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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Bengaluru has seen the sharpest decline in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) among major Indian cities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to JLL’s India Hotel Recovery Guide- Bengaluru, released today, as of YTD July 2020, RevPAR declined by 59 per cent but is expected to bottom out in Q4 2020 as the Government gradually eases lockdown restrictions and domestic travel begins to pick up.

“Over the last few years, Bengaluru has evolved into a fundamentally strong hotels market on back of office demand led by IT and Fintech companies. Once life settles around COVID-19, Bengaluru’s hotel market is expected to bounce back, albeit slowly over the next couple of years. The hotels which are linked to office parks could get back to business earlier as compared to the ones with huge banqueting and conferencing facilities. Leisure destinations around Bengaluru such as Coorg, Chikmaglur and Kabini will also likely witness some revenge travel from the city dwellers although this demand could be intermittent.” says Jaideep Dang, Managing Director, Hotels & Hospitality Group (India), JLL The Silicon Valley of India is expected to see a greater interest from private equity players, high-net-worth individuals and distressed asset funds as they capitalise on opportunities to invest in hotel assets which would be valued at a discount to their pre-COVID-19 values. However, transactions will likely only occur once travel restrictions are further eased and site visits are facilitated.

The good news in case of Bengaluru city is that there will be limited distressed asset sales. “Owing to the ownership profile, a significant portion of hotel owners in Bengaluru are long-term holders with strong balance sheets and are better placed to weather out the pandemic when compared to other markets in India,” points out the report. However, a few distressed sales may occur in the market from owners that are unable to service their existing debt. Some owners who had already taken a decision to sell prior to COVID-19 are expected to still go ahead with their monetization, the report states.

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) organised its 50th webinar titled “Atmanirbhar Bharat – Issues confronting Tourism & Travel” under Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series recently. The webinar  presented the MSME sector and its classification, registration process for MSMEs, credit/Finance Schemes of Ministry of MSME for services sector, Public procurement policy etc.This webinar was organized with the vision to provide information and guidance to the stakeholders on benefits from the various elements and schemes of MSME.

The webinar was presented by Devendra Kumar Singh, Additional Secretary and Development Commissioner, MSME and Anand Sherkhane, Additional Development Commissioner, Ministry of Micro, small and medium Enterprises.

After 14 years since the MSME Development Act came into existence in 2006, a revision in MSME definition was announced in the Atmanirbhar Bharat package on 13th May 2020.  As per this announcement, the definition of Micro manufacturing and services units was increased to Rs. 1 crore of investment and Rs. 5 crore of turnover. The limit of small unit was increased to Rs. 10 crore of investment and Rs 50 crore of turnover. Similarly, the limit of medium unit was increased to Rs. 20 crore of investment and Rs. 100 crore of turnover. The Government of India on June 1, 2020 decided for further upward revision of the MSME Definition. For medium Enterprises, now it will be Rs. 50 crore of investment and Rs. 250 crore of turnover.

After the package was announced on 13th May, 2020, there were several representations saying that the announced revision is still not in line with market and price conditions and hence it should be further revised upwardly. Keeping in mind these representations, Prime Minister decided to further increase the limit for medium Units. This has been done in order to be realistic with time and to establish an objective system of classification and to provide ease of doing business.

The Ministry of MSME has reiterated that it has put in place a very strong handholding mechanism for MSMEs and new entrepreneurs in the name of Champions (www.champions.gov.in) which was recently launched by the Prime Minister. Interested Enterprises/People can take benefit of this mechanism and can also put their queries or complaints. The same will be attended to with utmost promptness.

 The Presenters also shared the procedures for registration in MSME.

·         Udyam registration is compulsory https://udyamregistration.gov.in

·         Free registration- no fees

·         Only Adhar number is required

·         Permanent registration number

·         Registration certification issued online.  If registered once, no need for renewal

·         Champions centers (DICs) will provide support.

·         Registration process is totally free

·         No cost or fees are to be paid to anyone.

 

A step towards Self-Reliant India, global tenders will be disallowed up to Rs.200 crores.  This will be a step towards Atmanirbhar India and support Make in India. The presenters also shared the subsidy benefits of the programme wherein general category beneficiaries can avail of margin money subsidy of 25 % of the project cost in rural areas and 15% in urban areas. For beneficiaries belonging to special categories such as scheduled caste/scheduled tribe /women the margin money subsidy is 35% in rural areas and 25% in urban areas.

The presenters also highlighted the MSME registration benefits pertaining to small businesses:

1.Loans without collaterals:

The Government has introduced various initiatives for MSME/SSI that allow them to avail credit without collateral. One of the best MSME registration benefits, the initiative to provide collateral-free loan is undertaken by GOI (Government of India), SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank of India) and the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise under the name The Credit Guarantee Trust Fund Scheme. This is by far the best MSME registration benefits for small business owners.

2. Subsidy on Patent Registration & Industrial Promotion:

Business enterprises registered under the MSME Act are given a hefty subsidy of 50 per cent for patent registration. This can be availed by sending an application to the respective ministry. In addition to this, one of the great MSME registration benefits is to get subsidy for industrial promotion suggested by the Government.

The presenters also highlighted Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana:3 offerings ‘Shishu’, ‘Kishore’ and ‘Tarun’.  The primary product of Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana will be providing refinance for lending to micro businesses/units (medium and small entrepreneurs). The initial products and schemes under this umbrella have already been created and the interventions have been named ‘Shishu’, ‘Kishor’ and ‘Tarun’ to signify the stage of growth / development and funding needs of the beneficiary micro unit / entrepreneur as also provide a reference point for the next phase of graduation / growth for the entrepreneur to aspire for:

1. Shishu: covering loans up to Rs 50,000

2. Kishor: covering loans above Rs 50,000 and up to Rs. 5 lakh

3. Tarun: covering loans above Rs 5 lakh and up to Rs. 10 lakh

Now, there will be no difference between manufacturing and service sectors. The new definition will pave way for strengthening and growth of the MSMEs. Particularly, the provision of excluding the exports from counting of turnover will encourage the MSMEs to export more and more without fearing to lose the benefits of a MSME unit. This is expected to exponentially add to exports from the country leading to more growth and economic activity and creation of jobs.

 

In view of the uncertainties concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) today announced that its annual signature event “Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival” will, for the first time, take on a virtual format.

“The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival has been one of the most popular events among locals and tourists alike since its inception over a decade ago. Despite the Covid-19 outbreak this year, we hope people can continue to enjoy Hong Kong’s unique dining culture while providing business opportunities for the local F&B sector amidst this challenging economic climate. Organising the Festival virtually allows us to achieve both objectives without compromising public health and safety,” YK Pang, Chairman, HKTB said.

He added that the Festival will strive to recreate the festive by offering access to exclusive wine and gourmet experiences curated by experts on the subject. Taking advantage of the virtual format, the event will be extended from the usual four days to several weeks so that more people can take part regardless of time and geographical constraints.”

To preserve as much original flavour of the physical event as possible, HKTB is building an online hub where most of the Festival programmes will take place. A variety of wine merchants will be providing special discounts and products tailored for the Festival, which participants can browse and purchase in a virtual exhibition space. Meanwhile, renowned wine and food critics, chefs and wine experts will be invited to speak on wine-pairing and culinary topics in virtual workshops and classes.

FICCI Flo, the women wing of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) with the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop the skill set of women in the travel and tourism industry. Speaking on the occasion, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh said that FLO and TAAI should share the women registration with MoT so that we can work collectively towards the upliftment and create livelihood opportunity for women.

The State Chapters of FLO and TAAI will create awareness, along with state tourism departments and state tourism corporations, to highlight the vital role, the tourism industry can play as a model for sustainable livelihood for women and ensure their economic upliftment.  This collaboration will help in initiating and engaging women at grassroot level, the middle level in semi urban, urban areas and the urban educated unemployed.  

“Tourism sector will start opening up and slowly recover from the crisis, as India is a preferred destination among tourists. Once the economy opens up further, we will soon move forward from survival to revival” Patel said.

FLO & TAAI will be working together and be a facilitator in this process to connect eligible females with relevant stakeholders from training and specific verticals, for enhancing their livelihood opportunities and increasing self-awareness to support equal partnership in the nation’s growth

On signing the MoU, Jahnabi Phookan, National President, FICCI FLO said “With this MoU, FLO & TAAI aims to look at the systematic planning, skill enhancement and policy integration in the tourism sector to work towards our mission of creating sustainable livelihood for women’s economic upliftment, empowering women to become self-sufficient and job creators from mere job seekers.”

“We aim to work with the Ministry of Tourism in the promotion of domestic tourism by creating the awareness and civic responsibility of every citizen about traveling to at least 15 destinations within our country before 2022. The idea is to rediscover their own country, appreciate their own heritage and galvanize their own economy by being Vocal for Local”

“We need to train women in sustainable tourism, craft & tourism guide. TAAI is the only association in the tourism sector that has established women's cell, that not only supports PM Modi’s vision ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ but also believes in supporting women so that they can contribute to the nation’s growth” Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI, said.

Emirates will operate repatriation flights to Bengaluru, Kochi, Delhi, Mumbai, and Thiruvananthapuram from August 20 until 31 August. The special flights will facilitate travel for Indian citizens in the UAE wishing to return home, and for residents of UAE currently in India to return to the UAE.

The airline will operate repatriation flights to India on the following dates: Bengaluru: 21, 23, 25, 28, and 30 August, Kochi: 20, 22, 24, 27, 29 and 31 August, Delhi: daily flights until 31 August,Mumbai: daily flights until 31 August and  Thiruvananthapuram: 26 August*.

All flights will be operated with the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER and can be booked on emirates.com or via travel agents. Passengers must meet all the entry requirements of the destination to be allowed to board the flights. For more information on flight schedules, click here.

Flights from Dubai to India

Only Indian citizens stranded in the UAE will be allowed to fly from Dubai to the five Indian destinations.

Flights from India to Dubai

Flights will be available for UAE nationals and residents with prior entry approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDFRA) for residents of Dubai and ICA approval for residents of other emirates of the UAE, and whose final destination is the UAE.

Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, COVID-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound and transit passengers arriving to Dubai (and the UAE), including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from.

US-based startup DigiVerv, an AI company with its India office in Bengaluru, recently launched its new offering nexpera.ai – an AI and IoT powered enterprise SaaS platform that aims at providing high quality, consistent and cost-effective delivery of services in the hotel and hospitality industry. nexpera.ai helps create a ‘Hotel of the Future’, today, by harnessing the latest advances in IoT, cloud computing and AI (computer vision and Natural Language Processing). 

nexpera.ai powered ‘Hotel of the Future’ enables contactless check-in/ check-out, as well as contactless service requests and room controls. It’s fully digital, AI-powered workflow ensures 100% adherence to safety and hygiene standards and can make room preparation video clips available to guests on just one click. nexpera.ai also offers a unique AI-powered, “Virtual Assistant” to frontline staff on their smartphones to ensure adherence to service protocols. Through nexpera.ai, DigiVerv offers a superior experience to customers and employees, by enabling a seamless omni-channel, human-technology partnership. The company plans to tap into the hotel and hospitality sectors, to help them adapt in the post-COVID world by guaranteeing assured stays for guests and 100% adherence to post-COVID protocols.

DigiVerv also announced its partnership with Mint Hotels, chain of mid-range hotels and resorts. Through this partnership, DigiVerv has successfully implemented nexpera.ai platform at Mint’s 20+ hotels and resorts across various business and leisure destinations in India. Powered by nexepera.ai, Mint Hotels now offers a safe and smart way to manage guests and employees with least human intervention during post-COVID times. Implementation of nexpera.ai not only helped Mint Hotels meet post-COVID requirements but also helped the hotel chain improve its on-time guest request closures by a massive 16 per cent points while improving operational efficiency by over 20 per cen.

Talking about the nexpera.ai implementation, Shantanu Chatterjee, Co-Founder at Mint Hotels said, “nexpera.ai implementation has helped us streamline operations at our 20+ properties. In a short span of just three months. We continue to work closely with the nexpera.ai to deepen our guest engagement and provide guest assurance in the post-COVID world.”

Rohit Ramani, Founder of DigiVerv, spoke about this partnership and said, “The successful implementation of nexpera.ai at Mint Hotels proves beyond doubt that that hotels can now leverage our technology platform to deliver superior guest and employee experiences and smoothly run operations in a post-COVID world. We are now working to extend the use-cases of nexpera.ai to the other sectors like patient care and facilities management.”

Collinson and Swissport have announced their facility for COVID-19 testing is set up and ready for use at Heathrow Airport. The facility in Terminal 2 enables arriving passengers to be tested for COVID-19 upon landing and know just hours later if they have tested positive. More than 13,000 passenger tests can be carried out each day using the existing facility, which can be further scaled with demand. It is hoped that with approval from the Government, people testing negative during the process will be allowed to exit quarantine early.

The announcement that the testing facility is ready, comes as airport-based COVID-19 testing is embraced by more than 30 countries around the world, helping to get the travel industry back up and running while safeguarding public health. PCR Testing at the border has been extensively trialled internationally, in locations with very strong scientific oversight such as Germany, and found to be safe, and now rolled out in France, Iceland and Austria and at more than half the world’s busiest airports including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Tokyo Haneda and Dubai International.

“Testing will not only avoid the “quarantine roulette” that so many passengers faced in Spain and France, it will also open up flights to key trading partners such as the US, Canada and Singapore.  The government’s own research shows that a double test has a high level of accuracy in screening for COVID.  This facility is an oven-ready opportunity to see how Britain can safely reopen for business, as other countries are doing,” John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow, said.

With Government support, the pilot of the new testing procedure could be available as a private service to anyone with a flight landing in Heathrow Terminal 2, and within a few weeks for those arriving in Terminal 5.

Collinson, Swissport and Heathrow announced a pilot of the tests in July and have been in discussions with various government departments in the search for a testing model that will enable safe travel and reduce the impact of quarantine. The tests proposed for the procedure are the ‘gold-standard’ PCR tests, sensitive enough to detect COVID-19 particles even before a passenger has displayed any symptoms, and before they become infectious.

“Airport testing is still the most viable solution to increasing travel while keeping virus spread low,” added David Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson. “We’ve created the new facility in Heathrow Terminal 2 as we know from other countries that airport-based testing is the way forward,” said Richard Cawthra, Chief Commercial Officer, Swissport. “This T2 facility can process a volume of 13,000 tests a day, which can scale further with demand. We know the logistics work needed and are ready to go with the tests. All we need now is Government buy-in that those with negative tests will be released early from quarantine,” Evans added.

COVID-19 has disrupted the way people go about their daily lives due to social distancing norms, thereby paving the way for digital and virtual offerings. Consequently, technology-led businesses have the potential to come out stronger. Understanding this, as India takes a step towards normalcy, OYO introduced Yo! Help, a 24*7 real-time chat assistant for guests with a valid booking across OYO hotels and homes globally. Through this technology, OYO is set to enable seamless experiences throughout the consumer journey, right from the post-booking to post-checkout or cancellation phases.

OYO invested nearly six months building the technology; thereby, ensuring its effectiveness and productivity. Additionally, through the company’s deeply integrated tech stack, it will also launch projects to personalize guest interactions rather than a neutral request-response mechanism. OYO’s chatbot is built to provide different experiences for consumers across different countries, considering every geography's unique challenges. Yo! Help leverages Natural Language Processing (NLP) to decrease the interaction time and bubble up relevant queries from the guests based on freely written text. This technology is also capable of personalising experiences for guests on OYO’s platforms.

Commenting on the introduction of Yo! Help, Anil Goel, Group Chief Technology & Product Officer said, “Typically, the hospitality industry is known as one of the most high-touch industries, relying mainly on human connections, be it the warm greetings at the reception, tikka on arrival, check-in, check-out formalities or room service among others. With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the globe and social distancing becoming a way of life, the hospitality industry is at a pivotal point of transformation. The pandemic is ushering a ‘digital-shift’, which is an opportunity for us to rebuild differently and strengthen our focus on tech-enabled experiences. We are, therefore, focussing our efforts on enhancing processes and doing more with less. This is a once-in-a-lifetime situation that can leave us completely transformed.”

The tourism sector has faced severe challenges due to the pandemic but this pandemic has also opened new opportunities for development and getting all the stakeholders together to fight against this situation, Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture, said while speaking at the 4th edition of National Talent Competition in Tourism & Hospitality Sector organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Encouraging the Students, Patel said that this crisis will bring about a change for the better and the young leaders will be making their careers in a much stronger, robust and an enterprising ecosystem.

He mentioned that under the guidance and support of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have been able to give some help to the industry in the best way possible. We have been able to open all the monuments, hotels and soon we will be able to open the banquet halls in half capacity. We have been able to revive the air travel to a certain extent and we will continue to increase it.

The tourism industry is a pivotal sector for the development of the economy, said Patel. “We have immense opportunities to increase Wellness Tourism in the country. We need to hand-hold and collaborate so that the tourism industry bounces back more smoothly,” he added.

Suman Billa, Director, Technical Cooperation & Silk Road Development, UNWTO, deliberated about the challenges faced in the tourism sector due to the pandemic and mentioned that globally, there will be fewer travellers this year due to which there will be a reduction in tourism revenue. This will have an adverse effect on the job markets as well. We can estimate that it will take 2-3 years for the global economy to bounce back.

The tourism sector needs to have strong and robust safety and hygiene protocols in place to ensure that tourists can travel with minimum risks. It's important to kill the anxiety in the mind of tourists and gain their confidence, Billa added.

Talking about the role of technology, he mentioned that we need to assimilate technology in the hospitality sector at the same time, ensure that the hospitality experience is still in place. For India, the tourism and hospitality sector will see three phases that are survival phase; revival phase and thrive phase.

Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has allowed us to think out of the box, to look back into our life existence, question a few things that went wrong and bring certain practices into our lives. This program being organized by PHD Chamber presents a great opportunity for young minds to think through the crisis, suggest business solutions, and realign the industry with the new norms. She also asked the students to come up with innovative ideas on how to promote Incredible India to Indians and people overseas.

 

Sanjay Aggarwal, Senior Vice President, PHDCCI, lauded the steps undertaken by the government to provide significant cushion to the tourism and hospitality sector in these tough times of the pandemic to aid their revival, growth and contribution towards economic growth. The government needs to take more steps to ensure that destination communities are comfortable and that the benefits associated with the return of visitors outweigh any concerns over the potential health risks, Aggarwal said and highlighted the need for creating a robust and sustainable eco-system for skill development for budding tourism and hospitality professionals in the country so that they can adapt to the changing demands of the industry.

K B Kachru, Chairman Emeritus & Principal Advisor – South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, said that the tourism industry was the first which saw a complete shutdown in the very first months of the lockdown, but this industry is known for bouncing back and will continue to evolve in the years to come. The key solution is that we re-imagine, re-invent, re-align, and re-package our offerings, whether it is operations or guest expectations.

Talking about the trends of travel in the recovery phase, Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group COO – South Asia, Middle East & North Africa and Americas, VFS Global, pointed out that traveling to new places will still be on the traveler's bucket lists; luxury travel will thrive since it offers an extra element of safety and exclusivity; adventure travelers will continue to explore outdoors, and health in addition to safety and security would be amongst the new norms.

The Winners of the Competition were evaluated by a distinguished panel of Jury Members that included Vinod Zutshi, Former Secretary – Tourism, Government of India; Rajan Bahadur, CEO, Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council; Anil Parashar, President and CEO, InterGlobe Technology Quotient; Divia Thani, Editor, Conde Nast Traveller; and Kush Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, Roseate Hotels & Resorts.

Addressing the Participants, Zutshi, who was also the Jury Chairman for the Competition, said that the 'takeaways' from this event is of great utility for the knowledge and sensitization of students and young professionals for acquiring required skill sets and talents.

Garware Institute of Career Education & Development, University of Mumbai represented by Rinali Parmar and Simran Thakur was adjudged as the Winner of the Competition. Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA), Manipal represented by Kavya Kotekal and Nikita Singh and International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), Delhi represented by Nipun Banerjee and Rupali Joshi were the 1st and the 2nd Runners-Up respectively. Niranjani. B from Avinashilingam University, Tamil Nadu was selected as the 'Best Budding Manager' among all the participants. All the Winners were awarded Cash Prizes, Trophies, and Certificates. The Cash Prizes were supported by the Travel Agents Association of India, Northern Region.

Radha Bhatia, Chairperson – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, in her address spoke about the importance of skill in the education field. She said that tourism has a great capacity to create large scale employment and the generation of massive productive employment opportunities is what India needs the most. She also highlighted how education and skill development can help boost the quality of the tourism and hospitality industry in the country.

Rajan Sehgal, Co-Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, said that this Competition will help the corporates for retention of the young talent pool and at the same time provide a unique opportunity to the budding Managers to demonstrate their creativity and professional prowess.

Saurabh Sanyal, Secretary General, PHDCCI, delivered the formal vote of thanks, where he expressed his gratitude to the eminent dignitaries and said that PHD Chamber will continue to organize such programs to bring the best out of best talent to the fore.

Vacation exchange company, under the Panorama portfolio of leading travel membership brands, is launching a new suite of travel services and experiences for its members and affiliates as part of a new brand profile.

“The new RCI is evolving beyond its storied history as the timeshare industry’s most renowned exchange partner. Today, we are expanding our services as the trusted travel advisor to our members and affiliates — not just once a year, but every time members leave home for their personal or business travel,” said Olivier Chavy, president of Panorama. “We are on a mission to further expand the value of vacation ownership and provide our members and affiliates with comprehensive travel resources and experiences that translate to a true end-to-end travel provider, illustrating our expertise across the full spectrum of travel.”

The new RCI Travel service, allows subscribing members to book all of their door-to-door travel needs in one place and benefit from exclusive pricing on hotels, car rentals, cruises, destination activities, and more. Also, the new discount option allows members to use their deposit trading power to buy down the cost of already discounted hotels and other accommodations at more than 600,000 properties around the world.

“Our strategy is to expand beyond our core vacation exchange model into the broader travel market to become a leading travel membership provider,” says Paul Mulcahy, Managing Director of APAC, India and EMEA for RCI. “We plan to continue our focus on the customer experience by expanding our expertise to be the trusted source for all our members’ global travel needs.”

 

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