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The court’s order follows the Tamil Nadu government report that said 20,000 vehicles enter these hill stations every day. This posed concerns for the elephants in the region as well as the drought prevailing in the Nilgiris.

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The Madras High Court has made it mandatory for all motor vehicles seeking to enter the Nilgiris and Kodaikanal between May 7 and June 30 to obtain electronic passes. The aim is to collect data on the number of tourists visiting and the number and types of vehicles that are entering these hill stations.

Heavy traffic in the hills: The court’s order came as the Tamil Nadu government filed a status report that said 20,000 vehicles enter these hill stations every day. This posed concerns for the elephants in the region as well as the drought prevailing in the Nilgiris, though the court clarified that there won’t be a cap on the number of e-passes issued. 

Last month, the government of Tamil Nadu had agreed to fix the carrying capacity for roads leading to these eco-sensitive hill stations after a scientific assessment. The court has now asked the district administrations to collect as much information as possible regarding the tourists visiting these areas while issuing the e-passes to help the assessment.

Overtourism in India: Hill stations in India have been facing overcrowding during peak summers as tourists in large numbers flock to these destinations.

In 2023, destinations such as Nainital, Kasauli, Shimla, and Manali faced an influx of tourists, causing local authorities to place entry restrictions. The government of India also supported the idea of determining carrying capacity of hill stations and eco-sensitive locations in the Himalayan states to curb overtourism.

Apart from measures like fixing carrying capacity at sensitive locations, the government is working to develop destinations and improve infrastructure to tackle possible overcrowding. These include building and revamping destinations like Ujjain and Varanasi. India is also trying to popularize alternative underpenetrated tourist destinations like Lakshadweep. Moreover, states like Goa and Kerala are also focusing on sustainable and regenerative strategies that can tackle ill-effects of overtourism.

Aditya Agarwal Steps Down as Cleartrip’s CFO

Online travel company has announced that its chief financial officer (CFO) Aditya Agarwal has decided to step down from his role. The company has said that Agarwal’s decision is due to personal reasons. He was with the company for nine years and played a key role in Cleartrip’s financial strategy and organizational growth.

This has come two months after Cleartrip CEO Ayyappan Rajagopal announced his decision to leave the company after 11 years. Rajagopal has plans to set up his own business after his departure from the company, he had said in a post on LinkedIn. 

In view of Agarwal’s departure, Cleartrip has said that Akshat Mishra will take over as the new head of business finance.

AirAsia Announces New Routes to Kozhikode, Guwahati

Low-cost carrier AirAsia has announced two new routes to Kozhikode and Guwahati from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. With this, the airline will have 15 direct routes in India. AirAsia will operate three weekly flights to both these destinations starting August 1. 

The airline’s group chief commercial officer Paul Caroll said that India is one of the biggest markets for AirAsia and it is accelerating its operations in the country. 

Since January this year, AirAsia has announced seven new routes in India, including those to Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, and Visakhapatnam. Till 2023, the airline was operating eight routes in India. 

Korea Tourism Holds Roadshows to Showcase Leisure, MICE Potential in India

The Korea Tourism Organization conducted roadshows in India to showcase its leisure and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) potential. This comes as the country has set a target to welcome 200,000 Indian tourists this year. Of these, Korea aims to receive 20,000 MICE delegates. 

Regional director Myong Kil Yun said, “With a record-breaking target of welcoming 200,000 Indian travelers this year, the recent roadshows were a success. We are confident that by showcasing the diverse experiences Korea offers, we can achieve this ambitious goal.”

In 2023, 120,000 Indian travelers visited South Korea. In order to meet its goal this year, the country is looking at joint marketing promotions, familiarization trips, multi-city roadshows, as well as digital marketing promotions.

Thomas Cook, SOTC Operate Inaugural Bengaluru-Bhutan Charter Flight

Travel services provider Thomas Cook, along with its group company SOTC, operated its inaugural charter flight between Bengaluru and Bhutan’s Paro at 100% occupancy. “This exceptional delivery underscores the robust demand from Bengaluru and Karnataka for premium destinations-experiences,” the company said in a statement. 

The company’s charter flights scheduled for May 4 and 11 have also been fully booked. This has led to Thomas Cook’s decision to operate two additional charters on May 18 and 25. 

Thomas Cook country head for Holidays Rajeev Kale said, “We had handpicked Bengaluru airport as the hub/gateway for this initiative based on three clear opportunities. First is that Karnataka is our top source market. Moreover, there is a high demand for consumers for unique destinations-experiences. Another reason is the absence of direct connectivity for Bhutan from South India.”

Four Points by Sheraton Opens Resort in Jammu and Kashmir’s Sonmarg 

Four Points by Sheraton has announced the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Sonmarg Resort in Jammu and Kashmir. The 47-key resort marks the brand’s debut in Sonmarg. Marriott also operates a hotel under the Four Points by Sheraton brand in Srinagar.

At the launch, Marriott’s South Asia area vice president Ranju Alex said, “This strategic expansion underlines our commitment to growth in the region and showcases how our brands cater to a wide range of travel needs and preferences.”
This year, the company aims to open 12 hotels in India and as part of its strategy, it also debuted its Moxy brand in January.

Uttarakhand Tourism Launches India’s First Astro Tourism Campaign

Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board has partnered with astro tourism company Starscapes to launch ‘Nakshatra Sabha’, the first astro tourism campaign in India. As part of this initiative, the state tourism will promote astro tourism activities such as stargazing, special solar observations, astrophotography contests, and camping under the stars among others. 

The campaign activities will cover several destinations in the state, including Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Nainital, and Chamoli. With this campaign, the state is also hoping to advocate the preservation of dark skies in the state. 

With this, Uttarakhand is hoping to position itself as the preferred destination for astro tourism for enthusiasts from all over the world. Unveils Indian Travelers’ Trip Planning Preferences

Online travel company has revealed that 61% Indian travelers prefer to book their flights first, before they secure their accommodation. It added that nearly 40% of the travelers book event tickets well in advance. Additionally, about 25% of the travelers prefer to book multiple aspects of their trips at the same time. 

More than half the Indian travelers choose to buy travel insurance before they even book their accommodation. Moreover, nearly a third of Indian travelers wait until after booking their stays and just before their trips, to arrange car rentals, restaurant reservations and taxis.

(Skift India Report will not be published on Thursday, May 2, as May 1 is a holiday.)


Skift India Report

The Skift India Report is your go-to newsletter for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.

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Tags: airasia, airline, airlines, aviation industry, aviation news, business traveler, cleartrip, eco-friendly, environment, hotels, india outbound, marriott bonvoy, Marriott International, mice, online travel, online travel agencies, overtourism, sheraton, south korea, sustainable tourism, thomas cook, tourism, Travel Trends

Photo credit: The aim is to collect data on the number of tourists visiting these hill stations. (Image: Kodaikanal Lake) Tamil Nadu Tourism

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