Rural tourism boost for urbane Delhi

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Rural tourism boost for urbane Delhi

If all goes as planned, cosmopolitan citizens as well as tourists will be able to get a glimpse of ‘real India’ in the heart of Delhi.

The Delhi government plans to bring the Indian countryside to the Capital itself. To present the “real India” to foreign tourists, the government has selected 14 villages, each with a water body, across the Capital.

These spots will be redeveloped, restored and offered as a ‘rural tourism destination’ to the foreigners. The project, worth crores of rupees, has already received the necessary clearances.

Once the water bodies in these select villages are restored, the government would start developing basic infrastructure and creating a unique recreational environment with special focus on the visiting tourists.

The environment department officials say once these water bodies are restored, activities such as fishing and boating will be introduced. “At the same time, each village will have its own identity. The culture and infrastructural facilities will be developed accordingly,” an official said, adding that these features would boost the state’s economy and tourism infrastructure.

The prominent villages selected for the project include Goyla Khurd in south-west Delhi, Daulatpur in south Delhi, Hastsal village, Khera Dabur in south Delhi, Bamnoli village, Chhawla village, Dera Mandi village in south Delhi, Hiran Kudna village in west Delhi, Kamruddin Nagar, Doolsiras, Harshvihar and a lake in Madipur village.

Confirming the development, the environment department’s Delhi Parks and Gardens Society CEO Dr S.D. Singh said: “We are hopeful of cleaning and restoring water bodies. We will be using a new process to complete the work.”

“The real problem with these water bodies is that they have become dumping grounds for sewage or other pollutants. With poor oxygen content, these can’t support marine life,” Dr Singh said.

“We are hopeful of cleaning and restoring water bodies. We will be using a new process to complete the work.”

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) will restore the water bodies and institute scientist Dr Rakesh Kumar will implement the project using the phytorid technology.

This restores the oxygen content in the water, thereby creating conditions to reintroduce marine and aquatic life.

It only involves introduction of certain categories of antipollutant and oxygen-releasing plants to the water bodies.

“It is energy-efficient, requires low maintenance and is aesthetic,” Kumar told Mail Today. The technique positively impacts the nitrogen, phosphorous and other aspects affecting water quality.


Promoters infuse Rs 131cr in SpiceJet

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Updated: Wed, 08 Feb 2012 14:22:10 GMT | By Lalatendu Mishra, Mail Today

Marans infuse Rs 131cr in SpiceJet

Promoters of SpiceJet disagree with audiors that the financial health of the low-cost airline is in danger.

The SpiceJet stock in early trade on Tuesday plunged 2.44 per cent after its auditors reportedly raised concern over the low cost airline’s financial health.

According to reports, the accumulated loss of the airline to the tune of Rs.1,078 crore as on December 31, 2011, has eroded the company’s net worth and doubts had been raised on the carrier’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Soon after the SpiceJet stock plunged, its promoters said they had infused additional equity of Rs.131 crore and they also rubbished all concerns.

“With great respect, we wish to state that there is a misinterpretation of facts. The fact is that the net worth of SpiceJet Ltd as on December 31, 2011, was almost Rs.100 crore. It is worth to mention that an equity infusion of Rs.131 crore was done by the promoters in October 2011. The net worth of the company has actually improved,” Neil Mills, chief executive officer, SpiceJet told Mail Today.

“The networth of Spice-Jet has actually risen tenfold. SpiceJet net worth was just about Rs.9.13 crore at the end of September, 2011 quarter and it has grown to almost Rs.95.57 crore on the back equity infusion, which was done by promoters. So, it is not correct to say that the net worth has been eroded,” said SL Narayanan, Group CFO, Sun Group, the promoter of SpiceJet.

However, experts said that the promoters have to pump in more. According to estimates by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) SpiceJet is expected to post a full year loss of Rs.500-600 crore. “We expect significant pressure to finance these losses and the airline has to make possible provisions for next fiscal,” said Kapil Kaul, CEO South Asia, CAPA.


Hyped medical tourism lacks substance

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Updated: Mon, 06 Feb 2012 12:50:26 GMT | By Maneesh Pandey, Mail Today

Hyped medical tourism lacks substance

The absence of niche health products for medical tourists from targeted regions coupled with a lopsided pricing strategy almost makes it a flop show.
The hype over medical tourism in the country is not backed by substance.

In fact, the tourism ministry’s annual report points to gaps and glitches posing as roadblocks in making the sector a money-spinner for the travel industry.

For instance, the absence of niche health products for medical tourists from targeted regions coupled with a lopsided pricing strategy have made the “much hyped medical tourism a near flop show”, ministry officials said.

African and West Asian countries are potential clients. They could contribute 80 per cent of the total targeted medical tourists in the country. But they were not tapped to its full potential.

“The handicap begins at the first stage. The prospective medical tourists from Africa and West Asia are mostly non-English-speaking people. The nonmedical staff employed to target these groups are not able to communicate properly. Using interpreters is neither comfortable nor efficient. The tourists have complained about the competence of the medical and paramedical staff, which includes documentation, and most have been disappointed with the available boarding facilities,” the ministry’s annual report says.

 These tourists can change India’s prospects because most of them were not covered by the social security and health insurance that people in the US and the UK enjoy.

Major markets include Oman and UAE in West Asia and Nigeria, Tanzania, Mauritius, Kenya and Gambia in Africa.

Tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahai has been pressing for medical tourism to boost foreign arrivals.

Most tourists “are concerned on settlement of bills and lack of clear instructions and post procedure monitoring,” a ministry official said. The price consciousness is such that a lot of South Asians register in India as “domestic patients” because they come on tourist, not medical visas. The ministry suggests that the government must reassess the medical visa policy. A medical visa allows three entries per year and there should be a gap of two months in between two entries. A medical tourist, who travels for consultation with doctors, has to wait two months for treatment. “India is losing a big chunk of potential medical tourists to Thailand due to the cumbersome visa regulations,” the report says.


Major hike in air fares expected

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Get set for major hike in airfares

India’s state-owned airport developer Airport Authority of India (AAI) that operates 125 airports – with 86 operational airports – has filed a tariff proposal before AERA, demanding a hike in airport charges ranging between 100 and 400 per cent

New Delhi: India’s aviation sector is heading for a major hike in airfares as the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) is consulting with stakeholders of major airports for revising airport charges, such as navigation, parking and fees for various airport facilities used by airlines, that have not been reworked since 2001.

India’s state-owned airport developer Airport Authority of India (AAI) that operates 125 airports – with 86 operational airports – has filed a tariff proposal before AERA, demanding a hike in airport charges ranging between 100 and 400 per cent.

Earlier this week AERA recommended a 340 per cent hike in airport tariffs for the Delhi airport, which is operated by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) – a GMR-led consortium.

A top industry official said that AERA is recommending a three-fold hike in airport charges at the Delhi airport, which will set the trend for other major airports as well and push up airfares further.

“It is not only the greenfield projects (new airports) at Bangalore and Hyderabad and the Mumbai airport that will see multi-fold hike in tariffs, other major airports operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will also witness multifold increase in airport charges that have not been hiked since 2001,” said the official on conditions of anonymity.

Top civil aviation ministry officials said they have no jurisdiction over AERA’s recommendations or decision on airport tariffs.

AERA chairman, Yashwant S. Bhave told Mail Today on Friday that all airports have filed their tariff proposal with it.

“AERA will analyse the issues of the consultation paper, hold meetings with stakeholders and finally determine the tariff. If any operator is not happy he can go to the appellate authority of the AERA. Each airport has different aeronautical charges, capacity, investment and equity are different. Each airport will be taken one by one. It is a continuing process,” he said.

Under the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008, AERA determines the tariff for the aeronautical services, airport charges, ground handling services, passengers service fee and cargo at an airport, access development fee (ADF) and user development fee (UDF) at major airports.

Airport charges in India are among the lowest in the world and the charges constitute less than four per cent of an airline’s total operating cost, according to Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO), a global airport and aviation consultancy.

Airport charges in India currently constitute only about 3.25-3.5 per cent of total operating cost of airlines as compared to jet fuel, which constitutes 40 per cent of airline’s operating costs.

Foreign airlines have opposed the hike in airport charges at Delhi airport. British Airways, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa have said they would have to rethink their expansion plans, if the charges were increased. AirAsiaX, which recently discontinue few of its flights out of India and said the hike would impact its plans to make Delhi airport its aviation hub.