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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Zostel, a community-led experience-driven ecosystem, has resumed operations across more than half of its properties while following stringent safety guidelines. The brand has launched a new ZostelX Home in Shangarh to offer new options to travellers embarking on their post-lockdown plans.

Falling under the eco zone of the Great Himalayan National Park in the quaint Sainj Valley in Kullu, Shangarh is a small, picturesque town. The ZostelX Home in Shangarh is situated amid a wide expanse of forested mountains and is doused in scenic beauty. The ZostelX Home also offers cozy dorm rooms and private rooms that offer stunning views of the misty mountains along with scrumptious in-house meals that are served hot and prepared in hygienic conditions.

Apart from launching its exceptional new property, Zostel has also resumed operations in 40 of its hostels and homes in various locations across the country including Alleppey, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Bir, Coorg, Delhi, Gokarna, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Leh, Manali, Kodaikanal, Mussoorie, Mysore, Ooty, and Theog, amongst others. This is a time when safety is paramount, and the fast-growing brand is taking all necessary measures to ensure it adheres to the best practices of hygiene. Right from disposable face masks offered to guests, hand sanitizers placed in all common areas, and strict, regular housekeeping schedules to sanitize the rooms and common areas, Zostel is leaving no stone unturned to provide guests with a safe and comfortable experience.

Speaking on the launch of the new property and resuming operations, Dharamveer Singh Chouhan said, “At Zostel, we strive to offer new and unparalleled travel experiences and our Shangarh home does just that. It is the perfect place to visit for solo backpackers, family, and friends, anyone looking for a relaxing getaway. There are a plethora of activities for guests to engage in and Zostel is committed to ensuring their experiences are out-of-the-world. We are also delighted to announce that we have resumed operations in 40 of our hostels and homes with strict safety protocols for top-notch hygiene. We have already registered an enthusiastic response from travelers towards our sites and expect more bookings in the coming months.”

The company has launched 51 properties to date and will be opening all its properties in the next few months.

Applauding the Maharashtra government’s move to introduce ‘ease of doing business policy’ for the hospitality sector and bringing down the number of licenses required for hotels, OYO Hotels & Homes reiterated its commitment to boost tourism in Maharashtra. In a recent webinar hosted by OYO Hotels & Homes as part of its ‘OYO Samvaad’ series with the Ministry of Tourism of Maharashtra, the company highlighted its plans to strengthen its footprint in the state. The webinar was graced by Aaditya Thackeray, Cabinet Minister of Tourism & Environment and Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary - Tourism and Culture, Government of Maharashtra.

The webinar focused on the future of hospitality and tourism, including strategies and steps taken by the Maharashtra government to revitalize the industry amid COVID 19. In the discussion hosted by Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes and Rohit Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, OYO India & South Asia, the company shared details of its overall efforts to revive the sector, bringing demand for its hotel partners through alternative use cases and its plans to join hands the Government to facilitate new, improved ways of travel. The webinar witnessed participation from over 170+ OYO’s hotel partners across the state.

“Maharashtra is a land of enormous opportunity for the travel and hospitality sector in terms of generating opportunities for employment and bringing revenue to the state. We are proud to be surrounded with natural beauty and are actively pursuing opportunities in coastal, spiritual, heritage, eco-tourism, agri-tourism. We will continue to introduce multi-pronged tourism policies to bring a world-class experience to the tourists visiting the state. During the lock-down, our focus has been to introduce sector friendly policies to enable entrepreneurs, boost tourism and celebrate our incredible state with the rest of the world. We are excited by the work done by an Indian company such as OYO, and we wholeheartedly support the hospitality chain in its efforts to bring affordable, quality, safe and hygienic stay-in experiences to the travellers visiting the state,” Thackeray said.

Addressing the OYO hotel partners during the webinar, Singh said, “We have taken some major decisions recently to boost tourism in the state and have plans to announce some new-proposals in the near future. While introducing health, safety and hygiene protocols in the state’s hospitality sector, we took in the suggestions and recommendations by the hospitality chain, OYO Hotels & Homes. We would like to collaborate and close work with OYO to motivate entrepreneurs to open more hotels, attracting tourists and travellers looking for affordable stays.”

Commenting on its plans for the state, Agarwal said, “We along with our 170+ hotel partners had an insightful experience listening to the state government’s vision and their efforts to revive the hospitality sector in the state to make it an important tourism hub in the country. Maharashtra is an important market for us. We have generated over 5000+ employment opportunities in the state and are excited to tap into the potential of the tourism sector in the state. We, along with hundreds of our hotel partners, look forward to delivering a safe, secure and comfortable experience to the travellers.”

Kapoor held an interactive session Valsa Nair Singh where the OYO hotel partners from the state shared their questions in advance to understand in detail the new policies, state government’s plans to boost tourism in the state and how to tap into the upcoming leisure and festive season demand. OYO reiterated how it has enabled significant economic opportunities in Maharashtra and remains committed to generating more employment and entrepreneurship through the growing network of its hotels and homes in the state.

Air Seychelles has announced the appointment of Bird Travels as its General Sales Agent (GSA).

“We are delighted to appoint India’s leading airline and travel representation company, Bird Travels as our representative in India,” Charles Johnson, Chief Commercial Officer, Air Seychelles, said.

“Even though commercial flights between Seychelles and India are currently suspended, we will work closely with the company’s experienced sales and marketing professionals, well-positioned in most Indian cities, to further develop and strengthen our presence in addition to reinforcing our sales distribution network within the Indian market,” Johnson added.

Vijay Bhatia, Managing Director of Bird Travels said: “We are delighted to be associated with Air Seychelles and look forward to building a strong partnership. Armed with our extensive local knowledge and experienced team, Bird Travels is well-equipped and committed to further increase the airline’s footprints, market share and revenues in the country going forward."

Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (I/C), virtually launched ‘Life in Miniature’ project, a collaboration between the National Museum, New Delhi, Ministry of Culture, and Google Arts & Culture yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of the project, Patel emphasized the importance of the Prime Minister’s ‘Digital India’ initiative and the role of technology in the preservation of India’s heritage. He commended Google for its leadership in the technology sector and its focus on product innovation, stating that Google’s commitment to driving social empowerment and inclusion is a true asset to India.

He said that from today several hundred miniature paintings from the National Museum, New Delhi can be viewed online on Google Arts & Culture by people around the world in a new project titled “Life in Miniature.” The project uses technologies like machine learning, augmented reality and digitization with high-definition robotic cameras, to showcase these special works of art in a magical new way.

On the Google Arts & Culture app, online viewers can experience the first Augmented Reality-powered art gallery designed with traditional Indian architecture and explore a life-size virtual space where you can walk up to a selection of miniature paintings. The artworks showcased are presented along five universal themes of the human relationship with nature, love, celebration, faith and power.

Another highlight of the launch is the application of Machine Learning-based algorithms to the corpus of paintings being brought online, so that users can explore these miniature marvels guided by Artificial Intelligence. If a single miniature painting is a rare joy to behold, this experience - named “Magnify Miniatures” - which enables online users to explore multiple artworks simultaneously is a stunning new experience.

With “Life in Miniature”, users will be able to see famous miniature collections of the National Museum, like the Ramayana, Royal Saga, Pahari style paintings in never before seen ways and in extraordinary detail, in just a few clicks at g.co/LifeInMiniature. The project reinforces the comprehensive collaboration between the National Museum and Google Arts & Culture, a partnership that began in 2011. Read more about it in the Google blogpost.

Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature & Culture, Government of Odisha said that effective coordination between the centre, states and union territories is must in order to revive the Indian tourism industry, post-pandemic.   

Addressing ‘Odisha Tourism Virtual Roadshows – 2020’ webinar, organized by FICCI, Panigrahi said that since people are less likely to travel by air or train during the COVID times, the Government of Odisha has launched the ‘Odisha by Road’ campaign, which aims to provide an opportunity by travelling through the beautiful roads.   

“The ‘Odisha by Road campaign’ intends to encourage tourists from within the state as well as from the neighbouring states to travel to various tourist destinations in Odisha through excellent network of roads. Through this campaign, we will promote some beautiful yet not so popular places of attraction which would be further facilitated by the Tourism Department,” the Minister said.

Highlighting the award-winning initiatives of eco-tourism and nature camps, Panigrahi said, “Capitalising on the success of the first edition of Eco Retreat - A luxury camping project of the Tourism department, is all set to be implemented in five locations this year. We are taking up a few mega projects which have been in the pipeline for a long time and assure to provide full support to the tourism sector,” he added. 

Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner – cum – Secretary, Tourism Department and Sports and Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha said that government and private sector needs to find innovative ideas to revive India’s tourism sector in post-pandemic phase. The challenge is to ensure safety and to provide accommodation without any fear of virus attack. “There is a huge latent demand for travel and the challenge is to tackle this demand to travel safely and efficiently,” he said. The secretary further stated that MoUs would be signed with neighbouring states to promote interstate road trips.

Speaking on the development of the state, Dev said that the state has been a leading reformer and Odisha’s development is not just limited to industries but in the last 20 years, it has attained development in every sphere.

“Our idea is to promote Odisha as a safe travel destination, and the initiatives like 'The Odisha by Road' campaign and nature camps will take the travellers beyond the temples and beaches by converting the state’s tourism ecosystem into a treasure trove,” Dev said. 

Anshu Pragyan Das, DCF, Eco-Tourism, Forest and Environment Department, Government of Odisha, outlined the award-winning eco-tourism initiatives taken up the Odisha Government.  

JK Mohanty, Co-Chairman FICCI Tourism Committee said, Odisha can beat the rest of India as far as eco-tourism is concerned and with the LTC packages announced by the Government of India, the travel and tourism industry stands to gain a lot.

Yugabrata Kar, Secretary, Odisha Tour Operators Association (OTOA), said the lockdown made us realize how important nature is in our lives and Odisha is all about nature. “We need to build the trust that it’s safe to travel to Odisha as it is not a crowded destination which will help in maintaining social distancing,” Kar added. 

Sabre Corporation announced that Sabre and Google are developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven technology platform that is an industry first in travel. The technology, known as Sabre Travel AI, is infused with Google’s state-of-the-art AI technology and advanced machine-learning capabilities that will help customers to deliver highly relevant and personalized content more quickly, deliver personalized content that better meets the demands of today’s traveler, and create expanded revenue and margin growth opportunities. The company is integrating Sabre Travel AI into certain products in its existing portfolio, with plans to bring those to market in early 2021.

“Sabre Travel AI is a game-changer. We are proud to be working with Google to build technologies that will seek to re-define the way travel companies do business, and turn the insights derived from analyses into repeatable, scalable operations. The development of Sabre Travel AI marks a milestone in our technology transformation and a significant step toward achieving our 2025 vision of personalized retailing,” said Sundar Narasimhan, President, Sabre Labs.

“With the creation of Sabre Travel AI, we are rebuilding our platform on cloud-native, data-driven technology that can be integrated into the existing and future products that Sabre offers.  We are combining Google Cloud’s infrastructure, AI and machine-learning capabilities with Sabre’s deep travel domain knowledge to create, not next, but third-generation solutions that we believe are smarter, faster and more cost-effective – a first-of-its kind in travel,” Narasimhan said.

Travel AI:  Industry-first innovation using data insights and state-of-the art intelligence

Sabre Travel AI will deliver next-generation technology advancements that enrich products across the Sabre retail, distribution and fulfillment portfolio. Specifically, Sabre Travel AI capitalizes on Google Cloud AI solutions and automated machine learning tools that sense, analyze and predict consumer behaviors – using real-time shopping information and sophisticated travel-specific business insights.

This game-changing innovation is designed to enable airlines, agencies, corporations, hoteliers and other travel partners to take their retailing and digital customer experience strategies to the next level. By delivering the right offer, at the right time across all relevant channels, they will be positioned to deliver tailored personalization to travelers that should drive higher conversion rates and build traveler loyalty.

In the future, we expect that Sabre customers will be able to seamlessly integrate their own proprietary solutions with Sabre’s new Travel AI to create true differentiation in the marketplace. Sabre Travel AI will provide access to cloud-based, advanced technology tools to help prepare and store data sets, augment them with customer proprietary or other third party databases, rapidly test and learn with experimentation frameworks, develop and deploy proprietary machine learning models, understand model performance and quickly optimize and deploy new solutions in a scalable environment. Sabre Travel AI will help to accelerate the Company’s digital transformation by developing critical products and solutions focused on its customer’s current and future needs. The Company also stated that its strategic partners, like Google, will not have the right to access or use any of the Company’s or its customer’s data. How that data resides in Google Cloud is managed by the company.

Forging the Future of Travel:  Partnering with Google Cloud to Accelerate Innovation.

Creating an Innovation Framework to create the future of travel, Sabre and Google Cloud joined forces in January 2020 to imagine, develop and deploy capabilities that will advance the travel ecosystem. Sabre’s Travel AI is an output of that framework, and over time, the Company plans to integrate its intelligent and scalable technology across the breadth of the Sabre omni-channel retail, distribution and fulfillment offering.

“Since the inception of our strategic relationship with Sabre, one of our goals has been to bring together the talent and technology of both our companies to create the future of travel,” said Rob Enslin, president of Google Cloud. “Sabre Travel AI perfectly represents Google Cloud’s strategic vision to partner deeply with thought leaders in industry verticals to utilize Google Cloud’s innovative technologies to transform and create industry firsts. Today’s announcement is what we hope will be the first of many concepts generated from our partnership.”

Radisson Hotel Group has launched a new soft brand, Radisson Individuals. The company has designed it as a conversion brand, offering independent hotels and local, regional chains the opportunity to be part of the global Radisson Hotel Group platform.

Federico González, Chief Executive, Radisson Hotel Group, said, “The launch of Radisson Individuals marks another milestone in our ambitious five-year transformation plan to be recognised as one of the top three hotel brands in the world and the brand of choice for owners, guests, and talent. We created Radisson Individuals in response to the evolving demands of the modern market for both hotel owners and guests. Joining Radisson Individuals is an ideal first step for individual hotels with strong service scores who wish to remain independent or may be considering transitioning to one of our successful core brands, as well as a strong proposition for local, regional hotel brands seeking to explore additional distribution channels and/or co-branding options.”

Radisson Individuals represents an opportunity for hotels to enhance their visibility, nurture customer confidence and access a wider audience through multiple distribution channels and a global sales structure.

These hotels will benefit from the contracting power and economies of scale that come from a brand that is trusted by millions of guests across the globe as well integrated IT and revenue platforms, and comprehensive operational systems to deliver high GOP margins.

A number of hotels have already joined Radisson Individuals in the UK and Asia with additional properties in advanced discussions in Italy, Germany, Russia and beyond.

Elie Younes, Chief Development Officer, Radisson Hotel Group, said, “Radisson Individuals offer owners the necessary flexibility to shape their future and ensure their success by joining Radisson Hotel Group. It is a unique approach where each affiliated hotel measures success and standards based on the online scoring from guests. In simple terms, it is a brand for hotels with a proven record of happy guests.”

Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, MoCA has stated that the stakeholders should work towards making the UDAN scheme sustainable on its own and improve its efficiency.  During a video conference to commemorate the UDAN day yesterday, he said that UDAN scheme has established the importance of travelling by air for common man specially to far flung areas. Kharola congratulated the stakeholders and UDAN team for making the scheme successful with untiring efforts.  He urged the airlines to undertake marketing initiatives so that more and more people can take benefit of the UDAN scheme. Senior officials from AAI, DGCA, MoCA and airlines also joined the video conference.

He said that one of the most important features of the scheme is that different agencies collaborated and synchronised their efforts towards the success of the scheme. He added that UDAN has created a virtuous circle wherein the UDAN routes feed the national network and the national routes further create new opportunities for the people across the country who then generate demand for more regional routes. Arvind Singh, Chairman, AAI said that AAI is committed to build the infrastructure required for the UDAN scheme across the country.

Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, MoCA thanked the stakeholders for their combined efforts and continuous support in making the UDAN scheme a success. She added that Government of India has acknowledged the contribution of UDAN initiative and identified 21st October 2020 (the day on which the UDAN Scheme document was first released) as UDAN Day.

RCS-UDAN, "Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik" is a Government of India's flagship program which aims to provide affordable, economically viable and profitable air travel on regional routes. As the implementing agency, AAI has an ambitious plan to develop at least 100 airports/waterdromes/heliports by 2024 under the Scheme.

Hilton continues to expand its presence in India with the opening of the stunning DoubleTree by Hilton Jaipur Amer. Hilton now has two beautiful properties in Jaipur to welcome guests. This hotel marks the first DoubleTree by Hilton in Rajasthan. DoubleTree by Hilton Jaipur Amer is owned by Goverdhandham Estate and managed by Hilton.

Navjit Ahluwalia, Senior Vice President and Country Head India said, “We are now seeing travel demand returning, as guests become more confident about their travel plans. Much of this demand is directed towards domestic destinations as more travelers choose to rediscover and explore places closer to their home locations. The DoubleTree by Hilton Jaipur Amer is a beautiful property equipped with all attributes to provide exceptional experiences for our guests as we continue to spread the light and warmth of hospitality in a year that has been unprecedented for our industry.”

The hotel offers 151 rooms comprising guest rooms, suites, deluxe and accessible rooms.

Speaking on the opening, Abhay Khandelwal of Goverdhandham Estate Private Limited, said, “We are pleased to partner with the globally renowned DoubleTree by Hilton to provide outstanding services to our guests in Jaipur. With its prime location, comfortable amenities, plenty of open-air venues that offer beautiful views, and thoughtfully designed indoor spaces, DoubleTree by Hilton Jaipur Amer is perfect for your next leisure travel or planning your dream wedding. We look forward to welcoming guests here.”

“DoubleTree by Hilton is experiencing steady growth across Asia and with 99 hotels in our development pipeline we are anticipating an expansion in our footprint by more than 50 percent over the coming years. We are thrilled to have launched the brand to Rajasthan and in Jaipur, a city renowned to travelers across the world.  I am confident guests at this perfectly situated hotel will enjoy a wide range of leisure options, while experiencing our thoughtful and personalised service, beginning with our famous, warm DoubleTree Cookie welcome,” Said Alexandra Jaritz, Senior Vice President, Brand Management, Hilton Asia Pacific.

Neeraj Maharshi, General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Jaipur Amer said, “The entire team is excited and looking forward to welcoming and serving our guests with the warmth of hospitality that Hilton is well regarded for. The hotel is well-equipped to cater curated in-house experiences for guests to enjoy and relax as well as visit world famous monuments, sights and places in and around the city since the hotel is conveniently located.” 

With an aim to provide passengers with an anxiety-free and seamless journey, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) has associated with the Airports Council International (ACI) to inform & help passengers remain updated on the latest health and safety procedures followed at various airports.

With this initiative, passengers travelling through Mumbai can access end-to-end information on health measures adopted by CSMIA as well other airports thereby getting a better understanding on the procedures to follow at each airport.

CSMIA is among 200 international airports who have joined hands with ACI to provide passengers with a singular source of information regarding the different safety measures and quarantine regulations across different countries. In the wake of the pandemic, the new online portal on airport health measures -  https://api.acris.aero/survey/COVID19/version/v1/response/VABB/ -

aims to guide the passengers with the latest information during these challenging times as there are continuous changes in travel norms and regulations by various countries.  An initiative aimed at providing data on facilities and services available at the airport terminal, the portal equips passengers with pre-trip information so they can have an enjoyable and hassle-free journey forward.

With the changing travel norms & regulations, passengers travelling via Mumbai can access the portal to get a better understanding on airport safety measures, passenger requirements as well as services available at CSMIA. The airport ensures regular updates to the portal to ensure that passengers have access to the latest information pertinent to the various regulations passed by the regulatory bodies. Additionally, the airport has also provided contact information of the COVID-19 team for passenger's assistance. Further to the portal has also designed a mobile app 'Airport Check' for airport operators that provides statistical information based on the standards implemented globally. These statistics can help airport operators to plan processes and measures using industry intelligence.



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