines operating service from the newly commissioned Kannur airport. Aviation fuel accounts for a major portion of operating cost for airlines. The tax cut can help become Kerala an attractive destination for various airlines as neighboring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are charging a state tax of 29 and 28 per cent, respectively on jet fuel. The tax cut benefits would benefit only domestic passengers as the international airlines that operate to and from the state have not been charging VAT as per the new GST regime.  

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Avalon Waterways launches river cruise on the Ganges

Avalon Waterways, one of the brands under the Globus family of brands, has launched its new river cruise on the Ganges. Scott Nisbet, President and CEO, Globus family of brands, announced this in Mumbai on his visit to India to meet the travel trade partners. He said, “We started a new river cruise on the Ganges early this week. It is our new Avalon Waterways product and a seven-day cruise, round-trip to Kolkata that goes up north to the little towns. It is a fascinating trip and guests can add to that and turn it into a 13-day, 15-day, and even an 18-day cruise by including the Golden Triangle or Varanasi. So these extensions would not be a river cruise, they would be a tour. We are primarily focusing that on Western markets like US, Canada, Australia and the UK but it is also a great option for Indians as well. It’s a 54-passenger luxury ship, all-inclusive which means all meals, drinks and all excursions. It is also perfect for a small incentive group. We have taken a number of sailing, 75 per cent sold already, agents can start selling now.”  

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ADR for Indian mid-scale hotels crosses Rs 3,000 for the first time

The Average Daily Rate (ADR) for Indian mid-scale hotels crossed 3,ooo for the first time in 2018, according to a latest report by Horwath on ‘India Hotel Market Review 2018’. Mumbai is the only market at the top right hand corner – unfortunately, it fell back from strong occupancy position, without materially gaining in ADR. Several occupancy shifts have been in the negative direction. Bengaluru, Goa and Jaipur dropped Occ between 2.7 pts and 4 pts. Bengaluru is particularly surprising because there is no supply growth in this segment. Bengaluru and Goa at least made up on the ADR front; the former added over Rs 300 to comfortable cross the Rs 3k level. Goa ADR growth was more modest but is now pushing the Rs 4k level. Jaipur dropped rate as well – only Rs 60 but that’s material when one is in the low Rs 2k level. Delhi, Gurugram, Pune and Chennai moved up to the right, gaining both Occ and ADR. Occupancy gains varied from 0.8 pts to 1.5 pts; while ADR gains spread significantly between 3.3 per cent and 12.6 per cent. Improving product quality at the mid-scale level (e.g. the revitalised Ginger and Park Inn by Radisson) could enable improve performance for this segment. It really needs Occ growth in key markets to compensate softer initial period results from smaller cities and towns in which this segment must penetrate.

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Business travel in India to grow by 11.5 per cent in 2019

FCM Travel Solutions and KPMG’s recent whitepaper titled ‘Redefining Corporate Travel Management’ forecasts that the total market for business travel in India is projected to grow at an annual rate of 11.5 per cent and a spend of up to USD 46 billion in 2019. In the past year, rise in annual growth of business travel spend for India has been the highest among the top 15 business travel markets globally. Consequently, India surpassed South Korea to reach seventh position in the top 15 business travel markets (by spend) globally and is projected to be in the top five by 2022. It is forecasted to be one of the fastest growing markets over the next five years, growing at the rate of 12.5 per cent over the forecasted period.

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India records fastest domestic aviation growth of 18.6 per cent: IATA

The India domestic market posted the fastest full year domestic growth rate for the fourth year in a row (18.6 per cent), according to an International Air Transport Association (IATA) report. Domestic demand in India was underpinned by a robust economic expansion as well as by increasing number of domestic pairs. The country recorded its 50th consecutive month of double-digit annual growth in October. .“While globally, domestic air travel climbed 7 per cent last year, which remained unchanged from the rate in 2017. All markets showed annual growth, led by India and China, which both posted double-digit annual increases,” the report added.

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Sarovar to open hotels in Auxum in Ethiopia and Somaliland

Sarovar Hotels & Resorts is set to come up with a project in Auxum in Ethiopia and one in Somaliland. Ajay K Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts, is extremely positive about the brand’s international presence, especially East Africa. He says, “Both the properties will start operating by mid-2020. With humble beginnings in Tanzania, we are now operating in Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Lusaka (Zambia).” Sarovar is one of the fastest growing hotel chains in India with over 80 operational hotels across 50 destinations in India and Africa.

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Qatar Airways introduces EMI payment option for its India website

Qatar Airways has introduced a new online payment scheme for bookings made on its website exclusively for customers with credit cards issued by Indian banks. The new payment option now makes it possible for passengers to pay for their booking through monthly instalments of 3, 6, 9 or 12 months respectively. The service aims to ease and enhance passengers’ travelling experience by making their booking transactions much more affordable and flexible. It also makes it easier for travellers planning to fly with family and friends, with only a minimum installment fee needed to be paid to complete the purchase. Naveen Chawla, Senior Manager Commercial–ISC, Qatar Airways said, “The launch of the new EMI option gives our passengers tremendous benefits as they can now book their tickets online at their convenience through our website, and also instantly access our latest offers. Through this new user-friendly and affordable payment scheme, Qatar Airways passengers with credit cards issued by Indian banks will now have greater flexibility when it comes to planning their travel itinerary. Those who previously couldn’t book online due to their credit limit or a large outstanding balance will now be able to pay for their bookings effortlessly using their credit card. This service is testament to Qatar Airways’ ongoing commitment to be innovative when it comes to enhancing the travel experience of our customers.” Qatar Airways currently operates 102 weekly flights between Doha and 13 destinations in India, including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur and Thiruvananthapuram.  

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J&K Governor reconstitutes Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board; K B Kachru on board

Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik reconstituted the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) for a period of three years with immediate effect on February 5, 2019. Malik, who is also chairman of SMVDSB, nominated chairman of emeritus of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group K B Kachru, former IPS officer Ashok Bhan, Justice Permod Kohli, Major General Shiv Kumar Sharma, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, renowned educationist Vijay Dhar and chairman-cum-managing director of AIMIL Pharmaceuticals K K Sharma as board members. Source: PTI

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