The Ministry of Tourism has said that the foreign exchange earnings from tourism in January 2013 grew 20.6 per cent over January 2012. The earnings were Rs 10,398 crore compared to Rs 8,623 crore earned in the same month last year. According to the Ministry, foreign tourist arrivals were 6.99 lakh in January 2013 compared to 6.81 lakh in January last year.

The Chinese have overtaken the Germans as travel kings. “China heads the list of world spending on vacation abroad,” said tourism expert Martin Lohmann. Tourists from China spent a total of around $91 billion during travel abroad last year, based on figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The figure includes both private holidays, short breaks and business trips. — DPA

As the approaching Spring Festival puts stress on China’s transport sector, some people are turning to hitchhiking to ease holiday travel burdens. A ride-share programme has been launched by six microblog celebrities. Those failing to snap up tickets can now turn to an unofficial hitchhiking platform via, text messages, a mobile app and microblog. Real name applications and contracts are essential for hitchhiking safety. In 2012, over 1,000 people took advantage of the programme, and the number is expected to jump to 10,000 this year, said Wang Yong, one of the founders. The Spring Festival, China’s most important holiday for family reunions, falls on 10 February this year. — Xinhua

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will soon start to train taxi drivers in soft skills. Audio visual tools will be used to make drivers sensitive, and cleanliness and hygiene will be included in the training. The courses will take place in two time slots of three hours, one each in the morning and evening, to make it convenient for drivers to attend. MTDC is also mulling roping in the over three lakh graduates across the state to help tourism. Under the scheme, titled Tourism Clubs, a college will ‘adopt’ a nearby tourist destination and promote tourism there. It is set to kick off with 28 colleges across Maharashtra. — PTI

Charles and Camilla took the London tube on its 150th anniversary, and appeared impressed. For the one-stop ride, they boarded a brand new train and were whisked along the Metropolitan Line from Farringdon to King’s Cross. Alighting there, they reverted to a more familiar mode of travel, a chauffeur-driven limo, to get to St Pancras Renaissance hotel. Charles last took the tube 27 years ago when he travelled to Heathrow to open Terminal 4. The public was allowed to board the train at Farringdon.

— Guardian