Adventure Tourism Operators Need to Improve Safety Measures

Adventure Tourism Operators Need to Improve Safety Measures

Skift Take

Bungy jumping, scuba diving and paragliding may offer a lifetime of unmatched thrills, but are tour operators selling these thrills playing by the rulebook?

Aiming to be a top adventure tourism destination, the Indian tourism minister recently spoke about focusing on infrastructure development to boost this segment. However, India would need more than just infrastructure development. Quality standards, regulation and oversight would be needed for India to become a leading adventure tourism destination. Most guides, operators and instructors in the country fail to meet basic safety requirements as there are over 5,000 unregistered adventure tour operators in the country, said Vaibhav Kala, founder of New Delhi-based Aquaterra Adventures, told Skift. Highly specialized activities are operated by non-specialized operators due to lack of guidelines and limited skilling facilities. “We need a uniform nationwide regulatory system with ease of registration, training institutes and licensed guides to offer quality and safe experiences to tourists from around the world,” said Kala. Tourism in India lacks legislative backing and is therefore, a state subject. The Centre doesn’t have a mandate to enforce approved regulations and guidelines on the states. States like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal have all been working on adventure tourism standards and guidelines — but in total isolation. Pradeep Murthy, director of Kerala-based MuddyBoots Vacations, highlighted to Skift how several unregulated adventure bucket shops which provide low-quality equipment severely impact safety. “Many operators use plastic helmets for bungee jumping and white water rafting which are otherwise used for scaffolding work in construction,” he said. It’s important that consumers understand and find out if the right adventure equipment is being used — which should ideally be tested in proper laboratories and certified to international standards. “Operators would be forced to adopt regulatory practices only if customers start demanding for licensed operators. The government should therefore, look at educating consumers on a mass level,” added Murthy. India also needs to have a proper mechanism for evacuation and rescue so that tourists are airlifted to safety. 

Flight bookings for Indian outbound travel in the first week of April have recorded an 8 times rise year-on-year in the first week of April — the highest in the last five years, according to a report by Adara, a travel martech and data exchange platform. India-headquartered travel tech firm RateGain Travel Technologies recently acquired Adara. For the period April 20-30, Indians have booked the highest number of flights for Canada, followed by the U.S., and the United Arab Emirates UAE). Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, and the UAE saw the highest share of leisure bookings made for the same period. Flight bookings to the the UAE from India for the first week of Ramadan 2023 grew 25 percent year-on-year. The country also experienced a 116 percent year-on-year spike in hotel bookings during the period leading up to Eid. 

The Events and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) of India has collaborated with consulting firm Deloitte to create a draft of the country’s first-ever Wedding Tourism Policy. The document includes guidelines for the promotion of India’s unique wedding customs and traditions, development of infrastructure to support the industry’s growth, and the creation of a legal framework to ensure that the industry operates ethically and transparently, EEMA said in a statement. As a significant step towards establishing India as a premier wedding destination globally, the policy draft is expected to provide a structured approach to the wedding industry’s growth and development in India, creating job opportunities and boosting the economy. The policy has been developed by industry experts and key stakeholders, with Deloitte providing their expertise to ensure that it aligns with the government’s vision for tourism in India.

Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air has started operating four weekly direct flights between Goa and Bahrain. With the new service, the airline aims to expand its reach in the Indian subcontinent and provide more travel options for its passengers. Gulf Air is also bringing back five seasonal routes that it had operated in the 2022 summer. It will open 2x weekly service from Bahrain to both Alexandria and Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt from June 3 to September 13. From June 1 to September 30, the airline will fly between Bahrain and Mykonos in Greece twice weekly.

Travel search engine Kayak’s recent findings revealed that family flight searches in India are increasing by about 230 percent compared to 2022, with 81 percent of them preferring to travel with families this summer despite higher airfares. The most searched international destination for summer travel is Toronto followed by Dubai, London, and New York. Within Asia, Indian travelers are looking at Bali, Bangkok, Singapore, and the Maldives. Further, New Delhi was the most searched domestic destination, followed by Goa, Srinagar and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Domestic flight searches have increased by about 208 percent, and long-haul international flight searches are also up by around 158 percent for travel this summer compared to last year, the study revealed.

Tata Group-owned Air India will provide 26 weeks of maternity leave to women employees as well as daycare support under its revamped policies. Besides, the airline will give women pilots the choice to opt for quicker turnaround flights till the child reaches the age of one year. The option will be subject to request and availability, according to an internal communication. The revised policies, already in effect from April 1, are part of the carrier’s “MOMS – Returning Mothers Programme.” Currently, the maternity leave is for 12 weeks. There will also be counseling sessions to “address mental well-being, preparation for childbirth and plans to return to work for expectant mothers,” the communication said. Air India has more than 5,000 women employees, including flying and non-flying staff.

The foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India increased by 107 percent from $8 billion in 2021 to $16.4 billion in 2022, according to the government’s provisional estimates. The tourism industry has shown good signs of revival after the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism ministry said in a statement. “India received 6.19 million foreign tourist arrivals during 2022 as compared to 1.52 million during the same period of 2021,” said Indian tourism minister G Kishan Reddy. The ministry has also set up a 24×7 multi-lingual tourist info-helpline in 12 languages including 10 international languages — German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi and English for domestic and foreign tourists to provide information relating to travel in India and to offer guidance to tourists in distress while traveling in the country.

Travel and expense management super app Navan has announced its agreement to acquire Bengaluru-based travel and expense management company Tripeur. The acquisition allows Navan to scale Tripeur’s technology, which has spearheaded the transformation of the Indian travel market from offline to online, the company said in a statement. The technology includes direct connections to low-cost carriers in India, such as IndiGo, and automated employee expense reconciliation. Additionally, the acquisition enables Navan to offer local support in India beyond assistance with bookings, such as lounge access at airports and visa facilitation, which typically is more complicated in India compared with other markets. “Navan’s scalability, combined with Tripeur’s localized technology, inventory, and support, ensures the group will offer unparalleled products and services in India,” said Thiagarajan Rajagopalan, co-founder and CEO of Tripeur.

As part of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) monsoon contingency plan, both runways — RWY 09/27 and 14/32 — will remain shut for six hours on May 2 for repair and maintenance work. The temporary closure will be from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) has been issued in this regard. All operations will resume as usual from May 2, 2023, post 5:00 pm, Mumbai airport authorities said. “The CSMIA is one of the world’s busiest single runway airports and witnesses nearly 900 flight movements each day. Thus, to ensure operational continuity during the monsoon months, timely check and repair work on the runways and associated facilities is of utmost importance to maintain its health and operational continuity,” the official statement read.

India-based travel technology provider Travel Portal Solution has launched its brainchild Lowest Flight Fares in the country to provide travelers with comparatively low airfares, thus maximizing the number of customers to its site. “The Indian travel market has a huge opportunity for the industry. As a travel technology provider, we can present a stronghold in the market that can target online travel agents, tour operators and travelers overall,” said Raj Kishor, founder of Travel Portal Solution. Currently, Lowest Flight Fares is serving a large number of travelers with competitive airfares.