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Travel & Tourism

Turkish tourism rebounds after years of losses

Volkan Yorulmaz, a board member of the Professional Hotel Managers Association of Türkiye, told Xinhua that this would be a reasonable target…reports Burak Akinci

Türkiye’s tourism industry is headed for a good year as revenues nearly tripled in the second quarter, which is a boon for the vulnerable economy hit by both the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp decline of local currency, tourism professionals and operators said.

REBOUNDING TO NEAR PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS

The number of foreign tourists visiting Türkiye in the quarter rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels as the lira’s decline against hard currencies turned Türkiye into a more attractive holiday destination.

Tourism revenues are key to the Turkish economy suffering from a currency slump, near 80-percent inflation and widening current account deficit.

Türkiye earned 8.72 billion U.S. dollars from tourism in the second quarter of this year, almost tripled from 3 billion dollars in the April-June period of 2021, putting it on course for a record year, according to local media.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Türkiye aimed to generate 37 billion dollars in tourism revenues and attract 47 million tourists this year, revising the previous targets of 35 billion dollars and 45 million tourists.

Volkan Yorulmaz, a board member of the Professional Hotel Managers Association of Türkiye, told Xinhua that this would be a reasonable target.

“Overall it won’t be difficult to reach a total of over 40 million foreign visitors this year, including 12 million in Antalya, Türkiye’s biggest tourism hub on the sunny Mediterranean coast,” Yorulmaz said.

Yorulmaz, who is also the general manager of a holiday resort in Antalya’s Kemer District which is very popular with Russian and Ukrainian tourists, explained that the industry had a rough start this year due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict that broke out in February.

“We were hopeful for this year until the conflict erupted. Our expectations decreased a bit, but after May, the industry rebounded here with the arrivals of Russian planes which were a relief for the sector,” he said.

In April-June 2022, foreign visitors jumped to 11.9 million from 4.07 million a year ago, according to recently announced official data.

Tourism income in the first half of the year totaled 14.2 billion dollars, exceeding that of 2019, which was a record year.

Tour company owner Recep Yavuz, who conducted research on the tourism activity in Antalya by interviewing more than 50 hotels, said that daily entries of foreign tourists amounted to 80,000-90,000.

Explaining that many hotels are trying to direct those who cannot find a place in Antalya to alternative destinations, Yavuz said that local hotels are currently experiencing the peak season of 2019.

“It looks like Antalya will experience one of its best seasons this year,” Yavuz said.

BOOMING TOURISM HELPS FINANCE ECONOMY

Türkiye is seeking to boost revenues from tourism to help finance a current account deficit that has widened alarmingly this year due to interest rate cuts and a surge in imports.

The bigger deficit has pressured the lira, which has lost more than a quarter of its value in 2022 after declining by 45 percent last year.

Tourism revenues account for nearly 9 percent of the Turkish gross domestic product (GDP) and are crucial for the already low foreign currency reserves of the Turkish central bank.

Türkiye’s tourism GDP is projected to grow by 5.5 percent annually over the next decade, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, representing 11 percent of the total economy by 2032.

Irfan Karsli, head of the Istanbul-based Ligarba Travel Agency, told Xinhua that things were looking better for this year, especially with a big rise in numbers of tourists visiting Istanbul, the biggest Turkish city and another tourism hub.

“Istanbul is one of the top 50 most visited cities in the world. Also, the decline of the lira has been good news for foreign holidaymakers,” he said.

With its rich cultural and historical landmarks, Istanbul has become one of the largest shopping centers in the European region by consisting of shopping malls and centers. According to the official statistics, 7 million tourists visited Istanbul in the first six months of this year.

Known as a destination where Europe meets Asia that has long captivated visitors with its culture, art and history, Istanbul is seeing a significant increase in the number of foreigners arriving for shopping and health tourism, Karsli added.

But while the decline of the lira turned Türkiye into a more affordable destination than rivals Greece, Italy or Spain, it has a downside for Turkish resorts which have seen their costs skyrocketing because of high inflation.

“Runaway inflation has considerably increased our costs in every single field. Income is high but so are costs, and some resorts and hotels are suffering from this situation,” Yorulmaz added.

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Breath taking natural paradise of Thai

The seven boats in Pimalai’s fleet are all helmed by experienced captains with in-depth local knowledge, ensuring that every guest has an adventure that will live long in the memory while preserving the ecosystem…reports Asian Lite News

In southern Thailand’s Krabi province, Mu Ko Lanta National Park is a breath-taking natural paradise with 134 square kilometres of turquoise waters, uninhabited islands, secret coves, and alluring coastlines. It is endowed with a wealth of flora and fauna, including lush jungles and vibrant marine life.

This tropical paradise closes down every year for six months so that its sensitive ecology can be renewed and maintained. The five-star refuge on Koh Lanta, Pimalai Resort & Spa, fully endorses the closure and collaborates with regional authorities to safeguard and maintain the environment.

After undergoing its yearly renovation, Mu Ko Lanta National Park will reopen to visitors on October 15, 2022, and the responsible, adventure-seeking customers of Pimalai will be among the first to view it! Koh Haa and Koh Rok, two of the most gorgeous islands in the area, have reopened as immersive, exclusive trips to mark this momentous anniversary.

Koh Haa

The “Koh Haa Snorkelling & Sunset” excursion takes visitors to Koh Haa, also known as the “Five Islands,” a stunning group of limestone islets that surround a brilliant turquoise lagoon, a technicolour coral reef, and a pristine white beach. This is the ideal location for an afternoon of snorkelling and swimming. As the sun sets over the Andaman Sea, the leisurely boat voyage back to Pimalai will be complemented with canapes and cool beverages on board, including wine and beer.

As an alternative, the “Fabulous Koh Rok” tour is a picturesque one-hour boat ride to Koh Rok, a pair of idyllic islands surrounded by warm, clear waters and powder-soft sand beaches. After an hour of swimming and snorkelling, visitors will be treated to a delectable lunch on board before setting sail on a sightseeing tour around Koh Rok, where they will have further opportunity to dive into the clear water and explore the fascinating underwater world.

The seven boats in Pimalai’s fleet are all helmed by experienced captains with in-depth local knowledge, ensuring that every guest has an adventure that will live long in the memory while preserving the ecosystem.

Pimalai is a haven of peace with only 121 elegant rooms, roomy suites, and magnificent villas, all hidden in 100 acres of nature and cascading down to a 900-meter-long soft sandy beach. While not exploring Mu Ko Lanta National Park, visitors can engage in a variety of low-impact activities like non-motorized water sports, Thai cookery classes, muay Thai boxing lessons, yoga sessions, relaxing treatments at the renowned Pimalai Spa, and hiking through the jungle. This idyllic retreat offers a kids’ club, first-rate dining establishments, a sports centre with courts for basketball, badminton, tennis, and running, as well as two infinity pools that seem to be hung in the forest canopy and overlook the ocean.

Pimalai

“At Pimalai, we feel a deep connection with Mu Ko Lanta National Park – and a deep responsibility to preserve it for future generations. That’s why we conduct regular coastal cleaning activities, do not allow motorised water sports and only permit small-scale, eco-sensitive excursions in the area. We are delighted to invite our conscientious guests to explore this pristine paradise when it reopens this October. Following five months of replenishing rains and no human interference, this idyllic area will be looking more breath-taking than ever,” said Charintip Tiyaphorn, Pimalai’s Owner Representative.

Pimalai is now offering significant savings for curious explorers who want to experience the reopening of Mu Ko Lanta National Parkfrom 15th October 2022. Up to 30% discount is available for advance purchase. Rates start from THB 6,652 net per night and include daily breakfast and a roundtrip Krabi Airport transfer for 2 people.

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Effective ways to make your dream trip

Planning travel on these three days will do the trick too: A tip that we’d rather whisper to you, but here goes. You can save anywhere from 10 to 40 percent on your flight tickets if you travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday…writes N. LOTHUGNBENI HUMTSOE

Some say travel is expensive but there are always ways to save a few bucks on travel. All it takes is a bit of determination and a quest to hunt for the right deals. How much will you save by hunting for travel deals – is something that we sure cannot guarantee. To save you from any stress later, Goibibo culls out simple yet effective ways to make your dream vacay easy on the pocket.

First, start with a travel fund. Financial planning never hurt anyone!: Make time your biggest currency. Start planning ahead of time for your vacation and avoid taking loans to fund your holiday. Diligently stash away some money every week into a liquid fund. Saving on a weekly basis instead of a monthly one helps you break down the contribution to smaller accessible amounts that don’t pinch as much.

40-50 per cent deals on hotels are up for grabs, every day: Imagine this: Travel is on the cards, and you have your dream travel list ready, from the type of local cuisine that you are waiting to indulge in to your dreamy stay at a hotel overseeing the majestic hills of Himalayas. While you just cannot help but get excited about this travel pops, the quintessential question, am I on a budget, or is this travel eating into my savings? To your surprise, there are platforms like Goibibo that offer daily steal deals that can make help make your hotel stays cheaper by 40-50 per cent.

Best price guarantee options that offer the assurance of booking at the best available rates: Let’s ask you this. What’s more important? The assurance of best-guaranteed rates or the doing away with a convenience fee for an overpriced holiday package? We bet that you will go for the first option. And that, we say, is the right choice. When looking for travel deals, do keep a watch on once-in-a-lifetime deals that guarantee the best price for every booking and the promise of a 2X refund in case of counter pricing on another travel platform.

Planning travel on these three days will do the trick too: A tip that we’d rather whisper to you, but here goes. You can save anywhere from 10 to 40 percent on your flight tickets if you travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday! Usually, people prefer to travel on Fridays or Mondays to get an extended weekend. Traveling in the middle of the week won’t get you an extended break, but it might help you save monies on your plane ticket. Also, choose to fly later in the day if you have the luxury to be flexible on dates. Red eyes (literally and figuratively) are a phenomenon for a reason!

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Arab News Travel & Tourism

Sohar int’l gets ‘Best Tourism Promotion Campaign’ award

Through well-conceived initiatives like these, Sohar International has reaffirmed its position as a premium bank that is invested in the socio-economic progress of the country…reports Asian Lite News

As an agile, dynamic, and progressive bank that is well-aligned with the Sultanate’s goal of economic diversification, Sohar International has been leading innovative campaigns geared at promoting the tourism sector in the country. In honour of its unfaltering efforts, the bank was conferred with the title of the ‘Best Campaign to Promote Tourism’ at the Second Arab Forum for Tourism and Heritage for the bank’s initiative in 2021 and 2022 titled ‘In Oman We Win’ and ‘Take It From Us’ respectively.

At the Second Arab Forum for Tourism and Heritage which was organised by the Arab Centre for Tourism Media. The bank won the award for its ‘In Oman We Win’ campaign in 2021, and the more recent ‘Take It From Us’ program in 2022.

Organised by the Arab Centre for Tourism Media, the Second Arab Forum for Tourism and Heritage was held on 24th and 25th July 2022 at the Rotana Hotel, Salalah and was inaugurated by His Highness Sayyid Marwan bin Turki Al Said, Governor of Dhofar, and saw in attendance several key representatives from the public and private sectors. Representing the bank, Mr. Khalil Salim Al Hedaifi, Chief Retail Banking Officer at Sohar International attended the event and received the award. The forum seeks to enhance the partnership between media institutions and the government and private sector establishments in the culture, heritage, and tourism sector in an endeavour to catalyse the marketing and promotional efforts in the field.

Commenting on the award, Mr. Khalil Salim Al Hedaifi, Chief Retail Banking Officer at Sohar International, said “Sohar International believes in taking a more holistic approach to its CSR campaigns and strategically integrates key focus areas of national interest and the country’s long-term goals into its initiatives. Through the ‘In Oman We Win’ and ‘Take it from Us’ initiatives, the bank adopted a unique approach to highlighting the natural beauty, abundant resources, and rich cultural heritage of the Sultanate while simultaneously promoting SMEs catering to this segment and hence creating a rewarding experience for all stakeholders.”

He further added saying, “We are indeed honoured to have received this award which will act as further inspiration for us to continue to conceptualise innovative campaigns and add value to the tourism sector. With Oman’s tourism sector showing immense potential, Sohar International will remain committed to supporting the country’s vision to position the Sultanate as a key tourism destination. This will also act as a key driver of socio-economic growth, job creation, and the development of industries.”

Passionate about creating a unique experience, Sohar International’s ‘In Oman We Win’ was a popular Prize Scheme in 2021 that took viewers on a tour through various touristic, cultural, and historic locations from Musandam to Dhofar. Meanwhile, the bank’s ongoing ‘Take It From Us’ campaign, which primarily focuses on spreading financial knowledge amongst the community, also seamlessly integrates into each episode, a special segment highlighting the unique adventure experience offered by SMEs and other local companies across various iconic locations in the country. Through well-conceived initiatives like these, Sohar International has reaffirmed its position as a premium bank that is invested in the socio-economic progress of the country.

Recently, Sohar International was ranked by the highly coveted Best Banks Survey as the ‘Fastest Growing Bank’ in the Large Banks Category and ‘Excellence in Digital Transformation’ at the Oman Banking and Finance Awards. In addition, Global Business Review Magazine Awards 2022 honoured Sohar International with the title of ‘Best Corporate Banking – Oman 2022’.

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Malaysia Airlines introduces new payment method to purchase tickets

MHPay provides a cost-effective payment alternative with a quick transaction time of less than a minute for end-to-end flow, depending on connectivity, and has proven to lower payment fraud cases to further enhance payment security, which is a high priority for airlines…reports Asian Lite News

Malaysia Airlines announced the launch of MHPay, a new alternative payment method for consumers purchasing air tickets, ancillary products, and services through malaysiaairlines.com.

MHPay is intended to supplement the airline’s entire suite of digitalised payment methods, with the goal of improving the customer experience by providing greater access to all payment options via a single integration point.

MHPay, developed in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and powered by 2C2P, the full-suite payments platform, provides Malaysia Airlines customers with a seamless and secure method of making online payments. Malaysia Airlines was the first airline in Southeast Asia to adopt IATAPay, and the alternative payment method has been successfully implemented.

Customers in India will be able to use MHPay through their preferred online bank in the first phase, benefiting from more convenient and secure digital payment solutions as it offers a real-time payment option that uses UPI rails with more than 90 percent of retailing banks in the respective market and supports account-to-account payments without the use of a credit or debit card at no service fee charge.

Furthermore, MHPay provides a cost-effective payment alternative with a quick transaction time of less than a minute for end-to-end flow, depending on connectivity, and has proven to lower payment fraud cases to further enhance payment security, which is a high priority for airlines.

Group Chief Marketing and Customers Experience of Malaysia Airlines, Lau Yin May said, “We are thrilled to launch MHPay as a testimony to our digitisation initiatives while we continue innovating to fulfil evolving business and customer needs and respond to the rise of digitally savvy consumers. Customers will benefit from MHPay as it offers a fast and secure way to purchase real-time airline tickets online as well as through our mobile app, with no additional service fees.

“This reinforces our commitment to enhancing the customer experience, and we intend to expand more networks in the near future. As travel demand rises, we encourage travellers to take advantage of this opportunity to visit new places and Fly Confidently with Malaysia Airlines, as we have implemented stringent health and safety procedures both on-ground and in-flight to ensure that travellers have a rewarding experience with Malaysian Hospitality.”

Malaysia Airlines is committed to facilitating safe and seamless travels through the implementation of extensive MHFlysafe COVID-19 health and safety measures, so passengers can #FlyConfidently and travel worry-free. Malaysia Airlines is a member of the Travel Safe Alliance Malaysia (TSAM) and has a 7-star rating from Airline Ratings for its COVID-19 safeguards.

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Must travel Swiss

Switzerland has moderate temperatures throughout the year. In the winters, the lowest is -2 C and the highest goes to 28 C during the summer months…writes N. LOTHUNGBENI HUMTSOE

Switzerland is on the wish list of most global citizens, sometimes for months and years! So, when you do finally get the chance to travel to the land of your dreams, are you prepared enough? Here are 10 things you should tick off on your travel list before you head out for your vacation:

1. Direct Flights by SWISS

Delhi and Mumbai travelers can book direct flights with Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). You get your first taste of the Swiss experience mid-air being pampered with chocolates by an ever-smiling crew.

For more information ttps://www.swiss.com/in/en/homepage

2. Swiss Travel Pass

Switzerland’s public transport system is one of the most efficient and seamless experiences in the world. Buy a Swiss Travel Pass (STS) online and travel across over 90 towns and cities in premium panoramic trains with one single ticket! With an STS, you have access to the local buses, cabs, boats, cable cars, and trains, all connecting you to different parts of the country.

For more information https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-in/planning/transport-accommodation/tickets-public-transport/swiss-travel-pass/

3. Essentials

Switzerland has moderate temperatures throughout the year. In the winters, the lowest is -2 C and the highest goes to 28 C during the summer months. Pack accordingly. Sturdy sneakers, trekking boots if you’re into adventure, sunscreen, swimming essentials, sea shoes as the lakes are full of pebbles, an umbrella and lastly, a socket converter are some essential items you should carry with you.


4. Punctuality

Switzerland is known for its timekeeping for a reason! They value time and hate being late. No surprise that some of the best watchmakers in the world come from this country. When you travel there, you’ll see everything runs like clockwork, be it their public transport or their meetings. So, keep a watch on your watch when you’re there or you’ll have missed plans.


5. When to visit

The answer is anytime! Switzerland is ready when you’re ready. If you’re a winter person and love snow, mid-December to mid-March is perfect for skiing, snow-tubing, snowshoeing, etc. Autumn from September to November is beautiful with its mists, changing colours of foliage, and stunning walking tours. Summer from May through September is the perfect time for outdoor activities with clear blue skies and pleasant weather when you can go hiking, biking, paragliding, boating, etc.


6. Language

Most locals are fluent in English but you should know that Switzerland has four national languages – French, German, Italian, and Romansh. You’ll hear these spoken in different regions as you travel across the length and breadth of the country.

7. Must visit locations

The options are endless because everywhere you turn in Switzerland, you’ll see something spectacular. There is something for everyone in this country. A few experiences, however, will take your breath away. Take the view from the Matterhorn in Zermatt which is the world’s most photographed mountain. Zurich’s nightlife, Lucerne’s old-town fairytale vibe, a sunset walk across Montreux Riviera, panoramic views of the perfect powder-snow Alps of Engelberg, an adrenaline rush in Interlaken – Europe’s adventure capital or a splurging spree in the luxurious resort town of St. Moritz – you cannot miss out on these!

8. Swiss Food

The local Rosti, Cheese Fondue, Raclette, wine, and chocolates are must-haves, of course, but if your palate hasn’t taken a fancy to the local food, worry not. There is a multitude of cuisines available such as German, French, Italian, Chinese, and even Indian, to name a few. There are street food, vegan and vegetarian choices, and several fine dining Michelin Star restaurants to choose from.

9. Water

Fun fact – tap water tastes a lot better than most bottled water! It is a lot cheaper too! Carry a glass or steel bottle with you wherever you go, and refill it from anywhere when you’re on the move. You don’t want to spend on bottled water.

10. Activities

Foodies can experience several local and global cuisines. Adventure lovers can trek through some of the most idyllic trails or choose any one of the 199,872 cycling routes. Sports/history buffs can visit world-renowned museums like the FIFA museum in Zurich, The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, the Swiss Museum of transport in Lucerne, or the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. Wellness enthusiasts will find some of the best spas offering treatments from across the world. When you soak in all these experiences surrounded by the fresh mountain air, you know you’ve lived your Swiss dream right!

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India a true destination for spiritual tourism 

In his Independence speech from Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to visit 15 domestic tourist destinations in India by 2022, to promote tourism…reports Asian Lite News

India’s tourism image abroad is mostly related to 17th century monument Taj Mahal, but with its centuries old civilisation, the country is strewn with historical masterpieces across the length and breadth of it.

From the mountains in the north to seas and an ocean in the south, the country is a treasure trove for natural scenic beauty as well. It is a mystic land where people from all across the globe had converged seeking peace. Its all-embracing nature has offered repose to travellers from across the globe.

Apart from the monuments, there are vast tracts of jungles in various parts of the country, which are house of various flora and fauna. It is frequented by both domestic as well as foreign tourists alike.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the travel market in India is projected to reach $125 billion by FY27 from an estimated $75 billion in FY20. International tourist arrivals are expected to reach 30.5 million by 2028.

India is a large market for travel and tourism. It offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products – cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. India has been recognised as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists.

In his Independence speech from Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to visit 15 domestic tourist destinations in India by 2022, to promote tourism.

There were 2.74 million foreign tourists who visited India in 2020. Number of non-resident Indians arriving during that period was 3.59 million. But in 2020, tourism took a hit globally due to breakout of coronavirus pandemic.

In April 2021, the percentage share of foreign tourist arrivals (FTA) was highest from the US (26.85 per cent), followed by Bangladesh (15.65 per cent), Afghanistan (6.92 per cent), the UK (5.87 per cent), Nepal (4.59 per cent), Canada (4.27 per cent), Iraq (2.99 per cent), Portugal (2.40 per cent), Germany (1.42 per cent), Russian Fed (1.41 per cent), Maldives (1.39 per cent), France (1.33 per cent), Sudan (1.21 per cent), Korea (Rep.) (1.18 per cent), and Australia (1.02 per cent).

Tourism continues to play an important role as a foreign exchange earner for the country. In 2020, foreign exchange earnings (FEE) from tourism were $6.958 billion as compared to $30.06 billion in 2019 due to the pandemic.

The United Nations World Tourism Organizations elected Pochampally in Telangana as one of the best tourism villages in November 2021.

From November 15, 2021, India allowed fully vaccinated foreign tourists to visit India, to help revive the Indian travel and hospitality sector.

In 2020, the travel and tourism industry’s contribution to the GDP was $121.9 billion; this is expected to reach $512 billion by 2028. In India, the industry’s direct contribution to the GDP is expected to record an annual growth rate of 10.35 per cent between 2019 and 2028, according to IBEF.

The Indian airline travel market was estimated at $20 billion and is projected to double in size by 2026-27 due to improving airport infrastructure and growing access to passports.

There has been an increase in the demand for luxury stay among Indian consumers, due to rising consumer spend. In line with this, key players are expanding their presence to cater to this demand.

The Indian government is also making serious efforts to boost investment in the tourism sector. In the hotel and tourism sector, 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment is allowed through the automatic route. A five-year tax holiday has been offered for 2, 3 and 4-star category hotels located around UNESCO World Heritage sites (except Delhi and Mumbai).

Government is planning to boost tourism in India by leveraging on the lighthouses in the country. Seventy-one lighthouses have been identified in India, which will be developed as tourist spots.

The lighthouses will feature museums, amphi-theatres, open air theatres, cafeterias, children’s parks, eco-friendly cottages and landscaping according to its capacity. India is often termed as the hotspot for bio-diversity and its rich natural heritage is unparalleled in many ways. As of December 2020, the country comprised 104 national parks and 566 sanctuaries.

The Indian government also announced to develop 17 iconic tourist sites in India into world-class destinations as per Union Budget 2019-20. Ministry of Tourism launched DekhoApnaDesh webinar in April 2020 to provide information on the many destinations and the sheer depth and expanse of the culture and heritage of Incredible India. Until July 2021, 90 webinars have been conducted under the series.

The best tourist destinations in India where the Taj Mahal, the world’s most famous testimony to the power of love — in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra. In the national capital New Delhi, Red Fort is a must see.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar attracts a lot of tourists every year. Founded in 1577 by Ram Das, Amritsar is an important hub of Sikh history and culture, describes Planetware.

Towards the west, Rajasthan is strewn with royal palaces and it is one of the hottest destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists. The places, which are most frequented by tourists are Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Alwar and Ajmer. One of the best know tiger reserves of the country, Ranthambore, is in Rajasthan.

In Uttarakhand, several hill stations are famous like Nainital, Mussoorie and Rishikesh.

Also, people take sojourn in the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh looking for peace and tranquility. Places like Shimla, Dharamsala, Dalhousie and SpitiValley are famous for this. These hill stations are very popular for trekking and river rafting as well.

In Maharashtra, Mumbai is a must visit. It is the financial capital of the country. The 26 metres high Gateway of India overlooking the Arabian Sea is a treat to the eyes of the travellers.

The Ellora Caves in Aurangabad built between the 5th and 10th Centuries by Buddhist, Jain and Hindu monks, make for an excellent excursion from Mumbai, some 300 kilometres to the west.

Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh is something to marvel at. The extraordinary intricate sculpture on the walls of the temples (no worshipping happens there) will leave one awestruck.

Those who want to get soaked in the sun, Goa beaches are highly recommended. The Calangute beach and the Agonda beach are quite popular among beach-lovers.


Down south, there is bountiful natural scenic beauty. Though there are many palaces also to visit. One of South India’s most popular tourist attractions, Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is centered around a lake in Madurai.

Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, Alleppey with its backwaters and floating houseboats, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in South India. The backwaters of Kerala are a breathtaking sight, particularly at the break of dawn. Another picturesque destination in Kerala is Munnar hill station.

In Tamil Nadu, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is an experience to treasure. The Vivekananda Rock Temple is a must visit.

In the eastern part of the country in Bihar, Bodhgaya, considered the world’s holiest Buddhist site, attracts thousands of visitors each year, all drawn to participate with the resident monks in meditation and prayer.

Another remarkable monument is the Victoria Memorial in West Bengal’s Kolkata. The largest contiguous mangrove forest Sundarbans is also located in West Bengal. In the north of the state is Darjeeling Hills known for its world-famous tea.



The seven sisters’ states of the northeastern part of the country are endowed with natural beauty and would provide a strong resemblance with Southeast Asian countries.

India is truly a diverse country in every aspect. A tour around the country will make it more evident as the soil, natural beauty, language everything changes every few miles.

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Vistara inaugurates non-stop service between Mumbai and Jeddah

Vistara is India’s highest-rated airline on Skytrax and TripAdvisor, and it has been the winner of several ‘Best Airline’ awards, besides being lauded for world-class cabin cleanliness and upholding high safety standards…reports Asian Lite News

Vistara, India’s finest full-service carrier and a joint venture of Tata group and Singapore Airlines, successfully inaugurated non-stop flights between Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Mumbai (India). The inaugural flight departed from Mumbai on August 2, 2022 at 1805 Hours (IST) and landed in Jeddah at 2050 Hours (AST). The airline now flies thrice a week between the two cities on its Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Commenting on the launch of the new international route, Mr. Vinod Kannan, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara, said, “We are delighted to launch services to Jeddah, and to add Saudi Arabia to our growing international network. Given the multitude of upcoming futuristic projects in Saudi Arabia, strong trade ties with India and presence of large Indian diaspora, there is growing traffic between the two countries. We are confident that travellers will appreciate having the choice of flying India’s best airline on this route.”

SectorFlight No.Days of OperationDepartureArrival
Mumbai (BOM) – Jeddah (JED)UK 235Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday1805 hrs2050 hrs
Jeddah (JED) – Mumbai (BOM)UK 236Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday2150 hrs0530 hrs (+1)
+1 indicates next day arrival. All timings shown are in local time zonesThe inaugural flight from Jeddah to Mumbai will be operated on 3 August 2022
SCHEDULE OF FLIGHTS BETWEEN MUMBAI AND JEDDAH

Vistara is India’s highest-rated airline on Skytrax and TripAdvisor, and it has been the winner of several ‘Best Airline’ awards, besides being lauded for world-class cabin cleanliness and upholding high safety standards. In a short span of seven years since starting operations, Vistara has raised the bar for operations and service standards in the Indian aviation industry to become the country’s most loved airline and has recently crossed the milestone of flying 35 million passengers.

Vistara (TATA SIA Airlines Limited): TATA SIA Airlines Limited, known by the brand name Vistara, is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons Private Limited and Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA).

Vistara brings together Tata’s and SIA’s legendary hospitality and renowned service excellence to offer the finest full-service flying experience in India. Vistara commenced its commercial operations on January 9, 2015, with an aim to set new standards in the aviation industry in India and it today connects destinations across India and abroad. The airline has a fleet of 53 aircraft, including 41 Airbus A320, five Airbus A321neo, five Boeing 737-800NG and two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft and has flown more than 35 million customers since starting operations. For more information about Vistara, visit www.airvistara.com

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How to plan a safe, scam-free vacation?

Survey usually ends with a request to distribute the site among friends to receive the prize. In such cases, cybercriminals are using the victims themselves as a tool for spreading the scam further…reports Asian Lite News

Vacation season is well and truly upon us, and travelers around the world are looking for interesting places to go, cheap places to stay and reasonably priced flights. And scammers are here to give them what they need — well, sort of. Kaspersky researchers have observed intensified scamming activities, with numerous phishing pages distributed under the guise of airline and booking services. To help travelers avoid scams, company researchers share some of the most widespread fraud schemes used to lure victims as well as helpful tips on how to plan a safe, scam-free, vacation.

Fake ticket aggregators

Most trips start with a plane or train ticket, and travel enthusiasts are often interested in getting their hands on a bargain. Kaspersky experts have seen numerous fake websites claiming to offer users the chance to buy airplane tickets at cheaper costs. Such websites are usually well-made phishing pages that mimic famous airline services and air ticket aggregators. Some of these websites even display the details of real flights, with experienced phishers sending search requests to flight aggregators and displaying the information received from them. However, instead of delivering on promised flight tickets they keep your money and use your personal information for malicious purposes (e.g. selling your bank details and identifying information on the dark web).

Fake lotteries for discounted tickets

There are also plenty of fake pages attempting to lure travelers with airplane ticket draws, lotteries and gift cards. Users are offered the opportunity to take a small survey and enter their personal details in exchange for a generous discount on a flight ticket. As with many other offers that seems to be too good to be true, such websites end up being phishing sites, collecting victims’ personal information and card details.

On top of this, the survey usually ends with a request to distribute the site among friends to receive the prize. In such cases, cybercriminals are using the victims themselves as a tool for spreading the scam further. A link sent by people you know seems more trustworthy than one received from a stranger. If the user then follows the link and tries to get their prize, they often find they need to pay a commission or fee first. After this money is paid, the cybercriminals disappear – without rewarding the user.

Fake rentals

Another popular tactic used to scam travelers is fake rental services. One example includes the offer of a luxury two-bedroom apartment close to the center of a European capital for just €500 a month. Another seemingly appealing offer is for the rental of an entire four-bedroom house with a pool and fireplace for only €1,000 for the whole month. The reviews describe an amazing vacation and hospitable hosts. This encourages users to pay for their month-long stay, but in reality they end up sending their money to fraudsters.

“Planning a vacation is not easy. People can spend weeks, even months, looking for the perfect place to stay and the tickets to get them there. Fraudsters use this to lure users that have grown tired of searching for great deals. After two years of flight restrictions imposed by the pandemic, travelling is back. But so are travel scams – with intensified scamming activity targeting users through fake booking and rental services. Such attacks are totally preventable, which is why we urge users to be skeptical about overly generous offers. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is,” comments Mikhail Sytnik, security expert at Kaspersky.

To keep yourself protected while planning a vacation, Kaspersky experts recommend:

  • Carefully looking at the address bar before entering any sensitive information, such as your login details and password. If something is wrong with the URL (i.e. spelling, it doesn’t look like the original or it uses some special symbols instead of letters) don’t enter anything on the site. If in doubt, check the certificate of the site by clicking on the lock icon to the left of the URL.
  • Only booking your stay and tickets through the trusted websites of trusted providers. Ideally, type the address of their website manually in the address bar.
  • Not clicking on links that come from unknown sources (either through e-mails, messaging apps or social networks).
  • Visiting the business’ official website if you see a giveaway offered in e-mail or on social media by a travel company or an airline to confirm the giveaway exists. You should also carefully check the links the giveaway ad leads you to.
  • Using a good security solution that can protect you from spam emails and phishing attacks. We recommend Kaspersky Security Cloud.

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VFS Global appoints Sukanya Chakraborty as Chief of Communication

VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions…reports Asian Lite News

VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions, appointed Sukanya Chakraborty as the Chief Communication Officer.

With the company entering a new growth chapter and under new ownership, Sukanya will bolster brand advocacy and reputation management through the 360-degree global communication mandate of the organisation.

Sukanya joined VFS Global in 2018 as Head of Corporate Communications & CSR. She has been in different communications and marketing roles in global organisations before joining VFS Global. In her 23+ years of experience, she worked extensively on building B2B & B2C communication strategies and integrated campaigns focused on building an offline and online presence, creating narratives to enhance corporate reputation and brand perception.

VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions. VFS Global is the trusted partner of 65 client governments, operating a global network with more than 3,500 Application Centres in 143 countries. The company has processed over 243 million applications since its inception in 2001. The company manages non-judgmental and administrative tasks related to applications for visa, passport, and consular services for its client governments, enabling them to focus entirely on the critical assessment task. VFS Global has its headquarters in Zurich/Switzerland and Dubai/United Arab Emirates.

VFS Global is majority-owned by funds managed by Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager. Blackstone seeks to create positive economic impact and long-term value for their investors, the companies in which they invest, and the communities in which they work. Blackstone’s USD 915 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, infrastructure, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets, and secondary funds, all on a global basis.

The Swiss-based Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation and EQT, a global investment organisation, headquartered in Stockholm/Sweden, hold minority stakes in VFS Global.

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