Haryana seeks to reach new heights
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, May 31: If Ch. Bansi Lal was pioneer in creating tourism in the State where none existed, his daughter-in-law, Kiran Choudhary, wants to put Haryana on the world tourism map. The new Tourism Minister has grandiose plans to make Kurukshetra a world pilgrimage centre, start para gliding, open new state-of-the-art convention centres, spas and tourist hubs and a designer village.
Her dreams do not end here. Her tourism revival plans include transforming the Surajkund crafts mela into a round-the-year affair, a heritage festival at Pinjjore and refurbishing tourism properties at Morni, Surajkund, Badkal and Karnal. She would soon announce a new tourism policy to give a boost to tourism in the State.
In an interview with Deepak Arora, Ms Choudhary said the new tourism policy would go a long way towards encouraging tourism in the state. It entailed setting up of special tourism zones, encouraging roadside tourism and developing religious tourism.
The Minister also plans a Designer Village - a new permanent bazaar in the Surajkund Mela Ground - where top 50 designers of the country would display their latest items in wood, metal, brass, bamboo, iron, glass, textiles and stone. Besides shopping at the designer village, one can also enjoy foot-tapping folk dance and the best of foods at a food court.
The Haryana Tourism would also renovate the tourist complex of Karnal and the Suraj Kund lake motel with a view to boost tourism. As part of development of Surajkund, she said "we shall ask the Archaeological Survey of India to carry out a survey of the area since Surajkund derives its name from the Suraj king lineage. A sound and light show will be put up. Surajkund will be a showcase for various art forms," she said.
While stressing on eco-tourism, she said "we want to develop eco-tourism in the Morni hills." The Haryana government would rebuild the existing Mountain Quail motel at Morni in the Panchkula district at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore to attract more tourists to the hilly terrains of the Shivalik foothills.
Ms Choudhary said there was a great potential for promoting tourism in the area. The present motel would be dismantled and eight rooms would be constructed, including two VIP rooms besides a conference hall and underground parking.
On the banks of Tikkar Taal lake, she said four rooms would also be constructed so that tourists could enjoy the beauty of nature. She said the tourism department was also exploring the possibility of starting para-gliding and inter-linking of golf courses. "We also plan to develop old forts through public-private participation," she added.
Ms Choudhary said a heritage festival showcasing the rich heritage of Haryana would be held at Pinjore, which is more than four centuries old, later this year. "We are also going to organise a heritage festival at Pinjore where we will also invite artistes of national repute. There will be varied performances. Theatre, dance and music will be the hallmark of the festival."
The Tourism Department plans to beautify the Mughal Gardens at Pinjore and restore work of buildings like Rang Mahal, Jal Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. The 'bowlis' - water bodies believed to be constructed by the Pandavas, while they were in exile here - which lie in a state of neglect, will also be restored. These bowlis have been reduced to puddles of slush with the waste of the town being thrown here. It is believed that there are 365 'bowlis' in and around this historic town, and each of these is inter-connected, which ensures that they never get flooded.
She said "tourism can be a maximum revenue earner for a state and it is also a major source of employment opportunities.". She said according to projected estimates, about 10 million tourists are expected to visit India in the next few years and Haryana would leave no stone unturned to attract them.
Ms Choudhary said Kurukshetra would be developed as a great pilgrimage for Hindus and tourists from all over the world so that they visit the venue of Mahabharat war and the birth place of the Bhagvad Gita. Building on its historical and cultural traditions, she said the Government would prepare a master plan to develop it into a modern city having the Brahmsarovar, Sri Krishna Museum, the Science Museum (Panorama) and other places as a tourist delight.
Ms Choudhary said the concept of highway tourism pioneered by Haryana would be implemented near the proposed express highway also. Special tourism zones would be carved out near the proposed road running through Kundli, Manesar and Palwal, she said.
Ms Choudhary, who also has the Culture portfolio, said Haryana has a rich cultural heritage though it has not been promoted properly. She plans to support the traditional Haryanavi cultural forms and help in their development.
Himachal to improve air, rail and road connectivity
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, May 31: Himachal Pradesh plans to have expressways, better airports and air connectivity, new rail links and tourist circuits and world-class ski resorts to promote tourism in a big way, according to Mr G S Bali, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation and Transport.
In an exclusive interview with this correspondent, Mr Bali said the State government was improving air, rail and road connectivity and adding more rooms for the comfort of the tourists.
To attract quality tourists, the Minister said the State would be soon introducing helicopter service to connect hill resorts. "We are also expanding Kullu and Kangra airports so that bigger aircraft can land there."
He said the state was planning more expressways on BOT basis to cut the driving time to reach a destination. Initially, the expressways would connect Chandigarh to Shimla and Una to Dharamshala. Mr Bali said that the new expressways would also help attract industries in these regions which would help generate new jobs to the people of the state. Making a point, he said the State has attracted over 22,000 crore investment but it has happened in the area close to Chandigarh. "The expressways will help expand industry base and so will the jobs," he added.
Mr Bali said the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, has also announced new satellite cities and destinations around Shimla. "More such satellite cities and tourist circuits will be built around other important cities to diversity economic and tourism activities."
The Minister said last year Himachal attracted over 68 lakh tourists, including 1.65 foreign tourists, showing a jump of 22 per cent. "This year the figure will cross 70 lakh domestic and international tourists during the current year."
Mr Bali said Himachal attracts large number of tourists as it has natural advantages. "The Congress ruled government has given political stability and provided good governance. Due to very low crime rate, the state provides peace of mind and safety and security to tourists."
He said the other attractions include resorts situated at sea level at Jamtamukh to Kinnaur at the height of 14,000 ft, the biggest man-made lake, Gobindsagar, and the large number of temples earning it the name of Dev Bhumi.
He said the state has 1,800 hotels with 36,000 bed capacity. "We have invited private industry to come to the State and build quality hotels and resorts." Mr Bali said the State government would strengthen the private sector and would play its role only where the private sector do not come forward to build hotels.
The Minister's innovative measures have also brought the HP Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) hotels out of red and the corporation has showed a profit of Rs 1.25 crore.
In another innovative measure, the HPTDC hotels have gone online. "One can now reserve a room and pay by credit card with the click of a mouse," he said.
Himachal has thus become the second state in the country after Kerala to provide online instant booking and confirmation of accommodation and online payment by credit card. Thought the online booking was started two years ago but for this the customer had to send the booking amount by mail or deposit the amount at its marketing offices in metropolitan centres.
HPTDC soon plans to provide this online booking facility for reservation of its luxury buses besides a host other services provided by the state-run company which include trekking, skiing, paragliding, river-rafting and angling. HPTDC has over 50 tourism properties all over the picturesque state and in some of the best locations too. Many of these hotels are the most sought after places for holidaymakers from across the country and overseas.
Mr Bali informed that a Himalayan Ski Village is coming up in Manali at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore. It's a brainchild of Alfred Ford, the great grandson of Henry Ford. The Minister said that an MOU has been signed nad implementation agreement is yet to be signed.
Part of the self identified project, the company has also shown interested in building another ski resort at Chanchal, 150 km from Shimla. The Chanchal mountains remain under snow for around nine months in a year and European experts have described these slopes as ideal for skiing. According to them, if the infrastructure is developed in the area, the slopes could turn out to be the best in the entire western Himalayas.
The $250-million Himalayan Ski village project report is to be submitted to the government soon. It is expected to provide employment to 3,000 people. If the project finally goes through at $250 million, it would be the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tourism sector of the country. The cost estimates of the proposed Chanchal ski project will be clear only after the preliminary report is prepared.
cities roll out red carpet for soccer fans
Europe's most populated nation and a leading economic power,
is hosting the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The slogan of this year's
World Cup is "A time to make friends". As many
as 12 cities, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover,
Cologne and Munich, are the host cities for the Football
Cup and are ready to welcome and make friends. DEEPAK ARORA
gives sport lovers a tour of these cities:
Germans love sport, they truly adore football, both as players
and fans in the stands. The German Football Association or
Deutsche Fußball Bund (DFB), founded in 1900, has more
than 6 million members belonging to close on 27,000 clubs,
with every fifth member younger than 14. Meanwhile, the Bundesliga,
the elite professional league, attracts an average of ten
million spectators every season.
are proud of their public transport system. A highly developed
road, rail, and air network guarantees short journey times
to all World Cup visitors. The Rhein-Main airport near Frankfurt
handles an annual passenger volume in excess of 51 million,
and registers more take-offs and landings than any other airport
in Continental Europe. A rapid expansion in Inter-city rail
routes and the world-renowned Autobahn motorways will make
travelling a safe, fast and pleasurable experience for all.
- Germany's Capital and Metropolis of Culture: The new
capital is booming, The place, where modern architecture is
redefining the skyline has a magical appeal. Berlin is the
current high light for tourists not only as a place for hip
events like the Love Parade, but also as a first-grade cultural
metropolis like the Philharmonics, the Berlin Film Festival
"Berlinale" or the musical "Cats". The
number of sights is unrivalled and the offers for tourists
are chameleonic as the city's mentality.
- discover a city and its heritage: Dortmund has changed.
Microchips have taken over from coal mining, shopping boulevards
have replaced rolling mills and the focus now is on the concert
hall, not the coking plant. Dortmund is the Ruhr area's biggest
city and has everything it takes to make a city break a truly
memorable experience: fascinating industrial heritage, a variety
of museums, plenty of theatres and cabaret venues, a wide
choice of restaurants, quality events at the fabulous Westphalia
Halls and much more besides. Local people enjoy sharing their
city with visitors, including what is for many their favourite
activity: a Borussia Dortmund match at the Westphalia Stadium.
- City of Contrasts: Business, culture and international
flair: For many, Frankfurt is primarily "Mainhattan",
city of finance and skyscrapers, but a closer look reveals
a city of many charms: The picturesque houses of the beautifully
restored Römerberg in the city centre and the unique
"Museum Mile" along the banks of the Main river.
Traditional cider pubs in Sachsenhausen, shops galore in the
elegant Goethestrasse and the "Fressgass" - and
a truly world-class cultural and arts scene.
- Experience a great industrial heritage: A lot of people
probably think "football" when they hear the word
"Gelsenkirchen". For the people of Gelsenkirchen,
home of Schalke 04, that's just as it should be, especially
now that their newly built Arena AufSchalke is redefining
the meaning of "entertainment" as applied to the
beautiful game. This is a milestone for what used to be the
"city of a thousand fires", a major coal-producing
centre that has succeeded in transforming itself into a vibrant,
multifaceted city. In addition to the Arena, Gelsenkirchen
has many other attractions that are well worth a visit.
- The green city on the water: The "Free and Hanseatic
City" of Hamburg is Germany's second-largest metropolis
with one of Europe's biggest ports. Elegant and cosmopolitan,
Hamburg is now a city of palatial office buildings, magnificent
promenades, international musicals, extravagant shopping malls
- and the famous Reeperbahn and St. Pauli. The magical aura
of faraway places is still alive in the old warehouse quarter
and the little canals. Hamburg is also Germany's greenest
city, with many spacious lawns and lovely parks
- City of the EXPO 2000 World Exposition: In addition
to being one of Germany's top venues for international trade
fairs and conferences Hannover recently played host to the
nations of the world at the EXPO 2000 World Exposition. Its
rich past lives on in many beautiful historical buildings
and other sights, many of them connected by a red line marked
on the pavement for tourists. In the city centre striking
modern architecture has been successfully integrated with
the lovely Old Town. Hannover has a rich arts scene that gives
the city a lively, creative atmosphere, and there are many
interesting destinations for excursions in the immediate vicinity.
- The Palatinate at its best: Kaiserslautern owes its
name to the Hohenstaufen Emperor (Kaiser) Barbarossa, who
had an imperial palace built at "Lautern" 850 years
ago, after being so impressed by the beauty of the local countryside.
Today, Kaiserslautern combines being a lively student town
full of quaint bars, the footballing capital of southwest
Germany and the cultural heart of the Palatinate. You don't
need to venture far outside the town to enjoy nature at its
best in the Palatinate Forest biosphere reserve, Germany's
largest contiguous area of forest.
- Metropolis of Art on the Rhine: Cologne (Köln)
is one of Germany's most original cities, with its own dialect,
its own style of beerbrewing and an inimitably witty and fun-loving
character that is particularly boisterous during the city's
famous Carnival. Cologne is world-famous for its twin-spired
cathedral, its romantic Rhine panorama and the Eau de Cologne
to which it gave its name. Today the city's character is a
rich combination of modern lifestyle with 2,000 years of historical
and cultural heritage, from Roman and medieval to the present
day. And there is never a shortage of things to do and see,
including countless events, live music, theatre, busy shopping
streets and modern glass shopping centres and malls.
- City of culture with modern flair: The proud city of
Leipzig is livelier today than ever before - a vibrant venue
for trade shows, congresses and commerce and an entertainment
metropolis with a rich cultural, arts and night life scene
and shopping opportunities for every taste and budget. The
lovely old Renaissance and Baroque buildings, historical trading
centres and malls are now fully restored and modernised, providing
a stylish paradise for shoppers and sight-seers. High-class
entertainment is assured - attractions for arts-lovers include
the Gewandhaus concert hall, the Opera House, the St Thomas
Choir, cabarets, theatres and jazz cellars. We look forward
to seeing you in Leipzig!
- The magical metropolis: Big-city style and rural charm,
Alpine character and Mediterranean verve, art treasures and
the Oktoberfest, traditional customs and high technology,
beer gardens and haute cuisine, operas and in bars - these
are all ingredients of the special "Munich mix"
that makes Bavaria's state capital so endlessly fascinating,
and so popular with visitors from all over the world.
- Vivacious metropolis with medieval charm: Nuremberg
combines the excitement of a modern metropolis of half a million
inhabitants with the old-world charm of a lovely medieval
city centre. In the Old Town beautiful Gothic churches, romantic
rows of half-timbered buildings and sleepy cobblestoned squares
create an unforgettable atmosphere. Albrecht Dürer, Adam
Kraft and Veit Stoss all created famous works of art in Nuremberg.
The Old Town provides a fitting setting for events like the
International Bards Meeting in July, the biggest Old Town
Festival in September and the world-famous Christkindlesmarkt
Christmas Market in December.
- Always in season: Stuttgart arguably has one of the
most beautiful settings in all Europe, surrounded by a wonderful
panorama of rolling green hills, forests and vineyards. The
many interesting sights in Stuttgart include two city chateaux
(Stadtschlösser), the Staatsgalerie art gallery and the
unique Wilhelma zoo and botanical gardens. Baden-Württemberg's
state capital is also a top venue for hit musicals like Dance
of the Vampires and Phantom of the Opera.
Mahal to get facelift
May 31: One of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in
the world, the Taj Mahal is all set to get a facelift with
the Archaelogical Survey of India, local administration and
Union Tourism ministry putting in joint efforts towards optimum
development of the monument of love.
the world heritage sites in the country, Taj Mahal is one
of the most important. So optimum work has to be done by Archeological
Survey of India, Agra Development Authority and Tourism Ministry,"
Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni said on
ASI is in the process of identifying land around the Taj and
acquiring it to create a green patch around the historic site,
the minister said adding the heritage site would also host
a variety of cultural activities like folklore performances,
entertainment packages including light shows and a night bazaar
for tourists during night viewing, she said.
that the 17th century monument was visited by nearly 32 lakh
tourists in the last calendar year, of which 6.5 lakhs were
foreigners, Soni, who was on a day-long trip to the city,
also underlined the need for an international airport in Agra,
which also houses other archaeological heritage sites like
Fatehpuri Sikri and Agra Fort.
minister said establishment of facilitation Centres at the
different gates of Taj Mahal comprising restrooms, shops,
multi-media outlets and other utilities was also being taken
up with the help of ASI.
facilitation centre at the East Gate is complete at the cost
of Rs two crore. But it could not be made available for tourists
as Supreme Court has not given permission for its functioning,"
ASI officials, accompanying the minister, said.
courts come in-between we have certain limitations. In fact
after holding discussions with all the concerned parties we
will tabulate the suggestions and put a comprehensive proposal
before the Supreme Court to seek a solution," Soni said.
said the Tourism Ministry and ASI have joined hands with the
Uttar Pradesh government and will ensure the early completion
of works and infrastructure development in the city so that
tourists coming to Taj Mahal have a pleasant experience, Soni
said. The Centre annually earmarks Rs 62 crore to the ASI
for the upkeep of the nation's heritage sites, the Minister
327 railway stations to be upgraded
DELHI, May 31: A total of 327 railway stations across the
country have been identified to be developed as model stations
equipped with all modern facilities for passengers, Railway
ministry sources said here on Tuesday.
exercise is part of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's drive to
upgrade stations equipping them passenger amenities as also
providing safe and comfortable travel services, they said.
All the 67 Railway zonal managers in the country have been
asked to select atleast five stations in their respective
zones for upgrading/modernising and facelifting to improve
the Railways image.
have also been directed to develop all the identified model
stations by March, 2008 of which 17 are in Central Railway,
41 in Eastern, 32 (East Central), 17 (East Coast), 40 Northern,
10 (North Central, 16 North Eastern, 32 Northeast Frontier,
nine North Western, 31 (Southern), 14 South Central, 21 (South
Eastern), three (South East Central). eight (South Western),
24 (Western), 11 West Central and one (KRCL).
of stations as Model Stations is done under plan head "Passenger
Amenities" and the expenditure incurred under this during
2005-06 was Rs 245.01 crore approximately, they said. Some
of the areas to be given adequate attention in this category
include improvements in the facade of the station building
and improvement in the circulating area so as to ensure proper
entry and exit of vehicles, etc.
Latvia sign cultural cooperation pact
DELHI, May 30: India and Latvia have signed a pact aimed at
enhancing cooperation in the fields of culture, art and mass-media
between two countries. The cultural exchange programme was
signed by Ambika Soni, Minster for Tourism and Culture and
Latvian Minister for Culture, Ms. Halena Demakova here on
to the exchange programme, the National Library of India and
the National Library of Latvia will establish contracts in
order to exchange information and experience. Both sides will
exchange information and experts between the museums also.
Indian side will send an exhibition on traditions of crafts
produced by village artisans in India while Latvian side will
send an exhibition on national costumes prepared by the Latvian
museum of History. oth sides will also exchange theatre teachers
to conduct course in Acting, State Craft and Production work
and experts in the field of dance, music, fine arts, literature
and audio-visual arts for workshops. The participation of
traditional music or dance groups will also be encouraged.
to the programme, both sides will participate in the international
book fairs/exhibitions held in each other's country and in
each other's television and film festivals. Latvian side invited
India to participate in the International folklore festival
'Baltica' in 2006. The cultural exchange programme comes into
force with immediate effect and will continue till 2008
campaign for promotion of Buddhist sites
DELHI, May 29: To attract the overseas tourist, particularly
from South East Asia, the Tourism Ministry is planning to
launch a concerted campaign for promotion of Buddhist sites
members of Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to
her Ministry, the Tourism Minister, Mrs Ambika Soni, said
that it has also been decided to celebrate the 2550th birth
anniversary of Lord Buddha this year as part of this programme.
members on the various initiatives taken recently by the Government,
Ms Soni said that the Ministry has also chalked out an integrated
project covering all Buddhist sites for infrastructure development
with assistance from Japanese Government during the current
project proposes to cover sites in UP, Bihar Andhra Pradesh,
MP, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir.
The total proposed project cost is Rs. 5570 crore covering
infrastructure component of roads, airports tourism infrastructure
amenities and conservation.
said a mega project focusing on upgradation of infrastructure
to create world-class experience is already under preparation
for Buddhist Circuit in Bihar with the assistance of HUDCO.
"The project will focus on visitor facilitation, creation
of tourist amenities, and improvement of the overall ambience
and road connectivity," she added.
Amika Soni said that the Ministry has identified 22 important
Buddhist sites throughout the country for development and
promotion. The work includes strengthening and widening of
National and State Highways, road side plantations, conservation
of monuments, landscaping, construction of visitor centers,
museums, upgradation of meditation centers, electrical and
water supply and development of tourism villages and wayside
this, Railway Ministry has been requested to develop Bodhgaya
station as a model station and over all improvement of connectivity
to all Buddhist sites. Road Transport and Highways and Shipping
Ministry have also been asked to improve road link to major
only this, the Tourism and Culture Ministries have has requested
the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, to earmark special
funds in the plans of concerned States for infrastructure
projects which are directly connected with development of
Minister informed the Members that the implementation committee
constitiuted to commemorate 2550th anniversary of Mahaparinirvana
of Lord Buddha during 2006 was working on plans which might
include an international seminar in November and various programmes
throughout the country to highlight Buddha's teachings and
The meeting was attended by Ms. Pratibha Singh, Mr Chander
Kumar, Mr Bhanwar Singh Dangawas, Mr Nakul Das Rai, Mr V.K.
Thummar, Mr Tarini Kanta Roy, Mr Surendra M. Patel, Mr Prasanna
Acharya, Mr Shrapad Yasso Naik and Mr N. C. Chauhan (all Members
gains top spot
DELHI, May 25: Thrust on medical, cruise and rural tourism,
boost to tourism infrastructure and accommodation have been
some of the achievements of the Tourism Ministry in the two-year
rule of the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre.
another significant development, the ABTA (Association of
British Travel Agency) has ranked India as No. 1 amongst top
50 places for 2006. Lonely Planet and Condenast Traveller
and i-explore have already ranked India amongst the top five
destinations from 167 countries.
Tourism Ministry's "Incredible India" campaign has
bagged the PATA Gold Award and TTG Asia has ranked the Department
of Tourism as the best National Tourism Organisation. India
has also been elected to represent South Asia on the Executive
Council of UNWTO, the highest policy making world tourism
body represented by 150 counties.
has also been significant growth in terms of foreign tourist
arrivals in the last two years. A record growth of 26.8 per
cent foreign tourist arrivals was achieved in 2004, while
the growth was 13.2 per cent in 2005, taking India's tourist
arrivals from 2.73 million in 2003 to 3.92 million in 2005,
indicating a robust growth of 43.6 per cent in the period
new Union Tourism Minister, Ms Ambika Soni, has set up an
ambitious target of 10 million foreign tourists. While stressing
on the need to build tourism infrastructure to give world
class experience to the tourists, she has set targets to spread
rural tourism along with cruise and medical tourism. Ms Soni
is also making sure that the country has enough hotels to
meet the ambitious challenge to receive not only domestic
and international tourists but also the Commonwealth Games
rush in 2010.
Travel and Tourism Council has estimated that demand for India
tourism will grow annually at 8.8 per cent over the next decade,
which will be the highest in the world.
Foreign exchange earnings from tourism have also shown a phenomenal
growth, achieving an increase of 35 per cent in 2004, and
20 per cent in 2005 over the previous year (in dollar terms),
taking India's foreign exchange earnings from US $ 3.5 billion
in 2003 to US $ 5.7 billion in 2005.
Congress-led UPA Government has laid special emphasis on rural
tourism in view of its huge development potential. As many
as 71 rural tourism projects have been sanctioned to spread
tourism and its socio-economic benefits to identified rural
sites having tourism potential.
capacity building programme has also been taken up in partnership
with the UNDP for 36 rural tourism sites so that the benefit
of tourism reaches the community at large. In order to meet
the rising demand of accommodation due to increased growth
in tourist arrivals, the Tourism Department brought out guidelines
for classification of Apartment hotels, Time Share resorts
and guest houses. The Department has also sanctioned capital
subsidy for 21 budget category hotels and interest subsidy
for 160 budget category hotels during last two years.
all 276 hotels in different categories were classified and
230 hotels were re-classified. Approval was granted for 109
hotel projects with 7,206 rooms. In addition, 23 foreign technical
collaboration in hotel industry and nine cases of foreign
investments were cleared.
tourism infrastructure development projects, worth Rs 984.81
crore, were sanctioned for 570 tourism projects in all the
States for creating a world-class experience to the tourists.
The scheme of promoting Public-Private Partnership for large
revenue generating tourism projects has been finalized. A
new scheme of viability gap funding for assisting private
sector driven tourism projects has been launched.
Government has laid special thrust on developing tourism in
Jammu and Kashmir and North-East and Buddhist circuits. The
campaigns such as "Atithi Devo Bhavah", "Incredible
India" and "Taj 350 years" have been successful
in attracting tourists to the country.
Government also supported the World Travel & Tourism Council
(WTTC) annual summit in Delhi which attracted leading investors/
hoteliers from across the world. Support was also given to
the South Asian Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) in 2005
and 2006, which were attended by tour operators, travel agents
from Australia, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Israel, the
UK and Latin American/ Caribbean countries as delegates and
also buyers and sellers from overseas and within the country.
have also been launched to promote medical tourism, in partnership
with the private sector, to make India a global health care
destination. A new category of visa, "Medical Visa",
has been introduced, which can be given for specific purpose
to foreign tourists coming to India for medical treatment.
The guidelines for accreditation of Ayurveda and Panchkarma
centre have also been issued for implementation to ensure
required standard of services so that holistic health tourism
could be promoted.
tap cruise tourism potential, a draft concept and policy has
been drawn up to make the country an attractive destination
with state-of-the-art infrastructural and other facilities
at various ports and to achieve a target of 6 lakh cruise
passengers landing per year by the end of 2010. Star Cruises
Limited has launched its operation in India due to proactive
policy of the Government to promote cruise tourism.
wooing Indians; may relax visa rules
DELHI, May 2: After being ranked number one tourist country
of the world, Croatia is now eyeing to woo the ever rising
number of outbound Indians. It is planning to give visa on
arrival if one holds multiple entry visas of any European
country to share the pie of over six million Indians who travel
Croation Ambassador, Mr Dino Debeljuh, and the Director of
the Croatian National Tourist Board, Mr Niko Bulic, confirmed
that a proposal to this effect had already been sent to the
foreign affairs ministry of their country and its being looked
at with positive mind.
which is tucked in the Mediterranean, has been voted as the
most desirable destination of the world by Lonely Planet,
the renowned travel guide. It rates it so for its unique combination
of culture, history, gastronomy, accessibility and affordable
Bulic, who was in town to chalk out a strategy to attract
Indian tourists, said the bulk of foreigners to his country
at present came from European countries like Germany, Italy,
Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, France
and Switzerland. But Mr Bulic said he wanted to expand its
market to India as it had become "a very powerful nation
economically and its relations with his country were excellent".
his comments at an interactive session with the Croatian authorities,
the IATO President, Mr Subhash Goyal, said that if visa rules
of their country could be relaxed a very large number of groups
and individuals could be sent to Croatia which, he described
as one of the most fascinating and attractive destinations
of the world. Mr Goyal said that Visa on arrival could save
the Indian tourists from lot of hassles which they face while
traveling to Delhi from several distant states for this purpose.
Bulic said that his country, which proposed to invest 500
million Euros in tourism, targeted to increase the number
of foreign arrivals from 8 million now to 11 million by 2010.
He said that his country had a lot of attractions for tourists,
which included heritage, parks, mountains, coasts, clear waters
and sea. Croatia, he said, is the only country "to experience
the spirit of Mediterranean".
response to a question, Mr Bulic said that he agreed that
direct flights between India and his country could result
in increased two-way traffic, but he clarified that his country's
airline had no financial strength to operate such flights.
Desert, Water skiing - leisure Dubai style
DELHI, April 22: Dubai is known for redefining entertainment
and leisure. Now this five-star luxury destination offers
snow, desert and water skiing. "One can take a scooter
to snow, sand and water and enjoy the surfing. The snow skiing
was unveiled in the city two months ago and its conducted
in the third largest indoor ski dome in the world with 40,000
tonnes of snow pumped every morning," said Saleh Al Geziry,
Deputy Manager, Overseas Promotions, Dubai's Department of
Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
Dubai's widening canvas, the DTCM hopes to attract 400,000
Indian tourists this year as compared to 357,000 last year.
"We have changed our image from just a shopping hub.
The city caters to the vacation needs of urban Indians by
offering a world class, multi-faceted destination experience
with ice skiing, desert safari, scuba diving, theme parks,
water sports, beach resorts, and sea cruises, making it an
year round destination," said Al Geziry. Of course, he
added Dubai Shopping Festival will continue to remain major
today exhibits exponential growth for inward visitor traffic
into Dubai. A large segment of Indian visitors utilise hotels
and hotel apartments in the Emirate making India one of the
top five source markets, said Al Geziry, who was in Delhi
as a leader of an 18-member delegation to India for a road
show for the travel and hotel industry to promote Dubai as
a preferred destination.
from India, the other major source destinations to the UAE
are Britain, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries,
Russia and Germany. "Over 35 percent of Indian visitors
to the UAE in 2005 stayed in four and five star hotels indicating
that there is a large segment of up market Indians interested
in enjoying a holiday in Dubai - attracted by our varied fare,"
said Al Geziry.
a profile of the Indians traveling to the UAE and Dubai in
particular, Carl Vaz, DTCM Director (India), said around 40
percent are estimated to be business travelers, while many
go there for exhibitions and IT related activities.
up for the anticipated growth in the tourist inflow, Dubai,
that presently has 34,000 rooms in 290 hotels and 100 hotel
apartments, would add 10,000-12,000 rooms in the next two
and half years, said Carl Vaz.
cope with increasing air traffic, Al Geziry said the Dubai
International Airport was in the process of building a third
terminal and shifting cargo carrier operations to a new airport
to be constructed near the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ). "Apart
from being one of the major spenders, Indians are also among
the largest investors in properties in the UAE," he said.
Desert Tours is the largest cruise company in Dubai, says
a proud Kulwant Singh, Managing Partner of the company. His
company is known for dhow cruise dinners, desert safaris,
hotel accommodations and visa services.
Vaz said the tour operators would offer customers attractive
packages this summer and the average cost of the package would
be Rs 30,000 for five days and four nights excluding the air-fare.
DTCM would also appoint 150 more tour operators across India
to take the number to 1,000 this year.
leading hotel chain, Taj Group, is currently in the process
of setting up a second hotel in Dubai - Taj Exotica, a 250-room
and 250 apartment properrty that is set to be operational
by 2008 end.
DTCM held the multi-city road shows in Dubai, Chennai, Bangalore
and Mumbai. Seeing its major tourism growth coming from second
tier cities in India, DTCM had last month held promotions
in Punjab. More such promotions are planned to take advantage
of the 145 direct flights per week from India to the UAE.
Ministry to open offices in China, S Korea, Thailand
DELHI, March 20: The Union Tourism Ministry is all set to
open representative offices in China, South Korea and Thailand
as part of its promotional activities in the Asia region.
The Ministry, with an enhanced budget of Rs 830 crore for
2005-06, is focussing on various promotional and marketing
activities overseas to attract foreign tourists.
the Ministry has already invited bids for its China office,
the process for South Korea and Thailand has also been initiated.
"In China, we have already invited bids for recruiting
local persons for our representative office," said an
official, adding a Ministry delegation was visiting the country
for the purpose. The decision to open the representative offices
aims to augment tourist inflow to the country from these potential
markets in the region.
bags best tourism state award
DELHI, March 17: Famous for its backwaters and scenic beauty,
Kerala received 'best tourism state' award while the 'best
hotel' awards were bagged by Oberoi's Amarvilla in Agra and
the Taj Residency in Bangalore.
winning the best performing tourist state award for outstanding
achievements in the tourism sector, Kerala also won 'best
maintained tourism friendly monuments' award for its Sakthan
the category of hotels, Oberoi Amarvilla, which came in the
limelight for the first time in 2001 for hosting Pakistan
President Pervez Musharraf, and Taj Residency were declared
the best hotels while the Marriot in Delhi got the prize for
'best eco-friendly hotel' and Coconut Lagoon in Kerala won
the 'best eco-friendly resort'.
the National Tourism Award for outstanding performance for
the year 2004-05 in various sectors of tourism and travel,
Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni said the government
had recently taken a number of initiatives to ensure active
participation of private sector in tourism promotion which
includes a scheme for infrastructure creation also.
also launched 'Incredible India Visa Great Breaks' programme
with Visa International to promote India as preferred travel
destination. Soni also released TV commercials prepared by
the ministry on North-East, Jammu and Kashmir, Buddhist circuit
and Andaman and Nicobar at the function.
Tourism project of Andhra Pradesh was declared Best Tourism
Project in the country while Assam Bengal Navigation project
bagged the award for Most Innovative Tourism project. Beach
Protection Council of Orissa was declared the best NGO working
for the promotion of tourism.
Ministry to intensify tourism in Northeast
DELHI, March 5: The Tourism Ministry is making all efforts
for intensifying tourism in the Northeastern regions of India.
The Ministry has come up with procedures for easing travel
restrictions in the region and this move is expected to attract
lot of international tourists from the bordering China and
other Southeast Asian nations. Initiatives like Visa on arrival
and visas for destination areas are also on consideration.
are other ministries as well that are giving greater emphasis
and incentives on infrastructure in the northeast, including
hotels, tourist destinations and roads," said Tourism
Minister Ambika Soni. Besides a Northeast Tourism Development
Council is also being setup by the North Eastern Council to
promote tourism in the region
Soni to fight for infrastructure status for tourism industry
DELHI, March 4: The Tourism Minister, Mrs Ambika Soni, said
on Saturday that she would continue to fight for getting "infrastructure
status" for the tourism industry.
Mrs. Soni, who was replying to a reception given in her honour
by Indian Association of Tour Operators, also said that several
of the industry's demands like Visa on arrival was on her
priority list but the proposal had to get clearance from Home
and Foreign Ministries.
She said her focus would also be on the promotion of domestic
tourism not so much to prevent Indians from visiting abroad
or stopping the foreign exchange from draining, but for fostering
the unity and integrity among the vast population of the country.
A new campaign was being launched in the schools for the preservation
of India's heritage and monuments which would also promote
Soni said that she would soon get in touch with Delhi Administration
and Officials of her own Ministry to expedite the home stay
scheme to meet the shortage of hotel rooms in Delhi.
In reply to a question from the audience the Tourism Minister
disclosed that as per her information, tourism was neither
in the central nor the concurrent list. Her Ministry needed
lot of focus and profile to be taken seriously by the public,
In his address, IATO President, Mr. Subhash Goyal made a strong
plea for the home stay scheme, which he said, IATO was ready
to launch in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry. Mr.
Goyal also suggested that to meet the shortage of hotel rooms
existing hotels may be allowed to add four to five floors.
Besides, he said, suitable plots may be allotted to private
entrepreneurs including tour operators on a long-term lease
basis for construction of new hotels.
Mr. Goyal also pleaded for the same status of infrastructure
for tourism industry as was being enjoyed by the software
industry. He said, only a few graduates from IITs and other
big engineering colleges could be absorbed in jobs in software
industry, but in tourism, the poorest of the poor had the
chance to get direct or indirect employment. Tourism, he said,
is the right vehicle for fulfilling UPA Government's objectives
of creating employment and eradicating poverty from the country.
France to boost tourism
DELHI, Feb 20: In
a major boost to tourism, India and France, which is one of
the top tourist generating markets for the country, on Monday
signed an agreement to promote each other's destinations and
share market research for the purpose.
an MoU signed in New Delhi between Tourism Minister Ambika
Soni and visiting French Minister for Tourism Leon Bertrand,
both the countries decided to promote human resource development
in tourism and will contribute to the development of new products,
particularly through the promotion of natural and cultural
in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President
of France Jacques Chirac, the MoU says both the countries
will cooperate in tourism administrations and management by
exchanging expertise, human resources development and product
helping each other in marketing of tourism and sharing market
research, India and France will also cooperate in the area
of trade and tourism investment, travel related services as
well as training programme between the respective private
is one of the top tourist generating markets for India with
year 2005 witnessing a growth of about 35 per cent in arrivals
from France. India has a tourism office in Paris to look after
tourism promotion activities there and organise various promotional
events to promote Indian destinations.
India and Mauritius agree to expertise
in tourism and culture area
DELHI, Feb 15: India and Mauritius decided to strengthen their
cooperation in the area of tourism and culture. Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister for Tourism of Mauritius, Charles Gaetan
Zavier Lue Duval and Minister for Tourism and Culture, Ambika
Soni, both agreed to exchange expertise in the area of island
tourism, human resource development and joint marketing of
was also decided that India and Mauritius would explore investment
opportunities in creation of tourism infrastructure. Recalling
the traditional close cultural ties between the two countries,
Soni said that India would like to strengthen these further.
She also offered India's expertise in the preservation of
heritage buildings and development of human resources in the
hospitality sector. "The
cooperation in the area of medical tourism could also be an
important avenue of cooperation, "she added.
countries also agreed to explore possibilities of including
tourism as one of the key areas of comprehensive economic
agreement between India and Mauritius. Duval, a frequent visitor
to India had this time planned to promote his country as the
ideal tourist destination. Duval made his first visit to India
in 1973 when he accompanied his father, who too was a Deputy
Prime Minister of Mauritius.
said India had changed a lot since his first visit, growing
exponentially and becoming one of the leading nations of the
world. "Seventy percent of the population in our country
traces their roots to various places in India. At least for
once they want to see the country. And to fulfil their wish,
we want to strengthen and promote it," Duval said. He
also recommended that India start a direct flight between
Port Louis and New Delhi.
NRIs to feel being at home in India
DELHI, Feb 11: Foreign nationals and NRIs from countries with
strong currencies will feel more than being at home in India
soon following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's directive for
doing away with levying higher user charges on them.
has asked various Ministries to treat Indian and foreign nationals
alike, doing away with the present ''discriminatory'' fees
for various services and facilities, including hotel tariffs,
domestic airfare and entry fee at historical monuments and
other tourist sites.
present, foreign passport holders have to pay more also in the
case of registration fees for international and other conferences
and seminars, booking space for trade and other exhibitions
organised by the ITPO and other such bodies, subscription rates
for journals or magazines (excluding additional postage charges)
PM has suggested Ministries to work towards a system that is
not discriminatory while providing services in the country to
foreign passport holders and NRIs,'' Sanjaya Baru, Media Advisor
to PM, said in a press note.
Prime Minister has asked Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi to
review, with the concerned Ministries, the discriminatory charges
being levied for services to foreign passport holders, including
NRIs, he said.
has suggested that the concerned Ministries should examine the
feasibility of ending this anomaly and treating all consumers
of such services on par irrespective of nationality.
facilitates Cuban delegation
DELHI, Feb 7: India and Cuba have stressed on the need for expanding
two-way tourism between the two countries. This was underlined
at a reception given in honour of the first ever and all women
tourism delegation from Cuba by Indian Association of Tour Operators
The delegation, led by Ms. Mariya Pinchet, comprised Ms. Yenisey
Galindo, Ms. Dulce Maria Bencomo, Ms. Elurira Gonzalez and Ms.
In his remarks, the Cuban Ambassador, Mr Juan Carretero Ibanez,
said that tourism could build bridges between Cuba and India
in the fields of Tourism, Trade and Commerce. It could also
help establish people to people contact among the nationals
of both the countries. He said opportunities existed for businessmen
to invest in each other's country, particularly in the field
his welcome address Mr. Subhash Goyal, IATO President, urged
the Cuban Ambassador to help create awareness among the Indian
tourists about his beautiful country and also ensure that the
prospective tourists, both business and leisure, faced no problem
in getting visas.
In her presentation, Ms. Maria Pinchet, ably assisted by Tania
Vazquez, pointed out that from 1995 to 2005, tourism had made
a 14 per cent growth in her country. In 2005, Cuba received
more than 2 million tourists, particularly from Canada, Italy,
UK, Spain and Germany.
the excellent infrastructure in her country, it was further
pointed out by her that there were 70 airports in the Caribbean
and ten of them were in Cuba. Regular flights and charters by
93 airlines had an access to her country which was a round-the-year
destination. Cuba has won the hearts of the visitors by its
lovely beaches, health resorts, old cities, scenic beauty besides
its warm hospitable, vibrant and educated inhabitants, who are
its greatest assets.
The delegation had lively and useful interaction with the captains
of the tourism industry and media persons, according to Mr G
Kanjilal, IATO Executive Director.
Tourism opens office in Delhi
DELHI, Jan 30: Continuing with its aggressive tourism focus, Uttaranchal
Tourism has opened up an office here. "Customer focus is
the key and we will make all efforts in reaching out of them.
This new office is an attempt towards the same," said Lt.General
(Retd) T.P.S.Rawat, State Tourism Minister, while opening up the
new office at Hotel Janpath.
on the occasion, Mr Alok Kumar Jain, Principal Secretary Tourism,
Government of Uttaranchal and Chief Executive Officer of Uttaranchal
Tourism Development Board, said "the new office will provide
integrated tourism products of Uttranchal under one roof as the
office will have facilities of booking tour packages,.hotel booking
etc for entire Uttaranchal."
as well as travel agents will find it of great convenience as
booking facilities of the two corporations namely Garhwal Mandal,
Vikas Nigam (GMVN) and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) will be
available under the same roof," he said.
integrated office in New Delhi is part of larger game plan adopted
by Uttaranchal Tourism Development Board in bringing operations
of the both the corporations under one roof for the Convenience
of customer and travel agents in all major India,cities.
the year 2004, Uttaranchal welcomed record 13.9 million domestic
and international tourists. 'Selective focus' in terms of marketing
and promotion would be the guiding principal in future for Uttaranchal
tourism. This is visible through its first ever planned all India
print advertising campaign launched recently to woo the Customer
to the State for winters. This campaign focuses on wildlife and
adventure tourism and positions the State as the Sunshine State
in Northern India during the winters.
Online booking is available from this office for Kumaon part of
Mr.Subhash Goel, Member UTDB, and President Indian Association
of Tour Operators, Mr Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Vice President KMVM, Mr
Raj Kumar Singh, Managing Director, GMVN were also present on
fastest growing market for Switzerland Tourism
DELHI: The recently presented, Switzerland Travel Experience 2005, road show to
India highlighted the growth dynamics of Swiss Tourism. The annual road show was
jointly presented by the Swiss International Air Lines and Switzerland Tourism
and of course the presence of the Ambassador of Switzerland to India.
a whooping 25 per cent growth, Switzerland Tourism, placed India as one of the
most strategic market. Pat the bubbling economy or the youth power or Bollywood.
Fact remains that India is an important market for the Swiss.
is backed by world class cities offering the best of facilities and the best of
adventures, accessible mountains and the Swiss travel system. They have mountains
that are accessible, water that is the best in the world, Swiss travel system,
bunch of happy people and a gorgeous winter skiing or simply playing in the snow.
With such attractive ingredients tourism is bound to take an upward swing. The
Government finances two thirds of the country's tourism which in turns boosts
the private sector as well.
at the Switzerland Travel Experience in Delhi, Mr. Federico Sommaruga, Director,
Switzerland Tourism, pointed that India was the fastest growing markets for Switzerland
tourism and was indeed the second largest market in Asia after Japan. The year
2005 saw 2,50,000 overnights in Switzerland from India. The Free Individual Traveller
segment has seen a tremendous growth, making it almost 50 per cent of the total
leisure travel to the country.
countries included in the "emerging markets" include China, Korea, Russia
and the Gulf countries. In India, Switzerland Tourism has set up its very own
tourist office. Involved in a vast array of activities this office will soon be
launching Internet base learning aids for the travel agents.
Swiss really do it well in style keeping the strategic country's psyche is mind.
Offering marriage options on the Swiss Alps at a height of 10,000 ft at a unique
wedding location called the crystal Lounge on top of Schilthorn or the 007 Bond
mountains. For years Indians are known to notoriously blow up their life time's
savings and more on weddings, so yet another lavish option available to the affluent
or those looking for a difference in their wedding.
keeping with the growing demands, SWISS has now doubled its services for customers
based in India by teaming with Air Canada on the Delhi - Zurich route.
partners taking part in this year's event included Swiss International Air Lines,
Swiss Travel System, destinations like Davos, Geneva, Interlaken, Zurich, Mountain
excursions like Jungfraujoch, Mount Pilatus, Mount Titlis, Mystery Park, Swiss
miniature park and Golden Pass line.
is small country having a population of 7.2 million but having 18 million visitors
each year. The total Indian visitors are 100,000 per year and overnights are 250,000.
The target for the coming year is to see 300,000 overnights from India in Switzerland.
The number of Visa seekers in India has gone up. "India has Switzerland in
its mind" and that is important for choosing to promote Switzerland even
more in India.
extends night viewing of Taj Mahal
DELHI, Nov 22: The Supreme Court on Monday further extended the moonlit viewing
of Taj Mahal, the 17th century monument of love. Initially, the apex court had
granted permission for three months only but after it was informed that no untoward
incident had taken place, it was extended for a year.
extend the moonlight viewing of Taj Mahal till further order," a Bench comprising
Justice Ruma Pal, Justice SB Sinha and Justice SH Kapadia said.
extension of the night viewing of the white marble structure, housing the tombs
of Mughal emperor Shahjehan and his love Mumtaj Mahal, was to expire on November
court had asked the authorities not to relax security measures and procedures
followed till date. Advocate Krishan Mahajan, who is amicus curiae in the matter
and ASI counsel ADN Rao, informed the court that procedures were strictly followed
during night viewing of the Taj Mahal. After 22 years, the Supreme Court has thrown
open the monument to visitors for moonlit nights which they say has been a feast
offers hotel sites to meet Commonwealth Games challenge
has taken the lead over Delhi by inviting private entrepreneurs to set up hotels,
motels and entertainment sites like water parks and health spa in the State to
meet the challenges posed by the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010.
an exclusive interview with this correspondent, Mr Sanjay Kothari, Secretary,
Haryana Tourism, said Haryana Government under the leadership of Chief Minister,
Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, plans to set up tourism zones in Kundli, Manesar and
Palwal. The State Government has also proposed to develop entertainment and recreation
Kothari invited hoteliers to set up as many hotels in Haryana as they wanted.
"With its proximity to the Capital city Delhi and a proposal to set up an
international airport in the State, Haryana is going to be a hot tourism destination,"
he said. He said Haryana, which has led the nation in the concept of launching
highway tourism, plans to build new highways from Kundli to Manesar and then to
Palwal that would join Delhi-Agra highway.
Government has also invited the private sector to set up adventure
tourism facilities at Kalesar and also to develop heritage tourist
setting up of hotels, motels, entertainment and recreation projects
on the new highways, the Government plans to establish institutes
of excellence to provide manpower for the tourism industry."
Kothari said a unique tourism and hotel management institute of excellence in
collaboration with the Union Tourism Ministry would be established at Tilyar Lake,
Rohtak. Similarly, a renowned international university for tourism and hotel trade
and hotel management and food craft institutes would be set up in collaboration
with the private sector.
providing exciting terms and single-window clearances, he said the state government
plans to propose only one condition of 25 per cent of the seats would be reserved
for residents of Haryana. Similarly, he said the existing seats of institutes
at Panipat and Faridabad would be increased to provide employment opportunities
to residents of Haryana.
Kothari said another innovative tourism project was development of mini-India
miniature theme park at Surajkund. The Central Government has already sanctioned
Rs 22.50 lakhs and the short-listing of the consultant was at final stage. "This
park will have exact replicas in miniature of the historical monuments and landmarks
and will reflect India's culture, history and achievements in an idyllic setting."
its bid to promote tourism in and around Delhi, he said the State Government plans
to set up a tourism eco-park at Dundahera on Delhi-Haryana border. It also proposes
to develop tourism infrastructure in about 20 acres of nursery land in Mehrauli
in Delhi along with Delhi Tourism. Similarly, he said "we plan to develop
hotel and motel infrastructure in about 8 acres of land at Ganga Toli in North
Kothari said the State would promote Farm, Mall and Golf tourism. In the year
2004-05, the business worth Rs 3.55 lakh was done from 18 farms. "We propose
to identify 10 more farms during the current financial year." With regard
to Mall Tourism, he said the shopping malls of Gurgaon were most popular with
the foreign and domestic tourists. Mall tourism circuit would be promoted through
intense publicity and conducted tours. Haryana Tourism Corporation proposes to
set up shopping malls and food court at Oasis, Karnal and Dabchick Hodal in Faridabad.
Kothari said the Government would continue to develop the Golf circuit. He informed
that four signature golf courses of international standards have been established
at Gurgaon in private sector. The Government has also been promoting four golf
courses at Panchkula, Faridabad, Madhuban Karnal and Oasis.
sign Code of Practice pact
DELHI, Oct 8: In a landmark agreement, the Indian Association of Tour Operators
and the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) have
signed a code of practices that would desist hoteliers from bouncing of groups
and re-pricing of room rates.
tourism boom had somewhat marred the relationship between tour operators and hoteliers
as some hotels had resorted to bouncing of groups and re-pricing of room rates.
IATO President, Mr Subhash Goyal, and the FHRAI President, Mr M.P. Purushothaman,
inked an agreement here on Saturday that gives details of the code of practices
which will govern the future contracts between hoteliers and tour operators putting
an end to a long drawn out controversy and confusion plaguing their mutual relationship.
of the highlights of the agreement, which go specially in favour of tour operators,
are as follows :
the contractual rates are signed, the hotels have to abide by them. The hotels
cannot let out any room guaranteed to the tour operator.
For guaranteed reservations,
the hotels have to keep the rooms at the client's disposal until mid-day on the
day following the scheduled date of arrival.
case of a premature departure, the tour operators shall compensate the hotels
for the actual loss suffered, except in those cases where the hotels are responsible
for it. Hotels will refrain from soliciting the client to make direct reservations
are some of the details of the agreement:
RESERVATION: Verbal reservation requests by tour operators shall be confirmed
immediately in writing (letter, fax, e-mail etc) to the hotel.
CONFIRMATION: The hotels shall confirm the reservation in writing within three
working days by issuing a specific reservation number for this purpose. The tour
operators will then notify in writing their acceptance of the hotel conditions.
RESERVATION DOCUMENT: The hotels must accept a voucher which should specify the
dates of arrival and departure hotel services to be provided etc.
hotels may require advance payment (earnest money of guarantee deposit). The reservation
fee will be deduced from the final invoice but will not reimbursed in case of
such advance payment may be treated as a "guarantee deposit" except
when a cancellation is made in accordance with the hotel's written cancellation
policy or customary trade practices.
PAYMENT DUE TO THE HOTELS: The services payable by the tour operators will be
those specified in the confirmation document and the tour operator will be responsible
for payment of the specified services excepts when it has been agreed that the
invoice shall be paid directly by the client.
CANCELLATION OF GROUPS: The entire group (100 per cent) may be cancelled up to
30 days prior to the arrival date without having to pay any compensation to the
maximum of the 50 per cent of the initial reservation may be cancelled at least
21 days prior to the arrival date. A maximum of 25 per cent of the initial reservation
may be cancelled at least 14 days prior to the date of arrival.
the absence of such time limits the hotels will charge two/thirds of the price
of the reserved services (minimum one night per cancelled client); and in case
of cancellation of three days preceding the arrival date, the hotels will be entitled
to charge three-quarters of the price of the reserved services.
the associations have appealed to their respective members to adhere the principles
and guidelines in this agreement, which, they said are based on highest standards
of mutual respect and understanding.
at Colombo: Business, Fun & Marathon
Two at TAAI: Business, Fun & Frolic
PM call to make tourism engine of regional growth
Sept 25: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapkse on Saturday made a passionate
appeal to make tourism an engine for promoting cooperation among the SAARC nations.
"Tourism is a critically important industry for driving the economies of
his inaugural speech at the 54th annual convention of TAAI here, Rajapkse sought
developing initiatives for intra-regional tourism and to promote the SAARC region
as a unique travel destination internationally. He said Sri Lanka was totally
committed to economic integration with India and other South Asian neighbours.
Prime Minister could not make to the inauguration due to unforeseen election work
(Sri Lanka is in the midst of elections). Sri Lanka Deputy Tourism Minister Arjuna
Ranatunga, read the Prime Minister's speech.
leaders of the tourism industry attended the 54th annual convention of the Travel
Agents Association of India (TAAI), the biggest travel association of India and
the region. Besides the TAAI President, Mr Balbir Mayal, those who attended the
convention included the Sri Lanka Deputy Tourism Minister, Mr Arjuna Ranatunga,
the Indian High Commissioner, Ms Nirupama Roy, the Chairman Sri Lankan Tourist
Board, Mr Udaya Nanayakkara, the President & CEO of Tralliance Corporation,
Mr Ron Andruff, the President, Association of South African Travel Agents Amanda
Harrod, and Egyptian Tourism Counsellor, Mr Samy Mahmoud.
Prime Minister reminded the elite gathering that economic initiatives were not
global. "We have the examples of European Union and its Common Market, the
Association of American States, ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific community and our own
SAARC." And he added "this should be the inspiration that drives us
to move ahead."
an economic point of view, Rajapkse said tourism could be a dynamic driver for
creating direct and indirect employment, sustaining village crafts, indigenous
dance and music, and promoting a better understanding of cultures, history and
hopes among people visiting us from distant countries.
said the time has come for SAARC region to pool its financial resources and talents
to promote the region as a travel destination intra-regionally and internationally.
He said the travel agents have a critical role to play in this scheme of things.
Prime Minister emphasized on re-examining and improving the aviation framework,
flight frequencies and airport facilities, road, rail and hotel network to sharpen
the tourism profile of the region. "SAARC must move from a third world travel
destination to a first world travel destination without compromising cultural
uniqueness, rich historical traditions and simple virtues," he added.
said if tourism was properly developed and sold it could unlock great value for
all the SAARC economies and strengthen economic growth at a time when returns
from traditional export products were taking a beating. "The solution is
in our hands," he added.
opportunity into real business: Balbir Mayal
his Presidential address, Balbir Mayal said TAAI was holding its 54th annual convention
in Colombo to express solidarity and friendship with Lankans who have been hit
by the Tsunami devastation. Emphasizing on "New Waves New Ways", the
theme of the Indian Travel Congress, Mayal said "the very nature of travel
is about change. We live in a world where change is the only constant." He
said "it is during the period of change that we need to discover and implement
New Ways to always stay ahead of change, so that we remain proactive in our efforts
to grow and nurture our business."
Mayal told his colleagues from the travel fraternity that this was the time to
convert opportunity into real business. He urged them to leap from travel agents
to travel consultants.
with 7 to 8 per cent GDP growth, all-time low 3 per cent inflation, sensex at
all-time high of over 8,000 mark, middle-class income at 350 to 400 million and
over 300 million people between age group of 25 to 40, he said this was the time
to convert opportunity into real business.
TAAI President said India was a hot destination as it has come on the front map
of World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and renowned publication Conde Nast and tourism
and travel was showing within the country at a growth rate of 20 per cent. Lauding
the gradual open sky policy being introduced by Indian Civil Aviation Minister
Praful Patel, the President called for a solid partnership with the government.
called for improving road connectivity, revamping airports and increasing quality
budget accommodation to make India more accessible. He called for urgent need
to reduce ATF taxes to make air travel more affordable. Mayal also called for
proactive look at regional tourism, particularly within SAARC countries and South
East Asia. He urged for simplification of currency exchange and travel options
to tap large untapped segment of travellors.
an anecdote of modern day rabbit and tortoise story, the President called for
special partnership between travel agents and airlines, which would recognize
each other's strength. He said TAAI was fostering relationships worldwide and
was in the process of signing MoUs with China, England, South Africa and Thailand.
direct flights from India to Colombo: Nirupama
her address, Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Roy said Sri Lanka was once again
happening place despite Tsunami. She said Sri Lanka received the largest number
of tourists from India and the two governments have played an important role in
Roy urged the Indian carriers, Indian Airlines, Jet and Sahara, to consider direct
flights from Indian destinations. With 90 flights to 10 cities in India, She said
Sri Lankan Airlines was the largest foreign carrier flying into India. She called
upon the travel fraternity to offer attractive packages to harness the huge tourism
potential within the region.
his keynote address, Mr Udaya Nanayakkara, Chairman, UFTAA and Sri Lanka Tourist
Board, called upon the airlines and travel agents to change with the time. At
the convention, Mr Nanayakkara was bestowed with Agastya award for his continuous
efforts to forge close tourism bonds between India and Sri Lanka over the years.
said Sri Lanka Tourist Board would spend US $ 1 million in India in the next two
years to get 150,000 Indians to travel to Sri Lanka. "We want to reduce our
dependency on the European markets."
falling commissions for travel agents, Mr Nanayakkara said the Passenger Sales
Agency Agreement was not a normal agent-principal agreement in the sense that
the International Chamber of Commerce defines it. "It has evolved into an
administrative agreement regulating the relationship between airlines and travel
he said, travel agents have never been partners with the airlines. "We do
not have a common product and we are not sharing the risk as partners would do.
Travel agents are purely selling the airline's seats."
representing various fields spoke at the business sessions spread over three days.
The theme of the convention, "New Waves - New Ways", kept pace with
the changing scenario of the industry, in India and globally. The sessions dwelt
upon emergence of bigger market segments; greater tourism impact; e-commerce and
technology; and focused on business beyond only ticketing.
discussions on emergence of low-cost carriers, inbound tourism into India and
diminishing commissions, the convention discussed ways and means to promote regional
presented 'Vision 2010' - a panel discussion on the emerging travel scenario.
There was another session on the surge in aviation called "Aviation: Boom
or Bust. Will it last?"
Andruff, president and CEO of the New York-based Tralliance Corporation spoke
on "Virtual Vs Real - The 'net' wave". Andruff is spearheading the Tralliance
Corporation backed TLD (top level domain name) - Dot Travel which is be exclusively
for businesses, organisations and individuals in the travel industry like airlines,
hotels, theme parks, travel agents, computer reservation providers and travel
media. Travel is registering domain names with the extension, '.travel'. Tralliance
Corporation has launched the initiative in cooperation with the World Tourism
John Birchell, a great motivator who has enthralled audiences in several nations,
made his debut in the sub-continent through his talk. John has entertained various
corporate organisations, which include Marks and Spencer, University of Liverpool,
Golden Tulip Hotels, Barclays Bank among others. Entertainment, education, motivation
and inspiration were the key drivers of his talk and show.
the thought provoking sessions, over 1,300 delegates had an offer to enjoy Foot
Massage therapy, a daily game of Lotto and an impressive marathon.
In his welcome speech, Chairman of the Convention Committee, Mr
Sunil Kumar, said that a record number of over 1,400 delegates are participating
in the convention.
Hotel a new landmark of Delhi
DELHI, Sept 15: Shangri-La, Asia-Pacific's leading luxury hotel group, has made
its maiden entry into India with the launch of a hotel in the heart of the Capital
city. The internationally famed group would manage Shangri-La Hotel, New Delhi
in agreement with Hotel Excelsior Pvt Ltd, a member of the Eros Group of India.
Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently manage 47 hotels under Shangri-La
and Traders brands with a room inventory of over 21,000. "We selected Shangri-La
to operate our hotel due to the strength of the award-winning brand and its reputation
for highly personalized service," said Mr Satish Sood, Managing Director
of Shangri-La New Delhi and InterContinental Eros (formerly known as Parkroyal).
the soft launch of the new hotel, Eros Group becomes the second biggest hotel
group in Delhi after Taj. The Eros Group had acquired this hotel (then known as
Kanishka) from the Government in 2002 for Rs 96 crore as part of disinvestments
drive of ITDC hotels. "The hotel has been totally refurbished and renovated
at a cost of Rs 300 crore," informed Mr Satish Sood.
Gilbert Gaston Jung, General Manager, Shangri-La New Delhi, complimented Mr Jagdish
Rai Sood, Chairman of Eros Group, for his patience for bearing the delays in developing
the new property, which has been designed by the renowned Hong Kong-based Lese
Robertson & Freeman Designers Limited. "Since only 220 of the 325 rooms
and suites are ready, we are calling this a soft opening,' said Mr Satish Sood.
dining and entertainment options include Café Uno with open kitchens, live
cooking stations and grand buffet with terrace overlooking the swimming pool;
Uno 2 Go, a patisserie offering a range of confectionery with extensive variety
of cakes and breads; the contemporary designed Island Bar; and Lobby Lounge offering
an array of refreshments throughout the day.
health club and spa features a gym, treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, indoor
and outdoor whirlpool and an outdoor pool, set in the hotel's landscaped gardens.
the opening of the first Shangri-La hotel here, Mr Gilbert Jung admitted that
the Shangri-La group took long to come to India. "India had always been on
our mind. But we were concentrating more on other countries like China, Singapore
Shobu Mathew, Director, Sales and Marketing, Shangri-La New Delhi, said that the
hotel has started receiving business from countries like Germany, England and
France. India Telecom, an international summit, would be held here next week.
Jung said the hotel's grand opening would be in early November next. "It
will be then the remaining rooms inventory would be unveiled. Included will be
the Horizon Club on the top four floors, comprising 78 guestrooms and suites,
which will offer an exclusive retreat with a host of special privileges and amenities,
including an exclusive lounge with complimentary refreshments and dedicated concierge
services." Additionally the hotel's signature Pan Asian restaurant "19
Oriental Avenue", serving Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine will open, said
the General Manager.
Eros Group is a name synonymous with real estate development in India. Backed
by over five decades of expertise, the Eros Group's interests include the five-star
Hotel Inter Continental Eros, International Trade Tower & American Plaza,
residential buildings, cinemas, commercial complexes and a shopping plaza.
hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and
services. Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and the United Arab
Emirates. The group has over 30 projects under development in Canada, China, India,
Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates
and the United Kingdom.
to get fourth international airport at Kannur
Sept 2: Kerala Chief Minsiter Oommen Chanday has announced that the State would
get its fourth international airport at Kannur soon.
Inaugurating the second edition of Malabar Tourism and Travel Mart here on Thursday,
Mr Chandy said “we have received in principle approval from the Central
Government and the State government is working full time to fulfill this long
pending demand of the people of the region.”
Chief Minsiter said “the new airport will help boost tourism in the Malabar
said tourism was the key driver of Kerala’s economy. “It has offered
Kerala one of the best alternatives to meet Kerala’s objectives of reducing
unemployment, kick starting economic growth and distributing economic development
throughout the State with minimal environmental setbacks.”
Chandy said the tremendous growth in tourist arrivals has brought in more investment
in this sector. “The State gets an investment of around Rs 1,000 crore every
year. All this has generated employment to about eight lakh people in Kerala,
spread across the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled sectors.”
in addition to bringing in Rs 1,250 crore as foreign exchange, tourism in Kerala
earns Rs 6,000 crore,” he said and added his Government’s commitment
to help quick growth of tourism in Malabar.
State Tourism Minsiter, Mr K C Venugopal, said the Government has drawn up a development
plan for Malabar which includes setting up basic infrastructure for destination
development, improvement of roads, wayside amenities, new circuits like the pilgrim
circuit, beach circuit and backwater circuit to induce private investments.
Venugopal said the development initiatives have been based on sustainable development
model with due care taken at every step of the way to see that the natural fabric
of the land is intact, He said it was being ensured that there was no negative
impact of tourism on the environment.
Mr Chandy and Mr Venugopal, other who graced the inaugural function included State
Culture Minister Anil Kumar, Member of Parliament, T K Hamsa, local MLAs KNA Khader
and TPM Khader, Principal Secretary Mr Bharath Bhushan, Director Kerala Tourism
B Suman, Kozhikode District Collector Rachna Shah and Malappuram District Collector
event is set to give a boost to tourism initiaves in North Kerala. Over 300 buyers
and 64 sellers are participating in the show.
IATO Seeks Special Status for Tourism; Visa on Arrival;
Aug 29: To give the much-needed thrust to tourism industry and meet the challenge
of creating more jobs, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has sought
a special status for the sector; augmentation of hotel rooms; rationalize taxes;
and visa on arrival. "It is only then the country will be able to create
more jobs and witness further economic boom," thundered Mr Subhash Goyal,
President of the largest association of tour operators at its 21st annual convention
convention urged the Central Government to accord special status to tourism sector
as has been given to the exporters, infrastructure and software industry to meet
its avowed goal of creating jobs for the poorest of the poor and eradicating poverty.
convention, attended by over 1,000 delegates from all parts of the country, also
called for augmentation in the hotel rooms in the major cities besides recognition
of appropriate guest houses and home stay programmes by the respective State Governments
to meet the shortage of accommodation which was posing a great threat to the tourism
boom experienced by the Country.
Convention, inaugurated by Mr. E. Ahamed, Union Minister of State for External
Affairs, passed several resolutions demanding among other things, construction
of at least one airport in each State and Union Territory, visa on arrival, particularly
for the nationals of 14 countries approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, rationalization
of luxury tax and transport tax on the tourist vehicles and 90 per cent abatement
on package cost for service tax and abolition of Fringe Benefit Tax on tour operators.
convention also demanded reintroduction of Section 80HHC of Income Tax Act for
tour operators earning foreign exchange, end of discrimination between Indians
and foreign guests as per FEMA rules, conducting language courses for guides by
Centre/State Governments, taking up cleanliness drive in places of tourist interest,
promotion of regional tourism and reduction in monument entrance fee for foreign
his Presidential address to the delegates, Mr. Subhash Goyal, President, IATO,
observed that tour operators were being sometimes forced to refuse bookings because
of shortage of rooms. “They were also paying 30 to 40 per cent more of what
they were paying for the hotel rooms last year.”
solution, Mr Goyal, who is also called as Nelson Mandela of the tourism industry,
said lay in not only asking the hotels to increase their FAR and rooms by at least
25 per cent, but also changing the land use in all the cities so that the entrepreneurs
could build new hotels. The tariff of hotels should also be fixed so that the
tourists were not exploited.
out that the tourism industry is overburdened with taxes, the IATO President said,
"There is road tax, there is luxury tax, there is entertainment tax, there
is excise duty and the latest is the Fringe Benefit Tax. The result is that a
big chunk of a tourist’s spend is taken away by these taxes making India
out pricing itself".
the existence of no frill airlines and apex fares of Indian Airlines, it was unfortunate
that it was cheaper for a domestic tourist to fly from Delhi to Thailand, Malaysia
and Sri Lanka than to take a flight to Kochi.
four day Convention with the theme "Incredible India -- Incredible Challenges"
was divided into four Business Sessions and attended among others by Mr. E. Ahamed,
Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. K.C. Venugopal, Tourism Minister
of Kerala, Mr. D.T. Jayakumar, Tourism Minister of Karnataka, Mr. Kawkab Hameed,
Tourism Minister of U.P., Mr. A.K. Misra, Secretary (Tourism) and Mr. Amitabh
Kant, Joint Secretary (Tourism), Government of India, Mr. E.K. Bharat Bhushan,
Principal Secretary (Tourism), Kerala, Mr. Vasudevan Thulasidas, CMD, Air India,
Mr. Anil Goyal, Commercial Director, Indian Airlines, and Mr. Peter Hill, CEO,
his welcome address, Mr E.M. Najeeb, Chairman, Reception Committee and Chairman,
IATO Kerala Chapter, said the international tourists arrivals in the country have
shown a phenomenal growth of 18.6 per cent for the period from January to June
2005, signalling the much-waited tourism boom. "In order to sustain this
boom and to achieve the anticipated growth of 10 million tourists by 2010, India
needs to look into the challenges and threats that lie ahead for the tourism industry."
Najeeb said Kerala tourism had recorded a phenomenal growth in the past few years.
The tourist arrivals to the state had shown an increase of 27 per cent, compared
to last year's arrivals. "Kerala now holds a prestigious place in the global
tourism map. The three ''Kerala Travel Marts'' saw the soaring of tourist arrivals
to the state. These travel marts enviably positioned Kerala as one of the hottest
travel destinations in the world," he said.
serene backwaters, spices, hill stations and beaches have contributed tremendously
in making it a hot spot among national and international tourists. Kerala is the
only Tourism Super Brand in Asia," said Najeeb. The
Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) held its convention at Kochi last year.
Federation of Hotel and Restaurants Association (FHRAI) has announced its decision
to hold its next convention at Kochi.
Vijay Thakur, Vice President of IATO and Convention Chairman, said Kerala government
(which hosted the convention) set an example of what the state could achieve through
its own imagination innovation and efforts.
Murli Dhar, Senior Vice President of IATO, hoped that efforts would be made that
the tourist who is lured by great images of India and its various States goes
back with great memories and his expectations are matched by great satisfaction
Peter Hill, CEO, Srilankan Airlines, participating in the Business Session on
Open Skies called for the need for more FDI in aviation sector in India.
to some of the demands of IATO made at the convention, Mr. A.K. Misra, Secretary
(Tourism), asked the organisation to come forward for the upkeep and maintenance
of historical monuments and promised all help from the Tourism Ministry.
Misra said tourism was a composite subject that involved a lot of players from
different ministries. Bringing them together to agree was indeed a difficult task.
that there was shortage of accommodation in 4 and 5 star hotels in Delhi, Mumbai
and to some extent in Bangalore. To ease the situation, state governments had
been asked to form land banks or give land on long lease to hotels. He, however,
indicated his ministry’s inability so far as regularization of hotel tariffs
Rajesh Mudgill of IATO said the record attendance of over 1,000 delegates and
popularity of business sessions showed the commitment of delegates towards tourism
industry. He called for a huge thrust for the infrastructure in terms of roads,
ports and airports to encash the boom tourism sector is witnessing.
K.V. Thomas, former Tourism Minister of Kerala, released a copy of IATO Manual
2005 on the occasion.
of Fame Award was presented to Mr. Anil Goyal, Commercial Director, Indian Airlines
and Managing Director, Alliance Air and awards for Excellence in Journalism were
presented to Mr. Ganapathy Subramanyam (Economic Times) and Mr. Arun Kumar Das
(Times of India). Ms. Rajika Nair of Kerala Institute of Travel and Tourism Studies
was presented the Badri Nath Bajaj Scholarship award comprising Rs. 10,000 in
cash along with a Trophy. Pradeep Sankhla Award was given away to Mr. Jose Dominic
of Casino Group of Hotels.
Southern States including, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu besides
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim
made their presentations at the Convention, which coincided with the Tourism Mart
and Cultural Programmes.
was for the first time that IATO held its Convention in Kerala. The last convention
was held at Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
business sessions at Kochi
meet: Checking out God's Own Country