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About India Outbound Magazine

India Outbound, a brand of Media India Group, is India’s only B2B travel media platform, that encompasses a print magazine, a website, an online TV channel and dynamic social media platforms, entirely dedicated to the promotion of foreign destinations and products in India. India Outbound is a niche platform not just for tourism destinations and products to promote themselves to the Indian travel industry, but also for decision makers to build/change their strategy in a context where the Indian outbound market is not only growing but changing with new dynamics. India Outbound brings to you the latest trends of the market with in depth analysis.

Expo 2020 Dubai appoints Thomas Cook & SOTC as authorised ticket resellers

Thomas Cook India and its group company, SOTC Travel have been appointed as authorised ticket resellers for Expo 2020 Dubai, to be held in Dubai from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. The two companies have designed a portfolio of ready-to-book products and customised experiences, curated to appeal to India’s leisure, business and MICE visitors. Various 1-Day and Multi-Day Tickets include attractions and shows as well as access to more than 200 pavilions.

“We have lined up an exciting range of unique products for every traveller – from India’s millennials, couples, families, students, business to MICE travellers. For industry associations, corporates/businesses, Expo 2020 is an ideal space for ideation/R&D/business and networking and our products have been tailor-made to cater to their specific needs too,” says Rajeev Kale, president & country head – holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited.

“Expo 2020 is a vibrant platform, be it to learn, innovate or do business, and our unique product-service portfolio as an Authorised Ticket Reseller promises an extraordinary experience across all age groups and source markets from metros to regional India,” commented Daniel D’souza, president & country head, SOTC Travel.

“Expo 2020 is ready to welcome the world, and with the support of Thomas Cook and SOTC, we invite Indians to join us and be part of the most diverse world expo in history, as we build a better future for all,” added Sumathi Ramanathan, vice president, market strategy and sales, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Air passengers confident in onboard safety & mask-wearing, IATA survey

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that based on its latest passenger survey conducted in May, most air travellers are confident about the safety of air travel and support mask-wearing in the near term. However, a majority are also frustrated with the “hassle factor” around Covid-19 protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs.

The survey of 4,700 travellers in 11 markets around the world shows the following key results. Among the respondents, 85 pc believe that the aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected; 65 pc agree that the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room; among those who have travelled since June 2020, 86 pc felt safe onboard owing to Covid-19 measures; 89 pc believe protective measures are well implemented; 90 pc believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures; 83 pc strongly support onboard mask-wearing and 86 pc strictly support enforcement of mask rules but a majority also believes the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.

“Air travellers recognise and value the safety measures put in place to minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures as long as necessary, but they also don’t want the measures to become permanent. In the meantime, we all need to respect the rules and the safety of fellow passengers. It is unacceptable that unruly passenger incidents have doubled compared to 2019, and the increase in physically abusive behaviour is a particular cause for great concern,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

At the same time, participants admit that they struggle with the Covid-19 related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel. About 70 pc thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand; 67 pc saw arranging testing as a hassle; 89 pc agreed governments must standardise vaccinations/testing certifications.

“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart. Almost two-thirds of respondents plan to resume travel within a few months of the pandemic being contained (and borders opened). And by the six-month mark, almost 85 pc expect to be back to travel. To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation,” Walsh commented.

Almost nine out of ten respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials and 87 pc support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75 pcsay they will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data.

“IATA Travel Pass enables travellers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return,” Walsh concluded.

International travel largely on hold, reflects latest data from UNWTO

The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues into a second year. Between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85 pc below 2019 levels (or a 65 pc drop on 2020), UNWTO data shows. Despite a small uptick in May, the emergence of Covid-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the recovery of international travel. Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to rebound in many parts of the world.

The latest UNWTO data shows that over the first five months of the year, world destinations recorded 147 million fewer international arrivals (overnight visitors) compared to the same period of 2020, or 460 million less than the pre-pandemic year of 2019. However, the data does point to a relatively small upturn in May, with arrivals declining by 82 pc (versus May 2019), after falling by 86 pc in April. This slight upward trend emerged as some destinations started to ease restrictions and consumer confidence rose slightly.

By regions, Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the largest decline with a 95 pc drop in international arrivals in the first five months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Europe (85 pc) recorded the second-largest decline in arrivals, followed by the Middle East (83 pc) and Africa (81 pc). The Americas (72 pc) saw a comparatively smaller decrease. In June, the number of destinations with complete closure of borders decreased to 63, from 69 in February. Of these, 33 were in Asia and the Pacific, while just seven in Europe, the region with the fewest restrictions on travel currently in place.

Israel to host Miss Universe in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat

The global Miss Universe beauty pageant will be held for the first time in Israel. The city of Eilat was chosen to be the host city of the competition, which will mark its 70th anniversary this year.

From the end of November, competition contestants and delegates from over 100 countries will arrive in Israel for three weeks of TV events, broadcast live around the world in over 170 countries. These include the semi-final and final events, the national costume show, and other gala events such as the red-carpet event, events in the community, charity events and more.

The guests will include more than 1,200 members of official delegations, hundreds of journalists and TV crews, thousands of pageant enthusiasts and tourists, more than 100 American celebrities, including top-tier artists and world-famous judges. An international event of this scale will impact awareness and image of Eilat and Israel as a leading tourism destination and a world-renowned international brand. The global exposure to the Miss Universe pageant is estimated at about 1.3 billion people, who follow the pageant in broadcast, print and social media.

With hotel stays and pageant-related events such as rehearsals, filming, tours and participation in other events taking place over a three-week period, the pageant will contribute to Eilat’s economy and serve as a major growth engine for Israel's tourism industry in the post-pandemic scenario.

"I fully hope that in December we will be celebrating not only the new Miss Universe here in Israel, but most importantly, the end of the world pandemic," said Yoel Razvozov, Israel's minister of tourism.

Canada extends bans on travellers from India till Aug 21

Canada has announced that it will be reopening its borders for international travel from September 7, 2021. In a statement, the Canadian government has said, “On September 7, 2021, provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable, the government intends to open Canada’s borders to any fully vaccinated travellers who have completed the full course of vaccination with a government of Canada-accepted vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requirements.” Canada recognises AstraZeneca/Covishield, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines.

Canada has, however, extended the suspension of flights from India until August 21, 2021. During that period, passengers who travel to Canada from India via an indirect route will need to obtain a pre-departure negative Covid-19 molecular test result from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada.

Travellers who have previously tested positive for Covid-19 must provide proof of a positive Covid-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 90 days prior to departure, instead of a negative Covid-19 molecular test. This proof must be obtained in a third country before the continuation of the journey to Canada. This might mean that the travellers may have to stay in a third country for at least 14 days.

Heathrow Airport to introduce terminal drop off charges from October 21

From October 2021, London's Heathrow Airport will be introducing a charge for vehicles dropping off passengers at its terminal forecourts. A GBP 5 charge per visit will apply to use the designated drop off zones located directly outside the airport terminals.

The terminal drop off charge is payable online, via mobile phone, automated telephone service or by autopay functionality. The charge will apply to all vehicles entering the forecourts of Heathrow’s terminals, although some exceptions will apply, such as blue badge holders and emergency vehicles. Taxis and private hire vehicles will not be exempt from the charge.

The airport in a release stated, “Our car parks remain available, and normal charges apply. This will not impact passenger pick up, which should continue via the car parks, as picking up passengers is not permitted on the terminal forecourts.”

The terminal drop off charge replaces the airport’s previous plans to introduce a Heathrow Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (HULEZ) by 2022 and a Heathrow Vehicle Access Charge (HVAC) ahead of the opening of the third runway, which would have incurred a GBP 10 - GBP 15 charge.

China unveils world’s fastest train with a top speed of 600 kmph

China has unveiled a maglev train capable of a top speed of 600 kmph. The maximum speed would make the train, self-developed by China and manufactured in the coastal city of Qingdao, the fastest ground vehicle globally. Using electro-magnetic force, the maglev train "levitates" above the track with no contact between body and rail.

China has been using the technology for almost two decades on a very limited scale. Shanghai has a short maglev line running from one of its airports to town. At 600 kmph, it would only take 2.5 hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai by train - a journey of more than 1,000 km. By comparison, the journey would take 3 hours by plane and 5.5 hours by other high-speed rail.

India Outbound is a publication of Media India Group