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BJP likely to spend Rs 245 Crore to develop Ramayana Circuit in Ayodhya

The development of the Ramayana circuit will take place under Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme

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Ram Paidi in Ayodhya. Image Source: Wikipedia.org
  • The development is expected to add fuel to the controversy surrounding the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute
  • The development of Ramayana circuit will take place under Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme
  • The circuit would incorporate high-end audio-visual facility depicting the life of Lord Ram on water-screen video projection

In a bid to boost spiritual tourism, the Modi government is all set to spend about 245 crores to build a Ramayana circuit in and around Ayodhya.

The move that has become a political talking point has come in the wake of the elections in Uttar Pradesh,scheduled for next year, in 2017.

Along with Ayodhya, the tourism ministry has identified Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot in the state where it will develop facilities highlighting the life of Lord Ram (manifestation of Lord Vishnu), displaying various religious proofs of events from his era.

The establishment is expected to add fuel to the controversy surrounding the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute, an issue that has been dragged on in courts for decades now, but continues to stir controversy till date.

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Right-winged political parties and intransigent Hindu groups have long been demanding for a temple to be built at the site where activists demolished the 16th-century mosque in 1992.

Bharati Kashyap Sharma, the ministry of tourism’s assistant director general told Mail Today, “We have already identified these four cities with a primary focus on the ancient city of Ayodhya.”

She added, “The MoT will develop massive tourism infrastructure facilities around these religious destinations. We have also finalised the tentative cost for the project.”

India today quoting a source revealed that the detailed project report (DPR) was prepared in the last week of June and was also approved in-principle in Uttar Pradesh.

The development of the Ramayana circuit will take place under Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme. This scheme envisions the construction of theme based tourist circuits in the country.

Minister of Culture. Mahesh Sharma. Image Source: Indiatoday.in
Minister of Culture. Mahesh Sharma. Image Source: Indiatoday.in

The first meeting of the national panel on the circuit was led by tourism and culture minister Mahesh Sharma on June 14. The meeting also had tourism secretary Vinod Zutshi as well as related experts and other senior officials from the ministry in attendance.

According to a copy of the DPR, the Ramayana circuit will have 11 destinations spread across six states.

Apparently, areas such as Sitamarhi, Buxar and Darbhanga in Bihar, Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, Hampi in Karnataka and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu are also expected to be added later.

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The circuit would incorporate high-end audio-visual facility depicting the life of Lord Ram on water-screen video projection. There would also be state-of-art outdoor seating arrangements or open-air theatre for the visitors. The latest technology will be used to create life-like images in order to make the circuit all the more appealing.

The Lord Ram gallery theme will depict his life primarily with 10 different episodes – Valmiki and Tulsi Ramayan, Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkindha Kanda, Sundara Kanda, Lanka Kanda, Uttara Kanda, Lav-Kush Kanda and Ram Darbar.

Similarly, the entire Aranya Kanda (jungle where Ram, Laxman and Sita lived during exile) will depict the lives of three gods while displaying Sita’s rasoi (kitchen) apart from an AV creation of the golden deer being hunted by Lord Ram.

“The final attraction will be in the corridors where a mechanical ‘Pushpak Viman’ (flying vehicle in which Ravana kidnapped Sita) and Ravana will be shown fighting Jatayu. This will be depicted via wall-to-wall screens in the final section of the corridor,” quoted India Today from the project report.

-This report is modified by Bulbul, a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Centre to Provide Rs 2,500 Crore EPF Support for Workers: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced Rs 2,500 crore EPF support for businesses, workers

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 2,500 crore EPF support for workers. Wikimedia Commons

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday that the Centre will provide Rs 2,500 crore EPF support for businesses, workers for three more months.

The scheme was provided earlier for the salary months of March, April and May. Consequently, this support will be extended by another three months for the salary months of June, July and August.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP), the Finance Minister said that payment of 12 per cent of employer and 12 per cent of employee contributions was made into the EPF accounts of the eligible establishments.

The scheme will provide liquidity relief of Rs 2,500 crore to 3.67 lakh establishments, benefitting 72.22 lakh employees.

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Finance Minister said that payment of 12 per cent of employer and 12 per cent of employee contributions was made into the EPF accounts of the eligible establishments. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando). Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, the minister announced that statutory PF contribution of both employer and employee has been reduced to 10 per cent from the existing 12 per cent across all establishments covered by the EPFO for the next three months.

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CPSEs and state PSUs will, however, continue to contribute 12 per cent as employer contribution.

The scheme for lower EPF contribution will be applicable to workers who are not eligible for 24 per cent EPF support under the PM Garib Kalyan Package and its extension.

This scheme is estimated to provide relief to about 6.5 lakh establishments covered under the EPFO and benefit about 4.3 crore such employees. It will provide liquidity of Rs 6,750 crore to employers and employees over three months. (IANS)

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Experience Calm Sunsets of LA and Maldives Virtually

LA, Maldives livestream twilight calm

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Now you can enjoy the sun sink in Maldives from the comfort of your couch. Pixabay

By Siddhi Jain

The Coronavirus pandemic has put all our travel plans in a tail spin, and cancelled well researched vacations to places like Maldives.

To help with the anxiety, destinations are offering 3D virtual tours, high-quality immersive photographs and livestreaming local experiences, many people are touring from the comfort of their couch.

It is not just educational and cultural tours that virtual travellers can indulge in, but also moments of calm and quiet introspection. A new initiative by The Residence Maldives has begun to showcase inspiring visuals depicting the splendour of travel or bringing back memories from the Maldives. People ending their day in any part of the world can tune in to the Instagram LIVE of a sunset lanscape from the island nation’s resorts at Falhumaafushi and Dhigurah.

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Los Angeles Tourism is livestreaming the sunset from Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach. Pixabay

Whether it is to reminisce about the views, listen to the soothing sounds of the Indian Ocean waves, the setting sun can bring you to renewed hope that the next day may bring.

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In another part of the world, you can watch the sun sink into the glittering Pacific Ocean. Daily, Los Angeles Tourism is livestreaming the sunset from Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, beginning in the evenings.

“Collectively, we are on our couches, at our kitchen tables, peering out our windows and dreaming for the day we are on the other side of this pandemic. Whether a form of escapism or driving inspiration for a future trip, wanderlust is at an all-time high, and we want to bring a taste of Los Angeles to these dreamers,” concluded Don Skeoch, chief marketing officer for Los Angeles Tourism. (IANS)

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COVID-19: How Will The Hospitality Industry Revive?

What will it take for a revival of the hospitality industry

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Tourism Industry is highly affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pixabay

By Puja Gupta

Many experts and foreign agencies worldwide are taking the stand that the COVID-19 pandemic is the most challenging crisis the world has faced since the second world war.

This has caused an unpredictable market crisis that any of the sectors has ever witnessed. Undoubtedly, the hardest hit industry is aviation, hospitality and tourism which are interdependent on each other. Hoteliers anticipate the following months might be tough for the hospitality industry with no definite vision of a recovery.

Roop Pratap Choudhary, Managing Director of Noor Mahal in Karnal, said: “As an independent hotel brand, we were the first ones to experience the extreme conditions. We are now carefully assessing the challenges and focusing on the recovery roadmap.”

“The prognosis for revival does not look especially promising as of now-considering we have no knowledge of when the restrictions on travel will be lifted. The impending worldwide economic recession is a very real threat, since it’s unlikely that people will have the disposable income to travel even after the crisis, besides this the fear of infection will persist,” said Vivasvat Pal from Bhanwar Vilas Palace in Rajasthan.

The ongoing lockdown in the country and pause in all domestic and international travel has impacted all segments — domestic, inbound and outbound; and all verticals – leisure, MICE, heritage, adventure and niche. The crisis has put the tourism business activity of the country, which is estimated at over $28 billion and related activities, to an unimaginable halt.

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All international and domestic flights have been called off by various nations worldwide. Pixabay

As per Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), around 70 per cent out of a total estimated workforce of 5.5 crore (direct and indirect) could get unemployed (around 3.8 crore).

If the next full-fledged season revives by October of 2020, Sobha Mohan, founder of Rare India feels:

“In terms of financial value, if the next full fledged season revives by Oct of 2020, we could be looking at losses on the current books for the inbound to be close to 20-25 per cent. The domestic and the outbound, the summers which are their key months are completely wiped out so the loses can be upwards of 40 per cent. Since the impact to the traveller is yet to be gauged and how they will behave post the lockdown is not an easy answer. There will be real fear for health and hygiene, confidence levels are very low and we may see this last till over January.”

A global future travel survey conducted in April 2020 by Preferred Hotels & Resorts suggests a more optimistic outlook. The survey reveals people want to travel with around half of the people ( more than 50 percent) across countries worldwide say they’ll book a trip in 2020 itself, and do so as soon as travel restrictions are lifted or eased.

The survey was conducted amongst 3,695 of its members participating from United States 56 percent; Europe 14 per cent; Canada 11 per cent; Asia Pacific 9 per cent; all other regions 10 per cent.

It revealed that 75 percent of respondents plan to travel with family, having spent so much time apart; they are ready to reunite with loved ones. It added that more than 50 per cent people intend to travel regionally or domestically while 40 per cent still want to travel to another continent. Surprisingly contrary to what perception is, over 80 percent of the participants were ready to travel by air.

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A survey was conducted that revealed that 75 percent of respondents plan to travel with family. Pixabay

“We are hopeful that from June onwards domestic tourism will start witnessing some recovery signs. India has so far created a case study in managing the effects of pandemic by implementing the lockdown. This has developed a lot of confidence in the domestic capabilities hence attracting travel enthusiasts to explore more local experiences. This confidence in capabilities is bound to have a positive impact by way of increased trust in domestic travel-tourism players,” Choudhary added.

Akshita M Bhanj Deo, who is the Director of The Belgadia Palace, feels that post the lockdown, domestic travel will be the future for the hospitality industry. “Given how the pandemic has created both physical and economic duress, the first thought on travelers’ minds will be proximity and low-cost safe travel,” she said.

With the rising needs of essential goods and services among people, the purchasing behaviour of consumers is changing constantly to a major extent. It now becomes even more important for the hospitality industry to bring new fertile models with more opportunities for the development of the business.

“With rising needs of essential/necessary goods and services among people, the purchasing behaviors of consumers are changing constantly to a major extent. It now becomes even more important for our hospitality industry to bring new fertile models with more opportunities for the development of our business. Due to the outbreak, our economy is constantly fluctuating, but we can still make better use of this lockdown by investing our times in defining new concepts of delivering our services, we can take new initiatives which can shape into potent strategies which can help in policy making. Staying safe at home, and building on our positivity and sail each of our ships to the shores of constructive market,” suggested Hari Sukumar, VP-Operations, Jaypee Palace Hotel, Agra.

For the sector to bounce back once the operations resume, the industry has come up with new policies and concept and reboot its services, giving priority to health and hygiene.

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“Most travelers are already interested in browsing the internet for quick getaway trips with experienced hosts who can guarantee the safety and have stringent health checks.”, said Deo. Pixabay

Deo was qouted saying:

“Most travelers are already interested in browsing the internet for quick getaway trips with experienced hosts who can guarantee the safety and have stringent health checks. Technologically adept places with medical facilities nearby will be a must. Security and screening will become the norm with wellness at the core of all functions. A doctor on call will be as important as offering wellness programs, yoga, spa, forest bathing etc. Health and hygiene will be a major fact with guests taking extra precautions in making sure that their rooms and all common areas are not just cleaned but also regularly sanitized with external parties. What we need to understand is that the old world order no longer exists and mindful, conscious living with an affordable cost that is curated and tailor-made is the new norm. Social media will become the new go-to tour agent and people more than ever will be drawn in by authentic storytelling and experiences,”

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Sukumar adds, “Whilst this focus will continue, the implications for economic growth and corporate profits have to lead to a sharp reimburse in worth markets across the globe. The operators and investors are trying to alleviate the cash and capital to stay in close contact with their stakeholders. Where the primary focus of the policy makers is the safety of their people, the secondary one is to balance the economic parameters to ensure smooth running market. It is the need of hour to stimulate new decisions which can take forward our hospitality enterprises without making it stagnant.

Vivasvat Pal believes that the government needs to sep in and recognise the role of hospitality in the growth of the country adding, “It is time that the government realizes the contribution of the hotel industry, particularly heritage hotels, not only to the GDP, but also to employment and to the preservation of ancient buildings and cultural traditions. It is imperative to heavily reduce taxation on the hospitality industry and reduce the costs of bar licenses, visa fees and other associated costs if there is to be any hope of recovery within the next five years.” (IANS)