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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

British Airways has announced a multi-million pound investment in its World Traveller (long-haul economy cabin) catering, introducing an expanded new menu, which provides more quantity and quality to both meals and great snacking options throughout the flight.

Previously customers travelling in the cabin were served a complimentary snack, a three-course-meal or a light meal, depending on the time and length of their flight as well as a complimentary bar service of hot and cold drinks. The new catering arrives from January 17, and the menus that will change every six months.

Carolina Martinoli, Director of Brand and Customer Experience, British Airways said, “Our customers tell us that when they’re taking a long-haul flight, great food and beverages make a real difference to them. It’s a huge driver of customer satisfaction so we want to make sure we deliver a great experience. With this multi-million pound investment we’ve focused on introducing more quantity and quality to the catering, delivering tasty meals and great snacking options throughout the flight. Our new four-course main meal has been developed by our team of chefs to be full of flavour at 35,000ft and we’ve created regional options depending on the route. The second meal option is either a tasty sandwich or a more substantial pizza wrap, both served with additional snacks, depending on the length of the flight.”

The airline is also serving regional main meal options around its network, such as chicken in spicy cheng du sauce on flights to and from to China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, kathrikai milagu seeragam and channa dal on flights to and from Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai and acchari veg and dal palak on flights to and from Bangalore and Delhi. On flights to the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,) customers can enjoy chicken in spicy Arabic sauce.

Regional breakfasts will also be served including Chicken Congee for Far Eastern routes and an Indian option featuring; Idli Shanna, Sambhar, upma and dosa.

Travellers looking for a special treat can also pre-order meals on flights from Heathrow up to 24-hours before their flight. Options include a Gourmet Dining meal for £18.00, Taste of Britain and Taste of the Far East for £16.00 and a Great British Breakfast, a Healthy Choice meal or a Vegetarian Kitchen option all for £15.00.

British Airways is investing £4.5 billion for customers over the next five years, covering the installation of the best quality Wi-Fi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft. The airline is also investing £600m specifically in Club World, including outstanding catering and luxurious White Company bedding - plus, from 2019, a new seat with direct aisle access. This year British Airways will start services to six new routes including Nashville and The Seychelles.

In order to make India an attractive cruise tourist destination, the Ministry of Home Affairs has agreed to the request of the Ministry of Shipping to exempt cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years i.e. till December 31, 2020. This will make immigration clearance of such passengers faster, leaving them with more time to spend on shore. This is also an important factor that helps cruise lines decide whether or not to include a destination in their itinerary.

The Ministry of Shipping has been working towards simplifying the immigration clearance procedure to offer hassle free logistics process to cruise tourists when they embark on or disembark from their cruise at the Indian ports. E-Visa has been in place in the five major ports of Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin & Chennai.  Till now biometrics of passengers were required at port of first arrival for immigration clearance.  However, with the existing facilities at the cruise terminals at these ports, the immigration procedure was taking more than the internationally accepted norm of clearing immigration for all cruise passengers in a maximum of 90 minutes. Hence, there was a need for the exemption.

This simplified immigration clearance procedure is part of a series of steps to attract and to enhance cruise passenger experience at the major ports.  The standard operating procedures to handle cruise was revised earlier and is being implemented uniformly at all ports.  In November, 2017 major ports reduced their tariffs for 3 years by 42 – 67 per cent to make it attractive for cruise lines to visit India.  Major ports now change a single comprehensive uniform rate of USD$ 0.35 per GRT. 

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) in association with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, is all set to launch the first edition of its annual property, the Mumbai Shopping Festival (MSF). India’s first of its kind citywide festival will be celebrated from January 12-31, 2018 across the length and the breadth of the city of Mumbai.

From one-of-a-kind outdoor markets and flash mobs to arenas, mega sales and rewards, Mumbai’s first three week event is sure to impress. The festival will present visitors with world-class, immersive retail experiences clubbed with staged captivating live performances, to enjoy and dance, throughout the city.

In lieu of the recent notification by the Government of Maharashtra where shops and establishments can now stay open 24X7, the Ministry of Tourism and MTDC will set up Mumbai’s first ever Night Bazaar Flea Market which will go on till 4am on weekends only. This will ensure that citizens derive the maximum benefit of the Mumbai Shopping Festival thereby showing that Mumbaikars truly go all out and celebrate #MumBuyKar

Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra said, “For the very first time in India, held in Maharashtra, we bring to you, the Mumbai Shopping Festival 2018. I am honoured and pleased to announce this festival will be taking place from January 12 to 31 2018, launching Mumbai as a world – class shopping destination. We are delighted to see zealous interest from our partners including retailers, brands, restaurants, who have given innumerable hours to making the Mumbai Shopping Festival a reality. We look forward to the participation of each and every Mumbaikar, and citizens of the country in joining us celebrate this mega extravaganza.”

Adding to the festivities, the Mumbai Shopping Festival will also showcase Mumbai’s first ever Food Truck Zones set up in different areas over the weekends. Tourists and citizens of Mumbai will love every bit of the customer-centric vibrancy and magic that will be brought alive by this unique experience.

Jaykumar Rawal, Minister of Tourism & (EGS), Government of Maharashtra said, “As the economic and entertainment capital of India, Mumbai has been popular for its tourism and vibrant lifestyle. This is one of the key sectors of growth for the state of Maharashtra. MSF2018 will undoubtedly heighten tourism in Maharashtra. Our aim is to establish this event on a global platform as one of the most sought after and visiting shopping and cultural festivals of the world. This is already one of the biggest initiatives by MTDC and we are determined to make it make it even bigger in the coming years.”

There will be multiple events across the city, every weekend throughout the festival. Mumbai will see over 500 performances in multiple stages across 13 different locations including Girgaon Chowpatty; Crawford Market; Worli Sea Face; Shivaji Park, Dadar; Carter Road, Bandra; Juhu Beach; International Airport; Domestic Airport; Vashi Railway station; The Walk, Thane; Cypress Garden, Mulund; Galleria Mall, Powai; and Maxus Mall, Mira Road.

The MSF Night Bazaar would be held in non-residential defined zones which will have shopping till 4am as follows:

•        January 19th and January 20th at Malad;

•        January 26th and January 27th at Powai

The MSF Khao Galli in association with Food Trucks Association of India will be held at famous public hangout spots, during the weekends at:

•        January 13th and January 14 at Worli Seaface;

•        January 19th and January 20th at Malad;


•        January 26th and January 27th at Powai

In a bid to further strengthen its operations, IndiGo, one of India’s largest and fastest growing carriers, has announced the launch of six new and five additional frequencies on its existing domestic network. Effective February 01, 2018 IndiGo will connect Chennai with first direct flight on Chennai - Udaipur, Chennai -Varanasi, Chennai - Patna and Chennai - Lucknow sectors.

Five additional on Ahmedabad - Chennai, Chennai – Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvananthapuram - Chennai, Chennai – Ahmedabad and Jaipur - Chennai sectors are also being introduced. IndiGo will also introduce first direct flight on Patna – Varanasi, Udaipur – Jaipur, Jaipur – Chennai sectors as well.

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are absolutely delighted to begin the year with yet another announcement to provide better customer experience and connectivity to our customers through these additional frequencies. With soaring demand on these sectors, we are hopeful that these flights will prove to be popular among our customers.”

IndiGo recently became the first Indian airline to fly 1000 flights daily and the introduction of additional frequencies in the span of a few days is a fitting testimony to its commitment to building India’s largest airline network. The company recently announced the introduction of ATR aircraft to its fleet and four new destinations - Colombo, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry and Tirupati – to its network.

At the annual conference of its representative offices abroad, Monaco Tourist and Convention Authority (DTC) presented its new visual identity, "Visit Monaco," to more than 350 tourism professionals in the Principality.

This new, dynamic typology is in line with the mission of Monaco Tourist and Convention Authority, as the text logo is a direct invitation to visit the Principality and is easy to identify and to remember. It is available in several colours, to suit the DTC's various sectors of activity, for example in blue for cruises and green for sustainable development.

There was also a presentation on the new version of the web site visitmonaco.com, which will be put online soon. The website has been redesigned to give pride of place to images and experience and showcase new innovative tools such as the augmented reality plan and an interactive video project that will allow visitors to create paperless, personalised itineraries.

At this annual conference, there was a particular emphasis on responsible tourism, which is central to all future activities. This new strategy will revolve around the slogan "Green is the New Glam", which will be used in all International tourism markets and promotional material.

Yatra.com, one of India’s leading online travel portals, has launched a self-booking platform for Small & Medium Enterprises to provide its corporate customers with comprehensive and convenient travel solutions. This online platform includes a range of enhanced features which will empower the SMEs to automate their process to fulfil end-to-end travel business needs.

SMEs can now manage their company and employee profiles, travel policy compliances and approval workflow. The GST complaint system will allow the user to search through a range of flight and hotel options as per the company travel policy and follow the in-built trip approval process to seek their supervisor’s approval. As part of this offering, SMEs shall get curated hotel options, best corporate deals and NIL to economical cancellation/rescheduling charges. Additionally, designed for enhanced experience, the SMEs shall also have access to real time MIS reports to enable them to monitor their travel expenses. Furthermore, the invoices are instantly mailed to the registered email ID. There is a 24x7 support helpline available for support required on visas, passports and other offline requests.   

Dhruv Shringi, Co-Founder & CEO, Yatra.com said, “Yatra’s latest self-booking platform significantly reinforces our position in the large and growing corporate travel market in India. The platform will revolutionise the way business travellers search and book flights & hotels, ultimately saving both time and money in the process. We believe that this technological advanced platform will empower SMEs to control their travel needs, while at the same time making it inherently easier for their employees to make bookings in an easy and convenient manner.”

With the goal to be ‘India’s Travel Planner’, Yatra.com has been providing a ‘best in class’ customer experience. With this new launch, Yatra further strengthens its position as India’s largest independent corporate travel service provider.

Utsavam 2018, conceived as an attempt to rejuvenate the traditional folk art forms of Kerala, will be organised by the Kerala Tourism Department from January 6 to 12, 2018 across all 14 districts of Kerala, said Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswom, Government of Kerala.

The festival organised in all districts by the respective District Tourism Promotion Councils (DTPCs), will get underway in 28 venues this time around, compared to the 14 venues where the festival was organised last year. Also, an amount of Rs 2,32,00,000 has been earmarked to be spent for the festival this year, the Minister said, adding that Rs 1 crore has been added this year to the amount set aside last year.

“Utsavam 2018 being organised during the tourism season would also mean more visibility and mileage to Kerala Tourism and this is expected to add more charm to the department’s activities,” Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswom, Government of Kerala said.

“By increasing the number of venues to 28 from last year’s 14, the department wanted to expand the scope of staging folk arts shows not just in district centres but also in more places in Kerala. Utsavam 2018, which will have more than 5000 artists performing in various venues, is expected to provide more fillip to the Keral Tourism scenario”, P. Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism and Managing Director of Kannur International Airport said.

The state level inauguration of Utsavam 2018 will be held in Kannur on January 6 by Tourism Minister. The inauguration function will be presided over by Minister for Ports, Museums, Archaeology and Archives, Sri Ramachandran Kadannappally, will also honour 10 traditional folk arts exponents. The Folklore Academy will bring on to the stage a programme titled Navadhwani, which strings together 264 artists who are experts in as many as 20 different ritualistic folk art forms. A number of dignitaries from the cultural and political scene in Kerala will be present. Around 150 art forms, 350-plus folk arts shows and more than 5000 artists will come together for Utsavam 2018, which will be a grand display of Kerala’s traditional and ritualistic art forms, the Minister said.

Ustavam will showcase various art forms, including Kolkali, Theyyam, Irulnritham, Ganabali, Paanaporatt, Kaakirinaatakam, Bhoothanum Thirayum, Thidambnrtham, Poorakali, Poopadathullal, Dharika Mayooranritham, Chimmanakali, Kothamooriyattam, Tholpaavakooth, Ayyappan Theeyaat, Nokkupaavavidya, Naadanpaattu, Kanakanritham, Mayilaattam, Koratttunritham, Sanghakali, Udukpaat, Badrakaali Theeyatt, Seethakali, Ashtapathiyattam, Kandaakarnanthira, Pakkanaaraattam, Cheruneeliyaattam, Charadupinnikali, Thiri Uzhichil, Pulluvanpaattu, Vilpaattu, Oottam Thullal, Chavittunaadakam, Kalamezhuthum Paattum, Mudiyaattam and Kethaarattam. Utsavam will be staged at three venues in Thiruvananthapuram, while Thrissur will have one, and the rest of the 12 districts will have two venues each.

While the venues in Thiruvananthapuram will be Shanghumukhom, Kazhakoottam and Varkala Helipad, in Kollam the festival will go on stage at the Children’s Park and Kollam Beach. The other venues are: Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikkode, Kannur, Wayanad, Malappuram and Kasargod.

The German National Tourist Office, India launched its online destination training programme in India recently, via an online webinar, the webinar which was attended by over 450 operators, was extremely well received by the Travel Trade across India. The step comes in the light of the increasing number of Indian Visitors to Germany and the request from the travel fraternity for a training module on the destination. In the first nine months of this year, destination Germany witnessed more than 638000 visitor Overnights, representing an 11.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

The launch comes as GNTO forges ahead with its strategy to spread more widespread awareness on the destination amongst the Tour operators across India. The online destination training programme would provide Indian tour operators and travel agents with the in-depth knowledge needed to market the destination authoritatively and persuasively to their clients.

Speaking on the occasion of the launch, Romit Theophilus, Director Sales and Marketing, The German National Tourist Office, India said “Over the years we have repeatedly received requests from our trade partners to start an online Training program, which could be referred to by them whilst planning itineraries and travel programs for their clients. Hence the launch of germanyspecialist.com, we hope this platform would ensure that the operators have all the information they need to easily sell the destination. The programme consists of four informative modules: Module 1 - Introduction to Germany, Module 2 - Discover the German Federal States/ Regions; Module 3 - Theme Based Travel and Module 4 - Special Scenic Routes. We expect this module to serve as a one stop shop for all the operators’ queries on destination Germany.”

He further added, “It is clear that a growing number of operators recognise Germany’s tourism potential and are very keen to establish themselves as accredited specialists. Registering and completion of the program gives the operators a plethora of benefits from exclusive invitations to attend GNTO events, opportunity to take part in customized Study Tours/ FAM Trips, email support from the Germany Specialist Team etc. As always we hope to receive the support of the Indian Travel trade to make this program a great success.”

The influence of technology on the hotel industry has never been more prominent than it is today. With a digitally heightened future for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris has launched its multilingual website that provides information in four additional languages – Spanish, German, French and Simplified Chinese.

In addition to tajhotels.com, the new language-specific domains – tajhotels.fr, tajhotels.de, tajhotels.es, taj-hotels.cn and tajhotels.co.uk – have been built with a fully-responsive design that will make the online search experience simpler across all platforms for travellers looking to experience true Indian hospitality. Providing detailed information on rooms, hotel offers, destinations, services, and the Taj InnerCircle loyalty programme, illustrated with more than 10,000 images of hotels and destinations, the site invites travellers to explore the world with Taj.

Initially available across 45 hotels, Taj’s multilingual website facility will soon encompass all 99 hotels to reach a wider audience globally. In keeping with its tradition of addressing every guests’ need, the Taj website ensures ease of search and booking for guests, in a language of their choice.

Chinmai Sharma, Chief Revenue Officer, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris said, “With the launch of our multilingual website, we are not only welcoming our guests from across the world, but also showcasing our products and services in languages they prefer. The customised local content and language specific domains will help Taj Hotels boost its presence across markets and gain relevance in both organic and paid searches, while enhancing our international revenue from these important feeder markets.”

Tourism has been a major engine of economic growth and an important source of foreign exchange earnings in many countries including India. It has great capacity to create large scale employment of diverse kind – from the most specialised to the unskilled and hence can play a major role in creation of additional employment opportunities. It can also play an important role in achieving growth with equity. It has the main objective of increasing and facilitating tourism in India. Augmenting tourism infrastructure, easing of visa regime, assurance of quality standards in services of tourism service providers, etc. are some of the responsibilities of the Ministry.

India’s rank in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), 2017 has shown a 25 places jump from 2013. Rank of India in TTCI Report of 2017 was 40th as compared to 52nd in 2015 and 65th in 2013.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January-November 2017 were 90.01 lakh with a growth of 15.6 per cent over same period of the previous year, compared to FTAs of 77.83 lakh with a growth of 9.4 per cent in January- November, 2016 over January- November, 2015.

During January-November 2017, a total of 14.57 lakh foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 9.17 lakh during January-November 2016, registering a growth of 58.8 per cent.

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the period January-November 2017 were Rs.1,60,865 Crore with a growth of 16.9 per cent over same period of previous year. Whereas, the FEEs during January-November 2016 were Rs.1,37,588 Crore with a growth of 13.7 per cent over January- November, 2015.

During 2016, the number of domestic tourist visits to the States/UTs was 1613.6 million as compared to 1432.0 million in 2015 showing double digit growth of 12.7 per cent in 2016 over 2015.

Development of tourism infrastructure is being given priority to provide a better tourism experience to the tourists. Theme based circuits are being developed under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme spanning the entire country. A total number of 11 projects have been sanctioned during 2017-18 for a total amount of Rs.824.80 Crore. With this the total number of 67 projects have been sanctioned till date for an amount of Rs.5648.71 Crore under this Scheme.

Holistic development of identified pilgrimage destinations is being undertaken under the ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) Scheme. A total number of three projects have been sanctioned during 2017-18 for a total amount of Rs.98.84 Crore. A total number of 21 projects have been sanctioned till date for an amount of Rs.587.29 Crore under this Scheme.

Ministry of Tourism is according priority for holistic development of tourism destinations into world class destinations using a cluster approach including development of infrastructure, amenities, interpretation centres and skill development by achieving synergy and convergence with other Central Ministries, State Governments and Industry Stakeholders. As a step in this direction, Ministry of Tourism has recently launched the ‘Adopt A Heritage’ project. Heritage sites are being offered for adoption by the public sector, private sector and individuals to become ‘Monument Mitras’ for developing amenities and facilities at these sites under this programme.

Creation of ‘Special Tourism Zones’ anchored on Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in partnership with the States was announced in the Budget for 2017-18. Ministry of Tourism has formulated the guidelines for implementation of the new scheme in consultation with the State Governments and Private Sector and is in the process of completing other formalities before launching the scheme. Creation of Special Tourism Zones would lead to overall development of the areas and offer diverse tourism experiences which would help in creating livelihood and improve standards of local communities living in those areas.

Paryatan Parv was organised in October, 2017 covering 31 States and Union Territories. The main objective of the event was to focus on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of “Tourism for All”. The event included cultural performances, food festivals, tourism exhibitions, displays of handicrafts & handlooms, yoga sessions, tourism & heritage walks, tourism related competitions for students & public, excursions trips to tourist sites, sensitisation & awareness programmes, seminars & workshops etc.

The Ministry of Tourism, along with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports in collaboration with the Govt. of Gujarat organised the “National Conference of Central & State/UTs Ministers and Secretaries of Tourism, Culture, Youth Affairs & Sports” at Dhordo, Rann of Kutch in January 2017. The Inaugural Session of the Conference was addressed by the Prime Minister, through Video Conferencing.

MoT was designated as the nodal Ministry for the Bharat Parv event organized by the Government of India at Red Fort, Delhi from January 26-31 2017, as part of the Republic Day Celebrations. The event included a display of Republic Day Parade tableaux, performances by the Armed Forces Bands, Food Festival, Crafts Mela and Cultural Performances from different regions of the country.

MoT launched “Incredible India 2.0 Campaign” which marks a shift from the present generic promotions being undertaken across the world, to market specific promotional plans and product specific creatives, with greater focus on digital presence and social media. The Incredible India 2.0 Campaign is being released in the prime existing markets as well as important potential markets. Niche tourism products like Heritage Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Rural Tourism, Wellness & Medical Tourism, MICE, Golf, etc. are being promoted through the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign.

MoT as part of its Rail Tourism Policy is collaborating with MoR for manufacturing of three glass to coaches to be deployed on scenic rail routes of the country. These glass top coaches are fitted with extra wide comfortable seats, wide windows, single observation window at one end, glass roof, rotatable seats, automated sliding doors, mini pantry and wider body side door. Two glass top coaches were launched in 2017 on the Vishakhapatnam – Araku Valley and Dadar to Madgaon route. The third glass top coach is being refurbished to make it suitable for plying on the Qazigund - Baramullah route in Jammu and Kashmir.



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