SME travel agents protest against OTAs

28 Jun,2016

More than 1000 SME tour operators and travel agents gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against the unethical practices by online travel agents. The Small and Medium Tourism Action Group comprised of SME travel agents argued that OTAs are killing the small and medium tour operators by selling below the cost because of foreign funding. Subhash Goyal, Immediate Past President, IATO said, “I congratulate the small and medium tour operators for starting the national movement against the unethical practices by foreign funded OTAs who are buying a hotel room for Rs 2000 and selling it for less than Rs 1000. With this type of practice none of the small operators can compete and slowly they are going bankrupt. This is a very serious situation and the government and all travel associations must look into it.” The agents said they are against the e-coupons and cash discounts offered by the OTAs to reduce actual costs and argued that funding received by OTAs are a result of black money flowing into the industry. An association of small and medium tour operators is on the cards to unite voices against the cause. The agents have requested the government to regulate all OTAs which use the dominant position of having access to funds to kill small and medium tour operators. Memorandum to this effect was sent to the Prime Minister and Tourism Ministry and various travel and tourism associations will take up a legal battle with Competition Commission of India under unfair and unethical trade practices.

VFS revises service fee for Australia

28 Jun,2016

Due to changes in the Service Tax structure, VFS service fees and VAS service charges for Australia Visa Application will be revised with effect from June 1, 2016.The revised primary applicant fee is Rs. 1006 (from earlier Rs. 966) and additional applicant fee is Rs. 714 (from earlier Rs. 676) . Charges have also been revised for Photo booth Rs. 154, Return Courier Rs. 307, ETA Assisted terminal Rs. 190, Assisted Form Filling Service Rs. 190, 2 way Courier/drop off courier Rs. 616 and Premium Lounge Rs. 2048.

Port Blair now on Vistara network

28 Jun,2016

Vistara has announced the addition of Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, as its 18th destination, effective September 30, 2016. Port Blair will be served daily from Kolkata and from New Delhi (same aircraft service via Kolkata). With this new flight, frequency between Delhi and Kolkata will also increase to three flights daily. Twice daily service to Kolkata from Delhi had commenced on June 10 this year, and has seen very high demand for Vistara’s product. One way fares start from Rs 5,500 from Kolkata and Rs 9,850 from New Delhi. Tickets are now available for sale on all channels.

100% FDI in airlines, Brownfield airports

20 Jun,2016

The Government will now permit 100% FDI in Brownfield airport projects under automatic route, extending the earlier cap of 74 per cent. The extant FDI policy on Airports permits 100% FDI under automatic route in Greenfield Projects. As per the present FDI policy, foreign investment up to 49% was allowed under automatic route in Scheduled Air Transport Service/ Domestic Scheduled Passenger Airline and regional Air Transport Service. It has now been decided to raise this limit to 100%, with FDI up to 49% permitted under automatic route and FDI beyond 49% through Government approval. For NRIs, 100% FDI will continue to be allowed under automatic route. However, foreign airlines would continue to be allowed to invest in capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air-transport services up to the limit of 49% of their paid up capital and subject to the laid down conditions in the existing policy. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Guatemala concentrates in developing its cruise industry

27 Apr,2015

The Guatemala Tourism Board is eager to showcase the country’s growing appeal, especially within the cruising sector. With numerous in-country investments made to improve the experience, combined with its many nearby cultural attractions easily accessible to cruisers, Guatemala is placing an extra emphasis on this sector, which plays an important role to the overall growth of the country’s tourism industry. Guatemala expects to welcome 79 cruises and 16 more cruises are in the process of being negotiated.

“With over 120,000 passengers arriving to Guatemala via a cruise ship in the last six months of the 2014-2015 seasons, it evident that business is steadily increasing,” said Diego Sierra, Director of Aviation and Cruises for the Guatemalan Tourism Board (INGUAT). “We expect an approximate 11% growth in the cruise industry during this year’s season which began in October and ends in April.”

“Guatemala most recently became the home port for British cruise line Noble Caledonia,” explains Pedro Duchez, Director of the Tourism Board. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for the destination. With these stops, 170 passengers have layovers in the destination, which allows them to possibly extend their stay to experience more in the country.”

Visitors arriving on the Caribbean coast can easily visit attractions such as Rio Dulce and Quirigua, UNESCO declared heritage site boasting interesting ancient. For those arriving on the Pacific coast, Guatemala’s famed city of Antigua, which boasts beautiful colonial architecture and charming cobblestone streets, is nearby.

Zambia Tourism Board expects 50% increase from Indian market

27 Apr,2015

India is among the top emerging source markets for Zambia. Three years ago Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) ventured into the Indian market and since then there has been a steady growth in tourist arrivals.

Starting with sales calls, ZTB plans to organise roadshows (may be Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru) during the course of the year along with educational workshops and familiarisation (FAM) trips for tour operators and media. ZTB would also be ensuring presence over the social media to reach out to a wider number of people, highlighted Felix Chaila, Managing Director, ZTB.

Felix Chaila, Managing Director, ZTB said, “Indian travellers usually come down to Zambia for three to four days and spend significantly. Thus, we are promoting Zambia as a stand-alone destination in India with connecting flights offered by Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airlines and Emirates.”

“The proximity to the Zambezi River and the spectacular Victoria Falls has led Livingstone to become a base for travellers from all over the world wanting to explore this scenic attraction. We are keen on promoting adventure activities in Livingstone such as white water rafting, canoeing, bungee jumping, walk with the lions along with the traditional cuisine and performances and MICE,” Chaila said.

Goa to be the 11th city in TTF network

27 Apr,2015

  • Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, Panjim

     

  • 9, 10, 11 October, 2015

 

Goa, the latest addition in the TTF and OTM series is the richest state in India, with a per capita income that is two and a half times that of the national average.

Goa is a top travel market for inbound, and has an equally strong potential for outbound and domestic tourism, that the TTF Goa is committed to help you connect to.

TTF Goa will be organised at the plush Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium in Panjim. Goa Tourism is supporting the event in a big way as Host State. Besides this, Goa Tourism has already confirmed their participation at TTF 2015-2016 series at all locations.

Western India is undisputedly the most lucrative tourism market in the country, both for domestic and outbound tourism. The addition of TTF Goa further strengthens the TTF and OTM portfolio in this region, which already covered Mumbai (two events), Ahmedabad, Surat and Pune.

Gujarat govt opens helpline for tourists stranded in Nepal

25 Apr,2015

The Gujarat government on Saturday opened helpline for those who are trapped in Nepal and nearby regions because of the devastating earthquake that wreaked havoc in Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

Several people are feared trapped under the debris of buildings that included several famous tourist spots. The tremors were felt in most parts of India including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, while the epicentre was closer to Kathmandu.

The Gujarat government has opened control room numbers for tourists stranded in Nepal. The current season being the vacation period, a large number of tourists from the State were on a visit to Nepal.

The state authority issued helpline numbers at the control room based in Gandhinagar as : 079-23251900/902/907/908/914/918. Also, the chief minister, Anandiben Patel, appealed to people, through her twitter handle, to spread the message and help the Government get information on their possible location and contact details in Nepal.

Gujarat Chief Minister in her twitter message said, “Massive earthquake in Nepal is saddening. Having witnessed the destruction an earthquake can cause, I hope & pray for minimum loss of lives!”

"Tremors have been felt in parts of Guj as well. While the situation is closely monitored, I appeal people to stay calm and not to panic..," the chief minister tweeted.

(This article was published on April 25, 2015)

Iceland becomes a favoured filming spot, observes tourism boom

22 Apr,2015

Iceland has become an increasingly popular filming location with its majestic views being noticeably featured in many TV series or Hollywood blockbusters.

The country’s many stunning waterfalls and breathtaking glaciers translate beautifully to the silver screen. There are certain filming locations that consistently rank a cut above and are drawing fans of productions such as Game of Thrones, Interstellar or Prometheus.

The black volcanic landscapes of Svartalfheim provided the filmmakers of Thor: The Dark World with the perfect otherworldly setting.

Ridley Scott explored Europe’s most powerful waterfall, the Dettifoss, for the opening scenes depicting the beginning of time in Prometheus.

Scenes from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar were filmed atop the blue ice glacier Svinafellsjokull in the Skaftafell National Park, which is also located near another favoured filming location: Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull.

“Interstellar was my second time filming in Iceland and it was another worldly experience,” said Christopher Nolan, Director of ‘Interstellar’. “Iceland truly represents the beautiful extremes the nature has to offer.”

Game of Thrones enthusiasts will undoubtedly recognise the north of Iceland, namely Thingvellir National Park, from Arya’s storyline and as the setting of the battle of the Hound and Brienne, in the North of Westeros.

Kerala Tourism launches campaign to woo global travellers

20 Apr,2015

Raising its profile as an all-weather tourism hotspot, Kerala rolled out a high-voltage ‘Visit Kerala 2015’ campaign with an array of innovative programmes, ranging from Ayurveda to adventure trips, from destination weddings to heritage tourism, from food festivals to quiz competitions.

Unfolding the initiatives in the national capital, Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said the major focus of the campaign is to strengthen the promotion of tourism products that are unique to the state, such as Ayurveda, Responsible Tourism and Spice Route – Muziris heritage.

“Plans are underway to host a tourism industrial meet to promote Responsible Tourism and encourage the participation of local communities in the tourism sector,” he said, adding, “the meet will provide guidance to people on setting up home stays and villas with investments on a small scale.”

As part of the campaign to showcase the state’s alluring destinations and products that justify its moniker as God’s Own Country’, Kerala Tourism will foray into new markets in China and Sri Lanka through trade fairs, roadshows and familiarisation tours. In addition, it will launch aggressive campaigns in traditional markets like UK, France and Germany to woo potential travellers by holding trade fairs and roadshows. Consumer fairs and familiarisation trips will be introduced in upcoming markets like the U.S.

“For Kerala, domestic tourism is equally important in our strategy. We are planning a major offseason promotional blitz in the country to counter seasonality in arrivals and make Kerala an all-weather destination,” he pointed out.

‘Visit Kerala 2015’ will also promote Kerala Tourism products like cultural festivals, weddings, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE). It will also showcase the Spice Route and Muziris heritage through an international campaign to promote heritage tourism in the state.

Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao said a comprehensive calendar of festivals and events would be prepared and promoted through multiple channels, including India tourism offices and Indian embassies abroad. Kerala will be promoted as a major ‘Wedding and MICE destination’ through online campaigns. The tourism department will also prepare wedding venue databases. In addition, adventure and cycling holidays will be promoted to attract youths and students.

To create a destination pull, food festivals will be held in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad to market Kerala’s authentic cuisine, one of the tourist attractions in the state.

Highlighting the importance of Responsible Tourism, Kerala Tourism Director P I Sheik Pareeth said a ‘God’s Own Country, People’s Own Tourism’ campaign would be conducted across the state to sensitise local communities to tourism and its opportunities.

As part of the destination development initiative, Kerala will embark on industry-driven cleanliness campaign in major destinations in the state. A hop-on hop-off bus will also be introduced in Thiruvananthapuram to enable the tourists go around the city with a single ticket.

Vibrant Gujarat 2015 to see USIIC's launch

05 Jan,2015

US-India Importers' Council (USIIC) said that it is going  to be the leading organisation assisting government bodies, industry associations, corporates, agents, Indian importers, and American companies in connection to decision makers in Government and private sector in India and vice versa. 

India-US relations have become increasingly broad covering cooperation in areas such as trade and economy, defense and security, education, science and technology, high-technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment and health.

People to people interaction provide further vitality and strength to bilateral relationship. There have been regular contacts at political and official levels and a wide-ranging dialogue architecture on bilateral, regional and global issues has been put in place.

"Gujarat has strong ties with the Gujarati diaspora in USA. We wish to use the platform of USIIC to create a strong connect between Gujarat and the American Indian diaspora as well as American companies," said Shreyas Sheth of Amol Dicalite Ltd.

"After my recent visit to the USA to promote Vibrant Gujarat 2015, I realised that the SMEs in Gujarat and the USA need a platform to connect with each other. USIIC will be one of those platforms to connect USA and Indian Government, SMEs and academia with each other. Business will grow only through regular interactions of trade and investment between Indian and American companies. Indian diaspora in USA wants to invest in India, but is looking for closer handholding. It is time to move to the next level," said Jagat Shah, CEO, Global Network.    

USIIC Ahmedabad will lead the trade and investment delegation from Gujarat to USA in April 2015.

Taj Mahal-e-Ticketing

26 Dec,2014

According to ASI officials, all arrangements for barcode screening and broadband connection have been made at the entrance gates of the monument. The ICRTC and ASI have launched a website for the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb and tourists can book tickets at www.ask.irctc.co. till 26th January. For 27th January and further dates guests cannot book the tickets through online.

 

Payments

The payments can be made through debit card or net banking. For which Banks will charge ban transaction charges separately.

 Two scanners  are installed at the eastern gate.However, on the western and southern gates one scanner has been installed.

The composite tikect includes the Pathkar for other monuments .Scanners  will  be  installed at other monuments  on 27thDecember, sothat the tourists can avail the e-tickets there also.

Points to be remembered:

Tourists to book tickets online and print-out to be retained.

E-tickets non-transferrable.

Access Fees will not be refunded.

E-tickets cannot be cancelled.

Must show a photo ID  on demand.

E-tickets will be valid for two days.

Will decide the timing of visit to Taj

IRCTC assigned four schedule with Three-three hours for the trial in e-ticke keeping in view of the Taj Mahal. Trails are I-schedule from 09AM-12PM,  II -schedule from 12PM-03PM  and III schedule from 03Pm-04PM.  Through Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) made a study on this. ASI has sought NEERI report shortly.

Manual ticket  availability

During the trial a month on the Taj Mahal manual ticket sales will continue. ASI and theTaj Mahal during the trial by IRCTC from ticket sales being only  at Shilpgram. After this Trial on the western and southern gates shall be provided with the e-ticket sales.

Cumbersome process

Taj's e-ticket booking online visitors must have their ID. Foreign Tourists  have to advise their Passport Number.

Railway Minister announces a series of new E-Ticketing initiatives

25 Sep,2014

In order to provide a hassle-free service to railway passengers, Railway Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda recently launched a series of new initiatives and projects, which includes Next Generation E-Ticketing, Go India Smart Card, Train Enquiry Mobile App and New Rail Neer Plant in Mumbai region among others. These initiatives have been developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS). The Next Generation e-ticketing or NGeT has replaced the existing system, giving passengers high performance and speedier access to the ticket booking website even in peak hours. It is equipped with state of the art technology and has the strength to safeguards against frauds and unauthorised access. Go India Smart card is a pan India smart card that will allow the passengers to pay for tickets for long distance reserved, unreserved, and suburban journeys. It can be used in the nominated UTS counters, nominated PRS counters and Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) to reserve tickets. Go India Smart card project will start by implementing it on the following two sectors: New Delhi – Howrah sector and New Delhi – Mumbai sector. The Train Enquiry system has been also developed by CRIS into a Mobile App and a desktop application for Windows 8 platform. It is to be released on the Android platform also shortly. Furthermore, a new Rail Neer plantcwith 2 lakh litre per day at Ambernath (Mumbai) has been launched, raising the total production (of the four plants) to 6.1 lakh litres of Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) daily.

Department of Tourism announces 2015 as ‘Visit Philippines Year

25 Sep,2014

With various sets of big events scheduled next year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has declared 2015 as “Visit the Philippines Year”, to allow the country to shine through and attract more foreign visitors. Domingo Ramon Enerio, the Chief Marketing official of the Department of Tourism, said two of the significant events that could raise the inflow of tourists were the visit to the Philippines in January of Pope Francis 1 and the country’s hosting of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit of leaders in November. At least 21 of the Apec leaders are to attend their summit in the Philippines, which is expected to help the Philippines reclaim its place among the top destinations for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, he added. “The visit of Pope Francis will also augur well for the remainder of 2015,” Enerio said, adding the campaign would still carry the slogan of “It’s more fun in the Philippines”. Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez stated, “The attitude of the Filipinos towards tourism has changed completely. There is a willingness to learn and perform better than we did before and that includes our ability to catch up.” He also anticipates the target arrivals of seven million for this year and 10 million for 2016 would be achieved even if the number of tourists slowed down during the first half of 2014.

India PM visit to US expected to Boost Tourism

14 Sep,2014

Minister Narendra Modi to the USA later this month will further boost travel between the two countries.

This hope was expressed by Jay Gray, Vice President, Global Partnership Development, Brand USA, who told this correspondent in New Delhi on September 13 that Narender Modi's meetings with US President Barack Obama are sure to generate much media and public attention, which in turn will translate into more visits by people of other countries and more awareness.

Modi will be with the US President more than once, which is a good way to increase interest, Gray said. He will be leading the 3rd India Travel Mission to Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, which has 41 participants from 30 US companies offering diverse attractions and destinations.

Gray revealed that in 2013 859,000 Indians came to the US, which was an 18.6 percent increase over 2012.

In money spent, India ranked 10th, contributing US$5.6 billion, an increase of 14 percent over the previous year.

The US has just launched an online training program for the travel trade in India, which has received a good response. Also, a culinary guide, “Discover America: Great American Food Stories,” has been unveiled.

The optimism of the VP was shared by the top brass of the companies who came for the mission, who said that better air connectivity and an easier visa regime was helping the sentiment.

Among the destinations and companies represented were Philadelphia, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Maxim Tours, Caesars Entertainment, California, Nevada, and Beverly Hills.

Over 800 industry professionals interacted with the suppliers.

Rajasthan to improve intra-state air connectivity to boost tourism

13 Sep,2014

Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Chief Minister of Rajasthan during her inaugural address at the 49th annual Convention of Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) last evening in Jaipur said that creating right infrastructure and improving connectivity within the state are her government's priorities. Conceding that travel within the state is time consuming especially for tourists, she said that state government has partnered with Pawan Hans to connect all districts by air. She hoped the services will commence soon.  She further added that the state cannot reap full benefit of its tourism potential without creating the right infrastructure. The Chief Minister also stated that her government is embarking on a major programme on creating 20,000 km of roads through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model in the next five years.

Informing the delegates that her government is about to announce a revised Tourism Policy for the state, the Chief Minister said the new policy will take care of the bottlenecks currently experienced by investors on land availability, land use conversions, etc.  Spelling out strategies for tourism, Scindia said that long term sustainability is the key for tourism and with this objective the government will be focusing on protection and preservation of heritage structures, especially in regions like Bharatpur, Bikaner and Udaipur. She said that the government is keen to work with private sector for conservation of heritage structures. She said that her government intends to make forts, palaces and such monuments into "lively" places and exploring the possibilities making them accessible and available for entertainments, events, weddings, etc. "Time has come for us to think beyond mainstream tourism products," she said. The Chief Minister said that state is looking at developing new festivals, curated travel exhibitions, art events, etc.

Jamaica keen on attracting Indian newlyweds

25 Aug,2014

The island destination of Jamaica is showing a keen interest in the honeymoon segment from India. “While other islands may offer sun and sand, Jamaica presents a fantastic diversity of options for couples in search of rich cultural experiences in addition to a setting of extraordinary beauty. Jamaica offers the world’s most renowned all inclusive honeymoon resorts such as Sandals Montego Bay and Couples Sans Souci, Ocho Rios” said Kavi Ghei, Chairman, TRAC Representations that represents Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in India. He further added, “Growth in stop-over arrivals by permanent residence from India in Jan–Feb 2014 as compared to Jan – Feb 2013 has been 23.4%. The increasing numbers prove that Jamaica has been gaining popularity in the Indian market.” Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is also using an integrated marketing strategy with maximum thrust on public relations and promotional activities to reach both the travel trade sector and the consumers.

Africa Ethiopian Airlines names aircraft ‘Taj Mahal’

24 Aug,2014

Ethiopian Airlines is trying to benefit from the heavy tourism business of India and the Indian travellers. In order to attract more Indian travellers, the flagship carrier of the African nation Ethiopia has named its newest Boeing 787 Dreamliner after the Taj Mahal, one of India’s most famous monuments. This happened for the first time that Ethiopian Airlines has named an aircraft of its Dreamliner fleet after a historical or heritage site, which is situated outside Africa. India has become a significant market for the airlines as over 13 million people travel out of India every year. To meet the demand from the Indian market, Ethiopian Airlines is exploring new direct destinations in India. Ethiopian currently flies daily to New Delhi and twice daily to Mumbai, and is further planning to start other major Indian destinations like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Ethiopian Airlines also has a code sharing agreement with Air India and will soon start services to Chennai, which acts as a gateway to a larger market.

Gujarat Tourism to facilitate private tour operators and private hotels

20 Aug,2014

Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) has allowed the private tour operators from across the country to register themselves with Gujarat Tourism as certified operators. Furthermore, TCGL will also be offering the facility of online booking of private hotels that will be registered with it. Moreover, private operators can now showcase their own packages on Gujarat Tourism website, said Kamlesh Patel, Chairman, TCGL. Gujarat is filled with variety of destinations which would cater to all types of tourism sectors, such as beach, wildlife, eco, heritage, archaeological, religion, Gandhi circuit, Buddhist sites, etc. Gujarat will be hosting a series of events and festivals over the next few months attract and is expected to welcome record numbers of tourists. The Monsoon Festival is set to take place from August 16 to September 13, 2014, the Tarnetar Fair will be held during august 29-31, 2014, the Navratri Festival will take place from September 25 to October 3, 2014, the Rann Utsav will be celebrated during December 1, 2014 to March 18, 2015, and the International Kite festival will be celebrated on January 14, 2015. The gross tourist flow in the state during the year 2013-14 was 287.88 lakh, which is 13.30% higher that the flow in 2012-13.

Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli invest Rs 1,360 crore in tourism sector

14 Aug,2014

 

Two new destinations are emerging as significant tourism destinations of India. The Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli have recently announced a major investment of Rs 1,360 crore to further develop the regions’ tourism sector.  They have also launched a new joint tourism logo with the theme, ‘Big is Small’.

Bhupinder S. Bhalla, Administrator, Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, said, “We have been planning this for over a year and our main focus is to attract domestic tourists.”

Train from Delhi to Vaishno Devi base camp

05 Jul,2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the 25-km train service between Udhampur and Katra, enabling pilgrims to now take a direct train from Delhi to the base camp of Vaishno Devi shrine in Trikuta hills.