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Murari Mohan Jha

Murari Mohan Jha

Continuing its recent streak of partnering with innovative start-up ventures, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has tied up with OYO Rooms, one of India’s largest branded network of hotels to offer standardised accommodation and a convenient booking platform to Rail travellers. The partnership symbolises the growing leverage of synergies between the government and home-grown Indian businesses to drive the next wave of innovation. OYO Rooms will power the IRCTC hotel-booking page, offering their inventory and promise of standardised amenities to Rail passengers.

Speaking on the tie-up, Dr. AK Manocha, CMD, IRCTC said, “We are committed to drive efficiencies and enhance our service through innovation. OYO Rooms has propelled the hotel market in India towards new horizon and pioneered the standardization of affordable hotel-rooms. This partnership contributes another chapter to the successful narrative of “Made in India” initiatives and how tech-enabled solutions will power the next wave of innovation. We have made the necessary technology integrations and will be actively communicating about this newly available option through e-mailers, information on e-tickets so that our travellers can explore and utilise these services.”

Abhinav Sinha, COO, OYO Rooms said, “We are honoured and delighted to power the hotels-booking engine of IRCTC and serve Indian railway passengers. With this tie-up IRCTC customers will have ready access to OYO’s inventory of predictable, standardised and affordable hotel accommodation, across 170 cities in India. As India’s widest and largest network, we feel confident of catering to the passengers’ needs and look forward to making this alliance a great success.”

Abhinav elaborated further, “OYO Rooms was conceived with a vision to change the way travellers view out-of-home stay. Our aim is to deliver home-like comfort at affordable prices so that wherever you may be travelling to, you would want to stay at an OYO booked through IRCTC-OYO network. The first step towards fulfilling this mandate was to expand our footprint to provide the comfort of a wide network. We are now focusing on enhancing guest experience and making our processes more robust through technology.”

IRCTC-OYO Rooms will offer nearly 45,000 hotel rooms in over 170 cities in India. The IRCTC portal witnesses five to 5.5 lakhs bookings per day on an average. This tie-up offers a hassle-free platform for IRCTC customers to book hotel rooms across 170 cities in India. The partnership is fuelled by integration of technologies from both ends and will empower Rail travellers by offering a smooth end-to-end travel-and-accommodation experience.

Jet Airways, one of India’s premier international airlines, has entered into a codeshare agreement and a reciprocal frequent flyer programme partnership with Korean Air, the largest airline in South Korea. Guests travelling on both Jet Airways and Korean Air will be able to connect from multiple points in India to Seoul over various gateway points in Asia.

Under the codeshare arrangement, Jet Airways will place its marketing code on Korean Air operated non-stop flight between Incheon, Seoul and Mumbai, as well as flights between Incheon, Seoul and Bangkok and Singapore. Likewise, Korean Air will place its marketing code on Jet Airways’ operations between Singapore and Mumbai and between Bangkok and Mumbai and Delhi.

The codeshare will strengthen the global network of both airlines and provide more choice for customers travelling between India and South Korea, with seamless and convenient connections over the international gateways, Singapore and Bangkok. The codeshare flights are now open for sale for travel effective March 01, 2016.

Gaurang Shetty, Sr. Vice-President - Commercial, Jet Airways said, “We are pleased to commence our codeshare partnership with Korean Air, offering our guests convenient flight connections between India and Seoul. The codeshare cooperation with Korean Air is an important milestone in growing our relationships with carriers around the globe to provide guests access to the destinations they value most. This is the next step in strengthening our position in Asia, allowing us to win new customers in the region. South Korea is a strategic trade and investment partner and also an emerging tourist destination for Indian travellers. Our joint guests will benefit from smooth flight connections and a seamless product offering on the ground and in the air.”

Yong Soon Park, Senior Vice President of International Affairs and Alliance, Korean Air said, “We look forward to a successful relationship with Jet Airways. We are delighted with this partnership which will provide our customers with better access between Korea and India. Through this partnership and Korean Air’s additional destinations to be launched in India, we are hoping to contribute to strengthening the two countries’ economic relations as well.”

Additionally, JetPrivilege, loyalty and rewards management programme and the frequent flyer programme of Jet Airways has entered into a reciprocal frequent flyer partnership with Korean Air’s SKYPASS Frequent Flyer programme. Members of both programmes will now benefit from frequent flyer mileage accrual and redemption opportunities across the entire network of Korean Air and on Jet Airways' extensive pan-India domestic and international networks.

With the codeshare and frequently flyer partnerships goings live, Korean Air becomes Jet Airways’ 23rd codeshare partner and 30th frequent flyer programme partner airlines.

As part of its growing popularity as an international destination, the Kingdom of Bhutan has positioned itself as a destination that thrives on making Happiness its key denominator. India continues to be its top source market. With the latest regional arrivals touching 1,09,052 demonstrating an impressive growth of 57 per cent over last year, India remains as the biggest market for both regional and overall arrivals.  As part of its India agenda, Tourism Council of Bhutan has focused on Gujarat as one of the key source markets to enhance it’s Indian footprint in the year 2016, through a road show targeted at key travel agents in Ahmedabad. This would be the first of many initiatives to tap the Gujarat market.

Unlike visitors from other countries, Indian visitors don’t require visa to visit Bhutan. The Tourism Council of Bhutan will soon launch an online permit system for the Indian traveler, wherein if they come through a Bhutanese tour operator or hoteliers, they can process the permits online in advance. This process will make travel convenient & easier.  

A recent introduction of the Helicopter services will enable the visitor to a panoramic tour of the vibrant Bhutan natural and verdant landscape.

Tourism Council of Bhutan has been effectively promoting Bhutan – ‘Celebrate Happiness’ theme in key source markets, wherein India and South East Asia form a critical component. The marketing initiatives deployed globally are a combination of on ground promotions that include participation at key B2B / B2C exhibitions & roadshows in addition to working with Bhutan’s key stakeholders through activities that involve engagements with travel trade and international media.

Damcho Rinzin, Head, Marketing and Promotion Division, Tourism Council of Bhutan, “As a leading international tourism destination, Bhutan is seeking to diversify its source markets and attract new visitors. Countries like India are emerging more and more in the world outbound tourism sector, and Bhutan believes it could offer a special proposition to visitors from India. Further, international travelers to Bhutan are lured by the myriad of offerings that include heritage, culture, natural beauty and a range of quality world class hospitality and tourism industry which make a strong proposition for Bhutan as a destination.”

ibibo Group, the Indian online travel venture backed by global internet and media company Naspers, as well as China’s leading internet firm Tencent recently announced that Naspers will be investing another US$250m in the group. The investment will be focussed on extending ibibo’s leadership position in the Indian hotels category and on additional technology innovations.

ibibo processed more than 6.5m transactions for the period October to December  2015. Ibibo claims  that it is the largest online travel company in India, generating more than 2.5x the transaction volumes of its nearest competitor. The group owns integrated online travel properties such as Goibibo.com and redBus.in.

In a recent research report by Morgan Stanley, Goibibo was rated No.1 by hoteliers across a number of parameters, including booking volumes, confirmed bookings, last minute bookings, backend and IT support, as well as Insights and market intelligence. Goibibo hotel bookings surpassed 1.6m room nights during Q3, up 400 per cent YOY, making it the largest hotels booking platform in India. Mobile contributed to 71 per cent of the bookings in the month of December 2015, up from 42 per cent a year ago.

“Our objective is to solve problems for the transportation and accommodation providers and to connect them to the travellers. The commitment from both Naspers and Tencent to ibibo is testimony to the strength of our platforms and the opportunities ahead,” Ashish Kashyap, ibibo, Group Founder & CEO,  said.

Naspers Group CEO, Bob van Dijk said: “The Indian ecommerce market, and the online travel segment in particular, offers exciting growth prospects for us as a group. With a talented, proven management team and exceptional technology, ibibo is well positioned to benefit from an increasing number of people using online travel services going forward”.

Cruise tourism in Kenya seems to be on recovery after another luxury cruise ships were docked at the port of Mombasa. Foreign visitors are expected to flock to the country’s shores this coming summer as some of the world’s leading cruise ships follow migratory birds heading south, away from Europe’s winter.

The noticeable improvement of security in the Indian Ocean waters has been singled out as a major encouragement for the tour operators selling cruise tourism to convince more cruise visitors to Kenya.

Kenya received 3,196 cruise tourists in the country last year. Kenya Port Authority (KPA) has been voted for the second time in a row by the World Travel Awards (WTA) as Africa’s leading port and this has reinforced the confidence of cruises on the facility.

The Kenya government together with the industry players is also working on strategic tourism marketing and demand driven tourism development programmes to maximize on all the tourism niches.

Majority of the tourists docking at the port of Mombasa are from the US, UK, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, France, Ireland, Spain, Brazil, New Zealand, Ukraine, Mexico, Russia, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway,, Italy, Belgium, Portugal among others.

While in Mombasa, cruise tourists are treated to a full day excursions within the city and its environs. The excursions are undertaken in Bombolulu, Haller Park, Amboseli (by air), Shimba Hills, Mwalughanje and other city tours.

Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) successfully concluded the ‘Visit Japan Trade Seminar’ in Mumbai on Monday, February 22, 2016. The JNTO delegation comprised Hideki Manabe – Executive Director, JNTO Singapore Office, Daisuke Kobayashi- Director, JNTO Singapore Office and Takeshi Komura- Senior Assistant Manager, JNTO Tokyo Office. Partners from Japan included All Nippon Airways Co Ltd (ANA), DMC Japan by KNT, Oicee Japan, Ayabex Inc, Wakayama Prefecture and Princess Cruises & Masala Tours from their India offices.

The seminar proved to be a great platform for the delegation from Japan as they got an opportunity to interact with over 120 Travel Trade partners and present their latest offerings to them. Their objective was not only to understand the changing trends in the Indian market but also to update travel agents with new trends and products in Japan.

The seminar began with a Welcome address by Manabe, which was followed by a Key Note address by Yoshiaki Ito, Consul General, Consulate General of Japan in Mumbai.

Next were a series of presentations by JNTO’s partners including DMC Japan by KNT, Oicee Japan, All Nippon Airways, Wakayama Prefecture and Masala Tours, followed by a speech on Japan by Mr Toshihiro Yamakoshi, Counselor, Embassy of Japan, New Delhi and presentations by Princess Cruises- ‘A new voyage to Japan’ and Mayank Kumar- Editor, Happytrips.com on ‘Destination Japan Experience with Indian perspective’.

According to Manabe, “Visit Japan Trade Seminar is a significant platform to bring together travel trade partners and give them the opportunity to showcase our products. Through our constant engagement programmes with travel trade partners, our endeavour is to highlight Japan as a destination which offers unique diversity in terms of experiences and activities to Indian travellers.”

The year 2015 has been a great year for Japan tourism as it crossed the 100,000 mark for visitor arrivals from India. During this period, Japan welcomed 103,200 visitors from India, observing the growth of 17.3% and 19,737,400 tourists from all over the world with a growth of about 47% vis-a-vis 2014.

Jet Airways, one of India’s premier international airlines, has entered into a codeshare agreement and a reciprocal frequent flyer programme partnership with Korean Air, the largest airline in South Korea. Guests travelling on both Jet Airways and Korean Air will be able to connect from multiple points in India to Seoul over various gateway points in Asia.

Under the codeshare arrangement, Jet Airways will place its marketing code on Korean Air operated non-stop flight between Incheon, Seoul and Mumbai, as well as flights between Incheon, Seoul and Bangkok and Singapore. Likewise, Korean Air will place its marketing code on Jet Airways’ operations between Singapore and Mumbai and between Bangkok and Mumbai and Delhi.

The codeshare will strengthen the global network of both airlines and provide more choice for customers travelling between India and South Korea, with seamless and convenient connections over the international gateways, Singapore and Bangkok. The codeshare flights are now open for sale for travel effective March 01, 2016.

Gaurang Shetty, Sr. Vice-President - Commercial, Jet Airways said, “We are pleased to commence our codeshare partnership with Korean Air, offering our guests convenient flight connections between India and Seoul. The codeshare cooperation with Korean Air is an important milestone in growing our relationships with carriers around the globe to provide guests access to the destinations they value most. This is the next step in strengthening our position in Asia, allowing us to win new customers in the region. South Korea is a strategic trade and investment partner and also an emerging tourist destination for Indian travellers. Our joint guests will benefit from smooth flight connections and a seamless product offering on the ground and in the air.”

Yong Soon Park, Senior Vice President of International Affairs and Alliance, Korean Air said, “We look forward to a successful relationship with Jet Airways. We are delighted with this partnership which will provide our customers with better access between Korea and India. Through this partnership and Korean Air’s additional destinations to be launched in India, we are hoping to contribute to strengthening the two countries’ economic relations as well.”

Additionally, JetPrivilege, loyalty and rewards management programme and the frequent flyer programme of Jet Airways has entered into a reciprocal frequent flyer partnership with Korean Air’s SKYPASS Frequent Flyer programme. Members of both programmes will now benefit from frequent flyer mileage accrual and redemption opportunities across the entire network of Korean Air and on Jet Airways' extensive pan-India domestic and international networks.

With the codeshare and frequently flyer partnerships goings live, Korean Air becomes Jet Airways’ 23rd codeshare partner and 30th frequent flyer programme partner airlines.


The e-Tourist Visa (e-TV) facility will be extended to 37 more countries from tomorrow. The total count of countries under the scheme will become 150.

The new 37 countries included in e-Tourist Visa scheme are Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cote d'lvoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Iceland, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Moldova, Namibia, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Government of India had launched the e-TV facility on November 27, 2014. Till now the scheme has been extended to 113 countries at sixteen Indian airports designated for providing e-Tourist visa service. Since the launch of the scheme more than 7.50 lakh Visas have been issued under the scheme. At present on an average 3,500 e-Tourist Visas are being granted daily to foreign nationals

 

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