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Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), the global voice of the incentive travel industry, announced a new strategic partnership with the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau (ADCB), at IBTM World, in Barcelona, Spain.
As a strategic partner, Abu Dhabi will play an active role in the SITE community participating at all global events and availing of SITE’s extensive educational programming including Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) certification. It will also host SITE Executive Summit – recently staged in Istanbul, Turkey - in 2020.
The strategic partnership will kick off in early January when a high-level delegation of SITE international buyers and DMC experts will travel to Abu Dhabi to conduct a destination audit and work with the local MICE community on product development and positioning.
The partnership reflects ADCB’s mission to expand opportunities and become a key player within the business events (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions - MICE) industry.
Mubarak Hamad Al Shamsi, Director, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau said, “Our partnership with SITE is aimed at raising the profile of Abu Dhabi as a leading destination for incentive travel experiences by highlighting the capital’s unique characteristics, excellent services and outstanding offerings. Abu Dhabi’s high level of safety, resilient infrastructure, combined with its rich culture and wide-range of events and unique venues - such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World, make it the ultimate destination for experiential incentive events.”
Didier Scaillet, CIS, CITP, CEO of SITE said, “Judicious and sustained investment in product and expertise has made Abu Dhabi one of the most exciting emerging destinations in the world today. SITE is proud to add the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau to its constellation of strategic partners and looks forward to working with the team there to highlight its extraordinary appeal as a top location for truly unique incentive travel experiences. Moreover, SITE’s vision to build and bridge cultures chimes perfectly with Abu Dhabi’s championing of creativity, opportunity, intercultural dialogue and cultural exchange. These are the values that underpin our strategic partnership and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”
ADCB has also announced major development plans for 2020, with the objective of increasing the number of incentive travel trips to Abu Dhabi. The partnership with SITE will ensure ADCB’s incentive travel partners and suppliers are properly equipped through specialized education and certification programs to promote Abu Dhabi as a key player in the industry. Some of the major upcoming events in 2020 include the World Urban Forum (WUF10), World Wound Healing Congress, and the World Congress for Nephrology, IEEE International Conference on Image Processing and Art Basel Inside which will bring together thousands of delegates to the capital.
The United Arab Emirates is ranked No. 7 in terms of safety and security in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 by World Economic Forum (WEF). This significant accolade, along with the capital’s infrastructure, support services, direct access from some of the top cities in North America, Asia, and Europe, as well as its world-class hospitality venues and signature accommodations like Emirates Palace, The Ritz Carlton, Rosewood and the St Regis, contribute to strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position as a top destination for hosting business events.
Sterling Holiday Resorts, one of India’s leading experiential holiday brands recently launched Sterling Discoveries & Experiences Impressions (D&E Impressions) at Sterling Fern Hill, Ooty.
The Indian consumer, especially the Millennial are increasingly looking for experiential travel, with immersive and authentic experiences at a particular destination during his holiday, rather than opting for a conventional stay at a hotel. In line with this rapidly growing trend, over the last two years, Sterling has been delivering Sterling Discoveries & Experiences (Sterling D&E) a customer-obsessed approach to provide the customer with memorable and unique experiences on each holiday, both within the resort and in the destination. These Discoveries & Experiences highlight the local arts, culture, heritage, cuisine, flora and fauna, making every holiday memorable.
Sterling D&E Impressions is Sterling’s effort to represent Ooty and the local region within the resort, through a collection of unique custom-made installations and artefacts, inspired by the rich and diverse culture of Ooty, intertwined with the picturesque offerings of the destination and the special characteristics that make Ooty the “queen of the Nilgiris.”
Sterling D&E Impressions is a collaborative co-creation by Sterling and “National Institute of Fashion Technology” (NIFT) in Chennai. Using local artisans and sculptors and inspired by the tribes and the quintessential flora and fauna of Ooty, these installations have been recreated with intricate detail.
These have been expressed on multi-media formats: wood, stone, metal, POP and designed to excite all the five senses. D&E Impressions include — an immersive Toda Tribe experience wherein vacationers can visit a life-size traditional Toda hut and try to impress their spouses by lifting the traditional Marriage Stone of the Toda tribe. Sculptures of Kota tribes inspired by actual Kota models - a popular selfie point; the UNESCO heritage Nilgiri Railway track; a delightful representation of Ooty’s local flower ‘Dandelion’ in 3D art form; the Tribal Artefact Wall that truly represents the rich culture and history of Ooty that is fast going extinct, the Wheel of Nostalgia for glimpses of the Nilgiris from 300 BC to the 19th Century, a delightful Animal Footpath where children can step on tiles to hear the genuine calls of the birds and animals of Ooty… make it a truly an immersive and memorable experience.
Ramesh Ramanathan, CMD, Sterling Holidays said, “Sterling has consistently focused on delivering “Discoveries & Experiences” to our valued guests. These highlight the local culture, cuisine, flora, fauna and folklore of the destination. Through these, guests get an authentic feel of the destination as part of their holiday and make everlasting memories back home. D&E Impressions will help us to establish our brand promise of ‘Holiday Differently ’, thus creating a differentiated position and image in the industry through our unique hospitality offerings. Our D&E Impressions initiative is a first-of-its-kind in India and very soon, we will have an array of such local experiences created and curated across our other properties too. ”
In an aggressive bid to make deeper inroads in Europe, Kerala Tourism conducted a string of high-energy road shows by participating in World Travel Market (WTM) London 2019 in November and showcasing its formidable eyeball-grabbing products in the emerging markets of Scandinavian countries Denmark and Finland.
Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran led a high-profile official delegation, comprising prominent trade partners like hoteliers, resort owners, tour operators and service providers from the state, to WTM London and roadshows in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Helsinki (Finland).
At WTM London, Kerala Tourism set up a spectacular pavilion over 120 sq.mt area with the theme of ‘Human by Nature’, its latest innovative marketing campaign that creates a beautiful symmetry between the state’s people and nature’s beauty. The three-minute destination campaign film, part of a marketing blitzkrieg to refurbish Kerala’s touristy appeal beyond the Indian shores, triggered huge interest among the Londoners.
A large number of meetings were scheduled with various stakeholders like tour operators, leading travel publications and Outbound Tour Operators at the London pavilion. Alongside, the delegation held B2B meetings with the trade partners from Kerala.
Bala Kiran was also invited as an eminent speaker at the WTM Inspiration Zone panel discussion, where he presented the various initiatives of Kerala Tourism that enabled it to bounce back from the devastating floods within just six months.
Kadakampally Surendran, Tourism Minister, Govt. of Kerala said, “These roadshows will strengthen the credentials of Kerala as a renowned destination in the product catalogue of London-based operators.”
The minister noted that it would also help the state get a firm toehold in the Scandinavian region, which is a key travel source market in Europe. “It has a mature outbound-travel market, comprising those with a high propensity to travel and some of the highest per capita incomes in Europe. Roadshows at Copenhagen and Helsinki will help us to tap Denmark and Finland market where citizens enjoy high standards of living and high disposable incomes.”
Incidentally, the UK ranks number one among the markets for Kerala in terms of tourist arrivals with 201,258 visitors coming to the state in 2018.
Rani George, Tourism Secretary, Govt. of Kerala said, “It has been our conscious strategy to hold roadshows not only in our traditional strongholds like the UK but also in the new and emerging markets to drive up the tourist footfalls. It will help us present the heritage and traditions of Kerala to a wider number of travellers.”
Kiran said the roadshows had given an opportunity to Kerala to display an array of new tourism products and untapped destinations in the state. “Western Europe is our main market but we are expanding to Eastern Europe and Scandinavian countries also.”
At the roadshow in Helsinki, the Tourism Director made a presentation before the traders from Finland, providing the Kerala trade partners a chance to interact with the tour operators and travel publications of that country. Mr. Nirmal Kumar Chawdhary, First Secretary/Head of Chancery, Embassy of India, Finland attended the event as the chief guest.
The roadshow in Copenhagen was attended by Indian Ambassador to Denmark Mr. Ajit Gupte as the chief guest. Air India was the airline partner of the event.
Both the roadshows concluded with the ‘Go Kerala’ contest. The winners were awarded the ‘Go Kerala Certificate’ in which they can avail an 8 day-long holiday in Kerala. Finland is an emerging market for Kerala with a tourist arrival of 2,488 in 2018. Denmark is also an emerging market for the state with 7,851 tourists from that country visiting the state in 2018.
Roadshows were also held in Warsaw (Poland) and Budapest (Hungary) last month.
Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC), a tourism arm of Indian Railways, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) to market and operate the Golden Chariot Train in New Delhi in the august presence of Minister of State of Railways, Suresh C Angadi, and Minister of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, CT Ravi. Chairman, Railway Board, Vinod Kumar Yadav, other Railway Board Members, Officials from IRCTC & KSTDC were also present on the occasion.
Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) will soon hand over the reins of the train to IRCTC. IRCTC is planning a revamp of the train itineraries also to add different flavours that Karnataka has to offer. The new itineraries shall be a mix of history, culture, wildlife and nature. It is proposed to include Bandipur, Mysore, Halebid, Chikmagalur, Hampi, Bijapur and Goa in the itinerary. IRCTC is expected to carry out internal refurbishment of the train and commence operations from March 2020.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State of Railways, Suresh C. Angadi said that this MoU is an important step towards the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s vision to promote tourism in India and his clarion call to the countrymen to visit at least five tourism spots in the country. Angadi directed the IRCTC and KSDTC to keep the price of the tickets competitive so that the common people can also avail the facility of this train. He added that this train will boost the tourism in Southern India. The Minister wished grand success to this project.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, CT Ravi said that Government of Karnataka and KSTDC have been operating and maintaining Golden Chariot since its inception in 2008 and it is the first and only luxury train in the whole South India. The Golden Chariot showcases the rich culture and heritage of the region. He said that MoU between IRCTC & KSTDC will have mutual benefit for both the organisations and tourism will be strengthened through this partnership.
Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board expressed confidence that IRCTC and KSTDC will successfully operate and market the Golden Chariot for domestic and international tourists. He assured all cooperation and necessary support to this project.
The Golden Chariot train which commenced operations in 2008 is a Government of Karnataka initiative in a Joint Venture with Ministry of Railways, Government of India. The 18 coach long train with 44 guest rooms having a capacity of 84 guests, covers tourist attractions in the state of Karnataka and other south Indian states.
IRCTC, has the experience and expertise in operating wide ranging rail tourism products across the length of breadth of the country. It also operates the hugely popular Maharajas’ Express luxury train, which commenced operations in 2010.
Ileana D’Cruz, Brand Ambassador for Fiji Tourism launched the first edition of Tourism Fiji’s Luxury Resorts & Experiences Brochures. Titled as “Barefoot Luxury in Fiji”, the collection is meticulously curated, crafted and designed for the discerning luxury traveller. The collection comprises of two books ‘Island Bliss in Fiji’ and ‘Fiji Unplugged’. The former highlights some of Fiji’s most premium boutique resorts and finest luxury hotels, while the latter showcases a plethora of ‘must have’ experiences in Fiji, keeping in mind a palate of local flavours, culture and adventure at the Destination. The Brochure Set showcases some of the luxury stays and unique experiences and provides inspiration and information on luxury travel in Fiji.
Authored by Gustasp & Jeroo Irani, globally acclaimed for their travel writing, the duo has captured the culture, bespoke experiences and luxury destinations of Fiji.
“And who wouldn’t be happy in paradise? Happy bula greetings and laughter ripple across the emerald islands of this South Pacific archipelago, adrift in jewel-toned seas. Life is bliss, you soon discover, as you slip into island time”, said Ileana, as she read aloud from ‘Island Bliss in Fiji’, conjuring up visions of lazy turquoise seas and cocktail-coloured sunsets. Ileana herself has had a long-standing relation with Fiji, an archipelago of over 300 islands in the South Pacific, known for its tropical climate and amazing beaches. It is an endearing and an enduring relationship that has sustained over time and in her own words, “it is a country that feels like home.”
Kathy Koyamaibole, Regional Manager Asia, Tourism Fiji said, “We know today’s traveller prefers curated luxury experiences; bespoke vacations and itineraries that embrace luxury trips. These brochures showcase the beauty and luxury of Fiji’s experience, which we hope will inspire more Indian travellers to come and experience the destination.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Airbnb have announced a significant agreement to support the Olympic Movement through to 2028. The nine-year, five-Games partnership is designed to create a new standard for hosting that will be a win for host cities, a win for spectators and fans, and a win for athletes.
In line with the Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future, and Airbnb’s mission to promote sustainable travel, the agreement will support the sustainability objectives of the Olympic Movement. These joint efforts will be in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals to provide travel options that are economically empowering, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organisers and stakeholders, minimise the need for construction of new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games period, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities. Working together with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), we will work to increase accommodation that supports accessibility for people with disabilities or other accessibility needs.
Joe Gebbia, Co-founder, Airbnb said, “Airbnb and the IOC have a strong track record in creating and accommodating the world’s greatest events. Our Olympic partnership will ensure that the Games are the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable yet, and leave a lasting positive legacy for athletes and host communities. Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we are proud that the Olympic spirit will be carried by our community.”
Thomas Bach, President, IOC said, “This innovative partnership underpins our strategy to ensure that the efficient staging of the Olympic Games is sustainable and leaves a legacy for the host community. With Airbnb’s support, we will also develop new opportunities for athletes around the world to develop their own direct revenue streams through the promotion of physical activity and the Olympic values. From this partnership there will also be direct benefit for athletes beyond the US $5 billion the IOC is distributing during this Olympiad for their benefit to Organizing Committees and sports organization around the world.”
The partnership will generate hundreds of thousands of new hosts over nine years, giving community residents the opportunity to earn extra income by providing accommodation and local experiences to visiting fans, athletes and other members of the Olympic Movement. For visitors, the Airbnb community will offer a more local and authentic way to immerse themselves in the host cities and engage with local communities. For the cities themselves, the Airbnb community represents a more environmentally sustainable way of accommodating a surge in visitors.
The IOC and Airbnb will launch Airbnb Olympian Experiences to provide direct earning opportunities for athletes, underlining the IOC’s efforts to support athletes and put them at the heart of the Olympic Movement. To be launched in early 2020, this new category will bring Airbnb’s goal of providing economic empowerment through hosting to athletes across the globe – beyond the timeframe and geographical location of the Games. Promoting sport and physical activity, these experiences will include everything from the chance to train with an Olympian, to exploring a city with an elite athlete. In the coming months, Airbnb and the IOC, through the Athlete 365 platform, will provide support and training to athletes interested in becoming a host on the Airbnb Experiences platform.
In addition, the IOC will make at least US$ 28 million worth of Airbnb accommodation available over the course of the partnership to athletes competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games for competition and training related travel.
Kirsty Coventry, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, said, “On behalf of the Athlete’s Commission, I am delighted that our new global agreement with Airbnb will benefit the athletes directly. This includes direct revenue opportunities from sharing their passion for sport through new Airbnb Olympian Experiences, as well as direct support for their accommodation needs. We work to empower athletes around the world on and off the field of play, and this agreement is another example of how we are supporting and advocating for athletes throughout their career.”
Airbnb will also support the IOC in continuing to address the challenges faced by refugees around the world. The IOC has a long-standing commitment to refugees, including cooperation with UNHCR since 1994, the creation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, and the creation of the Olympic Refuge Foundation in 2017. Airbnb has been supporting refugee initiatives since 2015 through its “Open Homes” Programme, which connects generous hosts with those in need of temporary accommodation, including refugees. To date, more than 35,000 people have been housed in times of need. Over the course of the partnership, the IOC and Airbnb will establish further programs to provide long-term support to refugees.
Airbnb becomes the Worldwide Olympic Partner in the exclusive category of “Unique Accommodation Products and Unique Experiences Services.” Worldwide Olympic Partners support every National Olympic Committee and their teams, and every Organizer of the Olympic Games, as well as providing support for athletes and the development of sport at all levels around the world. In addition, Partners promote the Olympic values and help create memorable experiences for fans worldwide.
Jiri Kejval, IOC Marketing Commission Chair said, “Since it was founded in 2008, Airbnb has grown to become a global household name. This partnership supports the future sustainable operations of the Olympic Movement and demonstrates the ongoing appeal of the Olympic commercial programmes to the world’s leading brands.”
As a global Partner, Airbnb will now support the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022, the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris 2024, the Olympic Winter Games Milano-Cortina 2026, and the Olympic Games in Los Angeles 2028.
Emirates has signed a purchase agreement for 50 Airbus A350-900s, worth US$ 16 billion (AED 58.7 billion) at list prices. The deal replaces the heads of agreement signed in February where Emirates announced its intent to purchase 30 A350s and 40 A330neos. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the Airbus A350-900 has a range of up to 15,000 km that will enable Emirates to serve a range of new markets, not only in region but also on long-haul missions of up to 15 hours of flying time from Dubai.
Emirates intends to equip its A350s with its latest products, and offer different cabin configurations including Premium Economy. The agreement was signed at the Dubai Airshow 2019 by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer.
Faury said, “We are honoured by Emirates’ strong vote of confidence in our newest widebody aircraft, taking our partnership to the next level. The A350 will bring unbeatable economics and environmental benefits to their fleet. We look forward to seeing the A350 flying in Emirates colours!”
Emirates currently operates an all wide-body fleet comprising the iconic Airbus A380 and Boeing 777. From its hub in Dubai, the airline serves over 150 cities on six continents.
Al Maktoum said, “Today, we are pleased to sign a firm order for 50 A350 XWBs, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. This follows a thorough review of various aircraft options and of our own fleet plans. It is Emirates’ long-standing strategy to invest in modern and efficient aircraft, and we are confident in the performance of the A350 XWB. Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment. In effect, we are strengthening our business model to provide efficient and comfortable air transport services to, and through, our Dubai hub.”
On 15th November, ibis New Delhi Aerocity grooved to the music of Hari and Sukhmani as part of the ibis Music campaign in association with Sony Music. This initiative is one of the many elements of the larger brand transformation that has taken place over the past two years in India by Accor. The ibis brand has been reinventing its offerings globally and in India, this included the food & beverage offerings to enhance customer experience in a bid to create a greater emotional connection with its guests.
The brand started the transformation with the launch of ibism in 2018 across its hotels in India. A cultural movement that was inspired from the evolving needs of guests and employees, ibism was the first step in overhauling the brand by bringing a new heightened level of unique and personalised experiences for guests. Going the extra mile by placing people at the heart of everything to make them feel welcomed, heart-warmed and incredible. The movement included various quirky and personalised elements such as trendy and chic uniforms for its employees and changes in food & beverage offerings.
Earlier this year, ibis Music was launched with the aim to make ibis properties vibrant social hubs for increased interaction with the local community, from music hour to ibis music program in partnership with Sony Music. The finale event marked the conclusion of eight ibis music tour gigs that took place across India that gave new and upcoming artists a platform to showcase their talent. Music is an integral part of the experience and guests and locals have been swooning to the tunes of artists across its properties in Gurugram, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur and New Delhi.
Sylvain Laroche, Director of Operation ibis & ibis Styles India said, “ibis is one of the most recognised brands in the world. We are continuously listening to both our guests and employees to ensure we provide the best of experiences in stay, food, entertainment as well as the community around. ibis is more than just stay and everyone can dine, wine and we want our guests to feel welcome when they choose to stay at our hotels.”
One of the other most important transformations at ibis properties across India is the food and beverage offerings. Listening closely to guest’s feedback, the brand has evolved over the years with Spice It, its all-day dining multi-cuisine restaurant at all 19 properties. Serving local, authentic and international cuisines, Spice It features a range of delectable buffets and a-la-carte menu options and serves the longest breakfast in the country from 4am to 12pm. To further strengthen the community, KA.01, the first standalone spanking rooftop bar and eatery at ibis Bengaluru City Centre was launched earlier this year, as the neighbourhood friendly go-to evening hotspot for creating memories and experiences centred around great food, vibrant décor and a uniquely lively ambience.
Jean-Michel Cassé, Chief Operating Officer, Accor India & South Asia said, “As we move to become the global leaders in augmented hospitality, it is essential to listen and understand our guests. The ibis transformation and the initiatives created for the brand are the prime example of our roadmap to achieve this goal. ibis would not have been the most loved economy brand without our partners, especially our great association with InterGlobe Hotels (IGH), which has helped grow the brand in India.”
Launched earlier this year, Ibis Kolkota Rajarhat reflects many elements of the ibis transformation, from greater inclusion of local elements, colourful and vibrant exteriors and interiors, redesigned rooms with a snazzy lounge and bar experience to a modernized dining area. Globally, ibis has also undergone a three-pronged transformation offering new hotel designs and revamped dining options making comfort and quality a key offering in the brand transformation.
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