Air New Zealand has teamed up with American actors Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr. for its latest safety video A Fantastical Journey. The video is an Alice in Wonderland inspired adventure featuring a number of iconic locations throughout New Zealand including the Southern Alps, Otago – including Dunedin and the Moeraki Boulders, the Conway River in Canterbury, Wellington, Mt Taranaki, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua, Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, Tolaga Bay north of Gisborne, White Island and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
New Zealand singer and songwriter Gin Wigmore has also recorded her own unique version of the song ‘My Little Corner of the World’ as the backing track for A Fantastical Journey. Katie Holmes says it’s been fun working alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and the Air New Zealand crew to produce A Fantastical Journey.
Holmes said, “I was really excited to be a part of this project – the safety video is creative, magical and funny. The scenery is also beautiful and makes me want to get down to New Zealand!”
Cuba Gooding Jr. said he wanted to get involved in Air New Zealand’s latest safety video as he does a lot of travelling and loves the fun and different approach. He added, “They make you laugh, smile and pay a little bit more attention. I’ve also enjoyed working with Katie Holmes and Kiwi artist Gin Wigmore – her voice is enchanting and soothing, exactly what you need for safety video!”
Jodi Williams, General Manager of Global Brand and Content Marketing, Air New Zealand said, “With the help of Hollywood stars Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr. our latest safety video takes viewers on a journey taking in New Zealand’s stunning beauty, incredible culture, friendly people and amazing flora and fauna, while also sharing the airline’s key safety messages. We’ve taken a different approach creatively with our latest safety video, working closely with our creative agency True, and Auckland-based production company Assembly throughout the process on the special effects to help take people on a magical tour of the country.”
Air New Zealand’s safety videos have collectively generated more than 108 million views online to date along with significant international media exposure.
The Ministry of External Affairs in association with the Department of Posts has taken an innovative initiative and has decided to open Passport Offices at the Head Post Offices (HPO) in the country called ‘Post Office Passport Seva Kendra’ (POPSK). The Government has announced the opening of 235 POPSK in two phases – 86 in Phase-I and 149 in Phase-II.
55 POPSK out of the 86 announced in Phase-I have become functional as on 15 July, 2017. With the addition of 235 POPSKs, the total number of Passport Seva Kendras including POPSK to have been set-up since May 2014 for the benefit of the citizens would be 251.
There will be 93 PSK and 235 POPSK after the operationalization of all the PSK and POPSK announced in Phases I and II. The Government intends to open POPSK in the HPO in the country in such a manner that Passport Seva Kendra facility is available to citizens within a radius of 50 kms.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced key milestones toward implementing the New Generation of IATA Settlement Systems (NewGen ISS). Edenred and Multiservice Technology Solutions (MSTS) were selected to implement the IATA EasyPay payment solution for travel agents in more than 100 markets, while Euler Hermes was appointed as the Global Default Insurance provider. IATA also announced that Featurespace was selected to provide a risk management and fraud protection solution. NewGen ISS is a program launched by IATA to ensure the continued relevance and value of the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) to travel agent and airline customers.
IATA EasyPay is a dedicated e-wallet that IATA-accredited travel agents can set-up and fund to pay for airline tickets issued through the BSP. This voluntary “pay as you go” method will be in addition to traditional cash remittances and credit cards. Funds are secured at the time of ticket issuance.
In addition to providing greater payment flexibility, IATA EasyPay will enable the introduction of a new, simpler form of agent accreditation. It also will allow agents to reduce their financial security requirements with IATA and to safely sell beyond their cash capacity. For airlines, IATA EasyPay represents a fast, secure and cost-effective payment solution.
Edenred and MSTS will partner with IATA to facilitate the global delivery of the IATA EasyPay system. IATA EasyPay is expected to be piloted in the first BSP markets in the Nordic countries during the third quarter of 2017.
“We are pleased to join with Edenred and MSTS to deliver IATA EasyPay which is a cornerstone of NewGen ISS. Working together, we will be able to provide a convenient pay-as-you-go option to more than 58,000 IATA-accredited travel agents, enabling them to take advantage of new and more efficient forms of electronic payments,” said Aleks Popovich, IATA’s Senior Vice President of Financial and Distribution Services.
IATA also selected Euler Hermes, an Allianz company, to be the provider of a new, voluntary type of financial security for travel agents in the form of Global Default Insurance (GDI). If required to provide a financial security, agents will be able to apply to obtain cover under GDI for the amount of security requested by IATA. Already launched and available to travel agents in several European markets, GDI will be progressively rolled out across the BSPs over the next 18 months.
“Working with Euler Hermes we will be able to offer our travel agent partners more flexibility and choice of financial security while helping to reduce default losses for airlines,” said Popovich.
Michael Kwon has been appointed as the new Director of Korea Tourism Organisation, India Office. He will be heading the India office for next three years. Previously working as the Director of International Tourism Strategy team at Korea Tourism Organisation head office, he has all-round exposure across different verticals of KTO like HR, Planning & Coordination, Inbound Marketing & Performance Evaluation. He was the Deputy Director of KTO Chicago office between 2005 & 2007 and has successfully established KTO office in Jakarta in 2011.
Wyndham Hotel Group has unveiled plans to acquire the Minnesota-based AmericInn hotel brand and its management company, Three Rivers Hospitality, from Northcott Hospitality for US$170 million.
AmericInn’s portfolio consists of 200 primarily franchised hotels with approximately 11,600 rooms in 21 states, predominately in the Midwestern U.S., Ohio Valley, and Mountain states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and North Dakota. The brand’s U.S. pipeline consists of 23 hotels. Committed to its asset-light strategy, Wyndham Hotel Group will explore options to divest the owned portfolio, which consists of 10 hotels.
Wyndham Hotel Group has unveiled plans to acquire the Minnesota-based AmericInn hotel brand and its management company, Three Rivers Hospitality, from Northcott Hospitality for US$170 million.
The deal, subject to regulatory and government approval and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, will bolster Wyndham Hotel Group’s existing collection of more than 1,500 midscale hotels while also significantly increasing its footprint in the Midwest. Upon closing, Wyndham’s family of brands will expand to 20 names.
Geoff Ballotti, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wyndham Hotel Group said, “AmericInn’s unwavering dedication to first-rate quality and service, proven by its consistently high ratings and guest satisfaction scores, grows our North American system in the heartland where we see great opportunity for continued growth. AmericInn’s guest-centric culture aligns perfectly with our values, making it a fantastic tuck-in brand for us. And with the global middle class expected to more than double in the next 10 years, we know investing in the midscale segment allows us to offer great experiences and value at price points that travellers need and where they want to be.”
India continues to be the fourth largest source market in terms of visitor arrivals and third largest tourism receipts generating market for Singapore. To celebrate and sustain this relationship, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in partnership with Singapore Airlines organised a 10-day, six city roadshow, across India and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The first roadshow in India commenced on July 10 in Pune followed by Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Kolkata and Hyderabad and concluded in Colombo recently. Themed “Growing Tourism into Singapore, Together”, the delegation was led by GB Srithar, Regional Director, South Asia Middle East & Africa), Adrian Kong, Area Director, South Asia, Mumbai and Yuemin Li-Misra, Area Director, South Asia, Delhi. The roadshows featured stakeholders from Singapore representing hotels, airlines, integrated resorts, attractions, Destination Management Companies (DMC) and cruise operators interacting and networking with STB’s travel and trade partners in India. There was also an update session on Singapore’s upcoming tourism offerings as well as Singapore Airlines Group’s range of cabin products and experiences.
While addressing the audience Srithar said, “India has always been an important market for us. For the second time in a row, Singapore received more than one million Indian visitors in 2016. As the region’s middle-class becomes more affluent, there will be immense opportunities for international outbound travel and tourism, especially among families, working millennials and incentive movements. Through the roadshows, we seek to renew our ties with the travel trade, entrenching existing partnerships and forging new ones. Through these partnerships, we seek to bring Singapore’s tourism offerings to our target audiences through creative promotions, and in the process, ensuring meaningful results for both our partners and the local travel trade.”
Jet Airways, one of India’s premiere international airlines has announced the expansion of its domestic network during this monsoon by introducing 14 new direct, non-stop flights to emerging cities in domestic India.
The airline has been witnessing steady growth in guest traffic, primarily in northern India, especially between cities such as Jaipur, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Udaipur and Indore. The new flights will deepen Jet Airways’ domestic footprint, helping it support and facilitate travel aspirations of its guests from these regions.
In an industry first, Jet Airways has introduced direct, return non-stop flights from Indore to Ahmedabad and Jaipur. Likewise, the airline has also commenced new, direct non-stop flights between Delhi and Indore, Lucknow, Jaipur as well as connecting Jaipur with Udaipur and Lucknow.
The airline has also introduced 11 direct, one-stop through flights between Delhi and Silchar, Dehradun and Jaipur, Chandigarh and Dehradun, Chandigarh and Lucknow, and between Indore and Lucknow, in yet another maiden initiative.
Jet Airways has increased capacity on key routes via additional frequencies, that include a 2nd flight between Bengaluru and Guwahati, a 3rd frequency between Delhi and Indore, a 7th daily frequency between Delhi and Lucknow, as well as, Delhi and Jaipur, together with a 2nd daily flight between Delhi and Udaipur.
Jayaraj Shanmugam, Chief Commercial Officer, Jet Airways said, “Our new non-stop flights, additional frequencies, as well as direct, one-stop through flights is part of our continuing efforts to provide connectivity, choice and convenience for our guests. The new connections will enable guests from emerging cities to connect seamlessly on to metro cities throughout India as well as onwards to our wide international network.”
Luxury hotel group Orange County has changed its name to Evolve Back. Emmanuel Ramapuram, chairman of what is now Evolve Back said, “The name Orange County, crafted specifically for our resort in Coorg, was not conveying the ‘Spirit of the land’ character of our new resorts – Kuruba Tribal Village themed resort at Kabini and the Vijayanagara Palace themed resort at Hampi.”
The House of Ramapuram, planters by tradition, diversified into the hospitality business in 1994 by setting up a small resort in a 100-year-old, 300-acre Chikkana Halli Estate in Coorg. Besides coffee and spice, Coorg produced some of the finest oranges in the country. As a reflection of this, the company initially decided to name the resort Orange County to cue in the produce and the colonial planter legacy of Coorg.
When the second resort opened at Kabini, the group decided to continue with the Orange County name because of the equity the brand had built. However, by then, a blight had permanently destroyed most of the orange trees in Coorg.
Ramapuram added, “As we prepare to expand the locational footprint of our resorts to other parts of India, Africa and Asia, we needed a universal name that was inspired by our ‘Spirit of the land’ philosophy. Moreover, we found that in the global tourism markets, the brand name ‘Orange County’ had a very strong association with a county in California, USA.”
Despite the name change, the ownership, management, and operations or the company are still under the ownership of Orange County Resorts & Hotels Ltd.
Ramapuram said, “While we have evolved over the years, our spirit has remained the same. Today, as we prepare to expand the locational footprint of our resorts further into India, Africa, and Asia, we have found the need to rename ourselves to reflect our spirit.”
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has granted 'in principle' approval for setting up of 18 Greenfield Airports and 'site clearance' approval for setting up of seven Greenfield Airports across the country. Out of these, Mopa Airport in Goa, Navi Mumbai and Shirdi Airport in Maharashtra, Kannur Airport in Kerala, Kushinagar Airport and Jewar Airport in Uttar Pradesh, Dholera Airport in Gujarat, Bhogapuram Airport in Andhra Pradesh, Machiwara Airport in Ludhiana, Alwar Airport in Rajasthan and Rajkot Airport in Gujarat are International Greenfield Airports. The airport project at Kannur has been completed.
Upgradation of existing airports is a continuous process depending on the traffic demand, availability of land and resources, environmental clearance approval from regulatory authorities, clearance from obstruction etc.
During the last three years and the current year, MoCA has received proposals for setting up of Greenfield Airports at Ankleshwar in Gujarat, Bhiwadi (district Alwar) in Rajasthan, Dagadarthi (Nellore), Bhogapuram (Vizianagaram), Tadepalligudem (West Godavari), Oravakallu (Kurnool) and Kuppam (Chittor) in Andhra Pradesh, Chingleput near Chennai, Gwalior and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, Hisar in Haryana, Kothagudem (Khammam) in Telangana, Noida International Airport near Jewar, Saifai (Etawah) in Uttar Pradesh, Shivdaspur in Jaipur, Karwar and Chickmagaluru in Karnataka and Rajkot in Gujarat. GoI has granted 'site clearance' approval for setting up of Greenfield Airport at Bhiwadi (district Alwar) in Rajasthan, Kothagudem (Khammam) in Telangana, Rajkot in Gujarat and Noida International Airport near Jewar in Uttar Pradesh and 'in principle' approval for setting up of Dagadarthi (Nellore), Bhogapuram (Vizianagaram) and Oravakallu (Kurnool) in Andhra Pradesh.
VFS Edu Support Services, the education services arm of VFS Global, has announced a partnership with UK-based Edtech Oxademy Technologies and its subsidiary Oxademy Business School to form the new global digital learning platform ‘VFS-Oxademy’.
VFS-Oxademy will offer a first-of-its-kind knowledge-driven artificial intelligence (AI) cloud infrastructure called OX360 which identifies each learner's strengths and weaknesses and generates learning paths based on individual learner’s behaviour, personalising the learning to each individual student.
The new platform is designed to be a response to the limitations of purely online courses, which have suffered from high drop-out rates, due in many cases to the lack of a personalised learning element, the monotony of rote learning, and students feeling isolated compared to education models in which they direct contact with a teacher.
The intuitive system will also provide real-time analysis of their performance data and include features such as a chat facility so that students can speak to tutors direct at any time and a mobile app to prompt students on which course material they need to study ahead of their next online session.
VFS-Oxademy will provide internationally-accredited post-graduate and executive education programmes in full online and ‘blended’ modes – combining online with classroom learning – for aspiring students and professionals from across the globe. Students can simply log on to these universally accessible programmes that will be affiliated with top universities in the UK and US, and benefit from expert tutelage of prominent alumni networks from across the globe.
Some of VFS-Oxademy’s key programmes include Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Strategic Leadership (MSL), Masters of Science in Organisation Leadership (MSOL), Global Leadership Programme (GLP), Authentic Leadership Development (ALD), Programme for Leadership Development (PLD) and Advanced Management Programme (AMP).
Uniquely, OX360 will allow MBA students to undertake a ‘virtual work placement’ with a blue chip organisation as part of the final stage of their studies, which require that they help solve a real-life business problem. This allows students in the Middle East or India to work with a company in the UK via virtual technologies. This arrangement is often preferred by employers because it means they do not have to find physical space for a work placement student, and also widens the pool from which companies can recruit work placements.
Syed Shahzad (Oxon), Founder & CEO, Oxademy said, “We are bringing learning to people instead of people to learning and its done by embracing the latest technologies available in digital human interaction and by using huge amount of data. We have developed an innovative platform and programmes that enhance the learning at large scale. VFS – Oxademy partnership is leading the way and pushing the boundaries by incorporating features that make use of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Analytics to evolve the education sector.”
Bernard Martyris, Chief of Human Resources, VFS Global said, “A high quality education, especially for advanced professional degrees, carries lifelong benefits. A unique feature of the VFS-Oxademy programmes is that they can be customised to individual needs of students, irrespective of location or background. We are delighted to partner with Oxademy to offer digital learning programmes that make higher education more accessible to students, in a format that offers them all the advantages of getting an international degree from anywhere in the world.”
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