Sri Lanka Free Visa for Indians Akasa Air IPO Plans Unveiled

Sri Lanka aims for 1.5 million visitors by year-end with streamlined visas for seven countries, including India and China. Despite prior challenges, the country is showing promise in 2023, with strong support from India and Russia in boosting the tourism sector.

Sri Lanka Free Visa for Indians Akasa Air IPO Plans Unveiled

Akasa Air's Planned Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Akasa Air, a new Indian airline that is set to start international services, has announced that it plans to go public by the end of this decade. The airline, which launched in August 2022, currently operates over 750 weekly flights to 16 domestic destinations.

Akasa Air hassecured flying rights for international routes to Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, as well as Doha and Kuwait. The airline currently has a fleet of 20 aircraft and a firm order for 76 Boeing 737 MAX planes, which are scheduled to join the fleet by mid-2027.

Akasa Air plans toexpand its fleet to 25 aircraft by the end of this fiscal year and 40 aircraft by the end of the next financial year. By mid-2027, the airline aims to have a total of 76 planes. Akasa is also considering placing an order for over 100 aircraft before the end of 2023.

Currently, there are only two publicly traded operational scheduled carriers on Indian stock exchanges: IndiGo and SpiceJet. Jet Airways, which ceased operations in April 2019 due to financial issues, is also listed. Go First, which halted operations earlier this year, had expressed interest in listing on Indian bourses.

India Becomes the Second-Largest Overseas Visitor Source for the U.S.

India has surged to become the second-largest overseas visitor source for the U.S. in the first half of 2023, a significant jump from the previous year when it ranked sixth. Factors contributing to this increase include rising incomes, an expanding middle class, and heightened awareness of the U.S. as a tourist destination among Indian travellers.

Visa delays of over 500 days remain a substantial barrier for travel from India to the United States, deterring potential travellers and hindering substantial growth in U.S.-India travel.

Explanation of the content

  • Overseas visitor source market: A country from which a significant number of visitors travel to another country.
  • Nonimmigrant visa: A visa that allows a foreign citizen to enter the United States for a temporary period of time, such as for tourism, business, or education.
  • Disposable income: The amount of money that a person or household has left over after paying for essential expenses, such as housing, food, and transportation.
  • Middle class: The social class that is between the working class and the upper class.
  • Tourist destination: A place that is visited by people for pleasure or recreation.
  • Visa waiting period: The amount of time that it takes for a visa application to be processed.
  • Deterrent: Something that discourages someone from doing something.

General Atlantic Acquires Minority Stake in TBO Tek from Affirma Capital

Global investment firm General Atlantic has acquired a minority stake in India's TBO Tek, a travel distribution platform, from private equity fund Affirma Capital. This investment is expected to aid TBO Tek's global expansion, while Affirma Capital realises a substantial return on its investment, benefiting both parties.

These are some of the explanations of the above :

  • TBO Tek is a global travel distribution platform that provides integrated travel solutions to over 40,000 buyers and 1 million hotels in over 100 countries. The company's platform enables travel suppliers to display and market their inventory to a global base of buyers.
  • Affirma Capital is a private equity fund with a focus on India, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. The firm has a track record of investing in and growing companies in the region.
  • In this transaction, Affirma Capital has divested approximately 7% of its stake in TBO Tek, while retaining a significant minority share in the business. This partial exit has allowed Affirma Capital to realise a nine-fold return on its invested capital.
  • General Atlantic's investment in TBO Tek is seen as a vote of confidence in the company's potential for future growth. General Atlantic's Managing Director and Head of India, Shantanu Rastogi, has emphasised the company's global expansion plans, and has expressed his enthusiasm for working with TBO Tek to shape the next generation of global travel.

Agoda's Diwali Travel Insights

Agoda, the digital travel platform, has disclosed the top domestic destinations for Indian travellers during the festive Diwali season. The leading domestic locations includeGoa, Ooty, Puducherry, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Agoda's data also reveals a notable 13% surge in travel-related searches for Diwali, marking an increase compared to the previous year.

What's Diwali? Diwali, celebrated as the festival of lights, is a significant and widely embraced holiday in India, observed from November 10 to November 15 this year.

Regarding international destinations, the five most sought-after locations during this period are Bangkok, Dubai, Singapore, Pattaya, and Kuala Lumpur. Agoda has also noticed an increase in the number of tourists arriving in India during the Diwali season, with visitors primarily hailing from the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Sarovar Expands Golden Tulip Presence with Bhopal Opening

Sarovar Hotels and Resorts is a leading hotel group in India with over 100 operational hotels in more than 70 destinations. The group manages a diverse portfolio of brands, including Sarovar Premiere (luxury), Sarovar Portico (mid-market), Hometel (budget), and Golden Tulip (international).

Group Du Louvre is a French hospitality company headquartered in Paris. It owns and operates over 1,200 hotels in more than 60 countries around the world. The group manages a variety of hotel brands, including Golden Tulip, Royal Tulip, Campanile, Kyriad, and Louvre Hotels.

The newly opened Golden Tulip hotel in Bhopal is strategically designed to cater to the preferences of contemporary and youthful travellers. The hotel features 62 well-appointed rooms and suites, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a capacious banquet hall, and a variety of other amenities. The hotel is also conveniently located close to the city centre and major transportation hubs.

Sarovar's 2023 expansion plans include the opening of 10 new hotels in key pilgrimage and leisure destinations in India. The group is also planning to venture into new markets in India that it has not yet explored. This expansion plan reflects Sarovar's commitment to growing its business and providing its guests with a wider range of accommodation options.

South African Tourism Experiences Robust Growth in Indian Arrivals

In the period spanning January to July 2023, South African Tourism has reported an impressive growth of more than 80% in Indian tourist arrivals compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

In a bid to maintain and further enhance the positive momentum in tourist arrivals observed during the first half of the year, South African Tourism has organised a comprehensive training program titled "Learn South Africa 2023" in six Indian cities.

  • Training Cities

The purpose of this initiative is to empower travel agents with the requisite knowledge and tools for effectively promoting South Africa as a desirable travel destination. These training sessions are being conducted in cities such as Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Kochi, Indore, and Jaipur.

  • India's Significance

India is positioned among the top three priority markets for the global tourism board, and it currently holds the distinction of being the sixth-largest international source market for South African Tourism.

The tourism board recognizes the pivotal role that India plays in shaping South Africa's tourism landscape. Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head for the Middle East, India, and South-East Asia at South African Tourism, emphasised their commitment to continuous innovation and expansion of such programs, with the aim of reaching tier-2 and tier-3 cities within the Indian market.

Yatra Collaborates to Enhance Affordability of Holidays

Yatra, in partnership with banks and airline affiliate Indigo, has introduced an EMI festival tailored for travellers seeking affordability during the festive season. This festival provides customers with the opportunity to access discounts on both domestic and international airfares, in addition to reduced rates on hotel accommodations and holiday packages.

The timing of this EMI festival aligns perfectly with the preparation of Indian travellers for the forthcoming festive season and year-end getaways, as highlighted by Sabina Chopra, the Chief Operating Officer of Corporate Travel and the Head of Industry Relations at Yatra.


What is the new visa program offered by Sri Lanka, and who can benefit from it?

Sri Lanka is running a pilot program that provides free tourist visas to visitors from seven countries, including India. Travellers from India, China, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia can benefit from this initiative.

Why has Sri Lanka introduced this visa program?

Sri Lanka has introduced this program as part of its broader strategy to revive its tourism sector, which has faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crises. The goal is to attract more tourists and achieve a target of 1.5 million visitors by the end of the year.

How long is this visa program available, and when does it end?

The program offers free tourist visas until March 2024, providing travellers with an extended period to take advantage of this opportunity.

What is the current status of Sri Lanka's tourism industry in 2023?

In 2023, Sri Lanka is witnessing a positive shift in its tourism industry. By September, the country had already welcomed 1 million arrivals, marking a significant recovery since 2019. It is expected to conclude the year with 1.5 million arrivals.

Which countries are the prominent source markets for Sri Lanka's tourism sector?

India is the largest source of tourists, contributing 200,310 arrivals, followed by Russia with 132,300, according to the latest data from the Sri Lanka Development Authority.

How does this initiative contribute to Sri Lanka's broader tourism goals?

This initiative is a key component of Sri Lanka's strategy to attract more tourists and revitalise its tourism sector. It aligns with the country's goal of reaching 1.5 million visitors by the end of the year and a more ambitious target of 5 million arrivals by 2026.