Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani has been appointed chairman of the Railway Board after the incumbent A K Mital resigned from the post, officials said.
The announcement by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet came hours after Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu indicated that he had offered his resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the recent train accidents.
“Necessary communication in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Railways," the committee said. Mital had tendered his resignation to Prabhu and it was accepted, sources said.
Lohani, an officer of the railway mechanical service, had served earlier as the Divisional Regional Manager of Delhi. He was also ITDC chairman as well as the director of the Rail Museum in the capital.
VFS Global has completed the acquisition of visa service provider TT Services (TTS). The transaction enables VFS Global to leverage on core competences and brands and to further enhance operating performance. TT Services is a provider of integrated visa processing solutions with global presence and a comprehensive portfolio of services. TT Services is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has a strong and long-lasting relationship with its client governments and with a commercial partner. The company operates 51 application centres in more than 35 countries and has 216 employees. TTS offers a full range of high quality visa services for its client governments, partners and applicants.
Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global Group said, “TT Services has, like VFS Global, extended industry experience of more than 15 years and is a trusted service delivery partner for its clients. I see a strong fit by TTS joining VFS Global. This will enable us to further enhance and extend our services towards our client governments and visa applicants.”
The change of control will have no bearing on the business operations of the parties and act as a catalyst to improved services and enhanced client and customer satisfaction.
Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton has announced the signing of a management agreement with Trillion Real Estate & Properties for a new DoubleTree by Hilton property in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Scheduled to open in Q1 2019, DoubleTree by Hilton Shirdi will be located at Shirdi’s historical town centre, marking Hilton’s entry into the popular pilgrimage destination. The latest addition increases Hilton’s pipeline of hotels in India to 19 properties.
Dianna Vaughan, Senior Vice President and Global Head, DoubleTree by Hilton said, “With a fast-growing, global portfolio of more than 500 upscale properties, we are delighted that DoubleTree by Hilton brand is gaining traction in India. With five DoubleTree by Hilton properties currently operating in India, the property in Shirdi will mark the brand’s sixth property in the pipeline in this burgeoning market. As the first upscale hotel in Shirdi, we look forward to delivering exceptional experiences to guests beginning with our signature, warm DoubleTree Cookie welcome.”
Shirdi, famously known as the home of late spiritual leader Sri Sai Baba, is a popular pilgrimage town and an estimated 22 million tourists from across the country and overseas visit the famous Shirdi Sai Baba temple annually. Most recently, the city saw the completion of a new Shirdi Airport, which will facilitate greater access for pilgrims to visit the destination.
Kaushik Vardharajan, Vice President of development – India, Hilton said, “Our partnership with Trillion Real Estate & Properties to manage DoubleTree by Hilton Shirdi underpins our commitment to expand our footprint in India. Guided by our mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, we remain focused on growing our pipeline across India with an aim to serve any type of guest, anywhere they want to be in the country, for any travel need they have. DoubleTree by Hilton Shirdi is a strong addition to our portfolio and will fill the existing gap in the town’s accommodation market and give us first-mover advantage in offering our award-winning hospitality to both international and domestic tourists.”
When open, the 125-room DoubleTree by Hilton Shirdi will be one of first global hospitality brands in Shirdi. In addition to a banquet hall and four meeting rooms, hotel will have an outdoor pool, a fitness center as well as three food and beverage outlets including an all-day dining restaurant.
In continuation of its plan to increase the number of Indian arrivals to the country, the Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT), conducted their second roadshow for 2017 in India. The roadshow was in a networking workshop format and commenced on August 21 in Mumbai followed by Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and concluded in Chennai on August 30. The Israeli delegation was led by Hassan Madah, Director – Israel Ministry of Tourism, India along with Judah Samuel, Director – Marketing, Israel Ministry of Tourism, India and included representative partners from the tourism industry of Israel. The roadshow witnessed a participation of over 100 travel agents in each city.
Madah said, “Over 34,000 Indians have already visited Israel in the last seven months of 2017 marking a growth of 36 per cent in Indian tourist arrivals. The historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel has sparked a renewed interest among Indians to visit Israel and we want to leverage this to increase destination awareness among Indian travel trade and MICE agents. The response across the six cities was very positive and promising.”
Israel recorded an exponential growth of 79 per cent in Indian arrivals in June compared to the same month last year. Currently, El Al provides direct connectivity between India and Israel and has three (three in the summer, four in the winter) weekly flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv. Other connections to Israel include Turkish Airlines from Mumbai and Delhi to Tel Aviv (via Istanbul), Ethiopian Airlines from Mumbai and Delhi to Tel Aviv (via Addis Ababa) and Aeroflot Russian Airlines from Delhi to Tel Aviv (via Moscow), including other European carriers.
Qatar Airways has entered into a new interline partnership with growing, full-service Indian airline Vistara, as the Qatari national carrier marks more than 20 successful years of flights to India.
The new interline agreement taking effect from August 22, 2017 will allow Qatar Airways’ passengers to travel seamlessly to and from a wide range of cities within India across Vistara’s network, via Qatar Airways’ existing 13 Indian gateways and under a single ticket with QR’s generous baggage allowance throughout the journey.
Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive, Qatar Airways said, “This exciting new partnership with Vistara will bring enhanced connectivity and increased convenience to our passengers travelling within India on an expanding full-service premium carrier. The Indian market is very important to us, and we operate more than one hundred flights a week between Doha and 13 Indian cities. This new partnership expands Qatar Airways’ presence in India and reinforces our commitment to this market.”
Phee Teik Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara said, “We are delighted to launch our interline partnership with Qatar Airways, through which we will offer a seamless flying experience and international luggage allowance to our joint customers from various cities in India to and from over 150 destinations across the world on a single ticket. Qatar Airways' customers will also now be able to experience 'the new feeling’ with Vistara and enjoy the finest hospitality in Indian skies on their domestic connecting flights.”
In a short span of less than three years, Vistara has expanded its network to 19 destinations with more than 625 weekly flights operated by a fleet of 15 Airbus A320 aircraft, having flown more than five million passengers. Vistara is the first and only airline in India to introduce Premium Economy class on domestic routes.
Qatar Airways operates services from Doha to the Indian cities of New Delhi, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Khozikode, Kolkata, Goa, Hyderabad, Chennai, Nagpur and Thiruvananthapuram, demonstrating Qatar Airways’ growing presence and commitment to the Indian market.
India has been one of the richest centers of spirituality over the last four thousand years. Tourism opportunities have developed immensely in the last couples of decades. Religious places are ranked high in preferred tourist destinations for Indians.
To cater to this growing demand of spiritual tourism in the country, SOTC has introduced Darshans in association with ePuja, India’s first online portal for religious ceremonies. Darshans by SOTC is a selection of over 40 specially designed religious and spiritual experiences across 60 holy destinations in India. The tours have been designed keeping in mind the specific needs of the travellers to seamlessly aid their spiritual journey. The package includes convenient, hassle-free religious experience, pooja, special ‘havan,’ abhisheka, assisted temple visit amongst others.
The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report shows that between 2007 and 2015, the share of respondents in India who perceived religion to be very important increased by 11 per cent to 80 per cent now and the average expenditure on religious trips has more than doubled during this period. According to National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) half of the package trips were made for religious and pilgrimage purposes and about 28 per cent for leisure and holiday purposes. These are clear indicators of the expanding sector.
Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel said, “Spiritual Tourism is the single largest category in domestic tourism which is an untapped, fragmented industry - opportunity. Indians are seeking a pre-planned, organised, comfortable, spiritual travel experience. SOTC Darshans offers customers this very service. Religious travellers can now explore a new way of travel that aids their spiritual journey. Pricing of our products has been worked around to suit every budget, offering travellers a seamless spiritual journey.”
The Austrian capital recorded almost seven million visitor bednights, an all-time new high for Vienna, between January-June 2017 with 4.2 per cent more than for the same period the previous year. The 64000 visitor bednights recorded by Indian travellers grew 15 per cent in the same period placing it among the high growth tourist markets along with China, Russia and Australia.
The Austrian capital, Vienna, continued to attract Indian families, honeymooners and young travellers looking to explore its imperial history, rich tradition of music, and experience its offerings. The former capital of the Habsburg empire, Vienna, was crowned the world’s most livable city for the eighth year in a row in 2017.
Norbert Kettner, Director, Vienna Tourist Board said, “City breaks to Vienna continue to boom: the city established a new record in the first half of 2017, with visitor bednights increasing 4.2 per cent to around 6,924,000.”
Vienna’s aim is to become the Smart Tourism city by 2020. The vision is of a city that uses innovative services and attractions to create a relaxed urban experience and support positive interaction between residents and visitors, ushering in a responsible mindset that will help to pursue its sustainability goals without detracting from its glamourous image.
The meetings industry also has an important role to play, accounting for 11 per cent of the total volume of bednights in 2016. Some 4,000 congresses, corporate events and incentives were held in Vienna last year – another new record.
Tourism Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia for leisure and business events, this year celebrates five decades of promoting Australia in key markets across the globe.
The anniversary is timely too with the announcement in Mumbai of the tourism programme for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, in the presence of ace shooter and former Olympic and Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Abhinav Bindra. The Gold Coast is all set to host its first ever Commonwealth Games in 2018 ensuring that the destination provides memorable tourism experiences to sports fans from across the globe.
During the past five decades, Australia has emerged as a leading tourist destination offering world class natural beauty, coupled with unique wildlife, and welcoming people as well as exceptional food and wine experiences for travellers from around the world to enjoy.
Working in partnership with industry, Tourism Australia has seen international tourism to Australia grow from 220,000 international visitors spending around AU$74 million in 1967 to welcoming more than eight million international visitors with AU$39 billion in expenditure in the past year. In more recent times, it is markets like India that have contributed to the continued growth in tourism to Australia alongside longstanding western markets.
Through a range of focused consumer marketing and trade development initiatives, Tourism Australia has been promoting the top tourism experiences across the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania along with the Northern Territory, and the nation’s capital - Canberra – to reach the travel trade and potential travellers in key markets globally including India.
John O’Sullivan, Managing Director, Tourism Australia said, “Tourism Australia is incredibly proud to have reached its 50 year milestone and working in partnership with the travel industry to grow tourism to Australia. Our global consumer campaigns such as 'There’s Nothing Like Australia' – most recently brought to life with its ‘Aquatic and Coastal’ and ‘Restaurant Australia’ iterations – continue to evolve to showcase some of the very best attractions, experiences and food and wine options Australia has on offer for travellers.
He further added, “However, Australia’s success would not be possible without the incredible support and passion of our trade partners with whom we work with across the globe. In India, we are amplifying our marketing initiatives to reach and attract our growing target audience of prospective travellers to Australia. India is currently the 8th largest inbound market for Australia, and is expected to be within the top 5 markets by 2025, with around 500,000 Indian visitors annually. The increasing visitor numbers from India confirms that we are well placed to achieve our long-term Tourism 2020 targets for arrivals and out of region market share for India, well ahead of time.”
Leanne Coddington, CEO, Tourism & Events Queensland said, “More than 57,000 Indian travellers visited Queensland in the year ending March 2017 and we know many more will come to our state next year for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. With eight months until the Opening Ceremony, the Gold Coast is a hive of activity and Queensland is ready to welcome visitors from across the globe, not only to witness world-class sport, but to experience the very best of our tourism offerings. From the iconic Great Barrier Reef, to the beautiful Outback, to the world-heritage listed Fraser Island and our bustling cities, we encourage everyone at next year’s Commonwealth Games to stay on in Queensland and experience the best address on Earth.”
Present at the launch of the Commonwealth Games 2018 tourism program, Abhinav Bindra hopes to see more athletes participating in this international sporting event and particularly encouraging young athletes to excel in Australia, with an aim to bring back numerous medals in all sporting categories while making India proud overseas.
Melbourne has been named The World's Most Liveable City for the seventh consecutive year by the annual Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index.
The EIU’s Liveability Ranking assesses living conditions in 140 cities across the globe by assigning a rating across five broad categories, including: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure.
Known as Australia's cultural, shopping, music and nightlife capital, and revered for its unique laneways and small bar culture, parks and gardens and creative communities- as of 2017, Melbourne has enjoyed the top spot in the list for seven years in a row.
Each year, Melbourne offers a world-class calendar of major events across the sport, entertainment, culture, industry and lifestyle sectors which add to the city's atmosphere, appeal and awesomeness.
This spring Melbourne is set to welcome a host of new events and festivals and welcome back some old favourites, the city also hosts Pop Up Globe, showcasing the works of William Shakespeare, and another fashion blockbuster comes to Victoria's NGV; The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture opens on August 26th.
India has welcomed 7.88 lakh foreign visitors in July 2017 compared to 7.34 lakh in July, 2016 and 6.28 lakh in July, 2015. The growth rate in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in July, 2017 over July, 2016 is 7.4 per cent compared to 16.8 per cent in July, 2016 over July, 2015, says a Ministry of Tourism release.
FTAs during the period January- July 2017 were 56.74 lakh with a growth of 15.7 per cent, as compared to the FTAs of 49.03 lakh with a growth of 9.6 per cent in January- July 2016 over January- July 2015.
The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during July 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (20.12%) followed by USA (16.26%), UK (10.88%), France (3.01%), Malaysia (2.81%), Canada (2.66%), Sri Lanka (2.56%), China (2.32%), Oman (2.27%), Germany (2.21%), Australia (2.17%), Japan (2.10%), Nepal (1.84%), UAE (1.82%) and Singapore (1.69%).
The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during July 2017 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (25.95%) followed by Mumbai Airport (16.63%), Haridaspur Land Check Post (10.92%), Chennai Airport (9.09%), Bengaluru Airport (6.78%), Cochin Airport (5.39%), Hyderabad Airport (5.07%),Kolkata Airport (4.23%),Gede Rail Land Check Post (2.78%), Trivandrum Airport (1.81%), Ahmedabad Airport (1.72%), Ghojadanga Land Check Post (1.54%), Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.37%), Amritsar Airport (0.97%) and Calicut Airport (0.73%).
Foreign Tourist Arrivals on e-Tourist Visa:
During the month of July, 2017 total of 1.19 lakh tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 0.68 lakh during the month of July 2016 registering a growth of 73.3%.
During January-July 2017, a total of 8.36 lakh tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 5.40 lakh during January-July 2016, registering a growth of 54.7%.
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