Visit Sweden, Sweden’s official tourism board, has partnered with Airbnb to turn the entire country into an Airbnb listing. And the best part is - you don’t have to officially book accommodation because all publicly owned land is entirely free and accessible to everyone.
Every lake is your infinity pool, every mountaintop your granite terrace, every meadow becomes a garden and every forest a pantry filled with mushrooms and berries. Feel free to take a morning jog or bike ride across open fields or trek through challenging mountain terrain. Should you want an upgrade, you do not need to ask anyone, just find the best location that suits you and your mood.
Jenny Kaiser, USA Country Manager at Visit Sweden said, “This is made possible thanks to a Swedish right guaranteed by the constitution - freedom to roam. This right enables the Swedish people to experience nature and enjoy the beautiful Swedish wildlife. In Sweden we have everything from high mountains to deep forests, from beautiful archipelagos to quiet meadows. Now, together with Airbnb, we welcome everyone to Sweden and, through freedom to roam, they can share our wonderful nature.”
Freedom to roam allows everyone and anyone to be free amidst Swedish nature with the right to access, walk, cycle, or camp on any land. Only private gardens and lands under cultivation are an exception to the rule. The idea of free nature accessible to anyone is in the DNA of every Swede, but with great freedom comes responsibility. The general rule for spending time in nature is “do not disturb, do not destroy” – just like in any other home.
James McClure, General Manager Northern Europe, Airbnb said, “We are very excited to welcome Sweden on Airbnb for everyone to explore. This partnership is a first of its kind collaboration between a tourism board and Airbnb. It is designed to promote Sweden as a destination through the power of the Airbnb community which is perfectly placed to showcase the many extraordinary locations to stay throughout the country.”
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has opened the doors to the first Kimpton outside of the Americas, in Europe. The Kimpton De Witt opens in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants introduced the boutique hotel concept to the United States when it opened in San Fransisco in 1981. Out to help people live full, balanced lives, Kimpton aims to inspire with touches like yoga mats in every room, complimentary coffee and tea to start the day, hosted evening Wine Hour, in-room fitness programming and complimentary bike rentals.
Sudeep Jain, Vice President - Development, South West Asia, IHG said, “The concept of lifestyle hotels is about stimulating a diverse, innovative environment enhanced by a sense of belonging and style. It is encouraging to see the signature Kimpton experience being introduced to Europe. Lifestyle hotels have been trending for over twenty years, and now is the right time to accelerate our growth in India through the lifestyle segment.”
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants was acquired by IHG in 2015. IHG announced the further expansion of the brand across Europe with its second Kimpton hotel set to open in Paris in 2020. There are currently over 60 Kimpton hotels and more than 70 Kimpton restaurants, bars and lounges in 33 cities across Europe and the Americas.
The Kimpton De Witt carries Kimpton’s bold and playful design. Inspired by Dutch heritage with Kimpton's signature wit, its spirited edge is immediately evident from the striking ‘living wall’ of vibrant florals and botanicals trailing the entrance. It marries the old and the new – a late 20th century building with architecture from the Dutch Golden Age – interlocking modern luxury and historical elegance.
The hotel’s 274 rooms, which include 9 signature suites in the original Golden Age buildings, are inspired by Dutch design, from a modern take on classic Dutch art in the bedrooms to the blue Delft-inspired tiles paving the bathroom floors. Within the property stands a three-storey ‘Little House,’ which dates back to the 1600s and was once the childhood home of the Dutch playwright, P.C. Hooft. Little House can be rented for groups looking for the luxury of a private abode; it offers two king-sized rooms and a first floor living room. Kimpton De Witt’s signature suite, Penthouse De Witt, is split over two storeys and its 30-square metre roof terrace offers spectacular views of the city and the iconic canal house rooftops.
The hotel, which is in the heart of Amsterdam’s vibrant city centre and near the city’s Centraal Station, marks a milestone for IHG as it brings the Kimpton brand to Europe for the first time. Angela Brav, CEO, Europe, IHG said, “Europe was the original inspiration behind Bill Kimpton founding the brand and now we’re bringing the brand home again. Opening in Amsterdam, gives us the perfect opportunity to indulge in the playful, creative and innovative approach to luxury that the city inspires in Kimpton’s unique and special way. Amsterdam as a city is effortless in design, highly diverse and a hotbed of creativity, making it the perfect match for our first Kimpton hotel in Europe. We’ll be bringing Kimpton to Paris next and have big plans for other cities across the continent.”
Ark Travels, one of the leading b2b travels agents in India for cruise and luxury resort vacations organised a training workshop for travels agents in Mumbai. The event was organised in collaboration with United Travel Agents (UTA) and witnessed participation of over 100 travel agents at Raheja Classique Club, Andheri, Mumbai.
Agents were enlightened with information on products and services offered by Ark Travels, which included presentation on Star Cruise, Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises and Club Med, a French resort vacation company.
The training workshop is part of Ark Travels strategy to connect with their network of agents. Besides, the event was organised keeping in mind the current trends and demand for cruise vacations.
The highlight of the event was the announcement about Singapore Airlines as the Official Airline Partner for second edition of The Big Bang Nautical Fiesta, the Charter Cruises specially targeting corporate companies.
Kishan Biyani, Managing Director, Ark Travels Pvt Ltd. said, “Today training workshop has become immensely important as industry is witnessing tremendous demand and supply gap. Travel agents are aware about cruise tourism as a segment, but are unable to encash on such a booming travel niche. The aim of such travel workshop is to impart knowledge, provide agents with comprehensive information and create a window for future dialogue.” “We intend to start our pan-India training workshop from June 15, 2017,”he added.
The hospitality industry has expressed disappointment over the GST rates for hotels and restaurants. The GST council in its recent meeting at Srinagar has pegged GST for AC eateries and those with liquor licence at 18 per cent, non-air-conditioned restaurants at 12 per cent, hotels charging room rentals between Rs.1000 and Rs.2500 at 12 per cent, Rs.2500 and Rs.5000 at 18 per cent and above Rs.5000/- at 28 per cent. Terming the rates as too complex, high and uncompetitive, the hotel industry has declared that it will make representation to the Finance Minister and Tourism Minister to review the rates once again.
Dilip Datwani, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) said, “The Government should realise that while neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and others levy taxes ranging from five to 10 per cent, we cannot afford to have these kind of complex and high GST. This is simply not viable. Tourists will simply skip India.”
Being the backbone of the tourism industry, it was expecting to be placed in the five per cent slab.
Bharat Malkani, past President, HRAWI said, “One of the biggest hurdles for Indian hospitality and tourism, in terms of attracting international tourists is its uncompetitive tax structure. A country as small as Singapore, witnesses 10.90 million tourists against 6.31 million for India. Nations like Malaysia and Thailand attracted 24.7 million and 19.09 million tourists in 2014 and earned foreign exchange of US$ 18,299 million and US$ 26,256 million. In contrast, India managed to earn a meagre US$ 94 million.”
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Sr. Vice President, HRAWI said, “Hospitality is not only one of the highest foreign exchange grossers, but also one of the largest tax generators for the exchequer. It is also one of the highest employment generating industries, employing a large number of youth in the country and 70 per cent of India’s population is below the age of 35 years. This section of the population too will definitely be affected adversely. By the Prime Minister’s own declarations, the growth of the nation will parallel the growth of tourism. So, it is perplexing that the industry is being taxed to death. If GST is not reconsidered, foreign exchange inflow will dry up sooner than later.”
Datwani added, “By rationalising taxes, India can easily quadruple its tourism revenues, and in absolute terms earn more money for the exchequer. The decision to place hotels in the 18 per cent slab may not be in the best interest of tourism in the country and the industry feels dejected.”
The departments of Tourism and Kannada and Culture partnered with prominent museums in Bengaluru to celebrate International Museum Day. The International Museum Day this year had the theme “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums”. This theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people.
Bengaluru, being the most dynamic city in the world is no exception and joined this cultural exchange of common heritage, ideas and cooperation. Apart from being the silicon valley of India with technological advancements, Bengaluru is also a melting pot of different cultures and traditions. With its booming economy and racy lifestyle, the capital of Karnataka has also embraced culture and traditions of the state.
The Departments have launched a wide reaching public campaign celebrating museums under the theme of ‘Once Upon A Time’. The campaign will bring out interesting stories from city museums. It also encourages the public to contribute their own experiences on social media using the hashtag #MyMuseumStory and winning complimentary stay at Jungle Lodges & Resorts.
Umashree, Minister for Women and Child Development, and Kannada and Culture said, “Museums provide the best platform for cultural exchange and enrichment, mutual understanding, cooperation and harmony among people. Celebrating International Museum Day by conducting activities in museums would enhance our effort in preserving and promoting the Kannada language, culture and heritage.”
Activities like treasure hunt contests, storytelling, puzzles, museum walks, talks, workshops & seminars, and film screenings will be organized at various museums including Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum, Government Museum, HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, National Gallery of Modern Art and Human Brain Museum (NIMHANS).
Priyank Kharge, Minister for IT & BT and Tourism said, “This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society and cultural exchange. We are committed to preserving our precious cultural heritage and this is one of the many steps taken to fulfil this objective. Our wish is to reach out and promote museums and the stories they tell amongst children and parents in Karnataka, through an innovative campaign coinciding with the International Museum Day.”
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) annual Amazing Thailand Grand Sale campaign, which has been held successfully for 18 consecutive years, will return this year as the ‘Thailand Shopping & Dining Paradise 2017’ and will be held from June 1 to July 31, 2017, in various cities across Thailand.
Under the Thailand Shopping & Dining Paradise 2017 campaign, Hotels, Airlines, Restaurants, Theme parks, Department stores, Spas, Jewellery partners and participating outlets will be offering special promotions and steep discounts to encourage foreign travellers to enjoy shopping, dining, entertaining, and travelling within Thailand throughout the two-month period. The campaign will offer discount from 5 per cent to 80 per cent on various products.
Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “This year the campaign has been renamed to reflect the positive image and to strengthen the recognition of Thailand as a leading shopping and dining paradise in Asia. This is especially as cities across Thailand have seen new developments and facilities opening up to serve the shopping and dining enthusiasts.”
Soraya Homchuen, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand in Mumbai said, “Over the years ‘The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale’ has gained popularity across regions and has contributed immensely to boost the footfalls and visitor expenditure. This year too we are certain that the campaign will enhance the image of Thailand as a preferred shopping destination and will attract tourists from India. As Thailand is a wonderland for shopaholics, we take this opportunity to welcome Indian tourists to be a part of this shopping extravaganza and hope they take away lot of wonderful experiences and great bargains.”
Yuthasak added, “The campaign is organised during the ‘Green Season’ so there is no better time to come to Thailand if you are a serious shoppers. We have a wide range of tourism products and travel services from every region joining this campaign. This campaign will ensure to all visitors that Thailand will continue being a leading “preferred destination” for every visitor to Thailand”.
Among the campaign partners include major credit cards – Visa International, MasterCard, UnionPay, and JCB, department stores and shopping malls nationwide, leading airlines, the Thai Hotels Associations Thai Restaurants Association, Thai Spa Association, and a lot more.
GoAir has announced their commencement of two additional flights out of Pune. Effective May 19, the airline will start daily flights from Pune to Bengaluru and Kolkata. These additional flights from Pune will provide non-stop connectivity from Pune to Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Nagpur, Delhi, and Kolkata.
The city of Pune and state of Maharashtra both play an important role in GoAir’s network. The new routes aim at connecting Pune across its network and providing passengers flexible options in planning their travel. Passengers travelling from Pune will have better access further bolstering the airline’s already extensive domestic network.
Kerala Tourism was voted as ‘India’s favorite Waterfront Destination’ for Alleppey by the HolidayIQ Better Holiday Awards. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office & Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region presented this prestigious award to Dr. Venu V, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism. The event was also attended by Priyank Khagre (Hon’ble Minister of State for tourists & IT, Government of Karnataka), Umang Bedi (Facebook, MD), luminaries from India’s tourism fraternity & other dignitaries.
Venu V said, “It is an honour to receive an award which recognises the efforts of the Tourism Department. This award reiterates the popularity of the state tourism as it was chosen by over 15 crore Indian travellers. Kerala Tourism department is always keen in implementing new and innovative ideas and projects for the growth of Kerala as the best destination. Prestigious awards like these are an inspiration to raise the benchmark in taking up new initiatives which will further enhance our projects to provide best-in-class experience in the future as well. In 2016, foreign and domestic tourists’ arrival to Kerala has increased by 6.23 per cent and 5.67 per cent respectively, demonstrating the increasing popularity of Kerala as one of the preferred tourist destinations of India.”
Kadakampalli Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Government of Kerala said, “I’m excited to learn that Alleppey, the evergreen backwater destination of Kerala, continues to be the favourite among the travellers and tour operators. Getting an award for another individual feature of the state in itself shows how versatile our state is as a tourist destination. And I’m so overwhelmed by the fact that Kerala is gaining popularity and is preferred by people all over.”
Alleppey, or Alappuzha is famous across the world for its vast scenic undulating network of freshwater lakes, lagoons, canals, and rivers that comprise the backwaters. Owing to the growing popularity of this destination, thousands of International and domestic tourists visit Alleppey every year.
Dubai-based carrier, flydubai, has partnered with FlyNava Technologies to provide automated support when making pricing decisions. Jupiter, FlyNava’s new airline pricing decision support solution, through its cloud-based comprehensive system, will provide timely system recommendations, automation and pricing actions using in-built algorithms, optimisers, analysers and trigger based workflows.
Ramesh Venkat, Chief Information Officer (CIO), flydubai said, “We are committed to using the latest technology to enhance our product offering and we very much look forward to working with FlyNava Technologies. This solution will enable us to offer fares based on a foundation of logic thereby guaranteeing greater efficiency with faster time to market and optimising revenue.”
Since the launch of its operations in 2009, flydubai has created a network of more than 90 destinations in 44 countries. It operates more than 1,700 flights every week and aims to change the way people travel around the region benefiting from enhanced connectivity.
Ramesh Anantharaman, Senior Vice President, Revenue Management, flydubai said, “Pricing is central to our revenue growth strategy. FlyNava’s innovative approach will enhance our pricing decision capabilities and provide solutions that are customised to our business model.”
FlyNava is an innovative technology company with a unique development philosophy that develops IT products to support airlines with their pricing decisions.
Mahesh Shastry, CEO & Founder, FlyNava said, “This is a dream come true. It is the result of years of conceptual design, collaboration and development with all our industry stakeholders and the flydubai team. We are honoured that flydubai has chosen Jupiter to support its pricing decisions. We are excited that flydubai will be the first customer of our flagship product. This partnership is special and we will ensure that flydubai derives maximum return of its investment aligned with their growth plans.”
Ginger Hotels, the budget hotel chain from the house of TATA’s expands its existing footprint of four hotels in Gujarat by launching two additional hotels in Ahmedabad. Located on Sharkej – Gandhinagar Highway (SG Road), Ahmedabad; Ginger Hotel Ahmedabad SG Road and Satellite are located 17 kms from the Gandinagar Airport and 12 kms from the railway station. These hotels are in close proximity to Mahatma Mandir & University Convention Centre.
With a combined inventory of 80 rooms, the hotel offers free Wi-Fi, security and meeting facilities. With these two additional hotels in Ahmedabad, Ginger Hotels continue to be a great choice for today’s value conscious and discerning travellers, business or leisure.
Rahul Pandit, MD & CEO, Ginger Hotels said, “With the launch of Ginger Hotel Ahmedabad SG Road & Satellite, Ginger Hotels now operates three properties in Ahmedabad and six properties in Gujarat. Ginger Hotels has always been the pioneer and the largest chain of branded budget hotels in India with a resilient promise of safety, cleanliness, relaxing sleep experience, refreshing shower experience, a hearty breakfast and seamless Wi-Fi. We assure travellers of a consistently pleasant experience across our 40 hotels in 31 locations around the nation.”