According to a recent ruling, starting January 22 2017, tour operators will have to pay a service tax of 9% instead of 4.5% on all billings.
Madame Tussauds Delhi to open in June
The 23rd edition of Madame Tussauds is set to open in New Delhi this June at Regal Cinema, Connaught Place.
The wax attraction will exhibit over 50 figures from diverse leagues such as history, sports, music, cinema etc. The attraction will showcase 60 per cent of local celebrities and 40 per cent of international leaders.
Merlin Entertainments, the operator of the attraction, plans to offer competitive ticket fares in order to attract large segment of Indian visitors and once open, Madame Tussauds will also offer special fares for students & groups.
Delhi’s Terminal 2 to open in Feb
The Terminal 2 of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, will now be open to public only in February. The new terminal was to be made operational on January 1 to decongest the domestic Terminal 1D. The delay is reportedly because two of the airlines have refused to move out of 1D, which recently underwent refurbishment and a security survey. The new terminal is part of the expansion plan of 1D.
Mumbai’s domestic Terminal 1B renamed to Terminal 1 (T1)
Mumbai airport’s domestic Terminal 1B has been renamed as Terminal 1 (T1), effective from January 9. Terminal 1B handled low-cost airline flights which will now be operated from T1. The Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL), which runs the airport, informed that this decision was taken to help in easy identification of the terminal and to ensure hassle-free transit for air travellers. At present, SpiceJet, Indigo and GoAir operate from this terminal. Vistara, Air India and Jet Airways operate from Terminal 2 (T2), which also caters to all international flights. MIAL further added that the shifting of Air India and Jet Airways to T2 has helped make transit between international and domestic flights convenient for transfer passengers, thereby saving time.
Steady 10.7% growth in FTAs in 2016
FTAs during the period January-December, 2016 were 88.90 lakh with a growth of 10.7% as compared to the FTAs of 80.27 lakh in January-December 2015. December 2016 registered a 13.6% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) over the same period in 2015 with 10.37 lakh arrivals.
USA (18.33%) occupied highest percentage share in FTAs followed by Bangladesh (13.02%), UK (11.71%), Australia (5.43%), Russian Fed (4.18%),Canada (4.13%), Malaysia (3.38%), Germany (2.80%), China (2.53%), Sri Lanka (2.25%), Singapore (2.12%), France (2.01%), Japan (1.79%), Afghanistan (1.38%) and Nepal (1.34%).
Air India reserves seats for women
The national carrier will set aside six seats per aircraft for women on all its domestic routes from next week. The third row of economy class – three seats either side of the aisle – would be designated for female travellers. This applies to the airline’s domestic flights operated using its fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft. The move comes into force on 18 January 2017. The policy only applies to solo female travellers, and not to women travelling with other family members.
The Muse Sarovar Portico opens in Kapashera, Delhi
Sarovar Hotels has opened a new hotel in Delhi NCR, The Muse Sarovar Portico, Kapashera. Marking the group’s focused expansion plan, The Muse Sarovar Portico Kapashera will be followed by openings in Nairobi, Ranchi, Jaisalmer and Amritsar this year. With easy access to the domestic and international airports, The Muse Sarovar Portico targets both business and leisure travellers and offers 73 rooms, three ballrooms together have an area of 6900 square feet and can accommodate up to 600 people
490-room ITC hotel to launch in Kolkata by 2017
ITC is all set to launch its new property in Kolkata by 2017. ITC Hotel, Kolkata adjacent to ITC Sonar, will be symbolic of the rich history of Bengal and Kolkata, being built with the colonial theme on the lines of the ‘British Raj’ and Calcutta as the ‘Imperial Capital of the British India’. The 490 key hotel would be among the tallest buildings of Kolkata with a commanding view of the entire city.
Sheraton Grand Pune opens doors
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announced the opening of Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel, a newly renovated property set to welcome business and leisure guests. The hotel recently completed an extensive rebranding and renovation, featuring a complete transformation of its 177 well-appointed guest rooms, lobby and public spaces as well as added meeting facilities. The new hotel joins a portfolio of 36 Sheraton Grand properties. Owned by BrahmaCorp, Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel is the second ‘Sheraton Grand’ hotel in India and the fourth Sheraton hotel in the country.
AccorHotels opens first ibis in Kochi with 115 rooms
AccorHotels brought its international economy brand, ibis, in the capital of Kerala with the opening of ibis Kochi City Centre. ibis Kochi City Centre is also the first AccorHotels’ property to open in Kerala. The property features 115 guest rooms furnished with the signature ‘Sweet Bed’ by ibis, in-room amenities and Wi-Fi access. The hotels has two meeting rooms with state-of-the-art technology that can accommodate up to 70 guests for meetings and private events. Fitness enthusiasts can sweat it out at the hotel’s Cardio Centre. Located on Ernakulam’s commercial hub – MG Road, the hotel is a few steps away from the upcoming Kochi Metro station and a short drive from the Ernakulam Railway Station.
Ayana Hospitality opens Ayana Fort Kochi
Ayana Hospitality, promoted by the ICS Group (India) has launched its flagship property ‘Ayana Fort Kochi,’ a luxury boutique hotel in Kochi, Kerala. The hotel is a 200-year-old courthouse that has been restored.
Radisson Blu Hotel Faridabad opens
124-room Radisson Blu Faridabad opens in the north Indian state of Haryana, one of India’s largest business and industrial hubs in the National Capital Region (NCR). The hotel offers spacious meeting facilities with state-of-the-art technology and a pillar-less grand ballroom that accommodates up to 1,000 guests.
54-room Royal Tulip Kufri, Shimla
Golden Tulip Hospitality group, South Asia has announced the opening of its first 5-star luxury hotel Royal Tulip Kufri, Shimla. This will be the group’s first property in the Himalayas. Royal Tulip Kufri features 54 guest rooms and suites, offering panoramic views overlooking the beautiful Kufri valley. Located at 8,600 feet above sea level in the charming town of Kufri, Royal Tulip Kufri offers the majestic views of the Himalayas exquisitely spread over acres of Cedar forest range.
Air India Connects Pune-Chandigarh with a direct flight
Air India will connect Pune to Chandigarh for the first time with a direct flight from January 16, 2017. This new flight is yet another move to promote regional connectivity by the national carrier. The flight, AI 813 will take off from Chandigarh at 1050 hrs and arrive in Pune at 1320 hrs. The return flight AI 814 from Pune will depart at 1400 hrs and land in Chandigarh at 1630 hrs on all days except Saturday and Sunday. The non-stop flight will operate with an Airbus A-320 aircraft on the Pune-Chandigarh-Pune route.
Air India to start Delhi-Kochi-Dubai from Feb 1
Air India has launched a new flight from Delhi to Kochi to Dubai, which would be starting from February 1, 2017. The Delhi-Kochi sector is an important an busy sector and hence the new flight has been started. This would further offer connection to Dubai, allowing people from Kochi to go to Dubai, which too is a popular route.
Air India to fly Delhi-Copenhagen-Delhi from May
Air India is all set to fly its first direct non-stop flight from Delhi to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, starting May 2017. As part of its plan for 2017, the national carrier is set to fly a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route. This flight would establish connectivity with the Scandinavian countries, offering convenient onward connections to Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway and Kingdom of Denmark, Denmark.
Air India’s Delhi-Port Blair service from May
Air India is starting new domestic routes and beefing up frequency on existing ones. A direct flight service to Port Blair will commence from Delhi in May this year.
Vistara launches services to Amritsar & Leh
Vistara has announced the addition of Amritsar and Leh to its network, starting March 1, 2017, and March 25, 2017, respectively. Vistara will fly direct flights from Delhi to the holy city of Amritsar from March 1, 2017, and from Mumbai, starting March 8, 2017. The airline will operate direct flights between Delhi and Leh on weekends from March 25, 2017 and thereafter, increase the frequency to daily flights starting May 10, 2017 onwards.
Air India’s Delhi-Washington flight start in July
As part of its expansion drive and the success of the Delhi- San Francisco route, Air India is set to start another route to the United States and will start direct flight operations on Delhi-Washington-Delhi route in July 2017.
This flight will be the fifth direct connection with the US and shall be operated by Boeing 777 aircraft.
In addition to this, in May 2017, Air India is looking to offer a real treat to Indian travelers by connecting Bangkok, one of the most favored tourist destinations by starting direct flight operations on Chandigarh-Bangkok-Chandigarh and Kolkata-Bangkok-Kolkata sectors besides starting a second frequency from Delhi.
Jet adds new capital connection from Mangaluru
Effective immediately, the new route will operate daily using a Boeing 737 aircraft. Flights depart Mangaluru at 0820 and land at Delhi at 1110, before taking off again at 1500 and landing back in Mangaluru at 1750.
Passengers from Mangaluru will be offered connections to several international destinations, including London, Amsterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong. Jet already operates daily flights to Abu Dhabi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Dubai, and Mumbai from Mangaluru.
UPCOMING EVENTS & FESTIVALS
INTERNATIONAL YOGA FESTIVAL (1-7 March) Pararth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
The festival offers yoga classes from world class Yoga teachers, evening discussions with some of India’s leading spiritual leaders, and other events including vegetarian cooking classes and the Yoga Aid Challenge charity fundraiser.
PARIPALLY GAJAMELA (5 March) Trivandrum in Kollam district
One of Kerala’s most impressive temple festivals, the Paripally Gajamela features around 50 richly decorated elephants. They form part of a ritual offering to the temple goddess, by temple devotees, for prosperity.
HOLI (13 March) All over India, particularly in the north
Holi is commonly referred to as the “FESTIVAL OF COLORS”. People exuberantly throw colored powder and water all over each other, have parties, and dance under water sprinklers. Bhang (a paste made from cannabis plants) is also traditionally consumed during the celebrations. Holi is a very carefree festival that’s great fun to participate in if you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.
MEWAR FESTIVAL (30Mar-01Apr) Udaipur, Rajasthan
The festival is observed to welcome the arrival of spring. The spirit of the festival can be seen throughout the state, but since Udaipur has always been the governing place of Mewar rulers, one can observe the distinct flavours of the festival here.
GANGAUR FAIR (30-31 March) Jaipur, Rajasthan
The Gangaur Festival is celebrated in the months of March/April every year. Gan indicates Lord Shiva and Gauri is the divine consort of the Lord. Hence, the festival of Gangaur celebrates the divine bliss of Goddess Parvati – the other name of Gauri. Women have a special role to play in the Gangaur festival. Celebrated for 18 whole days, the Gangaur festival is a long, colorful procession.