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Besides inking big ticket deals to accelerate the pace of different projects, Indian Railways now wants to satisfy the aspirations and demands of the modern commuter.

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In line with its modernization drive, the Indian Railways has confirmed it will redevelop Thrissur railway station — in the south Indian state of Kerala — with airport-like infrastructure at a budget of $36.2 million to upgrade passenger amenities. “The modernization of Thrissur railway station will be completed by 2025. The action is taken keeping in mind the cultural heritage of Thrissur and the importance of Thrissur Pooram. The railway station will have a wide range of facilities, including a supermarket and a rest centre,” said PK Krishnadas, chairman of the railway ministry’s passenger amenities committee. Having started some time back with the modernization of Gandhinagar Capital railway station in Gujarat, Indian Railways’ spate of station beautification across the country now also includes New Delhi railway station, Bengaluru cantonment, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, Ahmedabad junction, Chennai Egmore and Udaipur railway station, among others. The goal is to develop self-sustainable railway stations with world-class amenities, high standards of safety, security, comfort, user-friendly passenger facilities, and value-added services.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)-bound hospitality tech company Oyo has launched an accelerator program for small first-generation hoteliers in its community. Indian hotel owners running more than five hotels in the country are eligible to be a part of the program. The accelerator will enable hoteliers to innovate and enter new markets, expand their customer base, and increase earnings by offering them mentorship, access to technology, financial support, and its network of over 15,000 corporate accounts and more than 10,000 travel agents across India. During the pilot phase of the program, Oyo has already onboarded two hoteliers in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, and one each in Kolkata and Delhi who are operating more than 50 properties spread across the three cities.

China has resumed all types of visas for Indian travelers — including those for tourism purposes — for the first time since the pandemic struck, said a notice published on the website of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. However, inbound travelers have been advised to consult with their local China embassies or consulates for more detailed requirements and procedures. Under its zero-Covid policy, China had imposed stringent travel restrictions such as reduced frequency of international passenger flights, limited visa availability and strict Covid-19 testing and quarantine requirements before and after arrival in the country. In August 2022, the Chinese embassy had resumed services for 10 types of ordinary visas for Indian citizens, including long-term study, business, work, family visits, personal visits, and talent introduction, among others. 

The West Bengal tourism department has introduced a draft heritage policy to boost heritage tourism in the state. All the heritage sites across the state are being identified to showcase them on the website of the department. “We have formed seven sectoral sub committees for promotion of various tourism sectors and the committee for development of heritage and cultural tourism has already held its first meeting and the next one will be organised soon,” said Babul Supriyo, tourism minister of West Bengal. The policy has also pointed to the development of roads as an integral part of infrastructure development to the heritage and archeological sites. 

India-based women rights body Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) has issued recommendations to aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regarding steps to be taken to prevent and tackle sexual harassment on flights. These include action against highly intoxicated passengers including preventing them from boarding the aircraft, registration of first information report against the offender involved in sexual harassment on flights, setting up an independent committee to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment from passengers headed by a retired woman judge, and increasing punishment against such passengers including increasing the time period for which they can be put on the no-fly list from six months to two years. It also proposed setting up mechanisms to raise an alarm on flights and CCTVs to be installed on aircraft.

Abu-Dhabi based low-cost carrier Air Arabia Abu Dhabi has launched its service between India’s city of joy Kolkata and Abu Dhabi. The airline would operate three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The flight leaves Abu Dhabi at 2.25 p.m. local time and reaches Kolkata at 8.20 p.m. It takes off from Kolkata at 9.05 p.m. and arrives in Abu Dhabi at 1.05 a.m. local time. The new service to Kolkata is the airline’s seventh destination in India after Cochin, Calicut, Trivandrum, Chennai, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad.

An Indian parliamentary panel has asked the civil aviation ministry to organize a comprehensive mechanism to combat cyberattacks. Additionally, it has advised the ministry to investigate the potential of adding a new budget head and increasing the budgetary allocations to properly monitor the difficulties relating to cybersecurity. The committee supports the ministry’s decision to ask airport and aircraft operators for reports on the preventative steps they have taken to safeguard the sector from potential cybersecurity risks. It advises the government to speed up the receipt of responses from the concerned parties and requests information on a list of all the cybersecurity precautions taken by airport and aircraft operators. The Airports Authority of India has reported 13 instances of cyberattacks during the past five years, the committee mentioned. 

India is in the process of ferrying tourists to space by 2030. Work related to the government’s space tourism module is gaining momentum, informed officials from Indian space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “Work is in progress around India’s very own space tourism module, which is both safe and reusable,” ISRO chairman S Somnath told the Indian media. The estimated cost of the trip is slated to be $725,000. ISRO is likely to partner with private firms for the module development via the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe). IN-SPACe will come up with mechanisms to enable sharing of technical facilities and expertise available across ISRO centers with private entities. Earlier this year in February, the union minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh had mentioned that ISRO has already started carrying out feasibility studies for India’s sub-orbital space tourism mission.

InterGlobe Hotels — a joint venture between InterGlobe Enterprises and global hospitality major Accor Hotels — has announced the launch of ibis Thane. Located on Pokhran Road in the Thane district of India’s western state of Maharashtra, the hotel is a 50 minutes’ drive from Terminal 2 of Mumbai International Airport. The hotel features 186 rooms, a restaurant, gymnasium, meeting spaces, a library and an open-air dining space. “ibis Thane has been meticulously curated by our designers to match the bespoke lifestyle needs and aspirations of new-age travelers. With its central location and trendy interiors, the hotel is poised to deliver an exceptional experience to our guests,” said JB Singh, president and chief executive officer of InterGlobe Hotels. 

India-headquartered online travel portal Cleartrip has announced the launch of bus services on its app to make travel affordable. The business will feature a 24*7 voice helpline, no hidden costs, quick refunds, and easy cancellation. As part of the launch offer, users can enjoy benefits like ‘zero convenience fee’ and a flat 10 percent off on all bus bookings until March 31, 2023. Cleartrip has partnered with multiple state road transport corporations and private bus operators nationwide. “Every decision we make at Cleartrip is to empower our users with choice, clarity and control and the launch of buses is no different. This new endeavour will help strengthen our position as a trusted and integrated travel partner, deepen our customer engagement, and simplify travel,” said Prahlad Krishnamurti, chief business officer of Cleartrip.


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Tags: abu dhabi, accor, air arabia, aviation safety, china, cleartrip, cybersecurity, dgca, heritage, ibis, india, indian railways, oyo, skift india report, space tourism, visa, west bengal

Photo credit: Indian railways will redevelop Kerala's Thrissur railway station at a budget of $36.2 million.

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