Category Archives: Associations

Service charge row: FAITH seeks retraction from Consumer Affairs ministry

FAITH believes that levying of service charge on invoices is a healthy, cashless practice designed to motivate staff through an additional financial incentive. Levy & proportionate distribution of ‘service charges’ enable enhanced financial support to staff from lower economic groups. FAITH has requested ‘urgent’ intervention of Secretary-Tourism, Government of India, Secretary-Consumer Affairs, Deputy Secretary-Consumer Affairs, & Tourism Secretaries of all state governments, on the issue. The association has recommended a retraction to be released from MCA to secretaries – food, civil supplies & consumer protection. FAITH has opined, that service charges wherever they are levied on invoices, are pre-disclosed on the menu, where it normally says that ‘service charges & government taxes as applicable are extras’. Whenever consumers order, it is implied that they are legally aware of that food service establishment’s disclosed commercial policies and offer of sale. Service tax is thereafter, levied on service charge which is remitted to department of revenue and adds to our country’s indirect tax collections. Once they are disclosed and thereafter accepted by the consumer, it is thus not an unfair consumer practice. FAITH has voiced concern that the ‘letter ‘ by Ministry of Consumer Affairs may create confusion in the minds of diners when they eat out. Additionally, it has the potential to create an unhealthy distrust towards food service establishments among those diners who may not be able to discern distinction between service charge & service tax. Furthermore, if service charges start getting disputed by consumers, it may create unwanted litigation hotel / restaurants & department of revenue, since service tax is levied on all service charges on invoices. All in all, there is scope for large scale litigation & a …

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TrawellTag Cover-More to conduct training for ETAA members

TrawellTag Cover-More will conduct its Travel Agents Engagement Program (TAEP) for members of the Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA) of non-IATA travel agents in Kolkata and Hyderabad in February 2017. The first session will be conducted in Kolkata on February 4, 2017 followed by Hyderabad on February 10, 2017. It will be conducted by corporate trainer Aman Kaushik who has done similar sessions for the trade in the past. Jagat Mehta, President, ETAA, says, “Our insurance partner TrawellTag Cover-More has designed a program especially for our members which is focused on up-selling and cross-selling skill development. The ‘Travel  Agents  Engagement Program’ has proved to be a productive step towards achieving higher quality of travel ancillary sales, increasing penetration and improving cross-selling skills among travel agents.” ETAA is scheduled to hold its second Domestic Convention at Leonia Resorts, Hyderabad from March 3 to 5, 2017.

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FHRAI to Consumer Affairs Department: Withdraw service charge notification

In the wake of a statement issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs on Jan 02, 2017 implying Service Charge billed by restaurants are optional, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has come out with a clarification to all industry stakeholders. In a letter to the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) the apex body of hotels and restaurants, has appealed for withdrawal of the advisory as it has been creating chaos and disruption in the smooth functioning of restaurants across the country. The association has clarified that there is nothing illegal about levying the fee and has citied judgements by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi which is the highest consumer forum of the country as well as by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which have upheld the legitimacy of this practice. The association has pointed out to cases in which the practice of levying a Service Charge has been upheld by the law. In one of the cases, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi in Nitin Mittal vs. Pind Baluchi, (2012) NCDRC 444 the Association has been advised that such a practice is not an “unfair trade practice” within the Consumer Protection Act. In another case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court too has specifically acknowledged the practice of including “service charge” in the bill by hoteliers and other cases in lower courts which too have recognized the practice. “Service charge is the amount paid to the staff of the restaurant or other similar establishments. An establishment may choose to include this amount in the bill itself and the percentage may vary from 5 per cent …

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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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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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Demonetisation did not affect FTAs, FEE: MOT

The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, observed that demonetisation did not have any impact on the Foreign Tourist Arrival and Foreign Exchange Earnings. In November, 2016, 8.91 lakh FTAs were recorded as compared to 8.16 lakh in November, 2015, registering a growth of 9.3 per cent. An official statement from MOT claimed, “after demonetisation, the Government has taken a number of steps to ensure that no hardship is faced by the tourists and the industry is not affected. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) smoothly transitioned to cashless mode of payment by simplifying process of e-tickets. Government efforts have paid dividend as there has been a notable growth in the comparative figures of Foreign Tourists Arrival (FTA) Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) and online sale of e-tickets after demonetisation.” It may also be noted that the number of e-tickets sold during November 09, 2016, to December 08, 2016, increase to 28,176 from 2807 during October 09, 2016, to November 08, 2016, with corresponding amount being Rs 181.49 lakh and Rs 3.10 lakh respectively. It can therefore be seen that sale of e–tickets and earnings from have increased significantly by 10 and 58 times respectively as people are buying tickets for ASI monuments online through cashless payments.

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TAFI plans symposium in Mumbai in Feb 2017

The Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) is planning to organise a day-long symposium in Mumbai in the third or fourth week of February 2017. The symposium will focus on issues like e-visas for inbound traffic, visa challenges for outbound traffic from India, GST and other topics that the Union Budget will touch upon. Sharing more details, Pradip Lulla, Vice President, TAFI, said, “We will get experts to address our members who will be not from Mumbai but also from Pune and surrounding areas. We will also invite stakeholders like airlines and consulates. Topics are yet to be firmed up.” TAFI had conducted a similar symposium in New Delhi in October 2016 where it had also launched its new logo. “We want to replicate this in other metro cities as well and discuss topics that are relevant for that particular region,” Lulla added.

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PATA conducts 5th Update and Outlook Meeting with MOT & Air India

PATA India Chapter’s meeting with the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India and Air India discussed initiatives for the upcoming year and also highlighted the past year’s achievements. Vinod Zutshi, Secretary-Tourism, Govt. of India, was optimistic about tourism’s prospects for 2017 and shared, “We have been exceeding the global growth of tourism and have marked stuck to our target of 10 per cent growth on an average for this year. Not only have we seen a drastic increase in international tourist arrivals, the domestic sector is equally flourishing. From 30-40 per cent growth in 2015, we are expecting the domestic tourism growth to touch around 60-70 per cent.” Zutshi also mentioned that the 1363 helpline which was launched in mid November 2015, receives around 4000 queries per week, up from 1000 per week, and revealed that suggestions received from pre-budgetary sessions would help yield a favourable budget. Ashwani Lohani, CMD, Air India, stated that expansions and consolidation for the national carrier will go hand-in-hand, with plans to add atleast 13 new destinations afoot. “We will be launching a minimum of six new routes in 2017 and about six more in 2018. The whole idea is to add 100 new aircrafts by 2020 and to convert the existing fleet into a relatively newer one. “2017 will also focus on turning profits for Alliance Air along with the rapid expansion of Air India’s fleet and number of destinations,” he added.

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IAAI’s portal to enable agents to become consolidators

In an effort to safeguard the interests of its members from the prevailing challenging market conditions and present them with a new revenue model, the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) will launch an exclusive portal that will enable each of its members to become a consolidator. Titled ‘I-TOP’ which stands for Indian Travel Agents Own Portal, the program will be launched shortly. This was announced at its Annual General Body Meeting of IAAI Maharashtra State unit held in Mumbai recently. Biji Eapen, National President, IAAI National Board, said, “It is a first portal of its kind in the history of the aviation world created solely for the agents, by the agents. It has sophisticated technology and enhanced innovative processing modules. It has been enriched with facilities for the user to work as an individual or a consolidator and operate through GDS platforms and also the internet to meet the present challenges and competitions in the Industry with B2B, B2C and B2D facilities including the new NDC process.”

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FICCI summit to help travel start-ups

As part of its mandate to further enhance India’s digital drive in the travel and tourism industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) launches its maiden initiative aimed at travel start-ups. ‘Travel Tech Launchpad’ will be a platform that encourages innovation and growth of travel start-ups and will be set up during the second edition of FICCI’s event titled ‘Digital Travel, Hospitality and Innovation Summit’ to be held on March 22-23, 2017 in New Delhi. The summit content has been developed to enhance the potency of travel start-ups, digital tourism and IT-based infrastructure development for the travel and hospitality sector. ‘Travel Tech Launchpad 2017’ is being organised by FICCI in association with Agnitio Consulting LLP, Nucleus Partners, and Charson Advisory. The summit will offer an opportunity for travel startups to learn from experts in the field of travel, exhibit their business ideas, and display their products & services in addition to providing a unique opportunity to connect with right set of ecosystem partners. A number of travel start-ups, hospitality and technology companies from across India and abroad will gather during the summit in addition to the participation of leading investors such as Sequoia, Inventus Capital, Kae Capital and several angel / venture capital firms.

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