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Explore the facets of a 5000-year-old civilisation.
Make the most of the surf and the sea.
Re-live K ipling’s Jungle Book.
 
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Do's & Dont's

India is fast changing, and the pace of change is picking up. There is vibrancy in all sectors of economy; be it industry or services. Tensions within the neighbourhood have also eased to a large extent.

New initiatives in policies, both economic and social, have resulted in larger private sector investments from both domestic and international players. The year 2004 is recording unprecedented growth in many sectors, like civil aviation and tourism.

Increased competition in domestic skies led to a price war, which, instead of hurting the bottom lines, brought in tremendous growth in traffic, logging as much as 50,000 passengers in a single day, a record of sorts. Moreover, on many sectors frequency of service has increased manifold. Foreign routes have also been opened up for private domestic carriers. More such initiatives are in the anvil. Major airports are now under the scanner, with enlargement of services and privatisation of facilities. In the first phase, airports at Delhi and Mumbai are being considered. The government has also proposed to upgrade 15 other airports in smaller cities. At least two new domestic airlines are billed to commence operations in early 2005. Railways, too, facing stiff competition from airlines is looking at improvements.

Other areas of infrastructure are also being improved. Roads in most states are in focus. Mumbai-Pune freeway became a showpiece for others to emulate. Many national highways are being widened to 4-lane, or even 6-lane, speedways. This has reduced travelling time and stress on the roads. Again, a highway traveller has much better options for R&R on the journey, with spacious parking, hygienic food, clean toilets, and even good shopping and entertainment.

Travelling in your own car has become a very attractive option in India. Buying a car is no longer a tedious process and the choice of make and model is as good as anywhere else in the world. Then, there are now a number of agencies, especially in the metros and larger cities, dealing in used cars on spot cash basis. However, before using this option it will be best to familiarise yourself with driving conditions in India and take proper precautions for safety. It is best to avoid driving after dark.

Telecommunications and IT are some other fields where India has taken great strides. Telephone landline-network has penetrated even the remotest parts of the country. And mobile communications system is also available in all states, though the penetration may be restricted. Internet access, too, is possible even at many smaller towns and villages!! Therefore, keeping in touch is no longer a headache.

Tourist traffic, both inbound and domestic, in 2004 has seen a sharp upswing, both sectors expecting more than 25% increase. Buoyed by this growth, hotel industry is attracting larger investments. Either the existing chains are looking for new acquisitions to enlarge market share or discovering new destinations. Additionally, a few more international groups are planning entry into the Indian market. Accor Asia with its Ibis brand, MarriottŐs four-star brand Courtyard, as well as Shangrila groups Traders and Spanish brand Sol Melia are eyeing the Indian market. Lemon Tree, which opened last year in Gurgoan, has plans to open 25 more hotels in the next 7 years.

Tourism industry has grown beyond the traditional frame of monuments and temples. The product range has widened from leisure to adventure, trekking to motorised safaris, business and seminars to polo and golf, and much much more. Similarly, accommodation choices vary from luxury resorts of Goa to ketuvallams on the backwaters of Kerala.

Many states, which had tourism as a minor economic activity, have changed priorities and are looking to attract visitors and investment in the sector.

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