ITE HCMC 2018: The Mekong’s Largest Travel Event

saigonThe 14th edition of the International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC) was held from 6-8 Sep 2018 at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center. As the largest and most established annual international travel trade event in the Mekong sub-region, it connected more than 300 local and international travel companies and brands with 300 carefully selected inter-national hosted buyers from 35 countries to drive the thriving inbound and outbound tourism industry.

Visitors and buyers were spoilt for choice with a wide array of travel destinations and options from the exhibitors, which include the Department of Tourism for various Vietnamese provinces, National Tourism and Tourism Promotion Organisations from top travel destinations in Asia, as well as exhibitors from over 10 countries as far-flung as Australia and South Africa.Its estimated around 5000 B2B meetings were held during the exhibition period.

Over 30 DOTs from Vietnamese provinces and cities participated in this year’s ITE HCMC, like Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Danang, Daklak, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Hai Phong, Hanoi, Hue, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong,Long An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Quang Nam, Thua Thien Hue, Tien Giang, Vinh Long, and Vung Tau.

There were booths from India Tourism; Japan National Tourism Organization; Korea Tourism Organization; Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board; Ministry of Information, Culture and Tour-ism, Laos; Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia; Ministry of Tourism of Republic Indonesia; Myanmar Tourism; Nagoya City; Penang Global Tourism; Taiwan Tourism Bureau Bangkok Office; Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Tourism Authority of Thailand

Companies from the tourism hot spots of Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, made their way to the exhibition. Twenty five international hosted members of the media and bloggers from prominent travel, lifestyle, tourism, and broadcast platforms were present. There were several buyers from India with the India Tourism booth receiving much attention

The event also provided attendees ample opportunities to build contacts, foster new relation-ships, and discover new business leads through activities and networking opportunities like the glitzy Opening Ceremony, Interactive Seminars, Presentation on Hot Destinations in Vietnam and the Gala Dinner, which was held at the Sheraton Hotel. Attending the gala dinner were leaders of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and Central Agencies, leaders of 36 provincial and municipal People’s Committee and Departments of Culture, Sports, and Tourism officers of Ho Chi Minh City.

Organised by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Ho Chi Minh City, Department of Tourism and VINEXAD Trade Fair & Advertising JSC, the showpiece was endorsed by the Tourism Alliance of all five countries in the Mekong sub-region- , Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Thailand. It is also endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, Vietnam; and the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City.

Organized by Informa Exhibitions, the event was a great success. According to Jack Wei, General Manager Informa Exhibitions Asia, the hosted buyer and media numbers are testimony to the attractiveness of Vietnam as a travel destination and to the caliber of this event.

There were several volunteers, mostly local students, who tirelessly helped all the guests to make their stay in Ho Chi Minh most enjoyable. They truly did a great job and deserve a big thank you from everyone.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2019 in Varanasi

varanasiIn the new year Varanasi will get a makeover for the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas which will be held 21- 23 January 2019 ahead of the Ardha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. Its theme will be “Role of Indian Diaspora in building a New India”. The mega event will be organised by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in association with Uttar Pradesh government. It will be inau-gurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth….

Indian Union Minister of State for Tourism, K.J. Alphons, informed the Lok Sabha that the government would promote the event globally, and a campaign called “Chalo Kumbh Chalo” will be launched across the country. What’s more, the Kumbh Mela will also get branded in the course of it all: ‘Kumbh 2019’ is the big ad that will greet passengers at all major international airports of the country.

To make it look global, the main town of Varanasi that is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency apart from being an ancient religious centre in the country, will see the development of an area designated for hoisting flags of 192 countries, from where visitors are expected for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

The government has already begun drawing out detailed movement and parking plans for a convenient approach. It has also begun identifying and developing areas where traffic and crowds will be held back during the mela period. Digital signage, placement of dust bins, and building community awareness around Ganga conservation, particularly centering around the Ganga Praharis and Swacchagrahis, have also been rolled out.

The Kumbh Mela, which is typically a religious event wherein the devotees take a dip in the river, will see an extra dose of development, in the form of construction and widening of roads, parking spots, plying of shuttle buses and setting up of toilets and LED light at the venue. In view of the global tourists expected, the government will also set up convention halls and pandals for cultural events, banking services and telecom facilities, Alphons revealed

Foreign Tourist Arrivals to India

foreigntouriseinindiaAs reported in the Business Line-The Hindu, there has been 14 per cent growth in foreign tourists arrivals (FTAs) in India in 2017 as compared to 2016. The total foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) accrued through tourism in 2017 was ₹1,77,874 crore. The information was given by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism K J Alphons in the Lok Sabha on Monday. He said India ranks 26th in the world in arrival of global tourists and is one of the highest growing tourist economies in the world. Meanwhile, since the inception of PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive) in 2014-15, so far 28 sites/destinations in 21 States have been selected for the infrastructure development. Also, total of 24 projects have been sanctioned in 16 States with the approved cost of ₹727.16 crore and an amount of ₹270.24 crore has been released for these projects till date, he said.

Hundred New Airports in India

indianflagIndia plans to construct 100 airports at an estimated cost of USD 60 billion (about Rs 4.2 lakh crore) in the next 10 to 15 years, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said Tuesday.

The country’s aviation sector is one of the fastest-growing in the world and has recorded 50 months of double-digit traffic growth.

As many as 100 new airports would be built in the next 10 to 15 years for about USD 60 billion. These airports are to be constructed through a public-private partnership, Prabhu said.

He said the government is also working on a cargo policy.

According to global airlines’ grouping IATA, India is expected to overtake Germany, Japan, Spain and the UK within the next ten years to become the world’s third largest air passenger market.

Grand reopening of Taj Connemara in Chennai

taj-chennaiTaj Connemara in Chennai , South India’s oldest hotel, has reopened after undergoing a year-long extensive renovation and redesign. Dating back to 1854, the hotel’s legendary history has been brought to life with fresh and modern sensibilities. Over a century old, the Taj Connemara is a proud relic of the colonial era and is named after Lord Connemara, the then Governor of Madras.

Mr. Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), said “Taj Connemara is another jewel in the Taj portfolio of iconic heritage hotels. We are committed to continuing our century-old legacy of restoring historical treasures across the globe for our guests. The newly renovated Taj Connemara draws on the hotel’s illustrious past whilst offering patrons a distinctive, modern and individualistic experi-ence. We are happy to announce that Taj Connemara will resume its place in the cultural heart of Chennai. ”

Taj Connemara’s refreshed design has eclectic architectural influences of Classic Colonial, Art Deco and distinctive elements from the celebrated architect, Geoffrey Bawa’s ‘Tropical Modernism’ style coupled with a timeless refreshing interior design. The hotel’s 147 rooms and suites spread across the Tower and Heritage wings are each appointed with elegant four poster beds, vintage prints and objets d’art. Sensitive preservation of the Art Deco façade and interi-ors will showcase the hotel’s original features including wooden carvings sourced from the 16th and 17th century temples of Mahabalipuram. Unique for a city hotel, guests will enjoy 4.5 acres of landscaped greens and enclosed atrium gardens.

Mr. Ahmar Siddiqui, General Manager, Taj Connemara, Chennai said “Taj Connemara, Chen-nai’s Grande Dame, is the result of the efforts of a team including master craftsmen and arti-sans who have tirelessly and lovingly worked on restoring the city’s legendary landmark to create a world-class hotel. I look forward to extending the warm Taj hospitality to our guests.”

Restaurants and bars at the Taj Connemara shall prove to be attractions in their own right for Chennaites and hotel guests alike. Informal and formal dining choices convey a 19th century club like feel. The Lady Connemara Bar & Lounge — the city’s first licensed bar — reclaims its position as the place to be seen at. Novel culinary experiences showcase nostalgic Anglo-Indian dishes and regional Madras specialties in a relaxed ambience at the all-day-diner Verandah, while the quintessentially Chennai experience Raintree continues to serve authentic Chettinad fare in an alfresco setting.

Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the capital of Tamil Nadu. Recently declared as a Creative City by UNESCO, Chennai is enjoying its place in the spotlight for its many strengths including its cuisine, archi-tecture, culture and musical heritage. The hotel’s concierge team will curate exclusive experi-ences, including heritage tours retracing the city’s colonial past and opportunities to engage with the thriving performing arts scene, textile industry, the Mahabalipuram temple complex declared a UNESCO heritage site and the fragrant and flavourful Tamil street food.

Taste of India Food Festival at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney

tasteofindiaCurry enthusiasts  will soon be able to cherish  the vibrant flavors of southern India’s coastal cuisine at the “A Taste of India” Festival at Café Mix from 18 to 28 October 2018.

 Guest chefs from Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru, who have flown in for the occasion, invite guests to embark on a culinary journey through southern India’s coastal regions, including Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

 South India is renowned for its hot and humid climate and rainfall is as abundant as its supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and rice. Sydneysiders will delight in a bountiful display of the region’s famous fiery dishes, including Chettinadu Chicken Curry, Moova Vankaya Kura and Konju Mappas, to name a few.

 The decadent dessert station boasts the sweetest of finishes, featuring authentic Indian delicacies, including Ada Pradhaman, Elaneer Payasam and Jigarthanda, as well as Executive Pastry Chef Anna Polyviou’s distinctive sweet treats.

 Renowned as the hottest of all Indian food, south Indian cuisine is centered on a fragrant range of whole and freshly ground spices and chilies that are combined with dried fruits, nuts and fresh herbs, creating a unique taste sensation.


Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney’s Executive Chef Hemant Dadlani is thrilled to host the exciting festival focusing on southern Indian food from his homeland.


“We will showcase a diverse range of south Indian dishes that are not readily available at restaurants in Sydney. Our menu overflows with a unique combination of ingredients, including the freshest fish that make this regional cuisine so distinctive,” Dadlani said.


“A Taste of India” is available at Café Mix from 18 to 28 October 2018.  The buffet lunch, from noon to 2:30 p.m., is priced at $65 per person from Saturday to Sunday.  The buffet dinner, from 6 to 10:00 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, is also priced at $65 per person. The seafood buffet dinner is available from 6 to 10:00 p.m., Friday to Saturday, at $85 per person. For bookings, call (02) 9250 6000 or send an email to  For more information,


Merchants of Bollywood returns to Australia

bollywoodThe international smash hit musical returns down under after a successful world tour to feature all the glamour and glitter that is Bollywood with a cast of 30 performers direct from film city Mumbai, the home of Bollywood cinema. A fictional story, yet based on real life, The Merchants of Bollywood will reveal the workings of cinema in this heartfelt story of a young girl, her grandfather and their love of dance. The Merchants of Bollywood comes to Australia to celebrate Diwali 2018. Come and celebrate the Festival of Lights with the world’s number one spectacular.

Since launching fifteen years ago the show has had worldwide success playing to more than 2 million patrons, 4 sold out London shows followed by sell-out performances in the U.S, Europe and South East Asia.

Mark Brady, the producer says “Finally we are bring the production back to Australia and very excited to present in all major capital cities. The glitz, glamour, sheer spectacle, song, dance and romance that we know as ‘Bollywood’. Bangles and beads, swirling colours in costumes and sets, and high-energy music, will excite the senses in this lavish new production that is bigger, bolder, brighter and features all the smash hit songs from the biggest Bollywood blockbusters”.

A theatrical dance spectacular, this dazzling performance features songs from Bollywood blockbusters, 2,500 glittering hand-crafted costumes and an astonishing 5,000 pieces of jewellery.

A fictional story, yet based on real life, “The Merchants of Bollywood” will reveal to the Western audience the workings of cinema and the part it plays in the heart and soul of Indian society in an extraordinary evening of music and dance at the heart of which lies a heartfelt story of a young girl, her grandfather and their love of dance.

Show details are as follows:

Saturday 27th October, 2018 – THE STAR EVENT CENTRE, SYDNEY NSW – Bookings:

Sunday 28th October, 2018 – HAMER HALL, MELBOURNE ARTS CENTRE VIC – Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300136 166 or Arts Centre 1300 182 183

Wednesday 31st October, 2018– THE STAR, GOLD COAST QLD – Bookings:

Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd November, 2018 – QPAC CONCERT HALL, BRISBANE QLD – Bookings: QPAC 136 246

Friday 9th and Saturday 10th November, 2018 – CROWN THEATRE, PERTH WA – Bookings: 136 100

AirAsia launches new services to the holy city of Amritsar

airasiaHoly city of Amritsar, famous for its golden temple is Air Asia ’s newest destination in India.

Operated by Air Asia’s long-haul affiliate, Air Asia X, flight D7188 departed from Kuala Lum-pur on 16 August with Air Asia’s fun team dancing to Bhangra beats while guests and dignitaries on board were treated to traditional Indian Laddu gifts amongst other entertainment in flight as part of the celebrations.

Joining the inaugural festivities were AirAsia X Chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail and Air Asia X Group Head of Commercial Barry Klipp who also held a special press conference in Amritsar together with Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minis-ter Shri Navjot Singh Sidhu.

AirAsia X Chairman Tan Sri Rafidah said, “AirAsia is a pioneer of affordable long-haul travel and we are thrilled to be adding Amritsar to our fast-growing network. With more than 150,000 visitor seats on offer annually, there has never been a better time to visit this leading travel destination and commercial, cultural hub in the heart of Punjab.”

Since 2008, AirAsia has carried more than 19 million passengers across 21 cities in India, including more than 300,000 guests on its long-haul network to New Delhi and Jaipur.

Air Asia X CEO Benyamin Ismail said, “We are excited to bring the Air Asia experience to Amritsar for the very first time. Amritsar is of significant interest to tourists thanks to the Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) and the city’s numerous historic and cultural sites. Following a recent network review, Amristar and other cities in India were identified as being under-served from the Asia Pacific region, particularly when it comes providing affordable long-haul travel. We are confident the new services will prove popular for both tourist and domestic visitors alike.”

The new evening flights D7188 and D7189, departing Kuala Lumpur and Amritsar brings the number of Air Asia Group services between Malaysia and India to 85 weekly.
Guests from 15 cities including Bali, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and Bangkok will be able to connect (via Kuala Lumpur) to Amritsar alongside existing routes to New Delhi and Jaipur using Air Asia’s Fly-Thru service, ensuring a seamless and hassle free connecting air travel experience.

AirAsia now serves a total of 22 Indian cities – Amritsar, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Kochi, New Delhi, Guwahati, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Imphal, Bagdogra, Chandigarh, Ran-chi, Jaipur, Chennai, Nagpur, Pune, Surat, Srinagar, Tiruchirappalli and Visakhapatnam.

Sikkim’s first airport at Pakyong

sikkim-airportPrime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first greenfield airport of Sikkim at Paykong on September 24, 2018. Sikkim’s dream of having an airport came true nine years after a foundation stone for it was laid here, around 33 km from state capital Gangtok, in 2009. The first commercial flight from Pakyong would begin from October 4. Set to pave the way for direct connectivity to Sikkim, Pakyong airport is the 100th airport of the country. Located around 60 km from the Indo-China border, the airport is spread across over 201 acres and is located on the top of a hill about 2 km above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level, Sikkim Chief Secretary A K Srivastava said.

More immigration, e-visa counters added at Delhi’s IGI airport to save time

igi-airportRecently reported that passengers travelling via Delhi airport, will no longer have to waste time queuing up or walking 10 minutes to complete security checks.

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport has expanded and renovated its ‘domestic to international’ transfer area to cater to more passengers and help them save time. It will be ready for passenger use by the end of this month, airport officials said. Delhi airport is one of the world’s top 20 busiest airports. It is also the seventh busiest in Asia. Last year, the airport handled 63.5 million passengers.

The newly expanded area has extended immigration and e-visa counters to save time. Earlier, domestic passengers travelling abroad had to walk up one level to the departure area of airport to complete security check after immigration. The same can now be completed inside the transfer area, once immigration clearance is complete, said officials from airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL).