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NEWS| INtl| Worst Slump in Decades for Thai Tourism

The head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phornsiri Manoharn, estimates the eight-day closure of Bangkok’s $4 billion Suvarnabhumi airport by antigovernment protesters a month ago will have caused one million foreign visitors to cancel trips or go elsewhere.




“This is the hardest hit we’ve ever encountered in the 48 years we’ve been promoting tourism to Thailand,” she said. And that’s after the country suffered through the December 2004 tsunami, bird flu and SARS.

With arrival numbers for December likely to be 500,000 — a third of forecasts — the Tourism Authority’s goal of attracting 15.5 million tourists in 2008 and 16 million in 2009 is in tatters.





Far from the 70 percent occupancy they normally see in December, Bangkok’s top hotels are 25 percent full, forcing management to close floors, lay off contractors and ask employees to take unpaid leave.









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NEWS| Hotel industry opposes luxury tax in Punjab

Close on the heels of the Mumbai carnage and global slowdown, imposition of luxury tax in Punjab has evoked strong reactions from the hotel and restaurant owners with the Hotel and Restaurant Association saying the move would wipe off the hotel industry from the state.

Association general secretary Amarbir Singh told FE that the association had 1,492 members comprising hoteliers and restaurant owners who have opposed the imposition of tax threatening to shut operations if the government failed to announce its rollback.

Hoteliers say that occupancy had already declined to 25-30% in the last few years as the government was not encouraging tourism.





“There hardly are any visitors, religious or even for business purpose. The luxury tax will worsen the situation and we would have to discontinue operations if it is cleared.” Describing the present situation as 'worst' for the state hotel industry, he said tha0t it had become difficult for the hoteliers and restaurant owners to even pay the salaries of their employees. Singh claimed that in the past 1 month, 13 hotels have shut their operations in the state as they were unable to get expected business volume due to slowdown.

The state government has decided to charge 8 % luxury tax on hotels having room rate of Rs 200 and above and 10% from banquet halls. The state government has directed the hoteliers, banquet halls and marriage palace owners to get them registered to deposit first installment of the tax by the end of next month. The government expects to earn Rs 20 crore a year through this step.

The state government has notified that it will now charge 10% luxury tax, 12.36 % service tax and 12.50 % value added tax (VAT) from banquet hall owners. Hoteliers feel this will be a burden on hotels as well, as most of them have banquet halls in hotels. They feel luxury tax should be applicable to three-star to five-star hotels and not to small-budget hotels.







Luxury tax is charged on hotels having a roof tariff of over Rs 2,000 in Haryana and Chandigarh. However, luxury tax has been levied on hotels charging a meager Rs 200 in Punjab, the state hoteliers added.

“The occupancy rate has come down from 90% to 40% in wake of the Mumbai carnage. At this time, the industry is trying to woo tourists by offering special discounts and imposition of luxury tax at this...

source| financial express





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Hospitality sector: Present tense, future uncertain

For hospitality sector, which began the year with uncorking of champagne, is closing 2008 on a dry note, jolted not only by the global economic downturn but also to a great extent by the Mumbai terror attacks.

Looking back, the year had a perfect start with the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram announcing special five-year tax holidays for setting up of two, three and four-star hotels in his Budget speech.

What followed was investments worth Rs 34,000 crore by as many as 25 companies — existing hospitality groups and new real estate player entrants — through the course of the year, not only for lower segment hotels but also for five-stars and luxury hotels.

The happy state of affairs for the sector in the start of the year was also reflected by the increase in the number of foreign tourist arrivals in India. According to the Ministry of Tourism, January saw a rise of 10.4 per cent, February 11.9 per cent and March 14.6 per cent in foreign arrivals.

The party was, however, short-lived as the global financial crisis cast its long shadow over the industry thereafter. In April itself, the arrivals came down to 9.6 per cent and got worse with each passing month to an all-year low of 1.8 per cent in October, though slightly improving to 2.1 per cent in November.




Adding to the problems was the 60-hour siege of Mumbai by terrorists, in which three of the city’s top hotels – Taj Mahal Palace & Towers, The Oberoi and The Trident – turned into battlefields.

Even travel advisories by various countries, including Canada, Australia, Israel and the US, after the attacks did little to help the sector that was already shaken. However, on December 21, in a typical resilient Indian style, the Trident and the Tower wing of the Taj re-opened.

While it will take a while for inbound tourists volumes to swell after the attacks, thankfully foreign tourist arrivals during the January November 2008 stood at 4.84 million as compared to 4.48 million during the corresponding period of 2007.

In terms of foreign exchange earnings, 2008 also fared better as compared to last year. The January-November period saw a total of Rs 45,647 crore this year as against Rs 39,281 crore in the same period in 2007, up 16.2 per cent.

Despite the setbacks, India managed to attract global firms to invest in its hospitality sector. French hotel group, Accor signed a joint venture pact with InterGlobe Enterprises to set up a series of economy hotels.

UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group also announced plans to open 20 hotels in India with over 5,000 rooms under its different brands, including the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, to complement its existing portfolio of 13 hotels.

Also, US hospitality major Hilton entered into an agreement with India’s largest real estate developer DLF Ltd for managing seven new hotels. Besides, Sri Lanka’s leading conglomerate Aitken Spence acquired four Indian hotels and four resorts with 1,400 rooms in Delhi, Madurai, Trivandrum, Cochin and the Andaman Islands.

Homegrown real estate developers also saw the opportunity and announced plans to enter the sector. Parsvnath Developers tied up with ITC Welcomgroup for developing 50 hotels over a three to five year period with an investment of Rs 2,500 crore across the country. Unitech also said it would invest Rs 2,500 crore for setting up 35 hotels.

Emaar MGF has announced a Rs 15,000-crore spend for developing hotels in value, mid-market and luxury segments with a total of 26,000 rooms by the end of 2010, besides signing an agreement with the Marriott Group for developing properties in Kolkata and Amritsar.

In their bid to outdo the industry rivals, existing hospitality players announced plans for as many as 250 new properties in various segments with investments to the tune of of Rs 11,000 crore.

These include The Leela Group (Rs 2,000 crore for six hotels), Bird Group (Rs 1,600 crore for 10 hotels), Landmark (Rs 700 crore for three hotels), The Oberoi Group (10 hotels, investments not disclosed), Lemon Tree (Rs 2,150 crore for 18 hotels), Royal orchid (Rs 500 crore for 10 hotels), Ginger Hotels (Rs 100 for 70 properties) and Uppal Group (Rs 500 crore for seven hotels).




Even the government was not far behind saying it would invest Rs 500 crore in developing 20 tourist destinations across the country over the two-three years, apart from initiating steps to improve security arrangements.

The question that remains to be answered is at a time when travelers have tightened their purse string due to the economic slowdown and security concerns, how would the Indian hospitality sector fare in the year to come? Well, that only time will be able to tell.

Source : http://profit.ndtv.com/2008/12/25143039/Hospitality-sector-Present-te.html







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NEWS| Chandigarh Administration asks hoteliers to install CCTV cameras

The Chandigarh Administration, in its endeavour to make the city secure and safe for tourists and visitors, recently convened a meeting for Security Requirements at hotels (both public and private sector) in the city. The meeting was chaired by Ram Niwas, Home Secretary-cum-Secretary Tourism, Chandigarh.







Major decisions in the meeting included CCTV cameras to be installed at the entry, exit, reception, underground parking and front parking; record of at least one month of CCTV camera footage to be maintained; identity proof must be produced by every customer during check in and proper checking and luggage examination must be done by hand held metal detectors.

It was decided that if any individual brings weapons along, the license number will be noted by staff. A decision was also taken to use telephone equipment with Caller ID to avoid hoax calls and to trace the phone from which the call was made.

In the meeting, Niwas decided to initiate random checks in hotels from January 20, 2009. Till then, all suggestions and decisions taken up during the meeting must be incorporated by all hotels.





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NEWS| Intl| Qatar And UAE Top Performers

Qatar and the UAE remain the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions best-performing destinations for hotels.




Year-to-date hotel results released by MKG Hospitalitys database CompSet, indicate Qatar has been the regions best-performing country in terms of revenue per available room (RevPAR), with just over $213. This has been driven by a healthy average daily rate (ADR) of over $306 and a relatively high occupancy rate (OR) of 69.5%.

The UAE on the other hand seems to have sacrificed ADR (now at $260) in order to achieve an OR of almost 81% and attain a RevPAR of just over $210.




Kuwait and Bahrain came in third and fourth, both with a RevPAR close to $164. Where Kuwait recorded a high ADR ($282) and low OR (58.3%), Bahrain achieved a higher OR (73.6%) and an ADR of $164. Other notable performers were Oman and Algeria, with RevPARs of $158 and $148, respectively.
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NEWS| Taj Hotels to welcome New Year in grand style

The three Taj hotels in Hyderabad are all set to usher in the New Year 2009 in grand style.Some of the most sought after DJs, musicians and dancers will perform at the New Year gala. The Exterior and facades of all hotels will be lit up to welcome the year 2009.





Taj Krishna



v New Year’s Eve Celebration @ The Grand Ballroom & Lawns: Taj Krishna bids adieu to 2008 and welcomes the New Year with Internationally famous music band Sydney Sensation, Indian Divas, MC Shefali Talwar(former Miss New Delhi). A lavish New Year’s Buffet with international cuisines will be served.




v New Year’s Eve @ Ahala: DJ Mark Vedo brings in the New Year 2009 along with in-house DJ Jay with finger licking delicious elaborate buffet spread served at The Golden Room.



v Special New Year’s Eve buffet @ Encounters: An elaborate dinner buffet with flavours of the world and entertainment
by a Sri Lankan Calypso band, which will be performing hits from 80’s to current chart busters.




v Special New Year’s Eve Snack Buffet @ Seasons Bar & Lounge: Special New Year Hi Tea from 4:00 pm to 4:00 am (Tea Lounge) and guests can sway to live music Australian Idol finalist Kate Ellen Thomson. An exclusive menu offering you the best selection of Scotch, Single Malts, Spirits & Wines to tease your senses.



v New Year’s Eve @ Golden Dragon: Decorated with Chinese lantern and canopy huts on the lawns Golden Dragon will usher in the New Year with a performance by Vietnamese trio band “Camellia”, who will entertain the guests with their traditional Vietnamese music. Chinese Master Chef Tony will create an extravagant festive menu for the New Year’s Eve.



v New Year’s Eve @ Firdaus: An exquisite range of barbecues and grills from across the world will be offered along with a performance by a Ghazal singer to entertain you through the night.



Taj Banjara



v Welcome 2009 - New Year’s Eve Celebrations @ The Lawns: Take off to 2009 with singing sensation Sukhdev, International music band and swinging dancers. Our in-house DJ Lucky will keep the mood high for the New Year with his mix of bhangra & Bollywood beats. A gala dinner comprising of delicacies from across the world will be served at The Lawns.



v New Year’s Eve celebration @ Under Deck & Kebab E Bahar: A gala dinner with dishes from across India at Kebab-E-Bahar and dance into the New Year as high spirits and hot flavors combine to set your pulse racing and feet tapping beats with DJ Lucky at Underdeck.



v New Year’s Eve celebration @ Strings: Wine and dine at Strings to ring in the New Year. A choice of a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu with cuisines from Malaysia, Thailand, Chinese and Vietnamese will be on offer.



v Pink Champagne Breakfast @ Kebab-e- Bahar: Start the New Year 2009 in style with Champagne Breakfast and spread of exotic authentic Indian cuisines on January 01, 2008.



Taj Deccan



v HAIL 2009 - New Year’s Eve Celebration @ The Lawns: New Year’s Eve Celebration at The Lawns with 100-meter buffet spread featuring Global & local cuisines, Kids Zone, Food Court with Live counters with Delhi Chaat. DJ Mark with Australian band & Bollywood performers with unlimited cocktails and drinks. Live Country music
duo band will perform exclusively at the 24-hour coffee shop - Arena.



v New Year Champagne Brunch @ Arena: Enjoy the first brunch of the New Year with Moet & Chandon and an array of International Steaks and Grills from the live counters.



Sourced From: Vaishnavi Corporate Communications Pvt Ltd
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