India’s e-visa will now have three components — e-Tourist visa, e-Medical visa, e-Business visa. For the first time in this country, medical visa is going the electronic way and so is the case with business visa.
The best thing is that the initial period of application, which used to be 30 days, has been extended to 120 days, which is logical, especially for foreigners who plan their travel much in advance. The validity of eTV was just 30 days and it’s been increased to 60 days now. Also, when tourists come to India, they would like to visit other countries of Southeast Asia and come back. We have made e-tourist visa and e-business visa double entry. For e-medical visa, the government has provided triple entry, which is a redeeming feature. Film visa has also been streamlined and rationalized, which has come at the right time and would encourage filming in India.
8 countries added to e-visa list
The visa services, which have been expanded for tourism, medical and business purposes, has been extended to eight countries namely Angola, Rwanda, Niger, Cyprus, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Mali and Burundi.
With this announcement, the total count of countries that can avail the e-visa services is 158.
Tag-free hand baggage at 5 major Indian airports
In an attempt to simplify and smoothen functioning at Indian airports, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that they could be done away with stamped hand baggage tags at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports from December 15.
The practice will be introduced on a pilot basis at five airports and if successful, may be expanded to other airports across the country. This will save passengers’ time while boarding and will not be a security hassle in any manner.
Mumbai ranks among world’s top trending destinations for 2017
Mumbai, the financial and entertainment hub of India, may be set to witness an increase in domestic and international tourist footfalls as new research from Booking.com sees the city rank among the world’s top trending destinations for 2017.
The data experts at Booking.com analysed the top 300 destinations based on growth in search and bookings to find the most up-and-coming places to visit in 2017. When analysed against wider trends, Mumbai has recorded increased volume of travel and higher than average growth in bookings, while moving up ten places among the most searched destinations relative to last year. The other top trending destinations recorded are Reykjavik in Iceland, Cairns in Australia, Savannah in US, Puerto Rico, Kyoto and Jericoacoara in Brazil.
48-room Lords Eco Inn to open in Bharuch
Lords Hotels & Resorts has recently signed its 26th property in Bharuch, Gujarat. To be branded under the Lords Eco Inn banner, it is scheduled to commence operations from December 2016.
Located between the two major cities of Surat and Vadodara, Lords Eco Inn – Bharuch serves as an ideal stopover destination. With a 48-rooms, the eco inn offers luxurious accommodations and full-service at friendly prices for the discerning business and leisure traveler.
StayWell opens 96-room Park Regis in Goa
Park Regis Goa is spread over an area of 5 acres in Arpora, Park Regis Goa boasts a magnificent location featuring 96 Rooms & Suites each spread across 5500sqft with modern-décor, soothing warm colors, plush duvets, international standard mattresses and high quality bathroom amenities. Luxurious comfort with expansive, lavish spaces, a private bar and your own private balcony over-looking the plush greens.
The 96-room resort-style hotel is located in a prime position north of the main city of Goa, within close proximity to Goa’s iconic attractions Baga, Calangute and Anjuna Beaches. Boasting a large outdoor alfresco pool bar, cafe, restaurant, conference facilities, pool and gymnasium, Park Regis Goa will become a new class of accommodation in North Goa. Guest rooms are spaciously designed offering lavish inclusions such as handcrafted amenities, oversized bathtub and a private balcony.
99-room Efcee Sarovar Portico opens in Bhavnagar
Sarovar Hotels has opened Efcee Sarovar Portico Bhavnagar. Efcee Sarovar Portico has 99-room and offers a calm and peaceful oasis for both business and leisure travelers. The elegant and well-appointed rooms and suites, categorized into Deluxe Rooms, Premium Rooms, Executive Suites and Leela Suite, offer contemporary amenities and personalized service. The open-air lawn, perhaps the biggest space in the city, is perfect for weddings and can accommodate up to 2000 people
Costa kicks off first season of South Asian sailings
Costa neoClassica to operate series of seven-night sailings between India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka
The 7-night itineraries will depart Mumbai and visit Kochi and Mangaluru on India’s west coast, before heading to the Maldives. On the return journey, the ship will visit Colombo and Goa before arriving back in Mumbai.
The 1,700-passenger Costa neoClassica will offer a series of facilities for Indian travellers, including a large wellness centre, duty-free shopping, a casino and restaurants serving local cuisine, including Jain food.
Costa’s South Asian season runs until 18 March 2017.
Jet to launch direct daily between Bengaluru to Colombo from Jan 5
Jet Airways has announced the launch of a daily direct flight from Bengaluru to Colombo with effect from January 05, 2017. With this new connection, Bengaluru will be the second Indian city after Mumbai to be linked to Colombo and Jet Airways’ third daily service to the Sri Lankan capital.
Jet Airways flight 9W 278 will depart Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport at 0040 hrs and arrive in Colombo at 0210 hrs (Local Time). The flight 9W 277 will leave Colombo at 0310 hrs (LT) to arrive in Bengaluru at 0435 hrs (Local Time).
Bhatinda gets its first airport
Union Civil Aviation Minister has inaugurated the first ever airport in Bathinda at Virk Kalan village. Addressing the gathering on the inaugural function, he said that the government will construct another 10 airports in Punjab by April 10, 2017, including in Ludhiana, Pathankot and Aadampur.
Air India’s Delhi– Madrid direct flight takes off
Air India launched its first direct flight from Delhi-Madrid at a gala ceremony in Delhi.
“The 9-hour flight would be able to cut down the flying time to Madrid by 4-5 hours, and would offer further connections to South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and Chile.” The thrice a week flight with a B787 Dreamliner, offers a convenient departure at 1425 hrs from Delhi and arrival at Madrid at 2020 hrs. From Madrid the departure time is 2150 hrs and arrival in Delhi at 1110 hrs the next day.
Brussels Airlines to start Mumbai-Brussels flight from March 2017
In March 2017, Brussels Airlines will come on board with Lufthansa Group Airlines. Lufthansa Group Airlines represents Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian in India. Wolfgang Will, Director South Asia, Lufthansa Group Airlines, said, “Lufthansa Group Airlines will also now represent Brussels Airlines in India from March 2017 onwards and has also announced five flights from Mumbai to Brussels from the same month”.
Myanmar Airways to connect Yangon-Kolkata from Dec 1
Starting from December 1, Myanmar Airways International will operate two times weekly service between Yangon and Kolkata on Airbus A320 and A319 aircraft. These flights between the two destinations will be operated on Thursdays and Sundays. MAI currently flies between Yangon and Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Gaya, Guangzhou and between Mandalay and Bangkok.
MAI also has code share agreements with Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Garuda Indonesia.
Bhutan Airlines connects Paro-Bodhgaya from Dec 4
Bhutan Airlines will start flying to Bodh Gaya next month, catering to the Buddhist pilgrimage market. Effective 4 December 2016, the airline will fly from Bangkok and Paro to the UNESCO-listed heritage site in India’s Bihar state, which is said to be where the Lord Buddha gained enlightenment. Flights will operate twice a week (every Wednesday and Sunday) on a seasonal basis, ending on February 26, 2017. A 122-seat Airbus A319 aircraft will be deployed on the route.
Hyderabad-Jabalpur on SpiceJet from Dec 23
SpiceJet will commence its daily direct flight on the Hyderabad–Jabalpur route from December 23, 2016. Hyderabad is the third metro after Delhi and Mumbai that SpiceJet will be serving a daily direct flight connecting Jabalpur.
Bhatinda-Delhi on Alliance Air from Dec 11
In an attempt to boost regional connectivity, Alliance Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India will connect Delhi and Bhatinda from December 11. The flights will be operated three times a week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. 70-seater ATR-72 aircraft would be utilised for the services. The flight will depart from Delhi at 12.15 pm and reach Bathinda at 1.45 pm. The return flight will fly out from Bathinda at 2.15 pm and reach Delhi at 3.45 pm.
Garuda Indonesia to start Mumbai-Jakarta in Dec 12
Garuda Indonesia has announced that they will be starting flight services from Mumbai to Jakarta from December. The prices of the flight will start from Rs. 27,600, and the flight would offer further connection to Bali from Jakarta.
UPCOMING EVENTS & FESTIVALS
SURAJKUND INTERNATIONAL CRAFTS MELA (1-15 Feb) Faridabad, 35 min drive from Delhi airport
The Surajkund Crafts Mela showcases the finest handloom, handicrafts, and Indian cuisine. Over 400 artisans display and demonstrate their crafts from all over India and the world. There are also cultural programs and an amusement zone for children. The mela has a different theme every year.
SUFI SUTRA INTERNATIONAL SUFI MUSIC FESTIVAL (5-7 Feb) Rabindra Sadan-Nandan, Kolkata
The Sufi music festival is set to feature top local and international Sufi musicians from Brazil, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Portugal, Scotland and Turkey. Sufi music is qualified as “soul music” for Muslim mystics. It’s often used to transcend the physical realm into the spiritual one.
KILA RAIPUR RURAL OLYMPICS (4-7 Feb) 15 km south of Ludhiana, Punjab
The Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is a rural sports festival that’s grown over six decades, to become a sports bonanza that attracts competitors from around the globe. Bullocks, camels, dogs, mules, and other animals competing in highly professional events must be seen to be believed! The adrenaline-pumping bullock cart race is the main attraction.
GOA CARNIVAL (6-9 Feb) The carnival moves from city to city (Panaji, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa)
The colorful Goa Carnival, which began as a local feast by the Portuguese in the 18th century, has developed into the state’s most famous event. During the festival, the streets come alive with parades, floats, music, and masked dances. It culminates with the Red and Black Dance, where the dress code is red and black.
UDYANOTSAV (MUGHAL GARDEN) – (12Feb—19Mar) Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi
The Mughal Gardens at the President of India’s residence are thrown open to the public for a month each year, for the annual Udyanotsav. The festival is into its tenth year this year. Tulips are the main attraction, with nearly 10,000 blooms. Primulas will also feature prominently. In addition, guests can visit the Spiritual Garden, Herbal Garden, Bonsai Garden and Musical Garden