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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Thomas Cook (India) and its Group Company SOTC Travel, have partnered with Vistara, to launch Vistara Getaways. The exclusive partnership offers Vistara’s customers a unique and diverse range of holidays from Thomas Cook and SOTC and at attractive prices. A user-friendly interface created by Thomas Cook and SOTC empowers customers with simple, quick and convenient online bookings/transactions.

As customer confidence in travel witnesses an encouraging resurgence, Indians are seeking to catch up on delayed holiday plans, avail a quick break or celebrate special occasions with loved ones. In the face of this positive outlook, Thomas Cook and SOTC in an exclusive partnership with Vistara’s newly introduced Vistara Getaways, bring customers an unbeatable 4 pronged benefit: unique air-inclusive holiday experiences, special pricing, the reassurance and service excellence that is the hallmark of the  three leadership brands and the added reassurance of Thomas Cook and SOTC’s TravShield - comprehensive Safety Commitment & Assured Safe Travel Program in association with Apollo Clinics and Vistara’s stringent safety and hygiene protocols.

On offer are an array of top domestic locales connected via Vistara’s extensive network of 30 domestic hubs, including India’s metros, Tier II and III destinations like Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bagdogra, Amritsar, Udaipur, Kochi, Port Blair, Leh, Jammu, Guwahati, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, etc.

Covering a varied range, Vistara Getaways offers customers a choice of holidays specially designed by Thomas Cook and SOTC: from workations, staycations, family getaways, spiritual sojourns, wildlife safaris, wellness retreats, city breaks to honeymoon specials and romantic breaks, among others. Based on their personal preference, customers can opt for ready-to-book holidays, add-on experiences or co-curate personalised itineraries together with Thomas Cook and SOTC’s holiday experts.

Mahesh Iyer, Executive Director & CEO, Thomas Cook (India), said, “With easing of restrictions and Indians displaying increased travel appetite, we are delighted to announce our exclusive partnership with Vistara. Vistara Getaways offers unmatched air-inclusive holiday experiences across a range of domestic destinations with the added reassurance of Thomas Cook and SOTC’s TravShield - comprehensive Safety Commitment & Assured Safe Travel Program in association with Apollo Clinics and Vistara’s stringent safety and hygiene protocols. This exciting holiday portfolio is targeted at not just families and corporate b-leisure travellers, but also millennials and young working professionals and brings together the collective expertise of the three brands - to create truly memorable holiday experiences.”

He added, “The product range is live at getaways.airvistara.com, with our teams at Thomas Cook and SOTC having built the entire end-to-end customized e-commerce website and a world class interface.”

Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara, said, “With the market showing strong signs of recovery and people beginning to travel again, we are hopeful that Vistara Getaways will enable us to offer more value and enhance their overall travel experience. We are also excited about the association with Thomas Cook and SOTC, which is a promise of consistent, world-class experience to our customers across all aspects of their travel.”

The survey of 9,074 consumers across France, Germany, India, Spain, Russia, Singapore, the UAE, the UK, and the US shows the appetite to travel is high. At the same time, it reveals that greater clarity on restrictions and guidelines will be key to unlocking increased traveler confidence. Over a third (35%) of travelers said the current international guidelines around where and how to travel are confusing, making them less likely to book business and/or leisure travel. In Asia Pacific (APAC), 37% of travelers in India and 40% of those in Singapore shared the same sentiment.

At the same time, travelers are exhibiting increased openness to embrace technology and a willingness to share health data so they can start traveling again.

When asked about the receptiveness to share personal health data, the survey results show:

  93% of travelers globally would be willing to provide personal data for the effective use of digital health passports or certificates, a slight increase from 91% in February 2021. In both India and Singapore, the figure was slightly higher than the global average at 95%.

  Almost half (48%) of business travelers worldwide would be willing to provide their health data to visit a conference or event, compared to 53% in India and 54% in Singapore. Meanwhile 36% of leisure travelers would be willing to share such information for an excursion or activity at destination, versus 35% and 38% of Indian and Singaporean leisure travelers respectively.

When asked which technology would increase confidence to travel in the next 12 months, mobile solutions continue to be the most popular, with the top technologies including: 

 Mobile applications that provide on-trip notifications and alerts (44%) (India: 55%; Singapore: 45%)

  Self-service check-in (41%) (India: 49%; Singapore: 53%)

  Contactless mobile payments (e.g., Apple or Google Pay, Paypal, Venmo) (41%) (India: 47%; Singapore: 47%)

• Automated and flexible cancellation policies (40%) (India: 42%; Singapore: 45%)

Mobile applications and contactless technology have remained top technologies across all three studies, with the addition of automated and flexible cancellation policies in this final instalment. 

Mani Ganeshan, APAC R&D Head, Amadeus Labs, India, says, “While there is much pent-up demand for travel, some of the challenges caused by COVID-19 continue to exist. Digital health verification is important to increase traveler confidence and enable smoother travel experiences. Innovations like digital health passports need to be fully integrated into airline, airport and immigration systems to reduce customer pain points along the journey. Amadeus continues to advocate for closer collaboration between stakeholders across the industry including, airlines, hotels, technology providers and governments, to expedite the industry’s recovery.”

Decius Valmorbida, President, Travel, Amadeus, says, “The travel industry still faces many challenges in light of COVID-19, but we are seeing positive steps taken as restrictions lift and developments in digital health certificates continue around the world. This research demonstrates the appetite to travel continues to grow, and that travelers are looking forward to advancements in areas such as touchless technology, digital health and sustainable travel. Now is the time to listen even more closely to travelers’ needs so we can rebuild our industry in a way that is more traveler focused, resilient and sustainable.”

Francisco Pérez-Lozao Rüter, President, Hospitality, Amadeus, comments, “This three-part series of research has highlighted the essential role that both technology and data have to play in the recovery of our industry and increasing traveler confidence. In hospitality specifically we are seeing how our hotel customers are implementing solutions that complement and streamline experiences without losing the human touch while using data to better prepare for guest demands. At Amadeus we are committed to rebuilding a better industry and working closely with our customers to provide the tools to achieve this.”

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport today. On the occasion of inauguration of Kushinagar International Airport, Uttar Pradesh, Ministry of Tourism has organised a two days’ conference titled “Tourism in Buddhist Circuit – A way forward” on 20th & 21st October 2021 at Kushinagar.

The conference was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Tourism, Culture & DoNER G. Kishan Reddy in the august presence of Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia; Minister of State for Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal; Minister of State for Civil Aviation General (Retd.) V K Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi.

On this occasion Secretary Tourism, GoI Arvind Singh; Director General of Ministry of Tourism G K V Rao and other officials of the Ministry were also present. After inaugural session, an interactive session with the tourism stakeholders, media etc. was held which resulted in number of valuable suggestions from the stakeholders as well as the Ministers.

During his address Reddy highlighted the Buddhist circuit around Kushinagar, Sravasti, and Kapilvastu that is being developed as a part of the SWADESH Darshan scheme. He also spoke about several Buddhist circuit projects that have been undertaken in other parts of the country such as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh which are already nearing completion. Union Minister also spoke about the high priority being given for the development of courses on Buddhism through various specialised institutes in India such as the Central Universities of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Leh, the Nava Nalanda MahaVihara, Nalanda, Bihar and the Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies, Arunachal Pradesh.

Talking about the efforts made by the Prime Minister Modi Shri Reddy added, “Our Prime Minister has taken it as his dharma to strengthen India's ties with Buddhist countries and the inauguration of the Kushinagar international airport is another step that will facilitate the travel of Buddhist monks and pilgrims around the world to visit this revered site associated with Lord Buddha.”

Reddy said that Tourism is one of the sectors which was the first and worst affected by covid pandemic. However, signs of revival have been very encouraging especially in the hilly states. “Ministry of Tourism has started focusing on more infrastructure related initiatives. To provide relief to the tourism stakeholders, a loan scheme has been finalized and published under which the approved tour operators are eligible for a loan upto Rs. 10 lakh and approved guides (Regional Level guides as well as guides approved by state Government) will be eligible for loan of Rs. 1 Lakh”, Minister added. Shri Reddy further said that a comprehensive National Tourism policy is under consultation process and will be finalized very soon. He encouraged the stakeholders to participate in establishing the brand image of India as a holistic destination.

Scindia discussed about the importance of Civil Aviation department and Tourism department in reviving the economy of the country. Shri Scindia emphasised on the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of equal distribution of facilities such as flight connectivity through schemes like RCS UDAN, for every strata of the society.Shri Scindia also gave statistical evidence regarding the fact that Employment multiplier effect in civil aviation as well as tourism is very high. Ministry of civil aviation is spearheading a campaign to facilitate better penetration of aviation to smaller destinations. 

India has a rich ancient Buddhist Heritage with several important sites associated with the life of Lord Buddha. India – The Land of Buddha has tremendous potential to draw Buddhist followers / Scholars across the world. The Indian Buddhist Heritage is of great interest to the followers of Buddhism the world over. Kushinagar is one of the major pilgrimage centers for Buddhism followers. Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar which one of the most important archaeological sites in India. The prime tourist attractions in Kushinagar include the ancient Mahaparinirvana Temple- one of the most sacred shrines for Buddhists, Rambhar Stupa, Kushinagar Museum, Sun Temple, Nirvana Stupa, Matha Kuar Shrine, Watt Thai Temple, Chinese Temple, Japanese Temple etc.

The fully functional international airport at Kushinagar will boost tourism as well as pilgrimage from the Buddhist countries as huge number of followers of Lord Buddha will able to visit this significant place, known for Buddha’s Parinirvana (the place where Buddha breathed his last).  The tourism opportunities for Kushinagar are expected to increase substantially after the upgraded airport is functional and ready to handle international flights. In addition to providing a major boost to Buddhist pilgrimage circuit in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it will enhance the volume of tourism and hospitality in the region, especially the services catering to the high-end segment of the inbound tourists coming from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China and South East Asian countries.

Apart from boosting tourism in the region, the International Airport at Kushinagar would enhance the infrastructure of the Buddhist circuit at world class level and augment development of the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, containing the most important site related to Lord Buddha. With the Ministry’s Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Program, a large workforce of high quality is also being produced to help tourists enhance their travel experience.

IHG Hotels & Resorts has signed a management agreement with notable real estate developer, Dinesh Kumar Choudhary (HUF) for a new hotel – Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jaipur Karoli Bagh located at Gopalpura Byepass, in the capital of Rajasthan. The brownfield hotel featuring 141 keys is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2023.

With the new signing of Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jaipur Karoli Bagh, the city will now have three IHG hotels between Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, catering to varied guest profiles.

Commenting on the new development, Sudeep Jain, Managing Director, South West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said, “We are thrilled to announce the signing of a new Holiday Inn Express & Suites hotel in Jaipur and solidify our presence in the state of Rajasthan. With a rich culture, history and cuisine, Jaipur is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. With diverse guest profiles visiting the city, there is an increasing need for mainstream accommodation, and we are confident that Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jaipur Karoli Bagh will be a great choice for travellers looking for a simple and engaging hotel stay experience.

He added: this new signing is also in line with our strategy to expand our ‘essentials collection’ across key markets in India and further strengthen our mainstream presence in the country, in line with market demands.”

Dinesh Kumar Choudhary, Head of Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) added, “We are excited to partner with an internationally and domestically known and trusted hospitality brand like IHG. With a combination of an excellent location, the power of IHG’s distribution system, strong loyalty programme and expertise in the hospitality segment, we are confident that Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jaipur Karoli Bagh will emerge as a popular choice amongst the travellers visiting Jaipur.”

Seven Seas Explorer has welcomed luxury travellers back on board for the first time since the voluntary industry-wide pause in operations. Excited guests embarked the ship known as the most luxurious ever built on 15 October 2021, in Trieste, Italy, for an unforgettable journey through Italy, Croatia and Greece, whilst experiencing the highest benchmarks of service in lavishly designed suites, restaurants, bars and lounges.

Sailing with the cruise line’s enhanced SailSAFEHealth and Safety Program - which includes 100% vaccination of both guests and crew – Seven Seas Explorer is the second of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet to return, joining their newest ship Seven Seas Splendor which has been enjoying a hugely successful inaugural season since 11 September 2021.

“It’s truly amazing to be back on board Seven Seas Explorer, and it is fantastic to see our guests being treated to the unrivalled Regent experience once again,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, speaking from onboard Seven Seas Explorer. “Our crew has done an outstanding job in preparing for the ship’s return, with the service so seamless it is as if we were never away.”

Helmed by Captain Rosario Vasta, Seven Seas Explorer is cruising the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea on an 8-night itinerary, visiting Ravenna, Italy; Zadar, Croatia; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Bari, Italy; Corfu, Greece; Taormina, Italy; and Sorrento/Capri, Italy. The ship arrives in Rome, Italy on 23 October, after which she will continue to cruise Southern Europe before crossing the Atlantic to Miami, Florida for a season in the Caribbean from mid-November until March 2022.

The next ships in The World’s Most Luxurious Fleet to resume sailing will be Seven Seas Mariner on 18 December 2021, and Seven Seas Navigator® on 6 January 2022, both from Miami, Florida. Seven Seas Voyager, Regent’s final ship to return will sail on 15 February 2022 from Barcelona, Spain.

Skyview by Empyrean at Sanget-Patnitop in Jammu, UT J&K, has announced the launch of a new premium boutique hospitality offering for travellers. Skyview offers a first of its kind holistic hospitality experience featuring artistic luxury in stand-alone rooms and suites, overlooking the scenic Sanget valley with panoramic mountain views of the Shivalik range.

These 25 keys property will be located within the 22 acres of SkyviewWorld, offering privacy, solitude and come with personalized Empyrean Service, a butler service providing 24-hour assistance to meet a guest’s requirements.

Syed Junaid Altaf, Managing Director, Empyrean Skyview Projects Private Limited said, “With the launch of our high-end rooms and suites at Skyview World, not only have we created a benchmark for international standard hospitality hitherto unavailable in Patnitop, but we have also reiterated our commitment to upping the tourism quotient in the region. Our guests will now be able to indulge in a luxurious stay and enjoy a host of holistic experiences offered at the destination.”

The rooms and suites are inspired by the sylvan locale and architectureThe Gondola View Deluxe Rooms (270sft) with unique dome shaped roofs are inspired by the natural environment of the region.  The Mountain View Premium Rooms (277sft) and Suites (500sft) are set in a gabled exterior.

Skyview by Empyrean at Sanget Valley is a 90-minute drive from the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra. This lifestyle destination commenced operations two years ago with the successful launch of the Skyview Gondola, India’s highest [in terms of ground clearance] international class ropeway, which brought the quaint hill-resort of Patnitop back into the reckoning.

Cygnett Group of Hotels and Resorts plans to launch 9 new properties across multiple cities in different regions of India over the next six months. The new properties will come up in Dehradun, Jaipur (2 hotels), Bhiwadi, Dalhousie, Solan, Kolkata, Rajkot, and Goa.

 Sarbendra Sarkar, MD & Founder Cygnett Hotels & Resorts, said that the Cygnett Group is in the process of finalizing another 6 hotels, details of which will be announced soon. Like all Cygnett Group hotels, the new properties will target both business and leisure travelers, he added. “There is a lot of pent-up demand, especially in the smaller cities and towns, and we want to aggressively capitalize on that demand,” he said.

 Speaking about the growth opportunities in India, Sarkar said, “We believe that the disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic is now behind us and people have begun traveling again. The economy is steadily coming back on track and therefore the demand is accelerating, especially in non-metro cities.”

Pointing out that occupancy rates in Cygnett Group hotels have been going up for the past few months, Sarkar said that recovery in the hospitality sector has been faster than expected after the devastation caused by the pandemic.

He added that Cygnett properties are currently running at 70% occupancy as against India's average of 52% occupancy. He also highlighted the challenge of a declining Average Daily Rate (ADR). “ADR has gone down by 30% this season. That’s a little worrying for the industry,” he said adding that it would take another 8-10 months for the ADR to up to the pre-pandemic levels.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Kushinagar International Airport today. Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that India is the centre of the faith of Buddhist society around the world. He termed the facility of Kushinagar International Airport, launched today as a tribute to their devotion. This region, the Prime Minister said, is witness to the entire journey from the enlightenment of Lord Buddha to Mahaparinirvana. Today this important region is getting directly connected to the world, he said.

 

Modi highlighted the special focus on the development of the places associated with Lord Buddha through better connectivity and the creation of facilities for the devotees. The Prime Minister welcomed the Sri Lankan flight and delegation that landed at Kushinagar. Paying tribute to Maharshi Valmiki on his Jayanti today, the Prime Minister said that the country is marching on the path of Sabka Vikas with the help of Sabka Satha and Sabka Prayas.  “Development of Kushinagar is one of the key priorities of the UP and central governments,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that tourism in all its forms, whether for faith or for leisure, needs modern infrastructure complete with rail, road, airways, waterways, hotels, hospitals, internet connectivity, hygiene, sewage treatment and renewable energy ensuring a clean environment. “All these are interconnected and it is important to work on all these simultaneously. Today's 21st century India is moving ahead with this approach only”, the Prime Minister said.

Modi announced that under the UDAN scheme, more than 900 new routes have been approved in the last few years, out of which air service has already started on more than 350 routes. More than 50 new airports or those which were not in service earlier, have been made operational.

The Prime Minister highlighted the development regarding the aviation sector in Uttar Pradesh as air connectivity is constantly improving in the state. In Uttar Pradesh, 8 airports are already functional before Kushinagar airport. Work is on Jewar International Airport after Lucknow, Varanasi and Kushinagar. Apart from that, airport projects are going on in Ayodhya, Aligarh, Azamgarh, Chitrakoot, Moradabad and Shravasti.

Referring to the recent decision on Air India, the Prime Minister remarked that the step will help in running the country's aviation sector professionally and prioritizing convenience and safety. “This step will give new energy to the aviation sector of India. One such major reform is related to the opening of defence airspace for civil use”, he added. This step will reduce the distance on various air routes. The Prime Minister also conveyed that the recently launched drone policy is going to bring life-changing transformation in the fields ranging from agriculture to health, to disaster management to defence.

The Prime Minister said recently launched PM Gatishakti - National Master Plan will not only improve governance but also ensure that all modes of transport such as road, rail, air etc should support each other and increase each other's capacity.

Union Minister for Culture & Tourism G Kishan Reddy will address the inaugural session of conference. The two days’ conference will have sessions which will highlight Buddhist Circuit and Buddhist tourism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kushinagar International Airport today. The inaugural flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka will land at the Kushinagarairport carrying 123 dignitaries, Buddhist Monks & followers.

After this event Ministry of Tourism will organise a conference “Tourism in Buddhist Circuits – A way forward’ at Hotel Royal Residencey in Kushinagar on 20th October 2021, at 1500 hrs & on 21st October at 1000 hrs. Union Minister for Culture & Tourism Shri G Kishan Reddy will address the inaugural session of conference.The two days conference will have sessions which will highlight Buddhist circuit and tourism especially in the light of opening up of the new International Airport at Kushinagar. The conference is expected to be attended by the tourism industry stakeholders, Scholars, Media etc.

India has a rich ancient Buddhist Heritage with several important sites associated with the life of Lord Buddha. Buddhist tourism has tremendous potential to draw Buddhism believers from across the world to India -The Land of Buddha. The Indian Buddhist Heritage is of the great interest to the followers of Buddhism all over the world.

Kushinagar is one of the major pilgrimage centers for Buddhism followers from all over the world. Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in India. The prime tourist attractions in Kushinagar includes the ancient Mahaparinirvana Temple- one of the most sacred shrines for Buddhists, Rambhar Stupa, Kushinagar Museum, Sun Temple, Nirvana Stupa, Matha Kuar Shrine, Watt Thai Temple, Chinese Temple, Japanese Temple.

The Ministry is also working on capacity building which includes Linguistic Tourist Facilitator training in Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese languages. 525 people have already been trained in these languages between 2018 to 2020, and 600 more shall be trained between 2020 and 2023. This would help in building the linguistic connect with the tourists esp Buddhist tourists from key source markets.

Virgin Australia has renewed its multi-year air content distribution partnership with Amadeus, which means travel sellers that are connected to the Amadeus Travel Platform will enjoy access to Virgin Australia’s travel agency content including flight schedules, fares, seat maps and ancillaries.

“We recognize the value long-term collaborations bring in helping to hit the ground running as travel begins resuming from the pandemic. Virgin Australia looks forward to continuing our partnership to deliver and differentiate our content through the Amadeus Travel Platform and rebuild travel together with our trusted network of partners" said David Orszaczky, General Manager Digital and Distribution, Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia will continue to reach travel sellers of all types, such as travel management companies, tour operators, retail travel agencies and online travel agencies. The Amadeus Travel Platform empowers the airline to distribute relevant content for travel sellers - supporting them to drive upsell opportunities and increased revenue for Virgin Australia.

“We are pleased that Virgin Australia has renewed its distribution agreement with Amadeus.  As the industry continues the path of recovery, having the latest airline inventory available to travel sellers is vital to create new revenue opportunities. The Amadeus Travel Platform will help Virgin Australia achieve this while providing a cost-efficient way to reach the largest network of travel sellers across the globe,” says Frederic Saunier, Regional Vice President, Airline Distribution Sales, Asia Pacific, Amadeus.

 

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