Gajendra Singh Shekhawat Takes Charge as New Union Minister of Culture and Tourism

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on June 12, 2024

In a recent cabinet reshuffle, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has been appointed as the new Union Minister of Culture and Tourism, marking a significant change in the leadership of these crucial sectors. Shekhawat, the Member of Parliament representing Jodhpur, previously served as the Minister of Jal Shakti in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Shekhawat, who won his seat in the Lok Sabha by a substantial margin, brings extensive experience to his new role. His political journey includes a term as the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare from 2017 to 2019 before taking over the Jal Shakti Ministry. This new appointment underscores his rising prominence within the BJP and the trust placed in him by Prime Minister Modi.

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Upon his appointment, Shekhawat expressed his gratitude and commitment to advancing India's cultural and tourism sectors. He highlighted the importance of these areas in India's development and emphasized his dedication to ensuring that the benefits of growth reach every segment of society. His vision includes leveraging India's rich cultural heritage and diverse tourism potential to build a more connected and developed nation.

Joining Shekhawat in the Tourism Ministry is Suresh Gopi, a notable actor and politician from Kerala, who has been appointed as the Minister of State for Tourism. This marks a significant achievement for the BJP in Kerala. Additionally, Rao Inderjit Singh will support Shekhawat in the Culture Ministry while also managing the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

This reshuffle, part of Modi's third term, aims to enhance governance and efficiency across key sectors. It retains several senior ministers in crucial roles, ensuring stability and continuity in the government’s core functions. Shekhawat’s appointment is particularly noteworthy for the tourism industry, given his roots in Rajasthan, a state known for its vibrant tourism sector.

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The hospitality and tourism industry has responded positively to Shekhawat’s appointment. Leaders in the industry, such as KB Kachru of the Hotel Association of India, have expressed optimism about his ability to foster growth and attract investment. The sector is hopeful that under Shekhawat’s leadership, tourism will be recognized for its potential to generate employment and boost the economy.

Shekhawat’s immediate focus will be on implementing policies that enhance India’s cultural and tourism offerings, aiming to position the country as a top global destination. His leadership is expected to bring a balanced approach to both cultural and leisure tourism, driving progress and development in these vital sectors.


Bespoke Hotels Unveils Major Rebranding Initiative

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on July 5, 2024

Bespoke Hotels, the UK's largest independent hotel group, has announced a comprehensive rebranding effort to enhance guest experiences and solidify its leadership in the hospitality industry. This rebranding includes a new website, updated brochures, and a refreshed identity aimed at exceeding guest expectations and delivering exceptional service.

The group, which manages over 70 independent hotels across the British Isles, is focusing on strategic expansion while maintaining its core values of outstanding service and personalized guest care. The rebranding effort is designed to cater to a broader range of travelers and destinations.

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Key components of the rebranding include significant investment in a new website to boost direct bookings and the distribution of a leisure breaks brochure across all hotels to promote cross-selling within the portfolio. Each hotel will also feature a plaque identifying it as part of the Bespoke Hotel family, further reinforcing the brand’s presence.

Thomas Greenall, CEO of Bespoke Hotels, emphasized that this initiative is more than just a visual update. “This isn’t just a visual refresh; it’s a comprehensive strategy designed to create lasting value for our stakeholders. As we look to the future, we are committed to staying ahead of the curve and innovating to provide value to our owners and meet the ever-changing needs of our guests. We thank everyone for their continued support as we embark on this exciting new chapter,” said Greenall.

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The year 2024 has been significant for Bespoke Hotels, marked by various development projects that enhance its existing portfolio. This includes the launch of two new Gotham locations and several other hotel openings and refurbishments throughout the collection.

The rebranding aligns with Bespoke Hotels’ goal to offer unique and memorable experiences, ensuring guests feel valued and catered to. With the refreshed identity and strategic investments, Bespoke Hotels aims to remain a leader in the hospitality industry, providing exceptional service and unforgettable experiences for travelers.


Accor Launches New Campaign for Paris 2024 Olympics, Showcasing Hospitality Excellence

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on July 2, 2024

Accor, a leading global hospitality group and a Premium Partner of Paris 2024, has unveiled its new advertising campaign for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This campaign, which aims to highlight Accor's commitment to exceptional hospitality, includes a main film directed by Vincent Lobelle (Iconoclast), two short formats, and visuals shot by Aurélien Chauvaud.

Under the tagline “Crafting treasured memories,” the campaign reflects the ethos of Accor’s brands and its 1,700 hotels in France. The campaign emphasizes the dedication of Accor’s 40,000 Heartists®—staff members who are committed to creating memorable experiences for guests. Stories featured in the campaign include a concierge named Jean who embarks on an adventure to bring an ice cream to cheer up a young guest, a waitress who prevents a mishap with her quick thinking, and a receptionist who goes above and beyond to return a lost camera to its owner.

The campaign is set to air on TV and digital platforms from June 23 to September 15, and will also appear on billboards in train stations and airports, targeting both French and international travelers. Additionally, Accor has planned a comprehensive media strategy with France Télévisions to support the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games, reflecting its commitment to inclusion and support for disabled athletes.

Stéphanie Dartevelle, VP Sponsorship Europe & North Africa at Accor, said, “The campaign aims to celebrate the spirit of the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics and to showcase the values of excellence, surpassing oneself and respect that Accor holds dear. It highlights Accor’s vision of hospitality and its ability to offer outstanding experiences to its guests during all the major events that inspire and bring people together throughout the world.”

Fabrice Plazolles, Creative Director at Havas Play, said “We wanted to create a blockbuster film for this campaign while simultaneously retaining a certain playfulness to entertain French audiences and make them smile. By featuring Heartists® as top athletes who will go to any lengths to satisfy their guests, we are highlighting Accor’s dedication and its expectations when it comes to hospitality. Vincent Lobelle’s talent took care of the rest, enabling us to create ­a vibrant and joyful film that reflects Accor’s values.”

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As part of its role as a Premium Partner, Accor is also focusing on accessibility and inclusivity for the Paris 2024 Games. The group is working towards obtaining the “Tourism and Disability” certification for its French hotels, with over 330 hotels involved in the certification process. Furthermore, Accor will manage key services in the Athletes and Media Villages, including laundry, cleaning, and information services. These efforts are aligned with Accor’s broader commitment to sustainable development and responsible tourism.

Accor’s preparation for the 2024 Paris Games includes recruiting over 700 individuals to ensure efficient operations in the Athletes and Media Villages. The group has also introduced a specialized training program, “Sportist Training,” to equip its teams with the necessary skills for the event.

To enhance the guest experience during the Games, Accor will introduce “Mood Service” in select hotels, offering activities and themed events inspired by the spirit of Paris 2024. These initiatives aim to create a vibrant and engaging atmosphere for guests, further cementing Accor’s reputation for exceptional hospitality.


Temecula's Europa Village Hosts Great Taste of Europa Wine & Food Festival

By Nishang Narayan

Published on June 28, 2024

Europa Village Wineries & Resort, an award-winning destination in Southern California's Temecula Valley Wine Country, is gearing up to host its third annual Great Taste of Europa Wine & Food Festival. Scheduled for Sunday, September 15, 2024, from 11 am to 4 pm, this festival promises an afternoon of diverse flavors, new wine discoveries, and lively entertainment.

The event will showcase over 50 exquisite, award-winning European wines and unique European-inspired culinary delights. A dedicated beer and spirits garden will be featured in the newly opened Vienza Italian Garden. Attendees will have the chance to indulge in culinary treats from countries like France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Greece, prepared by Executive Chef Hany Ali, who brings a global culinary flair to the festival.

In addition to the food and wine, the festival supports local culinary talent through a philanthropic partnership. A portion of ticket sales will go toward empowering local culinary students, allowing them to showcase their talents alongside seasoned professionals.

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This year, the festival is elevated by a media partnership with Sunset Magazine, a premier resource focused on travel destinations, food & wine, home & design, and outdoor living. "We are excited to welcome guests back to experience the rich flavors and vibrant culture of Europe, right here in the heart of Temecula," said Jason Maciel, Director of Marketing & PR at Europa Village. "Now in our third year, The Great Taste continues to get bigger and bigger, promising guests an unforgettable journey through Europe's most iconic wine regions and gastronomic traditions alongside the stunning backdrop of Temecula."

Tickets for the event include all food and beverage tastings and can be purchased online. Attendees must be 21+ to attend.

About Europa Village Wineries & Resort

Nestled on more than 45 acres of rolling hills in the heart of Temecula Valley Wine Country, Europa Village brings the old-world charm of Europe to Southern California. This multi-winery destination wine resort offers the character of Europe, transporting guests to the traditional villages of Spain, France, and Italy across three winery destinations - Bolero, a Spanish adventure; C'est la Vie, a French affair; and Vienza, inspired by the Italian countryside. Guests can enjoy restaurants, boutiques, tasting rooms, and walking paths that connect these European-style venues. Upscale accommodations are available at The Inn at Europa Village or in one of the Bolero Casitas.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Europa Village website.

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