Tripti Mehta

TAAI holds meeting with NITI Aayog; lays focus on protection of agents

Jyoti Mayal, President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Vice Chairperson, FAITH, met Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, on July 2 and discussed the concerns and challenges faced by the members. Some of the major issues discussed in the meeting were airline refunds; challenges faced to retain employees, their salaries and avoid unemployment in the sector; moratoriums and reliefs to trade due to COVID-19 lockdown and loss of business; allowing accredited travel agents to book Vande Bharat flights for Air India and also informing foreign carriers undertaking such flights to permit the same; revival challenges and long-term facilitation for the trade with airlines; protection of the agents from airline defaults and suspension of services; direction from government to airlines on remuneration for promoting the airlines; direction seeking travel agent corporate credit cards to be used for airline ticketing; reduction of credit card merchant fee by banks to below 0.75% so as to promote Digital India for aviation, travel, tourism and hospitality sectors as a whole. Seeking support from the government, Mayal requested Kant to ensure the same and assist in guiding the trade, enable creation of demand for growth, and opportunities for all travel and tourism-related activities.

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VFS Global to begin limited operations at select VACs in 11 cities

VFS Global is re-opening Visa Application Centres in some cities for specific visa categories. Countries for which visa services will resume are United Kingdom (from July 6), Italy (July 3), UAE, Turkey, Ireland, Belarus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Norway, Portugal and South Korea. Applicants will have to schedule an appointment in advance on www.vfsglobal.com. After specific Embassies/Consulates as well as local authorities have given their approval, VFS Global’s centres will accept visa applications for select countries with strict health and hygiene SOPs in place.

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RAK is first city to be certified Bureau Veritas Safe

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Tourism Development Authority has confirmed that RAK has become the first city in the world to be certified as a ‘Safe’ destination by Bureau Veritas, the global leader in testing, inspection and certification services, having completed the ‘Safeguard Assurance’ programme. It has also become the first emirate to receive World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC’s) Safe Travels Stamp. Through a strategic partnership with Bureau Veritas, the Authority has led the way in implementing stringent health, safety and hygiene measures across all Ras Al Khaimah hotels to mitigate any possible risk for employees and guests, and provide complete confidence in the destination. Through an ongoing series of independent audits of all its hotels in the Emirate, the partnership was designed to further validate the measures and processes already in place, and takes RAKTDA’s ‘Stay Safe’ Hotel Certification Program to the next level. In addition, the almost-50,000sqft Al Hamra International Exhibition & Conference Center is following the detailed protocols developed by Bureau Veritas’ global health, safety and hygiene specialists, and will become the first certified MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions & events) facility in the region. Adding to the global validation, Ras Al Khaimah is the first Emirate in the UAE to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp, the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp for the travel and tourism industry, designed specifically to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks. The protocols were developed in collaboration with WTTC members (including RAKTDA), leading industry associations and international organisations, and covers operational and staff preparedness, ensuring a safe experience, re-building trust and confidence and implementing enabling policies. It also follows the current guidelines of the …

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Agents will refrain from price reductions: Travel Consul

A Travel Consul study reveals that agents, while they wish to create partnerships with new buyers and suppliers, and diversify their product offerings, they will considerably refrain from increasing their marketing & advertising spend (45% respondents) and offering price reductions (37% respondents). The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed travel businesses to alter their products, enhance their reach, modify their policies and much more. With online travel agencies not being able to cope with consumer grievances on booking cancellations, refunds, etc., during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, it was the traditional travel agent who came to his clients’ rescue. Now, it seems, people feel safer booking with their friendly neighbourhood travel agent rather than going through the online booking process, especially when COVID-19 has turned the industry upside down.

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GPS and EASEBUZZ offer contactless payment solution to agents

GPS has partnered with EASEBUZZ to bring a contactless payment collection solution for travel agencies, with payment link and payment gateway options available free of cost and with competitive TDR rates. Solutions like webstore and invoicing will also be offered, and agents can get activated and start collecting payments within 24 hours and with minimum documentation.

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Sarovar Hotels opens Sarovar Portico, Somnath, its seventh property in Gujarat

Expanding its portfolio in Gujarat to seven hotels, Sarovar Hotels has announced the opening of its latest project in the temple town, Somnath. Sarovar Portico, Somnath is spread in beautiful landscaped terrain and has aesthetically designed Presidential and Royal suites, Studio rooms, superior rooms and executive rooms. Culinary highlights at the hotel include ‘Flavours’ that offers a multi-cuisine menu served with flair. Commenting on the development, Anil Madhok, Executive Chairman, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, said, “We are delighted to further strengthen our presence in Gujarat; Somnath will be our seventh hotel in the state. This development allows us to establish ourselves in the state more strongly. We look forward to welcoming guests to Sarovar Portico, Somnath and offering them our signature Sarovar hospitality.”

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Need to structurally reshape aviation: CAPA India

Addressing a webinar organised by CAPA India on ‘Reinventing the Airline Business Model in India’, Kapil Kaul, CEO, South Asia, CAPA, said that there is a need to structurally reshape the Indian airline industry – both internally and externally. He also said that post-COVID, the industry may see another round of market exits, this time inflicting more permanent damage on the industry and economy. In the past, the system was largely aware that Kingfisher and Jet Airways were likely to fail, but there was no visible course of correction or action.

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