Bhutan

MakeMyTrip launches exclusive Mumbai-Bhutan flight charter service

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MakeMyTrip has witnessed strong growth in interest in Bhutan among Indian tourists. This service is designed to capture this opportunity.

— Bulbul Dhawan

Online travel agency MakeMyTrip has announced the launch of a new exclusive charter flight service between Mumbai and Bhutan. The service is part of its holiday packages, with exclusive charter flights departing once a week.

Jasmeet Singh, senior vice president of holidays and experiences at MakeMyTrip, said the service was launched as Bhutan is becoming increasingly popular among Indian tourists.

Bhutan’s popularity: On the MakeMyTrip platform, Bhutan ranks among the five most searched emerging destinations, with a growth of more than 200% compared to the same period last year.

From January 1 to March 31 this year, Bhutan received a record number of tourists. Of the more than 25,000 visitors during this period, 60% were from India. March 2024 alone was the third busiest month since the country reopened, with 57% of visitors during the month coming from India.

Bhutan makes traveling easy for Indians as tourists only need a permit to enter the country at a lower cost than tourists from other parts of the world. The kingdom expects to welcome about 150,000 Indian tourists this year, more than double the 2023 level, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said last month.

Indigo Airlines placed order for 10 A320 NEO aircraft in March

Airbus order and delivery data for March 2024 shows that budget airline IndiGo ordered 10 additional A320 NEO aircraft in March. The order was placed on March 15.

The airline operates India’s largest fleet and is one of Airbus’s largest customers. The company is looking to expand its domestic and international operations and double its production capacity over the next seven years. The latest order is in line with that larger goal.

Last year, IndiGo placed a huge order for 500 aircraft with Airbus, the largest order in the history of passenger aircraft. The airline has an order with Airbus for more than 1,300 aircraft, of which nearly 400 have been delivered so far. In 2024, the aircraft manufacturer delivered eight aircraft to IndiGo.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) opens Holiday Inn Express Bengaluru Bangmasandra

IHG Hotels & Resorts announces the opening of Holiday Inn Express Bengaluru Bangmasandra. The 135-room hotel is designed to serve business travelers visiting the micro-market of Bangalore.

IHG currently has 45 hotels operating under five brands in India. Another 45 hotels are in the pipeline and expected to open within the next three to five years.

Sudeep Jain, managing director of Southwest Asia, said India is an important market for IHG. The company has been expanding its operations in India based on the growing potential of the secondary market in the country. Earlier this year, Jain said IHG was strategically bringing its brands into new markets to meet demand in those regions.

Air India to fly to Ho Chi Minh City from June

Former national carrier Air India will launch direct flights between Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam from June 1 this year. The airline will operate five weekly flights on the route.

The route will complement Air India’s current network of four direct routes between India and Southeast Asia: Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket and Yangon.

Air India is merging with sister airline Vistara after the former national carrier was acquired by the Tata Group. Ahead of the merger, Air India was expanding its operations. The company also reportedly plans to launch long-haul nonstop flights to Seattle, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Indian Railways’ Ramayana pilgrim train promotes spiritual tourism

Indian Railways is operating the Ramayana Yatra train, covering 14 cities associated with the Hindu god Rama. The pilgrim train covers 39 revered locations, including Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, and travels across the country to help devotees visit these locations.

Spiritual tourism in India is an important part of the industry, boosted by the consecration of Rama Temple in Ayodhya. While the Indian government has plans to promote and improve religious tourism in India, airlines and private hotels have also been increasing their presence at religious sites.

Low-cost carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet launched flights to Ayodhya in January this year, while many including Radisson and Indian Hotels Corporation (IHCL) A hotel brand has signed contracts and opened hotels in the city.

Goa airport to get DigiYatra this month

Goa’s Dabolim International Airport will install DigiYatra, a biometric-based access control system, by the end of April. DigiYatra is a digital initiative of the Ministry of Civil Aviation that uses facial recognition technology to process passengers faster at airport entrances, security front gates and boarding gates.

According to the Economic Times, the system is being installed at the airport. The aim is to improve airport services and reduce the time between passengers entering the airport and boarding their aircraft. DigiYatra was launched at the Chennai Airport earlier this month.

Former SpiceJet CEO launches private jet charter airline

Arun Kashyap, former chief operating officer of SpiceJet, founded a private charter airline called Sirius India Airlines. Kashyap aims to cater to the high-end travel market with his new venture. Sirius India Airlines has partnered with Dubai-based company Transworld Group to bring its luxury private air travel brand Airavat Aviation to India.

Kashyap left SpiceJet in early March to enter the charter business. Sirius India Airlines has just started operating one aircraft – the Hawker 4000. However, the airline hopes to rapidly expand its fleet to three aircraft in the coming months.

Image source: Between January 1 and March 31 this year, Bhutan received a record number of tourists.

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