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News
T3 News Network

T3 News Network

According to the UNWTO Confidence Index, international tourist arrivals were down 83 per cent in Q1 2021 as widespread travel restrictions remained in place. Between January and March 2021 destinations around the world welcomed 180 million fewer international arrivals compared to the first quarter of last year. Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the lowest levels of activity with a 94 per cent drop in international arrivals over the three-month period. Europe recorded the second largest decline with -83 per cent, followed by Africa (-81 per cent), the Middle East (-78 per cent) and the Americas (-71 per cent). All these negative numbers follow on from the 73 per cent fall in worldwide international tourist arrivals recorded in 2020, making it the worst year on record for the sector. Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the lowest levels of activity with a 94 per cent drop in international arrivals over the three-month period.

 

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, said, “There is significant pent-up demand and we see confidence slowly returning. Vaccinations will be key for recovery, but we must improve coordination and communication while making testing easier and more affordable if we want to see a rebound for the summer season in the northern hemisphere.”

The latest survey of the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts shows prospects for the May-August period improving slightly. The pace of the vaccination rollout in some key source markets as well as policies to restart tourism safely, most notably the EU Digital Green Certificate, have boosted hopes for a rebound in some of these markets.

Overall, 60 Secretary-General, UNWTO expect a rebound in international tourism only in 2022, up from 50 per cent in the January 2021 survey. The remaining 40 per cent see a potential rebound in 2021, though this is down slightly from the percentage in January.

Nearly half of the experts do not see a return to 2019 international tourism levels before 2024 or later, while the percentage of respondents indicating a return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 has somewhat decreased (37 per cent), when compared to the January survey.

Tourism experts point to the continued imposition of travel restrictions and the lack of coordination in travel and health protocols as the main obstacle to the sector’s rebound.

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer also shows the economic toll of the pandemic.

International tourism receipts in 2020 declined by 64 per cent in real terms (local currencies, constant prices), equivalent to a drop of over US$ 900 billion, cutting the overall worldwide exports value by over four per cent in 2020.

The total loss in export revenues from international tourism (including passenger transport) amounts to nearly US$ 1.1 trillion. Asia and the Pacific (-70 per cent in real terms) and the Middle East (-69 per cent) saw the largest drops in receipts.

In view of the State’s latest ‘Break The Chain’ order extending the lockdown, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has written to the Municipal Commissioner – Iqbal Chahal to grant concessions to the Hospitality industry. It has requested that stand-alone restaurants and bars, as well as restaurants and bars in hotels for outside guests to be allowed to re-open immediately. HRAWI has also requested the Municipal Commissioner to extend the operation timing of restaurants to 11 pm.

The first and second lockdowns combined have impacted over 20 lakh jobs and for each month that hotels and restaurants remain closed, the industry suffers a loss of over Rs.2000/- crore. With the latest order, the industry is expected to remain closed for another half month which will cost it another approximately Rs.1000 crore in revenue loss. There are around 210,000 restaurants and 10,500 hotels in the State and the industry employs around 30 lakh jobs directly and indirectly.

Sherry Bhatia, President, HRAWI, said, “The industry revenue in the beginning of 2021 was below 20 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and since April 2021 it hasn’t even touched five per cent of the pre-pandemic levels. Each lockdown extension is costing the industry massive loss and the debt is only piling up. No data or study has shown hotels and restaurants to be COVID19 spreaders. At present the positivity rate of COVID19 cases in Mumbai is less than 10 per cent. Under these circumstances to save the industry from NPA and bankruptcies; and to save the livelihood of millions of people engaged, we request the Municipal Commissioner to grant us the concessions.”

The HRAWI has also pleaded to the Government for waiver of statutory charges including property tax and minimum water charges, electricity bills along with full relief in excise fees.

Fortune Hotels has been receiving the Traveler’s Choice awards for many years now. Last year 90% of its eligible hotels were awarded this recognition.

Speaking on the occasion, Samir MC, Managing Director- Fortune Park Hotels, said : “It has indeed been a very tough year for Hospitality. This recognition, which is based on factual customer feedback, is truly humbling. It comes as a testament to Fortune brands’ efforts in delivering impeccable services in the backdrop of the pandemic. It motivates us and strengthens our resolve to rise above the challenges and continue to deliver exceptional/ quality services to our discerning guests with a focus on the ‘Safe Stays At Fortune Hotels’ program that has become the foundation of our guest experience in the year that was and now. The credit for this exceptional performance goes to the hotel teams who have tirelessly worked, to ensure guest delight.”

 Fortune Hotels currently has 38 hotels operating under Select, Park, Inn and Resort brands across 34 cities of India.

The Traveler’s Choice award 2021 was received by most hotels in the chain including the upscale Fortune Select properties in Bengaluru, Navi Mumbai, Mahiya (Kasauli) and Tirupati; Fortune Park properties in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Dahej, Durgapur, Sidhrawali-Gurgaon, Haridwar, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai, Mcleod Ganj, Mysore, Rajkot, Thane, Vapi, Vellore and Vijayawada; Fortune Resort properties in Ooty and Srinagar as well as the Fortune Inn properties in Gandhinagar, Ghaziabad, Goa, Jalandhar, Mussoorie, NOIDA, Vadodara and Visakhapatnam.

Etihad Airways is the first airline to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. The MOU was signed by Nadia Bastaki, Vice President Medical Services, Corporate Social Responsibility, Etihad Aviation Group, and Toily Kurbanov, Executive Coordinator, UNV, remotely in Abu Dhabi.

The collaboration between the two entities will strengthen volunteering globally and expand the reach to customers of Etihad. UNV supports volunteering globally and in the Arab countries and aims to engage Etihad volunteers in advocacy events, increase awareness of volunteering opportunities, and accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals in the “Leave no one behind” agenda.

In addition, Etihad will promote UNV and activities across Etihad’s own channels, including Etihad Guest loyalty programme to encourage members to donate their Etihad Guest Miles in support of UNV.

Bastaki says: “Etihad is proud to be the first airline to partner with UN Volunteers, to support their talent pool and global initiatives. Etihad volunteers will have the chance to participate in the programme offering their unique skills and experience, and further extend Etihad’s humanitarian footprint across the world. Furthermore, we’re pleased to be able to offer our loyal Etihad Guest members the opportunity to make a significant contribution by donating their Etihad Guest Miles.”

Kurbanov states “At UNV, we are excited to have Etihad Aviation Group join our network of private sector partners who believe in the power of volunteering for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I hope this partnership will help grow awareness of the inspiring actions taken by UN Volunteers around the globe. Through miles donation, Etihad Guest members will have a direct channel to back such actions.”

Airline representation firm AirlinePros international has announced a partnership with the Dex Group. The association will facilitate the expansion of AirlinePros’ India expansion.

Commenting on the development, Achma Asokan, CEO, AirlinePros, said: “Our vision to be the most trusted and innovative network for servicing the aviation industry involves global partnerships as the DNA that runs through our raison d’etre. Our local partners bring to AirlinePros International the opportunity to connect innovative ideas, cultural diversity, expertise and professionalism to add unparalleled value to AirlinePros, our Global Partners and Clients.

“We have been exceptionally fortunate to have continued our global expansion throughout the pandemic, adding many new relationships. So, our global teams are prepared and ready for the “Aviation Restart and Resurgence Phase.” Our India operations are particularly special due to the huge untapped potential that exists and the immense strengths of our partner, DEX Group, having been pioneers in the industry in India.”

Ramesh Marwah, Director Dex Group, said: “We are proud to partner with AirlinePros and are extremely happy to join strengths with one of the most professional & globally recognized aviation network group. As a long-established business with pan India presence, the opportunity to work with a global organization is a perfect fit for us both. For Dex Group to partner with AirlinePros seemed like an opportune move as our two organizations share similar values and ethics.”

Skal Asia has witnessed a sharp rise in its membership in last few months despite the ongoing pandemic. “We are proud to announce that SKAL Asia has reached an all-time high figure of 2500+ members. Even during the pandemic, the robust growth of our organization in Asia accounts for almost 30% of worldwide membership numbers,” Skal Asia said in a statement and added that this milestone has further strengthened the fact of SKAL Asia chapter being proactive in its efforts to attract more industry professionals.

The SKAL Asia Board acknowledges the contribution of all clubs across Asia, and firmly supports them in all their ongoing and future endeavours.

“We express gratitude to all our members for holding on to the ideals of fraternity and cooperation as we support each other through these trying times. The bonds forged during this period have helped our industry sustain itself in the face of new challenges. As we move forward, let us maintain our commitment to the organization that has brought together industry leaders across the continent as one community,” the statement added.

For May 2021, domestic passenger traffic is estimated at ~19-20 lakh, implying a sequential decline of ~65-67 per cent compared to ~57.3 lakh in April 2021. With this, the domestic passenger traffic reached lower than the June-July 2020 levels. The airlines’ capacity deployment for May 2021 was lower by ~54-55 per cent compared to April 2021 (~27,700 departures in May 2021, against ~60,300 departures in April 2021), indicating the lower demand stemming from averseness of consumers to travel due to the rise in infections.

Kinjal Shah, Vice President & Co-Group Head, ICRA, said, “For May 2021, the average daily departures were ~900, significantly lower than ~2,000 in April 2021. The average number of passengers per flight during May 2021 was 72, against an average of 93 passengers per flight in April 2021. The gradual decline depicts the continuing stress on demand, driven largely by the second wave of Covid-19, limiting travel to only necessary travel, while both leisure and business travel have been curtailed due to various state-wide restrictions and the spread of the infections.”

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) permitted increasing the capacity deployment on domestic routes gradually from 33 per cent, with effect from May 25, 2020, to 80 per cent, with effect from December 03, 2020. However, it has reduced the permissible capacity deployment to 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels with effect from June 01, 2021 due to resurgence of the second wave of the pandemic. Since the demand for domestic travel itself is lower due to averseness of consumers to travel due to rise in Covid-19 infections, thereby resulting in the airlines flying at much lower capacity and/ or passenger load factors (PLFs), the reduction in the permissible capacity deployment to 50 per cent with effect from June 01, 2021 is not expected to have any material impact on the airline operations. In addition, the MoCA also increased the minimum fare for domestic flights with effect from June 01, 2021. The lower air fare band has been increased by ~13-15 per cent, keeping the upper limits unchanged. This will allow airlines to recoup some part of the increase in aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices, thereby cushioning some impact on the airlines’ losses. In ICRA’s view, the fare increase may not materially impact the passenger traffic demand as in current scenario, the travel is limited to only necessary travel.

The Ministry of Finance has also included the Civil Aviation sector under ECLGS 3.0, which provides airlines access to additional funding to the extent of 40 per cent of their loan outstanding or Rs. 200 crore, whichever is lower, at attractive interest rates. This will provide the much-needed-liquidity support to the airlines to help them manage their cash flows in the near term.

While the scheduled international operations have been suspended further till June 30, 2021, under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) for evacuation of Indian citizens from foreign countries, which started from May 07, 2020, the international passenger traffic (inbound and outbound) for Indian carriers has been ~35 lakh for the period May 07, 2020 to May 31, 2021. For May 2021, the international passenger traffic for Indian carriers under the VBM was estimated at ~1.4 lakh, a sequential decline of ~61 per cent. This was due to cancellation of flights to/from India by many countries like the US, the UK, Singapore, Kuwait, France, Canada, Australia, Iran, Indonesia and the UAE, which had air transport bubble (ATB) arrangements or are under the VBM, citing the increasing coronavirus cases. The international operations through VBM or the ATB route were the only source of revenue for airlines and the cancellation of flights by the destination countries will further impact the beleaguered domestic carriers.

While until February 2021, the ATF prices were still lower on a YoY basis, in March 2021, April 2021 and May 2021, prices were higher by 3.0 per cent, 59.8 per cent, 103.4 per cent, respectively, on a YoY basis. In June 2021, the prices have been higher by 86.3 per cent on YoY basis, attributed to the low base of June 2020, when the prices declined YoY by 47.5 per cent due to the impact of the pandemic.

flydubai, the Dubai-based airline, has announced yesterday the resumption of its operations to Naples in Italy. The three weekly flights to Naples International Airport (NAP) will commence on 01 July and offer passengers from the UAE more options for travel this summer.  

From 02 June, a quarantine-free travel corridor has been established between Italy and the UAE enabling passengers to travel between the two countries with less restrictions. A negative COVID-19 test result will be required 48 hours before departure from the UAE. On arrival in Italy, all passengers over the age of two years will be required to take a rapid antigen test. The safe travel corridor with Italy is the latest in a series of agreements signed by the UAE including those with Bahrain, Greece and Serbia.  

Hamad Obaidalla, Chief Commercial Officer at flydubai, said: “we are pleased to see more countries opening up for safe tourism and is a step in the right direction to speed up recovery and boost travel this summer. This is a good sign that confidence in travel is returning and the efforts taken by stakeholders in the tourism industry to safeguard every step of the journey will benefit our passengers. We look forward to restarting our flights to Naples, a much-anticipated destination on the flydubai network.”  

Commenting on the announcement, Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations and E-commerce at flydubai, said: “we are excited to offer our passengers convenient travel options to some of the most popular holiday spots in Europe including Mykonos and Santorini. Naples is another popular destination for the summer and a great starting point to discover the beauty of the Amalfi coast. flydubai has made these European destinations more accessible for passengers from the UAE and the GCC and we look forward to restarting our operations to Catania in the coming few weeks.’’  

flydubai will increase the frequency of flights to Naples to a four-weekly service from 01 August.  

Flights to Bodrum and Trabzon in Turkey will start from 04 and 24 June respectively. The carrier will commence flights to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt from 15 June and to the Greek islands Santorini and Mykonos from 18 June. flydubai will also restart its operations to Batumi in Georgia and Tivat in Montenegro from 25 June and both destinations offer UAE residents visa on arrival.   

Vistara continues to take strong steps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has successfully vaccinated nearly 100% of its eligible employees. This comprises the airline’s airport staff, cabin crew, pilots and corporate staff who have received at least their first dose ensuring safety and well-being of the employees as well as customers. This is the outcome of airport-led vaccination drives across the country and the Vistara-led drive which has been carried out in Delhi and the one in Mumbai is currently underway.

Recognising the crucial role of vaccination in containing the spread of COVID-19, Vistara has taken a multi-pronged approach to facilitate vaccination for its employees.

The vaccination drive went beyond employees, reaching out to family members of employees, off-roll staff like ground handlers, as well as colleagues from Singapore Airlines and other partner airlines. In addition to vaccines, employee wellbeing has been at the center of the organisations’ focus during these difficult times. Vistara has undertaken various employee-centric initiatives to extend support like creating a special cross-functional taskforce to help employees with all COVID-related medical assistance for themselves and their families.

These initiatives also include paid leaves for recovery from COVID-19 for all affected employees, support with home hospitalization, availability of critical resources like medicines and oxygen support, COVID-19 testing, doctor consultations for timely medical care and if needed, cabs as a makeshift ambulance for employee/their families. Vistara remains fully committed towards the safety and wellness of all its employees.

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog today said that the second wave has been more catastrophic than the first one and it overwhelmed the health system for a while. The government has taken a series of measures since then and there has been a steady decline in the number of active cases. “There has been further ramping up of the vaccination drive and the private sector has played a very pivotal role in managing the pandemic and has complimented the efforts of the government in a significant way,” he added.

Addressing the virtual ‘Interactive session on Saving Lives and Livelihood’, organized by FICCI, jointly with OYO, Mr Kant applauded the role of the private sector in the overall vaccination drive. “There may be a slight demand-supply imbalance in vaccination during June-July but from August onwards there will be an adequate amount of vaccines available. From then on, we should be able to vaccinate everybody in India properly and that should help us,” he added.

Kant further said that all of us need to be responsible to save ourselves from a third wave because if the third wave happens, then the children and people in rural areas will get impacted. “We need to build up both hospital infrastructure and human resources. We need to ensure ICU facility at the grassroot level. This is also an opportunity for the private sector to come forward,” he added.

Kant emphasized the need to build up a model of private public-partnership in which government acts as a facilitator and the private sector comes forward. “If we leave everything on the government, it will be difficult to achieve the goal. This is an opportunity to create the infrastructure in the rural areas and in tier-2,3 cities. We should not lose the momentum of creating good quality infrastructure and associations like FICCI will play a very important role in this,” he said.

The private sector, he said came forward in bolstering the supply chain, supplementing oxygen capabilities, ramping up of medical infrastructure and providing oxygen concentrators and technical assistance to several government agencies. “We are working with the private sector and international developmental organizations with an aim to forge strong partnership to strengthen our response to the pandemic,” Kant added.  

He further stated that when the situation worsened and international assistance started pouring in, we worked on a war footing to coordinate all assistance, ensured zero delays, and all items dispatched to destinations with the use of technology in a transparent manner. “We used technology to develop a fully digital and transparent end-to-end system which enabled all aid coming via government to government and private to government channels,” he noted.

Kant also said that sectors like Tourism and Aviation are badly hit and would need the government support. “We should be as innovative as possible and support our industries both on the monetary as well as the fiscal side,” he added.

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Group CEO, OYO, said, "India Inc has shown immense resilience to COVID-19 in the past year. I would like to thank Mr Amitabh Kant for his words of encouragement & wisdom. We've opened our hotels to those who need the most during these times. As part of OYO CARE, we have partnered with hospitals and healthcare services providers to provide isolation and quarantine facilities to healthcare professionals and frontline workers. We also believe that vaccination will be key to build trust and confidence among travellers when they are ready to step out again. OYO is using technology to give its hotel staff vaccine visibility with the 'VaccinAid’ feature on the app. Along with thousands of small and medium hotel partners, we are hopeful of combating the challenges posed by the pandemic & building a resilient OYO.”

Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said that the current wave of COVID-19 has been much more severe and widespread than what we experienced last year. “FICCI will continue to support the initiatives of supporting the livelihoods of those associated with travel, tourism and hospitality industry,” he added.

Anil Rajput, Member, Corporate Management Committee and Head, Corporate Affairs, ITC Ltd said that we need to remain prepared to fight new challenges while ensuring that we find a balance between lives and livelihood.

Gaurav Gupta, Co-Founder & Head of Supply, Zomato; Raghav Chandra, Co-Founder, Urban Company; Rohit Kapoor, CEO, OYO India and South East Asia also shared their perspective on the steps taken by the industry in saving lives and livelihood.

 

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