Tourism Breaking News

Sterling Holidays to offer full travel cover; ties up with Digit Insurance

Sterling Holidays plans to come out with a travel insurance scheme for its customers from June 4. The scheme will cover door-to-door holiday insurance from departure to arrival. “Companies in India do not offer comprehensive insurance to customers. So, this scheme will cover for mishap as also for lost or missed baggage. The aim is to cover the customer for the entire trip,” said Ramesh Ramanathan, Managing Director, Sterling Holidays. The launch got delayed due to backend work and testing, he said. Now, members as well as non-members can get the benefit of this plan. The firm has tied up with Digit Insurance, a part of the Fairfax group. The hospitality firm plans to expand to Rajasthan, Coorg, and Port Blair. The company is keen on Varanasi too. “One of the oldest cities in the world, it (Varanasi) has heritage, history and is also attracting lot of visitors both Indians as well as foreigners. Also, in the last three years, a lot of focus is being given on its cleaning up,” said Ramanathan. The company plans to double its inventory from 2,200 to 4,500 rooms in three-four years and aims to increase the number of resorts to over 50. Source: The Hindu Business Line

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India to witness rise in FTAs from South Asia over the next five years

According to a recent research study by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), India is set to welcome increased international visitor arrivals over the next five years with an average annual growth rate of 14.5 per cent from South Asia between 2018 and 2022. Bangladesh is anticipated to top the chart (with a 17 per cent increase) of IVAs to India, followed by Afghanistan which is forecast to transcend Sri Lanka in the growth table with an average annual increase of 14.8 per cent over the same period. Nepal closely follows, expecting a rise of 11.5 per cent annually.

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Tourism minister launches first-ever safety guidelines on adventure tourism

KJ Alphons, Minister of State (I/C), Tourism, Government of India, has launched the Indian Adventure Tourism Guidelines along with Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Tourism; Satyajeet Rajan, Director General, Tourism; Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Tourism and Swadesh Kumar, President, Adventure Tourism Association of India (ATOAI). A total of 26 activities have been covered in the guidelines including land, air and water based activities. The guidelines have been put in place to make the unorganised sector to adopt them. These guidelines will be reviewed every three months. In an effort to make adventure sports safer, the set of guidelines lists out the basic minimum standards required for adventure tourism activities in India. Adventure tourism has grown rapidly over the past few years playing a vital role in the economic growth of India as well as attracting a large number of travellers from across the globe to the country. The sole aim is to help adventure tour operators understand and execute safety guidelines in a better manner. These guidelines cover activities like mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, river rafting and many other sports.

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Treebo acquires events company Events High to enrich overall travel experience

Treebo has announced its acquisition of Events High, a marketplace for experiential events and activities for an undisclosed amount. Events High’s acquisition is strategically aligned with Treebo’s mission to become India’s most loved travel network by delivering delightful experiences to every traveller. Events High offers customers information on, and ability to book activities like treks and hikes, cooking classes, dance classes, concerts, heritage walks, nightlife, etc. in eight cities – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and Goa. The move will effectively enable Treebo to enter the thriving events and activities segment in India. Post the acquisition, Treebo has absorbed the entire Events High team. Commenting on the acquisition, Sidharth Gupta, Co-founder, Treebo said, “We are on a mission to offer delightful experiences to travellers and build the most loved travel network by offering curated local events and activities to our customers through Events High. Experiencing these local activities is a core part of people’s travel plans. More so now than ever before, people are keen to buy ‘experiences’ not ‘things’.” Nikesh Garera, Co-founder and CEO, Events High said, “Customers value engagement and unique experiences, and Events High has always been committed to curate these experiences and make them discoverable. Stay is an integral part of the huge number of travellers who attend such experiences, and with Treebo we share the vision to offer delightful experiences to such travellers.”

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ITC Hotels adds ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad to its luxury hotel portfolio

ITC Hotels has announced the addition of ITC Kohenur in Hyderabad as the 12th hotel to join its luxury portfolio from today. Located in the heart of Hyderabad’s new business district overlooking the picturesque Durgam Cheruvu Lake, the hotel endeavours to create ‘rare and priceless’ experiences through its super-premium offerings – 271 high technology-enabled rooms, suites and service apartments, six culinary brands, meeting and convention spaces, and Kaya Kalp spa. Located in HITEC city, the architecture and design of the hotel mirror the facets of the feted jewel by bringing to life art, culture, cuisine and heritage of the region in a contemporary milieu. Inspirations range from the striking boulders of Hyderabad to the famous Bidri work, showcase of local arts and crafts to presenting the rich culinary legacy of the region. A stand-out in-room tech feature is the amalgamation of all services through the E-Butler iPad. The hotel also features nine versatile meeting, banquet and conference spaces. This includes the pillar-less Deccan State room, which can be divided into two separate halls, each with its own pre-function area. The hotel also boasts of two sprawling outdoor venues, the Pearl Deck & the Golconda greens that are perfect for a range of theme events, corporate functions, celebrations and parties.

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Israel reduces visa fee to INR 1,100 for Indian travellers

In an effort to encourage more Indian travellers to visit Israel, the country has reduced its visa fee to INR 1,100 from its previous INR 1,700 charge for Indian citizens. VFS Global currently offers visa processing services for Israeli visas in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. Centres will soon open in Hyderabad and Kolkata to service the residents in these cities, who will not be required to send their documents to the Consulates in Mumbai and Bengaluru or the Embassy in New Delhi. The revised application fee is on the B2 visa category, where a visit to Israel is for purposes including business, meeting or conference or tourism. Commenting on the initiatives, Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism – India & Philippines said, “We are happy to announce the reduction in visa fees for Indian travellers with immediate effect. I am confident that this move will encourage more people to choose Israel as a holiday destination and boost inbound numbers from India. I am confident that the revised visa fees will help grow the numbers.” In September 2017, the Ministry introduced one-year multiple entry visas for business travellers to Israel. Steps are being taken towards bringing more changes to make the process faster and easier for Indian travellers to visit Israel.

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Singapore Tourism Board invites tenderers

Singapore Tourism Board invites tenderers for the appointment of a Marketing Representative agency for South India (with offices in Bengaluru and Chennai) The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) India Regional Office invites bids from professional and well-connected marketing representative agencies, with strong in-market knowledge and travel trade networks to promote Destination Singapore and help grow visitor-ship from South India to Singapore. The appointment will be for one year, commencing September/October 2018, with an option to extend for an additional year. To receive the tender documents, please email mumbai@stb.gov.sg and quote reference number: STB/MUMD/18-19/LT2. Quotations will be accepted by email only. Please read the instructions indicated in the tender documents carefully. Opening date of the tender is May 31, 2018 (Thursday). The tender closes on June 18 (Monday) at 15:00 hours (3.00 PM) India Standard Time. Any enquiries regarding the specifications are to be made by email to mumbai@stb.gov.sg or via phone at (+91-22) 6608 3200.

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Ginger Hotels to debut in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

Ginger Hotels, operated by Roots Corporation, has signed a new hotel in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. This will be Ginger’s first hotel in Jhansi, a city that is amongst those selected for the ‘Smart City’ initiative by Government of India. Ginger Jhansi will have 76 rooms, an all-day diner, and a meeting room. Located exactly opposite the railway station, the proposed hotel is a convenient option for travellers visiting the historic city of Jhansi for business or leisure. The hotel is a greenfield development and is slated to open by late 2020. “We are delighted to partner with Khard Hotels for the new Ginger hotel and to set foot in the historic city of Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. This will be the first branded hotel in the city,” says Deepika Rao, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Ginger Hotels. The Ginger portfolio has 45 operating hotels across 32 cities, with another eight hotels in the pipeline. The Indian Hotels Company, of which Roots Corporation is a subsidiary, has five hotels in the state of Uttar Pradesh – The Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road Agra; Vivanta and Ginger in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow; Taj Nadesar Palace Varanasi and The Gateway Ganges Varanasi.

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India’s millennial business travellers want constant booking info with human advice

Millennial business travellers in India are changing the landscape of corporate travel by demanding both cutting-edge digital support throughout their trips and on-demand advice from human consultants, according to a recent independent global study commissioned by Travelport. For the research, 11,000 travellers were surveyed in 19 countries who took at least one return flight in the last year. The results showed that half (47 per cent) of India’s millennial business travellers now count being unable to access booking information across their devices 24/7 as one of their biggest gripes, compared to two fifths (40 per cent) of Gen X2 travellers and one third (35 per cent) baby boomers. The research also revealed that three fifths (56 per cent) say they get frustrated when companies don’t use data analytics to provide highly personalised travel recommendations based on their past preferences, compared to two fifths of both Gen X (43 per cent) and baby boomer (41 per cent) travellers. Two fifths (43 per cent) say not being able to get expert advice from human consultants during the booking process is a major pain point. Sandeep Dwivedi, Chief Operating Officer, InterGlobe Technology Quotient, said, “The findings demonstrate the digital shift among Indian business travelers before and during their journeys. And the necessity of $7.6 trillion global travel and hospitality industry to adapt continually to provide responsive, relevant and timely services for customers. More importantly, in an age where Gen X and Millennials are increasingly becoming tech savvy, they want relevant and timely content at their fingertips, at the very moment, from the time they search to their return from the trip.”

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VFS Global GDPR-compliant after data privacy rules come into effect

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went live recently, making it exigent that every business in India dealing with an EU counterpart pledges compliance. The legislation raises the standards of personal data privacy across the world by changing the rules of companies that collect, store or process user information. VFS Global, at the individual level, any outbound traveller to any of the Schengen and UK destinations, irrespective of nationality, is now covered under the sweeping data protection and privacy rights regulation. Barry Cook, Group Data Protection Officer, VFS Global explained that, as of May 25, 2018, businesses dealing in travel and visa facilitation services had to have critically evaluated and reinforced their information management systems to avoid the risk of data breaches, which can now attract heavy fines. The law was enacted two years ago while its enforcement across all 28 EU countries came into effect at midnight on May 25, 2018. The scope of GDPR is sweeping and encompasses right to access data, modification and erasure, right to object to automate processing or even to restrict processing, among others.  It also forbids targeted emails unless there is explicit consent from an individual at the receiving end. “We process millions of visa applications to EU nations from 139 countries world over, and it is imperative for us to put in fool proof systems to abide by the legislation. In general, travel and visa facilitation companies, by virtue of the nature of their business, are heavily exposed to personal data, which means that the industry as a whole needs to have imminent readiness to be GDPR-compliant,” Cook said.

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