Weekly round-up of adventure travel and tourism, and the Himalayan travel and tourism news for Feb 18-28 and Mar 1-3, 2013
February 18, 2013
Successful test flight from New Delhi to Gaggal Airport
On Sunday February 17, 2013, a SpiceJet’s 80-seat airplane successfully landed at Gaggal Airport, Kangra (Himachal Pradesh). This was the first ever landing of an 80-seat airplane at the airport. The airline is also setting up a booking counter at the airport. The test flight and the counter, two important developments, ensure that air service to Gaggal Airport would be resumed from March 31, 2013, as per the schedule.
Prior to September 2012, Kingfisher Airline was using 68-seat airplanes between New Delhi and Gaggal Airport. However, the plane was allowed to carry only fifty passengers.
Indian Railways plans to build highest rail bridge
Indian Railways planned to build Chenab Bridge, the highest rail bridge in the world. The bridge would be operational by 2016. The bridge over the Chenab River in Reasi District would be five times taller than Qutub Minar. The 1,315-meter long bridge would connect Jammu to Srinagar and Baramulla via Udhampur, Katra and Qazigund.
February 19, 2013
Nepal Tourism Board (N.T.B.) operated special tourist buses from the airport to various hotels in Kathmandu in view of a banda (strike).
Xanterra acquires VBT, an adventure travel company
Xanterra Parks & Resorts® acquired VBT (Vermont) Bicycling and Walking Vacations to expand its experiential travel products. VBT, established in 1971, offers cycling, walking and cross-country skiing tours for small groups. VBT, one of the National Geographic’s Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth, covers a broad spectrum of destinations in Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Europe, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam.
February 20, 2013
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (H.P.T.D.C.) planned to install another lift connecting Cart Road and Mall Road, Shimla. The new lift would reduce queue time for travelers.
February 21, 2013
Nepal Tourism Board (N.T.B.) inaugurated 4-day long 3rd Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival on February 21.
ATTA previews arrangements for AWTS 2013
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) previewed the Namibian arrangements for the World Adventure Travel Summit (AWTS) scheduled for October 26-31, 2013. Namibia is hosting the event in Windhoek.
February 22, 2013
Winter Carnival at Patnitop, organized by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department and Patnitop Development Authority, was concluded.
February 23, 2013
Swiss tents for Hatu and Bhagsu
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (H.P.T.D.C.) would pitch state-of-the-art Swiss tents in Hatu (Narkanda) and Bhagsu (Dharamshala) to promote eco-tourism. Each destination would have three such tents. The proposed in-tent facilities include chairs, carpets, televisions, night lamps, dressing tables and writing tables. The corporation would also serve meals to the tourists staying in the tents pitched amid lush surroundings. The proposed tariff ranges from INR 2,500 -5,500 per tourist.
H.P. to upgrade NH 21, construct tunnels
Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) planned to upgrade National Highway (NH) 21 that connects Chandigarh to Manali via Mandi. The up graded highway would feature four lanes. The construction work would take place in phased manner. In the first phase, the Garamaura to Nerchowk stretch would be upgraded.
A tunnel is also proposed on Kullu route to reduce the distance by approximately 60 kilometers and on Kiratpur-Nerchowk route by approximately 35 kilometers.
Chamunda-Holi Tunnel would reduce the distance on Chamba route by about 200 kilometers.
February 24, 2013
Kalpa, Keylong, Kharapather, Kufri, Manali, Narkanda, Rekong Peo, and Udaipur in Himachal Pradesh received heavy snowfall.
Rafting Championship inaugurated in Doda
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Tourism Department inaugurated a 4-day International Rafting Championship on February 24, 2013. The competition would take place on Thathri-Prem Nagar stretch over the Chenab River in Doda District. J&K Rafting Association and International Rafting Federation are providing technical support. The winners would get J&K Rafting Cup. The Czech, Indian, Nepali, Slovak and Australian teams would participate in the competition.
February 26, 2013
Department of Tourism to introduce special software
Department of Tourism, Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) planned to unveil special software to collect tourism data, including tourist profile, in the first week of March. The data would be used to plan tourism policies and activities. The software would also help in monitoring anti-social elements that occupy the hotel rooms but do not reveal their true identities. In the first phase, the software would be installed in the government and tourism department affiliated hotels. In the second phase, all other hotels would implement the software.
February 27, 2013
Chhurim Sherpa is the first female mountaineer to climb Mount Everest twice in a week. She received the Guinness World Record Certificate for the achievement.
Railway Budget 2013-14 and the Himalayan states
The Railway Budget 2013-14 proposed a number of new facilities for simplifying and quickening the travel to and within the Himalayan states.
- Amritsar (Punjab) – Chandigarh — Lalkuan (Nainital, Uttarakhand) Express, (Weekly)
- Bandra Terminus – Haridwar Express (Weekly)
- Bareilly-Lalkuan Passenger (Daily)
- Bathinda – Patiala- Rajpura -Jammu Tawi Express (Weekly)
- Chandigarh – Himachal Pradesh (Direct train)
- Chandigarh – Jammu (Direct train)
- Chandigarh – Uttarakhand (Direct train)
- Katra-Kalka Express (Bi-Weekly)
- Kota – Mathura – Palwal – Jammu Tawi Express (Weekly)
- Nangal / Una – Chandigarh – Hazoor Sahib Nanded
- New Delhi-Katra AC Express (six days a week)
The budget also proposed to lay down rail links up to Ladakh, Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir.
Feasibility surveys for the following three new rail lines in Himachal Pradesh have been suggested:
- Amb – Nadaun – Kangra
- Baddi – Bilaspur
- Dharamsala – Palampur
Another proposed feasibility study would focus on issuing “yatra parchis” to Vaishno Devi pilgrims using rail services.
Common bus-rail ticket for Jammu to Srinagar travel
The government mooted an idea to start a common bus and rail ticket to simplify multi-modal travel on Jammu to Baramulla and Srinagar route.
Registration for Amarnath Yatra 2013 begins on March 18
Registration for Amarnath Yatra 2013 (June 28 – August 21) would begin from March 18. The registration counters have been increased to 422 in 2013 from 276 in 2012. The counters are set up at different branches of HDFC Bank Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India and Yes Bank. Download the application and medical certificate forms.
March 1, 2013
Apply to join Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2013 (June 9-September 9) by March 11, 2013 the last date to submit printable application and a printout of online application.
Mesco, Pawan may launch heli-taxi services in H.P.
Mesco Airline and Pawan Hans Ltd. would conduct a survey to appraise the market for heli-taxi service in Himachal Pradesh (H.P.), India. Mesco is also planning to launch regular commercial air service in the state.
GMVN and Tourism Depart inaugurate yog festival
The 7-day annual International Yog Festival (I.Y.F.) was inaugurated on March 1, 2013. The festival is hosted by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (G.M.V.N.) and Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board. The venue for the festival is Haridwar and Rishikesh, the yoga capitals. Register for the festival.
MoT proposes to extend geographical scope of TVOA
The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) (India) proposed extension of the Tourist Visa-on-Arrival (TVOA) scheme to seventeen more countries, including the potential markets and the countries not posing any security threats. If the proposal is approved by the Home Ministry, TVOA would be valid for total 28 countries.
The MoT recommended TOVA for the following countries:
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Trinidad and Tobago
The proposal also includes covering more entry points, such as airports in Goa, Kochi, Bodhgaya, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Trivandrum.
March 2, 2013
Institute of Hotel Management Kufri offers free vocational courses
Institute of Hotel Management Catering and Nutrition Kufri, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh planned complimentary short-term vocational courses in food production, food and beverage services. Youth of 18-28 age group may apply for these courses offered on first come, first served basis. The institute also offers stipend ranging from (INR 1,500-2,000), lunch, uniform, accommodation and transportation to the trainees. Last date for application is March 5, 2013.
March 3, 3013
The temples of Gangotri and Yamunotri would open for public on May 13, 2013.
The temple of Badrinath would open for public on May 16, 203.