packages to cost more: IATO
DELHI, March 2: While welcoming the increase in Plan outlay
for tourism from Rs 500 crores to Rs 786 crores in the 2005-06
Union Budget, the IATO has said the proposal to tax fringe benefits
would make India a more expensive tourist destination. At a
time when the tourism is picking up in the country after a gap
of several years, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO)
feels that not enough has been done to give a boost to the industry
that helps create maximum jobs, eradicates poverty and contributes
to the economy.
IATO President, Mr Subhash Goyal, said the fringe benefit tax
and service tax and lack of hotel rooms in the country that
increases the room rates would hike the inbound and outbound
tourism packages by 10 per cent. "It's like killing the
goose that lays the golden eggs," he added.
IATO Senior Vice President, Maj Murli Dhar, said that while
the Government was vigorously engaged in Incredible India and
Athithi Devo Bhava campaigns to attract tourists, on the other
hand it was discouraging the travel and tour industry by the
introduction of tax on fringe benefits which include among others
publicity, entertainment, travel and hospitality which form
the integral part of the tourism business.
Rajesh Mudgill, IATO Executive Committee Member and Managing
Director, Planet Holidays, said it was strange that even an
office telephone (backbone of work culture) has been placed
under the fringe benefit tax. "This would lead to return
of Inspector Raj," he added.
Goyal, who is also Chairman of Stic Travel Group, said "traveling
on account of business promotion and expenses incurred for marketing
comprise a big chunk of our day-to-day running expenses. Any
tax on these expenses will have to be passed on to travelers."
Ravi S Kalra, IATO Joint Secretary and Managing Director of
Travel Inn, said that it was strange that the top government
organizations such as the Railways and the toll tax machinery
do not accept cheques. "Why are we then being taxed for
cash withdrawal exceeding Rs 10,000 a day from the bank in a
day," he asked.
Goyal said it was strange that while the seat capacity in the
airlines flying to India has been increased substantially, no
attempt had been made by increasing the number of hotel rooms
to accommodate in greater number of tourists coming to this
country. The 4 to 5 star hotels were completely chocked and
no room was available in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai,
Bangalore and Goa.
is the point, he asked the Government, in allocating separate
funds for marketing tourism abroad (Rs140 crores as well as
in India Rs 70 crores) when no provision had been made in the
budget to meet IATO's demand submitted in its pre-budget memorandum
for land at concessional rates to entrepreneurs for building
hotels or allowing the existing hotels to have extra floors
Mr Goyal regretted that while the budget recognizes the employment
potential of textile and IT industries and give them special
treatment, it has ignored the fact that tourism is the biggest
generator of employment. Tourism is creating one job in every
2.5 seconds and it is expected that for next 15 years one out
of every nine jobs will be in tourism or related industries.
Goyal also regretted that the budget also took no note of IATO's
demand for abolition of sales tax on ATF, revival of section
80 HHD on Income Tax Act 1961 and rationalisation of taxes and
decrease or abolition of service tax for domestic tourism.
hoped that the Government would promote the tourism related
projects particularly construction of hotels and airports under
the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) provided in the budget. He
also welcomed increase in plan outlay for Civil Aviation.
Vijay Thakur, IATO Vice President and President of India Vision
Tours and Travels, said the Budget has failed to catch the concerns
of the tourism industry. He said the shortage of rooms could
out price the destination.
contributes Rs 26 lakh for Tsunami
DELHI, Feb 22: A three-member IATO delegation lead by its President,
Mr Subhash Goyal, met the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh,
here and submitted to him an additional cheque for Rs 5 lakh
as the second installment of its contribution to the Prime Minister's
National Relief Fund for the Tsunami victims. The
first installment of Rs. 21 lakh was presented to the Tourism
Minister, Mrs. Renuka Chowdhury, on Februray 12 towards the
Prime Ministers National Relief Fund.
other members of the delegation were Senior Vice President,
Major Murli Dhar, Vice President, Mr Vijay Thakur, and Honorary
Secretary, Mr Ravi S. Kalra.
total contribution of Rs. 26 lakh includes contribution from
IATO members and the organisation's own resources. Mr Goyal
said that the collection for Tsunami victims by IATO would continue.
IATO is also planning to donate fishing boats through NGO's
working in Nagapattinam area.
may be recalled that IATO, alive to its social responsibilities
had also come to the aid of the victims of Gujarat Earthquake,
Orissa Cyclone where over 20 schools were built and Kargil War
by donating both money and material.
Kerala, Andhra bag tourism honours
DELHI, Jan 26: Uttaranchal has won the annual national tourism
award for best performance, while Kerala and Andhra Pradesh
bagged the honours for excellent promotional and marketing efforts
and best state for implementation of projects respectively.
The annual national tourism award, which is in its seventh edition,
given for excellence in the field chose the majestic East Fort
in Thiruvananthapuram as the "Best Maintained Tourist Friendly
Monument" and the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh
as "Best Maintained Tourism Friendly National Park".
the honours at a function here, Tourism Minister Renuka Chaudhary
termed tourism the engine of growth and development and said
it was the answer to unemployment in the country. It can be
a revenue-generator, which can outgrow Commerce, Trade and IT
sectors, she said. Kerala, which was recently ravaged by the
deadly tsunami, was the star at the event with as many as six
awards to its credit.
Taj Group sweeped the honours in the best hotel category with
the Taj Westend in Bangalore bagging the best 5-star Deluxe
hotel award. Taj Residency and Taj Garden Retreat in Hyderabad
and Varkala, Kerala, received the best 5 star and 4 star hotel
govt to lift luxury tax on hotels
DELHI, Jan 16: The Delhi Government has taken host of decisions
such as review of luxury tax presently imposed on printed tariffs
for hotel industry, allocate land for putting up chain of hotels
and hospitals with capacities ranging 5,000 to 6,000 beds in
and around Delhi in view of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games,
slated for 2010, according to the Chief Minister, Mrs Sheila
this at a National Summit on Tourism & Aviation: Where are
we? organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry
of India (ASSOCHAM) here on Saturday, Mrs Dikshit also announced
that the Delhi airport will be modernized to match the world-class
standards in aviation sector in next 2 years to enable a smooth
sailing for visitors and athletes for 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Chief Minister also agreed to handover beautification programme
of age old Safdarjung Tomb to ASSOCHAM after its President,
Mr. Mahendra K Sanghi mooted the idea and offered to adopt the
Dikshit said that industry associations like ASSOCHAM had been
demanding a review of luxury tax imposition, arguing that this
tax should be levied on actual tariff rather than printed one.
The Delhi Government has already decided to review it for whose
removal an announcement would be made an appropriate time.
the central government had been putting pressure on the Delhi
Government for allocation of land for putting up chains of hotels
and hospitals in and around Delhi in view of the forthcoming
commonwealth games. Despite little availability of land, the
Delhi Government will arrange for its allocation for hotel and
industry for which in principle decision has been taken and
sites identified," the Chief Minister said.
order to further enhance the Delhi Government Bhagidari initiative
grow stronger with its citizens, it has also decided to refurbish
and renovate the historical sites with private sector participation,
Mrs Dikshit said adding that all these measures are part of
Delhi government vision to make the capital city as one of the
top class tourist
destinations in the world.
Chief Minister urged the Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Ms.
Uma Pillai who was also present during the Summit to forward
her tourism and civil aviation requirement to Delhi Government
so that actions are taken well in time to make the commonwealth
games a great success from the point of view of infrastructure
Pillai in her keynote address stressed the need for increasing
inflow of overseas tourists in India by way of setting up advanced
infrastructure facilities as also renovate the existing tourist
destinations. India needs to increase investment in tourism
and civil aviation sector from the current 4.8 per cent of its
total GDP to 10 per cent for creation of millions of jobs in
the country. She also called for promotion of rural tourism
by putting in advance product diversification facilities in
rural India. According to her, eco, health and medical tourism
can best be promoted at the identified countryside because ideal
environment exist there.
his welcome address, ASSOCHAM President, Mr. Mahendra K Sanghi
said that tourism in India is the third largest net earner of
forex for the country. The sector is the highest employer of
manpower and contributes 2 per cent of GDP and 7.2 per cent
of the total investment in the country. Tourism sector employs
24 million persons directly and indirectly accounting for almost
6 per cent of total employment in the country.
Sanghi expressed happiness that forthcoming budget has recognized
tourism, airports and seaports as the focus areas for infrastructure
with investment of Rs.40,000 crores for its infrastructure growth.
Chef Puneet bags prestigious British award
Dec 25: Young Chef Puneet Arora, who has wide national and international
experience, has done India proud once again. Puneet, who works
as executive chef at Noon Products that is the largest manufacturer
of chilled ready meals in Europe, bagged the best Biriyani in
Britain award for the year 2004. In
2002, he had won the international chef of the year award in London.
During his career spanning 10 years, he had the opportunity to
cater to world dignitaries and celebrities including Prince Charles.
had catered Prince Charles on June 13 last year when the later
had visited the Noon products head office to inaugurate it. The
Noon products has a chilled ready meal processing unit with a
capacity to produce 1, 50,000 meals a day. A chilled ready meal
is a 3 billion pound market in Europe alone.
The picture in the article shows Prince Charles with Sir Gulam
Noon, who is the chairman and founder of the Noon Products Ltd,
and Chef Puneet. Sir Gulam, who is originally from India, is one
of the richest Asians in the UK. He was knighted last year.
is son of internationally famed Chef Satish Arora who is the director
food production for the Taj group of hotels and also is on the
world wide panel of Singapore Airlines.
is the first Indian chef to be working on supersonic cooking.
This is a high tech gadget not yet introduced in the market. It
is expected to be launched in January next year. This gadget works
as a combination of pressure/ vacuum and world three times the
speed of sound. It can prepare up to 1000kgs of sauce in a matter
of 7 to 8 minutes.
with the correspondent from London, Puneet said "this gadget
is still at the bud stage and he is working with the manufacturers
on getting it right."
brainstorm meet on tourism
DELHI, Dec 19: Prime minister Manmohan Singh had a brainstorming
session with his ministers on Saturday on how to make leisure
and tourism a profitable business. The tourism ministry demanded
better infrastructure status, more investment, lower taxes and
better coordination with departments of civil aviation, urban
development, shipping and culture to improve India's stock in
the world travel market.
the high employment potential in this sector, Singh told tourism
minister Renuka Chowdhury to get in touch with the finance ministry.
Issues related to development and promotion of tourism like visa
relaxation and tourists permit to enter N-E, which would involve
other ministries, have been referred to the Cabinet secretary who
would take the issues up with the committee of secretaries.
stamp to mark 350 years of Taj Mahal
DELHI, Dec 16: The Department of Posts has brought out a commemorative
stamp on Taj Mahal to mark the completion of 350 years of its existence.
The commemorative postage stamp is in the denomination of rupees
five. The commemorative stamp was released by the Minister of Communications
& Information Technology, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, here on Thursday,
in the presence of Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, Minister of Information &
Broadcasting and Culture, Mrs Renuka Chowdhury, Minister of State
for Tourism, and Mr Kaukab Hameed, UP Minister for Tourism.
Mahal, for centuries, has inspired poets, painters and musicians
to try and capture its elusive magic in word, colour and song. Taj
Mahal which stands on the banks of Yamuna River in the city of Agra
took 22 years to complete the construction. The construction of
the Taj Mahal was completed in the year 1654. According to Tavernier,
an eminent traveller and historian of those times, recorded the
number of workmen engaged in the construction as 20,000. The construction
materials were brought from all over India and Asia. R A fleet of
1000 elephants were used to transport the materials to the site.
28 types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into white
marble to create this wonder of the world.
Mahal was built in the memory of the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum,
who won the heart of a Mughal prince. She was married at the age
of 21 to Emperor Jahangirs third son Prince Khurram and stayed
loyally by his side through good times and bad, in the luxurious
royal places of Agra as well as the transient tents of war camps.
When Khurram became in 1628, he took the name of Shajahan meaning
"King of the World" and showered his beloved Begum with
the highest titles. She became Mumtaz Mahal, the exalted of the
palace, and Mutaz-ul-Zamani, the exalted of the age. But Mumtaz
Mahal was not destined to be Queen for long.
1631 when Mumtaz Mahal died at the age of 39, the aggrieved Shahjahan
vowed to build a memorial that would surpass anything ever created
in the world. This ambition of Shahjahan even persists now also,
depicting the true symbol of eternal love to the entire world.
IATO sign MoU with Egyptian tourism bodies
DELHI, Dec 8: The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of
India (ASSOCHAM) in close collaboration with Indian Association
of Tour Operators (IATO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) with Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF) and Egyptian Travel
Agents Association (ETAA) which will provide a common platform for
the development of tourism prospects between the two countries.
MoU was signed here on Tuesday by ASSOCHAM Alternate President,
Mr. Anil K Agarwal, the Chamber's Expert Committee Chairman, Mr
Subhash Goyal on the one hand and Vice Chairman ETF, Mr Ahmed El-Nahas
and Chairman ETAA, Mr Mohamed Osman on the other. The Egyptian Tourism
Minister, Mr Ahmed El Maghraby witnessed the MoU signing ceremony,
said the objective of MoU is also to establish a sustainable mechanism
of dialogue for discussions among the concerned parties
Alternate President, Mr. Anil K Agarwal hoped that the MoU will
further boost the tourist inflow in both the countries and also
provide for exchange of information on general economic status in
particular tourism business, investment opportunities, trade policies,
technological and industrial cooperation between India and Egypt.
addition, all the associations associated with MoUs conditionalities
will regularly exchange information, publications and material concerning
tourism industry of their respective countries, besides assisting
each other in organizing business delegations and facilitating their
business interests and contacts, he added.
Mr Subhash Goyal, the MoU has been signed at the appropriate time
when India and Egypt are opening up their respective skies for the
promotion of civil aviation activities and tourism.
bouncing foreign tourist groups: IATO
DELHI, Dec 7: The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has
criticized the hotel industry for not honouring their commitments
in terms of negotiated and contract rates and confirmed bookings.
Speaking to this correspondent, the IATO President, Mr Subhash Goyal,
said the hotels, by bouncing the confirmed groups, were harming
the larger interest of the tourism and the country. "Hotels
are adopting short-term policy in maximizing the immediate return
and losing sight of the largest interest of the industry,"
Goyal informed that IATO has sought the intervention of the Prime
Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to resolve the bouncing issue to save
tourism. He said with the open sky policy the country was witnessing
surge in foreign tourists' arrival but the infrastructure was not
ready. "There are more tourists than hotels rooms and as a
result the hotels are resorting to bouncing to get the maximum profits."
IATO Senior Vice President, Major Murli Dhar, said the rooms were
instantly available on higher rate even if somebody was not holding
the confirmed booking, which was being done by the hotels by bouncing
the confirmed groups. He said the hotel management was frequently
not working in unison. "While one executive denies the availability
of rooms, the other executive confirms the booking at higher rates.
The analogy given by them is that confirmation is given by trainee
Goyal urged the FHRAI to sign the code of conduct with the IATO
at the earliest. He also warned those hotels who were resorting
to bouncing and hoarding of rooms. He said "right now the tour
operators are beggars. But when the off season for tourism begins
the IATO members would boycott the blacklisted hotels and ensure
that they do not get even a single room." Mr Goyal said the
hotels were hoarding rooms in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore,
Goa, Jaipur and Udaipur.
Foreign vehicle entry fees slashed
Dec 3: Singapore has said it will reduce foreign vehicle entry fees
by one-third on weekdays to attract more visitors. Foreign motorists
will pay 20 Singapore dollars (US $12; Euro 9) a day beginning December
6, said Singapore's tourism board and transport authority. Two causeways
connect Malaysia and Singapore. "Visitors, especially our Malaysian
friends, will find it more attractive to drive over to Singapore
for a visit,'' said Lim Neo Chian, the tourism board's deputy chairman.
changes came a day after the board opened three visitor centers
at Changi, Singapore's international airport, to persuade transit
passengers to venture downtown. Tourism is a key industry in resource-poor
Singapore and contributes about 10 percent of its gross domestic
to make India aviation hub
By Deepak Arora
Sept 24: The Civil Aviation Minsiter, Mr Praful Patel, has stressed
on the need to make India as an aviation hub and announced that
28 major airports in the country would be upgraded to international
standards in the next three years.
this at the 53rd annual convention of the Travel Agents Association
of India (TAAI) here, Mr Patel said these new-look airports like
Bhubaneshwar, Srinagar, Guwahati and Lucknow would feature modern
passenger-friendly amenities like aerobridgesa and escalators.
airports, along with Delhi and Mumbai, account for almost 90 per
cent of the air traffic in India, and they also need to be upgraded
and brought at par with airports in the south Asian region, he said.
Mr Patel said the modernisation and upgradation of Delhi, Mumbai,
Chennai and Kolkata would go ahead despite opposition from certain
Mr Patel, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya,
and the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mr Mufti Moyammad Sayeed,
addressed the inaugural TAAI session that returned to the city of
joy after nine years. Other present on the occasion included Tourism
Minister of Mauritius, Mr. Anil Kumar Gian, The TAAI President,
Mr. Balbir Mayal, and hundreds of delegates from different States
of the country.
Civil Aviation Minister said Dubai, Singapore and Thailand have
made their cities into international hubs by creating world class
airport infrastructure. We in India are geographically better placed
than Dubai and Singapore. In the same breath, he asked why can't
Kolkata become major for the East as compared to Bagkok? The same
can be done about the other major airports of the country.
Minister said "today, Thailand attracts around 10 million passengers
while city states like Singapore and Dubai get three times the tourist
traffic that India attracts. Once these airports are upgraded, we
will see a sea change in the scenario," he said.
Patel said to provide more seats into India the Government has also
announced a five-month Open Sky policy under which international
carriers are allowed to mount any number of flights to India to
clear the passenger rush in the peak winter months.
his address, the West Bengal Chief Minister informed that his Government
was developing Sunder bans, the largest delta in the world, and
Digha beach as an international tourist spot.
Bhattacharjee also informed that his Government was planning to
market tea gardens as tourist spots. He sought the cooperation of
the private sector to develop infrastructure in terms of hotels,
multiplexes, shopping malls.
Chief Minister assured that Kolkata airport would soon become a
world-class airport. He thanked the Civil Aviation Minister for
agreeing to build a second runway.
his address, the TAAI President, Mr Balbir Mayal, a dreamer himself,
envisioned India to be the largest growing tourism hub in the world.
He called for more gateways into the country, single window clearance
for foreign investors and simplified visas and foreign exchange
norms to boost tourism in the South Asia region.
ushers peace in JK: Mufti
Sept 24: The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed,
called upon the tourism industry of the country to promote Kashmir
in a big way. He said that by doing so it would strengthen the forces
of peace and development in Jammu and Kashmir.
Chief Minister, who was addressing the 53rd session of TAAI, said
that tourism was the greatest normalizing factor and his state was
looking forward to the help by the tourism industry in furthering
the process of peace and normalization set in motion by his government
in the state.
step towards Kashmir would be a step towards peace, he reminded
the participating delegates who came from Canada, Switzerland, Pakistan,
United Kingdom, Malaysia, Kenya and Mauritius besides all States
of the country.
Sayeed said having emerged from a dark period of long turmoil, Jammu
and Kashmir tourism was looking up and tourist arrivals have sharply
increased. He said the efforts of his government to restore normalcy
and create an atmosphere conducive for tourism revival was showing
results and the valley received about seven lakh conventional and
pilgrim tourists this year. He said this was definitely a positive
change given the situation prevailing in the state a couple of years
Chief Minister said that alongside rebuilding of the damaged infrastructure
and ushering the state in a new phase of development, tourism was
a priority sector for his government and spelt out various measures
to develop tourism infrastructure.
an important aspect of the state tourism policy, he invited the
hotel industry of the country to develop tourist resorts in joint
sector with the state government at famous tourist places like Gulmarg,
Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Patnitop. He said the government was also
opening up new resorts at Dodhpathri, Aharbaland Tosa Maidan that
have a great potential.
the TAAI to hold its next annual conference in Srinagar, Mufti Sayeed
said that the city offers perfect environment for holding such a
big event. He said that tourists who have been visiting the valley
have returned with positive feelings. These people are our real
ambassadors who go back to their respective places and spread the
word about the improvement in the situation, he added.
his priorities to ensure a developed and peaceful Jammu and Kashmir,
the Chief Minister said that his emphasis was on revival of education
system in the state. He said this sector had suffered the worst
during turmoil apart from destruction of infrastructure worth billions
the human front, he said thousands of people were consumed by violence
while thousands others were rendered orphans. He said his government
was faced with the daunting challenge of providing succor to these
hapless people for which it implemented the healing touch policy.
He acknowledged the role of Army and NGOs in adopting a large number
of orphans and looking after their education.
Chief Minister underscored the need for taking forward the ongoing
process of dialogue and reconciliation between India and Pakistan
and said that dialogue was the only course to resolve problems including
Kashmir. He said the two countries had exhausted all other options
and reached nowhere for the last 57 years. He
dismissed bullet for bullet policy and said that winning of hearts
and minds of people was more important to address alienation.
visa for SAARC nationals: Bangla Minister
DELHI, Aug 26: Bangladesh has called for abolishing of visa requirements
for tourists within the SAARC nations as this would boost the economy
of the region through tourism. Addressing the delegates at the two-day
"International conference on Eco and Rural Tourism", organised
by FICCI here today, the Bangladesh Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister,
Mir Muhammad Nasiruddin, said Khaleda Zia government is giving top
priority to tourism and is proposing to introduce visa-on-arrival
to boost tourism activity.
Nasiruddin said the eco and rural tourism can create employment
and tackle poverty for the entire region. "Abolishing of visa
for the SAARC nationals would go a long way in boosting the economy
of the region, creat more jobs and improve the lot of the people."
also called for increasing air flights between the region to tap
the benefits arrising from the tourism industry.
The Malaysian Tourism Minister, Dr Leo Michael Toyad, said that
eco-tourism has tremendous potential for socio-economic growth and
development of countries which relies on the tourism sector as an
important revenue earner, income and employment provider. "Special
attention must therefore be accorded to its sustainable development
in order to ensure that its contributions are fairly distributed
among the local communities," he added.
the conference, the Indian Tourism Minister, Ms Renuka Choudhury,
highlighted the element of eco tourism and said that it embraces
the local reality. The real ownership of eco systems rests with
the local people who celebrate their connectivities with the eco
reality through rich rituals and festivals.
this backdrop, Ms Choudhury said, "We need to take these people
on board, teach them the modern skills of preservation of their
eco systems and must treat this particular issue with great sensitivity
and care". She
informed that most communities living in and around such eco sites
are some of the most disadvantaged mainly because of insufficient
and inappropriate inputs in rural development and welfare programmes.
the occasion, the Minister released an incisive study on "Investment
Opportunities in Eco Tourism". This study highlights the immense
potential of eco and rural tourism to benefit local communities.
It outlines opportunities to use tourism for local economic development
and to develop clusters of products and services in communities
which can be marketed to international, regional and domestic tourists.
largely attanded conference was also addressed among others by the
Sri Lankan Deputy Tourism Minister, Mr Arjuna Ranatunga, the Uttranchal
Tourism Minister, Lt Gen T P S Rawat, and the Assam Tourism Minister,
Mrs Ajanta Neog.
the importance of tourism as an employment creator particularly
so in rural livelihoods, Ms Choudhury stressed at the need to involve
local communities in tourism development exercise and also eliminate
possible conflict areas. Furthermore, the need to create information
dissemination systems and strengthening of infrastructure which
must be comparable with the environment was highlighted.
said it is important to understand that eco tourism can maximize
the productivity of India's national human, cultural, technical
and scientific resources. She further added, "Our aim is to
undertake poverty eradication in an environmentally sustainable
manner by enhancing employment potential within the tourism sector
as well as to foster economic integration, developing linkages with
the initiatives taken by the Government to promote rural tourism,
the Minister apprised that they have started rural tourism schemes
which encourages proposals from States whereby funding is arranged
for specific hardware activities in potential rural locations upto
Rs 50 lakh each.
support the scheme, the Ministry has entered into an indigenous
software project with UNDP and the Department of Economic Affairs
with the rural poor as target beneficiaries backed by community
pride and identity. As an initial intervention, 31 sites all over
India have been identified in the country for rural tourism scheme
under the UNDP indigenous project fund programme which will cover
sites enabling Rs 20 lakh per site. "With that kind of monetary
support, I appeal to NGOs to remain as conduit between Government
and actual implementation of the programme", she added.
his special address, Mr P R Kyndiah, Minister, Development of North
Eastern Region and Tribal Affairs, urged all the State Governments
of the region to plan the development of various infrastructures
viz roads, power, tourist complexes and hotels at tourist centers.
He assured all possible help from his Ministry in such endeavours.
his welcome address, Mr Yogendra Kr Modi, President, FICCI, said
that with public private partnership, FICCI proposes development
of tourist packages incorporating the ethnic crafts, folk culture
and cuisine through villages enroute the defined tourist circuits.
Modi suggested a number of steps for growth of tourism sectors.
These include increase in air seat capacity with public private
participation; upgradation and restructuring of airports; opening
of 18 new international airports; better and friendly immigration
facilities; more hotel rooms of all categories; tourism to be a
concurrent subject to avoid multiplicity of authority; standardization
of services and setting up of a Tourism Board with public private
partnership for infrastructure development.
seeks heritage city status of Agra
By Sushma Arora
The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has urged the Government
to grant tourism the status of infrastructure sector and abolish
service tax for all segments of the tourism industry. At its just-concluded
annual convention at the city of Taj, the largest tour body of the
country also called for declaring Agra a heritage city and opening
of the Taj Mahal to tourists on Moon lit nights.
convention, which was opened by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister,
Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, and attended by crème de la crème
of the tourism industry, made several other wide-ranging suggestions
for giving a boost to tourism and aviation in the country. Tourism
ministers of several States, government officials and heads of the
state tourism departments were also present at the convention as
also called for expanding the tourism infrastructure base by having
more hotel rooms, more International airports (at least one in each
state), better connectivity and greater air seats. The Convention,
through other resolutions, also pleaded for extending to tourism
the same benefits as are being given to software and IT Sector under
section 10 of Income Tax Act. It also sought the implementation
of the Naresh Chandra committee report on civil aviation in toto.
three-day convention, which was attended by a record over 1,000
delegates, also pleaded that road tax being charged from the tourists
be abolished and approach roads to Taj Mahal be cleared of bottlenecks.
The road to Fathepur Sikri and Taj is made a four-lane road. It
also suggested scrapping of luxury tax or charging it only on contracted
price and not on printed price to make travel packages competitive
vis-à-vis neighboring countries like Singapore, Thailand,
Malaysia and Singapore. It also sought implement visa-on-arrival
from at least 20 countries source market countries.
the convention, the UP Chief Minister, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav,
extended his fullest cooperation and support to IATO in promoting
tourism. The Chief Minister responded favourably to the suggestion
made by the IATO President, Mr Subhash Goyal, for keeping Taj Mahal
open for public on Moon lit night and removing all bottlenecks from
the entry point to this historical monument. Mr Yadav assured the
delegates that his Government would take earliest steps in this
Mr Yadav also released a copy of the IATO Manual and gave away the
IATO Hall of Fame Award to Mr L P Gupta, Managing Director, Clarks
Group of Hotels, and Excellence in Tourism Awards to Mr Ram Kohli,
Chairman and Managing Director, Creative Travels Pvt. Ltd, Mr Amitabh
Kant, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Mr Navin Berry, travel
writer and Mr Sunil Gupta, Managing Director, Travel Bureau, Agra.
given on this occasion were the Best Travel Writer award to Mr.
Deepak Arora, Deputy Chief of Bureau, National Herald and L.K. Bakshi
Award to Ms Anindita Chattopadhyay of Indian Express.
UP Tourism Minister, Mr Kokab Hameed, said that the new State tourism
policy envisaged the creation of new circuits like Mahabharat, Sufi,
Buddhist circuits, besides commemorating the 1857 war of Independence
through a regular sound and light show.
Goyal referring to the recent hike in hotel rates by hoteliers and
also some of the airlines which had initiated a move to make a cut
in commission of travel agents, said, "the most efficient way
of sustaining the boom was to work together and build incentives
rather than be shortsighted and undercut the very intermediaries
that filled up our planes and sold our rooms when times were rough
and the industry was in turmoil."
Goyal flayed the hike in service tax from 8 per cent to 10 per cent
in the new budget and also the imposition of luxury tax by the Delhi
Government on the printed rather than the contracted price. "The
new rule of charging 12.5 per cent hotel tax on the published rates
will raise the average cost of a night's stay in Delhi by up to
US $ 50 per night."
new Tourism Secretary, Mrs Uma Pillai, appreciated the success of
the "Incredible India" campaign but wanted a balancing
act by promoting domestic tourism as well. Mere infrastructural
development, she stressed was not enough but the need of the hour
was niche marketing.
Tourism Ministers of Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, Ms. Usha
Punia, Mr. P. Sankaran and Kunwar Vijay Shah respectively sought
the cooperation of tour operators and travel agents in publicizing
and marketing their destinations.
Vijay Thakur, Vice President of Indian Association of Tour Operators
and Chairman of the Convention earlier gave a welcome address and
Maj. Murli Dhar, Senior Vice President of Indian Association of
Tour Operators gave a vote of thanks. The convention held seven
business sessions and panel discussion to discuss several issues
relating to tourism and civil aviation.
The Tourism Secretary, Mrs Uma Pillai, inaugurated the India Tourism
Fair held at the venue of the convention. It brought together various
State Tourism Departments and private players showcasing their products
Indian travel market attracts Canada
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Nov 28: To tap the huge outbound tourist traffic from India,
Canada Tourism Commission (CTC) has decided to set up offices in
Delhi and Mumbai. "India represents a significant part of world's
future and there exists a huge potential between the two countries.
The growing prosperity and growing middle class makes India a huge
tourism source," said Mr Judd Buchanan, Special Advisor on
Tourism to the Prime Minister of Canada.
Buchanan said about 65,000 Indian tourists travel to Canada every
year. "Though this figure is insignificant as compared to 18.5
million foreign tourists Canada receives every year, we expect the
travelers from India to increase eight fold in the next 10 years,"
said "Canada offers great value combining choice, quality at
an attractive price. Our aim is to encourage the VFR (Visiting Friends
and Relatives) segment as tourists as well as other s heading to
the US to include Canada in their itinerary."
said that Indians have long come to Canada to visit family and friends
as well as enjoying Canada's unique mix of natural beauty and urban
excitement. As the world's second largest country, with three oceans
on its borders, it should be no surprise that Canada contains a
wide range of geography, culture and climate. With UNESCO world
heritage sites and many cultural events and tourist sites to keep
you entranced, there's no shortage of places to visit, from British
Columbia and Alberta's Canadian Rockies, the sparkling show of Northern
Lights in Canada's far north, through to the grandeur of Ontario's
Niagara Falls, the record-breaking high tides of New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy, to Newfoundland's historic L'anse Aux
Meadows on the Atlantic Ocean. Whether it's Montreal's "Just
For Laughs" comedy festival or Toronto's CN Tower, Canada has
Thomas Penney, Vice President Planning and Product Development for
the CTC, hoped that there would be significant increase in the number
of tourists traveling to Canada from India in the year 2004. In
this direction, he said "we intend to work with travel and
trade in India to tap the huge potential India offers."
direct flights from Delhi to Toronto by Air Canada would help in
tapping this potential, said Mr Buchanan and added the direct flight
would also help in making the travel hassle-free. On October 19,
Air Canada launched a non-stop flight from New Delhi to Toronto.
Terry Francis, a Consultant with the airline, travel and tourism
industry, said "the new daily non-stop service to Delhi offers
customers the only direct air link between North America and India
saving at least three hours off alternate routings and providing
excellent connection possibilities for flights to cities throughout
Canada and the United States." Mr
Francis said "Air Canada would offer competitive fares to the
Indians to travel to the US via Canada."
Benoit Prefontaine, Senior Counsellor (Commercial), Canadian High
Commission, said "early next year we are opening more visa
application centers across India so that people can apply in safe
manner." A new Consulate General in Chandigarh and a new trade
office in Chennai and upgrading of Consulate in Mumbai to Consulate
General were announced during the recent visit of the Canadian Prime
Minister, Mr Jean Chrétien, to India, said Mr Prefontaine.
He assured that visa rules have been simplified to make the travel
easy to Canada.
Prefontaine said there have been growing partnerships between India
and Canada in the past few years. He said that India is Canada's
largest trading partner in South Asia. On the growing ties on the
tourism front, he said last month Four Seasons of Toronto decided
to open their first hotel in India. An agreement for the 35-storey
hotel in Mumbai was signed during the Canadian Prime Minister's
visit with Magus Estates Private Limited. The $70 million hotel
project will be developed by Magus Estates Private Limited and operated
by Four Seasons under a long-term management contract. The hotel
should be ready for occupancy in 2005.
who has 20 years experience in the travel industry, represents Canadian
Tourism Commission's India office through Destinations Marketing
is World Heritage site
By Deepak Arora
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) has conferred the World Cultural Heritage status on the
rock shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh). The site is in the
foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains on the southern edge of the
central Indian plateau.
the information, Mr Amitabha Kant, Joint Secretary in the Ministry
of Tourism, said UNESCO has acknowledged this priceless treasure
by imprinting it with World Cultural Heritage status. He said Bhimbhetka
thus becomes India's 19th cultural heritage site (there are 5 natural
heritage sites too).
above dense forest, within massive sandstone outcrops, the five
clusters of natural rock shelters have paintings that appear to
date from the Mesolithic period right through to the historical
period. 500 of the 754 shelters are painted. The paintings show
armed men riding horses, a man with a bow and arrow, large walking
birds like emus and ostriches, a threatening scorpion and a plumed
man examining feathers in his hand. The cultural traditions of the
inhabitants of the 21 villages in the buffer zone bear a strong
resemblance to those represented in the rock paintings.
launched a programme for the identification, protection and preservation
of cultural and natural Heritage Sites across the world. The cultural
sites include monuments with historial, aesthetic, archaeological,
scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. A site was deemed
of national heritage by virtue of its outstanding universal value.
site was deemed of national heritage by virtue of its outstanding
universal value. It should represent a masterpiece of human creative
genius exhibit an important interchange of human values over a span
of time or within a cultural area, or developments in architecture
should bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural
tradition or a civilization or be an outstanding example of a type
of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape
which illustrates a significant stage in history.
should be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement
or land-use, especially when it has become valnerable under the
impact of irreversible change or be directly or tangibly associated
with events or living traditions, with ideas or beliefs, or with
artistic and literary works or universal significance.
Kant informed that there are 17 World Heritage Cultural Sites in
India. These include Agra Fort, Ajanta Caves, Brihadisvara, Darjeeling
Himalayan Railway, Elephanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Fatehpur Sikri,
Hampi, Humayun's Tomb, Khajuraho, Konark, Mamallapuram, Old Goa,
Pattadakal, Qutb Minar, Sanchi, Taj Mahal, and Mahabodhi temple