Friday, 28 September 2012

5 Historic Sites to Visit This Gandhi Jayanti

New Delhi, September 28, 2012:  As the nation celebrates the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, TripAdvisor ®, world’s largest travel site,  has come out with a list of the 5 most highly rated attractions closely associated  with the Father of the Nation.

The list includes historic sites which trace Mahatma Gandhi’s journey from birth to the freedom struggle, to his last days and final resting place. Featuring as the most popular attraction in the list is Bapuji’s birthplace and home, Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. The destination now functions as an institution and museum with an aim to preserve and propagate the legacy of the Mahatma.

While Sabarmati is where M.K. Gandhi was born, his identity as Mahatma Gandhi was born of the strife for Independent India and Mani Bhavan is symbolic of that. Aga Khan Palace, is where he was interned and where Kasturba Gandhi breathed her last and Gandhi Smriti is where his earthly journey came to an end.  

Our recommendation - if you live in any of these cities, take your kids there for a lesson in India’s history or revisit yourself for a shot of national pride.

1.      Sabarmati Ashram / Mahatma Gandhi's Home, Ahmedabad: If you need a quick recap of India’s pre-independence history and the life of the Mahatma, visit Sabarmati Ashram. The site which has remnants of Gandhiji’s life is calm and very well maintained. It is a perfect place to recollect all that you read in that history book by the side of Sabarmati!

2.  Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, Mumbai: Feed the rebel in you! Visit the place where national movements, including the Non-Cooperation, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat were initiated. The major attraction in Mani Bhavan is the library on the ground floor which houses more than 50,000 books by and on Gandhiji.

3.   Gandhi Smriti, New Delhi: Gandhi Smriti, formerly known as Birla House is the place where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last days of his life and was assassinated on January 30, 1948. The exhibition on the Mahatma, the room in which he lived and the prayer ground where he became a martyr attracts huge number of visitors from India and abroad.

4.  National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi: The Gandhi museum has an impressive collection of the Mahatma’s personal memorabilia and art pieces. It stores Gandhiji’s slippers, utensils, spectacles, beddings, jail bowl and the stick which he used, to undertake the famous Salt March from Dandi.

5.     Aga Khan Palace, Pune: This historic building served as prison for Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba and Secretary Mahadevbhai Desai after the launch of the Quit India movement. Kasturba Gandhi & Mahadevbhai passed away while in captivity at the Aga Khan palace. Situated near the River Mula, this magnificent and picturesque place is a simple memorial of Gandhiji and his life. The iconic movie ‘Gandhi’ by Sir Richard Attenborough was shot in parts at Aga Khan Palace.

Check out the photographs of these places taken by TripAdvisor travellers at

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Growth of Business Trips Stable But Early Signs of a Possible Slowdown

-  71% respondents claim that their air travel for domestic & international business trips has stayed unchanged or increased in 2012

 -    59% respondents acknowledged that their company has introduced some form of travel cost reduction measures

Resonating the global sentiment, the annual India Business Travel Survey by TripAdvisor®, the world's largest travel site, reports a mixed outlook for business travel for 2012. The survey was taken by over 1300 respondents with a cross section working in government, public sector, private companies, multinationals as well as self employed.  While the survey results suggest that growth in business travel in 2012 has been confident in the face of softening economic growth, it also reveals that companies are slowly but surely becoming conscientious and watchful of their travel expenses, which could be symptomatic of an imminent slowdown.

Domestic business trips in 2012 have increased or stayed the same for 67% respondents with a decline for 33%. Even international business trips have increased for 40% respondents and remained unchanged for 28% with a fall in foreign travel for 32%. While both these numbers show that for majority of respondents, work related travel has been stable or shown an increase, but close to one-third of travellers who have witnessed a fall in their business trips from 2011 cannot be ignored.

“While overall business travel has been strong and stable despite the current economic environment, there are signs of a potential impact on travel frequency and cost.  Survey results show over one-third of respondents confirming a decline in work trips this year from 2011, along with organizations growing careful and vigilant of their travel spends” said Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India.

He further added, “59% respondents acknowledged that their company has introduced some form of travel cost reduction measures like lowering grade of airline travel or fall in the average room night allowance. In fact 35% respondents among those who saw a drop in business trips in 2012 attributed it to cost cutting travel policies put in place by their organization.”

Cost Cutting Plays Spoilsport!

Travel privileges/allowances see a downgrade for a sizeable number of business travellers.

  • 21% respondents who were flying business/first class for most trips in 2011 had to fly economy on most or some work trips in 2012; only 3% saw an upgrade in class of travel this year compared to 2011
  • 24% confirmed that their number of nights per work trip have reduced compared to 2011 and  16% cited increase in number of times they avoid staying overnight in a city and instead fly back same day, both owing to company travel policy cost cutting.
  • Over 70% saw no change in class of hotel stay whereas 18% had to stay in a lower star rated hotel or even switched from a hotel to a guest-house for some or most  work trips in 2012, as compared to 2011 due to company’s cost cutting policies
  • 51% respondents revealed a change in their company’s internal offsite plan for 2012 due to cost cutting by:  
                                    o     Taking lesser employees - 13%
o    Reducing duration of offsite - 11%
o    Cancelling an offsite – 10%
o    Changing international offsite to domestic  destination - 9%
         o    Opting for lower star rated hotel/resort  - 8%        
  • 59% respondents acknowledged that their company  introduced some form of travel cost reduction measures, such as: 
         o    Recommending use of remote meeting tools – 42%
o    Lowered grade of airline travel – 17%
o    Lowered average room night allowance – 15%
o    Recommending use of public transport instead of cabs – 14%
o    Reduce daily cash allowance – 9%

Emergence of remote meeting tools
Remote meeting tools seem to be gaining widespread acceptance in India. Among those who saw a decline in      their business travel between 2011 and 2012, a good 46% respondents said that their business travel requirements have been reducing in general due to remote meeting tools. In another question, 42% respondents said their company has been recommending more use of remote meeting tools as a measure of travel cost reduction.

Extra Work but Still Welcome

Despite half of the respondents agreeing that travelling for work means longer working hours, 65% respondents said that business travel is a break from usual office grind. 31% respondents even called it ‘fun’. Surprisingly, a higher percentage of male respondents said they found travel stressful or disrupting compared to female respondents.

Business Travellers’ Favourites & Wish list 

  • Jet Airways emerged as the Numero Uno choice for business travellers with 46% respondents voting for it as their favourite domestic airline, followed by Indigo (30%). Kingfisher Airlines, Spice Jet and Air India were all tied for 3rd spot at 7% each.
  • Emirates surpassed all other carriers by a large margin with 20% respondents claiming it to be their preferred international airline for business travel, followed by Singapore Airlines (9%) and Lufthansa (8%).
  •  When quizzed on their favourite business hotel, 32% respondents did not show a preference for any hotel chain, while 11% said they have to stay mandatorily in hotels their company has a loyalty tie up with. Among the remaining respondents, 11% voted for Taj as a favourite followed by ITC Hotels (5%) and JW Marriot (4%).
  • When travelling for work, the three  factors most important to travellers in choosing a hotel  are: 
         o    Location near business meeting/conference venue -  70%
o    Room rate - 52%
o    Free breakfast – 49%
  • 45% respondents also claimed high speed internet/Wi-Fi to be an important factor when choosing a business hotel. In fact, 99% respondents voted in favour of business hotels offering free hi speed internet/Wi-Fi to guests.

Other Travel Nuggets

  • Online catches up  - 38% respondents said they book their flight and hotel tickets online followed by 37% who use company travel desk/agent for making bookings
  • Breaking the stereotype , only 38% women said they miss family on a work trip as compared to 63% men 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Meherangarh Fort rated as the No.1 Indian attraction most loved by foreign tourist

TripAdvisor ®  world’s largest travel site, today unveiled a list of top 15 Indian historic/ landmark sites most loved by the international community, based on reviews by foreign travellers on TripAdvisor. The list is based on the valuable reviews and ratings of international travellers who have visited these attractions, and includes five UNESCO World Heritage Sites       

Featuring at the number one spot in the list is Meherangarh Fort. While this resplendent fort has adorned the Jodhpur skyline for centuries, it was recently in the news when it served as a prominent backdrop in the critically acclaimed Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.

While these cultural epitomes are immortalised in history, some of these attractions have also been immortalised on the silver screen over the ages. Agra Fort in the classic Mughal-e-Azam, City Palace of Udaipur in Dev Anand’s epic, Guide to more recently Amber (Amer) Fort and Palace in Salman Khan starrer Veer and Abhishek Bacchan’s Bol Bacchan are only a few examples of this.   

The list of the Top 15 attractions as rated by International tourists is as below:

2.     Taj Mahal, Agra – World Heritage Site 
3.     Khajuraho Temples, Khajuraho – World Heritage Site 
8.     Agra Fort, Agra – World Heritage Site 
9.     Humayuns Tomb, New Delhi  – World Heritage Site 
10.  Qutab Minar, New Delhi – World Heritage Site 

Check out some amazing photographs of these places taken by TripAdvisor travellers at

Thursday, 6 September 2012

TripAdvisor’s’ Mid-Year Traveller Sentiment Barometer

- International holiday plans affected for 51% respondents as vacation budget takes a beating from Rupee slide 

- 66% respondents alter holiday plans due to budgetary constraints

With most news spelling out facts and forecast of economic gloom, a Mid Year Traveller Sentiment Barometer survey by TripAdvisor®, the world's largest travel site, resonates a similar sentiment among travellers but delivers a refreshingly positive verdict on its effect on overall travel plans. The survey highlights positive cues despite an overall discouraging economic and budgetary impression.

60% of those surveyed believe the economy will remain in the current state or weaken further in the coming 6 months. In a survey issued in December 2011, only 7% respondents thought they would cut down their travel next year, compared to 2011. However, mid year results show that now actually 24% are looking at cutting down travel plans in 2012 compared to last.  

Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India elaborates, “Budgetary concerns are having a definite impact on overall travel plans this year, particularly international travel seems to have taken a hit”

He further adds, “However the appetite for travel displays resilience, with travellers instead of abandoning travel plans are simply opting for domestic destinations, shorter trips or destinations like South East Asia where the Rupee can deliver more on holiday.”

Impeding the Journey
  •  International holiday plans for 51% respondents were affected with the free fall in the Indian Rupee over the last 6 months with 9% among them having cancelled a foreign holiday and the rest 43% changing their holiday destination.
  •  With consistently high inflation burning a hole in the pocket of consumers, vacation budgets fall under pressure as well. This is evident as 66% survey respondents said they will be looking at changing their holiday plans due to budgetary constraints.
  • 71% respondents claimed they will end up spending more, with 41% among them saying they will end up spending significantly more on holiday this year compared to 2011.
  • Those who said they will end up spending significantly more this year cited the following top 4 reasons for the strain on their purse strings. 

                69% - significantly higher air fares
52% - higher hotel room costs
5% - cost of eating out on holiday
6% -  higher fuel prices leading to higher cost of road trips

  • In spite of the grey sentiment echoed above , the holiday spirit is not completely dulled as  36% respondents claim   that their  leisure travel is more this year compared to 2011, with another  40% travelling as much as last year. 

        The Indian traveller loses no momentum in the face of slowdown
  • 84% respondents travelled within India between January to July this year.
  • The travel impetus continues well into the second half of the year with 79% respondents looking at more holidays from August to December.  Only 6% respondents were certain of not travelling in the second half of 2012.
  • 62% plan to take 2-4 holidays by the end of 2012, a healthy 29% have plans for 5 or more holidays.  A meager 5% are planning only 1 holiday and a negligible 0.4% are taking no holidays this year.
  • While planning for holidays so far in 2012, 43% respondents found either heavily booked hotels or flights for their chosen destination. 32% had to compromise on hotel choice because their chosen hotel was not available or had to change travel dates or choice of airline due to flight non-availability, clearly indicating the volume of travel being undertaken. 
      Domestic, ‘value-for-money foreign destinations closer to home’ & ‘shorter breaks’ ensure travel plans don’t derail. 

      While travellers have altered vacation options owing to budget strains and rupee depreciation, they have not given up on their holiday plans.
  • 45% respondents said they are looking at more domestic than international holidays, or only domestic holidays due to budgetary constraints. 21% also said they are looking at taking same holidays but of shorter duration to accommodate tightening budgets.
  • 21% respondents are replacing their international holiday with a domestic destination and 22% are looking at alternative foreign shores where the rupee can go further like South East Asia, over their original international destination of choice, due to the Rupee fall.