AirAsia is world’s first int’l airline fly direct from KL to Bhubaneswar

BHUBANESWAR, India – AirAsia marks another milestone as the first international airline in the world to operate direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bhubaneswar, India.

The airline’s latest new route offers four times weekly direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to the beautiful capital city of India’s Odisha state.

Also known as ‘Temple City of India’, Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Odisha, formerly known as Orissa and has a population of over two million people. It has a rich history of over 3,000 years and is now a rapidly growing city with commercial districts and a buzzing tourism sector with new upscale hotels, shops and restaurants.

A reception ceremony was held at Biju Patnaik International Airport to celebrate the arrival of flight AK31 which flew in on an Airbus A320 into Bhubaneswar, India. The aircraft landed at 11.35PM last night and was greeted with a water cannon salute. Part of the guests on board the inaugural flight were Aireen Omar, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad; Datuk Zainuddin Abd Wahab, Senior Director of Tourism Malaysia as well as a group of Malaysian media who will participate in a familiarisation trip to explore the beauty of Bhubaneswar.

In conjunction with the inaugural flight, a press conference and celebration event was held today at Bhubaneswar with the attendances of Ashok Chandra Panda, The Honorable Minister of Tourism and Culture Odisha; Arti Ahuja, Principal Secretary Department of Tourism Odisha; His Excellency Datuk Hidayat Abdul Hamid, The High Commissioner of Malaysia to India; Zainuddin and Aireen.

Aireen said, “We are very excited to be here today in Bhubaneswar today to celebrate our inaugural flight to this beautiful city. We are officially the first airline to offer an international route to Bhubaneswar and we are humbled with the warm welcome from the government and people of Odisha. India is an important market to us at AirAsia and this new unique route is a reflection of our commitment towards enhancing our connectivity in the country.

“Our plans and commitment to grow in the Indian market is in line with the governments’ recent announcement to expand the number of slots for Malaysians carriers to operate between the two countries. Through this, we hope to help boost the tourism and trade in India and Malaysia while continue to provide our guests with better connectivity as well as offering them the best services in and out of India,” added Aireen.

Among some of the must-visit attractions include the ancient Lingaraj Temple, built in the 11th century as “the truest fusion of dream and reality”; the Konark Sun Temple, a symbol of India’s heritage and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Eastern India architecture; one of most important Hindu temples in the world located in Puri, the Jagannath Temple; and places such as Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves which date back to the 2nd century BC. Other historical places to look out for are the Tribal Museum of Bhubaneswar, which is rich with a collection of artifacts, crafts and art objects belonging to different tribes; The Buddhist Circuit, a museum of international standards exhibiting various findings of Buddhist artefacts; as well as the Raj Bhavan Garden that serves as an important landmark of the modern capital city of Odisha.

Travellers should also look out for local products such as Chandua, a typical Orissa handiwork, and other products such as traditional paintings, metal ware, silver jewelry and Sambalpuri silk and cotton. On top of that, travellers can also leisure along the beaches at Puri and Gopalpur.

Guests can make use of the optional Fly-Thru service to connect to flights with their baggage checked-through to the final destination without the hassle of immigration clearance at the transit hub. With this service, guests can now travel to Bhubaneswar seamlessly from most cities in Asia and Australia, such as from Melbourne, Auckland, Bali, Bangkok or Haneda to Bhubaneswar via Kuala Lumpur.

AirAsia Group also connects Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, New Delhi directly to Kuala Lumpur, and from Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi and Kolkata directly to Bangkok in Thailand.

CAG, SIA and STB beef up partnership

SINGAPORE, 19 April 2017: Singapore’s big three, Changi Airport Group, Singapore Airlines and Singapore Tourism Board, have extended their joint partnership for another three years funded by a record SGD33.75 million investment.

The joint promotional fund will be used to sell Singapore as an attractive stopover and twin it with other destinations in the region.(1)

Efforts will focus on promoting Singapore as a stopover or twinning destination to travellers globally. The previous approach targeted just travellers from specific long-haul markets such as the US and Europe.

Twinning looks for destinations that can compliment Singapore for example a beach resort destination that can be sold side-by-side with Singapore a modern shopping and urban entertainment destination.

Another focus of the partnership will woo business and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) visitors.

The partnership will also refresh the Free Singapore Tour (FST), which provides transfer passengers with a free taste of Singapore’s offerings.

FST will be expanded to include more authentic experiences curated based on travellers’ interests, such as a foodie tour where participants get to sample a popular local delight.

The Free Singapore Tour pulled in 59,000 passengers last year, up 8% from the previous year.

As of April 2017, it was rated as one of the top ten tours on popular travel website TripAdvisor’s “Top Tours in Singapore”[2].
Changi Airport Group’s chief executive officer, Lee Seow Hiang, said: “By collaborating closely with airlines and the travel industry, we can grow passenger segments, such as MICE and transfer passengers. With encouraging results from the current partnership, this second collaboration strengthens all parties’ efforts to raise awareness of Singapore as a stopover point and as a destination.”

“This partnership reflects Singapore Airlines’ commitment to further developing our home base at Changi Airport and promoting Singapore while leverage the SIA Group’s strengths to increase inbound travel to and through Singapore,” said Singapore Airlines chief executive officer, Goh Choon Phong.

“STB’s collaboration with CAG and SIA is a prime example of how we partner with industry players for tourism success. This partnership between our airport, national carrier and national tourism body is a powerful one that has helped to boost Singapore’s tourism growth in the recent years. The renewal of this partnership reflects our confidence that we can continue to cooperate fruitfully to better serve our visitors and drive tourism outcomes,” said Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Lionel Yeo.

[1] Twinning: Travelling to two destinations on one itinerary; an example would be pairing a city destination with a beach getaway.

[2] Accurate as of 17 April 2017.

source : TRW

Visa-free for Indians, but not if you’re from India

The travel trade in Malaysia has welcomed the latest initiative to allow Indian nationals living outside India to travel to the country without the need for a visa.

“It is certainly a move in the right direction, which is long overdue but never too late,” said MATTA president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat. However he questioned why the concession was being limited to Indian nationals living overseas only.

“They’re holding the same passports as Indians living in India. So how do we differentiate between the two categories?”

Hamzah said the visa-free facility for Chinese nationals visiting Malaysia is a success with increased arrivals, and the same should be extended to all Indian nationals.

“We should have the same heart and mind with India as we have with China. We must also be aware that 60% of the current Indian population is below the age of 30 – a very great potential for the travel market,” he added.

India is among Malaysia’s top 10 countries in terms of total tourist arrivals. In 2015 there were 722,141 arrivals from India, and the number for last year was estimated at about one million.

The visa-free facility was announced in Doha by Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, during his official visit to Qatar.

The DPM said the removal of the visa requirement would attract some 500,000 Indian nationals currently in Qatar as businessmen, professionals and technical experts.

source – travelweekly-asia.com

 

Thailand invites M’sia for talks on the Bangkok-KL High Speed Rail link.

BANGKOK: The State Railway of Thailand has sent a letter to the Malaysian railway authority, seeking to start discussions on the feasibility of a High-Speed Rail (HSR) connecting Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Its governor, Wuttichart Kanlayanamit, said the letter was sent last week. “By the end of this week, it will be clear where and when the talks will be held. It could be either in Malaysia or Thailand,” he told Bernama here recently. He is upbeat on the potential of an HSR linking the two capitals. Wuttichart was asked to comment on Thai Transport Minister Arkom Termpittayapaisith’s announcement last week that talks between Malaysia and Thailand on the feasibility of the 1,400km HSR link were in the offing. The HSR link would help shorten travel time between the two capitals to six hours, he said, adding that the talks would start at the official level before proceeding to the ministerial level. The HSR link was broached during the Malaysia-Thailand annual consultation meeting here in Sept, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his Thai counterpart, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, agreeing to conduct a feasibility study on the proposal. Najib said the HSR link would complement the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR. — Bernama

Thai Visa fee measure to woo tourists

Bangkok : The cabinet on Tuesday resolved to waive the visa fee and halve the visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from 19 countries including China to attract more visitors during this high season.

From Dec 1 to Feb 28, the 1,000-baht fee for visas sought at Thai embassies and consulates would be lifted, and the 2,000-baht fee for visas on arrival would be cut to 1,000 baht, said Apisit Chaiyanuwat, vice minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Eligible for the privilege are visitors from Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Tourism authorities said the three-month tourism promotion measure was aimed at boosting the number of visitors by 350,000 and generating income of 28 billion baht.

 

source: bangkokpost

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Police seize 2,155 buses, B4.7bn in zero-dollar Chinese tour network raid.

BANGKOK: Authorities today (Sept 9) impounded 2,155 buses and froze bank accounts containing B4.7 billion held by the country’s biggest “zero-dollar tour” network, including OA Transport Co and 381 firms.

Tourist police and officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Revenue and Business Development departments swooped on the premises of OA Transport Co in Lat Krabang district of Bangkok after its executives had been charged with carrying on business illegally and damaging Thai tourism.

The action followed Tourist Police searches of OA Transport and four affiliated companies in the Lat Krabang and Jorakhae Noi areas of Bangkok last month.

Two OA executives, Nisa Rojrungrangsi and Wasurat Rojrungrangsi, turned themselves in at the Phaya Thai Police Station for questioning late last month.

Tourist Police moved the buses to the nearby Airport Rail Link station of the State Railway of Thailand. Land Transport Department officials will check if any of them were used illegally. An initial examination found that some of the buses were unregistered, police said.

OA Transport operated the bus that came crashing down Kata Hill in Phuket in March last year, killing three Chinese tourists and injuring 15 more.

The bus crashed through a guardrail while descending the hill to Chalong and came to rest only after slamming into trees halfway down the steep slope, preventing the vehicle from tumbling into a house just metres below. (See story here.)

Gen Surachet said the Land Transport Department was deploying buses to serve tourists who were clients of OA Transport and the 381 related companies as their operations must stop.

The raid was part of attempts to tackle “zero-dollar” tour operations to protect Thai tourism, Gen Surachet said.

Raided last month were OA Transport Co, a vehicle-rental firm, Bangkok Handicraft Centre Co, which sells leather goods; Royal Gems International Co, a jewellery firm; Royal Thai Herb Co, which sells herbal products; and Royal Paradise Co, which runs restaurants.

The five companies operate stores in tourist destinations nationwide, including Phuket.

Zero-dollar tours are so named because they offer very cheap package deals in which tourists, mostly Chinese, are pressured to buy overpriced goods and services on which the operators make big profits.

Authorities have long alleged that the money Chinese tourists spend in Thailand on zero-dollar tours mostly goes to Chinese-operated tour firms owned by Thai nominees.

source – thephuketnews