Wednesday, May 29, 2024

India-Sri Lanka Aviation Boost: Daily Flights To Amplify Trade & Tourism From July 16

By Staff Correspondent

Jyotiraditya Scindia, India’s Union Minister of Civil Aviation, unveiled plans on 9 July to bolster daily flight services between Chennai and Jaffna, Sri Lanka, from 16 July. Previously operated four times a week, the service’s expansion marks an ambitious bid to stimulate commercial and trade activities between the two nations.

Speaking at the 67th Annual Convention of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), hosted this year in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, Scindia highlighted the robust cultural and trade connections India and Sri Lanka enjoy.

The aviation minister reflected on the Indian aviation sector’s growth over the past nine years, emphasising the strategic advantages of India’s partnership with Sri Lanka in tackling immediate challenges and solidifying India’s influence in the global aviation industry.

Scindia pointed out the inaugural air service agreement between the two nations, penned in 1968, which permitted Indian carriers unrestricted air travel, further strengthening Global South connectivity. Currently, 16 flights connect different Indian sectors to Colombo, and cargo movement has been streamlined.

The announcement for increased flight frequency came in response to a surge in demand and the route’s potential to drive bilateral trade and commerce, said Scindia. He also invited industry stakeholders to collaborate to propel the industry’s growth and success.

The TAAI convention, following an 18-year break, took place from 6 July to 9, boasting over 700 attendees, primarily from India. This event, steeped in historical significance owing to the thousands-year-old connection between India and Sri Lanka, was conducted with the theme ‘Futuristic Focus on Transcending Borders.’

As Sri Lanka emerges from political unrest and economic crisis, TAAI aims to promote a regional tourism network. India is set to double its tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka by 2023, with roadshows in India helping bolster the country’s image.

In collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators, TAAI will present Sri Lanka as a safe and welcoming destination for Indian tourists, leveraging the support of Sri Lankan Airlines.

The event was inaugurated by Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and other distinguished delegates from both nations.

This prestigious convention aims to explore the evolving tourism industry landscape and embrace new destinations and adventures. Tourism represents a crucial part of the bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka, with India having introduced the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Sri Lankan tourists in 2015. With 355,000 of the 1.91 million tourists visiting Sri Lanka in 2019 hailing from India, Indian tourists have significantly boosted the Sri Lankan tourism sector, which was severely affected by the Easter Sunday attacks.

On 24 July, 2019, India further tightened the knot by incorporating Sri Lanka into its free visa-on-arrival scheme.

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