Etihad Airways and partner Jet Airways are to collaborate to promote tourism to the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

The aim is to raise arrivals to the state capital Mumbai and beyond.

It is the first time an Indian state has signed a tourism collaboration agreement with the airline sector.

The airlines and the state government will pool marketing resources to participate in travel trade events in key international markets such as the UK and the UAE.

They will also jointly promote ‘Destination Maharashtra’ through advertising campaigns and organise familiarisation trips for media and travel agents.

The two airlines collectively operate five flights a day between Abu Dhabi and Mumbai with domestic connections across the country.

Jet Airways also 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.

Etihad Aviation Group president and chief executive James Hogan 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.

“This is the first time a state government in India has ventured into such a tourism partnership with the airline industry, hence we appreciate the opportunity to work with our strategic Indian partner Jet Airways on the breakthrough agreement.

“Our combined operation with Jet Airways between Abu Dhabi and Mumbai, complemented by Jet’s widespread domestic services, is further testament to the importance of Maharashtra on our route map.”

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal added: “It is a moment of both pride and honour that the government of Maharashtra has chosen to join hands with Jet Airways and our strategic partner Etihad Airways in this unique initiative of leveraging our collective resources to strengthen travel and tourism to the state.

“Mumbai is Jet Airways’ home hub and the airline shares a warm and emotional bond with Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra.

“We operate our highest number of flights from the city and have always positioned and promoted Mumbai as the gateway to the state and the country. Our mutual network represents a huge market that can be potentially accessed in support of this initiative.”