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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Continuing with its mission to work together and support the nation in the current situation, IndiGo, operated its maiden passenger charter to Hanoi and Vientiane helping stranded nationals to get back home. The flight from India repatriated 106 Vietnamese, 1 Filipino and 29 Laos Nationals along with 89 Indian citizens. The return flight repatriated 139 Indian nationals from Hanoi and 50 Indian nationals from Vientiane. IndiGo operated these flights while adhering to all the precautionary measures, ensuring a safe and hassle-free travel experience on-board a lean clean flying machine.

Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to have successfully operated our first passenger charter to Vietnam and Laos to support the repatriation of citizens from India, Vietnam and Laos. We would like to extend our gratitude to all Embassies and Civil aviation authorities of India, Vietnam and Laos for helping us with necessary and timely approvals. We look forward to supporting not just Indian, but citizens across the world, in this hour of need”.

The people returning to Vientiane, Laos consisted of Indian and foreign expats, students and Buddhist monks. The repatriated Indian citizens consisted of students, labourers and employees who had lost their job due to the pandemic, along with some Vietnamese diplomats who had come to serve the new term in New Delhi.

In order to discuss about the adverse effects of Covid-19 on the tourism industry in the state and its related problems, Dilip Jawalkar, Secretary (Tourism), Govt of Uttarakhand recently held an online meeting where 20 representatives from hotels, rafting and aerosports business, CII and FICCI. Stakeholders suggested opening up of adventure tourism activities. Jawalkar explained about the help being provided by the government to the industry personnel and expected the industry to cooperate with the government.

During the meeting, the hotel industry representatives informed and discussed about the situation of confusion regarding the Covid test. Along with this, it was suggested to reduce the quarantine period to 7 days for tourists. Suggestions were also made to establish tourist aid centers on the state border. It has also been suggested to determine the number of guests on a per square meter basis instead of a maximum of 50 guests for wedding ceremonies and other events.

Representatives of rafting and adventure tourism have requested to open the activities of adventure tourism in the state. Besides this, it was also suggested to issue guidelines to the Forest Department to open the tracking activities. It was also suggested to use the guidelines prepared by the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India for conducting adventure tourism activities.

The CII representative suggested to set up a call center to solve problems related to tourists and their solutions. FICCI's representative suggested to give incentive/discounts to tourists with the aim of increasing tourism in the state. They also suggested to run a positive publicity campaign. It was suggested to issue clear guidelines related to Covid, so that there is no confusion.

Jawalkar also informed all the delegates that funds have been made available by the State Government to the District Magistrates for providing Rs 1000 / - per personnel as immediate assistance to the personnel of the tourism industry. Rs. 2.50 crore has already been disbursed for this purpose. Cooperation was sought from the tourism industry to implement the positive initiatives taken by the state government.

Ark Travels penetrates further into the non-cruising representation space, with acquisition of Outbound Konnections. This business move will further expand Ark Travels tourism portfolio as it enters into a space, which is one of the most dynamic and volatile in the travel industry. 

Outbound Konnections, spearheaded by Anjum Lokhandwala, is a boutique representation company offering premium services to a wide range of global brands in the travel and tourism sector since past eight years. Lokhandwala, the primary curator of Outbound Konnections, was already in the initial stage of discussion with an international investor, when she was approached by her industry trade colleague, Kishan Biyani of Ark Travels to consider a 100 per cent buyout deal with Ark Travels. Biyani, who is known for his astute business foresight expressed his keen interest to foray into the representation space, which led to the final buyout of the Outbound Konnections by Ark Travels.

With head office based in Mumbai and branch office in Bangalore and satellite offices in 15 major cities PAN India, Ark Travels is confident to expand the newly acquired business through its widespread network and agent base. Biyani expressed confidence to grow the newly acquired company like the way the cruise business expanded from 1,500 passengers in 2008 to 60,000 passengers in 2018. Then, he closely watched the movements in the cruise tourism business, when Star Cruises made an entry into the Indian space in 2007.

Biyani said, “I was observing the representation business with a keen lens and I felt this is the right time to enter into this space. I found the right partner, with Outbound Konnections to accelerate my growth plans and vision, related to this niche. Anjum and myself, have known each other for a few years now and she has earned her strong goodwill in the industry. I found the team at Outbound Konnections highly professional, with an eye for detail. Both companies share common synergies in terms of ethics and vision. I feel with the existing workforce Ark Travels, we can have a varied bouquet of products besides Cruises, Club Med Resorts and Europamundo Vacations to offer to their B2B network without increasing overheads.”  

Speaking about the development, Lokhandwala said, “With Ark Travels now taking over Outbound Konnections, will lead to a wider reach with their online platform DECKPRO, which has an active database of 15000+++ agents PAN India, will give the products good visibility and strong brand presence. Kishan is a focused and a meticulous businessman and I am confident the brand will grow well under his leadership. I will continue my role as Director in the company.”

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) New Delhi Office in association with Sports & Leisure Worldwide (SLW) last month conducted a survey on ‘Golfing in Thailand’ with Golfers in India. According to the Survey, a whopping 97 per cent of those surveyed rated Thailand as one of the best golfing destinations.

Thai hospitality, value for money and affordable luxury, were the top three key factors which prompts these golfers to travel to Thailand to play golf. Thailand’s proximity to India was another key factor in influencing the Indian golfers mind in deciding Thailand as the premier destination for Golf holidays. 

“I would like to thank SLW group for conducting the survey, and I am glad to note that most golfers rated Thailand as one of the best golfing destinations. As you all probably are aware that Thailand is a spectacular choice and dream come true destination for golfers with stunning and vast selection of golf courses. In fact, destination diversity and vast choices of golf courses throughout the country are key factors attracting the large numbers of visitors coming to play golf in Thailand. We look forward to your visit to amazing Thailand once the situation improves,” Vachirachai Sirisumpan, Director TAT, New Delhi said.

The survey was conducted to ascertain the impact of Covid-19 on Golf tourism to Thailand.  “The overwhelming bias response towards Thailand as the No.1 golfing destination was no surprise” said Anil Dev, MD SLW Group, the promoters of Thai Golf Pass, the only sovereign golf loyalty program in the world. “Golfers are a little more demanding when it comes to hospitality and Thailand wins hands down in that department. We expect Thailand would be the first destination where the majority of the golfers would travel to for their first golf holiday post Covid19,” Vachirachai added.

The surveyed sample group was made up of Golfers from all over India and consisted of:

·         Responses: 1005 (Delhi & NCR 65%, Chandigarh 5% and Others 30%)

·         Golfers:100% Gender: Male Golfers-98% Lady Golfers-2%

·         Age-group: Below 30- 3.20% Ages 31-50 -28% Ages 51-70 -53% Above 70- 15.80%

·         Membership status-Members of a Golf Club:93% Non-Members:7%

·         Handicap Category a) 0-9 HCap -12% b)10-18 HCap -60 % c)19-26 HCap 28%

A majority of golfers, almost 88 per cent are planning to travel abroad to play golf post Covid19 and 92 per cent kept safety as their prime concern for the outbound travel.

Most travelers in India are now ready to consider booking domestic and international trips, but only if airlines, airports, hotels and car rental companies collectively implement ten different safety measures:  enhanced cleaning and/or disinfection, access to sanitizing gel/wipes, face masks and gloves, social distancing, temperature checks, mandatory wearing of face masks, fully flexible or refundable tickets, improved air filtration, contactless services, plexi-glass at check-in and managed boarding by row -- throughout their journey, which includes fully flexible or refundable flight tickets. Furthermore, demand for almost every safety measure is highest in India, of the five countries surveyed. This is according to the results of new independent research released today by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

The results of the study are based on a survey of 5,000 travelers across India, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in-depth interviews with 29 leading travel suppliers. The study found that at all parts of the travel journey, it was deemed critical to have social distancing rules, mandatory use of face masks, and ready access to sanitizing gel or wipes, face masks and gloves. The study also revealed, however, that additional measures still need to be implemented by airlines, airports, hotels and car rental companies to fully restore consumer confidence.

Martin Herbert, Senior Commercial Director- Operators, Travelport said, “The travel industry has introduced numerous initiatives to support a safe and responsible recovery of travel over the last few months. This research demonstrates just how important such measures are to ensure travelers feel safe. The industry now needs to ensure it is not only putting these measures in place consistently across the entire travel journey, but also communicating them effectively to travellers across the various channels and merchandising technologies available to them.”

Derek Sadubin, Managing Director at CAPA Centre for Aviation, added, “Safety and flexibility are understandably front of mind for travelers right now. The travel industry recognizes and respects this and, what’s encouraging, is that many suppliers, such as airlines, have already implemented the measures travelers say they need to book a domestic or international trip- but we still have a long way to go. Collaboration and communication are now key to restoring traveler confidence and securing a strong and responsible industry recovery.”

Sandeep Dwivedi, Chief Operating Officer at InterGlobe Technology Quotient, said: “Travellers’ safety and consistent communication of respective safety measures, including frequent modifications, is of utmost importance to restore confidence in travel. Travelport’s latest study is a commendable step in this direction, one that will help travel agents understand ongoing procedures and identify opportunities to offer better experience to end traveler.”

The safety measures currently being undertaken by more than 80 of the world’s largest airlines can be found in the recently launched Travelport Airline Health & Safety Tracker. The tool, which is free of charge and available to both Travelport customers and the wider industry, is delivered to both online and offline travel agencies through the Travelport COVID-19 Smartpoint Plugin, Travelport’s API-based merchandising solution, Branded Fares Data File, and through the company’s COVID-19 Resource Hub for the general public.

Scandinavia’s leading airline SAS and Sabre announced a new multi-year distribution agreement. Under the new agreement, Sabre-connected agencies can access competitive SAS content through Sabre’s marketplace, while SAS will benefit from extensive global reach.

The distribution agreement allows SAS more control of distribution costs while effectively selling products and services, including ancillaries, to hundreds of thousands of travel agents worldwide. 

Sabre’s global distribution system (GDS) presents a highly efficient way for airlines to market their fares and offers through a network of agencies and corporations across the world.

“In an increasingly fragmented industry, travellers are faced with billions of fare combinations per ticket searched, through a huge variety of sources,” said Darren Rickey, SVP Regional Sales and Account Management, Sabre.  “For the foreseeable future, the various health regulations related to COVID-19 – which may differ between destinations and airlines – will add another layer of complexity. We are very pleased that SAS recognises the value delivered by our global community of travel agents and buyers. We are looking forward to further improving travellers’ experiences while unlocking incremental value for the travel ecosystem.”

Sabre recently announced a strategic realignment of its airline and agency-focused businesses, which will further enable the company to deliver on its promise to retail, distribute and fulfil travel by serving its customers through a collective lens. It also reaffirmed its commitment to building a marketplace for personalised travel that delivers a better experience to consumers, enables travel intermediaries to provide just the right offers to their customers, and increases value for travel suppliers.

Vistara operated its first long-haul flight from Delhi to London Heathrow with its brand-new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Vistara is operating special, non-stop flights under the bilateral ‘transport bubble’ from 28 August to 24 October 2020 and will fly thrice a week between the two cities.

“Though not regular scheduled flights, we are excited about starting operations to our first long-haul destination. This, in many ways, marks the beginning of a new phase of growth in the global skies for Vistara. This also gives us the opportunity to introduce India’s finest and only five-star airline to London,” Leslie Thng,CEO, Vistara, said.

“On this very popular route, the flyers now have the choice of experiencing unmatched comfort complemented by high standards of safety and hygiene”, he further added.

Vistara will accept all eligible customers meeting visa/entry requirements in both the countries, as specified by the respective government bodies. Vistara strongly encourages its customers to fully understand the relevant guidelines before making their bookings.

Former Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels Hemant Mediratta recently launched a new river cruise brand, Antara Luxury River Cruises. Joining the company as Co-Founder and COO, Mediratta has laid the agenda and a clear roadmap for expansion with new cruise ships and enhanced service offerings.

Antara Cruises is India’s leading luxury river cruising company that owns and operates its fleet across the Indian rivers. The all-suite cruises sail around untouched destinations along the Indian rivers. Owned by Heritage River Journeys, Antara Cruises has already set high standards in the luxury river cruising ships making it the ideal choice for top international cruising partners.

“Antara, derived from the Sanskrit word “Antar” meaning “the distinction”, became a source of inspiration for us to make a difference and take you on a journey along the spiritual rivers of India, to rediscover yourself and experience the joy of spending time with your loved ones in luxury. We want travel to be experiential and transformative and this is our attempt with Antara.”

Welcoming Mediratta, Raj Singh, Founder, and Chairman of the group said, “we are extremely delighted to have Hemant on board, he comes with rich experience of building organizations and expanding and developing new markets for us. I am sure he will add tremendous value towards the growth of Antara Cruises,” Mediratta explained.

As the world continues to address the challenges regarding COVID-19, Mediratta said: “The true spirit of Antara is built around serving from the heart, nurturing strong relationships with our guests, partners, colleagues and our communities. We do this by being responsible in our actions and to this effect have introduced ‘ANTARA ASSURE” a heightened hygiene, health and safety protocol that has been implemented based on local and international health experts and authorities to offer a comforting and enjoyable experience to our guests and a safe workplace for our team members.”

Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has approved 78 new routes under the 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)- UdeDesh Ka AamNagrik (UDAN) following the three successful rounds of bidding. This will further enhance the connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country. The North Eastern Region, Hilly States and Islands have been given priority in the approval process for the new routes.

Special boost is being given to connectivity in North East with routes from Guwahati to Tezu, Rupsi, Tezpur, Passighat, Misa and Shillong. People will be able to fly from Hissar to Chandigarh, Dehradun and Dharmshala under these UDAN 4 routes. Routes from Varanasi to Chitrakoot and Shravasti have also been approved.Agatti, Kavaratti and Minicoy islands of Lakshadweep have also been connected by the new routes of UDAN 4.0.

So far, 766 routes have been sanctioned under the UDAN scheme. 29 served, 08 unserved (including 02 heliports and 01 water aerodrome), and 02 underserved airports have been included in the list for approved routes.

The 4th round of UDAN was launched in December 2019 with a special focus on North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands. The airports that had already been developed by AAI are given higher priority for the award of VGF(Viability Gap Funding) under the Scheme. Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopter and seaplanes is also been incorporated. Since its inception, MoCA has operationalized 274 UDAN routes that have connected 45 airports and 3 heliports.

Amadeus has announced it has renewed its multi-year distribution agreement with Air New Zealand. Under the agreement the airline will continue to make its fares and air content available to Amadeus-connected travel agencies via the Amadeus Travel Platform.

“We are honored that Air New Zealand, a dynamic and innovative carrier, has extended our distribution agreement. At Amadeus, we recognize and understand the challenges airlines are facing. Our cutting-edge technology and unmatched global distribution network will help Air New Zealand meet and overcome these challenges. We pride ourselves on putting our customers at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue to provide Air New Zealand with the most efficient and cost-effective means to reach travel sellers across the globe,” said Cyril Tetaz, Executive Vice President, Airlines, Asia Pacific, Amadeus.

Air New Zealand Regional General Manager Sales & Alliances, Andrew Dale said, “Amadeus has long been a trusted partner and we look forward to continuing the partnership. This renewal ensures the airline’s content will continue to be available to travel agents in New Zealand, Australia, and the greater Asia Pacific region as we look to drive volumes in these markets.”



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