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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Vistara will operate special, non-stop flights between Delhi and London Heathrow from 28 August to 30 September 2020, marking its foray in long-haul international operations.

The flights have been introduced as part of the bilateral ‘transport bubble’ formed between India and the UK. During the period, Vistara will fly thrice a week between the two cities - on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The airline will deploy its brand-new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the route to provide an exceptional, non-stop flying experience to travellers in both directions. The airline also received its second Dreamliner aircraft recently, further strengthening its fleet to operate more such long-haul flights and expand its international operations. Vistara is also seeking necessary regulatory approvals to soon operate similar special flights to Paris, France and Frankfurt, Germany.

 “As the world starts opening up in a phased manner following an extended global lockdown, these special flights give us the privilege of facilitating travel between the two countries. We are confident that travellers will appreciate having the choice of flying India’s only five-star airline to and from London, which also upholds the highest standards of safety and hygiene,” Leslie Thng, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara, said.

“The arrival of our second Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner further strengthens our fleet and underlines our commitment to expanding globally. There is an inherent need for an Indian carrier with modern fleet, world-class cabin products and onboard service to fly non-stop on long-haul routes. Our Dreamliner aircraft help us distinguish our offering and give us a competitive edge in the market”, added Thng.

Vistara will accept all eligible customers meeting visa/entry requirements in both the countries, as specified by the respective government bodies. Vistara strongly encourages its customers to fully understand these guidelines before making their bookings.

Onboard the aircraft, Vistara’s cabin crew will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and avoid all non-essential interaction with passengers. In line with the health and safety norms, the airline has introduced a new food & beverage service that will be offered to all customers. Aircraft interiors will be deep-cleaned after every flight using approved cleaning agents -  a procedure that includes thorough sanitization of all surfaces such as seats, touchscreens, overhead bins, seatbelts, tray tables, galleys, etc. 

After successfully organizing & operating several repatriation flights in last two months, bringing back thousands of stranded Indians home, CapaJet has announced that it would be operating new flights beginning 19th August targeting key routes in South East Asia & Pacific. These flights will be operating from Jakarta, New Delhi, Port Moresby, Nadi and will touch down in Delhi, Singapore and Jakarta.  

These flights will operate in accordance with the directive released by Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Civil Aviation India to bring back stranded Indians in the country.

The first flight will be between Delhi, Singapore and Jakarta on 19th August followed by another Jakarta-Delhi flight on 22nd August. While online bookings have already started and tickets are selling fast, there are limited seats available. All the necessary approvals to run these special flights have been granted by the authorities of relevant countries. The flight from Port Moresby to Delhi will depart on the 23rd of August while Nadi-New Delhi is scheduled for 24th August.  

 

“At CapaJet, we are constantly engaging and collaborating with various governments to ensure that stranded citizens from around the world reach their home. All our missions have been very successful so far and these upcoming flights targeted in the pacific & Southeast Asian region are another step in that direction. We look forward to working with additional authorities and countries to expand our offerings in this space and add additional routes,” said Komal Seth, India Representative, CapaJet.

 

Jawaharbhai Pethaljibhai Chavda, Minister Tourism, Govt of Gujarat, today said that COVID-19 is the biggest challenge that the global tourism sector has faced till date and government of Gujarat is ready to extend all necessary support to revive the industry.

Addressing a webinar ‘Future of Tourism Post COVID-19’, organized by FICCI Gujarat State Council, Chavda said, “The economic revival measures announced by the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry have bought activities back to normal in a phased manner and we expect total normalcy in the next few months,” he added. 

Speaking on the economic packages for the tourism industry Chavda said, “The government of Gujarat has announced a special relief package to boost the state’s economy which will have a direct or indirect impact on the tourism industry.” The role of tourism in the Indian economy and the far-reaching effects of the epidemic has been felt on the economy. “I am confident that with the participation of all stakeholders, including companies and agencies of the tourism industry, we will be able to revitalise the sector and move towards the new normalcy,” he added.

Highlighting the impact of the pandemic on industry, Chavda said, “The challenges for the tourism industry aren’t over yet. Although, with the opening of the reservations for flights, trains, and buses, traveling has become possible again, the tourists are still apprehensive about their safety and are avoiding travel as far as possible.”

He further said that it becomes the responsibility of the tourism industry to ensure safety of the tourists. “We need to gradually reduce travel restrictions. The Central and the state governments along with the industry associations have issued various guidelines and we need to ensure that all norms are followed,” he added.

He said that the state government is planning to develop Gujarat as an attractive tourist hub and create more employment opportunities

Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India said that the first step towards normalcy is to create a perception of safety among the travellers. “The most significant enabler for times to come is the safety factor- people have to feel safe to travel. It must be a joint effort of not only the government institutions and travel associations, but the industry and citizens too,” she added. 

She said that every state has different protocols related to COVID-19. “In order to create ease of travel, there is a need to have harmonization of rules. We are already in touch with various states and once we align travel rules to one or two common systems across the country, people will feel more inclined to travel,” she said and added that the domestic tourism will open first, and we need to be ready for that. “We need to look at creating short travel itineraries. Most of the states are in the process of curating one- or two-night itineraries,” she emphasized.

Jenu Devan, MD, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd., said, “The tourism industry must come forward and promote local tourism in Gujarat.”

Close on the heels of the Indian Government permitting cruise ships to start sailing in India in October, comes yet another welcome boost to help the industry get back on its feet. The Shipping Ministry recently announced the reduction in port tariff rates ranging from 60 per cent to 70 per cent for cruise ships with effect from August 14, 2020. There will be an immediate reduction in port charges for the Cruise Industry in line with the Indian Government policy to support the economy post the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Commenting on this development, Jurgen Bailom, Chairman, INCLA said, “The current upheaval caused by the pandemic has resulted in several challenges and has adversely affected tourism and the cruising sector. While we eagerly wait to begin sailing in November, the Shipping Ministry’s announcement to reduce berthing charges to promote tourism increases our optimism and confidence that our industry will get back on its feet in no time at all. We would like to express our gratitude and thank the Government and the Union Minister of State of Shipping, Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya for introducing this measure and assisting us during these trying times. This is a step in the right direction as it will help boost domestic cruise tourism.”

He further added, “The cruise industry appreciates the efforts, and is indeed grateful for this initiative, which no other country has implemented so far by such a margin. This news comes as a breath of fresh air. We are confident that the travel industry will bounce back, with a few adjustments in the post-COVID-19 world where global travel restrictions and changing consumer preference will provide the impetus to domestic tourism. As we all prepare to start cruising operations in November this year, we will rise to the occasion and create greater value for all our customers.”

Nalini Gupta, Vice President, INCLA, said, “I think this is a great initiative taken by the Shipping Ministry, to promote tourism which is one of the industries to have been seriously impacted globally due to the recent COVID- 19 pandemic. This will not only help make cruising more affordable for Indians but also make India look a lot more attractive to International cruise companies in terms of home-porting ships in India for itineraries covering Indian ports with neighbouring countries”.

Ratna Chadha, Vice President, INCLA said, “The Govt has taken an initiative to boost domestic Cruises by lowering the tariffs and thereby sending the right signal to the international cruise lines as well that, India means business. However, the duration of the validity may need to be extended to create a positive impact in the long term, both for the economy and employment.”

The Ministry of Shipping has rationalized tariff rates for cruise ships whereby which the net effect of the rate relaxation would be an immediate reduction in port charges ranging from 60 per cent to 70 per cent. This in turn will give substantial relief to the cruise industry in India, in line with the government policy to support the economy in COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The rationalized tariff rates for cruise vessels are as follows:

1)            The port charges for a Cruise Ship to be charged at US$0.085 per GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) instead of US$0.35 of current rate, for first 12 hours stay ('Fixed Rate') and US$5 per passenger (‘Head Tax’). The Ports will not charge any other rate like berth hire, port dues, pilotage, passenger fee, etc.

2)            For the period exceeding 12 hours stay, the fixed charges on cruise ships will be equal to the Berth Hire Charges payable as per SOR (Schedule of Rates) (with 40 per cent discount as applicable for cruise ships).

3)            Further, cruise ships making:

a)            1-50 calls per year to get 10 per cent rebate.

b)            51-100 calls per year to get 20 per cent rebate.

c)            Above 100 calls per year to get 30 per cent rebate.

Thanks to the policy support by the Shipping Ministry since 2014, there has been an increase in the number of calls made by cruise ships in India from 128 (2015-16) to 593 (2019-20).

With a massive coastline and unexplored territories, India’s potential for cruise tourism is enormous. The cruise tourism is perfectly poised to cater to these requirements. Such an initiative will re-ignite the economy as it will spur demand and kick-start the local economy.

The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) has joined the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), an international non-governmental organization that gathers around 250 cities possessing sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The affiliation ceremony was held via videoconference on August 7. During the ceremony, the OWHC presented the certificate of membership to the Macao SAR, which was represented by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government, Ao Ieong U.

Macao’s membership in the OWHC will facilitate access to international information on World Heritage preservation and participation in relevant events learning from one another’s experience with respect to the preservation of world heritage properties, thereby further raising Macao’s international profile as a World Heritage city. The “Ceremony of the Affiliation of Macao Special Administrative Region in the OWHC” was presided over by the Vice President of the OWHC, Huang Yong.

Speaking on the occasion, Jacek Majchrowski, President, OWHC and Mayor of Krakow, Poland, said, “Macao is a rare example of a place where the aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technical influences of East and West have met for several centuries, and that he is very happy to welcome Macao to the OWHC, as a symbol of unity, an example of assimilation and coexistence of Eastern and Western culture.”

Ao Ieong U, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture expressed her happiness for having the opportunity to witness the official inclusion of Macao as a member city of the OWHC, adding that the “Historic Centre of Macao” is not only a testimony to the city’s historical development, but also a crucial cultural resource that lays the cultural ground for and nurtures the city’s future advancement, setting the foundations for further strengthening reciprocal exchange and cooperation in the future and to continue to aspire to higher standards for the preservation works of the cultural heritage in Macao.

The committee member of the Cultural Heritage Committee, Leong Chong In, spoke at the ceremony that the “Historic Centre of Macao” is the epitome of cultural integration, adding that community awareness of heritage preservation in Macao has grown increasingly stronger over the past years, and, in particular, the younger generation have been proactively engaging in the preservation process, thus enabling heritage preservation to pass on to future generations as a major undertaking. In the ceremony, the Secretary General of the OWHC, Lee Minaidis, announced Macao’s official membership and presented the certificate to the Macao SAR Government.

The Organisation of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) aims to facilitate the implementation of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (hereinafter designated as “World Heritage Convention”), to encourage the exchange of expertise between member cities on matters of cultural heritage preservation and management, and to further motivate cooperation regarding the protection of World Heritage.

Since the inscription of the Historic Centre of Macao on the World Heritage List in 2005, the Macao SAR Government has been proactively fulfilling the responsibilities set forth in the World Heritage Convention and strengthening exchange with other cities in regard to World Heritage preservation. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the inscription of the Historic Centre of Macao, and the Cultural Affairs Bureau is hosting a series of celebratory events to promote the concept of “Protecting and Appreciating Our World Heritage Together” among the public.

The Affiliation of Macao Special Administrative Region ceremony in the OWHC Ceremony was attended by the key dignitaries and representatives.

Thomas Cook (India) and SOTC Travel, have announced the launch of India’s first Safe Holiday Helpline, a free service to assist and support customers in safe holiday planning, with comprehensive guidance across country-specific health & safety protocols, visa and travel updates with documentation, requirements including COVID-19 negative certification, etc. The pioneering Safe Holiday Helpline is an extension to the Thomas Cook & SOTC Assured Safe Travel Programme in partnership with Apollo Clinics, that ensures meticulous health and safety protocols - at every stage of the customer journey.

The ongoing updates/changes in safety protocols issued by various health/government authorities (both India and international), coupled with conflicting news in the public domain, have left travellers confused and insecure. Therefore, in a meaningful initiative to provide clarity and guide customers in safe travel planning, Thomas Cook & SOTC have introduced the Safe Holiday Helpline – offering comprehensive, country-specific information across visa-immigration regulations, health & safety protocols, on-ground destination updates, etc.

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) said, “There is much uncertainty in the minds of India’s travellers when it comes to planning their holidays in this new COVID-19 era with several questions, such as: which countries can one can travel to, what are their specific rules/health requirements, what are the new visa formalities, etc. So, to build customer confidence, our pioneering Safe Holiday Helpline intends to hand-hold our customers - clarify all their doubts and guide them in safe holiday planning. Our Teams have meticulously put together a set of guidelines - working in close co-ordination with Tourism Board partners as well as global government and health authorities - to ensure accuracy and ongoing updates.”

He added, “Our Safe Holiday Helpline is yet another meaningful consumer initiative and forms an extension of our Assured Safe Travel Program in partnership with Apollo Clinics that ensures meticulous health & safety protocols across every customer touch-point. This launch follows in close succession to our recently introduced end-to-end COVID-negative certification services in partnership with ICMR accredited labs, with contactless facilitation – across India.”

Daniel D’souza, President & Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel said, “As India plans ahead to extend its travel bubbles, to facilitate safe and smooth travel amongst travellers, SOTC has launched the Safe Holiday Helpline to provide up-to-date information on intra-state and country-specific regulations, on-ground safety measures, health and visa protocols, etc. – under our Assured Safe Travel Program. With safety being the #1 concern for every traveller, this novel initiative helps restore confidence in customers, putting them at ease and helping them make informed travel decisions. Our focus has always been customer centric and this initiative is an extension of that journey.”

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Sommet Education are calling on career climbers and switchers, entrepreneurs and innovators to put themselves forward for the joint “Hospitality Challenge”. The initiative, which closes at the end of the month, will grant 30 scholarships for world class education programmes that will allow winners to develop themselves and their projects and so help drive tourism’s recovery.

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tourism to a standstill. Now, as the sector restarts, UNWTO is welcoming applications from individuals with ideas capable of accelerating recovery while promoting inclusivity and sustainability. With the competition closing on 30 August, the United Nations specialized agency has issued a final call for applications from both established tourism professionals and those new to the sector. 

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The tourism sector is a source of employment for many millions. Jobs in tourism provide opportunity, empowerment, and equality, including for women, youth and people living in rural communities. As we restart tourism, the time is right to rethink hospitality, and to identify and implement new ideas to make the sector more inclusive and sustainable. The UNWTO Hospitality Challenge will do just this.”

Sustainability and scalability key priorities

Selection criteria include the degree of disruptiveness, project maturity and potential for implementation, as well as viability, scalability, digitalization, sustainability, and the potential to attract the interest of investors. The competition will focus on four different categories:

·         Luxury travels, good and service

·         Hotels and hotel related operations: small to medium sized properties, family businesses

·         Food and Beverage: restaurants, Catering, delivery services and retail

·         Smart Real Estate: small to medium sized properties and family businesses

Benoit-Etienne Domenget, Chief Executive Officer at Sommet Education added: “Education is the foundation of a more hospitable world. Offering scholarships is a contribution to the recovery of the hospitality economy, by accelerating the personal development of talented people with creative views and to support their vision to revamp hospitality.”

The competition is open now and will close at the end of August. A Selection Committee made up of an international network of investors, entrepreneurs and experts from UNWTO Member, Affiliate Members and strategic allies, as well as from representatives of Sommet Education, will then choose 30 finalists.

The finalists will be eligible for full scholarships in 15 different programmes in Hospitality, Culinary and Pastry Arts Management, (Bachelors, Masters, MBAs) offered in the world-class academic institutions of Sommet Education: Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland and London, Les Roches Crans-Montana in Switzerland, Les Roches Marbella in Spain and École Ducasse in France. Among the 30 winners, the top three most innovative entrepreneurial projects will be granted funding to support their initial development from Eurazeo.

Car rental service provider Avis India has launched AVIS Flexi 12, an alternative solution to shared or subscription mobility services.  The advantage of the product is that the customer gets a new car of their choice whose registration is done on a private number plate and is in the name of Avis.

The car stays exclusively with the customer for the entire duration, unlike subscription where the car may change hands from one to another. Customers get to drive a new car for 12 months, are not required to make any down payments, and can swap to driving a latest car of their choice after every 12 months.

Avis Flexi 12 comes with all services included so that customers simply drive the car and everything else is taken care of by Avis, through their easy to use online portal.Services included are maintenance, servicing and repair that covers tyres and batteries, pick and drop facilities, replacement car, stay new plan, along with 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance.

Speaking on the launch, Sunil Gupta, MD & CEO, Avis India commented, “The launch of AVIS Flexi 12 supports our commitment to provide a safe and unique personal mobility experience to our customers, especially at a time when there is a radical shift in the choice of mobility. We have a strong legacy of providing clean vehicles, and the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced this need. We are following stringent safety and cleaning protocols, including utilizing disinfectant effective against human coronavirus, including novel pathogens such as the one responsible for COVID-19.”

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has signed a solar energy Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with TP Kirnali Solar Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Tata Power Company Limited. IHCL hotels in Mumbai, namely The Taj Mahal Palace, Taj Lands End and Taj Wellington Mews, will get approximately 60 per cent energy from Green Source and will reduce nearly 22.9 million kg of CO2 emissions on an annual basis. This agreement is valid for a period of 25 years.

Speaking on the agreement, Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, IHCL, said, “Innovation has always been integral to our philosophy at IHCL. This initiative is in line with the company’s focus on adopting sustainable and cost-efficient business practices, while leveraging Group-wide synergies and competencies. We are pleased to collaborate with Tata Power, which is a leader in clean energy generation.”

The agreement further strengthens the Tata Group’s firm commitment towards conserving natural resources for future generations. Through this initiative, IHCL hotels in Mumbai will be able to reduce nearly 22.9 million kg of CO2 emissions on an annual basis, which translates to a carbon reduction equivalent of approximately 7,200 cars off the road.

Praveer Sinha, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tata Power, said, “We are glad to collaborate with IHCL to reduce their carbon footprint and reaffirm the Tata Group’s commitment for sustainability. Presently, the association is limited to IHCL properties in Mumbai and we look forward to working closely with them for covering all their facilities across India.”

Sustainability is a prerequisite to IHCL operations and in the last four years, the Company has increased its renewable energy mix from seven per cent to 25 per cent. IHCL also recently set a global benchmark in hospitality for environmental sustainability by a record-setting 78 of its hotels being awarded the EarthCheck Platinum, Gold and Silver certifications.

The Fern Hotels & Resorts has opened The Fern Royal Farm Resort, Anjar-Kutch, Gujarat. This is the 20th hotel which the company is managing in the state. Overall, the company’s count has extended to 76 hotels across the country and in Nepal and Seychelles.

Suhail Kannampilly, CEO, The Fern Hotels & Resorts said, “We are growing from strength to strength in Gujarat. This is our 20th property in the state and we are expecting to open a few more hotels in Gujarat over the coming months”. He thanked the people of Gujarat for supporting and patronising The Fern brand in a big way.”

The Fern Royal Farm Resort, Anjar comprises 88 rooms, villas and suites. The resort offers six categories of accommodations, namely Winter Green Room, Winter Green Villa, Fern Club Room, Fern Club Villa, Hazel Suite and Royal Farm Villa. All the rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art modern facilities. The villas also have attached swimming pools and lawns.

Patrons can enjoy varied activities both indoors as well as outdoors. The resort boasts of a children’s play area, indoor gaming zone, mini golf course, cricket pitch, football ground, lawn tennis, basketball & badminton courts. Skating, archery ground, shooting range, horse riding turf are some of the other outstanding facilities to indulge in. Discotheque and a movie theatre are added attractions at the resort

The hotel has a finely designed Coffee Shop, a multi-cuisine restaurant and elegant banquet halls. The hotel is situated on the Anjar-Bhuj highway, with easy access to the major sightseeing attractions.

 

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