TOURISM POTENTIALS FOR NORTH EAST INDIA

covid-responseRecently International Travel Mart for North East States were held in Kohima Nagaland.

State Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, along with Minister of State for Tourism & Defence, GoI, Ajay Bhatt and MLA & Advisor Tourism, Government of Nagaland H Khehovi Yeputhomi jointly inaugurated the three-day long 9th International Tourism Mart for the North East Region at Kohima, Nagaland recently. Arvind Singh Secretary Tourism, and Rupinder Brar ADG Tourism Government of India and other dignitaries of Central government and North Eastern States were also present on the occasion.

The objective of the event was to highlight the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets. Coffee table book on Nagaland was also launched on this occasion. Department of Tourism, Government of Nagaland & Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) signed MoU for the operations of SIHM.

Speaking on the occasion, Rio expressed the hope that the International Tourism Mart in Kohima will give a boost to the tourism and business sector not only in Nagaland but the entire Northeast. He also hoped that North East will become a favourite destination in the country for tourism and business. While pointing out that tourism sector has been greatly affected by the pandemic, he thanked the ministry of tourism for organising the event in Kohima.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Singh said, “International Tourism Marts is biggest travel and tour networking event in the North Eastern Region of the country. The rich natural beauty, serenity and exotic flora and fauna of the North Eastern India are invaluable resources for the development of tourism especially eco-tourism. The facilities for tourists to stay, for food, shopping and entertainment are improving tremendously.” Shri Singh added that Travel & Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors, creating exports and prosperity around the world. Indian Tourism sector has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth for Indian economy. Shri Arvind Singh further said that as Prime Minister has stressed on the need of introducing the students to the rich culture and heritage of North Eastern Region, today in this event we have students participating from all over the country.

The event was attended by the High Commissioner, Brunei Darussalam, High Commissioner, Malaysia, Ambassador Extra Ordinary, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Ambassador, The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, amongst other attending dignitaries and diplomats. Other high-ranking officials from participating Ministries/Government bodies are also going to be part of the event.

The International Tourism Marts are organised in the North Eastern States on a rotation basis. Nagaland hosted this Mart for the first time. The earlier editions of this Mart were held in Guwahati (Assam), Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), Shillong (Meghalaya), Gangtok (Sikkim), Agartala (Tripura), and Imphal (Manipur).

TOURISTS IN KASHMIR

covid-responseA total of 1,27,605 tourists visited Kashmir in November this year which is more than all the figures in the month in the past seven years, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government officials. The officials are planning to organise various festivals for the Winter season in the mountain Union Territory.

According to the official, 6,327 tourists had visited Kashmir in November 2020 which is way lesser than the current figure of nearly 1,27,000. Dr GN Itoo, Director, Tourism Kashmir, said, “On the direction of the LG, we conducted some of the iconic festivals like houseboat festival, the Sufi festival in which the national level celebrities had participated and also literary festival because of which a buzz was created at the national as well as the international level. So the tourists from all over the world preferred visiting Kashmir. Almost 1,27,000 tourists have visited in November and almost 93,000 tourists have visited in October. It is the first time in the past 7 years, that tourists in such large number have turned up in October and November.”

Itoo further said that this is the result of a vigorous campaign including the roadshows in the country to promote tourism in Kashmir along with other measures to attract the tourists after the second wave of COVID-19.

“The department has started a vigorous promotional campaign after the first wave of COVID-19. We have conducted almost 21 roadshows within the country. When the second wave hit the country, we vaccinated all the members of the tour and travel fraternity as a confidence-building measure,” he said.

Talking about the future plans of the government for the Winter season after attracting a record number of tourists in the Autumn season, the Director said that they are planning to celebrate International Mountain Day and Christmas in a big way.

“We have planned some initiatives for the winter season. We have International Mountain Day on December 11. It will be celebrated in a big way because mountain tourism is also a big attraction in Kashmir. We have planned snow carnivals during Christmas and New Year. So we expect that more tourists will visit then,” he said.

WORK KICKS OFF ON SYDNEY’S NEWEST AIRPORT TERMINAL

covid-responseThe new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport has hit another major milestone with construction now underway on the world-class passenger terminal. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today’s announcement marked a significant step in this once-in-a-generation, city-shaping infrastructure project for Western Sydney, and Australia.

 “The delivery of the Western Sydney International Airport proves once again our government’s ability to get things done,” the Prime Minister said.

“The airport will also play a crucial role in the nation’s aviation future, delivering dynamic global connections for the region and opening up even further possibilities for new routes and services.”

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said construction on one of the most significant infrastructure projects in Australia was now around one quarter complete.

“Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, work has continued to progress with nearly 22 million cubic metres of earth now moved to date across the site – which is about three times bigger than the Sydney CBD – and the airport on track to open in late 2026,” Minister Fletcher said. “Today we announce another important milestone has been reached, with work now underway on the new state-of-the-art integrated passenger terminal, which will have the capacity to handle up to 10 million passengers a year once open.

“With this unique opportunity to build an airport from the ground up, we are able to roll out cutting-edge technology to make the passenger experience smoother and easier than at existing airports, and the security systems more effective but less intrusive.

“The new airport will not only be a state-of-the art piece of infrastructure but is an integral element of the surrounding aerotropolis and the broader Western Parkland city.

“In its own right, Western Sydney would be Australia’s fourth largest city and third largest economy, which is why the Morrison Government has committed $14 billion to the airport and vital metro rail and road links that will transform the region.”

Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham said construction of Western Sydney International’s world-leading innovative domestic and international airport had fastened its seatbelt and was ready for take-off.

“One of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects is now visibly taking shape and is delivering long-term jobs and economic benefits to Western Sydney,” Minister Birmingham said.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said the airport would boost economic activity and provide employment opportunities for the Western Sydney region.

“This new airport integrates with our vision for Western Sydney and the future of how people will live, work and travel,” Mr Perrottet said.

AIBC AITTC JOINT EVENT ON AYURVEDA & WELLNESS TOURISM

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Since signing of the MOU, this was the maiden event with AIBC and AITTC sharing a common platform to pursue business opportunities in the sectors of Ayurveda Treatment and Wellness tourism. While Irfan Malik AIBC NSW President welcomed all attendees, Sanjay Muluka, acting Indian Consul General of Sydney made the opening remarks as the host for the event, Sandip Hor Chairman AITTC briefed on tourism opportunities in India particularly in the Wellness sector , Dilip Ghosh, Ayurveda Industry Expert & Adjunct Industry Fellow, NICM (TBC) narrated on Ayurveda & Wellness opportunities in the Australian market and Dr. Venu Vasudevan Additional Chief Secretary, Kerala Tourism via a video message highlighted opportunities in his state.

The highlight of the evening was introducing two emerging businesses – MedCure for Ayurveda medicines and FreeGuides – an app to share travel experiences

VISA CHANGES TO SUPPORT REOPENING OF AUSTRALIA

covid-responseFrom a recent reporting it’s understood that the present Australian government   is undertaking

visa changes to support the reopening of Australia and nation’s economic recovery. The government is making it easier for highly skilled migrants to remain in Australia and to continue working in critical sectors as Australia’s economic recovery continues.

​Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said these measures recognise the contribution of skilled migrants who remained here during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage them to stay in Australia.

“Eligible skilled workers, already in Australia, will continue to support local businesses facing critical shortages, particularly in health, hospitality and our regions,” Minister Hawke said.

“This recognises the economic value-add of these critical workers, and retaining them will greatly assist in Australia’s economic recovery.”

“The changes complement the Government’s recent announcement that fully vaccinated eligible temporary and provisional visa holders may enter Australia without a travel exemption from 1 December 2021,” he said.

These visa changes will improve access to permanent residence for:

  • Existing Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream
  • Legacy Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement.

“This is a special concession recognising those highly skilled migrant workers who chose to stay in Australia throughout the pandemic, while continuing to address Australia’s acute shortages. This allows them to stay here, with a pathway to Australian citizenship,” Minister Hawke said.

“There are currently about 20,000 primary Temporary Skill Shortage and 457 visa holders in Australia who may benefit from these arrangements. Most of these workers are employed in the highest-skilled occupations and the largest cohorts of workers benefiting from these changes include those currently employed in the health and hospitality industries, including many workers in regional Australia,” Minister Hawke said.

The Government will also extend visas for skilled regional (provisional visa) holders (subclass 489, 491 and 494) in recognition that this cohort has been adversely affected by COVID-19 related travel restrictions.​

“Current and expired skilled regional provisional visas will be extended, providing additional time to meet regional work requirements for permanent residence,” Minister Hawke said.

“There are currently around 9,000 skilled regional provisional visa holders overseas. These visa holders can enter Australia from 1 December 2021, and they will also be eligible for an extension of their visa,” he said.

In recognition of ongoing border arrangements, the Government will also extend by a further six-months Visa Application Charge waivers for new Visitor visa applicants overseas where their visa expired, or will expire, between 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2022.

“This measure will support the tourism industry by welcoming back visitors once it is safe to do so,” Minister Hawke said.

The Government has announced further measures to support the return of international students and graduates, bolstering the international education industry by:

  • Allowing Temporary Graduate visa holders, who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions, to apply for a replacement visa;
  • Increasing the length of stay on Temporary Graduate visas in the Masters by Coursework and Vocation Education and Training (VET) streams;
  • ​Simplifying the requirements for Temporary Graduate visa applicants for VET sector graduates; and
  • Extending the existing measure for student and temporary graduates to recognise time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a Temporary Graduate visa application.

These changes are consistent with the National Plan to safely reopen Australia and follow earlier changes which have seen us welcome home fully vaccinated Australians, permanent residents and their immediate family members.

For more information please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

WOMADelaide MUSIC & CULTURAL FESTIVAL

covid-responseFrom 11 to 14 March 2022, Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens will become vibrant and lively  once more with the return of WOMADelaide for its 30th anniversary.

WOMADelaide is a four-day festival of Music, Arts and Dance celebrating cultural and creative diversity and held since 1992 in Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Park / Tainmuntilla. The festival has become a truly unique part of the Australian festival landscape, showcasing the best, the essential – and the surprising – in global music, dance, art and ideas.

The festival pre covid time attracted around 18,000 – 20,000 people per day with over a third of attendees generally coming from interstate and overseas.

Every year, around 500-600 artists from 30+ countries perform on 7 or 8 stages spread across a 34-hectare venue space in Adelaide’s magnificent Botanic Park, ranging from small, intimate stages nestled in the trees, to two major stages that can support large ensemble acts and cater to capacity audiences. The festival also programs large-scale installation works, lively discussion panels, workshops and many other unexpected performance areas, offering a kaleidoscope of experiences and avenues of cultural discovery. During WOMADelaide, Adelaide transforms into a truly global city unmatched anywhere else in Australia.

WOMADelaide offers a rich variety of programming initiatives, including the popular The Planet Talks discussion forum, and the Taste the World food and cooking demonstrations that feature festival artists introducing audiences to the food and culture of their homelands. The KidZone is a dedicated space for children, with nature-play activities, stories, singing, dancing and educational entertainment in a fun and engaging family-friendly environment. The Global Village features over 100 international food, retail and community stalls, and the Healing Village provides a range of relaxation, remedial, and alternative therapies for weary festival bodies.

In celebration of the world music festival’s milestone, the event will feature 30 local and international artists perform in a celebration of music, art and dance from all round the globe including India.

Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) 2022

covid-responseAustralia’s largest tourism trade event, the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), will take place in Sydney in 2022, giving tourism operators around the country a chance to meet and do business with travel wholesalers and agents from Australia and around the world.

In partnership with Destination NSW, the 42nd edition of Tourism Australia’s premier event will take place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney from 15 to 18 May next year and is expected to attract around 1,700 delegates and contribute millions to the local economy.

Building on the success of ATE in 2021, Tourism Australia will again deliver the event in a hybrid format. Following the in-person event at ICC Sydney, ATE Online will run from 24 to 26 May to connect those unable to travel to Australia.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said that as Australia continues its strong recovery from Covid and demand for tourism picks up, ATE will be the ideal opportunity for business.

“As we stick to the National Plan, Australians can be confident about the future as our recovery from Covid continues strongly into 2022. It is going to be a year of great opportunity for Australians, especially our tourism operators,” Mr Tehan said.

“The long-term benefits from ATE are substantial. The relationships and future business it establishes can help grow Australia’s inbound tourism industry, which was worth $45 billion annually pre COVID-19, and will create jobs across the country.”

Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison said after a challenging couple of years for the tourism industry ATE will be more important than ever before to connect buyers and sellers from around the world.

“We know how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the tourism industry and we hope ATE in 2022 will be an important part of the recovery journey which lies ahead for many buyers and sellers,” Ms Harrison said.

“The tradeshow will provide operators with the opportunity to access a wide-ranging network and create valuable links with wholesalers and agents from around the world.”

New South Wales Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, and Minister for Trade and Industry Stuart Ayres said ATE provides New South Wales with the chance to showcase everything the state has to offer and will use the event to support its bold vision to be the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific.

“New South Wales is open for business and we are excited for Sydney to take centre stage and host this very important event for our visitor economy in 2022, especially as we work together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Ayres said.

“Our government is committed to working with commercial partners and visitor economy stakeholders at home and overseas to revitalise the industry, enable its recovery and accelerate growth.”

Applications for ATE 2022 are now open, visit the website for further details.

Tourism Australia’s Sydney Industry Briefing

covid-responseTourism Australia hosted a face to-face industry briefing in Sydney on Monday 13 December. The free-of-charge briefing was held at the Hyatt Regency Sydney and was attended by several tour operators, travel agents, media and industry members.

It was encouraging to know Tourism Australia’s various campaigns and strategies to lure savvy travellers from different source markets including India once the international borders are open.

Inaugural Australia Global Summit

covid-responseThe inaugural Australia Global Summit, hosted by Tourism Australia, took place on Tuesday, 16 November 2021. Over 3500 Aussie Specialists and distribution partners from 64 countries including India joined the online community and attended a three-hour online event that included inspiring keynote speakers, energising storytelling chapters, targeted and informative education sessions, and on-demand content.

The event was opened by Phillipa Harrison Managing Director of Tourism Australia. After attending the very informative sessions a large proportion of the attendees pledged more sale of Australia in the global tourism market.

Post Covid Journey for Tourism in Australia

covid-responseAn exclusive virtual briefing on 14 December from Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment on the current state of travel and tourism in Australia was attended by over 50 from the tourism and media in Australia and India. The Minister’s presentation was very informative and provided insight into how Australia is shaping up to revitalise tourism in the post covid era.

It was encouraging to note that according to a recent research, interest of Indian travelers for Australia is still very high – its estimated around 4 million Indians are keen to visit Australia in the future.  The Minister thankfully responded to multiple questions some of which focused on the broader India – Australia bilateral relationship. During question time Space Tourism was mentioned and maybe it’s worth looking into it as a future avenue.