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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Easy Trip Planners has announced integration on WhatsApp messenger to book flight tickets. The integration will allow customers to book flight tickets at competitive rates for their desired destination through WhatsApp itself.

This association with WhatsApp is significant for EaseMyTrip to further develop its market in India in online air ticket bookings.

The collaboration is expected to bring about convenience to the customers, as they don’t even have to visit any website/app to book flight tickets; they just have to send a message on WhatsApp. Moreover customer will keep receiving price drop/increase alert on their WhatsApp related to the flight they searched. The EaseMyTrip bot will also provide users with suggestive dates when they can get relatively lower prices for the flight-route they enquire for.

Prashant Pitti, Whole-time Director, EaseMyTrip said, “As a part of our customer-centric approach, we have collaborated with Whatsapp-for-Business to come up with a technology solution in the form of EaseMyTrip Bot. This is especially convenient for customers who are on the move and short on time to explore multiple platforms in search of lowest fares & best deals.”

Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives has unveiled 40 brand-new overwater villas, further cementing its position as a leading five-star Maldivian resort, offering the discerning traveller the ultimate in luxury accommodation.

There are two overwater villa options available to guests; 12 facing the main island for the best sunrise views, and 28 sunset view villas with private pool. Positioned over a stunning turquoise lagoon, the new overwater villas offer both an elegant retreat and a unique experience. Guests can spot marine wildlife including reef sharks passing by from the privacy of their villa decks, and enjoy uninterrupted views of the ocean.

The interior design of the new villas has been carefully selected to complement the island surroundings, with accents of blue and tropical colours, along with Maldivian style soft furnishings and intricate wall art. The large bathroom is a spacious haven and glass-panes built into the floor allow guests to gaze upon the ocean below without leaving their villa.

Villas are equipped with all mod-cons and direct access to the water means guests can take a dip into the lagoon from their own private wooden sundeck. 24-hour butler service ensures guests’ needs are always met – from making restaurant reservations, to arranging snorkelling excursions and booking spa treatments.

Located on the north west lagoon of Kanifushi island, the overwater villas are set across two wooden walkways, interconnecting in the middle. The result is a stylish cross-over formation and provides the perfect place for guests to stroll along and enjoy the waves and beach nearby. 

A brand-new overwater restaurant, “PIER SIX,” has also been built on the new overwater peninsula, offering guests a range of cuisines, including an array of seafood and Japanese Teppanyaki grill options. “Pier 6” has been designed in the shape of a native Manta Ray, and features high ceilings and blue marble walls, with indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate up to 60 guests.

Venkata Giri, Chief Operating Officer, Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts said, “Perfect for those after a unique villa experience and the chance to be close to the ocean, we have developed the new overwater villas at Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives specifically to offer guests a wider choice of accommodation options. We are committed to growing and developing the resort to reflect the needs and desires of our customers and we’re confident the overwater villas will give guests an experience they will never forget.”

The trade and tourism industries across the east of England are set to receive a major boost next month as Air India launches a new flight from Stansted. The national carrier will fly direct to Mumbai for the first time. The route will be a first for the airport and comes just three months after the airline launched the only direct flights from London to the northern city of Amritsar, the carrier’s inaugural route from the airport.

The new three-times a week service begins on February 21, initially for the winter season and will be operated by a 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Ken O’Toole, Chief Executive, London Stansted said, “With London Stansted sitting in one of the most vibrant, exciting and innovative regions in the UK, it should come as no surprise that Air India has decided to launch this new service to one of the world’s most important economic hubs. This new route is further evidence of the growing demand from businesses and passengers across the region for more long-haul connections from their local airport. We know that 200,000 people from our region travel to Mumbai every year from other airports, so this new service will not only provide greater choice but help cut down unnecessary journeys and provide a shot in the arm to the regional and national economies.”

He further added, “As a forward-thinking and innovative airport, we have the ambition and runway capacity to open up even more exciting destinations across Asia, the Middle East and beyond to satisfy rising demand, provide greater choice for consumers and provide a vital boost to jobs and the local economy over the coming years.”

Alliance Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India is all set to commence daily direct flight operations from Kolkata to Jharsuguda and back from 27 January 2020.This is an RCS route under the UDAN scheme of Government of India. The airline will deploy its 70 seater ATR 72 600 aircraft on this sector.

Jharsuguda is popularly known as "Powerhouse of Odisha" due to a large number of thermal power plants and metallurgical industries. The option of swift air travel will give a major boost to the trade & business fraternity as well.

All inclusive one way fares Kolkata Jharsuguda and vice versa starting at INR2758/-only.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board (MPTB) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MakeMyTrip (MMT) to promote tourism for both domestic and international travellers in Madhya Pradesh with a common motive to develop quality supply of Homestays in the state. The partnership is aimed at giving a boost to homestays available for travellers visiting the state.

In order to promote domestic tourism, MakeMyTrip plans to tap less-explored but high potential destinations in the state, along with native businesses aiming to elevate the local economy through homestays. All such properties in the area shall be listed under MakeMyTrip’s Alternative Accommodations category to promote the experience of rural way of life for travellers.

Commenting on this announcement, Manoj Kumar Singh, Director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Board said, “We are delighted to partner with MakeMyTrip that has transformed travel and tourism landscape in India. This partnership is aimed to attract both domestic and international travellers and make them experience culture, nature and hospitality that Madhya Pradesh has to offer. The partnership not only provides a fillip to rural economy but will also help boost tourism in a big way.”

Speaking about the partnership, Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, MakeMyTrip said, “We are honoured to join hands with the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board to meaningfully promote homestays in a state that has immense tourism potential. We have seen growing number of people seeking travel experience in authentic surroundings and they are choosing homestays as their preferred accommodation option. With rich heritage, culture and beautiful wildlife, Madhya Pradesh is one of the most promising domestic destinations in India and we look forward to promoting micro-entrepreneurs who are opening their homes to boost tourism in the state.

Homestays opened and promoted under this agreement will conform strictly to high quality standards. Both MakeMyTrip and Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board will conduct training sessions and workshops on ‘hosting standards and best practices’ and other operational aspects for current or potential hosts of homestay facilities and unique properties in Madhya Pradesh.

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.

 

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