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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Zubin Karkaria, Founder and CEO, VFS Global has been appointed the Goodwill Ambassador for tourism for Zanzibar by the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports.

Karkaria was among four leaders from distinguished walks chosen to help promote tourism-driven investments in the picturesque destination, off the east coast of Africa in Tanzania, through new avenues for sports, entertainment and culture.

“It is, of course, a great honour and privilege to be appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the tourism vertical by the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports. From the tourism perspective, I have been an ardent admirer of Zanzibar's natural beauty, its warm, hospitable, and tourism-friendly people. With this opportunity, I can personally and professionally add value to this outstanding destination, and I am sure in the years ahead, Zanzibar will make its mark in the tourism spectrum,” said Karkaria.

Zanzibar has attracted tourists from across the world for more than two decades. Its top attractions include Stone Town, its ancient city that became a designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2000, its vibrant beach life, surfing and water activities, and its indigenous cuisine, among others.

Passenger and regulatory pressures on airports to address environmental concerns are compelling them to focus on sustainability goals and transform into zero-waste spaces. Frost & Sullivan's recent analysis, Global Airport Waste Management Growth Opportunities, finds that the anticipated rise in passenger traffic will lead to increased investments in waste management, and airports will invest in in-house capabilities to achieve zero-waste status. By 2030, the global airport waste management market is expected to garner $2.34 billion in revenue from $1.76 billion in 2021, an uptick at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3%.

“The aviation sector's impact on the environment has come under scrutiny, primarily due to the high volumes of waste it generates and its inability to dispose of or recycle it,” said Abhilash Varkey Abraham, Aerospace & Defence Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Due to this, aviation stakeholders aim to achieve emission-free and zero-waste businesses.”

Abraham added: “The focus on waste management and green efforts will increase as passenger demand recovers and emissions surpass pre-pandemic levels. It will force airports to develop benchmarking and accurate measurement processes. This will help them assess their waste management capabilities; as a result, they will be able to set zero-waste strategies and goals.”

(Edited by Gayatri Anand)

Tourism leaders from across Asia and the Pacific have placed building resilience and embracing innovation at the heart of the sector’s restart and sustainable future.

The 34th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia (34th CAP-CSA), was held as destinations across the region begin welcoming back international tourists. The region was hit first and hardest by the pandemic’s impact on tourism as many countries maintained strict restrictions on travel. Now, as UNWTO data confirms a 64% increase in international arrivals in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, the high-level meeting of sector leaders identified the key challenges and opportunities ahead.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili provided an overview of tourism trends and statistics, both for the region and globally, followed by an update on the Organisation’s work in the months since the previous Joint Commission meeting (hosted virtually by Spain in 2021). He stressed the importance of working together to lift travel restrictions, with coordination key to restarting tourism and for restoring confidence in international travel. “For many millions of people across Asia and the Pacific, tourism is an essential lifeline.  Its return is vital and must be based around the pillars of inclusion and sustainability, for the benefit of all”, he said.

The meeting was the first in-person gathering of the CAP- CSA for two years and brought together representatives of 19 Member States, as well as from UNWTO’s network of Affiliate Members.

(Edited by Gayatri Anand)

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) published a new report on practical guidelines and case studies to support destinations in becoming more resilient and sustainable at its Sustainability and Investment Forum taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The report, ‘Enhancing Resilience to Create Sustainability in Destinations’, jointly created with ICF, provides practical, structured insights, for destinations as they consider their resilience and sustainability.

The report provides five elements destinations should focus on to build both resilience and long-term sustainability: environment, infrastructure, energy, economic, and societal resilience. It offers four phases to analyse the shock and its aftermath: ‘understand the risk’, ‘prepare for shocks’, ‘respond to shock’, and ‘longer term strategies’.

Puerto Rico is one of the destinations featured as a case study, highlighting the string of environmental crises and economic challenges that have made resilience a cornerstone of their tourism strategy. Key learnings underline the importance of small businesses, identifying risks and implementing initiatives to handle any potential crisis.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “COVID has had a devastating impact, decimating the Travel & Tourism sector around the world. But it’s certainly not the first shock to bring chaos destinations and their citizens.

“This report allows destinations to understand how to better prepare, act, and plan for future risks, strengthening their resilience and long-term sustainability.

“The pandemic has taught us you can never be prepared enough. Destinations have learnt not only from their own experiences, and those of other countries as they recover and build back.

“Puerto Rico is an example of a destination that learned through COVID and natural disasters to become more inherently resilient.”

John Wasson, ICF Chair & CEO, said: “For over half a century, ICF has been passionate about partnering with organizations all over the world to enact and institutionalize sustainable policies and practices.

“Today, we are proud to partner with WTTC to offer unique insights and practical guidance on developing adaptable sustainability plans that build long term resilience, despite prevailing uncertainties and increasing extreme events.”

Lastly, the report offers recommendations identified as key for destinations in their journey to improve their resilience: developing successful governance models, ensuring ownership and shared value, and preparation and processes for the next shock.

India’s vibrant travel market place has a bright new B2B entrant promising to revolutionize the way travel bookings and businesses will be conducted and turn on the revenue tap for the travel agents and tour operators keen to get back into business in the post-pandemic world. The new foray is Elan Experiences Pvt. Ltd., a B2B wholesaler and a next generation travel distribution platform. 

 The revolutionary travel start-up is headed by Ami Parekh, a dynamic go-getter and prominent travel industry face of over two decades. Ami has engaged with travel companies at every possible levels, from identifying issues related to travel sales to discovering new areas of opportunities. She is widely regarded as one of the finest destination experts and top minds in travel sales and promotion. 

Elan offers an entire gamut of travel related services across hotels, air, transport and logistics, tours and packages, personalized events and picnics, corporate event management, Visa services, round-the-clock customer support, among others. The platform also brings in the spotlight small little services like travel updates, offer updates, destination blogging services, among others, to cater every conceivable needs and wants of the travel industry.

 Elan’s user-friendly interface and technology driven automation seamlessly connects travel partners, both in India and overseas, with every potential products across attractive price ranges and with tremendous ease of selling. 

Ami Parekh, Director, Elan Experiences, said, “Elan Experiences will redefine our travel partners’ product buying experiences with the wholesalers in the B2B market space, be it just air or hotel products or package tours in domestic and international market for luxury holidays or special interest tours, or corporate requirements for conferences, awards and product launch functions or even exhibitions. We are heavily invested in technology which is state-of-the-art, seamless and easy to navigate and do business on. But most important of all, we are driven by relationship and have a service team that is not only available round-the-clock but has its sight set to establish new benchmark in services excellence.”

A global network, 24*7 round-the-clock customer support and world class services relations team along with a whole bouquet of allied services, are some of Elan’s other USPs. Elan’s bouquet of offerings encompass Wellness Holidays, Quick Holidays, Special Interest Tours, Luxury Holidays, Corporate Events, Meetings & Conferences, Exhibitions, Corporate Trainings, off sites and Awards & Launches, among others.



BLS International has acquired Mumbai headquartered, Zero Mass Private Ltd (ZMPL), India’s largest business correspondent. With this all-cash acquisition from company internal accruals, BLS becomes the largest business correspondent network in India.

BLS has agreed to acquire 100% equity shares of ZMPL for an equity consideration of INR 120 Crores, including entire stake of 63.94% held by Anurag Gupta (main promoter). Pursuant to the transactions already completed, BLS now owns 88.26% equity stake in ZMPL. State Bank of India continues to hold 6.83% Equity stake in ZMPL.  

ZMPL has been operating the largest BC network for State Bank of India (SBI) with around 11,500 active CSPs (~15% of all the SBI BCs). The company has pan-India presence with CSPs located across all States and Union Territories of India. 

Apart from SBI, ZMPL has contracts with Utkal Grameen Bank and Karur Vysya Bank. The proposed transaction is carried out through BLS E-Services Limited, 100% subsidiary of BLS. Through this acquisition, BLS International intends to expand and consolidate its BC Business. 

Commenting on this, Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International said, “We are excited to welcome ZMPL team on-board as it strengthens our business correspondent vertical for the next phase of growth. We believe that through this acquisition, the collective experiences of teams will build synergies and further help BLS to enhance its reach to deliver trusted banking services to the rural and semi-rural India. We have all seen that business correspondent network are a critical last mile link in the Indian banking system to bring greater financial iinclusion. This acquisition shall result in substantial increase in our touch points from ~3,060 to 14,500+ CSPs, which BLS would seek to leverage through multiple initiatives in future.”   

Lagrange Point Advisors LLP, Mumbai based M&A advisory firm, acted as the sole advisor to BLS for this transaction.  

Incorporated in 2007, ZMPL accounts for 5-6% of the bank accounts, deposit base and aggregate value of transaction of the BC system in India.

(Edited by Gayatri Anand)


Fairfield by Marriott Kolkata has inaugurated Ozone Convention Centre, a multilevel offering of meeting and event spaces.

The Ozone Convention Centre comprises of three multipurpose venues, namely: Empress Hall, Monarch Hall and Regent Terrace. Each floor has a distinct look and feel to create a multi-faceted overall atmosphere suitable for a variety of occasions.  The halls have a blend of neo-classic and contemporary elements with handpicked artefacts enhancing the overall appeal of the dynamic spaces.

Commenting on the occasion, Abhishek Sachdev, Hotel Manager, Fairfield by Marriott Kolkata said, “We are delighted to introduce yet another exceptional venue for the patrons of the city. Keeping in mind the consumer’s preferences and the growing demand for curated events, the hotel’s team of professionals will advise and assist in planning the perfect wedding or corporate event of any size, ensuring flawless execution and turnkey solutions. At Ozone Convention Centre, we look forward to hosting large-scale weddings, conferences and events.”

(Edited by Gayatri Anand) 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises celebrated 30 years of its storied history of elevating ocean travel as the leading luxury cruise experience on 26 May 2022. To honour the last three decades, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has curated an enhanced collection of unique 30th Anniversary Voyages in Africa, Alaska, Asia, Canada & New England, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and South America.

“We are incredibly excited to be celebrating our pearl anniversary, three decades of setting the standard in luxury travel, and I cannot wait to see what the next 30 years will bring,” said Jason Montague, President and Chief Executive Officer, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “This wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support from our incredible team both shipboard and shoreside, loyal guests and valued Travel Partners.”

Three decades ago, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, formally known as Diamond Cruises and then Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, introduced a new era of all-inclusive luxury cruising with the world’s first twin-hulled cruise ship, the 350-guest Radisson Diamond. In 1999, the luxury cruise line welcomed Seven Seas Navigator and in 2001 the world’s first all-suite, all-balcony ship, Seven Seas Mariner was launched. In 2003, the brand added a third ship to its fleet, Seven Seas Voyager®.  Three years later, the company rebranded to Regent Seven Seas Cruises to position it as the leading luxury cruise line

In July 2013, Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced it would build the world’s most luxurious ship in the modern era of cruising, Seven Seas Explorer. Accommodating 732-guests, Seven Seas Explorer marked the luxury line’s third all-suite, all-balcony ship which debuted in July 2016 and was christened by Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco.

In February 2020, sister ship Seven Seas Splendor®, the ship that perfects luxury, made her debut featuring almost US$5 million curated fine art collection. The brand’s next vessel to welcome past and future guests will be Seven Seas Grandeur™. The ship will exemplify Regent’s heritage of perfection and makes her inaugural sailing in late 2023.

“I’ve been with Regent from the very beginning when we were constructing our first ship in 1992. Since then, many ships have been built, each one setting a new standard for luxury cruising,” said Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro. “I couldn’t be prouder to have been part of such an incredibly talented team with so many successes over the past 30 years and I truly look forward to what’s to come as we continue to elevate the luxury experience.”

(Edited by Gayatri Anand) 

Resorts World Cruises has announced that its flagship, the Genting Dream, will sail from Singapore to international destinations, starting from 1 July 2022 onwards.

These include sailings to the Bintan and Batam islands in Indonesia, as well as to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca (via Port Dickson) and Penang in Malaysia. The launch of destination cruises is timely as the Genting Dream undergoes final preparations for her inaugural cruise from her homeport in Singapore on 15 June 2022.

“Resorts World Cruises will be the first cruise line from Singapore to resume cruising to Indonesia with the 2-Night Bintan and Batam Weekend Getaway Cruise starting 1 July 2022. On 3 July 2022, we will also sail from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca (via Port Dickson) and Penang in Malaysia. We will continue to include more popular destinations to Phuket and Krabi in Thailand and North Bali in Indonesia from October 2022 onwards to provide our vacationers with more destination options”, said Michael Goh, President of Resorts World Cruises.

 “We would also like to thank the Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand governments for their ongoing support in launching destination cruises with Resorts World Cruises”, he added.

“We are delighted that Resorts World Cruises has added destinations to their cruises as more ports in the region reopen. This strengthens Singapore’s cruise offerings, giving even more options for domestic and international cruisers. STB will continue to work closely with our regional counterparts to reopen more ports and reinvigorate the cruise industry in Southeast Asia,” said Annie Chang, Director, Cruise, Singapore Tourism Board.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Resorts World Cruises and the Genting Dream to the Bintan and Batam islands in Indonesia early July this year. With Resorts World Cruises taking-on a pioneering role to restart destination cruises in Indonesia, we are confident that together, we will rejuvenate the regional cruise tourism industry”, said Dr. Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia.

(Edited by Gayatri Anand) 


Sarovar Hotels opened The Vaishnodevi Sarovar Portico, Katra. Its latest outpost and first in Katra, at the foothills of Shri Vaishnodevi Ji, was jointly inaugurated by Ajay Bakaya, MD, Sarovar Hotels & Pushpa Devi, Chairperson, Katra Mata Vaishno Devi Hotels & Restaurants KMVDHR) in presence of Parvez Dewan, Former Advisor to Governor/Secretary Tourism Govt. of India, KMVDHR MD, Rakesh Wazir, Director Raj Singh, Shashi Thakur, Chairman Hotel Association Katra Shyam Lal Kesar, Sr.Vice President Virender Kesar and others.

While speaking on the occasion Bakaya said “Sarovar Hotels pilgrim portfolio comprises of hotels in Amritsar, Badrinath, Bodhgaya, Haridwar, Junagadh, Somnath, Tirupati and Vrindavan. The hotel seamlessly complements Sarovar’s existing hotels in J&K including RK Sarovar Portico, Srinagar and Viraj Sarovar Portico, Jammu”.

Commenting on the development, Anil Madhok, Executive Chairman, Sarovar Hotels, says, “We are delighted to open yet another hotel in the pilgrim destination, Katra. With Jammu and Kashmir emerging as one of our key markets, we look forward to further growth and increased traffic contribution from our hotels here. We will continue to focus on our expansion and also strengthen our position as we look to spread farther across North India.”

 Wazir said, “The Vaishnodevi Sarovar Portico is a green 1.5 acres property at the entrance of Katra, adjoining SMVD Shrine Board Central office, 500 meters before Katra Bus Stand and 550 meters from newly made Railway Station. The holy Trikuta Mountains, where Goddess Vaishnodevi ji lives can be seen from within and outside the hotel. The hotel in addition to double rooms have spacious suites also.”

(Edited by Gayatri Anand) 



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