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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

Cruising as a segment has witnessed a significant growth from the India market in the last couple of years. Continuing the trend, MSC Cruises has witnessed a 40 per cent growth from India market. MSC has in the recent years sailed a couple of times to the Indian shores, which will further increase with the growing demand.

On the sidelines of MSC Bellissima’s christening ceremony, Angelo Capurro, Executive Commercial Director, MSC Cruises said, “The growth from emerging markets and especially India market is very important for us. We have seen a 40 per cent growth year to date compared to last year. This year is really good for us and with products like MSC Bellissima, we will further see growth. We will deploy more ships to the Far East that will pass through India waters. Also, considering the huge growth we are coming with luxury ships which will be small with very different itinerary. We are looking aggressively at the India market to further enhance guest experience. We do a lot in terms of f&b for the Indian travellers. When we have groups we design completely different f&b for them.”

In terms of trends, Indians are now looking for novel itineraries. MSC Cruises is popular for its Mediterranean sailings, now Indians are also booking on their North European sailings which are premium category products.

Kunal Sampat, General Manager-India, MSC Cruises said, “In 2018 as compared to 2017, we have seen a double digit growth from India market. We are very excited to see the growth in our North Europe sailings. Mediterranean is very popular as we are the only cruise liner having year round sailings in this region. North Europe is a premium product and witnessing significant growth in this region has been encouraging. India has always been a value seeking market and not a price sensitive market. More than 80 per cent of our business are Balcony and above category and Yacht Clubs. This shows that there is a demand for luxury from India market. This is a trend which will further grow.”

Also, the group has witnessed a significant rise in the bookings from the Tier II & III cities. MICE has been one of their core business apart from the family groups and celebrations segment from India.

Sampat said that West and Northern region has always witnessed an upper hand in terms of growth, but Gujarat, Punjab has now become major markets. He further added, “However East and South India markets are still slow and needs to pickup. Tier II cities has always been the strength in India. We are closely working with the B2B market and we get a lot of travellers from the smaller cities. The Tier II & III cities are the game changer.”

Speaking about the segments, he said, “We see a good growth in the MICE segment. Along with MICE, ad hoc family groups are growing. We regularly get such enquiries and conversions happening in this segment, like booking for a 25 cabins together. MICE business for MSC is around 30 to 35 per cent and this year we expect it to grow. We would prefer to cater to the weddings segment, but the challenge is that people want to do weddings on cruise but they like to do in destinations which are in flying time of 4-5 hours maximum. Our sailings are mainly in Europe and even visa has its own challenges. So, Far East as a destination attracts more weddings on cruise as compared to Europe.”

Mauritius, which currently attracts less than 100,000 travellers from India, is looking to reach the 120,000 milestone by 2020. The destination is promoting itself aggressively in the India market but still needs to develop the connectivity. Currently Air Mauritius is the only airline that flies to India.

Recently Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, Minister of Tourism, Mauritius visited India to attend SATTE 2019 and also meet with Indian counterparts. Speaking about the target and connectivity issues he said, “We are targeting to reach 120,000 by 2020, as of now we haven’t reached 100,000. We are interested in developing the air connectivity. We are in talk with Jet Airways and SpiceJet and are open to any other Indian airline which is looking to provide a direct connectivity to Mauritius. Currently, there is a codeshare between Air Mauritius and Air India, but the only airline flying is Air Mauritius. We believe that there is so much potential in this market that we need to develop it. The only way to develop this market is to have better connectivity. The Air services agreement between both the nations provide for more carriers from India to Mauritius. We are looking at a lot of cities in India to connect. One of the problems that the Indian companies have is their fleet does not allows them to fly to Mauritius. SpiceJet has the aircraft to fly from South of India.”

Today the Indian outbound is growing rapidly and every destination is looking for a slice of the pie. Minister Gayan said that the destinations should look at a South- South Cooperation in the tourism segment.

He further said, “The way tourism has developed, everybody from India is now looking at western destinations to travel. We want to have a South-South cooperation in the tourism segment. We already look at this cooperation in terms of trade but want to get it to tourism as well.”

The destination is also looking to introduce new tourism products. He said, “We are also working on bringing the sovereignty of Chagos Archipelago. Once we get this we can open a whole new world of tourism.  Also there is a lot of religious tourism happening in Mauritius. A lot of Indians are travelling for business and professional purposes, we want more tourism.”

Mauritius is also now looking to develop the cruise tourism segment. The destination is looking for smaller vessels which can carry 500-1000 passengers.

Minister Gayan said, “We already have cruise tourism plans, we are trying to identify a vessel which can carry anywhere around 500-1000 passengers and can do the Indian Ocean. We are trying to identify any such vessel. We want to develop this segment. This is a big segment with a lot of tourism potential. We are open for business and investments for tourism in Mauritius.

The nation is also looking out to revive film tourism from India. The destination is offering rebates as high as 40 per cent. Also the destination has attractive incentive schemes for big Indian weddings.

Speaking about the segments Gayan added, “We have a very attractive rebate scheme for film tourism and we are in touch with the production houses. We are looking to attract film tourism. In the past Bollywood has shot a lot of films, we want them once again. We are also now developing the technical assistance. We will also develop post production facilities. The government reimburses 40% of the cost incurred by production units in Mauritius which has become a major draw by now.”

Travelport has announced that it has renewed its long-standing, successful partnership with BCD Travel. With this new agreement, Travelport Digital will continue to collaborate on BCD Travel’s digital traveller engagement solution, TripSource, making it the preferred way to manage all aspects of business travel. TripSource allows travelers to shop and book air, hotel and car, and to evolve the next generation of self-service corporate travel experience.

Since 2013, Travelport has been a key digital partner for BCD Travel, one of the largest TMCs in the world. As a trusted technology partner, Travelport Digital has collaborated with BCD Travel to develop the award winning TripSource platform. The collaboration allowed BCD to vastly expand upon TripSource’s early iteration as an itinerary management app to produce a popular destination for shopping, booking, policy guidance and self-service trip management. TripSource now offers a cutting-edge user experience that drives the best purchasing decisions, allows users to book and manage travel and helps travelers to stay organised.

Will Pinnell, Vice President, Product Strategy, BCD Travel said, “We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Travelport, who share our mission to deliver a simple, digital, adaptive and global experience for travellers. Our longstanding alliance offers us immense value as we strive to lead the corporate travel industry in innovation that translates into tangible value for businesses and a superior experience for their travellers.”

Julie O’Sullivan, Head of Digital, Business Travel, Travelport Digital said, “As a key partner for the TripSource platform since its early stages, we’re thrilled to continue to support its future growth with our technology solutions. This renewal is yet another example of our commitment to enabling our partners to continue providing the very best digital experiences for today’s mobile-first global travellers.”

According to the Travelport 2018 Global Digital Traveller Survey of 16,000 travellers from 25 countries, mobile remains crucial, and travellers want a consolidated experience. They also want technology to continue to simplify and enhance the travel experience. TripSource uses real-time messaging capabilities to provide travel updates such as flight delays, gate changes, risk alerts and policy reminders as well as company specific information that helps travellers have a seamless, well-informed experience.

Known for the world famous Machu Picchu, Peru is now promoting itself as all-round destination in India market. As per the trends, earlier travellers used to combine multiple destinations during travel to South America. Now, travellers are looking to explore more offerings in Peru.

Speaking about the growth from India market, Luis M Cabello, Economic and Commercial Counselor of Embassy of Peru in India, said, “The commercial office of Peru in India started its activities in 2014. That year we didn’t have more than 4,000 Indian travellers to Peru. Now, we have close to 8,000 Indian travellers going to Peru. We are growing by close to 22 per cent every year in India. Peru has something for all type of travellers. Earlier, the trend was that part of the India market preferred to go to a lot of countries at one trip, most popular circuit being Brazil, Argentina and Peru; sometimes Brazil, Argentina, Chile or Ecuador. It was a combination, now that situation has changed and many Indians are looking at Peru as a solo destination. We have everything to offer.”

Peru is now looking to promote destinations beyond Machu Picchu. The destination has a lot of offer such as culture, wildlife, adventure, nightlife, etc.. “Every Indian traveller wants to visit Machu Picchu. Now we are promoting beyond Machu Picchu. Our capital Lima has a lot of offer where one can stay for three nights to enjoy our culture as well as nightlife. We also have adventure offerings in Lima. Also Amazonian rainforests are a big attraction in Peru. Also Indians like to visit the Nazca lines. We also have a lot of trekking tracks, nature and wildlife. This year our slogan is the ‘Richest country in the world’, as we have everything for everyone,” Cabello said.

In Asia, China, South Korea and Japan are already established markets for Peru. The destination sees a lot of potential in developing India as one of the major source markets. “China, South Korea, Japan are big markets for Peru from Asia. Indian travellers are now growing rapidly; India has a lot more potential. In the years to come India will be one of our top consumer and supplier. We are doing a lot of online promotions. We have a good number of followers on social media. We are going to do some G2B meetings. We prefer to go to companies that are really interested in our destination and we are ready to do a lot of partnership with tour operators,” he added.

In terms of segments, Peru is not only looking for niche travellers but also the mid-market segment. “Peru is a new experience for Indian travellers. Peru is not expensive; the cost of living is moderate. We cater to all segments of travellers budget travellers to high end. We have a lot of luxury offerings in Peru as well, like we have one of the oldest restaurants in the world in Peru, which is a experience in itself,” Cabello added.

Destination Canada, Canada's national tourism organisation to promote tourism, is all set to welcome close to 280,000 Indian travellers in 2018. In 2017, the destination had witnessed 18 per cent growth with 254,000 Indians travelling to Canada.

Speaking about the growth, Carl Vaz, CEO & Strategy Director, Destination Canada, India GSA said, “Canada is a long-haul destination for Indians, which is why we only look at the upmarket leisure segment and the luxury segment from India market. We are not in the competitive set of the mass destinations. We are more into the luxury and the high end markets. In 2017, we welcomed 254,000 Indians from January to December with a growth rate of 18 per cent. In 2018, we hope to close the year with around 280,000 which will again give us a double digit growth.”

Indian tourists spend on an average close to $1,500 per trip to Canada. The most common trip purpose for Indian travellers to Canada is to visit friends and family in 2017 and this segment was up an estimated 45 per cent over 2016.

Destination Canada has signed an MoU with the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) to conduct knowledge sessions at 10 destinations including; Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Indore, Jaipur and New Delhi.

Throwing light on India strategy, Vaz said, “We have signed a MoU with TAAI in India to organise 10 city roadshow in India. Though this tie up, we intend on training or acclimatising around 700 TAAI members. In Mumbai alone, we had over 120 members. We have also tied up with UBM which organise SATTE exhibition to organise a four series webinars, we have already completed three of them, and these were very successful.”

According to report published on the Government of Canada website, Canada is set to expand its biometrics collection program and is now taking steps to prepare for December 31, 2018, when nationals from countries in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will need to give their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) when applying for a visitor visa, study or work permit, or for permanent residence. Even India will be included under this phase.

Speaking about the new biometric introduction Vaz, “We will be training and sensitising the travel trade in the end of this year and January.”

The destination is now looking to promote winter tourism in India and also promote the destination during the popular Indian festivals. “The passenger traffic to Canada goes up in May to July. As a strategy, we are now marketing the festival season including, Diwali, Durga Puja, and other Indian festivals. We have also started marketing the winter wonderland concept in India which is the Christmas, New Year as well as January and February. This covers the honeymoon segment and the snow skiing segment,” Vaz said.

The destination is also coming up with a MICE strategy for the India market. He said, “We have a subsidiary division for MICE and we are in the process of formulating a strategy for India and will be announced next year.”

Jeju Tourism Organisation in association with Korea Tourism Organisation organised roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi recently. Jeju Island is now looking to attract Indian travellers and is looking to increase visibility in India market.

Speaking about the Indian market Park, Hong-Bai, President, Jeju Tourism Organisation said, “Last year we welcomed 2400 Indian tourists in Jeju Island. We provide visa free access to174 countries and India is one amongst those countries. With the help of the travel trade and media and more promotions we are targeting to welcome 10000 Indian travellers to Jeju in the coming year.”

In 2010, Jeju Island was designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark for its unique volcanic topography and beautiful landscapes. The destination is promoting nature and landscape along with the MICE segment. Globally, Jeju Island receives a significant number of MICE travellers.

He further said, “MICE movement is nil from India so far. But we are one of the most attractive MICE destinations globally. We have excellent convention facilities and infrastructure for MICE segment. Jeju is a lava volcanic island and we have nature and heritage. We have a lot of attractions in our destination. We are more focused in promoting nature. We also have collaboration with Hong Kong Tourism, wherein travellers can visit Hong Kong and then combine Jeju Island along with the tour.”

This is the first time Jeju Island is promoting its offerings in India market. The destination is further looking to organise familiarisation trips and various activities to spread awareness.

Yoon Chang-ho, Chief Official, Tourism Policy Division, Tourism Marketing Team, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province said, “This is our beginning in India market. We are organising roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi. This being our first step, we will come back more often to educate travel trade in India. This year we have already invited celebrities such as Miss India to showcase the destination. We will also work with travel agencies, media to further promote the destination. We will plan fam trips to promote the destination. We are not aiming at any particular segment as of now. We will first bring up the volume and then look at weddings, MICE and other segments.”

In an effort to grow tourism from India, Western Australia is aggressively looking to establish new connectivity from India to Perth. The Western Australian Minister of Tourism has made two visits to India in the recent months and has met six Indian carriers to introduce routes between major cities in India and Perth.

Speaking about the development Paul Papalia, Minister of Tourism, Western Australia said, “Last time I was here two months ago, I met with senior executives of six airlines to talk about establishing new routes. We committed to coming back with providing them with business cases for travelling to Perth. We are delivering those, we also met with State Minister for Civil Aviation last time and we are meeting him again this time. We are putting business cases to the six airlines so that they understand the dynamics. Around 145,000 people are flying between India and Western Australia each year in both directions is a significant number. What we have said is we will work with whoever flies first. We are establishing relation with the Minister of Civil Aviation in India. As a state Government we will give all support to the airline and will offer money to market the route for a period. We are not locked down to any one route or airline and are open for any major city.”

In the last decade, Australia has become a popular destination amongst the Indian travellers. Still Western Australia is yet to make a major mark in this market; the destination has now started focusing aggressively to attract the Indian outbound.

Papalia said, “Earlier, we had the benefit of the mining boom; we had never seen tourism as a segment and were a bit myopic. Previously there was not much effort into diversifying. We as a new government elected in March last year, came by saying we would diversify the economy and invest in tourism and are responding to what was our failure in the past.”

Western Australia is now promoting itself as a destination with authentic experiences and they recently launched a new campaign to promote road trips.

Speaking about the USP of the destination Papalia added, “Western Australia is the authentic Australia. We are the actual experience that people would desire when they travel. India is a maturing market and they know what they want. They want to get out and experience things and get close to nature. We also launched a campaign to promote road trip. Western Australia has vast open expanse and beautiful access to pristine nature and sparse population. In the past that was often seen as negative, we turned that around and say that this is an opportunity for having road trips that will really be a bucket list experience.”

India is the number one market for Western Australia in terms of the students segment. The destination is looking to further grow this segment.

Papalia said, “Student market from India is the biggest we have, it’s slightly more than China. We have over nine per cent student market of the entire Australia. We think we can grow it to 25 per cent easily in the next couple of years. A big part of that is to get direct flights, which will make it easier to attract students. Then their families can visit and will boost our tourism, we are working collaboratively with all universities now to sell Western Australia as a study destination.”

Being a mining state, the destination also offers a lot of mine tourism products. Also with new infrastructure the state is eyeing to attract MICE travellers from India.

Speaking about the products Papalia said, “We are the most attractive MICE destination in the nation as we have the newest hotel product, we have a huge capacity and a lot of new hotels are coming up, forcing down the price overall. We have convention and conferencing centres and are very keen to partner to attract business travellers. In terms of Mining travel we have some magnificent mining options. We have the only operating Mint in Australia in Perth. One can do a tour of the Boddington Gold Mine which is one of the biggest gold mines in the world. We also have the Galvin’s port which is in the city. We have a lot of tourist mines which travellers can explore.”

Karma Group, an international chain of luxury hotels is focusing to expand further into the India market. The group currently owns and operates four properties in Goa and one in Rajasthan and Kerala each.

Speaking about their expansion plans John Spence, Founder of Karma Group said, “As Karma Group, we have grown to 27 resorts across Europe, Australia and Asia, but India still remains an extremely crucial market. With four properties in Goa and one each in Rajasthan and Kerala, we are re-focusing on India and have exciting expansion plans on the cards, which include setting up two more properties a year, for the next five years. We want to do more in Goa as we think it’s a tremendous space with enormous potential. We also want to explore both North and South India. Going beyond Kerala, we are nurturing expansion plans along the East coast like Pondicherry, Chennai and Coorg.”

The group witnesses healthy loadfactor across all its properties in India. This year due to the floods in Kerala, the occupancy has gone down in the particular state. Spence added, “Occupancy has been extremely good in the India properties this year. Depending on the time of the year, the average occupancy is 80 per cent. This year the rainfall was particularly heavy and for Kerala the occupancy did suffer. In general our occupancy is been well headed, we were extremely pleased with not the number of guest but also with the quality of the guest primarily the people who stay in our resorts were old club members. We are not a private members club than we are a vanilla hotel company; hence RevPar is not what we use too so much. We plan to open two more properties India owing to the positive response.”

Events are one of the forte for Karma Group, across all its properties the group organises various events and entertainment activities which draws a lot of travellers.

Speaking about the entertainment and events Spence said that events are an integral part of the business. He further said, “One of the key developments is the introduction of Karma FM, a 24 hour radio streaming facility available across resorts, on the app and the website. Curated and hosted by a main DJ of Karma, the content is well-received.  We are expanding the beach club in Bali with an intention to have our customers enjoy the best as we double the area. The investment will also include a uniquely fashioned swimming pool, sushi bar, DJ booth on the beach. For Karma Sanctum in London we have entered a joint venture with Iron Maiden. We are also expanding the roof top bar to incorporate a larger list of events.

The group is also crafting a speciality inhouse wine to further enhance the guest experience. Also Karma is entering the Glamping segment.

Speaking about the new products Spence added, “We will be unveiling the wine crafted by Karma soon. The wine is made in the Medock, well-known as a wine growing region of South France. We have also introduced an event named Glamping where we are incorporating tents, yacht at our resorts. We have recently signed a contract to take this on the road. We will be taking these too few of the festivals in Chella, United States and in England. The idea is to have a mobile Karma resort during the festivals. People will have the opportunity to stay in the glamping units and have an experience of Karma through the spa areas and more during the festivals. You can buy from an option of two tickets.”

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.”



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