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Home Ministry relaxes travel conditions for OCI cardholders

NEW DELHI, Dec 28: Overseas Citizenship of India cardholders, in certain age groups, can travel to India even if they have not re-registered it after the issuance of their new passports, as the Home Ministry has relaxed travel conditions till June 30, 2020, an official said on Friday.

An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder is required to re-register each time a new passport is issued till 20 years of age and once after 50 years of age, the ministry spokesperson said on twitter. This is not mandatory in the age group of 21-50 years, she said.

In order to facilitate OCI cardholders, the requirement has been relaxed till June 30, 2020, according to the union home ministry instructions dated December 17, 2019, but they will have to carry old and new passports, she said. The OCI card gives the cardholder lifelong visa to India.

The ministry has been informed that immigration authorities and airlines in some countries are not allowing OCI cardholders to travel to India because either the cardholder did not re-registered after attaining 50 years of age or did not get it re-issued on passport renewal (for the age group of below 20 years), the December 17 order said.

“It is informed that instruction regarding re-issuance of OCI card on renewal of passport or on attaining specified age is a requirement expected to be timely complied with by the OCI card holders,” the ministry said.

The ministry asked the External Affairs Ministry to advice the Indian Missions abroad to temporarily relax the conditions in the wake of problems faced by the cardholders, it said. “In case an OCI cardholder below the age of 20 years has not got the OCI card re-issued on change of passport, he/she may travel on the strength of his/her existing OCI card bearing old passport number till June 30, 2020 subject to the condition that along with the new passport, the OCI cardholder carries old passport mentioned in the OCI card,” the order posted on twitter by the spokesperson said.

“In case an OCI cardholder who has attained the age of 50 years and got his/her passport renewed subsequently but has not got his/her OCI card re-issued on renewal of passport, he/she may travel till June 30, 2020 on the strength of the existing OCI card along with new and old passport,” it further said.

Golf Tourism – Harbinger for Economic Growth: PHDCCI

By Deepak Arora

JAIPUR, Dec 14: PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI) organized the 3rd edition of PHD Golf Tourism Conclave and Tournament from December 12 to 13 here with a focus to make "India: The Next World Golf Tourism Hub".

PHD Golf Tourism Conclave was held on the first day at Holiday Inn Jaipur City Centre and brought on one platform all the relevant stakeholders– the Government and the private sector to discuss issues and opportunities for promotion of Golf Tourism in India.

The Inaugural Session was graced by Chung Kwang Tien, Ambassador, Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India; Vinod Zutshi, former Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; Dr. Manisha Arora, Additional Director – Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan. Also present from PHDCCI were Anil Khaitan, Former President; Digvijay Dhabriya, Chairman – Rajasthan State Chapter; Rajan Sehgal, Co-Chairman – Tourism Committee; Suneel Dutt Goyal, Co-Chairman – Rajasthan State Chapter; and Dr. Jatinder Singh, Director.

While welcoming the delegates, Anil Khaitan, Former President, PHDCCI, said that the emerging trend of playing golf among the youth has motivated the government and private players to improve infrastructure, including golf courses of international standards and trained manpower. He further said that with Golf becoming a growing sport worldwide, there are immense opportunities for the growth of Golf Tourism in India.

Chung Kwang Tien, Ambassador, Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India, gave a detailed presentation on the golf courses in Taiwan and invited all the stakeholders to experience the destination.

Vinod Zutshi, Former Secretary – Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said, “It has been observed that golf-linked tourists possess a higher purchasing power and spend more than the regular visitors. High profile golf events like U.S. PGA should be organized in India to attract domestic and international tourists and golf enthusiasts from all over the world.”

Rajan Sehgal, President, India Golf Tourism Association, informed that Golf Tourism is growing at 9.3% year on year and about 1.6 million people travel for Golf Tourism every year.

During the Conclave, a Knowledge Report was also released by PHDCCI and Auctus Advisors titled ‘India: The Next World Golf Tourism Hub’ which highlights the scope and opportunities towards developing Golf Tourism in India.

A Panel Discussion on ‘Developing an integrated Golf Tourism strategy for India’ was also organized which was moderated by Rajan Sehgal, President, IGTA & Co–Chairman- Tourism Committee, PHDCCI.

The panelists included Vinod Zutshi; Isra Stapanaseth, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand – New Delhi Office; Bhim Singh, Chairman – Rajasthan Chapter, Indian Association of Tour Operators; Deepali Shah Gandhi, President, Golf Industry Association; Kunal Singh, Member, Rambagh Golf Club; Greesh Bindra, Vice President – Operations, The Suryaa New Delhi; and Ankit Garg, Principal, Auctus Advisors.

The subject was passionately discussed by the panelists, who sought for various interventions from the government like accessibility, so that this sector progresses by leaps and bounds. As Indian golfers ascend new heights, the popularity of the sport is bound to improve and appeal to larger section of the country.

PHD Golf Tournament was organized on December 13 at Rambagh Golf Club, Jaipur. The Tournament saw the participation of over 80 golfers from all over the country, besides some local golfers from Rajasthan.

Meenakshi Sharma, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, graced occasion as the Chief Guest and welcomed all the avid golfers from all across India. She said, “Golf Tourism has the potential to significantly increase the foreign exchange earnings from tourism. While a large share of this is captured by few countries like the USA and Japan, many other countries, especially developing ones are investing heavily on Golf Tourism. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India endeavors to work as a catalyst and active supporter for the development of Golf Tourism in the country.”

The Rambagh Golf Course proved a challenge even for most of the experienced golfers. The winners of the tournament were: Overall Winner – Col. S. K. Lakra, Runner Up – Shantanu Sangi, Lady Winner – Tien Chen Yih Jiun, Closest to Pin – Niraj Lakhi, Longest Drive – Haider Ali, Straightest Drive – Jeetu Bhatnagar, and Noyanika Arora for Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin among ladies.

All the Winners were given Hotel and Airline Vouchers from Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Tourism Authority of Thailand. The Golfers appreciated the efforts made by PHDCCI for organizing Golf Tourism Conclave & Tournament.

Thai Golf Pass Season 3 launched

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Dec 1: With much fanfare, Season 3 of Thai Golf Pass was launched here by Isra Stapanaseth, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office; Anil Dev, Managing Director, SLW; Shashank Chaudhary, Sales & Marketing Director, Callaway Golf India and Chitranjan Bakhshi, Business Head, Golf Holidays. The inaugural season of the initiative saw the Website Launch and promotional events at the Delhi Golf Club.

The Season 3 will see a number of roadshows, more events at the Delhi Golf Club and three events in Thailand. The Season 3 is expected to see increase in number of Loyalty Partners to 200 and increase membership’s base to cover 5000 Golfers.

To promote the Amazing Golf Experience, SLW, the leading Golf Management company had launched the first ever loyalty program for a country in 2017. "Thai Golf Passport was launched in India to offer Indian golfers a seamless golf experience in Thailand. Indian golfers can be a part of this Amazing reward programs whenever they tee off in Amazing Thailand’ said Anil Dev, Managing Director, SLW.

"More than 150 quality service providers like Thai Airways, Callaway and a number of Golf Courses, Resorts and hotels have come on board as partners," he added.

“I would like to congratulate all the partners of Thai Golf Pass, Anil Dev and his team for the success of this Project which is in the 3rd edition now. Amazing Thailand, Golf paradise with more than 250 International standard golf courses, professional caddies, warm hospitality, wellness, food and entertainment, we look forward to Indian golfers to be part of this loyalty program and experience services, offers for golfers,” said Isra Stapanaseth, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office.

“Golf has long been the game of corporate and business people who are also avid travellers. Thai Golf Passport creates a membership that shares common values and interests, and at the same time provides an engaging golfing and networking platform for all stake holders-members and sponsors alike. We are excited to partner with this innovative initiative which helps us reach our customers directly,” said Shashank Chaudhary, Sales & Marketing Director, Callaway Golf India.

Commenting on the initiative, Chitranjan Bakhshi, Business Head, Golf Holidays, said "Thailand is the most popular destination got golfers from India. The Thai Golf Pass, which is supported by TAT, is a brilliant scheme to reward the keen golfers to experience this destination!."

Thai Golf Pass also has Thai Airways as Airline partner and speaking on the occasion Sunil Kumar, Head of Sales said, "Thai Golf Pass is a great initiative and Thai Airways being the national carrier it was natural that we be a part of the initiative, we look forward to a successful season 3."

Jyoti Mayal elected TAAI President

By Deepak Arora

MUMBAI, Dec 1: Ms Jyoti Mayal was elected as the President of TAAI during the 68th Annual General Meeting held here at Hotel Sahar Star. Jay Bhatia was elected Vice President Bettaiah Lokesh as Secretary General and Shreeram Patel as Treasurer.

Over 650 active members of TAAI from across India participated in the annucal general meeting.

The AGM was successfully held with all business duly transacted and Reports of the Managing Committee as well as the Financial Statements of TAAI for FY 2018 - 2019, unanimously adopted, according to a statement.

The members of the Managing Committee of TAAI for 2019-2021, who were also elected, included Anoop Kanuga, Devesh Agarwal, Paras Lakhia, P Murugesan, R Venkatachalam, Rajan Sehgal and Sunil Notani.

Turkish Tourism Sector Faces Pressure Due to Higher Costs, New Taxes

ISTANBUL, Dec 3: Turkey's tourism industry, a key pillar of the economy, could struggle to reach visitor and revenue targets in coming years after two new taxes come into force and sharp increases in costs continue to pressure businesses, tourism companies say.

Costs, which the industry says surged 35% last year, as well as the new taxes that will be reflected in prices could cause Turkey to lose customers to other Mediterranean countries.

Tourism is a major source of income for Turkey. It suffered a downturn in 2016-2017 after a coup attempt and a dispute with Russia, but returned to some 40 million tourists last year.

The government launched a tourism strategy in September that includes a 150% hike in tourism advertising funds to $180 million in 2020. A large part of that will be paid by tourism companies to the newly founded Tourism Promotion and Development Agency. Hotels will pay 0.75% of their total revenues.

In addition to that, Turkey also passed tax regulations this year introducing an accommodation tax, to be set at 1% until end-2020 and later be increased to 2%.

Armada International Hoteliers Chairman Kasim Zoto said increases in food, alcohol, natural gas and electricity prices have already resulted in a 35-40 percent rise in total input costs and will result in higher prices for customers.

"Turkey is a price-sensitive destination. Every 1 euro increase in prices lessens chances of sales in Turkey's tourism sector," he said.

Data published by the Hotel Association of Turkey (TUROB) showed that the average daily rates in Istanbul are 91 Euros, rising to 98 Euros in the southern province of Antalya, while they are 142 Euros in Athens, 151 Euros in Milan and 150 euros in Barcelona - all of which are Turkey's competitors.

Turkey aims to reach 75 million tourists and $65 billion in revenues in 2023, but TUROB said it may miss its targets due to the new costs after just having recovered its competitiveness following the downturn in previous years.

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