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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

flydubai operated its first flight with its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from Dubai International (DXB) to Sialkot International Airport (SKT).  The four additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will operate flights to Karachi, Multan and Tehran during the course of the day.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said: “With the return to service for the Boeing 737 MAX today this marks the end of 22 months of diligent work undertaken by the global community of regulators and the uncompromising efforts of the flydubai team in preserving and returning the aircraft to passenger service.  Now is the time for our MAX aircraft to fly once again.”

The remaining nine MAX aircraft will continue to join the fleet with one aircraft scheduled to rejoin the fleet every 10 days.  The aircraft will supplement and support the existing flight schedule serving flydubai’s network of 76 destinations. 

Hamad Obaidalla, Chief Commercial Officer of flydubai, said: “The primary objective for everyone involved has been to safely return the aircraft to passenger service and we were pleased to see our passengers once again enjoy the exceptional product on our MAX fleet.  They offer unrivalled comfort on a narrow-body aircraft in both our Business and Economy cabins.”

In addition to the enhancements and modifications to the aircraft and its systems, the GCAA has mandated additional pilot training as part of the stringent requirements for the aircraft’s return to service.  233 of flydubai’s pilots have now completed the additional classroom and simulator training and are now ready to fly the MAX aircraft.  The training programme continues as every one of flydubai’s pilots will receive this regulator-approved MAX aircraft training.

flydubai has resumed flights to Eritrea’s capital Asmara with a weekly flight service. Flights to Asmara start from 15 April and will operate between Terminal 2, Dubai International (DXB) and Asmara International Airport (ASM).  

With the relaunch of flights to Asmara, flydubai has been steadily increasing its operations and has recently announced the start of flights to a number of destinations including Doha, Istanbul and the Maldives as well as new routes such as Malta, Tel Aviv and Tirana.  

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer at flydubai, said: “We continue to reopen destinations on our network and look forward to offering our passengers the convenience of direct airlinks to Dubai.”  

Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations (UAE, GCC, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent) at flydubai, said: “We are pleased to relaunch our operations to Eritrea as we continue to  

offer convenient and reliable travel services between both countries. We look forward to welcoming our passengers from Asmara back onboard our flights as they travel to Dubai and beyond on our growing network.”   

Travelport has launched its next-generation platform, Travelport+, the centerpiece of the company’s new global strategy that is designed to accelerate industry innovation in multi-source content distribution, travel retailing and value generation.

Travelport+ is an extensive, next-generation platform that creates a simplified, capability-rich, marketplace for travel retailing. As travel distribution has evolved, retrofitting new types of distribution into existing platforms has led to increased complexity across the industry, slowing progress. Travelport+ is a true multi-source platform offering more dynamic, differentiated, retail-ready content, delivering better choices for retailers and consumers, in a faster, frictionless way.

“It’s a monumental moment in our history and in the development of our industry”, said Greg Webb, Chief Executive Officer at Travelport.

“Travel hasn’t kept up with the evolution of modern digital retail and today, the buying and selling of travel is more complex than it needs to be. As Travelport is the only dedicated, global, travel distribution platform, we have made a multi-year investment to accelerate industry innovation in travel retailing. Bringing together the best of Travelport’s existing capabilities and tools and driving innovation to deliver the unmet needs of our industry, Travelport+ truly changes the game in the speed of delivery of modern travel retail and offers a fundamental upgrade to travel technology.”

Built as a single, next generation environment, including: a modern, lightweight, highly functional lightweight microservices API, complete with NDC content; enhanced airline ticket exchange tools; a trip container to manage all aspects of the trip; and a sophisticated point of sale solution to address the needs of the professional travel agent, Travelport+ sets a new standard in the management of global travel content.

Travelport+ offers better retailing and merchandising capabilities which in turn leads to higher value trips. Through better efficiency, supported by Travelport’s leading data and insights, Travelport+ will unlock the potential for better offers and more content for all parts of the travel industry.

Sandeep Dwivedi, Chief Operating Officer at InterGlobe Technology Quotient, said, “Innovating and keeping abreast with modern technologies is paramount to success in today’s times. By simplifying travel retailing with Travelport+ and backing it with latest technologies, Travelport is ensuring greater advancements for our industry stakeholders, right from OTAs to small and medium agencies, irrespective of their scale of operations. This will certainly change the face of travel retail and take it closer to being an advanced industry.”

The rollout of Travelport+ has already begun with a number of agency and supplier partners taking part in the initial upgrade. Travelport+ will continue to be gradually rolled out globally, managed by a specialized customer support team.

Digital travel platform Agoda has launched Agoda Special Offers (ASO) globally, following soft launches in key Asia markets.

The Agoda Special Offers product is supported with dedicated landing pages across 10 markets and more than 1,700 hotels are already on board to help meet consumers’ desire for extra perks with their stays.

According to a recent Agoda customer survey, receiving additional perks, such as free room upgrades and early check-in, is the second most important factor in a customers’ travel decision after price. Hotel partners can now easily offer these desired benefits on Agoda, as well as leverage its platform’s global reach to amplify these promotions to a wider range of customers loyal to the Agoda brand.

Agoda Special Offers is the brand’s latest product and builds on its GoLocal initiative to promote domestic travel.

“This past year, we have seen travelers re-explore their own domestic markets, staying hyper local and for the most part staying in places and hotels they are familiar with. But recently, we have seen growth of travelers that are all about self-care, pampering and indulgence, because quite simply they “are worth it”.  But this traveler is savvy about deals and has high expectations. They want to find comparisons in one place, and that’s where Agoda Special Offers product comes in,” explained Enric Casals, Regional Director Southeast Asia and Oceania, Agoda.

Signum Hotels & Resorts has announced a joint venture (JV) with real estate player IQI India. The JV committed an investment of USD 150 million in developing hotel assets across the country, and globally, over a period of 2 to 5 years.

The JV will capitalize on the opportunity to identify and acquire assets at competitive deals and aims to develop 5000 keys over a period of next 2-5 years. The expansion will be fueled through mergers, acquisitions and property investments across metros, tier 2 and 3 cities in India.

Addressing media at the event, Mehul Sharma, Founder & CEO, Signum Hotels & Resorts said: “We are pleased to be forming this strategic joint venture with IQI India to accelerate our expansion in the country where IQI brings in assets and Signum operates these assets. No hotel brand is successful without a real estate partner, and this joint venture will capitalize on IQI’s global real estate prowess to identify and develop the right assets.”

IQI India, is the India arm of the Global IPC IQI based in Malaysia having operations in 17 countries through PaMa D’Globizen.

Pankaz Jaiin, CMD, IQI India and Chairman PaMa D’Globizen said,”Our team experience of decades in the India Real Estate and Retail Market coupled with our access and network through more than 200 cities across India fosters our confidence in the Indian hospitality market and we are eyeing an aggressive expansion in commercial real estate segment. It is about time Bharat gets an experience that has been closely nestled in the urban India and at the same time open up the gateways of the real Bharat to the world to relish and capture in their selfie moments.”

Changi Airport in Singapore has launched the Safe Travel Concierge (STC). The app lets passengers book their on-arrival COVID19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and check that they have completed all pre-travel requirements for a safe and smooth entry into Singapore.

After registering for an STC account, passengers need to add their upcoming trips. Depending on their profile and trip details, they will be shown a customised list of pre-travel requirements to complete before flying to Singapore.

Besides booking their on-arrival PCR test, passengers can also access services such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s electronic Arrival Card and Health Declaration form through STC. Passengers can also stay updated with the latest COVID19 news with the portal.

Jayson Goh, Managing Director for Airport Operations Management, Changi Airport Group, said, “As we prepare for the reopening of international borders, Changi Airport continues to innovate and leverage technology to ensure a safe and pleasant traveller experience for our passengers. With the support of the Singapore Tourism Board, we first trialed the STC prototype at TravelRevive, the first hybrid tradeshow in Singapore. We are glad to launch it today for all passengers and encourage them to use it for a smoother experience at Changi Airport.”

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) honored the Utah Office of Tourism (UOT) with one silver and two bronze Adrian Awards for marketing excellence for its winning entries in the 64th annual Adrian Awards, the largest and most prestigious global travel marketing competition. For 2020, HSMAI redesigned the Adrian Awards to reflect the current travel landscape, with Focus Categories of Corporate Social Responsibility, Crisis Communications/Management, Recovery Strategies, and Talent & Leadership Development, in addition to traditional Adrian Award categories.

Vicki Varela, Managing Director, Utah Office of Tourism, said, “Our goal is to support Utah’s great small businesses -- guides and outfitters, hoteliers, restaurants, retailers and more -- by telling the Utah story effectively. Our marketing aims to encourage responsible visitation, engage with our local communities and to help travelers understand how accessible a Utah adventure can be. Adrian honors affirm that we have created messages that resonate.”

Utah Office of Tourism travel marketing entries:

Between the Mighty 5 — Silver. The integrated marketing campaign for consumers. Launched 2019 Utah’s five national parks, “The Mighty 5,” have been the subject of successful advertising campaigns in the past. Now the national parks experience a variety of constraints in the peak season due to the high visitation numbers.  The question/opportunity facing the UOT and key partners including Struck and Love Communications was how to focus the emphasis on targeting travelers who would increase their length of stay, spend more, explore further and travel better.

Small but Mighty — Bronze. Recovery strategy. Launched 2020 Along with most other travel and tourism boards around the world, the Utah Office of Tourism’s planned campaigns were put on hold in early March 2020 while the world seeked solutions to the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than have our marketing efforts go completely dark with the onset of COVID, the UOT, alongside key partners including Struck and Love Communications, quickly developed a strategic plan defined and guided by key measured indicators that outlined the path for all communications for the UOT across their paid media, social, public relations, community management, and website content platforms. In addition to promoting safe, well-prepared visitation, Small but Mighty worked to mitigate the economic loss for the tourism industry in Utah and set up the destination for a strong recovery when the time was right.

Guided By — Bronze. Multimedia or video series. Reporting in recent years found that the Utah Office of Tourism’s powerful storytelling “coincided with a steep increase in park visitation that has continued unabated ever since.” It was time for a new narrative, a story told straight from the subject matter experts closest to the land who could responsibly lead visitors down a different road. UOT’s “Guided By” series is anchored by long-form video content unified by an effort to encourage high-quality, well-informed travel to places less known. The series was designed to be inclusive, representing both a range of demographics across our target audiences.

Varela said, “Just like the red emerald, mined only in Utah, we strive to make our storytelling unique and transformational. Thanks to the innovative work from our internal team at the Utah Office of Tourism and key creative partners for making this possible.” 

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has selected Salesforce, the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM), to develop and implement a new customer case and knowledge management system for the Airline. This new system, 1Point, will be deployed across SIA’s contact centres and customer feedback handling units globally from late 2021.

As a dynamic case management tool, 1Point offers a contextual and holistic view of customer interactions through a single interface. SIA’s service agents will no longer need to toggle between multiple systems to retrieve customer data, up-to-date information on products, services, policies and procedures, and perform transactions. Its case management and guided workflows will also be integrated with SIA’s in-house artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

1Point will help to enhance the travel experience by supporting consistent and more personalised service across various ground-based customer touch points. Service agents will have access to the relevant information, including those related to each customer’s previous interactions, at every step. This facilitates quicker decision-making, and allows them to pre-empt a customer’s needs more efficiently.

Marvin Tan, Senior Vice President Customer Services and Operations, Singapore Airlines, said, “Implementing 1Point is an important step in our Company’s digital transformation. It is an investment in new technologies that ensure that Singapore Airlines is ready to support the evolving customer requirements in the coming years. It also affirms our strong commitment to ensuring that our customers continue to receive world-class service across the entire travel journey.”

1Point is powered by Salesforce Service Cloud and the Mulesoft Anypoint Platform to provide seamless, integrated customer services experiences. Capgemini, a leading provider in consulting, digital transformation, technology and engineering services, will be the systems integrator for the implementation and application maintenance support.

Sujith Abraham, Senior Vice President and General Manager for ASEAN, Salesforce, said, "If the last year has taught us anything, it's that digital, engaging experiences with customers is no longer a nice to have -- it's an imperative. That's why we're proud to be the digital transformation partner for Singapore Airlines' 1Point platform to provide a single view of its customers and deliver best-in-class personalised experiences."

Gaurav Modi, Managing Director of Capgemini in South East Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said, “We are delighted to partner with Singapore Airlines in their digital transformation journey. Data is the engine of a successful digital business and, coupled with advanced analytics, can deliver real-time insights that help clients meet their evolving needs. 1Point harnesses these digital forces to bring an enriched customer experience to one of the world’s top airlines.”

As an innovative system that leverages new capabilities to increase Singapore’s competitive advantage, 1Point has also qualified for partial funding from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s (CAAS) Aviation Development Fund.

Ho Yuen Sang, Director (Aviation Industry), CAAS, said, “CAAS is pleased to support SIA’s ongoing digital transformation effort. This project has received funding from CAAS’ Aviation Development Fund. By transforming the passenger experience for SIA’s customers at Changi, it will augment our air hub’s competitive offering.”

Thomas Cook (India) inaugurated its first Gold Circle Partner franchise outlet in Jammu with a focus to leverage the growth potential of the region. Jammu’s consumers will benefit from Thomas Cook India’s extensive range of end-to-end travel solutions, including; international & domestic holidays (group tours, personalised and luxury holidays, cruises, etc.), Travel Insurance and Visa Services. To build consumer confidence in travel, the outlet will also offer Thomas Cook India’s comprehensive Assured Safe Travel Program in partnership with Apollo Clinics and seamless COVID-negative certification services. Of additional advantage, especially during the COVID era, are Thomas Cook India’s Doctor on Call 24x7 and Safe Holiday Helpline services.

The Thomas Cook India’s Holiday Readiness Report reveals that 89 per cent respondents are displaying keen interest to resume travel. Further a significant 71 per cent need the guidance of a holiday expert and so prefer to visit an outlet/Virtual Store/video chat to plan their holidays. Hence in an initiative to support its Jammu based customers, Thomas Cook India has set up its first Gold Circle Partner franchise outlet at Jammu’s Bahu Plaza.

Jammu Traveller Trends/ Behaviour: Given lockdown fatigue Jammu based consumers are showcasing significant pent-up demand for travel. For the upcoming Summer Holiday season, favourites include Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Andamans; also Dubai, Maldives, Egypt, Russia and Turkey. Jammu’s travellers are displaying interest in non-standard elements: accommodation in a villa, haveli/fort or a plantation bungalow amidst tea - coffee estates. Jammu’s millennials and Gen Z travellers prefer exciting options of outdoor/ adventure based experiences like kayaking, dune bashing, snorkelling, ziplining and wild-life jungle safaris.

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India), said, “We have been observing strong and increasing travel appetite from Jammu and hence we are delighted to announce our first Gold Circle Partner franchise outlet in Jammu. We have selected Bahu Plaza given its prime location that provides us with a viable catchment across families, young working professionals and corporate travellers.”

Gold Circle Partner Rasvinder Singh is a travel and tourism veteran and his expertise in the industry along with his extensive network will assist Thomas Cook India to further strengthen its presence in this growing market.

Informa Markets in India, India’s leading B2B exhibition organizer, successfully culminated its three-day travel and tourism exchange SATTE’s 28th edition at the India Expo Center, Greater Noida. Inaugurated by Chief Guest Mr. Arvind Singh, Secretary - Tourism, Govt. of India, the show witnessed participation of over 10,000 visitors from cross-sections of travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Some key dignitaries present at the inauguration of the expo included Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, Minister of Tourism, Maldives; Mr. Maneck E. Davar, Chairman, Service Export Promotion Council; Ms. Jyoti Mayal, Vice-Chairperson, FAITH; M P Bezbaruah, Former Secretary – Tourism, Govt. of India and Secretary General, Hotel Association of India; Mr. Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India and Ms. Pallavi Mehra, Group Director, Informa Markets In India amidst an august industry gathering .

Speaking at the inauguration of SATTE, Mr. Arvind Singh, Secretary - Tourism, Govt. of India, congratulated the organizing team of SATTE for sending out the message of resurgence in the travel and tourism industry. He also mentioned that travel and tourism is the leading service industry of India and as per WTTC, contributed 6.8% of the total economy amounting to INR. 16,681 billion. It generated 39,82,18,000 jobs which translates to 8.0% of the total employment of the Indian economy. Mr. Singh also added, “India is emerging as a nation to look up to for several countries in terms of health infrastructure, we have already vaccinated 32 million people and would be continuing our efficient drive. Coming to strengthening the foundation of travel and tourism industry, the Ministry has launched ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ campaign which has already organized more than 80 webinars. The website of ‘Incredible India’ has also been updated in multiple languages like Chinese and Arabic to facilitate a smooth flow of communication across multiple countries. Initiatives like SATHI (System of Awareness Training for Hospitality Industry), SWADESH and the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator (IITF) Certification Programme have been launched. The programmes aim at enhancing the overall experience of tourists by creating a pool of talented and skilled individuals in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. We are positioning India as a centre of Ayurveda, Yoga, Sidha, Naturopathy which will be boosting the Wellness Tourism, the guidelines have already been drafted by the Ministry. Schemes have also been extended to wellness tourism service providers.”

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, Minister of Tourism, Maldives, said, “SATTE 2021 is a crucial way forward to move past the crisis, which will echo across the globe.” He also thanked Indian Govt. for their support, Indian tourists for visiting Maldives and playing an important role in making it the next door travel destination. By the end of this year, more than 3,00,000 Indian tourists are expected to visit Maldives which is a highest recorded number for any country. Dr. Mausoom added “Indians are hard-working individuals, be it IT professionals, doctors or executive class - they all need a vacation break, and we are working to kickstart our North airport which will cut the travel time by 45 minutes for Indian tourists. Very soon Maldives is all set to become the first country to initiate Vaccine Tourism called as “3V”- “Visit, Vaccinate and Vacation”; it will give travelers the option to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the Maldives and promote it as a safe destination for tourists”

Maneck E. Davar, Chairman, Services Exports Promotion Council (SEPC) commended Informa Markets in India for organizing SATTE at such a time, he said, “It is a sign of coming back, of resurgence. My compliments to them for have taken this major step in restoring some confidence in the travel and tourism industry. No country can ever grow unless it has a very vibrant and strong hospitality industry and today we have the finest hospitality industry in the world. In SEPC, hospitality and tourism is the largest sector from amongst the 12-13 champion sectors and other services which we look at. We know the pain this industry has gone through in the last year and the pain that this industry will continue to go through, but in spite of that it will continue to be buoyant and optimistic as is evident in this exhibition.”

Dr. Dhananjay Regmi, Chief Executive Officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) putting SATTE at the heart of latest marketing efforts that Nepal has undertaken in order to revival tourism in the Himalayan country, Dr. Regmi, added, “SATTE is the biggest show in South Asia. In our efforts to revive tourism in Nepal under the new normal we are looking at opportunities where we can go and promote Nepal. Nepal was preparing to launch Visit Nepal Year 2020 and focusing on that a number of new tourism activities and new products were introduced in Nepal. But before we could publicize it to the world the pandemic struck. SATTE has happened at the right time and has given us the opportunity to inform the trade that Nepal is open to tourism, especially for the Indians, and is also easily accessible from several border points by road along the Indo-Nepal border.”

Jyoti Mayal, Vice-chairperson, FAITH and President, TAA lauding SATTE for organizing the first physical show post-pandemic and facilitating the much needed networking and business opportunity for the travel and tourism industry, said, “We need to move stronger and forward, learn from our past to pave the path of the present and to the future. In the current times, states like Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Kerala and Goa have seen multifold inbound which has boosted our morale. It shows that we are a resilient industry, an industry which can and will help itself nurture and grow. At exhibitions like SATTE we come out stronger to create our businesses. Look around you and see how we support each other. Let us learn from our mistakes as we all start from ground zero and build a healthier sustainable environment for our future generations.”

Private players such as TravelBoutiqueOnline, ITC Welcome Heritage, My Value Travel, Tripjack, Youngistan Travellers, STS World, Destination India, Nix Tours, Hora Tourism, and Rayna Tours, amongst others, also participated this year. SATTE refocused its strategy this year, focusing primarily on the domestic market and a few exclusive international destinations that have opened their doors to tourists since the lockdown was lifted or are looking at wooing Indian stakeholders once restrictions are eased. These included participants such as AlUlA, Nepal, Maldives, Malaysia, Utah and Expo2020 Dubai.

On the successful completion of the 28th edition of SATTE, Mr. Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India, said, “We acknowledge the support of our exhibitors, visitors and stakeholders for making a coveted industry show like SATTE possible this year. Our theme for this year, ‘Reconnect to Revive’ really resonated with the industry and we appreciate their contribution in joining our efforts to revive the sector. As an industry, we drive 9.2% of the GDP and 10% of the overall employment, it is time we comprehend the significance of these statistics to become future-fit and get united to exhibit our strength. Domestic tourism is already on the path of recovery though we expect periodic see-saws. Through SATTE, we also envisaged the ways to make international and domestic tourism ready and relevant when the time is right and create the road map for the sector to continue ruling the roost. In these unprecedented circumstances we are glad to have hosted such a successful show and provided our able industry partners a platform like SATTE that will further aid them in elevating their business.”

The Ministry of AYUSH participated for the first time at SATTE and Dr. Kishor Patel, MD (Ayu), Research officer (Ayu), CCRAS shared their experience by saying, “Ministry of AYUSH has a leading role in promoting wellness; it is a multi-dimensional concept. Our country is the land of wellness practices and sciences such as Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation, but not many people are aware of these practices. It is our maiden association with SATTE; undoubtedly, it has been a great opportunity to receive a platform for reaching out to the masses and getting them acquainted with these terms.”

SATTE 2021 garnered significant support from the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, Service Export Promotion Council (SEPC) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Ayush and State Tourism Boards such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir to name a few. The event also received support from international organizations/associations and Indian travel trade associations such as Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI), Hotel Association of India (HAI), Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB), Network of Indian MICE Agents (NIMA), Association of Buddhist Tour Operators (ABTO), Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association (UFTAA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Skal, Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA).



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