Tourism Breaking News

Govt liberalises e-visa regime with increase in duration of e-tourist and e-business visa

The government has recently made a series of amendments in the e-visa regime to make it more tourist-friendly. The duration of stay in India of e-tourist and e-business visas is maximum up to one year with multiple entry subject to the stay stipulations. Also, the existing restriction of allowing foreigners for a maximum of three times has also been removed. On e-tourist visa, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan. In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days. In all cases, no registration will be required. On the Changes in e-business visa, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa. No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days. The e-visa is valid for entry through two more designated airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair), raising the total number of such airports to 28.

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Red Apple Travel ceases operational services in Pakistan

Red Apple Travel has shut down its operational services in the Pakistan markets with immediate effect in view of the recent Pulwama terror attack. The company condemns the heinous attack of the Indian CRPF bravehearts in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir. Red Apple Travel is a B2B travel DMC offering customised holidays that is driven by pioneering technology, designing contextual products and a dedicated team.

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Average room rates of two-star hotels increase by 8.5 per cent y-o-y during FY18

Despite registering a decline in occupancy rates, two-star hotels witnessed maximum growth in average room rates (ARR) and increased by about 8.5 per cent y-o-y during FY18, according to a report by Hotelivate. This was followed by three-star hotels that registered a growth of about 5% y-o-y in FY18. 4 star and 5 star D hotels recorded a growth of 3 per cent y-o-y each in average room rates. Five-star hotels, however, registered the lowest growth about 1.8 per cent y-o-y in the group during the year. This may be attributed to the gradual escalation of commercial activity in Tier II and Tier III cities as well as increased domestic travel.

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Europe-India airline seat numbers grew by 12.9 per cent in 2018

India is only the ninth largest country market outside Europe for international airline seats from Europe in 2018, reports a study by CAPA – Centre for Aviation. However, if North Africa and the Middle East are excluded, India is Europe’s number four long haul market, behind only the US, China and Canada. Among these leading long haul markets, Europe-India seat numbers grew fastest in 2018 versus 2017, with an increase of 12.9 per cent compared with 6.7% for the US, 10.9% for China and 7.3% for Canada. The annual seat capacity from Europe to India has enjoyed strong growth in each of the past two years, increasing by 9.4% in 2017 and 12.9% in 2018. The total number of seats (one way) in this market reached 5.0 million in 2018 (compared with 45 million for Europe-US) – a 30% increase from the low point of 3.8 million in 2013.

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Majority of aircraft orders slated for delivery to IndiGo

Out of the 1123 aircraft that are currently on order for India, a bulk of them are slated for delivery to IndiGo, according to a recent ‘Project Rupee Raftaar’ report by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The numbers are evidence of the optimism and positive outlook for the sector, providing some insights as to the near-term evolution of the market. There are range of new and alternative investment and alliance or partnership structures emerging globally which add a new dimension to the industry, as airlines try to and new and innovative ways to expand their networks and their product offering. In some global markets, the changing industry structure is one of consolidation rather than expansion.

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AAI invites bids for operation of services under UDAN 3.1

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) have issued a notice inviting bids to operate as many as 30 routes under Round 3.1 of the UDAN regional connectivity scheme. AAI and MoCA decided to consider an additional bidding round under UDAN 3.0 to include priority/cancelled/crucial routes which have not been covered under UDAN Scheme so far. Routes available under round 3.1 includes routes connecting unserved, underserved airports and unserved routes connecting served airports. Bids have been invited for routes such as Guwahati-Tezpur, Guwahati-Passighat, Port Blair-Hutbay/Havelock/Neil Island, Raipur-Bilaspur, Patna-Hazaribagh, Hazaribagh-Kolkata, Hissar-Chandigarh, Hissar-Jammu, Kargil-Leh/Jammu, Srinagar-Thoise and Rewa-Jhansi/Bhopal among many other routes. For the first time, the centre has also bid out routes for Lakshadweep islands including Agatti-Mincoy and Agatti-Kavaratti. According to the notice, airlines opting to bid for these new routes shall not receive any “exclusivity of operation” right as is given to airlines under previous UDAN routes coupled with any additional concession apart from funds through viable gap funding. The government has invited bids till February 22, 2019 after which it shall award the routes to airlines on February 27, 2019. It has set a deadline of six months for the airlines to commence operations on such routes from the date of award to the airline. Centre, on January 25, released 235 routes that were awarded under third phase of the scheme. Certain routes, however, were yet to be finalised in consultation with state governments and were withheld by the ministry  

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VFS Global witnesses 22 per cent increase in visa applications from India

VFS Global has witnessed a 22 per cent increase in visa applications from India over a two-year period and processed 5.28 million applications. This was an overall increase of 13 per cent in visa applications observed since 2017 with Tier II cities recording significant increases in 2018. Globally, it saw a 16 per cent increase in the number of visa applications processed in all countries of operation around the world. South Asia emerged as the top source market for foreign travel, with most number of visa applications recorded for this region. Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group Chief Operating Officer – Middle East, South Asia, and China, VFS Global, says, “With the year-on-year increase in visa applications from India, it is evident that foreign travel is no longer the domain of a privileged few. A large part of this growth comes from the smaller cities – more Indians from these cities are travelling abroad than ever before, and are keen to explore even off-beat destinations. There is a greater comfort with visa application process as well today – the anxiety that people used to associate with the process has been significantly eased with options like personalised assistance, doorstep services and document upload assistance being offered at every step.” Visa application counts in the major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru grew consistently. Significant growth in visa application counts were witnessed in some other metros, such as Ahmedabad (32% growth in 2018) and Pune (20% growth in 2018). Steep year-on-year growth in count was recorded in Tier II cities, such as Jalandhar (66%), Chandigarh (54%), Pondicherry (43%), and Goa (45%).    

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Over 300 delegates from 28 countries attend PATA adventure travel in Rishikesh

  Around 300 delegates from 28 countries attended PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart 2019 (PATA ATRTCM) in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. The event, organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and hosted by Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, brought together international experts at the forefront of the adventure travel industry from both the private and public sectors to discuss issues and opportunities in travel and tourism. Delegates heard from a diverse line-up of speakers at the one-day conference on the theme ‘Rejuvenate Your Soul Through Travel’. The thought leaders, innovators and pioneers, who are shaping the emerging landscape of the adventure travel and responsible tourism industry, examined various conference topics that covered ‘Rejuvenating Your Soul Through Travel’, ‘Storytelling to Sell Travel on Instagram’, ‘Using Sustainability to Future-Proof Our Destination’, ‘Trends to India’, ‘Creating Experiences that are Regenerative’, ‘Marketing to the New Adventure Travellers’, ‘Tourism as a Tool for Rejuvenation’, ‘A Special Story of Indian Rejuvenation’ and ‘Sustaining our Souls: Vision-Driven Leadership in Adventure Tourism’. The conference was opened by Dilip Jawalkar, IAS, Secretary Tourism, Religious Affairs and Culture Department, Government of Uttarakhand; Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism; Yogendra Tripathi, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, and Satpal Maharaj, Minister of Tourism, Uttarakhand. Dr Mario Hardy, CEO, PATA noted, “The event aims to be a catalyst for generating new ideas and improving collaboration between public and private sector organisations. By bringing together such a dynamic and diverse group of speakers, we hoped to highlight the need to discuss, analyse and share various ideas with both the public and private sector in planning, building and promoting a responsible travel and tourism industry.” The B2B mart welcomed 47 seller organisations from 10 destinations and 44 buyer organisations …

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‘eVisa On Arrival’ service goes live from February 14 for seamless entry into Thailand

The new eVisa On Arrival (eVOA) service that will enable a faster and convenient arrival into Thailand for travellers from India and 20 other countries, has become available for applicants from February 14, 2019. The eVOA service offers travellers a whole new experience when entering the country at the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueng airports in Bangkok, as well as at Phuket and Chiang Mai airports. The service is part of the Government of Thailand’s initiative to promote tourism, and has been developed by the Immigration Bureau of Royal Thai Police and VFS Global. Of the over 1.5 million Indians who visited Thailand in 2018, over 900,000 used the old, time consuming Visa On Arrival service at Thailand airports. Commenting on the new eVOA service, Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, Commissioner of Immigration Bureau, said, “With the eVOA service, we are proud to offer a new age digital solution which enhance the overall experience for the modern-day traveller who seeks to visit Thailand from 21 countries across the globe. In our cooperation with VFS Global, we aim to effectively meet the objective of increasing tourism to the country through this solution especially taking into consideration the all-important security aspect that allows pre-check of travellers prior the arrival.” The new eVOA service offers travellers the conveniences of avoiding long queues, and eliminates the need to fill up application forms on arrival and arrange for paper documentation or local currency which travellers find challenging after a long flight. If there is an urgent visa requirement to travel to Thailand, travellers can also avail online the Express eVOA service for quicker processing. Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global Group, said, “I am delighted that the …

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International tourist arrivals hit 1.4 billion in 2018, two years ahead of forecast: UNWTO

International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) worldwide increased 6 per cent in 2018 to 1.4 billion, based on data reported by destinations around the world, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Given the remarkable growth of international arrivals in recent years, the 1.4 billion mark has been reached two years ahead of UNWTO’s long term forecast issued in 2010. 2018 consolidates the very strong results of 2017 (+7%) and is the second strongest year since 2010. Middle East (+10%) and Africa (+7%) led growth, while arrivals to Asia and the Pacific and Europe (both +6%) increased in line with the world average. The Americas saw growth of 3%. Overall results were driven by a favourable economic environment and strong outbound demand from major source markets. Based on current trends, economic prospects and the UNWTO Confidence Index, UNWTO forecasts a growth of 3% to 4% in international tourist arrivals worldwide in 2019, more in line with the historical growth trends.  

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