Aadi Kiruthigai 2021
Aadi Kiruthigai is celebrated as an auspicious day for Lord Murugan. The day, which falls on Karthigai nakshathra in the Tamil month of Aadi, commemorates and honors the six beautiful mythological maidens (Karthigai Pengal) that were credited with raising the six babies that emanated as a fireball from Lord Shiva’s Third eye. Goddess Parvathi later merged the six boys into one – Aaru Mugan (6 Faces), who is lovingly referred to by several names including Karthigeyan, Murugan, Velan and Kandhan.
Popular festivities for Lord Murugan on Aadi Kiruthigai are highlighted by Paal Kudam (Milk Pot) and Kaavadi Dance. Devotees observe fasting, carry milk in a special pot, pray to Him and shower their beloved Lord with milk (Abishekam). They also perform Kaavadi Dance, which involves carrying a load on their shoulders in a balancing act. The latter signifies Sage Agasthya’s disciple Idumban carrying the two mounds, Shivagiri and Sakthigiri, out of Mount Kailash and settling them in Pazhani, one of six Sthalams (Temples) for Karthigeyan.
It is believed that when you pray to Lord Muruga with devotion and love (Bhakthi), He grants your wishes and bestows you with health, happiness and prosperity. Let’s celebrate Aadi Kiruthigai together at Trimurti Temple and get Lord Murugan’s blessings!.
Trimurti Temple Reopening
Sunday, July 4, 2021
While acknowledging the pandemic’s wrath and the devastation it caused around the world, Trimurti Temple took an extremely cautious approach of shutting down all face-to-face and in-person religious services since March 2020. In doing so, the temple went above-and-beyond the CDC guidelines, with the sole intent of protecting and preserving the health and welfare of the community it serves! Now, with the availability of several effective vaccines against COVID-19, the pandemic appears to be under control and as many would say, “we see light at the end of the tunnel”. Sure, the Temple sees it that way too but “a portion of the tunnel” still needs to be crossed to reach the end – yes, the reference is to the variants of the virus that are still wreaking havoc in other parts of the world.
As the virus rears its other ugly heads in the form of variants, Trimurti Temple is taking a cautiously optimistic approach of reopening the temple to the public, starting the 4th of July to commemorate our Independence Day! Though we will resume all the religious rituals and the accompanying services to pre-COVID levels, we still would restrict devotee occupancy inside the temple to a headcount of 50. We ask that while you are on the temple premises to follow the social distancing norm and wear a mask. Please refrain from congregating and allow other people a chance to have darshan by quickly vacating your space at the temple after worship. You may bring in pre-washed whole fruits and flowers as prasadham. Priests have been asked not to give Theertham (holy water) or offer Sadari (however, this will change as conditions improve).
Both our priests are fully vaccinated and are free to perform outside services the community needs and demands. In engaging their services, please keep their welfare in mind and limit their exposure, particularly in confined spaces, to absolute minimum. Ideally, all the occupants and their guests attending the at-home services should be fully vaccinated as well. Submit your request for priest services online at https://hindutemplesntp.com/.
The Temple reserves the right to shut down fully if conditions deteriorate or if devotees fail to co-worship peacefully.
Let’s all pray together for everybody’s health, peace and harmony! God bless!
Guidelines of Hindu Temple Reopening
Sunday, July 4, 2021
While acknowledging the pandemic’s wrath and the devastation it caused around the world, All the Hindu Temples are taking an extremely cautious approach of shutting down all face-to-face and in-person religious services since March 2020. In doing so, the temple went above and beyond the CDC guidelines, with the sole intent of protecting and preserving the health and welfare of the community it serves! Now, with the availability of several effective vaccines against COVID-19, the pandemic appears to be under control and as many would say, “we see light at the end of the tunnel”. Sure, the Temple sees it that way too but “a portion of the tunnel” still needs to be crossed to reach the end – yes, the reference is to the variants of the virus that are still wreaking havoc in other parts of the world.
As the virus rears its other ugly heads in the form of variants, Temples is taking a cautiously optimistic approach of reopening the temple to the public, starting the 4th of July to commemorate our Independence Day! Though we will resume all the religious rituals and the accompanying services to pre-COVID levels, we still would restrict devotee occupancy inside the temple to a headcount of 50. We ask that while you are on the temple premises to follow the social distancing norm and wear a mask. Please refrain from congregating and allow other people a chance to have darshan by quickly vacating your space at the temple after worship. You may bring in pre-washed whole fruits and flowers as prasadham. Priests have been asked not to give Theertham (holy water) or offer Sadari (however, this will change as conditions improve).
Both our priests are fully vaccinated and are free to perform outside services the community needs and demands. In engaging their services, please keep their welfare in mind and limit their exposure, particularly in confined spaces, to absolute minimum. Ideally, all the occupants and their guests attending the at-home services should be fully vaccinated as well. Submit your request for priest services online at www.hindutemplesntp.com
The Temple reserves the right to shut down fully if conditions deteriorate or if devotees fail to co-worship peacefully.
Let’s all pray together for everybody’s health, peace and harmony! God bless!
As India Plans Stimulus Package, will Tourism and Hospitality Finally Make the Cut?
The finance ministry is working on proposals to bolster the tourism, aviation and hospitality industries, along with small and medium-sized companies, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private.
- May 25, 2021, 12:51 IST
India is preparing a stimulus package for sectors worst affected by a deadly coronavirus wave, aiming to support an economy struggling with a slew of localized lockdowns, people familiar with the matter said.
The finance ministry is working on proposals to bolster the tourism, aviation and hospitality industries, along with small and medium-sized companies, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. The discussions are at an early stage and no timeline for an announcement has been decided, they said. A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment.
The latest wave of Covid-19 infections has made India the global hotspot for the pandemic and has decimated travel since the second wave picked up in March even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to implement a strict nationwide lockdown like last year’s. With high daily cases, many local governments – including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, India’s most industrialized states – have imposed curbs against the spread of the virus
That’s prompted many economists to cut their forecasts for the financial year that began April 1, as rising unemployment and dwindling savings among consumers dim the chances for double-digit growth. While the International Monetary Fund expects India’s economy to expand 12.5 per cent this year to March – and will be revisiting the forecast in July – the country’s central bank projects 10.5 per cent growth.
Flagging growth prospects put the onus on policy makers to support activity, especially once the virus caseload eases. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who said last month she’s monitoring the economy in a “very detailed fashion,” has held discussions with economists in recent days about a stimulus package, the people said.
In April, the finance ministry eased rules for capital expenditure by government departments to try to boost spending in the economy. Pressure also is building on the central bank -which serves as the banking sector regulator -to ease loan repayment rules, especially for sectors badly hit by this virus wave.
-With assistance from Anirban Nag.
FAITH Bats for Direct Benefit Transfer to Support Employees in Tourism Sector
The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the collective body of ten leading trade associations in the travel and hospitality sector in the country, has asked the government to consider a Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to support the livelihood of the people who are jobless ever since the pandemic struck the sector.
In an appeal to the governments at the Centre and the states, the federation has urged for DBT of an amount equivalent to their pre-pandemic basic salaries to support livelihood of crores of people and their families till the duration of the pandemic. It will also enable them to be job and service ready for when it is time to restart Indian tourism, FAITH said.
Raising the demand for DBT, the FAITH said, “Pre- pandemic, it was roughly estimated that between 10% – 12% of India’s direct and indirect employment came from tourism, travel & hospitality services. This included both skilled and unskilled jobs across the length and breadth of our country. With no tourism business, a lot of these employees are temporarily out of jobs or on minimum wages. Their service skills have been cultivated with a lot of diligence and passion over years which makes Incredible India a reality that it is.”
The federation also demanded waiver or compensation of Fixed Statutory liabilities of the businesses in the sector by both the States and the Central departments. Despite no revenues, there are statutory liabilities and compliance liabilities at both state and central Government level and other regulatory bodies which still need to be met. These include various forms of duties, taxes, cess or license fees including electricity and water, property taxes, excise duties, transport taxes, parking cess, insurance premiums provident fund, ESI contribution on hotels, travel agents, tour operators, restaurants, tourist transporters or any other form of tourism travel & hospitality services.
With no revenues and businesses continuing under shutdown for measures beyond their control, it is principally unfair for these businesses to continue paying fixed costs of statutory liabilities and compliances for them, FAITH said. Therefore the Federation has asked all these statutory fees and levies to be waived off till the period of the pandemic.
As a solution, till the time the waiver happens, FAITH has suggested setting up of a corpus fund at the aegis of the Tourism Ministry to meet these monthly liabilities of the stakeholders.
In its appeal, the FAITH has once again asked the government to clear the SEIS dues under the Foreign Trade Policy of 2015-20. SEIS scrips dues against tourism foreign exchange earned for 2019-20 is still outstanding which is creating significant distress on their individual balance sheets. FAITH has requested that these SEIS dues be credited immediately to enable such tourism, travel & hospitality companies to meet their expenses and to take care of their employees.
ECLGS 3.0 Needs to be Customized to take Care of Liquidity and Relief: HAI to FM
After IATO and FHRAI, the Hotel Association of India (HAI) is the third trade association to raise objections against provisions of the ECLGS 3.0
The Hotel Association of India (HAI) in a letter to the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has urged her to review the ECLGS 3.0 announced for the specific sectoral needs as it doesn’t address the challenges of the hospitality sector in the present form. While the ECLGS 3.0 offers liquidity to pay the interest obligations, the same doesn’t help the businesses to survive for the future. Therefore, the association has asked for customisation of the provisions so that the scheme can offer both liquidity as well as relief for the businesses.
The second wave of the Covid pandemic has made the going tough for the hospitality sector which has been on the recovery path. For an already crippled industry, the set-back caused by new restrictions has affected the viability of most and survival of many hotels. Therefore, the association in its letter has asked for customisation of the ECLGS 3.0.
In addition to being highly capital intensive, hotels have a high percentage of fixed costs of operations that have become unsustainable owing to nil or negligible revenues. The recovery of hotels will also be long drawn as borders will be reopened with extreme caution and traveller confidence will return over an extended period of time. The ECLGS 3.0 scheme for hotels, therefore, needs to factor in these aspects unique to the Industry, the Association said.
The association has asked for customisation in the form of inclusion of State Financial Corporations, Asset Reconstructions Companies (ARCs) and Debt Funds, extension of moratorium, capping of interest rate at 8 percent, increasing of the delinquency period, etc. to the ECLGS 3.0 to make it beneficial for the hospitality sector.
In addition, the association has requested that hotels with no borrowings should also be eligible for ECLGS 3.0 as they also are facing a severe liquidity crunch.
A simpler and quicker dispersal process will make for a better and more improved scheme. Allowing hotels to utilise the credit line for any business purpose, including repayment of loans and interest payment would provide additional support, the association said.
Earlier, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) have also in separate memorandums to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister urged to rectify the operational guidelines of the ECLGS 3.0.
Vaccine passports May Become an Important Travel Document
Vaccine passport is currently a hot topic of discussion on social media, among the public and leaders of countries. A digital record with scannable QR codes, it indicates if one has received Covid-19 vaccination or, in some cases, recently tested negative.
Naturally, it seems to be the most desirable new travel document, the fastest route to ease travel and accelerate the return to normalcy. But could it become inevitable in the future? Experts feel that the calibrated approach planned by health authorities will require travellers to continue taking all the necessary precautions to ensure their personal health and safety.
Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, says vaccine passports will be inevitable in the future as they will protect public health, help restart the economy and remove barriers for travel globally.
“Vaccine passports should allow people to prove themselves to be ‘safe’ and bypass mandatory quarantine requirements by different countries. It will serve as a crucial way to loosen restrictions on travel and access to facilities, easing travel to many countries. Maldives is in the process of developing a fair framework for vaccine passports.”
With vaccinations being rolled out in most countries, the passport is a concrete step towards the recovery of the civil aviation and tourism industry.
“A health passport would be of value to ensure ease and convenience in facilitating travel across borders while ensuring strong checks are in place,” says Rajeev Kale, president and country head – holidays, mice, visa, Thomas Cook.
While the logistics of the process are on way, Munnmunn Marwah, COO, Think Strawberries, a tourism representation brand in Gurugram, feels the vaccine passport will be of utmost relevance for travellers. “India has been on the forefront of the vaccination drive and, by the end of the summer of 2021, we should be having significant numbers of ‘safe travellers’.”
Talking globally, China has created digital vaccine passports for its 1.4 billion citizens. A vaccine pass can be used for domestic activities like concerts, weddings or work and is already being used in Israel. New York debuted its own app called Excelsior Pass (a digital proof of Covid-19 vaccination or negative test) in partnership with IBM.
Iceland has also issued vaccination certificates. A Danish vaccine passport app is likely to cause a ‘domino effect’ across Europe as it allows venues to see whether a person has been vaccinated. Hungary is also working on ‘immunity passports’ to prove travellers have never contracted the virus or have antibodies.
The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, is making a Travel Pass as a digital certificate, validating a flyer’s Covid-19 test result and vaccination status. The pass will have a global registry of vaccination centres to find testing labs, a lab app to share test certificates digitally. The trials are on for 20 airlines—Emirates, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines, Etihad, Air New Zealand and others.
The European Commission is also proposing to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate free movement inside the EU during the pandemic.
Dharminder Nagar, MD, Paras Healthcare, a chain of hospitals in India, says, “If certain countries open up for international travel, there will be an element of competitiveness… others will have to react. With more openings, digital vaccine passports could become inevitable for international travel.”
However, some Republicans in the US and other public figures denounce requiring such certification to travel. The White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the federal government will not enact a nationwide vaccine passport programme unlike other countries.
As per an April Reuters report, the WHO does not support requiring vaccination passports for travel due to uncertainty over whether inoculation prevents transmission of the virus, as well as equity concerns. “We, as WHO, are saying at this stage, we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit as we are not certain at this stage that the vaccine prevents transmission,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said.
While it would take a while for people in all the countries to get vaccinated, the rhetoric around vaccine passports is a cause for concern. With not enough vaccines to go around the world, vaccine passports should not pose a false sense of security.
Char Dham Yatra can’t Turn into ‘another Kumbh’, says HC, Asks Uttarakhand Govt for SOPs
The bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma, while hearing a bunch of PILs concerning the state’s handling of the pandemic, made an oral observation that the pilgrimage “cannot be allowed to turn into another Kumbh”. The government in its response said it will soon release Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the yatra.
Chief secretary Om Prakash, who was present at the hearing through video conferencing, said that the SOPs would be decided at the cabinet meeting scheduled on Thursday. He said that at the meeting issues like curfews, lockdown and functioning of colleges will also be discussed and a policy formulated on how to handle the current situation (of surging coronavirus cases).
The court has also directed the state government to inform them, by the next date of hearing on May 12, about the availability of vaccines and Remdesivir in the state. A drug widely prescribed to Covid-19 patients, Remdesivir has been in short supply in Uttarakhand in the past few weeks.
“The court further directed the state to seriously consider sending mobile testing vans to interior regions so people in remote areas can be tested. It said that the number of Covid-dedicated hospitals should be increased, as it currently has only five such hospitals and that is not enough to tackle the pandemic. The government has also been told to increase the number of ICU beds, provide oxygen cylinders and ensure and increase the provision of PPE kits,” said Dushyant Mainali, a counsel appearing for one of the petitioners.
Another advocate present at the hearing, Shiv Bhatt, said that the government has also been directed to inform what actions have been taken against hospitals that are not earmarking 25% of available beds for patients from poor backgrounds. Bhatt said the state has also been asked to publish information of all hospitals and vaccination centres online so it can be easily accessed.
Halt ‘illegal’ construction at Shiva temple: Pak Hindu leader to authorities
‘We would like to bring it to the notice of the authorities concerned to stop these illegal and unethical constructions at the site to ensure the sacredness and authenticity of this important temple,’ he said.
COVID-19 Information Booklet
Please Share it With Everyone, These Doctors You Can Consult for Free on Phone
For telephonic guidance on COVID-19 from 8 am to 12 noon –
Dr Tushar Shah. 9321469911
Dr M Bhatt. 9320407074
Dr D Doshi. 9820237951
Dr D Rathod. 8879148679
Dr R Gwalani. 8779835257
Dr D Kansara. 8369846412
For telephonic guidance on Covid-19 from 12 to 4 pm –
Dr G Kamath. 9136575405
Dr S Manglik. 9820222384
Dr J Jain. 7021092685
Dr A Thakkar. 9321470745
Dr L Bhagat. 9820732570
Dr N Shah. 9821140656
Dr S Phanse. 8779328220
Dr J Shah. 9869031354
For telephonic guidance on Covid-19 from 4 to 8 pm –
Dr N Zaveri. 9321489748
Dr S Ansari. 7045720278
Dr L Kedia. 9321470560
Dr B Shukla. 9321489060
Dr S Halwai. 9867379346
Dr M Kotian. 8928650290
For telephonic guidance on Covid-19 from 8 to 11 pm –
Dr N Kumar. 8104605550
Dr P Bhargav. 9833887603
Dr R Chauhan. 9892135010
Dr B Kharat. 9969471815
Dr S Dhulekar. 9892139027
Dr S Pandit. 9422473277
P.S. – Another excellent helpline (24×7) has been initiated by Indian Medical Association. The numbers are +919999672238 and +919999672239.🙏
India Issues New Guidelines for International Travellers as Mutant Virus of COVID Surge
In view of rising cases of new COVID strain in India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has announced updated guidelines for international passengers arriving in India.
The MoCA stated, “These guidelines will supersede all guidelines issued on the subject since August 2, 2020. This Standard Operating Procedure shall be valid w.e.f. 22nd February 2021 (23.59 hrs IST) till further orders.”
As per the news reports, the new guidelines will be applicable on all international travellers coming/transiting through flights originating from the United Kingdom, Middle East, and Europe.
Here’s all that you need to know about the new guidelines:
1. As per the new guidelines, all travellers should submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before their scheduled travel. They need to upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report, which had been conducted 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey.
Further, each passenger will also be required to submit a declaration with respect to the authenticity of the report, failing which they will have to face criminal prosecution.
2. Further, all travellers before undertaking the journey, they are required to give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to the MoCA of India, via concerned airlines that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo home quarantine, and self-monitor their health for 14 days, or as warranted.
3. Those travelling to India in the exigency of death in the family will be exempted from producing negative COVID report rules.
4. Also, to seek such an exemption, one should apply to the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision made by the government and as communicated on the online portal will be final.
5. Only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board their flight after thermal screening.
6. Those arriving via land/seaports will also have to undergo the same protocol. However, online registration facilities are not available for such passengers at the moment.
7. For those who have connecting flights, airlines are required to inform them about the need of a minimum 6-8 hours for transit time at the entry airport (in India), which will be required for testing and other procedures.
8. Airlines need to identify those arriving from/transiting via the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days), and segregate them in-flight, or while disembarking to facilitate authorities are able to follow due protocol.
9. Travellers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in the United Kingdom, Europe or Middle East will be required to mandatorily undergo self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry).
10. Flights originating from Europe and Middle East and landing at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai airports in India for the said period shall be conveyed by the Bureau of Immigration to State Government/Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.
11. International travellers who are on short visit (of less than 14 days) to India and who have tested negative, remain symptom free, will also have to undergo all the said procedures, and will be permitted to leave India under proper intimation to their District/State health authorities, subject to them fulfilling the requirement of the airlines and destination country.
New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat to run as Tejas Express from Feb 15
The New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express, India’s first indigenously built semi-high train which was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, will now operate as the Tejas Express from February 15 to March 31.
In a letter dated February 10, the Northern Railways said: “In reference to your letter under reference (ii), Railway Board vide letter under reference (i) has clarified regarding running of New Delhi-Varanasi-New Delhi Vande Bharat from February 15 till March 31 this year.”
While confirming the development, a Northern Railway official said the train will be operated by the Indian Railways only and that there will be no difference in the fares.
The Indian Railways is currently operating four pairs of Tejas Express services, which were introduced in the last three years.
Two of these, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Karmali Tejas Express and Chennai Egmore-Madurai Jn Tejas Express are being run by the Indian Railways.
While the other two Tejas trains, the Lucknow-New Delhi Tejas Express and Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad Tejas Express, are operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
With the addition of the New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express as Tejas Express, the Railways will operate three Tejas Express trains.
The Vande Bharat Express was dedicated to the nation by Modi on February 15, 2019, and it started its commercial run from New Delhi to Varanasi two days later.
It covers the distance between New Delhi and Varanasi in eight hours and runs on all days of the week, except Monday and Thursday.
It has 16 air-conditioned coaches.
All the coaches have a stainless steel car body equipped with automatic doors with sliding footsteps, onboard computers for train control and remote monitoring.
The gleaming blue-nosed train comes with the best amenities, including high-speed on-board WiFi, GPS-based passenger information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points and a climate control system that automatically adjusts the temperature.
The train has two executive compartments with 52 seats each and trailer coaches with 78 seats each. The executive class coaches have rotating seats to match the direction of the train.
The Railways had introduced another Vande Bharat Express train between Delhi and Katra on October 5, 2019.
What are India’s Latest Guidelines on International Travel?
- – Limited flight connectivity between India and the UK to continue till February 14.
- – Singapore and India are reportedly in talks about resuming scheduled commercial passenger flights gradually between the two countries, but an air bubble is not a part of this discussion.
- – The ban on international flight operations has been extended till February 28 by India’s civil aviation regulator; cargo and specially scheduled flights to continue.
- – Government of India preparing fresh set of standard operating procedures for international tourists.
- – Russia has lifted its travel ban on India, introduced in March last year as part of travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
- – India, UK to resume weekly flights starting January 8, 2021. The flights were suspended from December 23, 2020 due to fears over the UK’s new strain of coronavirus that is highly transmissible.
- – Air India has announced it is starting new services to the US from January in 2021.
- – India has signed air bubble agreements with 24 countries so far: US, the UK, Germany, France, the UAE, Maldives, Canada, Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Bhutan, Kenya, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Nepal, Netherlands, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
- – India, South Korea to discuss establishing an air bubble.
- – India to allow international flyers to take connecting flights to some countries under air bubble routes. More information below.
- – Foreign nationals who wish to travel to India for medical treatment can apply for a fresh visa under this category and choose one attendant to accompany them as per the visa category provisions (that is, if the original applicant has their medical visa approved).
- – As of October 22, 2020, India is allowing all foreign and Indian nationals (including OCI and PIO card holders) to travel to India (except for tourists) and all existing visas (except for tourist and electronic visas) are restored.
- – India is in talks with Italy, Kazakhstan, and others for similar transport air bubble arrangements, as per civil aviation authorities.
- – Air India announced it will operate additional flights between India and Canada from October 25 to March 27, 2021 and bookings for the flights have started. India has an air bubble with Canada.
- – On October 8, 2020, India’s civil aviation authority said the future of international flights will depend on the availability of a vaccine, hinting at the extension of air travel bubble arrangements into March-April next year.
- – Low-cost carrier SpiceJet announces its new flight operations connecting Delhi and Mumbai with London, starting December 4, which will come under the India-UK air bubble agreement.
- – Foreign nationals holding J-1 and J-1X visas are now permitted to enter India.
- – New standard operating protocol announced August 22, 2020 for non-scheduled commercial flights under the repatriation scheme, Vande Bharat Mission, and Air Transport Bubble Agreements.
Commercial international flights have been suspended in India since March 25 this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. While travel restrictions to India have been relaxed, the country’s borders are still closed to tourists.
Travel Firms Witness Recovery in Business as Demand Picks Up
After a year of missed holidays, Indians are taking frequent breaks leading to faster recovery in business for travel firms. Both online and offline operators said that they are expecting February bookings to be around 65-70% of last year. This growth is being primarily driven by leisure travel as companies launch promotional campaigns and offer discounted packages to woo travellers.
After running India Holiday Festival sale in January, Thomas Cook is back with customised packages for Valentine’s Day weekend.
“Given limited reopening of international borders, we have focused on the India domestic opportunity with encouraging results: domestic holidays business demand improved during Q3 FY21, with a 9X growth in sales over Q2 FY21.
January 2021 has delivered a recovery of over 75% vs January 2020,” said Rajeev Kale, president & country head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.
MakeMyTrip and Goibibo have also pinned their recovery on leisure travel as long weekend getaways continue to attract bookings. According to MakeMyTrip’s Q3 data, in the hotel segment, domestic room nights stay reached approximately 37% of the levels achieved a year ago, with December 2020 ending at approximately 45% recovery. Domestic passengers segments flown in Q3 recovered to over 47% of the levels achieved a year ago.
During Q3, the number of bus seats sold on the platform were 50% versus the same period a year ago. Regions like Eastern India has witnessed recovery exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 25%.
“While leisure travel demand has been leading recovery, we are encouraged to see early signs of recovery within the business travel segment, the recovery in small and medium enterprises (SME) segment is greater than corporates but both showing very encouraging signs of business recovery in step with increase in economic activity,” said Rajesh Magow, co-founder & group CEO, MakeMyTrip Limited.
Over the past six months, MakeMyTrip said that it has on-boarded more than 250 new mid-sized accounts on its platform. By December 2020, the overall air and hotel volumes booked through the SME focused program had exceeded 40% versus pre-covid levels.
Meanwhile, Cleartrip said that booking volumes increased 30% q-o-q in Q3 which are sustaining even in this quarter.
“We expect bookings this month to be around 65-70% of February last year. Leisure travel has driven the recovery, and we expect this trend to continue. However, business travel has also started reviving as seen by the return of sectors between Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bangalore in the top 10 routes,” said Rajiv Subramanian, vice-president, Cleartrip.
India: Scheduled International Flights Suspended Till February 28
Scheduled international flights will not start operating as of now. As per the latest reports, Indian government has extended suspension of scheduled international flights till February 28, 2021.
However, scheduled flights under the travel bubbles and Vande Bharat Mission flights will continue to operate. So far, India is in travel bubble agreement with 24 countries, including United States, Kenya, Bhutan, France, and Germany.
Referring to the, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued an order recently regarding suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 11.59 PM (IST) of February 28, 2021.
The order further added that this restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA, and that international scheduled flights will be allowed only on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis.
Since the flights were suspended, India has been operating Vande Bharat Mission flights to many places and has also formed air bubbles with more than 20 countries. International air travel has been happening on both air bubble and VBM arrangements for selected categories of travelers. Apart from this, all-cargo international flights are being allowed, whereas the DGCA approves flights on a case-to-case basis.
Indian Tourism Industry: A Sinking Ship Looking at the Union Budget 2021
While the nation boasts about tourism bringing 10% of its GDP and huge employment, the industry pins its hopes of support for revival from the budget 2021.
We heard about the word “Financial Stimulus” for the Tourism Industry in India from the speech delivered by the Union Tourism Minister at BRICS Tourism Ministers’ Conference. I never thought it would take so long for the stimulus to travel from the Tourism Ministry to the stakeholders. Unfortunately , the industry did not get any stimulus. When the media asked FM about the chances of giving some financial stimulus package, she said, “ Theek Hai”. In Kerala, the state government in association with SLBC (State Level Banking Committee), announced Chief Minister’s Tourism Working Capital Loan Scheme in October in tune to INR 455 cr. Unfortunately banks did not disburse even quarter a cr. Moreover the banks said that they don’t have tourism loans in their portfolio for now. The pity is that when this concern was addressed with the state FM last day, he was not even aware that the loans were not dispersed in Kerala.
The only loan some of the stakeholders might have received will be the 20% additional loan on the existing loan outstanding under Central Credit Guarantee Scheme. But when you take it from a tourism point of view, as on 29 February, most of the tourism businesses were having good cash flows and their utility of their loans were as low as possible which ended up allowing them to get a very small amount under this scheme.
Why I went into an introduction is just because we see a clear discard of the tourism industry both by central and state governments during the most chaotic pandemic which shattered the lives of many entrepreneurs and millions of employees. Almost everything in the country is open except tourism. The government is not evening making a statement on the survival or revival plans for tourism. In spite of the advice of Kerala High Court to file a statement on these critical areas of survival and revival, the central government counsel has asked for many new dates and the latest excuse is that the government is busy with the budget and the same has much for the tourism sector.
Whatever happened until now, is the end result of the lack of a strong Industry representation and the government seems to have a feeling that the industry is rich enough to survive any pandemic. And who cares for the poor employees who lost their jobs and livelihood.
Will the FM be able to acknowledge the identity of a tax paying Industry ?
Tourism Industry has big expectations from the budget. The nation boasts about tourism bringing 10% of its GDP and huge employment. It’s a relevant question how an Indian tax payer (either an individual or a corporate) is acknowledged for his/her contribution to the national exchequer. Tourism industry has a high rate of GST and at many levels ,there are cascading taxation too. And of course many of the stakeholders don’t pay taxes too. I will only put a few practical suggestions which can help the sinking industry to survive now and revive soon. Because for an MSME like me, it’s ideal to dream small but practical things, especially from a government.
Identify the prompt GST and IT filing units in tourism
If the FM could consider the GST and IT paid by a tourism business during the last three financial years and allocate 50% of the total tax paid as a soft loan to the MSMEs in tourism, it will be the best an FM can do ever. The Finance Ministry should make it mandatory with banks to disburse such a soft loan against the GST returns with a year moratorium and 5 to 10 years repayment tenure at a lower interest. The interest subsidy may be taken from the Tourism Marketing fund as the priority should be on the survival of the Industry and not marketing. FM should make sure that the same should be disbursed under Central Credit Guarantee Scheme without additional Collateral security.
The most contradicting fact is that neither Centre or the state governments ever attempted to study the real losses of the Industry, loss of employment. Did any government check how most of us managed to pay at least a sustenance amount to our employees? Nobody checked. This was the most sustainable thing a responsible government should have done. When India Tourism is aiming to be a sustainable destination by 2030, this kind of attitude will never take us there.
We have seen Indian banks behaved so irresponsibly to the tourism Industry during a crisis and without a strong governance, the banks can’t be managed to support the economic growth of the country. How can the RBI or Directorate of Financial Services allow the banks to classify the tourism sector as “ untouchable” during this crisis.
Immediate Disbursement of benefits like SEIS
We saw the clear inaction of a government during a pandemic. Everyone in the ministry including the PM, stated that tourism is the most stressed sector during Covid. But SEIS, which is the right of a service provider as an incentive to his forex revenues, is not disbursed for the year 2019-20. This is absolute injustice. We hope that the FM will keep money to disburse SEIS in her budget.
Announcement of reopening dates for visas and international flights
The Finance Minister may say that this is not her portfolio. But FM has all the right to fight for the economic activities resuming in the country. Without opening up the borders, tourism can’t either survive or revive. When it comes to international travellers and foreign tour operators, they should know in advance when a country will be open for travellers so that they can plan in advance. Unless we make an announcement and plan now, we will miss a lot in 2021.
The main impact of the re opening is that the cash flow situation will change drastically and the businesses may be able to start re rolling, paying their employees and so on. Even the heartless banks may change their attitude once they see a revival.
Incentive schemes for bringing travellers to India
Many think that the technology revolution can bring tourism back to normal quicker when compared to human intervention. This is a wrong notion. If we take the strong network of Indian Tour Operators and hoteliers with their foreign counterparts contribute a lot for ever growing tourism volumes. Technology can only facilitate office automation or to a certain extent, the reservations. But the delivery is always by human beings and the human element should not be discarded in tourism delivery.
For the next two years, FM may introduce an incentive scheme for the registered Tour Operators and Hoteliers for bringing travellers to India. This can be like USD 20 per traveller against submitting proper documents as the proof of them travelling in India through the claimant hospitality unit. This can give a stimulus to the operator or hotelier to take extra efforts to market India.
To conclude, the entire Industry is looking forward to justice from the FM in her forthcoming budget on 01 Feb. We have the update that our Industry leaders have made representations to the concerned offices but the industry needs a practical approach to ensure the survival on urgent basis and revival soon.
From Survival to Revival: Perspectives on Travel and Tourism in Budget 2021
India’s domestic tourism demand has previously insulated the domestic industry from global vagaries. We had seen this multiple times over the last two decades when the domestic industry remained buoyant despite a range of catastrophic events. Whether it was 9/11 in 2001, the tsunami in 2004 or the recession in 2008, domestic tourism has succoured the industry.
The leisure and hospitality sector is peculiar for its extreme vulnerability to adverse events. During the pandemic, the sector was the first to be hit and will be the last to revive. 2021 however started on an optimistic note with the grant of approval to two vaccine candidates. However, given the scale, it is likely that the year will be consumed executing the vaccination programme across the country.
In 2020, international tourism activity worldwide declined over 70 per cent reaching levels of tourism prevalent 30 years ago. Although countries have begun to partially lift travel restrictions, demand for international travel is forecasted to remain subdued. Estimates suggest it will require 2-3 years for international tourism activity to revert to pre-Covid levels.
India’s domestic tourism demand has previously insulated the domestic industry from global vagaries. We had seen this multiple times over the last two decades when the domestic industry remained buoyant despite a range of catastrophic events. Whether it was 9/11 in 2001, the tsunami in 2004 or the recession in 2008, domestic tourism has succoured the industry.
Yet, given the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges, the sector will continue to brace from the disruption for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, last year the industry did not benefit from a sector-specific relief package on account of the government’s challenge of financial leeway in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. The Central Government has a unique challenge where businesses expect it to spend more at a time of reduced revenue collection prevalent for most of 2020. This year, it will bear the additional financial brunt of the vaccination drive.
In this background, it is less likely that Budget 2021 will relieve the tourism sector in the form of measures requiring significant financial outlay. Accordingly, we believe that the budget announcement will have a greater appetite for revenue-neutral interventions aimed at leisure, hospitality, and aviation. A two-pronged approach to generate domestic demand and supporting tourism business may be adopted.
1> Licenses required for hospitality establishments: The leisure and hospitality sector, in particular, requires parity of regulation across all states & union territories of India. Bold structural reforms, policy tweaks and interventions are the need of the hour to keep the industry afloat, competitive with comparator economies in the Asia Pacific region.
Hospitality is a highly the regulated sector from inception to operation, requiring anywhere between 70 to more than 100 approvals depending upon an establishment’s jurisdiction. The myriad clearances are attributable to the multiple authorisations required from central authorities, state governments, urban local bodies and law enforcement agencies.
With representation from central and state government agencies, the Hospitality Development Promotion Board needs to revive and drive regulatory reform. The sector needs greater integration of regulation and approvals to move towards a one-stop-shop the approval process with institutional escalation mechanisms and processing in a transparent, time-bound and streamlined manner.
2> Mark 2023 as the Visit India Year: Reimagine and revitalise the Incredible India campaign in preparation for 2023 when India will host the G20 summit. An end-to-end digital campaign should focus on select markets accounting for the top 10 international source markets which constitute the bulk of international tourist arrivals in India
3> Relaunch Swadesh programme: Presently, Swadesh has mainly focused on infrastructure development on-site building basic amenities at a dozen or more destinations within a circuit. Developed infrastructure is oriented from a tourist convenience perspective. Experiential infrastructure is at present limited to traditional light and sound shows and interpretation centres.
A revamped programme should be more selective on the number of destinations covered in a circuit. Development and funding may be focused on more bang for the buck.
4> Allow input credit on civil structures: At present, civil structures are viewed as immovable property; hence no input credit is available on their development. Accordingly, hospitality business is able to recover GST incurred after a unit goes live partially. GST credits mount with operations as a business involves multiple vendors and suppliers.
5> National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC) to be reinvigorated: NTAC which was formed in 2013, has been lying dormant. The council was to act as a ‘think tank’ and the industry the necessary guidance to the Ministry of Tourism. NTAC must be re-activated to assess the industry’s need and provide the necessary direction towards policy formulation, both to the Centre and States.
6> Encourage domestic travel: With all the restrictions of lockdowns in the last few months, the populace is itching to get out of their homes, which we may also call “revenge travel”. Revenge travel and stimulated travel can alleviate some of the pressures being faced by the industry. Tactical measures include:
The LTC cash voucher scheme for private-sector employees provides liquidity to the consumers to purchase goods & services in lieu of LTC; however, this does not help generate the demand for tourism. To incentivise individuals to utilise their unclaimed LTA amounts and boost tourism demand, the government may consider providing an additional option of moving LTC tax benefit in the next financial year.
A tax reduction or rebate in Income Tax for spending on travel and accommodation.
Tax exemptions for MICE Events spent by Indian Corporates.
GST restructuring for wellness and medical tourism businesses
7> Induce liquidity for tourism businesses: The sector could benefit from a Real Estate Distress Fund where money can be raised from non-banking entities as the sector works towards the revival and the fund could focus companies in the tourism, travel, hospitality, aviation and commercial real estate sectors.
A fund of funds or Alternate Investment Fund to support Hospitality projects under construction to support timely completion of the Projects over the next 5-10 years.
Hotel projects which are capital intensive and have long gestation periods are given term loans, which have a long tenure of repayment of at least 15 – 20 years. Currently, the banks offer these loans only for a tenure of 8-10 years.
We understand that the last year has been a tough year, however, we look forward to the next year with the hope that this phase shall pass and the sector will emerge stronger. For this, the policymakers should consciously focus on strengthening the interlinkages with allied sectors and work closely with the private sector.
Sea Plane Services from Delhi to Ayodhya Very Likely
If everything goes as planned, travelling from the Yamuna riverfront to Ayodhya or from Mumbai to Shirdi for a pilgrimage via seaplane would soon become possible.
As per the latest news reports, the Sagarmala Development Company (SDCL) under the Shipping and Waterways Ministry recently issued an Expression of Interest (EoI) for seaplane services on the said seaplane routes, such as Delhi to Ayodhya, Tehri, Uttarakhand, and Chandigarh; Surat to Dwarka, Mandvi and Kandla; Mumbai to Shirdi, Lonavala and Ganpatipule; and within the archipelagos of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep.
Reportedly, the routes under the Sagarmala Seaplane Service (SSPS) will likely be operated under the government’s subsidised Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme.
Reports has it that those interested players from this sector have already carried out assessment of related to tourist interest, whereas the EoI is aimed at deciphering the interest of various companies.
A source in the know-how stated that they explored the possibility of running such a service between Varanasi and Ayodhya. He added that although there is currently no infrastructure available for running such a service, it can be set up within a set timeline. He stated that they are now only exploring the possibilities.
India Bids Farewell to Madame Tussauds
What started as a COVID closure looks to be permanent
Madame Tussauds, the world famous wax museum, is closing up shop in Delhi, India, where it entered just 3 years ago in 2017. The popular museum is located in the Regal building in central Connaught Place, which was once a popular movie theatre.
The Regal Theatre also known as the Regal Cinema was a single screen cinema hall and theatre situated in Connaught Place in New Delhi. It was the first cinema to be constructed in New Delhi in the newly-developing Connaught Place area back in 1932.
Madame Tussauds Delhi, a wax museum and tourist attraction, took over the location changing it from a cinema to a museum and is the twenty-third location for the Tussauds. The museum in Delhi was set up by sculptor Marie Tussaud.
The famed wax museum is in 22 cities around the globe where a combination of local leaders and world-famous people created in wax statue replicas are attractions and photo opportunities for visitors who throng the museums.
The closing of the New Delhi attraction has taken India observers by surprise. It is being speculated that one reason could be the expensive real estate that the museum sits on as well as the lack of adequate places nearby to park.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Madame Tussauds museum to close its doors as a temporary measure back in March of this year. The museum website states: “In support of the government’s efforts to mitigate social gatherings to halt the spread of the Corona Virus, Madame Tussauds Delhi will remain closed from Friday, 20th March 2020 until further notice. The health and safety of our guests is our top priority, and we encourage everyone to follow the recommended guidelines & precautions issued by the health authorities.”
It seems now, however, that this closure may be made permanent. There is the possibility that the museum will open again in the future in a more suitable less expensive location that can accommodate visitors who want to park their cars. But for now, Madame Tussauds Delhi remains closed perhaps forever.
Budget 2021 Expectations: Amendment in Constitution, 4 Policy Changes Key for the Tourism Sector to Become Atmanirbhar
Union Budget 2021-22 Expectations for Travel and Tourism: The never-seen-before Coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow on the “Travel and Tourism industry” and taken a toll on the Indian economy.
As domestic and international travel plans are shrouded under a veil of uncertainty, a new-normal model is required for the revival of the tourism sector. The Indian tourism market needs the convergence of industry and the government.
The Indian tourism market needs to use this opportunity to cater to the domestic needs of the population and create and advertise domestic tourist destinations to help increase tourist footfall, industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has said in its recommendations ahead of the Union Budget 2021. It has recommended the following steps:
1. Fixed Costs are required to be charged only for the period (pre and post-Covid pandemic) when the hotels were and are functional and operational. Currently, hotels are charged with Commercial Tariff (Highest Tariff Bracket) and Industrial Duty (Highest Duty Bracket). Therefore, fixed costs should be waived off for the period of lockdown.
This includes Heat, Light, Power (HLP), gas etc. Post lockdown, for the sustenance of business, it is suggested to reduce the HLP rates by 50 per cent, the CII said in its recommendations ahead of Budget 2021.
2. A deferment for twelve months of all statutory dues at the state government level like the excise fees, levies, taxes, power and water charges, deferred renewals periods for all permits, licenses, bank guarantees & security deposits across the tourism, travel, hospitality and aviation industry.
3. Utility Payment: Ahead of Union Budget 2021, CII has recommended exemption towards paying the electricity duty, 50 per cent reduction in connected load charges, reduced rates on gas and water charge, and utilities can charge on residential unit rates and not commercial pricing to save on operational costs for the establishment
4. Auto-renewal of license fees – Several licenses and permits that are going to expire during the lockdown period, and as these will not get renewed in time, a blanket exemption for 6 months is required or auto-renewal of licenses for the next one year.
A policy change regarding registration of lease document of hotels and restaurants with land revenue department is required, CII said. CII also proposed registration fees of 1 per cent of the overall lease amount payable annually from the existing 10 per cent- and one-time relation of any penalty or arrears to the hotels or restaurants whose lease agreement is unregistered till date. This would encourage most leased hotels/restaurants to register their lease deed and ensure compliance, the CII’s recommendations ahead of Budget 2021 stated.
5. Tourism to be brought under the Concurrent List
Ahead of the Budget 2021, the CII has recommended that the Tourism industry should be brought under the “concurrent list” by amending Schedule VII of the Constitution. This will help elevate the sector to a priority one on the national agenda. Its introduction will alleviate the problems of the overlapping of administration and regulation of this sector that is hampering the ease of doing business.
Tourism would benefit by being placed under the concurrent list to create a more enabling and cohesive approach in formulating policy measures. It would be ideal for each state to remove certain regulatory and licensing requirements that are currently in place to ease the cost and process of doing business.
Thus, a more defined approach will be adhered to for the tourism sector, which would be driven by the unique needs of each state. Therefore, including tourism in the Concurrent List will enable the Centre and States to effectively legislate and demarcate clear roles for the Centre and states/Union Territories (UTs)
Jewar Airport Officially Named as Noida International Airport
The upcoming Jewar Airport will be officially named as Noida International Airport. Located at Jewar in Greater Noida, the contract to construct and operate this airport has been given to the Zurich Airport International AG (ZAIA) by the Uttar Pradesh government.
According to the TOI, the state government has also shared the official logo of Noida International Airport which is a symbol depicting a Sarus Crane, the state birds of Uttar Pradesh, flying in the air.
As per an official statement issued by the state government, the airport logo reiterates the vision of Noida International Airport to be the leading airport in India in terms of quality, technology, efficiency and an ideal example of sustainable infrastructure and operations, offering a praiseworthy experience to all customer groups.
The airport will be built in the next four years in the first phase. Reportedly, it will have a capacity to handle 12 million passengers every year in the beginning.
There will be two runways at the airport to begin with, but three more will be added to it in the later phases of development. The government has allocated about INR 30000 crore for the construction of Noida International Airport.
Tourism Ministry to Explore Scope of Travel Insurance to Boost Travellers’ Confidence
The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has reported to have started preliminary consultation with the insurance sector players and the Ministry of Finance about the possibilities of introducing a travel Insurance to boost the confidence of international visitors.
This was informed by Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General – Tourism while speaking at a webinar organised by the Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH).
Brar said that the government is considering different international models like that of the Singapore government in this regard so that at least a structure can be put in place.
Tourism Ministry to explore scope of travel insurance to boost travellers’ confidence
Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General – Tourism, speaking at a webinar organised by the Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), said that the government is exploring international models.
Reassuring the travel and tourism trade audience at the webinar about the various steps under consideration of the government to revive the tourism sector in the country, Brar said that there have been “no dearth of interest, inclination or ideas” in the different stakeholders at the government and the private sector and only a confident industry can infuse confidence and trust in the consumers as travel restarts internationally.
Commenting on the industry’s demand for a Task Force between Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, she said that there is an Inter Ministerial Committee in place which has seized many of the issues being flagged by the Tourism industry already.
While international inbound travel has its own significance as it brings foreign exchange to the country and therefore high value compared to domestic, Brar said that the travel industry should not lose sight of the domestic potential and channelize it through professional services and innovative packages.
As the vaccine against the pandemic is in sight and travel revival is not far away, she said that the Tourism Ministry is currently finalising content to send out as digital campaigns, through all possible channels, demonstrating the welcoming message and safety and security measures being put in place for visitors. These campaigns will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks time, she added.
Nakul Anand, Chairman, FAITH while setting the agenda of the meeting urged for a Task Force between Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Civil Aviation to sort out various issues on a real time basis that crop up hindering the revival of travel and tourism in the country post-pandemic.
Ladakh Rolls Out First Tourism Incentive Policy
Ladakh has rolled out its first tourism incentive policy with focus on ensuring equitable and sustainable development of all regions in the Union Territory, an official spokesperson said on Sunday.
Commissioner Secretary Tourism and Culture Rigzin Samphel has laid special emphasis on the new Capital Outright Investment Subsidy which aspires to promote a concept of small and beautiful fixed assets in Ladakh based on local tradition and architecture, the spokesperson said.
As per the Department of Tourism, there is an urgent need to give emphasis on the promotion of tourism assets in remote and virgin tourist destinations of Ladakh.
“Any investment made in such assets should be of a value which will have low gestation period. Therefore, instead of large hotels and guest houses, the incentive policy aims at the overarching principle of small and sustainable tourism assets,” the spokesperson said.
He said the upper limit of the Capital Outright Investment Subsidy has been increased by 33 percent from the previous Rs 30 lakh to Rs 40 lakh.
“The government will grant 30 percent Capital Outright Investment Subsidy on the fixed assets for new tourism units. This subsidy will also be available for expansion of the existing units but will be restricted to investments made on the extension of the unit only,” he said.
However, the spokesperson said subsidy on both accounts would be restricted to an upper ceiling of Rs 40 lakh for buildings using traditional building materials such as Gyapak and local stones and Rs 25 lakh for others.
The spokesman said another highlight of the incentive scheme is the “Ladakh Tangible Cultural Heritage Conservation Fund” and as per the policy, Ladakh has a rich collection of historic and heritage sites such as forts and old heritage buildings spread all across the districts of Leh and Kargil.
He said a committee constituted by the department would identify and make a list of such properties.
“The committee shall also certify the buildings as protected historic buildings and monuments,” the spokesperson said, adding only the listed sites would qualify for the work of restoration and conservation.
In case of the site being private property, the ownership would be certified by the revenue department (tehsildar), he said.
The spokesperson said the project proposal with a restoration plan and design would be provided by qualified experts to be impanelled or nominated by the Department of Tourism.
“All works of restoration or conservation would be carried out under the supervision of the Department of Tourism and Culture, Union Territory of Ladakh,” he said.
The spokesperson said the tourism incentive policy has a scheme to “Support for Adventure or Recreation Tourism” and a subsidy up to 20 per cent of the cost of various types of identified equipment.
“The subsidy up to 20 percent of the cost of the equipment will be subject to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh as a one-time measure which would be available for the establishment of equipment stores duly registered with the Tourism Department provided the said equipment is used for hiring out or providing service at the rates approved by the Tourism Department to the tourists interested in adventure sports,” the spokesperson said.
He said an investor interested in opening a shop for hiring out equipment related to adventure tourism, at the rates duly approved by the Tourism Director to the interested tourists will be eligible for a subsidy on the equipment of standard specification required for such activities.
One of the other highlights of the incentive scheme is the “Training of Personnel in Tourism Industry” which has been introduced to assist entrepreneurs in upgrading the skills of the personnel engaged by them in running their tourism units and travel agencies registered by the Tourism Department, he said. The training is to be conducted with the prior approval of the Director of Tourism, Ladakh and the expenditure on the training of managers and other executives shall be reimbursed to the extent of 50 percent of the actual cost or Rs 50,000 whichever is less, he said, adding that reimbursement of the cost incurred on training, in all cases, would be payable after the successful completion of the training. Regarding the implementing agency for disbursement of subsidy, the spokesperson said a committee headed by Commissioner Secretary Tourism, Ladakh would scrutinize the cases recommended by the Director of Tourism.
Delhi Airport Becomes Asia Pacific’s First Carbon Accredited Airport
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport has become Asia Pacific’s first Level 4+ (Transition) accredited airport under ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program. This has been informed by the GMR Group, which operates and owns the airport.
The announcement was made by Airport Council International (ACI) recently during its Europe annual assembly and Congress, which stated that the airport is a pioneer in sustainability in their region and is now setting its climate goals in alignment with the ambition of the Paris Agreement.
As such, the Delhi International Airport has achieved a major goal by becoming the first airport in Asia Pacific region to get Level 4+ accreditation for ‘sustainability’ under ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) program.
The ACA, launched in 2009, adheres the global standard for carbon management in the airport industry, which aims to enable and encourage airports and its stakeholders to device best practices in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) management to achieve emission reductions.
Reportedly, the Delhi airport achieved ‘Level 3+, Neutrality’ in 2016, i.e., the first Carbon Neutral Airport in the Asia Pacific region, a spokesperson from Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) stated.
Referring to the latest achievement, Director General of ACI Asia Pacific Stefano Baronci stated that Delhi’s IGI Airport is raising the bar in Asia-Pacific by becoming one of the world’s first airports to obtain the new important Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 4+ Transition accreditation.
As per the reports, the ACI this year revised the programme’s levels and added two new levels — Level 4 (Transformation) and Level 4+ (Transition). These levels have been introduced to ensure that the objectives of the said programme are in line with the Paris Agreement, and to aim that the global average temperature does not exceed 1.5°C.
India: New Guidelines Issued for International Arrivals
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued new guidelines for international arrivals in the wake of rising Coronavirus cases in Europe.
As per the news guidelines, travellers will not be required to undergo institutional or home quarantine if they can submit a negative RT-PCR report that has been conducted within 72 hours of their journey.
As per the circular issued, it says, “They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India, through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo facility/home quarantine/ self-monitoring of their health for 14 days, or as warranted.”
For those seeking exemption from quarantine, they can submit a self-declaration form online, at least 72 hours before their scheduled travel. They can even opt to do so after arriving at the airport at the respective health counters.
Those who could not undergo RT-PCR test done prior to their departure and are wishing to seek exemption from institutional quarantine, they can avail the facility at the airport and undergo the said test, where such a provision exists. As of now, such airports include Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Cochin.
However, in cases such as international passengers arriving without a negative COVID certificate, and not opting for the RT-PCR test at the airport, or arriving at an airport where such a facility is not available, they will be required to undergo mandatory seven days of institutional quarantine, as well as seven days home quarantine.
Although these are the new guidelines issued by the Central Government, individual states are also allowed to impose additional restrictions with regard to isolation and quarantine rules on passengers arriving in the state from abroad.
PM Narendra Modi to Lay Foundation stone of Development projects Worth Rs 614 Crore in Varanasi Today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of various development projects in Varanasi, on Monday (November 9, 2020). The developmental projects are related to the agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism sector.
The total cost implication of these projects is Rs 614 crore, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Taking to microblogging site Twitter, PM Modi said, “An important chapter in the development journey of Varanasi will be added tomorrow. I will inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of many projects through video conferencing at 10.30 am. These include those related to agriculture, tourism as well as other infrastructure projects.”
As per the statement issued by the PMO, the prime minister will also interact with the beneficiaries of these projects during the event.
The projects to be inaugurated include Sarnath Light and Sound show, upgradation of Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital Ramnagar, sewerage related works, infrastructure facilities for protection and conservation of cows, multipurpose seed storehouse.
Other projects that will be inaugurated are agriculture produce warehouse of 100 MT, IPDS phase 2, a housing complex for players in Sampurnanand Stadium, Varanasi city smart lighting work, along with 105 Anganwadi Kendras and 102 ‘Gau Ashray Kendras’.
During the event, the prime minister will also lay the foundation stone for projects including the redevelopment of Dashashwamedh Ghat and Khidkiya Ghat, barracks for PAC police force, redevelopment of certain wards of Kashi, parking facility along with redevelopment of park in Beniya Bagh, upgradation of the multi-purpose hall in Girija Devi Sanskritik Sankul, repair work of roads in the city and development of tourist places.
Himachal Pradesh Government Starts Bus Service on Kullu-Manali and Keylong Route Through Atal Tunnel
Ever since the Atal Tunnel has been thrown open for the tourists visiting Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, the state government has been noticing a growing rise in the number of visitors.
According to the reports, the government of Himachal Pradesh has started eco-friendly electric buses between Kullu-Manali and Keylong. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) recently ran a bus on the aforementioned route but on a trial basis.
Atal Tunnel is the longest in the world measuring 9.02 km and as high as 10000 feet is a major gateway to facilitating perennial access to Lahaul and Spiti.
Mangal Manepa, HRTC Regional Manager, Keylong, confirmed to a leading news agency that the electric bus’ trial was successful.
Atal Tunnel has been made under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range on the Leh-Manali Highway. It was inaugurated for public on October 3, 2020.
Among Top Tourism Markets, India at Bottom of Recovery Charts
NEW DELHI: Still in the grip of the coronavirus, the hospitality industry in India, a key contributor to the tourism sector, is among the slowest to recover in the world. Data mined by RateGain, a travel and hospitality technology provider that offers provides technological support to hotels, online travel agencies, airlines and car rental firms, among others, has shown that among the top 16 tourism markets in the world, India is at the third last place in hotel bookings recovery for the week that ended August 9, 2020 in comparison to the same period in 2019.
The RateGain data refers to booking and pricing patterns obtained from nearly 3,000 hotels in India and 2.5 lakh hotels across the globe. Among the hotels in India to which RateGain offers technological support and whose booking patterns the company had tracked include the Hyatt group and the Taj group of hotels, Marriott, Lemon Tree and Royal Orchid.
Speaking to TOI, RateGain’s chief revenue officer, Apurva Chamaria, said, “We anticipate that a complete recovery in the hospitality industry will only be possible in the next three years. This is mainly because the novel coronavirus is still spreading, and in the absence of a vaccine, the traveller sentiment remains weak. In addition, lack of conformity in travel and quarantine protocols make it difficult for people to venture out.”
The company said that the challenging trend is expected to continue with the pandemic affecting key tourist hubs like Goa, Rajasthan, the north-east and Karnataka.
This is in contrast to global recoveries in the hospitality sector, the data suggests. While the US has seen a resumption of 67% in business, China has witnessed 66% recovery, and Germany 41% rebound in the same period as restrictions eased, India registered only a 3% recovery in week 22 of 2020 (May 25-31), rising marginally to 12% between June 29-July 5 to finally settle at 20% by August 3-9.
Trends, as have been observed in various post-Covid surveys, have also pointed to domestic tourism, and the relatively smaller cities gaining traction among prospective travellers. While India’s traditional Top 10 markets — Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune — saw a drop in hotel bookings, the RateGain data suggested that the share of tier 2 and 3 towns has increased.
Govt Relaxes Travel Guidelines; Overseas Indians, Foreigners can now Visit India
In a big relief to Indians living abroad, all OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) and PIO ( Persons of Indian Origin) card-holders and other foreign nationals who want to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa, have been permitted to enter the country.
A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) statement said on Thursday that anyone who wishes to visit India by air or water routes through authorised airports and seaport immigration check posts will be allowed do so, except for tourist visas.
The latest decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc.
“In view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India had taken a series of steps to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers since February, 2020,” an MHA statement said, adding that it has decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions.
Under this relaxation, the government will restore all existing visas (except electronic visa, tourist visa and medical visa) with immediate effect. Foreign nationals who want to visit India for medical treatment can also apply for a medical visa, including for medical attendants, the home ministry statement added.
People coming in via various travel arrangements will be allowed travel to the country but they’ll have to follow all MHA guidelines. “This includes flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
All such travelers will, however have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters,” the government statement said.
The Centre said if validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian mission or posts concerned.
Notably, the ban on international flights to or from India had been extended till October 30 earlier. However, the international scheduled flights on selected routes were being allowed.
The government had suspended scheduled international and domestic flights in India since March 23. After two months of long hiatus, domestic flights resumed operations on May 25 but international flights have continued to remain suspended. However, air passengers can still travel abroad or can come to India via air bubble arrangement.
Eco-Tourism: The Inflection point for India’s Travel and Tourism Industry Downturn
Eco-tourism offers new ways of creating tourism value, that goes beyond leveraging the historical importance, built heritage, natural beauty of the destination or providing superior comfort in travel mode and stay.
India’s $250 billion travel & tourism industry is without doubt the worst affected sector in the COVID-19 pandemic. The imperative for maintaining social distancing has adversely impacted air and rail travel, package or group tours across segments, right from foreign tourists to teerth yatris. This adversity may also be seen as an opportunity for the tourism industry to reinvent itself and emerge back stronger out of this slump. In fact, now is the time to completely turn around many of our conventional approaches, create new segments, destinations and experiences. Let’s examine the case for eco-tourism in this context.
India’s $22 billion outbound spend is waiting to be attracted to be spent within India. For this, Indian destinations will need to offer cleanliness, orderliness, ease of travel and newness of experience in ways never delivered before. Even for the $72 billion domestic tourist spend segment, travel to destinations can sometimes limit themselves to ‘sightseeing’ – an itinerary where the tourist ‘came-saw-took pictures/selfies-left’. Travel to a place can also be about experiences a tourist goes through and the memories they create. Eco-tourism holds the secret to this new value creation. It holds the potential to overcome the pandemic induced challenges on one hand, and it offers new places and experiences inducing travel demand on the other hand. Eco-tourism creates jobs where livelihoods need to be created; rather than pushing people to migrate where jobs are created. Built on the 3 pillars of – tourism value creation, environmental sustainability and community participation – eco-tourism potential exists across India’s landscape.
Many State Governments like Odisha, Meghalaya, and other North-Eastern states are gearing up for this opportunity, while Kerala, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh have been adopting these approaches with good success. State Governments are exploring comprehensive State-wide approaches to enable eco-tourism and not limited to few popular destinations. Adopting sustainable tourism practices and indicators, evolved by the Ministry of Tourism together with the Sustainable Tourism Society of India can be a good starting point in our journey.
Eco-tourism offers new ways of creating tourism value, that goes beyond leveraging the historical importance, built heritage, natural beauty of the destination or providing superior comfort in travel mode and stay. In the past few months, there has been a clear trend of tourists opting for locations of natural beauty with dispersed accommodation (homestays / BnB / resorts) at destinations drivable from cities. The first pillar of eco-tourism, i.e. value creation, can build on this base to engage tourists in – nature discovery walks/treks; local farming activities; adventure sports; local cuisines; crafts, folklore and arts; volunteering for community development; mental and spiritual rejuvenation… and the list goes on. All of these can potentially enhance duration of stay and tourism spend, while lowering environmental footprint and achieve more with lower tourist volumes.
To build on the second pillar, i.e. environmental sustainability, carrying capacity studies and protection of fragile ecosystems are essential. Palau islands, Costa Rica and Sarara Camp, Kenya are good examples where sustainability and conservation are well integrated with tourism development. Eco-tourism planning needs to target a diverse set of destinations across a state or region. Tourist activities need not be limited to seashores, lake banks, pinecone mountains or forests with endangered wildlife. Eco-tourism can be curated across our village landscapes, fertile agriculture lands, terraced farms, semi-arid forests, rolling hill ranges (aka Aravallis) and even urban forests. Irrespective of the location, integrating nature appreciation in the tourist experience is important.
The third pillar we need to build on is the ‘community’. ‘Atithi devo bhava’ – the spirit of observing godliness in our guests is ingrained into the Indian ethos and can be experienced across the country. While the hospitality is cherished and enjoyed, eco-tourism enables us to respect the sensitivity of the host communities. Evolved practices can take this further, where tourists intermingle with host communities, learn, understand and appreciate their way of living, exchange ideas, thoughts and experiences and not just transact in monetary terms. Kumbalangi, Kerala and Khuri, Rajasthan are good examples of rural tourism offerings well integrated with the village communities. Building community organisations, enabling the host communities’ sustainable practices, upskilling and creating sustainable livelihoods, building entrepreneurial capabilities and nurturing arts, crafts and intangible heritage are steps in the right direction.
The world is gradually emerging from the pandemic with the motivation to ‘build back better’ – to not just get back to where we were but evolve a better society and economy. For India’s tourism industry, eco-tourism practiced in the right earnest can be our mantra to achieve the same.
The New Structure of the Proposed Goa Tourism Board Upsets Goa Tourism Industry
The new tourism policy for Goa approved by the state cabinet yesterday proposes a Tourism Board for Goa largely controlled by the bureaucrats rather than the private industry.
The travel and tourism industry in Goa is upset over the new proposal to constitute a Tourism Board for the state, which is controlled and dominated by the bureaucrats and the government nominees. Although a Tourism Board for better planning and implementation of the tourism programmes and schemes in the state was a dream of the private industry in Goa, the way the government has proposed to constitute it has garnered major criticism from the private industry and the industry associations.
“What we proposed to the government was a Tourism Board in the model of Singapore and other places which is largely industry driven. But the proposed Tourism Board in the new Tourism Policy is nothing but another government body. We don’t want another white Elephant to be created in the state,” said Nilesh Shah, President, Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG).
While welcoming the new Tourism Policy, which was approved by the cabinet yesterday, Shah said that the policy was in the making for a very long time and they are glad that the government has finally decided to implement the same.
However, he shared the industry’s displeasure with the proposed Tourism Board. “This was not what was initially visualised. The Tourism Board was to have 5 members each from the industry and the government. But suddenly, I now see that 3 members have been added to the government side and another 3 to be nominated by the government from the industry. As a result the Board is now constituted of 12 members appointed from or by the government,” he said.
According to the private industry, the idea behind the Tourism Board was to replace the Tourism department and reduce its role to some administrative and licencing work. But the new proposal of the board will create another unnecessary layer without adding any value to the existing system.
Nearly all of India will Welcome Tourists from October
If you have been down with cabin fever, here’s some relief. Most Indian states are emerging through the haze of lockdowns and unlocks and now welcoming tourists. Hotels and homestays are back in business, with strict health protocols. E-passes are nearly gone. Flights to major destinations in India are back and most tourist attractions are reopening. Here’s a quick round-up in case you are finally ready to venture beyond your pincode.
Ready and waiting
Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka have already started taking tourists with very minimal restrictions, if at all. Uttarakhand is even willing to pay for a room-night if you come visiting. Rajasthan hotels have been open for a few months now. Madhya Pradesh has rolled out workation programmes, in case your boss feels you are indispensable. Next door, nearly all tourist attractions in Agra, Uttar Pradesh are now fully open—including the Taj Mahal.
Maharashtra is unlocking cautiously: hotels and homestays are back in business and the state has also launched a campervan rental programme. The state’s premier tiger reserve in Tadoba reopens on 1 October, with a new set of rules.
The forests of West Bengal reopened to tourists on 23 September after an extended closure. While these forests are locked down every year for two months during the monsoon—from 15 July to 15 September—this year, they have been out of bounds for tourists since March. Darjeeling, the state’s favourite hill-station, is also now accepting visitors.
Tamil Nadu’s state of lockdown continues till October, but its hill-stations are open, with some exceptions. The Union Territory of Puducherry is also taking visitors and the Himalayan heights of Ladakh are also open (here’s what it is to holiday there right now). Even the Andaman & Nicobar islands have restarted some tourist activities. As a result, flights from the mainland will increase to 14 per week from now. Kerala was expected to reopen its tourist experiences in September or October, but there is no word on it yet.
Tourist places opening in October in India
Most of India’s eastern states will start welcoming tourists at some point in October.
Odisha has decided to open up the beaches of Puri and Gopalpur, temples of Bhubaneswar and Konark, Chilka Lake and other experiences to tourists from October, though it has yet to announce a date. The government has launched the ‘Odisha by Road’ campaign to urge travellers to explore the state’s tourist circuit by road.
Sikkim will reopen to tourists from 10 October. The state government has allowed hotels, homestays and other tourism-related services to resume operations and will also open the state border with West Bengal for unrestricted travel by road from 1 October. Bookings for hotels and homestays resumed from 27 September. Inner Line Permits for foreign tourists with valid visas shall be issued from 10 October.
Tripura will also reopen all tourist spots in the state from 1 October. To promote tourism, the state will construct a helipad near the popular Dumbur Lake in the Chabimura region, famous for its rock carvings along the River Gomti. The tourism department has introduced water scooters as well as floating jetty and speed boat services at Dumbur Lake.
The chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu has indicated that the state will reopen for tourists after October, given how crucial tourism is to the local economy.
In short, most of India is open for tourists. But remember that there are strict rules in place—masks are mandatory everywhere you go; physical distancing is obligatory and the need to respect local sensitivities and concerns is now more than ever.
Noida to See its First Musical Fountain Today
An attractive musical fountain in Noida is set to open for the public at 7 PM on October 6 by the Noida Authority. The CEO of Noida Authority, Ritu Maheshwari, said that no entry fee will be charged for now, but only a restricted number of visitors shall be allowed.
As per a tweet posted by Ritu Maheshwari, the inaugural ceremony would feature a free musical/light/laser show, with medicine for its theme, at Sector 91 medicinal park. She also invited the public to be a part of the ceremony but with due COVID-19 precautions.
Reportedly, the Noida Authority has spent INR 4.4 crores to build the musical fountain at the medicinal park, which is a part of the Biodiversity Park near the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway. The site will have a daily music and sound show.
The Biodiversity Park in Sector 91 has been made over a 75-ac green area along the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway. It is expected to be Noida’s biggest park after it is fully constructed.
Noida was in the news lately for another reason – the proposed Film City project. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has already sanctioned this project, which is expected to put Noida on the tourism map in the coming years.
Source: Times Of India
Ministry of Tourism Launches SAATHI App for Hospitality Industry on World Tourism Day
Source: Economic Times
NEW DELHI: The ministry of Tourism celebrated world tourism day on Sunday through a virtual event and launched the SAATHI application for the hospitality industry.
The ministry said SAATHI is an initiative of the tourism ministry with the Quality Council ofIndia to assist the hospitality industry in continuing to operate safely and instill condence among sta, employees and guests about the safety of the hotels and units.
Union minister of petroleum and natural gas and steel Dharmendra Pradhan was the chief guest for the event. Tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel, Yogendra Tripathi, secretary, ministry of tourism, Meenakshi Sharma, director general, tourism, Rakesh Kumar Verma- joint secretary, tourism , additional DG(tourism)-Rupinder Brar and other oicials of the ministry also participated in the virtual event.
The app was launched by Pradhan who also launched a lm ‘Pathik’, an initiative on Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification Programme (IITFC) and an ICPB MICE promotional lm.
The ministry said the objective of the ICPB Mice promotional lm is to communicate a positive message for welcoming events to India when competing destinations are already actively marketing their products.
United Nations orld Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has designated 2020 as the year of tourism and rural development. The tourism ministry said the year is an opportunity to promote the potential of tourism to create jobs and opportunities.
Pradhan appreciated the eorts of the ministry of tourism in launching the SAATHI application and the online learning module IITFC. He also lauded the ministry’s eort of showcasing Indian culture, heritage and lesser known destinations, cuisines etc through the webinar series Dekho Apna Desh.
Talking about sustainable environment, he said operating boats at tourist spots could substitute petrol, diesel, kerosene with CNG/LPG which are pollution free. He also emphasised on using battery operated vehicles in and around tourist spots.
Addressing the event, tourism minister Patel reiterated the vision of the prime minister asking every citizen to visit at least 15 destinations by the year 2022 to promote domestic tourism.
He said that the ministry of tourism has launched the Dekho Apna Desh (DAD) initiative in January 2020 with the objective of creating awareness among the citizens about the rich heritage and culture of the country, encouraging citizens to travel widely within the country and enhancing tourist footfalls leading to development of local economy and creation of jobs at the local level.
Unlock 5.0 Guidelines: More Relaxations Likely as Cinema, Tourism Sector Look to Make Recovery
With the fourth stage of lockdown drawing to an end, the Union Home Ministry will soon be announcing a slew of relaxations for October. Earlier, in a key development, the MHA had allowed metro trains to resume services.
The ministry had also said that more curbs would be eased in the coming days and activities would slowly be permitted in areas outside the containment zones. As industries look to make gains during the festival season, more relaxations are expected under Unlock 5.0 which will come into effect from October 1.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week, asked states to reassess if lockdowns of one or two days are effective in containing Covid-19 and told them to press on with full strength in opening economic activities while fighting the virus. Against this backdrop, industries and sectors are batting for more easing of restrictions.
Previously, the Ministry of home affairs (MHA) had permitted public places like restaurants, malls and salons to resume operations. Under the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, more activities are expected to be allowed from October with social distancing norms in place.
However, despite repeated requests by the Multiplex Association of India, the MHA has allowed only open-air theatres to be opened, from September 21. Notably, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Saturday that cinema halls and open-air theatres will be allowed to operate in West Bengal from October 1 with a limited number of participants.
Meanwhile, the embattled tourism sector recently saw marginal recovery with the reopening of tourist spots, including Taj Mahal. The Odisha government announced on Sunday, that it would reopen all tourist centres from October.
The state’s tourism minister JP Panigrahi said his department had drawn out a master plan to promote several destinations in a bid to attract tourists. Under the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, more tourist sites and places are expected to be open for people.
A decision on resumption of normal classes in schools and colleges was taken and students from Classes 9-12 were asked to attend schools from September 21 on a voluntary basis.
The system is likely to continue during the next month. However, Hindustan Times, citing sources aware of the developments, reported that primary classes would stay shut for some more weeks.
Universities and colleges have already commenced their admission examinations and the new academic year may start through the online mode.
International Flights: Who are Eligible to Fly to These 13 Countries?
Source: Hindustan Times
The civil aviation ministry has released a detailed guideline on who can travel to these countries from India along with the criteria for travelling to India from these countries.
India has already established air bubble agreements with 13 countries, while more such agreements are on the pipeline. The civil aviation ministry has released a detailed guideline on who can travel to these countries from India along with the criteria for travelling to India from these countries.
From India to Afghanistan
i. Afghanistan nationals/residents and foreign nationals holding valid Afghanistan visas, if required; and
ii. Any Indian national, holding any type of valid visa from Afghanistan and destined for Afghanistan only. “It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter Afghanistan with the particular visa category before issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger,” the ministry’s document said.
From Afghanistan to India
i. Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan;
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding Afghanistan passports
iii. Foreigners (including diplomats) holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines dated June 30 as amended from time to time, the document said.
From India to Bahrain
i. Bahraini nationals/residents
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid visa from the Kingdom of Bahrain and destined for Bahrain only. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter Bahrain with the particular visa category before issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger.
From Bahrain to India
i. Indian nationals stranded in Bahrain
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding Bahraini passports; and
iii. Bahraini nationals (including diplomats) holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines.
From India to Canada
i. Stranded Canadian nationals/residents and foreigners with valid Canadian visa eligible to enter Canada;
ii. Indian nationals with valid visas eligible to enter Canada. The airlines concerned will ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals.
iii. Seamen of foreign nationalities, seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the ministry of shipping
From Canada to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding Canadian passports; and
iii. Foreigners (including diplomats), who are eligible to enter India as per MHA guidelines
From India to France
i. Indian nationals who are permitted to travel abroad as per MHA guidelines dated 01.07.2020 and destined for EU;
ii. Stranded EU nationals/residents, foreign nationals destined for Europe and transiting through France or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise; and
iii. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.
From France to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals;
ii. Foreigners (including diplomats and OCI card holders), who are eligible to enter India as per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines .
From India to Germany
i. Indian nationals who are permitted to travel abroad as per MHA guidelines dated 01.07.2020 and destined for EU;
ii. Stranded EU nationals/residents, foreign nationals destined for Europe and transiting through Germany or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise; and
iii. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.
From Germany to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals;
ii. Foreigners (including diplomats and OCI card holders), who are eligible to enter India as per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines.
From India to Iraq
i. Nationals/residents of Iraq;
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid visa from Iraq and destined for Iraq only.
From Iraq to India
i. Indian nationals stranded in Iraq;
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding passports of Iraq; and
iii. Nationals of Iraq (including diplomats), holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under (MHA) guidelines.
From India to Japan
i. Stranded nationals/residents of Japan and foreign nationals holding valid Japanese visas subject to the border measures and travel restrictions imposed by the government of Japan at the time of travel; and
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid visa from Japan subject to the border measures and travel restrictions imposed by the government of Japan at the time of travel.
From Japan to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals;
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding passports of Japan; and
iii. Foreigners (including diplomats), holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under MHA guidelines.
From India to Maldives
i. Maldivian nationals/residents and foreign nationals holding valid Maldivian visas, if required;
ii. Any Indian national.
From Maldives to India
i. Indian nationals
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding Maldivian passports, and
iii. Foreigners (including diplomats) holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under MHA guidelines.
From India to Nigeria
i. Stranded Nigerian nationals/residents, foreign nationals destined for Africa and transiting through Nigeria or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise;
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid Nigerian visa and destined for any country in Africa.
iii. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.
From Nigeria to India
i. Indian nationals stranded in any country in Africa;
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding Nigerian passports;
iii. Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding passports issued by any country in Africa who are eligible to enter India as per MHA guidelines.
iv. Foreigners (including diplomats) holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under MHA guidelines
From India to Qatar
i. Qatari nationals
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid Qatar visa and destined for Qatar only.
From Qatar to India
i. Indian nationals stranded in Qatar;
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding Qatari passports, and
iii. Qatari nationals (including diplomats) holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under MHA guidelines.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
From India to UAE
i. UAE nationals.
ii. ICA-approved UAE residents destined for UAE only.
iii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid UAE visa and destined for UAE only.
From UAE to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding UAE passports; and
iii. UAE nationals (including diplomats) holding valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under MHA guidelines
United Kingdom (UK)
From India to UK
i. Stranded UK nationals/residents, foreign nationals transiting through UK or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise.
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid UK visa and destined for UK only.
From UK to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding UK passports; and
iii. Foreigners (including diplomats), who are eligible to enter India.
United States of America (USA)
From India to USA
i. US citizens, legal permanent residents, and foreign nationals holding valid US visas;
ii. Any Indian national holding any type of valid US visa.
iii. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping
From USA to India
i. Stranded Indian nationals
ii. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders holding US passports; and
iii. Foreigners (including diplomats), who are eligible to enter India.
Gujarat Govt Announces its First Heritage Tourism Policy
Source: Telangana Today
Gandhinagar: Opening up ancient palaces, forts and other heritage monuments for international and national visitors to boost the tourism sector, the Gujarat government on Friday announced the state’s first heritage tourism policy.
The new policy, which will provide an opportunity for the tourists to enjoy and experience a stay in the historical monuments of the state, is also expected to boost the local employment and the state tourism industry.
The Gujarat Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani announced the state’s first heritage tourism policy, which was given the final touch during the high level meeting held earlier Friday. According to the policy, historical monuments, palaces, forts and structures constructed before January 1950 in the state, could be converted into hotels, heritage museums, banquet halls and heritage restaurants.
The policy is believed to not only provide the tourists with an experience of staying at the ancient historical and heritage sites and monuments, but it will also open up a new window for job opportunities for the local people. The policy also envisages the utilization of unused ancient and heritage structures while adding attraction in Gujarat tourism.
The state government will provide an aid of Rs 5 to 10 crores to new or existing heritage hotels for renovation and expansion. According to the policy provisions, the developers will be provided an aid of Rs 45 lakh to Rs one crore, to start new or restore an existing heritage museum, heritage banquet hall and heritage restaurant. The restoration or expansion work should be done without altering or damaging the existing original structure.
The state government believes that the new policy will place Gujarat on the world heritage tourism map where international tourists will not only be able to enjoy at the sites like Rani ki Vaav, Champaner or Ahmedabad walled city, all world heritage sites, but also enjoy a stay at ancient palaces, forts owned by Kings and other ancient monuments. This move will develop the tourism sector in Gujarat and add up in resource building of earning foreign currency.
Gujarat is a state rich with many ancient city ruins, palaces, forts, tombs, beautiful stepwells and temples. It is also home to the archaeological sites of the Indus Valley Civilization like Lothal, sacred summits of Jainism, Buddhism and others.
British Airways to Start London to Hyderabad Flights from Today
Source: Financial Express
British Airways has announced its flight services to Hyderabad from London Heathrow, starting September 12. As of now, the UK-based carrier has only been operating outbound flights from Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana, under the bilateral air bubble pact between India and the UK.
The airline will operate four flights a week on the route, British Airways said in a release on Thursday. It is already operating outbound flights from Hyderabad to London following the opening up of Indian skies for special flights in August, the airline said.
“British Airways, which is already operating outbound flights from Hyderabad to London following the opening up of Indian skies for special flights in August, will now be flying from London Heathrow to Hyderabad as well, starting September 12,” said the release.
British Airways is also flying to Heathrow five times a week each from Delhi and Mumbai and four times a week each from Chennai and Bengaluru, making it a total of 23 flights a week from India to the UK, including flights from Hyderabad, the airline stated.
As scheduled international air passenger services are suspended since late March, India has established air bubble pacts with the US, France, Kuwait, Qatar, the UK, Canada and Germany, which allow overseas carriers from the respective countries to resume flight services. Under the pact with the UK, Indian carriers SpiceJet and Vistara have also been allowed to operate into Britain.
Plant Trees to Compensate Loss of Forest Area on Char Dham Highway: SC
A bench headed by Justice Fali Nariman also ordered the Centre to comply with the 2018 circular of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on the aspect of the width of the road while constructing Char Dham national.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Central government to undertake plantation activities to compensate for the loss of forest area due to the construction of Char Dham national highway in Uttarakhand.
A bench headed by Justice Fali Nariman also ordered the Centre to comply with the 2018 circular of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on the aspect of the width of the road while constructing Char Dham national highway in Uttarakhand.
As per MoRTH 2018 circular, the intermediate carriageway of 5.5 meters tarred surface is adopted for hilly terrain. The Centre has sought top court’s permission to make it seven-meter but the court refused saying that the government can’t violate its own circular.
Recently, one report with the signatures of four members of the 26-member committee, including chairperson Ravi Chopra, an environmentalist and former director of the Dehradun-based People’s Science Institute, had recommended that the Supreme Court take the final call on road width while suggesting an intermediate width of 5.5 metres.
It cited a circular issued by the Union MoRTH in the year 2018.
The other report has the signatures of 21 members and suggests the government stick to the project’s present design and roads all along the highway be expanded to double lanes as planned.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, had in March 2018, recommended against ‘double laning and paved shoulders’ in hilly terrain and recommended a narrower intermediate road width.
The Supreme Court had set up the High Powered Committee in August 2019 and mandated it to consider the ecological impact of the 900-km project, which the government has said will improve access to four Hindu pilgrim sites in Uttarakhand.
Char Dham national highway connectivity programme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2016, comprises projects of improvement of over 889 km length of national highways leading to Yamunotri Dham, Gangotri Dham, Kedarnath Dham, Badrinath Dham and part of the route leading to Kailash Mansarovar yatra.
WTTC Launches Safe Travels Protocols for Adventure Travel
Source: Hotelier India
The latest protocols for the global Travel & Tourism sector focus on measures to ensure the reopening of adventure tourism, which should see an increase in popularity as travellers seek more unique experiences post COVID-19.
He World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled the latest set of measures designed to rebuild global consumer confidence, reduce risk and encourage the return of Safe Travels. The latest protocols for the global Travel & Tourism sector focus on measures to ensure the reopening of adventure tourism, which should see an increase in popularity as travellers seek more unique experiences post COVID-19.
WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, held detailed discussions with key stakeholders and organizations to ensure maximum buy-in, alignment and practical implementation. The measures help to set clear expectations of what travellers can experience in the ‘new normal’ which offer safe environments as travel restrictions are eased.
Backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the WTTC protocols also take into account guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the WTTC Safe Travels stamp recognizes those destinations, countries, businesses and governments worldwide which have adopted them.
Protocols for the adventure tourism industry were compiled on the basis of insights and frameworks developed by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), in collaboration with a number of key tour operators in the segment such as Abercrombie & Kent, Eurotur, Intrepid and The Travel Corporation (TTC), to support the safe, healthy and responsible restart of adventure tourism around the world.
Within these protocols, the adventure tourism industry refers to a wide variety of adventure tourism experiences including cycling, rafting, trekking, skiing, snowboarding, wildlife safaris and culinary tours, among others.
Not only are these activities mostly outdoors, thus limiting time spent in indoors; but group sizes can be managed to allow for physical distancing. It is expected that this type of tourism will see growth in the post-COVID landscape.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Adventure tourism is becoming increasingly popular amongst travellers and will represent a key component to travel in the new normal. According to our recently launched COVID-19 Travel Demand Recovery Dashboard, it is also one of the fastest growing segments, which is why it is vital to establish measures allowing safe travels for adventure travellers.
“Consumer confidence is crucial for Travel & Tourism to resume. We know travellers will want to explore the world around them once more, so long as they are confident in their safety. The return of Travel & Tourism will help power the world’s much-needed economic recovery, which is why these protocols are so important.
“We would like to pay tribute to all those companies in the global private sector who have stepped forward and rallied around in support of the WTTC Safe Travels protocols. They create the consistency needed to allow a re-invigorated Travel & Tourism sector to re-open for business. The expertise from businesses large and small has contributed to define the new experience for travellers, and these robust global measures have been embraced around the world.”
The welfare of travellers and the millions of people employed throughout the Travel & Tourism sector at the heart of WTTC’s comprehensive package of Safe Travels protocols. They avoid the emergence of multiple standards, which would only confuse the consumer and delay the sector’s recovery.
They also provide consistency to destinations and countries as well as guidance to travel providers, airlines, airports, operators, and travellers, about the new approach to health and hygiene in the post COVID-19 world.
WTTC divided the new guidance into four pillars including operational and staff preparedness; delivering a safe experience; rebuilding trust and confidence; and implementing enabling policies.
Measures announced today include:
• Reduce participant capacity limits for activities as appropriate to allow for physical distancing
• Ensured activity difficulty levels do not exceed guest ability and skill, thus decreasing the need for a possible rescue
• Provide clear, consistent, and up-to-date communication on new health & hygiene protocols via the organization’s channels, both digitally and physically through clear signage
• Promote contact tracing apps if required by local legislation
• Inform guests about support available if questions or concerns arise
• Share guest guidelines ahead of trip or activity digitally and in person upon arrival on the basis of advice from health authorities, which may include the wearing of face masks or coverings, guidance on hand hygiene and avoiding physical contact.
Consider having consumers acknowledge guidelines:
• Encouraged guests to purchase tickets online if possible
• Keep the same households, families, or members of group bookings together for all activities to lower risk of exposure for those outside of that unit, wherever possible
• Ensure, where possible, that each guest can handle their own equipment and gear for the duration of the trip. Where possible, guests should be encouraged bring their own equipment or gear, such as bikes, skis, and helmets among others
• Limited physical contact and queuing where possible
Covid Tourism’: Mt Abu Sold Out on Weekends
Source: Times of India
JAIPUR: Try booking any hotel or resort in Mount Abu on weekends, the answer is invariably going to be, “It’s sold out.”
The local hospitality industry calls it “Covid tourism”. Continuous rains over the past one month, misty mountains, gurgling streams and water falls are just the cherry on the cake. Till June, the hill station was in green category, but isolated cases started since then and went almost unnoticed. Mount Abu has so far reported 54 cases out of which 15 are active now.
Being a four-hour drive from Ahmedabad, Mount Abu is a popular among for Gujaratis, as it also serving as a watering hole for the liquor-starved neighbours. As borders opened after the lockdown, they were the first ones to arrive. But the rush began from August.
“We lost the summer rush to the pandemic. In July, travellers were tentative … As rains came in August, it opened the floodgates of cooped up tourists. Now, the destination is a full house on weekends,” said Kashyap Jani, former president of Mount Abu Hotel Association. He said while Gujaratis traditionally account for 80-90% of tourists, people from nearby cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur are also thronging the destination.
“It’s been too long a confined life, depression is not far away. With almost negligible coronavirus cases, Mount Abu is safer than my place,” said Heeral Mehta from Ahmedabad, who along with his family spent the last weekend in the hill station.
The rates charged by hotels are as high as pre-Covid days, but Jani said, the weekday rates are cheaper by about 50%. With occupancy during weekdays rising from 10-15% a month back to about 40% now, rates are also rising proportionately.
District collector Bhagwati Prasad said, “We are not worried about the rush, but the administration is strictly monitoring adherence of SOPs by hotels and visitors.” It’s hard to guess how long the hill station can remain as an oasis in the Covid world.
India Releases New SOPs for International Travel
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for international travel on non-scheduled commercial flights under the Air Transport Bubble arrangement and the Vande Bharat Scheme. As per the protocol, anyone wishing to travel to India will first need to register themselves with the Indian missions in the country that they are currently stranded or residing in, along with all the required details as prescribed by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Reportedly, the SOP has been issued to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection, and is aimed to keep a check on the movement of international passengers in a calibrated manner.
However, those coming to India on flights under air-bubble arrangements will not be required to register themselves with the Indian missions.
As of now, India has managed to create bilateral ‘air bubbles’ or air travel arrangements with the following countries—the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the Maldives. Apart from these, India is also negotiating with 13 more countries for similar kind of arrangement.
Reportedly, the SOP outlines that priority will be given to certain cases in distress, such as those short-term visa holders who are nearing the expiry of their vias, workers who have been laid off, pregnant women, elderly persons, those persons with medical emergency, or those required to return to India due to death of family members and students.
For all inbound travellers, the External Affairs Ministry will prepare a flight/ship wise database that will include all the required details, such as name, age, gender, place of residence, mobile phone number, their final destination, and information on their RT-PCR test taken and its result. Then, the same will be shared by MEA in advance with the respective state or union territory.
Indians Can Now Fly to Germany, USA and France
New guidelines have been issued for Indian travellers flying abroad. Now that India has introduced air bubbles with other countries such as Germany, the USA and France, there are new visa rules for travellers. Indian nationals flying abroad can do so on any type of visa, as per a tweet by the aviation ministry.
The tweet stated, “Indian citizens can now travel to countries with which air bubble arrangements have been finalised by MoCA on any type of visa.”
In the coming days the list of countries that have an air bubble with India is likely to increase, as the government is lifting restrictions in phases. Air bubbles are basically travel agreements between two countries during this trying time.
However, there are certain things to keep in mind. For example, not all airports will be accepting international flights in the destination countries. Travel could be limited, and you also might have to spend days in quarantine upon landing in those countries. While the air bubble only allows you to travel to a destination, it can in no way give you any immunity from quarantine rules that may apply.
Until now, only certain groups of people in India, those who hold residency status visas, were able to fly out of India. Now, for the first time, three international destinations have opened up for travellers holding any kind of visa.
Additionally, there was yet another tweet in which it was announced that the Overseas Citizen of India cardholders can now enter India from the USA, France, and Germany. Also, foreign nationals who want to enter India on business, medical, or employment visas can do so from the above mentioned countries.
Ayodhya Blue Print is Ready for Implementation
New Delhi: The groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed Ram temple at the Ram Janambhoomi site in Ayodhya will take place today amid hopes of a better future following massive upgrade plans that involve a brand new airport and a glitzy railway station. The Uttar Pradesh government has announced a number of development and beautification projects in the temple town, with a budget of more than Rs 500 crore.
There are plans to promote Ayodhya as a big religious tourism destination. The government is expecting huge footfall by 2024, when the long-awaited Ram temple is expected to be completed.
The advance planning includes not only a new airport and railway station, but also an upgrade of the nearby highway and local tourist spots.
As of now, Ayodhya has an airstrip for the use of VIPs. But the government has announced that it will be converted into an airport. Not much has happened since the announcement made two years ago. The government is still in the process of land acquisition.
The national highway upgrade has a budget of Rs 250 crore. The water supply project will also be upgraded which has a budget of Rs 54 crore. Rs 7 crore has been earmarked for the bus station and an equal amount for the police barracks.
Rs 16 crore has been set aside for the modernisation of the Tulsi Smarak. The local Rajshri Dasrath Medical College will also be upgraded, for which 134 crore has been allotted. Despite dominating politics in north India for decades, Ayodhya had been a sleepy little town, where the young people demanded development.
“We have moved on from mandir-masjid,” students at the Saket College, Ayodhya’s most prestigious educational institution, had said ahead of the 2017 state elections.
“Where are the jobs, the factories,” they asked, claiming that the BJP’s development mantra has passed Ayodhya by.
According to government figures, between 2003 and 2012, the number of industrial units in Ayodhya-Faizabad area went up by just 50 — from 377 to 426.
In November 2018, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced grand plans for an airport and a medical college. There were plans to build a Ramayan circuit by the river Saryu that passes through the town.
Uttarakhand to Develop ‘Ramayana Circuit’
Source: Hindustan Times
The Uttarakhand tourism development corporation is likely to develop a ‘Ramayana’ circuit comprising all holy sites linked with Ramayana in the state to boost religious tourism.
Under the initiative, officials are keen to bring holy sites associated with Ramayana and build them for tourists to visit and learn about. “We have some holy sites and temples in the state which are linked with Ramayana. We will develop all of them and bring it under our initiative of Ramayana circuit to boost religious tourism in the state,” state tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said. The minister was among the saints present in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya during the foundation stone-laying ceremony.
“We have some holy sites and temples in the state which are linked with Ramayana. We will develop all of them and bring it under our initiative of Ramayana circuit to boost religious tourism in the state,” Satpal said.
Revealing more details on the concept, Satpal said, “We have Bharat and Shatrughan temple in Rishikesh where it is believed that the two met Lord Ram to urge him to return to Ayodhya from his sojourn in the forest. Apart from this, we also have Raghunath temple in Devprayag which was visited by Lord Ram.”
“We will link all of these places and develop them. It will help the people know about the significance of Uttarakhand in Ramayana as well as attract them to visit,” said Maharaj.
The tourism minister also said that he had discussed the concept with Union minister of tourism Prahlad Singh Patel a few days ago.
“I urged him to assess the possibility of developing similar circuits in all those states which have some connection with Ramayana. I also urge him to get a study done on the significance of Ramayana on some of the South East Asian countries where it is a part of their culture,” said Maharaj.
Uttarakhand tourism department has also been developing Mahabharat circuit and Sita circuit in the state to boost religious tourism.
“We are already working on them. This new circuit will also open new avenues of religious tourism in the state,” said Maharaj.
In November last year, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had announced that the state government will be developing a Sita Mata circuit in Pauri Garhwal district to attract pilgrims and tourists from across the world. It is in this part of the Himalayas, according to Hindu tradition, Sita went inside the earth.
It is believed that Goddess Sita went inside the earth in the Phalswari village of Pauri Garhwal district where a small Sita Mata temple stands to mark the event. The village is situated at a distance of 15 km from the Pauri town, which witnesses a Sita Mata fair every year for three days in the month of May.
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Ministry of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism is promoting India as a holistic destination under the Incredible India brand-line: Shri Prahlad Singh Patel
Ministry of Tourism undertakes promotional activities in domestic and international markets through its schemes of ‘Domestic Promotion & Publicity including Hospitality (DPPH)’ and Overseas Promotion & Publicity Including Market Development Assistance (OPMD). Under these schemes, Ministry of Tourism promotes India as a holistic destination under the Incredible India brand-line. As part of its on-going activities, the Ministry releases print, electronic, online and outdoor media campaigns in the international and domestic markets, to promote various tourism destinations and different types of tourism including health tourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, heritage tourism and wildlife tourism of the country.
The Ministry of Tourism has recognized Medical and Wellness Tourism as Niche Tourism Products and offers various facilities to promote India as a preferred destination as well as facilitate the visit of medical tourists to the country. A National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board has been constituted to provide a dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of Medical and Wellness Tourism including Ayurveda and any other format of Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
The Ministry of Tourism has recognized Adventure Tourism, as a “Niche” tourism product in order to promote India as a 365 days’ destination and attract tourists with specific interest. The Ministry has issued guidelines for the approval of Adventure Tour Operators, open to all bona-fide Adventure Tour Operators. A Task Force on Adventure Tourism has been set up to act as a forum for resolving issues related to development and promotion of Adventure Tourism in the country. The Ministry of Tourism has formulated ‘Indian Adventure Tourism Guidelines’ (Version 2.0) on Safety and Quality Norms on Adventure Tourism as Basic Minimum Standards for Adventure Tourism Activities covering 31 verticals involving land, air and water in respect of adventure tourism activities. These Guidelines have been forwarded to the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations for compliance.
The Ministry of Tourism under its schemes of Swadesh Darshan, PRASHAD and Assistance to Central Agencies provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/UTs/Central Agencies for development of tourism infrastructure in the country. Submission of project proposal by the State Government’s/Union Territory Administrations and its sanctioning is a continuous process. The projects under the scheme are identified by the respective State Governments/UTs & then taken up for development in consultation with the State Governments/UTs and are sanctioned subject to availability of funds, submission of suitable Detailed Project Reports, adherence to scheme guidelines and utilization of funds released earlier.
For integrated development of Theme-Based Tourist Circuits in the country, Ministry of Tourism has launched Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15 with a vision to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country. Since its launch in January 2015, the Ministry as on date has sanctioned 77 projects worth projects for Rs.6035.70 Crores to 30 States and UTs covering the thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned following two projects under Wildlife Theme Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme: (i) Development of Wildlife Circuit at Panna-Mukundpur-Sanjay-Dubri-Bandhavgarh-Kanha-Mukki-Pench in Madhya Pradesh during 2015-16 & (ii) Development of Manas – Probitora – Nameri – Kaziranga – Dibru – Saikhowa as Wildlife Circuit in Assam during 2015-16.
Since its launch in January 2015 the Ministry has sanctioned 29 projects under PRASHAD Scheme in 18 states with estimated expenditure of Rs. 889.54 crore from FY 2014-15 to FY 2019-20.
Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance for celebration of fairs and festivals to various States and UTs under the relevant guideline. Financial Assistance was provided to State Govts/UT Administrations under this scheme for organising 149 Fairs and Festivals between 2014-15 & 2019-20.
This information was given by the Minister of State (I/c) of Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.