New Website Helps Travelers Find Someone to Travel With

gopalNew website GoPal ( meets this need by matching like-minded travelers using criteria such as gender, age, interests and destination. The brainchild of avid traveler Bruce Southerden, GoPal launched in December last year and already has hundreds of members from all over the world.

Membership is free and open to everyone, anywhere, not just singles. Nor are members limited to finding just one companion at a time or a companion in their own city or country.

GoPal isn’t a dating site”, says Southerden, based in northern NSW, “and it’s not just about saving money or sidestepping single supplements. “It’s about tapping into a world of other travelers who also want someone to travel with, so that you can feel safe and free to travel anywhere, anytime and anyhow – independently, on cruises, on group tours. Our mission is to help people realise their dreams, live fuller lives and be healthier and more active.”

GoPal also offers special travel discounts from some of the world’s best-known travel companies – including, Expedia, Agoda, Webjet, G Adventures, Contiki, Princess Cruises and P&O, Emirates, Virgin, Accor, Intercontinental, Avis and many more. Another benefit of booking travel through GoPal is that one per cent of all travel bookings are donated to certified environmental organisations through US-based not-for-profit 1% for the Planet.

Since launching GoPal has already gained over 600 members from around the world. “We have taken a lot of care to make it genuine and comfortable for everyone and it seems certain to grow in coming months” adds Southendren.

India ranks 12th of all Asian cruise destinations

rankIts recently reported that India ranks 12th of all Asian cruise destinations with just 2 per cent of Asia’s total calls, according to a latest report titled ‘Asia Cruise Trends’ commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). India hosted 120 calls at its various ports in 2018, a 6 per cent decline from 2017. 88 of those calls are Transit, or 73 per cent of the total.

Mumbai sees the most calls at 48, followed by 32 in Cochin. India’s five year CAGR and five-year growth are 6 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively

Medical Tourism in India

medical-tourismThe estimated Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in the country on Medical purpose during the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 are 233918, 427014 and 49556 respectively.

Foreign Exchange Earning (FEE) through medical tourism in India is not available, separately. However, provisional estimates of FEEs through tourism as a whole during 2015, 2016 and 2017 were US $ 21.013 billion, US $ 22.923 billion and US $ 27.310 billion respectively.

The major source countries from where foreign tourists arrived in India on medical purpose are Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Maldives and Oman

Ginger Hotel in Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir

gingerGinger Hotels are operated by Roots Corporation Limited a subsidiary of The Indian Hotels Company Limited, which owns and operates the elite and famous Taj Hotels and Resorts. A revolutionary concept in hospitality, Ginger prides itself in its ability to enable its guests to switch seamlessly between work and play. Fortified with a pan India presence of 45 hotels across 32 cities with another 13 under development, Ginger energizes enterprising Indians in their journeys with a hospitality experience that provides comfort and convenience.

The group is now planning ahead to open a property in Srinagar lies in the Kashmir valley on the banks of the river Jhelum and is known for its vast expanses of greenery, waterfronts and houseboats. Famed for its snow-capped mountains surrounding the serene Dal Lake, Srinagar is a key leisure market and has been a popular destination on the global traveller’s list.

When operational sometime this year, Ginger Srinagar will have 64 comfortable rooms including 9 suites offering a seamless stay experience for guests. The hotel is located at Barzulla, and is a comfortable drive from the airport and key tourist spots like Dal Lake, Shalimar Bagh, Pari Mahal, Shankaracharya Temple and Jama Masjid. The hotel is a management contract and is slated to commence operations in 2019.

It will be second Ginger Hotel in the state, the first one in Katra near Jammu – the gateway town for visit to the famous Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple


With the addition of this hotel, The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) will have 4 hotels across its brands Vivanta and Ginger in Jammu & Kashmir.

Accor – ibis debuts in Kolkata

accorAccor Hotels has announced the opening of the 189-room ibis Kolkata Rajarhat, marking the debut of the brand in the City of Joy, Kolkata. This is the group’s 50th property in India, taking the brand’s total inventory in the country to over 3,000 rooms. At the recent launch, the multinational hospitality company also announced the arrival of a new strategy for the ibis brand, designed keeping in mind the demands of today’s travellers.

Speaking at the launch, Jean-Michel Cassé, COO, Accor Hotels, India and South Asia, said, “The ibis brand and hotels in India have been successful in integrating into the hearts of Indians and our partnership with Inter Globe Hotels has been integral to this success. Last year we launched ibism, a campaign curated specially for guests and employees and now with the launch of ibis Kolkata Rajarhat, we start a new revolution in the space of in-demand economy hotels.”

Also speaking on the occasion, JB Singh, President and CEO, Inter Globe Hotels, said, “We are thrilled to mark our presence in this city with ibis Kolkata Rajarhat, the first internationally branded economy hotel in Kolkata. The manner in which the city has endured persistently is not only demonstrative of its strength and resilience, but also indicates its potential going forth.”
ibis Kolkata Rajarhat features 2,457 sqft of a pillar-less meeting space that can further be divided into three smaller rooms with a capacity for up to 250 guests. Other facilities include Spice It, the multi-cuisine restaurant; a web corner with work stations as well as a 24-hour gymnasium.

India’s longest railroad bridge in Assam

largest-bridgeIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2018 inaugurated the country’s longest rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra River at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh in Assam.

He dedicated the 4940m long double-decker bridge to the nation from the south bank of the river.

The strategically important bridge, which begins at Dibrugarh and ends at Dhemaji districts of Assam, will remove communication bottlenecks to several districts of Arunachal Pradesh and aid to boost tourism to the North East frontier of India.

This crossover will reduce road distance from Dibrugarh in Assam to Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh by 150 km and the rail distance between these two points by 705 km

Tourist arrivals in India through visa on arrival increases at 120.99%

indiatourAs per report in the ‘Breaking News’ the tourist arrivals through visa on arrival increased at a CAGR of 120.99 per cent during 2010-17 to reach 1,697,175 tourists in 2017, as per a Tourism and Hospitality by IBEF. Indian government has also released a fresh category of visa – the medical visa or M visa, to encourage medical tourism in India. Foreign tourist arrivals for medical purpose increased from 427,014 in 2016 to 495,056 in 2017(P). In June 2016, the Indian government approved 150 countries under the visa on arrival scheme, including Australia, to attract additional foreign tourists.

Disney’s Frozen – The Broadway Musical to premiere in Sydney

icedisneyIf anyone from India planning to visit down under next year, note that ‘Disney Frozen – The Broadway Musical’ will be presented at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from July 2020 to January 2021. If in Sydney during that period, it will be a great opportunity enjoy one of the most highly acclaimed and sought after musicals currently in production.

It’s based on the phenomenally successful feature film that has delighted audiences globally.

“The movie has a cult following, it is a global cultural sensation, and we are thrilled to have secured the musical adaptation for Sydney. It’s yet another example of this Government’s commitment to building a world-class calendar of events for NSW”, said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

“The seven month season of Disney Frozen – The Broadway Musical is expected to attract more than 73,000 visitors and deliver more than $46 million in visitor expenditure to NSW,” Mr Marshall said NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall.

AccorHotels Official Accommodation Partner of the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival

mardigraFor the second consecutive year, Accor Hotels is proud to announce the title of Official Accommodation Partner of the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, one of the city’s iconic event.

To celebrate, Accor Hotels has enlisted the help of ‘Shebeast’, the apt drag name of Gavin Loveday, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park’s Associate Director of Sales and Marketing, to paint rainbow crossings across two of Sydney’s most renowned LGBTI+ friendly hotels.

A 3 meter rainbow crossing will be painted on the driveway of Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, the starting point of the Mardi Gras parade on March 2, located on Oxford Street. Pullman Sydney Hyde Park has deep roots within the LGBTI+ community, renowned for hosting their annual ‘Rainbow Lounge’ Mardi Gras pre-parade party.

Celebrated for their active ‘yes’ stance during the 2017 Same Sex Marriage Vote by transforming its 10 meter roof-top ‘Novotel’ sign to read YES-Vote-l, Novotel Sydney Darling Harbor will also make a splash with a rainbow painted crossing across their driveway in celebration of Accor Hotels’ partnership of the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.

In addition to the colourful painted crossings, Accor Hotels will host an array of Mardi Gras Festival talent at its hotels and invite all its Sydney CBD hotels to animate their lobbies with activation’s and external signage displays throughout the festival from 15 February to 4 March.

Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer Accor Hotels Pacific said the announcement was a momentous occasion for the group’s commitment toward embracing diversity and inclusion.

“We are incredibly proud to once again partner with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival. After seeing how much pride and joy our partnership last year brought to both our team members and guests, it was without doubt that we would show our support as Official Accommodation partner in 2019.

“As Australia’s largest hotel group, we are proud to take a leadership role in championing diversity and inclusivity. For us, accepting diversity is not enough. Instead, we celebrate and encourage the diversity of our people and guests each day. Embracing diversity and equal opportunities, leads to a positive and productive workforce which ultimately results in career development, greater debate, decision-making and outcomes for our business, Australia’s hospitality industry and boarder society.”

Accor Hotels was announced a finalist in the LGBTI Awards 2018. The hotel group is a proud supporter of a number of key LGBTI+ events and initiatives, including, Pride Marches, Pride Games, supporting marriage equality and celebrating an internal Inclusion and Diversity Week.

Australian Tourism Exchange 2019

ateThe Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), Australia’s premier tourism trade event, is returning to Perth in 2019. ATE19, which is managed by Tourism Australia and proudly co-hosted by Tourism WA, will take place from April 8-12, 2019 (and the ATE Media Program from April 6-9, 2019) at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

ATE is the largest tourism trade show of its kind in the southern hemisphere, attracting around 650 international and domestic buyers and 70 media, from more than 30 countries. The event will also bring approximately 1,500 sellers from more than 550 companies to Perth. For 40 years, ATE has provided a forum for Australian tourism businesses to showcase their products, meet overseas contacts and negotiate business deals.

ATE19 will also give the international travel trade the chance to experience firsthand WA through the extensive familiarisation (famils) program run by Tourism WA. The program will see more than 500 delegates travel across Western Australia, taking in some of the extraordinary experiences. Tourism WA will also be running a famils program in conjunction with Tourism Australia for international media.

The event is expected to deliver around $9 million to the State’s economy and in the long term help to grow Australia’s $100 billion tourism industry through the relationships and future business established at ATE.

This is the fourth time ATE has been hosted in Western Australia. It was first held in Perth in 2005, and again in 2008 and 2012. The most recent ATE was held in Adelaide, South Australia. View a clip of ATE18.

Visit Tourism Australia’s website  for more information.