While this is just the beginning, can we trust an AI chatbot with all our travel plans just yet? Well, humans are the best guides for now.
The Skift India Newsletter is your go-to platform for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.
Online travel company Ixigo has introduced “Plan by Ixigo,” an artificial intelligence trip planner that uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT to help plan itineraries and accommodation options. The tool also delivers real-time destination information and automatically maps and generates a detailed itinerary, along with weather and air quality index updates.
“The perfect trip planning app is one that can create the exact same itinerary for you in seconds as the one you would create on your own after many days of research & iterations. With this end goal in mind, we combined the power of ChatGPT with our own aggregated real-time information to create a seamless, user-friendly experience that makes trip planning a breeze,” said Rajnish Kumar, co-founder and group chief product and technology officer of Ixigo.
In the next phase, Ixigo plans to introduce events, social trends, and real-time social sharing allowing users to collaborate with friends and family for a fun and interactive trip planning experience, Kumar said.
Earlier in May, MakeMyTrip announced that it is rolling out a voice chat service powered by artificial intelligence to help users book flights and holidays.
Air India to Kick Off Goa Mopa’s International Operations With a London Direct
Tata Group-owned Air India is set to launch direct flights between London Gatwick and Goa’s Manohar International Airport at Mopa three times a week from July 21, it said in a tweet. The airline also operates flights between Gatwick and Goa’s Dabolim airport thrice a week. Currently, Air India, Oman Air and Qatar Airways, operate international flights from Dabolim airport.
Around 250 staffers will be deployed at the Mopa airport, including 90 Goa police personnel and the rest from the immigration bureau and customs. In October 2022, Oman Air had started accepting bookings from Muscat to Mopa airport. The airline said that it would stop flight operations out of Dabolim from January 1 and shift operations to Mopa, which did not happen due to the delay in inauguration of the Mopa airport.
Zostel Debuts in Meghalaya With Property in Shillong
Hospitality chain Zostel has launched a hostel in Shillong in the northeastern state of Meghalaya for the global backpacking community. The company had earlier established its presence in the northeast region in 2020 with the launch of its flagship hostel in Sikkim’s Gangtok.
“Our vision extends far beyond offering accommodation – we aspire to create immersive experiences that allow travelers to engage with the local culture and traditions,” said Deep Banka, chief operating officer of Zostel.
To cater to the modern traveler’s increasing demand for alternate accommodations, online travel company MakeMyTrip said it would increase its inventory of homestay properties across select metros during the cricket season starting October. Last month, Airbnb signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Tourism to showcase India’s heritage stays and promote cultural tourism.
China Issued Over 71,600 Visas to Indians So Far in 2023
The Chinese Embassy and Consulates General have issued more than 71,600 visas to Indians traveling to China so far in 2023, Chinese Embassy in India spokesperson Wang Xiaojian said in a tweet. Visas to Indian nationals have been granted for purposes of business, study, tourism, work, among others.
Xiaojian further said that China is looking forward to the early lifting of visa restrictions towards Chinese nationals and the resumption of people-to-people exchanges between India and China. Earlier in May, Xiaojian had announced that China issued more than 60,000 visas to Indians traveling to the country in the first five months of this year. In March, the Chinese Embassy in India stated, “Chinese visas that were issued before March 28, 2020 and remain within the valid period will be reactivated.”
Antara Ganga Vilas Announces Shorter Departures for September
After its successful debut with the world’s longest cruise journey that sailed through 25 river systems, five states and two countries, Antara Ganga Vilas has now announced shorter departures of three-four-day cruises for the upcoming September 2023 season. Guests can travel from Kolkata to Varanasi via historic places such as Murshidabad, Patna and Buxar. A special itinerary allows guests to explore the ancient city of Varanasi. Anatra has also announced shorter departures from Kolkata to Dhaka in spring 2024.
With some ambitious plans, India is betting big on its million dollar cruise industry. The country wants to increase the number of cruise passengers to 4 million by 2041, up from just 300,000 this year; build three new international cruise ports by 2024; and grow the number of cruise ships from 208 in 2023 to 500 by 2030.
The Fern Hotels & Resorts Signs New Property in Kota
India-based environmentally sensitive hotel chain The Fern Hotels & Resorts has signed a new hotel in Kota in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Currently, the company operates seven hotels in the state. Once operational, the property will feature 107 rooms.
“Kota is a rising tier-II city with significant tourism and business potential. We are pleased to partner with Royal Group from Kota for this hotel,” said Suhail Kannampilly, managing director of The Fern Hotels & Resorts.
The company recently launched a 24-room Koolwal Kothi Zinc Journey by The Fern, Nawalgarh in the state. The hotel chain said it would be adding 1,000 more rooms spanning 13 hotels this fiscal, most of which will come up in the east and northeastern markets.
IDFC First Bank, Club Vistara and Mastercard Launch Travel Credit Card
IDFC First Bank, Club Vistara and Mastercard have collaborated to launch a travel credit card that combines banking services with travel benefits. The co-branded credit card is designed to meet the ever-changing demands of new-age travelers, offering convenience, security and perks.
Cardholders can receive Club Vistara points, lounge benefits, annual rewards, golf benefits and cover for canceled flight and hotel bookings. The joining benefits include a free premium economy flight ticket along with an upgrade voucher. The rewards structure for the card is based on Club Vistara points, with accelerated points for different spending categories. The card also offers features like canceled-for-any-reason insurance and providing coverage for non-refundable components of travel bookings.
Andhra Pradesh to Get Three Oberoi Hotels
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has virtually laid foundation stones for the construction of three seven-star Oberoi Hotels at Gandikota, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati in the southern state. The state government and the Oberoi Group had exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the Global Investors Summit held in Visakhapatnam in March.
Scheduled to be completed in four years, the project is being built in an area of 40 acres at a cost of $42 million. 300 villas with seven-star facilities will be constructed as part of this project, located 5 miles from Bhogapuram International Airport.
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Photo credit: Plan automatically maps and generates a detailed itinerary for the chosen destination and theme. Firmbee.com / woman holding silver iPhone 6