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With long coastlines, towering hills and vast waterbodies, India's topography is conducive for a range of adventure activities, but not at the cost of inadequate vigilance and poor risk assessments.

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In a much-needed impetus for adventure tourism, India would be looking to focus on developing infrastructure for this segment, Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy said recently. Reddy said India aims to be the a top adventure tourism destination. The second tourism working group meeting under G20 hosted by India’s tourism ministry began with a side event, a panel discussion on “Adventure tourism as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development goals.” Delivering the keynote, Reddy highlighted how India’s topography is conducive for a variety of adventure activities like camping, paragliding, hot air ballooning, river cruising, sailing, snorkeling and wildlife safari. “We have a 4,349-mile coastline, 70 percent of the Himalayas, about 435 miles of rivers, sand desert and cold desert in Ladakh…all of which provide opportunities for a variety of adventure activities for both domestic and foreign tourists,” Reddy said. Talking about the national adventure tourism strategy framed last year, Reddy said it would focus on initiatives like state ranking criteria for adventure tourism sites, a model adventure tourism law, development of mega trails, development of adventure activity guidelines, adventure tourism rescue centers, and development of website and social media pages for adventure tourism.

As Skift reported earlier on Monday, India-based hotel ownership and asset management platform Samhi Hotels has refiled draft papers with the Indian stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to raise in an initial public offering (IPO) around $120 million. The Goldman Sachs-backed company that operates properties in hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt and IHG in India, had earlier filed a draft red herring prospectus with SEBI in September 2019 to raise around $238 million. Samhi had obtained the markets regulator’s approval in November 2019, to float the initial share-sale, but the company at that time did not go ahead with the launch. The company would be using net proceeds from the IPO towards the repayment of debt of the firm and its subsidiaries, payment of interest and other general corporate purposes.

Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo becomes the first airline to operate an international flight to Bhubaneswar airport. IndiGo will be starting a direct service to Dubai from May 15. IndiGo will operate the service thrice a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a statement from the airline said. Inaugural ticket prices have been set at $121 per sector and $243 for round trip on the Bhubaneswar-Dubai route. IndiGo’s head of global sales Vinay Malhotra said the airline has been at the forefront of enhancing international connectivity at affordable fares. Soon, flights to Singapore and Bangkok will also commence from Bhubaneswar, the statement said. “Direct connectivity with Dubai, which is one of the biggest aviation hubs, will open up a direct gateway to the world. It will also have a huge multiplier effect on investment in Odisha in sectors like Information Technology, manufacturing and tourism,” said Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.  

Tata Group-backed Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has announced its debut in the east Indian state of Chhattisgarh with a Taj-branded hotel. The 152-room luxury hotel will feature an all-day diner, a restaurant, a bar and lobby lounge. The hotel will have over 1,300 square meters of banqueting space It will also offer an auditorium, a first in the city. “We are delighted to partner with Krish (Raipur) Hotels, a part of Vyapak Group and bring the Taj brand to the city,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer of IHCL.

China has issued visas to over 18,000 Indians in the last three months, even as there are no direct flights connecting the two countries. China has been working with India for an early resumption of direct flights between the two countries, which had been disrupted since the Covid-19 outbreak, said minister counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in India, Chen Jianjun. Indians are currently traveling to China through Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Myanmar, and some other countries, shelling out an exorbitant amount of money on steep airfares. “The number of visa applications for China has been on the rise. Since January, we have given visas to 18,560 Indians,” Jianjun said. Interacting with a group of journalists, Jianjun told news agency Press Trust of India that he was looking forward to more Chinese being given visas by India. “Since August, 9,409 student visas have been issued to Indian students,” he added.

Vistara, a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, has become India’s first carrier to operate a wide-body aircraft using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a long-haul route, the airline said in a statement. By using a blend of 30 percent SAF with 70 percent conventional jet fuel, the Vistara flight from South Carolina’s Charleston International Airport to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport was able to reduce approximately 150,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over the fuel’s life cycle. “Since the very beginning, Vistara had decided to invest in modern and advanced new aircraft with fuel efficient engines, and we remain committed towards reducing carbon emissions across all areas of our operations,” said Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan.

Indian budget carrier Air India Express has launched direct flights between India’s cleanest city Indore and Sharjah, to be operated three days a week. The airline also has a direct service to Dubai from Indore. “In line with our network strategy, the low-cost carrier entity will be focusing more on tier 2/3 cities of the country, which are the growth engines of the future,” said Aloke Singh, managing director of Air India Express and AirAsia India. Last month, Air India Express also launched four weekly direct flights between coastal state Goa and Dubai. The first flight IX 840 took off at 1 am with 148 passengers on board from Dabolim Airport. AirAsia India, which is set to merge with Air India Express, already operates 13 daily direct flights to and from Goa, connecting five domestic cities.

The Odisha government has allowed setting up of beach shacks — which can serve food and liquor — in the Indian state to boost tourism, according to its new excise policy for the year 2023-24. The shacks can be opened near different water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and dams, apart from sea beaches. The policy further said the license for these shacks would only be granted to state tourism department Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) and not to any private operator.  The beach shacks will be allowed to operate throughout the year or for a period as decided by the tourism department, depending on the climatic conditions, the policy said. Common infrastructure for these shacks such as power connection, water supply, sewerage connections, solid waste management and others will be provided by the tourism corporation or the relevant agency, it said.

Kerala’s tourism department has invited applications from colleges across the south Indian state to set up tourism clubs on campuses to promote participation of youngsters, besides training them for job opportunities in the sector. While looking to mould future professionals in the tourism sector, the tourism clubs would also look to identify new tourism destinations, the tourism department said. The initiative offers opportunities for students to work as part-time tourist guides and also enable them to work and save through the “Earn While You Learn”’” program. The program aims to harness youth power for the upkeep of tourism centers and encourage them to come up with ideas and themes for tourism development in the state. 

Indian Railways will be spending $74.2 million over the next five years for an airport-like redevelopment of Gorakhpur railway station in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The station can handle 1.67 lakh passengers per day, from the current daily average of 92,750 passengers. The renovated station will have a concourse of 63,000 square meters with a seating capacity for 3,500 passengers, an official told Indian news agency Press Trust of India. The main station building will be spread across a 17,900 square meter area, which will be double the size of the current area. The station will have 44 lifts and 21 escalators. A skywalk to connect the metro station and bus station is also touted to reduce the transit time from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

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Tags: adventure tourism, bangkok, china, dubai, g20, india, Indian Hotels Company, indian railways, indigo, kerala, singapore, skift india report, tourism, visas, vistara

Photo credit: India's topography is conducive for a variety of adventure activities. Shivoham Yoga School / Flickr

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