TOURISM MINISTRY PROMOTES INDIA AS A 365-DAY DESTINATION: The ministry of tourism in an effort to promote India as a 365-day destination launched three CDs on MICE, adventure sports and cruises. The ministry is showcasing India as a world-class MICE destination with many convention halls coming up in the line of Hyderabad International Conference Centre (HICC). The CDs also give details about all the adventure sports facilities available in the country and the many cruising options that are coming up.
TOURISM MINISTRY ISSUES GUIDELINES FOR ADVENTURE SPORTS: The ministry of tourism recently issued special guidelines for adventure sports activities in the country. The guidelines are regarding land activities like mountaineering and trekking; water sports like river running; and air sports like parasailing, paragliding and bungee jumping. The ministry has laid down the basic minimum standards for adventure tourism related activities that are undertaken in different parts of the country.
KERALA TOURISM TO REVIVE THE URU / ARAB DHOW: Kerala Tourism has plans to start URU cruises to replicate the spice route travel of the 16th century. The uru is a home made colossal sailing vessel made out of timber which used to ply the Indo Persian routes in times gone by. It is the Indian equivalent of the Arab Dhow. When launched they will operate on the Bekal – Cochin sector.
HELICOPTER TOURISM SERVICE IN KERALA: God’s Own Country Kerala will be luring tourists by launching a ”Helicopter tourism” service. Visitors will be taken from one tourist spot to the other in a seven-seater helicopter to save time and also discomfort on the roads. A nu mber of cost-effective packages have been designed in the helicopter tourism segment like ”Capital by Air”, ”Backwaters by Air”, ”Fly the Hills” and ”Shoreline Flights”. The ”Capital by air” offers sightseeing trips around Thiruvananthapuram. The backwater trip takes tourists around Kumarakom, while the ”Fly the hill” provides tourists a taste of the hill stations at Thekkady and Munnar. It will also touch Kochi and Kumarakom. The ”Shoreline” flights offer sightseeing to Kanyakumari along the picturesque coastline.
PALACE ON WHEELS ADDS SEVERAL LUXURIES: The second Palace on wheels to be launched in Rajasthan early next year will have a dance floor, a massage center, a conference room and bars. It will be the third tourist train to be operated by Rajasthan Tourism after Palace on Wheels and Heritage on Wheels (on the Shekhwati sector). The second Palace on wheels will also have special suites.
MEDICAL TOURISM BROCHURE RELEASED: The Ministry of Tourism is aggressively promoting India as a global healthcare destination and has recently released the ‘Incredible India Brochure on Medical Tourism’. The government has also started issuing M (medical) visas to the medical patients, and MX visas to the dependent accompanying them, which are valid for a year. Around 200000 medical tourists visited India last year, and the figure will grow by 50% this year.
GARIB RATHS (PLUSH TRAIN FOR POOR): The Indian Railways has introduced the ”Garib Raths”, a maiden scheme to provide plush rail services to the poor at affordable rates, and plans to link all state capitals with express trains, with the induction of 24-coach trains. The success of the Garib Raths, can already be seen in the rail operating between Saharsa (Bihar) and Amritsar (Punjab) which is a boon to the traveler especially during the festival season.
TRAIN TO KASHMIR HITS THE HIGHWAY: Ever heard of a train running on a road? It does in Jammu and Kashmir. Set to chug in Kashmir’s bewitching landscape in snowy February 2007, the first-ever trial train to Kashmir took off for the Valley on November 7, not on traditional tracks but on the 300 km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway. It has added another chapter to the history of Indian Railways and Kashmir’s national rail project, as the first trial diesel mobile unit coach, a 36 tyre wheeled train pulled by a 460 HP engine, drove up the Jammu-Srinagar Highway at 0700 hrs and headed toward Kashmir’s Budgam railway station by taking a road route and not a train track.
JAIPUR TO SELL HERITAGE LIQUOR: Shops all over Rajasthan will sell heritage liquor, made from age old recipes of Rajasthan Royals. It is made from dry fruits, nuts, herbs and spices with a touch of saffron sometimes. To begin with, shops in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Bikaner, Ajmer, Udaipur and Bharatpur will sell the special liquor.
8000 DRUMMERS TO DRUM UP A RECORD IN MEGHALAYA: A band of 8000 drummers is set to break a record for 5 minutes of synchronized drum beats set by Hong Kong. The band will play a newly composed piece, “Positive Vibration” to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. The ensemble will play at Meghalaya’s autumn festival which expects to have entertainers from Australia as well.
GUJARATI EXPATS OWN 42% OF US HOTELS: In the 1970s the Patels moved in to buy motels in the US, so much so, these motels were often referred to as “Potels”. Some three and a half decades later the same Gujarati (mostly Patels) own 21,000 of the 53,000 hotels and motels in the US; a staggering 42% of the US hospitality market with a combined worth of $40 billion.
FAIRY QUEEN BEGINS DELHI-ALWAR-DELHI RUN FROM 11 NOVEMBER: Built in 1855, the Fairy Queen is the oldest steam engine in working condition. Every year it takes visitors on a Delhi-Alwar-Delhi trip. This year the schedule has been announced. It will ply twice a month (beginning 11 November) in November, December 2006 January and February 2007.