‘Integrating tourism & aviation’

Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, says that civil aviation and tourism are the two sides of the same coin and UDAN scheme aims to broaden the perspective of civil aviation in the country as well as deepen its reach.

Nisha Verma

Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, said that tourism and aviation go together as industry because without tourism aviation loses a lot of its shine and vice versa for civil aviation. “One cannot bring forth the potentiality of tourism in any country in the world. I think they are conjoined twins in terms of seeing the development of each other. It’s also been a great area of importance for Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he claimed.

UDAN scheme for tourism

He claimed that the UDAN scheme has been put in place to both broaden the perspective of civil aviation in the country as well as deepen its reach and penetration. “In the last five years, since UDAN took off, we have around 457 routes operationalised. We also have a `4,500cr capex plan for airports underneath the scheme through which 71, including airports, heliports and water dromes, have been operationalised. Our target for routes is roughly about 1,000 and our target for airports is about 100. Thus, in the last five years, we have almost crossed 50 per cent of our target on operationalisation of routes and almost above 71 per cent of our target on airports. We aim to reach the target of 1,000 routes and 100 airports by 2024-25. Almost 1.1 crore people have benefited from this, many of whom have possibly never travelled by air in their lives before. Close to 2,15,000 flights have been operated through the UDAN scheme and as far as new concepts to the UDAN scheme we have brought about in the last year and a half, we have made sure that we look at last mile connectivity. Therefore, there is great connectivity into India on the international to domestic route as well as on the domestic to domestic route from tier I cities to tier-I and tier-II cities,” he updated.

However, he shared, “The last mile connectivity is the piece of the puzzle that we are trying to put together. Thus, under UDAN, we have brought about a small aircraft scheme. In the latest round, i.e. UDAN 4.2, we have awarded 184 routes, of which 16 are for helicopters, 50 for planes and 118 for fixed wing small aircrafts. Under UDAN 4.3, we have also awarded 10 tourism routes, of which eight are operational. We also look at international UDAN with our Act East Policy. Two routes have been awarded under international UDAN, Agartala -Chittagong-Agartala and Imphal- Mandalay-Imphal.”

Inclusion of tourism

Scindia shared that it is with UDAN 3 they look at the inclusion of tourism and the synergy between the two sectors. “We have included tourism routes. We have awarded 61 routes under the tourism UDAN scheme, of which 43 routes are operational. It’s been a huge success and another eight new routes will be operationalized by March 2023. Thus, there has been a great deal of connectivity through tourism UDAN as well. Places like Agra to Bhopal; Bengaluru to Mysore; Dibrugrah to Dimapur; Agartala to Aizawl, have been operationalised. On the west coast is Ahmedabad to Udaipur, Amritsar to Jaipur, and Bhopal to Udaipur. On the east coast, we have got many northeast routes as well as Rajahmundry to Visakhapatnam. In Uttar Pradesh, Gorakhpur to Varanasi and Delhi to Khajuraho has been started, which is a route in great demand. South India to North India; on the east coast Bhubaneswar to Varanasi. Deoghar is a symbol of great importance from religious perspective and Kolkata to Deoghar connectivity has been given. There have been tremendous movement on the UDAN routes,” he claimed.

Buddhist circuit

He said that they have been concentrating on Buddhist circuit as well. “A total of 26 routes have been awarded there, of which two are active and 12 new routes will be operational in this summer schedule. Today, under the Buddhist route Kushinagar and Indore are connected. However, soon, we will be connecting Bareilly and Saharanpur to Kushinagar as well. Also, Shravasti is of great importance for the Buddhist circuit, which would be connected in the summer schedule to four cities, mainly Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Lucknow. Thus, there is a great deal of importance that we attach to the synergies between tourism and civil aviation, and the UDAN scheme is playing a very, very important role in being able to achieve that twin objective,” he said.

Integrated approach

Scindia informed that tourism regional connectivity scheme is one of the areas of tremendous synergy under which both ministries are working together to grow both tourism and culture in the country. “Also, there is an emphasis given under the PM’s directive to the Northeast as a growth engine for the country. In 2014, we had only nine airports operational in the Northeast and today we have increased that to 16 airports. Two states in the Northeast—Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim —did not have a single airport. In the last eight years, Arunachal has three airports and Sikkim has one. Assam had four airports, which has been increased to seven. In terms of volume and aircraft, in 2014, we had a total of 1,014 total aircraft movements per week in the Northeast, which has gone up to 1,911 aircraft movements in January this year,” he said.

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