bitb 2017 mark your calendar for 21-23 september volume 2. issue 7. november 2016. `50 total pages 24 no.u(ndgpo)-01/2016-2017 date of publication: 14/11/2016 rni no. deleng/2015/62794 posting dt. 12-17/11/2016 postal reg. no. dl(nd)-11/6180/2015-16-17 b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r s t a k e h o l d e r s o f t h e b i g g e r p i c t u r e mopa airport foundation laid by pm modi; goa gets its much awaited infra push north goa will soon see an airport. in the pipeline for long, the state government is already working on an expressway that will run through from the north to the far south. tourism largest contributor to maldivian economy; india an important source market india tourism launches iigtm m inistry of tourism, government of india has launched their much awaited global tourism mart. to be held from 1-4 february, 2017, the show will be anchored by cii and faith, two of the biggest names in the corporate and tourism fraternity. as many as 16 indian states already feature on the show website as supporting state governments. programmes for bringing exhibitors and buyers have already been initiated. incredible india global tourism mart, iigtm, is one more show in india’s annual exhibition calendar. however, being sponsored by the government, the show is expected to wield instant clout among the leaders in the industry. its comprehensive website promises an inclusive show for tourism and augurs well for further growth of indian tourism industry. inside 06 states ‘himalayan states council’ needs multi sectoral representation as the way forward 10 aviation bilateral engagement set to grow as air canada unveils vancouver-delhi nonstop 12 aviation srilankan airlines mulls connecting new cities, more frequencies on existing routes 16 hotels + resorts strategic location, culinary offerings driving soﬁtel’s ascent nightlife and cuisines entice indian outbound to israel; connectivity remains an issue more indians were beginning to take to israel as awareness about its thriving nightlife and diverse cuisines was growing among the outbound, but owing to deﬁcient direct connectivity – most travel agents offer holy land tours which has limited traction –bilateral footfalls were not commensurate... pg. 21 expect the trump administration to be more active on the tourism front the bonhomie between the tourism industries in india and the usa is most likely to continue under the trump administration as the newly elected government takes centerstage in a couple of months, and india and the usa gear up to celebrate 2017 as the year of tourism. elliot l. fergusson... pg. 23 india will remain a close partner in cooperation on many facets of bilateral ties including tourism. his excellency ahmed mohamed, high commissioner of the republic of maldives to india, speaks about the strong bilateral relationship and tourism prospects between india and maldives... pg. 20 aviation on cusp of great leap forward, british airways set to retain pole position british airways has recently inducted a 787-9 dreamliner on its delhi-london route, the ﬁrst such induction by the carrier globally, indicating that india continues to be a priority market for the british ﬂag carrier. in a free- wheeling interview, moran birger, regional general manager, british airways... pg. 8
th is issu e : n ove m b e r , 20 1 6 3 impact of demonetization yet to unfold on travel and tourism, but any slump in real estate could make hotel business cheaper, affordable it is said, and for obvious understanding, huge sums of money have if this cash business was truly a “parallel economy” as everybody has been accustomed to use this very expression, by deﬁnition, it would mean being somewhat equal to. so, it would have meant somewhere, somehow equal to the white economy. the wedding business, largely cash driven, has taken a hit, but most of this is outside of the organised hospitality sector. restaurant business, specially in the more afﬂuent class, has also been affected, but for how long this will remain will have to be seen. how the recently undertaken demonetization is going to play out in travel and tourism is going to depend on how directly or indirectly – now indirectly is equally important – the spending power of the parallel economy is going to get disrupted. the cheque driven economy will continue to use travel and tourism in whatever manner it was accustomed to, so there is no issue at all in this segment. it will not impact in the near future in any case. but the impact of the parallel economy, direct and indirect, on travel and tourism will remain to be seen, may take a few months for trends to emerge. admittedly, items like hotel stays and airline tickets were driven by plastic money and will continue to remain this way. however, assuming that cash money will impact the spending power of the individuals, some of them may give a fresh priority to where they would prefer to spend. spending on luxury, items like ﬁne dining and travel and tourism in general, could take a hit. in which case, it would be an indirect hit. shopping could take a hit. ﬂown into government exchequer and will buffer government resources which will be put to good use for the economy as a whole, and for building infrastructure and supporting the poor. this is one side of it and should be most welcome. the ﬂipside to it is that there are a lot of businesses that are totally cash driven. these are being impacted. so, where these are impacted, and what impact will they have on travel and tourism will need to be determined – this will have to be seen, and we can only wait and watch. october showed a healthy growth of 23% in domestic air travel. 2016 has shown consistent growth over last year. therefore, the ﬁrst signs could well be unfolding in the november ﬁgures. 22 days of this month will have a story to tell. if one goes by the websites of domestic airlines, the pricing is rather high right now, so there could be good loads happening and defying the pessimists. international travel has shown some early signs of fatigue and february sales may kick in earlier. now, let us look at another segment altogether: hospitality. if realty is going to get impacted and the real estate prices are going to come down, which is the dominant view-point currently, then we can expect that the evaluation of hotels as an asset class must and would take a further beating. so, those who are in the valuation business, or coming to the hospitality industry for real-estate values, are going to further get a knock, but those who are in for the real hospitality business, could beneﬁt more in the long run. new hotels coming up now, with the new realty pricing, would ﬁnd doing business more affordable. we know that land cost is a signiﬁcant part of any hospitality project. flipside, more hotels may be up for sale. it could also be a good time to buy hotels, if evaluations are down and corporate funds are more forthcoming. contents cities and states: delhi 4 capa moots vision statement; suggests tourism centric economy for the capital states: himalayan states 6 concept ‘himalayan states council’ needs multi sectoral representation as the way forward aviation 8 indian aviation on cusp of great leap forward, ba set to retain pole position 10 bilateral engagement set to grow as air canada unveils vancouver-delhi nonstop 12 srilankan airlines mulls connecting new cities, more frequencies on existing routes bitb 13 bitb 2017 to be held from 21- 23 september; builds on solid foundations set out in 2016 hotels + resorts 14 international roadshows and seminars on cuisines by states will attract global inbound 15 udaipur registers robust demand and declining seasonality, says hvs report 16 strategic location, culinary offerings driving sofitel’s ascent in mumbai’s tourism landscape 17 indian luxury hotels will enjoy their niche positioning, but need to ‘up’ their game outbound 18 simon destinations make their indian foray with an eye on shopping outbound 20 tourism largest contributor to maldivian economy; india an important source market 21 nightlife and cuisines entice outbound to israel; connectivity needs to be addressed 22 italian luxury resort has a lesson for hotels aiming at eco-sustaining excellence 23 expect the trump administration to be more active on the tourism front taleb rifai unwto secretary-general on the importance of shopping tourism for national economies shopping is one of the major categories of tourists’ expenditure, representing a signiﬁcant source of income for national economies both directly and through the many linkages to other sectors in the economy. ,, ashwani lohani cmd, air india on ai’s mantra for proﬁtability our proﬁtability mantra is ‘ﬁll more, ﬂy more!’ we are bullish on increasing occupancy and ﬂying to more destinations. ,, mahesh sharma minister of tourism and culture, goi the desert circuit in rajasthan, snow- bound himalayas, backwaters of kerala, and the beaches of goa are very popular with international tourists. the architecture of india’s temples, palaces, forts, the grandeur of its sculptures, and the beauty of its paintings, all offer an unparalleled experience.,, claudio zemp director – india, switzerland tourism on attracting more indian outbound with a versatile and energetic personality like ranveer singh on board, we would like to showcase that switzerland is not only about scenic beauty but also has many activities and adventures to offer to the more experiential indian traveller. ,, vinay malhotra coo, south asia, vfs global on newly launched mobile application for uae visa applicants the dvpc mobile app will serve as a one- stop shop for uae visa applicants, offering users an end-to-end platform for uae visa applications.,, editor: navin berry firstname.lastname@example.org senior writer: shashank shekhar email@example.com features editor: priyaanka berry firstname.lastname@example.org business development: saurabh shukla email@example.com tourismfirst is owned, published and printed by navin berry and printed at anupam art printers. b-52, naraina phase ii, new delhi. it is published from 36-37, 3rd floor, indra palace, h-block, connaught place, new delhi – 110 001. tel: 011-43784444. total pages 24
4 c iti e s an d state s: de lh i capa moots vision statement; suggests tourism centric economy for the capital capa moots a comprehensive and multi-pronged strategy to establish delhi as a truly international destination. it advocates setting up a visit delhi council on the lines of visit london council, a delhi tourism marketing board, a dedicated tourism police force besides strengthened infrastructure to provide seamless connectivity, among others. agenda ◗ proposed objectives and outcomes ◗ through the ‘london eye’ ◗ what makes an international tourist destination popular and successful ◗ economic beneﬁts of travel and tourism ◗ capa’s 6 step approach to generate and delve upon ideas. ◗ believe in what is being envisioned. ◗ lay the foundation for a culture of ‘owner- ship, goals setting, measurement, and accountability’ at the design stage itself. ◗ generate ‘out of the box’ and strategic ideas. proposed objectives and outcomes ◗ objectives: ◗ envision delhi as a global city such as london (or ny) in terms of tourism – more importantly understand what this implies from an economic and strategic standpoint. ◗ brainstorm on developing a framework which helps create and develop a global city such as london (or ny). ◗ identify 4-5 key critical infrastructural requirements, deemed necessary for the framework, which are reaching capacity constraints (or likely to reach such con- straints in the near term). agenda ◗ proposed objectives and outcomes ◗ through the ‘london eye’ ◗ what makes an international tourist destination popular and successful ◗ economic beneﬁts of travel and tourism ◗ capa’s 6 step approach ...translating into immense economic benefits and a multiplier effect. ◗ during 2015, london attracted 18.6 mn international visits (overnight stays), and 12.9 mn domestic visits (from uk resi- dents). additionally, the city witnessed 274 mn day visits (2014). ◗ list and identify the structural constraints ◗ 2015 visitor spends on hotels, restaurants, shopping, & attractions amounted to gbp15 bn (c.usd22.5 bn). (governance related) that delhi govern- ment faces, and explore possible ways of overcoming them. ◗ agree on an initial roadmap through to 2019, with an action plan and key next steps. outcomes: ◗ all are “in sync” and on the same page. ◗ we understand each other much better. ◗ draw on everyone’s valuable experience ◗ overall, the tourism sector is expected to have contributed more than gbp36 bn (c.usd54 bn) and supported 700,000 jobs. ◗ the contribution of the travel and tourism industry to uk’s economy is encapsulated hereunder. for context, in 2015, the gdp size of the uk was usd2.8 tn (nominal), it had a population of 65.2 mn, and it attracted 33.9 mn international visitors (overnight stays). ◗ gdp: ◗ direct contribution to gdp – 3.7% ◗ total contribution to gdp – 11.2% ◗ employment: ◗ direct contribution to employment – 5.3% ◗ total contribution to employment – 12.7% ◗ tourism spends: ◗ business tourism – gbp65.3 bn ◗ leisure tourism – gbp100.2 bn ◗ visitor exports (foreign spends) – gbp32.0 bn ◗ investments: ◗ capital investment – gbp14.2 bn agenda ◗ proposed objectives and outcomes ◗ through the ‘london eye’ ◗ what makes an international tourist desti- nation popular and successful ◗ economic beneﬁts of travel and tourism ◗ capa’s 6 step approach capa’s 6 step approach for this deliberation begins with an understanding and recognition of the ‘visitor economy’… ◗ step 1 – understanding the ‘visitor economy’ ◗ ‘visitor economy’ deﬁned and ex- plained: ◗ refers to overall demand and supply in all the sectors within which visi- tor activity and its direct and indirect consequences upon the economy take place. ◗ domestic tourism – gbp133.4 bn ◗ the term is wider than the deﬁnition of a tourism promotion council an official visitor guide similar to visitlondon.com and new ele- ments like sound and lights shows needed to make delhi a truly international destination. tourism industries, which it includes, and it encompasses all staying and non- staying visitors (including categories such as business day visits and leisure day visits not currently measured as part of tourism industries). ◗ it embraces the activities and expendi- ture involved in supplying products and services for visitors by both the private and public sectors. it also includes the primarily public sector activities and substantial expenditure on the crea- tion, maintenance and development of the public realm and the infrastructure within which, and through which, visitor activities take place. ◗ it can be used in relation to inter- national, national and sub-national geographical destinations or areas and need not necessarily be conﬁned by existing historical boundaries. ◗ various ‘tourism industries’ are a sub-set of the visitor economy. ◗ as evident from london’s example, in the earlier section, the direct and indirect ben- eﬁts of ‘visitor economy’ are substantial. …followed by a critical due diligence to identify the framework for a global city… ◗ step 2 – a critical due diligence of what constitutes a framework which helps cre- ate a city like london (or ny) ◗ airport infrastructure; ◗ ‘into city’ connectivity and public trans- port (multi-modal, primarily rail and road); ◗ hotels/accommodation infrastructure, across room categories; ◗ f&b services and activities, with appropriate oversight and regulatory mechanism; ◗ safety and security; ◗ women & disable friendly; ◗ cleanliness and hygiene; ◗ civic infrastructure – including uninter- rupted power and water supply, quality
c iti e s an d state s: de lh i 5 of infrastructure, solid waste manage- ment, sanitation, sewerage, storm water drainage, housing, transport & trafﬁc congestions; ◗ culture and heritage; ◗ retail infrastructure (shopping malls, markets, and related destinations); ◗ recreational facilities and activities – including sporting events; ◗ health and well-being; ◗ environment friendly (sustainable, carbon neutrality, pollution levels - air, noise, water etc.); ◗ ability to communicate, market, and promote the destination – including leveraging digital and social media; ◗ ownership, goals setting, performance measurement, and accountability. …which are drilled down to identify the ‘critical’ elements and capacity constraints… ◗ step 3 – ◗ critical elements of the framework include: ◗ airport infrastructure; ◗ public transport (multi-modal, primarily rail and road); ◗ civic infrastructure – including uninter- rupted power and water supply, quality of infrastructure, solid waste manage- ment, sanitation, sewerage, storm water drainage, housing, transport & trafﬁc congestions; ◗ safety and security; ◗ cleanliness and hygiene, health and ◗ recreational facilities and activities, ◗ governance night life; ◗ retail infrastructure (shopping malls, ◗ key questions to ask and answer well-being; markets, and related destinations); include: ◗ are we maxing out on any of these – either already reached capacity constraint or ex- pected to reach capacity constraints in the near future (say 1-3 years); ◗ do we have sufﬁcient resources to build capacities where required; ◗ what are our constraints. …followed by a high level strategic perception study about delhi, along with developing a strategic tourism development framework… ◗ step 4 – ◗ what is delhi’s brand, its positioning, percep- tion, recall, and rankings. ◗ cities are increasingly being associated with a particular spirit – e.g. religion in jerusa- lem, learning in oxford, ambition in new york. what is the spirit of delhi !! ◗ cities are also building and developing brands around themselves – hong kong (asia’s world city), paris (the city of love), rome (eternal city), even las vegas (sin city). what is the brand of delhi !! ◗ such perception study needs to be done by visitor economy classiﬁcation, including business, and should be targeted at nct, india, international visitors ◗ step 5 – develop a strategic tourism development framework which includes: ◗ the tourism minister of the delhi gov- ernment to don the role of the cultural ambassador; ◗ governance standards and requirements; ◗ investments – public and private sector; ◗ public-private-partnership model; ◗ inter and intra government coordination – especially between the state and centre. delhi’s case is unique since it does not have control on some elements like police etc.; ◗ market and promote the destination; ◗ high level strategic plan with clearly deﬁned ownership, goals, and accountability. …and outcomes staggered over two stages. ◗ step 6 – ◗ stage 1 – lasts for the remaining 6-7 months of fy2017. identify and deliver on some quick-wins during this stage, which could include: ◗ setting up a visit delhi council, similar to a visit london council; ◗ a government funded promotion company, similar to london & partners; ◗ set-up a delhi tourism marketing board, and an ofﬁcial visitor guide (similar to visitlon- don.com); ◗ stage 2 – from 2017 to 2019, which structures the larger framework that includes: ◗ how will the delhi government take owner- ship of making delhi a hub for international tourists; ◗ how will the delhi government take owner- ship of making delhi airport a hub; ◗ setting up of a trained ‘tourism police’; ◗ metro connectivity, double decker buses, trafﬁc and transportation; ◗ safety and security; ◗ night life, sound and light shows etc.
6 6 state s: h i m al ayan state s concept ‘himalayan states council’ needs multi sectoral representation as the way forward ‘himalayan states council’ could answer some of the most glaring questions facing india’s hill states, but it needs to be represented by professionals from diverse disciplines to save it from becoming yet another organisation under bureaucratic control, said mandeep singh soin, frgs, founder & managing director, ibex expeditions. he also believed that a new body could arrest migration which was a major hurdle in creating adequately skilled manpower for shouldering travel and tourism. excerpts of his interview: by shashank shekhar we had interviewed major vijay singh mankotia, vice chair- man, himachal state tourism development corporation in the september issue of tourismfirst on the way forward for hill states of india. he, in a very detailed interaction, had vigorously advocated creating a ‘himalayan states council’, an autonomous body dedicated to development in the hill states, on the lines of mdoner (ministry for development of the northeast region) to better harness the potential of these states. it remains a fact that hill states in india have unmatched tourism potential and much of it has remined under-utilized. suc- cessive governments have ignored them. facing a perennial resource crunch, with much of their natural resources now under the purview of the central government, vagaries of the weather and migration that has also posed a considerable threat to quality of available manpower for shoul- dering travel and tourism, the need for a radical intervention to resurrect them is more glaring than ever. vijay mankotia had pointed towards how limited resources and inadequate infrastructure had made hill states overly dependent on central gov- ernment’s assistance and arrested growth and development, impacting travel and tourism. major mankotia had also batted for creating new hill stations to overcome the fast dilapidating condition of india’s available and over-spilling tourist spots in the hills. tf decided to further explore the feasibil- ity of such an undertaking, involving some veterans of the tourism industry. we spoke with mandeep singh soin to get his under- standing on the issue. calling the idea of constituting a separate autonomous body to oversee developmental work in the himalayan states a “very good move”, mandeep singh soin noted that the idea had varied implications which went much beyond only travel and tourism. “himtac, i believe, was created on similar lines. it was supposed to share ideas about what steps could be taken on the tour- ism policy front and other related issues, but, later, it became a defunct body,” he said. to his understanding, an autonomous s n i ppets it must not only have bureaucrats, if that happens then it will end up becoming yet another organisation. it must have able representation from multiple disciplines, including architects, builders, ngos, hoteliers and others. if that happens, it would help create a more holistic body, which would be able to address the challenges facing these states. our hill stations are becoming urban crawls and are in dire need of incorporating concepts like rain- water harvesting. ,, aaron wodin-schwartz mandeep singh soin director public policy, brand usa founder & md, ibex expeditions our hill stations are becoming urban crawls and are in dire need of incorporating concepts like rain-water harvesting and amenities like roads, resorts and like. there are several issues that need to be looked into body needed to be represented by profes- sionals from diverse verticals to moot a comprehensive strategy for hill states. “it must not only have bureaucrats, if that happens then it will end up becoming yet another organisation,” he said. “it must have able representation from multiple disciplines including architects, builders, ngos, hoteliers and others. if that happens, it would help create a more holistic body, which would be able to ad- dress the challenges facing these states,” he added. he noted that vijay mankotia’s idea of cre- ating hill states council was a ‘vibrant one, provided it had representation from across verticals.’ explaining the need for a multi- disciplinary body, he highlighted how architectural mismatch was a common sight at hill stations. “we go to austria and other european countries to sample their unique architecture. our hill states have such unique architecture, but the challenge is to retain the architectural harmony. the new additions are so alien to local traditions that it just does not blend. how do we blend it with nature and local landscape is a ques- tion that needs to be answered. when we are framing policies, we must rope in archi- tects and builders to create that synergy in the local architecture – which can then act as a major pull for tourists,” he said. he also backed the idea of putting in place guide- lines for construction in the region, noting that “it would establish some basic norms like quality of material used and sustainable architecture.” mandeep soin argued that the pres- sures of rising population, often reﬂected by swarming trafﬁc during vacations at select destinations, water crisis and garbage disposal were outcomes of a policy that has long been bereft of sustainable development approach. “our hill stations are becoming urban crawls and are in dire need of incorpo- rating concepts like rain-water harvesting and amenities like roads, resorts and like. there are several issues that need to be looked into,” he said. he also raised the issue of migration in hill states, linking it to lack of policy initia- tives, stating “it can be a very empowering idea for the local populace, if the idea is taken forward. some ngos are trying to take this forward, but it is simply not enough.” on the question of whether the proposed idea could be modelled after mdoner, he reﬂected that mdoner could share their experiences of undertaking developmental work in the northeast and their learnings could be utilized while framing policies for the himalayan states. “mdoner could share their expertise. it would facilitate exchange of ideas,” he said. a glaring example of india’s unimagina- tive tourism policy, and rightly pointed out by vijay mankotia during the above-mentioned interview, is that the country has not been able to develop a single new hill station since independence. the need for new hill stations is being strongly felt as most existing ones are nearing saturation. mandeep singh soin suggested creating a ‘model hill station’ which could act as an example for the nation to emulate. “lavasa to some degree has been able to achieve that. a lot of thought has gone in to making it a sustainable destina- tion, “he said. adding that the ‘model hill station’ could be at a destination with hills and situated above 6,000 feet, he said “make it a sustain- able and an ideal hill station. it will, at least, make people think about what a sustainable hill station looks like.” bihar gears up for 350th guru parv and sonepur fair, muscles up infrastructure these are busy days of the bihar’s tourism department and the state machinery. asia’s biggest annual cattle fair, the famed sonepur mela is right around the corner. the mela, usually stretching from 15 days to a month, will be immediately followed by the 350th prakash parv or the birth anniversary of guru govind singh ji in january 2017. sonepur mela, traditionally a cattle fair, has also become an important platform for artisans, local and nationally, to showcase their products and a number of handicraft makers are expected to participate. in an attempt to combine elements of a traditional fair with culinary experiences, the state tourism development corporation has also invited both local and branded food stores and restaurants for setting up their stalls. 25 swiss cottages – temporary tent structures with modern amenities – are being set up and have become a key attraction, especially, for foreign visitors in the recent years. the state machinery is working on a war footing to as it is also gearing up to host the biggest religious gathering in the state, in the recent history. keeping in mind the scale of celebrations, and expected number of international and domestic visitors arriving in the state, union finance ministry has already allocated a hefty sum of 100 crores for the beautiﬁcation of gurudwara patna sahib. on the infra front, city’s crumbling drainage system is under an extensive overhaul. roads leading to the gurudwara are being expanded to thwart trafﬁc woes; hundreds of sarai rooms are under construction in the gurudwara premises to host pilgrims. professional artists across the country have been hired by the gurudwara committee to embellish gold inlay work in the campus and is expected to be completed before the end of the year. the government has mooted a massive ‘tent city’ in the sprawling gandhi maidan to accommodate the inﬂux of visitors; these tents would house around 20,000 visitors at a time.
state s: s n i ppets 7 aimed at boosting adventure and heritage segments, maharashtra inks mou with asi telangana inks mou with haryana, puts tourism on fast track continuing with its proactive strides in attempting to boost domestic and international connect, telangana has recently inked a memorandum of understanding (mou) with haryana in a bid to foster a better understanding of cultural and traditional practices between the two states. the pact is aimed at creating improved linkages, creating awareness around food habits, lifestyle and others of both the states. the pact, valid for 4 years, was ofﬁcially exchanged by telangana tourism secretary b venkatesham and haryana additional chief secretary dheera khandelwal. the mou was exchanged in presence of the prime minster and union home minster during a programme – ‘ek bharat shrestha bharat’ – commemorating the birth anniversary of sardar vallabh bhai patel in hyderabad. the state tourism secretary also divulged that telangana was keen on signing a similar mou with several other states, including jammu & kashmir, punjab, himachal pradesh and uttrakhand. this development comes months after the state has decided to plan the development of abandoned mines in khammam district and adjoining areas as tourist destinations on the lines of the eco mines tourism project between saoner and gondegaon mines near nagpur in maharashtra. the state- owned singareni companies collieries company limited (scccl) will be developed into eco-parks and made open for tourists and is also expected to gain traction among school and university students. maharashtra boasts of over 350 forts, many of them dotted along its meandering coastline, reminding tourists of its eventful bygone era and the mighty maratha empire which once ruled this coastal state. forts have been an important element in the larger tourism proﬁle of the state, with sindhudurg, kaigad and pratapgarh already witnessing decent turn-out of domestic and international tourists. in a development that could further jettison tourism in the state and come as a major attraction for travellers heading to maharashtra seeking a heady mix of heritage and adventure, combined in one, mtdc (maharashtra tourism development corporation) has recently inked a memorandum of understanding (mou) with the archaeological survey of india (asi) to develop tourist facilities across 90 forts currently under the management of the central preservation agency. with this development, maharashtra has become the third state to have a mou in place, after uttar pradesh and andhra pradesh, to develop tourist facilities at sites controlled and managed by asi. the mou puts mdtc in charge for carrying out construction of tourist-friendly infrastructure in and around these 90 shortlisted forts. the state government is expected to appoint a director to strategize a conservation plan, who in consultation with an architect would chalk out a comprehensive action plan. in the ﬁrst leg of the restoration process, more prominent forts like sindhudurg and shivneri will be taken up for development. the mou entails construction of facilities like toilets, drinking water, shelters, cafeterias, signages, parking spots and pathways among others. as per the details, mtdc is also expected to create a tourist information centre at each of these 90 forts while a 7-member core committee to monitor will monitor the restoration process. the government is also mooting developing forts as centres for cultural activities. there are plans to organise ‘fort festivals’ and events such as ‘diwali at forts’ to develop them as tourist hotspots. principal secretary for tourism and culture valsa nair was quoted in an english daily “the objective is to make these forts culturally active for at least ﬁve days a year.” the state tourism department had organised a ﬁve- day festival at the raigad fort last year, which aimed at celebrating the feats of chatrapati shivaji. tiger express gives bandhavgarh a miss; ranthambhore to be the new pit-stop for tiger tourism rajasthan’s tourism, principally south-eastern tourist destinations are likely to see increased footfalls in the coming days. driven by heritage, palaces and deserts is expected to get a major shot in the arm as the tiger express – ﬂagged off some months ago by irctc (indian railways catering and tourism corporation) to boost wildlife tourism in madhya pradesh – is going to make rajasthan its new centre of operations. to be launched from 19th of november, this semi-luxury train is all set to take tourists to ranthambhore tiger reserve, giving a miss to previously designated pit-stops at kanha and bandhavgarh national park in madhya pradesh. considered to be one of the most innovative tourism product unveiled by the indian railways and irctc in unison on the world environment day to promote wildlife and tiger tourism in the region, the initial launch in madhya pradesh had received dismal response, with as little as 11 conﬁrmed bookings in the month of august, forcing a tweak in strategy by railways ofﬁcials. the changed itinerary – which includes the udaipur circuit – has fared well, in comparison. the new circuit, which will be a four- night and ﬁve-day journey, will cover udaipur, chittorgarh and ranthambhore. a pet project of union minister for railways suresh prabhu, this initiative is ﬁrst of a kind in the country and intends to attract budget and mid-segment travellers interested in wildlife tourism, both domestic and international. the train also includes a dinning- car, which is a ﬁrst for trains operating on the tourist circuit. with this development, rajasthan’s in a first for the state, maharashtra contemplates a ‘jail tourism policy’ in an interesting development to what may add a new dimension to maharashtra’s tourism landscape, the state home department has initiated putting together a ‘jail tourism policy, which would throw open some of the jails for tourists. the state has around 30 jails and only those which have an element of history associated with them would be considered for public consumption. some of the jails in maharashtra like the yerwada central jail has, in the past, housed stalwarts like mahatma gandhi, jawahar lal nehru, bal gangadhar tilak and veer savarkar – and off late, underworld dons and movie stars. state ofﬁcials, however, are also mindful of security concerns while taking this initiative forward. given yerwada’s unique architecture, which allows monitoring the entire jail premises from one central point, many believe that it could also emerge as a suitable location for ﬁlmmakers to capture real shots of jail premises. there are several international examples that abundantly testify to the prowess of jail tourism in courting visitors. robben island in cape town, south africa is one of the city’s most visited destinations. a unesco world heritage site, it houses a jail, once home to political prisoners from the apartheid era, most famously nelson mandela, and a museum. essentially a long- defunct jail, it has through the years established a cult status in the realm of heritage preservation and tourism. as per the available ﬁgures, the island hosted 3,38,192 visitors’ in 2014. alcatraz islands in california’s san francisco bay area has had a similar history. aside hosting a defunct federal and military prison, it also has the oldest lighthouse in entire west coast – and currently clocks over 1.5 million annual visitors to its shore. looking at how some of these destinations have transformed these out of bounds structures into centres of tourist attraction, maharashtra’s move makes all the right noises. while the nitty-gritty of the policy is still under wraps, but the out-of-the- box move is likely to boost footfalls in the state.
8 aviation indian aviation on cusp of great leap forward, ba set to retain pole position british airways has recently inducted a 787-9 dreamliner on its delhi-london route, the first such induction by the carrier globally, indicating that india continues to be a priority market for the british flag carrier. in a free-wheeling interview, moran birger, regional general manager, british airways outlined carrier’s india strategy and how the brexit, coupled with pm teresa may’s recent announcement on visa relaxation, during her maiden india visit, were boosting ba’s push for maintaining its coveted position on the london route and beyond. a detailed interaction follows: london has never been of better value and i think we are playing a part in that. we have got fantastic fares out to london, at the moment. i think the climate in the uk…there is a lot of appetite for outward investment. so, looking beyond europe, looking at other countries, encouraging more business coming from countries from the likes of india, making the visa process much easier, and the fact that the pound is devalued, the rupee is so much stronger, i think just makes it a appealing destination with great value for money.,, regional general manager, british airways moran birger by shashank shekhar tell us all you can about the delhi- london route. ba has recently inducted a dreamliner on this route. how has been the response to it? the delhi-london route is obviously a part of the core india strategy, and india is an incred- ibly important market for us. it is our second largest market out of the uk and us. so, it is something that we are putting a lot of focus on. like you said, delhi has already got 787-9 dreamliner; this was the ﬁrst aircraft we had operating to delhi. it was our ﬁrst route (on which dreamliner was deployed) worldwide. it is also a demonstration of how important the indian market is to us. we have also put up a brand-new ﬁrst class on that aircraft. it is smaller, more inti- mate; the seats have been redesigned; there is a lot more personal space; the entertain- ment screens are a lot bigger. i will like to ask you a question on the first-class separately. fair enough, we will come back to that. in delhi, another thing that we are able to offer out of delhi is that there are two ﬂights a day. which from a convenience perspective… you know, you want to have a night ﬂight from delhi to london and then take a night ﬂight from london to delhi, that is an option. likewise, if you want to have two ﬂights ﬂying, through the day, that is an option – that is available. so, delhi is incredibly important to us. the 787-9 dreamliner has worked very well. i think the response from customers has been very positive. it is a brand-new aircraft and has brand new entertainment features on-board, latest seats, the latest ﬁrst-class, which we will take about later, i guess – and we are looking at making the second ﬂight 787-9, as well. we will have two dreamliners operating in delhi by the summer next year. that is the plan for delhi. we know that ba is operating 49 flights from india in a week. what about load factors? how is that coming up, especially in the first class and business class? we cannot discuss numbers speciﬁcally. we cannot discuss percentages. fair enough. it is true that ba has one of the most coveted first class to offer. and it has been like that for decades now. for an airline to make profits on a particular route, its first class and business class needs to do well. you will not give us numbers. but can you share some details with us? i think where we are quite unique is that the majority of our local aircrafts have ﬁrst class; all of them have business class cabin and we also got the premium economy world traveller plus in the middle. so, a lot of our long-haul aircrafts have four cabins. speak- ing about the front of aircraft, the ﬁrst class and business class, they have been doing extremely well. like i said, all our 787-9 aircrafts are coming with ﬁrst class. so, it is clearly an indication that it is a cabin that we are main- taining whilst a lot of carriers are cutting down on it, we are building it up. more than that, just recently, we have announced a 400-million- pound investment in our business class segment. and this investment will be done globally? yes. proposition really. we are going to get a-350s come in 2018; there will be new seats installed on them. we are going to get brand-new business class seats, and on top of that we are looking at softer touches. catering is going to improve, both the quality of the food and how it is presented to our customers. the whole thing is going to be re-designed. it is to, really, hone in on what is important to our customers. we are really focusing on softer touches like sleep. a lot of our customers in the business class, especially those travelling to the east coast in the usa – india to london and then to the us. coming back, it is usually a night ﬂight and quite a short night ﬂight, so we are seeing how we can maximize sleep. we are looking at introducing new bedding, new blankets, everything is going to be re- designed and redeﬁned and it is just going to beneﬁt our customers a lot more. it will be interesting to see how you refine perfection, is not it? thank you very much. we are building a new check-in area for the ﬁrst class at terminal-5 in heathrow. we are calling it the ‘first wing’. so, it is going to be, sort off, cordoned off from the rest of the check-in area; it is going to be directly from the check-in desk, it is going to be a fast-track facility straight into the lounges. so, one does not need to go through the duty- free shopping or anything. it is a much simpler and easier proposition for our customers. we look forward to that. when are you going to roll-out the facility? that should be completed by april 2017. so, it is a few months away. london has, traditionally, been a hub for indians flying into europe and north america, so to speak. now, with so many carriers in the fray, flying direct and through their connections, how is london panning out? what is the challenge there? first of all, there is a very natural link between india and the uk, and i think a lot of people have connections over there, both, business and leisure – and where we are unique is that we are the only carrier that can claim double daily direct ﬂights from, both, mumbai and delhi into london. also, we are the only ones that ﬂy from chennai, hyderabad and ben- galuru, every single day, to london; we are the only ones that can do that. i think london is a habit. it is really interesting; there are a lot of things happening that are making london just that much more attractive to our customers. first of all, let us look at what has happened with the devaluation of pound. everything in the uk is relatively so much cheaper than it used to be. if you couple that with all the christmas sales that are happening in the uk, i think there has never been a better time as a consumer and as a leisure traveller. london has never been of better value and i think we are playing a part in that. we have got fantastic fares out to london, at the mo- ment. we have also teamed up with a number of retail brands to offer our customers even more discounts, like bicester village, west- ville shopping centre, all of those. customers simply have to take their boarding pass and they get percentage discount wherever they go. indian rupee is a lot stronger, there is christmas sales and we are offering additional discounts on to that, so i think from that side, london has never been a better value. if we look at the business side of it, as well, british pm teresa may was here a few days ago, and she announced a few reforms to the whole visa process. again, all the details are yet to come out, but in terms of business travellers it is going to be a lot easier to obtain a visa to the uk. in addition to that, india is going to be the ﬁrst country in the world that requires a visa into the uk; it is a part of the registered travellers scheme. what that means is that we have got these e-gates on terminal-5 in heathrow when you arrive, we need to scan your passport and facial recognition lets you through, and the queues are much shorter. it is a very seamless and fantastic experience. india is going to be the ﬁrst country in the world that requires a visa that is going to beneﬁt from those gates. so, as long as you have got a long-term visa, being an indian passport holder, you will be able to beneﬁt through that. i think the climate in the uk…there is a lot of appetite for outward investment. so, looking beyond europe, looking at other countries, encouraging more business com- ing from countries from the likes of india, making the visa process much easier, and the fact that the pound is devalued, the rupee is so much stronger, i think just makes it a appealing destination with great value for money, and a fantastic time to visit london. you are taking all the advantages you can out of brexit. you have actually turned it upside down. look, the fact is that our customers here in india…there is beneﬁt to the fact that the pound is weaker and london is better value for money. we cannot sugar-coat it in any way. it is a fact and it is a great thing as well for inward tourism for sure.
aviation 9 british airways: with focus on sensitivity to regional, cultural and culinary nuances, offers a comprehensive indian experience having spent almost nine decades in the indian market and developed a better sense of customer expectations than most other international carriers operating in the indian skies, ba has infused indianness into its offerings – which includes regional cuisines, local crew on board and latest bollywood and regional entertainment on offer, among others. how is the indian outbound taking to ba for their journey beyond london, into other european destinations and into the usa? we look at the usa, for example. we have a quite unique advantage in that; we are able to offer connections. we have a lot of destina- tions that we ﬂy to, ourselves, into the usa. in addition to that we have got the ameri- can airlines, more than just the one world relationship, we have joint business across the atlantic, coupled with iberia, as well and finnair. so, there are a lot of different players in there, from across europe into the us. but in the usa, we can offer over 200 destinations. so pretty much wherever you want to go to in the usa, we are able to ﬂy you there. that has improved even further now…american airlines and us airways, that merger has gone through last year – and we continue to an- nounce new routes. we have just announced that we will start ﬂying to fort lauderdale; we have announced new orleans as a new destination. we have just started ﬂying to san jose a few months back. in addition to that, we have just announced that we are going to start oakland the next year. so within that san francisco area, which is so important to all the tech industry market like hyderabad… vfrs and tech companies…silicon valley, it is all there. and we are the only carrier that is go- ing to be able to serve san francisco, oakland and san jose – all in that bay area – so a lot of investment is going through there. we have also announced a lot of short-haul destina- tions across europe. could you please name some. on top of my head, montpellier in france is a new one we just announced. there is a quite a few islands in greece that we have only recently started ﬂying to, like santorini. so, there is a lot of expansion happening within europe, as well. you know, i think, to a great extent, british airways is almost an indian carrier. we have been here for ninety years and completely understand the indian market. we have done a lot of things to respond to the market, tailor our offerings and make sure that it is a much more personal service that we are able to provide. just a couple of examples: we have got the latest bollywood content and other local language ﬁlms on our in-ﬂight entertainment; we serve local cuisines on every single one of our ﬂights from india; we have got indian cabin crew on single one of our ﬂights that operates from india to london – and we tailor it according to the city, because what a customer wants in delhi is not necessarily what a customer wants in hyderabad. you have got completely differ- ent cuisines and what we offer varies based on that. obliviously, the crew is able to speak the local language, but more than talking to customers, we are able to identify the cul- tural nuances that exists in every single part of india. i think people do identify with ba. it is more than just london. we deﬁnitely offer fantastic network both to usa and to europe. in addition to that, all our ﬂights from india arrive at terminal-5, the connection facilities there are incredible. terminal-5 at heathrow has been voted as one of the best terminals in the world. obvi- ously, there is a lot of shopping and food over there, but the connection is very seamless, too – which adds to all of it, really. a lot of carriers, off late, have been emphasizing on how indian they are – in terms of food and everything else. how do you see the trend of infusing ‘indianness’ panning out? is it going to grow from here on? i will say that we have been there for many years and it is not something we shout about, because it just one of subtleties that we offer. it has been there for years for us. like i said, it is almost an extension of india when you get on board on a ba ﬂight from india to london. british airways: brand new aircrafts, added features on board aside, london is the biggest benefit offered to indian flyers with already one of the most coveted first class on offer, british airways is further ramping up its offerings with wi-fi on board. it is also encouraging greater movement of students by allowing them to carry extra luggage at no additional charge. 787-9 first (fullsuite) 787-9 first centre star alliance has expanded its footprints in india, and ba is a very important cog in the wheel for the oneworld alliance. between the two formidable alliances, which one do you see gaining more toehold in india. how do you see it from an industry insider’s perspective? it is interesting what you see with alliances, generally. i mean, we were the ﬁrst alliances. we started the oneworld alliance with the american airlines quite a few years back. these alliances are incredibly important, they provide our customers a lot of beneﬁts – a lot more destinations across the world, code-shared ﬂights, added beneﬁts like frequent ﬂyers program, so they are able to earn points and redeem them at different lounges across the world. when you look at it, you know, there are more joint ventures happening be- tween airlines. so, we have got one, which we spoke about, across the atlantic with american airlines, iberian and finnair – which is a separate joint venture. we have also got one going the other way to japan with japan airlines, iberia and finnair. we have just announced a joint partnership with qatar airways, as well. so, we do have qatar airways in oneworld. i think the whole concept of partnership has changed. i think with qatar airways – they ﬂy to a fair amount of destinations across india – we are able to offer our customers more destinations. we have also got interline relationships with vistara, jet airways and air india, so from a connectivity perspective, we can sell our customers any point they want to ﬂy to either london, usa or europe, or any point in india – they can buy a ba ticket and use one of our partners. where would you place british airways in the international airline pecking order? i am sure it is one of the best, but what is your perspective on that? there is a lot of competition out there and we respond to that. we have been doing a lot of work in investing in our aircrafts and our product. we have got a lot of new aircrafts. we were the ﬁrst uk carrier to operate, both, the a-380 and the 787. we have got a-350s coming in 2018 and more 787s on the way. there is a brand-new ﬂeet. we are going to have wi-fi on board on all our aircrafts from the next year, both long-haul and short-haul; the installation will start next year. also, i think the added beneﬁt that we can offer, especially to our customers in india is london. london is such a key hub from india for business reasons, and so many people have families in london. so many people feel that connect and link to london. have you seen the outbound numbers growing? can you share your experience? without going into numbers, there is deﬁnitely an appetite for more and more people to go to london for business and leisure. it brings us to a question which examines the broader landscape of tourism in the country. as an airline, one of the oldest, operating in india, and you have spent a fair amount of time in india, what is your understanding of developing tourism and movement of people and services? if you have to suggest some measures that could help indian tourism grow, what would they be? look, i think a lot of positive steps that have already been taken. you see the growth in domestic air travel, it is crazy – and the fact that the government is working on the avia- tion policy and changing some of the rules, making it easier, opening the skies up. in that respect, it just allows us to oper- ate in a much more free environment really and that is going to boost tourism in the long run for sure. you spoke about the new civil aviation policy. it also speaks of regional connectivity. do you see ba, sometime in the future, partnering with some of the regional players including airlines? look, we already have partnerships with the three full-service carriers here – with jet airways, air india and vistara. we sell them, so partnerships are happening here; it is being sold on our websites, through our call centres, travel agents and oth- ers. so, it is already there. as an airline, how are you promoting tourism? you have some special perks for students flying into uk. tell us about it. it is about responding to every single segment that we have ﬂying out of india. we have sales throughout the year for leisure tourists. we ran a competition for student segment this year, where we just asked students here in india to tell us how they would spend their perfect day in the uk. they just had to respond to that on the social media and two people selected as winners get to go to the uk and interact with some of our executives in our head ofﬁce – and spend some time seeing what london is like. the other thing that we run throughout the year is that we allow students carry an additional baggage with them absolutely free of charge, because we understand that when you are moving countries and going to study some- where else, one of the most important things is baggage.
10 aviation bilateral engagement set to grow as air canada unveils vancouver-delhi nonstop air canada has made abundantly clear that india remains a key market for the canadian flagship carrier as it recently announced a nonstop connection between delhi-vancouver besides ramping up the already existing delhi-toronto frequency to seven days a week. it also indicates that the canadian carrier has assessed increased growth and requirements at the back of fast-growing bilateral movements. we will have about 37 of those by the end of the program – and that aircraft has, really, been a gamechanger for us, allowing us to enter markets that we could not access, and do so on a proﬁtable basis,” he said. “it has certainly enabled us to basically enter this market in a large a measure as we can,” added kevin howlett. the india strategy air canada chose to implement a well though-out strategy which aimed at offering quality product at various price-points, help- ing them engage with a gamut of market segments – and to kevin howlett’s own admission, the strategy has been yielding them rich dividends. “it has allowed us to offer three price-points, as i would call it. there is cabin service with economy, premium economy and business class. we have the best international business class product and 787s have stepped up the game, stepped up the whole standard level,” he substantiated. stressing that an exciting time lied ahead for the canadian ﬂagship carrier, he said “we have high hopes for the performance of the vancouver-delhi route. the level of opportu- nity that we see, especially from the british columbia and vancouver market and here, is immense. the province of british columbia and the government has underscored that.” he accentuated that the carrier had “clearly identiﬁed india as a growing eco- nomic opportunity and one that they wanted to partner with businesses here in india, and delhi, to make that happen.” taking stock of air canada’s global footprints, kevin howlett informed that the carrier had opened new routes, starting with its ﬁrst route into africa – into casa- blanca. “last year, we have also moved our casablanca service to a daily one. that is on top of barcelona, madrid, prague, war- saw, budapest among others that we have operated through our liaison carriers, and through air canada. on the asian side, we have got osaka and nagoya, both of which are operated with routes,” he said. he added that when air canada put that with delhi operations, they were well on their way to becoming a global champion. on ease of travel and air canada’s foray therein “just taking our vancouver-delhi ﬂight as an example, the way we have timed our service is that when one arrives in vancouver, it is 6-6.30 in the morning. that allows you to connect with our bank anywhere in canada and the usa. so, whether you are going to montreal, toronto, new york, or chicago, it is a signiﬁcant competitive advantage that our timings give us,” explained kevin howlett. he emphasised that there was a lot of excitement around vancouver-delhi service among the indo-canadian community and the business community at large in the city of vancouver – who supported this recently added connection. “the ﬂight time is around 14 hours and 10 minutes, but the real story is that vancou- ver and delhi are now 8 hours closer. it is true when you come to think of it, because prior to this it was over another gateway,” he iterated. by shashank shekhar while the indian diaspora stamps a signiﬁcance presence on the global platform, but nowhere else does it wield the degree of clout on the socio-economic and political landscape of a nation as it does in canada. the indian diaspora currently accounts for almost 4% of the total population and is one of the most well-off and fastest growing non-european ethnic communities in the country. a glimpse of this growing prowess was abundantly visible, when as many as 19 indian-origin mps found their way into the current parliament – with harjit sajjan, an indian born canadian, taking charge of the defence portfolio. this robust presence of the indian com- munity, through the years, has resulted in a sustained bilateral movement of people and services, especially inbound. in what may come as a major booster shot in further cementing this connect, air canada has recently unveiled its new and a potentially gamechanger connection between the two countries. this comes at a time when the airline has decided to increase the frequency of delhi-toronto ﬂight from four times a week to a daily, starting the ﬁrst week of november. it also has plans to introduce a mumbai- toronto nonstop from 1st of july 2017. with a ﬂying time of 14 hours and 10 minutes, the newly added connection linking delhi to canada’s densest and most ethnically diverse west coast city – vancou- ver – is likely to have a signiﬁcant impact in augmenting trafﬁc to the entire north american region. speaking with tf, kevin howlett, senior vice president, regional markets & govern- ment relations, air canada asserted that the carrier was “truly on a renewal program and india was an important part of their global outreach.” “we, like other carriers in north america, were not without challenges, but did a signiﬁcant ﬁnancial restructuring which commenced in 2009. the whole initia- tive had a couple of key attributes to it,” he recalled. he shared that cleaning up the balance sheet, changing the employee culture, coupled with embarking on a global expan- sion strategy through ﬂeet renewal and expansion of network were central to the restructuring bid. “over the course of the last couple of years, we have basically renewed our wide-bodied ﬂeet with the acquisition of 777s and 787-800s and 787-900 aircrafts. on the latter, 787-800s and 787-900 aircrafts, air canada has shown great commitment to the indian market; dreamliner a gamechanger margaret skinner, director sales – emeai, air canada held that a top-notch inflight experience, seamless networks into canadian and major us cities and growing business ties between two nations were driving air canada’s determined foray into the indian market. air canada had shown a great level of commitment to the indian market and, much of it was driven by it receiving an overwhelming response from the trade segment in india with the launch of delhi-toronto service a year ago, said margret skinner. she emphasized that the launch of the daily service clearly indicated that the ﬂight “had done very well for them.” “it makes india a viable market. it is also a great product to sell on the sales side. what we also like about this market is that we are getting support across the board from all market segments,” she said. noting that the airline needed a good mix from various seg- ments to induce the proﬁtability factor, she detailed “we need our share of the premium trafﬁc and corporates, who love our ﬂight and services. we believe that we have the best business class, right now, across the atlantic. and we see is that people try our product and come back for more.” also, the airline could attract a section of sme trafﬁc as its premium economy product was gaining traction, margret skinner informed. “we have a lot of sme trafﬁc ﬂying – where may be, they are a little more budget conscious,” she said. she maintained that the innate ability to create a seamless service for travellers was a major differentiator for air canada. “apart from being competitive on pricing, our goal is being seamless and easy for travellers,” she said. “customers can pre-clear customs in toronto, or in vancouver for the usa and can connect beyond on the network in the usa. we are at 55 destinations in the usa and i think that is also proving to be very popular,” she substantiated. arun pandeya, country manager, air canada believed that given the heightened movement of people and businesses between india and usa, air canada was the carrier of choice to use canadian desti- nations as gateways for ﬂying into the usa. “of course, you would require a canadian transit visa. but after that, it is a domestic ﬂight. so, when you arrive in the usa, you just pick up your bags and move on. it is not a double immigration. the immigration facility for the usa is in vancouver and toronto. so, that works very well for travellers going to the usa, even to cana- dian destinations. our arrival and departure times are so slotted that you get a full-day of work, leisure, or whatever you have gone for,” he said., corporate footfalls aside, air canada was also tapping into the he pointed out that there was huge engagement on the trade leisure segment, we were told. “we are also getting a fair share of the high-spending leisure trafﬁc who are taking to the premium econo- my. so, i think we have got products for all,” she reasoned. side, between canada and india and with so much happening “in terms of economic engagement, that it makes the connectivity aspect extremely important.”
12 aviation chinthaka weerasinghe, manager northern india, srilankan airlines srilankan airlines mulls connecting new cities, more frequencies on existing routes srilankan airlines may opt to introduce flights to new points like ahmedabad in north, apart from further bolstering its presence in south india with new connections from vishakhapatnam and trichy to better manage the growing tide of indian travellers heading for the srilankan shores. tf spoke with chinthaka weerasinghe to decipher the island nation’s flag carrier’s impending business strategy, trends in tourism emanating from india and a lot more. excerpts: if you look at the indian region, sri lanka is still a relatively new destination. until 2009, we had a conflict going on, but now it is perhaps one of the most peaceful countries in the world. so, there is a big surge in tourism. they mainly go for beaches, especially from places like delhi. the new trend is that youngsters are going to colombo city, mainly for nightlife, shopping and casinos. travelling for gaming is a new trend. ,, chinthaka weerasinghe manager northern india, srilankan airlines are expecting the numbers to swell to 4 lakhs. overall tourist arrivals into sri lanka is about 2.2 to 2.3 million. so, you can see that a huge chunk comes from india. even the trafﬁc from north india – delhi and mumbai – is coming mainly into sri lanka. in addition to that, we are also expand- ing our connections to the indian ocean destinations. we have a prominent connec- tion to maldives. add to that, we have already started operations to grand island; we are the ﬁrst international airline to operate into grand island. we also have seychelles. so, we are offering connections to these destina- tions. this is our main focus, when it comes to our market here in delhi, too. let us talk about performance in yields. how is it going? what sort of load factors has the airline been clocking? load factors are very high; yields too are panning out well. that has made us look for some more frequencies. as soon as we have the aircrafts available, we will be deploying them. what about sri lankan inbound into india? how is that panning out for you? our main focus is the pilgrim market. so, we have two scheduled ﬂights – which operate on the charter model – into varanasi and gaya. it is mainly a half-yearly operation. in addition to varanasi and gaya, we are also channelling pilgrim movement via kolkata and delhi – and also via chennai. some tour- ists come to chennai and take a train all the way to bodh gaya. there are different budget packages and travellers with different spend capacity. it is a hectic journey for them, but going to bodh gaya is a very special thing for the elderly in sri lanka. also, we are looking at promoting tourism to the odisha region, because a lot of bud- dhist origins are found there. there is also a huge movement to puttaparthi via bengaluru. there is also movement to tirupati via chen- nai. so, the sri lankan inbound movement will mainly be focussed on pilgrim tours and spiritual tourism in india. one major change in the past half- a-decade has been the rise of otas and transformation in the distribution channels. are you looking at newer distribution channels and working with otas? how are you engaging with the indian clientele? what is the strategy? otas, as you correctly mentioned, these days are a part and parcel of distribution strategy. more or less, they are our top agents now. almost half of our bookings are coming through online platforms. the reason is that they have the capacity to sell, not only on an all-india basis, but globally. we do a lot of focussed promotions, not on the basis of fares though. fare wise, we give the same to all travel agents. we use these otas as channels for distri- bution. what is driving indian outbound into sri lanka and what are some key destinations that have gained prominence? if you look at the indian region, sri lanka is still a relatively new destination. until 2009, we had a conﬂict going on, but now it is perhaps one of the most peaceful countries in the world. so, there is a big surge in tour- ism. they mainly go for beaches, especially how many destinations are being currently serviced by the srilankan airlines in india? as of 1st of november, we are ser- vicing 11 points. it makes us the largest airline in terms of number of points we operate from india. no other airline operates from so many points that we do. and much of it is pre-dominantly in the south india? yes, pre-dominantly in the south. we have three points in tamil nadu which are chen- nai, tiruchirappalli and madurai. we have three points in kerala that includes trivan- drum and cochin. then we have mumbai, delhi, varanasi, gaya and, also, kolkata. in mumbai and delhi, we are planning to expand. much of the northern cities are driven by buddhist tourists, because as you know sri lanka is a buddhist country. in fact, in terms of tourist arrivals into sri lanka, we are in the top ﬁve. so, it is majorly catering to the pilgrim market. it operates more on a charter basis. it is a scheduled ﬂight, but operates on a charter model; it is seasonal. what sort of aircrafts have you deployed? it is all narrow-bodied operations. it makes commercial sense. the cost of operating a narrow-body aircraft is half the cost of operating a wide-bodied aircraft. we would rather give more frequencies than getting a wide-bodied aircraft. what about number of frequencies? the number of frequencies is 106 per week. of course, it is not comparable to emirates and etihad – which have about 180 frequen- cies. they are the number one and number two, respectively. but we are in the top ﬁve in terms of number of frequencies per week. in terms of seat capacity, too, we are in the top ﬁve. in north india, frequencies are not enough. so, we are planning to expand. frequency enhancement aside, what about new destinations? we are looking at destination expansion, too. india will be very much in our forward looking plan to increase frequencies and destinations alike. which cities are next on the radar for you? on the pipeline is vishakhapatnam, coim- batore, calicut and ahmedabad. so, quite a few are in the pipeline, but nothing is conﬁrmed as of now. colombo is the hub for srilankan airlines. so, could you give us a sense of how the outbound from india is into colombo? it would give us a better picture of the state of tourism. india is the number one tourist market for sri lanka. we have had about 3.2 lakhs inbound tourist arrivals into sri lanka. this year, we from places like delhi. but they also like to do a round tour of the country. normal packages consist of 4 nights and 5 days. for them, sometimes, it is easier and more cost-effective to go to sri lanka, than to go to kerala or goa. one is the value of the indian rupee. when you convert it into sri lankan rupee, it is almost double. visa process is easy. it is visa-on-arrival; now it is online. add to that the ﬂying time. even the airfare costs lesser than some of the domestic routes. also, not many travellers from north india have experienced sri lanka. that is why they are travelling. the new trend is that youngsters are going to colombo city, mainly for nightlife, shopping and casinos. travelling for gaming is a new trend. a sizable number of travellers are going to macau, so a lot of them are also going to colombo for that, especially after nepal has also closed down casinos. so, it is very popular with young tourists. what about northern sri lanka? have you witnessed an uptick in movement into regions like, say, jaffna? not too much in the northern part, because there are not many tourist attractions there, unless it is vfr or ethnic movement. but you get best of beaches in the east of the country – trincomalee and pasikudah are very popu- lar. but it has not become popular with the indian outbound yet. it is more popular with western and european tourists. that is one area which could be promoted more among the indian tourists. where do you get your most traffic from? which is your busiest route? of course, chennai and colombo. we are operating 4 ﬂights a day and all of them are plying on full capacity, because jaffna and other northern parts have now opened up. there is a lot of ethnic trafﬁc and that route is very popular among the indian tourists. as an industry insider, what are some of the challenges that you envisage in promoting south asian tourism or tourism within south asia? the biggest problem is the travel part of it – the visa part of it. for example, we here at srilankan airline cover saarc region better than any other country. we have daily ﬂights to bangladesh and karachi. we have 3 ﬂights a day to lahore. we are even looking at kathmandu in the near future – it is in the pipeline. add to that, how we cover india and maldives shows that no other airline covers saarc better than we do. we are now a member of one alliance and can come up with travel packages covering the entire south asian region. but the biggest issue is the visa issue. i think only sri lanka has easy visa-on-arrival facility, and maldives, but in order to further expand intra-regionally, it must be discussed, at least for genuine tourists. there is a lot of regional integra- tion that can come about.
b itb 13 bitb 2017 to be held from 21-23 september; builds on solid foundations set out in 2016 cross section media, the publishers of tourismfirst and organisers of bitb, in partnership with world leader itb berlin, have announced dates for their 2017 edition – the event promises to be unique among all indian events and will innovate further after its launch edition of 2016. has announced its 2017 dates – 21st to 23rd september for the 2nd edition. bitb concluded its successful ﬁrst edi- tion in october 2016. it was successful on numerous fronts that it envisaged, innovated upon traditional formats, set new bench- marks in industry events. it continues with these same objectives, driving them to still better success in the coming edition. in the words of the organisers, “bitb is uniquely national, and international, not just a regional or local city show; structured among business verticals, as seen in the evolving trends . it continues its sharp focus on tourism, bitb brings senior leadership and serious networking. it creates a high oc- tane networking platform for the composite tourism industry in the country and region.” concept bitb ◗ bitb – bharat international tourism bazaar – is a b2b tourism exhibition , with a difference. in that it addresses buying and selling of both traditional and new age driv- ers of indian business. ◗ bitb is strong on content and delibera- tions. it is strongly motivated around the need to create an industry platform for sharing of ideas and knowledge, best prac- tices and future trends. its big focus is on power conclaves, driven by the best names in the chosen ﬁelds. ◗ bitb is powered by itb berlin , the lead- ing tourism fair in the world. together, we bring the best of ‘glocal’, local and global, vignettes from bitb 2016: single minded focus on tourism, senior leadership and serious networking brought accolades from exhibitors, conclave speakers and visitors. it also witnessed an impressive awards line-up with some of the biggest names in the business getting recognised for their sterling contribution to indian travel and tourism industry on the global stage. in tourism and travel. with the reach of itb berlin through its worldwide network, the indian edition has unsurpassed reach both for buyers as well as exhibitors. the inaugural edition was formally announced in june 2016 with only four months lead time for the actual show. this was based on the belief that september is the best time of the year for buying and selling travel and tourism in our region. india, in any case, has become a year- round generator of travel and tourism, not only domestically but also internationally. ◗ bitb is centred around the belief in the growing power of indian travel , for domestic and outbound. india remains one of the most robust growth market globally. this current year alone, domestic air travel has been showing a phenomenal growth with october showing over 23 percent increase in domes- tic air travel. 2016 is slated to recover over 100 million domestic movements in india. ◗ bitb will build a strong inbound tourism programme, built around and anchored by the leading players in indian inbound industry. it is a program built by industry, for industry. ◗ the exhibitor and visitor segments com- prehensively bring ‘tourism under one roof’. the event focus on the traditional segments such as hospitality, aviation, states and countries and leisure travel agents and tour operators and give recognition of the new drivers of india’s tourism including online travel and technology, luxury, weddings, mice and corporate, and experiential travel. ◗ bitb promises a quality event with unique and professional look and feel. it brings the best in international standards to an indian event. specially for indian outbound indian outbound remains one of the most robust growth markets in the world. cur- rently growing around 15% per annum, presently measuring around 18 million, the indian traveller now has a mix of ﬁrst time group travellers and sophisticated lifestyle well-heeled types. these spend money on shopping, good food and wine and stay in leading hotels around the world. some 40 national tourism organizations are either having ofﬁces or ﬁxed representations. bitb promises structured buying and selling on its much appreciated bitb virtual bazaar. 2016 statistics and 2017 forecast ◗ 2016 statistics: 260 exhibiting companies / 780 buyers / 6 power conclaves / 60+ senior industry leaders. no other show in india has its concepts worked in such style and degree. we have worked hard on them, keeping in mind industry needs and challenges. ◗ 2017 forecast: 500+ exhibitors. 1000+ buyers. 6 power conclaves. 4 networking sessions. focus on mainstream media bitb will have strong partnerships with mainstream media, both in print and television. bitb 2016 was most active on social media. its launch video saw 77,000 hits on youtube which was phenomenal for any indian tourism event. the 2017 edition will be no different and given a still more innovative format, it will be even more vis- ible and endorsed on social media in india and also overseas. bitb expects 100 strong mainstream media to attend, including a signiﬁcant overseas presence. all this will provide for maximum mileage to participants and partners. bitb captures the essence of bharat 2017 will see the biggest display of essential- ly bharat tourism products, keeping in mind its underlining philosophy.
14 h ote l s + re sorts international roadshows and seminars on cuisines by states will attract global inbound the ministry of tourism should hold seminars on food in culinary institutes across the world. we need people to teach indian cuisines to make them popular, because then they will start cooking it. it is a very common practice. italians did it in india, that is why you see pasta becoming so popular. chefs over there. we need to do the same. ,, the japanese government is sending chefs to india, and training our aaron wodin-schwartz anil bhandari director public policy, brand usa chairman, ab smart placement indian cuisines needed to be taken to the global audience through roadshows and seminars for creating more awareness around nation’s most unique tourism offering, suggested anil bhandari. he advocated meticulous documentation of cuisines and dishes by state governments to develop standardization and make them an important instrument in attracting tourists. by shashank shekhar how can indian cuisines help promote india as a destination? how can culinary tourism be strengthened as a segment of our offerings? with respect to culinary tourism, ﬁrst thing that comes to mind is making indian cuisines popular across the world. we need to tell the world how many thousands of cuisines exist in india, and what value these cuisines have. we cook food in india which is very good for health. we use turmeric, basil and so many other ingredients that are very good for health. so, indian food is very healthy and nutritious food. this message has to ﬁrst go across the world to people. second is to popularise. we must hold food festivals across the world. it is one step we could take. each state government should create a recipe book of their own after a thorough research on the number of dishes they have. it is a job. governments do it for monuments. here you are doing it for cuisines available in the region. state could come up with 200-300 dishes, because there are so many dishes and within the state, too, and so many variations and ways of cooking it. we must have the institute of hotel management or the indian culinary institute standardize and authenticate those recipes. then that information can be put across in books and digital platforms and food and cultural festivals could be organised – we can combine the two elements together. i did this way back in 1986, when i carried the ﬁrst food festival of india to the usa with 41 chefs. it was a great experience when we had only one indian restaurant in the washington city, today we have hundreds of them. it is a great way to popularize india. you cannot forget food; it will never get erased. what should be the way forward on the central government front? the ministry of tourism should hold seminars on food in culinary institutes across the world. we need people to teach indian cuisines to make them popular, because then they will start cooking it. it is a very common practice. italians did it in india, that is why you see pasta becoming so popular. the japanese govern- ment is sending chefs to india, and training our chefs over there. we need to do the same – and i can tell you that the number of people visiting india will grow. because people love food. it is a passion for young and elderly alike. the future is about healthy food and indian cuisines can make them happy and healthy. how can the industry do its bit in using culinary elements to create more footfalls? look at our chef sanjeev kapoor, he has a food channel. so, he is promoting indian cuisines. every media house in the country today has, at least, one or two programs on food. now they need to reach out to international masses through foreign television channels. some of them are already there, others are not. it will take some time, but we must continue with the process of making it more popular through electronic and social media. media needs to write about the beneﬁts of indian food. vegetarianism is the trend of the future. at least ﬁfteen percentage of americans have turned vegetarian. i think there is a great op- portunity. we should promote the incredible indian cuisines. s n i ppets ayana fort kochi all set for launch located in the heart of fort kochi, ayana is a luxury boutique hotel, it celebrates the local architecture, culture and cuisine of this heritage island. it is set for its formal launch this month. this converted hotel has the distinction of having been the court house during the portuguese occupation and is said to be almost 200 years old. one can indulge in the multi cuisine restaurant; the melting pot is reminiscent of an elegant colonial eatery with a selection of coastal and indian offerings as well as a choice of western dishes. the tea lounge in the historic court house, offers craft teas, speciality coffees and a wide selection of freshly baked goods for the perfect quick breakfast or mid-afternoon pick-me-up
h ote l s + re sorts 15 udaipur registers robust demand and declining seasonality, says hvs report located in the girwa valley, amidst the desert of rajasthan, stands the city of udaipur. the once capital of the mighty mewar kingdom, udaipur is now one of the most sought after leisure destinations india has to offer. aptly known as the “city of lakes”, the scenic lake pichola and fateh sagar lake are centres of most of the leisure activity in the city. the atmosphere of royalty can not only be sensed in the palaces and gardens of udaipur, but by way of the luxury hospitality experience as well. this article focuses on the history and progress of the udaipur hotel market in addition to a brief outlook of its future potential. by shunit c roy and achin khanna rajasthan: land of kings known for its tourist destinations both domestically and internationally, rajasthan offers a variety of leisure attractions. encom- passing mountains (mount abu), valleys (udaipur), forests (sariska national park and ranthambore national park) and the desert (jaipur, jodhpur and jaisalmer), the state has a unique blend of leisure locales. it is how- ever, the rich heritage and culture shrouded by a sense of royalty, a speciality of the state, which attracts visitors from far and wide. the beginning of timeless luxury (1979-2000) the year 1979 marked the beginning of a new chapter for the city of udaipur with the opening of the taj lake palace hotel. what began as a conversion of the jag niwas palace, is today one of the most iconic hotels in india, if not the world. the trend of palace conversions into hotels contin- ued, as the shiv niwas and fateh prakash were converted from sections of the city palace complex into palatial hotels. the emergence of tourism as a major economic boon began in the 1980s, but it’s growth was restricted due to inadequate infrastructure such as insufﬁcient connectivity and erratic electricity supply. lack of air-conditioning limited tourism to a select few months in the year, even as the city’s popularity among travellers continued to grow. on the back of rising demand for the regal hospitality experience, the trident and oberoi udaivilas made their entrances and modiﬁed the deﬁnition of timeless luxury hospitality not only for udaipur, but for hotels across the subcontinent. tourism, as a major economic sector for udaipur, rose to prominence in the 1990s; and the city was recognised as one of the most niche hotel markets in india. demand, still generated primarily by individual travellers and leisure groups of foreign origin helped hotels main- tain high room rates. furthermore, the idea of luxury hospitality amidst the royal setting, sparked by the giants of the udaipur hotel market, lives on till date.1 stepping stones (2000-2011) between 2005 and 2010, the hotel industry expanded rapidly, although for the ﬁrst time developments were not conﬁned to the luxury or upscale positioning. while the leela palace, lalit laxmi vilas and radisson blu (erstwhile sheraton) added to the luxury and upscale segments, the fateh garh and ramada resort & spa were among the ﬁrst hotels to establish a mid- market segment in udaipur. famed for its luxury hotels, udaipur (as a leisure market) welcomed the masses with arms wide open for the ﬁrst time. further- more, a steady growth in domestic demand was initiated owing to better connectiv- ity and availability of hotels at lower price points. udaipur emerged as a destination for group leisure and meeting and events as well, since more hotels now had larger inventories and larger banqueting facilities at varying price points. the udaipur hospitality market, traditionally reliant on the patronage of foreigners, has witnessed a slump in inbound leisure demand over the last three years. however, domestic leisure and group demand emanating primarily from ahmedabad, mumbai and delhi ncr have not only compensated for the lower share of foreign demand but helped minimise seasonality as well, providing the market with a higher year-round demand pattern. ,, md, consulting and valuation practice, hvs south asia director public policy, brand usa aaron wodin-schwartz achin khanna here and now: recent trends (2011-2016) the last ﬁve years have witnessed addi- tions to supply such as the ananta udaipur, golden tulip and radisson, all of which are positioned in the mid-market segment. as compared to the luxury and upscale hotels in the city, the lower price offering of the mid- market hotels has encouraged visitation from a wider variety of clients primarily in the individual leisure domestic, group leisure and meeting and events segments, thereby contributing to the overall growth in demand for the city. the udaipur hospitality market, tradition- ally reliant on the patronage of foreigners, has witnessed a slump in inbound leisure demand over the last three years. however, domestic leisure and group demand emanating primar- ily from ahmedabad, mumbai and delhi ncr have not only compensated for the lower share of foreign demand but helped minimise seasonality as well, providing the market with a higher year-round demand pattern. daily ﬂights to mumbai and delhi, courtesy indigo airlines, were inaugurated in november 2015 and are expected to support the already improving annual demand. moreover, the transition to a group leisure and meetings and events-focused market over the last ﬁve years is indicative of a ﬂexible leisure market and its diminish- ing dependence on transient tourism as the prime source of demand. the wedding seg- ment (included in meeting and events) alone raises an average revenue of `60 lakhs-`3.5 crore per wedding for a two-night gala, which typically includes both rooms and food and beverage (f&b). keeping in mind the elaborate wedding festivities expected of udaipur hotels, f&b banquet rates command a noteworthy premium, with the banqueting average per cover (apc) ranging between `1,200-7,000 per person. the true strength of the market, however, lies in the average room rate (arr). the top three luxury hotels of the market – taj lake palace, the oberoi udaivilas and leela palace – not only command the highest rates in the market but their arrs are among the top 20 in the country. overall, udaipur commands a higher arr as compared to other leisure markets across india, and is signiﬁcantly more than the country-wide average rate for ﬁve-star deluxe hotels.2 fluctuation noted in the arr over the last ﬁve years (ref. figure 5) may be attributed to the continuous addition of mid-market hotels at a lower price point as compared to their luxury competitors. despite the variation in arr, marketwide room revenue has re- corded a 15.6% compounded annual growth rate (cagr) over the last ﬁve years. furthermore, the ‘tag-team’ effect of a strong yet ﬂexible arr and growing oc- cupancy has ensured growth in marketwide revpar, which having exhibited a stark upward trend from 2011/12 to 2015/16, is one of the highest in the country today. investment initiative the state government’s “resurgent rajas- than” campaign has recognised tourism and hospitality as one of the focused sectors of investment for the state. based on their fore- casted growth in tourism, rajasthan is likely to face a shortfall of approximately 36,000 hotel rooms by the year 2021. in addition to development of hotels, the government has recommended development of adventure sports activities, golf courses and convention centres while improving existing tourist cir- cuits and monuments through public-private partnership investment schemes.3 the government has emphasised the advancement of speciﬁc tourist destinations in the state. udaipur, among other prominent cities, has been proposed as a centre of development. establishment of a golf course, night-viewing of monuments to incorporate summer tourism, eco-tourism and enhance- ment of the jaisamand lake are some of the recommended projects by the state govern- ment for the city. on the basis of our own research we ﬁnd that hotels in udaipur are indeed reaping rewards. the time for investment into hotels in udaipur is ideal on account of market performance and demand trends, and the prevailing country-wide hospitality upcycle as well. the 2016 hotels in india: trends & opportunities report indicates a similar outlook for leisure destinations across india, highlighting the need for a paradigm shift in realising their true potential – evident from our case presented on udaipur. a glimpse of tomorrow the composition of the market, going forward, is likely to change as we anticipate the addition of approximately 800 rooms by 2020/21. accounting for both new hotels and the expansion of existing ones, our research indicates that roughly 47% of future supply is positioned in the upscale space with the remaining 53% contributing to the mid- market segment. future supply also indicates that the once primarily luxury and upscale market is likely to be dominated by upscale and mid-market hotels in the next ﬁve years, provided developments in the pipeline are completed as planned. with no major brands daring to venture into the currently vacant branded budget/ economy space at this point in time, it would be interesting to see when and how a branded budget/economy hotel will create an experience worthy of udaipur, and its subsequent impact on the subject market. on the demand front, we foresee a surge in demand from the group leisure and meet- ing and events segments. looking ahead, we are of the opinion that events, group leisure demand and weddings in particular will pave the way for a fruitful future. hotels in the pipeline are likely to induce demand from these groups as well, bolstering demand and minimising the impact of supply. as the indian hotel industry enters an upcycle, we anticipate robust market perfor- mance for udaipur. taking into consideration the growing demand and limited future sup- ply, hotels in udaipur would be wise to take advantage of these proﬁtable conditions and grow average rates. in conclusion as a hotel market that specialises in royal-themed, custom-tailored hospitality experiences, udaipur is considered as one of the prime experiential destinations in the country. the market is currently registering robust demand, declining seasonality and healthy marketwide performance, all of which are indicative of the optimistic and lu- crative hotel market conditions. hvs strongly believes that udaipur has great potential and we hope that it can achieve greater heights on both national and global platforms. (this article was ﬁrst published on the hvs website: www.hvs.com)
16 h ote l s + re sorts biswajit chakraborty, general manager, sofitel mumbai bkc strategic location, culinary offerings driving sofitel’s ascent in mumbai’s tourism landscape a heady mix of regional and global cuisines, a 24-hour spa, and design elements that combine the best of both worlds have positioned sofitel mumbai bkc at a unique pedestal in mumbai’s tourism landscape. in a detailed interview with tourismfirst, biswajit chakraborty, general manager elaborates hotel’s offerings and how it has carved an enviable niche for itself. excerpts: the hotel’s optimal and strategic positioning in the financial centre of the city not only gives guests easy access to the commercial district, but also to major tourist attractions in south and north mumbai via the bandra-worli sea link and the eastern and western express highways, making it convenient for business and meetings with corporates. the new airport infrastructure has also benefitted access from sofitel mumbai bkc to the airport and back. ,, biswajit chakraborty aaron wodin-schwartz general manager, sofitel mumbai bkc director public policy, brand usa by tf bureau t ake us through the product offering of sofitel mumbai bkc. the ﬂagship of soﬁtel hotels & resorts in india, soﬁtel mumbai bkc is a gem of mumbai’s ﬁve-star hotels, located in the geographic heart of the city – the bandra kurla complex (bkc). the luxury property of accorhotels in india has won several awards and is today in the top hotels on tripadvisor out of over 400 hotels in mumbai. soﬁtel mumbai bkc has successfully intro- duced the city to a unique mélange of french and indian design inspirations. the hotel is a unique address where buoyant business meets a chic lifestyle. contemporary ele- gance combined with exquisite design create a symphony of style in the 302 guest rooms and suites of the hotel. cutting-edge meet- ing spaces and lavish venues, the elite club millésime business lounge on the top-most ﬂoor, a wealth of innovative dining outlets, so spa, so fit, a serene open-air pool and its strategic location in the new ﬁnancial centre of mumbai make this luxurious hotel a haven for both business and leisure travellers. how do you position sofitel mumbai bkc? given the proximity to the airport and commercial activities in the vicinity, it must naturally be a mice attraction? how do the hotel numbers pan out? what percentage of your footfalls constitute of the leisure segment and what is the mice movement looking like? while weekdays at soﬁtel mumbai bkc most- ly bring in business travellers, weekends at the hotel are all about guests spending qual- ity time with their friends and family. soﬁtel mumbai bkc offers a number of unique packages to attract the leisure segment, be it a weekend or a weekday. for instance, the “staycation” package entices citizens to take a min vacation from their busy life and the otherwise buzzing city, to come and unwind at the hotel with exquisite amenities in each of our rooms, rejuvenating treatments at the 24-hour so spa with l’occitane, and sumptu- ous meals at our ﬁve exemplary outlets. we have also recently implemented a luxurious indulgence package for those looking for complete rejuvenation from their hectic schedule. this includes a reinvigorating treat- ment at so spa, pampering sessions at the savio john pereira salon and a range of sub- liminal, yet, healthy delights from artisan’s french bistro menu. the hotel’s optimal and strategic position- ing in the ﬁnancial centre and geographic heart of the city not only gives guests easy access to the commercial district, but also to major tourist attractions in south and north mumbai via the bandra-worli sea link and the eastern and western express highways, making it convenient for business and meetings with corporates. the new airport infrastructure has also beneﬁtted access from soﬁtel mumbai bkc to the airport and back, resulting in saving a signiﬁcant amount of travel time. with a decent sized catering capability and an upscale positioning, how has the niche segment like wedding panned out for sofitel mumbai bkc? when talking about niche segments such as weddings for example, soﬁtel mumbai bkc does experience its share of exposure on the same. having the french culture embed- ded in our dna, soﬁtel always sees to it that delivers a “magniﬁque wedding” experience to all its guests/clientele. the ”grand salon ballroom” and “hriday” each with their distinctive characteristics provide an extraor- dinary experience. the “grand salon” with its limited capacity proves to be perfect for an intimate ceremony whereas “hriday,” being an out- door venue provides the perfect setting for any guest who wants to tie the knot under the stars. with different offers and pack- ages available during this time, the inspired meetings team will help customize the perfect package for the perfect occasion, be it rooms required, spa treatments, or even preparing the bride or the groom for their occasion. not only do we touch upon these details, we look into the minutest of details such as even assisting you to choose a gift from the wide array of options available such as de- signer bouquets or hand crafted chocolates. the most important aspect to any wedding is the food, and soﬁtel mumbai bkc sees to it that your guests do not go back disappoint- ed. our culinary artists work closely with the guests so that they are able to replicate or supply whatever food requirements the guests may have. with some guests who have adore global cuisines, it is possible for us to ﬂy chefs down from other hotels in order to satisfy their demands. how important is f&b offerings in the overall hotel product today and how has it worked for your hotel? what are some trends therein? has the hotel been able to attract discerning consumers for simply for its culinary offerings? the culinary artists at soﬁtel mumbai bkc pay tribute to the world of gastronomy and wine by combining diverse ﬂavours and tex- tures to create the art of ‘bon goût’, with ﬁve innovative dining options serving culinary delights from around the world. one can discover an epicurean ex- travaganza with the extensive multi-cuisine buffet at the 24-hour pondichéry café, and indulge in a range of delicacies serving the best of western, asian, indian, oriental, mediterranean, continental and more. the hotel’s signature restaurant – jyran – tan- door dining and lounge, serves authentic cuisine inspired from the northwest indian frontier – a land of warriors and poets, with a contemporary style making the experience almost magical. the stylish parisian café - artisan, has been designed to remind one of an enchant- ing french delicatessen that serves an authentic french bistro menu with all-day breakfast, ﬁne hand-made chocolates, pastries, house-smoked charcuterie, freshly baked breads, cakes and cheese, and con- verts into a jazz & blues lounge by evening. tuskers- pure vegetarian fine dining is a one-of-its-kind speciality restaurant for the selective eaters and unravels a variety of de- lectable dishes serving a sense-awakening menu including authentic gujarati, marwari, rajasthani and jain options, in an exclusive independent kitchen to offer the purest of vegetarian cuisines. from organizing themed brunch parties to hosting glamourous fashion shows, soﬁtel mumbai bkc is putting together innovative ideas to always keep their guests pleasantly surprised. they even brought over a dozen international chefs to india including a french chef for introducing guests to the ﬂavours of france, a vietnamese chef for a taste of vietnam, a german chef for craft- ing sumptuous sausages, cold-cuts and charcuterie delicacies and more recently, thai chefs and lebanese chef for a middle- eastern fare. together with the cuisine, soﬁtel mumbai bkc has also ﬂown down local artists to give guests not only a taste of gastronomy, but also the culture of that particular country through performances, art, décor and more. a hotel is an important element in creating the larger tourism profile of the city. what role does sofitel mumbai bkc play in augmenting tourism in the city? what is your usp? a perfect mélange of french ‘art de vivre’ and warm indian hospitality, the grandeur of soﬁtel mumbai bkc is reﬂected in its unrivalled facilities and personalised service from the heart, which is referred to as ‘cousu main’ in french. a stay at the soﬁtel mumbai bkc is delightfully orchestrated to offer expe- riences that awaken all ﬁve senses. soﬁtel’s personality is distinguished by its four brand pillars offering a ‘magniﬁque’ experience: embracing and honouring local culture; showcasing the ﬁnest in gastronomy complemented by classic french techniques; a dedication to the art of wellness; and a never-ending appreciation for classic and contemporary design. these four pillars constitute the pure essence of the soﬁtel brand. one of the main features and services that soﬁtel mumbai bkc offers guests is the one of the only 24 hour so spa in a ﬁve-star property, and sprawls over 6,000 square feet and spells paradise. so spa with l’occitane promises a unique and personal experience that combines french beauty expertise with the best of asian traditions. another distinct feature that makes the brand stand out is its unique rituals. the candle light ritual celebrates the passage from day to night while creating a special and luxurious ambiance for guests in the lobby. our food & beverage rituals initiate our guests to the secrets of delicious french specialities and include the bread ritual, breakfast basket ritual, cheese ritual, pâtis- serie ritual and wine ritual. the name plate shining ritual is performed every morning at 7:00am and evening at 6:00pm by our con- cierge at the main porch. at soﬁtel mumbai bkc, we celebrate this age-old tradition of shining brass plates by paying homage to the blessings of the day and a tribute to the guests who walk-in through our doors.
h ote l s + re sorts 17 indian luxury hotels will enjoy their niche positioning, but need to ‘up’ their game the oberoi and taj, each, has its own niche. we offer leisure, luxury and business travel, and almost 85% of our bookings are with indian hotels. in delhi, it is taj, the oberoi, the leela or the imperial. in agra, it is either the oberoi amarvilas or the mughal. the taj rambagh for jaipur, and resort taj lake palace, the oberoi udaivilas, or the leela in udaipur. these key destinations, frequented by luxury travellers have strong presence of indian hotel companies. aaron wodin-schwartz vikram madhok managing director, abercrombie and kent director public policy, brand usa ,, with the marriott and starwood coming together, indian hotel companies in the luxury space need imaginative strategies and tactical offerings to hold on to consumers, says vikram madhok, managing director, abercrombie and kent. he, however, adds that their niche positioning will ensure their success in the coming years. by tf bureau while the marriott-starwood de- velopment was likely to intensify competition in the market, indian hotel companies operating in the luxury space were going to continue enjoying their niche positioning in the long run, noted vikram madhok. however, he did concede that given the competition in the market, indian hotel chains like the oberoi and the taj group were likely to be impacted in “one form or the other.” “look at any major city – mumbai, delhi, chennai and others, hotels are vying for the same space. they will bite into each other’s share, especially in the leisure seg- ment. it will be across the board,” he said. taking stock of challenges and the way forward for indian hotel companies in tackling the ongoing realignment, vikram madhok noted that “indian hotel companies could look at rolling out tactical offers for their frequent visitors.” “these offers could range from discounting to upping the game in terms of amenities made available in their loyalty programs. hotels will have to up their game in terms of offerings,” he substantiated. he was quick to add that while there could be some impact, but the acquisition, in no way, was an existential threat for indian hotels in the luxury space. “the oberoi and taj, each, has its own niche. so, they will continue to enjoy their position,” he said. abercrombie and kent heavily relied on indian hotel companies while executing their tours for visitors, he shared. “we offer leisure, luxury and business travel, and almost 85% of our bookings are with indian hotels. they enjoy that positioning,” he added. he explained that a much-taken itinerary involved delhi, agra, jaipur and udaipur, and all of them involved indian hotels. “in delhi, it is taj, the oberoi, the leela or the imperial. in agra, it is either the oberoi amarvilas or the mughal. the taj rambagh for jaipur, and resort taj lake palace, the oberoi udaivilas, or the leela in udaipur. so, all these key destinations, frequented by luxury travellers from world-over, have strong presence of indian hotel companies,” he detailed. pointing out that while the duo of the marriott and starwood had many ﬁve-star and ﬁve-star plus properties in their kitties, it has smaller number of hotels in the luxury space, naming st. regis, now w in goa and the ritz carlton. “they have an amazing hotel in j w marriott; the maurya is also a part of the luxury space, so they have a few hotels. in certain cities, in fact, they do have properties. itc has a hotel in kolkata, it is a part of starwood,” he said. he argued that the marriott-starwood devel- opment had beneﬁtted the consumer the most, adding more hotels into their loyalty programs to choose from. “both marriott and starwood have strong loyalty programs. their members would have access to more hotels. it is a great develop- ment for consumers,” he added. the deal had also bolstered marriott and star- wood’s reach as “people tend to choose hotels with strong loyalty programs.”
18 outbou n d : usa kristen eposito, vice president of tourism & marketing alliances, simon property group simon destinations make their indian foray with an eye on shopping outbound tourismfirst caught up with kristen eposito, who was in the capital to promote simon destinations. she outlined how the growing appetite for shopping in the outbound was making india an increasingly difficult market to ignore. the latest development, yet again, brings to fore the power of shopping in the larger context of tourism offerings and how once merely designated as an add-on is fast- emerging as a principal reason for travel and tourism. excerpts of a detailed interaction: by shashank shekhar what brings you to india? one of the reasons why we are here is because the simon property group has started to invest more heavily into the international market. we want more indians to come and shop with us as we know that indian clientele is one of the best shoppers in the world. we are here on a more of a listening tour to learn more about the indian consumer and working with indian tour operators, travel agents and the mice market to see how we can enhance the experience – and have simon destinations be on the top of the mind when they come to the united states. why not set up a shop in india? would you be looking at that opportunity, too? that is a question for our property devel- opment board to answer. i am not in the know-how of that, but simon property group is global and they are always looking at new opportunities throughout the globe. how has the china market been for you? how do you see india panning out in comparison? china has been great. it is based on the pat- tern and how they travel with the groups and the buses, where they have pre-dominantly over the years, been very large with the group programing. but we are also looking and understanding the potential of the indian market that, i think, is growing and brand usa is now focussed on india and a lot of our destinations, especially the california market, florida and new york – and looking at what the inbound is from the direct ﬂights that we have into new york – from united, emirates and some of the other carriers. as they grow, i think that is why more people focus on the shopping piece of it. 2017 is being celebrated as the india-us travel and tourism partnership year. is the timing of this foray a conscious decision? yes, absolutely. coming into this organi- sation, i identiﬁed with the fact that it is we are also looking and understanding the potential of the indian market that, i think, is growing and brand usa is now focussed on india and a lot of our destinations, especially the california market, florida and new york – and looking at what the inbound is from the direct flights that we have into new york – from united, emirates and some of the other carriers. as they grow, i think that is why more people focus on the shopping piece of it. ,, vp, tourism & marketing alliances, simon property group director public policy, brand usa aaron wodin-schwartz kristen eposito the consumer which is still growing. the travel patterns and the way visas have been structured in the past, where it is easier to get visa and for a longer period, travellers are coming in with their families. and, travel to usa is a conscious effort for the indian consumers, because it is an expensive and a very long-haul destination. one must be able to plan the trip out, and we are here to help indian consumers plan that itinerary out. as we are looking at how many more carriers are looking at this market, a new ﬂight to fort lauderdale has been started, so sawgrass mills is a perfect example, where we are letting everybody know that they must come there to shop. it is an amazing experience. we are looking at it from that standpoint. players in driving traffic, what are the possibilities around simon destinations tying up with online players? one of the things that we have done is we have hired sartha global to be our represent- atives here in india – which is new. we have never had a representative that has been working with us; it is in place since this july. our distribution is going to be via the industry. so, it is going to be via travel agents, otas and airlines. that is our major focus, because the idea is that simon destinations offers a new option to all our trade partners here in india. i mean, if you go to the united states, there is no country in the world which has the kind of value proposition and shop- ping that usa brings to the table. how are you strengthening your distribution channels? given that the online segment has emerged as key how will you be targeting consumers? what do you have on offer? one of the ways we will be targeting consum- ers is through a destination passport that is a new product which we are putting together, across all three platforms – the malls, the premium outlets and the mills. this is the best in-class discount that will be given through the trade. it also says that it is compli- mentary for tour operators and travel agents. the other piece is that we have a comparable product that we do sell for ﬁve dollars, and at two of our properties it is sold at ten dol- lars. so, normally if somebody comes from a country and does not have a voucher and has not booked through our travel channels, they will have to pay for this product. so, this is a brand-new product which will roll out starting 2017 – and it will be called the desti- nation passport. this is the main way that we are going to target and give those discounts that are important. you mentioned about three distinct platforms. please take us through them. we have the simon malls – which are located usually right within the destination. so, you have the stanford shopping centre which is in paulo alto; you have the lenox square shopping mall in atlanta; you have the gal- leria in houston; florida mall is right in the orlando area. so, these are our mall proper- ties that have a lot of luxury products and that are also affordable. like macy’s – macy’s and bloomingdale’s are the anchors in some of our properties. you have the american girl and playstations. and then our premium outlets is where you go for your power-shopping, with 25-65% off on merchandise. the great thing to know about premium outlets, especially our desert hills, san francisco premium outlets and woodbury common is that these properties are one of a kind, where you are normally not going to see a tom ford, a prada, or a jimmy choo, we have all of that as well. therefore, you want an affordable piece of it, you can get amazing discounts. so, premium outlets are set outside of the city proper, so it is spending that half-day or a full-day on outlet shopping. then you have the mills properties; it is more of a hybrid. it is a unique entertain- ment, shopping and dining experience. shopping, over the years, has evolved as a leading element in accentuating the overall travel experience of a destination. many believe that shopping is becoming increasingly critical for ensuring destination management. closer home, thailand, singapore, malaysia and hong kong in the south east and dubai in the west have fairly-long been shopping magnets for discerning indian outbound and, indeed, for global travellers. but an interesting transformation, driven by growing disposable incomes, better exposure and enhanced air-connectivity has made the usa – a long-haul destination – the new centre for shopping escapades. take a look at this: in 2015, over 1.1 million indians visited the usa, a 17% increase from 2014 while indians spent $11.8 billion in the us in 2015, which was an uptick of 18%, compared to 2014. in 2015, india ranks 11th in the visitor volume to the us. perhaps, emboldened by these encouraging signs, an out-an-out shopping and experience product like the simon destinations is finding it important to register their presence in the indian market. those days when shopping was considered an add-on, an extra element to an otherwise vacation meant to enjoy the scenic beauty and lapping up local cuisines at a foreign land are truly behind us. it affirms to the changed reality that the outbound is more than willing to travel to long-haul destinations like the new york, san francisco and chicago purely in search of unique shopping experiences. from the destination perspective, new york city is a prime example of how a destination can carve out a singular niche for itself, unmatched on the global scale and create an envious pull which is tough even for most nations to match! in an economic climate that looks promising, backed by a rising number of aspirational middle-class travellers, it would not be wrong to assume that india will be the next big centre for global shopping giants as they scramble to find a footing in the lucrative indian outbound shopping segment.
20 outbou n d: m ald ive s tourism largest contributor to maldivian economy; india an important source market india will remain a close partner in cooperation on many facets of bilateral ties including tourism. his excellency ahmed mohamed, high commissioner of the republic of maldives to india, speaks about the strong bilateral relationship and tourism prospects between india and maldives. tourism is the largest contributor to the maldivian economy. in terms of tourists, india is becoming an important source market for the maldives and current tourist arrivals from india to maldives between january- june 2016, stood at 30,101, an increase of 14.9% over the same period of tourist arrivals in 2015. the maldives is situated in a strategically significant location amidst the equator. hence, easier access to the maldives aboard first-class airlines and cruise liners has made it a hub for mice events. ,, indo-maldivian commercial ties date back centuries when seafarers established trading ties between the southern coast of india and the maldives. thus, bilateral relations between india and maldives are centuries old. the two countries share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi- dimensional relations. present day ties are over 5 decades old. maldives attained independence in 1965 and india was amongst the ﬁrst few countries to recognize the new country. indian diplomatic mission in male was established in 1972. maldives established a mission in india in 2004, in new delhi. growing from modest beginnings india-maldives bilateral trade now stands at inr 1000 crores. india and maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981 which provides for export of essential commodities. since febru- ary 1974 the state bank of india (sbi) has played a vital role in the economic development of the maldives. the bank has provided loan assistance for the development and promotion of island resorts, export of marine products and business enterprises. indian investments are present in the ﬁnancial, tourism, real estate sectors and in trading in a meaningful manner. in addition, there is a large presence of indian expatriates working in the health, education and commerce sec- tors of the maldives as well. tourism is the largest contributor to the maldivian economy. in terms of tourists, india is becoming an important source market for the maldives and current tourist arrivals from india to mal- dives between january-june 2016, stood at 30,101, an increase of 14.9% over the same period of tourist arrivals in 2015. the maldives is situated in a strategi- cally signiﬁcant location amidst the equator. hence, easier access to the maldives aboard ﬁrst-class airlines and cruise liners has made it a hub for mice events. the mice industry of the mal- dives is known for providing specialised clients with extensive planning and excellent services. cruise tourism also has lot of potential, with inclusion of a cultural component that will provide a new type of adventure to tourists with experience of india, sri lanka and maldives. (from the desk of his excellency ahmed mohamed, high commissioner of the republic of maldives to india.) high commissioner of the republic of maldives to india ahmed mohamed s n i ppets eyeing larger footfalls from europe, jnto unveils social media blitzkrieg beginning november, jnto has resorted to advertisements on several different media platforms, including the internet, television, transportation advertising, cinema advertising and more, to further intensify its reach in the european market by conveying the attraction of japan as a tourist destination. the promotion campaign for inbound tourism from europe, “japan –where tradition meets the future” will target 15 european countries including uk, france, germany, italy, spain, sweden, netherlands, finland, belgium, denmark and austria, among others. the media and exposure differ depending on the market and would have movie contents ranging from music games to high-speed rice cake pounding; 45 carefully selected scenes will show the contrasting charms of japan. the movie starts from landmarks representing modern japan, such as tokyo skytree and tokyo tower. these pictures are followed by the majestic nature of the dorokyo gorge in wakayama prefecture, the imposing appearance of the great buddha hall in the historic todaiji temple in nara prefecture, a video arcade in akihabara, a robot from the national museum of emerging science and innovation (miraikan), the rites of people who are passing on traditions such as the tea ceremony or archery, and modern everyday life such as don quijote or yokocho. over a runtime of three minutes, bustle and noise is shown hand in hand with silence. the movie shows japan from contrasting viewpoints of “tradition” and “innovation”. moreover, the movie includes a large number of bird’s eye view scenes captured by state-of-the-art drones. picturesque scenery such as hyakkengura (kumano kodo in wakayama prefecture) or rafting in the dorokyo gorge is captured from unusual angles that are normally impossible to see. meritus hotels & resorts awarded travel weekly asia readers’ choice award 2016 for best regional hotel chain meritus hotels & resorts, which prides itself on offering guests the quintessential taste of asian hospitality synonymous with warmth and care received this year’s best regional hotel chain at the travel weekly asia readers’ choice awards. the awards ceremony, now in its second year, celebrated the “best of the best” travel trade companies and professionals who raise the bar higher for the industry with their exceptional products and services. on accepting the award, chief operating ofﬁcer, tan kim seng said, “we at meritus are always ﬁnding new ways to deliver the very best of asian hospitality to all our guests. this award is an important testament to the impact our brand is making in an industry so dynamic and competitive, and we are deeply grateful to our peers and partners for recognising our efforts.” meritus hotels & resorts counts in its portfolio the iconic mandarin orchard singapore, marina mandarin singapore, and meritus pelangi beach resort & spa, langkawi.
outbou n d : is r ae l 21 hassan madah, director, israel national tourism office in india and philippines - israel ministry of tourism nightlife and cuisines entice outbound to israel; connectivity needs to be addressed more indians were beginning to take to israel as awareness about its thriving nightlife and diverse cuisines grew among the outbound, but owing to deficient direct connectivity and offerings – most travel agents offer holy land tours which has limited traction –bilateral footfalls were not commensurate to the long- prevailing mutual bonhomie between the two nations, detailed hassan madah, director, israel national tourism office in india and philippines - israel ministry of tourism. excerpts of the interaction: by tf bureau how is the indian outbound shaping up? what are some key trends therein? we will continue seeing growth in the out- bound market. people nowadays see travel as part of their life and this trend will grow more in the coming years. india is opening to business and investors from abroad and that will create more business travel also. in addition, more vacation options are now available in the market and that will create a demand. also, more airlines are ﬂying in and out, beside the growth of local airlines. looking at it, all together, we will see growth in all segments. what is the principal driver of tourism into israel from indian shores? is it leisure or mice driven, or a mix of both? how about tapping the wedding segment? countries like jordan are pulling out all the stops to woo this lucrative segment. your thoughts. the main principal is the history and the her- itage of the land but also other segments are growing and we are promoting that – mice and leisure, especially nightlife, wellness, spa and adventure. regarding the wedding segment, we are promoting that too and we will do more in the future. it is in our plans. meanwhile the promotion is done more for honeymooners. what is the current consumer profile of the indian outbound? are families travelling or is it more of young travellers? we are seeing an increase of families since we launched our campaign last summer and also younger crowd. i can say it is a mix. few years back we had mainly old people travelling for pilgrimage, so the families and the young crowd in general were unaware of the attractions and the facilities that are there in the country. israel had one of the best nightlife scenes in the world and one of the best cuisines and more. the perception has changed and more and more people are exploring the country. how are you strengthening your distribution channels? how are you involving online players? how important are otas for you in the larger scheme of things? otas as we all know, has changed the game and we partnered with few in the world like expedia and tripadvisor for a worldwide campaign. in india, we also tied up with some, like ezeego1 for a joint promotion and we are planning to tie up with others also. on the other hand, we are not neglect- ing traditional travel agencies and we have promotion activities with them too. israel and india have shared admirable people-to-people relations for decades, but that, unfortunately, has not manifested into commensurate bilateral footfalls. how can this anomaly be addressed? there is decent air-connectivity with ei ai, the ethiopian, turkish airlines and others in fray. as an industry insider, what do you reckon is holding tourism back between the two nations? the people to people connection is indeed s n i ppets the tourism sector was not picking up because of few issues, even though, india was always number one source from asia and only last year china taken over. first, the connectivity is still not the best since elal is flying only 3-4 time a week and the connection with ethiopian and turkish make a journey of 7-8 hours into 10+ hours. this is the reason that we need another airline to fly direct into israel. second, local travel agents are not offering enough packages to israel. ,, aaron wodin-schwartz hassan madah director, israel national tourism office in india director public policy, brand usa great and i can feel it where ever i go in the country. the tourism sector was not picking up because of few issues, even though, india was always number one source from asia and only last year china has taken over. first, the connectivity is still not the best since elal is ﬂying only 3-4 time a week and the connection with ethiopian and turkish make a journey of 7-8 hours into 10+ hours. this is the reason that we need another airline to ﬂy direct into israel. second, local travel agents are not offering enough packages to israel. they all offer holy land tour, which is a pilgrimage tour. majority of the people in india will not be interested in that segment and agents are not offering other options to travellers. thirdly, the perception is israel is not safe etc., which is completely false. compared to many other countries, israel is safer than majority of them. it is just the media that covers each and every incident and exaggerates the coverage. then people tend to think that it is not safe. for example, only in the states you have more murders in a year than all the israelis that died in all the wars since the 60’. what are your key markets from india? are you getting much of your traffic pre- dominantly from tier-1 cities, or have you seen incremental gains from other set of cities in the country, too? it depends on the segment. pilgrimage more from the south. leisure more from tier-1 cities and mice from all over the country. florida pushes for mice outbound, undertakes outreach in metro cities florida has seen a constant uptick in numbers from the indian outbound. in 2015, 70,000 indians came to florida, which is an increase of 25% from the previous year, signaling that the indian demographic is emerging as an important one. much of this growth has also been fueled owing to an increasing number of ﬂights from asia and the middle east into florida. further augment footfalls, visit florida along with ﬁve partners, hosted over ﬁfty members of the in a related development to travel trade industry in mumbai for an exclusive mice event in september at st. regis, lower parel to boost outbound from indian shores. the event saw emirates, starwood, 7m tours, experience kissimmee and seaworld parks & entertainment come together to showcase the infrastructural offering within florida. the 2-hour networking event, witnessed members of the travel trade industry interacting with partners regarding the latest updates each company had to offer in the mice market. visit florida also organized a vip event in bengaluru on 20th september, 2016, which was attended by more than 70 leading names in the travel trade industry. participating partners showcased their newest offerings and interacted with the travel trade fraternity. the venue had interesting florida photo backdrops, where the attendees could pose and post on social media using #lovefl. commenting on the outreach, seldon tenzing, account director india, visit florida, said, “this is the ﬁrst time that we have hosted a mice event, given that there has the florida aquarium, bay spirit been a steady growing demand from mice companies for florida it is a best time to spread awareness about the destination. it is an ideal destination for mice groups with ample hotels which offer convention facilities and good air connectivity; therefore we partnered with in addition to these events visit emirates and starwood to organize this event.” florida participated in the 5th edition of brand usa annual india mission, which was conducted in three cities namely mumbai, bangalore and delhi.
22 spa suite terra outbou n d : italy penthouse suite - living room with balcony italian luxury resort has a lesson for hotels aiming at eco-sustaining excellence active eco-sustenance with deep environmental consciousness is the future of progressive global hospitality. the grand luxury five star castadiva resort & spa on lake como in northern italy amply personifies this essential credo. by smita and kishore iyengar stand-alone splendor on the panoramic and magical alpine lake como in italy is located its only ﬁve star luxury resort which was abandoned to neglect for almost ﬁfty years. once the home of the famous 19th century opera singer giuditta pasta who lived in the lavish opulence of the villa roccabru- na, this historic estate was rebuilt according to the ‘liberty style’ of italian luxury residen- tial architecture in the early 1900s. located on the very shores of this grand lake with spectacular vistas, the castadiva resort & spa –the only eco-friendly ﬁve star luxury hospitality landmark, is a living hall- mark of environment sensitivity and meets the highest standards of eco-sustainability, carefully integrated during its refurbishment and makeover. the casta diva resort & spa in the lovely village of blevio, only 5 km from como consists of nine villas for a total of 77 rooms (73 rooms, 58 of them are suites and junior suites, and 2 private villas), surrounded by a luxuriant lush botanical park that boasts age-old trees of different species over an area of approximately 26,000 sqm. casta diva is the ﬁrst resort of lake como, the only eco-friendly resort of the area, opened after almost 10-year reconstruction reinvented by adopting solu- tions that fully respect the environment and meeting the highest standards of eco-sustain- ability. each building fulﬁlls the most stringent environmental criteria, in full harmony with the natural setting that surrounds it. the casta diva is a unique new product, villa rocca bruna-castadiva resort & spa-lake como, italy ish of the entire compendium. the originality and naturalness of all these “natural” noble materials, appropriately combined together, create a result of elegance and sophistication to all the designated spaces. interiors on the ground ﬂoor of the main villa original wooden and marble ﬂoors have been totally restored, with a ﬁnal treatment of oil that accentuates the preciousness of the designs and the original essence of the materials. all the ﬂoors of the suites, in the living rooms and in the bedrooms, are layered with sea- soned oak and natural wood slats. in some villas, such as villa norma, the living area has a ﬂoor in a special venetian material, -grit marble expertly placed in a precise drawing and bound together with lime. villa violetta and the restaurant l’orangerie, have been layered with red and white lombard terracotta. the bathrooms have ﬂoors with several types of marble and local stone like verona marble, green india marble, black empera- dor, biancone, travertine and piasentina stone that create an exclusive character to each suite. in the bathrooms of villa dorabel- la and villa fiordiligi innovative slatted ﬂoors have been created with recycled aluminum foils. even the spa interiors have natural materials; the wellness area has a paving of cardoso stone and oak wood in the gym and inside some treatment rooms. external all the external pavings, -the driveway paths, the walkways and the outdoor terraces, have this five star hospitality landmark sets a living example of eco-success that many aspiring pro- jects across the world can draw inspiration from the ideal place for discerning visitors who seek to pamper themselves and replenish their minds and bodies in discreet privacy. choice of the right materials to create and establish an environment of ex- cellence in the internal and external areas of living, high quality materials have been liber- ally used. the highlights are the fabled silks of como, lombard terracotta, precious wood for the ﬂoors, marbles and stones for the ﬁn- been layered with natural stones like luserna stone, antigorio gneiss, river pebbles and the porphyry. the coatings of the retaining walls of the paths and of the surrounding walls of the ground as well as the external vertical walls of villa fiordiligi, villa dorabella, villa leonora and villa amina are executed with moltrasio stone derived from excavations and used both for the foundations of the buildings and the detachment from the rock, all sourced locally. deluxe double room villa dorabella the coatings of the amphitheater and of the entrance of villa roccabruna are made with small sized river’s pebbles that lend a remarkable mosaic effect, embellishing the environment harmoniously. furniture of the suites all the furnishings have been made with natural materials like various types of wood essence with different ﬁnishes like ‘golden leaf’, silver, walnut and oak. villa amina specially has living, bathroom, the living and entrance areas created with wood paneling in kauri, an age-old wood sourced from fossil forests of new zealand. the fabrics used for the upholstery of the chairs, of the sofas, of the bed bases, of some of the headboards and of the curtains are made entirely from natural ﬁbers like cotton and silk, of which italy has a tradition of recognized global excellence. the ancient art of papier-mâché has been cleverly used like a fabric, to create decorative panels and the headboards of villa fiordiligi and the lamps to the spa. the drive to create and sustain eco-feasibility of the resort elements is supported by plant and technical engineering choices that elevate the luxury resort’s position uniquely in effec- tive eco sustainability. - the functioning of the mechanical sys- tems which allow the heating and cooling of the entire resort is guaranteed by a geother- mic system that takes advantage of the water of the lake, drawn with pumps and directed to speciﬁc installations that optimize and save the energy required for their use. - other utilities such as the kitchens use electrical energy with the induction systems, thus avoiding the use of conventional energy sources such as methane gas. the learning curve for all the castadiva resort & spa’s high-end luxury deﬁnition translates into the highest levels of lifestyle comfort and sophistication with the employment of these eco-friendly practices, which ensures prominent guest recall. world famous celebrities and luminaries continue to ﬂock to this haven of earthy decadence and quintessentially dynamic italian chic in world class hospitality. this ﬁve star hospitality landmark with a colorful historic repertoire and an environmentally sensitive ultra- modern contemporary credo sets a living example of eco-success that many aspiring projects across the world can draw inspiration from, without unsettling and upsetting the already diminishing delicate eco-biosphere threatened worldwide. hospitality with a conscience, -is the core key today.
outbou n d : wa s h i ngto n 23 elliot l. fergusson ii, president & ceo, destination dc expect the trump administration to be more active on the tourism front the bonhomie between the tourism industries in india and the usa is most likely to continue under the trump administration as the newly elected government takes centerstage in a couple of months, and india and the usa gear up to celebrate 2017 as the year of tourism. elliot l. fergusson ii’s prognosis is based on the president-elect’s long-standing involvement with the hospitality industry. in an informal discussion with tf, he also asserted that washington’s tourism product entailed much more than just heritage and museums, a perception he seemed determined to change. excerpts: by shashank shekhar the larger industry perspective from both the countries has been that there needs to be more engagement and it is fairly visible as far as attempts from both the sides in augmenting travel and tourism between the two nations is concerned. now, you have the indo-us tourism year being celebrated in 2017, but do you see the momentum being continued under the trump administration as the new administration takes charge in washington in the coming months? is that an area of concern? it is not a concern yet, because i think the reality is that this is an administration, at least the president-elect, truly understands the hospitality industry. he has been a huge benefactor of the hotels and casinos that he has owned, and i think he will continue to maintain the interest in additional visitation to the united states – simply because it is an industry where he has been actively involved. so, i cannot imagine the new administra- tion will do anything…in fact, they will be more active. as a matter of fact, the us travel association has already interfaced with his administration, the incoming administration, to talk about some of our priorities. i know that the ceo of marriott international has already sent a letter to the president-elect referencing some of the priorities for the industry – and again, he owns hotels. so, i feel pretty comfortable in saying that this will remain, the indo-us relationship, very front of the line. so, you believe that broad-based advertorial consensus will continue in the longer run? as pertaining to this industry, absolutely. we beneﬁt from this; his properties beneﬁt from this. it just makes sense for him to continue to make sure that this is the case. you have in your presentation spoken quite extensively on how washington, d.c.’s tourism product is so much more than museums and heritage. but quite honestly, it is one of your biggest assets, and given that india has quite a repository of heritage itself, it could turn out to be a great pull for the discerning indian traveller if properly marketed here in india. absolutely, and we will. there is no doubt that when visitors are looking at coming to washington, d.c., they are looking at the american experience; they are looking at history – and we know that indian visitors are knowledge seekers. so, monuments and museums are a strong draw and we are very fortunate to have these many in our city that are free for visitors. so, that is important. but we also know that people want diversity in experience and some of these museums close at seven o’clock. so, you have to have other things; we do not want to be a city where there is nothing to do after seven o’clock, because there is so much to do and that is what we are focusing on, as well, to look at that a visitor does not come to washington just for one day, because there is so much to do and there are so many ways that you (visitor) could do it. there are other opportunities to hear what washington has to offer. this is your first foray into the indian market. what are the distribution channels you are looking at? given that he has been a huge benefactor of the hotels and casinos that he has owned, and i think he will continue to maintain the interest in additional visitation to the united states – simply because it is an industry where he has been actively involved. so, i cannot imagine the new administration will do anything…in fact, they will be more active. i know that the ceo of marriott international has already sent a letter to the president- elect referencing some of the priorities for the industry. ,, aaron wodin-schwartz elliot l. fergusson ii director public policy, brand usa president & ceo, destination dc there has been so much happening in the ota space in india in the past few years, especially, do you see yourself tying up with some of the otas to roll out specific offerings tailor-made for the indian outbound? is that a possibility in the near future? that is a possibility. we have done that with some of the other destinations, where we are marketing with some of the otas. so, the goal is you know…ipw will be our ﬁrst opportunity with so many of them being in the washington, d.c.; our team already works with a lot of otas in india, now. for us, this is the ﬁrst opportunity to, quite frankly, get in front of so many folks who inﬂuence travel; ironically, many of them who have never been to washington themselves. so, a lot of the folks and otas say that they send people to washington all the time, but they themselves have not been to washington. and, i recog- nize the fact that they see the things that you said: the monuments, heritage and history etc. but are they able to sell the diversity of wash- ington that is? so, we are encouraged by the opportunity to meet more media, more otas in washington to really give them a chance to see how d.c. could be much more. so, it is more of a familiarization process for now, is not it? yes, it is a familiarization process, informa- tion gathering to see that when people talk about washington, in addition to going for the monuments and memorials, we want them to be able to say that you can also catch a football game while you are in the city, or you could go in this time of the year, there is the jazz festival, or the independ- ence day celebration – it is an extremely large celebration in washington. they will be able to say those things, because of the experiences of the things which they will while they are there in d.c. tirun announces longest-ever singapore season by royal caribbean with increased sailings on three of asia’s most amazing cruise ships indian families can make the most of their summer with rci’s ships sailing right through the peak holiday season asia’s magniﬁcent cruise ships ovation of the seas, mariner of the seas, and voyager of the seas return to singapore to offer royal caribbean and tirun’s long- est-ever home porting season in asian waters. this deployment by the royal caribbean international cruise line, which will run for nine months till next june 2017 with 64 sailings, is expected to take 200,000 guests to ports in southeast asia. the sailings will increase royal caribbean’s capacity in 2017 in the region by 30 per cent over 2016. tirun’s announcement regarding the rci singapore season has been made soon after royal caribbean’s double victory at the travel weekly asia’s readers choice awards. the pioneering brand won both the ‘best cruise line - international’ and the ‘best cruise line - family’ titles, which reﬂects its exceptional services in the travel industry. speaking on the announcement, ratna chadha, chief executive, tirun said, “after an immensely successful semi-chartered cruise to singapore by voyager of the seas, it is great news for indian cruise enthusiasts that singapore is now going to witness the longest-ever home porting by three of royal caribbean’s most magniﬁcent ships. this means more options, more itineraries and more choice along with well-curated indian delicacies and experiences onboard for vaca- tioners. in addition, attractions such as themed cruises will enhance the propensity of indian travel-lovers to consider cruise holidays as the ideal way to quench their thirst for exotic vacations with unbridled luxury.” the season commences with mariner of the seas hosting 41 sail- ings until next march. with three to ten nights’ cruises, the ship will sail to popular destinations such as malaysia, thailand, vietnam, hong kong and china. with recent itiner- ary additions, mariner of the seas will also feature festive cruises for christmas, new year in december, and chinese new year in january 2017. the highlights for the cruise ship also include theme cruises such as salsa cruise in december and the cosplay-styled cosfest sea cruise in february. asia’s newest and most techno- logically advanced ship ovation of the seas, which was in singapore in june, will be back in march to april 2017 with a total of 10 new sailings. this comprises three to ﬁve nights to penang, phuket, bangkok (laem chabang) and a 12-night one-way cruise to tianjin with calls at ho chi minh city (phu my) for overnight stay, hue/danang (chan may), hong kong and seoul (incheon). ovation of the seas alone is expected to add 42,000 additional guests to the singapore season, and delivering millions through in-port spend. with new generation cruise amenities, the guests will enjoy the ‘north star’, an observation capsule 90 metres over the ocean, cocktails served by robots at the ‘bionic bar’, skydiving and surﬁng experiences, interior virtual balconies with real- time ocean views, luxurious loft suites, and ‘seaplex’, the largest indoor activity space at sea. the cruise ship also boasts 18 restau- rants with cuisines from around the globe, including imaginative cuisine at wonderland, and jamie’s italian by celebrity chef jamie oliver, the fastest internet connection speeds at sea, and a collection of artwork valued at more than $6 million. following this, voyager of the seas will return in may 2017 to june 2017 and will offer 13 sailings of three to ﬁve night southeast asian itineraries to kuala lumpur (port klang), penang, phuket and an 8-night one-way cruise to hong kong, with stopovers at bangkok (laem chabang) for an overnight, ho chi minh city (phu my) and nha trang. the 15-deck, 3,800-guest voyager class ships mariner of the seas and voyager of the seas are also packed with entertainment and activities for guests of all ages, such as the royal promenade, ice skating rink, full-sized sports court, flow rider surf simulator, and dreamworks entertainment.
see you next 21-23 september w w w . b i t b . o r g