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After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this renewed enthusiasm for global exploration signifies a triumphant comeback for travel enthusiasts.

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Vietnam was the most-searched destination for Indians in 2023, according to the Google trends. There was a revival of global exploration after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The resurgence is evident in the latest report, unveiling the most Googled tourist destinations of the year. Here are some of the top searches:

  • Vietnam
  • Goa
  • Bali
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Kashmir
  • Coorg
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Italy
  • Switzerland

Having announced visa-free entry for Indians, it’s interesting to note that Sri Lanka and Thailand feature in the top 5 searched destinations. Vietnam is also likely to be the next destination to offer visa-free entry to Indians. In the first 10 months of this year, Vietnam had almost 10 million visitors. 

Skift’s earlier articles have explored how Indian travelers are now opting for destinations that don’t require them to navigate the maze of visa applications.

How India is Looking to Decongest Airports

Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya M Scindia, announced the implementation of a systematic approach to address congestion challenges at various airports. 

Identifying and Resolving Congestion Issues: Congestion problems were noted at major airports during the festive season and winter 2022, resulting in prolonged waiting times for passenger processing at various touchpoints. Scindia personally inspected arrangements at Delhi Airport in December 2022, alongside senior officials of the ministry of civil aviation, directing necessary infrastructure enhancements.

Simultaneously, major airport operators in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Chennai received instructions to identify and address bottlenecks in passenger processing, ensuring increased capacities to meet growing demands and prevent congestion during upcoming festive seasons and peak times.

Expansion of Efforts in September 2023: In September 2023, an additional 10 airports were identified, and operators were sensitized to proactively augment capacities as needed to avoid future congestion. The causes of congestion were identified, leading to the formulation and implementation of a mitigating action plan which included demolition of waiting lounges, retail outlets, and office spaces at airports like Delhi and Mumbai to create more space for passenger infrastructure facilities, among other things. 

India Takes Lead As Around.Us Surpasses 750,000 Downloads

The U.S.-based Around.Us mobile application got 20% of app’s daily users from smaller Indian cities like Patna, Lucknow and Indore. The company said in a release that it is looking to reshape travel exploration through an interactive map, highlighting the top 10 points of interest globally. 

India has emerged as a biggest user base, contributing to almost 150,000 out of the ever-growing 750,000 million downloads.

Community-Driven Curation The curation process for the Around.Us application involves a proprietary algorithm, and in the future, the application plans to leverage its user community to further enrich the database with new locations, data, visuals, and videos. 

To explore these places, various options are available, such as geolocation, searching by location, or using keywords. Whether navigating a city, neighborhood, or street, Around.Us provides a list of the 10 nearest major points of interest, focusing on the essentials.

Air India Express Launches Surat-Dubai Direct

Air India Express became the first airline to connect Surat and Dubai directly, coinciding with the inauguration of Surat Airport’s new international terminal

Exclusive International Connectivity: Air India Express currently stands as the exclusive airline offering international flights from Surat, operating five weekly flights to Sharjah. The airline has announced the schedule for four weekly operations on the Surat-Dubai route, with bookings available through the website and other major booking platforms.

Expanded Network: In addition to Sharjah and Dubai, Air India Express operates daily flights to Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata. With the introduction of the Surat-Dubai service, Air India Express will operate 30 flights to and from Surat, solidifying its position as a crucial destination within the continually expanding network.

Courtyard by Marriott Opens in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur

Marriott has announced the opening of Courtyard by Marriott Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, marking the brand’s debut in the city. 

Located in Gorakhpur’s city center, the 97-room hotel is connected to the Gorakhpur Junction Railway Station and Gorakhpur Bus Stand, and has the views of Ramgarh Tal Lake as a backdrop. 

Earlier in an interview with Skift, Ranju Alex, Marriott’s area vice president for South Asia, had said that there are 186 million members enrolled in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, and Marriott will continue to foster its relationship with members in India, where around 4.5 million guests are part of the program.

Marriott’s strategic expansion into India’s tier two and tier three cities, such as Gorakhpur, is in response to changing consumer behavior, partially created during the pandemic.

These cities have been experiencing a surge in growth, driven by rising middle-class aspirations and changes in consumer preferences.

Alex noted that while tier one cities house the majority of Bonvoy members, the real growth potential lies in tier two and tier three cities.

Air India Gains DGCA Approval for A350 and A320 Aircraft Maintenance

Air India, now part of Tata Group, has received Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approval for engineering line maintenance of A350 and A320 aircraft. This development is crucial for ensuring the smooth operation and maintenance of the six A350 aircraft set to join the Air India fleet, with the first expected to land by the December-end.

DGCA Certification for Air India Engineers: Air India engineers have also received DGCA certification for attending to any work related to the maintenance of A350 aircraft.

Technical Despatch Reliability: “This approval will further inspire us to ensure smooth operation of our fleet, including the A350, with the highest technical despatch reliability,” said SK Dash, chief technical officer of Air India.

First Indian Airline to Induct A350: Air India is the first Indian airline to induct the technologically advanced A350 into its operations. The airline said in a release that its engineering team has been preparing for the A350 aircraft’s arrival, ensuring all necessary checks, maintenance, and repairs are available in Air India facilities.

Aircraft orders: Air India, when it placed its orders with Airbus earlier in the year, had ordered a total of 40 A350 aircraft, which included six A350-900 aircraft, originally made for Russian carrier Aeroflot, but since being lightly touched up to be sold to Air India due to the global embargo on aircraft dealing with Russia. 

The remaining 34 aircraft were originally intended to be the larger A350-1000 variants, delivered factory fresh. However, in an update published by Airbus, the airline has modified the order to take delivery of 20 A350-900 and 20 A350-1000 aircraft.


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Tags: air india, Air India Express, airport, google, marriott, skift india report

Photo credit: Google comes out with the most-searched tourist destinations of the year. Arnie Chou /">Pexels

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