With effect from April 1, 2017, the e-visa facility for business and medical tourism is finally open for application. While the e-tourist visa facility was the first one to be launched, the central government further added the e-business and e-medical visa in an effort to propagate ease of visa facilitation.
Tthe facility has been extended to the nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports and three Indian Ports while the window for application under e-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days. Duration of stay on e-visa has also been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on e-Tourist and e-Business visa and triple entry on e-Medical visa. Additionally, separate immigration counters and facilitation desks to assist medical tourist have been provided at six major Indian airports.
A new category of Visa, Film (F) Visa, has also been introduced with maximum duration of one year with multiple entry facility.
Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi enters global list of 15 busiest airports
Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport became the 12th busiest airport worldwide for the month of November2016 as per the latest report released by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This was the first time an Indian airport entered the big league of top 15 airports in the world. Delhi airport also recorded the highest growth rate of 19.1% in November 2016 globally, the report said.
Delhi International Airport Pvt. Limited (DIAL) officials said this is yet another major achievement for IGI Airport after it crossed the 50 million, passenger mark during the same period in November. Last year, Delhi airport handled record 55.64 million passengers -the highest ever in the country.
IGI airport also reached an average of 1,185 air traffic movements a day, which is yet another record for the country.
World’s oldest steam engine, Fairy Queen, gathers fresh stream
The world’s oldest steam engine — Fairy Queen — returned to the tracks after a gap of nearly five years. The engine was attached to a heritage train running from Delhi Cantonment to Rewari in Haryana. This under three-hour round trip with passengers will be done every month, the next trip of which is scheduled for March 11, officials said, according to a news item in The Times of India.
Fairy Queen was restored and brought to Delhi in 1977 when the National Rail Museum was built and since then has been a part of the museum.
Passengers will get to visit the Rewari locomotive museum where a number of engines have been kept along with the sheds where many of these engines are still in operation.
Now, e-visa extended to film tourism
The e-visa facility for film enthusiasts has now been principally approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The visa can now be availed under the category of film tourism. This was informed by Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism. He further added that the procedure of availing this facility will be similar to those for eTV for business and medical tourism.
IHG introduces its 1st Holiday Inn Hotel in Kolkata Airport
Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport is located just 5km away from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, with close proximity to Business Parks, SEZs and IT hub of Kolkata in Rajarhat, New Town and Salt Lake Sector-V area. The hotel offers comfort and convenience to the contemporary business and leisure traveler with 137 well-appointed rooms & suites. The food & beverage outlets include an all-day dining restaurant, a specialty restaurant & bar and a patisserie. The recreational amenities include a terrace top swimming pool with a stunning view of the cityscape and a well-equipped fitness center.
India’s 7th Westin Hotel opens at Pushkar with 98 rooms
Westin Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, Inc. announced the highly-anticipated opening of The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa in Rajasthan. India’s seventh Westin property, The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa is surrounded by the picturesque Aravalli Hills and spread across 11 acres. The property, Pushkar’s first internationally-branded hotel, offers 98 contemporary guestrooms, of which 44 feature private pools.
Radisson Blu Jammu opens with 119 rooms
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Radisson Blu Jammu, opened with 119 rooms and suites with modern amenities, for corporate and leisure travellers. The hotel is a 14 minutes-drive from Jammu Airport (IXJ) and 6 minutes by car from Jammu Tawi Railway Station, the city’s main railway station.
The hotel features flexible meeting spaces including a 25,000sq. ft. Royal Ballroom that accommodates up to 2,000 guests. Located at the epicenter of Jammu’s economic activity, the hotel is within close proximity to the corporate hubs. The hotel features other facilities like Business Class Lounge, business center, swimming pool, spa and fully equipped fitness center.
Radisson Blu Atria, Bengaluru opens with 167 rooms
Carlson Rezidor announced the opening of its new hotel-Radisson Blu Atria Bengaluru, featuring 167 guest rooms and suites with modern amenities.
The hotel is located 45 minutes away from the Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) and 10 minutes from the City Railway Station.
The hotel has over 1,250 square meters of flexible room configurations with its six meeting spaces and two boardrooms, intimate team meetings complemented with state-of-the-art presentation and audiovisual tools. Other facilities available at the hotel include the Business Class Lounge, business center, swimming pool, spa and fully-equipped fitness center.
Centaur Hotel, Delhi to be demolished for aircraft parking
Delhi’s iconic Centaur Hotel which was built for the 1982 Asian Games, will soon be razed to grounds. This is being done as part of the expansion of Terminal 3 of Delhi’s international airport where more space will be required to park aircraft. According to DIAL, the site of the hotel will be required by December 2019. The Centaur Hotel IGI Airport operates 376 rooms. The Hotel was constructed in 1982 as a business cum leisure hotel and construction was completed in a record period of 18 months to coincide with the inauguration of the 1982 Asian Games held at New Delhi.
IBIS New Delhi Aerocity adds 129 rooms
IBIS New Delhi Aerocity has announced the addition of 129 brand new guest rooms at the property, including a 775sq. ft. gymnasium facility for guests’ recreation and fitness needs. The inventory of the property has now reached 445 rooms, which is amongst the largest in the hospitality precinct.
Eastin Residence Vadodara debuts with 44 rooms
Thailand-based Absolute Hotel Services has launched a boutique apartment hotel, Eastin Residences Vadodara in Gujarat. The property is located in main Alkapuri, the hub for shopping, family attractions and commercial centre. All 44 residences are classified into 3 major categories – ‘Studio Apartment – Twin & Double ’, ‘Deluxe Studio Apartment’ and ‘One Bedroom Apartment’.
Vistara announces direct flights between Kolkata-Pune & Delhi-Port Blair
Starting March 26, 2017, Vistara will fly direct daily between Kolkata-Pune and starting April 15, 2017, will also fly direct between Delhi-Port Blair (Andamans) on Saturdays & Sundays during the upcoming summer. Vistara’s Kolkata-Pune flight will serve business professionals as well as a large population in Pune that hails from Kolkata. The Delhi-Port Blair flight will cater not only the people residing in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, but also attract tourists from northern India to discover the history, beauty and trade potential of the Andaman Islands.
AirAsia adds domestic trio in India
Effective 19 February 2017, the low-cost carrier will commence flights from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to the cities of Bagdogra in West Bengal state, Pune in Maharashtra state, and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.
All three routes will be operated daily using an all-economy class Airbus A320 aircraft.
The three new routes will double the number of destinations to which AirAsia India flies from Delhi from three to six, following the existing routes to Guwahati, Goa & Bengaluru.
Air Asia to fly to Kolkata, Ranchi
Air Asia India will now be flying to Kolkata and Ranchi. The airline added these two new destinations and will be making Kolkata its third hub after Bengaluru and Delhi. With the new additions, Air Asia India will now be flying to a total of 15 destinations in the country. The airline acquired its 9th A320 aircraft this year, after which it launched these connections.
New daily Oman Air flight on Salalah-Kozhikode route
Oman’s national carrier will reportedly start a new daily direct flight between Salalah, a southern Omani city and Kozhikode in Kerala from next week, in addition to Oman Air’s flight service between Muscat and Kozhikode which is the latest destination in the airline’s fleet and network expansion programme.
The daily service will be operated by a Boeing 737-800. Existing frequencies between Muscat and Kozhikode have also been increased from once daily to twice daily since February this year.
Lufthansa’s A350-900 to connect Munich-Mumbai from April 16
Lufthansa Group has announced that it will deploy its latest long haul aircraft, Airbus A350-900, to Mumbai during the summer schedule of 2017. From April 16 onwards, Mumbai becomes the third destination worldwide to welcome the state-of-the-art aircraft. Flying on Lufthansa’s Munich (MUC) to Mumbai (MUM) route, the A350-900 will offer Mumbai area residents travel choices and better connections to Lufthansa’s vast global network.
Jet boosts Asian connectivity with Hong Kong Airlines
The new codeshare partnership will lead to new one-stop flight services connecting Indian passengers to destinations in Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and New Zealand.
India gets new Saudi links with flynas
Indian travellers will be offered a series of new one-stop connections to Saudi Arabia, following the signing of a codeshare agreement between Etihad Airways and low-cost carrier flynas.
The deal will enable flynas to add seven new Indian destinations to its route map, as it places its ‘XY’ code on Etihad’s services from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi and Kozhikode.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
MOATSU FESTIVAL (First week of May) Nagaland
Celebrated by the Ao tribes of Nagaland, the Moatsu Festival is a time of great rejoicing as the planting season comes to an end. All activities are associated with the harvest. You can expect a lot of singing, dancing, and merry making at this festival. The highlight of the occasion is Sangpangtu. Men and women dress up in their best attire and sit around a fire, eating meat and wine.
UTTARAKHAND CHAR DHAM YATRA (28 April) Uttarakhand
After the snow clears at the foothills of the Himalayas, Hindu pilgrims begin to make their way to the four ancient temples known as the Char Dham. These temples mark the spiritual source of four holy rivers. It’s considered to be very auspicious to visit them.
THRISSUR POORAM (5 May) Thrissur, Kerala
The Thrissur Pooram features a procession of around 30 colorfully decorated elephants and ensemble of 250 musicians. Other attractions include drum concerts, ornamental parasol displays, and fireworks. The festival is a huge cultural event that runs through the night with exuberant celebrations. Special viewing areas are provided for foreigners at the festival.
BUDDHA PURNIMA & BUDDHA JAYANTI (10 May) Bodhgaya
Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima, celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. It’s the most sacred Buddhist festival. Activities include prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha.
MT ABU SUMMER FESTIVAL (9-10 May) Mt Abu, Rajasthan
The Mt. Abu Summer Festival kicks off with ballad singing, followed by regional folk dancing. The festival also offers sports such as boat racing on Nakki Lake, and a roller skating race. It concludes with a fireworks display. The highlight of the festival is the Sham-e-Qawwali musical show, which features some of the most renowned qawwals from various parts of India.