Arrival of Mihin Lanka, a boon to foreign tourists planning to visit Madurai
With the arrival of Mihin Lanka, the Sri Lankan national carrier, which will be first international airliner flying to Madurai on December 7, tourism in the southern districts is all poised for a huge take-off.
Sources in the State Tourism Department told The Hindu on Sunday that the Chettinad region attracted tourists from many foreign countries. With Mihin Lanka flying to many international destinations such as Kuwait, Maldives, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Sharjah and Bahrain besides Bangkok, foreigners could book directly from these destinations to Madurai via a connecting flight in Colombo, which is a hub for international flights. At present, the only international flight service out of Madurai Airport is being operated by the domestic private carrier SpiceJet to Colombo. Having direct flights to Madurai would reduce the costs and travel time for foreign tourists who now come to the southern region either through Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai or Tiruchi airports.
The tourists were likely to spend the time saved in travel visiting more tourism places in south Tamil Nadu, the official added. Getting foreign tourists to extend their stay has been a major goal for tourism promoters in government and private sector.
Travel Club President B. S. G. Musthafa said that international connectivity would bring in great economic benefits to Madurai region through increased tourism flow. Many Sri Lankans are expected to come to Madurai for textile shopping as well as for high-quality medical treatment at lower costs compared to Chennai.
Having got the connectivity to Colombo with two airliners, Travel Club would now work with Air India to convince them to operate flights connecting Madurai with West Asia and countries in the Far East.
Tourism promoters urged the Central government to relax visa norms, introduced as a security measure following terrorist attacks that restrict foreigners on tourist visa to only one visit for every two months. A hotelier in Madurai remarked that it was highly improbable that terrorists would sneak into India with legitimate visas.