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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (IC) Prahlad Singh Patel held a virtual meeting with 21 States/UTs Tourism Ministers/Officials recently in New Delhi. Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism; Meenakshi Sharma ,DG, Tourism and other senior officials of the Tourism Ministry also attended the meeting.

The agenda of meeting included ‘suggestions on Way Forward for revival of tourism, including working on the National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism to create robust database of hospitality units etc.

Speaking on the occasion, Patel stressed on the use of SAATHI and NIDHI initiatives of the Tourism Ministry which are becoming very crucial during current situation. He said that earlier we only had 1400 registrations of hotels with us but because of NIDHI initiative now we have 27000 hotels registered with us and the number is growing regularly. It gives us more reliable data of the tourists and hospitality industry. He also said that the use of SAATHI initiative will build confidence in tourists as it helps hospitality industry in preparedness to continue operations safely and mitigate risks arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

He mentioned about the good work carried out by UT of Chandigarh mentioning that Chandigarh had 110 hotels out of which 108 are now registered on NIDHI and 83 on SAATHI. He advised the states to use these two platforms for data capturing and confidence building among the travelers to travel to their states.

He requested the States/UTs to share their observations on the draft National Tourism Policy to enable the Ministry to finalize it at the earliest.

Talking during the meeting, Conrad Kongkal Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya mentioned that Meghalaya had utilised the COVID time productively. They have carried out training and capacity building of stakeholders, upgraded the tourism website, have developed new promotional videos and had worked on better connectivity to the state as way forward. UDAN scheme has improved the connectivity in the North East region and now the state is working on direct flight to Delhi from Shillong.

Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism Kerala informed about the various measures Government of Kerala has undertaken to support the tourism Industry by providing incentives and waivers in the form of Loan assistance, extension of time line for submission of property tax, waiver of electricity and water bills for the period the accommodation units were non-functional. The State has opened to interstate tourism from 10th October and is ready with its new marketing campaign focussing on changed times.

Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister for Tourism, Odisha informed that tourists from other parts of the country have started visiting Odisha. The state has not opened the temples to the tourists yet.

P U Robert Romawia Royte, Minister for Tourism, Mizoram mentioned that they are working on ways to restore travellers’ confidence and have developed new products for MICE, Golf and Adventure activities in the state.

Vellamandi N. Natarajan, Minister for Tourism, Tamilnadu informed that the state has issued SOPs and guidelines for resumption of tourism in the state and state is now ready to welcome the tourists.

Bedu Singh Panth, Tourism Minister of Sikkim stated that the state is now open to interstate travel, they will be opening the tourism services and destination in phased manner.

The Ministry of Tourism under the leadership of Tourism Minister along with the stakeholders is working tirelessly to support the tourism sector. The Ministry has been in a continuous dialogue with the representatives of Tourism & Hospitality industry stakeholders to discuss solutions and way forward to revive the tourism economy by reviving demand, especially through promotion of Domestic Tourism. The Ministry has held a series of brainstorming meetings over the last six months with different segments of the tourism industry to discuss the difficulties of the industry verticals.

All States assured that they shall be ensuring traveler safety and as much harmonization of recommended protocols as the local conditions permit and being in line with the recommendations of Ministry of Home and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The States also shared various actions that they are taking to ease business in hospitality sector and agreed to work closely with the Ministry of Tourism in taking the sector forward. It was appreciated by all that there is a huge opportunity in promotion of the domestic market and aggressive work needs to be done to promote Dekho Apna Desh.

Hong Kong and Singapore have reached an in-principle agreement to establish a bilateral Air Travel Bubble (ATB) to help revive cross-border air travel between the two aviation hubs in a safe and progressive way.

In conjunction with this announcement and to inspire visitors to explore Hong Kong from all angles, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has launched 360 Hong Kong Moments – opening up the city virtually by way of wholesome and immersive content, designed to remind the world what a wonderful and all-encompassing destination Hong Kong is.

“We welcome the SAR Government’s announcement of the in-principle agreement to establish a bilateral Air Travel Bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore,” said Dr YK Pang, Chairman of the HKTB. “The announcement is a timely match with the HKTB’s launch of a standardised hygiene protocol for tourism-related sectors with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency, which was announced last week. The protocol allows the tourism-related sectors to be well-prepared to welcome visitors back, while bolstering visitors’ confidence in travelling to Hong Kong. The HKTB also hopes that the ongoing series of 360 Hong Kong Moments will keep our destination brand alive and ensure that our city stays top-of-mind for people around the world before other travel bubbles are formed.”

The first in the series of 360 Hong Kong Moments is a 360-degree virtual-reality film, created especially for this year’s Great Outdoors Hong Kong campaign. The VR adventure takes viewers on an immersive journey across Hong Kong’s surprisingly easy-to-access green territory. Viewers can savour the taste of traditional local dishes that connect them with the city’s cultural heritage, gaze at the mesmerising skyline from atop stunning mountains, and listen to the soothing sounds of a waterfall.

Sabre and American Airlines have renewed their long-term, worldwide distribution agreement. Under the renewed agreement, Sabre will continue to distribute American Airlines flights and services through the Sabre travel marketplace, ensuring that Sabre connected agencies will continue to have access to the same American Airlines content, including branded fares, ancillary products and services.

“It’s been a challenging year for the travel industry, and it is critical to us that we support our agency community well,” said Alison Taylor, chief customer officer of American Airlines. “Sabre remains important to American, as we work together with our mutual agency partners to facilitate bookings.”

American Airlines is a long-standing Sabre customer employing Sabre’s travel marketplace as well its SabreSonic reservations system, and multiple other airline IT solutions.

“As the industry continues to deal with the fallout from COVID-19, distribution of air content through the Sabre global distribution system (GDS) remains an important part of a carrier’s distribution strategy” said Roshan Mendis, chief commercial officer for Sabre Travel Solutions. “This agreement strengthens our long-term and ongoing collaboration with American Airlines and demonstrates our shared commitment to providing the hundreds of thousands of Sabre-connected travel agencies and the travelers they serve with the most relevant air content.”

In addition, American continues to collaborate with Sabre on NDC as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to providing a seamless booking experience and the development of next-generation retailing, distribution and fulfilment solutions that benefit airlines, travel retailers and consumers. Sabre recently announced it had achieved Level 4 Certification and is partnering with several airlines as part of its Beyond NDC initiative.

Virgin Atlantic is delighted to announce it will be launching services from Delhi and Mumbai to Manchester as the airline ramps up flying from its home in the north of England.   Virgin will launch Mumbai - Manchester service on 20th December and Delhi -  Manchester service on 6th January.

Flying three times a week from Mumbai to Manchester beginning in December and twice weekly from Delhi starting in January, these new services will go on sale on 20th October and will complement the airline’s existing services from Mumbai and Delhi to London Heathrow.

With over 16 million Indians living outside of the country and 500,000 living across the north of England, India has the world’s largest diaspora. These new services will open up over 130,000 seats between India and Manchester and aim to respond to the large, fast-growing demand to visit friends and relatives as well as capturing demand for business and leisure travel to the region as global economies gradually recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented: “We’re delighted to launch new flying from our home in the north in Manchester. India boasts the largest foreign-born population in the UK and we’re anticipating that post Covid-19, the demand to travel home to visit loved ones will increase.  

“Following the relaunch of services from Heathrow to Mumbai and Delhi in September 2020, these new services from Manchester represent our continued investment in India. Both Mumbai and Delhi are popular year-round destinations, and we look forward to welcoming travellers from the North and Midlands onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region.’’

Alex McEwan, Country Manager – India at Virgin Atlantic said: ‘‘We are excited to welcome passengers onboard Virgin Atlantic services from Delhi and Mumbai to Manchester for the very first time. Manchester is our home in the North of England and is positioned as a fantastic hub for onward travel. We are the only airline operating these routes to Manchester direct and passengers can enjoy the same fantastic customer service that we have offered from India to Heathrow for the past 20 years. We will operate one of our newest and most fuel-efficient aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.’’

Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (IC) Prahlad Singh Patel held a virtual meeting with 15 State Tourism Ministers/Officials yesterday in New Delhi. Tourism Minister of Rajasthan Govind Singh Dotasara, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh Neelkanth Tiwari, Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand Satpal Maharaj, Tourism Minister of Goa i Manohar Ajgaonkar, Tourism Minister of Maharashtra Aaditya Thackeray, Tourism Minister of Madhya Pradesh Usha Thakur and Tourism Minister of Gujarat Jawahar Chavda participated in the virtual meeting and some of the States/UTs were represented by officials. Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Yogendra Tripathi; DG, Tourism, Meenakshi Sharma and other senior officials of the Tourism Ministry also attended the meeting.

The agenda of meeting includes facilitating ease of travel between States/UTs for promoting domestic tourism, incentives being offered by States/UTs, working on system for assessment, awareness and training for hospitality industry (SAATHI) for the adherence of safety norms.

Speaking on the occasion, Patel said that tourism sector is amongst the worst hit sectors during COVID-19 pandemic but with  mutual support we are continuously talking to its stakeholders and have taken some initiatives for revival of the tourism sector and hoped that tourism sector will pick up pace again soon.

He stressed on the use of SAATHI and NIDHI initiatives of the Tourism Ministry which are becoming very crucial during current situation. He said that earlier we only had 1400 registrations of hotels with us but because of NIDHI initiative now we have 27000 hotels registered with us and the number is growing regularly. It gives us more reliable data of the tourists and hospitality industry. He also said that the use of SAATHI initiative will build confidence in tourists as it helps hospitality industry in preparedness to continue operations safely and mitigate risks arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Patel said that even before the pandemic the Prime Minister already initiated 'DekhoApnaDesh' campaign and in the current situation we should focus on domestic tourism under this campaign, it will help to revive the tourism sector of our country. He urged all the Ministers to identify new places of tourism which can attract domestic tourists. He also urged that in order to promote tourism during these times all states should come up with a uniform protocol for interstate movement of tourists so that tourists can travel hassle free.

 He informed that Tourism Ministry is planning to develop a platform which will have all information regarding state roads, hotels and other facilities of all tourist destinations. It will also have updated information regarding weather and other tourism related information, he added. Shri Patel requested all states to provide such information to Tourism Ministry so that the platform can be started soon.

The Union Minister also stressed on the better connectivity of the tourist attractions. He said that better connectivity will increase tourists flow in remote areas also. Patel said that Tourism Ministry has shared draft Tourism policy with states and states should also formulate their policies in the line of Tourism Ministry's policy. He also urged all states to give their valuable suggestions to enrich Tourism policy.

The Union Tourism Minister also informed about the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification program (IITF) which is an online program to train guides and is seen as a potential employment generator at the Pan India level. Currently the program has almost 6000 persons enrolled and with the qualified persons eventually coming on the e-marketplace, the program is seen as having a huge potential in transforming the tourist experience in terms of guiding and showcasing India.

The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has led a high-level delegation to Brussels for a series of meetings aimed at ensuring tourism remains at the top of the political agenda of the European Institutions.

As UNWTO guides the global restart of tourism, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General has been working closely with European leaders to ensure the sector receives the political and financial support needed to protect livelihoods and safeguard businesses. During his visit to Brussels, Pololikashvili urged the leaders of the European institutions to transform the ambitious plans for the recovery into reality by coordinating a package of response measures that will allow for tourism to return and to drive the recovery of the EU economy.

At the same time, the UNWTO leadership stressed the importance of supporting and growing domestic tourism. According to Pololikashvili, domestic tourism has immense potential, including for the recovery and development of rural communities. However, for this potential to be realized, governments and the European Institutions need to provide greater direction and stronger leadership.

Tourism is a central pillar of European economies, a leading employer and a source of opportunity for many millions of people across the continent

The UNWTO delegation met with Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, with the office of David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament and key representatives of the European Council. On the back of the meetings, it was confirmed that the issue of easing travel restrictions will be on the agenda at the next meeting of the European Council, highlighting the importance and timeliness of UNWTO’s interventions.

Pololikashvili said: “Tourism is a central pillar of European economies, a leading employer and a source of opportunity for many millions of people across the continent. The leaders of the European Institutions have signalled their commitment to supporting tourism at this challenging time. High-level leadership and unprecedented levels of cooperation between the Institutions, governments and businesses will be needed to translate good intentions into firm actions and so help tourism lead the continent’s recovery from crisis.”

Pololikashvili congratulated European leaders for their role in opening the borders of EU Member States before the end of the summer season. This gave some much needed impetus to travel and tourism and saw a promising upturn in international tourist arrivals in several European markets.

UNWTO calls on governments to avoid acting unilaterally and closing borders as this has proven not to be effective in controlling the spread of the virus. It is vital that the focus shifts from limiting travel to ensuring safe travel by putting in place measures like widely accessible, fast testing at departure. Such measures will protect the health of travellers as well as tourism- and travel-related workers, while at the same time fostering trust and boosting confidence.

Tourism contributes 10% of total GDP for the European Union and supports more than 2.4 million businesses. The sector is on track for a fall of between 60% and 90% in bookings compared to similar periods in previous years. The estimated revenue loss this year for hotels and restaurants, tour operators, long distance rail and for cruises and airlines is from 85% to 90%. As a result of this pandemic, 6 million people may lose their jobs.

This visit to Brussels comes on the back of the European Tourism Convention, during which Pololikashvili stressed the importance of supporting and promoting green investments in tourism so as to drive sustainable recovery from the present crisis.

Kerala has opened its tourism destinations, barring beaches, for visitors by strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocol, signaling the revival of the revenue-generating industry that remained shut for  the last seven months following the outbreak of the pandemic.

As per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued by the Government in this regard, the visitors will have to follow Break the Chain norms including wearing of masks, use of soap and sanitizer and social distancing.

Destinations which have un-controlled access like beaches will be opened from November 1, where also the SOPs will be implemented strictly.

“The State Tourism Department and service providers are totally committed to ensuring a safe and happy stay for guests. Directions have been given to officials also to see that the safety protocols are fully complied with”, Kadakampally Surendran, Tourism Minister, Kerala said.

“The stakeholders in the tourism sector have to follow the SOPs and Guidelines and make Kerala a responsible tourism destination to welcome tourists.

The tourists are also required to follow the Guidelines and support the measures taken by the State Government to combat COVID-19,” Rani George, Tourism Secretary of Kerala, said.

The domestic tourists coming for short visits of less than seven days are exempted from quarantine but they should register in COVID Jagratha portal. If tourists plan to extend their stay for more than seven days, they have to undergo test at their cost on the 7th day at ICMR/ state government approved laboratories. The visitors are advised to avoid travel if they are symptomatic.

Hospitality facilities, tourism transport operators and other services such as hotels, resorts, house boats, ayurveda centres, homestays, service villas and adventure activity centres will have to go by the SOPs.

The service providers should ensure that health and safety parameters such as temperature check, wearing of mask, frequent sanitization, disinfection and contactless screening for guests are followed.

Health declaration forms should be maintained.  Hotel bookings will be allowed only online and a 24-hour gap between check-out and check-in has to be followed. Guests should not be allowed to take uphigh risk activities like pool swimming.

Sarovar Hotels and Resorts today announced the expansion of its portfolio in Maharashtra with the signing of a fine hotel in Aurangabad. Sarovar Portico upon completion will offer 68 rooms and suites offering modern amenities and personalized service. The hotel is strategically located in Shendra MIDC and in close proximity to the airport.

Commenting on the development, Anil Madhok, Executive Chairman, Sarovar Hotels, said “We are glad to be setting our footprints in this rich heritage city and getaway to numerous exotic tourist destinations. With our immense focus on providing quality accommodation and services at the best rates, we hope to ensure a pleasant stay for all our guests travelling to this region.”

The city is a beautiful blend of history, culture and nature and surrounded by many historic monuments. A must visit places when in city are   Ajanta and Ellora Caves, UNESCO world heritage site; Bibi ka Maqbara, Panchakki, Grishneshwar temple; Daulatabad fort and Bird Sanctuary.

On the eve of the G20 Tourism Ministers meeting under the Saudi Presidency, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary – General, UNWTO and Ángel Gurría, Secretary General of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) made the below observation.

Tourism is a major driver of the world economy, accounting for 7% of international trade. Globally, tourism generates directly or indirectly one in every ten jobs. The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the tourism economy, with unprecedented effects on jobs and businesses. Tourism was one of the first sectors to be deeply affected by the COVID-19 containment measures, and with the ongoing travel restrictions and the looming global recession, it also risks being among one of the last to recover. Strong and coordinated action is required to save millions of livelihoods.

With a 60-80% decline in international tourism foreseen for 2020, and a drop of between US $910 billion and $1.2 trillion in exports, today over 100 million direct tourism jobs are at risk. Apart from this direct impact, the tourism economy is also linked to many other sectors including construction, agro-food, distribution services and transportation, all of which exacerbate the size of the shock. COVID-19 has revealed the macroeconomic importance of tourism in most OECD and G20 economies. Many businesses across the sector are fighting to survive, with a disproportionate effect on women, young people, rural communities, indigenous peoples and informal workers – groups that are more likely to be employed in micro or small tourism businesses. This crisis is also creating an even greater hardship for low-income and developing economies, and their local communities, which disproportionately depend on tourism and hence face a serious risk of higher poverty.

The current crisis has also exposed gaps in government and industry preparedness and response capacity. Policy action at national and international levels, as well as heightened coordination, are urgently needed across sectors and borders to restore traveller and business confidence, stimulate demand and accelerate tourism recovery.

Turning crisis into opportunity: working for a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism sector

This crisis is an opportunity to rethink tourism development. The recovery must involve transforming the sector, re-inventing tourism destinations and businesses, re-building the tourism ecosystem, and innovating and investing in sustainable tourism.

At its heart, tourism is about experiences, including the tastes of local food, the exploration of local landscapes, and the sights of historical significance. But it is mostly about people – be they local guides, accommodation operators or other service providers who make your journey special or help you to do business and reach international markets. As such, our collective response must put people first and live up to the pledge of leaving nobody behind. This crisis should be an opportunity to ensure a fairer distribution of tourism’s benefits and advance the transition towards a carbon-neutral and more resilient tourism economy.

On the eve of the G20 Tourism Ministers meeting this 7 October under the Saudi Presidency, as the leaders of the OECD and UNWTO, we call for strong and urgent action across three fronts to sustain millions of livelihoods. 

First, strengthened multilateral co-operation and robust support are critical to reactivate travel. Collaboration and consistency of travel regulations at bilateral, regional and international levels are the stepping-stones that will allow tourism to restart safely, accelerate economic recovery and provide hope for millions of people. This includes strengthening safety and security for travellers and workers and facilitating safe cross border travel, as well as building more resilient destinations. It is vital to reinforce global co-operation and aid to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on travel and tourism and to help accelerate both the economic and social recovery. Getting the tourism ecosystem back up and running will require a coordinated and integrated approach. It is because of its cross-cutting nature that tourism has become a key pillar of the Sustainable Development Agenda and why tourism also forms part of the UN’s socio-economic response to COVID-19.

Second, governments must approach tourism recovery in a more integrated manner – involving all levels of government, private sector and civil society in a practical and actionable plan to revive the tourism sector. Tourism services are interdependent. The fragmented and diverse nature of the sector means it sits across various policy areas such as health, transport, environment, foreign affairs, and economic policies. All countries should also reinforce their coordination mechanisms to help businesses, workers and destinations, particularly those that are most vulnerable such as SMEs, with sustainability as a guiding principle for recovery. To achieve a sustainable and resilient tourism economy, the private sector must also be closely involved in policy design. This will help tackle long-standing challenges such as resource efficiency and management, and avoid existing problems including overcrowding and pressure on local infrastructure, the environment and communities. Recovery policies should aim to accelerate the digital transformation and the transition towards a low carbon economy for the future.

Third, we need to reshape tourism towards responsibility and inclusion.  The tourism sector can have an important environmental and social effect, whether through greenhouse gas emissions, by impacting fragile natural and cultural environments or affecting host communities. Research indicates that tourism transport related emissions account for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The pandemic has revealed an opportunity for more diversified, ‘slower’, smaller, and more authentic experiences. We need to engage in a collective reflection on the future of tourism and on the sensitive links between tourism and the environment. We need more investment in technology, green infrastructure and value-added jobs. These will lead to a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism sector.

The newly completed Enchanted Princess, the 100th cruise ship built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, was delivered to Princess Cruises on September 30, 2020 in an official handover ceremony presented via live streaming video from the Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

With the arrival of this 145,000-ton, 3,660-guest ship, Enchanted Princess expands the Princess Cruises global fleet of MedallionClass vessels.

The  ceremony was virtually attended by executives from Carnival Corporation & plc including Micky Arison, Chairman of the Board of Carnival Corporation; Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation; Stein Kruse, Group CEO of Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Carnival Australia and Carnival UK; and Jan Swartz Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia. Fincantieri was represented by CEO Giuseppe Bono. International media and stakeholders for Princess Cruises across the globe also joined the ceremony virtually.

“We officially welcome Enchanted Princess into the Princess global fleet and recognize the strong bond between Carnival Corporation, Princess Cruises and Fincantieri, our long-standing shipbuilder partner,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “Fincantieri shares the Princess spirit of delivering the highest level of excellence, and we know they will also share in our enthusiasm with pride when the ship welcomes its first guests.”   

Enchanted Princess represents an evolution of the design platform used for her sisterships - Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Majestic Princess and the most recently introduced Sky Princess - offering an elevation of spectacular style and elegance that is distinguished by Princess. The cruise ship introduces new dining experiences, the most pools and whirlpool hot tubs ever, world-class entertainment venues and the breathtaking Sky Suites, offering expansive views from the largest balconies at sea.

Nishith Saxena, Founder & Director, Cruise Professionals added “The completion of Enchanted Princess and her induction in Princess fleet is a mark of resilience of mankind, commitment towards growth & wellbeing & faith in the efforts we all put in the recovery of the cruise industry. Having spent nearly 20 years of promoting Princess Cruises in India, we’re confident that passenger demand for premium cruises would start building up soon and we shall witness very busy booking offices.”



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