AKASA AIR PARTNERS WITH DREAMFORLKS FOR LOUNGE ACCESS

As reported by travelbizmonitor.com, Akasa Air which now flies to 17 cities operating over 900 weekly flights across India has introduced departure lounge access for its customers across select airports in the country, in partnership with DreamFolks Services Limited, India’s largest airport lounge access aggregator. The service, available at a fee, is designed to offer Akasa Air customers the choice to access airport departure lounges for greater comfort and a seamless travel experience.

DreamFolks operates in 54 lounges across India, and with this new partnership with Akasa Air, flyers can enjoy access to the lounges in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Guwahati, Agartala, Lucknow, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar. Flyers can purchase the lounge access up to 12 hours prior to departure on Akasa Air’s website and mobile app. Progressively, the service will be made available for purchase across more destinations. Lounge access rates per passenger will vary from city to city and is available at the time of booking on www.akasaair.com and app.

Second G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting concludes successfully

The 2nd meeting of Tourism Working Group (TWG) under India’s G20 Presidency successfully concluded today. The 3-day meeting, held in Siliguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal, witnessed engaging discussions among the participating delegations from G20 members, guest countries and invited International Organisations on the five priority areas of TWG viz. Green Tourism, Digitalisation, Skills, Tourism MSMEs and Destination Management.

The meeting was inaugurated by Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region Shri G. Kishan Reddy and Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Shri John Barla. Shri Reddy, during his address, reiterated India’s commitment to ensuring sustainable and responsible growth of tourism-sector in the country and highlighted key initiatives of the Government of India for making India a seamless, modern and smart tourism destination. Welcoming the foreign delegates to India, Shri Barla noted with satisfaction that “Empowering youth with skills for jobs and entrepreneurship in tourism sector” features among the five priority pillars of the TWG under India’s G20 Presidency.

During the working sessions, G20 delegates deliberated and focussed on a potential roadmap which would link Tourism-sector with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and would leverage tourism-development for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It may be recalled that “Accelerating progress on SDGs” is among the key priorities of India’s G20 Presidency. The delegates also held detailed discussions on each of the five priority areas of TWG, while sharing their experiences, best practices and learnings from initiatives and policies of their respective countries.

On the sideline, G20 delegates participated in a panel discussion which focussed on development of “Adventure Tourism” and its transformative power in achieving SDGs. Case studies from UK, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Japan, Brazil as also from the Indian state of Uttarakhand were presented during the panel discussion.

As part of “Janbhagidari” and aimed at highlighting vast tourism-potential of the region, G20 delegates flagged-off a Himalayan Drive Car Rally in Siliguri. They visited the historic Makaibari Tea Estate in Kurseong, the world’s first tea factory and also experienced a ride of the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy Train), a UNESCO World Heritage site.

TOURIST ARRIVALS IN INDIA

There were 10.93 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during pre-pandemic year 2019. Tourism Industry has shown good signs of revival after Covid-19 pandemic. According to latest information received from Bureau of Immigration, India received 6.19 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during 2022 as compare to 1.52 million during the same period of 2021.

Ministry of Tourism, Government of India under its Schemes of Swadesh Darshan, PRASHAD and Assistance to Central Agencies, provides central financial assistance to State Governments/ Union Territories/Central Agencies for development of tourism related infrastructure and facilities in the country to provide an enriching tourism experience to visitors in a planned and phased manner.

The Ministry of Tourism has set up a 24×7 Multi-Lingual Tourist Info-Helpline on the toll free number 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 in 12 Languages including 10 international languages (German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic), Hindi & English for domestic and foreign tourists to provide support service in term of information relating to Travel in India and to offer appropriate guidance to tourists in distress while travelling in India.

The Ministry of Tourism has taken several initiatives to give boost to the tourism sector in the country and to increase foreign tourist arrivals, details of which are:

  • Launched Dekho Apna Desh initiative with the objective of creating awareness among the citizens about the rich heritage and culture of the country and encourage citizens to travel within the country.
  • Conducting Programmes under the ‘Capacity Building for Service Providers’ (CBSP) Scheme to train and up-grade manpower to provide better service standards.
  • Launched Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification Programme, a digital initiative that aims at creating an online learning platform with the objective of creating a pool of well trained professional tourist facilitators across the country to support tourists.
  • 24×7 toll free Multi-Lingual Tourist Helpline.
  • Providing facility of e-Visa for 5 sub-categories i.e. e-Tourist visa, e-Business visa, e-Medical visa, e-Medical Attendant visa and e-Conference visa for nationals of 166 countries.
  • E-Visa has been further liberalized and the visa fee has been substantially reduced.
  • New mountain peaks have been opened for Mountaineering/Trekking to give boost to adventure tourism in the country.
  • Lowering of GST on hotels rooms with tariffs of ₹1,001  to ₹7,500/night to 12%; those above ₹7,501 to 18% to increase India’s competitiveness as a tourism destination.
  • On the recommendation of the Ministry of Tourism, 59 tourism routes have been awarded to the identified airlines by the Ministry of Civil Aviation under the RCS UDAN Scheme, for which Ministry of Tourism extends financial support in form of VGF (Viability Gap Funding). 51 of these routes have been operationalized till date.
  • In order to boost visitor arrival, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has declared “Incredible India! Visit India Year 2023”.

G20 meetings are being held at 55 destinations throughout the country. The infrastructure at these cities are being augmented and upgraded for the G20 meetings.

Tourism offerings are being highlighted in run up to these meetings. Excursion of Delegates is also organised to nearby tourist attractions. Effort is being made to make G20 Delegates visiting these destinations are going back to their countries as tourism ambassadors. Important tourism sites and facilities are being upgraded to international standards.

This reply was given by Minister of Culture, Tourism and Development of North-Eastern Region Shri G Kishan Reddy in Rajya Sabha yesterday.

Destination Australia Conference

Tourism Australia hosted the annual Destination Australia conference on Thursday 16 March 2023 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney.

The event, themed ‘Come and Say G’day’, celebrated the opportunities for the future of Australian tourism and was followed by a networking event aboard The Jackson on Sydney Harbour.

As per Tourism Australia Come and Say G’day, 2023 is all about driving international tourism demand back to Australia. There is lots of opportunity from a world that is finally open, but there are also lots of challenges from a hyper competitive international landscape with evolving consumer preferences.

Industry leaders and topic experts shared evolving trends and talked about key areas of focus, including accessibility, inclusion, Indigenous and sustainability.

The Western Australian (WA) Government’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism visit India.

In continuation with Western Australia Government’s India Mission in July 2022 state’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, Hon Roger Cook visited India in March to attend the CAPA India Aviation Summit in New Delhi to discuss establishing a direct flight from India to Perth. This reaffirms The Western Australian (WA) Government’s commitment to India.

The two-day visit continues the momentum gained during the earlier visit  in July 2022, with the state’s tourism body meeting with key officials of top airlines as Western Australia looks to develop direct aviation connections between the two destinations to boost visitation.

Minister Cook said he was hopeful a direct flight would be established between India and Perth.

“India is a priority market for Western Australia, and we continue to work with our valued airline partners to further build and grow our aviation capacity between our two regions,” Minister Cook said.

“With the growing diaspora of Indians in Western Australia, the key focus is to tap into the ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives’ market and encourage travellers from India to stay longer and explore more of Western Australia.

“India represents an enormous growth opportunity for Western Australia’s visitor economy, and direct air connectivity would provide an uplift to both the Indian and Western Australian tourism industries.

“Airlines that currently fly to Perth play a critical role in connecting the destinations, however, India is one of Western Australia’s largest markets that remains unserved by a direct airline service.

“The Western Australian Government is committed to working with the Indian tourism and aviation sectors, as well as Perth Airport, to secure more aviation connections to India.”

The number of Indian visitors to Western Australia, the largest state of Australia, has grown in recent years.

In 2019, India represented Western Australia’s 11th largest tourism market by visitor numbers, with more than 30,000 travellers from India visiting the state.

More recently, India has grown to be Western Australia’s fourth-largest international market for visitor numbers in 2023.

The WA Government, through Tourism Western Australia, is cementing the state’s reputation as the Western Gateway to Australia, by investing heavily in tourism and aviation.

 

DESTINATION VICTORIA 2023

Destination Victoria 2023 is Visit Victoria’s annual conference celebrating the opportunities that await Victoria’s visitor economy.

Destination Victoria will bring together Victoria’s tourism, events and hospitality industries at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 16-17 May.

Master of Ceremonies and journalist, Karina Carvalho, will lead a stellar line-up of inspirational leaders, industry experts and Victorian operators.

 

Register today.

Destination NSW appoints new Country Manager for India

Destination NSW is strengthening its presence in India, one of the state’s top inbound markets, with the appointment of a new country manager – Mr Samar Chokshi.

Mr Chokshi joins Destination NSW from Tourism Australia in India, where he spearheaded a range of high-impact initiatives to boost Australia’s appeal to leisure and business travellers.

Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox welcomed Mr Chokshi to the team.

“We are delighted to have a professional of Samar’s calibre joining Destination NSW to help turbocharge the growth of the Indian market to NSW.

“His track record in promoting Australia as a destination in India is outstanding – as are his relationships with stakeholders’ right across the Indian travel and tourism sector,” Mr Cox said.

“Samar’s appointment and strategic partnerships to grow airline capacity and open new markets underscore the importance of India to NSW and our commitment to ensuring Sydney and NSW are well positioned for success.”

Mr Chokshi said he was excited to promote NSW and Sydney to potential travellers in India.

“NSW and Sydney have such a rich, diversity of experiences and landscapes that are highly appealing to Indian nationals and prospective visitors to Australia. Sydney and surrounds plus the many stunning regions will be a key focus for our Sydney-Plus strategy in India,” Mr Chokshi said.

DESTINATION NSW WORKSHOP BOOSTS 21 NSW VISITOR ECONOMY BUSI-NESSES

Twenty-one NSW businesses recently showcased their visitor experiences to key domestic and international travel buyers at the annual Destination NSW New Product Workshop.

The New Product Workshop provided a platform for NSW visitor economy businesses to meet with buyers including inbound tour operators, domestic wholesalers and online travel agents.

The workshop is part of the NSW First Program, a capability-building program delivered by Destination NSW to help businesses in the visitor economy develop, promote and sell visitor experiences.

Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox said the New Product Workshop facilitated more than 500 buyer appointments.

“The New Product Workshop was a valuable opportunity to introduce new distribution-ready NSW visitor experiences to inbound tour operators and online travel agents from domestic and international markets,” he said.

Among the new visitor experiences showcased at the workshop were:

  • 9 new stays and experiences less than two hours from Sydney
  • 6 agritourism experiences and stays
  • 11 new regional NSW accommodation options for international guests, suited for road trips
  • 10 experiences and attractions in or close to NSW cruise ports
  • 7 experiences operating in NSW National Parks
  • 3 businesses eco-certified with Ecotourism Australia
  • 6 accommodation providers and 6 experiences on the Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Drive
  • 1 new multi-day rail journey experience provider
  • New experiences at the Art Gallery NSW following the opening of its new building
  • All the businesses that participated in the workshop had attended NSW First Inbound Strategy and Seller Training workshops previously and received assistance from Destination NSW to prepare them to distribute the visitor experiences they offer through online and international travel distribution networks.

Navigate Expeditions owner Jess Taunton said: “Attending this one-day event has opened a whole world of possibility and opportunity for our small business in regional NSW.

“I couldn’t recommend this event more. Even if you have worked in tourism for years, you’ll still find new information and meeting the team at Destination NSW is vital to putting your product forward on the international stage.”

Callubri Station owner Angela Armstrong said: “The NSW First program provides an incredible platform for regions that are ‘off the beaten track’ to reach an international market that would otherwise be challenging to get a foothold in.

“As an outback business in a rural area this training has been instrumental not only for our own development but also to grow our regional tourism network. The collaborative approach to product development and support through this program has been a constant source of encouragement and invigoration for our team.”

Canyonleigh Retreat Director Kushhma Chand said: “The New Product Workshop has put NSW and Canyonleigh Retreat on the global stage and we can already see the growth spurt our business is likely to experience in future.”

Indian Delegation at the Business Events Australia

In April, host city Sydney designed an itinerary that highlighted Sydney’s harbour for the Business Events Australia Asia Mega Famil Showcase as Business Events Sydney (BESydney) and its industry partners provided a first-hand update for 50 influential planners and media from Asia.

Delegates from India, Greater China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore toured Sydney for three days kicking off with a special Aussie welcome at Taronga Zoo’s spectacular Gili Rooftop followed by a sneak preview of the Zoo’s new Nura Diya Australia precinct which weaves in Cammeraygal Country storytelling with indigenous animal encounters and a surprise-filled official Welcome dinner at the Harbourfront Seafood Restaurant. The Jackson, Sydney’s newest luxury yacht venue, continued the harbour theme with a gala dinner on the water the following day after business networking sessions. The Art Gallery of NSW showed off its recently opened North Building wing venues and Royal Randwick Racecourse did the same for the new flexible entertainment and hosting spaces at the WINX Stand, while the Handa Opera’s Madama Butterfly on the harbour concluded the Sydney experience in grand style.

The 12-person Indian delegation was also treated to a regional tour exploring Port Stephens and the Hunter Valley, experiencing the diverse culinary and nature offerings, from dolphins, koalas and stunning sand dunes to wine, cheese, chocolate and gin tasting. The return to Sydney saw the group tapping into their sporty side at the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground, the site of many legendary clashes between our two countries with a private tour and meet and greet with Australian one-day cricket legend, Michael Bevan, and then upping the adrenalin with a Harley Davidson ride to Bondi.

Vivid Sydney from Friday 26 May to Saturday 17 June

Australia’s largest event and the pioneer of light-based art and culture festivals in the Asia-Pacific region has assembled some of the world’s most innovative artists, talented music makers and thought leaders as part of its 2023 line-up, which also recognises the significant contribution of First Nations peoples and cultures to the creative industries.

Inspired by the master of all creators, Mother Nature, this year’s theme, ‘Vivid Sydney, Naturally’, is reflected across all of the 300+ activations and events that make up the 23-day program.

Vivid Sydney Light Walk’s signature Sydney Opera House Lighting of the Sails will see the vibrant works of one of Australia’s most famed artists, John Olsen, brought to life as a spectacular tribute to his illustrious artistic career of more than 60 years. Life Enlivened (2023) will include Olsen’s evocative Salute to Five bells (1971–73) mural commissioned especially for the Northern Foyer of Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall, as well as other artworks spotlighting Olsen’s fascination with Australian landscapes and nature.

The Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House line-up will feature more than 40 Australian and international artists. José González, Yaeji, Ella Mai, Cat Power, Devonté Hynes and many more will take to the stages of the world-famous building in a program curated by Sydney Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music Ben Marshall.

The Vivid Music program will spotlight First Nations and Australian voices this year. The late Archie Roach AC will be celebrated with an incredible night of performances with the late artist’s long-time friends and collaborators and special appearances by members of Archie’s family. There will also be 12 nights of free music at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour featuring Yothu Yindi, Dan Sultan, cult Japanese artist Cornelius and many more.

British author and “master of her material” Jeanette Winterson features at Vivid Ideas and will reflect on questions of identity, sexuality, religion and more to unpack the idea of nature in LIFE AND MARS: The Future of Human.

And for the first time, Vivid Sydney’s brand-new pillar – Vivid Food – will broaden the creative spotlight from Light, Music and Ideas to include culinary favourites and innovative food events. Work up an appetite for a fusion of street food; a barbecue of epic proportions with legendary pitmasters for Vivid Fire Kitchen at the Cutaway at Barangaroo; fine-dining experiences; and the return of 2022’s sell-out Vivid Sydney Dinner at the Ivy Ballroom, a special feast by esteemed Sydney chefs Ben Greeno and Danielle Alvarez.

Vivid Sydney Festival Director Gill Minervini said Vivid Sydney has come of age and has evolved into a progressive and inclusive event that celebrates the best of an expanded definition of the creative industries in 2023.

“Vivid Sydney is the original festival of light, art and culture. 2023 is the 13th time it has been staged and so it has naturally evolved over time to ensure that it stays relevant to the creative industries and what that means to people today,” Ms Minervini said.

“We are truly proud of this year’s program. We have raised the bar on the size and scale of the events and activated new parts of the city. Our line-up features more diverse talent across more industries.

“There are world-firsts and festival-firsts, and both free and ticketed events to make the festival accessible to everyone. Audiences should be prepared to be blown away by the calibre of talent and a program that has been inspired by the beauty and diversity of nature.

“Vivid Sydney’s 2023 program is a celebration of authenticity, an invitation to connect, and a chance to create. You do not want to miss Vivid Sydney 2023.”

Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox said Vivid Sydney was the biggest and most loved annual event in the NSW calendar and would once again in 2023 inject energy and vibrancy into the entire ecosystem of the state’s visitor economy.

“Each year visitors and Sydneysiders immerse themselves in the program and enjoy the incredible activations of the talented creatives who make the festival so special,” Mr Cox said.

“Last year Sydney welcomed a record 2.58 million attendees who injected $119 million into the NSW visitor economy across the festival footprint. It is our expectation that, with its exciting new program and more international travellers returning to our shores, Vivid Sydney 2023 will elevate the experience for our visitors and deliver even more visitor expenditure to the NSW economy”

Staged across Sydney’s city centre, Vivid Sydney festival locations include Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Walsh Bay, Barangaroo, King Street Wharf, Darling Har-bour, Darling Quarter, Darling Square, The Goods Line, Central Station, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Carriageworks, Taronga Zoo and more.