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Karishma Sen

Karishma Sen

The current plight of India’s national carrier is the biggest eye-opener for the aviation industry, both Indian as well as the international carriers working in India. However, there seems to be potential for the scenario to change completely, proven by the fact that international carriers are spreading their wings across Indian skies.

Emirates Airlines

Orhan Abbas is the Vice President India & Nepal, Emirates. Emirates Airlines, which currently operates 185 flights per week from India, is looking at connecting more atleast four more Indian cities namely Amritsar, Mangalore, Pune and Trichy. However, the carrier has exhausted all its bilateral rights and currently pushing for increasing the bilateral. Emirates is looking at a 52 percent increase in the number of seats on Indian flights, from 54,200 now to 80,000 eventually. The carrier’s capacity utilisation at 84 per cent from India shows that Emirates’ operations give the Indian passenger more connectivity. The carrier is also awaiting approval from the Government of India to deploy A 380 on Indian routes.

Turkish Airlines

Adnan Aykac is the General Manager of Turkish Airlines, Northern and Eastern India. Prior to joining Turkish Airlines, Aykac worked with Altera Export & Import Co. as a marketing specialist and manager for the Far East region till 2004. He joined Turkish Airlines the same year as a Marketing & Sales Specialist for Far East.

Turkish Airlines is keen to grow its route network and passenger base in India. The carrier currently operates 14 weekly flights to Istanbul from Delhi and Mumbai. Given the high-demand and great potential in this region, Turkish Airlines is also looking at starting new destinations in the country and also increasing flight frequency in the near future. The airline has signed a code share deal with Air India that allows the latter’s passengers to connect to Air India flights on the Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Amritsar routes.

South African Airways (SAA)

Sajid Khan is the Country Manager – India, South African Airways. Along with India he is also responsible for the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh markets.

SAA is now the only airline to fly direct from Mumbai to Johannesburg and has increased its frequency from four to six weekly flights as it continues to see an influx of visitors from India. Due to strong demand on this route, a seventh frequency will be added, come 3 October 2012, post government approvals. This development is a positive indicator of their focus on the Indian travel segment that has witnessed substantial growth. Going forward, they are looking to consolidate the Indian market by offering an increase in frequency and state of the art products. SAA also offers ten flights a week from Johannesburg to São Paulo and three flights a week to Buenos Aires. It is the only airline that provides the shortest travel time between India and South America.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS)

Azahar Bin Hamid, Regional Senior Vice President for South Asia and Middle East, has been with Malaysia Airlines for more than 30 years. He joined MAS as a Management Trainee in 1982 and worked up to his current position.

MAS, which had been confining its operations to having late evening/night operations at all its stations in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangaluru and Hyderabad, has started mid-day departures, starting with Delhi in late 2010. Effective September this year, the airline will see similar departure timings introduced in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangaluru again. This will result in a weekly frequency increase from 40 weekly services to 50 weekly services for the India points. Further expansion is in store next year as MAS thrusts ahead to eventually operate a double daily services from all its points in India. The airline also has a code share agreement with Jet Airways on all its services from India to Kuala Lumpur.

Lufthansa

Axel Hilgers has been the Director South Asia for Lufthansa since October 2008. He joined Lufthansa in 1986 as an agent at the airport in Frankfurt and never looked back.

For Lufthansa, India is not only an important market, but an important long-term growth market with high strategic value. Choosing India as a launch-pad in Asia for their latest two products, the new Boeing 747-8 aircraft and new Business Class, underlines India’s importance in Lufthansa’s global network as well as their commitment to grow and invest here. India was the first Asian country where Lufthansa started scheduled services in 1959. Currently Lufthansa connects five Indian cities and their global hubs in Frankfurt and Munich with 46 weekly frequencies. Lufthansa operates daily flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai to Frankfurt and from Delhi and Mumbai to Munich. The Pune – Frankfurt route is served with four weekly flights. To further strengthen their market position, the airline has recently deployed the all-new B747-8 Intercontinental on the Frankfurt – Delhi route. The Bengaluru- Frankfurt route will be served by the same aircraft model before the end of this year.

Swiss Air

Jean-Philippe Benoit, General Manager- India, Swiss International Airlines joined the company in 2003.

Year 2011 was a satisfactory year for the company, both from the operational and the financial angles. Globally, Swiss Air transported more than 15 million passengers to 72 destinations in 38 countries. In India as well, demand remained strong throughout the year and the airline enjoyed good bookings. Swiss Air has launched a new dock and new lounge in Zurich recently, including central security which brings substantial time and comfort benefits for all travellers. This year, they will continue strengthening their position as the leading airline connecting India and Switzerland by introducing new on-ground and on-board services.

Cathay Pacific Airways

Rakesh Raicar, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager - South Asia, Cathay Pacific Airways believes India serves as one of the fastest growing economies and is one of the few countries on the growth path despite the global economic downturn. India has had to revise its economic growth forecasts but it still has growth rates that would be the envy of Europe.

In order to offer additional value to the passengers and generate more revenue, Cathay Pacific plans to introduce a Premium Economy Class on Mumbai-Hong Kong and Delhi-Hong Kong routes by late 2012. The airline introduced First Class on the Mumbai-Hong Kong sector in October last year. The new Premium Economy Class is a total enhancement of the Economy Class experience and is designed to give passengers more comfort, space and personal attention through their journey. The new Premium Economy Class experience features a quieter, more spacious cabin than the traditional Economy Class and will feature between 26 and 34 seats.

Kenya Airways

According to Bennett Stephens, Area Manager, Kenya Airways for India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, passengers from India are mainly tourists, wedding groups, leisure travellers and professionals. In addition to the existing market, Kenya Airways is looking to attract customers travelling to other African destinations via Nairobi, as the capital is quite well-connected to other African countries. He added that their Mumbai-Nairobi flights are doing well and have achieved a yearly load factor of above 80 per cent.

Kenya Airways, the national carrier of Kenya, after launching direct flights from New Delhi to Nairobi, is planning to fly to four more destinations in India in the coming years. The airline is looking at Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, Chennai and Bengaluru to start flight services. The airline is also going strong on expanding its global network with plans to fly to 115 destinations in the next ten years. The carrier has plans to increase its network from the current 57 to 91 destinations over the next five years. Kenya Airways also recently deployed Boeing 767-300 aircraft on its four-times-a-week New Delhi - Nairobi service. New Delhi is Kenya Airways’ 57th destination and its second destination in India connecting Nairobi after Mumbai.

Etihad Airways

Neerja Bhatia, Country manager, Etihad Airways was earlier functioning as Acting Manager for India. Bhatia joined Etihad Airways in November 2004 as Sales Manager for western India, shortly after the airline launched its first flights to the country - a daily service to Mumbai.

Etihad Airways commenced flights from Mumbai in September 2004 and today operates services to eight cities across India including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Kozhikode, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram. The airline plans to launch a direct flight to Ahmedabad. The service, which is likely to be started in November this year, will offer nearly 1,000 seats a week to the capital city of Gujarat. The airline anticipates strong traffic from Ahmedabad during the peak season in November.

Air France - KLM

Air France-KLM recently announced the appointment of Yeshwant Pawar as its new General Manager – South Asia. Taking charge of the Air France-KLM office from September 2012, Pawar is responsible for accelerating the airline’s growth in South Asia, strengthening teams and enhancing relationships with partners and alliances in the region.

Air France-KLM, the result of a merger between Air France and KLM in 2004, and is one of the leading European airlines. With their partners Delta and Alitalia, Air France – KLM operate the biggest transatlantic joint venture with more than 250 daily flights. The airline received a lot of positive response to its premium economy cabin the ‘Premium Voyageur’, on its Bengaluru and Mumbai flights, which encouraged them to extend the comfort of this new product to the flights on their Delhi route early last year.

Singapore Airlines

G.M. Toh, General Manager India, Singapore Airlines, assumed his post in November 2010. Trained as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, Toh’s career with Singapore Airlines has spanned more than two decades.

Singapore Airlines currently operates 52 weekly flights from six cities in India. SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, is a full-service airline that currently operates 33 weekly flights from seven cities in India. Singapore Airlines and SilkAir’s combined schedule feature 85 weekly flights from 10 cities in India.

With effect from 28 October 2012, Mumbai services will increase from 19 to 21 times per week or three-times daily, Hyderabad services from daily to nine times weekly and Ahmedabad services from two to three times weekly. In addition, SilkAir has recently ordered 68 new aircraft from Boeing, which will enable the airline to spread its wings to more destinations and increase capacity on existing routes, contributing to the overall SIA Group network. To enhance the travel experience of their customers, Singapore Airlines is also making a US$20 million investment to develop new SilverKris Lounges over the next five years. This is in addition to recent investments in lounges including the new Silver Kris lounge at Delhi, which recently had its soft opening.

All Nippon Airways

Kenji Sugino, General Manager – India Mumbai, Delhi Office, All Nippon Airways, handles the India operations for the Japanese airline. All Nippon Airways (ANA) will begin operating flights between Delhi and Narita starting October 29, 2012. The airline, which has been flying out of Mumbai since 2007, will operate daily flights that will leave Delhi at 01:25 hours, reaching Narita at 12:50 hours, and leave Narita the next day at 17:20 hours, reaching Delhi at 00:20 hours India time. Furthermore, the airline hopes to successfully bring its Boeing 787 aircraft on to the Mumbai routes in the next three years, and also plans to start operations from Bengaluru and Chennai.

Sri Lankan Airlines

Currently the Chief Executive of SriLankan Airlines & Mihin Lanka, Kapila Chandrasena is also a GOSL nominee director on the Board of SriLankan Airlines having been appointed to the Board in 2008. In addition, he is the Director of SriLankan Catering Limited.

Sri Lankan Airlines currently operates 55 flights across India, with plans in place to increase the frequencies on most of their routes to touch 80 flights soon. The airline intends to increase the frequency of its flights from Chennai to 47, as well as launch night flights from Delhi. In addition, there are plans in place to start flights on their LCC Mihin Lanka from Madurai by December 2012, making Madurai the airline’s fourth destination out of India. Sri Lankan Airlines aims have over 100 flights across Indian skies within the next six months.

Planning a honeymoon overseas is very common among Indians, but holding a destination wedding is a rather new phenomenon, and the trend is gaining momentum as more and more couples look for traditional large-scale weddings in unique destinations.

Kenya

India has become the primary source market for Kenya in the Asian continent with 58,986 Indian arrivals in 2011. India has recently risen to be one of the top five markets in tourist arrivals for Kenya. According to Jennifer Opondo, Head of Marketing, Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), more couples from different part of the world are now choosing Kenya as their wedding destination because of the diversity and experience. Kenya offers locations ranging from classic beach weddings, balloon weddings and wild bush weddings to traditional African ceremonies.

Bush Weddings are held in safari parks and can be customised to typically include the marriage ceremony at a safari lodge followed by cocktails and a special meal. Opondo said, “In the actual ceremony we can also provide the couple with a choir, musician, and even tribal dancers, with venue decoration including tent and flowers being arranged by the lodge.”

A Beach wedding is most popular among couples. According to Opondo, “Beach weddings are easy to plan and affordable. The agent planning the trip can even work with us to plan the wedding and tailor it to suit the couple perfectly. A beach wedding can leave you with more options in terms of hotels and ceremony features. One can opt for small boutique hotels or big resort properties with add-on activities.”

Balloon weddings over the wild plains of Maasai Mara include hour-long flights with each balloon carrying a maximum of 12 guests. For a fully private wedding ceremony, there is a pastor, a pilot and the bride and groom. The wedding is followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush at the landing site.

Commenting on accessibility to Kenya, Opondo said, “Visa-on-arrival makes it very easy for Indians to visit Kenya. Kenya also has excellent direct and indirect air connectivity with India. Kenya Airways has 10 weekly flights direct from Mumbai and four weekly flight direct from Delhi. The main tourism inflow to Kenya are from the western Indian region including the cities of Gujarat and Mumbai, followed by Delhi and rest the of India.”

Jamaica

According to Rajeev Nangia, Associate Director, TRAC Representations for Jamaica Tourist Board in India, Jamaica is perceived as a high - end niche destination offering an unconventional holiday experience, exclusive and customised for the High Networth Individual. “Mumbai and New Delhi are the key Markets for Jamaica. Considering the niche appeal of the destination, JTB is gaining a strong foothold in these key markets. Jamaica boasts of sumptuous cuisine, seductive beaches, crystal blue waters, natural beauty, romantic ambiance and an idyllic collection of wedding venues. The destination makes it easy for couples to get married just 24 hours after their arrival; and to alleviate the couple’s stress, many of the island’s luxurious hotels and resorts make all the wedding and honeymoon arrangements to suit the desires of the bridal couple.”

Elaborating on the wedding locations he said, “Dunn’s River Falls and Dunn’s River beach is certainly a unique place for a wedding. Scenic spots on the location include a picnic areas, live music stages, jerk chicken huts, wedding gazebos, decks overlooking the fall and the Dunn’s River beach. Jamaica offers all- inclusive hotels, intimate inns, lush private villas or resorts, every accommodation to fit a wedding location.

According to him, “Indians are willing to spend more and more on unique and experiential accommodation, moving beyond star category rooms and hotels. Indians are booking luxury-tented accommodations, double pool villas and historically luxurious suites when they travel abroad.” This trend has made Indians the highest spenders on an average when travelling overseas.

“The accommodations are top notch and the service is first class. Half Moon - Rose Hall, Iberostar Grand Hotel - Rose Hall, Sandals – Negril, Sandals - Montego Bay and Riu - Ocho Rios are some of the best all-inclusive wedding and honeymoon resorts,” he said adding that on- island wedding coordinators make it easy to create a fantasy wedding.

Commenting on their marketing strategy for the segment Nangia said, “Jamaican suppliers and hoteliers send regular newsletters and special offers through Jamaica Tourist Board.”

In a bid to benefit from the growing market of Indians opting for cruise travel, Europe-based Costa Cruises, says it plans to open its office in Mumbai by October this year and expects a fivefold jump in tour registrations from the country by next year.

Speaking on the various initiatives Alessandro Bottaro, Head of Sales & Marketing, Mediterranean New Markets, India, Africa, Middle East, Costa Crociere S.p.A. said, “India is a potential growth market for Costa Cruises and we want to explore the opportunities here by expanding our network. We will have a marketing, sales and reservations team working directly from our upcoming office in Mumbai.”

The cruise liner is targeting 10,000 passengers on-board from India in 2013. “Currently, we see demand for packages to Far East Asia from India. Indians on an average opt for a three- to five-day tour, which is a mix of weddings, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), families and honeymooners. We have to be focussed and aggressive, push our products in the market, support the travel trade and organise regular trainings and familiarisation trips for them,” stated Bottaro, adding that besides metros, the company is also looking at tapping cities such as Pune, Nashik, Surat and Guwahati.

Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations (The company’s GSA in India) said, “With Indians looking for three- to five-day short cruise packages, the products and itineraries of Costa Cruises, that caters to upper-middle class onwards, best suits the Indian market.”

Costa Cruises has launched an offering for the Indian market to Far East Asia - Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica - in partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). The two ships will sail from the newly opened Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS) and will enable guests to travel to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Chang CheePey, Executive Director, South Asia, Middle East & Africa for Singapore Tourism Board, said, “Costa Cruises is the most recent experiential attraction that will make visitors’ stay in Singapore even more memorable. With the new MBCCS, we will double our berthing capacity and be able to welcome some of the largest cruise ships in the world.”

Costa Victoria (75,200 gross tonnage, 2,394 total guests and 964 cabins (30 per cent with balcony) will start the voyage from November 17, 2012 to January 2013 to offer three- four- and seven-day cruises to Malaysia and Thailand. Costa Atlantica (85,700 gross tonnage and 2,680 total guests and 1057 cabins) will start three- and four-day cruises to Thailand and Malaysia from May to June 2013.

With the exception of a few departures, both itineraries offer free travel for one or two children under the age of 18 if sharing the cabin with two adults. In addition, Costa Cruises launched their 2013 brochure for the Indian market.

In a bid to build relations and engage in business with the Indian travel trade, Sands Cotai Macao brought a preview of its facilities to India recently with a product seminar in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and New Delhi. The seminar showcased the integrated resort offering of Sands Cotai Macao.

Brendon Elliott, Vice President of Sales & Resort Marketing, Venetian Macau Limited, a subsidiary of Sands China Ltd, said, “We are still an emerging destination in India and support from the travel trade is very important for us. We receive around 1, 65,000 Indians per year to the Venetian Macao alone. We now need to promote the other properties along with the Venetian.”

Elliott believes that the great thing about the Indian market is that people are very aspirational. “We are projecting a significant growth in quarter four with the re-introduction of Air India into Hong Kong in August. The increase in air services from Cathay and Dragon Air and the introduction of double- daily flights by Thai Airways via Bangkok into Macao.”

Apart from Sands Cotai Central, Sands China also has the Plaza Macao and the Venetian in Cotai. Elliott further added that the breadth of Sheraton, Conrad and Holiday Inn combined is really creating a formidable destination for large-scale incentive and corporate groups.

Currently till the 21st of December this year Sands China is offering 50 per cent off to the trade partners at the Venetian Macao, Conrad and also the Holiday Inn Macao to discover and explore the Venetian Macao. Specifically for MICE groups from 1 September 2012, they have launched a new campaign for meeting groups. “We are quite a rewarding organisation. The incentive will include 5 US dollars to every one room night they have booked attached to a maximum of 5000 US dollars per booking,” he added.

Their main strategy now is to continue with this growth in all their properties and to position the Sands Cotai Central as the ultimate meetings destination in Asia.

In a bid to increase load factor by 15 per cent Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will launch 10 daily flights and plans to join oneworld alliance by year end. Out of the ten ten flights from Kuala Lumpur, three will head to Mumbai, three to Chennai and four to Bengaluru.

“India is a prominent and growth-centric market for MAS, and with the launch these flights, we are expecting a 26 per cent increase in capacities from India in 2012,” said Duncan Bureau, Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Distribution, Malaysia Airlines.

Commenting on MAS’s new fleet Bureau said, “Last year was a bit rough, but we still think that there is a positive aspect and we are focused on improving our services by introducing new fleet that will operate 30 per cent more efficiently. Recently, we replaced our Boeing 777s, Airbus 330s and Boeing 400s, and today we have the world’s youngest fleet.”

Meanwhile, the carrier is also in talks with oneworld alliance for joining the latter as a member by the end of 2012. The membership will help customers gain access to oneworld’s combined fleet of more than 2,600 aircraft, which connect around 820 destinations in 150 countries. To further enhance the codeshare agreement with oneworld partners, MAS is developing bilateral links with major carriers like Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Royal Jordanian Airlines. “We are in full preparation to join the oneworld alliance and have updated our loyalty programme guidelines for passengers to appreciate the connectivity and hospitality of MAS and the alliance members. We will further leverage our oneworld relationship, which gives us access to a much broader network. The alliance allows us access to the fleet without any capital investment. As far as our codeshare partnership is concerned, we recently entered into an agreement with Japan Airlines,” informed Bureau.

The national carrier of Malaysia has recently launched ‘Showcase Malaysia Dream Deal 2012’, this latest initiative by Malaysia Airline includes 2-nights complimentary stay in Malaysia on purchase of any international air ticket to Malaysia or beyond from Malaysia Airlines. Passengers traveling Malaysia Airlines on a Business class ticket will get a complimentary stay in a 5-Star hotel in Malaysia whereas passengers traveling on Economy can avail a complimentary stay in a 4-Star hotel in Malaysia. “MAS values its consumers, and has regularly come up with various opportunities and value-for-money schemes for travelers. This scheme can be of great interest to both leisure and business travellers since, with the free nights, they save on their hotel cost. Customers also get the opportunity to experience two destinations at the cost of one with a two-night stopover in Malaysia. We invite our valued passengers to take advantage of this special offer, whilst at the same time get to know the Malaysia Airlines brand better,” added Azahar Hamid, Regional Senior Vice President for South Asia and Middle East, Malaysia Airlines.

The offer can be availed on the airline’s website, at its offices and through its appointed agents in India.

The first-come-first-served-based offer is applicable for a minimum of two travellers at a starting fare of Rs 24,110 per head, up to October 30, 2012.

The Airline has also enhanced its in-flight menu of Indian cuisines for its passengers traveling from India and other parts of the world. These choices of in-flight vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are available for passengers flying both in business and economy classes. “Along with enhanced menu of cuisines our passengers can enjoy a new selection of premium wine and champagne labels from France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia, known for their great class and elegance,” said Bureau.

The Malaysian government-owned airline currently operates 40 weekly flights on the India-Kuala Lumpur route, with 12 weekly flights from New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur and seven weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru, each.

With an aim to double the inflow of tourists in the next few years, Goa Tourism is currently formulating a new tourism policy. “We are in the process of drawing the new tourism policy which will include the overall tourism development of Goa and we want to engage with private players to invest and develop infrastructure and tourism further,” Dilip Parulekar, Tourism Minister of Goa, said. The new policy envisages promoting Goa as a round the year destination for wedding, family, leisure and MICE travellers.

Giving details about the development on the infrastructure front, Parulekar said that the Government is developing and introducing new tourism products and investing in infrastructure development such as theme parks, water parks, aquariums and oceanariums through private sector participation. “Apart from beach tourism, we are going to develop new areas including adventure tourism, health tourism, medical and wellness tourism, religious tourism, eco tourism, cultural, hinterland and backwater tourism,” he said, adding that he has has proposed to develop coastal circuits at Colva, Baga, Miramar, Colvale, Vasco, Calangute etc under central financial assistance.

Goa Tourism is also promoting the state as a global MICE destination. Parulekar informed that a convention centre would come up in Fatorda constituency. “We have already initiated procedures for the convention centre which will have a capacity of 10,000-15,000 people. We are also deliberating on a convention centre in or around Mopa for North Goa.”

To further strengthen the MICE and leisure traffic to Goa, Parulekar said, “The government has approved the proposal to set up a golf course at Terekhol village of Pernem taluka. The committee constituted under the Chairmanship of the Former Tourism Minister has accepted the offer of the New Delhi-based Leading Hotels Ltd, to set up a PGA-standard golf course with allied services.” He further added that the group has already prepared a detailed project report and feasibility report, which has been forwarded to the Union Tourism Ministry for examination, under the Large Revenue Generation scheme. However, the state government is also examining offers made by other groups like Gold Resort and Hotels Pvt Ltd, Haryana, Opus Hotel and Resorts Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru and Corporate Club of India, Bengaluru.

Stating that the state budget is around Rs 250 crores, he said the central government has already allocated Rs 150 crores. Parulekar believes that Goa is not lagging behind in availing central financial assistance for promoting tourism. “The state has availed of Rs 52 crores in the form of central assistance for taking up projects for the promotion of tourism in the state and balance Rs 38 crores is expected after completion of the projects”

Meanwhile, the state government has also appointed a consultant for preparing detailed project reports for sustainable development of tourism in the state for getting more central assistance. Parulekar further disclosed that the government has proposed to spend Rs 18.25 crores on media promotion of Goa as a tourist destination. This includes Rs 950 lakhs for domestic media promotion and Rs 875 lakhs for overseas media promotion during this year’s budget. Parulekar further pointed out that the tourism department along, with the travel trade, will continue to participate in domestic as well as overseas events to promote Goa. “We will be organising road shows and launching advertising campaigns in print as well as electronic media soon.”

On air connectivity, he said that the government will continue to create better national and international accessibility, world class infra-structural travel and transport connectivity, telecom, internet and other allied services, in co-ordination with the various agencies involved in the tourism and travel trade to ensure smoother functioning of the industry.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) launched the Dubai Expert programme in Mumbai last month. The programme will have several comprehensive and informative modules that will benefit the travel trade, giving travel agents access to knowledge about the destination. Travel agents can sign up at www.dubaixperts.com. However, the account will not be activated instantly since the DTCM will first authenticate the credentials of the candidate. The India office Director will be notified, and only after verification can the applicant actively train on the website. DTCM expects 500 registrations by December 2011 and 1,500-2,000 registrations by December 2012. Explained Carl Vaz, Director, DTCM India, “Dubai Expert is an individual certification, but a travel agency can attain a DTCM-certified agency status if 10 members of the organisation are certified. Each certified travel agent will act as a brand ambassador of Dubai. The programme will help build, grow and maintain a strong and comprehensive global network of Dubai Travel Specialists who can promote Dubai to attract more visitors. The objective is to make the course fun, informative and easy to complete. Unlike other training programmes, Dubai Expert will be an ongoing programme engaging travel agents with reward programmes and updated courses.” The complete Dubai Expert program has been classified into three levels—Know Dubai, Sell Dubai and Add Dubai—with modules at all three levels. The Know Dubai course will have nine modules, including General Information, [information about the] Dubai Tourism Industry, and Dubai Travel Products. Sell Dubai, the second level, will comprise three modules: Why Dubai is Definitely a Unique Destination; Helping you Sell Dubai; and Itinerary Planning. The third level, Add Dubai, will have two modules—Destination Marketing and Business Development. At every stage the performance of the registered person will be monitored. Recognitions and rewards will be in the form of certificates, incentives, FAM trips, and event and trade show support. The rewarded travel agent can also use the Dubai Expert logo as a marketing tool. “It is the intention of the India office to add travel partners such as Dubai hotels, resorts, Dubai / UAE / Indian airlines (full-service and LCC) and global cruise operators to the rewards and booking programme,” added Vaz.

During the trade mission Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales highlighted the strong and well-established links between the two countries to develop tourism, business, e d u c a t i o n a n d c u l t u r a l opportunities. “I am visiting the country to strengthen the relationship between India and Wales. Every nation in the world is eyeing India and wants a piece of its booming economy,” said Jones adding that the visit is aimed at how the two nations can work together to benefit mutually and ultimately create jobs. Jones is disappointed by the fact that Indians travel to London, Scotland and Ireland, but Wales is still not high in public visibility. “I had an opportunity to briefly interact with the Indian travel trade and I believe we need to educate them about the services and products Wales can offer as an outbound destination. We ourselves need to learn more about the Indian traveler dynamics. I have also realised that tapping the Indian film industry is the best and the most effective way to promote a destination in India. Hollywood movies such as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘First Night’ were shot in Wales and Wales is no stranger to Bollywood either, films such as ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” has been shot in the province.” On what Wales has to offer as an outbound destination he says, “Wales has the highest number of castles per square kilometre in the world and is much more cost effective than London. Wales is full of surprises you name it we have it, right from adventure sports, water sports, art and culture, festivals, Welsh cuisine to golf. Besides, there are over 20 Indian restaurants serving authentic Indian food, this will make the Indian travelers feel at home.” Elaborating on plans to tap Bollywood he said that the scenic Mountain and grand castles in Wales makes it just the right setting for Bollywood style song and dance sequences, but Wales is not only about the scenery, it also has a well-equipped production facility. “BBC has a large production facility in Wales. We don’t offer any tax breaks or perks currently, but there are many reasons to shoot in Wales.” According to Jones, the India connection to Wales is emerging, and will only grow stronger. We have a large number of Indian students in Wales studying an assortment of subjects and we aim to persuade more Indian students to come here. “We receive a lot of VFR traffic from India and it is encouraging to see that Indians consider Wales as a top destination for education.” -

In keeping up with the Premier Inn philosophy of “being guest obsessed”, Premier Inn mock-up rooms are developed and rigorously tested through market research or guest focus groups to identify the needs and wants of the guest. The hotel group built an exact replica of the Premier Inn room, which is virtually identical in every hotel in the UK, and had it shipped to Delhi via Southampton and Mumbai. Subsequently, 12 guest focus group sessions were conducted, drawing people of different ages and from different social groups. Over 250 potential guests gave explicit and specific feedback on all aspects of the Premier Inn offering from room layout through to facilities, food and beverage menus and even booking channels and website content. The final product was influenced heavily by the guest focus groups, net promoter scores (satisfaction survey), and guest promise check (brand audit). Currently, there are over 600 Premier Inns, with over 44,000 bedrooms worldwide

In a attempt to increase tourist arrivals from India, JNTO is portraying Japan as a major MICE and leisure destination in the Indian outbound market. “India is a growing economy with a lot of multinational firms. Moreover, there are a lot of Japanese companies functioning in India and we want to encourage these companies to host their conventions and events in Japan,” Motonari Adachi, Executive Director, Singapore Office, JNTO, said. According to him, Indian outbound MICE market has consistently been growing and India is emerging as an important emerging source market. “We are increasingly focusing on building the Indian MICE market to Japan and events like SATTE is an ideal opportunity for local conferences and incentive organisers to learn more about Japan as an incentive destination as well as to network with leading suppliers,” he said adding that JNTO will be targeting India’s two major metros Mumbai and Delhi. Apart from the MICE, JNTO is also aiming to tap the potential Indian leisure market. Yasumasa Shimizu, Director, Singapore Office, JNTO informed that Okinawa, Japan’s Southern prefecture, and the city of Osaka will be showcased as cultural destinations for leisure travellers. “The Okinawa beach resorts offers plenty of soft adventure activities. Osaka boasts golf resorts, spas, lots of F&B outlets, shopping malls etc which makes it a perfect leisure paradise.” JNTO is putting renewed thrust on the Indian market due to a dip in Indian arrivals in 2011. “We received 59,000 Indians in 2011 compared to 66,000 in 2010. The target this year is to increase Indian tourist arrivals to 90,000,” they informed. To achieve the target, JNTO is increasing visibility in the Indian market and it recently announced the launch of its “I like JAPAN!” campaign, exclusively on its Visit Japan official India Facebook page. Commenting on this initiative, Adachi said, “With the impressive growth of social networking platforms in the Indian market, we are pleased to initiate the ‘I like JAPAN!’ contest for our Facebook fans in India.” JNTO also aims to draw greater focus about Japan as a preferred destination for Indian outbound travellers. The Tourist Office would leverage on this opportunity to share interesting facts about Japan with the potential Indian visitors. “The Facebook page features information, photos and videos of the country’s popular tourist spots and also provides an interactive platform to inquire about and discuss various aspects of Japan,” stated Adachi. The tourism board has invited Bollywood actress, Dia Mirza to be Japan’s brand ambassador for India. Shimizu added, “Like other countries, we also want our share of Bollywood fame as it is widely known that cinema is a big influence all people worldwide. Apart from this, JNTO plans to organise FAM trips for Indian travel trade in summer and winter this year. We will soon release an online training class for the Indian travel trade which will help Indians understand us better.” JNTO is also currently in talks with Singapore Airlines to start a flight between India and Japan via Singapore.

 

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