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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Prahalad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, visited Hotel Ashok , run by ITDC , under Ministry of Tourism to take stock of preparedness of ITDC Hotels subsequent to the order issued by The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), permitting hotels to operate in Delhi on 24th August.

While talking about re-opening of hotels, patel said “Opening of the two biggest segments of the tourism industry viz hotels and restaurants in the country's capital is a positive move that will help push domestic travel and give much relief to the industry. DDMA’s decision is a welcome step towards the revival of tourism and hospitality activities in the capital city.”

While interacting with media, he intimated that ITDC has provided rigorous training around the health and safety protocols pertaining to COVID-19 to its entire staff and has developed a detailed SOP for each and every division. ITDC has also signed an MOU with AIIMS to form an advisory body to monitor the situation of COVID-19 on real time basis and take necessary steps as and when needed.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs had permitted to start the hotel, restaurant, and hospitality services in the tourism sector from June 8, 2020, in a phased manner. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had issued SOPs/Protocols for the operation of Hotels, Restaurants & other accommodation Units and Ministry of Tourism had subsequently come up with Operational Guidelines for Hotels, Restaurants & other accommodation units which were circulated countrywide.

As part of the wider UN response to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released today a thematic brief on the impact the pandemic has had on tourism. Drawing on the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the lead author of the publication, it warns that as many as 100 million direct tourism jobs are at risk, and the massive drop in export revenues from tourism could reduce global GDP by as much as 2.8%. The brief stresses that tourism is an essential pillar of the SDGs and the most vulnerable workers and nations are at greatest risk.

Tourism has been among the hardest hit of all sectors by COVID-19 and no country has been unaffected, with restrictions on travel and a sudden drop in consumer demand leading to an unprecedented fall in international tourist numbers.

The “COVID-19 and Transforming Tourism” Policy Brief from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, makes clear the impact that the pandemic has had on global tourism and how this affects everything from jobs and economies to wildlife conservation and the protection of cultural heritage.

Guterres said: that “It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector” in a “safe, equitable and climate friendly” manner and so “ensure tourism regains its position as a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage”. The UN Secretary-General further underscored that tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors, providing “livelihoods to hundreds of millions more”, while it “boosts economies and enables countries to thrive”, and at the same time allowing “people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity”.

It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector ensure tourism regains its position as a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage

The Brief warns that the impacts of the pandemic on tourism are already placing conservation efforts in jeopardy. Citing case studies from around the world, it warns that the sudden fall in tourism revenues has cut off funding for biodiversity conservation and, with livelihoods at risk in and around protected areas, cases of poaching and looting are expected to rise. Again, the impact on biodiversity and ecosystems will be particularly critical in SIDS and LDCs. Furthermore, with 90% of World Heritages Sites having closed as a result of the pandemic, both tangible and intangible heritage is at risk in all parts of the world.

Five points priorities moving forward

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism touches on nearly every part of our societies and is a cornerstone of growth and employment, both in developed and developing economies. The United Nations Secretary-General echoes the five key priority areas that UNWTO has identified for tourism to return and drive wider recovery, and both governments and the private sector now have a duty to put this plan into action.”

The Policy Brief notes that women, youth and workers in the informal economy are most at risk from job losses and business closures across the tourism sector. At the same time, destinations most reliant on tourism for jobs and economic growth, including SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are likely to be hardest hit, including through an anticipated fall in foreign direct investment (FDI).

In addition to calling for strong support for the sector in mitigating these massive impacts, the Brief stresses that this crisis represents an opportunity to rethink tourism, including how it contributes to the SDGs. To this end, the Policy Brief provides Five Priorities for the restart of tourism, all aimed at ensuring a more resilient, inclusive and carbon neutral sector. These priorities are:

·         Mitigate socio-economic impacts on livelihoods, particularly women’s employment and economic security.

·         Boost competitiveness and build resilience, including through economic diversification and encouragement of MSMEs.

·         Advance innovation and digital transformation of tourism

·         Foster sustainability and green growth

·         Enhanced focus on coordination, and responsible leadership

·         Alongside penholder UNWTO, a further 11 United Nations agencies contributed to the Policy Brief, highlighting the sector’s unique importance and outreach.

India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB) has recently announced that the 13th Convention India Conclave (CIC) to be held on virtual platform from October 29 – 31, 2020.

Keeping the challenging scenario in mind, where the norms of social distancing make it tough to hold a large meeting / conference physically, the MICE body, adjusting to the new normal, will host the virtual conclave based on the theme – ‘Physical and Digital Meetings – A Harmonious Blend.’

“Through this virtual convention, we will try and assure our members that digital and physical meetings – together, is what the future of MICE is. Nothing can replace the importance of personal interactions but in a scenario where individual interface is not possible, we can opt for the digital platform, which is also a great medium to stay connected and conduct business. I am looking at a participation of more than 2000 people as this time we will also invite students from various Universities, who have interest in MICE, to be a part of this great virtual event,” Amaresh Tiwari, Vice Chairman, ICPB said.

He opined that since it is an online forum, ICPB can reach out to a wider audience and help them know more about the scope and functioning of MICE in India.

Thailand-based Dusit International has announced its expansion into India with a plan to open at least two Dusit-branded hotels per year from 2021 onwards in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore as well as key leisure destinations throughout the country.

Alongside the signing of Dusit Princess Serviced Suites Kolkata, under a franchise agreement with the Jain Group, Dusit is already in talks with other potential owners and is on course to conclude at least four more signings within the next 12 months.

“While COVID-19 has brought immense challenges for tourism and hospitality worldwide, we remain confident that our resilient industry can and will bounce back, and we expect India to be a key player in international and domestic tourism in the brighter days ahead,” said Suphajee Suthumpun, Group CEO, Dusit International. “We are delighted and honoured that the Jain Group has selected our Dusit Princess brand for their property in Kolkata, and we now look forward to bringing more quality products to the market to generate long-term value for all our stakeholders.”

Slated to open in Q2 2022 as part of Jain Group’s high-end residential development project, Dream One, Dusit Princess Serviced Suites Kolkata will offer 42 three-bedroom units.

Shrayans Jain, Vice President, Jain Group, said, “In the new normal following COVID-19, Indian travellers will be increasingly seeking brands they can trust to deliver the high levels of safety, comfort and convenience they deserve. Dusit has more than seven decades of experience delivering exceptional guest and customer experiences in key destinations worldwide, and the company already has a strong reputation in India for the quality of its offerings. Our companies’ shared values to deliver quality in all aspects will ensure Dusit Princess Serviced Suites Kolkata is perfectly placed to exceed guest and customer expectations, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship with Dusit.”

Virgin Atlantic has introduced free COVID-19 insurance cover on all new and existing bookings. The policy is designed to complement existing travel insurance and provide additional peace of mind for upcoming trips.

Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures related costs are covered.The insurance policy is fulfilled by Allianz Assistance and covers emergency medical and associated expenses while abroad totalling £500,000 per customer – the highest value of policy offered by any airline to date, with no excess payment required.  The policy also covers expenses incurred up to £3,000 if a customer is denied boarding, at either departure or in destination, or has to quarantine due to positive or suspected COVID-19 during a trip.

Customers booked to travel from 24 August 2020 up to and including 31 March 2021 will automatically receive the new COVID-19 Cover. If the flight is operated by a partner airline or a Joint Venture carrier - Delta Air Lines or Air France-KLM - the cover will also apply.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic said: “Our priority is always the health and safety of our people and customers and this industry-leading Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures customers can continue to fly safe and fly well with us.

“Following our return to the skies to much-loved destinations like Barbados, we’re planning more services, as travel restrictions continue to ease, including London Heathrow to Delhi, Mumbai, Lagos and Tel Aviv. Whether it’s to visit friends and relatives or take a well-deserved break, we believe this complimentary cover will provide some added reassurance for our customers as they start to plan trips further afield. It applies in parallel to existing travel insurance policies which may now exclude COVID-19, and provides comprehensive cover for coronavirus, recognising the needs of our customers as we restart services.”

The cover starts from the point of booking and ends when the customer returns home or to a hospital or nursing home in their home country. One-way trips are also included, with the insurance cover valid until the end of the journey, which is defined as 12 hours after the arrival of the customer’s final flight.

P&O Marinas, a DP World Company and the world-class developer for marinas, held a virtual workshop, in collaboration with Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) and Emirates Airline, to discuss the resumption of the cruise season 2020/2021 in Dubai.

“We have been working with various cruise liners and relevant authorities to ensure that we are all aligned with the efforts being made under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai to restart the economy with great emphasis on establishing detailed health and safety guidelines for each sector. The precautionary measures and safety protocols that are being formulated for cruise tourism will be implemented when cruise ships arrive in Dubai during the forthcoming season. We can assure cruise tourists of the highest global safety standards at every stage of their travel journey from the time they disembark in Dubai to the point they depart from our cruise terminals,” Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, commented.

He further said that the cruise sector in Dubai has always shown great potential and the sustainable year-on-year growth that we have achieved is due to the continued support of our partners such as DP World, GDRFA and Emirates. “Since the reopening of the city to tourists on 7 July, we are encouraged by the response and continue to welcome visitors to the city. We expect to see cruise ships bringing tourists back to Dubai once all the relevant protocols are in place. Dubai Tourism has also put together an impressive excursion itinerary as part of efforts to position the city as the cruise tourism destination of choice for international cruise travelers,” Almarri added.

Mohammed Al Mannaei, CEO, P&O Marinas and Executive Director, Mina Rashid clarified: “We will always prioritise the health and safety of all our citizens and guests; inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, since all the implemented resolute measures emphasise his statement "Our people are our most valuable asset". The cruise sector is the fastest growing sector in the travel industry, so we know consumers want to see it back in action as quickly as possible. We were pleased to see the high number of participants in this virtual event and it is reassuring to know we are all coming together to ensure the cruise ship industry returns to normality as quickly as possible. We are also looking forward to seeing our landmark Mina Rashid Marina welcome cruise ships again. We have been monitoring the situation closely and feel confident we can assure customer safety. Our long-standing relationship with shipping lines and our mutually beneficial relationship with stakeholders around the world have held us in good stead as we identify appropriate solutions to ensure tourism flows and business continuity in Dubai.”

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) has urgently requested the negative travel advisory from the USA to India to be addressed.

The United States of America currently has a travel advisory, rated level 4 for India (as on 23rd Aug 2020). On a scale of 1-4 this is the highest level of risk rating, carrying with it the advice of ‘do not travel’. As stated, reasons for the same, apart from restrictive COVID 19 protocols, the rating highlights terrorism, crimes against women and insurgency among others as concerns.  

FAITH Associations have highlighted that the USA is the most important long-haul source market for India for most segments of travel. Over the past 10 years, it would have probably brought in between 10- 15 million tourists who could have been instrumental in creating an estimated 40 million foreign tourist visits across Indian states. The travelers from the USA also have one of the highest average stays in India of 29+ days as against the average of 22 + days for all source markets. This is a very strategic source of economic and job multiplier for India.  

Some of the few countries that were reflecting in this category as on 23rd Aug include Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen etc. This is perceptually extremely poor for India.

As India has begun the process of opening its air corridors, such an advisory for India is detrimental to kickstarting all leisure, business & mice tourists from the USA. Additionally, travel advisory as such from the United States of America tends to send a wrong signal for the rest of the developed countries as they start opening up their international air travel.

This advisory appears to have been last updated on 6th August 2020.  FAITH has requested the Tourism Minister to urgently take it up with Minister of External Affairs, for him to take up with his American counterpart for an immediate revision.

The favourable revision of the travel advisory would be a big boost in beginning the process of creating a positive sentiment for travel, which will slowly put in motion revival for the inbound tourism industry.

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.

 

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