Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kerala Tourism website offers attractive packages for travellers

With a first-of-its-kind initiative called Dream Season, Kerala Tourism has taken steps to convert the traditional off-season in the State to a season of opportunity for the holidaymaker. The initiative offers a host of packages at never-before rates for a period of five months starting May 2007.

With regard to the rates of tour packages by various stakeholders, the listings show rates as low as Rs.2400 (US $ 59) for one night and two days packages offered by hotels and Rs.4500 (US $ 110) in the case of resorts for a package of two nights and three days. Homestays have come up offers of Rs.500 (US $ 13) per day and houseboats for Rs.5000 (US $ 123) for a night for two persons. Ayurveda centres and hotels are the other two groups that have responded with maximum number of packages after resorts and tour operators.

Dream Season is the latest project under Synergy, Kerala Tourism’s highly acclaimed and successful public-private partnership programme. “The campaign stemmed from the concern that despite impressive growth rates, Kerala was still a seasonal destination - an unparalleled wealth of attractions and a year-round moderate climate, notwithstanding. And this innovative marketing initiative will go a long way in sustaining the growth rates and transforming Kerala into a land for all seasons,” said Dr. Venu V., Secretary, Kerala Tourism. Extending from April to September, the campaign spans the summer, monsoon and festival seasons of the State.
An exclusive micro-site for Dream Season Packages, was launched as part of the initiative. It was quite an overwhelming response from tour operators, hoteliers etc., who submitted 135 packages till this date. Nearly 6000 travellers visited the site within first three weeks.

Those interested in spending their holidays during the Dream Season period may visit the micro-site and pick holiday packages of their choice offered by hoteliers, tour operators, houseboat operators etc.

Etihad Airways starts flights to Kerala

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started its thrice a week service from Abu Dhabi to Thiruvananthapuram Wednesday.

Etihad will fly from Abu Dhabi to Thiruvananthapuram every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The flights form part of a major expansion programme of the airline in the Indian market, which includes making its New Delhi flights a daily service from Wednesday and the launch of flights to Kochi next week.

The new services will bring Etihad's India operations from 10 flights to 21 per week, which will increase to 28 flights per week in October with daily service from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and to Thiruvananthapuram.

Geert W. Boven, executive vice president of sales and services of Etihad Airways said, "There is a huge demand for flights to Kerala from our customers across the world, including Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom."

Launch prices for Etihad's flights to Thiruvananthapuram start from Rs. 13,860 for return economy class, Rs. 27,060 for business class and Rs. 43,450 for first class.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kerala flights signal big India plans for Etihad

UAE's national carrier Etihad Airways, which is starting flights to two Kerala cities next week, is set to expand further in the Indian market if it gets government approval, a senior official said.
Etihad Executive Vice President (Sales and Services) Geert Boven said Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad were all "in the airline's sight," as the carrier prepares to launch flights on May 30 to Thiruvananthapuram and June 2 to Kochi.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline in March held talks with Indian authorities over new air rights, which resulted in the Kerala routes to offer 21 flights per week from Abu Dhabi to India.
"There are more than one million Indian citizens living in the UAE who are eager to enjoy greater air links. I do hope that the two countries' governments can reach agreement for even more non-stop flights to help satisfy consumer demand," Boven said.

UAE is India's most dominant trading partner in the West Asia North Africa region and represents 70 per cent of the country's export to Gulf Cooperative Council countries. Currently, there are 3,300 Indian companies operating in the UAE. Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at over AED 48 billion.

As the air travel between India and UAE increases, Etihad will look to boost its services and become the leading airline in this exciting and crucial sector, Boven said.

The new three flights-per-week service to Thiruvananthapuram and four flights-per-week service to Kochi will join Etihad's established flights to Mumbai and New Delhi, with flights to the Indian capital going daily from May 31.

NRI Deposits Grow To Rs.85 Bn In Kerala Bank

NRI deposits in Kerala's State Bank of Travancore (SBT) have grown by 9.14 percent to touch Rs.85.95 billion ($2 billion) in the last fiscal.

Total deposits have also grown from Rs.259.97 billion in 2005-06 to Rs.309.84 billion in 2006-07 and total business currently stood at Rs.560 billion, Chairman and Managing Director K. Sitaraman told reporters Thursday.

Net profit of the bank has grown from Rs.2.5 billion to Rs.3.2 billion, he said.

SBT, which has 704 branches including 572 in Kerala, is a major player in the NRI market and has rupee drawing arrangements with 20 exchange houses in the Middle East.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kerala Expects Rs.15 Bn Tourism Investment This Year

Kerala's tourism industry is expecting an investment of Rs. 15 billion in the current fiscal, despite the ongoing demolition drive against illegal encroachments in the hill station of Munnar, State Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Tuesday.

'In the past one year, the tourism sector attracted nearly Rs.10 billion worth of investments and we expect Rs.15 billion this fiscal. Likewise, we expect a 20 percent increase in foreign tourists and domestic tourism is likely to grow by 10 percent,' Balakrishnan to reporters here.
The minister reiterated that the ongoing demolition drive in Munnar would soon be extended to other parts of Kerala too.

'We are very clear that all government land that has been encroached upon across the state would be taken back. We have asked the tourism department to prepare a list of encroachments made at all tourist destinations in the state,' Balakrishnan.

He said the government would soon decide a master plan for Munnar - one that would be environmentally safe.

'We will also revamp the existing Tourism Resorts Kerala Ltd and make it a company that would look into the development of tourism infrastructure and investments in this sector,' Balakrishnan added.

Infosys to invest Rs 3.06 billion

Infosys Technologies co-founder and Board member K Dinesh has said that the company is planning to invest Rs 3.06 billion in the state-of-the-art campus near the Technopark here, which will create 8,000 jobs over the next few years.

He was speaking after Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan performed the stone-laying ceremony for the development centre here on Saturday.

Infosys, operating out of a leased facility in Technopark since 2004, will now have two full-fledged operations here on completion of the new facility.

Chief Minister Achuthanandan said: ‘‘Kerala is emerging as a key IT destination in south India. Infosys ramping up its presence in Technopark is a reaffirmation of this fact. The magnitude of Infosys’ investment in its development centre demonstrates its long-term commitment towards Kerala and speaks volumes about the world-class facilities on offer here for its employees.’’
The Chief Minister, who announced all support to the IT companies in the state, said that the government would not hesitate to recoup the land allotted to IT companies, if they fail to set up facility centres in a time-bound manner.

Technopark CEO N. Radhakrishnan Nair said that the commencement of work on Infosys Software Development Centre marked the take off of Technopark to a new trajectory, considering the infrastructure problems and the social tensions in traditional Tier-1 Information Technology locations.

The present Infosys facility in Technopark campus has a capacity to seat 1,100 employees with an investment of Rs. 300 million. This development centre has a world-class work environment designed to enhance productivity and efficiency.

Infosys has also leased 40,000 sq. ft. of space in the Thejaswini Block at Technopark for expansion.