Both the runways of the Mumbai airport will be closed for maintenance work on 17th Oct 2023. In order to carry out post-monsoon maintenance work both the runways will be closed from 11AM to 5PM. All flight companies have been informed about this closure six months in advance and all the flights flying in and out of Mumbai have been scheduled accordingly so that passengers do not face any inconvenience.
Keeping passenger convenience in mind Singapore’s Changi airport is doing a major overhaul to its immigration procedures. As a result of this overhaul select travellers will be able to depart from Changi airport without needing a traditional passport. Biometric data will be collected at various checkpoints
throughout the airport for authentication thus making the passport redundant. These automated checkpoints will be positioned at various key points like baggage drop, immigration clearance and the final boarding point. This will reduce the need of carrying documents and showing them at every step leading to a more smooth checkin process. These changes are likely to be implemented in the first half of 2024.
Myanmar also known as Burma had opened up to tourists in 2011 and had become an instant hit among travellers. However following the military coup in the country in 2021 it once again closed down tourism. While Australia and USA have warned their citizens against travelling to country India which shares a border with it has still maintained cordial relations with the country. Hence Myanmar is now considering offering a visa on arrival for Indian tourists. Currently Indians have been asked to apply for a visa online or at the Myanmar Embassy. But the country is planning to attract visitors and for this plans to grant visa on arrival to Indian and Chinese tourists and will also be wooing Russian tourists which is another ally of the country. Myanmar is a culturally rich nation and has many famous attractions like Bagan, Shwedagon Pagoda, Inle lake, etc.
The UK Government has announced a hike in visa fees. This hike will be applicable from 04th Oct 2023. The fee hike is applicable across all visa categories. Cost for a visa for stay for less than 6 months has been increased by GBP15 while cost for student visa has been increased by GBP127. Earlier the UK PM Rishi Sunak had announced that visa fees would soon be increased with work and visit visas seeing a hike of 15% while priority visa, study visa and certificates of sponsorships seeing a hike of 20%. Even fees for health and care visas, citizenship applications, entry clearance have been increased.
UNESCO has updated its list of World Heritage Sites. It has added 27 new places to the list which include 2 from India. Shantiniketan in West Bengal and the Hoysala era temples in Karnataka have been added to this esteemed list. To be added to this list a site must have universal value and must meet at least one out of the ten criteria like a “masterpiece of human creative genius”, “areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”, etc. 27 sites from across the world have been added to this list which include sites from various countries like Cambodia, China, Korea along with India as well as Germany, France, etc among others. Shantiniketan was founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1901 as a residential school and arts center. Shantiniketan is the 41st World Heritage Site in India and the third in Bengal. The Hoysala temples in Halebidu, Belur and Somnathpura are the 42nd World Heritage Site in India and were constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and the Ajanta & Ellora caves were one of the first sites in India to be recognized by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1983.
The brain damaging Nipah virus has been detected in Kozhikode in Kerala. So far five cases have been detected and two people have lost their lives. Hence to stop its spread Kozhikode has been put under a lockdown like during the COVID days. Nine panchayats of Kozhikode have been declared as containment
zones with over 800 people under observation. The state has also issued an advisory for tourists visiting Kerala. While no tourists will be allowed to visit attractions located inside the containment zones the rest of the state is still welcoming tourists. Masks have been made mandatory in the state and one has
to wear it all the time in public places. The Champion’s Boat League race on Chaliyar river which was set to begin from 24th Sep 2023 has been rescheduled.
The Government of Goa launched the “Goa Taxi App” in the state on 14th Sep 2023. Using this app travellers will be able to hire a cab for use anywhere in the state. Tourists often complained of the taxi being so excessively high that they ended up paying more for the taxi than for their flight ticket. This app will help tourists get a fair price for their journeys. It has been operational from the Manohar International Airport for the past six months with more than 500 taxi operators already using the app. Operators who register for this service will get added incentives for themselves as well as families from the Government.
China has eased certain visa rules for Indians. Travellers intending to visit China for tourism, business, family visits or transit will no longer need to submit their biometric data when applying for visa. This will make the visa application process quicker and smoother for Indians. This will be of great benefit
to senior citizens who often face issues while giving fingerprints. Those applicants whose fingerprints already exist with the Chinese embassy will also be exempted from this. One can apply online for China’s visa after ensuring all the requirements of passport, photographs, proof of residence/work etc is handy. The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi has also opened up helplines to provide upto date information to travellers.
Air India Express will soon start a direct flight between Thiruvananthapuram & Doha. The first flight will take off on 29th October 2023 running four times a week. Doha to Thiruvananthapuram flights will be operative on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays while Thiruvananthapuram to Doha flights will run on Tuesday, Thursdays, Fridays & Sundays. Ticket bookings for the same have already begun. This direct flight will prove of great benefit to people in Thiruvananthapuram and its surrounding areas like Kollam, Allappuzha, Kottayam as well as Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi & Tenkasi in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. While Qatar Airways does have a direct flight between Thiruvananthapuram and Doha, passengers find the fares very high & hence often are forced to choose the Air India Express flight from Doha to Thiruvananthapuram and vice-versa via Kozhikode. Doha to Thiruvananthapuram flight will be just four and a half hours long and help save the many extra hours which travellers spent when travelling via Kozhikode.
As Ayodhya is gearing up for the grand inauguration of the Ram Mandir in 2024 the city is also changing slowly and steadily. The beautiful Saryu river now has a cruise running on its calm waters. Called the “Jatayu” cruise service it is run by a private operator between Nayarghat & Gupatrghat from
8th Sep 2023 and based on the Ramayana theme. This will help tourists explore the historic city of Ayodhya through its waterways. A round trip on the fully AC cruise will cost you INR300. The total capacity of the cruise is 100 passengers and will cover major temples located along the ghats as well as the Saryu Aarti. Meals will also be available onboard. Another cruise service by the name of “Pushpak” will also start its operations soon. Pushpak will be a Premium service with a capacity of 150 passengers.
The country’s longest cantilever glass bridge has been opened up in Vagamon in Kerala. At a height of 3600ft above sea level, this bridge situated in the Vagamon hills is 40m long. Surrounded by greenary it offers soothing views of the the green hills and valleys and of the neighbouring towns of Koottikkal
and Kokkayar. The bridge can take the weight of 15 human beings at a time offering stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty. The glass bridge is situated in the DTPC adventure tourism park which in itself is a great place to for adventure enthusiasts. The glass bridge was built at a cost of Rs. 3 crore and Government is positive that this bridge will help boost tourism to Vagamon.
While planning a trip is exciting, trying to get a suitable flight option can be exhausting. Especially when you need cheaper options, have less time & find there are no direct flights available! This is about to come to an end with the launch of several direct flights from India to various cities around the world.
Some of these routes are brand new while some have increased their frequency & reduced their fares. Now you can start flying direct to Egypt from Delhi, to Malaysia from Ahmedabad & to Abu Dhabi from Goa. A direct flight will soon be made operational by Lufthansa between Bangalore to Munich from November while Air Asia X has reintroduced its Amritsar to Kuala Lumpur flight with tickets costing less than Malindo Air. From December there will also be a direct flight from Ahmedabad in Gujarat to Kuala Lumpur operated by Malaysia Airlines. Cairo Air which had direct flights between Mumbai and Cairo has also started operating direct flights between Delhi & Cairo from August. From October flights will also ply between Kozhikode in Kerala & Fujairah in UAE with a layover at Muscat while direct flights between Goa and Abu Dhabi are already operational.
Tourism to Russia suffered greatly due to COVID pandemic first & later due to the ongoing war with Ukraine. The Russian Government has been coming up with various plans to boost tourism in the country. Recently it introduced e-visa for citizens of a number of countries including India which will help tourists
apply for a visa from the comfort of their home. In a recent development Russia will soon introduce a Foreign Tourist Card which will work like a bank account. Travellers can deposit money into that account and when in Russia use the Foreign Tourist Card to make payments from that account. This will help
visitors make cashless transactions thus reducing the risk of carrying cash. One can apply for the Foreign Tourist Card in advance before even entering Russia. Seven tourist centers have also been set up in Moscow which will help tourists in case of any emergency. There are also plans to make the navigation
system in the country into English which will help foreign tourists a great deal.
Recently Himachal Pradesh suffered greatly due to heavy rains, floods & landslides. This affected the tourism industry badly. But finally the rains have passed and things are slowly getting back to normal in the hilly state. Roads leading to Kasauli, Kinnaur, Narkanda have now been opened up. McLeodganj,
Dharamshala, Dalhousie, Palampur, Khajjiar & Chamba too are ready to welcome back tourists. The Government of Himachal Pradesh has also announced subsidized rates for air fares between Shimla & Dharamshala and the fare between these two cities has been fixed at INR3000. Pawan Hans is also operating helicopter services between Chandigarh to Shimla & further from Shimla to Rampur, Kullu, Mandi and Dharamshala in order to help tourists easily visit multiple cities in the region.
Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh has got a world class international cruise terminal. This will help the eastern coast of India in becoming a hub for leisure cruises operating both domestically as well as internationally & for cargo services too. The luxurious terminal has lounges for rest, restaurants, shopping
areas, convenient parking spaces, along with the usual customs, immigration, quarantine counters, conveyer belts for baggage, etc. From November to March the terminal will operate cruises from all corners of the world but from April to October it will work as a cargo terminal only. Cruises to & from India are gaining popularity & Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi have well established ports. Cruises from Mumbai to Dubai, Kochi to Maldives & the Ganga River cruise from Kolkata to Varanasi which plies on the Ganga river instead of any ocean are popular cruise routes in & from India.
As India and Delhi gears up for the G20 summit there has been a growing apprehension among tourists who had plans to visit Delhi during that period. There were rumours of flight cancellations & rescheduling & a lot of travel restrictions have already been announced in Delhi which added to the anxiety of travellers who had business or important work in the capital. To put travellers at ease flight companies like Air India & Vistara have announced a one-time waiver on tickets for those travelling from 7th to 11th September. Passengers who wish to change their travel dates will be given a one-time waiver of applicable charges & will only have to pay the fare difference between the old & new flight. Passengers are also being requested to visit the flight company official websites in order to be notified of any changes to flight schedules. Spice Jet has also requested its passengers to be present early at the airport as check-in counters will close 1hr prior to departure.
Passengers on Air India flights will be able to journey across over 100 European destinations, even those without airports. Air India and Access Rail have signed an agreement under which Air India passengers can travel across the length & breadth of Europe on one buying single ticket of Air India. Under this agreement AI passengers will be able to use railway & bus services across various cities & town in Europe along with the same baggage allowance which their AI ticket allowed them onboard. The intermodal AI ticket will give passengers easy access to bus and railways services like Avanti West Coast (U.K.), National Express (U.K.), Trenitalia (Italy), ÖBB Austrian Railways (Austria), SNCB Belgian Railways, and Thalys (Netherlands/Belgium). Earlier this year Vistara too had joined hands with WorldTicket to offer its passengers connections via DeutscheBahn. Currently these intermodal tickets can be purchased through international travel agents only but soon Air India will open up bookings via its own sales channels as well.
Seven new cities will be connected to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Flight companies like Indigo & Spicejet have come forward to start direct flights to & from Jaipur to seven cities across India including Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Bagdogra, Jaisalmer, Bhopal & Patna. These new routes are likely to be opened up during winter which is peak tourism season. Jaipur is an extremely popular destination for both domestic as well as international tourists. Jaipur airport has seen a steady increase in the number of tourists leading to an overall increase for tourism in the state. At present Jaipur airport has direct flights to 23 cities across India
The Covid-19 pandemic had caused a huge backlog at the US Visa office with appointments available 2 years away from the date of application. This had caused many problems for applicants wishing to visit families & even those having business interests in the country. But the US Consulate General Mumbai has announced that it has finally managed to clear all the backlog. Immigrant visa interviews can now be scheduled by applicants as per the standard time. Over 9 lakh non-immigrant visas are under process at the moment with their goal being. The US Ambassador to India also added that they will continue exploring methods in which visa processing time can be further reduced. Recently US also allowed Indians working in the US to renew their work visa in the country itself without needing to travel home for it. New American consulates will also be opened up in Bangalore and Ahmedabad thus helping reduce the pressure on the existing consulates.
Uttar Pradesh is seeing a massive surge in tourism. In the first half of 2023 nearly 14 crore tourists visited the state which is a massive increase of 1.1 crore over the previous year for the same period. Authorities expect that with the opening of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya the state tourism will receive a massive boost next year in January. Religious, cultural & historical sites are the main attractions of Uttar Pradesh with pilgrims & history enthusiasts visiting many cities and sites across the vast state and not just limiting themselves to Taj Mahal. This has also led to an upsurge in the employment opportunities in the tourism sector across the state.
Thailand is looking to increase tourist footfall in the country. In a bid to attract more tourists it plans to allow visitors to stay longer in the country. It will also consider easing visa rules for Chinese & Indian tourists. The Prime Minister of Thailand is aware of the visa costs which Chinese & Indian tourists have to pay & in order to make it easier for tourists plans on increasing the number of visa-exempt countries. The fourth quarter is the busiest tourist season for the country and the PM plans to bring about these changes as soon as possible so that more and more tourists visit the country. There are plans to increase the number of flights to Phuket & Krabi and also to grant visas for longer duration to tourists from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia as they tend to spend more time in Thailand than tourists from China and Malaysia.
After getting cheetahs from Africa, the Madhya Pradesh government is planning to start a cheetah safari. The cheetah safari will be in the Saisaipura area of the Kuno National Park. A proposal for this has already been sent to the authorities for approval. The safari will have cheetahs which are unable to survive in the wild and hence spotting them will be easier for tourists. The safari will also be a breeding center which will help in boosting the population of the species in the state. Kuno National Park is a relatively unexplored destination in India. It was established in 1981 and is home to a variety of rare animals and plants along with the Cheetahs.
After failing to revive tourism as per its expectations post Covid Bhutan has decided to half its tourism fee. In Sep 2022 it had increased its tourism fee from USD65 to USD200 per night! But this led to sizeable reduction in the number of international tourists visiting the country. Hence the authorities have
now halved the tourism fee and have high hopes of attracting tourists. This change will come into effect in September and would last for four years. Bhutan had remain isolated for centuries before it opened up to public for tourism in 1974. In that year it received 300 visitors. Over the years the number of tourists
visiting the Himalayan country increased drastically reaching up to 315,600 in 2019.
In order to depict the architectural heritage of Hindu temples the Uttar Pradesh government has announced a temple museum in Ayodhya. The museum will showcase the history of Hindu temples and plans for the same are already in progress under the UP government. The museum will help visitors understand the science behind temple construction, its architecture, its designs, philosophies which guide their construction, use of advanced techniques by our ancestors in temple building, the role temples played in dispensing education in ancient India, the role of Mathas & Peethams, etc.The museum will have 12 galleries, a garden, pond as well as a cafeteria & basement parking area for visitors.
Air services between Mumbai & Sindhudurga will resume from 1st Sep 2023. Earlier there used to be regular service between the two cities which got discontinued due to various reasons over time. However the services are set to resume via the Chipi airstrip by Indigo & Air Alliance flights. This became possible
after active coordination between the Maharashtra & Central government. This news will be greatly welcomed by the state residents as well as tourists who visit Sindhudurga which is a popular destination in the Konkan belt.
From 31st Aug 2023 all domestic flights will fly from Terminal T1 of the Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore while all international flights will fly from T2. This change will begin from 10:45hrs on 31st Aug 2023 with SQ508 of Singapore Airlines being the first international flight to land at Bengaluru’s
T2 terminal on 31st August. The T2 Terminal was inaugurated by PM Modi last year and operations began at the terminal from January 2023. T2 is now equipped with immigration counters, duty free shops, custom offices, retail shops & food courts. A complimentary shuttle service is also available between the two terminals. All passengers who are flying to & from Bangalore on 31st August are requested to recheck their terminals to avoid last minute hassles. Presently Air Asia India, Star Air & Vistara have domestic flight from T2. Reports suggest that people from Bengaluru prefer flying to Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, Istanbul, London, Colombo, Maldives, Kuala Lumpur and Phuket while within India they prefer flying to Delhi, Mumbai & Kolkata.
In a first of its kind, a cycle safari has been started at Pench Tiger reserve in Maharashtra. So far we have heard of jeep & canter safaris but at Pench Tiger Reserve cycling enthusiasts will be able to cycle on the Kolitmara to Kunwara Bhivsen stretch which is has a rich variety of plants & birds. In spite of being
a tiger reserve this stretch is a peaceful & calm place which is perfect for cycling. Visitors who bring their own cycles will have to pay an entry fee of INR100 while those hiring cycles at the reserve will have to shell out INR300. 2-6 people will be allowed in a group which will be headed by a an experienced
guide whose charges will be INR1000.The cycle safari started on 20th Aug 2023 & 80 cyclists across all age groups participated in the maiden run. Cycle safaris are not only environment friendly but also cheap on the pocket.
The Bhutanese Government had submitted a request to the Central Government of India for the development of a Bhutanese temple dedicated to Buddha at Sarnath. However Sarnath had no available space for building any new temples. Hence the project was stuck for many years. However the Government has now granted them land for the temple at Varanasi. Varanasi is the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon. This request has now been approved by the government. The UP government will provide the land for the temple & the Bhutanese government will build the temple & the guest house. Varanasi is frequented by Bhutanese pilgrims. Even the members of the royal family had visited Varanasi when they came to India. The land would be provided on a lease of 30 years against a token of a minimal amount of INR 10 with a monthly rent of INR 1.
There has been an exponential rise in air traffic from & to Pune. To meet the demands of this growth the Lohegaon airport in Pune will have a new terminal building. The new terminal will be inaugurated next month & operations will begin from October. The new terminal building is spread over 50,000 sq.m. area
and will have 10 aerobridges & 72 check-in counters. It will also have multi-level parking as well as a new cargo complex. Pune airport expansion was in the planning phase for a long time & is finally nearing completion after overcoming many obstructions & delays. The new complex is almost 95% complete and test runs by various departments have already begun.
Passport Applicants will now have to create a DigiLocker account before applying for a passport. DigiLocker was launched by the Indian Ministry of Electronics & Information by which individuals will be able to upload copies of their essential documents to the DigiLocker server & access it anytime, anywhere as needed. Now anyone who applies for a passport will have to upload their documents on to DigiLocker, especially if they plan on using AADHAAR card for the purpose of verification. After uploading all the essential documents the applicant need not carry hard copies to the appointment center on the date of
appointment. This move is expected to speed up the application process & make it more efficient by reducing the need of document collection & verification by the Passport Seva Kendra.
Bali is a popular destination not just among Indians but also for travelers from all over the world. Hence Indonesia is planning on launching a Golden Visa by the end of 2023. Other countries like Mexico, Greece, Canada, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, etc already offer such visas to tourists who stay in the country for longer periods of time & make a sizeable investment in the tourism industry. Indonesia’s Golden Visa will be valid for 5-10 years providing expedited services to the visa holder. The Golden Visa holder will be allowed to buy property in Indonesia & his application for citizenship will also be fast-tracked.
Now there is one more reason to visit the Andamans! The A&N administration in its efforts to promote responsible tourism will be encouraging Caravan Tourism. Caravan Tourism is an eco-friendly option which also offers tourists a unique way of exploring beaches & the islands. This move is expected to help create a balance in boosting tourism as well as preserving the delicate ecological equilibrium of the islands. This plan is still in the draft stages & the administration is inviting all stakeholders to participate & contribute to making this plan a success.
VFS Global which manages visa applications for various countries has partnered with the Indian Hotels group & Radisson Group. Under this partnership new Premium Application Centers for UK Visa will be opened up at various hotels belonging to the Taj & Radisson groups. These application centers will be like
any other center where visitors will be able to submit their application form & biometric data. As they are Premium Application Centers, they will be open for only a limited period of time & will be operative only on select days with each center having its own different time & date. Appointments at these centers will cost extra over & above the regular visa fees. Currently this facility is being made available at Vivanta Bengaluru, Whitefield; Vivanta Mangalore Old Port Road; The Gateway Hotel Beach Road, Vishakhapatnam; Radisson Blu Hotel, Amritsar; Radisson RED Chandigarh Mohali; Park Plaza Ludhiana &
Radisson Hotel, Noida
The Taj Mahal in Agra has always been the number one tourist attraction in India. Many a time foreign tourists visit India just so that they can pay a visit to the beautiful marble tomb. Apart from being one of the seven wonders it is most famous for its beautiful architecture & the gardens around it. It comes as no surprise then that The Taj Mahal has won the “Most Instagrammed Cultural Heritage Site in the World” title. In a hashtag study the “#monumentoflove hashtag has been mentioned more than 23 lakh times on Instagram alone. On the second place stands the Palace of Versailles in France while the third spot goes to the Statue of Liberty in New York, USA. The Grand Canyon also in the USA was declared as the most Instagrammed Natural World Heritage Site in the world with the Amalfi Coast in Italy bagging the second spot. The most Instagrammed World Heritage City was Istanbul in Turkey followed by Rome in Italy & on third place was Prague.
While Andaman & Nicobar Islands are often written together, Andaman is more popular among tourists. However tourists can now visit Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar Island. Since January this year almost more than 8000 tickets have been sold for Campbell Bay. The Government has been taking measures to encourage tourism on the island by starting helicopter services, trying to provide high speed internet & including the Great Nicobar Island under the UDAN scheme. Inter-island boat service from Port Blair are available to reach this island. Little Andaman, Nancowry & Car Nicobar are other islands nearby which are
worth visiting. Campbell Bay is a great place for nature lovers and its star attractions include Campbell Bay National Park, trekking, bird watching, visiting Indira Point, etc
As Saudi Arabia opens up to tourism it is trying to woo the Indian tourist. Last year nearly 10 lakh Indians visited the country & it plans to attract a crore Indian visitors by 2030. In order to make it easy for Indian tourists to visit Saudi Arabia the country will now allow Indians who have a USA, UK, Schengen visa and have used it at least once will be allowed to apply online for an e-Visa to Saudi. There are already 7 direct carriers connecting the two countries & a new route from Jeddah to Ahmedabad has also been opened up recently. It has also started its 96-hour stopover visa & has opened up 9 visa offices in India.
Europe is fighting mass tourism! For the past few years popular destinations in Europe are getting extremely overcrowded making it difficult for even the locals to carry on their daily life. The Governments of various countries are thinking of putting a few restrictions in order to ensure that visitors can enjoy a
beautiful & safe stay while at the same time the locals too do not suffer. Venice in Italy has banned tourists from jumping into canals & walking around naked. Sitting or sleeping on footpaths, near fountains & on bridges is also prohibited with violators being fined. The city has also been thinking of limiting the number of people it allows inside the city per day. There are plans to introduce an entry fee for tourists who will not be staying overnight but are just on a day visit. Access to famous beaches in Italy too are now being strictly regulated & tourists are not allowed to bring their own vehicles in some places
in order to ensure the narrow lanes are not clogged with traffic. Certain zones in the country which are famous among Instagrammers are marked as Red Zones where heavy fines can be levied for lingering & tourists gathering in large numbers. Italians also expect visitors to be on their best behaviour & follow
proper etiquettes so that everyone can enjoy their vacation time.
Processing time for Schengen visa to Germany has come down to 8 weeks & the German Embassy is trying its best to decrease it even further. They have already increased their staff in Mumbai & this has resulted in the lessening of processing time. Of late the delays occurring in visa processing of European countries & even to the USA has disrupted travel plans of many tourists. The processing time begins only once the visa application reaches the Embassy and all applications are processed on first come first serve basis only. Neither the staff at the embassy nor the visa agents have any say in expediting the process or giving preferential treatments. While more and more Indians are traveling to Germany for tourism & other purposes the current numbers are still only 65% of the pre-pandemic levels.
Traffic on the India – UAE route has increased tremendously over the past three years leading to air ticket prices soaring to almost 200% as compared to off-season rates. UAE is a popular stop for a break on long – haul flights to Europe & USA as well as being a popular tourism destination by itself. However the volume of traffic on the India – UAE sector is surprising even travel experts. Air fares are expected to be high on this route till first week of September with fares especially high to South Indian states like Kerala. This rise is said to be due to the sudden closure of Go First & the reduction of flights in second tier cities by Air India. This is affecting many middle class families who were looking to visit their home during school vacations. Many customers are also opting for traveling via Muscat, Oman or Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) in order to get cheaper fares. They are also choosing low cost carriers with Indigo & Air India Express being the top favourites.
You will soon be able to visit the Western Ghats while still in Bangalore. To know how, read on! Lalbagh Botanical Gardens is developing its own little Western Ghat. On 1st Aug 2023, thousands of saplings of over 132 different species were planted in the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. These saplings have been
collected from seven districts of Karnataka & over the next few years there are plans to bring in more saplings to increase the biodiversity of the planned Western Ghat. The saplings chosen are from the endemic, rare, endangered & threatened group of species. This mini Western Ghat will be developed behind the Lalbagh Rock on the south gate side. At present the garden has over 2350 species of plants including some trees which are more than 200 years old. This new block will be opened up for the public in the next 3-4 years after successful transplantation & growth of the saplings.
Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka will soon start wildlife safaris in the Gopinatham area which is the birthplace of the notorious Veerapan. For many reasons the area was avoided by tourists but now the state Government is making an effort to encourage eco-tourism in that place. On this safari visitors
will be taken on a tour of places associated with the infamous dacoit & to the memorial of IFS officer Srinivas who was slain by Verrapan. The jungle safari will cover Namdarihalla, Kurimande Camp, Mailumalebetta & Hogenakkal Falls. The safari will cost about INR400 per person & will have 2 slots, morning slot of 6AM to 10AM & evening slot of 4PM to 6PM. Along with the jungle safari there are also plans to start water sport activities at Hogenakkal Falls. There will also be the traditional boating facility & coracles available to view the rich bird life in the area while floating on the waters.
Acropolis is Greece’s most popular tourist destination with thousands of tourists flocking to the monument daily. However from September 2023 only 20,000 visitors per day will be allowed to visit the Acropolis. He said this was being done to avoid overcrowding at the monument which in turn might cause damage to the structure itself. The rule will be introduced on a trial basis from 4th Sept 2023 & will be finalized on 1st Apr 2024 if everything goes according to plan. While the number of visitors will be capped there will be no restrictions on the amount of time they spend at the site. The ideal time is about 45min. The monument opens at 8AM and during the first hour only 3000 tourists will be allowed to enter while in the following hour only 2000. Number of visitors allowed entry will vary with each hour. If this succeeds the Government plans to introduce the same at other historical sites as well.
The Uttar Pradesh Government is keen on developing water tourism & adventure sports destinations in the state. It also plans to develop nine heritage buildings to promote heritage tourism. Water tourism would be developed along all rivers, lakes & pond while the hills of Bundelkhand & Vindhya are being considered for adventure tourism. Set at the base of the Himalayas surrounded by forests & full of waterfalls, reservoirs, lakes, etc this reason is ideal for challenging the adventurous spirit of travelers. Ex-servicemen would also be included in the adventure sports units. Under heritage tourism 75% or more damaged forts and other historical monuments would be restored under the PPP model and will hotels, resorts, museums, banquet halls, etc would be developed on their premises. A few names being considered for redevelopment are Qaiserbagh & Chattar Manzil, Lucknow; Barsana Jal Mahal, Mathura, etc.
Akasa Airways is all set to fly international! The airlines which was launched just a year ago has been growing in leaps & bounds. It has added its 20th aircraft to its fleet which now makes it eligible to cater to international travelers. Akasa is considering flying to Middle East, tips of Eastern Africa, SE Asia & to our neighboring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh. It plans to start its international flights by the end of this year and will have 100 aircrafts by 2025. At the moment it is flying 900 flights per week to 16 cities across the country.
The Swiss embassy has clarified that it has not suspended visa appointments for Indian group tours. Earlier there had been reports that the Swiss embassy had suspended giving appointments to Indian tour groups till October 2023 due to the high number of pending applications. However the embassy has clarified that this is not the case & at present they have almost 800 daily appointments booked up till September 2023. Out of these 22 are of Indian groups! They also elaborated that in 2023 the Swiss embassy has processed more applications than the pre-Covid times in 2019. Multiple measures have also been brought in to make it easy for applicants to apply for Swiss visa which include applying 6 months in advance (earlier it was only 1 month in advance) & opening up new Visa Application Centers in the country with the current number being 13. The embassy also revealed that the maximum time taken to come to a decision regarding the visa of an applicant is 13 working days thus ensuring that travelers do not have to wait long to get their visa.