Category Archives: Agents

Govt needs to better manage such moves

E.M. Najeeb, Chairman, IATO Southern Region, and Chairman & Managing Director, Air Travel Enterprises Group of Companies (ATE), says the decision has badly hit tourists today as thousands of tourists who are in India cannot pay in restaurants, do shopping, or pay for local purchases. “Apart from the stay, which is pre-paid, they can’t do anything else with the foreign exchange they have already taken. People are facing great hardships, queuing up at petrol pumps, there was not enough change at railway stations despite them accepting the 500 and 1000 bills. The government’s step to curtail black money is much appreciated, but I think it should have been better managed and the steps taken by the government shouldn’t have affected the normal people so much. We also have our hospitals and since the concession of accepting the larger denominations is only in government hospitals, private hospitals like us had to treat people for free.

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Travellers can’t spend currency at local shops, restaurants

Debjit Dutta, Chairman, IATO Eastern Chapter and Founder & CEO, Impression Tourism Services, says this bold move has definitely caused an inconvenience for travellers. “Foreign tourists who have recently exchanged money are now facing several problems even to buy food and shop since they are on holiday. Since we are tour operators, our business runs mostly on cash payments so it has hindered business as well. I feel that some facility should have been in place keeping in mind the number of tourists that are affected with this change – such turn of events might just lead them to have a bad impression of the country and go back with the same thing in mind,” he adds.

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Tourists unable to pay monument fee, road tax

Lally Matthews, Hon. Secretary, IATO, says even though its a bold move by the PM, there are some immediate problems. “We are seeing that the clients who are travelling in India are facing a problem in paying the monument fee at the counters. There have been instances at the Taj Mahal as big notes are not being accepted at the counters and tourists are coming back without visiting it. The drivers are unable to pay road taxes and inter-state taxes owing to the same problem. Tourists who have already exchanged money can’t use the money they have in hand and can’t even take the new currency from banks. There are problems for tourist vehicles to pay at petrol pumps. Apart from that, foreign tourists staying in hotels are unable to pay by cash for any services, and the same problem they are facing at restaurants as well. There are also reports that some hotels are even charging 10 per cent extra if a tourist is paying by card,” he concluded.

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Trade has come to a standstill

The travel market has come to a standstill after the scrapping of the 500 and 1000 currency bills, says Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, OTOAI. “Most of our dealings usually happen in cash as not many people use credit cards. However, ever since the announcement, we are not accepting cash from anyone. People can buy the ticket from airport, but not from the travel agent. When a travel agent starts the booking for a tour, there is some advance needed. We can’t take that from the client as of now, and I think this would continue till things become normal, with the new currency flowing in the market,” he added.

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Industry will suffer, but it’s for the greater good

With a view to curb Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) and eliminating black money, the government has decided to cancel the legal tender character of the high denomination bank notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denominations issued by RBI till now, with effect from November 9, 2016. Tourism Breaking News finds out from industry leaders how this unexpected drive will affect the travel and tourism trade.

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Booking.com launches platform for travel agents

Booking.com has announced the initial test pilot of Booking.com for travel agents, the first iteration of a new platform designed specifically with the unique needs of travel agents in mind. The platform features a suite of easy-to-use tools that empower travel industry professionals to seamlessly make and manage accommodation reservations for their clients via Booking.com. “We’ve seen increasing numbers of travel agents using Booking.com to manage bookings for their customers,” said Bryan Batista, Senior Director of Global Partnerships at Booking.com. “We’re pleased to now offer professional travel agents a platform and a programme that has been created just for them, with the special features they need to easily book and manage reservations for their clients, as well as the choice, diversity and seamless experience that they’ve come to love and rely on from Booking.com.” Booking.com for Travel Agents is an extension of the company’s existing Affiliate Partner Programme and leverages technology and infrastructure being developed for Booking.com for Business. Travel Agents who join the platform will be eligible for similar partner benefits as all Booking.com affiliate partners.

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Thomas Cook to host closed-door summit in Mumbai on Nov 16

Thomas Cook India Limited will be organising a summit titled ‘India Travel Summit’ on November 16, 2016 in Mumbai. It will be a half day conference by invitation only. Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head- Marketing & Service Quality, Financial Services & Innovation-Thomas Cook (India) Limited. He said, “We looked at our increased stake in both inbound and outbound space in India and we realised that we really didn’t have an India equivalent of something like World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit. So we saw the need to create a platform which would allow everyone in the eco-system to come together. We were hoping somebody does it but it hasn’t happened in the travel space. We wanted a summit where we get the opinion-makers and leaders of the industry and by invitation only to come together for a conversation. We expect a 100-odd people to attend the event. This year is in Mumbai but we are seriously considering doing this in Delhi next year.” The tour operator plans to make it an annual event. The half-day summit will have three sessions lasting an hour each. The first one will focus on visa issues and will have Consul Generals from four countries on the panel. This will be followed by a discussion on India’s outbound market and will have four India heads of NTOs as speakers. The last one will focus on inbound and will have three speakers: Suman Billa IAS, Joint Secretary of (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Chinmai Sharma, Chief Revenue Officer, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and Ragini Chopra, VP (Corporate Communications), Jet Airways. 

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Yatra signs MoU with Uttarakhand to promote homestays

Yatra.com has signed an MoU with Uttarakhand Government to promote homestays in the state as well as highlight the state’s unique tourist attractions. Yatra will promote all the state tourism approved homestays, wherein guests (travellers) can rent a room in the home of a local family (host) or the entire house. Enhancing the segment further, Yatra and Uttarakhand Tourism together will organise an orientation session for homestays where the villagers will be trained in guiding, cooking, hospitality and the cultural and natural heritage of the state. This partnership will give the tourists a chance to experience the hospitality of various families throughout Uttarakhand and enjoy wonderful home cooked food. Speaking on the partnership, Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com said, “We are delighted about this strategic alliance with the Government of Uttarakhand to boost the state’s tourism. With the peak season rolling in, we see this an opportunity to promote the rapidly growing Homestays segment in sync with the needs of travellers. Yatra is also seeking more such partnerships with other State Governments to promote local tourism and offer a taste of Indian hospitality and a very unique traveller experience.” As a part of this partnership, Yatra will list over 500 homestay properties on its website and encourage the growth of homestays in Uttarakhand, giving tourists a very homely experience.

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Cox & Kings forays into money transfer solutions

Making a foray into the money transfer business in India, Cox & Kings Ltd has partnered with UAE Exchange India, to provide inward remittance and domestic money transfer services in the country. This strategic venture will enable Indians living abroad to conveniently remit funds to their families in India, and also benefit foreign tourists visiting India. This association will expand the current network of collection centres and reach out to a broad category of consumers across the country. Cox & Kings has identified select locations within India, from where the customers can avail this service. There are no charges applicable to the recipient in India. Besides foreign inward money, domestic money transfer services will also be available at the designated Cox & Kings’ outlets through this process. Ravi Menon, Head—Foreign Exchange, Cox & Kings Ltd. said, “The strategic partnership will help us enter the money transfer business in India which is the largest recipient of remittance in the world. People who are expecting money from their relatives or friends abroad can now use our wide network of branches across India.” The facility of inward remittance will provide a convenient and quick mechanism for Indians working abroad to send money to their families in India and also benefit foreign tourists visiting India. The money will be received in minutes and all that the recipient has to do is visit one of the designated locations to collect their money.

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Ctrip plans to compete against U.S based Expedia and Booking.com

China’s Ctrip, the second largest online travel agency in the world after Priceline has set its eyes on the U.S. market with its acquisition of three U.S. based tour operators in a bid to boost business and improve service levels for Chinese outbound travellers vacationing in the U.S., said Tao Yang, a Ctrip senior vice president and head of its vacation business. The tour operators — Universal Vision, Ctour and Tours for Fun — stated they would also benefit from access to Ctrip’s customer base and technology. Ctrip took a majority stake in each of these tour operators for what the online travel agency describes as a marriage to form a Quartet focusing on Chinese travellers touring and visiting attractions in the U.S. But that partnership is distinct from Ctrip’s strategic plan to create a U.S. point of sale to sell travel globally, and this would put Ctrip in competition in the U.S. with partners such as the Priceline Group and Expedia, Yang said. He also said the relationships with Expedia and the Priceline Group would include elements of both partnership and competition, as is common in the travel industry.

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