The Government of India’s GST Council finalised the tax rates on services under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime at their meeting held in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. The GST regime is scheduled to kick-in from July 1, and the council has approved the GST rates for services at Nil, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. According to the current rate, the 5% rate of GST will be levied on transport of passengers by rail (other than sleeper class); transport of passengers by air in economy class; transport of passengers with or without accompanied belongings, by air, embarking from or terminating in a Regional Connectivity Scheme Airport; as well as supply of tour operators’ services. There is 12 per cent GST rate levied on transport of passengers by air in other than economy class. These rates will be further subjected to vetting and would undergo some changes.
Palace on Wheels to be discontinued
Prominent heritage train, Palace on Wheels (POW) will acquire a significantly different appearance during the coming tourist season. The original Palace on Wheels, in existence since 1982, will be discontinued since it has completed its life-cycle. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW) will now be rechristened as Palace on Wheels (POW). The rechristened train will run on the present itinerary and tariff from the coming season.
RROW, in existence since 2008, is recognized as India’s most luxurious train with an accommodation capacity of 82 passengers.
Mumbai Port to get e-visa facility by December 2017
Mumbai Port will soon be among the three Indian ports in the country that will be able to offer e-visa facilities to international cruise passengers. The Mumbai Port Trust and the Bureau of Immigration officials who have principally agreed to allow the port to offer e-visa facilities by December 2017. Foreigners will then be able to enter India through five seaports — Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Goa and Mangalore — with electronic visa (e-visa), in addition of 16 airports where the facility is available.
Hi-speed Tejas Express between Mumbai and Goa launched
Indian Railways has introduced the new high speed Tejas express between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai and Karmali in Goa. The train is equipped with many modern facilities such as on-board infotainment, Wi-Fi, CCTV, coffee and tea vending machines, etc. It is a state-of-the-art train with an average operating speed of 130 kmph and a maximum running speed of 200 kmph.
The train will operate 5 times a week during the non-monsoon period and 3 days a week during the monsoon period. The express has also introduced some new amenities for passenger such as bio-vacuum toilets, sensor taps and a GPS-based passenger information display system and a digital destination board has also been installed for the convenience of the passengers. The train will have automatic doors and is wrapped with a special graffiti proof vinyl that gives the train its distinctive orange and yellow color. The express train is also expected to be pressed into service in the Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Chandigarh sectors according to the railways.
Royal Orchid Hotels launches 3rd hotel in Mysore
Royal Orchid Hotels announced the launch of its third hotel in Mysore with Regenta Central Herald. The hotel is located on Nelson Mandela Road, Bannimantap in Mysore which is approximately just 4 kms from Mysore Railway Station. The hotel offers 70 rooms, fitness centre, mini bar and a multi cuisine restaurant.
Fern Silvanus Resort, Alibaug opens doors
The Fern Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of The Fern Silvanus Resort, Alibaug, offering 34 cottages. The Resort is located in the coastal town at a distance of 9 km from the Nagaon Beach while the Kolaba Fort is 40 mins away.
On-site amenities at the resort includes all day dining at multi-cuisine restaurant ‘Vista’, Swimming Pool.
Lemon Tree opens twin properties in Gurugram
The Lemon Tree Hotel Company opened its twin properties in Gurugram—Lemon Tree Hotel, Sector-60 and Red Fox Hotel Sector-60, taking the count to 6 properties by the brand in the city.
The 3.2 acre property follows the accessibility criteria to the T and offers specially designed rooms and suites for people of all abilities. Targeting the business sector in the area, the property boasts a separate convention centre spread over 20,000 sq. ft, which actually is one of the largest accessible MICE destination in Delhi NCR.
Lemon Tree Hotels-operated Sandal Suites opens doors
The launch of Sandal Suites, operated by Lemon Tree Hotels, marked the opening of Noida’s first upscale serviced suites. Sandal Suites features 195 suites, extensive banqueting facilities, numerous dining options, and an array of recreational facilities, in a contemporary setting. These serviced apartments, situated just off the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway, are located within Assotech Business Cresterra, the LEED Gold Certified office complex in the IT hub of Sector 135, Noida.
Hotels with 3 or more stars to reopen bars in Kerala
The dry spell is over in Kerala with the state government reversing the restricted liquor policy of the previous government and allowing bars to function as usual. The government will allow the bars to function in hotels with three-star status and above. The five-star hotels are already allowed to open bars. Hotels below three-star category will be allowed to run beer and wine parlors.
The bars will remain open from 11 am to 11pm. Bars will be allowed to remain open from 10 am to 11pm in tourism centres. Both international and domestic terminals of the airports will be allowed to sell liquor. The permissible age limit for consuming liquor has been increased from 21to 23.
The new liquor policy will protect the interests of the traditional liquor, toddy. Bars, including the 5five-star ones, will be allowed to sell toddy. Toddy Board will be constituted to protect the interests of the industry.
India’s first Radisson Red to open in Mohali by Q1 2018
India remains one of the strongest markets for Carlson where they have 84 hotels in operation and 140 hotels in the pipeline. The brand will soon be launching its new brand- Radisson Red in the Indian Market.
The first flagship property is under construction in Mohali, Chandigarh. It’s a beautiful hotel and we expect that to open in the first quarter of 2018.
Preferred Hotels partners wit GHM for The Chedi Mumbai
Preferred Hotels & Resorts has entered into a strategic partnership with Singapore-based luxury hotel management company General Hotel Management (GHM) to represent The Chedi Mumbai as the newest experience available within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection. The property will feature 312 guestrooms and suites, an exclusive Club Lounge, seven dining and entertainment options, meeting facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and a holistic spa and wellness facility.
StayWell Group launches Leisure Inn Shrey, Jodhpur
Australian hotel management company, StayWell Hospitality Group has extended its international footprint with the opening of its fifth property in Rajasthan, the Leisure Inn Shrey in Jodhpur.
The Leisure Inn Shrey will deliver a roof-top restaurant and conference facilities along with well-appointed rooms and international service standards that the Leisure Inn brand is famous for.
Air India direct flight connecting Delhi-Copenhagen from Sept 16
Air India has announced direct flights between New Delhi and Copenhagen thereby adding its 11th destination in Europe. Starting from September 16, these flights will operate thrice a week. This is the third international flight launched by the national carrier this year, besides services to Washington from July 7 and to Stockholm from August 16.
Air India flight on Delhi-Gwalior-Indore-Mumbai route from May 31
Air India’s wholly owned subsidiary Alliance Air will begin its second flight service under (UDAN) scheme on Delhi-Gwalior-Indore-Mumbai route starting May 31, 2017. The newly launched flight service will be operated by the 70-seater ATR 72-600 all economy class aircraft. Operating three days a week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, flight 9I-628 will depart from Delhi at 0950hrs and reach Gwalior at 1050hrs.
The onward flight from Gwalior will depart at 1120hrs to reach Indore at 1235hrs and then leave Indore at 1305hrs to land at Mumbai at 1450hrs. Flight 9I-627 on Mumbai-Indore-Gwalior-Delhi route will leave Mumbai at 1030hrs and reach Indore at 1215hrs. The flight will then leave Indore at 1250hrs to reach Gwalior at 1400hrs and furthermore, the flight from Gwalior will leave at 1430hrs and land at Delhi airport at 1530hrs.
Jet Airways 3rd direct flight connecting Mumbai-London from Oct 29
Effective October 29, 2017, and as part of the airline’s forthcoming Winter schedule, the new daytime service – 9W 116 will depart from Mumbai at 0905 hrs.to arrive in London Heathrow at 1335 hrs. (Local time). On its return, the planned departure for 9W 115 from London Heathrow is at 1530 hrs. (local time), arriving in Mumbai at 0555 hrs
GoAir launches Pune-Bengaluru & Pune-Kolkata flights
GoAir starts two additional flights out of Pune. Effective May 19, the airline will start daily flights from Pune to Bengaluru and Kolkata. The airline will now provide non-stop connecivity from Pune to Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Nagpur, Delhi, and Kolkata.
Air Astana adds flight connecting Delhi-Astana from July 2
Air Astana has announced the expansion of its India operations by adding a new flight between Delhi and Astana, starting July 2, 2017. The airline offers flights three times a week. The DEL-IST flight departs from Delhi at 12:00 hours and arrives at Istanbul at 21:10 hours, while the IST-DEL flight departs at 22:10 hrs and arrives in Delhi next day.
IndiGo launches daily direct Singapore-Bengaluru flight
IndiGo has announced its first non-stop flight and 5th overall flight between Singapore and Bengaluru, which will start from June 30, 2017. The launch of the daily direct flight would offer an affordable and a convenient option on two of the busiest business sectors.
It gives us pleasure to introduce a direct flight on Singapore-Bengaluru route which will save flyers up to 3 hours of travel each way.
Air India to connect Varanasi -Colombo flight from Aug 2017
Air India will operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi. The announcement was made during the Prime Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka to attend the International Vesak Day. The new flight would encourage Buddhists from both the countries to visit the religious sites in the respective countries. Modi said that Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in Indian culture, politics and philosophy and invited people from Sri Lanka to come visit the land of Kashi in Varanasi.
Indonesia AirAsia X launches Mumbai-Bali flight services
Indonesia AirAsia Extra has started a direct flight from Mumbai to Bali (Denpasar) from May 19, 2017, with a 45 minute layover in Kuala Lumpur. It will operate this route using A330-300 with 377 seats (12 flatbeds and 365 economy seats). The flight departs from Mumbai at 22.50 hours and arrives in Bali at 10.45 hours the next day.
Air India’s nonstop Delhi-Stockholm service from August 15
Air India will commence non-stop flight service between Delhi and Stockholm from August 15, 2017. The flight will operate thrice a week (Wed, Fri & Sun) with each flight roughly having eight-hour duration.
The flight will be operated thrice a week on Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The flight will depart from Delhi at 1400 hrs (IST) and land at Stockholm at 1820 hrs (CET). The return flight will leave Stockholm at 2100 hrs (CET) and reach Delhi the next morning.
UPCOMING EVENTS & FESTIVALS
MARNATH YATRA (29June-07Aug) On Mount Amarnath, around 140 km from Srinagar
The famous Amarnath cave temple, one of the top caves in India, houses a Shiva lingam made out of ice. It’s one of the toughest pilgrimages in India to visit it. Pilgrims must battle inclement weather, which makes the track slippery and dangerous, as well as very high altitude.
HEMIS FESTIVAL (3-7 July) Hemis Monastery, Leh
The two day Hemis Festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. There’s traditional music, colorful masked dances, and a fair full of striking handicrafts.
DREE FESTIVAL (4-7 July) Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India
Dree is an agricultural festival of the Apatani tribe. It’s celebrated by sacrificial offerings and prayers to the gods who protect the crops. Folk songs, traditional dances, and other cultural performances have also become a part of the modern-day festivities. There’s even a “Mr Dree” contest, billed as the ultimate platform for men to show their strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence!
CHAMPAKULAM BOAT RACE (8 July) Pampa River, Alleppey, Kerala
The Champakulam Boat Race is the oldest snake boat race of Kerala. It’s also the first boat race of the season. A stunning procession is enacted prior to the race taking place. It features exotic water floats, boats decorated with colorful parasols, and performing artists.
GURU PURNIMA (9 July) Mostly in rural areas of North and South India
This full moon day is celebrated in remembrance of the ancient sage Vyasa, who edited and wrote a number of holy Hindu scriptures. However, the idea behind Guru Purnima extends further than that. It’s also a day for giving thanks to anyone who’s taught you spiritual lessons in life. Many people simply spend some time reviewing all the knowledge they’ve acquired in the last year, and the way it’s helped transformed them.
TEEJ FESTIVAL (26-27 July) Jaipur, Rajasthan
The Teej festival is an important festival for women, and much anticipated monsoon festival. It commemorates the reunion of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Women apply henna to their hands and feet, get dressed up, and parade around. Artists such as folk singers and dancers follow the procession.
NAG PANCHAMI (27 July) Mostly in rural areas of North and South India
Nag Panchami, the festival of snakes, isn’t for the faint of heart! This festival involves the worship of snakes, which are especially dug out and gathered for the occasion. On the day of Nag Panchami, villagers dance to music and carry the snakes in procession to the temple.