RailWisdom for RailYatri

RailWisdomRailways information site RailYatri has launched its crowd sourcing technology aimed at making rail travel safe and efficient. RailWisdom is a unique platform that collects the experiences of train travelers and collates it according to trains and stations to help people get accurate information about their routes and destinations.

Perhaps, there is no other medium of transport that brings forth the diversities of this vast nation as trains and with 22 million travelers everyday, it is one of the largest public transports in the world. Through RailWisdom attempt is to bring all information related to trains and stations under one roof in order to ensure that passengers can get accurate do’s and don’ts about their travel destinations and the trains they are boarding. So far, information about 1,400 stations and 400-500 trains have been put on RailWisdom. It is being expanded. RailWisdom for mobile-based platform will be launched by next month. Indian Railways has around 8,000 stations covering over a lakh kilometers of network.

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Goa aims for health and wellness tourism

Goa wellnessGoa needs more high-end hotel rooms to hope for big-ticket tourists, says a draft investment policy prepared by a government-appointed task force that says the state can position itself as a health and wellness tourism destnation. It has also outlined the importance of medical tourism in taking forward Goa’s story. The government targets granting permissions to starred hotels, across categories, to a cumulative additional capacity of around 8,000 beds in the next five years.

The report also says that attracting high-end visitors will also mean creation of infrastructure and facilities which in turn will provide gainful employment for the state’s youth. The current disparity in the proportion of low-end to high-end hotels will be made up by encouraging more boutique and luxury hotels in the state. The increased focus on high-end tourists also comes with the inevitable requirement of creating high-value tourism products, which should include oceanariums, theme parks, shopping malls, entertainment centres, high-end water sports and adventure sports. At present Goa attracts nearly 2.8 million tourists annually, out of which over half a million are foreigners. Health and wellness tourism attracted over 1.3 million people to India in 2013 alone. Goa has good basic healthcare infrastructure to cater to the segment. But more needs to be done. While medical tourism is growing in Goa, the government is keen to attract investments in new facilities and draw more medical tourists to Goa for high-end and complicated procedures. For medical tourism to take off in a big way, uniformity and quality of services offered are critical.

Samoa may reopen casino process

Fale_on_Manono_IslandThe tiny South Pacific nation of Samoa could reopen the bidding for a casino licence, a move likely to upset religious leaders, after halting talks with a Chinese tourism group that is facing allegations of corruption. China’s Exhibitions Tourism Group (ETG) had planned to build a 500-room hotel and casino in the cash-strapped country of 190,000, which is heavily reliant on foreign aid and money sent home from citizens working overseas. The plan hit a snag when ETG’s chairman, Deng Hong, came under investigation for corruption by Chinese Communist Party officials over land deals in mainland China, according to Chinese and Samoan media reports. The Samoan government withdrew the licence earlier this month.

The government passed laws in 2010 for two casino licences, including one for Samoan hotel firm Aggie Grey’s, as a way to help recover from a 2009 tsunami that wiped 30 percent off the country’s economy. Samoa was also hit by cyclone in 2012 and a drop in tourism in the wake of the 2008 global financial crunch. Its economy was worth $677 million in 2012.

Religious leaders and opposition lawmakers have warned casinos will cause social problems in the conservative Christian-dominated country, which moved the international dateline east to align its time zone with the bigger economies of Australia and New Zealand in 2011. Under the ETG licence, 15 percent of gaming revenue was to be paid to the government on top of a licence fee of $150,000, as well as open the way for direct flights from China to Samoa.

Venice tourists get shock bill

Caffè_LavenaTourists going to Venice beware – and make sure you read the fine print. Everyone knows the lagoon city can be expensive but seven tourists from Rome got a bitter surprise when their bill for four coffees and three liqueurs at an outdoor cafe topped 100 Euros ($130).

The scene of the mishap was the famed Caffe Lavena in St. Mark’s Square, where 19th century German composer Richard Wagner, who died in Venice in 1883, sat to have his morning coffee every day when he lived in the city. What the Roman tourists – who posted their receipt on Facebook – apparently did not notice when looking at the menu was the “music surcharge” of six Euros per person. It added up to 42 Euros, or nearly half of the bill.

The owners of the famous cafe, which opened in 1750 and where clients are served by white-jacketed waiters as a chamber orchestra plays, defended themselves. They said all the prices (six Euros for a coffee and 10 for a liqueur) as well as the music surcharge are printed on the menus. “If they found the prices too high, they could have got up and gone somewhere else, like many people do, or have the coffee standing at the bar inside, where it costs one euro,” Lavena’s manager, Massimo Milanese, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. ($1 = 0.7490 Euros) – Reuters