Tourism Breaking News

OYO App for business travellers

OYO Rooms  has launched a self-serve platform for business travellers on its mobile App, called OYO for Business. The platform offers rooms which cater specifically to the needs of corporate travellers and include amenities like air-conditioned rooms equipped with flat-screen television, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast and 24×7 customer-care support. The rooms are present in over 6000 hotels spread across 180 cities in India. Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO – OYO, said, “OYO has ushered in an era of reliable customer experience in the highly fragmented and unpredictable category of unbranded hotels in India. We are thrilled to extend our brand promise to business travellers across India’s premier corporates, SMEs and start-ups. We are confident that business travel in India will become more rewarding and hassle-free once booked through OYO for Business.”

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Soon, liberalised visa policy to boost trade

India may soon roll out a long-term multiple-entry comprehensive visa by merging tourist, business, medical and conference visas into one to attract more visitors and boost trade. Tourists, businessmen or people coming for treatment or to attend conferences or even for film shoots can be covered under the proposed new category, which was first mooted by the commerce ministry following a suggestion by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to boost services trade. The long-term, multiple-entry visa is likely to be given up to 10 years but under this category the visitor will not be allowed to work or stay permanently, a government official, who is part of the deliberations, said. As per the proposal, if a foreigner is granted long-term, multiple-entry non-working or non-permanent stay visa and his or her stay is restricted to 60 days on a visit, the government may waive the visa fee as well. However, the visitors have to give biometric details and fulfill certain security obligations, the official said. The home ministry is working on the proposal and, hopefully, it will be implemented soon, the official said. The plan is part of the commerce ministry’s initiatives to boost India’s services trade. Source: PTI

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No KKC on services completed on or before May 31

In view of the exemption notification issued by the Central Government, no Krishi Kalyan Cess (KKC) has been applicable on service completed on or before May 31, 2016, and invoices for such service issued on or before May 31, 2016. KKC was introduced vide Section 161 of Financial Act, 2016 @ 0.5% on the value of all or any taxable services. Central Government by way of a notification dated June 23 has exempted taxable services with respect to which the invoice for the service has been issued on or before  May 31, 2016, from the whole of Krishi Kalyan Cess leviable thereon, subject to condition that the provision of service has been completed on or before the May 31.

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AP Tourism announces 25 new packages

Andhra Pradesh Tourism has announced 25 new packages for the benefit of holiday planners and travellers. The tour packages have been segregated into the five tourist hubs of the state – Visakhapatnam, Konaseema-Rajahmundry-Kakinada, Amaravati-Vijayawada, Tirupati-Nellore and Ananthapuramu-Kurnool-Kadapa. All the tour packages are already in effect. Neerabh Kumar Prasad, I.A.S., Principal Secretary to Government, Tourism & Culture, said “The tour packages have been specially crafted for the holiday travellers to make best sue of. Convenience of traveller is of utmost importance for us and these packages have been designed keeping their comfort and convenience in mind. We aim to provide them with a memorable experience to cherish ever after every time they visit Andhra Pradesh.”

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SME travel agents protest against OTAs

More than 1000 SME tour operators and travel agents gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against the unethical practices by online travel agents. The Small and Medium Tourism Action Group comprised of SME travel agents argued that OTAs are killing the small and medium tour operators by selling below the cost because of foreign funding. Subhash Goyal, Immediate Past President, IATO said, “I congratulate the small and medium tour operators for starting the national movement against the unethical practices by foreign funded OTAs who are buying a hotel room for Rs 2000 and selling it for less than Rs 1000. With this type of practice none of the small operators can compete and slowly they are going bankrupt. This is a very serious situation and the government and all travel associations must look into it.” The agents said they are against the e-coupons and cash discounts offered by the OTAs to reduce actual costs and argued that funding received by OTAs are a result of black money flowing into the industry. An association of small and medium tour operators is on the cards to unite voices against the cause. The agents have requested the government to regulate all OTAs which use the dominant position of having access to funds to kill small and medium tour operators. Memorandum to this effect was sent to the Prime Minister and Tourism Ministry and various travel and tourism associations will take up a legal battle with Competition Commission of India under unfair and unethical trade practices.

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Brexit effect: Short-term spurt in outbound

With the British pound taking a hard hit as the UK voted to leave the European Union, the fall by over 8 per cent to Rs 91.36 within a day is expected to increase India’s outbound traffic to the UK. Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), says that it will mainly benefit Indian travellers who are immediately travelling to the nation. “The outbound surge will be momentary – outbound tourism will increase till the GDP remains low. But things are very unpredictable as of now due to the uncertain circumstances,” he said.

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5 new train services for Bihar

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu flagged off five new trains services for Bihar through video conferencing from Rail Bhawan, New Delhi. The latest train to be flagged off is 63213/63214 Patna–Ara MEMU (Daily) train service. The other trains are Danapur-Saharsa ‘Janhit Express’ (Daily, No. 13205/13206), extension of Jaynagar-Saharsa Janki Express Upto Katihar (Daily, Tr. No. 15283/15284), extension of Patna-Murliganj Koshi Express upto Purnea Court (Daily, Tr. No. 18697/18698) and extension of 53581/53582 Jasidih-Chandan Passenger train up to Banka. This is the first passenger train between newly constructed Chandan-Banka line.

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Oman Air to up its weekly India flights to 175 by 2018

In a bid to expand its India portfolio, Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO, Oman Air, said that Oman Air wants to increase its weekly flights from the current 126 from Muscat to 175 weekly flights by 2018. He said, “We currently fly double daily flights to six out of the 11 destinations in India with 21,147 seats. Our current bilateral agreement allows us only so much. If we are allowed more, we will opt to go triple daily to these six same cities namely Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad as our load factors are already close to 90 per cent thanks to the travel trade.” Gregorowitsch was visiting Mumbai to talk about Oman’s national carrier’s growth, strategy and expansion plans. The airline also hosted its agent partners for a networking and Iftar party. The airline celebrates 23 years of its India operations.

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POP to fly from tier 2 cities to UK

POP, the new low-cost, long-haul airline on the anvil, plans to operate non-stop flights from the UK to Amritsar (ATQ) and Ahmedabad (AMD). POP directly targets these whilst offering the business sector two new routes with a tailored, non-stop service. The needs of the VFR and leisure/tourism markets will be met at affordable prices that will ensure market penetration by word of mouth. Nino (Navdip) Singh Judge, Chairman and Principal of POP, commented: “POP is different – it is going to be a UK airline whose DNA is Indian. The Punjabi and Gujarati communities in both the UK and India historically have had strong family and business connections and that desire for both communities to keep in touch and visit each other has not abated over the years. Add to that India’s booming economy and the rise of the middle classes – including the expansion in their numbers, their larger disposable income, their increasing spending power and their insatiable desire to travel all means there are vast numbers of potential passengers waiting for an airline like POP to offer them the opportunity to fly. Combine the fact that passengers are contributing to the improvement of their own society in both the UK and India – perhaps even helping a village or an individual known to them personally – means there is an excellent chance for POP’s two proposed routes to Amritsar and Ahmedabad of being a great success.” Currently flights between the UK and India are predominantly between London Heathrow and just two main destinations, Mumbai and Delhi, and three supporting ones, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. There are also a number of indirect UK to India routes through the Middle …

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MBD Group to bring Steigenberger Hotel to India

MBD Group and Steigenberger Hotel Group (SHG) have announced a joint venture to manage and franchise hotels under the brand MBD STEIGENBERGER for the Indian Territory. MBD Group will have a 51% stake while Steigenberger Hotel Group will hold a 49% stake in the joint venture company. Management of the joint venture company would be in the hands of the MBD Group looking after the India wide operations of the brand including business development, management and franchising of hotels, India marketing, pre-opening and post-opening assistance, etc wherein Steigenberger would be providing international sales and marketing support, training and brand standards to be deployed in the Indian region to suit the expectations of a luxury traveller. The joint venture would target to open at least 20 hotels in India over the next 15 years with projected annual revenue of hotels under management and/ or franchise of nearly 2000 cr. MBD Steigenberger brand, in-line with the international positioning of the Steigenberger brand, shall be positioned to target the luxury segment in India, a segment that is expected to grow at an extremely fast pace in India. The flagship hotel under the JV will be the MBD Zephyr Bangalore – An MBD Steigenberger Hotel located in the heart of Whitefield Bangalore – the silicon city of India offering 184 rooms and 118 service apartments, interpreting luxury in the true sense of the word. Sonica Malhotra, Managing Director of the Joint venture & Joint Managing Director of the MBD Group, said, “We are extremely proud to announce our association with Steigenberger Hotel Group. The association will ensure that German excellence joins hands with the warmth of Indian hospitality providing the next level experience to …

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