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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

Post the most disastrous flood of the century, Kerala has ready to welcome tourists. In the last couple of years, the destination has focused aggressively to promote the Northern part of Kerala. As a major boost to the destination, in December the new international airport in Kanur is set to be inaugurated.

Speaking about the plan Rani George, Tourism Secretary, Kerala said, “In a small state like Kerala we have three international airports; the fourth International airport is going to be inaugurated in December in Kanur. This will increase connectivity to the Northern part of Kerala. Now our focus will be to promote the Northern part of Kerala. There is a vibrant rich culture and heritage in this part of Kerala.”

In 2017, Kerala welcomed 10.91 lakh international travellers and 146 lakh domestic with a steady increase. George said, “Kerala is popular across the globe we are getting travellers from UK, USA, followed by Eurpoean countries, Middle East, Russia. For the domestic we are receiving travellers from Southern States, Maharashtra, Gujarat and some Northern states. The International arrivals have been growing every year and in 2017 our international arrivals is 10.91 lakhs. The domestic arrivals were 146 laks in 2017.”

To further change the perception of the travellers post floods, Kerala Tourism conducted a Tourism Readiness Survey. Under this survey the state identified 70 tourist destinations. The survey was conducted with various parameters to check if these destinations are tourism ready.

Speaking about the survey George said, “We all know about the floods which damaged the whole state and all the tourists. Kerala has come back and we are ready to welcome tourists. With each passing day we are bouncing back. Here in India we are having the partnership meet. We did a Tourism Readiness survey from September 5-15, 2018 across major destinations. We identified 70 major tourist destinations in Kerala. We surveyed the destinations, hotels and connectivity and other infrastructure in these destination. We found that out of these 70 destinations almost 90 per cent has become operational and all the major destinations became operational within one month. A few places in Thrissur and Palakad was not operational due to connectivity.”

Post floods Kerala also organised the 10th edition of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM). The event witnessed major success and received participants from across the globe.

Speaking about the Mart George added, “After the floods, the first major event for us was the Kerala Travel Mart which witnessed a huge success. The 10th edition was much bigger than previous edition with 593 international buyers from 66 countries and 1090 national buyers. We also had 313 sellers. With such numbers we would have to look of a bigger venue next year. We also held pre and post mart tours for buyers and media. This activity was excellent to change the perception of everyone that Kerala is back on track.”

Also, Kerala is coming with up new attractions and products. The state is all set to organise the 4th edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in December. This event is set to welcome a significant number of international travellers.

Speaking about the new products she added, “People know about our beaches, backwater and mountains, now we have launched new products. The 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale is set to happen in December, which is a three months event where artist from different countries put up art installations. Large number of visitors comes to visit this event. We are also coming up with the Jatayu Earth Centre located near Trivandrum in the district of Kollam. This is a private initiative under PPP scheme; they have setup a huge bird sculpture. This attraction will also have a lot of adventure activities. They are also setting up a virtual reality museum which will be operational in November.”

The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) recently organised its second Sales Mission in Mumbai and New Delhi. The group had introduced this format last year which had tasted success, this year the event witnessed much better participation. This year 57 general managers from several of the IHCL properties participated in the event and interacted with 310 interested partners in Mumbai.

Renu Basu, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, IHCL said, “The purpose of organising the Sales Mission is a very critical initiative to build engagement and educate all our travel partners. As a brand we want to be the most iconic and profitable brand. This is a great platform under one roof. Last year we had 37 hotels, this year we have 57 hotels participating. This will be an annual event now. We are also targeting the wedding and MICE segment through this mission. This year we also have the Ginger participating in the mission. We also have the new hotels coming in this time. We have a large footprint in India, our brand is known but we wanted to do things differently. In addition to this we do small events in markets like Pune, Nagpur, Ludhiana and other smaller cities. In addition we participate in trade shows.”

For the first time, international IHCL properties also participated in the sales mission. There was representation from two hotels in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, a hotel in London, Langkawi and Bhutan. Also, there is a special focus to further develop the MICE and the Weddings segment.

Speaking about the weddings segment Basu said, “Weddings are a very important segment for IHCL. We have been the venue of choice for over seven decades, as we grew our footprints across the nation we have always been on top of the list for weddings. We are well poised to manage and cater to demands from this segment. Weddings is a part of our DNA. Beach properties and palace properties are witnessing a lot of demand for this segment apart from city properties.”

The group has now changed the positioning of The Ginger Hotels as lean luxury segment. During this Sales Mission, even Ginger properties were present in numbers. Out of the 15 new openings for the group six are Ginger brand hotels. 

She further said, “I truly believe how the market has evolved and the organisations whole approach towards the Ginger brand. We have changed the logo and a lot will change right from the service, experience to the product offering. There is a whole plan and the properties will be renovated. One of our Goa properties is undergoing renovation and will be developed with our new product specs. In future our Gingers will be developed with these new specifications.”

Sands China is all set to transform the Sands Cotai Central complex into ‘The Londoner Macao’. Like the other popular properties Venetian Macao which is Italian themed and The Parisian Macao which is French themed, this new property will be English themed with suites and attractions.

Speaking about the development plans Stephanie Tanpure, Vice President of Sales, Sands China said, “We are now transforming the Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner Macao, which will be British themed. The property will have some of the most recognisable landmarks from London and more attractions will be added. This will really help visitation in Macau and will be a game changer for us. We are still working on the details of the property. As part of the Londoner we will have a Londoner Hotel which we are working on.”

India is amongst the top five source market for The Sands Resorts Macao, with a tremendous growth year on year. The Venetian Macao has stood out as the most popular property amongst the Indians.

Tanpure said, “We have seen some fabulous results from the India market. India is within our top five markets. In terms of visitor arrival in the first quarter of this year, Macao Government has seen a 7.9 per cent in Indian arrivals. This clearly is seen within the hotels also and has strong results not only in MICE but also the FIT segment. The Venetian is the favourite amongst the Indian travellers and the Parisian Macau is also being well accepted in India. Indians are taking more interest in the family suites; a lot of tourists are staying here and exploring other properties. We are here to further promote this property.

Recently as part of a of a six-month, 15-city roadshow, Sands Resorts Macao hosted cocktail and dinner events in Mumbai and New Delhi to introduce the integrated resort’s newest offerings to the travel industry, meeting organisers and media partners, while at the same time thanking them for their continued support.

Tanpure said, ““We make sure that we always reinvent ourselves for the India market. Meeting face to face to bring our partners up to date on all our developments is vitally important in communicating a shared vision and we are grateful for this opportunity. Also, the MICE market is very important for us. We promote it through the Ultimate Download platform; we have seen a lot of success with results from this event in India market. If we look year-on-year, the average size of Indian MICE groups have doubled in size and we have seen a threefold increase in spend, f&b and attractions. As part of that travellers are coming with higher propensity to spend in guest rooms and suites which has surely given rise to demand for luxury properties. We are seeing Indian travellers exploring our entire portfolio.”

In terms of trends, Sands Resort Macao has witnessed significant growth from the tier II markets. “We are seeing significant growth from the Tier II cities. With the millennial generations travelling a lot and with the aid of low cost carriers, this is fuelling growth in outbound travel. Now Low Cost carriers are coming into Macao through Asian Hubs are helping,” she added.

With India being the fifth top market, the other four top source markets for Sands Resort Macao are China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

Beautiful Soul, a newly launched specialty tour company eyes to tap the potential of the wellness tourism segment. The group at this stage is looking to target niche segments which are yet to be explored by growing Indian outbound and inbound.

Speaking about the development, Rajan Kalra, Founder, Beautiful Soul said, “We have received a very encouraging response from the industry. We have a fresh concept; Beautiful Soul takes you to a path of healthy lifestyle with wellness travel, a concept that allows vacationers to think about ones well-being on a holiday break that helps enhancing your physical and spiritual growth in the midst of the most serene surroundings. We at Beautiful Soul are committed to providing a professional service to our customers, ensuring they benefit from our experience, unique style and energy. With a large number of partners and affiliates around the World, we also welcome groups from overseas into India.”

Speaking about the wellness segment he said that Indian wellness tourism market is poised for healthy growth in the years ahead.

Kalra added, “Wellness tourism essentially refers to travel to a different country or region in order to get physiological and mental tranquillity through the native therapies of that region. In the contemporary times, globalisation has not just led to the exchange of products and services across regions, but has also led to an exchange of cultures. Hence, the demand within the global market for wellness tourism is expected to reach new heights over the forthcoming years. Wellness tourism refers to travelling wherein activities planned for health and well-being are on top priority. Trips organised for wellness include healthy food, spa treatments, exercise, and opportunities for spiritual and creative development.”

Initially the group is set to tap India and SAARC region. Also the group will launch its B2B inbound tours vertical at SATTE 2019, South Asia’s largest travel trade exhibition.

Speaking about further plans he added, “We are on the brink of penetrating a premium market in a rapidly growing wellness tourism sector. Beautiful Soul is poised to take advantage of this growth and moderate competition in the Wellness holiday portion of the industry. We intend to provide Wellness and Nature trails packages to pan India & SAARC countries. Services and products provided by Beautiful Soul will initially include pre-arranged tours, custom packages according to client specifications, travel consultation, and as time progresses B2B inbound tours among other related services. Our B2B inbound tours vertical will start at SATTE 2019.”

With a relatively small number of arrivals from India market, Turismo de Portugal is now looking to increase awareness in this market. The destination recently organised a two city roadshow in Mumbai and Delhi. Portugal welcomed 34,600 travellers from India in 2017.

Speaking about the development Filipe Silva, Member of Board of Directors, Turismo de Portugal said, “The Indian market has been producing vey low figures for Portugal. But we are aiming to essentially increase awareness and numbers. We also want to increase commercial relations between Indian and Portugal companies. Last year, we welcomed 34,600 Indian travellers in Portugal which represents about 92,000 room nights. We witnessed 19 per cent growth in terms of overnight stays and a growth of 25 per cent in terms of revenues. The length of stay is just under three days. Currently, we have combined packages with Spain and Morocco, which decreases the average stay.”

The destination is also looking to target MICE travellers from India, especially incentive segment. Without a direct connectivity, the tourism board is increasing its relation with partner airlines to further strengthen connectivity.

Silva said, “We currently don’t have a direct flight from India to Portugal. We have scope to work with different airlines and we are aiming to reinforce our commercial relations with these partner airlines. MICE segment is relatively low but has a huge potential and we have world-class facilities for this segment. Our main highlight for MICE will be Lisbon and Porto, but we are aiming to develop more regions for incentives.”

The destination recently organised roadshow to educate and motivate the focused invitee list of preferred travel agents, tour operators and trade partners and update their knowledge about Portugal. Initially the destination will focus on targeting families, couples, senior travellers, women only groups, golf, weddings segment, honeymooners apart from FIT business.

“We have seven regions in Portugal, majority of Indian travellers start from Lisbon. We have good road and train infrastructure so travellers can go to any regions or the two archipelago. We are now developing a more consistent strategy to attract Indian travellers now. There is a lot of potential here, Indians are looking for more destinations, experiences to explore and we do have. We want to improve connections with more specialised tailor-made tour operators. We will improve our connectivity with further negotiations with our partners. Apart from that we will promote the destination through social media and digital marketing,” Silva added.

Recently, the Government of Portugal has also introduced a rebate for film productions. “Our government has just approved a rebate system for film shootings. We provide 25 per cent of the production cost. We will be targeting this segment from India,” Silva added.

Currently the major source markets for Portugal are UK, France, Germany and Spain. The destination is now eyeing long haul markets like US, Canada, Brazil, India, China, Japan Australia, and South Korea.

The pall of gloom that had descended on Kerala’s globally famed tourism and hospitality industry in the wake of the August floods appears to have lifted if the message filtering from the just concluded Kerala Travel Mart -2018 is any indication. With the state ticking all the boxes to win back the confidence of tourists, God’s Own Country has bounced back with an incredible resilience, removing any lingering apprehension about its preparedness to receive visitors in the October-March tourist season.

It is true the initial portents were extremely unnerving for the state’s tourism industry. The floods had rampaged through 12 of Kerala’s 14 districts. The tourism infrastructure, especially roads got affected while a string of bookings were cancelled in August. In effect, Kerala Tourism was staring at a loss of Rs 1,000 crore, a sector that contributed Rs 33,000 crore in 2017, accounting for 10% of the state’s GDP and a little over 23% of its total employment. In fact, there were doubts whether the KTM (Sept. 27-30) would be held at all. But the biennial showpiece event, India’s biggest conclave of tourism sector stakeholders from across the world, was not only held but it also turned out to be an unqualified success.

Facts speak for themselves: 35,000 business meets involving 1,635 buyers shortlisted from 7,000 applicants (545 of them from 66 foreign countries – the highest in the KTM history so far), 325 sellers in 400-odd stalls and the highest number of foreign buyers from US and the UK. That definitely showed the trust of global tourism industry in Kerala.

“It is historic, coming as it is a month after the worst natural calamity our people faced. I even wonder how our tourism would have got back to track but for this KTM edition coming at the right time,” Kerala Tourism Secretary Mrs. Rani George said about the event. Her sentiments were echoed by Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran. “The KTM lent a smile of hope to the faces in the industry in contrast to a general gloom that prevailed among its captains till a week ago. This edition proved that KTM is not a celebratory event, but a business meet. It’s a positive lesson not just for us in Kerala, but the whole of India and even the world,” he noted.

A major advantage of the KTM was that it successfully built confidence among tourists and other stakeholders of the industry in particular and made a perceptional change among the people in general about the post-floods Kerala. It also sent out a screaming message to the world that the state had brazened out the adversity with a remarkable degree of gumption and resilience and speedily too. More than that, it gave a platform to the government and other stakeholders to discuss the future roadmap for the tourism industry, which is the third highest revenue-earner after remittances from the Malayali Diaspora and the animal husbandry.

The KTM, inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, announced plans to reinvent its decade-old responsible tourism, update customised packages, strengthen tools of publicity, broaden the tourism map and spruce up heritage spots to increase the footfalls. When put into practice, it would give a huge fillip in further promoting public-private participation in the fields of travel and hospitality, wellness and culture.

Take the example of Nefertiti, the Egyptian themed luxury vessel of the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC). To be launched by this month-end, it may chart a new course in cruise tourism in Kerala. Named after the beautiful Egyptian queen Nefertiti, it will have several features to remind the people aboard of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The Chaliyar River Challenge 2018 (a 68-km kayaking championship), which is aimed at tapping the potential of adventure tourism in the state, will also be held as per the schedule. The recent installation of a giant sculpture of the Jatayu bird mentioned in the Ramayana, a new addition in the inventory of Kerala Tourism, and the Muziris Poject are sure to woo the visitors.     

Further, the slant on Responsible Tourism (RT), a major USP of the tourism industry that has completed a decade in Kerala, is likely to trigger schemes that promote jobs. The RT–related schemes currently provide jobs to 30,000 families, while 7,800 of them are direct beneficiaries. According to experts, RT will give jobs to one lakh people by the end of FY 2017-18, while 10,000 RT units will be set up in the state by November.

A visibly relieved Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran appeared to be more than happy on the occasion. “A survey will be conducted seeking the possibility of offering job opportunities through tourism for people in the state’s flood-hit areas. Students of Kerala Institute Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) will conduct the survey among the natives in this regard. It will help bring more people to the tourism sector,” he said.

The government has earmarked Rs 700 crore for the tourism sector under the Nava Kerala reconstruction activities. The administration is also mulling about modifying certain laws for better tourism practices in the state, he said, adding: Kerala is back on track. God’s Own Country is ready to welcome tourists once again.”

Kerala Tourism has surely found its feet once again. But it needs to learn lessons from the catastrophe, lend an aggressive edge to its tourism revival plan and develop new products and services for realizing the government’s target of increasing tourism’s share to 20% of its GDP by 2020.

Louvre Hotels group has signed master franchise agreement with Orange Tigers Hospitality to introduce brand Kyriad in India market. The group aims to open 15 Kyriad hotels in India by March 2019 out of which eight are already operational. The eight operational properties are located in Kumbakonam, Goa, Chennai, Amba Ghat, Bijapur, Pune, Hubli and Hesaraghatta in Bengaluru.

Speaking about the brand, Saurabh Chawla, CEO, Louvre Hotels said,The brand Kyriad was launched globally in 2001, so fairly it is a new brand for us. We have 261 Kyriad Hotels globally out of which most of them are in France and Europe. Over the last couple of years, there has been a constant effort to roll Kyriad worldwide. Our presence in India has largely been the Golden Tulip brand and the presence really in India is due to Sarovar Group which has a huge brand power amongst the domestic market. The presence will now be boosted with the launch of the Kyriad Brand for which we have partnered with Orange Tiger Hospitality. With the new Kyriad brand we have 130 hotels in the country which makes us the largest hotel chain in the nation.”

Under the new partnership, the scope of the agreement is not just limited to India; but encompasses opportunities for development in Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Pakistan and Mauritius.

Abhijeet Shrivastava, CEO, Orange Tiger Hospitality said, “The demand for midscale full service hotels is ever growing in India and over the past few years, the liking for an International brand is on an upswing. With our expertise of managing the hotel operations as well as revenues, we are sure to take brand Kyriad to newer heights in South Asia. Through our strong network of 10 sales offices in India we will take Kyriad brand to the next level. Kyriad in India will be a full service mid scale hotel chain. Kyriad is a very individualistic hotel chain connected to each other by the theme of travel.”

According to further plans, the group is looking to open up more properties in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Also for the Kyriad Brand the group will be majorly focusing on the Tier II and III cities for growth. “Currently we have two properties in Tamil Nadu, three in Karnataka, two in Maharashtra and one in Goa. In the near future the growth will be in Maharashtra. We are also in final stages in Andhra Pradesh. We will be looking at a combination of both Greenfield and Brownfield projects. The brand allows conversion very easily as the brand markers are such that the property can easily be made into a Kyriad. The markets which we are focusing on are Tier II and III cities. There is a demand and supply gap in these smaller cities. There is a requirement for a hotel chain, and if there is an international hotel chain, people are ready to pay,” Shrivastava added.

Alila Hotels and Resorts which has two properties in India are set to attract the Indian travellers for its wellness experiences. The group has curated various wellness experiences each of which can be customised as per the guests demand.

Speaking about the wellness segment Steve Jeisman, Group Director, Alila Experience said, “Wellness is an extremely important segment for Alila. With wellness coming into the trend every property on board are looking at this in every element. For example our in-room amenities, spa products are 100 per cent natural. I think the term wellness can be interpreted in various forms. I think its developing at a rapid rate now. Wellness is all about prevention, having guest offerings and services which they can enjoy. The mindset of most people has to be changed. Now people are becoming more wellness savvy and are looking to eat better and take time to relax. We are taking this very organic right from our positioning to our f&b menus. We have various wellness options in our f&b options as well.”

In India, Alila Diwa Goa provides programmes which are a fusion of Ayurveda and other international therapies. Also, according to the group Yoga is currently trending across the globe and they also provide Yoga services in some of their properties.

Speaking about the demand and customisations he said, “Every destination is very different. Ayurveda in India is a stand out, but when we try to introduce this in rest of the world people don’t understand it easily. When we developed Alila Diwa Goa, we were looking to develop a full Ayurvedic Clinic, but we offer a bespoke customised approach with fusions of Ayurveda. Guests can come to us with problem and our doctor will give a tailor-made programme for them. We infused Asian, Western and Balinese therapies into Ayurveda and the guest also has a choice to experiment. The Balinese therapy is most famous in Alila Diwa Goa. In China market we saw a more simplistic approach. Yoga is now quite trendy across the globe. Every region is a little different, but we do a little fusion which the guests can enjoy.”

Alila is now coming up with a new programme where the core focus will be ‘reconnecting’. Also, susatinablity is a key focus for the group even when it comes to these experiences.

Jeisman added, “We don’t want to go full into the wellness services. But through nutrition, exercise and programmes we can achieve this. Our programme next year is based on reconnecting, reconnecting you with nature. Getting back to basics is the key focus and be away from technology when in our properties. We don’t advertise ourselves as wellness destination but we do have services. We are adding more experiences in future.  In terms of sustainability, we have an organic garden in Goa and Fort Bishangarh. Our packagings for spa products are also eco-friendly. We look at a lot of sustainable aspects in our wellness programmes as well.”

With a target of reaching 100, 000 Indian arrival milestone by 2020, Czech Republic has fast-paced its promotions in the India market. In the first half of the year, the destination has welcomed 43,722 Indians with a northward growth of 5.6 per cent as compared to the previous year.

Speaking about the trends from India market, Arzan Khambatta, Head, Czech Tourist Authority – Czech Tourism, India said, “The Czech Republic is witnessing a steady growth in the Indian tourist arrivals every year. In the first half of 2018, Czech Republic has received 43,722 Indian arrivals, which is about 5.6 per cent of growth in comparison with the previous year for an average length of stay being – 3.4 days. In 2017, 85,680 Indians visited the Czech Republic. We are looking at welcoming 100,000 Indian visitors to the Czech by 2020, perhaps before that!”

Last year, the destination organised roadshows in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to showcase their offerings. With the increase in awareness, Czech Republic is now looking to promote curated experiences.

Speaking about the experiences Khambatta said, “Indian travellers love trying new experiences and revel in the local culture and traditions. Besides the scenic beauty and history, the Czech Republic offers various experiences like beer spa, glass – blowing, wine tasting that the visitors can cherish. This summer, we introduced the South Moravian region of the Czech, which includes places like Brno and the stunning Lednice-Valtice Complex.”

Indians are also known as a high spending market as compared to the other source markets. The Indian traveller spends approximately 30 per cent above the average in comparison to other visitors, at a total amount of more than CZK 4,000 per person per day.

He further added, “The Czech Republic also boasts more than two hundreds of chateaux and castles which the travellers can visit and experience. The growth in Indian tourists to the Czech has been increasingly driven on thematic packages such as wine tourism, spa tourism and pristine nature stays. The country hosts a diverse array of natural landscapes that appeal to visitors of every kind – be it architectural lovers or adventure seekers. The Indian tourists in the Czech Republic visit not only the capital city of Prague and Brno, but also Karlovy Vary and fairy tale town Český Krumlov which is a favourite spot for honeymooners.”

Further increasing awareness, the destination is also looking to collaborate with production houses. Film tourism plays a key role in showcasing a destination. “We are promoting the country as an affordable premium destination targeting on families and those well-travelled FITs in the age group of 25-45 years, who are looking at customised holiday experience and to do something different. We are also targeting MICE segment, which has a huge potential in India. Several Bollywood movies have been shot in the Czech showcasing the natural beauty of the central European country. Understanding the impact of cinema, we realise it is a very good medium to promote tourism and are hoping to collaborate with more productions in the future.”

Traditionally, Goa has always enjoyed a very important place in the international tourism market. The destination has been frequented by the international travellers in numbers. This had given rise to the air charter business to Goa. The destination was at the peak in 2013-14 when it welcomed 1128 chartered aircrafts with 261,452 tourists from across the globe. Russia was one of the major source markets in this segment. Gradually this numbers witnessed a southward growth with 215,041 travelleing in 808 chartered aircrafts in 2017-18 (up to 12-03-2018).

Speaking about the challenges Nilesh Cabral, Chairman, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) said, “There are a few challenges which still persist. The Goa Airport as of now cannot have more charter flights as the airport is used for naval flights from morning 8 AM to 12.30 PM. Also we don’t have capacity to park more charter flights overnight at the airport. Secondly, due to the fall of Rouble, there is a drop from the Russian market. This year we should improve. Also, Russian market usually travels by wide-bodied aircrafts and there is no space in current airport for more flights. Still the Russian travellers are coming to Goa; the market should get stable by this year. Also, we are having competition from international destinations who are also eyeing the Russian market. But this trend will change this year.”

Goa is now set to get its second airport in Mopa, which is located in North Goa. With the new airport in place, GTDC is optimistic to witness a major growth in the charter business, which in turn will boost tourism.

Cabral added, “The Government has decided to go in full swing to launch the new airport called Mopa. There will be no restrictions from charter flights in Goa. There has always been a demand for charter flights, especially bigger ones, the wide-bodied one. The new airport will be developed in North Goa. We are also connecting the North and South Goa with six lane highways, which will further increase the connectivity. If all goes well the land operations will start by 2020-21. Also, the first half of this year has been very good in terms of footfall. It is a good sign that there has been increase in both domestic and international visitations.”

In the recent years, Goa has been looking to develop world class MICE infrastructure in the state. The state is looking to develop Ponda as a MICE destination with convention facilities. “We are very much interested in developing the MICE segment. Government has land for creating MICE infrastructure, but we are looking at the private players to come and develop. We still have plans to come up with a convention centre at Ponda under PPP mode. MICE tourists still come in a huge numbers to Goa. We want to promote the mid-segment hotels for MICE.”

Over the last couple of years, Goa has witnessed a trend in terms of the domestic market. Earlier, Goa was regarded as a seasonal market with June to October being an off-season. Now, the domestic market has helped Goa to become a year round destination.

Cabral said, “Domestic market is very important for us. We have a good occupancy. In the last seven to eight years, the trend was domestic travellers visited Goa only during the season period. After June till October, hotels used to consider off-season and did not have much business. Now, the hotels are doing well throughout the year. Domestic has become a huge round the year market for us. This market is helping us to develop our tourism. When we have tourists coming throughout the year, we have created new products. During monsoon, travellers cannot enjoy the beaches so we are promoting various activities like heritage, nature, wildlife, hinterland tourism, culture, etc.”

 

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