Destination India

India

From buzzing, tech-advanced cities to rolling greenery, India ignites a sense of adventure in many a traveller. Natalie Hami reports.

Weaving a tale of wonder for its adventurous visitors amidst crowded streets and lush landscapes, India has been upping the ante on its tourism product for some time now.

Embracing technology, the destination’s tourism portfolio has been enhanced with the Incredible India Mobile App, which showcases India as a holistic destination, promoting experiences such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. The launch was announced by Minister of Tourism, Shri K J Alphons, during the National Tourism Awards.

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Furthermore, seeking to improve and standardise India’s motel industry, the Ministry of Tourism has formulated a voluntary scheme for Approval of Operational Motels, with the aim of recognising the motel segment as a vital component of the overall tourism product, and setting standards for facilities and services.

In addition, India is to be the host country for the official World Tourism Day celebrations for the UNWTO in 2019.

CELEBRATORY ATMOSPHERE

With a slew of tourism initiatives in place, India’s MICE sector has also been rising in the prestige ranks. TTG caught up with a number of hospitality stakeholders, in a bid to reveal the types of events that are being cultivated.

Honing in on Kochi, in southwest India’s coastal Kerala state, taking centre stage will be the Kochi-Muziris Biennale from December 2018 to March 2019. This event is a high-calibre art exhibition and festival, considered the largest of its kind in South Asia.

Managing director, Fragrant Nature Hotels & Resorts, Kochi, Anne Sajeev described the event as one not to be missed, and expressed confidence in its ability to increase tourism flow to the city.

“The Biennale is expected to bring in a diverse crowd from various parts of the globe, and this could be a potential target market we have decided to tap into. Closer to the festival, we will be introducing customised packages for the tourist flow at our Kochi property.”

Sajeev further added: “Besides the Biennale, the Cochin Carnival, an annual New Year celebration that has been around since Portuguese times, will also be hosted. This celebration is expected to amass a huge tourist crowd too.”

Meanwhile, one of the city’s upscale properties, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty, is looking to build on its already strong MICE segment.

The property’s general manager, Girish Bhagat told TTG: “Our Convention Centre has opened up the avenues to host never before seen events in Kochi. We recently held a 60-member symphonic evening, led by the Australian World Orchestra. It was attended by people from across India and abroad, and was for a good cause. Another landmark event was the inaugural ceremony and dinner of the Kerala Travel Mart. It was attended by more than 4,000 people from the travel and trade industries across the globe.”

Bhagat further noted that moving into the busy season, the property will be hosting some large-scale medical conferences, corporate MICE and destination weddings.

Eager to provide guests with a unique events space, Hyatt Regency Pune has introduced EQ:IQ (short for Emotional Quotient: Intelligence Quotient), which creates a balance of work and play, complemented by gourmet cuisine. Covering 1,765m2, the space consists of meeting rooms named Newton, Einstein, Galileo and so forth, with a highly trained personalised concierge to ensure all events run smoothly.

WELLNESS SANCTUARY

Globally-renowned as a wellness destination, most notably for its Ayurvedic and alternative medicine proposition, India continues to live up to its name, while simultaneously developing its medical tourism sector.

As part of its 2019 tourism strategy, Carnoustie Resort will be heavily focusing on medical and sports tourism, according to its general manager, sales and marketing, Urvashi Mehta.

Meanwhile, general manager, Hyatt Regency Pune, Vishal Singh told TTG that the upscale property will be focusing on wellness, as well as promoting the hotel as a weekend destination for families and couples looking for a quick getaway.

“The Arogya Spa is a great sanctuary for relaxation, offering western and ayurvedic treatments, and we are the only hotel in the city with a temperature-controlled pool.”

He added: “We see an opportunity in promoting Pune as a destination and wellness space. Ayurveda is gaining momentum among tourists and they are travelling specifically to experience wellness options.”

Singh explained that Pune has a temperate climate, making it a year-round destination, and thus, ideal for MENA travellers.

Vice president-operations, Pride Hotels Ltd, Atul Upadhyay also divulged the importance the hotel group was placing on medical and wellness tourism.

“We have customised packages for medical travellers in all our hotels. There is great potential to further expand the Wellness Tourism framework in India. We have well-appointed spa and wellness centres in all our hotels across India, offering rejuvenating treatments by trained therapists to pamper one’s body and soul.”

Envisioning itself as a hub for holistic wellness, Fragrant Nature – Kollam is undergoing a revamp and is expected to open in early 2019. According to Sajeev, it will be launched with an exclusive Ayurveda and Yoga centre, featuring packages for physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Keen to offer guests a serene stay, apart from the traditional spa set up, at the Kollam property one can also avail a customised lakeside massage session, allowing clients to enjoy the calm water and surrounding nature.

A natural beauty, India continues to play to its strengths while honing an ideal tourism product.