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India must work on streamlining visa processes and addressing safety concerns of tourists to unlock the full potential of inbound tourism.

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The number of foreign tourists who arrived in India this year from January to April is 166 percent higher than a year earlier, Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy said at the inaugural session of the fourth G20 tourism working group meeting in Goa. “India’s inbound travel is expected to reach pre-pandemic level in 2023,” he said. Last year, the country received 6.19 million foreign tourist arrivals. Earnings from tourism more than doubled from $8 billion in 2021 to $16.4 billion in 2022, according to the government’s provisional estimates.

Travel tech firm RateGain Travel Technologies’ India Inbound Travel Trends report noted that families and couples accounted for a majority share of inbound bookings – before the pandemic, solo travelers accounted for roughly a third of hotel bookings by inbound travelers.

Family hotel bookings have increased from 4 percent in the first quarter of 2019 to 10.2 percent in the first quarter of 2023. Encouraging inbound travel, the tourism ministry declared its ‘Incredible India! Visit India Year 2023’ initiative earlier this year to highlight unique tourism offerings of every state. Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh had earlier highlighted India’s plans to open up to 50 new tourism destinations, promote green tourism, launch a publicity campaign in overseas markets and operationalize 59 new air routes during its presidency of the G20 this year. 

Akasa Air to Buy Four More Boeing 737 Max Planes

India’s newest airline, Akasa Air, has ordered four additional Boeing 737-8 jets at the ongoing Paris Air Show, which are to be delivered in the next four years. This is a follow-up to the already placed order of 72 aircraft, for a total of 76. The airline is also on course to announce another significant three-digit aircraft order by the end of 2023, it said in a release. “In addition to supporting our rapid domestic expansion, these airplanes allow us to take full advantage of the category leading 737-8 aircraft with its unparalleled range, as we prepare our foray into international routes,” said Vinay Dube, founder and CEO of Akasa Air. The airline wants to commence international operations by the end of the year. 

The brand-new fleet is equipped with the latest technology engines that reduce fuel use and CO2 emissions by an additional 14 percent and incorporates the quiet engine technology to reduce the operational noise footprint of the airplane by up to 40 percent.

Leisure Hotels Group Signs Business Property in Dehradun

Luxury resort chain Leisure Hotels Group has signed a boutique business hotel in Dehradun in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. Scheduled to open doors in 2024, the 60-keys property will be located 21 miles away from the Jolly Grant Airport and 3 miles from the railway station, it said in a statement. 

“We are excited to collaborate with Auradoon Resorts and leverage our existing foothold in Uttarakhand. Our latest addition, a business hotel, marks our 20th venture in the state,” said Mukund Prasad, director of Leisure Hotels Group. The company adopts a three-pronged strategy for business development — focus on building their own properties, engaging in a model where the group builds and partners with prominent hospitality companies, and pursuing management contracts for third-party properties located strategically, Prasad added. This property is the group’s third in the business segment, adding to their growing portfolio of 26 hotels and resorts across North India. 

Yatra Partners With Sakha Cabs For Safe Travel Offerings

Online travel platform Yatra.com has joined hands with Sakha Ki Women With Wheels, a social enterprise that provides safe transportation options by women drivers. This tie-up enables Yatra’s corporate clientele to avail and hire Sakha Cabs’ services round the clock for in-city travel, airport, railway and bus station pick and drop, and long-distance travel in Delhi, Kolkata, Indore and Jaipur.

“As part of this, we are offering an additional differentiated offering to our corporate customer base with the introduction of Sakha cabs. This will ensure our customers are safe at all points in their journey and have access to reliable transportation with just a call away,” said Sabina Chopra, chief operating officer of corporate travel and head of industry relations at Yatra. Just last week, the company launched a subscription programYatra Prime’ to provide exclusive benefits and enhanced travel experiences for its members. 

India, UNWTO Ink Pact to Strengthen Cooperation

The Indian government and the United Nations World Tourism Organization have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation and identify areas of mutual interest, in the backdrop of G20 tourism ministers’ meeting in coastal state Goa. The agreement will see both parties collaborate on key areas related to tourism market intelligence, tourism and rural development, tourism investment, education and innovation, the tourism ministry said in a tweet. Nearly 15 bilateral meetings have been planned to be held between India and various G20 member countries and international organizations on the sidelines of the fourth and final tourism working group meeting.

TruJet to Resume Operations by October

Hyderabad-based budget airline TruJet, which ceased operations in March 2022 due to financial troubles, is set to restart flights in October. The airline initially plans to connect key metro cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad. U.S.-based N S Aviation has acquired an 85 percent stake in the airline at a $54.8 million valuation of the firm. N.S. Aviation Vice Chairman Isha Ali said that the company is planning to induct 100 Airbus 320 Neo aircraft in India and cover international routes over the next 18 months.

Fortune Hotels Expands in Punjab 

Indian hospitality company ITC Hotel Group’s Fortune Hotels has opened Fortune Inn Heritage Walk in Amritsar in the north Indian state of Punjab. Early last month, the company signed an operating agreement for a hotel in the city, scheduled to open doors in the second quarter of this year. In April, the hotel group had again signed an operating agreement for a hotel in the hill station of Khajjiar in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, set to open doors in the first quarter of 2024. The company, in an earlier release, had talked about its ambitions to expand its reach in tier-2 and tier-3 cities with its upscale to mid-market service offerings for business and leisure travelers. 

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Tags: akasa air, foreign exchange, india, RateGain, skift india report, tourists, unwto, yatra

Photo credit: India’s inbound travel is expected to reach pre-pandemic level in 2023. joegoauk69 / Goa Carnival 2017 - Panaji

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