Tourism Breaking News

Odisha Travel Bazaar from Nov 27-28, 2016

The Odisha Travel Bazzar will be held for the first time on November 27-28 in Bhubaneshwar this year, informed Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of State – Tourism & Culture, Govt. of Odisha. The event will be held on the lines of Great Indian Travel Bazaar where tour operators from across the world would participate in the mart. Funds to the tune of Rs 2 cr have reportedly been allocated for the travel bazaar. Odisha Travel Bazaar will be held in association with FICCI and will target potential consumers of Odisha’s tourism products from across the globe.

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Treebo launches tablet App for hotel partners

Treebo Group of Hotels, the Bangalore-based chain of budget hotels, has launched a tablet-based property management system for its hotel partners called ‘Bumblebee’. The app will be used by property managers to manage all tasks related to hotel operations, including check-ins, check-outs, new reservations, room assignments, payments, fulfilling guest preferences, billing for F&B and laundry, among others. Commenting on the launch, company’s co-founder and head of technology and products, Kadam Jeet Jain, said, “In the budget segment you cannot afford highly-skilled manpower. You therefore need to innovate using technology to simplify and hardwire tasks, and thereby reduce errors and time taken for completion. Bumblebee has been designed keeping this in mind. And that’s why we built it on a tablet. This is the first-ever, stand-alone tablet app for hotel managers and it is a big shift away from desktop-based systems, which are often too complex and time consuming. This app helps us crash our check-in times, for example, to less than 3 minutes, when in traditional set-ups it would take 15-20 minutes. Besides, it also helps keep the hotel data safer as the system can be accessed from hotel premises only.”

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Vistara connects Kolkata-Delhi

Vistara has launched its inaugural flight to India’s cultural capital, Kolkata from IGI airport, Delhi at 07.20 am on June 10. Kolkata will now be directly connected to Delhi via double daily flights offering convenient same-day return options in both directions. The one-way fare on this route is Rs 6980, plus taxes. Kolkata travellers will also be able to experience Vistara’s Bengali food festival on-board its flights starting today till June 16, as well as relish the traditional sweet of Bengal, Kheer Kadam, on all its flights until June 14. Kolkata is Vistara’s fourth destination in the east and the fifth metro in the country. This new addition to Vistara’s expanding network will enable leisure, corporate and pilgrimage travellers who especially come to visit the famous religious places like Dakshineswar and Kalighat to enjoy Vistara’s ‘new feeling’ and its world class travel experience with direct connectivity to the capital.

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First Crowne Plaza in Pune opens

InterContinental Hotels Group has announced the opening of the first Crowne Plaza in Pune-Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre. The 173-room hotel will operate under a management agreement with The Advantage Raheja Group and has been rebranded from an existing property. Room rates start from Rs 5000 plus taxes. Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre lies in the Koregaon Park district, just 20 minute drive from the airport and nearby key local businesses, venues and attractions, this hotel is ideal for hosting business travellers who need convenient access to the city while utilizing ample space for large corporate meetings and events. Designed to truly make business travel work, the hotel will undergo an extensive refurbishment to upgrade guest rooms, public areas, restaurants and meeting space. Furniture and fittings and other interior elements will be enhanced to create more inviting dining options and engaging spaces for both business and social interactions. Commencing June 2016, the refurbishment is anticipated to be complete early 2017 and the hotel will remain fully operational during this time. The hotel is equipped with 24-hour business services and meeting facilities as well as 11,800 sq. ft. of banqueting space. It also features a fully-equipped 24-hour fitness centre and a newly designed swimming pool, as well as a rooftop restaurant and lounge that are designed to keep guests productive, connected, rested, and refreshed during their stay.

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TAFI national elections on June 30 in Ahmedabad

After completing all its chapter elections across India, the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) is now gearing up for its AGM and national elections. This will be held on June 30 in Ahmedabad. Rajat Bagaria, Member, TAFI National Managing Committee, revealed, “All our chapter need to complete their accounts and conduct their AGM before the national team can do our AGM and elections. June 15 is the last date for filing the nominations and June 25 is the last date for withdrawal. The final list of nominees will be out on June 26. If there are more than one persons standing for the same post, then we will have elections. Else the person will be chosen unanimously. So we will decide if we need to have elections on June 26.”

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180% growth in eTV arrivals in May

During January-May, 2016, a total of 4,34,927 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa (eTV) as compared to 1,10,657 during January-May 2015, registering a growth of 293.0 per cent. A total of 43,833 tourists arrived in May 2016 on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 15,659 during the month of May 2015 registering a growth of 179.9 per cent. The USA (15.63%) continued to be the top source country availing the eTV facility followed by UK (15.63%), China (8.17%), France (5.16%) and Germany (4.91%). New Delhi Airport received the highest share of FTAs on eTV (45.11%) with Mumbai Airport (22.50%) registering the second highest share. Bengaluru Airport (9.00%), Chennai Airport (6.63%) and Kochi Airport (3.68%) are also among the top five airports with highest tourist arrivals on eTV.

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Domestic Coach Holidays by Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook India has launched its Domestic Coach Holidays, allowing travellers affordable seat-in-coach vacations to popular destinations. These destinations would be at a driveable distance from key metros/mini-metros. Currently, the Coach Holidays feature itineraries for popular destinations including Kerala, The Golden Triangle, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh, with departures from key cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kochi, at attractive prices starting from Rs. 6999 (per person on twin share basis).These Coach Holidays are pre-packaged products for customers seeking a bargain domestic holiday in the air conditioned comfort of Volvo/equivalent coaches. The Coach Holidays are targeted at two key segments; families and senior citizens, as also entry level young couples and ad hoc groups of friends. Hence, based on the booking preferences of each segment, the pre-packaged Coach Holidays are available through Thomas Cook’s extensive offline network, its India Toll Free Call Centre or online. The Coach Holidays include transportation by air-conditioned, Wi-Fi enabled Volvo/equivalent coaches and a stay in standard two star hotels with breakfast included. Rajeev D. Kale, President & Country Head – Leisure Travel & MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. said, “Domestic Tourism is witnessing a strong resurgence and the launch of our Thomas Cook ‘Coach Holidays’ intends to catalyse this demand. Popular drive-down locations are seeing strong interest and for today’s travel-hungry yet price sensitive audience, our focus on simple, easy to book, seat-in-coach tours offers the unbeatable quality assurance of the Thomas Cook brand. Our Coach Holidays ensure a comfortable and hassle-free voyage on wheels, for families, couples and ad hoc groups of friends.”

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TAFI Western Chapter elects new team

The Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) has introduced its new team for Western India Chapter for 2016-18. The new team comprises Abbas Moiz (Chairman), Sapna Rateria (Secretary), Jitul Mehta (Treasurer), Vikram Paul (Returning Officer), Suprabh Oza (Committee Member) and Burjis Mehta (Committee Member). Rajat Bagaria, Member, TAFI National Managing Committee, said, “The new committee thanks Darshan Mehta, Outgoing Chairman, for his contribution towards TAFI and the trade. We would also like to thank Vikram Paul, who has consented to be the Returning Officer. We re-iterate our commitment to the improvement of the trade. We shall work hand-in-hand with partner associations where needed to stand united as an industry. We request all members to please bring to us the issues which are being faced. We have been approached by members with their visa issues, ADM and other issues, which we are trying to resolve. We look forward to suggestions and guidance from all our members.”

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India to open new consulate in Seattle, USA

India will soon open its sixth consulate in Seattle to cater to the needs of large number of Indian-Americans living in the North West part of the US. “We hope to open a new Indian consulate in Seattle,” Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said after the conclusion of the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama at the White House. This was reflected in a joint statement issued after Modi-Obama talks. “Both sides committed to open additional consulates in each other’s country. India will be opening a new consulate in Seattle and the US will open a new consulate at a mutually agreed location in India,” the joint statement said. Apart from its embassy in Washington, India currently have consulates in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta.

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No audits under Service Tax: Delhi HC

According to a recent judgement by the Delhi High Court, there cannot be any audit of assesse records by the Central Excise and Service Tax Department and struck down Rule 5A(2) of Service Tax Rules as ultra vires to the Finance Act, 1994. It is a general practice of Service Tax Department to conduct audit of service tax assessee for last five years by deputing their own officers of the rank of inspector and Superintendents. Service Tax Department also seeks voluminous details and seeks information in self-specified format/annexures of about 32 pages, which are not prescribed under the law. Service Tax Department without assigning any reasons and routinely conducts audit even when it is not prescribed under the law and not conducting special audit. This comes as a huge relief for travel companies who have faced instances of audit by service tax department.

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