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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

The recently concluded RARE Showcase 2022 brought the industry together to ponder over responsible travel, the revival of inbound travel as well as the changes and innovations through the pandemic. The 4th edition of the Showcase witnessed participation from more than 250 travel designers and tour operators from over 120 inbound and domestic travel companies.

G K V Rao, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, was a special invitee on this occasion.

Commenting on the event, Shoba Mohan, Founder, RARE India, said, “We are thrilled with this no-frills event model that gave our independent owner hotels the opportunity to present to the travel trade and media in the classic setting of The Imperial. The Travel Designers did us proud with their attendance. We also had a session to laugh and a session to learn, which was the perfect end to a day of product learning. After all, this is what RARE is all about - creating value for people all around."

Shobhana Jain, Head of Sustainability, RARE India, said, “For the first time, there was a table dedicated to Responsible Tourism at an event to drive conversations around the topic. RARE has been a keen advocate so far and now the information and action points are moving down to the end consumer. There was immense curiosity at the event to understand how as a travel designer and tour operator one can include sustainability in the curation of programmes. Questions ranged from what constitutes sustainable travel to how one can avoid single use plastic, save water tables, preserve our natural heritage to how to calculate carbon emissions. The RARE Touchstones were seen as simple first steps to communicate these aspects.”

Travel agents present at the event discussed the ground reality and shared their opinions on how aware the global traveler is about sustainability in travel and how much importance is being given to sustainability by travel agents when they discuss travel itineraries with their clients.

Cathay Pacific has appointed Rakesh Raicar as the airline’s new Regional General Manager for South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMEA).

Raicar who has over 30 years of experience working with Cathay Pacific, will take over from his predecessor, Mark Sutch. Based in Mumbai, India, Raicar would be responsible for the growth of the airline’s business and operations in the said regions.

Raicar began his career with Cathay Pacific in 1992 and has held several roles through the course of his tenure including Regional Marketing & Sales Manager, South Asia and Country Manager, South Africa and Indian Ocean. His most recent role was General Manager – South West Pacific where he led all aspects of the company’s business for the region.

Marriott International recently announced the signing of an agreement with Ceres Hotels to bring the storied St. Regis brand to Goa.

Slated to open in October 2022, this agreement will bring the brand’s vanguard spirit, signature Butler Service, cherished rituals, and rich legacy to one of Goa’s most alluring neighborhoods. The St. Regis Goa Resort is expected to serve as the ninth Marriott International hotel in Goa, following a strategic conversion of The Leela Goa. The resort will undergo a complete transformation in phases, starting in 2022. Ceres Hotels Private Limited, the owner of the resort is a subsidiary of Metrod Holdings Berhad which is listed on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange.

“We are delighted to work with Ceres Hotels Private Limited to introduce the St. Regis brand to Goa, bringing bespoke experiences curated for the most discerning travellers to one of the most beautiful and fascinating coastal destinations in India,” said Rajeev Menon, President Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), Marriott International. “The St. Regis Goa Resort will usher in a new benchmark of luxury hospitality in this city and underscores the tremendous trust and confidence our owners have in us and in the power of our luxury brands.”

Spread across 49-acres, The St. Regis Goa Resort features 206 rooms, suites and villas. With an anticipated 1,183 square meters of meeting space, and an additional 1,000 square meters of expansive function lawns overlooking the Mobor beach, guests can expect modern, multi-purpose venues, suited to host weddings, socials, meetings and conventions.

A month after the relaunch of the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Airbus A380 from Mumbai, the Airline’s iconic superjumbo aircraft returned to Delhi on Friday 15 April 2022, replacing the B777-300 on SQ403/406 services.

Sy Yen Chen, General Manager India, SIA, said, “India always was and continues to be a very important market for us, and an aircraft as iconic as the A380 continues to hold its position as a favourite among our customers. Now, with increasing demand for international travel, bringing it back to Delhi was the natural choice.

The return of the superjumbo to India is part of SIA’s larger effort to progressively bring our frequency and capacity back to pre-Covid levels in the coming months. In fact, in January this year, we also introduced the new B737-8 from Hyderabad, Kochi and Kolkata, which means that we now offer refreshed products along with fully-flat beds in Business Class from all 8 cities in India – a testimony to our commitment to this key market.”  

SIA currently operates 66 weekly flights from 8 cities across India to Singapore, which is approximately 67% of its pre-Covid operations. In addition, SIA’s low-cost subsidiary, Scoot, currently operates 33 flights from 6 cities across India, making the SIA Group the only international airline to collectively operate from 13 points across the country.

SOTC Travel recently inaugurated its new franchise outlet at Thillai Nagar.

Daniel D’souza President & Country Head - Holidays, SOTC Travel said, “Trichy is strongly emerging as a viable source market for SOTC. Tamil Nadu contributes a significant 30% to our overall SOTC holiday business and customers from Trichy have displayed over 2x growth in demand since the pandemic. To inspire the discerning travellers of Trichy, take their much-needed holiday, our new outlet in the heart of the city at Thillai Nagar was chosen to leverage its significant catchment across multigenerational families, millennial, couple, Gen S and business owners. Our data indicates customers from Trichy prefer group holidays and so, we have introduced a host of special offers and products that are dedicated to cater to this market and its travellers.”

The Ministry of Civil Aviation commenced the flight operations on Keshod-Mumbai route under RCS-UDAN scheme of Government of India. Alliance Air was awarded the route under the UDAN RCS-4.1 bidding process. With this, 417 routes would be operationalized under the UDAN-RCS scheme.

The airline will operate thrice a week flights and will deploy it’s ATR 72-600, 70-seater turbo prop aircraft designed for shorter distance flights on the route. With this, Alliance Air will become 1st airline to connect Keshod to Mumbai under UDAN.

Speaking on the occasion, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, said:   “I feel blessed and honoured to be in Gujarat especially in Keshod which has a place in our history and with this new UDAN flight that we are starting today will connect the place which was beloved by our Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi with the financial capital of our country. 2 famous world-renowned tourist attractions - Somnath Temple and Gir National Park are located near Keshod. With the launch of new route, tourist will be able to visit both easily. Apart from this, various industries are established in Keshod such as furniture, textile, chemicals, cement etc which will also be benefitted from the commencement of new flight route.”

Talking about the development plans of Ministry of Civil Aviation in Gujarat, Minister elaborated “Apart from starting the new flight route today, we will also connect Keshod with the state capital Ahmedabad. In this year summer schedule, Ahmedabad has been connected to 3 cities in India – Amritsar, Agra and Ranchi. Similarly, Porbandar and Rajkot have been connected with Mumbai. 2 new greenfield airports are also be constructed in Hirasar and Dholera which will have 23 lakh passengers per year and 30 lakh passengers per year with a budget allocation of INR 1405 crore and INR 1305 crore respectively”. A special route connecting Porbandar, and Delhi will start on 27th April, informed Scindia.

Keshod Airport is owned by Airports Authority of India (AAI). Initially, the airport was refurbished and revived in late 1980s to facilitate scheduled operations. Since last 21 years, commercial aircraft has not landed at this airport.

AAI has invested an amount of Rs. 25 crores to upgrade Keshod airport for resurfacing of Runway, procurement of Aircraft Crash Fire Tender (ACFT), new Civil Enclave including Terminal Building, Apron for two ATR-72 types of aircraft and Link Taxiway, etc.

Indians’ surprising lack of knowledge of our own country, its diversity, vastness, culture, heritage, and cuisines was revealed in new research published by Mahindra Holidays. According to the light-hearted ‘India Quotient’ study, 60% of the respondents admit that they don’t know much about Indian history, culture, geography/destinations, nature, food, etc. The research was commissioned to mark Mahindra Holidays’ 25 anniversary milestone and highlight the depth of experiences available to local travellers and tourists across the country.

The India Quotient, which indicates the knowledge and awareness of different facets of India, appears to be the lowest in cuisine. In fact, less than a third of the respondents (31%) are aware that when coffee was brought to India, it was planted first in Coorg.

Our research also revealed people’s low awareness of Indian art, culture, and heritage. For instance, more than half (55%) of the respondents also don’t know that Aipan is the signature folk art of Uttrakhand, more than a third (39%) of the respondents don’t know that the Khajuraho festival is celebrated in Madhya Pradesh, and nearly a third (32%) don’t know Maharashtra is the best place to shop for the Paithani sari.

The same trend is observed in terms of Indians’ geographical knowledge of our country. To illustrate, Gir is the only natural habitat of world popular Asiatic Lions, and yet, more than a third of the respondents (39%). One in every three respondents (33%) is unaware that Udaipur is known as the ‘City of Lakes’ and more than a third of respondents (35%) remain unaware that the wall at Kumbhalgarh Fort, the second-longest wall, in the world, after the Great Wall of China, is located in Rajasthan.

Kavinder Singh, Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited, explained, “There has been an exponential rise in the local tourist visits, which was seen from the year 2000 to the present across the country. As people explore India, observe iconic Indian monuments and experience unique culture and cuisines of different states, they grow more curious about other aspects of India they don’t know about and become eager to raise their ‘India Quotient’. For instance, two-thirds of the respondent (66%) seek out local cuisines when they are travelling with family, however, 41% of the respondents don’t know that Appam is the local cuisine of Kerala.”

SriLankan Airlines herein provides additional clarification and context with respect to media reports pertaining to the publication of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for aircraft leases.

Reviewing the airline’s fleet of aircraft in terms of leasing costs and operating efficiency is a key pillar within a broader cost restructuring plan embarked upon by the airline since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.  Other restructuring initiatives have thus far resulted in the airline ceasing to rely on government funding since the second quarter of 2021 and returning a profit since December 2021 – the most profitable month on record.  

The initiation of the re-fleeting RFP is primarily prompted by the impending expiry of aircraft leases for over 50% of the current fleet. The airline recognizes that the current global market for aircraft leasing presents an attractive pricing environment which would maximise the cost savings which can be achieved via the timely execution of a re-fleeting strategy. The combination into a single RFP of replacement aircraft (expiring leases) with growth needs over the ensuing period, captures benefits of scale. A single procurement exercise also avails optionality in terms of selecting the optimum fleet structure in terms of operating efficiency, aircraft type and aircraft age. 

All aircraft leases will be funded through the airline’s current existing cashflows, and the re-fleeting is expected to significantly reduce the airline’s cost structure going forward. The re-fleeting exercise will alongside other strategic initiatives help the airline increase its operating margins and further elevate its operating cash flows which will support the timely paying down of long-term debt to the Government of Sri Lanka and other lenders. 

The promising turnaround in the airline’s financials have accrued both from cost restructuring as well as from selective growth initiatives in terms of expansion of the route network to include new destinations, and exploitation of growth opportunities in the cargo sector.  Forward looking plans of the airline will be closely aligned to the growth aspirations of Sri Lanka’s tourism sector which is one of the country’s largest foreign exchange contributors.  

SriLankan Airlines is presently a net foreign exchange earner for the country. Cognizant of the broader macro-economic environment locally and globally, the airline will continue to take a measured and calibrated approach to growth with primary focus being applied to maintaining self-funded, profitable and sustainable operations.

 

Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL) is holding 6.67% equity stake in Great Rocksport Private Limited, a company which is engaged in the business of soft adventure-based activities and learning programs.

MHRIL has agreed to subscribe to an additional 4,88,321 equity shares of Rocksport in three installments for a total cash consideration of Rs.12 crore. After completion of the second tranche investment, the Company's shareholding in Rocksport will go up from 6.67% to 23.42%.

It is expected that the investment in Rocksport will increase customer engagement avenues for the Company, whereby the Company and Rocksport can engage in multiple formats for its members - especially within resorts of the MHRIL. Further, it is expected that there will be cross selling of products by both parties for their growth and benefits.

SpiceJet announced the launch of new and additional non-stop flights on its domestic and international network. The airline has added new flights to its schedule including two industry-first flights, new domestic and international flights and additional frequencies. These nonstop flights will be starting from 26th April 2022 in a phased manner.

 

With the new and additional flights, SpiceJet is strengthening its domestic and international network to meet current and emerging demands. The airline will be launching new non-stop international flights connecting Ahmedabad with Muscat in Oman, Mumbai with Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kozhikode with Jeddah & Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Mumbai with Riyadh & Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Apart from this, the airline will also be launching new domestic flights on the routes between Ahmedabad-Goa, Ahmedabad-Bagdogra, Ahmedabad-Shirdi, Mumbai-Tirupati and Mumbai-Guwahati.

SpiceJet is also enhancing frequencies on Delhi-Jabalpur, Delhi-Leh, Ahmedabad-Dehradun, Hyderabad-Shirdi, Mumbai-Goa and Mumbai-Srinagar routes.

Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Commercial Officer, SpiceJet, said, "We are delighted to introduce new flights on domestic and international routes. With the economy reviving from the pandemic slump, this will help us to enhance our presence in the aviation industry domestically as well as globally. The flights announced today includes a mix of industry first, new routes and enhanced frequencies covering both domestic and international destinations. Along with enhancing convenience for general travellers, tourism and local economy on these routes will get much needed boost as many of them are important religious and leisure travel destinations."

 

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