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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

FHRAI has written to the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman to enhance the threshold limit for zero GST for hotel room tariffs from the present Rs.1000/- to Rs.2000/- per room per day. The Association has stated that the move will boost stays in the lower budget segment, which in turn will encourage more domestic travellers to venture out and thereby give tourism sector the much required boost. Increasing the threshold limit on zero GST will give hotels a chance to attract more tourists, thus increasing the chance of generating slightly better revenues. This could result in a multiplier effect for the Hospitality as well as the Tourism industry.

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI, said, “There are quite a few budget hotels that offer accommodations in the Rs.2000/- tariff per day per room. Increasing the present zero GST threshold to Rs.2000/- will give these budget hotels a chance to revive business. The hospitality sector is engulfed in massive losses and mounting debts due to the pandemic and it is dealing with a very gloomy economic situation with no respite in near sight. This move will boost the lower budget hotel segment, which will encourage more domestic travellers to take vacations, aiding the tourism sector.”

The FHRAI in its pre-Budget memorandum had also requested for increasing the threshold limit of hotel room tariff charged at 18 per cent GST to be raised to Rs.9500/- from Rs.7500/-.

Kohli added, “The Hospitality sector is dealing with a very gloomy economic situation with no foreseeable respite. Being the first sector affected by COVID-19 and the last to revive, the Hospitality sector in the country is waging a battle for its existence. This unprecedented crisis has destroyed the entire Hospitality eco-system in the country which would take many years to recover. Therefore, only some extraordinary measures and support from the Government can save the industry at this time of deep crisis.”

Founded by seasoned hotelier Mehul Sharma, Signum Hotels & Resorts is all set to penetrate the Greek & Israel market. Signum Hotels announced the tie up with Israel-based Frank Group to develop and manage the company's upcoming hotel portfolio across both destinations.

The Frank Group is an international holding and investment group of companies with highly diversified activities. The company is greatly experienced and active in Israel & EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in the fields of real estate, tourism, high-tech ventures, energy, homeland security and holds numerous business connections around the world. Frank Group has been investing in Israel, Europe, USA and in the last five years, especially in Greece.

Mehul Sharma, Founder & CEO, Signum Hotels & Resorts, said, “We continue our focus on the company's International expansion and this signing is a significant step towards our vision of marking Signum’s presence at exceptional destinations globally. We are elated to partner with the Frank Group and look forward to a promising journey together.”

On the tie-up with Signum Hotels, Elad Frank, CEO - Frank Group, said, “we are happy to partner with Signum Hotels to expand our hospitality footprint in the Greek & Israel market. We will also be transforming our properties in islands and mainland to Signum hotels strengthening our strategic partnership further.”

Under the exclusive arrangement with Frank Group, Signum Hotels will develop a significant portfolio of more than 15 hotels across Greece and Israel, over the course of next 3-5 years. The first Signum hotel in Greece is expected to be operational within the next 12 months.

People working in the field of art and cinema always explore places to connect with nature and pen down experiences in solitude and solace. They consider it as liberty to drench down in thoughts away from the hustle-bustle of cities in the lapse of nature and then produce something like a meandering river going up and down at its own pace making its route.

Due to its picturesque mountains, rivers, landscapes, and unique vernacular architecture, Uttarakhand has always been on this list of creative places since colonial times till the present era. Rudyard Kipling, Ruskin Bond, Arvind Adiga, Stephen Alter, or others, all have found and elaborated their stories in this beautiful contour of the Himalayas. Not just only authors and writers but people of popular culture like cinema have also come here for finding a suitable location to add meaning to their stories.

Many big names of the Hindi film industry have explored different regions of this part of the Himalayas for shooting purposes. Like for instance, the famous film of legendary actor Sunil Dutt and elegant Mala Sinha, Gumrah (1963) was shot in Naini Lake of the Nainital district which established it as an epitome of love and romance.

Afterward, many other actors and actresses have been shown romancing in the background of this lake. However the most iconic is of Rajesh Khana, Kati Patang (1971) that has left an indelible impression of this lake in the minds of many. Later the critically acclaimed movie, Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) started the trend to shoot in the raw and picturesque terrains. It was the first film that prominently talked about the Harsil region of the Uttarkashi District. Soon many films of different genres like GharkaChirag (1989), Sirf Tum (1999), Armaan (2003), Lakshya (2004), and many others have followed its footsteps and shot partially or completely here.

Initially, the Forest Research Institute, Nainital, and Mussorie were the most desirable locations but in recent years the lesser-known areas are gaining momentum and attracting the directors and producers of not only the Hindi film industry but Tamil, Telugu as well as Hollywood producers to come and shoot here. 

Elaborating more about the plans Satpal Maharaj, Tourism Minister, Uttarakhand, said, “We are continuously working to develop Uttarakhand as a preferred film destination around the globe. For the year 2021, our focus is to promote and share our folklores with famous producers and directors so that series and movies can be made using the stories.”

Adding more in this, Dilip Jawalkar, Secretary Tourism, Uttarakhand, said, “Uttarakhand has always attracted tourists from all over the globe. Our focus now is to develop more film friendly to the potential producers willing to shoot in the state.”

The state also offers the best film policies for the producers and directors. Some such policies are as follows-

Uttarakhand has been developed as a state with skilled manpower in terms of mobility of goods and technical aspects

50 per cent discount for Film units during the time of shooting will be provided on rest houses of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd.

Based on merit, Films having more than 50 per cent or more outdoor shooting in Uttarakhand will be made Tax free

The State may consider financing (up to Rs. 1.5 Crores) for Hindi films with production cost up to Rs. 2 Crores on the shoot of minimum 75 per cent in Uttarakhand.

Incentives for expenditure incurred in the processing of Films produced in Uttarakhand regional language: 30 per cent or up to Rs. 25 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if processing is done in Uttarakhand situated lab, else 25 per cent or Rs. 20 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if the processing is done outside

Incentives for expenditure incurred in the processing of Regional Films other than Uttarakhand for which 75 per cent or more shooting is done in Uttarakhand language: 30 or Rs 15 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if the processing is done in Uttarakhand situated lab, else 25 or Rs. 10 Lakh (whichever is minimum) if the processing is done outside.

Uttarakhand government also has a ‘Single Window Clearance System’ allowing investors to avail the necessary State Government approvals to establish and start their business operations through a single platform without any physical touch point with the approving/licensing authority.

Adding more about the policies and projects, Uttarakhand Film Tourism Board Nodal Officer K.S Chauhan said, “After the release of the film policies in Uttarakhand 2015, more than 400 films, songs, and serials have been granted permission here for shoots which is one of the huge figures in itself. This also the result of our film-friendly policies, Single window clearance system, best-shooting destinations, Honorable CM himself involving to ensure smooth shooting in Uttarakhand. This influx in the shoot has increased the revenue and has also generated employment for the local people. With our continuous efforts and filmmaker's feedback report we received Special Mention Award in 2017, Most Film Friendly First Prize in 2018, and Best Film Tourism Destination Award in 2019 awarded by Government of India.”

Emirates today has become among the first airlines in the world to operate a flight with fully vaccinated frontline teams servicing customers at every touchpoint of the travel journey.

This morning, the full airport and onboard customer experience for flight EK215, which departed Dubai for Los Angeles, was safely supported by check-in, security, Business and First Class lounge and boarding gate employees, as well as engineers, pilots and cabin crew who made the choice to be fully vaccinated.

Also supporting the flight’s operations were fully vaccinated aircraft appearance, loading and special handling teams from dnata, as well as SkyCargo teams working on the cargo and logistics requirements for EK215.

Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline said: “Our operational workforce are at the aviation frontline, helping people get to where they need to be, and moving essential goods to global communities. Protecting our people with vaccinations is important – for them, for our community, for the smooth running of our operations, and also for our customers as it introduces of an additional layer of protection when they travel with us. We’ve seen a very positive response with high demand and take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine from our colleagues at the operational frontline, and there’s continued momentum in the rate of vaccinations across the business. We would like to thank the UAE’s leadership for making three types of vaccines available in the country, and for their proactive commitment to championing an extensive National Vaccination Programme.”

Nearly 5,000 Cabin and Flight Deck Crew have opted to receive both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. In addition, thousands more Emirates Group employees in other roles have taken their COVID-19 vaccine through the company’s clinics and vaccination centres, while others have opted to take their vaccine at one of the many vaccinations centres across the UAE.

The Emirates Group vaccination programme is the latest in its series of safeguards and protections to deliver on its health and safety promises to its customers, employees and the communities it serves around the world. The Group’s vaccination centres have been running 12 hours a day, every day of the week to prioritise and provide aviation frontliners with the vaccine.

Kerala has launched Kerala Tourism Fraternity Social Welfare Cooperative Society Limited (KTFCS) to ensure welfare of tourism sector employees under the auspices of Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI).

Inaugurating the Society at a function last evening, Minister for Tourism and Co-operation Kadakampally Surendran said  tourism enterprises  should aim to tap the Co-operative sector for finance, especially in view of the reluctance of the public sector banks to provide loans to the cash-stressed tourism sector. 

“Kerala’s cooperative sector is very large. However, it has not been able to make its presence felt in the tourism sector. KTFCS will be able to bring a change to this,” he added.

KTFCS would be able to revive the tourism sector by coordinating the activities of regional tourist centres and the stakeholders by forming societies to solve their problems, the minister added.

The minister also unveiled the logo of KTFCS at the function.

Although the government had many programmes to support the tourism sector during the pandemic times, KTFCS will be very helpful to those working in the sector, said Smt. Rani George IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism.

The society was created from the lessons learned from the experience of the pandemic and it will result in bringing a better working atmosphere to the sector, said Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Tourism.

Anish Kumar PK, Chief Promoter of KTFCS, said the society is being formed keeping in mind the development of the tourism sector and the welfare of those working in it.

KTFCS will take the lead in finding capital, loans and resource mobilization in the tourism sector.

Visitors to the Great Ocean Road can experience the unique wildlife of the region in a totally new way as a new ecotourism attraction opens its doors for the first time.

The first of its kind experience gives visitors the opportunity to see local wildlife in a wild setting like never before - with each visit also supporting local environmental conservation projects.

Australia’s iconic koalas and kangaroos will feature alongside more elusive species such as potoroos and bandicoots at Wildlife Wonders, where visitors will be able to experience all the magic of a thriving Otways ecosystem during a 75-minute tour with a conservationist guide.

Leonie Bowles, Director, Wildlife Wonders, said, “The stunning hills and forests of the Otways are home to many threatened species which have been lost from other places, but the rugged nature of this landscape, and shyness of these animals means you are unlikely to catch a glimpse of many of them in the wild. At Wildlife Wonders you have the opportunity to see these animals as never before, living freely in a protected bushland setting, while you enjoy the sights of a thriving Otways ecosystem.”

Wildlife Wonders is a not-for-profit ecotourism experience and social enterprise created to showcase what the Otways landscape was once like and could be again – with all profits going back into local environmental conservation projects.

Lizzie Corke OAM, CEO, Conservation Ecology Centre, said, “The Wildlife Wonders experience was developed by the Conservation Ecology Centre with this dual purpose in mind. It’s a chance for visitors to learn more about the incredible plants and animals of the region, at the same time generating vital funding for wildlife and ecosystem conservation and research, which will help to restore and protect these unique species and their habitats in the wild.”

Danielle Green, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria, said, “We understand how tough it has been for tourism operators and communities along the Great Ocean Road - that’s why we’re supporting high impact, high value, projects like Wildlife Wonders. This will help to drive tourism to the region in the long-term while showcasing and protecting some of our most unique and beautiful wildlife.”

The project has been supported by a US$2 million grant from the Australian Government under the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, a US$1.5 million grant from the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund and funding from the The William Buckland Foundation, The RE Ross Trust and local individual supporters.

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has unveiled The Leela Palace Jaipur. The hotel has been branded after extensive refurbishment and enhancements both in the product as well as service offerings.

Located amidst tranquil environs near the Amber fort on Delhi-Jaipur highway, The Leela Palace Jaipur is set against the majestic backdrop of the Aravalli range, on over 8 acres of landscaped gardens.

The property offers 200 lavishly appointed rooms suites and villas. 88 uber luxe villas including villas with private plunge pools that are the largest in the city, blend exquisite details with contemporary charm. It boasts of over 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space including a stunning pillarless Grand Ballroom and verdant lawns.

Within easy driving distance from Delhi, it offers the perfect vantage to explore the city in all its glory, with historical places of interest, buzzing bazaars brimming with textiles, art and handicrafts and the famous silver and gemstone markets only a short distance away.

Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts said, “The Leela Palace Jaipur is an exciting addition to our brand portfolio and joins our coveted Palace properties, The Leela Place New Delhi and The Leela Place Udaipur to complete the leisure circuit of one of the most sought-after tourist itineraries in the world. Jaipur is a destination that has long mesmerized the global traveller with its incredible energy offering a vibrant mix of heritage, history, culture and tradition. The Leela Palace Jaipur is an authentic and immersive expression of all this and more.”

“I am delighted to partner with The Leela Places, Hotels and Resorts to bring The Leela brand to Jaipur” said Vikram Sukhani, owner Tulsi Palace Resort Group. “This luxury landmark will further elevate the high standards of hospitality that exist in this beautiful destination with its unparalleled levels of luxury and warm and gracious service – both of which The Leela brand is renowned for.”

Inspired by the royal Rajputana heritage, The Leela Palace Jaipur establishes itself as a pivotal landmark in the city and beyond. Its approach to design pays homage to the intricacies of regional craftsmanship, that creates awe-inspiring moments for guests.  From the 400-year-old heritage craft of Thikri, the art of inlaying mirrors, to the traditional Shekhawati paintings that adorn the walls to the glimmering domes that have been carefully crafted with silver foiling.

Tourism Malaysia India Offices engaged with travel associations such as Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) in a three-day meeting started 19 February 2021 to set sights on strategic planning and come up with key initiatives, strategies and activities. The move is prompted by the anticipated opening of Malaysia for Indian travellers.

Organised at the ITC Gardenia, the Directors and the entire marketing staffs from Tourism Malaysia New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai Offices met with tour operators and travel agents of Bengaluru to get feedback on the ongoing COVID-19. Officials of Tourism Malaysia briefed about the latest situation as well as tourism products and developments to the audience.

Sulaiman Suip, Director of Tourism Malaysia - New Delhi Office said, the recent Malaysia Airlines achievement in receiving full marks for its COVID-19 health and safety measures (by Airline Ratings) shows Malaysia’s preparedness and commitment towards safety and hygiene. Therefore, we will continue to build confidence and awareness that hopefully will translate into a desire to travel to Malaysia once the crisis ends.

Hafiz Hashim, Director of Tourism Malaysia - Mumbai Office said, the other focal point is the much-anticipated opening of the outdoor theme park in Genting Highland in the second quarter of 2021. The official opening of this ‘Genting Skyworlds’ is music to travellers’ ears and the travel industry alike.

Meanwhile, Razaidi Rahim, Director of Tourism Malaysia - Chennai Office said, Malaysia is also committed to brand itself as an ecotourism destination, with an outlook towards balancing the development and conservation of its natural environment & heritage.

India remains one of the top market sources for Malaysia and contributed 735,309 international tourist arrivals in 2019. The first two months of 2020 recorded a phenomenal cumulative growth of +29%. However, the spread of the coronavirus globally led the countries to close their borders and cancelling most flights.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), New Delhi successfully concluded a three-month program with the TBO Academy.  The program consisted of a 5-module training program, an e-flyer contest and a series of webinars that aimed at promoting the various natural and cultural marvels that Thailand has to offer to its visitors.

The core of the modules included: introduction to the Amazing Adventures in Thailand, Bangkok and Beyond- Insights into “The City of Angels”,  Current SOP’s administered by Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration , Southern Thailand- Phuket and Beyond and introduction to the Chiang Mai and other cities neighboring Myanmar and Laos- the northern border of Thailand.

Vachirachai Sirisumpan, Director, TAT New Delhi and Ankush Nijhawan, Co-Founder, Travel Boutique Online along with panelists including stakeholders like Angsana Laguna, Minor Hotels, Siam Siam Hotels, Berkeley Hotel, Ocean World, Madame Tussauds Bangkok conducted these programs.

The purpose of these virtual interactions was to communicate the latest information about the established safety guidelines, the most recent updates straight from Thailand and promotion of new attractions and destinations in the country. 

The program aimed at aggressively promoting Thailand as a destination in North and East India through TBO Academy’s strong network of OTAs and agents.

Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (I/C), Prahlad Singh Patel to inaugurates three-day Incredible India Mega Homestay Development & Training Workshop in Darjeeling today. The Ministry of Tourism’s Indiatourism Kolkata, Regional Office (East) has organised this workshop from 22nd -24th February 2021 in association with Eastern Himalayas Travel and Tour Operator Association (Resource Partner) and IIAS School of Management (Knowledge Partner) to enrich the hospitality skill of Homestay owners to ensure a better experience for the tourists.

 

The concept of Homestay is getting popular in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of Northern part of West Bengal. The involvement of local community is more than ever in this Homestay Tourism at one of the most favoured Hill Stations for Domestic and Inbound Tourists. However, most of these homestays lack professional training of Hospitality etc. which would impact the destination in the long run.

A total of 450 Homestay owners would be trained in the aforesaid Mega Workshop where IIAS School of Management (Knowledge Partner) would train them free of cost in different spheres of Hospitality (i.e. Behavarioul Skill, Marketing and Sales Skills, Destination Promotion Skills etc.). The Workshop would start every day at 10 A.M. and continue upto 3 P.M. Post Workshop an interaction between Tour Operators/Travel Agents (Appx. 40 Operators) in form of B2B would be organised.

The aim of this robust hospitality training workshop is to upgrade the hospitality skills of local community stakeholders by capacity building. This initiative is directed towards the rural development through tourism and preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage of local communities.

 

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