Moderated by T+L India & South Asia’s Editor, Aindrila Mitra, the first session of the webinar serves as a segue for the sessions to follow. A mix of domestic and international industry veterans will aim to highlight the travel trends that would reveal themselves once the lockdown ends. Of the many pertinent questions they’ll be tackling, some of them are whether domestic travel will surpass international vacations, what would be some of the key factors to look into while making a traveller ‘comfortable’ again, and the importance of sustainable travel in the post-pandemic world.
Chris Flynn is the President and CEO of the World Tourism Association for Culture & Heritage, a position that requires liaison at the most senior levels of Industry, Government and Academia.
With 35 years experience in international tourism working in a wide range of countries across four continents, Flynn has an intimate knowledge of the industry and the requirements needed to identify critical trends that have the potential to influence tourism development and expansion.
Recognised as a leading specialist in terms of innovation and strategy, Flynn is often requested to speak at high profile conferences and events or provide insights to leading news media channels such as BBC World News Asia Business Report, which boasts a live global audience in excess of 300 million.
His expertise is also sought by leading Australian and International Universities and Education Faculties.
Malik J Fernando is a Director of Dilmah Tea. Established by Merrill J Fernando; Dilmah, named after his two sons Dilhan and Malik, was the first producer-owned tea brand, offering tea ‘picked, perfected and packed’ at origin. Dilmah is founded on a passionate commitment to quality and authenticity in tea, it is also a part of a philosophy that goes beyond commerce in seeing business as a matter of human service. Fifteen per cent of earnings are directed to social justice and the environment through the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.
Fernando is also the Managing Director of Resplendent Ceylon, the first Sri Lankan luxury resort brand. This “best of Sri Lanka” circuit features three distinctively original resorts, connected by a thread of peerless service. Ceylon Tea Trails, Wild Coast Tented Lodge and Cape Weligama are the sole Sri Lankan members of Relais & Chateaux, the global fellowship of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. Three more resorts are in development.
After the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks, Fernando spearheaded the Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance to mobilise the private tourism sector to act swiftly and strategically, with one voice under the ‘Love Sri Lanka’ banner.
He is also a director of Sri Lankan Airlines.
Fernando has a BSc in business management from Babson College in the US.
Meena Bhatia is a Hotelier with over four decades of luxury hotel experience. She started with Oberoi Grand, Kolkata and thereafter moved on to spearhead the team as Associate Director of Sales in Hyatt Regency Hotel Delhi.
After doing her graduation in English from the University of Delhi, Bhatia did her Post Graduate Diploma in Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Management from IMM, Kolkata; and went to Cornell University Ithaca, United States of America to do her General Managers Programme.
At present, Bhatia is the Vice President and General Manager at Le Meridien New Delhi. She is the head of Strategic Planning, Brand Management and Business Development of the Hotel and has been at the heart of driving transformational changes at Le Meridien New Delhi.
She not only develops and ensures the execution of the budget, but also directs Hotel’s leadership in the achievement of all financial and operational budgets and goals.
Extremely conscious about the brand standards, she introduces and implements Brand Programmes, assesses and ensures that the Brand Standards are adhered to. She also handles all communications with Marriott International and has been on the Brand Advisory Board of Le Meridien. She monitors the quality of Marketing and communications and creative execution of the brand Programmes. With her great analytical approach she is responsible for analysing reports to enhance revenue and brand positioning.
She is known for building a strong communication network in the organisation for smooth functioning and achievement of goals. Apart from these she interacts with guests regularly and ensures that their overall experience with the Hotel is a positive one.
She is the Hotel Representative for classification of Hotel with Ministry of Tourism, Department of Tourism, she is on the panel for various Tourism and Hospitality events, Guest Speaker at Hospitality Institutes and is actively involved with various CSR activities especially initiatives taken for “Women Empowerment” and “Save The Girl Child” with various institutes like Concern India, AIMA and DMA.
Bhatia conceptualised and founded Women’s Whiskey Appreciation Club at Le Meridien New Delhi – a club focusing on knowledge, appreciation and responsible drinking. She is actively involved with various associations and chambers namely FICCI Ladies Association, Delhi Women’s International Press Club, ICPB, SKAL, TAAI, FHRAI, HRNAI, Hotel Association of India. She was assigned as a Jury of Women Entrepreneurs Awards of Delhi Management Association. She is also an executive committee member for AIMA for their project “Pragati,” celebrating the Achievements of Women. She is an also Executive member of Tourism Council Committee – CII and Committee Member of Delhi State Council of CII.
Bhatia has won many national and international awards like ‘General Manager’ Award’ and ‘Best Franchise Hotel’ Award by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and has been covered in travel publications as well as leading dailies and electronic media.
Meenakshi Sharma is a 1988 batch Officer of Indian Audit & Account Service. She is currently the Director-General (Tourism) in the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and has previously served as the Additional Director General (Tourism), and the Director-General (Professional Practices) in Comptroller and Auditor General of India. She did masters in International Business and System Analysis from Delhi School of Economics.
She has also been the Accountant General in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. She won a fellowship award for General Accountability Officer of USA and has evaluated the reform process of World Health Organisations amongst many other multi-lateral organisations.
She has served in various capacities in Government of India in NDMC, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
A veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, with a post-graduate degree in marketing, Ritu Sharma has spent her last 20 years associated with aviation, travel and tourism industry of Switzerland.
She is the Deputy Director of Switzerland Tourism in India and has been spearheading the marketing and B2C communication for the tourism board to generate more awareness of Switzerland and its tourism products to Indians – to inspire more of them to travel to Switzerland for leisure, business and MICE purposes and to stay there for a longer period.
Vinod Kannan joined Vistara in June 2019. In his role, he is responsible for developing, executing and sustaining Vistara’s corporate strategy and ensuring the airline’s commercial success. He spearheads a wide portfolio of Vistara’s strategic and commercial functions, including but not limited to pricing and revenue management, network planning, sales and distribution, partnerships and alliances, product development, in-flight services, marketing, branding and customer experience.
With over 19 years of experience working with Singapore Airlines (SIA), he brings with him deep knowledge of the aviation industry across international markets. He joined the group in 2001 and has held many senior positions in the airline’s head office in Singapore as well as overseas.
Prior to joining Vistara, he served as the Chief Commercial Officer of Scoot, SIA’s low-cost subsidiary in Singapore, where he was instrumental in launching long-haul operations, mainly to cities in Europe. He has also served SIA as Vice President Network Planning and as Singapore Airlines’ General Manager for Indonesia. Kannan has spearheaded Singapore Airlines’ marketing and sales departments as well in the Middle East and Italy.
He holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In his free time, he enjoys reading and playing squash or tennis.
Amanpreet Bajaj is the Country Manager, India at Airbnb. He is responsible for the strategy and growth of Airbnb in India, as well as overseeing operations for the Indian market since 2015.
He has been a successful entrepreneur and brings with him years of rich experience in the Indian digital space. He co-founded Letsbuy.com in 2010 that was acquired by Flipkart.com in 2012 creating significant value for his investors and employees. During this journey Bajaj managed cross-functional teams across locations, heading the strategy and operations of the business with the primary focus on the growth of the e-commerce business. His professional career also includes a stint with Ernst & Young as a consultant, working with teams across varied sectors.
Bajaj is also considered as a thought-leader and often seen at industry forums as a speaker, mentor and networker with a single passion to grow the digital ecosystem in India. He has been featured as one of the promising “40 Under 40” leaders by Fortune Magazine for two consecutive years in a row in 2017 and 2018.
Bajaj lives in Gurgaon. An avid graphic designer and gadget explorer, he loves travelling and experiencing new cultures.
Vivek is a Partner with KPMG India. He leads the tourism and Industrial development practice for KPMG and brings in more than 17 years of advisory experience. His experience spans across techno-financial aspects across the infrastructure sector including tourism. He had authored the India Tourism Vision 2030 in 2014 which supported the change in design principle for tourism planning in the country. He currently leads several national tourism development programmes including Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) Scheme and Adopt a Heritage Scheme (ADAH) of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).
In addition, he advises several state government in their tourism developmental agenda and implementation including Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Arunachal and others.
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