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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Assam Bengal Navigation (ABN), a pioneer in luxury river cruises on the Ganges and Brahmaputra, will resume operations from November 2020. The Indo-British company is a part of the RARE India Community of conscious luxury hotels and travel experiences in India and the subcontinent. ABN has announced three new shorter river cruise itineraries, designed specifically for Indian travellers.  

“At a time when cruising has come under a lot of censure, river cruising by Assam Bengal Navigation company from its inception in 2003 has focussed on benign operations with minimum impact on the environment and riverine ecosystems while highlighting culture and community along the way. All this with no compromise on comfort and luxury, an enviable achievement,” Shoba Mohan, Founder, RARE India, said.  

Commenting on the resumption of services, Antara Phookan, Director, ABN, said: “We are introducing two short Brahmaputra River cruise itineraries – ‘Brahmaputra River Vignettes’ and ‘Dancing Monks & Riverine Culture’. The former is a 3 -night introduction to the majestic river culture while the latter is a 4-night cruise that also introduces you to the monastic culture of Majuli River Island. These two short river itineraries are best combined with a wildlife discovery of the Kaziranga National Park and a stay at our safari eco-lodge – the Diphlu River Lodge. On the lower Ganges, we are launching the Hooghly river itinerary ‘Bengal Memories’, which will be a 3-night introduction to the historic colonial charm of Bengal.”

ABN’s newly introduced Brahmaputra River Vignettes is a three - night cruise from Guwahati to Silghat aboard the vessel ABN Charaidew II. The Dancing Monks & Riverine Culture is a 4-night cruise from Silghat to Neamati on the same vessel. The first cruise will commence on 3rd December and the second one on 29th December.  

On the other hand, ABN’s new 3-night cruising itinerary, the ‘Bengal Memories’ covering Kolkata-Mayapur-Kolkata aboard the vessel ABN Rajmahal, will commence from 13th November, followed by 17th November, 21st November, 11th December, 15th December, 23rd December and 30th December.

As part of the first leg to their Complete Confidence campaign, South African Tourism (SAT) has released a series of videos showcasing precautionary measures employed by the destination. These efforts intend to reassure tourists and invite them, even as international borders prepare to open up from 1st October 2020.

The first set of videos in the series aim to educate international tourists on bio-safety systems in place, at all private game lodges and government-owned national parks, shopping hubs, restaurants and accommodation facilities. These safety initiatives include lesser number of tourists in a safari vehicle to promote social distancing, digital menus, touchless parking, e-payment systems, hand-sanitization and disinfection stations, individually sanitized and packed takeways / room service etc.

“In South Africa, we remain committed to the safety and health of our visitors. Over the last few months, a lot of consultative work and focus has been placed on both, de-risking the sector and putting health & operational protocols in place for the safety of all tourists and employees – these videos stem from those efforts,” Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – Middle East, India and South East Asia, South African Tourism, said and added that the objective is to clearly communicate the globally-benchmarked measures implemented as SAT looks to build aspiration and reassure travellers looking to travel internationally, as borders reopen.

SAT also aims to release additional videos highlighting safety regulations for MICE experiences, as part of this series.

“The MICE industry in South Africa has witnessed a quick rebound, and is stronger and more vigilant than ever. It is an industry that never backs down from a challenge; this is clearly evident from the fact that we are ready for business. We have in place one of the most advanced planned protocols in the world, with pre-screening and onsite confirmation to guarantee safe events,” she continued.

At present, social, religious, political and other gatherings are permitted in South Africa, as long as the number of people do not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue – up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings.

Sarovar Hotels has announced the opening of Rosefinch Sarovar Portico in Bhimtal, Uttarakhand. This is Sarovar’s first hotel in Bhimtal and sixth in Uttarakhand.

The hotel aims to promote tourism in the area and offer high-quality service and stay options. This scenic lakeside destination is a treat for those who enjoy aquatic sports, adventure travel, and outdoor activities.

For dining and entertainment experience, guests can opt for Lake Café, an all-day dining restaurant serving lip-smacking delicacies that offers a host of Indian, Chinese and Continental specialties. Wild Oak, the lounge, is a cozy sit back and relax area. The lounge space overlooks the quaint surroundings of Bhimtal and makes for a perfect unwinding experience.

The Courtyard is Rosefinch Sarovar Portico’s party lawn for hosting social gathering. This venue is surrounded by Oak trees all around. Opera, an ideal amphitheater for outdoor activities is situated close to the reception overlooking the emerald green Lake.

Anil Madhok, Executive Chairman, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, said, “We are delighted to expand our presence in the market which is a very popular tourist destination of Uttarakhand. We believe the hotel’s location clubbed with Sarovar’s signature hospitality will deliver a notable experience to its business and leisure guests alike.”

The KAAV Safari Lodge reopens for tourists with new safety protocols and stay packages. The safety regime covers hygiene guidelines, booking policies as well as precautions to be taken by guests and staff alike to ensure safety and flexibility at the premises. Set amidst the serene environs of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, KAAV is a boutique property that offers tastefully refined ambience for a sojourn in the wilderness.

Taking cognisance of the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world; the luxury lodge has now reopened its door for welcoming guest with diversified packages catering to business and leisure travelers. Guests can book the safe staycation packages based on their needs. The ‘Work from KAAV’ package is curated for those who look for a naturally isolated space with limited people around and high-speed Internet facility. These packages can be booked by visiting the www.kaav.com. Guests can curate their experiences and choose from a wide variety of leisure activities that include a 20 minute boat ride on a Coracle, a nature walk or a pleasant cycle ride along the villages in the vicinity down to the Kabini riverside, KAAV’s Tiny Safari, Birding walks, relaxing on the open viewing deck overlooking the Nagarhole National Park and sky gazing.

KAAV has launched these packages for welcoming its guests to the new normal wherein safety is given utmost importance. With space and privacy being its hallmarks, the luxurious lodge is tailor-made for and can easily abide by the new social distancing norms. To attain the highest level of safety and hygiene standards they are following all safety protocols such as refining of SOPs regularly, going through guests’ travel history prior to arrival, checking body temperature and pulse oximeter readings of all guests, team members, and vendors prior to entry, disinfecting guests luggage at check-in and repeatedly cleaning high contact surfaces.

Commenting on the reopening of KAAV Safari Lodge with new rules and regulations, Sanjay Cherian, Owner, KAAV Resort, said, “Keeping the present circumstances in mind, we have curated the packages in such a way that people can escape to a relaxing getaway without hindering their safety. To create a safe and healthy environment at our premises our team has adopted the necessary precautions & measures. As the situation evolves with each passing day, we too enhance our measures in due accordance. Strict procedures have been set in place to ensure no infection enters the premises. This is a small effort from KAAV’s team to ensure that our guests get to experience an enhanced safe environment when they choose us for their stay.” 

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) celebrated World Tourism Day yesterday through virtual platform. Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan was the Chief Guest of the event, Union Minister of Tourism and Culture (I/C) Prahlad Singh Patel also graced the occasion. Secretary, MoT Yogendra Tripathi; Director General, Tourism Meenakshi Sharma; Joint Secretary, Tourism Rakesh Kumar Verma, Addl DG(Tourism) Rupinder Brar and other  officials of the Ministry also participated in the virtual event.

This year, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has designated 2020 as the Year of Tourism and Rural Development. This is an opportunity to promote the potential of tourism to create jobs and opportunities. It can also advance inclusion and highlight the unique role tourism can play in preserving and promoting natural and cultural heritage and curbing urban migration.

During the event, SAATHI Application was launched by Pradhan. SAATHI is an initiative of the MoT with Quality Council of India to assist the hospitality industry to continue to operate safely and thereby instill confidence among the staff, employees and the guests about the safety of the hotel/unit. Pradhan also launched a film ‘Pathik’, an initiative on Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification Programme (IITFC) and an ICPB MICE Promotional film.

Speaking on the occasion, Pradhan appreciated the efforts of the MoT in launching the SAATHI application and the online learning module IITFC.  He also lauded the Ministry’s effort of showcasing our culture, heritage, lesser known destinations, cuisine etc through the webinar series Dekho Apna Desh. 

Talking about sustainable environment, he was keen to take it further by susbstituting Petrol, diesel, kerosene etc in operating boats at tourist sports  with CNG/LPG which are pollution free.  He also emphasised upon using battery operated vehicles in and around tourist spots.

Addressing the event, Patel reiterated the vision of the Prime Minister of India asking every citizen to visit at least 15 destinations by the year 2022 to promote domestic tourism. He said that the Ministry has launched the Dekho Apna Desh (DAD) initiative in January 2020 with the objective of creating awareness among the citizens about the rich heritage and culture of the country, encouraging citizens to travel widely within the country and enhancing tourist footfalls leading to development of local economy and creation of jobs at the local level.

Patel further said that the programme will help in enhancing the overall experience of the tourists, who would benefit from the knowledge of the local tourist facilitators and it will also help in creating employment opportunities even in the remotest parts of the country. 

The session was opened by Secretary (Tourism) extending a warm welcome and appreciating the awareness and proactive measures taken by all the stakeholders during this pandemic time to work out a strategy and taking necessary action.  Joint Secretary (Tourism) concluded the session with Vote of Thanks.

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, Thomas Cook (India) and its Group Company, SOTC Travel have announced the launch of Priority – an exclusive loyalty programme. Available as a Platinum and Gold variant, the Priority programme entitles its members to significant and exclusive benefits: the services of a dedicated relationship manager, exclusive holiday previews, special priority offers, benefits across alliance partners, birthday specials, invitations to events and a host of attractive deals/promotions across domestic and international holidays and additional travel services.

In this new era of travel, Thomas Cook India and SOTC have ensured unerring customer focus with the introduction of an innovative portfolio: Domestic Workations, Staycations, Hidden Gems, etc. and an international portfolio of Private Journeys, Live It Up and A La Carte holidays – each carefully designed basis customer feedback. Simultaneously, to build customer confidence in travel, the companies’ comprehensive health and safety initiatives such as the Assured Program in partnership with Apollo Clinics, end-to-end COVID-negative certification services and Safe Holiday Helpline, have helped ensure a stress-free holiday experience.

Mahesh Iyer, Executive Director & CEO, Thomas Cook (India) said, “At Thomas Cook India we are committed to our customer-first strategy and this has been the catalyst to the series of innovative and meaningful initiatives that deliver on our promise of Assured, Insured and Secured. The launch of our Priority program is yet another step in this direction and serves to recognise and reward our loyal customers who are an integral part of the Thomas Cook India family. In addition to a dedicated relationship manager, our Priority programme offers significant advantages and we intend to further enhance customer delight via an ongoing series of exclusive and exciting offers.”

Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel, said, “SOTC Travel has been at the forefront of innovation and customer centric initiatives in this new era of travel. To ensure customer confidence in travel, we have introduced a range of assured, insured & secured holidays in line with our Safe Travel programme. In our commitment towards a customer-first approach and to further connect and strengthen our association with our valued customers, we have introduced our exclusive Priority program that offers customers a more personalised, flexible and truly rewarding experience. The unique offerings and comprehensive benefits such as a personal relationship manager to assist with holiday planning, special priority offers, birthday exclusives, amongst others, strive to enhance the travel experience for our frequent travellers, reassuring them of our excellence across our holiday portfolio.”

Preliminary August 2020 traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) show that international passenger demand stayed severely depressed as a result of ongoing border restrictions, with little indication of recovery in sight for the remainder of the year.

Asia Pacific airlines carried only one million international passengers in August, or just three per cent of the 34 million passengers carried in the same month of 2019. Offered seat capacity was relatively higher at 9.6 per cent of the levels operated last year, whilst the average international passenger load factor was 35.8 per cent for the month.

International air cargo demand in August, as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK), registered a 19.3 per cent decline year-on-year, reflecting the ongoing weakness of global trade flows.

Freighter operations remained active but significant cuts in the numbers of passenger flights led to a 33.4 per cent year-on-year overall decline in offered freight capacity. As a result, the average international freight load factor increased by 12.3 percentage points to 70.6 per cent for the month.

Subhas Menon, Director General, AAPA, said, “There is no international air travel market to speak of, as the border restrictions severely inhibit international air travel. Abrupt re-impositions of border closures by some countries due to a resurgence in COVID19 cases have further shrunk passenger demand. Travellers, airlines and airports are struggling to make sense of the patchy, sweeping and unharmonized approaches to border regulations being imposed by various countries.”

He further said, “AAPA calls for an urgent review of border closures and blanket quarantine requirements, particularly for travel between countries where the prevalence of the virus is low and contained. A more coherent and evidence-based approach to cross border measures and processes, including testing and quarantine, would pave the way to restore global mobility in a safe and sensible way. The Association remains committed to working with governments and industry stakeholders to safely reopen international travel corridors in line with evolving ICAO CART recommendations.”

Leading industry associations have come together to appeal to the government to strengthen the packaging waste collection and recycling ecosystem to attract regional and international tourists to Indian tourist destinations. The strengthening of waste collection system and educating common citizens about the importance of responsible disposal of various types of plastics will ensure less waste littered at the tourist hotspots and other Indian cities.

A month ago, the Indian government released the Swaccha Survekshan (Cleanliness Survey), in which many tourist hotspots like Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar, Varanasi Shillong, etc. received a poor rating. Also, almost half of the world’s 50 most polluted cities are in India. It projects a negative image of India/Indian destinations globally and adversely impacts tourism. The current pandemic is an opportunity to rethink the roadmap to build a clean, safe, and environment-friendly tourism ecosystem.

Pronab Sarkar, President - Indian Association of Tour Operators - National Apex Body of Tour Operators said, “Tourism sector is the key for the revival of Indian economy and cleanliness will play a pivotal role in the post-COVID era to attract tourists. Scarred and battered tourists will seek destinations that are safe, hygienic, and clean. Pollution not only affect the environment but also the culture, society, and economy adversely. Pollution with respect to tourism encompasses air emissions, noise, solid waste and littering, releases of sewage, and chemicals, even architectural/visual pollution. Most of these are easily avoidable. Better planning in terms of plastic waste disposal, collection, and recycling mechanism will usher in good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production. These will send positive signals globally that shall augur well for Indian tourism.”

Subhash Goyal, Hony. Secretary- Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), “Destinations which are not only hygienically safe but also visibly clean will be preferred by the tourists.  The current pandemic has made us realize that the health of our planet is the priority, collective efforts not only by the government and municipalities but by all individuals, social, voluntary organizations, and resident welfare associations have to be made across our country to curtail littering and improve waste collection and recycling efforts. Tourists look for a surrounding which is pleasing to the eye. There should be regular cleanliness and health audits to ensure that the infrastructure and environment are pristine. If we collectively contribute towards this objective, then we could usher towards a new era of Incredible India!”

“Cleanliness is the key to stimulate tourism industry in India. The habit of littering, ineffective waste management, and the pandemic has led to widespread pollution. Owing to the current pandemic, plastic waste has increased drastically, due to the surge in the usage of plastic items. But banning plastic is not a solution since COVID-19 has taught us that plastic is an essential part of our life, be it masks, PPE kits, or sanitizer bottles. The need of the hour is to educate masses about its correct disposal and recycling, especially the most recycled types of plastics, so the negative effects can be curtailed and our tourist hotspots i.e. beaches, hill stations, pilgrimage can maintain their sheen.” Nilesh Shah- President - Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

Tourism Corporation Gujarat Limited (TCGL) in association with Brand Aid are all set to conduct the first of its kind virtual awards. The first edition of Gujarat Travel and Tourism Excellence Award 2020 is all set to be held on 25th September 2020. The event will be graced by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani; Minister of Tourism & Fisheries Jawahar Chavda and Minister of State for Tourism, Gujarat Vasan Bhai Ahir. The event is conceptualised and executed by Brand Aid.

This would be the very first time in tourism industry of India, a virtual Tourism award ceremony is organized. The whole idea is to felicitate achievers for their efforts to boost tourism sector of Gujarat. The award ceremony will have 13 different categories ranging from best tour operator, best Gujarati cuisine restaurant to a special jury award and many more.

Commenting on the same, Commissioner of Tourism and Managing Director of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Jenu Devan says, “Gujarat has always promoted uniqueness, and the virtual Gujarat Tourism Excellence Award Ceremony, will also be the first of its kind. I am especially pleased that by hosting such an event, we are sending a strong message that no matter what the circumstances, we can always adapt and continue to find new ways to flourish. Especially, the State's Tourism Industry is working round-the-clock to give every visitor a warmer and safer experience of Gujarat. I thank Hon'ble CM Shri Vijay Rupani and other Honoured Guests for gracing the ceremony with their presence and supporting TCGL's endeavours.”

Commenting on the same, Hiten Shah, the director of ‘Brand Aid’ which also conceptualised the award function said, “A lot of thought has been put into the award show. It has been in planning stage for over 3 months and the ranking system has also been detailed and done by the best in the industry. This award function will boost confidence of the tourism sector in the state and also be a trend setter for other states to follow. This will also help boost confidence of the tourism sector in the state and will instil confidence of governments backing in helping to stabilise the situation which has taken a big hit due to Covid 19.”

The Leela

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has appointed Anupriya Ghosh as Senior Director Revenue Strategy. Anupriya brings with her over a decade of focused Revenue Management Strategy experience. Prior joining to The Leela, she has worked with brands including Taj Hotels, Starwood Hotels and Marriott International in India.

In her new role, Anupriya will be responsible for building and driving the overall Revenue Management Strategy for the brand. She will work closely with all hotel Revenue Managers and guide and assist them in driving the Corporate Revenue Strategy to optimize the company’s channel delivery and revenue yield as it navigates the challenges that the immediate future brings.



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