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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

The FICCI Tourism E-Conclave yesterday concluded on a high note when six Tourism Ministers from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka and Odisha came together on a single platform and graced the Valedictory session along with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, GoI, said, “Infusing confidence among tourists is crucial for the revival of the tourism sector with additional measures for training on safety and hygiene, which may be provided through web-based platforms before international travel picks up.”

Addressing the webinar ‘Tourism E-Conclave: Travel & Hospitality: What’s Next?’, organized by FICCI, Brar said, “Safety and hygiene will be the priorities for tourists as people will travel to destinations only if they are assured that the place they are visiting, eating and staying is safe.”  

She added, “Efforts will be made to promote domestic tourism through the campaign – ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ and we are trying to engage with our stakeholders and citizens to sustain their interest in traveling and encourage them to visit the unexplored destinations in India, once travel restrictions are lifted.”

Usha Thakur, Minister Tourism, Culture & Adhyatm, Govt of Madhya Pradesh, said, “Madhya Pradesh is tapping on the development of rural tourism which will showcase rural life, art, culture, and heritage, thereby benefiting the local community economically and socially.” She added that the focus is on identifying and promoting Spiritual Tourism in Madhya Pradesh.

Vasanbhai Ahir, Tourism Minister of State, Govt of Gujarat, said, “Gujarat is a tourist-friendly state, and there are several iconic places to visit in Gujarat, all of which are steeped in a certain charm and history.” He further said that it is important to work with the center to promote tourism in the state.

Tamradhwaj Sahu, Minister of Public Works, Department Home, Jail, Dharmik Nyas and Dharmasv, Tourism, Government of Chhattisgarh said, “The best way to overcome the setbacks in the tourism industry which has been suffered due to the COVID-19 is to promote local tourism so that local tourists are attracted.” We will focus on developing water sports at all the prominent dams and water bodies of the state to attract tourism in Chhattisgarh, he said.

Kadakampally Surendran, Tourism Minister, Government of Kerala, said, “The state government is working to revive the tourism sector and has identified Ayurveda, as focus area.” He added that the health of the tourist is our priority and we will be focusing on promoting Kerala as a safe and hygienic destination for prospective travellers.

CT Ravi, Minister of Tourism, Kannada and Culture, Youth Empowerment & Sports, Government of Karnataka, said, “The tourism sector is an important economic driver for Karnataka and the sector will emerge from this crisis stronger, resilient, and better.” Speaking on the revival of tourism in Karnataka, the Minister said, “The government of Karnataka has launched ‘Love your native’ campaign, which seeks to ensure the livelihood of those dependent solely on tourism and assure the people that with appropriate safety and hygiene in place, a slow return to normalcy is possible.”

Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature & Culture, Government of Odisha said, “The pandemic has hit the backbone of the tourism industry in Odisha. We are focussing on the completion of development work and product enhancement in the state.” He added that to encourage the hospitality industry, the government has decided to waive-off the fixed charges on electricity and the bar license fee for the hotels in the state. This Industry needs energy and synergy to move ahead.

Uttarakhand’s Tourism and Culture Minister Satpal Maharaj met Union Tourism & Culture Minister Prahlad Patel yesterday. During his meeting, Maharaj informed the minister about  the glory of Tibersen Mahadev located in Niti valley, mentioning that the temple is famous for the generation of a huge Shivling just like in Amarnath. Tourism minister said that if the central government grants permission for the Tibersen Yatra then it will not just boost the tourism, but will also prevent the migration of locals from this last village of Uttarakhand.  The Tourism Minister added that a certificate will also be provided to tourists who will visit or stay in Seemant village, this will also encourage tribal tourism.

Maharaj also requested the Union Minister to promote and publicize the local immunity booster cuisines of Uttarakhand on the national level.

Maharaj said that under Tehri Swadesh Darshan Scheme, amount of Rs. 64.30 crores is already provided against the stipulated 70.92 crores and 98 percent of work is already completed. Also, Rs 67.62 crores against the stipulated Rs 76.32 crores  has been released under Kumaon Heritage Circuit Swadesh Scheme. The development work is already completed for this plan.

Under Prasad Scheme, amount of Rs 27.83 crores against Rs 34.78 crores has been provided for Kedarnath and about 89% of work is already completed for the same.  Rs 11.77 crores against Rs 39.23 crores has been released for infrastructure based work in Badrinath, which is under process. An amount of Rs 49.44 crores DPR for the development of tourism facilities in Gangotri and Yamunotri has been prepared and shared with the Indian Government. For Food and Craft Institute, Almora, the amount of Rs 375 lakhs against Rs 475 lakhs has been provided.

Tourism Minister stated that the Indian government has approved DPR worth Rs 16.20 crores for IHM Ramnagar, out of which Rs 9 crores has already been released.  The Indian government is also in talks for the centralization proposal for State Institute of Hotel Management.  A workchart of Rs 97.70 crore lakh for Mahabharat Circuit under Swadesh Darshan scheme has been prepared and sent to the Indian government. The central minister has assured to look after it at the earliest.

India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) posted a notable performance for the financial year 2019-20 despite severe impact of COVID-19 on the tourism, travel, and hospitality sector during last quarter of financial year including lockdown in the second half of month of March’20 which brought entire industry to a standstill.

Total Income during the year was Rs. 357.49 crore and Revenue from operations was Rs. 336.27 crore. The Corporation posted profit before tax (PBT) of Rs 42.68 crore and profit after tax (PAT) of Rs. 26.12 crore from both continued and discontinued operations.

FY 2019-20 has been a crucial and important year for ITDC, especially in view of the ongoing disinvestment. The profit is result of several proactive initiatives taken by the organization during the year e.g. overall reduction in costs, process improvement, realignment of business policy & processes etc. to improve its productivity and efficiency.

The responsible restart of tourism is underway around the world as growing numbers of destinations ease COVID-19 related travel restrictions and adapt to the new reality. According to the latest analysis from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 40 per cent of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to COVID-19.

The latest outlook of UNWTO, recorded on 19 July, is up from 22 per cent of destinations that had eased restrictions on travel by 15 June and the 3 per cent previously observed by 15 May. It confirms the trend of a slow but continuous adaptation and responsible restart of international tourism.

At the same time, however, of the 87 destinations that have now eased travel restrictions, just four have completely lifted all restrictions, while 83 have eased them while keeping some measures such as the partial closure of borders in place. This latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report in addition shows that 115 destinations (53 per cent of all destinations worldwide) continue to keep their borders completely closed for tourism.

This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.

Responsible restart is possible

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods. As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance. This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.”

According to the UNWTO report, destinations with a higher dependency on tourism are more likely to be easing restrictions on travel: Of the 87 destinations that have eased restrictions recently, 20 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS), many of which depend on tourism as a central pillar of employment, economic growth and  development. The report also shows that around half (41) of all those destinations that have eased restrictions are in Europe, confirming the leading role of the region for the responsible restart of tourism.

Many destinations still in long-term lockdown

Looking at the 115 destinations that continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism, the report finds that a majority (88) have been completely closed their borders for international tourism for more than 12 weeks.

The cost related to the travel restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19 has historic dimensions. This week, UNWTO released the data on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, both in terms of lost tourist arrivals and lost revenues. The data shows that by already by the end of May, the pandemic had led to US$320 billion in lost revenues, already three times the cost of the 2009 Global Economic Crisis.

South African Tourism India recently hosted a mega-Conclave, featuring 7 thought leaders from trade to be prepared for drawing visitors from India once borders reopen. The aim of the virtual Conclave was to arm South African travel partners with insider knowledge and a holistic view of the Indian traveller segment, which is the 8th largest international source market for South Africa.  

It also sought to allow South African travel trade a peek into the future by helping them understand the dynamically transforming distribution system, thus enabling them to adjust strategy and proactively address the emerging needs of the Indian traveller.

The interactive, two-way session had 120+ South African trade in attendance, with conversations ranging from the future of travel, evolving consumer behavior and trends, to emerging Indian source markets and the rapidly changing aviation, hospitality and media landscapes in India.

The panel moderated by Rohan Kanchan, Managing Director – Strategy & Advisory, Weber Shandwick, included: Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – Middle East, India and South East Asia, South African Tourism; Manpreet Bindra, Brand Leader, FCM Travel Solutions; Tigist Eshetu, Regional Director – Indian Sub-continent, Ethiopian Airlines; Mayur Oberoi, Sr. Vice President, Yatra.com; Jai Prakash Thondak, Vice President & Global Head, nThrive Global Solutions, Kamal Gill, Director, OptiMICE Events and Ruchika Vyas, Sr. Vice President – Client Experience, Weber Shandwick.

Pradeep Saboo, Chairman & Managing Partner, Guideline Travels addressed the audience briefly on his personal dealing with the virus.

According to the expert panel, as Indians shift from group travel to FIT / family travel in a major way, packages and itineraries will need to be highly tailored and customized. Experience-seeking millennials, HNIs and the family-oriented middle-class segments are anticipated to be the driving force behind leisure travel recovery, while MICE travel can be expected to recover early next year albeit with smaller group sizes.

India will remain a key focus area for South African Tourism in a post-Covid era, and the tourism board is leaving no stone unturned rebuild aspiration and consumer confidence in the destination. From January to December 2019, the destination welcomed 95,621 Indian visitors – a 2.3% YoY increase.

“Being the second largest outbound traveller market in the world, India holds great potential. As we develop and package experiential products for this market, it is imperative that the South African travel industry understands the evolving thought process of the post-Covid Indian traveller. We have maintained that a greater level of collaboration is required within the supply chain, even if it means cross-border communication and deeper associations amongst provincial and city tourism boards. This Conclave is a crucial step in building a robust system that has well-thought through and researched strategy, as we prepare to travel again,” Nkani stated.

“We are pulling out all stops to ensure we engage meaningfully with the Indian consumer as well as our trade partners in India and South Africa. The fact that we’ve invested efforts in educating and training 4000+ Indian trade agents, through the lockdown period, is testament to this”, she continued.

FOMONOMORE is all set to launch a 35-episode series on ‘Big Cats: The Inside Story’. Curated by Latika Nath, Nat Geo’s ‘Tiger Princess of India’, the series, first of it’s kind, brings together the foremost experts on the Big Cats from across the globe. The series will be broadcasted from August 10 – September 2, 2020 FOMONOMORE social media channels across Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.

Concealing behind bushes, close to their intended prey, waiting for the opportune moment, our pro conversationalists are taking us into the realm of the Big Cats’ behavioural patterns.

Modelled on the Conversation Format with sheer exuberance in their delivery, the episodes showcase in-depth sessions about the untold, probably unfathomable tales of the 8 Big Cats : Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard. The series will also highlight the Big Cats’ new behavioural patterns due to Covid-19 induced Lockdowns around the globe which have led to a change in their natural habitats. 

Speaking in the series are world-renowned scientists, researchers, conservation tourism experts, photographers and naturalists, all of whom have dedicated every living breath to one common mission. The Speakers are : Latika Nath, Ravi Chellam, Shivang Mehta, Yadavendra Jhala, Jaisal Singh, Koustubh Sharma, Anish Andheria, Priya Singh, Vidya Athreya and Shoba Mohan amongst others from India: Lisa Choegyal and Shiv Raj Bhatta from Nepal:  Les Carlisle from South Africa: Nobuyuki Yamaguchi from Malaysia; Adam Bannister, Indi Bilkhu and Elena Chelysheva from Kenya; Rodrigo Moraga from Chile; Sangeeta Sahay Prasad, Mahendra Shreshta Georgeanne Irvine from USA; Stuart Chapman from Cambodia and many more. These eminent speakers have shared insightful researched data, video snippets and photographs.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas will debut in the Seychelles this September with the upcoming rebrand of the iconic Maia Luxury Resort & Spa. Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas will represent the luxury brand’s launch in the archipelago, complementing its existing collection of world-class Indian Ocean resorts in the Maldives, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

Located on Mahé, the resort offers 30 secluded private villas, each with a dedicated villa host available 24-hours a day for the duration of the stay. Designed by Bill Bensley and Lek Bunnag, two of the world’s most highly respected luxury resort and hotel architects, the resort is regarded as one of Bensley’s favourite projects, with architecture and gardens designed to blend seamlessly with the tropical island landscape. Asian architectural influences abound and are reflected in the distinctive thatching, carved natural stone, precious woods and delicate metal work.

The property’s ‘Beyond All Inclusive’ concept offers unlimited dining, relaxation and exploration, combined with wellness and adventure. Set around a peninsula overlooking white sands or perched between greenery and granite, each of the 250 sqm private villas is positioned to afford breathtaking views and unrivalled privacy.

“The addition of the iconic Maia Luxury Resort & Spa to the Anantara portfolio, will mark the brand’s debut in the beautiful Seychelles islands and will represent an elevated level of luxury for discerning travellers in this corner of paradise. Without question Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas will become one of Anantara’s flagship properties and joins our existing portfolio of stunning Indian Ocean resorts,” commented Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels and Minor International, parent company of Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas.

Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas will be the brand’s first property in the Seychelles and the seventh in the Indian Ocean, joining the two resorts in Sri Lanka, one in Mauritius and three in the Maldives.

The Department of Tourism, Philippines, has allowed meetings and conventions to take place under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) at 50 per cent capacity. The move is set to help an industry and its people that have already been hit hard.

According to the release issued by the Department, Bernadette Romulo–Puyat, Secretary - Tourism recently signed the Administrative Order, also known as ‘Guidelines on MICE Operations under the MGCQ’. Based on the guidelines, MICE events in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified ECQ, and general community quarantine (GCQ) are strictly prohibited. Exemptions are those conducted through online platforms facilitated without physical interaction.

The guidelines also stress that the rules on inter-zonal and intra-zonal movement under the Inter–Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF–EID) shall be observed. Persons below 21, and over 60 years old, are prohibited from participating in any MICE events, even under MGCQ, in accordance with the IATF rules.

Meanwhile, Puyat also signed a Memorandum Circular or the health and safety guidelines governing the operations of MICE organizers and venues or facilities under the new normal. “MICE tourism plays a critical role in our recovery with its innate characteristic to boost local economy, generate employment and directly benefit tourism entrepreneurs. With these guidelines in place, our stakeholders will be assured that their health and well–being is protected, as we maintain our position as an established MICE destination," she said.

MICE organizers are required to formulate an emergency preparedness plan to prevent the spread of infection at the MICE event. At the same time, the venue operator is required to designate an isolation room or area where persons who feel unwell while at the MICE event may be brought to before referral to medical personnel, based on the prescribed protocols of the Department of Health (DOH).

Guidelines also require seating arrangements for different venue setups such as the one-metre distance between seats for conference and breakout rooms, and the two-person-maximum for each six-foot table. Exhibit layout shall have wider aisles than usual, preferably more than three metres. No adjacent booths shall be directly facing each other.

Buffet setup and self-service will be prohibited. Pre-packed individual meals and drinks shall be the standard means of food packaging throughout the event. “Similarly, we would like to reiterate that they also need to comply with the applicable issuances of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and other sector-related agencies for compliance with the minimum public health standards,” Puyat emphasised.

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has announced the signing of a Vivanta hotel in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. This hotel is a management contract with MD Projects, a part of the Ladhani Group. Commenting on the signing, Suma Venkatesh, Executive Vice President - Real Estate & Development, IHCL, said, “We are very confident about Lucknow. Notable for its unique culture and heritage, it is also now a growing commercial centre. Due to its strategic location, the hotel will cater to both business as well as leisure travellers. We are delighted to partner with MD Projects Private Limited.”

Vivanta Lucknow, a 200-room hotel, is ideally located at a short distance from the international airport and in close proximity to the nodal connector of Kanpur, Agra and Delhi. The contemporary hotel will also have a multi-cuisine restaurant, a bar, recreational facilities including a pool and spa, meeting rooms and a banquet hall for social and business gatherings. It is a Greenfield project slated to open in 2024.

Vivek Ladhani, Managing Director, MD Projects Private Limited, said, “We are delighted to partner with IHCL to bring the Vivanta brand to Lucknow. We look forward to bringing Vivanta’s dynamic and vibrant experience to our guests.”

With the addition of this hotel, IHCL will have four hotels in Lucknow.

The COVID -19 pandemic has led to demand destruction in excess of 90% for the tourism and hospitality sector which employs nearly 4.5 Crore people; provides livelihood to around 16 crore people, and contributes 9% to India’s GDP. A recent study by McKinsey identified Airlines and Hotels as the worst impacted sector in India; with around 75% output decline in Q1 FY21 vs. Q4 FY20. Also, the hotel sector features in the list of strained sectors on Debt Service Coverage Ratio. The Revenue loss to the hotel's industry is expected to be to the tune of Rs. 90,000 crore in the year 2020.

While the RBI has announced an immediate term to avert the crisis by allowing relief on Loan moratorium on interest and principal repayment for 3 months (later extended to 6 months but that will only help the industry to survive in the short term which may not suffice for revival and subsequent thrival of Indian hospitality which has attained great heights globally for its service standards. On behalf of the Indian hospitality sector, the Hotel Association of India (HAI) has been recommending more relief measures for the survival, revival, and thrival of the sector to the mutual advantage of the Industry, the RBI and the national economy.

4 key factors are working in tandem against the hotel sector today:

o   Hotel demand has been extinguished as it is highly discretionary. This has been exacerbated by the absence of air travel, corporate restrictions, cancellation of holidays, state lock-downs and the imposition of quarantine on travellers

o   70% of the hotel’s costs are fixed in nature, mostly towards payroll expenses and Government levies

o   Hotels are capital intensive with a long gestation whereas debt offered is typically short term and high cost rendering the sector highly sensitive to demand destruction

o   The negative outlook on the industry has made it unattractive for lenders leading to a liquidity crunch and increased rates of interest to cover for the perceived risk.

The hotel industry is now solely focused on survival and has been requesting the RBI to extend more proactive support. The current debt levels in the organized part of the industry (which is less than 10% of the total) stands at ₹45,000 Crore. Unfortunately, an immediate term solution will only defer the crisis as what is needed is a longer-term solution spanning the next 24-36 months which solves for both stakeholders: the borrower (unable to pay the interest and principal for the foreseeable future) and the lender (loans becoming NPAs).

In this regard, HAI is recommending relief - for those companies with good credit history i.e. Standard Assets as on 31st March 2020. As an apex body solely focused towards Hotels & Hospitality sector is proposing an extended tenure and a staggered approach to the applicable rate of interest in what we anticipate will be the three stages for a return to normalcy:

o   Survival Phase (next 9 months): The moratorium on interest and repayment of principal is extended for the entire FY21 i.e. till 31st March 2021, the interest due is added back to the Total Principal Outstanding and the loan term extended by 12 months. This will solve the current cash crunch as there is expected to be almost no demand for FY21.

o   Revival Phase (following 18-24 months): Interest Rate @ Repo Rate + 200 bps: the lending institution can fund this by borrowing from RBI without being out of pocket.

o   Thrival Phase: At MCLR as the market improves and performance of the industry reaches 50-70% of Pre-COVID levels (expected 30+ months)



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