Category: Travel n Tour

The travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors have been eagerly awaiting the government’s decision on goods and services tax (GST) and how it will get implemented in the country. While finance minister Arun Jaitley has finalized the four-tier tax slabs, the industry players continue to look for more clarity on how positively or negatively GST will impact their respective businesses. When contacted, executives from travel and hotel companies said they could not comment as precise details were not available to decipher the impact of GST on their operations.
According to taxation experts, the impact of GST on the tourism and hospitality sectors will completely depend on the slabs under which the various services are being taxed.

Travel, hotel industries seek further clarity on tax rate, credits under GST 2

For example, said Divyesh Lapsiwala, tax partner – GST, EY India, the tourism sector is taxed at around 30% of the tour value (i.e., an effective rate of 4.5% service tax is levied). “It will be important to understand how such services will fit in the rate structure. The industry was also hoping that the government will bring in the TOMS mechanism, also called tour operator’s margin scheme, which is practiced in the developed markets,” he said. However, there appears to be no clarity on the TOMS mechanism getting introduced in India.

Secondly, agency services about air tickets – domestic and international – are taxed at 0.7% and 1.4%, respectively, on the base fare plus fuel surcharge. “It is not clear whether such presumptive rates will continue, and the impact of this on net tax cost to consumers,” said Lapsiwala. As far as the hospitality sector is concerned, the biggest concern for hotel companies is whether their outstation clients will get GST credit or not. “Currently, a firm in Mumbai can claim GST credit for holding an event in a hotel in Goa. Will that be possible in the GST regime is not clear,” said Lapsiwala.

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For the consumer goods and durables industry, there seems to be a view that goods may be bucketed into two rates categories, viz. 18% and 28%. “The segregation and classification of goods will be significant for this industry, and a detailed description of what will get taxed and by how much will decide the prices of those goods,” Lapsiwala added.
Quoting revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia reports suggested that service tax is likely to go up from 15% currently to 18%. “Its applicability on all the services will certainly make services expensive. In fact, services taxed at lower rates may also get impacted (like transportation) unless a framework similar to current service tax regulations is put in place,” said Lapsiwala.

While the details of the rates, categories, and schedule equivalent are awaited, the first reaction to the slabs is a thumb up for the consumer essentials and other products, said Anil Talreja, partner, Deloitte.”This segment is large and voluminous and captures the local consumer and hence should be given heavy weight. This will result in an overall improvement of the cost structure and possible impact on prices. There would certainly be more pressure on the manufacturers to pass the benefits on to retailers and the ultimate consumer. Consumer electronics and luxury segments are something that needs to be carefully seen,” said Talreja.

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New Delhi: There is no dearth of exotic tourist locations waiting to be explored, but some factors need to be kept in mind before embarking on a vacation.
Kapil Goswami, the founder of travel portal BigBreaks.com, suggests how to select a good travel package:

* Chalk out a travel plan and specify your preferences: While booking through a travel agency, many people tend to ignore the calendar themselves and rely on the agents. However, it is important to remember that it is your vacation. You need to have a fair idea of the must-do’s on a particular destination, even if an experienced travel agent plans it for you.

Travel tips: Seal tour packages smartly 4

A ready-made package to Kerala might contain visits of equal duration to the backwaters, beaches, and hill stations. However, you might be an out-an-out beach person desiring to spend maximum time at the beaches. Your preferences, therefore, have to be specified clearly to the planner. For this to happen, a rough travel itinerary must be chalked out in your mind, complete with locations of preference, budget as well as several days.

* Enroll yourself with multiple traveling sites: With plenty of players in the market, the customer is often spoiled for choice. However, it helps to conduct a fair comparison and research before sealing a deal. Therefore, it will help you to register with two to three travel agencies and sites from which you can receive a slew of deals, discounts, and offers in your mail.

* Popular is not always the best: While dealing with travel agencies or websites, we often believe that the most popular ones are the best planners and service providers. It might not always be true. Often, travelers find more lucrative and more customized solutions from lesser-known service providers who are more eager to build a good image and a loyal clientele for themselves.

* Book round trips: You must try and book your flights so that you depart and arrive at the same airport, as round trip fares are usually cheaper.

* Say no to extras: Travel packages often tend to lure by giving you options to select additional services to make your trip more pleasurable and memorable. These extra offerings may unnecessarily add to your budget. Offerings such as airport transfer, shopping assistance can be avoided if you want to save cash. Keep the deal to the basic minimum.

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* Plan your trip in time: Flight fares are significantly cheaper if booked more than a month in advance, and so are the hotel rates. Online travel companies and hotel chains now offer significant discounts and special offers for early bird bookings. Also, by booking late, you might miss out on the best beach view hotel in town and may have to settle for an ordinary one.

* Check the facilities: If you are on a business trip, make sure that all the facilities required for making your visit comfortable and successful are in place. You must ensure that the hotel offers WiFi, conference rooms suitable for your meetings, and fax and foreign exchange facilities.

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This May, Mumbai restaurateur Amin Abbagani, his wife, and two children took a cruise from Athens to Barcelona. During the seven-day journey, the wifi-enabled app on Abbagani’s mobile phone told him the right prayer times while a compass pointed him towards Mecca for daily prayers. When hunger pangs hit, the family gorged on the halal food supplied from the cruise ship’s kitchen. The Abbaganis were on a “halal holiday” arranged by their tour operator Al Khalid Tours and Travels in Mumbai. Until recently, the Muslim travel market in India was dominated by agencies specializing in pilgrimages like Haj and Umrah (mini-Haj). But now they’ve taken a cue from rich Middle-Eastern Muslim travelers

Holiday the halal way 6

NBand are opting for halal vacations.

Halal in Islam means that which is permissible. And it is not just about food. A halal holiday is an entire trip tailored to the needs of practicing Muslim clients who seek Sharia-compliant facilities. Our package includes halal food in restaurants, accommodation in hotels which provide a separate buffet without alcohol, tours to sites associated with Islamic history and strict following of prayers, preferably at famous mosques on the route,” explains Al Khalid Tours and Travels’ owner Yusuf Kherada. Last year, Kherada led a halal tour to Turkey, one of the most popular destinations in the fast-growing halal tourism circuit. In Europe, says Yusuf’s son Khalid, it is very difficult to find hotels which don’t serve alcohol or pork.

A tourist looking for a Sharia-compliant halal tour doesn’t touch alcohol and pork and avoids visits to beaches where scantily-clad tourists sunbathe. But aren’t holidays essentially getaways to pleasure spots? “Pleasure is very subjective term. For me, a holiday is an opportunity to connect with the force who created sea and surf, mountains and snow-capped peaks,” says a senior Muslim officer attached to Mumbai’s traffic police. The officer and his wife have visited a dozen destinations including Turkey, Uzbekistan, Egypt and Morocco since 2012. And he has a sly take on the trend: “Jeb mein haram ki kamai lekar kai log Dukan mein halal gosht dhoondhte hain (many people look for halal meat in the shop with ill-gotten money in their pockets).

Before he leaves for a halal holiday, the officer ensures he has in his bag a prayer mat, a copy of the Quran, tasveeh (rosary) and a list of Islamic sites in the countries on his itinerary. When he visited Bukhara, the ancient city on the Silk Route in Uzbekistan in 2013, he stopped to pray at the tomb of Imam Muhammad al-Bukhari, compiler of the most authentic collection of hadiths (sayings of the Prophet) in Sunni Islam. The ancestors of the current Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid came to India from Bukhara and adopted the surname “Bukhari”.

Some halal tourists from India looking for healthy, family-oriented experiences do have to shut their eyes when some young members of the team “stray”, admits V S Abdul Kareem, whose company Creative Tours has conducted several halal holidays to Morocco, Jordan, Spain, and Turkey. Kareem says the biggest hurdle on the path to halal tours is securing of visas. “There are many wealthy Muslims who want to travel with us but they don’t have their papers (income tax returns) in order, which are mandatory for securing visas for many European countries,” says Kareem. “Most religious Muslim men sport long beards and women wear scarves, which sets off unnecessary alarms in today’s Islamophobic world.

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Despite the “disadvantage” of having bearded men and scarf-wearing women on board, halal tourism is tapping into rich Muslims’ urge to travel. “By 2020, global halal tourism will be about 168 million visitors spending around $200 billion. This is estimated to be 11% of the travel market expenditure,” says Suhail Shaikh of Dubai-based travel company Sandala Journeys, which conducts halal tours.

To tap into the Indian market says Shaikh, he has an office in Mumbai and will soon open one in Srinagar. He advocates the promotion of halal tourism in India: “India needs to capitalize on halal tourism as part of its larger Incredible India campaign. Once that happens, the rich Sheiks of Arab countries who burn petro dollars on halal picnics in Spain and desert safaris in UAE may be lured to look for halal experiences, not just in Sufi-blessed Ajmer and Delhi but even in the famous serpentine streets of ancient Varanasi.

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Around 70 leading wholesalers, tour operators, and travel agents took part in the two roadshows conducted by Kerala Tourism in Melbourne and Sydney last week to tap deeper into Australia state’s sixth-biggest tourist market. The high-energy roadshows, held after a gap of two years in Australia, advertised the best of `God’s Own Country’ in these cities generating significant interests in new and established offerings in Kerala, tourism officials claimed. As many as 35,244 Australians holidayed in the state in 2015, and this year’s campaign was held ahead of the official start of the tourist season in November.

Australia market

Tourism director U V Jose led a delegation that included representatives of 12 trade partners, including Abad Hotels & Resorts, CGH Earth, Chalukya Grace Tours, Discover Kerala Holidays, Eastend Hotels & Resorts, Intersight Tours & Travels, Kumarakom Lake Resort, Marvel Tours, Pioneer Personalized Holidays and Spice Routes. Kerala is already a well-known brand in Australia. Upon seeing the surge in tourist arrivals from the lucrative emerging market, both the government and tourism stakeholders were keen to explore better and exploit the potential. We hope our strong showing at these roadshows will lead to more industry tie-ups and greater tourist footfalls to Kerala,” said tourism minister A C Moideen.

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With the festive season kickstarting, it’s autumn paving the way for the chilling winter – the perfect time to pack your bags and travel. It may be possible that after traveling during two consecutive long weekends this year, you are hardly left with enough money to splurge on exploring places. But, this doesn’t mean you should give up on traveling till the next appraisal. Manmeet Ahluwalia, Marketing Head of Expedia India, believes Indian travelers are turning more experimental, whether they are a couple, family travelers, FIT, or a group of backpackers. With this newfound desire to explore the world, the concept of travel intelligence is catching up with Indian travelers. Here are some tricks and tips he shares to travel within a budget and give that credit card a break.

Travel n Tour

Fix your budget

Set a budget while you plan your tour. Based on this, you can look at the kind of trip you want – a weekend getaway, long vacation, or backpacking trip. Now make a list of possible destinations and also the length of stay. Load your phone with apps Download travel apps on your smartphone. They update you in real-time on airfare sales no sooner than they have kicked off. Get app-exclusive deals that will be more attractive than web deals.

Travel after sunset

Travel at night, as it helps you to save on the hotel cost. Try taking an overnight train/flight journey. It is suggested to book the flights well in advance- 5 to 6 months for international and 2-3 months for domestic travels.

Choose business hotel

Business Hotels are more affordable on weekends, and leisure hotels are more cost-effective on weekdays. Use budget hotels for stop-overs.

Prefer homestays

If you are willing to explore the destinations and spend more time with the locals, you can also opt for a homestay.

Buy passes

Buy a visitor/tourist pass. Most countries have a 2 – 5 days visitor pass that helps you save money on public transports, F&B, attraction tickets, and city tours.

Use public transport

If you decide to use public transports, passes are more economical. It is valid for 3 – 10 days and includes trains, buses, trams, ferries, and other modes. It’s better than buying single tickets each time, and you end up saving both money and time.

Book hotels in advance

If you are booking months in advance, you can easily bag up to a 60% discount on hotel stays. Before booking a hotel, read the reviews, and you can understand its hospitality. Additionally, many cities offer discounts of up to 40% when buying tickets for 3 or more activities together.

Say yes to mailers

Subscribe to e-mailers, RSS feeds, etc., from your preferred travel website so that you are informed of deals and offers as soon as they are announced.

Never deal offline

Use online websites to negotiate a better deal due to the volume of sales and keep the transaction transparent. Buying flights, hotels, and activities together get you a higher discount.

Hotels near airport/ train station

Look for hotels closer to the airport or railway station to eliminate taxi expenses. Avoid renting a car where you have a good public transportation system.

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US government’s advisory to its citizens about possible terrorist attacks in India will not impact foreign tourist arrivals, say tour operators. The US is the number one source market for Indian tourism. In 2015, over 1.2 million US citizens visited India, accounting for 15 percent of India’s foreign tourist arrivals. We do not see much impact due to the advisory. Those who have booked months in advance will not cancel their trips, though there could be some deferrals. Overall, the impact of the advisory will not be more than one-two percent, Subhash Goyal, chairperson of Stic Travel, said.

Travel n Tour

Inbound tourism is expected to grow 10 percent this year, with strong growth from Asian markets, said Goyal. Arrivals from the US to are increasing, he added. According to Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox & Kings, “Tourism to India has been on an upswing, and such advisories do not change the perception of India being a safe destination. In the past 12 months, there have been terrorist attacks in Europe, but it has not deterred travelers from visiting the continent. Compared to them, India has been incident-free, and we expect the same momentum in tourist arrivals.’’ According to the tourism ministry, India is expected to record nine million foreign tourists in 2016, up over 12 percent of the eight million visitors.

The government’s e-visa initiative is said to have contributed to the growth.

On Tuesday, the US embassy in New Delhi issued a security message to American citizens in India Tuesday to be vigilant following reports that Islamic State may be planning to attack targets there. Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India,\,” the advisory said, warning of an increased threat to places frequented by Westerners such as religious sites, markets, and festival venues. ISIL is an acronym for the jihadist organization, which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria.

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PUNE: The district consumer court has ordered a travel company to refund Rs1.63 lakh with 9% p.a. interest since August 26, 2015, to an elderly couple for causing deficient service after the couple had to cancel a tour to China due to the wife’s illness in September 2014. The company failed to refund the tour money despite having assured a couple of refunds. The bench, comprising V P Utpat, O G Patil, and Kshitija Kulkarni, held in an ex-parte ruling on Tuesday that the tour money paid by the couple was a non-gratuitous payment. The travel company was under a legal obligation to compensate or return the money rather than enjoy the benefit of such payment.

Travel co told to refund 1.63 lakh to couple 11

In support of its observation, the bench cited provisions under the Indian Contract Act regarding the obligation of a person enjoying the benefit of a non-gratuitous act. By not adhering to it and offering a paltry sum as a refund to the couple, the travel company caused a deficiency in service, the bench ruled. It, however, held that the company was entitled to deduct 10% of the tour money towards financial loss suffered due to cancellation.

Apart from the refund, the bench directed the Travel India Club near Mhatre bridge to pay Rs2,500 compensation to the complainants M P Bendre, a veteran lawyer, and his wife, Jayashree. The 9% interest on the refund amount works out to over Rs17,000 and will grow till the company implements the directions within 45 days from the date of receipt of the order.

The Benders planned to join a group of the Rotary Club of Pune South members on tour to China and approached the travel company for booking and related arrangements. Between July and August 2014, the couple paid Rs1.74 lakh to the company and issued a cheque of Rs8,535 towards insurance. A few days before the tour, Jayashree Bendre took ill and was diagnosed with dengue. She had to be admitted to a hospital from September 9 to 15, 2014. The Bender informed the travel company about their inability to join the China tour, and the latter assured them of a refund.

In December 2014, when Jayashree approached the firm for the refund, the company representatives offered cheques of Rs20,720 towards booking refund and Rs7,035 against insurance money. The complainants insisted on a full refund as promised. Lawyer A R Pinnacle filed a consumer complaint on behalf of the couple on August 26, 2015, seeking Rs2.85 lakh inclusive of refund of a tour and insurance money, interest at 18% p.a., compensation, and litigation costs. The bench partly allowed the complaint by calculating the refund of tour money as Rs1.56 lakh, after 10% deduction, and Rs7,035 refund towards insurance money.

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Are you planning to visit a foreign county soon? If so, you must be really excited right now! Overseas trips are exhilarating but can also be overwhelming as you need to pack every single item you’ll need in a foreign land. You have to pack your favorite outfits, comfortable shoes, necessary medicines, and a number of other essential pieces of stuff. Of all these things, one of the most crucial items is a travel adapter.

Travel Adapter

Most of the travelers often forget or neglect the need for a travel adapter. But what if upon arriving at the hotel, you find out that there’s no way to plug in your chargers in the available outlet? Your amazing trip can take a nightmarish turn if you’re not able to charge your mobile phone, laptop, and camera. This happens because there are around twelve different types of power sockets that are commonly used around the world. As such, for vacationers travel adapters and converters are a necessity.

What is a Travel Adapter?

As mentioned above, the electrical outlets used around the world vary from country to country. So, to make sure that you’re able to charge your gadgets, you need an adapter that will simply allow you to plug your device into the configuration of that specific electrical outlet. However, figuring out the right type of plug adapter is something that can baffle even the most seasoned international travelers. To find the right one, first, you need to know the outlets used in the destination(s) that you’re visiting and the type of plugs your chargers have. Seems confusing? Read further to clear your doubts and buy the right travel adapter.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Travel Adapter

1. Choose the Right Size

When buying a travel adapter, you’ll find various different shapes and sizes. There are small and single-region adapters, as well as larger “universal” ones. Many travelers go for the universal versions because these can be used in almost every country. This sounds great but the size and weight of these adapters can cause some problems. The large universal adapters usually tend to fall out of the socket because of their weight. Also, these sometimes block the socket beside them. To prevent these issues, a smaller adapter is the best option. A single-region adapter is not only small and convenient to use but also comparatively cheaper.

2. Adapters Are Not Voltage Converters

Remember, adapters simply convert the layout of the pins so that your charger or appliance fits in the socket. These are not capable of changing the voltage coming out of the power socket. If you’re traveling from North or Central America to the Caribbean or any other countries, the voltage can be an issue. This happens because, outside America, the mains voltage gets double- around 220-240 volts. To prevent your devices from the voltage damage, make sure to check the range of voltages they can handle and carry a voltage converter.

3. Research Plugs Types

The designs of electrical outlets vary from country to country and even from region to region. If you have a MacBook or use power strips and other devices that come with the round earth pin, two-pin plugs are not the right choice. To avoid any issue, you need to research which type(s) of designs are used in that country so you can find adapters with matching the shape. Also, you need to consider the devices you’ll be bringing along on your trip. It’s better to go for a three-pin version to avoid potential hassles.

4. One Travel Adapter and a Power Strip

Whether you’re traveling with your family or going to carry multiple gadgets, you don’t need to buy individual adapters. To keep your expenses low, it’s best to carry a travel adapter along with a power strip. By doing this, you can simply plug all of your chargers into the power strip, the power strip into the travel adapter, and the adapter into the wall socket. But make sure to keep the voltage needs in mind.

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Do you want to spend an unforgettable vacation with your partner or a group of friends? Or travel feeling completely comfortable with your sexuality in places where no one will judge you?

Then this article is for you. Continue reading, and you will be able to learn about the different destinations aimed at the LGBTQI+ community:

1. Mexico City

Mexico City Could Sink Up to 65 Feet | WIRED

Since a few years ago, the country’s capital has become one of the favorite destinations for people from this community. Several neighborhoods and districts, such as Centro, Zona Rosa, Roma, Condesa, Coyoacán, and Polanco, have many nightclubs, restaurants, and stores for the LGBTQI+ community.

In Zona Rosa, you will find good restaurants, karaoke, nightclubs, bars, boutiques, sex shops, cafés, and lounges. It would be best if you took advantage of this area.

Among the best gay clubs in Mexico City, you will find Envy, for those looking for a nice place; La Purísima, a romantic place to go with your partner; Marrakech Salón, which is a nightclub combined with lounge, gallery, and a fun kitsch style; Peluquería La Elegante with Drag Queens shows; and Lollipop, with a quieter atmosphere.

2. Puerto Vallarta

Top 10 Things To Do in Downtown Puerto Vallarta - Traveler's Blog

Puerto Vallarta is a perfect destination for couples who want to enjoy its beaches, mountains, and beautiful boardwalk. It has the ideal places for this type of tourism. We recommend you to visit Pecos Paradise, the only natural gay park in the country and is made up of eight hectares of private beach and virgin jungle.

For entertainment, you can take a cruise or an organized gay excursion to Boana Horseback Riding, a ranch north of Puerto Vallarta. Again, we recommend using the services of Atlantis Gay Cruise.

Some favorite nightclubs are CC Slaughters PV, Antro Enter with electronic music, and Paco’s Ranch.

3. Mayan Riviera

How to Pretend You're in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, Today - The New York Times

This destination is perfect for traveling with friends or partners and enjoying turquoise waters, white sand, pre-Hispanic ruins, and nightlife.

You can find Delfines beach, one of the most popular gay destinations in the world. There are incredible resorts such as Oasis Sens and Secrets The Vine, both known for being gay-friendly. At night there are several bars and nightclubs, such as Karamba Bar, famous for its theme parties.

4. Guadalajara

Hotel Riu Plaza Guadalajara | RIU Hotels & Resorts

The second-largest city in Mexico, it is a perfect place for gay tourism, to the point of being considered the “San Francisco” of the country. You can stroll along Chapultepec Avenue, where numerous restaurants, bars, and nightclubs exist. A place not to be missed is La Décima Letra, a bookstore specializing in gay, bisexual, transgender, and erotic themes.

For lodging, you can visit Casa Alebrijes, a quaint and pleasant boutique hotel located in the gay area of the city.

5. Acapulco

Top Things to Do in Acapulco, Mexico

This destination offers natural attractions and excellent beaches. The gay beach is at the end of the Costera Miguel Aleman, between Beto’s restaurant and the Hotel Condesa.

Acapulco’s nightlife is one of the best in the country, and you will find numerous gay bars and discos. Among them are Cabaretito Beach and Demas Factory with shows; Pink, with electronic music; and Prince, a disco for men.

If you want to take this trip and enjoy any of these destinations, we recommend you find out what kind of travel document you need. For example, you may need a Mexico Tourist Card.

This travel document is required for most visitors to enter Mexico for tourist purposes. The Tourist Card is not officially a Mexican visa and does not replace it in any way.

Applying for your Mexico Tourist Card is simple, straightforward, and entirely online. For more information, you can write to iVisa experts to clarify your doubts.

Find out if your nationality also needs a visa to process that document simultaneously. Remember that some records take longer; applying for them in advance is crucial.

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