Tourism Breaking News

Inbound air bookings down by 15.6% from Dec 17, 2019 to Jan 11, 2020: ForwardKeys

Inbound air bookings have declined 15.6% for the period between December 17, 2019 to Jan 11, 2020 compared with 2.5% annualised decline, reveals ForwardKeys after an analysis of over 7.5 million bookings. The analysis was conducted to assess the impact of CAA protests on inbound air bookings into India at both country and state level. The study took into consideration actual travel bookings growth/ decline into India between the period Jan 11, 2019 to Jan 11, 2020 and showed an annual decline 2.5% decline in passenger bookings into India.

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Niti Aayog moots Rs. 22,500-crore plan for 150 private trains on 100 routes

Niti Aayog and the Indian Railways have come out with a discussion paper for running 150 trains on 100 routes by private operators, envisaging an investment of ₹ 22,500 crore. The discussion paper titled ‘Private Participation: Passenger Trains’ has identified 100 routes, including Mumbai Central-New Delhi, New Delhi- Patna, Allahabad-Pune and Dadar-Vadodara. Other prominent routes include Howrah-Chennai, Howrah Patna, Indore-Okhla, Lucknow-Jammu Tawi, Chennai-Okhla, Anand Vihar-Bhagalpur, Secunderabad-Guwahati and Howrah-Anand Vihar. The paper, prepared for discussions with stakeholders, has split the 100 routes into 10-12 clusters. The plan is to move in swiftly with the panel headed by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant suggesting that the first train can be rolled out within six months of the award, with 35-year contracts to be awarded to entities offering to pay the highest revenue share. As per the paper, the private operator will have the right to collect market-linked fares and will be provided flexibility of class composition and halts. The privatisation of train operation, the paper said, will help in introducing modern technology and rolling stocks with reduced maintenance. Besides, it would provide world-class service experience to passengers and also help in reducing the supply demand deficit. The operators could be domestic or international entities, the paper said. Each bidder would eligible for award of maximum three clusters, it added.

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AAI ready to invest over Rs 25,000 crore in airport infrastructure: Hardeep Singh Puri

Airports Authority of India (AAI) is readying to invest more than Rs.25,000 crores in airport infrastructure, says Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State(I/C) for Civil aviation. “India, being the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world and showing a robust growth, is poised for greater heights. With the kind of fleet expansion underway, India will soon have about 2000 civil aviation aircrafts in the sky, we will be doubling the number of airports with Airports Authority of India (AAI) readying to invest more than Rs.25,000 crores in Airport infrastructure and we have a structured privatisation program in place,” he said.

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Big ships will start sailing in the Ganges by 2021: PM Modi

The deepening work of the Ganges is underway and big ships will be able to cruise on the Ganges by 2021, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while briefing about his government’ integrated waterways policy in Kolkata. He also said that 625 projects worth Rs. 6 Lakh crore have been identified under the Sagarmala Scheme of the government to improve connectivity as well as infrastructure of ports, out of which 200 projects worth Rs. 3 lakh crore are already underway. He revealed that 125 projects have already been completed by the government by modernising existing port infrastructure and integrating it with other modes of transport in a seamless way. Commenting about Kolkata’s unique positioning as the ‘Sangam Sthal’ of the Sea and the River Ganges, Modi said that Kolkata will be the biggest beneficiary of the connected and integrated transport policy of the government. Ports, he said, have always been considered to be the gateways to prosperity in India.

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MP Tourism to organise Namaste Orccha Festival from March 6-8 to attract more tourists

Madhya Pradesh Tourism has announced ‘Namaste Orchha’ festival, which is scheduled to be held from 6-8 March 2020, in the historic town of Orchha. The festival, aimed at celebrating the cultural landscape of MP, was announced at a curtain raiser event in New Delhi, in the presence of Sonia Meena, Additional Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) and Yasmin Kidwai, Festival Director and Curator, Director of Spring Box Films. The 3-day festival offers unparalleled travel experiences for visitors to Madhya Pradesh, the government has announced this festival in the heritage city of Orchha to promote tourism, celebrate cultural diversity, natural beauty and the architectural heritage of the state. Namaste Orchha will showcase Madhya Pradesh in Orchha, bringing it alive with music, dance, heritage tours, workshops, local cuisine, arts and handicrafts. Madhya Pradesh boasts popular tourist destinations like Khajuraho, Ujjain, Sanchi, Bhimbetka as well as untapped places like the recently awarded National Award for Best Heritage City – Orchha.

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Ural Airlines appoints Minar Group as India GSA

JSC Ural Airlines has announced the launch of its flights to Mumbai and has appointed Minar Group as General Sales Agent (GSA) for India. JSC Ural Airlines, the full service carrier of the Russian Federation, is all set to launch four weekly flights operations to Moscow-Mumbai, India, starting March 30, 2020. The aircraft used for the new Moscow-Mumbai flight is the brand new A320 Neo aircraft having 2 Class configuration. The flight will depart from Mumbai 0540 hrs and arriving in Moscow at 1005 hrs, the airline is offering convenient timings for business travellers, M!CE and tourist groups. On the other hand, flights from Moscow will depart at 1920 hrs and arrive Mumbai at 0435 hrs. In addition, the airline has appointed Minar Travels (India), the Airline Management Services arm of Minar Group as it’s General Sales Agent for the Indian market. Spokesperson of Ural airlines stated that, “We have selected Minar Travels to position our brand, create awareness of our products and sell our services in this important new market.”

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India amongst countries with highest capital cost for hospitality, lending rate from 11-14%

According to a recent report by HVS, India ranks amongst the countries with the highest cost of capital for the hospitality industry. Lending norms for the industry are extremely stringent with interest rates ranging between 11% and 14% for borrowings as against an average of 4% to 5% in most developed economies. Given the higher cost of servicing debt, the quantum of debt available to the sector averages at 50% of the total project cost further restricting the capital available for hotel development. And finally, the cherry on this cake is the short tenure for repayment of debt which averages at circa 10 to 12 years including the construction period moratorium. Assuming a three-year construction moratorium and a three-year period for hotel revenues to stabilise, the effective repayment term ranges from 4 to 6 years causing severe stress on hotel owners and operators. Given the cyclical nature of the business, if the hotel enters the market in a down cycle phase, it is almost certain to head towards becoming an NPA as has been evident from the last cyclical downturn.

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France: Flights delayed, cancelled as air traffic controllers stage walk outs amid strikes

Air passengers travelling to France are facing delays and cancellations as French air traffic controllers go on strike. There are also strikes across the country, meaning other modes of transport are also affected. As air traffic controllers joined the strikes on January 9, all flights in and out of France, as well as over French air space, could be affected. Travellers are advised to check the current status of flight with the airline. From the UK, easyJet passengers will be among the worst affected. EasyJet has to cancel 20 flights of its French programme, two of which are UK touching. British Airways are also affected, with the airline cancelling 12 flights from Heathrow to various French cities. Similarly, Ryanair have also cancelled a number of flights. Likewise, Eurostar will also be cancelling more services.

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Puerto Rico: Iconic tourist landmark, Punta Ventana collapses in earthquake

Famous tourist landmark and one of Puerto Rico’s most cherished natural wonders, Punta Ventana has collapsed after an earthquake shook the island. Punta Ventana, which translates to “Window Point,” was a stone arch shaped like a round window located in Guayanilla along the southern coast. The rock formation was one of the island’s most iconic treasures and major tourist attractions. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake had struck the island, wiping out the natural structure. A colonial church constructed in 1841 has also been totally collapsed. It is likely the most damaging quake to impact the island since 1918.

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US: Southwest, American Airlines issue travel warnings ahead of storm

Southwest and American Airlines have issued travel warnings ahead of winter storm Isaiah, which could pose travel problem in Southern US states. The storms are expected to bring tornadoes, large hail, flooding and high winds through North Texas. It is expected to bring snow and ice to parts of the Plains, Great Lakes and New England on Saturday. American Airlines said that people traveling to, from or through Dallas-Fort Worth International on Saturday may be eligible to make a one-time change to their ticket for free. While Southwest is also allowing passengers to rebook their flights without an additional charge.

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