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Kerala Tourism begins online holiday bid war

The Kerala Tourism department has launched an online bidding game offering holiday packages to the state at virtually no cost. First-ever in the country for a destination, ‘Visit Kerala Bid Wars’ will be played out on the hugely popular Facebook page of Kerala Tourism. The bid, joined by accredited tour operators in the state, will include packages from Rs 8,000 to Rs 78,000. The bid, aimed at domestic travellers, is organised as part of the ‘Visit Kerala 2015′ campaign inaugurated by Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar in the national capital in April. “Kerala Tourism enjoys round-the-year engagement with our huge fan base across the world,” said G Kamala Vardhana Rao, Secretary, Kerala Tourism. “This bidding process is a unique way to acknowledge the bond with each other,” he added. “It will also help us continue our association with our fans by providing an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of being in the place they love,” Rao said. The campaign will be anchored on an online bidding system known popularly as the ‘lowest unique bid’. In this bidding system, the package, which is up for bidding, is won by the person whose bids the lowest as well as unique. If two people bid the same price, that amount will get cancelled. “The online bidding not only carries forward the conversation with our fans, but also takes it to the next level,” said Kerala Tourism Director P I Sheik Pareeth. “The opportunity for our fans to spend a peaceful day on a houseboat in the famed backwaters or stroll in the picturesque tea hills of Munnar will go a long way in consolidating our association with them.” For making the bidding a success, Kerala Tourism has partnered with accredited service providers from the state such as Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, Voyages Kerala, Intersight Holidays, Spice Land Holidays, Cosima Holidays, Dravidian Trails, Indus Holidays, Kerala Travels & Travel Planners. The bid will be active for a few days initially. The winner will be announced for each package soon after it ends and before the next package will be up for bidding.

Karnataka Tourism Minister inaugurates PATA Travel Mart

About 1,100 delegates from 61 participating countries have registered for the 38th PATA Travel Mart 2015, says RV Deshpande, Tourism Minister of Karnataka. The travel mart hosted by Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka is being held at Bangalore International Exhibition Center (BIEC) from September 6-8. This edition of PATA Travel Mart will for the first time have an Investment Forum. Deshpande was speaking after the inauguration of mart. Twelve hotels from the city are the “Official Hotels” as part of the PATA travel mart, which will accommodate these delegates. Extensive media publicity campaign has been launched for the promotion of PATA across the globe by Karnataka Tourism department. PATA Travel Mart is a PATA signature event and a premier travel trade show in the Asia Pacific region.

India’s domestic passenger traffic soared 28.1% in July

India’s domestic demand soared 28.1 per cent in July compared to a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) global passenger traffic results. This surge was likely owing to significant increases in service frequencies and improvements in economic growth. Domestic travel demand rose 7.6 per cent in July compared to July 2014. All markets showed growth with the strongest increases occurring in India and China. Domestic capacity climbed 6.5 per cent, and load factor improved 0.8 percentage points to 83.6 per cent. Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, IATA, says, “Following a strong summer the outlook heading into autumn is unsettled to say the least. While passenger demand remains healthy, air cargo growth turned negative in July. The downward movement in stock markets around the globe reflects investors’ growing concerns about slowing trade and economic growth in emerging economies, as well as China’s continued shift towards domestic markets. Aviation’s connectivity creates economic opportunities and contributes to job creation. Governments looking to shore up consumer confidence and encourage spending should be encouraging greater connectivity by removing barriers to growth such as heavy taxes and charges and infrastructure constraints.”

Kerala Muziris Heritage Project gets PATA Gold

Kerala Tourism was awarded the PATA Gold in the Heritage and Culture category, honouring the state tourism department’s leadership in carrying out the Muziris Heritage Project. Kerala Tourism Secretary, G Kamala Vardhana Rao received the award at the ceremony. The top Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Award for heritage conservation is an honour that highlights the state’s trendsetting efforts in reinventing the millennia-old Spice Route heritage. The international award, which recognises excellence and innovation in global tourism practices, was presented to Kerala Tourism at a glittering awards ceremony held during PATA Travel Mart in Bengaluru. “We are humbled by this huge honour for our state,” says AP Anilkumar, Tourism Minister, Government of Kerala. “The award is an acknowledgement of the initiative to bring back our tradition and history for the sake of the modern generation and through it achieve the goal of growth and development for our people,” he says. ”Muziris Heritage Project is a mammoth conservation undertaking never before attempted in our country in recent times in terms of its size and scale,” says Anilkumar. “This is an award for the community and stakeholders in the state who are involved in the day-to-day work carried out on the ground to preserve our rich heritage.” ”The Muziris Heritage Project is a vital element in the restoration of the historical Spice Route led by Kerala Tourism and supported by the Central government and international organizations like UNESCO,” Rao says.

Soon, visa free entry in Indonesia for Indians

The Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia is contemplating to add India in the list of countries that are extended Visa free entry by the end of October. This was revealed by Arief Yahya, Tourism Minister, Indonesia. Talking about the new development, Yahya said, “We have not done enough for the Indian market till now. We hope this initiative will act as a catalyst that will lead to direct connectivity between the two countries. Our government is going to soon have discussion with India’s Civil Aviation Ministry to have direct flight between the two countries.” The move is expected to push airlines in both the countries to begin direct air connectivity between the two countries, which has been a long-standing demand from the industry. The country will look at adding direct connectivity from New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, Yahya added. Earlier this year, the Indonesian government had rolled out visa free entry to citizens of 45 countries, including Asian markets such as China, Japan and South Korea. Indonesia is now looking to add 48 countries to its list of visa free entry, thus taking the total to 93 countries by the end of this year. Visa-free arrivals are valid for 30 days in the country.

Czech Republic opens VACs in Mumbai, Delhi

The Czech Republic has outsourced its visa application process to VFS Global and has opened two Visa Application Centres (VAC) – one each in Mumbai and New Delhi. Milan Hovorka, Ambassador Designate of the Czech Republic to India and Bhutan, was in Mumbai to inaugurate the VFS Global visa centre in Bandra-Kurla Complex. He said, “We have been recording a growing number of applications for short-term visas from India. In 2014, we received 9,000 applications, which was a 20 per cent increase from 2013. In the first six months of 2015 alone, we processed 7,500 visas.” He revealed that Czech Republic will be part of the annual roadshow that takes place in December. The roadshow is conducted by the European Quartet, comprising countries of the Visegrád Group, namely Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia.

Simplified procedures for minors to get passport

A simplified procedure has been introduced based on large number of representations from parents who are facing difficulties while submitting applications for their children. “The matter has been examined considering all relevant aspects,” says a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India. Government of India has given various options with regard to ‘presence of parents while applying for passports for minor children’. The statement says only copies of passport of the parents of the minor has to be submitted. The genuineness of the passports can be checked at the system. The Ministry has also given out information on the annexures required during the submisison of documents

e-Tourist Visa grows by 839% till Augus

The e-Tourist Visa scheme has brought 1,69,976 visitors to India during January-August, 2015, as compared to a total of 17,120 during the same period in 2014, registering a growth of 892.9 per cent. In August 2015 alone, 22,286 tourists arrived on eTV compared to 2,705 tourists arrived in August last. The percentage increase is 723.9 per cent. The introduction of e-Tourist Visa scheme for 113 countries purportedly attributes for the high boost in numbers. Currently, citizens of 113 countries arriving at 16 airports in India can benefit from the scheme. In terms of percentage share of source countries availing the scheme during August, USA tops the list with 25.93 per cent, followed by Germany (10.00 per cent), UAE (8.92 per cent), France (8.7 per cent), Australia (7.20 per cent), Canada (6.39 per cent), Republic of Korea (4.23 per cent), Japan (3.41 per cent), Russian Federation (2.37 per cent) and Singapore (2.22 per cent). Similarly, New Delhi recorded the highest percentage share of different ports in tourist arrivals with 42.67 per cent, ensued by Mumbai (23.40 per cent), Bengaluru (10.37 per cent), Chennai (9.07 per cent), Kochi (5.44 per cent), Hyderabad (4.21 per cent), Kolkata (2.38 per cent), Trivandrum (1.87 per cent) and Goa (0.58 per cent).

5.1 mn foreign tourist arrivals till Aug 2015

As many as 50.68 lakh foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) were recorded during January-August 2015 as compared to the FTAs of 48.51 lakh, showing a growth of 4.5 per cent. About 5.89 lakh FTAs were recorded during August 2015 as compared to FTAs of 5.76 lakh during August 2014 and 4.86 lakh in August 2013. There has been a growth of 2.3 per cent in August 2015 over the same month last year. The percentage share of FTAs in India during August among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (15.79%) followed by the US (12.52%), UK (9.71%), Sri Lanka (7.25%), Malaysia (3.54%), Germany (2.85%), Japan (2.84%), France (2.78%), Oman (2.46%), China (2.41%), Australia (2.37%), Canada (2.33%), Nepal (2.24%), Singapore (2.00%) and UAE (1.79%). These top 15 countries account for 72.88 per cent of total FTAs during August 2015. Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism in India durign August 2015 were Rs 10,471 crore as compared to Rs 10,385 crore in August 2014 and Rs 8,351 crore in August 2013. The growth rate in FEEs during August 2015 over the same month in 2014 was 0.8 per cent. The Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of data received from Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis of data available from Reserve Bank of India.

Indonesia targets over 2 lakh Indian arrivals in 2015

Indonesia is planning its biggest push for Indian arrivals. The Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia in collaboration with Visit Indonesia Tourism Office (VITO) in India is gearing up to lure international tourists especially from India, by undertaking 2015 Indonesia Sales Mission to India. The event will run from July 28 to 30 in Mumbai and Delhi. India has been included in the top 10 visitors to Indonesia and is one of the primary markets in term of increasing the number of Indian visits increased about 16.23 per cent to 237,990 visits compared to 204,756 visits in 2013. Shelly Chandhok, Country Manager, VITO India, says, “We have seen a tremendous growth in Indian arrivals. This year our target is 250,000.”