New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Newly-appointed Culture and Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy said on Thursday that his ministry will work to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a 'New India' by investing in strengthening the nation's cultural roots to promote the tourism sector.
The BJP MP from Secunderabad, who was elevated as Union Cabinet minister on Wednesday, said after assuming office on Thursday, "I will sincerely make an endeavour to live up to his (Prime Minister Modi's) expectations and that of my people."
Reddy had earlier served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs.
Reddy was at the forefront of the Telangana agitation in undivided Andhra Pradesh, rejuvenating the movement when it had seemingly died down with his 25-day 'Telangana Poru Yatra' in 2012.
He was already a two-time MLA in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly when he undertook the yatra and when the state was eventually bifurcated, Reddy was made the chief of the BJP's state unit. He was also a member of the first legislative Assembly of Telangana.
With his elevation on Wednesday, Reddy became the first person from Telangana to hold a Cabinet rank. He also holds the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) portfolio.
Passenger carrier AirAsia India has operated nine flights with fully vaccinated crew including cabin crew and pilots.
According to the airline, the flights were operated on Friday.
"The sectors flown by fully vaccinated crew included Bengaluru-Kolkata, Kolkata-Bengaluru, Bengaluru-Chennai, Chennai-Guwahati, Guwahati-Bengaluru, Bengaluru-Pune, Pune-Jaipur, Jaipur-Pune and Pune-Bengaluru," the airline said in a statement.
"The operating crew members on these sectors are fully vaccinated, having received both doses in line with guidelines from health authorities and after going through all the mandatory tests and certified by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sangeeta Kujur."
AirAsia India is a venture between Tata Sons and AirAsia Investment.
Low base effect, due to Covid restrictions in 2020, pushed India's domestic air passenger traffic higher in May 2021.
The country's scheduled domestic flight operations recommenced on May 25, 2020 after suspension due to Covid-19 in end March.
However, during the second wave in 2021, limited civil aviation operations were permitted.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), passengers ferried by domestic airlines during last month rose to 21.15 lakh as against over 2.8 lakh during the corresponding period of the previous year.
"Passengers carried by domestic airlines during Jan-May 2021 were 312.23 lakh as against 331.94 lakh during the corresponding period of previous year thereby registering annual growth of (-) 5.94 per cent and monthly growth of 651.96 per cent," the DGCA said in its May data report.
Strict enforcement of protocol for entry to Goa, quarantine centre for tourists and putting off high-capacity events like electronic dance music (EDM) festivals till March 2022, are some of the measures recommended by tourism industry stakeholders in the state to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in order to "re-build the image of Goa to all tourists".
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, one of the state's oldest industry stakeholder bodies has also called for a collaboration with the Goa Tourism Ministry in order to make good the negative publicity which the state had received in the wake of the second wave of the Covid pandemic, which saw hundreds of lives lost and hospitals overflowing with patients.
"No high capacity events such as Hunar Haat, Sunburn, religious or entertainment events to be allowed till March 2022. These events are super spreaders," the Association's president Nilesh Shah said in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday.
"Keeping in mind, the second wave of the pandemic and the negative publicity that Goa has generated over the past month, we at TTAG feel that we need to rebuild the image of Goa in the eyes and minds of all tourists," the letter also said, adding that the tourist state had suffered negative publicity over the last two to three months and the damage caused by it to Goa's image needed to be undone.
The Association also said that the government should ensure and amplify the availability of enough oxygen beds, testing centres, quarantine centres, on-time treatment, quick recovery rates, emergency response teams to build tourist confidence.
The letter has also called for setting up special quarantine centers near the airport, railway and main bus stands for arriving tourists, while also advocating strict enforcement of entry protocol, including setting up of mandatory testing facilities or vetting of Covid-19 negative certificates.
"Officers at these entry points should be properly trained and strict enforcement with accountability of officers posted with strict penalties for any mistakes and negligence of duty," Shah said in his letter.
Clear and no-nonsense signages urging tourists to follow Covid-19 protocol should also be set up at high traffic locations like tourist sightseeing points, beaches, religious institutes, monuments, casinos, cruise boats, etc, the letter also said.
The Association has also said that all tourism related businesses should be issued notices to ensure functioning up to only 50 to 75 per cent of their carrying capacity for the next six months.
"All tourism related businesses should only take 50-75 per cent of their actual carrying capacity for at least six months to ensure social distancing. Actual carrying capacity of each premises should be clearly displayed and the reduced capacity should be stated," the letter said.
Goa, one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country has had to virtually shut down the tourism industry in the wake of the second Covid wave, which saw the state top the rate of positivity charts in the country.
Amidst Covid pandemic, passenger carrier SpiceJet had enhanced booking as well as baggage allowance options.
Accordingly, under the offer 'Extra Seat-Extra Baggage', passengers can avail an additional check-in baggage allowance of 10 kg on booking a private row and 5 kg on booking an extra seat.
"This is a limited period offer available on all direct domestic flights of SpiceJet for booking and travel till June 30, 2021. For passengers who have booked a double seat, baggage allowance will be an additional 5 kg and for those who have booked a private row, the airline will provide them an extra baggage allowance of 10 kg."
"These allowances are over and above the existing 15 kg which all customers are eligible for while booking a SpiceJet ticket."
Besides, the company said the offer entitles passengers to enjoy complimentary priority service.
"To enjoy the benefits 'SpiceJet Extra Seats' must be booked up to 6 hours prior to the scheduled departure of the flight."
"Extra seats are subject to availability on a first come first serve basis. It is non-refundable, non-transferrable and is not applicable for group bookings."
Hundreds of holidaymakers once again started gathering across resorts in Himachal Pradesh on Monday with the partial lifting of Covid-induced interstate travel restrictions after over a month and a half.
Members of the hospitality industry told IANS the most sought-after destinations after partial lifting of the restrictions on the first day were Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Kasauli, Dharamsala, Palampur, Dalhousie and Manali.
Most of the hotels in the state capital have been seeing less than 15 per cent of the occupancy, an official with the state tourism department said.
He said by weekend the occupancy could reach between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, a good business.
"The occupancy in our property is around 20 per cent on the first day. We are expecting to do a good business in the weekend," Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Manager Nand Lal, who is posted in Holiday Home hotel here, told IANS.
According to him, most of the tourists prefer to stay on the outskirts like Mashobra and Kufri rather staying in Shimla, known for the imperial grandeur of buildings that were once institutions of power when it was the summer capital of British India.
But a word of caution for the holidaymakers. The police have advised them to follow the protocol as threat of Covid-19 very much looming.
The state has made mandatory e-registration for all travellers entering the state from Monday midnight. It has only relaxed the mandatory RT-PCR negative report and home quarantine for the interstate travellers.
The statewide curfew will remain imposed daily from 5 pm to 5 am. Only intrastate public transport would be allowed with 50 per cent occupancy.
Priya Grover, a senior executive with a Chandigarh-based multinational company, said: "It is really pleasant to be back in the hills of Shimla after a long break."
Her husband Prashant added: "We are coming here every year to spend a few days when the plains are sizzling. Thank god for giving us the opportunity to enjoy cool climes."
Shimla's meteorological office Director Manmohan Singh told IASN the southwest monsoon reached the state on June 13, in its earliest onset in the past 21 years. Its normal arrival in the state is June 26.
"Most of hill stations likely to experience widespread rains on June 15 and 16," Singh told IANS.
Anoop Thakur, Manali Hoteliers Association President, said most of the hoteliers are back to business after a long break when the arrival of tourists had almost stopped and hotel bookings vanished as the state closed its borders and imposed lockdowns.
Manali and its nearby places support no less than 1,500 hotels, lodges and home-stay accommodations that had witnessed a downturn since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in the late March in 2020.
Justifying the reopening of state borders for the outsiders, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told the media that the government has removed the mandatory condition of carrying the negative report of RT-PCR to enter the state. "But we are ensuring that nobody can flout the norms to check the spread of the coronavirus."
Thakur said free interstate movement has been allowed throughout the country.
"We have also decided that the people visiting the state would be monitored through registration in Covid e-pass software. All the persons desirous to enter the state are now required to enter their particulars on the online software and details of their arrival were being shared with all stakeholders concerned," he said.
Issuing a warning to the hoteliers to strictly follow the standard operating procedures, the Chief Minister urged the tourists to adhere to the guidelines and wear the masks and maintain social distancing.
Himachal Pradesh has no tourist accommodations in far-off areas. Rural home-stays that started in 2008 have been driving tourists to the interiors and that are the best option to stay and enjoy the virgin nature.
The state's economy is highly dependent on tourism, besides hydroelectric power and horticulture.
Dubai, June 7 (IANS) Several United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Indian expats have either cancelled or put their summer vacation plans on hold in the fear of getting stuck amid Covid-induced travel curbs, a media report said on Monday.
The Khaleej Times report said the period between June to August are usually peak travel times for Indian expatriates, as they coincide with school summer holidays.
"However, uncertainty over the ongoing suspension on incoming passengers from India, as well as the intensive vaccination campaign for teenagers in the UAE, are primary reasons for the low demand," the report said citing travel agents and expats.
Raheesh Babu, general manager of Musafir.com, an online travel agency, said: "Peak travels to India are closely tied with school holiday seasons. In this case, the UAE has announced a robust vaccination campaign for students aged 12-15. Parents are concerned that, if they travel over the summer, their children might miss their vaccination schedule.
"Due to this, there is a high chance that school students may have to return to campus in September.
"Since the travel situation to India is highly volatile, residents are avoiding the trip because they also fear getting stranded."
Babu added that the agency has already received several cancellations on bookings.
The UAE had first suspensied incoming passenger traffic from India on April 24.
It was later extended on May 4 by the UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) in light of a deadly second wave of Covid-19 currently affecting India.
Flag carrier Emirates Airlines announced an extension on the suspension of passenger flights from India to the UAE until June 30.
Currently, only a certain category of travellers, including golden visa holders, diplomats, and those with special permissions are allowed to travel.
The exotic island of Seychelles known for its pristine beaches reopens borders to all countries worldwide. The much-anticipated news by the tourism industry, considering the recent launch of the immunisation campaign, was announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde during a joint press briefing with his counterpart from the Health Ministry, Peggy Vidot.
This announcement has come at a time when the Indian government has signed an air bubble agreement with Seychelles allowing 'Air Seychelles' to fly into the destination from India.
If you're planning to visit Seychelles island anytime soon, keep these important dos and don'ts in mind.
In the first phase of the opening, travellers would be required to produce proof of a valid vaccination certificate from the National Health Authority (minimum of two weeks since administration of the second dose of the vaccine) along with a negative Covid-19 PCR report obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. These visitors need not quarantine upon arrival to Seychelles.
The Seychelles islands is currently open to Indian visitors through private jet transfers only. Such travellers would be required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR report obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. Visitors who haven't taken the complete dose of vaccination or not travelling via private jets, would not be permitted entry into Seychelles. This would be in force until mid-March once Seychelles has vaccinated a large majority of its adult population.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government donated 50,000 doses of a Chinese-manufactured Covid-19 vaccine to Seychelles while the Indian government has offered 1,00,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of January. By the ongoing numbers, the country has forecasted that 25 per cent of its population is likely to be vaccinated by mid-March which would witness the rollout of the second phase of welcoming international tourists to the island nation. The country would open up to all visitors, vaccinated or not. Travellers planning a vacation during this time would only have to present a negative Covid-19 PCR certificate with the test taken maximum of 72 hours prior to departure with no quarantine upon arrival into the country.
Irrespective of when one might travel to Seychelles, visitors have to abide by the existing health measures (like wearing face masks, social distancing etc.) which remain applicable as per the travel advisory published on the Department of Tourism website.
Similarly, all tourism operators would still be required to follow their existing Covid-19 standard operating procedures and protocols.
Speaking of an optimistic future, Lubaina Sheerazi, CEO & Co-founder, BRANDit, the Marketing and PR office for the Seychelles Tourism Board in India said, "2021 has kicked off on a positive note presenting us with a wide scope to promote safe holidays to the Seychelles islands. Until now, the destination was limited to visitors only through private jet transfers but this move will offer a much-needed new option to Indians looking for an international holiday."
The ongoing trend of leisure travel is expected to prosper in the coming months as there is a pent-up demand for long pending vacations with family and friends. Seychelles welcoming tourists with limited restrictions is certainly a positive step towards tourism recovery worldwide.
More details about the new measures are published in the Seychelles Travel Advisory that can be accessed on www.tourism.gov.sc.
Do you travel frequently? If so, then there are chances that you are leading a much happier life than those who don't venture out at all -- a whole 7 per cent more -- reveals a new study.
The study, published in the journal Tourism Analysis, showed that participants who reported regularly traveling at least 120 kms away from home also reported being about 7 per cent happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported traveling very rarely.
"While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction," said Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, Assistant Professor at Washington State University.
"It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things," he added.
For the study, the participants in the study were asked about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over a year.
They were also asked about their perceived life satisfaction.
Out of the 500 survey participants, a little over half reported going on more than four pleasure trips a year. Only 7 per cent of respondents did not take any vacations.
As travel restrictions due to COVID-19 begin to relax in the future, the research could have important implication for both tourists and the tourism industry.
Based on the results of the study, Chen said travel companies, resorts and even airlines could launch social media campaigns, such as creating hashtags about the scientific benefits of vacation, to spark people's interest in discussing their opinions about travel.
Previous studies have examined the stress relief, health and wellness benefits of tourism experiences, but they have tended to examine the effect of a single trip or vacation.
"This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them," Chen said.
"If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation," he added.
The UAE has suffered two COVID-19 surges but done a good job in containing the virus, reporting only 662 deaths
While almost all of the popular global tourist destinations are currently reeling under the massive blow the COVID-19 outbreak has delivered them, there are select places, albeit very scarce, that have got back on their feet and are welcoming visitors. After all, the world spent the past 10 months sitting bored at home, in self-isolation, self-captivity or, worse, quarantine. It’s no wonder, then, that the spirit is impatiently missing a return to and connect with the outside world: The breeze, open skies, grainy beaches, shopping, the walks; basically the urge to just escape somewhere. But the million-dollar question is: Is there really such a safe place yet? Dubai comes to mind as the most prominent of such rare addresses; the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reopened to visitors, though a valid health insurance and negative COVID test are still mandatory for all arrivals. But the call of the “City of Gold” doesn’t mean that the lure of the lucre has made it heedless of the hygiene and health considerations in these times of the abominable, omnipresent virus. The UAE has suffered its own COVID-19 surges, peaking in May and again in mid-September, but has a relatively low incidence rate compared to most urban centres. It has done a good job in containing the virus, with only 662 deaths recorded as of December 30. The UAE initiated a swift lockdown early on and, after adopting virus prevention measures, Dubai’s resorts have re-opened as swiftly — and safely. It means the visitors must also embrace safety checks and protocols. Having had to wear a mask on board the airplane, the arrivals need to do the same in every public space or face a 3,000 dirham ($817) fine. This includes taxis, currently allowing just two passengers unless it’s a minivan or the Careem app, and on Dubai Metro; sterilised and running as usual but with mandatory distancing. Thanks largely to early, comparatively strict movement directives, sterilising procedures and group gathering limits, Dubai is back to something approaching normality. In hotels, Perspex panels shield resort check-in desk staff and, in some cases, luggage is spray-sanitised on entry. Some other retreats operate a walk-through sanitiser tunnel. The city is religiously following all health-related norms, procedures and measures to ensure that every single tourist’s health concerns are rigorously and vigorously addressed; and while those masks can prove irritating in the UAE heat, it’s good to know you’re in a country with a relatively low infection rate. Also, the visitors should be at home with the smell of sanitiser; the dispensers are everywhere and everyone is expected to use them. All of the above can be lessons for India to emulate, though the conditions vastly differ.
But what makes this aberration doubly delightful is that several other popular destinations, viz; California, Los Angeles, New York City, England and Brazil, among others, are still deep in the throes of the pandemic which is showing no signs of abatement. While the latest reports suggest that even the hospitals in California — otherwise an attractive tourist destination for most part of the year, what with Hollywood, Disneyland, Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge — are “at the brink of catastrophe”, the number of Coronavirus deaths has surpassed the 25,000-mark as the ongoing surge of patients swarms hospitals and pushes the healthcare staff to the breaking point as they dread another wave after the holiday season gets over. Similarly, Brazil too had downplayed the COVID threat with President Jair Bolsonaro calling it a “little cold” but his denialist attitude ensured that Brazil currently has approximately 7.3 million cases of infection and 1,87,000 deaths, and the graph isn’t showing any signs of heading south anytime soon. As for England, the less said, the better. Even before South Africa, the island nation had become the first country globally to report the mutated — and reportedly far deadlier than the Wuhan virus — strain; causing it to suspend outbound international flights, and the world was understandably eager to return the favour.
Guwahati/Agartala, Dec 19 (IANS) Union DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh said on Saturday that constructing more railway lines and connecting routes between the northeast and other regions are the priorities of the Central government.
Addressing the inaugural function of the two-day North East Festival (NEF), the DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) Minister said that the region has ample wealth and human resources and the government is trying to exploit these resources and natural reserves for the all round prosperity of the region.
The 8th edition of the North East Festival started on Saturday with a colourful inaugural function in Guwahati.
Addressing the opening session of the festival, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal talked about the encouragement of youth and foster learning to use the resources of the region purposefully and positively.
"Hardworking and united efforts would definitely yield positive and beneficial results for the better and brighter future of northeast India," the Assam Chief Minister said.
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said: "The northeast region itself is an asset to the region and its people. Our cuisine can be promoted across the world. The DholaeSadiya Bridge (also referred to as the Bhupen Hazarika Setu connecting Assam with Arunachal Pradesh) is a landmark milestone in developing the tourism sector of the region."
Deb said that taming terrorism in the region, the Central government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking the erstwhile backward northeastern region to the path of growth and prosperity.
The North East Festival is an attempt to showcase and create awareness about the northeast and to promote entrepreneurship and tourism. One of the major aims of the festival is to attract tourism and investments and create positive vibes during these trying times.
The opening session was also graced by many dignitaries, both in person and virtually, including Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
The speakers further highlighted the use of the resources with the advancement of science and technology.
North East Festival's organiser-in-chief Shyamkanu Mahanta said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, northeast region's first and foremost source of income and livelihood, tourism, has been affected severely and everything has come to a standstill.
"The focus of the festival would be a growth agenda for the northeast region post Covid-19. A new entity, 'NEF Ideation Conclave', would have a series of discussion sessions. The 'North-East Youth Session' would feature prominent personalities of the region, including Zubeen Garg, Armstrong Palme, Hima Das, Niti Deb and many others speaking about their journey," he said.
The events of the festival would be telecast for the spectators across the world through digital platforms.
A session, 'Market Linkage on Agriculture', will see agri companies of the northeast region interact with buyers from outside, a eB2B Meet on Tourism' will be organised wherein tourism stakeholders of the northeast will interact with prominent tour operators of the country.
Another session on eMake in North East' will see prominent investors in the northeast region, including Numaligarh Refinery Limited, Patanjali and ITC, share their experience of investment in the region.
Some successful startups from the region will also share their story.
Mahanta said that a virtual walk through of North East Festival will be showcased. The evenings will showcase cultural events from across the region.
"North East Festivals over the years have been able to create a positive perception about the region. This time the focus is to highlight the strength of northeast as an investment destination and focus on the region as an ideal tourism destination post Covid-19.
"The virtual North East Festival will aim to create a market linkage for the products of the region and will try to motivate youngsters of the region for entrepreneurship, sports and other activities," Mahanta said.