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Eyeing Indian travellers, Qatar opens tourism office in Mumbai



QATAR Tourism Authority, Photo Credit: The Peninsula Qatar

Mumbai, May 3 (IANS) Eyeing a chunk of tourists from India, the world’s second largest outbound tourists market, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has opened an office here on Thursday.

QTA’s Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer Rashed AlQurese said the decision was taken in view of the rapid growth of India’s outbound tourism market in recent years, coupled with QTA’s intensified efforts to diversify and grow visitor source.

“The steps taken to make accessing Qatar easier are particularly targeted at visitors seeking to experience our country’s luxury hospitality and unique cultural offerings, all while benefiting from the convenience of relatively short flights,” AlQurese told media persons.

The QTA has about a dozen offices worldwide including in Moscow, Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, the US, China, Russia, the Gulf Cooperation Council markets and South East Asia, he added.

According to a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimate, India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020.

Similarly, the market for travel and tourism in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7.23 per cent during the period 2016-2021.

QTA’s office here will oversee a wide range of promotional initiatives, including workshops, sales visits, travel agents destination training, partnerships with tour operators, familiarisation trips, media campaigns and other innovative activities to boost Qatar as a leisure and business tourism destination.

After Qatar waived entry visas for Indians last year, it has become an increasingly accessible destination for Indian travellers, with more than 110,000 visitors in the first quarter of 2018.

The Qatar Airways has 100 weekly direct flights connecting the capital Doha to thirteen major cities across India and 67 flights from India to Qatar by major airlines like Air India Express, Indigo Airlines and Jet Airways.

Indian nationals can enter Qatar visa-free, for 30 days’ stay, which can be extended by another similar period.



Mumbai to get 150 more suburban train services from Monday

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.



mumbai local

Mumbai, Sep 20 : Mumbai will get an additional 150 suburban services on the Western Railway (WR) which will ease the commuting travails for officegoers and those in essential services permitted by the Maharashtra government, officials said here on Sunday.

With this, the number of WR suburban services will shoot up from 350 to 500 daily, while the Central Railway is already running 355 services.

This works out to 855 services daily – or barely one-third of the regular 2,300-plus suburban services that was the norm before the lockdown in March-end.

AWith the increase in services, the government permitted 10 per cent of key employees of private and cooperative banks to commute by local trains, in addition to essential staff of public sector banks, various government departments, aircraft maintenance staffers and lawyers who have been allowed so far.

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

To avoid overcrowding and maintain physical distance, the WR and CR will open additional ticket booking counters at major stations on the suburban section which spans across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.

Several railway passengers organisations and Bahujan Vikash Aghadi (BVA) legislator Kshitij from Nalasopara (Palghar) have urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to resume suburban services for all office-goers.

Presently, many office-goers, especially those from Thane, Palghar and Raigad who commute to their workplaces in Mumbai are forced to travel at least 6 hours daily owing to huge traffic snarls on main roads and the two highways serving the country’s commercial capital.

Moreover, despite the restricted categories allowed to commute by local trains, there is overcrowding during the morning-evening peak hours making a sham of the physical distancing norms.

Meanwhile, the Covid cases and fatalities in the Mumbai Region (comprising Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad) have been on an upswing since the past few weeks, even as the state case tally reached 12,08,642 besides 32,671 fatalities till date.

Of these, the lion’s share belongs to Mumbai circle with 435,201 cases so far besides 14,780 deaths, causing huge concern among health authorities.

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DMRC ridership declined during riots, protests: Govt




Delhi Metro Violet Line

New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) has said that there was some decline in cumulative ridership due to protests and riots in Delhi, the Centre has informed Parliament.

Responding to Unstarred Questions, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs told the Lok Sabha in a written reply on Thursday that the DMRC faced loss of an estimated revenue of Rs 1,609 crore due to closure of Metro services in view of Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry said that preparatory work like detailed designing, preparation of tender schedule, and finalisation of tenders were carried out by the DMRC during the countrywide lockdown.

Asked “whether the government has devised any strategy to mitigate the effect of losses incurred by the DMRC”, the Ministry said various innovative means like provisioning of feeder system, property development at stations and on other land, leasing of spaces, Transit Oriented Development and Value Capture Finance are enumerated in Metro Rail Policy, 2017 to enhance revenue of DMRC”.

Ensuring financial sustainability during operations of the Metro rail system is the responsibility of the state government,” it further said.

Responding to the question as to how the DMRC is managing or restructuring loan payments, the Ministry said that payments towards loans have been made by it as per the schedule.

The DMRC resumed its public services from September 7 following the Ministry of Home Affairs’ new guidelines, after more than five months.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centre suspended the Metro rail services in the last week of March.

The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has issued Standard Operating Procedures for the functioning of Metro trains allowed under the ‘Unlock 4’ guidelines.

Communal violence had erupted on the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Clashes broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 between protesters as well as supporters of CAA, which spiralled out of control to leave at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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PM dedicates Kosi rail mega bridge to nation, inaugurates several rail projects in Bihar

“These projects will improve Bihar’s railway network and also strengthen connectivity in areas of West Bengal and West India,” PM Modi said.



Kosi Rail Bridge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the historical Kosi Rail Mega Bridge to the nation and inaugurated new rail lines and electrification projects in Bihar via video-conferencing. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was present at the event.

“These projects will improve Bihar’s railway network and also strengthen connectivity in areas of West Bengal and West India,” PM Modi said.

The PM took a dig at the Congress government for not expediting the Kosi Rail line programme for which foundation stone was laid by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when his government was in power before 2004. “If the government continued to work at the rate it was working on after 2004, the project could never have been completed on time,” he said.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Kosi Rail Mega Bridgewill not only connect two places but also help the state’s economy grow. “This will aid in the overall development of the state,” he said.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar thanked PM Modi and Railway Minister for their work aimed at Bihar’s development. He expressed his gratitude for the projects being inaugurated on Friday.

Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said that these rail lines will connect Jain and Buddhist pilgrimage sites and encourage tourism in Bihar.

“The bridge has strategic importance along the India-Nepal border. The historical project to build the bridge, which is 1.9 kilometres long and has been constructed at a cost of Rs 516 crore, was sanctioned by the Centre in 2003-04,” a government release said.

“The project was completed during the Covid-19 pandemic where the migrant labour also participated in its completion,” it added.

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