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Posts tagged as Expedia

Sindh tourism authorities want foreign travel websites blocked

KARACHI.: Amid the centre’s attempts to rebrand Pakistan into an attractive travel destination, tourism authorities in Sindh appear to be headed the opposite way as they move towards blocking all international ticketing and hotel reservation websites, seemingly on a single complaint.
Without consulting both foreign and other local tour operators, the Sindh Directorate of Tourist Services (DTS) has asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to block over 60 websites that it says are operating in the country without valid travel and tourism operation licenses. The list includes globally popular websites like Booking.com, Expedia, AirBnB and Agoda.“These online services have a competitive advantage over local travel and tourism operators as they are not subject to Pakistan’s tax regime,” Sindh DTS Controller Manzoor Hussain Mari told The Express Tribune.
“They often enjoy a price advantage of up to 15 to 20 per cent over local companies,” he said, citing local tour operator Travel Horizontal’s complaint.Travellers allowed only one cellphone in a year to bring to Pakistan duty-freeThe DTS approached the FIA on Travel Horizontal’s complaint, which also alleged that unregistered foreign travel companies mislead customers regarding room rates and availability, and cancellation policies.The local operator further complained that foreign companies bypass financial scrutiny and regulatory due diligence due to these reasons.With the current emphasis on promoting travel and tourism, improved regulation is essential.
As the primary tourism and travel regulator, all travelling and booking services operating from the country are registered with each province’s directorate of tourist services. The provincial DTS are also responsible for ensuring fair pricing, ethical practices and consumer satisfaction.However, when asked how the foreign companies concerned responded to the concern, Mari said the Sindh DTS has not contacted any of them yet. The department’s decision is also seemingly based on one complaint, which appeared to have been filed away haphazardly under bundles of other documents when The Express Tribune requested to review it.The complaint was referred to the department by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), with a request to review it in light of section 37 of the cybercrime act. The DTS then approached the FIA for action before returning the complaint to PTA with some recommendations.In all of this, the directorate has failed to take into account how other local travel operators as well as users of such websites view this situation. It also appeared not to pay serious heed to how a blanket ban on such websites could disturb the travel plans of those relying on them.Syed Shahbaz Ali, who runs a local travel agency, says he regularly uses online booking portals for his clients and also recommends it to them as they often offer the best options and rates. It also helps smaller set-ups who don’t have international partners, he added.Similarly, all those travelling abroad will be unable to access such booking and ticketing websites in case of a ban. Ali Shah, a frequent traveler, says he will use proxies to access Airbnb in case such a situation arises.

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Travel tech this week: Start-ups funding and new partnerships

This week, we saw travel start-ups getting funding to further their growth. Some companies also facilitated new partnerships to expand their services.
Lithuanian start-up Trafi offers a transport app that handles billing for all services centrally and requires only a single login.This will remove the need to use multiple providers for various transport services.“This goes in precisely the right direction,” said Andreas Knie, a mobility expert at the Social Science Center Berlin.
“Transport services need to be connected, just like cellphone networks, so you can easily roam from one to another.”The app will also help to prevent people from riding their own cars that will clog the already-congested roads for the sake of convenience.
Berlin’s ageing transport system – a maze of underground lines, trams, buses and commuter rail covering an area the size of Dallas – is straining as its population heads toward 4 million.Expedia’s Certified Technology Partner ProgramExpedia Partner Solutions (EPS) has launched its Certified Technology Partner Program, an elite program for EPS’ top technology partners from around the world.
The program will provide increased resource investment from EPS to further expand its technology partners’ business and become one of EPS’ most trusted tech platforms globally.Over the next year, EPS will select up to 30 top global technology partners to join its Certified Technology Partner Program.Prospective tech partners must meet three key criteria: map at least 90% of EPS supply; integrate EPS’ API, EPS Rapid; and meet EPS’ launch requirements.In addition to Expedia Group’s hotel supply of more than 500,000 varied accommodations, certified technology partners will receive dedicated weekly tech support and EPS’ partner services team will review the tech partner’s integration every year to make sure they continue to be optimised.
Pickyourtrail bags USD 3 million Online travel agency Pickyourtrail has raised nearly USD 3 million in Series A funding. Angel investors led the round, including Kumar Vembu, the founder of billing software start-up GoFrugal.
Pickyourtrail graduated from the Amadeus Next incubator.The Chennai, India-based Pickyourtrail focuses on selling outbound international travel, where customers can piece together air, hotel and tour packages.
Southeast Asian consumers mostly use traditional travel agencies to plot the details of their vacations. This start-up hopes to woo them online with an algorithm that matches trip recommendations with personal preferences.
Since its founding five years ago with USD 1,700 in seed capital, Pickyourtrail has been gaining steam. It ended 2018 having helped plan 8,000 trips.
The company, which now has about 90 workers, claims to have been profitable every month in the last 60 months barring one, said co-founder Hari Ganapathy.Amex GBT confirms South African partnerAmerican Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has confirmed Tourvest Travel Services as its partner in South Africa after Rennies Travel announced it would join forces with BCD Travel.The TMC says it implemented a ‘best-of-both’ strategy following last year’s acquisition of HRG, selecting the best partners in each country from the existing Amex GBT and HRG networks. Tourvest has been an Amex GBT partner for more than 20 years and was chosen for its “highly skilled people and its commitment to integrating the advanced GBT technology platforms”.
Rennies Travel had been HRG’s partner in South Africa, but BCD Travel announced last month that it would turn to the corporate specialist for its clients in the region. HRG clients currently serviced by Rennies Travel will be supported in moving their programmes over to Tourvest, according to Amex GBT, and Rennies is no longer part of the network.
3DEN receives USD 2 millionStart-up 3 DEN, which aims to offer co-working, lounge, and nap areas in cities, has raised USD 2 million in seed funding. It intends to offer services a traveller might expect in an airport lounge, only without the airport.Investors include b8ta and Graphene Ventures. 3 DEN, founded in New York City, will open its first spaces on 15 March at the Hudson Yards complex of residential, office, and retail venues.While you can reserve amenities at the space, consumers don’t book time there. It will be purely a walk-in destination.

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