Tag Archives: Chairman

Mumbai Port to get e-visa facility by Dec 2017

Mumbai Port will soon be among the three Indian ports in the country that will be able to offer e-visa facilities to international cruise passengers. Revealing this, N.S. Rathor, Chairman, Western Region and Regional Chapter Chairman, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), says, “I was part of the meeting between Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust, and the Bureau of Immigration officials who have principally agreed to allow the port to offer e-visa facilities by December 2017. Currently, only Mangalore, Goa and Kochi offer this.” Talks are on to offer this service from Chennai seaport soon. Foreigners will then be able to enter India through five seaports — Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Goa and Mangalore — with electronic visa (e-visa), in addition of 16 airports where the facility is available.

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IATO’s GST session gets a full house in Mumbai

The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) recently organised a seminar with noted Service Tax expert Manish Gadia, Partner, GMJ & Co to talk on GST and to reply to member queries. The session mostly touched upon how GST is likely to affect inbound agents. Himanshu Agashiwala, Chairman, Maharashtra Chapter, IATO, said, “Everyone has been discussing about GST and so we decided to conduct this session in Mumbai. We saw a fantastic response with more than 75 members attending the event. We even welcomed a couple of non-members from the trade.” The association also discussed a few state-related issues before the session including the scarcity of guides, transport tax and upcoming events. Agashiwala also urged members to get more active and help out the committee in various tasks, including volunteering for the Hotel Inspection Committee that IATO is a part of.

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Manohar Azgaonkar is the new Goa Tourism Minister

Goa has appointed a new tourism minister Manohar Azgaonkar. Under his leadership, Goa Tourism is planning to introduce new initiatives and infrastructure projects, promote the diverse cultures of the state and focus on improving all its products and services. Azgaonkar has travelled extensively and is set to infuse new concepts and ideas into the tourism sector here in Goa. In another development, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) has re-appointed Nilesh Cabral as Chairman. He is the current MLA of Curchorem Taluka. Under his leadership, GTDC has taken huge strides and given a new dimension to Goa Tourism. In his previous stint as Chairman of GTDC, the corporation achieved several milestones i.e the GTDC became a profit making corporation, introduced new and attractive activities and initiatives, formed a (Special Purpose Vehicle) SPV cell to expedite tourism infrastructure projects, procured funding from Central Govt. schemes and has lined up new project for construction and commissioning in the next two to three years.

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SpiceJet launches Delhi-Surat flight

SpiceJet has launched a daily direct Delhi-Surat-Delhi flight on March 26, as part of their summer schedule. The flight was inaugurated by Jayant Sinha, Minister of State, Civil Aviation. In an official statement, Ajay Singh, Chairman, SpiceJet, said, “SpiceJet is proud to connect Surat, one of the fastest growing cities of the country with the national capital. Our twice daily flights will offer immense flexibility to the corporate and leisure travellers on the SpiceJet network.”

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Withdrawing agents’ commission not a good sign

Rajan Sehgal, Chairman, Northern Region, TAAI, says “Emirates is expanding its network fast and already has the largest number of flights, amongst all the international carries, flying to and from India. All this is because of the support of the travel agents. Agents in India have been marketing, selling, bringing customers and giving credit to them and paying the airline in time. Emirates does not understand that this could negatively impact the business. Offering 3 per cent commission on the basic fare is only peanuts for Emirates, but it is still following suit as other international airlines. Withdrawing this commission is not a good sign. However, they would soon realise that travel agents are important for the business. the Indian travel industry, unlike in other nations, is not very strong and has no support from the government. Hence, everybody is cutting the profit of the travel agent, but they will soon realise that travel agents are a major contributor to their business.”

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IATO welcomes new batch of guides in Mumbai

After a long spell of dearth of good quality guides in Maharashtra authorised by India Tourism, the Western Chapter of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) is happy to welcome the new batch of guides who have just graduated. N.S. Rathor, Chairman, Western Region IATO and Regional Chapter Chairman, shared, “The good news is that we now have a new batch of guides after their course got over. About eight of them will get their licenses by around middle of February 2017. However, the trouble is the students from western India were made to sit with those from the north. So they have only studied monuments in north India. We have now requested the Ministry of Tourism, Regional Director, Vikas Rustagi, to give them an orientation here once they graduate and get their licenses. We also want them to interact with the older, more experienced guides so they also understand and learn how to converse with the foreign tourists when they ask questions about India, its economy, culture, etc. Many times, the foreign travellers, specially Europeans have more knowledge about India than us.”

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Inbound sector completely ignored

Rajan Sehgal, Chairman, TAAI- Northern Chapter, has a stern opinion on Union Budget. “For the last so many years, there has been no mention of tourism. This time as well, tourism was mentioned only for two minutes. We cannot think of growth and promotion of tourism internationally without having our house in order. No monument in India is of international standard, and people only know of the Taj Mahal, which is the only monument we can sell, which too is not tourism friendly.” On how the Budget ignored the inbound sector, Sehgal says, “Tourism brings in foreign exchange as well as creates employment. Very cleverly, the government has seen outbound tourism where they have seen two crore people are travelling, and thus they should come in the tax bracket. But they have not emphasised on inbound, which would bring the foreign exchange. They are just trying to collect tax, but they have not understood the potential of tourism. We have to have direct interaction with the Prime Minister’s Office. Tourism needs to be a very easy industry, and the tax should be simplified in this sector. Other countries follow this and are booming.”

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Ashwani Lohani is new WTTCII Chairman

World Travel & Tourism Council, India Initiative (WTTCII) has appointed Ashwani Lohani, Chairman & Managing Director, Air India, as its Chairman for the year 2017. Lohani, who served as the Vice Chairman of WTTCII for the year 2016, takes over from Kapil Chopra, President, The Oberoi Group, who completed his term at the recently held AGM in Delhi. Sunder G. Advani, Chairman & Managing Director, Advani Hotels & Resorts (India) Limited, has been appointed as the Vice Chairman of WTTCII for the year 2017. This was announced at the Annual General Meeting of the World Travel & Tourism Council, India Initiative (WTTCII) held on 12 December 2016 at New Delhi. Lohani said, “Over the years, WTTCII has been championing convergence between Government of India and States to facilitate tourism in India and we will continue to do so. With the GST in place by next year, the States will have the major onus of implementing smart policies for facilitating tourism on the ground. We will continue to work with the States, with the strength of our Members, to improve access, address infrastructural gaps and policy bottlenecks for tourism to flourish, and most importantly create jobs, employment and provide a vigorous boost to tourism’s contribution to the State’s GDP. The sub sectors of Aviation, Hospitality, Transportation, Railway compliments each other. In a country like India, all the subs sectors of tourism need to be integrated and treated uniformly by the Government in its various policy initiatives to give it a competitive edge vis-à-vis other countries.” Advani said, “We welcome the ground breaking move by Government of India introducing E-visa policy for 158 countries at 16 Airports and 5 Cruise Ports. These …

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Domestic tourism to get hit for few months

Rajan Sehgal, Chairman, TAAI Northern Chapter, feels that for the next few months, it will be a big problem for domestic tourism as people use cash transactions for everything from staying, to eating and sight-seeing. “Foreign tourists also are facing a challenge in paying for basic needs like food as well as reports have also come from many places about people being denied entry in the monuments as they do not have the required cash. Foreign tourists who are in the middle of their journey in India and have already exchanged money, have no idea what they need to do with the cash they have as most of it is in denominations of 1000 and 500. Another big problem for us is that all the embassies and VFS centres do not take cheques or credit cards. They only take demand drafts, which is a longer process or they accept cash, which is posing as a big problem today. We are in talks with them and hoping for a positive outcome.”

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Govt needs to better manage such moves

E.M. Najeeb, Chairman, IATO Southern Region, and Chairman & Managing Director, Air Travel Enterprises Group of Companies (ATE), says the decision has badly hit tourists today as thousands of tourists who are in India cannot pay in restaurants, do shopping, or pay for local purchases. “Apart from the stay, which is pre-paid, they can’t do anything else with the foreign exchange they have already taken. People are facing great hardships, queuing up at petrol pumps, there was not enough change at railway stations despite them accepting the 500 and 1000 bills. The government’s step to curtail black money is much appreciated, but I think it should have been better managed and the steps taken by the government shouldn’t have affected the normal people so much. We also have our hospitals and since the concession of accepting the larger denominations is only in government hospitals, private hospitals like us had to treat people for free.

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