Tourism Breaking News

Paying service charge at restaurants is now optional

The Department of Consumer Affairs, Central Government has called for clarification from the Hotel Association of India, which have replied that the service charge is completely discretionary and should a customer be dissatisfied with the dining experience he/she can have it waived off. Therefore, it is deemed to be accepted voluntarily. The Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the State Governments to sensitize the companies, hotels and restaurants in the states regarding aforementioned provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and also to advise the hotels/restaurants to disseminate information through display at the appropriate place in the hotels/restaurants that the ‘service charges’ are discretionary/ voluntary and a consumer dissatisfied with the services can have it waived off. A number of complaints from consumers have been received that hotels and restaurants are following the practice of charging ‘service charge’ in the range of 5-20%, in lieu of tips, which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides that a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or the supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice, is to be treated as an unfair trade practice and that a consumer can make a complaint to the appropriate consumer forum established under the Act against such unfair trade practices.

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5-7% decline in hotel bookings for New Year celebrations

According to a survey by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation, bookings received by star-rated hotels in metros have registered a decline of about 5-7 per cent due to demonetisation and the consequent cash crunch. The survey informed that many hotels had not revised rates of New Year packages and had in fact, lowered the rates by about 2-3 per cent; bundled various offers, promotions, deals and discounts on services in one package at a bargain price. The ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation had interacted with about 50 star-rated hotels in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai during the course of past midnight to ascertain how top hotels in metros are gearing up for annual New Year’s Eve parties. Simultaneously, the chamber representatives also interacted with about 250 youngsters to gauge how people in urban centres are planning to bid farewell to 2016 whereby most said they plan to usher in the New Year in a cost-effective way by opting to party indoors.  “New Year’s Eve is the perfect occasion especially for the youth to unwind and soak in the festivities with their friends and family, though with ever-growing per-capita incomes people do not mind indulging in some extravagance but cash crunch in wake of demonetisation seems to an impact on their plans this time,” said D.S. Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM. He further informed  that despite this being a good season for the hotel industry, many star-rated hotels seem to be reeling under the impact of demonetisation and are being forced to scale down their New Year’s Eve activities as they are not able to draw many people.

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IndiGo announces 10 additional frequencies, adds 125th A320

Indigo’s new schedule starting January 1, 2017, will see 10 additional frequencies connecting Hyderabad to Goa, Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar and Visakhapatnam. The airline also took delivery of its 13th Airbus A-320 Neo ‘VT–ITH’ aircraft. With this aircraft, the airline now has a 125 aircraft fleet in its 125th month of operation. Aditya Ghosh, President and whole-time Director, IndiGo, said, “The delivery of the 125th aircraft in the 125th month of our operation is indeed a landmark occasion for us. It reinforces our commitment towards the industry and living our promise of providing the best flying experience to our passengers. The entire IndiGo team has worked extremely hard to reach where we are today and we are raring to go. Here’s wishing each of you a wonderful 2017.” The new schedule has connections from Hyderabad to Goa, Coimbatore, Bhubaneshwar an Visakhapatnam.

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AI to operate from Terminal 2 at London Heathrow

Air India at London Heathrow is operating from Terminal-2 instead of Terminal 4, starting January 25, 2017, according to a communication from Air India to the travel industry. Terminal 2 is the designated Star Alliance Terminal at London Heathrow, which Air India will be sharing with 25 other Star Carriers. Air India will be operating out of Zone D. Terminal 2 has self-service Kiosk check-in for economy class passengers followed by bag drop. The check-in kiosk and bag drop will be shared with other airlines in Zone-D. Although, for Premium passenger, Air India will have dedicated counters.In view of self-service kiosk check-in at Ter-2, passenger may be encouraged to use web check-in, mobile check-in, advanced seat reservations etc. to have a smooth check-in experience at T-2.

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Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi to revamp its rooms & spa

Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi recently underwent a massive renovation of its F&B outlets. For 2017, the hotel has big plans of renovating its rooms along with its spa. Parmeet Singh Nayar, General Manager, Shangri-La’s-Eros Hotel, New Delhi, says, “In addition to growing our online presence and integrating technology at every step, we have been working on exciting developments to continuously delight our guests. After revamping our food and beverage offerings, the coming year will offer revamped accommodation facilities at the hotel along with Shangri-La’s signature CHI Spa. With these new developments in the pipeline we are sure that 2017 shall be a promising year for the hotel.”

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2017 is International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development recalling the potential of tourism to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute effectively to the SDGs. “This is a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalize its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. Accounting for 7 per cent of worldwide exports, one in eleven jobs and 10% of the world’s GDP, the tourism sector if well managed can foster inclusive economic growth, social inclusiveness and the protection of cultural and natural assets.

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Restrictions impede achieving true potential of aviation: CAPA

India’s status as the fastest growing aviation market could be hampered because of infrastructure planning adequacies, a fast emerging shortage of skills, flawed policy initiatives, and weak regulatory oversight, suggests an extract from CAPA’s India Aviation Outlook 2017/18. CAPA estimates that India’s airlines reported a combined profit of $122 million in FY2016, the first time in a decade. Lower fuel prices combined with modest capacity growth and strengthening economic fundamentals were largely responsible for surging traffic and an improvement in airline financials in FY2016. Domestic traffic was up 21.2 per cent while international grew by a more modest 7.7 per cent. India’s domestic market is on track to surpass 100 million passengers in FY2017. After a strong FY2016, traffic growth has accelerated further in FY2017, with India likely to overtake Japan this year to become the world’s third largest domestic market behind the USA and China. However, the report states that risks are also heightened. The next financial year is expected to be the third consecutive year of domestic growth above 20 per cent. Growth could be as high as 25 per cent but may be tempered by 3-5 percentage points because of the impact of demonetisation. The introduction of the GST next year may possibly also have a short-term negative impact on economic growth for a couple of years until more positive results emerge. International traffic is expected to expand at 10-12 per cent in FY2017 and FY2018, but bilateral restrictions preclude achieving true potential, Traffic growth is being stimulated above its underlying demand as a result of excess capacity and competitive fares. The downward pressure on yields, combined with cost creep, is expected to push the consolidated industry …

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130 UTPA members meet in Delhi

Uttarakhand Tourism Professionals Association’s (UTPA) official meet was organised in New Delhi after formal registration of the organisation as a Trust. More than 130 members joined this meet to discuss about promotion of tourism in Uttarakhand. Ravi Gosain, President, UTPA, presided over the meeting with General Secretary Sunil Bahuguna and rest of the office bearers. In the meeting all members participated enthusiastically by sharing their views and achievements in the field of tourism. Some of the members launched new camp sites, homestays and village tourism, etc. During the meet 25 more people joined UTPA & got the membership who are connected with Hospitality & Tourism. The Management committee also announced formation of five Sub Committee with different task/profiles toward the development of Tourism in Uttarakhand, promotion of its languages, its culture & festivals, the growth of villages & stop further migration, we are sure all these effort will help us to generate occupation for village people soon in near future. It was decided to sought meeting with Tourism secretary and CEO of Uttarakhand Tourism soon with a delegation to present their suggestions for promotion of Tourism and locals in Uttarakhand. UPTA also invites all tourism professionals who are associated with Uttarakhand to support and join hands with them in this mission. UTPA is recently formed to develop tourism in Uttarakhand and professionals who are working in Tourism and Hospitality sector of Uttarakhand are eligible to became members.

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Getting Indian visa becomes easier for Bangladeshi tourists

As part of ongoing efforts to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of securing Indian visas, the High Commission of India will allow all Bangladesh travellers with confirmed air, train or bus tickets to submit their tourist visa applications without e-token or prior appointment dates from January 1, 2017. This was informed by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka. It was informed that the date of journey should be after seven days but within one month of submission of the visa application form. The Indian Visa Application Centre in Mirpur will receive walk-in tourist visa applications from confirmed travellers and senior citizens from 1 January instead of the centre in Uttara. Those who already have appointment dates can continue to submit their tourist visa applications in centres at Gulshan, Uttara, Motijheel, Mymensingh, Barisal, Khulna, Jessore, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Sylhet. (Source:Firstpost)

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J&K organises fam tour for agents

Tour operators from across the country visited Kashmir recently as part of a three-day familiarisation tour organised by the state tourism department with an aim to revive tourism in the valley. The visiting team expressed satisfaction over the return of normalcy in the Kashmir Valley and hoped that the tourists would return as the situation is conducive for sightseeing. Representatives of travel companies like Cox and Kings, Pooja Holidays, Raja Rani, Kaisri Travel, Thomas Cook, etc. were taken to Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam. The travel agents came from West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. Mahmood Shah, Director of Tourism, J&K Government, says, “People would often ask if Kashmir is safe. Now that the situation is getting better, we invited leading tour operators here. We hosted them around Christmas.” (Source: ANI)

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