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Soneva resorts Chief Executive Officer Sonu Shivdasani's comment is a testament to the fact that tourism industry has taken a hit following India-Maldives diplomatic dispute.

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Amid the diplomatic dispute between India and Maldives, Sonu Shivdasani, CEO of resort chain Soneva, wrote about the potential impact on the tourism industry, and hoped for a reconciliation.

Shivdasani, a prominent face in the Maldives hospitality industry, called the remarks made recently on social media by three junior Maldivian ministers “disparaging.”

“As a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), I found the comments rude, offensive, and xenophobic. And as the founder of Soneva, the uproar they have caused, leading to calls in India to boycott Maldives, has been deeply concerning. I was relieved to hear that the Maldivian government has suspended the deputy ministers and clarified that their remarks in no way represent official policy,” Shivdasani said on social media.

The Maldives government had distanced itself from the remarks deemed anti-Indian in a statement that read: “The Government of Maldives is aware of derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals. These opinions are personal.”

Shivdasani added that he hopes the Maldives government can mend fences with India. He said as a hotelier based in the Maldives, he could only say how deeply sorry he was and underscored how much he welcomed and appreciated Indian tourists. “Soneva, for its part, will always welcome Indian guests with open arms, as we have done for 25 years and will continue to do so now and in the future,” he added.

Development of Minicoy Island Airport in Lakshwadeep in Progress

The Indian government has said it will be moving forward with plans to construct a new airport on Minicoy Island in Lakshadweep. The proposed airport is designed to accommodate both military and civilian aircraft.

Operational Capabilities: Quoting government sources, Indian media reports stated that the plan involves the establishment of a dual-purpose airfield capable of handling fighter jets, other military planes, and commercial aircraft. The revived proposal for a new airport in Minicoy Island has also reportedly been resubmitted to the government, emphasizing its intention for joint military and civilian usage.

According to the report, Minicoy Island presently possesses only one airstrip located in Agatti, limiting the range of aircraft that can operate from the region. The decision to develop a new airport comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the area. Also, it coincides with a recent diplomatic stand-off with the Maldives.

Cygnett Hotels and Resorts Expands in Jaipur

Cygnett Hotels and Resorts has announced the opening of a new property in Jaipur, making it the hotel chain’s second property in the city. Cygnett Style Ganga in Jaipur’s Jagatpura area, features 45 rooms.

Last year, Midscale hospitality chain Cygnett Hotels and Resorts announced the opening of a 50-room Cygnett Inn Imperial Tezpur in the northeastern state of Assam, as reported by Skift.

With its recently launched brands, Cygnett Villas and Cygnett Collections, the company opened 18 properties in 2023. 

AirAsia Connects Jaipur With Kuala Lumpur

AirAsia initiates its 2024 route expansion, introducing the first route of the year from Jaipur, Rajasthan, to Kuala Lumpur. The service begins on April 21, marking AirAsia Malaysia’s inaugural venture from Jaipur to Kuala Lumpur.

Indian Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities have been gaining importance mainly because the real growth driver for the global travel industry is its surging middle class, as reported by Skift’s Megatrends.

According to a recent survey as per the report, the People Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE) characterizes a middle-class individual as someone earning an annual income between INR 500,000 – 3 million ($6,000 – $36,000). In India, they contribute about 50% of the nation’s total revenue. As many as 65% of the population is under 35 years old, sparsely distributed, including in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and they are traveling.

Moxy’s India Launch Will Feature Anuradha Venkatachalam At Helm

Anuradha Venkatachalam has recently joined Marriott International as the pre-opening hotel captain for Moxy Bengaluru Airport Prestige Tech Cloud, marking the debut of Moxy Hotels in India.

Anuradha worked most recently as director of operations at the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre.

Marriott’s Expansion: Moxy is Marriott’s 17th brand in India. Besides Moxy, Marriot has been expanding in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in response to changing consumer behavior, partially created during the pandemic. These cities have been experiencing a surge in growth, driven by rising middle-class aspirations and changes in consumer preferences. Ranju Alex, Marriott’s area vice president for South Asia, had told Skift earlier while tier-1 cities house the majority of Bonvoy members (company’s loyalty program,) the real growth potential lies in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

SriLankan Airlines Launches Agents Booking Portal

SriLankan Airlines has initiated the global rollout of its New Distribution Capability (NDC) agents booking portal, SriLankan Direct Connect. The launch starts in India, offering travel agents direct access to the airline’s reservation system and various benefits.

Adopting this technology allows the airline to establish a direct retail and communication channel with agents, bypassing traditional global distribution systems (GDS). 

Richard Nuttall, CEO of SriLankan Airlines, emphasized that SriLankan Direct Connect is designed to be an intuitive application that strengthens the direct distribution channel, providing enhanced value to travel agents and enabling them to deliver superior service to passengers.

Radisson Hotel Group Announces Opening of New Hotel in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh

Radisson Hotel Group announced the opening of its newest hotel in Ayodhya – Park Inn by Radisson Ayodhya. The hotel is likely to cater to religious tourism owing to the opening of Ram Temple in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh after years of land dispute.

Radisson Hotel Group, one of the country’s largest international hotel operators, maintains a prominent position in the Indian market with over 165 hotels in operation and development.

Radisson Group In India: The hotel group is the largest hotel operator in tier-1 markets like Delhi NCR, showcasing a substantial presence in major metropolitan areas.

More than 50% of the hotel group’s portfolio is strategically positioned in tier-2 and tier-3 markets, where it has gained advantages as a pioneer in these locations. The hotel spans across 70+ locations in India.

Diverse Brand Presence: The hotels operate under various brands, including Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Inn by Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn & Suites by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, and Radisson Individuals.


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Tags: airasia, airbnb, airlines, budget hotels, earnings, hotels, ihg, maldives, radisson, skift india report, tourism, Travel Trends

Photo credit: Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani said he's concerned about the potential impact of the India-Maldives standoff on the tourism industry. Soneva

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