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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Following the partial lifting of international flight restrictions by Indian authorities to allow outbound travel from 12 July to 26 July 2020 for eligible individuals from India to Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways will resume a limited number of special flights from six Indian gateways. During this period, the airline will operate services to Abu Dhabi from Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai to Abu Dhabi. Etihad will recommence daily services from Mumbai, six weekly from Delhi, five weekly from Chennai and Bengaluru, two from Cochin and one weekly from Hyderabad.  

Eligible passengers include UAE nationals and residents as well as people with relevant UAE entry approvals from India. All passengers must have ICA approval from the government of Abu Dhabi before they travel and will not be permitted to check-in without the necessary approvals.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) India Offices, New Delhi and Mumbai implemented a unique idea to stay connected with the bloggers and social media influencers of India who otherwise keep travelling to various parts of Amazing Thailand and share their amazing experiences round the year. As a token of gratitude, TAT wanted to convey to all these social brand ambassadors how important they are in promoting a destination to the audience.

During the last week of May 2020, the contest was thrown open to all the Indian bloggers and influencers initially for about one week. They were asked to create a nice video / photo story from their stock materials of previous trips to Thailand, a story that gives a throwback memory. The videos submitted by the contestants were worth watching as many of them were of great quality with good creative expression, voice narration of the story or depiction of colourful visual art to express their experiences in Thailand.

With more than 100 high quality unique entries, including many top/award-winning ones; the contest is a success in terms of reaching out to the blogger and influencer community of India. We reached out a total of +2,400,000 people across India.

After a very careful process of multiple layered selection considering both quality and engagement, the winners were picked by the selection committee. Out of hundreds of participants, 5 were selected as Grand Winners and each received a GoPro Hero 8 Sports and Action Camera while 10 were chosen Secondary Winners receiving attractive gifts.

Speaking on the excellent response of the contest, Vachirachai Srisumpan, Director - TAT (New Delhi) said: “This activity was conceptualized keeping the millennial in mind, considering that they would be the early travelers once situation normalizes. I would like to congratulate all the winners who have shared their bond with Amazing Thailand by creating some beautiful videos and made Thailand as “Top of the Mind Destination”. Thank you, participants, for joining this online event and keeping the spirit of travel and tourism moving during this challenging period. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is looking forward to welcoming all to the Land of Smiles.”

Continuing the same spirit, Cholada Siddhivaran, Director - TAT (Mumbai) commented: "Congratulations and thanks a lot to all the bloggers who kindly shared their experiences while they were in Thailand with us. Although the world has experienced several pandemics, through all dystopia and ‘new normal’s', life in Thailand never went out of style. We are very well adept with our daily life to the next level of the new normal. Thus, whenever travel resumes, Thailand will be waiting to welcome you where you can enjoy nature, culture, food and shopping even better!"

The pan-India contest saw winners from all over India. The top five Grand Winners shared their experiences on the excitement of participating in the contest and how they see post-pandemic travel and Amazing Thailand as a preferred destination.

India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (ITDC) has signed an MOU with AIIMS, New Delhi to come together and monitor the situation to prevent COVID-19 infection and implement preventive measures that can be taken up by ITDC across its hotels and offices to provide a safe, hygienic and healthy environment to guests and staff.  

Talking about the MOU, Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture said, “The MoU between ITDC and AIIMS to fight the COVID 19 battle is a commendable and appreciable step taken by ITDC. We need to win over our fear and do everything possible in order to revive the tourism industry, which is one of the key contributors to the country’s GDP. This move by ITDC would be helpful in rebuilding trust & confidence of international as well as domestic tourists.”

“The ongoing pandemic has had a severe impact on the travel and tourism industry. The MoU with AIIMS, New Delhi will help us in monitoring the situation and take necessary measures to fight the pandemic. The tourism sector contributes immensely towards the creation of jobs, as well as the GDP of India, it is imperative to ensure preparedness and readiness of the sector in order to gear it back into action.” Patel added.

To take this forward an advisory board will be formed consisting of representatives from AIIMS, ITDC and/or representative from any other organisation to provide inputs on designing and developing the safety Protocols with respect to COVID-19 infection, based on existing and ongoing situation as well as on real time basis. This would help in instilling trust and confidence in domestic tourism and also help in image building of the nation for international tourists and travellers.

These measures are in addition to following guidelines issued by Govt of India as well as extensive training provided to more than 1000 employees of hotel in areas of Front Office, Guest Relation, House Keeping, F&B etc. to effectively handle the situation.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has announced a codeshare agreement with Abu Dhabi’s first low-cost airline, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. Effective 9 July, Etihad will place its ‘EY’ code on Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to the Egyptian city of Alexandria on 14 July, followed by the Nile city of Sohag the next day.

 The new agreement enables guests to book Etihad flights in conjunction with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi services, connecting its global route network beyond the UAE capital to new airline’s routes. Etihad plans to add further codeshare destinations to the partnership scope as more Air Arabia Abu Dhabi destinations are announced in the coming weeks.

 Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was formed following an agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with Abu Dhabi International Airport as its hub. The airline will start its operations with two Airbus A320 aircraft based at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is collaborating with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to expand its Crisis Resource Center (CRC) to provide further aid in the rapid, robust and responsible renewal of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry.

“Timely, accurate, and useful information is the need of the moment for our members as they manage their recovery from COVID-19,” said Trevor Weltman, PATA Chief of Staff. “The generous support we received from ADB has allowed us to invest in bringing these essential tools to our region at this critical time. As 65% of PATA members polled had no crisis plans pre-COVID, the CRC will be a permanent offer from PATA going forward to continue meeting their evolving needs for crisis preparedness, management and recovery from this crisis, and beyond.”

The PATA Crisis Resource Center and Tourism Recover Monitor was launched in April 2020, to provide reliable and up-to-date policy statements, authoritative information, and tourism indicators from around the globe. The new CRC will officially be launched on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

The ultimate vision of the CRC is to lead, coordinate and sustain a comprehensive world-class digital resource for crisis response, management, and recovery for the Asia Pacific Travel Industry. In the immediate term, PATA believe Asia Pacific will be the leading force of tourism’s global recovery from COVID-19, as both an inbound destination as well as a robust source market.

“The tourism industry accounts for a substantial amount of private sector employment and investment in the Asia Pacific, especially within the Greater Mekong Subregion. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the industry’s vulnerability to crisis. Through the Crisis Resource Center, PATA is building much-needed infrastructure to make the Asia Pacific tourism sector more resilient,” said Dominic Mellor, ADB Senior Investment Specialist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative, which supported the CRC through technical assistance.

As part of the expansion, the Association has formed a CRC advisory team to help provide further content and development of online toolkits and resources for industry stakeholders to navigate their way through the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Destination marketing and crisis management expert Damian Cook will provide resource and recommendation kits for destinations, airlines and airports, hospitality, tours operators and SMEs; while crisis communications and communication strategy expert, John Bailey, will draft best practice guidance documents on how to develop and implement a holistic communication strategy to support a destination recovery campaign.

Etihad Airways is gradually resuming services to more destinations across its global network after the easing of travel restrictions by UAE regulatory authorities. All travel remains subject to the entry and health regulations set by the UAE authorities, and those at the end destination.  

Throughout July and August, subject to the lifting of international restrictions and the re-opening of individual markets, the airline plans to fly to 58 destinations worldwide from its Abu Dhabi hub. These will include major gateways in the Middle East, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with destinations in India scheduled from August 1 (subject to the lifting of international flight restrictions).

The return to a larger network of international flights will be greatly supported by the Etihad Wellness sanitisation and safety programme, which ensures the highest standards of hygiene are maintained at every stage of the customer journey. This includes specially trained Wellness Ambassadors, a first in the industry, who have been introduced by the airline to provide essential travel health information and care on the ground and on every flight, so guests can fly with greater ease and peace of mind.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We are delighted to announce the gradual expansion of normal scheduled services to more cities across our global network. The easing of restrictions on travel to and from the UAE is an important first step and a great development for Abu Dhabi. By August we aim to operate approximately 45 per cent of our pre-COVID capacity.

“While we have continued to operate a schedule of special passenger, cargo and humanitarian flights over the last few months, the priority is now to build the network back up on markets that have opened up, and to provide a secure and hygienic flying environment across the entire guest journey.

“Over the last few months, we have seized every opportunity to improve our processes, review our product offering, and to undertake the biggest fleet maintenance programme in our history. We are tremendously grateful to our customers and partners for their continued loyalty.”

Subject to the applicable government approvals, Etihad’s summer schedule will feature a wider network and increased frequencies to the following destinations from, to, or via Abu Dhabi.

Preferred Hotels & Resorts has launched Loving Local, a global travel series designed to facilitate highly localized, luxury hotel experiences across 21 compelling regional markets including India – as consumers prepare to hit the open road once again for exploration and rediscovery of destinations close to home.. This limited-time global campaign – valid for bookings made by July 31, 2020 for stays of two nights or more through December 31, 2020 – entices eager travelers to staycation within their hometown or venture further into their surrounding region for the opportunity to enjoy authentic, memorable hospitality along with value-rich amenities at more than 200 participating hotels and resorts worldwide.         

Travelers who book Loving Local will receive the best available rate, daily breakfast options for two, and a stay credit ranging from US$25-$70 that can be used toward on-property expenditures, along with immediate fast track to Elite status in the brand’s I Prefer Hotel Rewards program, which features a VIP amenity, next category room upgrade, 2,500 bonus points, and complimentary internet. Upon confirmation, all Loving Local bookings will also unlock access to special benefits from partner brands including Sixt (for car rentals in Europe), Avis (for car rentals in the Americas and Asia), and Travel Curious (for those who want curated tours of their chosen destination).

Understanding the inherent value of the travel agent community in supporting the return to travel, Preferred Hotels & Resorts is also offering a 3% bonus on top of the standard 10% agency commission for Loving Local bookings made through the GDS or direct channels with a qualifying IATA/TIDS number.

“With all indicators showing that domestic travel will be an essential driver for economic recovery as travel restrictions are lifted at different times around the world, we created Loving Local to encourage interrupted travelers to once again embrace the virtues of community and explore destinations closer to home through our incredible independent hotels,” said Kristie Goshow, Chief Marketing Officer for Preferred Hotels & Resorts. “This global campaign is designed to fuel an inherent belief in the power of travel and inspire global citizens to take advantage of their newly restored freedoms by hitting the open road with family and friends, supporting local businesses, and knowing that our member hotels will greet them with a warm welcome as they reopen their doors.”        

Seema Roy, Area Managing Director - South Asia, Middle East & Africa for Preferred Hotels & Resorts, added, “India has one of the most varied mix of cultures, communities and landscapes in the world, and we welcome perceptive travelers to explore this regional diversity at our member hotels with the Loving Local campaign. Immersive experiences and authentic journeys have always been at the core of the stellar hospitality offered by our independent hotels across segments. As a renewed hope for travel emerges around the world, Preferred Hotels & Resorts celebrates the spirit of resilience and independence through this travel series.”

The five regional bodies of Member States of the UNWTO - Regional Commission for Africa, Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East region- met virtually for the first time ever. “The meetings of the UNWTO Regional Commissions has shown the universal determination to restart tourism, and to do so with an emphasis on sustainability and on ensuring the benefits are shared as widely as possible. At the same time, the insights of UNWTO Member States from around the world make clear that, while some destinations are re-opening to tourists, this crisis is not yet over in many places, and that the tourism sector continues to require strong political and economic support if we are to safeguard livelihoods and protect whole economies in these challenging times,” Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, said.

In the final meeting of this round, the Regional Commission for the Middle East featured nine Ministers of Tourism, as well as representatives from the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the Arab Tourism Organization, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Development Board.

Chaired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the virtual meeting focused on ensuring all destinations are ready to welcome tourists back, with enhanced hygiene protocols in place so as to make tourists feel safe and confident. Discussions also centred on the important role innovation and digital transformation will play in the future of tourism across the Middle East region.

In all cases, UNWTO’s leadership used the occasion of the meetings of the Regional Commissions to share the practical and technical support made available to both governments and the private sector. The UNWTO Guidelines for Restarting Tourism provide a clear action plan for growing back stronger and better, and the Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package outlines the support available to all Member States, including assistance in devising new marketing strategies.

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India, under the Dekho Apna Desh webinar series, organised its 40th webinar titled “Women of India - Shifting Gears” outlining the thrills of women biking infused with tourism. The webinar session was held by two women bike enthusiasts of India Jai Bharathi who is an avid motorcyclist, travel enthusiast and Co-founder of MoWo (Moving Women), a social initiative encouraging women to travel in motorcycles; and Candida Louis, a biker, blogger, story teller and Motorcycle tour guide.

Moderated by Rupinder Brar, ADG, Ministry of Tourism, the hour-long session touched upon various aspects surrounding safety of women bikers of India, the exploration of the myriad landscape of India on motorcycle, responsible travelling and encouraging more women to bike across the country without inhibitions.

Both the speakers of the session are well known personalities in the women’s biking community of India and have paved the way for many budding motor enthusiasts who have been inspired by their biking journeys. While Jai Bharathi hails from the state of Telangana, is an architect by profession and now runs a non profit organisation called MoWo (Moving Women) which helps women learn how to ride two wheeler and also heads an all-women biker club called Bikerni of the Hyderabad chapter, Candida Louis is a young motorcycle travel influencer with over millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram. Coming from the town of Hubli in Karnataka, she claims herself to be a story teller and a passionate motorcycle tour guide who helps tourists encounter much thrilling and extraordinary travel experiences around the country and abroad.

Jai Bharathi proudly shares her experience of travelling across the borders of the country and 7 foreign countries like the USA, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc covering thousands of miles and representing the country in past few years of her biking journey. Her fascination for visiting UNESCO sites has helped her finish the challenge of visiting all of the 38 UNESCO sites across India. This fascination has got her traveling in unexplored destinations and learns the uniqueness of Indian culture.

Candida on the other hand had toured the entire country at a stretch in 2015 covering 32000 kilometres and 22 states in a span of 7 months. Her most recent trip was from India to Australia where she rode for about 8 months crossing 10 countries on the road. Her passion for motorcycle tour leading has made her lead tours in and out of the country with more than 15 countries and 40 trips ticked off her check list. During her introduction, Candida shares her love for local culture and cuisines as well as being active in volunteering and community service.

Jai Bharathi expressed, how the historical and cultural heritage, the long coastal lines, the vast mountain ranges and hills, the country side, agriculture fields and India’s road network which is considered the second largest in the world can be experienced through these motor machines that not only add to the thrill and adventure but also empower women to get out of their homes and experience true freedom.

Candida moves on with the presentation by elucidating India’s natural beauty region wise. The north, she said, has its own charm making it every bikers dream to set out on a biking trip to the rocky roads of the mountains and hills of the Himalayas. A ride to Leh, Ladakh and Spiti region, the highest motorable road Umling La and the Kargil war memorial site are some of the dream destinations of every motorbike enthusiast. North India is also blessed with some of the best monuments and historical sites that makes it an apt region for biking adventures for foreign and as well as national tourists.

The eastern India, according to Candida, has one of the best views for a biker during his or her expedition due to the greenery of the region. The one that stands out the best is the northeast region which immensely depicts the actual picture of natural beauty with the seven sisters of the northeast consisting some of the most stunning landscapes including waterfalls and deep forests, cleanest villages, high mountain passes etc and the best way to experience these remote places, she said, is by motorcycling.

Moving on to southern India, Candida revealed to the viewers that she shares a special bonding with the region as she comes from the south and developed her passion growing up there. South India being blessed with long coastal roads and pristine beaches makes for a perfect destination for bike riders and motorbike journeys. She mentioned that the friendliness of the people of the region pushed her to travel frequently opening up her horizons with more confidence.

Coming to the western region, Candida mentioned that her solo trip to west India was a special ride where she landed up in Pushkar, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and many other unexplored places that opened up a whole new colourful world to her and places like the rat temple, bullet baba temple or biker temple and the likes were something she’d never heard of but discovered them during the journey. West India, according to her has the most picturesque views and provides the best backdrop for bikers on their biking journey.

The last region she talked about was central India which she described it as a soft and mystical land with ancient temples, majestic forts, forests, jungles, wildlife and some of the most vibrant cities of India. Contrary to popular belief, Candida mentioned that during her ride to the region she did not face any kind of danger of the road and her travel was accomplished satisfactorily without any hesitation in terms of safety. Thus, she advises the viewers to set out on their journeys to any place in the country with maximum trust and minimum fear but with full precautions.

She concludes by mentioning that, to her India is almost like a continent with the most variant of attractions spread across this huge land of dazzling culture and traditions and calls for exploration by every citizen especially the women folk.

Jai Bharathi explains how people who visit India are mostly intrigued by the distinct culture of the country and that every tradition has its own meaning to fulfil. This brought her into narrating one of her motor ride journey celebrating and promoting one of the major festivals celebrated in Telangana during Navratri called, Bathukamma. It’s a 9-day festival for and by women where the women folks gather flowers of different kinds available naturally in the surroundings and decorate it around a pit dug outside their homes. In 2018, in order to promote the Bathukamma festival Jai and a group of 9 women travelled across 9 districts in Telangana covering 1200kms on their bullets dressed up in ethnic attires and exploring their traditional handloom and culture. Bharathi said that it is essential for us to promote these cultures as much as we can through various platforms and means available to us.

Jai also emphasised on detailed planning of trips before setting out on one’s respective bike journeys. It is essential that a pre-planning is conducted measuring all requirements for the trip and the vehicle. Road safety is another aspect that one must take deeply into consideration. Being protected with riding gears, maintaining traffic rules, taking breaks every now and then and regularly checking the bikes to avoid breakdowns is crucial for every rider embarking on adventure like these.

She concluded her talk by mentioning about how a dialogue needs to be started and amplified by positively encouraging more women to travel and have zero fears of exploring, venturing out and leaving their worries at home to celebrate and capture the beauty of their own country and to empower themselves.

The Hotel Association of India (HAI) has embarked on an extensive restructuring exercise to aid the resurgence of India’s hotel industry in a post pandemic world. As part of the strategy, HAI today inducted Retired IAS Officer and Former Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Madan Prasad Bezbaruah as the Secretary General of the industry body. The appointment of Bezbaruah comes in the backdrop of the industry’s worst ever crisis that has left the sector in one of the most difficult and untenable circumstances. Bezbaruah succeeds the eminent Founder Secretary General of Hotel Association of India, R K. Puri, a Senior Bureaucrat himself, the First Director of Tourism, Railway Board and instrumental in the conceptualisation and launch of the popular “Palace on Wheels”.

The impact of Covid on the hospitality sector across the world is one that tells a tale never heard or seen before. It is also well known that the revival of the industry will perhaps take longer than most anticipate. In such an environment, HAI has taken upon itself the task to develop critical strategies that will help in the long term revival and ultimately, sustenance of the most dynamic industry, over 60% of which caters to the wider sections of the society through the upper mid-market, mid-market and budget segments.

Shedding light on the HAI 2020 strategy while welcoming Bezbaruah, Puneet Chhatwal, President of Hotel Association of India and Managing Director & CEO, Indian Hotels Company Limited said, “The last three months have been the most difficult for industries across; some may have been hit more compared to others, but there is no denying that the impact has been felt by one and all. We believe it is now time to devise ways in which the hotel industry can evolve from the crisis and work towards building a roadmap that helps in the recovery of business and long-term sustainability. Over the last 3 months, HAI has been extremely active in trying to find lasting solutions that will aid this recovery. As an industry body, I am glad that we are taking the first steps in implementing the HAI 2020 strategy. It gives me immense pleasure to welcome Former Tourism Secretary and Senior Bureaucrat Shri. Bezbaruah as the Secretary General of HAI. I am sure, with his vast experience dealing with the complexities of the tourism industry, he will be able to guide the association in the right direction and help us achieve our collective aim to resurrect the Hotel industry in India.”

“We would also like to thank RK Puri for not only leading HAI as its Secretary General for the last 23 years but also his exemplary contributions for the evolution of HAI”, Chhatwal added.

 

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