Tourism Breaking News

Rhätische Bahn hosts travel trade in Mumbai

Leading travel trade agents from Mumbai gathered at the Magazine Street Kitchen to an event hosted by Rhaetian Railways. It was a close-knit dinner, which was attended by 35 travel trade partners, including the Consul General of Switzerland, Martin J. Bienz. Sonal Salian, Market Manager India, Rhätische Bahn, said, “We are extremely grateful to our travel trade partners who have supported us all through the year; this event was a token of appreciation and also to give everyone an experience of Swiss opulence and precision which is synonymous with the brand.” The guests were greeted with fine European wine, a wide range of home-made cheese and freshly baked bread. Special care was taken that every element at the evening had a Swiss connect, as Rhaetian Railway is a Swiss mountain railway network, operating the well known Glacier express and Bernina express in the Graubünden regions.

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Thailand hosts 4-city luxury roadshow in India

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offices in Mumbai and Delhi took its the fourth edition of its B2B event ‘Luxurious Pleasure’ to four cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. First held in 2013, Thailand’s ‘Luxurious Pleasure’ roadshow series is an addition to its staple annual roadshow and focuses on high-end holidays such as holidays on private islands and helicopter rides. Explaining Thailand’s focus on luxury, Soraya Homchuen, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand – Mumbai, said, “Our two-city initiative is now a four-city show with Bengaluru, Kolkata and Ahmedabad now in the fray. We have noticed visible changes in buying behavior. This includes a growth in the number if travellers opting for five-star hotels and villas and a good response to market promotions with prices in the range of Rs 80,000 to Rs 150,000 for a week-long holiday. Today about 25 per cent of the Indian market is checking into luxury hotels and above (villas, private islands and yachts) and this is up from barely 10 per cent when TAT first launched its campaign to target the luxury segment. It is about strategy, sustainability and streamlining the industry with quality as a focus.” Thailand welcomed 1.06 million Indian travellers in 2015 and expects to cross 1.1 million in 2016, having hit over 700,000 Indian arrivals by August already. Homchuen added that TAT wants to grow high-end’s share of the pie by another five per cent. A change in the ratio of men: women travellers is also part of the goal. “Women comprise 23 per cent of the market currently and for this year we would like to bring this up to 30-35 per cent,” she said.

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Bollywood Parks Dubai officially opens

Dubai Parks and Resorts, the Middle East’s largest integrated theme park destination, announced the opening of Bollywood Parks Dubai on Nov 17. It is a first-of-its-kind theme park that showcases rides and attractions based on some of Bollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Unlimited access Annual Pass costs AED 755.00, while Single Park Ticket for a day full of fun and excitement start at AED 285.00 and Multi Parks Tickets offering access to more than one amusement park at AED 480.00. The park opened today with a ceremony that included various live entertainment shows performed by the talented Bollywood artists and dancers. Raed Kajoor Al Nuaimi, CEO of DXB Entertainments PJSC, the owner of Dubai Parks and Resorts said, “Following the successful opening and commencement of operations at LEGOLAND® Dubai and Riverland™ Dubai, we are very excited and eager to witness our guests’ reactions when they experience Bollywood Parks™ Dubai. Today we celebrate the opening of the first Bollywood inspired theme park in the world, and we’re confident that it will appeal to a large segment of fans due to its popularity in the region”. “We’re extremely proud to see this magnificent entertainment destination revealed to the world after 3 years of hard work and perseverance. Dubai Parks and Resorts is paving the way for future entertainment destinations, and shall forever change the face of family tourism and entertainment in the region” he added. Bollywood Parks™ Dubai will recreate the Bollywood experience through themed attractions and rides spread across five zones: Bollywood Boulevard, Mumbai Chowk, Rustic Ravine, Royal Plaza and Bollywood Film Studios. Visitors will experience bold action, colourful story-telling and captivating dance sequences inspired by nine popular films: Rock On!!, Don, Lagaan, …

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Airbnb forays into travel services with Trips

Airbnb moves beyond accommodation with the launch of Trips. Trips is a people-powered platform designed to make travel both easy and magical. Trips launches with three key areas – Experiences, Places and Homes, with Flights and Services to be added in the future. “Until now, Airbnb has been about homes,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO. “Today, Airbnb is launching Trips, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place. We want to make travel magical again by putting people back at the heart of every trip.” Airbnb has also struck an exclusive partnership with Detour to offer access to experiential audio walking tours allowing people to discover neighborhoods in a totally unique and authentic way. At launch, audio tours will initially be available for Los Angeles with San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul to follow by Spring 2017. With Trips, Airbnb also wants to make travel more social, helping connect the thousands of Airbnb users in a city on any given night. The launch of Trips also sees the introduction of a new identity authentication process that the Airbnb Experiences Community will be using. Hosts and guests will be asked to scan an official government ID (for example a passport, or driving license) and then take a simple selfie. After the ID is authenticated, the ID and selfie will be reviewed to confirm that both pictures appear to match. Having a more robust standard of authenticating identity will make the Airbnb community stronger and reaffirms Airbnb’s ongoing commitment to authenticity, reliability, and security. This new identity authentication step is required for all Experiences users, and is also currently being tested for …

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‘Illegal implementation of BSP Link charges in India’

IATA-accredited travel agents all over India will soon be receiving invoices from IATA for the annual additional amount of $360 towards usage of the 2-tier BSP Link Access that is being implemented effective January 1, 2017. IAAI has contended that, though it is required under IATA Res. 818g, the new BSP Link charges in India have not been listed through the agenda and neither discussed or approved nor recommended by the APJC-India as per the IATA procedures. Hence IATA’s decision to charge $30 per month is totally illegal, arbitrary and unacceptable to the Indian Travel Agents Fraternity, said Biji Eapen, National President, IAAI National Board in an official release. Eapen affirms that IAAI will go “the whole nine yards” and attempt to get a reversal on this unwarranted action by IATA. On November 15, IAAI has communicated to the IATA Regional Director at Singapore requesting to take suggested actions immediately. The Government of India authorities and Ministry are also being alerted and notified on this subject matter. IAAI has been the only Travel Trade Association that has risen to the occasion on behalf of the IATA-accredited Travel Agents in India – as in the matter of getting the Rs.20 lakhs Minimum Guarantee withdrawn in 2002, in getting the High Court of Kerala and the DGCA to issue Orders mandating Travel Agency commission, in getting IATA to invoke force majeure for the BSP payment by Tamil Nadu Travel Agents during the thunderstorm calamity in Nov/Dec 2015 and, recently, in retaining the Insurance Guarantee system actively as the only alternative to the Joint Bank Guarantee system.

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Lack of policies stifling potential growth of Indian tourism: WTTC

India’s Travel & Tourism sector has a huge potential, but growth remains largely untapped due to a lack of a co-ordinated approach to tourism policies, said David Scowsill, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Speaking at the Hotel Investment Forum India in Mumbai, Scowsill highlighted that India’s Travel & Tourism sector has extraordinary potential and is forecast to grow by 7.5% per annum over the next decade. In 2015, Travel & Tourism contributed 6.3% to India’s GDP, which is well below the global average of 10%. Additionally, international arrivals were around 8 million visitors per year, which is substantially lower than other countries. China receives 57 million visitors annually and Thailand 30 million. “Travel & Tourism is growing in India, but it comes from a low base compared to other countries in Asia. With the forecast growth for domestic and international tourism, we now stand at a crossroads. Now is the time for India to take off and fulfil its potential,” Scowsill added. Scowsill stressed six priorities which WTTC believes the Government should address urgently, to boost domestic business and leisure travel and to dramatically increase international arrivals: 1. Put tourism at the heart of its economic agenda: the government must deliver on its 2014 manifesto promise to prioritise the sector as a driver of economic growth. 2. Agree a responsible rate of GST: rather than implement a level of 18% tax, a range of 9-14% would certainly boost the social and economic potential of the sector. 3. Invest more into the ‘Incredible India’ campaign: look at other sources of marketing monies, whether from visa fees or private sector matching funds. 4. Continue the electronic visa programme …

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RARE aims for 44% occupancy

In a recent event organised in Delhi, Rare Destinations and Experiences brought together some of their partners who recently have come on board. Shoba Mohan, Founder Partner, Rare, in conversation with TravelTV.News, said that they are aiming for a 44 per cent occupancy and want the partners to do more business. She said, “We started with four properties and now we are 44. We would like to cap it at 50. We want our hotels to start making money out of this. For most of our partners it’s a sustaining business. We are looking at 44 per cent occupancy and to break that barrier and reach 60-70 per cent is actually when they will start making money.”

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4th Global Hospitality Conclave to be held in Delhi on Jan 7

Global Hospitality Conclave (GHC) 2017 will be held on January 7, 2017, at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon. The conclave, an independent initiative by the alumni of the erstwhile Oberoi School of Hotel Management (OSHM), now The Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development (OCLD), brings together a host of industry leaders to discuss the trends and developments in the hospitality industry. With the world of hospitality imperatively moving toward an era of extensive collaboration and partnerships, rules of the game are being rewritten every day. The Conclave seeks to touch upon trends and opportunities in the hospitality landscape of the country and the world, as well as, discuss priorities to arrive at all potential gateways and drivers of growth in the coming years. Organised annually, the Global Hospitality Conclave sees participants from across the world who have been part of The Oberoi Group in a leadership position. The objective of the Conclave is to get the Oberoi Hotels alumni together annually, who are presently employed in different sectors across the world such as banking, aviation, universities etc, and go beyond the customary batch reunions by creating a compelling platform of knowledge exchange, experiences and networking opportunities. GHC is open exclusively to all who have either graduated from OSHM/OCLD upto the year 2007 or have worked with the Oberoi Hotels in senior management for 10 years or more and is therefore a select club of top hospitality professionals.

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Dilip Puri to join Lausanne Hotel School post Starwood stint

Dilip Puri, who has been heading the regional operations of global hospitality major Starwood Hotels & Resorts since January 2011, will soon be joining the Lausanne Hotel School after his exit from Starwood. Commenting on this , Puri, MD -India and Regional Vice President (South Asia), Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said, ”My future plans include getting into the hospitality education space. Currently, we are working with 2-3 international brands in different verticals of hospitality education so we intend to do the 4 year core business hospitality management programs. We intend to do whole series of culinary education programs and expect to get into executive education as well. So all of these 3 programs with hospitality education working with the right international brands in those particular segments that is what I look for after completing my corporate career.”

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Thai visa services on hold in Delhi from Nov 21-25

The Royal Thai Embassy New Delhi confirmed the temporary non-issue of visa services from November 21 to 25, according to a spokesperson from the embassy. No reason has so far been stated for the hold in services during the mentioned period. Those who require visas during this period may obtain visa-on-arrival or from Thai Consulates in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

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