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Tuesday, 10 February, 2015, 15 : 45 PM [IST]

Vision 2015: Travel and Tourism - Tour Operators

The year 2014 saw the Indian government, which is pro-tourism, take a few measures to boost the industry. The most significant one was the launch of Visa-on-Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). While the Centre's initiatives have given a renewed sense of optimism to the industry, there is a lot more to be done in the year ahead. That is the popular opinion among players from the industry. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to tour operators and travel agents to know what the past year was like and their vision for 2015

Tour operators and travel agents in India have had much to rejoice about over the past year, starting with the government giving tourism a recognition in their manifesto to the host of schemes rolled out for their benefit. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to the travel trade about how the year has been for them and their expectations from 2015

om_prakash_sehgal_id.jpgOm Prakash Sehgal
In ORBIT Tours Pvt Ltd

For In ORBIT Tours, the year 2014 ended on a good note. Some of our achievements last year include organising special interest agriculture tours, our foray into event organising for large corporate entities and incentive groups, and introduction of exotic destinations like Cyprus, Zagreb and CIS countries in our portfolio of offerings.

In ORBIT is positively moving ahead in 2015 with strong sentiments and we look forward to finding new avenues for Indian travellers. We feel proud to have been recipients of many international awards to our credit from many countries. We have also started a personal service cell for Indian discreet travellers to advise them on value and to offer value-added travel services which can not only provide the satisfaction to the travellers but also create value for In ORBIT.

peter_kerkar.jpgPeter Kerkar
Cox & Kings Ltd.

2014 was year of consolidation for us. We made considerable progress in consolidating the various businesses of Holidaybreak Ltd (HBR). We also expanded our existing bed capacity when we opened our 16th hotel in Brussels. During the year we signed up for another three hotels (Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona) totalling about 2,300 beds, which are expected to be operational over the next few years under the Meininger brand. We took our core education brand PGL to Australia during the year.

Our India business continued to demonstrate robust performance in key markets of outbound holidays and MICE business. During the year we launched several innovative products including MasterChef Travel series. We were the official travel partner for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. We also partnered with G Adventures, the largest small adventure travel company, to promote adventure travel in India. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has appointed Cox & Kings Ltd (CKL), as its outsourced partner to operate the luxury train, Deccan Odyssey. In June last year Cox & Kings sold off its subsidiary HBR’s camping division for Rs 892 crore.

We are confident that we would continue with the momentum of 2014 with a strong innovation pipeline. We believe that the business confidence that this government has exhibited will translate to the travel industry as well. Tourism is a priority for this government and we believe that it will augur well for the country. Business confidence will increase discretionary spends and this will get reflected in more people travelling for both, business and pleasure.

rajeev_wagle.jpgRajeev Wagle
Managing Director,
Kuoni India

2014 was a great year for Kuoni India for B2B and B2C verticals. We witnessed almost 20 per cent growth in both the segments. Kuoni India achieved the highest figures ever in history, that is highest transacting value in the B2B and B2C segments. 2014 was a turning point for Kuoni India and I expect that from now on, we should progress further. Going forward, we will focus on specific industries, larger MICE groups and more aggressive sales strategy. We will be introducing the concept of Holiday Bazaars to more Indian cities. As GDP is growing, stock market is doing well, the market sentiments are positive and we expect the business to grow. There will be a good demand in the market. We are looking at opening more branches and penetrating deeper in metros and non-metros. In addition, we aim to become a significant player in the domestic segment. Also, we believe that FITs will grow in future, so we will concentrate more on that segment.

gmj_thampy_id.jpgGMJ Thampy
Chairman and Managing Director,
Riya Travel

Expansion and growth is the vision that we will be striving for this year. Technology will play an important role in 2015 and will open up new avenue of business for us. 'Tomorrow‘s progress is based on Today’s achievement', this statement reflects our hard work and achievement that we were able to exhibit last year. Expansion of Riya Travel and Tours not only in the country, but also in international markets like USA, Canada and the latest one is UAE, marks a new era for us, which has seen substantial growth in business and increase in our customer base.

With our technology arm, Riya Connect, we could reach masses of business community and consumers, with products and tools that has eased our operation process and have increased our revenue. Our clientele can now conduct business with us, “all around the clock”, with our mobile app, Riya Connect Apps, a-first-of-kind, B2B mobile application in the travel trade. Riya Business Travel –our new venture, has further strengthened our corporate division, thus adding an extension to our business wing. All this will enable us to launch ourselves in 2015 in a better way, ensuring a message to our trade tartners, “There is more to come from ‘Riya the Travel Expert’.

shibani_phadkar_id.jpgShibani Phadkar
Senior Vice President & Head - Leisure Travel Outbound Products Contracting,
Operations & Tour Management,
Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

2014 has seen a number of interesting travel trends. We have witnessed impressive growth of Sports Tourism last year. We have also witnessed demand for educational trips from our student clientele. Our ‘Travel & Learn’ product team at Thomas Cook India has created specialised ‘University Tours’ - aimed at providing a glimpse into the university-life experiences with visits to US colleges, including insightful interactions with both counsellors and students, and in-depth meetings with university admission advisors.

Our teams at Thomas Cook India have reported a powerful growth of about 40-45 per cent in the segment of hobby/interest enthusiasts. Travel around culinary/cuisine has been clearly trending, with a 20 per cent upswing, while photography has seen a 15 per cent Y-o-Y growth. Also, requests for unexplored destinations has observed an impressive 20 per cent rise. We have also seen luxury holidays take off extensively, even across Tier-II and III markets with them contributing approximately 25-30 per cent to our luxury market share. Our recent launch “Holiday Savings Account”, seeks to cater to the Indians who aspire for a dream holiday.

rupen_vikamsey_id.jpgRupen Vikamsey
Managing Director,
Orbit Corporate & Leisure Travels (I) Pvt Ltd

Orbit celebrated its silver jubilee in 2014 and accounted for 12 per cent growth compared to the last year. MICE business at Orbit has shown a growth of 20 per cent over the past year. In 2014, we won the top prize for our marketing efforts to promote a Chinese trade fair. We also won an award from Korea Tourism and led the largest delegation to Plastic International Trade Fairs and many in the sectors of textile and packaging worldwide.

With its presence in 16 cities across India, Orbit looks forward to strengthening its position in 2015. We will strive to strengthen our position even more aggressively in 2015 to spread our reach online via our business tours website and digital tie-ups. We look forward to convergence of travel and excellent service across the globe and win hearts of our clients, suppliers and colleagues.  

veena_patil_id.jpgVeena Patil
Founder & Managing Director,
Veena Patil Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

2014 was a great year for us. In just one and a half years since Veena World started operations, we have already catered to 70,000 tourists and the number is increasing. That is the biggest achievement for us. Last year, we started innovative tours like the Jubilee Special for couples who had completed more than 20 years of marriage. The overwhelming response to the tours made us realise the potential for such innovation in the market in India.

We have a lot of expectations this year, based on the good response to our products in 2014. We have launched three destinations - Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and the North East - noting their potential. We have more Jubilee Tours coming up, one in February to Dubai and another in July to Europe. Overall, we are expecting a great year with more innovation, which can always be expected with our brand.

anil_kalsi_id.jpgAnil Kalsi
Managing Partner,
Ambe World Travels

We have seen robust growth in the outbound and air travel segment in 2014. Segments like honeymoon, holidays and senior citizen holidays have been the new thrust sectors from India to the destinations abroad.

Robust budgets and high-end accommodation choices coupled with cruise holidays have helped shore the bottom line in an industry with dwindling commissions and rising fixed costs.

In 2015 we are looking at introducing new destinations and enhancing our client experience with our new website aimed at the experienced traveller. We have also integrated hotels and flights in our parent website— for easy access. The advent of Vistara and Air Asia in India will help spur the Indian aviation scene positively.

rajeev_kohli_id.jpgRajeev Kohli
Joint Managing Director,
Creative Travel

2014 has been a challenging year for the inbound industry in general and I guess we are no exception. But one has got used to the ups and downs of our industry over the years and is more resilient to externalities. 2015 is a year of planned expansion for Creative. Our new outbound brand is going live and we are increasing our focus on niche market segments. We have also cemented our relationships in key source markets and are working on expanding sales. We have a very positive outlook for the new year, 2015.
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