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Driven by rising jet fuel costs and capacity constraints, airfares are soaring. And yet, people are still flying.

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Representatives of private airlines in India — including IndiGo, Vistara, GoFirst, Air India, and SpiceJet — were summoned by the parliamentary standing committee for transport, tourism, and culture to depose on the subject of exorbitant airfares. “The secretariat has sent an invitation to several private airlines and the Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) to discuss this issue of urgent public importance,” Indian news agency Asian News International reported, citing sources. Last month, a parliamentary panel had asked the Indian civil aviation ministry to cap the upper and lower levels of airfares and ensure that predatory pricing mechanism is not adopted by airlines in the guise of “free market economy.” The reports mentioned that a perfect balance must be maintained between the commercial interests and passengers’ interests. The committee also pointed out the inaccurate information provided by the private airlines on their websites regarding the number of seats left on the flight and the cost of the tickets. There has been a huge surge in air fliers domestically in India since November last year. As per Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s domestic air traffic figures, over 12.5 million passengers were ferried in January and 12 million in February.

India-based hotel chain Sarovar Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of its international brand, Golden Tulip, in Tirupati in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Tirupati is a popular destination among religious pilgrims in India, who flock to the ancient Lord Venkateswara Temple in the city. The hotel features 88 rooms and suites, with over 5,000 square feet of banqueting space. Strategically located at the foothills of Tirumala hills, the hotel is nearly 2.5 miles from Tirupati railway station. This would be the second Sarovar property in Tirupati. “The opening of the hotel demonstrates our commitment and relentless focus on the growth of the Golden Tulip brand in India,” said Ajay K Bakaya, managing director of Sarovar Hotels & Resorts. The launch of the Golden Tulip brand asserts Sarovar group’s growing presence in the region and its focus on strengthening the Golden Tulip footprint across leisure and business destinations pan-India, a release from the hotel company stated.

DigiYatra — which allows biometric boarding using facial recognition technology to establish the flier’s identity — has been launched for domestic passengers at the Kolkata airport. Passengers traveling by IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet, Vistara, and GoFirst can use the facility at the airport to significantly reduce the duration of their stay at the airport. DigiYatra e-gates have been installed at departure entry gates 2B and 3A, airport officials told an Indian daily. Inside the terminal, the facility is installed in the security hold area 1, 2 and 3, and boarding gates 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23. First launched in December 2022, the facility is now available at Delhi, Varanasi and Bengaluru airports

Tata Group-owned Air India will introduce premium economy class seating on select U.S. flights starting May 15. The offering will initially be available on select routes such as Bengaluru-San Francisco, Mumbai-San Francisco and Mumbai-New York. The premium economy class will feature 48 leather-upholstered, memory foam seats with 19 inches of width, 38 inches of pitch, and five inches of recline with adjustable leg rest and footrest, and winged headrests. The main course will offer three meal choices, accompanied by an appetizer, dessert, and a welcome drink. In addition, the customers will have dedicated check-in counters, have priority tags affixed to their check-in baggage, and be among the first to be invited to board the aircraft.

The Indian coastal state of Goa can build on its historic connection with Portugal by curating special tourism packages for citizens of both countries, said Ana Paula Pais, head of training and education at the tourism board of Portugal — Turismo de Portugal. Pais was in Goa recently to participate in an international student exchange program. “We can improve promotion based on our historical connections, create specific packages, and have more information. Initiatives like the one the Indian tourism ministry recently had with our government during our national tourism fair in Lisbon are very important to strengthen cooperation between the two countries,” she said. During his visit to Portugal last month, Rohan Khaunte, Goa’s tourism minister also discussed the possibility of sharing technologies in the tourism sector.

Indian low-cost carrier GoFirst (formerly known as GoAir) has partnered with India-based online foreign exchange marketplace BookMyForex to offer hassle-free foreign exchange services to international flyers. This service will be available to travelers as a part of GoXtras that provides ancillary benefits. Passengers can utilize the service on GoFirst website or via GoFirst official mobile app. “We believe that this partnership will ease the traveling experience of international travelers. We are optimistic that this service will prove to be a one-stop solution, and we look forward to providing a seamless experience to the travelers,” said GoFirst CEO, Kaushik Khona.

Egypt has announced that it would be offering a multiple-entry visa for the first time and adding more nationalities to its visa-on-arrival eligibility — including Indians — to boost tourism in the country. As per reports, a five-year multiple-entry visa will be offered for $700, while a single-entry 30-day visa on arrival will be available for $25, which more than 180 nationalities can now obtain. The country’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa added that tourist numbers increased by more than 30 percent in January and February, as compared to the first two months of last year. Tourism receipts from Egypt’s two leading tourist sources, Russia and Ukraine, have decreased by 40 percent and 80 percent, respectively, even as other nationalities have made up for the loss. 

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) — the state tourism department of India’s western state Maharashtra — is set to boost local tourism and literature through its ‘library project’ for which libraries will be set up at almost all the resorts owned by the state government. Starting this summer, each resort will have a library where books related to local tourism and by renowned writers, poets and famous personalities will be made available to tourists, an Indian daily reported. “Many a time during the summer season, tourists prefer to stay inside during the afternoon to avoid heat stroke and exertion. At times, indoor activities are needed to keep them engaged. Therefore, we decided to set up libraries at resorts,” said Dipak Harne, regional manager of MTDC. Currently, libraries have been activated at MTDC resorts across Mahabaleshwar, Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad) and Nashik

The Northeast Frontier (NF) Railways has announced that Nagaland‘s capital city Kohima is set to be connected by train by 2026, as part of its bid to connect all capital cities of northeast India by rail, it said in a release. It said the 51.2-mile-long Dimapur-Kohima rail project had been undertaken at an anticipated cost of $811 million. The railway line has eight new stations — Dhansiri, Dhansiripar, Shokhuvi, Molvom, Pherima, Piphema, Menguzuma, and Zubza, which is near Kohima. The project includes 24 major bridges, 156 minor bridges, and 21 tunnels, totaling 19 miles. The tunnel between Pherima to Piphema is the longest of this project, which is 4 miles long, the release said. Passenger train services from Shokhuvi to Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh and Mendipathar in Meghalaya have been introduced recently.

India and Kyrgyzstan explored bilateral tourism opportunities when Shatmanov Samat Bekturovich, the deputy minister of culture, information, sports, and youth policy of the Kyrgyz Republic, met with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy in Varanasi. They discussed the current state, prospects, and cooperation initiatives of the two countries in the field of tourism. “We are very hopeful that the two countries will now collaborate and work towards further development in this sector, which is holding huge potential in the larger interest of people of India and Kyrgyzstan,” said Bekturovich. With a shared commitment to promoting sustainable tourism, the collaboration is set to benefit the region as a whole.


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Tags: air india, airfares, aviation, dgca, egypt, goa tourism, india, indian railways, indigo, kyrgyzstan, portugal, sarovar hotels, skift india report, spicejet, sustainable tourism, tourism, vistara

Photo credit: Private airlines have been summoned to discuss rising airfares. Andrew Thomas / Flickr

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