Here’s your weekly dose of travel updates!
Check out the latest news and updates about the travel and tourism industry from around the world.
1. Sikkim – One of the ‘Coolest Places to Visit in 2024’ as per a National Geographic survey
Sikkim has been named one of the ‘Coolest Destinations to Visit in 2024’ by a National Geographic survey. The survey praised Sikkim for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and sustainable tourism practices as Sikkim is the first state in India to be fully organic, and ban single-use plastics, Styrofoam, and firecrackers. National Geographic said that Sikkim is a perfect example of how tourism can be a force for good, and encouraged travellers to plan a holiday in Sikkim and visit this Himalayan paradise.
2. Gwalior tagged ‘City of Music’ and Kozhikode named ‘City of Literature’ by UNESCO, added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)
Two Indian cities, Gwalior and Kozhikode, have been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities in the fields of Music and Literature respectively. This is a prestigious recognition that honors the cities’ cultural heritage and creativity and also opens up new opportunities for tourism and urban development. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) includes 246 cities from 86 countries and was created in 2004 to foster cooperation and innovation among cities that use creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development.
3. Taj Mahal ranked the 2nd ‘Most Loved Landmark in the World’ as per an analysis by Bounce
India’s iconic monument of love, the Taj Mahal has been ranked as the 2nd ‘Best Loved Landmarks in the World’ by Bounce, a travel platform that conducted a comprehensive analysis of the globally renowned landmarks. Bounce considered factors such as visitor numbers, entry fees, Google searches, TikTok views, Tripadvisor ratings, and Instagram posts to rank the landmarks. The Taj Mahal received a score of 7.67 in 2022 and 7.60 in 2023, only behind Niagara Falls in Canada and the United States. It welcomed over 6.5 million visitors in 2022 and had about 23 million Google searches between August 2022 and July 2023.
4. India’s Highest Gondola in Jammu Kashmir gets 500 tourists regularly
Located at Patnitop in Udhampur, India’s highest gondola, is attracting around 500 tourists every day. Offering a panoramic view of the valley, the gondola, which was inaugurated in 2020, covers a distance of 2.8 km and reaches an altitude of 2,024 metres. A part of the Patnitop Ropeway Project, which also includes a ski lift, a chair lift, a tubing sledge, and a sky bridge, the gondola has been a huge hit with visitors enjoying their Jammu and Kashmir tour package. The gondola is expected to attract more visitors in the winter season when the area is covered with snow.
5. Getting Permits for Restricted and Protected Areas in the Northeast now easier for Foreigners
The Indian Government has eased the travel restrictions for foreigners visiting the northeast region of the country. Foreign tourists can now get permits for restricted and protected areas (RAP/PAP) online through a portal launched on October 30, 2023. The RAP/PAP permits are required for visiting certain areas in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim. The portal, a part of the initiative to develop the northeast as a tourist destination, aims to promote tourism and cultural exchange in the region, which is rich in natural beauty, biodiversity and cultural diversity.
6. India’s 1st International Aerial Acrobatic Show – Tehri Acro Festival, to take place in Uttarakhand
India is going to host its 1stinternational aerial acrobatic show, the Tehri Acro Festival, from November 24 to 28, 2023. The festival will take place in Tehri and will feature 150 internationally recognised paragliders who will participate in aerial competitions and acrobatic exhibitions. Showcasing other activities such as D-Bagging, Wing Suit Flying, Acro Flying, and Syncro Flying the festival will also mark the launch of paragliding activities in Tehri, including training and recreational options.
7. Leopard Park coming soon in Gurugram!
In a significant development for wildlife conservation and eco-tourism, a blueprint has been created for a 15 km stretch of the Aravalis in Gurugram (Gurgaon), which includes plans for a leopard park in Behrampur village. The project aims to establish a jungle trail between the Bandhwari landfill and Damdama lake and is expected to reduce the number of incidents involving leopards straying into urban areas. It is a proactive measure to manage human-wildlife interactions more effectively and to provide a safe habitat for leopards.
8. Hills Festival 2023 in Meghalaya to begin from December 1, 2023
If you are looking for a cultural extravaganza in the northeast, you might want to book your Meghalaya tour package and attend the Hills Festival 2023 in Shillong, Meghalaya. Commencing on December 1, 2023, the Hills Festival is a celebration of the spirit of Meghalaya, and a great opportunity to discover its rich and diverse heritage through music, cuisine, art, and nature. Featuring folk and contemporary melodies from local and international artists, the festival will also offer a taste of Jaintia cuisine, which is known for its wild and unexplored dishes.
9. Cross Country World Cup Paragliding International Championship taking place in Bir Billing right now!
The world’s best paragliders are competing in the Himachal Cross Country World Cup at Bir Billing in India from October 27, 2023, till November 4, 2023. It is the first international paragliding championship to be held in India after the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100 pilots from 25 countries are participating in this competition organized by the Paragliding World Cup Association and the Bir Billing Paragliding Association. Bir Billing, a must inclusion in any Himachal Pradesh tour package is one of the most popular and suitable sites for paragliding in the world and has hosted several national and international events in the past.
10. Dudhwa National Park reopening on November 15, 2023
One of the most popular wildlife destinations in India, Dudhwa National Park, is set to reopen for tourists from November 15, 2023. The park, which is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including tigers, rhinos, elephants, and birds, offers an exciting opportunity for nature lovers and adventure seekers to explore its natural beauty and biodiversity. Authorities at the park have also announced that they will soon launch a helicopter service while offering other activities such as jeep safaris, elephant rides, birdwatching, and camping. It will remain open till June 15, 2024, before closing again for monsoon.
11. Visa Update:
- Around 2.5 lakh US Visa Appointment slots opened in Delhi, wait time drops from 542 days to 37 days – Good news for US visa applicants! The US Embassy in India has opened more than 2.5 lakh US visa interview slots for various categories of non-immigrant visas, including visitor, student, exchange visitor, and temporary worker visas. The move is aimed at reducing the backlog of visa applications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Thailand and Sri Lanka go visa-free for Indians – Thailand and Sri Lanka have announced visa-free travel for Indian tourists to attract more tourists who are looking for affordable and safe destinations and boost tourism. Regarding Thailand visa, Thailand has announced a visa waiver for visitors from India and Taiwan from November 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023. And as for the Sri Lanka visa, the island nation will offer visa-free travel for visitors from 7 countries, including India from November 15, 2023, to January 31, 2024.
- Netherlands Golden Visa to be discontinued from January 2024 – Making it the first European country to end its golden visa scheme, the Netherlands will discontinue its golden visa programme from January 1, 2024. The programme allows wealthy foreigners to obtain a residence permit in exchange for investing at least EUR 1.25 million in the Dutch economy. The decision was made after a critical evaluation by the government, which found that the programme had limited economic benefits and posed risks of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
- South Africa Visa: Government plans to relax South Africa Visa Rules and Regulations for Indian and Chinese nationals – South Africa is considering easing South Africa visa restrictions for Indian and Chinese travellers. The country’s Tourism Minister said that they are working on a proposal to allow visa-free entry for visitors from these countries, which are among the top source markets for South Africa with the aim to help create jobs and revive the economy.
12. Railway Update:
- Bangladesh – India Cross-Border Rail Link inaugurated by PM Modi virtually on November 1, 2023 – India’s PM Modi and Bangladesh’s PM Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated three development projects via video conferencing on November 1, 2023. The projects, expected to strengthen connectivity and energy security in the region and foster friendship between the two countries include the Akhaura-Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link, the Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line and the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant.
- Vande Sadharan Train officially in Mumbai for trials – The Vande Sadharan Push-Pull train, a new type of train introduced by the Indian Railways, has reached Mumbai for trials. The train is designed to be more affordable, as compared to the Vande Bharat trains. The trials, which will take place on the Mumbai – Nashik route, will focus on the train’s performance in hilly terrains.
- Matheran Toy Train back on tracks – The Central Railway (CR) has announced that the iconic mini train service on the Neral-Matheran route will resume from November 4, 2023, ahead of the Diwali holidays. The train service was suspended during the rainy season from June to October for safety reasons. The train will run with six coaches, including a Vistadome coach, and will operate two services each in the Down and Up directions.
13. Airline Update:
- India and UK to sign an agreement proposing more flights between Delhi, Mumbai and London – As per the reports, India and the UK are planning to sign an agreement that will allow airlines to operate more flights between Delhi, Mumbai and London Heathrow Airport. This agreement will increase the number of flights to London from India to 70 per week from the current 56.
- Air India to introduce non-stop flights between Mumbai and Melbourne from December 15, 2023 – In a bid to expand its global network, Air India will be launching non-stop flights between Mumbai and Melbourne operating 3 times a week. Starting on December 15, 2023, it will be the only non-stop service between Mumbai and Australia.
- Air Arabia announces new flight service between Ras Al Khaimah and Kozhikode – The low-cost Middle Eastern carrier, Air Arabia has announced that it will operate 3 times per week non-stop flights between Ras Al Khaimah and Kozhikode from November 22, 2023.
- IndiGo starts flights between Salem and Chennai – On October 29, 2023, IndiGo started operations between Chennai and Salem, making Salem the airline’s 82nd domestic and 114th overall destination.
With so much to see and experience in the world who wouldn’t be excited to travel? Head over to Akbartravels.com and find solutions to all your worries related to visa applications, flight tickets, and hotel bookings. What else? We have the best budget holiday packages available to make your holiday truly peaceful.
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