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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

Goa witnessed a modest growth in 2018. The state welcomed 8.01 million tourists (0.93 mn overseas) in 2018 as compared to 7.78 million tourists (0.89 mn overseas) in 2017. The destination is on a mission to increase the inbound traffic and touch one million in 2019.

However, Goa’s travel and tourism industry questions these numbers and urges the government to have a better mechanism in place. Savio Messias, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), feels that these numbers may be misleading as currently these figures also include the VFR and NRI segment who are not tourists. “There is no way we can accept these figures reported by the tourism board as there is no proper study conducted. We need to do a systematic study of over a period of at least three months of all routes like railways, roads, airlines and see what the footfall is. We have to separate tourists from the VFR and business travellers. We need Government support to do this study,” Messias said.

Goa has witnessed de-growth in the charter business over the last couple of years. In 2016-17, the destination welcomed 988 charter flights with 232,679 arrivals, which in 2017-2018, was stagnant with 981 flights with 247,365 tourists. In 2018- 2019, the destination has drawn only 813 charters with 218,776 travellers.

“Currently the only accurate figures we have are of the charters. The charters have been declining in the recent years. Government needs to give some incentives to charters. Our Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka compensate for every unsold seat, some countries subsidise the visa cost, airport tax or offers reduction in landing rates, etc. Charter companies need such incentives to survive. Furthermore, the Thomas Cook UK closure is a big blow for us in terms of the charter business,” Messias added.

Today, the travel and tourism industry in India is majorly driven by the domestic tourism. Messias sees a need for a mix of both domestic and inbound tourists for tourism to sustain in Goa. “Domestic market is doing very well, but we need inbound tourists. We cannot deny the fact that domestic tourists started coming only due to the foreign tourists. We need a mix of both to sustain our tourism. Government has to take some control on the domestic front to further boost arrivals. I feel that domestic tourism is somewhat driving away the international footfall who come to Goa just to relax and unwind,” he further added.

The hospitality industry in the state has also witnessed stagnation in Average Room Rate (ARR) in last couple of years. In Goa, the branded chains and upscale hotels have witnessed growth due to MICE and weddings business. But overall there has been a slowdown.

 “The real estate in Goa is a booming sector and a lot of people have invested in villas and big houses. Today, they are renting these villas through aggregators and disruptors, which in a way is threat to the industry. The ARR has gone down in the lower segment hotels; the upper segment has been stable as they are more focused into MICE and weddings,” he informed.

As a new offering in their product portfolio, Goa has started promoting medical tourism to the state. The state has been successful in promoting its wellness tourism over the years. “We have been talking about medical tourism, but it won’t happen for many years. We first need to improve our infrastructure. The kind of hospital, services and facilities must be upgraded. Goa can be a very good destination for wellness tourism. But, for medical tourism, we have strong competition like Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka in our neighbourhood,” he opined. 

Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC), which opened its office in India last year, has witnessed a growth of 20 per cent in 2018. The destination has witnessed a slight dip in arrivals in 2019, but looks to achieve its numbers by the year end. With a large Indian expat population, Qatar has been a popular destination amongst the VFR segment.

“India is a key source market for us, and our commitment to the market is evidenced by the opening last year of a dedicated office to tailor our offerings to this market. Visitor numbers in 2018 grew by 20 per cent from the year before, while 2019 has seen a dip. We are also home to a large expat population from India, so we have existing ties which we continue to nourish. Qatar and India have historical ties as well. The Indian market thus remains important for Qatar, and short travel times as well as a host of offerings in hospitality, retail and beyond, aligned with Indian visitors’ preferences,” Rashed AlQurese, Chief Marketing & Promotion Officer, QNTC, said.

With an increase in awareness about the destination in India, Qatar is now looking to tap the luxury travellers segment from India. Qatar also is home to some of the finest MICE venues in the region, and is now keen to target Indian MICE.

AlQurese added, “Historically, most Indian visitors to Qatar have been visiting friends and relatives. When we opened our office, our intent was to expand this segment apart from growing the FIT and leisure visitor segments. In particular, we target those seeking to experience Qatar’s luxury hospitality and unique cultural offerings. We work closely with Indian event planners and business events professionals to build awareness of Qatar’s growing portfolio of cultural, hospitality and MICE products and services for both business and leisure travellers. With 128 properties in the luxury and affordable luxury space, and visa free entry for Indian citizens, we are witnessing increasing interest from Indian planners looking for a novel destination to host their events.”

Also in the recent years, Indians are looking for unique destinations to tie nuptial knots; Qatar has been one of the new destinations in this segment. “We have seen great interest in Qatar as a wedding destination. A couple looking to tie the knot in magnificent ballrooms or against a backdrop of manicured vistas will find whatever they want in Qatar’s hassle-free locations which regularly cater to clients who have an appetite for modern luxury, grand entertainment and mouth-watering delights,” he added.

The year 2019 has been the Qatar-India Year of Culture, and throughout the year, Qatar hosted several cultural events. There was an AR Rahman concert, followed by a summer-time Bollywood musical show as well as the South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) and numerous exhibits featuring Indian artefacts and artists.

Speaking about the new products for India market AlQurese said, “Some of the major projects that were opened this year are the National Museum of Qatar, Doha Metro and a revamped Doha Port that will serve as a waterfront tourist hub. New hotels, attractions, and experiences are under development, making the country an increasingly attractive destination for visitors of all stripes – whether stopover, weekend trips, or long-stay visitors.”

One of the biggest events for the destination is the upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2022. The destination is gearing up and opening new football stadiums and hotels to cater to the global football fans.

Speaking about promotional campaigns for FIFA World Cup 2022, he said, “The previous FIFA World Cups have yielded an average of one million visitors in the host countries, and we are expecting similar numbers. Naturally, there will be promotional campaigns globally, as it is the first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East, and will coincide with the winter holidays. Qatar is also the most compact destination to host the World Cup, with fans being able to access multiple matches in a single day. We expect all these factors will help make this an attractive World Cup for everyone around the region to attend.”

To further make travel seamless, Qatar has opened its visa-free services for 80 countries, including India. “Qatar’s strategic location makes it easily accessible. Qatar’s visa waiver system, which allows citizens of more than 80 nationalities to enter Qatar visa-free, makes the country the most open in the region. Qatar Airways has 102 direct flights connecting 13 major cities in India to Doha to every week, making it easier than ever to travel between the two countries. An additional 100 flights per week connect Qatar and India via the Indian carriers; IndiGo and Air India.”

Travel trade has been a key driver for the tourism growth from India to Qatar. The destination is organising a series of engagement programmes to further connect with the travel trade segment.

“We have a comprehensive engagement plan, with roadshows and FAM trips to raise awareness among the Indian travel trade, along with many initiatives directed at consumer engagement. We also work closely with the Indian media, bloggers and influencers to showcase various facets of our tourism offering and promote the destination through various platforms to drive consumer conversion. Our office in India is responsible for a wide range of promotional initiatives, including workshops, sales visits, travel agent destination training through QNTC’s online Tawash programme,” he added.

Mahesh Iyer, Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Cook India clears misconception, and speaks about the growth and challenges

 

Promoted by Fairfax Company, Thomas Cook India which has been a separate entity since 2012 has faced heat during the recent downfall of Thomas Cook Plc. However, the group has faced negligible impact during this season.

There has been a negative sentiment in the industry about Thomas Cook India post the collapse of Thomas Cook Plc. How has it impacted Thomas Cook India? What is the current financial position of Thomas Cook India?

Thomas Cook India has got no correlation with Thomas Cook Plc., the company which went to the liquidators on September 21, 2019. We are an independent company since 2012 when Fairfax acquired us. They took a 77 per cent stake in us and continue to be our primary promoter. The only similarity which we have is the sharing of the name ‘Thomas Cook’, which is governed by the Brand Licence Agreement which allows us for the usage till November 2024. We have the luxury of using the brand name at our own will and peril till 2024.

We are a profit making group and we continue to make a profit of over Rs. 100 crore ever year. We generate more than Rs. 250 crore free cash every year. We hardly have any debts in the book. Our cash position as of 30th June was in excess of Rs.1390 crore. We are doing business as usual. We launched our summer products a bit late due to the noise of the Thomas Cook Plc closure in the market. We are quite buoyant about the coming season and stepping into 2020 we see growth.

Fosun has recently acquired the brands of Thomas Cook in perpetuity for close to £11 million, which exclude brands in India, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius as we have the brand licence. We have the first right of refusal when the brand is put up for sale.

Are you planning to unveil a new brand name, as being a different entity the existing brand name can be damaging?

We always had a plan in place to come out with a new brand in our strategy. We were preparing for a transition. Thomas Cook was a well established brand and we wanted to build on that. Also, the customer preferences have been changing over the years and we were toying with the plan of creating a much vibrant, young looking brand. But, what happened to Thomas Cook Plc. got us to think about how to place that game. We have not gone to say that we would change the brand name; we have four to five years to think about it. A little bit of customer confidence has shaken in the market, but Thomas Cook is a 200 year old brand and we would like to milk the brand to our benefit, nothing has gone wrong with the brand. We are paying a small sum of money as royalty fee to use the brand name. There is good brand equity available with us and we would like to use that as much as we can before we come up with new brand.

As Fosun has taken over Thomas Cook Plc. they are very clear about not using the brand name, so I feel the problem has been contained to an extent. We are not worrying as of now. We have some more legroom to plan. We were supposed to unleash the new brand somewhere in mid 2020. Any brand migration is a bit expensive and risky, so we need to weigh our decisions.

Recently, two big names i.e. Thomas Cook Plc. And Cox & Kings have gone down, how is the travel business in general? Do you see a strong negative sentiment in the market?

I think it’s a double edge sword, on one side it bring an issue of trust in the industry.  There are negative sentiments, markets are not doing well. Secondly, there were two large brands Thomas Cook UK and C&K, both going under, clearly it kind of puts a question on trust. For, Thomas Cook India, nothing has changed as our partners understand who we are. In the B2C space, we are spreading awareness and letting know consumers who we are and what are we doing. We haven’t seen impact in B2B space, as customers know us very well. In the consumer space, the week immediately preceding the collapse of Thomas Cook UK, did show slowness in demand. I would be a bit sceptical in attributing this slowdown only to the downfall of Thomas Cook UK as there were multiple factors in economy which are also responsible.

But there is a big opportunity I see; now there are only two to three national players in the space, SOTC and Thomas Cook are amongst them. We can now raise the bar in terms product offerings, reducing the discount and increasing the yields of business that we operate. The trust issue is temporary and short lived.

In the current market scenario, do you see an increase in market share or is the business going to smaller players and fragmented segment?

The organised market represents less than five per cent of the overall outbound travel from India, close to 95 per cent of the business is under the unorganised segment including OTAs and other space. In this five per cent space, we can fight for business, but the actual opportunity is that 95 per cent. The cream lies in that space. The slowdown we see and talk is always in this five per cent. As an industry if we work towards growing from five to six per cent, still there is a huge legroom for everyone to grow. There is space and business for everyone to coexist and grow.

India will need 2,380 new commercial airplanes, valued at US$330 billion, to handle the growing demand for air travel over the next 20 years, as per Boeing’s annual India Commercial Market Outlook (CMO).

Speaking about the India market, Darren Hulst, Deputy Vice President, Commercial Marketing, The Boeing Company, said, “India will be amongst the world leaders in aviation sector in the coming years. Over 200 million households will be above US$ 20,000 income by 2035; this rise in middle class is the key for growth. Indian economy will grow by five times in next 30 years and by 2045, India will be the third largest economy. Over 9.2 per cent of Indian GDP is driven by the travel and tourism segment. India is the fastest growing aviation market with a delivery demand of 2,380 aircrafts and a traffic demand of close to eight per cent.”

Globally, aviation sector has maintained a steady growth and Asia has been the centre of growth. Overall, airlines will need 44,000 new aircrafts in the next 20 years with 32,420 single aisle; 2,240 regular jets and 1,040 freighters. Last year, the global fleet size was 28,830 which will almost double in 2028 at 50,660, with half of the aircrafts being used for growth, and rest to replace the existing fleet.

“20 years ago, the concentration of flights was in the North America and Western Europe. Today, Asia market has evolved drastically. Last year, the size has doubled to 110,000 flights per day in Asia. Today, around 12 million passengers board an aircraft every day. In 1988, 1.1 billion passengers travelled by air, in 2019 this number has grown to 2.6 billion. Almost 300 million passengers are added each year. Aviation adds US$ 2.7 trillion to the global economy, supports 65.5 million jobs and 3.6 per cent of the global GDP. The aviation market is resilient, sustainable and productive. Despite global slowdown and slow growth, aviation has grown strongly,” Hulst added.

In India, Boeing serves to Spice Jet, Air India, Vistara, and Jet Airways. Out of the demand of 2,380 planes, the Indian fleet basically consists of large requirement for further growth. Close to 79 per cent of the fleet is for growth and expansion and 20 per cent is for replacement.

Speaking about Jet Airways being grounded and further confirmed orders, Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India said, “Current confirmed orders from India market is for 205, B737 Max aircrafts and six B787-9 aircrafts. Jet Airways going down is a big loss as it was a very important customer for us. But as of now, all our contractual agreements with Jet Airways remain in place. India is the biggest investment for Boeing outside USA in the future. We are committed to the India market and the investment in the eco-system will be continuous.”

One of the interesting insight and a big opportunity to the Indian aviation industry is that currently India serves to only 35 per cent of the overall outbound capacities from India. “Indian carriers are in a very unique place for future. Out of the overall outbound traffic from India, only 35 per cent capacities are served by Indian carriers. Also on the India-Europe routes, only 37 per cent of the traffic is served by Indian carriers, rest of the business is done by foreign carriers. Hence, there is a huge scope and opportunity for the Indian carriers,” Hulst revealed.

Also, the domestic market has tripled in last 10 years and has almost doubled in last four years. In India, the airports served in 2008 were 81 which have grown by 37 per cent in 2018 with a total of 111 airports served.

Maharashtra is set to strengthen tourism infrastructure in the state to further boost numbers. In 2019-20, the state has received a budget of Rs 188 crore to develop the infrastructure and add new tourist amenities.

Speaking about the development, Dilip Gawade, Director, Directorate of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, said, “In terms of infrastructure development, for the year 2019-20, we have got a budget of Rs. 188 Crore under the regional tourism scheme. We are now processing and strengthening infrastructure, water supply, roads and other necessary amenities in the state.”

Maharashtra Tourism recently hosted a roadshow in Kolkata, to showcase their new flexible packages designed and tailored by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, including their resorts. The state is now looking to enhance their visibility in the domestic market by expanding their outreach by connecting with travel and trade industry across the country.

“We recently organised a roadshow in Kolkata to showcase our product offerings. As a part of our continuous endeavour to promote tourism in the state, we are inviting our brothers and sisters from the East to come and visit the state and be a part of the magnificent experience that the region will offer. Going forward, we will look to organise roadshows in New Delhi and Chennai,” Gawade added.

Maharashtra Tourism has been majorly showcasing tourism sectors like wildlife, beaches, heritage and religious tourism, along with niche sectors like wine tourism which are popular with international tourists.

On the product offerings, he further said, “In Maharashtra, we are looking to promote a variety of region and products. In Vidarbha, Tadoba and Pench, tiger tourism will be our major priority to promote aggressively. We are promoting scuba diving and beaches in the Konkan region. Sahyadri is another region which we have been promoting extensively. We are also looking to popularise our trekking trails such as Kalsubai Peak. Maharashtra has a unique diversity of landscape. We have one of the oldest Crater Lake, Lonar, which is yet to be explored by global travellers. We are now keen on attracting travellers to the Buddhist circuit.”

Also in a recent bid to develop Maharashtra as a world class destination, the newly appointed Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently advised the Tourism Department to draft a proposal for developing a high-end aquarium in Mumbai. The CM also stated that Mumbai is now attracting several foreign dignitaries and investors, and therefore, tourist places in Mumbai needs to be developed, for which a separate action plan needs to be put into place.

The CM also has discussed various tourism concepts, such as sea tourism, night safari in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and flamingo tourism. Since Mumbai is surrounded by sea, the minister is majorly focussing on water based tourism activities, which will be implemented in phases. Moreover, existing caves, such as the Mahakali Caves, Kanheri Caves, and Elephanta Caves etc., will also be developed.

The island of Taiwan has witnessed a 5.5 per cent growth from India in the first half of the year. Last year the destination welcomed 40,000 Indian travelers from across all segments. Taiwan is now aggressively focusing on the incentive market for growth.

Speaking about the current growth, Trust Lin, Director, Taiwan Tourism Bureau - Singapore office, said, “India is not only a potential FIT market for us, but it is an important market in terms of incentive. In the first quarter, we welcomed a big group from India from Hyundai and in second quarter we welcomed the Asus Group. We had more than 20 per cent growth in Q1 2019. But, due to the changing scenario Q2 went flat. We have a 5.5 per cent growth overall in first half of the year. Our target is to grow by 20 per cent by 2020.”

The Bureau recently launched various promotions in India with a major one being the Mumbai Metro branding. In 2020, Taiwan is looking to partner with OTAs and also promote the destination digitally.

“We have an office in Mumbai and we did a lot of promotions here. We have also signed a new PR agency dedicated to look at the incentive groups. For the first time, we branded Metros and this helped us in increasing awareness about the destination. We will do more such campaign this year. In 2020, we will be more focused on airline partnership and internet marketing. We will partner with OTAs, conduct webinars and social media promotions, etc. Currently we have only non-stop service from Delhi with two to three flights a week. This is not sufficient as India is so big with a lot of cities. We have partnership with Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airline to use their air services and also one can travel to twin cities,” he added.

Taiwan is looking to partner with MakeMyTrip and other OTAs to promote the destination. The Bureau will also strengthen its partnership with Singapore Airlines, as connectivity between India and Taiwan is a challenge.

Explaining the current scenario, Lin said, “Visitor from Hong Kong to Taiwan is decreasing. Our international visitor has increased, but for India market a lot of them fly with Cathay Pacific and fly to Hong Kong and then Taiwan. From Jan to Aug, we did only 5.5 per cent growth. We are now also focusing a lot on our partnership with Singapore Airlines to boost traffic. We are more focused on family and incentive and we are now working closely with OTAs to tap the FIT segment. We are looking to partner with MakeMyTrip and other OTAs. This year we are focused on cruise, honeymooner, Bleisure, women tours.”

In 2018, Taiwan welcomed over 11 million travelers from across the globe. The top markets are China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and USA.

Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Cotai Central and The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central, both part of the Marriott International group, have tapped the India market for over the last couple of years. The properties have now witnessed a growth of around 50 per cent in the MICE movements from India. Incentive has emerged as a major segment for the properties.

Speaking about the growth, Daniella Tonetto, General Manager of Sales & Marketing, said, “We have seen a significant increase of around 50 per cent in MICE from India market. Last year, we have received large MICE movements from India. The future enquiries also are very strong. We have introduced value packages with ferry tickets and dining options to further boost this market. We have seen incentive groups coming from the IT, automobile, consumer and banking sectors.”

Both properties together offer 4,400 keys and have been doing an occupancy rate of over 90 per cent round the year. “We get a fairly good amount of share of Indian travellers in Macao. We are a well known brand globally and when it comes to conference and MICE, we have established ourselves as top properties. We have a very different business model for both St. Regis and Sheraton Macao, both are very different in nature and we have been successful in maintaining the essence of both the brands. We do have well aware travellers asking for St. Regis. We have been delivering consistent service standards. Both the properties do well above 90 per cent occupancy throughout the year,” Saurabh Bakshi, General Manager of Operations, revealed.  

After making a mark on the Indian MICE and incentive markets, both properties are now looking to tap the Indian weddings aggressively. These properties boasts of its special team of Indian chefs who can cater to any region in India.

 “Wedding is a very special segment for both the properties. The major advantage to tap Indian weddings is that travellers doesn’t not require visa and also a big advantage is the new bridge which has made the connectivity easier than ever.  Conference, incentive, and weddings is a big business for us from India. We offer excellent infrastructure with a combined banqueting space of over 150,000 sqm. Our hotels are tailor made for business travellers and we provide excellent flexibility. We can cater anywhere from 10 to 3000 people. Also we have a team of Indian chefs who can cater to various regional cuisines from India,” Bakshi added.

This year Macao Special Administrative Region celebrates its 20th anniversary and the destination has already announced a line-up of events for the celebration. The properties will also be a part of the celebration and will offer various activities and shopping opportunities.

“This year Macao celebrates its 20th anniversary and we have big celebrations all around the destination. We will also have a grand celebration with a lot of offers on shopping, kid’s activities, etc and this will continue till the Chinese New Year,” Tonetto added. 

Goa, a popular destination amongst both international and domestic travelers, has witnessed a modest growth in 2018. The destination welcomed 8.01 million tourists (0.93 mn overseas) in 2018 as compared to 7.78 million tourists (0.89 mn overseas) in 2017. The destination is eyeing to receive one million overseas tourists this year. Goa recently organized the third edition of Goa International Travel Mart in order to further develop the tourism sector of the state. During the three days of the show, the stakeholders of the tourism industry in Goa discussed the future roadmap of the sector, infrastructure and various new avenues to be established in the coming years.

Speaking about the plans to develop the tourism in Goa, Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister, Government of Goa said, As a state, we are extremely focused to develop our tourism segment as it is a major part of our GDP. With social harmony and cultural diversity, Goa has a lot of experiences to offer for travelers from across the globe. In 2022, we are coming up with a new airport in Mopa which will further boost connectivity to the state. We are also very well connected by road and rail to all the major cities of India. When it comes to cruise tourism, we welcomed around 45,000 cruise travelers in 2018. One of the key challenges earlier was the local transportation, now we have solved this issue by using technology and launching the Goa Miles app. We are coming up with a new convention centre in Dona Paula. The convention centre will have a capacity of around 5,000 pax and the work has already begun.”

The state is now also focusing to improve its safety and security by sensitizing the authorities. Also, Goa is organizing cleanliness drives to clean the popular beaches and also the heritage structures. “Our Government’s main priority is safety, security and happiness. We have already tightened the safety and security in the state and want to further boost the guest satisfaction. We have also sensitized the police force and have tourist police across the state; we have also deployed adequate lifeguards for the protection of travelers. To further maintain the cleanliness, we are doing scientific beach cleaning and are also striving to preserve our heritage,” the Chief Minister informed.

While these are very positive steps, the recent closure of the Thomas Cook UK has majorly impacted the tourism industry in Goa. Over the years, Goa was thronged by foreign tourist and Thomas Cook UK was one of the companies with scheduled charters used to get a lot of traffic to the coastal state. Now, the state is looking at other alternatives.

Speaking about the emerging scenario, Savio Mesias, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) said, “For the Indian travel and tourism industry, the last five years was not very exciting, but not bad as well. Government has addressed a lot of challenges and bottlenecks including GST, Visa fees, e-visa, which is good for the industry. In Goa, we have been impacted by the closure of Thomas Cook UK, as UK was one of our major markets. With the help of the Government, we have ensured that now TUI Charter aircrafts will get permission for landing. With 24 aircrafts flying 7200 travellers, TUI will fill the void of Thomas Cook for us. We have focused on promoting our culture and heritage which has a very limited appeal. We need to create and develop more products to attract more travelers to the state.”

To further enhance its bouquet of offerings, Goa is now looking to aggressively tap Health and Wellness segment. The state has already started promoting Goa beyond its beaches.

J Ashok Kumar, Secretary-Tourism, Government of Goa said, “In terms of offerings we have a lot beyond mere sun, sand and beaches in Goa. In the last few years, we have diversified our products. We have been recently awarded as the best state for adventure tourism by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. We are now very keen to promote our hinterlands, health and wellness, and culture and heritage tourism.”

Club Med, one of the pioneers of the Premium All-Inclusive holiday concept has witnessed steady growth from India market. The group has seen a five to seven per cent growth from India and is expecting a positive year.

Speaking about the growth from India market Manoj Upadhyay, Business Development Manager- India, Club Med said, “Looking into the market perspective and the changes that have been happening in the travel industry, for the high value products, we have not seen a significant growth. We have managed a steady growth in the last couple of years from the India market. We saw a bit of spur in the early 2019, we hope to see further growth this year. We saw a trend of late bookings happening this year due to the elections. We hope to see a positive trend in the coming six months from the India market. There has been a five to seven per cent growth from India last year.”

The concept of all inclusive holidays was earlier not popular in the India market. The group has seen some success in spreading the awareness about the concept with various strategies.

Upadhyay added, “India market has now started understanding the concept of all inclusive travel. It depends from destination to destination; in certain destinations people are not using the all inclusive concept. In such market we have a different strategy to promote shorter stay with Club Med. For example, if some travellers are going for a six night itinerary to Bali, let them explore the culture and heritage in the destination and then come and stay for two nights with Club Med and experience the product. Our purpose of pushing this product in Indian market is as an experiential product, where a traveller can see multicultural and hassle-free holiday. Also, travellers can seek value for money with our product.”

Club Med has over 80 resorts around the globe. All the resorts are divided into Golf resorts, Beach resorts and Ski resorts. The destination is now promoting the ski resorts in India market.  

Speaking about the segment Upadhyay said, “We are also focusing on promoting skiing holidays in India. Club Med as a brand are pioneers when it comes to the skiing holiday segment. It is a very new concept for Indians. As of now we have very little numbers from India, but from an organisational perspective it is our strategy to promote this segment in India market. We will come out with regular e-flyers during the winter season to push various packages. As of now we are promoting our products in Metro cities and also highly potential tier II cities. In the next phase we will be going to smaller cities.”

The group is also set to open a new resort in Seychelles in 2020. The group is now focusing in attracting repeat clientele to other properties in its portfolio.

He further added, “When travellers start going to the other destinations than the traditional ones we will see further growth. We promote our properties in other destinations to our existing customers. Once a traveller has experienced our product, we try to promote other destinations where we have our property. We are coming up with a new resort in Seychelles in 2020. Indian Ocean will be a very big strategy for us as a brand. Coming years will be good for us.”

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) along with Government of Singapore and Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS) are working on a five year master plan to convert ‘Mandai’ into a nature park. Mandai is located in the North Region of Singapore which is the access point of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. WRS will also open a Rainforest Park which will be the latest attraction.

Detailing about the master plan Isabel Cheng, Chief Marketing Officer, Wildlife Reserve Singapore, “We have a five year master plan to rejuvenate all the parks. In collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board and Government of Singapore we will convert ‘Mandai’ into a nature park. The existing Bird Park will operate for two years, and then we will open a new Bird Park in Mandai and close the old one. We are also come up with a Rainforest Park and Rainforest Park South which will be a new attraction. It will be a very unique attraction and one can actually experience a rainforest. There we will recreate a cave as well. We will also open a indoor Nature attraction as well as a eco-accommodation which will be operated by Banyan Tree. The accommodation will be a mix of glamping, tree houses and normal rooms and it will be coupled with programmes. This project will change the entire Singaporean landscape. Construction has already stated and this will be done by 2024. We are now looking to reduce carbon footprints further and be eco-sensitive.”

Currently India is one of the top source markets for Singapore. With the opening of Mandai, the overnights for Indian travellers will increase. Also, Singapore has witnessed a good response for its Passion Made Possible campaign in India market.

“With Mandai opening up, we will be adding one extra day in traveller’s itinerary. Today the average length of stay is six nights, which will increase for the Indian travellers. We launched the Passion Made Possible campaign in 2017. India has been a big market for us and we have been successful in communicating our campaign in this market and we also organised various events to promote all our segments. This campaign is for people to see beyond Singapore and also tap the repeat client market,” GB Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East & South Asia, STB, said.

India has been one of the top source markets for WRS over the years. “India is a major source market for us for almost a decade now. All our attractions are very popular amongst the Indian travellers, Night Safari and Bird Park being the favourites. To cater to this market, we have authentic Indian food and also we have commentary in Hindi. We continue to see a steady growth from this market. One of the major trend is we have always seen Indians travelling in groups and families which makes it even more important to us. We have now come up with a winter package for the India market,” Cheng informed.

WRS has introduced Rainforest Lumina 2.0, a multimedia interactive night walk. “We have once again introduced Rainforest Lumina Season 2 which will be there till February 9, 2020. Earlier, the zoo used to close at night. We introduced the Rainforest Lumina around the zoo to give a bigger and unique experience. Last year, we welcomed over 200,000 travellers. This year is 2.0 and we will once again come up with the third season. The Rainforest Lumina is a multimedia walk and is also very interactive. It is an excellent package with the night safari. All our four parks are family friendly and the Rainforest Lumina and Night Safari are targeted on the young millennial travellers.”

 

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