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. Good News for travellers! Indian Government asks online travel agencies to refund airfares for bookings made during COVID

On November 8, 2023, the Indian Government ordered travel agencies to refund the full amount collected without any cancellation charges for airline tickets booked during the COVID lockdown period. The Supreme Court judgement applies to bookings made for both domestic and international tickets during the period. The Central Consumer Protection Authority has directed 6 online travel platforms and 5 travel agencies to refund booking amounts of airline tickets to consumers whose travel was affected by the COVID pandemic.

2. Dates for the Annual Pushkar Camel Fair announced

The cultural extravaganza of the annual Pushkar Camel Fair will be held from November 20 to 28, 2023. The fair is known for its vibrant culture, music, art, food, dance, and camel trading. This year, the fair will feature a parade of indigenous bulls, camel polo, horse riding contests, and more, making it the best time to book your Rajasthan tour packages. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as horseback riding, camel riding, quad bike races, and safari trips during the sunset. Pushkar, located on the outskirts of the Thar Desert, is best known for the Brahma temple and ghats.

3. Soon Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra will have Paramotoring and Hot Air Balloons 

The Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra is set to offer exciting new experiences for visitors by introducing paramotoring and hot air balloon rides. The paramotoring, that is to fly in a parachute with a motor strapped, will allow you to soar above the reserve, while the hot air balloon ride will provide a bird’s-eye view of the flora and fauna. These activities will provide a unique perspective of the reserve’s beauty and majesty.

4. India to open a Consulate in Seattle

After almost 7 years since the initial announcement, India is finally ready to open a new Consulate in Seattle, USA. The consulate is expected to become operational by the end of November 2023. Prakash Gupta, a senior Indian Foreign Service Officer, is expected to lead the mission in this major technology hub. The United States also expressed its commitment to initiate the process of opening 2 new consulates in India, specifically in the cities of Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.

5. Unified Gulf Tourist Visa receives approval from the GCC

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have approved a unified Schengen-style visa to boost tourism in the region. Similar to a Schengen visa, the Unified Gulf Tourist Visa will allow tourists to visit all member countries, i.e., the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait, on a single visa. The visa is expected to be launched between 2024 and 2025 and will create more job opportunities, in addition to improving regional economies while allowing tourists free movement between the GCC countries.

6. Hot Air Balloon Safari launched in Haryana’s Pinjore

Haryana’s Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, has launched a new hot air balloon safari project in Pinjore, to promote adventure tourism in the state. The facility is expected to attract a large number of visitors, enhancing the overall tourist experience. The project aims to give a new identity to the area and boost the region’s tourism industry while also creating employment opportunities. The Chief Minister himself took a ride in the hot air balloon, and expects it to become a popular attraction for tourists.

7. Underwater Treasure discovered in Sardinia, Italy

A treasure trove of 30,000 large bronze coins has been discovered by a diver off the coast of Sardinia, which is a must include in all Italy tour packages. The coins, dating back to the first half of the 4th century CE, were found in shallow water near the town of Arzachena. The total number of coins is estimated to be between 30,000 and 50,000, with all but four of them being exceptionally well-preserved. The location where the coins were found could theoretically have been a shipwreck. This discovery is one of the most significant coin collections found in recent years.

8. Mumbai to get new e-water taxis by December 2023

In a bid to make travelling across the city easier, Mumbai is all set to introduce electric water taxis in December 2023. Operating between Gateway of India in South Mumbai and Belapur in Navi Mumbai, the 24-seater taxis can travel at a speed of up to 12 nautical miles, covering the distance in an hour. The e-water taxis can run for 4 hours continuously on a one-time charge, and are a part of India’s COP-26 targets to cut total carbon emissions by 1 Billion tonnes by 2030. One-way trip between the two destinations will cost between Rs 200 and Rs 700.

9. Vande Sadharan Express completes first trial run between Mumbai – Ahmedabad successfully

The Vande Sadharan Express has completed its trial run from Mumbai to Ahmedabad successfully. The train will have sleeper coaches with a new seating facility offering extra space in the coaches. The Indian Railways is most likely to introduce non-AC Vande Sadharan Express for low-cost ticket travellers. However, officials of Central Railways refused to give any details on this new train. Insiders revealed that a trial run will soon be held, but they could not reveal on which route the Vande Sadharan Express will be introduced.

10. Airline Updates:

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