Colombo [Sri Lanka], July 10 (ANI): Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia has announced that the frequency of flights between Chennai and Sri Lanka’s Jaffna will be increased from four times a week to daily services from July 16.
The daily flights from Chennai to Jaffna will also amplify trade and commerce between India and Sri Lanka, Scindia noted.
The Union Civil Aviation Minister made these remarks in a pre-recorded message on day-2 of the 67th Annual Convention of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), being hosted in Colombo.
In his address, he underscored the strong cultural and trade relations between India and Sri Lanka.
“Delighted to virtually share my thoughts on the state of the Indian #aviation sector and its emergence as the key pillar of national progress at the 67th Annual Convention of @TAAI1951, Sri Lanka. Also highlighted the strong cultural and trade ties between India & Sri Lanka that have been marked by cooperation in the field of commerce, infrastructure development and connectivity,” tweeted Scinida.
At the convention, he said, “Prior to 2014, India’s aviation sector was on the runway. In the last nine years, it has finally taken off. A stable and competitive aviation sector is on the angle. I believe that our partnership with Sri Lanka gives us a rare opportunity to undertake several reforms to address short term challenges in the sector and become an important access of power and influence in the global aviation ecosystem.”
He added that the first air service agreement between the two countries was signed in 1968, allowing Indian carriers to operate aircraft from any point in India to any point in Sri Lanka, which enhanced the connectivity in the Global South.
“Currently, 16 flights are operational from different sectors of India to Colombo. Cargo movement has also been smoothened and with the assistance from both governments, we are operating a direct flight from Chennai to Jaffna today through this platform,” Scindia said.
He also announced that based on increased demand and potential of this route to amplify trade and commerce, “we will increase this frequency from four times a week to daily flights effective from July 16, 2023.”
He also urged all stakeholders to come together to take the industry to newer heights of success and growth.
The convention of the Travel Agents Association of India, after an 18-year hiatus, is being held in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo from July 6 to 9 with over 700 participants primarily from India, RRM Lilani wrote the report.
The historical connection between India and Sri Lanka, spanning thousands of years, adds to the significance of the 67th Convention of the TAAI.
TAAI’s 2022 Convention, originally planned for April 19 to 22 in Colombo, was postponed due to political unrest and economic crisis but today, as Sri Lanka is on its revival path, the Convention has returned to the country to promote a regional tourism network.
Sri Lanka Tourism said that India continues to lead among the top ten markets, with the number of Indian tourist arrivals expected to double by 2023. To promote tourist attractions, cultural value, and travel opportunities, Sri Lanka hosts roadshows in India to create a positive perception among Indian tourists.
In Colombo, TAAI, the largest and oldest tourism agency in India, is set to showcase the theme of ‘Futuristic Focus on Transcending Borders’ and emphasize Sri Lanka’s position as a safe, convenient, and welcoming destination for Indian tourists, at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. The convention, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators, has received strong support from the Sri Lankan Airlines.
The event was inaugurated by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, along with other key dignitaries and delegate members from both countries.
The Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopal Bagley, delivered a welcome address, highlighting the significance of this prestigious event and providing a platform for networking and knowledge sharing among participants from various countries.
Under the theme ‘Transcending Borders’, the convention aims to explore the evolving landscape of the tourism industry, emphasizing the embrace of new adventures and destinations.
Sri Lanka has the popular Ramayana Trail, which attracts North Indian tourists, and last year, Sri Lanka Tourism introduced the “Murugan Trail” for South Indians. The “Murugan Trail” includes approximately ten places of worship, from the north to the south of Sri Lanka, including the Jaffna Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil and the Kataragama or Kadirgamam Murugan Temple.
Lord Shiva is also worshipped as one of the main deities among the South Indian community.
Tourism plays a vital role in the bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka. The central government introduced the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme for Sri Lankan tourists on April 14, 2015, and reduced the visa fee as a goodwill gesture.
Of a total of 1.91 million tourists visiting Sri Lanka in 2019, 355,000 were from India.
Sri Lankan tourists are also among the top ten sources for the Indian tourism market. The tourism sector in Sri Lanka, which was severely affected by the Easter Sunday attacks, received a boost from Indian tourists.
India included Sri Lanka in its free visa-on-arrival scheme to further strengthen ties on July 24, 2019. (ANI)
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