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News
Maansi Sharma

Maansi Sharma

Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd (MHRIL) is set to invest approximately Rs 400-500 crore towards capacity expansion over the next 18 months to meet the increased membership base. This information was provided by Deepali Naair, Chief Marketing Officer, MHRIL.

“MHRIL recorded an Annual Total income of Rs. 799 crores for the year ended 31 March 2014 as against Rs. 716 crores last year. The last quarter of FY 2013-14 has been particularly fruitful as the month of March 2014 recorded the highest ever membership sales in the history of the company. The total membership base as of March 31, 2014 stands at approximately 171K. Meanwhile, with ongoing efforts to enhance member experience, including a wide bouquet of resort offerings, MHRIL is now set to realise the full potential of the Vacation Ownership business,” she added.

At MHRIL, the focus on sustained growth will see an increase in both the number of resorts and member base. According to Naair, with a higher propensity to travel among the growing middle class and rising discretionary incomes of people, MHRIL has expanded its sales and marketing activities to 10 new tier II cities as prospective sales from these markets are seeing a positive trend.

Recognising the importance of the travel trade as a selling tool in India, Naair informed that, in the event of a situation where there is unused inventory at the resorts, MHRIL works with the travel trade to pitch to non-members to stay at the resorts. “This is a part of our strategy to also convert non-members into members through our on-site sales team. To this end we organise FAM trips for agents on a regular basis that help acclimatise the agents with the resorts thereby helping them promote the destination better to non-members. Furthermore, we participate in road shows of key travel agents. This gives us a platform to showcase our product and reach a large section of the trade fraternity,” she said.

She further added that the company ensures that Club Mahindra is included in marketing collaterals that helps create awareness not only in India but outside of India as well.

Singapore is set to host its seventh annual Grand Prix this September along the Marina Street Circuit. The Singapore Grand Prix is the only night race in the world and the only street race in Asia. Activities around the race will showcase Singapore’s art, culture, shopping, dining and night life activities, and will also feature live concerts in the vicinity of the circuit.

Addressing the media at an event in Mumbai recently, Pradeep Israni, Assistant Manager Western India, Singapore Tourism Board revealed that the highlight of this year’s entertainment activities will be the Robbie Williams concert to take place on one of the larger podiums set up for the Grand Prix. Furthermore, the National Museum of Singapore will showcase the country’s racing history.

“The race witnessed a footfall of 81,509 visitors per day in 2013, the highest we have ever recorded since the races began in 2008. Our off track entertainment has been planned on a large scale this year, with nine stages set up for performances. The circuit itself is broken into four zones to ensure easy viewing for the visitors around the tracks,” explained Sarah Martin, Director of Operations & Security, Singapore Grand Prix.

For Indians, the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Grand Prix are promoting packages that suit every budget, as well as a special offer for a possible upgrade to green room tickets for one lucky customer who purchases a pair of tickets for the race.

Singapore Airlines has stepped in for the first time to take the place of Title Sponsor for the Grand Prix. It has designed various packages, which include flight costs and accommodation, starting at Rs. 75,000 for the race, and is offering discounts for other passengers. David Lau, General Manager India, Singapore Airlines mentioned that the airline has appointed seven preferred agents to sell these packages in India.

“Force India is doing great on the circuit so interest from the Indian market has been strong. We are, in fact, drawing in repeat visitors as well as new ones now. 60 per cent of the traffic for the Grand Prix is still domestic, but the remaining does fly down from other countries for the race,” said Chang Chee Pey, Executive Director – South Asia, Middle East & Africa, Singapore Tourism Board.

Speaking about the India market year round, Chee Pey added that in 2013, Singapore welcomed 9.34 lakh Indians, and are expecting to surpass these numbers this year as bookings have been positive. The Royal Caribbean, he said, is adding two more ships to sail from Singapore, which he believes will draw more crowds. 

SriLankan Airlines has become the first airline from this part of the world to join the oneworld alliance. With Cathay Pacific acting as the airline’s sponsor, Sri Lanka’s national carrier announced the joining of the oneworld alliance in a glittering ceremony held in the country’s newest gateway – the Matthala Rajapaksa International Airport. Addressing the media, Rupert Hogg, Chief Operating Officer, Cathay Pacific stated that the addition completes oneworld alliance’s largest expansion operation, with 15 members signed on in a span of just two years.

Bruce Ashby, CEO, oneworld Governing Board said, “oneworld has always striven to be the first choice for frequent travellers. We are Proud to welcome our newest member, SriLankan Airlines, the first member to join an alliance from the Indian subcontinent. Sri Lankan flies to 32 destinations in 30 countries, and takes our reach to almost 1,000 destinations, making us the number two alliance in terms of revenue – one large member away from being number one.”

He further revealed that the alliance will provide SriLankan Airlines customers with improved customer service and quality standards, lounge access, and loyalty programmes, among other advantages. Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Chairman, SriLankan Airlines lauded the alliance for making Colombo a new hub. “In 2013, SriLankan Airlines carried 10 million passengers to 30 countries. We registered a 30 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals last year. We target 2.5 million FTAs by 2016. Joining oneworld will improve our global connectivity and reputation.”

The Chairman further announced two key developments – codeshare agreements with Malaysia Airlines, Finnair and Russian carrier S7. Kapila Chandrasena, Chief Executive Officer, SriLankan Airlines commented that the carrier is expecting US$ 25-30 million incremental value from the alliance.

The Indian route

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the event, GT Jeyaseelan, Chief Marketing Officer, SriLankan Airlines, called India a very important market for both SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lankan Tourism. When asked about possible expansion plans on Indian routes, he stated that the priority is to increase frequencies to destinations the airline currently operates to. “We are looking at a number of opportunities in India and evaluating a number of newer destinations as well, tier I and II cities,” he revealed.

The airline currently operates three flights a week to Chennai, and may increase it to four; 10 flights to Bengaluru, which they are looking at increasing to 14; and daily flights to Trivandrum which they hope to increase to a double daily frequency. Furthermore, the company is keen on operating out of new ports and are seriously evaluating Calicut, Vishakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, as well as several high potential opportunities in the north.

“While we are in a fleet renewal process, we will not be adding new units, so expansion, if any, will be within those limits. We enjoy an excess of 80 per cent load factor from India,” he added.

Speaking about the tourism exchange between the two countries, Jeyaseelan commented that the sector is recovering and growing well. In terms of volume from international markets, India is the airline’s biggest market, which is why the expansion in the sector never ceases, he added.

When asked about their focus segment of travellers from India following the joining of the alliance, Jeyaseelan stated that the airline has so far witnessed leisure traffic from India, as well as a large chunk of labour transit traffic through India. As part of the oneworld Alliance they hope to draw in more premium travellers. “We are also in talks with Indian carriers for codeshare agreements to further expand our reach within the country,” he said.

The next chapter

SriLankan Airlines’ first initiative will be to modernise the airline’s existing fleet, replacing aged aircraft with state of the art, new age vessels. According to Chandrasena, an investment of US$ 500 million will be made towards new aircraft purchase, including A330-300 and A 350 models. “In 2012, we had 14 aircraft, now have 22, which is a 30-40 per cent increase in fleet size. That was phase I of the expansion. The second phase now is modernisation. Aircraft aged over 10-15 years, especially narrow bodied aircraft, will be replaced with newer ones,” he added.

Abacus has signed a treaty with Trade-wings Institute of Management to provide their students with GDS knowledge. The travel solutions provider will equip the institute’s students with a value addition module on the use of GDS as an add-on course in their ticketing curriculum. According to Rajan Dani, Director, Trade-wings Institute of Management, travel courses nowadays require a strong GDS training, and the partnership with Abacus will complete that need.

The course by Abacus will be a 40 hour module with training sessions. The agreement signed is valid till December 2014, after which it will be renewable based on mutual agreement. Jeet Sawhney, MD, Abacus India revealed that Abacus is keen to tie up with more institutes for such courses, as he feels it is the need of the hour.

“The tourism industry is losing its glamour. Students do not look at tourism as a career option, and it is leaving a gap in quality staff for the industry. We grow as the industry grows, and the industry only grows if its agents grow. This is a step towards ensuring the growth of the agents. We conduct regular trainings on GDS and soft skills for front line staff, and have even trained airline executives on the same. Two sessions have also been conducted with the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) members, during which we trained over 400 front line staff. It is definitely an area we would like to expand in,” Sawhney said.

On the occasion of his visit to India, Laurent Fabius, Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister of France, met tourism professionals in Mumbai to promote France as a preferred tourist destination to Indian visitors. A selection of Indian travel professionals attended this event, during which the Minister announced new measures to further boost France's image as a welcoming destination for Indian tourists. First, for Indian tourists, French visas will be issued within 48 hours as of 1 January 2015; and second, an official application for smartphones and tablets, has been designed for Indian tourists travelling to France.

The Links, a French marketing company, has developed the app for Indian tourists to Paris in a bid to ensure hassle-free visits to the popular destination. The app, named ‘Chalo Paris’, available in English, Hindi and French, will feature details about restaurants, tour spots, currency conversion, English-French translation, shopping, emergency contacts and maps. The app will be officially launched in September.

The app has been designed to work offline, although more information is available when connected to the internet. For instance, 10 important French sentences are available offline, while more are available when connected. The aim is to make the app a survival kit for Indians visiting Paris, and the features have been designed keeping in mind common problem faced by tourists such as the need for vegetarian restaurants, language barrier and details on local commute. For now the app only has details of Paris as it is the most popular destination in France, but The Links does plan to add more cities at a later stage.

Be it annual roadshows, updated online training programmes, offline training programmes or additional offices across the country, there seems to be no backing down for Europe as far as wooing the India market is concerned. While the start of the final quarter of 2013’s calendar year was fraught with speculations about lower outbound numbers to traditional destinations, Europe carried on unfased with their activities in India, drawing a more positive outlook for the remainder of the season. At the forefront of these activities is their attempt to reach a wider audience in the tier II cities of India, the section of travellers that have the growing disposable income as well as ambition to explore foreign destinations.


Growing their reach

Statistics are the greatest tool to indicate India’s importance as a source market for Europe. With Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain and Austria welcoming 91,000; 5,000; 60,000 and 89,277 Indians respectively in 2012, it is hardly surprising that these destinations are upping their ante with the travel trade here.
“Turkey has a wide diversification of tourism offerings. The focus is to put the message across to the large traveler base in India spread across the metros and the tier II cities. We have been witnessing increasing number of inquiries from Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Amritsar. Long weekends, family holidays, MICE tourism, anniversary celebrations or even a planned beach vacation and a food tour has become a travel norm now,” said Ozgur Ayturk, Culture and Tourism Counselor, Turkish Embassy in India.

Spain has already begun tapping the tier II market with the most recent effort being a familiarisation trip to the World Heritage Cities in Spain. The destination took travel agents from Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kochi, Goa and Ludhania, among others, on the journey. “We do recognise the importance of these cities for the growth of India outbound tourism to Spain,” stated Arturo Ortiz Arduán, Tourism Counselor, Tourism Office of Spain in Mumbai.

According to Christine Mukharji, Marketing Manager India, Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO), Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are the destination’s main source markets, but Pune, Ahmedabad and Bangalore also emerge as strong growing markets. In the last few years the ANTO has targeted other regions such as Kolkata, Goa, Hyderabad and Rajkot, among others, through a series of sales calls and B2B presentations, she added.

Even the newest European entrant, Bulgaria, whose focus is limited to the metros so far, has plans to increase their promotional activities to West and South India in the year 2014, revealed Stefan Ionkov, Head of Commercial & Economic Office of Bulgaria to India, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria.


Wooing the Indian traveller

Europe is ensuring it doesn’t just talk the talk. Spain has expressed its wish to continue participating in the main B2B events in India. In fact, the Catalan region of Spain is setting up office in Mumbai under the aegis of the Tourism Office of Spain. Turkey has introduced e-visa for 94 countries, including India, and is set to launch their new website soon. They also have an array of contests and activities planned for promoting turkey as the ideal tourist destination for India. Austria is planning events in Mumbai and Delhi for the travel trade in December.

A fairly new destination for India, Monaco has been positioned as an ultimate leisure, Upscale and Luxury destination. According to Rajeev Nangia, Chief Operating Officer, TRAC Representations,Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority, the destination plans to initiate new promotional activities for both B2B and B2C market in India along with some exclusive media engagements for the upcoming year apart from consumer promotions. “Monaco intends to target the rapidly growing Indian upper middle class who look for high quality destinations. Hence the primary target markets include HNIs, upper middle class, MICE and families. It is Leisure, Upscale and Luxury destination. Monaco has also been successful in targeting big Indian wedding and will look forward to host more ultra high end weddings from India in future,” he added.

Ionkov stated that Bulgaria wants to invest mainly in first hand experiences for the travel trade and media. “We organised three FAM trips in 2013 for the travel trade from the metro cities of India and one media FAM. We had our first participation in SATTE in 2013 and we are very happy with the results,” he said. Bulgaria is now organising an International Tour operators Meeting in the city of Plovdiv in November with a focus on the Bulgarian wine and Spa. 

Turkey is planning a five-city roadshow in association with Turkish Hoteliers Federation and Travel Agents Association of Turkey where they will offer advice regarding accommodation, venues, transportation and other services. “The road show will highlight the assistance the Embassy can offer in terms of material and advice. By bringing tourism trade and road shows to the Indian market, we want to make it clear that we are investing in creating and strengthening trade relationships and consumer demand from India,” added Ayturk.

Soon after in January Austria will invite 10 Indian agents to be a part of the ATB (Austrian Travel Business) which is a travel exhibition held in Vienna, revealed Mukharji. “We are also promoting newer destination like Zell am See - Kaprun, The Lake district, Oetztal, Gastein valley and Ischgl in addition to our well visited cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck,” she added.

The World Tourism Conference 2013, organised by Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia in association with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the State Government of Melaka, recently concluded on a high note in Malaysia. The Conference was held on 21 and 22 October 2013 in the UNESCO World Heritage City Melaka in Malaysia.

Centred around the theme ‘Global Tourism: Game Changers and Pace Setters’, the Conference’s panel discussions mulled over pressing issues of the global travel industry, and invited to the dais industry experts from around the world to pick their brains about the challenges they have faced and how they kept their head over water and ploughed ahead in the face of adversities.

Yab Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin Bin Haji Mohd Yassin, Deputy PM of Malaysia; YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia; Datuk Seri ir. Hj Idris Bin HJ Haron, Chief Minister, Melaka and Zoltan Somogyi, Executive Director, UNWTO were among the delegates present at the inauguration, in addition to representatives from 46 countries, as well as the Malaysian travel trade and global media.

Delivering the inaugural keynote address, Yassin opined that the outlook of tourism is very bright, an opinion supported by UNWTO statistics. “My optimism is based mainly on the key trends of growing world population with rising income and a better quality of life. Consequently, there will be a greater wealth effect that will result in an increasingly higher demand for world travel,” he said.

Speaking about the theme chosen for the Conference, Aziz stated that it will have a great impact on tourism. He further added that the conference will provide the industry a platform to exchange ideas and expedite the growth of tourism, as well as build relations and gain from mutual benefits. Referring to the UNWTO statistics, Somogyi commented that, in the first eight months of 2013, the travel numbers have surpassed the annual forecast, with South East Asia witnessing maximum growth in tourism. Addressing the Conference through a video message, Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO stated that, in two years, traveller numbers will cross 1.8 billion, which makes the theme of the conference apt in the current scenario.

“The main question at this Conference is, how do we leverage on the game changers and pace setters to increase tourism opportunities? During the economic crisis, tourism was a key sector for Malaysia. Funds were pumped and the Malaysia Truly Asia campaign was launched. It raised our profile and nurtured a strong private sector for investments in tourism. In 12 years, from 1998 to 2010, our tourism numbers quadrupled. Our goal is to make Malaysia a developed country by 2020 and tourism is a key factor in this plan. Our VMY activity is also aimed at the same – getting a nation ready by changing its mindset to become a tourism friendly state,” said Yassin.


Panel Discussions:

Session I – Beyond Mass Tourism

Moderated by Victor Wee Eng Lye, Former Sy. General, Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia; the panel consisted of Hermes Navarro del Valle, Advisor to the Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica; Yoshiaki Hompo, Former Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner and  Thuji Dorji Nadik, Acting MD, Tourism Council of Bhutan.
The panel focussed on the necessity of a balance between tourist footfall and ecological safeguarding. According to Navarro del Valle, footfall is not the only measure of success, and a crowded destination takes away from the enjoyment of travel. Offering a presentation with a twist, Hompo first spoke of the mistakes Japan Tourism made while trying to develop the destination for tourism, thus highlighting the downside of mass tourism and revealing the country’s corrective measures.

For Bhutan, Nadik revealed that high value low impact is their tourism principle. “We have been accused of being elitist but we are trying to increase yields while keeping numbers low. Usually, when room numbers increase, quality falls along with room rates, and we want to avoid that,” he said.

Session II – Innovative Marketing

This panel was moderated by Sandra Carvao, Chief of Communications, UNWTO and speakers were Charm Lee, CEO, Korea Tourism Organization; Rob Torres, Head of Travel, Google and Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman, Visit Britain.

Lee spoke about the success of what the Koreans call the Hallyu Wave, which refers to the growing popularity of Korean pop culture, entertainment avenues and so on, with the Gangnam Style at the helm. According to him K-Pop has grown to a point where shooting locations of popular Korean TV programmes and movies are being promoted as tourist attractions. Torres highlighted the growing success of online promotions by destinations, such as youtube videos and online brochures. He spoke about the various google inventions that help tourism as well, such as Google Hangouts and Google Glasses, which he termed revolutionary in the field of tourism.

Rodrigues stated that, what matters is not what tourism is, but what it can be. He opined that developing a destination is about collaborations and partnerships, and used the Olympics as an example of the various facets of tourism coming together to deliver a great event. “Mega events are a team marathon, not an individual sprint. Nothing can be achieved without collaboration,” he concluded.

(Coverage of the remaining sessions will feature next month)

Room N House, which commenced operations in 2012, has notched a 25-30 per cent growth month on month to achieve it’s current reach of three lakh customers. Riding on this success, the company plans to expand its base, not just within India, but on an international platform as well. Speaking with T3, Rakesh Singh, Co founder, Room N House revealed that the company is planning Thailand, Dubai and Sri Lanka platforms. They are in the process of acquiring the compliances for the same.
 
“The Indian government has been supportive so far expanding our base in the country has faced little issue. We see this as a good opportunity, however, to expand to an international base, where the demand is existent. The platforms will feature language integration, and will be developed in phases over the next six months,” Singh said.

Speaking about Room N House’s focus, Singh stated that the company wants to get tourists in touch with the local culture of the destinations being visited to create unique memories. To the same end, they are in talks with State Tourism Boards such as Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra, as well as India Tourism, to ink partnerships. They hope to announce some developments on this front in a few months. The aim will be to promote the states and local accommodations and educate the travellers about the destination’s essence. 

Furthermore, Room N House is also going to start tapping the B2B market, and are building a platform for the same, Singh stated. The aim is to further their reach to the tier II and III cities especially. “So far our platform has been B2C, but we want to provide a trade platform where the bookings will be done by agents, but the communication will be from our end so we can provide our expertise. The platform should be ready in the next two to three months,” Singh added.

When asked about a B2B platform for the international bases as well, Singh commented that Room N House will first establish it’s India B2B market before moving to the others.

Room N House’s strongest segment has been vacation and business travel, although the company does offer budget services as well as luxury products. According to Singh, backpacking and budgets accommodations have been gaining popularity. Highlighting their marketing strategy so far, he stated that they have been increasing their social media marketing and video marketing, and have also participated in travel events to showcase their offerings. “We have now started offering review stays, i.e. inviting people to stay and write reviews of alternate accommodations to encourage other customers to come visit, and this has worked well. We have followed a very organic growth strategy,” Singh concluded.

Marriott International is set to make a mark with a slew of new properties, including a debut of it’s Edition brand in India in Gurgaon. Speaking on the sidelines of the announcement of Mumbai’s first Ritz Carlton, Paul Foskey, Executive Vice President, Hotel Development, Asia-Pacific, Marriott International revealed that, while there are no further developments slated under the Ritz Carlton brand, the company definitely has further plans for it in the Indian market. When the time is right, Foskey added, Delhi would be a target for a Ritz Carlton property

He further mentioned that the company has announced it’s first Edition property in Gurgaon. The property is owned by Hero Cycles and the opening date is yet to be confirmed.

In addition, the company has a Renaissance property under construction in Lucknow, expected to be operational next year. The establishment, located in the city centre, is a relatively small property featuring approximately 150 rooms, ample meeting space, a rooftop bar and F&B offerings, Foskey said.

Marriott is also readying a property under the Fairfield brand in Ludhiana. When asked about this move to tier II cities and the kind of ARR such locations generate, Foskey stated, “Different markets are appropriate for different brands, so, while the bigger markets can hold all the brands, as you move down to other cities, you witness a smaller rate scale, the rate it can generate and so on.”

When asked about their target locations moving forward, Foskey mentioned that Marriott is looking at projects in Kerala and Goa. “There is nothing tangible to announce yet, but we are keen on the leisure resort segment, and are looking for opportunities under a variety of brands,” he added.

Speaking about the Indian market, Foskey opined that the market is doing reasonably well despite the economic growth and liquidity having slowed down, and the industry being faced with a general lack of optimism generally in the market. “That has affected the pipeline a little bit in the last couple of years. Still, deals and transactions are getting done, and we expect that to pick up once sentiment changes, something that should happen relatively soon,” he concluded.

While the holiday season has propelled outbound tourism to new heights, inbound doesn’t seem to have enjoyed quite the same fate. According to Karan Anand—Head, relationships, Cox & Kings, the inbound tourism scene has been a bit slow. The data provided by the Ministry of Tourism for 2013 indicates that there has been a 4.10 per cent increase in tourist arrivals and this is reflective of the growth in the industry. Summer, he added, is traditionally a low season for inbound tourism and it continues that way.

Subhash Goyal, Chairman, STIC Travel Group stated that inbound tourism in 2013 showed only a marginal growth, with foreign tourist arrivals during the period Jan-March 2014 standing at 21.27 lakhs with a growth of 4.9 per cent over 20.27 lakhs arrivals during Jan-March 2013.

“Generally, the summer months (of April-July) are termed as off season and tourist movements are very limited. As per our experience, we have seen the growth in arrivals generally varying between 4 to 5 per cent, year on year. This year, specifically due to elections in the country, tourist movements have slowed down. Also the campaigns were restricted by the Government (Ministry of Tourism) due to election code and budget constraints,” he added.

Agreeing with Goyal, Prashant Narayan, Senior Vice President & Head Operations, Leisure Travel (Inbound), Thomas Cook (India) informed that, with the 16th Loksabha elections on, inbound tourists conventionally have avoided travel, as it restricts their movement in the country. “However, this year we saw an emergence of a relatively small amount of inbound tourists interested in experiencing the Indian election season,” he added.

Echoing Anand’s views, Goyal opined that the summer season is not very good for inbound tourism businesswise. “In fact, we are finding it difficult to keep up even the regular business in summer months this year, mainly due to the fact that countries from where we primarily get tourists are under economic recession. We could have done better if the overseas Indian authorities had maintained a tourist friendly approach for issuing visas. Visa formalities have become very cumbersome and tourists find it easier to avoid India for a more friendly and inviting destination,” he said.

These roadblocks, however, have not deterred these companies from milking the advantages of the year-round destination that is India. Cox & Kings, for one, is promoting MasterChef Holidays and G Adventure in the adventure space. STIC Travel Group has put special emphasis on MICE business, Ayurvedic- Spa Holidays in Kerala and Royal Heritage/ Royal Rail Journeys mainly focusing on up market traffic, with an aim to attract up-market clients keeping in mind the fact that this segment has not been affected as much by economic slowdown.

Thomas Cook believes that ‘Incredible India’ has always been a perennial favourite all year round for international tourists, and has seen interest over the years from the elite inbound traveller, mid-segment income groups, FITs, families and MICE.

“We are doing some aggressive marketing in this domain. We are participating in global travel & tourism exhibitions, road shows, and even hosting our travel partners from overseas so that they are acquainted with all new tourism products in India. But, it is very difficult to indicate the outcome. We are hoping to achieve 8 to 10 per cent growth once the new Government takes over, tax incentives are announced for tourism sector, Air India is revived with Government ‘Bail Out’ policy, new airlines start operations (Air Asia in particular), and e-tourist visa on arrival becomes a reality. As you can see, so many factors need to click together which will decide our future prosperity in business and global tourist arrivals,” opined Goyal.

Speaking about destinations that are popular among inbound tourists during the season, Narayan listed Himachal, Leh-Ladakh, Bhutan and the North East as preferred destinations, adding that Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tibet, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok, Uttrakhand and Rajasthan are capturing the interest of inbound tourists. Anand named the North East, South and Kashmir as destinations that are gaining impetus among inbound travellers.

Goyal added that STIC Travel Group has seen increased demand for Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Sikkim along with Goa, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, with South India being more in demand due to the variety and cost effectiveness it offers.

 

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