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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Indian Ministry of Tourism has launched portal www.strandedinindia.com with a view to identify, assist and facilitate foreign tourists who are stranded in various parts of India due to the lockdown situation necessitated by the COVID19 global pandemic. Such tourists would need to log on to the portal, provide some basic contact information and narrate the nature of issues being faced by them, if any. In the first 5 days of its operation, 769 foreign tourists from all over the country registered on the portal.

Every State Government and Union Territory Administration has identified a Nodal Officer for assisting such foreign tourists. The 5 Regional Offices of the Ministry of Tourism are constantly coordinating with the Nodal Officers regarding the Support Requests logged on the portal, for facilitating ground support to the foreigners, if so required. The Tourism Ministry Regional Offices are also coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration and FRROs regarding Visa issues being faced by stranded foreigners. Requests for movement within the country/ state and for transfer to home country of such tourists are also being coordinated with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and with the respective Embassy/ High Commission/ Consulate.

The utility and efficacy of the portal has led to stranded foreign tourists being contacted over e-mails, telephones and also in person depending on the nature of support required by them. They have been connected with the relevant foreign office of their home country in India and provided various information updates on flights out of India to their home countries. Wherever required, they have been provided medical assistance, food and accommodation.

A lady, who is an American citizen, was stranded in Supaul district of Bihar amidst the COVID19 lockdown, while her son was undergoing a surgery at Delhi. The portal facilitated the required inter-ministerial, inter-departmental and State-Centre coordination and secured her a special transit-permit to travel to Delhi. She has safely reached her destination and expressed her gratitude for the efforts put in by all the concerned agencies.

Two Costa Rican citizens, who had come to Chennai for a surgery (medical tourism), were stranded at Chennai after the surgery. Close coordination with the State Government, the Costa Rican Embassy and the hotel in which the tourists were staying helped in soothing the frayed and panicked nerves of the tourists. They are now safe and well.

An Australian tourist with his family was stranded in Ahmedabad. The tourist has epilepsy and ran out of medication prescribed by Australian doctors due to the lockdown. The portal led to the tourist being reached through the office of the District Collector. He was provided with sufficient medication and was also offered food and local transportation. Now, they are comfortable and safe.

The above are just a few of the many occasions in which the portal helped many foreigners in getting critical assistance at a crucial time. In the coming days, the portal will continue to serve its purpose and the Government are committed to the cause of ensuring the comfort and well being of our foreign guests during their stay in India. That is the spirit of “Atithi Devo Bhava”, the mantra that drives Incredible India!

THE Park Hotels, pioneers of luxury boutique hotels in India has launched a solicitous initiative, #THEParkHeartofHope to provide a helping hand to its guests and neighbours.

The Park hotels in Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, and Hyderabad are doing Neighbourhood Services for all its neighbours and especially for senior citizens. The locals can directly call these hotels for any emergencies or any pharmaceutical needs. The concierge of the hotel will help them get those. All these hotels are centrally located and anyone living within the 5 km radius can avail this service, available 24*7, with no cost or additional charges. This is being purely done to help in time of crisis.

Speaking on the initiatives, Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels said, “Amidst this global pandemic and the current lockdown, the senior citizens and the underprivileged are suffering the most due to lack of food supplies and essential items. We have launched a neighbourhood service initiative, #THEParkHeartOfHope across our hotels, wherein anybody especially the senior citizens can call us for any help, be it groceries, medicines or food. The team respond to the request immediately taking all safety precautions. We are also providing free food every day to the underprivileged and community warriors. At ASPHL, safety and wellbeing of our employees and associates is of utmost importance to us and we are undertaking stringent measures to help those in need.”

The below initiatives are additionally, being undertaken at each of the hotels:

THE Park Bangalore

The hotel has started a Free Food Hour, for the underprivileged and the community warriors. Every day from 5pm to 6 pm, THE Park Bangalore provides all the daily wage workers, ambulance drivers, policemen, security officials, health care officials a food bag with water. This service is for anyone who is nearby the hotel and has access to come to MG Road. On an average, we have been receiving 70 – 100 people daily. The hotel has also identified a slum near Hebbel which is off from the main area and unable to get any rations due to the lockdown. The hotel car is going there every day with food packets for about 150 families living there.

THE Park Mumbai

THE Park Mumbai have joined hands with Yash Charitable Trust. The team will distribute food essential kits (2kgs rice, 1kg sugar, 1kg dal, 1ltr oil, 250 gms tea, 5 packets biscuits & 3 soap bar) to 250 underprivileged people in the neighbourhood.

THE Park Hyderabad

The hotel is distributing 50 packed food packets each day to the under privileged, GHMC workers, Traffic police, petrol pump staff and others in need. The hotel will continue to do this activity twice a week within a radius of 5kms.

THE Park Chennai

The hotel everyday distributes 50 hygienically packaged meals for the elderly, underprivileged and homeless in and around Nungambakkam region of Chennai.

THE Park Calangute Goa

The hotel is also serving as a Helpline Service for all emergency requirements in Calangute and Arpora area. Through this helpline, the hotel offers food for labours, any pharmaceutical needs and emergency with foreigners etc. The support team at THE Park Calangute Goa along with few other hoteliers is providing aid and support to the medical teams as well as orphanages and old age homes. The hotel has been supplying food to the medical team in their region and food to orphanages and old age homes.

The cascading effect of the coronavirus has been found to cripple the Indian tourism and hospitality industry at an astonishing pace, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said.

“Disruption due to coronavirus could result in 18-20 per cent erosion of nationwide occupancy across the hospitality sector, and 12-14 per cent drop in average daily rates (ADRs) for the entire 2020. The hospitality sector is also likely to be impacted by large-scale cancellations and drop in room rates,” Rajeev Singh, DG, ICC, said in a media release.

Most of the tourism companies afflicted by Coronavirus Pandemic are now anxiously looking for interim relief to pay EMIs, installments, taxes, and salaries to employees for at least six months, Singh said.

ICC also suggests six to nine months' moratorium on all principal and interest payments on loans and overdrafts, besides deferment of advance tax payments. ICC would like to recommend a complete GST holiday for tourism, travel and hospitality industry for the next 12 months till the time the recovery happens.

“We will also recommend for interest reduction or subvention on term loans and working capital loans for Travel and Tourism industry. ICC also strongly recommend for removal of fees for any upcoming licenses, permits renewal, excise exemption (for liquor mainly) for the hospitality and travel industry across the country,” ICC said.

ICC recommends set up of a “Travel & Tourism Stabilisation Fund” with direct benefit transfer to each unit to prevent financial loss and consequent job loss. “Each unit suffering loss should claim equivalent subsidy to the Ministry help break even and avoid sacking of a single employee. The claim of each loss making unit would be verified by a concerned officer of the State Government and once verified the amount needs to be transferred to the account of the unit owner, on the undertaking that no employee is sacked. This fund could be drawn from the Direct Tax Contribution of this sector, supplemented by the Central Government. If this is not taken, we fear, that the economy which was already facing highest unemployment at around 8%, could slip into recession with unemployment increasing further,” Singh said.

The Ministry of Tourism held a virtual conference (VC) with the Industry associations of Tourism and Hospitality sector on Friday. The VC was led by the Secretary Tourism, Shri Yogendra Tripathi along with senior officials of the Ministry. The Associations represented through remote conferencing were FAITH, which is the mother of 9 bodies, the CII, FICCI, PHDCCI and IMAI.

The industry put forth few ideas and suggestions for tiding over the crisis created by COVID-19 in the sector of tourism and hospitality. The Ministry on its part shared the concerns and also assured the associations that the government was very much with them in this grim hour and that the Ministry would work towards the suggestions put forth. There would be a lot of thrust on promoting domestic tourism was a common takeaway.

The Ministry is using its social handles to create awareness of the need to stay at home safe in the period of lockdown and prepare to travel once the world opens up.

In the meantime, the course modules of the Institutes of Hotel Management are being held online and faculty and students are using technology to remain abreast with their course curriculum.

IATA has postponed the 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit. The event had been scheduled to take place June22-23, 2020 in Amsterdam. A new date has yet to be set, though IATA has indicated that it is hoping for the late third or early fourth quarter of 2020.

Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA said, “Our members are in the deepest crisis the air transport industry has ever faced. With much of the passenger business grounded as part of the global fight to contain the virus, many airlines are in a struggle to remain viable. On the cargo side, airlines are doing whatever they can to keep global supply chains moving with vital shipments, including those for critical medical supplies. We will come together as an industry when the freedom to travel has been restored and we can focus on air transport’s critical role in driving the economic and social recovery from this unprecedented crisis.”

The Pacific Asia Travel Association has launched the PATA Crisis Resource Centre and Tourism Recovery Monitor. The organisation hopes the system will become a unified platform that provides reliable and up-to-date policy statements, authoritative information and tourism indicators from around the globe. The aim is to provide a global centralised repository of reliable information for users based on their needs.

The PATA Crisis Resource Centre is a result of a pilot task force led by PATA immediate past chair, Sarah Mathews, to accumulate knowledge, generate support and help members and industry stakeholders across the globe access solutions by governments.

PATA vice chair, Soon Hwa Wong, also led a task force to establish the PATA Tourism Recovery Monitor, an integrated resource for strategic tourism planners and decision makers to keep fully abreast of the fast-changing environment.

Both initiatives are housed under one microsite.

Mathews said, “The travel and tourism industry has weathered many different types of crises; however, the current unprecedented pandemic poses a severe threat to the entire industry impacting the economic livelihood of millions of people around the world. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council up to 75 million jobs are at immediate risk globally, while travel and tourism GDP loss to the world economy is up to US$2.1 trillion. The centre will be a unified source of information for travel and tourism organisations to find solutions to the current crisis.”

The PATA Crisis Resource Centre and Tourism Recovery Monitor collates reliable data and information to assist all industry stakeholders as they deal with the current crisis.

The association is currently asking governments, and international and national organisations to seek their assistance in collecting information on aid and relief packages available to businesses in their respective destinations.

In addition, PATA will add further data and information that will be useful to organisations as they deal with the current situation.

Over the past three weeks, the COVID19 crisis has grown to almost unbelievable proportions, with over half of the world's population either confined and/or under lockdown. With so few people now travelling, more than half of Accor-branded hotels worldwide have already been closed, and this is likely to increase to over two thirds in the coming weeks. The company has over 5,000 hotels and residences across 110 countries in its portfolio.

One piece of good news is the hint of initial recovery of the Chinese hotel market, with mild improvements in occupancy and F&B activity.

In order to limit the impact on earnings and cash, and to prepare for the post-crisis recovery, the company has implemented the following measures:

- Travel ban, hiring freeze, reduced schedules and/or furloughing for 75 per cent of global head office teams for Q2, resulting in a minimum €60m reduction in G&A for 2020;

- Reviewed recurring investment plan for 2020 resulting in a €60m reduction in capital expenditures; and

 - Further streamlining all other costs (e.g. sales, marketing, IT), in line with lower system wide revenues.

Accor can today rely on a strong balance sheet, with more than €2.5bn in cash on hand and an undrawn revolving credit facility of €1.2bn.

While much uncertainty remains on the duration of this crisis, the group expects a severe impact on its 2020 performance but remains bullish on the long-term perspective of the hospitality industry, for Accor, its employees, its owners and shareholders.

In these unchartered territories, Accor’s Board of Directors has decided to complement the actions outlined above, by withdrawing its proposal for a 2019 dividend payment of c. €280m.

After consulting with the Group’s main shareholders, JinJiang International, Qatar Investment Authority, Kingdom Holding Company and Harris Associates, Accor has decided to allocate 25 per cent of the planned dividend (€70m) to the launch of the “ALL Heartist Fund”, a COVID19 special purpose vehicle. This fund will typically assist:

- the group’s 300,000 employees, pledging to pay for their COVID19-related hospital expenses, for those who do not have social security or medical insurance:

- on a case by case basis, furloughed employees suffering great financial distress;

- on a case by case basis, individual partners facing financial difficulty; and

- in addition, the group will further deploy its solidarity initiatives to support front-line healthcare professionals and non-profit organizations.

Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of Accor, said, “Welcoming, protecting and taking care of others is at the very heart of what we do. In light of the urgency and the scale of the situation, we have decided to act in an immediate and meaningful way, in the spirit of our values and commitments. Through this impactful gesture, we wish to express our solidarity and gratitude to all those demonstrating courage and selflessness during this crisis. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank the group’s main shareholders. Without them, the “ALL Heartist Fund” would not have been possible. I also want to pay a special tribute to the Accor teams around the world. They are facing the current crisis with admirable courage, dedication and professionalism. As our industry is going through tough times, we have to make tough decisions, but Accor has a strong balance sheet which will enable it to withstand this crisis and emerge with strength during the recovery period. I am confident that Accor will soon rediscover the road to growth.”

In this unprecedented and difficult times due to COVID-19, Ritesh Agarwal, the Founder & Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes, has decided to forego 100 per cent of his salary for the rest of the year. The company’s entire executive leadership team has taken a voluntary pay cut starting at 25 per cent, with many opting for an additional uncapped amount, and some going up to 50 per cent to enable building the runway for the company. This would be effective April 2020 and the entire company is standing together to tide over these times.

Commenting on the development, Ritesh Agarwal, Founder   &   Group   CEO said, “The current situation the world over is deeply concerning to each and every one of us. OYO is doing everything to support the world with its limited resources in this pandemic from making isolation centres to finding a safe place for first responders. Given the current business situation, which is unprecedented for our industry globally, I am foregoing 100% of my salary for the rest of the year. I am grateful to my leadership team, that have also taken pay cuts and support the company during these tough times. We at OYO stand committed towards the fight against COVID-19 and will try to do everything in our control to reach out and help people while also ensuring long term success of the company, and our ability to continue delivering on our mission to bring better living spaces for all, at the right prices, globally. ”

In line with the Government’s direction, OYO has taken a series of measures to accommodate frontline medical staff, aircrew, corporates, tourists, PGs as well as foreign nationals stranded in the nationwide lockdown.

SriLankan Airlines has decided to temporarily suspend all its flights from 8th to 21st  April 2020 in view of the travel restrictions imposed by the destinations where it operates to.

The Airline is constantly reviewing the market conditions and the restrictions imposed by the various authorities and will be ready recommence its operations at short notice even before the 21st April 2020 in the event such restrictions are lifted, SriLankan said in a media release.

The carrier is willing to operate special flights during this period to repatriate the Sri Lankan’s who are wanting to return to the Country if required. Further, the Airlines’ cargo services will continue to operate from its worldwide network special flights as and when required.

Despite various challenges faced by the Airline throughout its four-decade tenure, this is by far the most difficult and unfortunate period that the Airline is passing, similar to all its counterparts across the globe and communities in general, SriLankan said. It has also implemented a re-booking and reissue policy for its customers.

DCT Abu Dhabi has come up with a feel-good video campaign full of striking images of the emirate, hoping to inspire people to consider their newfound downtime in a positive light. The video encourages travellers across the globe to contemplate as the coronavirus pandemic forces people to shutter businesses and spend more time indoors.

 As the planet is resting and restoring now, the video comforts travellers to think of better times ahead and use this pausing period as an opportunity for reflection and a chance to remember the wisdom of the forefathers and all they have done and sacrificed.

 The wheels of life will turn again and Abu Dhabi's gates will open once more, welcoming the world.




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