2019: Lukewarm response

While the tourism industry expressed hope of a promising 2019, the year couldn’t quite match expectations. Performance and revenues remained mediocre, while a few government policies acted as a silver lining.

Ashwani Lohani, Chairman & Managing Director, Air India
We began operating nine international routes in FY 2019-20 and many new domestic flights as well. We have completed all this expansion without any addition of new aircraft and by using the existing fleet and staff to its maximum capacity. We were able to do this despite the financial crunch and other issues that the airline is facing. Going forward, I expect the passenger capacity in India to almost double in the next 10 years or much earlier.

HS Duggal, Managing Director, Minar Group
Year 2019 was kind to us. Winning the WTM World Travel Leaders Award was the cherry on the cake! Our M!CE vertical, ELBON, successfully handled reputable domestic and international conferences. For 2020, we are gearing up to take our luxury brand, Vilasa, to even greater heights. Some new innovations are in the pipeline. For 2020, we, as an industry, hope for GST to be simpler and clearer for all of us.

Dev Karvat, Founder & CEO, India & Emerging Markets, TrawellTag Cover-More
The emphasis in 2019 was on tech-led innovations to accommodate changing trends and travel demographics. We introduced game-changing travel assistance products like Crisis Assistance Plus, to fulfil the principle of ‘duty of care’ and offer assistance during catastrophic events. We look at innovation as a reason to bring positive change. It has become imperative to think ahead of the curve.

Ravi Gosain, Managing Director, Erco Travels & Tourism Enterprise
We expanded our inbound business to some new markets and got some desired results. While our inbound business was stable and we moved beyond our traditional markets in Europe to Canada, South Africa and Asia, we had an average year for outbound and were not able to attain the targets we had set. Our Netherlands-based DMC, Saffron World BV, had a successful launch and we generated business as per our expectations. We will now launch aggressive marketing.

Amit Ray, Regional Director India and DACH Markets LOT Polish Airlines
We launched five weekly non-stop flights between Delhi and Warsaw. This highlights the confidence we have put into route planning, as LOT generally launches long-haul routes with three weekly flights. After almost three months of operations, we saw continuous growth and are happy with the performance. We are very pleased with the number of bookings from India POS, and will now try to gain more Indian origin passengers.

Zia Siddiqui, Managing Director, Alliance Hotels & Resorts
Year 2019 was ‘just comfortable’ for the group. We maintained the OCC level on a par with 2018, but lower when compared to our budget, with domestic business being down. That said, it was a good year for inbound business and M!CE, too, played its part in maintaining the OCC. We added three resorts this year – The Dutch Bungalow in Fort Kochi, and Abad Brookside and Parisons Plantation Experience in Wayanad. We have also finalised resorts in Mahabalipuram, Puducherry, Thanjavur, Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.

Pushpendra Bansal, Chief Operating Officer, Lords Hotels & Resorts
Year 2019 was favourable for the brand. We opened hotels in Birgunj (Nepal), Kurnool, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, Nathdwara, Morbi, and Jamnagar. We also signed up hotels in Lonavala, Vyara, Rajkot (three hotels), Lucknow, and Udaipur. Lords Hotels & Resorts is eyeing 40 hotels by 2020. The group will foray into new geographies, including East and South.

Mernoz Shastri, Director, Mazda Travel
We had a good 2019 with a 12.5 per cent growth in passenger arrivals over the previous year. Our sales team has been actively visiting agents across India and we plan to continue covering more agents in 2020. We have a strong start for 2020 with agents wanting to finalise bookings to avail of the early booking bonus and incentives. Through our exclusive partnerships, we are able to offer agents an unmatched range of products and services at wholesale rates.

George Ettiyil, Senior Director, Sales (South Asia), Lufthansa Group Airlines
Lufthansa’s business performance in India has grown steadily over the last few years. We have registered a robust year-on-year growth of over 12 per cent so far in 2019 alone. In India, we register a demand from all four gateways. The seat load factor on all our India flights is well above 90 per cent. We continue to evaluate opportunities to expand our operations in more cities across India. Lufthansa is well-poised to capitalise on premium travel experiences through codeshares with Indian airlines.

Kimberley Long, Vice President Sales and Agency Distribution, Hahn Air Partners
This year, we added 45 airlines to our global network. We have 19 newly integrated partners who have chosen to expand their network using our HR-169 product. In addition, 26 new carriers have joined the network of H1-Air and X1-Air as partners. These carriers are now available in major GDS under the code H1 or X1. Agents can book their flights and issue them on the HR-169 ticket stock. In India, we hosted dinners where we recognised and rewarded our top performing agencies.

Pankaj Nagpal, Managing Director, Travstarz Global Group
Though the company achieved growth in revenues in excess of 50 per cent YOY, we had expected to do better, especially with cruises coming in. This was also our first full year of operation for the new cruise division. Also, we did a soft launch of our upgraded online reservation system, and are happy with the initial feedback. In the new year, our focus will be on moving a majority of our business online and spread our reach into smaller cities. We are also excited about our soon-to-be-launched App for cruise bookings.

Pooja Wadhwa, Founding Partner, Avant Garde Consulting
Year 2019 started on a positive note with support from our partners. Q3 was filled with developments with JA Resorts & Hotels opening its third property within JA The Resort in Dubai. This was also the year when JA The Resort hosted its first wedding from India. For 2020, we will share some special offers with our trade partners on behalf of our partner hotels.

Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France
The year began on a slightly tumultuous note with the exit of Jet Airways, which led to a reduction in the number of direct flights to Paris. This also affected summer bookings. On the positive side, France registered 16 per cent increase in the number of Indian arrivals. Also, our annual B2B offsite, which took place at Mahabalipuram this September, witnessed a record participation of 36 French tourism professionals.

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