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NewStation - (October 2002)

Hong Kong Set To Become Asia’s Leading Cruise Hub
Worldwide cruise passengers are expected to reach 13.6 million by 2005 and Asia-Pacific will be one of the fast-growing areas in this market, a study commissioned by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) reveals.
The study by consultants Bermello, Ajamil and Partners shows that new cruise vessels coming into service are getting longer and larger. In 2001, the Asia Pacific Region generated 840,000 conventional cruise passengers, equivalent to 4.5 million bed-nights (the total number of nights spent on board). This is forecast to grow by up to 10 per cent annum over the next 10 years. The report shows that Hong Kong, already the second busiest cruise port in the region, is especially well-placed to develop as a hub for cruising in South China and the Far East.

‘Smart’ Hospitality Card Launched
In the lead up to the Diwali vacations, Diners Club, Citibank’s premium travel and entertainment card and the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces have launched Taj Epicure Diners Club International Card, a hospitality card enabled with smart chip technology. It is designed to offer cardholders a combination of features from Diners Club International and the Taj InnerCircle and Epicure loyalty programs.
In addition to receiving dining benefits through the Taj InnerCircle Epicure program, cardholders automatically get enrolled onto the Taj InnerCircle (the loyalty program for stay at Taj hotels), which enables members to earn points on room, laundry, telecom usage of the business center and other services. For every Rs 100 spent on food and beverages at a Taj outlet, the cardholders earns 10 Taj Epicure points. Members can earn back as high as 10-12 per cent of their food and beverage spends in the form of points. Cardholders can avail of a bouquet of travel benefits including a personal air accident cover of Rs 30 lakh, lost baggage insurance of Rs 60,000, purchase protection of Rs 50,000, passport loss cover of Rs 25,000, delayed flight cover of Rs 15,000, delayed baggage cover of Rs 10,000, air ticket loss cover of Rs 5,000, access to over 80 international airport lounges and a free Global One calling card.

More Indians Travelling To Australia
Indian travellers are falling in love with Australia. Latest statistics from the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) shows that for the year ending June 30, 2002, Australia welcomed 47,300 Indian travellers, an increase of 22 per cent from the same period in 2000. ATC has initiated a number of marketing strategies which included:

  • An in-depth survey to find out what the Indian traveller wants out of a holiday to Australia.
  • A campaign to “talk direct” to the consumer via targeted high-end print and electronic media.

IA Introduces Online Booking
Indian Airlines (AI) has launched Internet booking facility allowing passengers to book seats at the click of a button from anywhere in the world. Passengers can log on to the airlines web site (www.india-airlines.com) and get confirmed bookings on flights to and from all domestic airports except Leh, Port Blair and those served by the Dornier aircraft. International stations, which are initially accessible, include Kathmandu, Colombo, Male and Dhaka. Passengers can make bookings for both one-way bookings and return journey on full fare. However, concessional and promotional fares will not be available online. The tickets booked should be collected from any IA booking office or travel agents four days prior to the departure of the flight.

Ariana Goes West
Ariana Airlines, Afghanistan's national airline has resumed flights to Western Europe after a 20-year hiatus. As part of its aid to the country, India has presented the airline with a former Indian Airways Airbus A300. Ariana plans to fly twice weekly from Kabul to Frankfurt via Damascus and Istanbul. The airline also operates two Boeing 727s which serve Amritsar, Delhi, Dubai, Islamabad, Sharjah and Teheran from Kabul, as well as operating a domestic service to Herat.

In-flight Emails
Virgin Atlantic Airways and Singapore Airlines simultaneously introduced similar in-flight email systems (by Matsushita). With Virgin the equipment will be set up on four of the fleet and then progressively rolled out.
Singapore will offer the system for three months on a single aircraft before deciding to extend it to other aircraft. Travellers, in all classes, can send short messages of up to 160 characters, to any mobile phone user and email address, using the in-seat handset or personal monitors on the aircraft that supports a touch-screen function. Development work on the software was successfully completed in August. It is part of what SIA are calling the 'CyberCabin'.