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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

The Union Government is set to present the Union Budget 2020-21 amidst a slowdown in the Global economy. Despite all efforts and favorable policies, the foreign tourist arrivals during January – November 2019 is 3.2 per cent which is less that Global average. This is, perhaps, after many years that India’s tourism growth is lower than the global average. Tourism and hospitality industry has witnessed many challenges last year resulting into a reduced pace of growth. To witness a solid growth in 2020, the industry has various expectations from the Union Budget as Tourism has been previously mentioned several times as a major focus area. T3 brings to you the expectations shared by the industry:

Rajesh Magow, Co-Founder and CEO-India, MakeMyTrip said, “Tourism, which comes under the service sector in India, is a money spinner. It offers immense work opportunities, and the backward linkages and multiplier effects extend to manufacturing industries and even agriculture. So the impact that Travel & Tourism growth can have on economy is immense. To give a fillip to tourism within India – there needs to be budgeted funds for developing top tourist destinations. Much as infrastructure-related work may fall under state government’s purview, we should pick 20 key destinations that we want to put on global tourism map and bring them under a national program/body to promote Tourism. The budget for this national tourism program/body should be carved out from the Union Budget in order to make requisite investments to improve infrastructure. The government should consider giving export industry status to Tourism Industry.” 

He further added, “Tourism is one of the highest export earners in terms of Foreign Exchange which stood at around 29 USD Billion in 2018. Additionally, the government should consider incentivising travel within Indian. With outbound travel figures over 25 million, MICE and Weddings are moving out of India. To tap this segment, we need to motivate people to travel and explore more of India for events. We have come a long way in linking our cities through world-class airports, excellent highways and a wide network of trains, but last-mile connectivity remains a challenge and there is a lot left to be desired in terms of tourism-specific infrastructure. We need to think of integrated development of the tourism sector to enable competitiveness and sustain long-term growth. The connectivity between tourist sites or development of tourism circuits needs to be taken up on priority so that one can explore places without accessibility blues.”

Nalini Gupta, Head of Costa Cruises India, said “As India has one of the largest coastlines in the world, India’s potential for capitalising and benefitting from the cruise sector is high. Cruise holidays provide one of the best options, for exploring destinations as they are a hassle free, good value for money and an all-inclusive holiday. Further the novelty of cruising still exists in India, as only a very small percentage of Indians have explored this form of holiday.”

“If the government has clear cruise friendly policies and practises, it would encourage the international cruise liners to invest in India benefiting the blue economy of the country. Infrastructural developments at par with international standards will further progress the growth of tourism in India. Successful implementation of these initiatives would generate revenue for locals, employment in country and would also boost foreign and domestic tourism.”

Sunil Gupta, MD & CEO, Avis India said, “I believe that the government should build on its recent push towards sustainability by prioritising the growth of the EV ecosystem. This can be done by promoting the creation of a strong and well-connected charging infrastructure on a pan-India level, promoting the setting up of EV battery capacity in the country and incentivising the adoption of EVs, especially for public transport buses, fleet operator cars and 2 and 3 wheelers. The road connectivity must also be improved between major urban centres and tier-2/3 regions to bolster the growth of the travel and tourism sector.”

Shwetank Singh, Vice President, Development and Asset Management, InterGlobe Hotels said, “One of our major demands as an industry continues to be infrastructure status for hotels with a capital expenditure of INR 50 Crores. Since the GST regime has been established, the cost of construction has gone up by 8-10% as the entire civil structure is treated as an immovable property. We are hoping to get the option to claim input tax credit on GST for this. Also, the industry has struggled with variation in bylaws, approvals and licenses, which is why a nodal body is required. This will help us in terms of having a proper time bound escalation mechanism. With these main areas of standardisation we are expecting a positive Union Budget 2020 which keeps the tourism agenda at the core of economic growth.”

Varun Chadha, CEO, Tirun said, “The government has recognized the potential of cruising as an economic multiplier and is catching up with the world in terms of policies and infrastructure. Cruise Lines are now looking at the government to create a relatable tax regime, which is at par with the rest of the world.”

Anil Kumar Prasanna, CEO, AxisRooms said, “For Hospitality Industry there has been a great relief from GST which is still higher compared to the tourism economy countries, but it is still a breather from some cuts provided. B2B business are struggling on GST payments, as most money has to be paid from 20 days of invoice, though some enterprise customers have delayed payment cycles from minimum 30 days extending to 180 days. Hence, technically lot of business are funding through their personal savings, loans to pay the GST and awaiting their invoices to be cleared by customers. It would be great help if this can be deducted more like income tax from the payees especially in B2B segment, where delayed payment cycles are seen, this would ease the cash flow to the economy or some liability policy for the delay in invoice payments for merchants selling services or goods would be a great leverage for the economy. For Travel & Hospitality Industry, we need to take some cue from Thailand as their currency is the most robust compared to all Asian currency for 2019 due to the policy worked upon many years to bring in revenue from tourism and hospitality sector, in fact it appreciated their local currency by 6% against the USD.”

Asia Pacific remains solidly on the path to welcome close to one billion international visitor arrivals (IVAs) over the next five years. This is one of the key predictions from the Executive Summary of the Asia Pacific Visitor Forecasts 2020-2024, released today by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Covering the years 2019 to 2024 and 39 destinations within the region, these forecasts anticipate a volume of over 971 million international visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific, by 2024.

The strong increase in IVAs has been driven by the average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 5.3 per cent between 2014 and 2019, and that momentum is expected to increase even further over the next five years, to average 6.3 per cent per annum between 2019 and 2024.

This will result in an acceleration of more than 256 million additional IVAs into the region between 2019 and 2024, a significant increase over the additional volume of 162 million added between 2014 and 2019.

The distribution of these IVAs in Asia Pacific is expected to change only marginally from 2019, with the Asia and Pacific regions expected to show some relative, as well as absolute increases in arrival numbers.

Asia is forecast to remain as the dominant destination region and is likely to improve its relative share to over 77% by 2024.The Americas will come in second, although its share is expected to reduce slightly over the period between 2019 and 2024.

As a generator of IVAs into and across Asia Pacific however, Asia is predicted to continue growing in relative share, accounting for almost 68 per cent of all IVAs into the region in 2024. This is likely to be at the expense of both the Americas and Europe, both of which are predicted to wane, at least in terms of their respective shares as source regions for Asia Pacific, between 2014 and 2024.

Eleven Asia Pacific destinations are predicted to each receive more than 10 million additional IVAs between 2019 and 2024, with China leading the way, expecting to add around 38.2 million more arrivals to its inbound count and raising the aggregate volume to almost 208 million in 2024.

Japan is ranked next, followed by Macao, China and then Mexico, with all of these destinations expected to receive more than 20 million additional foreign arrivals each, over the forecast period to 2024.

The top group of 11 destinations, as shown in Exhibit 4, is likely to account for 77% of the IVA volume into Asia Pacific in 2024 and more than three-quarters of the additional arrivals over that same period.

In addition, it is predicted that nine out of ten destinations will have AAGRs between 2019 and 2024 in excess of 10 per cent, ranging from 10.2 per cent for the Maldives to 21 per cent for Cambodia. The volume bases for each of these destinations vary widely, however these very strong average rates of growth are certainly worth closely watching over the forecast period.

The top ten strongest source markets into Asia Pacific between 2019 and 2024 are forecast to include China, the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong SAR in the top three positions, generating a collective volume of more than 369 million IVAs over that period. These three source markets alone are also predicted to generate an additional volume of more than 106 million IVAs into Asia Pacific over the same period.

Much of that volume is of course, generated by internal Greater China flows, especially from China into Macao, China and Hong Kong SAR and to a lesser degree vice-versa. Adjusting for the Greater China source-destination pairs, the importance of China for a number of other Asia Pacific destinations becomes obvious, with China appearing five out of the possible ten times, as a major source market.

“For many destinations, there is now an immediate and necessary shift from generating arrivals to properly managing those visitors. It is no longer enough to think and talk about this, the time to put into action such management practices that ensure that visitors into and across the Asia Pacific region receive a superlative and memorable experience is now,” Mario Hardy, CEO, PATA, points out.

 “The tourism juggernaut is a reality, and this means that, as a socio-economic sector, travel and tourism needs to ensure that it has the necessary mindset and infrastructure – both hard and soft – to enable growth of this magnitude to be properly managed. It is incumbent upon us all to deliver both memorable experiences and positive outcomes for visitors, residents and the environment in equal measure.”

1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded in 2019 globally, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. A 4 per cent increase on the previous year which is also forecast for 2020, confirming tourism as a leading and resilient economic sector, especially in view of current uncertainties. By the same token, this calls for such growth to be managed responsibly so as to best seize the opportunities tourism can generate for communities around the world.

All regions saw a rise in international arrivals in 2019. However, uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the collapse of Thomas Cook, geopolitical and social tensions and the global economic slowdown all contributed to a slower growth in 2019, when compared to the exceptional rates of 2017 and 2018. This slowdown affected mainly advanced economies and particularly Europe and Asia and the Pacific.

Looking ahead, growth of 3 -4 per cent is predicted for 2020, an outlook reflected in the latest UNWTO Confidence Index which shows a cautious optimism: 47 per cent of participants believe tourism will perform better and 43 per cent at the same level of 2019. Major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics, and cultural events such as Expo 2020 Dubai are expected to have a positive impact on the sector.

Presenting the results, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “in these times of uncertainty and volatility, tourism remains a reliable economic sector”. Against the backdrop of recently downgraded global economic perspectives, international trade tensions, social unrest and geopolitical uncertainty, “our sector keeps outpacing the world economy and calling upon us to not only grow but to grow better”, he added.

Given tourism’s position as a top export sector and creator of employment, UNWTO advocates the need for responsible growth. Tourism has, therefore, a place at the heart of global development policies, and the opportunity to gain further political recognition and make a real impact as the Decade of Action gets underway, leaving just ten years to fulfill the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Middle East leads

The Middle East has emerged as the fastest-growing region for international tourism arrivals in 2019, growing at almost double the global average (+8%). Growth in Asia and the Pacific slowed down but still showed above-average growth, with international arrivals up 5%.

Europe where growth was also slower than in previous years (+4%) continues to lead in terms of international arrivals numbers, welcoming 743 million international tourists last year (51% of the global market). The Americas (+2%) showed a mixed picture as many island destinations in the Caribbean consolidated their recovery after the 2017 hurricanes while arrivals fell in South America due partly to ongoing social and political turmoil. Limited data available for Africa (+4%) points to continued strong results in North Africa (+9%) while arrivals in Sub-Saharan Africa grew slower in 2019 (+1.5%).

Tourism spending still strong

Against a backdrop of global economic slowdown, tourism spending continued to grow, most notably among the world’s top ten spenders. France reported the strongest increase in international tourism expenditure among the world’s top ten outbound markets (+11%), while the United States (+6%) led growth in absolute terms, aided by a strong dollar.

However, some large emerging markets such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia reported declines in tourism spending. China, the world’s top source market saw outbound trips increase by 14% in the first half of 2019, though expenditure fell 4 per cent.

Tourism delivering ‘much-needed opportunities’

“The number of destinations earning US$1 billion or more from international tourism has almost doubled since 1998,” adds Pololikashvili. “The challenge we face is to make sure the benefits are shared as widely as possible and that nobody is left behind. In 2020, UNWTO celebrates the Year of Tourism and Rural Development, and we hope to see our sector lead positive change in rural communities, creating jobs and opportunities, driving economic growth and preserving culture.”

This latest evidence of the strength and resilience of the tourism sector comes as the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary. During 2020, through the UN75 initiative the UN is carrying out the largest, most inclusive conversation on the role of global cooperation in building a better future for all, with tourism to be high on the agenda.

In order to woo the Indian outbound travelers, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is kickstarting the year with a brand new “Your Japan 2020” campaign. The new campaign aims to provide special experiences and great offers to the Indian travelers on an unprecedented scale.

As 2020 also marks the year of much-awaited and spoken about the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Japan, the country is all set to welcome visitors from all across the world. JNTO has charted out fun-filled events across the year and all-around Japan.

Through the campaign "Your Japan 2020", JNTO wants to invite visitors globally to experience Japan their way through events like never before. This high magnitude campaign began on 1st January and will extend till end of this year; that is 31st December 2020. JNTO through its premeditated partnership is allowing travelers on an economical trip to Japan as both, domestic & international airlines are handing out phenomenal discounts.

 The year 2020 in Japan also marks a year for the shopaholics as the destination is hosting their largest shopping festival on record from 1st January 2020- 28th February 2021. More than 1000 stores nationwide are providing never seen before discounts. The shopping outlets are also organizing fun-filled events winners of which will be rewarded with exciting goodies. Moreover, for a special shopping experience during the bargain seasons Japan Shopping Tourism Organization (JSTO) will be providing additional cashback benefits.

 Commenting on the campaign, Yusuke Yamamoto, Executive Director, JNTO said, “The year 2020 is highly crucial for Japan as all eyes would be on our destination for hosting the World Olympic Games. In order to make every individual’s visit to our destination enthralling, JNTO has made conscious efforts in planning. We have categorically focused on each area of traveler’s interest and spread activities all around the year starting from 1st January to 31st December 2020. We are extremely thrilled to host each one of you in Japan and are certain that your visit would be something, which you would never forget. Through our new campaign “Your Japan 2020”, we would like to invite more and more Indian to come and explore Japan to the fullest the way you want it to be.”

Japan, in fact, witnessed 11,700 Indian tourist arrivals in December, posting 13.9 per cent SPLY hike. Moreover, 175,900 Indians visited Japan from Jan-Dec’19, posting a phenomenal 14.2 per cent year-on-year hike.

Lufthansa Group has chosen Google Cloud as a strategic partner to further improve its operational performance and minimize the impact of irregularities on its passengers. The aim is to build a platform that will suggest scenarios to return to a stable flight plan in the event of an irregularity so that passengers still arrive at their destinations as punctually and comfortably as possible. This will be done by merging data from various processes that are relevant for stable operations.

“By combining Google Cloud's technology with Lufthansa Group’s operational expertise, we are driving the digitization of our operation even further," said Detlef Kayser, Member of the Executive Board of the Lufthansa Group. "This will enable us to identify possible flight irregularities even earlier and implement countermeasures at an early stage."

For example, flights are sometimes delayed due to weather conditions such as snowfall and passengers might miss their connecting flights. In the future, it will be possible to offer faster rebooking possibilities across all four hubs for Lufthansa Group passengers thanks to systems based on artificial intelligence.

“Through this collaboration, we have a significant opportunity to revolutionize the future of airline operations,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO for Google Cloud. “We’re bringing the best of Lufthansa Group and Google Cloud together to solve airlines’ biggest challenges and positively impact the travel experience of the more than 145 million passengers that fly annually with them.”

A joint team of operations experts, developers and engineers from the Lufthansa Group and software engineers from Google Cloud will be developing and testing the appropriate platform. The test launch will take place in Zurich with SWISS.

Radisson Blu MBD Hotel Ludhiana marks the 7th anniversary of providing comfort to its guests.  Started in 2012, the hotel has set a high standard for luxury hospitality in the city’s central business district. Since opening its doors, Radisson Blu Hotel MBD Ludhiana paved the way for the new standard of hospitality in Punjab. In these 7 years, this hotel of MBD Group has not only showcased the transformation efforts but also reinstated Group’s commitment to contribute in the growth of the hospitality segment in India.

Satish Bala Malhotra, Chairperson, MBD Group, said, “Since the day our hotel doors opened, our team has been dedicated to providing exceptional hospitality and creating memorable moments for each guest. The leadership and dynamic vision of Shri Ashok Kumar Malhotra guided the Group’s expansion and diversification goals to become a successful conglomerate.”

Commenting on the special occasion, Monica Malhotra Kandhari, Managing Director, MBD Group, said, “The story of Radisson Blu Hotel MBD Ludhiana has been one of incredible success, innovation, and perseverance. Thank you to every associate for bringing our Founder’s vision to life, and thank you to our guests for embracing MBD Hospitality to create their favorite travel, culinary, wellness and cultural memories over these years. The future is bright for us, and we are looking forward to crafting more memories for years to come.

Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director, MBD Group, said, “We are proud to have written another chapter in the brand’s legacy, reinstating our commitment to contribute in the growth of the hospitality segment in India. It has been a wonderful journey of 7 years, hotel has quietly, but distinctly defined itself as a trendsetter and is the top performing hotel in the competition set. We consistently achieved outstanding milestones, manoeuvring several challenges. At MBD Group, we always maintain that one must strive to attract, nurture, retain local talent and ensure there’s always a positive impact on the local community.”

In a bid to expand its international operations and strengthens its presence in the Middle-East, IndiGo  has announced the launch of Dammam as its 24th international and 87th overall destination on its network. Having entered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2019, Dammam will be the third destination after Jeddah and Riyadh. The airline will operate a total of 10 daily direct flights connecting Dammam with Mumbai, Hyderabad and Trivandrum.

William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are excited to launch our new flights to Dammam from three cities strengthening connectivity from western and southern India. As the capital of the Eastern Province of KSA, Dammam offers a well-balanced mixture of history, culture, business and employment opportunities for everyone. Dammam holds immense potential for both business and leisure travellers. We are confident that these routes will be a step towards promotion of trade, culture and social cohesion through enhanced mobility between the two nations”.

South African Tourism recently organised 17th edition of their Annual Roadshow. The roadshow intends to capitalise on the strong potential consumer demand in India in order to surpass the target of 100,000 Indian visitors to South Africa in the current year.

Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head, MEISEA, South African Tourism said, “India continues to remain one of our key focus markets globally and it is encouraging to observe consistent, upward growth from traditional regions like Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore as well as rising visitor traffic from emerging cities like Pune. With more and more visitors citing South Africa’s scenic natural beauty as reasons to visit, we are focused in our efforts towards opening up newer geographies in our country. This will serve a dual objective of catering to this very consumer demand as well as offering a diversity of itinerary options for our trade partners to sell.”

Mumbai continues to be the leading source market for South African Tourism in India. Between January to June 2019, around 43 per cent of total Indian visitors to the Rainbow Nation were from Mumbai. 62 per cent visitors from Mumbai travelled solo, while 13 per cent travelled with their partners. According to market research conducted by the tourism board, travellers from Mumbai make the trip to South Africa to soak in scenic beauty (50 per cent), engage with locals (29 per cent), explore wildlife offerings (27 per cent), culture and history (21 per cent) while also immersing themselves and making the best of the diversity of experiences (27 per cent) offered by the Rainbow Nation. Leisure travel (29 per cent) is the primary reason for visitors from Mumbai to travel to the destination. MICE (22 per cent), business travel (25 per cent) and VFR (10 per cent) closely follow suit. The holiday periods of May, April and December were preferred travel months amongst Mumbaikars for their South Africa trips.

Delhi continues to be the second leading source market for South African Tourism in India. Between January to June 2019, around 21 per cent of total Indian visitors to the Rainbow Nation were from Delhi. 40 per cent visitors from Delhi travelled solo, while 26 per cent travelled with their partners. According to market research conducted by the tourism board, travellers from Delhi make the trip to South Africa to soak in scenic beauty (22 per cent), engage with warm locals (13 per cent), explore wildlife offerings (13 per cent), culture and history (eight per cent) while also immersing themselves and making the best of the diversity of experiences (13 per cent) offered by the Rainbow Nation. Leisure travel (35 per cent) is the primary reason for visitors from Delhi to travel to the destination. MICE (30 per cent), business travel (13 per cent) and VFR (14 per cent) closely follow suit. The summer and winter holiday periods of April, May and December emerged as preferred travel months amongst Delhiites for their South Africa trips.

Sharing further insights, Nkani stated, “While South Africa has traditionally been perceived as a multi-generation, family destination, it is heartening to see the substantial share of solo travellers in the overall Indian traveller pie. Our evolved brand strategy will help us drive South Africa’s value proposition across stakeholders while creating customised engagement models showcasing destination product offerings to suit the unique requirements from each of our target regions within India.”

With 81,316 Indian arrivals as of October 2019, the destination board shared a positive outlook for the Indian market, noting that as of September 2019, total spends by Indian travellers in South Africa had reached a four year high. Average length of stay witnessed a year on year increase of eight per cent in the first half of 2019.

Following the successful launch of three lodges in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha earlier this year, Six Senses Bhutan opened its fourth lodge, Six Senses Gangtey in October 2019.

The design of the lodge is inspired by Bhutanese farmhouse architecture and incorporates local stone and hand-hewn timber. It uses traditional building techniques to blend with its natural setting. Dining areas along with a library and games room have been seamlessly incorporated.

The lodge offers eight suites, each with a valley-facing, panoramic and private outdoor balcony equipped with daybeds as well as binoculars for bird watching. There is also a two-bedroom villa with its own private spa treatment facilities designed to pamper and relax.

In keeping with the brand’s focus on wellness, Six Senses Gangtey boasts a dedicated spa featuring two swedana rooms designed specifically for herb-infused steam therapies. Every treatment starts with a journey of discovery and the inclusion of a sodalite crystal to set positive intentions through breathing and meditation. This is followed by Bhutanese chanting and singing bowls, promoting stillness, happiness and well-being.

When it comes to culinary offerings, the lodge’s signature restaurant Baa Zam – “bridge” in Dzongkha – features hearty western and locally-influenced dishes.

Six Senses Bhutan anticipates the opening of its fifth lodge in Bumthang in March 2020.

EbixCash, a fully owned subsidiary of Ebix, announced a strategic travel technology partnership with Amadeus to grow its footprint across the Asia Pacific region and UAE and become a one-stop shop for travel.

The partnership will provide EbixCash’s online websites, travel agents and corporations in Asia Pacific and UAE with greater access to the unrivalled breadth of content offered by the Amadeus Travel Platform, enabling EbixCash to better serve its customers. Built on fully open systems, the Amadeus Travel Platform harnesses artificial intelligence to bring a greater level of personalized content into one integrated platform.

Robin Raina, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO, Ebix, said: “Our vision is to build an end-to-end travel solution for the industry. We want to empower travel agents and travellers alike. EbixCash today is the largest end-to-end financial exchange in the Indian sub-continent, besides its parent company Ebix being the largest insurance exchange in the world. We are always looking for new ways to stay ahead of our competitors. Partnering with Amadeus gives us access to innovative technology that will allow us to further expand our footprint across the region, especially in India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where we see the greatest potential.

“Our growth strategy is built on the premise of having an unrivalled ‘phygital’ presence in the region – combining our physical distribution outlets in Southeast Asia with an omnichannel digital presence that allows our seller partners to have access to extensive real-time data and ecommerce solutions across all digital channels. Amadeus’ technology empowers EbixCash to deliver this and truly become a one-stop shop for travel.”

Champa Magesh, Executive Vice President of Retail in Travel Channels and Managing Director EMEA, Amadeus, said: “Partnerships are the foundation of progress. As EbixCash’s preferred travel technology partner, we are proud to support the company’s strategy to deliver increasing personalized experiences across all travel touchpoints in APAC and UAE. Amadeus’ open, collaborative approach allied with the scale, efficiency and performance offered by our Travel Platform means that we remain best placed to support our travel sellers — and their travelers — as they navigate the changing travel landscape.”



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