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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Industry’s umbrella body FAITH has proposed the creation of a “National Tourism Council of Chief Ministers” headed by the PM along with the Tourism Minister. That should be supported by a common industry status across the country for the complete tourism industry by putting it in the concurrent list, FAITH suggests.

According to the release issued by FAITH, the Federation has chartered out many demands from the government and expecting a growth supportive measures in the forthcoming Budget. “

“To ensure that the export potential certain measures must be taken.  The tourism industry is fully recognised at par with merchandise exports, FAITH has recommended export earnings be made tax free and also incidence of taxes in tourism earnings be zero rated. Additionally, SEIS of 10% to all foreign exchange earning members in tourism be made applicable for 5 years to ensure a post-Covid recovery.

“A Global Mice Bidding Fund is required to be setup with ₹ 500 crs to double India’s mice share. Indian missions abroad in each country should be activated with tourism resources for maximum reach. This needs to be supported with Corpus of least ₹ 2500 crores is required for global branding budget to enable Sub Branding of three Tourism segments i.e. Indian MICE, Indian adventure, Indian Heritage under the Incredible India main brand,” the prelease reads.

Also, to ensure that the tourism industry becomes a mainstay domestic industry there needs to be a concerted strategy. There needs to be made an income tax exemption on travelling within India income tax credits for upto ₹ 1.5 lakhs when spending with GST registered domestic tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers, and transporters anywhere within the country.  It is also needed to incentive Indian corporates to undertake domestic mice (meetings, incentives, conferences & events) by offering a 200% weighted income tax expense benefit to Indian companies which are undertaking mice events in India.

It further suggests that a Natural and & Cultural Heritage Restoration Fund must be set up with a corpus of at least ₹ 2000 crores which encourages   sustainable and responsible development around each vertical of adventure tourism & cultural tourism. This will also be enabled by a truly seamless tourist transportation experience standardizing all tourism transportation taxes making them payable at a single point which will facilitate the ease of doing business.

Tourism can drive GDP through capex spending and to increase the intensity of high-quality hotel accommodation in India and mice, all hotels & mice venues across the country need to be tagged as vital social infrastructure. This needs to be complemented by a national tourism land SPV on a tripartite model which enables state governments & PSUs to pool their land assets which can enable PPP based on lease structures and not sale. This will drive immense capital into India, FAITH says.

Finally, it is critical to protect the business of Indian travel agents & tour operators and a structured mechanism is required to future secure travel agents’ payments to ensure that security for travel agents & operators’ survival. This is key as Travel agents’ payments to principals is unsecured credit and some form of mechanisms whether escrow or guarantee or underwriting based mechanisms are needed to be in place to ensure that travel agents money stays secure. The recently formed ECLGS under MOF which is administering the emergency credit guarantee fund must be used to set up a travel agent underwriting fund.  Additionally, TCS must be abolished as it is an additional compliance hazard, and it is important to bring overseas global OTAs operating in India into the tax net of GST and other taxes. There needs to be a 100% tax exemption and permission to write back income / TDS/ GST etc to travel agents and tour operators on their transactions when airlines windup or closedown.  

FAITH also hopes that GST policy issues in tourism will also  be addressed bringing down the 18% GST category for hotels to the category of 12% GST, by providing an option of GST at 12% to restaurants with full set offs, by subsuming taxes on fuel, Inter- state transportation taxes, power cess, liquor excise and also property taxes, cess on parking charges as they are all forms of very high cost input indirect costs on tourism, travel & hospitality and need to be made available as input costs. The GST on Tour operators should be 1.8% with full set offs and additionally hotels need to be able to levy IGST   to enable them to give GST credits to Indian corporates who do Interstate events and do not take these events international. This will streamline the complete GST chain and boost interstate corporate mice demand for hospitality.  

FAITH Associations are eagerly looking forward to a budget like never before.

SpiceJet has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Belgium's Brussels Airport for providing seamless transportation of Covid-19 vaccine.

As strategic partners, both SpiceJet and Brussels Airport Company NV will jointly work with the Government, pharma companies and forwarders to ensure a reliable ecosystem for vaccine delivery in a temperature-controlled environment. Besides, they will also work towards developing and strengthening a direct air link for SpiceJet with Brussels Airport.

As part of this association, Brussels Airport will be SpiceJet's first flight point for Europe. The airline's cargo arm, SpiceXpress, envisions to provide rapid and secure transportation of Covid-19 vaccine from and to Europe and beyond with proper temperature-controlled mechanism under the MoU.

Brussels Airport shall provide assistance to SpiceJet with regards to slots, networking contracts etc. to provide efficient and speedy solution for delivery. Brussels Airport has several years of expertise in the transport of temperature-sensitive products and has handled multiple flights carrying Covid vaccine recently.

Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, SpiceJet said, "We are delighted to partner with Brussels Airport in our fight against the pandemic. This tie-up will help SpiceJet to seamlessly transport vaccines not only from Europe and beyond to India but also help Indian manufacturers export extremely sensitive drugs in a safe and controlled environment. We are fully committed and prepared to transport the Covid vaccine and assist in the biggest vaccination drive in the history of mankind."

Arnaud Feist, CEO, Brussels Airport Company said, "As Europe's preferred airport for the transport of temperature-sensitive products, Brussels Airport, certified IATA CEIV Pharma, has more than 30,000m of temperature-controlled areas. As from today, we have already shipped more than 10 million doses of vaccine from our Brucargo platform to destinations around the world. In this context, we are very pleased to be partnering with SpiceJet and to be able to offer our expertise for the future distribution of vaccines from India within Europe and beyond. Together, we will make our contribution to the solution to this global health crisis."

As part of its continued efforts to take up the responsibility of transporting Covid-19 vaccine to every part of the country as well as outside India, SpiceJet has partnered with GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo, Om Logistics Ltd., Snowman Logistics among others.

With a network spanning 54 domestic and 45 international destinations and a fleet of 17 cargo planes, SpiceXpress is capable of flying over 500 tonnes of cargo per day to both domestic and a wide list of international destinations. The airline has also tied up with global leaders in cold chain solutions offering active and passive packaging with dedicated equipment to perform seamless cold chain operations.

SpiceXpress has the capability to transport extremely sensitive drugs, vaccines blood samples and medicines in controlled temperatures ranging from -40c to +25 c. Besides, the airline also offers other benefits such as a network of warehouses equipped with deep freezers to enable change of cool packs and ground vehicles and containers to help transport sensitive cargo.

The Hotel Association of India (HAI) recently launched its West Bengal Chapter. Kicking off its efforts in the state, HAI has submitted a memorandum of industry demands to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Amit Mitra, seeking industry status for the hospitality sector.

HAI suggested that this will help in reducing costs and encourage re-investment while bringing greater transparency in the sector functioning.

A favourable policy decision of according industry status and allowing benefits available to manufacturing will strengthen the Indian hospitality industry, preserve and unlock its immense potential to make a significant contribution to the State’s GDP and jobs, supporting the post-pandemic economic revival of the region.

MP Bezbaruah, Secretary General, Hotel Association of India, said, “The Association believes that granting industry status to the sector will enable hotels across the state to avail benefits towards electricity and water tariff at an industrial rate, lower property tax, rationalisation of taxes & license fees, simplified approval process for hotel projects & hotel operations and other benefits accorded to industries – thus helping in ushering transparency, reduce costs, and encourage reinvestment. Such small steps are crucial for revival of the sector after the disastrous impact of the Pandemic and essential considering the extent of employment and income the sector generates.”

HAI will primarily focus on bringing relevant issues and challenges of the hospitality industry with the State Government as well as other important stakeholders within West Bengal.

K.B. Kachru, Vice President, Hotel Association of India & Chairman Emeritus and Principal Advisor South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group said, “The State of West Bengal is a melting pot of Cultures and its capital Kolkata is often termed as the cultural capital of India. To the tourist, the state has much more to offer, from mountains to beaches, UNESCO sites, the tea gardens of Darjeeling, the Bengal tiger and the famous mangrove Sundarbans. The beauty and heritage of Bengal is impeccable and hence needs to be popularised throughout the globe. The ‘industry’ status will help in realising this dream as the growth of hospitality industry will ensure long lasting impact on the state’s employment, sustenance and flourishing of the cultural abundance.”

The launch of the West Bengal state chapter comes soon after the Association launched state chapters in Karnataka, Punjab and Telangana in December last year. The Association has nominated senior industry professionals including Vijay Shrikent, General Manager, Taj Bengal; Sumit Joshi, General Manager, The Oberoi Grand and Pramode Bhandari, Area General Manager, The Park from Kolkata to the West Bengal Chapter to give voice to the hospitality industry in the state.

The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has submitted a comprehensive pre-budget memorandum encompassing direct tax and policy recommendations for the upcoming Union budget 2021–22. Specific to the business losses accrued due to COVID-19, the apex Hospitality Association has recommended a MAT waiver be given to the industry for a period of three years beginning April 2021 to March 2024. The FHRAI has requested for treating payments received from international tourists as Foreign Exchange for the purpose of EPCG scheme and that the time to perform export obligation under the scheme be extended by 5 years. Being a highly capital intensive industry, it has asked to extend investment linked benefits from section 35 AD to on-going cap-ex of hotels and resorts to promote high quality brownfield cap-ex and capacity expansion.

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI, said, “Over the last eight months the Hospitality industry has been severely battered by the pandemic. The upcoming Union Budget will determine which way we go from here. The industry has a lot of expectations from the Government. Since the industry has not received much support so far, we are hoping that the upcoming Budget will have special focus on the hospitality industry and certain longstanding recommendations such as review of the Kamath Committee recommendations, industry and infrastructure status to Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants across the country, to raise threshold limit of hotel room tariff for charging GST, to allow IGST billing to hotels for corporate and MICE bookings will be addressed to rescue us from the downward spiral.”

On the policy front, the FHRAI has demanded that hotels, resorts and restaurants need to be accorded industry status. It has asked that the Government classifies Hospitality under the RBI Infrastructure lending norm criteria for access to long term funds. The apex Association has also demanded that the Kamath Committee recommendations be reviewed for accommodating the Hospitality industry’s needs.

Pradeep Shetty, Jt. Hon Secretary, FHRAI, said, “Currently hotels built with an investment of Rs.200 crores or more have been accorded infrastructure status. This threshold has to be brought down to Rs.25 crores per hotel. This will enable hotels and restaurants to avail term loans at lower rates of interest and also have a longer repayment period. Giving Industry status to Hospitality sector is a must. Setting up a corpus fund for industry status to hospitality infrastructure will ensure its national industry status by compensating states for any losses. Also, the stringent conditions and the unrealistic parameters suggested by the Kamath Committee for restructuring of loan have made the restructuring plan unfavourable for the hospitality industry. The benchmarks suggested in the scheme are more stringent than what the banks used to offer to the industry in the original loans.”

Shetty, added, “We also request the Government to consider increasing the threshold limit of hotel room tariff for charging GST at 18 per cent to be raised to Rs.9500/- from Rs.7500/-. This will bring parity of rates between the Rupee and the Dollar. Back when the threshold was fixed at Rs.7500/-, the exchange rate of the Dollar per Rupee stood at Rs.64/-, but today the same has reached at Rs75/- per Dollar. Indian tourism sector is losing a fair bit of global tourist and MICE traffic in these segments. It is also standing to lose domestic traffic in this segment which is going to the much cheaper South East Asian destinations.”

Among other demands, the FHRAI has recommended enhancing funding limits to raise the SEIS rates to 10 per cent for hospitality industry to enhance the quality of accommodation and to enable discharging GST liabilities.

DVS Somaraju, Hon. Treasurer, FHRAI, said, “SEIS is a way to set off indirect tax levied to reduce our cost of exports. It was also allowed to discharge service tax liabilities through the scrips. This will enable to discharge of GST liabilities through the SEIS scrips. It will also enable investments into developing more globally acceptable products and will help in earning higher foreign exchange. Also IGST billing to the hotels for corporate bookings and MICE must be allowed. This will enable the companies to avail GST input credit which will incentivize them to spend their annual budgets in Indian cities instead of turning to holiday destinations of South East Asia.”

Kohli concludes, “We sincerely hope this year’s Budget to take our industry most seriously. This Budget will make or break our dream of Incredible India. The FHRAI hopes that Govt. considers us as an inclusive part of the economy, one which cannot be ignored.”

IndiGo announced a five-day special domestic sale across select domestic flights. The sale, effective from January 13, 2021 to January 17, 2021, will offer customers all-inclusive fares on domestic flights at starting at INR 877. The sale is valid on travel from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021. Change or cancellation fee of INR 500 will be applicable on bookings made during the sale.

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are very happy to announce our first festive sale of the year till January 17, 2021, applicable across select domestic flights on the 6E network. We are hopeful to see customers booking the seats on offer, with fares starting at INR 877. Customer confidence in air travel has strengthened over the last few months, as it is the safest mode of transport. The advent of the vaccination has further improved the sentiment, with people looking at travelling within the country this year. This sale will help them plan domestic travel in advance and at affordable fares. This special sale further reinforces IndiGo’s commitment to provide an on-time, courteous, safe and hassle-free experience at affordable fares onboard our lean clean flying machine”.

Customers booking their tickets through HSBC Bank Credit Cards can avail an additional 5 percent cashback up to INR 750 on all fares with a minimum transaction of INR 3000. IndusInd Bank Credit Card holders can avail 12% cashback up to INR 5000 on 12 months EMI on a minimum transaction of INR 3000. The additional offers on HSBC Bank Credit Cards are valid on IndiGo website and app only while additional offers on IndusInd Bank Credit Card are valid on IndiGo website only.

Adults who book their next flight to Abu Dhabi or Dubai with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, can take their children for free.

With every adult ticket booked before 28 January 2021, for travel until 30 September 2021, up to two children will travel free – so two adults can bring four children, free.  The sale starts on Thursday, 14 January 2021 and ends on Thursday, 28 January 2021 at etihad.com. Offer valid for children up to 11 years old.

Flying to, from, and via Abu Dhabi is supported by the airline’s fully redesigned Etihad Wellness sanitisation and safety programme, which ensures the highest standards of hygiene are maintained at every stage of the customer journey.

This includes specially trained Wellness Ambassadors, a first in the industry, who have been introduced by the airline to provide essential travel health information and care on the ground and on every flight, so guests can fly with greater ease and confidence. All passengers travelling with Etihad receive complimentary COVID-19 insurance. 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel industry has changed the way businesses have to function and manage their operations. FICCI & InterGlobe Technology Quotient (ITQ) have designed an online day-long workshop, Your Route to Success with Galileo to be launched on 21 January 2021 for travel enthusiasts and students.

As a joint initiative between FICCI and ITQ, the workshop is designed to impart knowledge on Galileo – 1G Travelport Smartpoint and will be conducted by certified trainer from Galileo. 

Used by more than 60 premium training institutes with more than 2000 students getting trained every year in Galileo platform, the workshop aims to educate the youth on the knowledge of GDS, thus helping in providing great career opportunities on the evolving Travel and Tourism landscape in India.

Speaking about the initiative Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said, “The COVID-19 has forced changes in operating procedures for all kind of businesses across the globe and the travel and tourism industry is no exception to it. Hence any support to this large set of travel enthusiasts and students will not only help them navigate the uncertainties better but also help them in getting trained to have a better career growth in the future.”

First flight to the newly constructed Hisar airport in Haryana from Chandigarh was flagged off yesterday under the Regional Connectivity Scheme – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (RCS-UDAN) of the Government of India.

The flight was flagged off by Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister, Haryana. The inauguration was attended by the senior officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) & Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The flagging off marks the operationalization of 54th airport under the UDAN scheme. To date, 307 routes and 54 airports including 5 heliports and 2 Water Aerodromes have been operationalized under the UDAN scheme.

Belonging to the Government of Haryana, Hisar airport is a public licensed airport that is suitable for 18 seat type aircraft. The development of the Hisar airport was undertaken by the MoCA as it aligns with the dual objectives of the UDAN scheme; "letting the common citizen of the country fly" & make air travel affordable and widespread in the country.”

Subsequently, the Government of India had sanctioned INR 28.60 crores for the development of the interim civil aviation operations. The land was handed over to the AAI for the up-gradation and development of the Hisar airport. The upgrade included the construction of the new terminal building, hangars, strengthening of the runway, installation of night-flying equipment, ATC, security equipment, etc at the Hisar airport.

The airline Aviation Connectivity & Infrastructure Developers Pvt. Ltd (Air Taxi) was awarded the Hisar – Chandigarh – Hisar route under the UDAN 4 bidding process. The airline has become the first startup airline of the country to assist the nation with Air Taxi services. These UDAN flights will reduce the journey time between Hisar to Chandigarh from 4.50 hours to a comfortable 45 minutes journey that too at an affordable fare since financial incentives in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) is being provided from the Centre, State governments & airport operators to selected airlines to encourage operations from unserved and underserved airports under the scheme.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will dedicate the first phase of Kerala Arts & Crafts Village at Vellar near Kovalam here on January 16, as a sprawling campus to promote and showcase Kerala’s vibrant art and cultural heritage.

Spread around 8.5 acres of panoramic locale, Kerala Arts and Crafts Village has been designed and implemented by Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society Ltd (ULCCS Ltd) for Kerala Tourism Department, making it an ideal destination for visitors and art buffs alike to enjoy the best of Kerala’s traditional, folk and ethnic art, craft and performing traditions. ULCCS has completed the first phase of the project at a cost of Rs 20 crore.  

Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran will preside over the inaugural function, which will be attended by Tourism Secretary Rani George and Tourism Director P Bala Kiran.

 “Kerala Martial Arts Academy, floated by the State Government to preserve and promote centuries old Kalaripayattu, will also be housed in the Arts and Crafts Village,” said Surendran at a press conference at Vellar last evening.  

The key features of the complex include an amphitheatre, museums, studios for craftspeople to work and an art gallery, enabling the visitors to have a hands-on feel of the rich and diverse heritage of Kerala handed down through centuries.

The campus has dedicated spaces for artisans and craftspeople, mostly from south Kerala, to work and sell their exquisite and authentic products.  Visitors can buy souvenirs and curios to add to their collection.

“A part of Kerala’s southern tourism circuit, Kerala Arts and Crafts Village is a unique project to present the splendid artistic legacy of south Kerala before a larger audience. It will be a go-to spot for tourists in the post-COVID phase, besides being an easy-to-reach family outing site for people in the region,” the Tourism Minister said.

 Usha Thakur, Minister for Tourism, Madhya Pradesh, along with a team of officials from her state visited the Village on Wednesday.  She on Wednesday formalised a pact with the Kerala Government for replicating the state’s pioneering Responsible Tourism model in Madhya Pradesh.  

“Kerala Arts and Crafts Village has all the potential to be a hub of cultural events and spectacles for domestic and foreign tourists. It can also be an academic destination on traditional arts and crafts,” said Bala Kiran.

The facility has modules for over 750 craftsmen and artisans excelling in a variety of traditions to work on their concepts, while being looked on by visitors. The artists to be engaged by the campus include those working on a variety of materials like wood, bamboo, reed, coconut shells, palm leaf, coir and cotton. More than 50 crafts are presented in 28 studios with facilities for production, display and sales.  

The village has the presence of personalities like Shri Gopi Master, who was conferred with Padma Shri for his contributions to handloom, and KR Mohanan, who had won the Shilpa Guru Award. 

 

An annual international theme-based art and craft biennale, which will feature paintings, terracotta, handloom, sculptures, and reed and bamboo products along with workshops, will be conducted in the Village. Craft food festivals (in April) and arts festivals (in September) are other highlights of the village calendar. Besides, an annual international handicraft products festival 

Lemon Tree Hotels, through its management subsidiary Carnation Hotels, announced the opening of Lemon Tree Premier, Vijayawada. This is the second property of the brand in the third largest city of Andhra Pradesh. The strategic location of the hotel offers multiple options to experience the city’s tradition, architecture and ethos.

The hotel features 122 rooms and suites that feature Kalamkari art and intricate sculptures inspired by the traditional art forms of Vijayawada, with modern amenities and facilities.

The closest airport is the Vijayawada International Airport, at an approximate distance of 21 kms, and the Vijayawada Junction Railway Station is at a distance of just 2 kms. The hotel’s prominent location also offers easy access to Vijayawada’s key attractions such as the ornate Kanaka Durga Temple, nestled on the Indrakeeladri Hill, the Undavalli Caves featuring ancient rock-cut temples, formed out of a single granite block, and the Bhavani Island on the Krishna River.

 

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