Etihad Airways and strategic partner Jet Airways have signed an agreement with the government of Maharashtra to promote tourism to the western Indian state.
The partnership will enable both airlines to capitalise on their strong links with Maharashtra and further propel domestic and international arrivals into the state capital Mumbai and beyond.
It is the first time an Indian state has signed a tourism collaboration agreement with the airline sector.
Chief minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis presided over the signing of the memorandum of understanding in Mumbai earlier.
Under the agreement, the three entities will pool marketing resources to participate in travel-trade events in key international markets such as the UK and the UAE; jointly promote Destination Maharashtra through advertising campaigns; and organise inbound familiarisation trips for media and travel agents.
Etihad Airways and Jet Airways are key contributors to India’s thriving travel and tourism sector carrying the biggest combined share of international traffic to and from India with one in five travellers choosing either carrier.
Collectively, they operate five flights a day between Abu Dhabi – the UAE carrier’s operational hub – and Maharashtra’s main international gateway of Mumbai with domestic connections across the country.
In addition, Jet Airways flies daily between Maharashtra’s second largest city of Pune and Abu Dhabi.
Maharashtra, the third largest state in India, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Mumbai ranks second after the Indian capital Delhi in terms of first port of entry for foreign tourist arrivals into India, and fifth in domestic tourist visits.
Commenting on the association, Rawal said: “We are honoured to welcome this opportunity to strengthen our cooperation with Etihad Airways and Jet Airways.
“This deal is the beginning of a strategic partnership with two leading and most important international airlines to attract as many international tourists as possible.
“Together, we can create benefits for travellers and shareholders. Our aim is to jointly put in place the best strategies and practices to increase Maharashtra’s marketing footprint and position it as the most preferred destination.”
Maharashtra is home to a diverse range of tourist attractions, from beaches, caves, forts, wildlife, tiger reserves, national parks and hill stations, to monuments, palaces, festivals, places of worship and adventure sports.
Mumbai, the international gateway to Maharashtra, is the country’s financial hub and home to numerous museums, architectural heritage and Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry in terms of movie production.
James Hogan, Etihad Aviation Group president, said: “Being part of one of the world’s largest economies, Maharashtra has plenty to offer business and leisure travellers.
“We are therefore delighted to expand our links to promote tourism to this vibrant state, which we have been serving with dedicated flights for 13 years.”