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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Expedition, passed away on September 16 morning of a cardiac arrest. He was 51. Son of the legendary mountain climber and soldier, Colonel Narinder (Bull) Kumar, he was a passionate skier, trekker and rafting guide. Kumar joined Mercury Himalayan Expedition, India's largest adventure travel company, established by his father. He was the President of the ATOAI for two terms and Vice Chairman of the Federation of Associations in India Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the umbrella organisation of Indian tourism trade and industry associations.

Akshay trained as a river guide in Canada when he was 15 and rafted over 30 rivers across India and Canada. Years earlier whilst doing his graduation at St Stephen’s College Delhi he kept the legacy alive of the Hiking Club. He was supported by his wonderful wife, Dilshad, and ran a great adventure travel operation along with a rafting lodge in Rishikesh called Bulls Retreat. A qualified mountaineer, rock climber and biker, he was most comfortable in rafting and navigating skilfully through rapids.

He led the first-ever descent of the Brahmaputra river in Arunachal Pradesh in 1990; led the first-ever Isuzu Challenge Expedition in India – a first of its kind off road jeep safari across the upper Himalayan region.

He was a true adventurer.

The Kashmir slopes had been his home ground since he was 3 and the Calgary Winter Games in 1988 would have been his Olympic debut, but for an unfortunate skiing accident while training in Val Thorens, France.

His biggest joy was taking his little daughter, Saira on treks in the Himalaya and watching her ski down slopes, alas short lived.

The loss is immense and he will be remembered by the travel industry in India and overseas. Our deepest condolences to his parents, Dilshad, his wife and his little daughter, Saira.

India has entered into Air Bubble agreements with 10 countries viz. USA, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Maldives, UAE, Qatar, Afghanistan and Bahrain, till Sept 13, 2020, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C) Civil Aviation, informed Lok Sabha yesterday.

These are temporary agreements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They are reciprocal in nature i.e. airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits. Tickets for the flights are sold through the airlines' website, travel agents and Global Distribution Systems.

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions on international flight operations to/from India. The Indian aviation and health infrastructure is currently trying its best to efficiently handle the large scale Vande Bharat Mission and Air Bubble operations. Limited quarantine and other related health facilities to be provided by the State Governments is a factor that has to be taken into account before regular commercial scheduled international operations are allowed.

Marriott International resorts in the Maldives are poised to welcome guests again following the country’s announcement to reopen borders for international travel. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, W Maldives, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, and JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa are set to re-open from 1 October 2020, while The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will welcome guests starting 1 November 2020.

"Working hand-in-hand with the local authorities, we are delighted to announce the reopening of our five iconic resorts in the Maldives. The island-paradise remains as a beloved and inspired destination for many, and with the reopening of our resorts, we look forward to bringing those dreams to life as travel gradually resumes.” said Rivero Delgado, Area Vice President, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, at Marriott International. “The wellbeing of our guests is of paramount importance and we have the highest standards of cleanliness as well as hygiene protocols in place to ensure peace of mind for first-time and returning travelers to the islands,” Delgado  added.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts brings the romantic charms of a Tuscan country estate to the biodiverse ecological wonderland of Khao Yai with Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai. Located less than a three hour drive from Bangkok on the fringes of the Khao Yai National Park, the resort offers 112-room.

“The opening of Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai represents our 10th Mövenpick address in Thailand. Home to a rich National Park, Khao Yai has long been a favoured getaway for Bangkok residents and domestic travelers seeking an escape into nature. With the opening of our first hotel here, we are looking forward to showcasing the 70-year culinary legacy of the Mövenpick brand, and delivering a guest experience that is authentic and memorable, through a sustainable and responsible approach,” said Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer of Accor, Upper Southeast & Northeast Asia and the Maldives.

Khao Yai has long been known as a countryside getaway just a short drive from Bangkok. In addition to the lush Khao Yai National Park – the country’s oldest, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage-protected forest complex – the area is home to many points of interest, including Chokchai Farm, Jim Thompson Farm, GranMonte Vineyard and Winery, PB Valley Khao Yai Winery, and Heaw Narok Waterfall. 

“With the opening of Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai, we are delighted to showcase a range of service offerings for travellers to the resort. Khao Yai is the one of the region’s most picturesque destination packed with fun attractions and scenic mountain views perfect for the family,” said Benoit Metanomski, General Manager of Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has recognized the efforts of Maldives in implementing enhanced health and safety measures, in line with the WTTC global Safe Travels protocols, and creating a safe, gradual plan by rebuilding confidence among travellers and ensuring a coordinated approach in restarting our Tourism industry.

Maldives achieved the Safe Travels Stamp, which is endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and more than 200 travel companies. The objective of the Safe Travel Stamp is to provide confidence to travellers and re-establish consumer confidence in Travel & Tourism and ensure travellers of enhanced standards of hygiene are in place and the assurance that they can once again experience ‘Safe Travels’. It is the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp for Travel & Tourism, designed to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also embraced the WTTC Safe Travels stamp, which have the safety and hygiene of travellers as their top priority. Since the launch of the stamp, major destinations around the world have signed up to the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp.

WelcomHeritage (WH) Hotels in association with India’s largest passenger airline IndiGo has introduced ‘Fly with Safety, Stay like Royalty’- specially curated packages for the flyers of the carrier.

With this exclusive tie-up, guests flying IndiGo can avail 1+1 complimentary night stay at certain WelcomHeritage hotels, post their bookings with the airline. This offer is available for a select time period.

Guests need to use their exclusive coupon code (which they will receive after booking the flight) to make a reservation on the website of WelcomHeritage to avail the offer. The guests are also required to produce a copy of their boarding pass and e-ticket at the time of check-in at the hotel.

The offer is valid for select WelcomHeritage properties across India. At present, 15 hotels under WelcomHeritage brand are operational and have opened for the travellers.  

Recently, the group has introduced ‘Travel Safely with WelcomHeritage’ initiative which is focused towards providing the best safest holiday option for travellers looking for a perfect holiday option in today’s time.  

Furthermore, the group will also help the travellers to plan their holiday with WelcomHeritage special ‘Passport to Travel’ feature. This feature offers guidance to the travellers to check state-wise guidelines/protocols to be followed while travelling.

As India slowly winds down the nation-wide lockdown imposed on March 25, 2020, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) continues its efforts in aiding the government and the country to help travelers reach home. During the Unlock 3.0, CSMIA has helped in the facilitation of over 570 charter flights during August 2020. The airport handled over 67,500 passengers by connecting to 34 international destinations operated by 26 airlines in the same period.

A gateway to the financial capital of the country, CSMIA is working endlessly to handle charter flights while complying with the guidelines of the government. Abiding by the Air Bubble agreements signed by the Indian government as well as the ongoing Vande Bharat missions, CSMIA catered to destinations across Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and America; the airport has witnessed countries such as Dubai, Doha and London-Heathrow handling the highest passenger load.

During this period, the airport played host to 22 international and four domestic charter flights transporting passengers to and from the country. The domestic airline partners for the repatriation efforts include Air India, Air India Express, IndiGo & Vistara. The international charter flights include Air Arabia, Air France, Air Mauritius, Air Peace, Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, EgyptAir, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Flydubai, Gulf Air, Kenya Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, SriLankan Airlines, United Airlines, amongst others. Out of these, CSMIA witnessed the highest ATMs for Indigo (domestic airline) and Emirates (international airline) catering to over 33,700 and 9,200 passengers, respectively.

CSMIA maintains the highest standard of hygiene and has implemented standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of the virus along with diligently adhering to the directives indicated by the Government of India. Furthermore, the airport continues to offer an assortment of world-class services to the passengers, making efforts in rendering travel to and from CSMIA as the most desirable and elevating experience.

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) launches a new campaign - #TakeMeBackToKorea for holidaymakers to wander in Korean reminisce. With travel being restricted, people are reliving their past adventures and dreaming about moments where they explored their favourite destinations with a hope to travel again.

To encourage positivity and inspire travellers to look forward to good times in South Korea, the latest campaign is a journey through the destination’s modern and exciting offerings; from World Heritage sites, Instagram-worthy locations to traditional Korean cuisine and unrivalled shopping spots. Based on the desire of vacationers to “escape” from the confinement of their homes and look back on their travel memories, #TakeMeBackToKorea seeks to evoke exhilaration to visit this vibrant destination soon.

The engaging campaign film encapsulates glimpses of memoirs from popular YouTubers vacationing in Korea, while they ponder over their experiences through stunning, throwback photographs and videos. Showcasing the Pass on Challenge, each YouTuber partakes in flipping through their travel album and bringing alive moments from Korea like never before! Each one moves on to placing their treasured photo from the trip onto the album and passing it to their influencer friend, who mirrors this action. The fun, high energy video with upbeat music, underscores the exuberance of the destination coupled with the enthusiasm of influencer partners, transporting viewers straight to Korea!

Speaking on the campaign announcement, Young Geul Choi, Director, Korea Tourism Organization, New Delhi Office said, “India has always been a priority for South Korea and we are going digital to remain at the top of the traveller’s mind. We have conceptualized #TakeMeBackToKorea to engage people across India and remind them about the beauty and uniqueness of travelling to South Korea. Once travel opens up, there will be a sudden demand for travel to places which not only entertain but provide a healing experience as well. With carefully, curated strategies in place, safety measures and abundant private locations to explore, we look forward to welcoming visitors to our abode soon!”

#TakeMeBackToKorea is set to keep Korea, and its people, in the hearts and minds of Indian and International travellers alike. Until travel resumes, cherish your holiday memories and remember to Imagine Your Korea!

In line with the safe and gradual resumption of economic activities in Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will start accepting applications for organisers to pilot MICE events of up to 250 attendees from 1 October 2020.

The decision to accept applications to pilot MICE events of up to 250 attendees comes on the back of STB’s Safe Business Events Framework  for business events of up to 50 attendees, which was first announced in July 2020. STB operationalised the framework with two pilots – the first concluded successfully in August 2020, while plans for the second pilot, which will take place in late September 2020, are underway.

This move to start accepting applications to pilot events of up to 250 attendees also takes into account the importance of the MICE industry as well as the strong industry interest in and demand for business events. According to a MICE Economic Impact Assessment commissioned by STB in 2019, the industry supported more than 34,000 jobs with an economic value-add of $3.8 billion, or nearly one percent of Singapore’s GDP. Business travellers also spend almost double that of leisure travellers, making them high-yield visitors.

Organisers who apply to pilot events with up to 250 attendees must demonstrate their ability to implement Safe Management Measures to meet a set of health and safety outcomes.

STB and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) will review all MICE event proposals, and event organisers may proceed only upon obtaining MTI’s approval. There will be pilot events taking place under this arrangement, such as the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) Conference, in October 2020.

Singapore has developed a prototype in partnership with the private sector. This will be tested at a few tradeshows, starting with a new event in November called TravelRevive – powered by ITB Asia & STB. Messe Berlin (Singapore), which also organises the annual ITB Asia travel tradeshow, will bring international delegates and businesses together to exchange ideas, bridge knowledge gaps, and reimagine the future of travel.

“The MICE sector is a strategic one for the Singapore economy, and its safe and gradual resumption will safeguard jobs and core capabilities. It will also help those in related sectors such as hospitality and aviation. Public health and safety remain our utmost priority, and we have worked closely with the industry to create strict protocols and develop new ways of organising events. These pilot events and solutions will help Singapore lead the way as a safe, trusted and innovative destination for MICE events,” Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board, said.

The Fern Hotels & Resorts has resumed operations in 59 properties across India, one in Nepal and three hotels in Seychelles taking the tally to 63, Noshir A Marfatia, Senior Vice President - Sales & Marketing, The Fern Hotels & Resorts said.

The states where the company has reopened its hotels are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal, besides reopening its Fern Residency hotel in the union territory of Chandigarh.

Providing the details of opened properties, he said, “As of now we have opened 46 properties under The Fern brand, eleven under the Beacon brand, our first Zinc hotel in Bengaluru, and five independently branded hotels in India and Seychelles”.

Informing about the plan to reopen the other properties he said, “we expect that all our hotels should be opened by the end of October.” The enhanced safety and hygiene measures that we adopted under Staygiene – the new normal have been successfully implemented across all our operational hotels. All our guests have really appreciated these and are giving extremely good feedback, he added.

Commenting on the state of the overall business the senior vice president said, “our sales and online distribution teams are doing an excellent job under the given circumstances. We have already finalized many corporate tie-ups with companies that have started their operations and travels, and some great-value staycation leisure packages with our travel partners. And we are seeing better occupancy levels month on month at all our operational hotels.”

 

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