Beatles to revive tourism in Rishikesh

One half of the Fab Four may not even be alive today, but the Uttarakhand government is hoping that the spirit of the Beatles gang will help it shore up the sagging tourist numbers.

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John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had spent seven weeks meditating at the erstwhile Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in Rishikesh, beginning February 1968.

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To capitalise on that wondrous seven week connection, the Uttarakhand government now plans to promote eco-tourism here and get more footfalls.

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Rajaji National Park’s director Neena Grewal said: “We want to revive the Beatles connection to the ashram as a lot of tourists come here because of it. We will restore the huts as a part of promoting eco-tourism in Chaurasi Kutiya. We will submit a detailed proposal to the government soon.”

Most of the old buildings associated with the Beatles’ 1968 visit were razed by the ashram management with a view to creating modern infrastructure. But the bungalow of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where the argument between him and Starr took place, still stands.

A number of foreigners still visit the ashram every day but cut short their trip when they see elephant dung lying around. Tall bushes and vandalised facades here tell a sad tale. As the ashram is part of the Rajaji National Park, elephants, leopards and other wild animals intrepidly roam around here.

 

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So the Rajaji National Park management plans to trim the bushes and renovate the 123 huts – shaped like igloos – in a phased manner. There are also plans to exhibit photographs of the Beatles’ 1968 tour in a hall.

Apart from transcendental meditation, the quartet heavily indulged in music, substance abuse and some serious fun during the Indian sojourn, and riveted global attention on the sleepy, spiritual township because of their antics.

The Beatles visit had a major impact on the holy township’s tourism sector too, with the flow of western tourists growing manifold. Even today, foreign tourists come here in large numbers to learn yoga, meditation and enjoy natural therapy.

But then the ashram fell on bad days, especially after the 15-acre land’s lease expired in 1981 after 20 years, and it is currently in the forest department’s charge.

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The boys from Liverpool had come to India with their friends and the trip did have a deep impact on their lives and creativity, though none of the Fab Four managed to complete the three-month course. Starr was the first to leave after 10 days, McCartney stayed five weeks while Lennon and Harrison left after seven weeks.

They suddenly decided to return home after a feud with the Maharishi, but the Beatles had composed – by one count – no less than 48 songs during their stay. Many of these songs became part of The Beatles (aka the White Album), while some other songs appeared on Abbey Road and solo records.

Lennon wrote I’m So Tired during the beginning of their stay in Rishikesh. It was influenced by the fact that he was unable to sleep, free of drugs as he was for the first time since 1964. “I couldn’t sleep; I’m meditating all day and couldn’t sleep at night. The story is that. One of my favourite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well,” he later said.

When the Beatles were leaving Rishikesh, Lennon began singing the song that would become Sexy Sadie. Originally titled Maharishi, with the lyrics showing his discontent in ‘What have you done/you’ve made a fool of everyone’, Harrison poignantly recalled those moments: “Lennon had a song he had started to write which he was singing: ‘Maharishi, what have you done?’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, it’s ridiculous.’ I came up with the title of Sexy Sadie and Lennon changed Maharishi to Sexy Sadie.”

Of the Beatles, only Harrison continued a spiritual connection with India, visiting the country a number of times. Later, in the 1990s, he apologised for the way he and Lennon had treated the Maharishi.

courtesy: India Today, photos from various sources

For your pilgrimage to the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh tweet @Road2travel

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MTB Himalaya – Mountain Biking Event

Himachal Pradesh is riding high on a popularity wave among mountain bikers – both Indians and foreigners. More and more of them are negotiating sharp bends on inhospitable off-road tracks of the lower Himalayas for their slice of glory.

Canadian National Champion Cory Wallace, also the three-time champion of the Mongolia Bike Challenge, and Sonia Lopes, the first woman cyclist to conquer the non-stop 500-km Portugal Bike Race, will be among 70 foreign and Indian intrepid riders in the Hero MTB Himalaya, the 10th in series, from Sep 27 to Oct 3.

“The mighty Himalayas, breathtaking routes and the vibrancy of India is what attract me to this race,” Cory said in a communication to Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), the Shimla-based club organising the race.

HASTPA president Mohit Sood told IANS the rally route, through the lesser explored interiors of the lower Himalayas, would climb the Jalori Pass (3,223 metres) in Kullu district, the toughest point of the rally.

Wolf Gang Krenn from Austria, John Funk from Canada, Andreas Hartman from Germany and Aayman Tamang from Nepal are other prominent international riders, besides a 14-member team from the Indian Army’s adventure wing.

Last year, World No.9 Luis Leao Pinto was among the internationally-acclaimed riders at the event.

Pinto, the MTB Himalaya champion in 2013, had said he had captured ranges from 2,000 metres to 2,300 metres in Europe but the mighty hills of Himachal Pradesh were quite a challenge for him.

Billed as the third toughest mountain biking event in the world after the Trans-Alps Challenge (Europe) and the Trans-Rockies (Canada), the Hero MTB Himalaya will be flagged off from the state capital Sep 27.

The participants, both men and women, will pass through forest trails and unmetalled rural roads, winding through Shimla and Kullu districts.

The length of the rally is 550 km. On an average, a cyclist will pedal 80-90 km every day with one day of rest and have to ascend 2,000-2,500 metres each day. The highest point of the rally will be the Jalori Pass.

The slopes of Jalori Pass are one of the finest in the world, said Cycling Federation of India member Rakesh Mohindra.

Sood said 85 percent of the total track of the rally passes through terrain riddled with obstacles such as trees and boulders.

“Such kind of a single and muddy track at this altitude is rarely available across the world. The international cyclists are opting for the lower Himalayas for high-altitude training,” he said.

He said initially this rally used to see mostly foreigners. But for the past three-four years, it’s also getting popular among Indians.

“It has always been our objective to involve more women in the sport. Unfortunately, not too many women in India have taken to mountain biking. Lopes’ presence will definitely inspire a lot of young women to follow and take up this great sport,” HASTPA general secretary Akhil Puri said.

Portuguese rider Luis Canto Moniz, Ferrari’s general manager based in Bangkok, told IANS: “I am happy that such events are picking up speed in India. It’s quite popular in Europe, North America and Canada. Himachal’s terrain offers the most challenging environment in the Himalayas.”

There are separate categories for men and women in the race.

The rally will pass through Shimla, Narkanda, Ani, Jibbi, Ghadagushaini, Chatri to Luhri, then back to Narkanda and finally culminate in the state capital Oct 3.

Courtsey : The Indian Express

The worlds cheapest countries to fly

The world’s cheapest country to fly is India thanks to a domestic market battling cutthroat competition.

Berlin based travel search website, GoEuro, conducted a global transportation survey of 51 countries across 5 continents examining the average price to travel per 100 kilometres.

According to the results India came up trumps costing just $11.10 on average to travel 100 kilometres on a commercial flight. That’s about a third of the cost of flights in the UK and less than one thirteenth of the cost of flying in the most expensive country in the world, Finland, where it costs $149.05 to fly the same distance.

India is in the grip of an airfare war as airlines compete for the country’s growing middle class sector. The number of domestic travellers is projected to triple to 159 million by 2021.

However the competition is also crippling the airlines who over the last seven years have estimated to have lost $22 every time a passenger steps on board. From intense price competition to exorbitant operating costs including high airport and fuel taxes, the national carriers have been locked in a battle for survival.

AirAsia’s recent entry into the Indian market will further exacerbate the competition and domestic carriers are aggressively launching a price war. SpiceJet, India’s second largest airline by market share, recently launched an early bird special offering one way fares to various destinations across the country for as low as $8.84 (RS499).

In fact, airfares in India are so cheap that its now cheaper to travel by air than take the train. According to the survey, a 100 kilometre train journey in India costs $15.98. A bus journey over the same distance costs $6.17.

The second cheapest country for air travel was Malaysia, where the cost was an average $12.27 to fly 100 kilometres, South Africa was third at $12.48 and Australia was number four costing $13.09 over the same distance.

So where should you avoid flying if you don’t want to burn a hole in your hip pocket? Finland was followed closely by Switzerland as the second most expensive country at $134.21. Third place was claimed by Lithuania whose air travel averaged $125.25.

Courtsey : www. news.com.au

More than 10,000 travellers across 13 countries worldwide carry their smartphone as a must-have item

Forget the sun cream, magazines and guide books, new research released today by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) reveals that of more than 10,000 travelers across 13 countries worldwide, the must-have item for a summer holiday is your smartphone.

According to the research by IHG Rewards Club, 64% of Indian travellers agree that their smartphone is the most important item to take on holiday and 76% agree that they will use it every single day. The research also revealed that, across the 13 countries, 1 in 10 travellers clock an impressive average of 70 hours online while on holiday – almost 20% of the actual time spent on a two week holiday.

IHG Rewards Club is the first and largest hotel loyalty programme in the world, with over 80 million members worldwide. IHG is one of the world’s leading hotel companies, with over 4,700 hotels around the world and a family of nine trusted hotel brands.

IHG Rewards Club members are IHG’s most valued guests. In line with its aim of rewarding them for their loyalty, it surveyed more than 10,000 of its members worldwide in order to gain further insight into their relationships with their loyalty programme and to learn more about  their travel needs.  

The survey found that in India, the smartphone is fast replacing the traditional postcard with 59% of respondents saying they use it to text friends and another 43% to Skype friends and family back home, while on holiday. Globally, however, recounting holiday experiences with friends and family still remains one of the most enjoyable ways of sharing a holiday, with one in ten travellers saying this is as enjoyable as the holiday itself. Planning a holiday is nearly half the fun – (55%) of Indian travellers say it is the best part of a holiday and 43% spend over a day researching a holiday.

Susanna Freer-Epstein, Senior Vice President Customer Loyalty Marketing, IHG said,
“IHG is a brand and consumer driven company. We use insight to anticipate consumer trends and behaviour. This research shows how mobile technology is revolutionising the holiday experience – from enabling travellers to dream about and plan their holidays, to helping enjoy the trip itself and share their experiences with their friends and family.”  

In India the survey also uncovered that more than half (52%) of travellers check social media every day while on holiday, with over a third (34%) even saying they always check Facebook before going to sleep. Taking selfies is also increasingly becoming one of the most popular ways to share holiday experiences with 32% of travellers surveyed saying they use their smartphones for holiday selfies.

Courtesy

http://www.hospitalitybizindia.com

Sri Lanka Tourism : A mega Taxi Advertising Campaign in UK

Under the guidance of Ministry of Economic Development, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau has launched an International Tourism Promotional campaign in order to increase awareness of destination Sri Lanka in countries around the world .

As part of this campaign 1200 taxis will be branded featuring key tourism attractions of Sri Lanka in major destinations around the world including UK, France, Germany, Korea and Japan. Accordingly, Sri Lanka Tourism has branded and launched 450 taxis in three of the UK’s biggest cities: Manchester, Birmingham and London recently. The first fleets of 300 taxis of this campaign were launched on 04th August in London. ‘Sri Lanka –A Journey Awaits’ tagline will promote the key tourism attractions of Sri Lanka on taxis with a massive fleet of cabs in each city displaying Taxi Super sides, back seat covers, Taxi receipts with stunning visual imagery of Sri Lanka’s prominent tourism attractions. The campaign will run for a total of 12 weeks in the UK.

The campaign will blend seamlessly onto each city’s taxi cabs, using clear branding to promote Sri Lanka as The Gateway to Asia.

An ideal way to promote a business or project a message to a target city, taxi advertising offers a high-impact approach to effective marketing.

Reinforcing the campaign with interior advertising ensures reach to an even wider demographic by targeting passengers as well as pedestrians and fellow road users.

SLTPB ensured that the use of taxi advertising is a powerful tool for Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau to drive brand awareness and help project the country as a beautiful tourist destination across the UK’s three major cities. As a outdoor advertising format, advertising on taxis allows huge reach to valuable audiences who will be drawn in by this attractive campaign. The UK campaign will create a huge impact with the three chosen locations offering the biggest and wealthiest audiences in the UK.

Courtsey : http://www.srilanka.travel/travel_news

South Africa voted ‘Best Foreign Destination in Rest of the World’ at ITA 2014

South Africa has been named the ‘Best Foreign Destination in Rest of the World’ at the India Travel Awards (West) 2014, as per a release. The India Travel Awards (ITA) were presented at a ceremony held in Hotel Novotel Pune Nagar Road. Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, handed the trophy to Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, India, South African Tourism.

Commenting on the recognition, Slabber said “We are extremely pleased and honoured to have received this award in the presence of eminent professionals from the travel and tourism industry.  What makes this award so much more special is that it represents the voice of Indian travellers. We would like to thank the distinguished jury and every travel enthusiast who voted for South Africa in this category. South Africa is continuously being appreciated for its diverse attractions and impeccable hospitality. This award is testimony to the relationship Indian travellers have with South Africa. We invite those of you who haven’t experienced South Africa yet, to ‘Meet South Africa’ on your next holiday and enjoy a memorable sojourn with your fellow travellers.”

The ITA Awards are a regional series supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and trade bodies IATO, PATA, ADTOI, ATOAI and OTOAI. The accolades are awarded through a jury and voting system and, identify the ‘best of the best’ in all regions.

Courtesy:  TravelBizmonitor.com

Virtuoso names 10 hottest destination

Leading luxury travel network Virtuoso, harnessing data from its worldwide travel agency members, today revealed where the affluent will be venturing for the remainder of 2014, including the crucial holiday time and winter months.

Announced during the network’s annual Virtuoso Travel Week event, taking place this week at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Virtuoso shared the top destinations for travel overall as well as those spots that are seeing the fastest growth, while also sharing insight on how and why consumers are making travel decisions. The results – a surge in demand for Down Under, some surprises in Central Europe and the next evolution in family travel – global citizenship.

Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch, shared insights on the buying habits and motivations of upscale travelers. He noted that the same consumer is buying travel in two polar opposite ways: planning upwards of a year in advance for certain trips while also booking close-in, impulse trips to round out their travels. Several factors are driving the high demand, most notably the massive rise in tourism with more than one billion people now crossing international borders as tourists, the rise in affluence throughout the world and, of course, the 78 million Baby Boomers who are now traveling.

These factors also have led to an evolution in family and multigenerational travel that Virtuoso has identified. While the trend line for more than a decade has shown that consumers want to travel to connect with their love ones, using travel to supplement traditional education for children is a new philosophy Virtuoso has termed the “Journey to Global Citizenship.” The desire to connect and build lasting memories as a family still holds true; however, Upchurch says parents and even grandparents are looking at travel as a means of giving the next generation a leg up in the world.

“One of the smartest things you can do, if you have the means, is take your kids to China or India or Brazil,” says Upchurch. “These countries will influence much of the business being done now and in the future, and kids who have insight into these cultures, who learn to adapt in unfamiliar surroundings early on, and who gain an understanding of the world around them, will have a certain advantage when it’s time to enter the workforce.”

Upchurch also shared how travelers are approaching many of these destinations. For the tried and true places, people are looking to experience them in a new way, visiting lesser known sites, absorbing more of the local culture, looking for anything not found in a guide book and, probably most telling, seeking a certain ‘feeling’ rather than basing destination choices on what to see and do. His other observation is that travelers are on a hunt to “collect countries.”

“There is a race towards trying to get to some of the more pristine places because of the rise in mass tourism and globalization. The opening up of some of the new, non-traditional destinations that we’ve identified, offer even more incentive for travelers to explore.”

Drawing upon its data warehouse of more than $32 billion in client transactions, then Virtuoso shared that international (non-U.S. countries) travel is up 21 percent compared to the same time last year. Travel to Virtuoso’s 10 most popular destinations are averaging an 18 percent uptick:

The Virtuoso “Top 10”
1. Italy (6%)
2. United Kingdom (30%)
3. France (23%)
4. Canada (9%)
5. Spain (20%)
6. Germany (31%)
7. Mexico (17%)
8. South Africa (- 5%)
9. Netherlands (18%)
10. Greece (57%)

Perhaps more enlightening, though, are the countries seeing the largest year-over-year growth.

Virtuoso’s “Hot List”
1. New Zealand (196%)
2. Chile (103%)
3. Indonesia (103%)
4. Hungary (86%)
5. Hong Kong (72%)
6. Croatia (68%)
7. Australia (58%)
8. Ecuador (57%)
9. Greece (57%)
10. Norway (54%)

Virtuoso counts 340 agencies with more than 620 locations throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand amongst its membership.

Courtesy: Travel World News