Business Travel

IndiGo adds Ras Al Khaimah as 100th destination in 6E network

These flights are designed to cater to business and leisure travellers who are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options…reports Asian Lite News

IndiGo, India’s leading carrier, announced Ras Al Khaimah as its 100th destination in 6E network. The airline will commence new direct flights between Mumbai and Ras Al-Khaimah, effective September 22, 2022. Ras Al-Khaimah was also named as Gulf Tourism Capital for the year 2020 and 2021 by Gulf Cooperation Council.

Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to announce our entry into the fourth Emirate with Ras Al-Khaimah as our 26th international and 100th overall destination. These new flights will cater to the high demand for travel to Ras Al Khaimah, with India being the third largest international source market for the city in 2021, and traffic expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year. RAK is also focussing on becoming the regional leader in sustainable tourism, which aligns well with our overall focus on sustainability. The increased connectivity will not only bolster trade but also strengthen sustainable and responsible tourism between the countries. Our expansion to connect the 100th destination is a testament to our efforts to stay true to our promise of affordable fares, on-time performance, courteous and hassle-free service across a wide network, onboard our lean clean flying machines.”

Apart from being the 100th destination, Ras Al-Khaimah is also the 4th city in the emirates, 11th destination in Middle East, and 26th international location in 6E network. The passengers can experience nature as well as authentic offerings along with beaches and Hazar mountains. Some of the tourist destinations at Ras Al-Khaimah include Sunset at Jebel Jais, Zipline Down Jebel Jais’ slope, Dhayah Fort, National Museum, Khatt Springs amongst others. RAK is a popular destination for leisure travellers, destination weddings and incentives targeting the MICE segment.

These flights are designed to cater to business and leisure travellers who are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options to access destinations which help in building businesses and are known for their tourist attractions. Customers who wish to plan their travel can book tickets via our official website The introduction of these flights will further bolster the airline’s domestic and international connectivity.

Flight Schedule:

His Excellency Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of The Department of Civil Aviation Ras Al Khaimah & Ras Al Khaimah International Airport said: “Ras Al Khaimah International Airport’s partnership with IndiGo airlines is a significant step forward in getting back to a normal footing post the pandemic. We welcome them whole heartedly and we are enthusiastic to address the increased passenger flow from the Indian subcontinent. Ras Al Khaimah’s thriving tourism & industrial sector will benefit from this connectivity and I am confident that this partnership will prove to be an important piece in our ongoing expansion strategy for the airport.”

The CEO of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, Mr. Atanasios Titonis commented: “We are happy to have IndiGo airlines as our partner. Our team along with IndiGo’s team have been working several months together to achieve this main step for our airport and to boost tourism for Ras Al Khaimah as an Emirate. Indigo’s working values are great, and their vision is commendable, and they are the right airline partners in our portfolio as we are on our way to transition into a destination airport. We envisage a huge array of opportunities coming in from the Indian subcontinent with the start of this operation as Mumbai is a major airline hub and it can further connect our passengers to several destinations within India and also other international destinations served by IndiGo.”

About IndiGo

IndiGo is amongst the fastest growing low-cost carriers in the world. IndiGo has a simple philosophy: offer fares that are low, flights that are on time, offering a courteous, hygienic, and hassle-free travel experience. With its fleet of 280+ aircraft, the airline is operating over 1600 daily flights and connecting 74 domestic destinations and 26 international destinations. For more information, please visit or download our mobile app. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ALSO READ-Indigo revenue rises four fourfold, hits 130.2 bn

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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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Travel therapy for mental health

Dr Wen said the varied nature of tourism meant there were many opportunities to incorporate treatments for conditions such as dementia…reports Asian Lite News

A new cross-disciplinary paper from Edith Cowan University (ECU) proposes we change the way we view tourism, seeing it not just as a recreational experience but as an industry that can provide real health benefits. The collaboration between ECU’s Centre for Precision Health and School of Business and Law found many aspects of going on holiday could have a positive impact on those with mental health issues or conditions.

Lead researcher Dr Jun Wen said the diverse team of tourism, public health and marketing experts investigated how tourism could benefit those living with dementia.

“Medical experts can recommend dementia treatments such as music therapy, exercise, cognitive stimulation, reminiscence therapy, sensory stimulation and adaptations to a patient’s mealtimes and environment,” Dr Wen said.

“These are all also often found when on holidays. “This research is among the first to conceptually discuss how these tourism experiences could potentially work as dementia-interventions.”

Holiday fun… or treatment?
Dr Wen said the varied nature of tourism meant there were many opportunities to incorporate treatments for conditions such as dementia.
For example, being in new environments and having new experiences could provide cognitive and sensory stimulation.
“Exercise has been linked to mental wellbeing and travelling often involves enhanced physical activity, such as more walking,” Dr Wen said.

“Mealtimes are often different on holiday: they’re usually more social affairs with multiple people and family-style meals have been found to positively influence dementia patients’ eating behaviour.
“And then there’s the basics like fresh air and sunshine increasing vitamin D and serotonin levels. “Everything that comes together to represent a holistic tourism experience, makes it easy to see how patients with dementia may benefit from tourism as an intervention.”

A shift in thinking

Dr Wen said COVID-19’s impact on travel in recent years had raised questions about tourism’s value beyond lifestyle and economic factors.
“Tourism has been found to boost physical and psychological wellbeing,” he said.

“So, after COVID, it’s a good time to identify tourism’s place in public health — and not just for healthy tourists, but vulnerable groups.”
Dr Wen said he hoped a new line of collaborative research could begin to examine how tourism can enhance the lives of people with various conditions. “We’re trying to do something new in bridging tourism and health science,” he said. “There will have to be more empirical research and evidence to see if tourism can become one of the medical interventions for different diseases like dementia or depression.
“So, tourism is not just about travelling and having fun; we need to rethink the role tourism plays in modern society.” (ANI)

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Kashmir witnesses tourism boom

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had inaugurated Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight on October 23 last year, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the United Arab Emirates after around 11 years…reports Asian Lite News

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday said the Kashmir Valley is witnessing an exponential increase in the tourism flow due to the successful campaigns to attract maximum tourists towards the region.

According to statistics of the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department, March 2022 broke the 10-year tourist arrival record in Kashmir, signalling that the tourism industry is finally on the path to recovery, a statement said.

As per the Union tourism ministry, around 1.42 lakh tourists visited Jammu and Kashmir during February alone, breaking the seven-year record.

Remarkably, on April 4 this year, the Srinagar International Airport recorded busiest day ever in history, with 15,014 people travelling on 90 flights in and out of Kashmir.

Notably, for the first time, the Ministry of Civil Aviation approved the five flights a week between Srinagar-Sharjah.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had inaugurated Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight on October 23 last year, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the United Arab Emirates after around 11 years.

To boost adventure tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday launched J&K Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth.

“The initiative is aimed at transforming 75 villages of the UT known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance into tourist villages,” a statement said.

Sinha said that the youth-led sustainable tourism initiative will strengthen rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Highlighting the objective behind the initiative, he observed that the Jammu and Kashmir government is adopting best practices recognising the uniqueness of each village and showcasing the landscapes, indigenous knowledge systems, cultural diversity and heritage, local values and traditions, besides encouraging film shooting and offering financial incentives as well as ensuring a digital platform to all these villages.

“The J&K administration is giving special focus on the tourism sector, and the region has started witnessing significant growth in terms of increased number of tourists and creation of tourism-related infrastructure.

“A dedicated focus is also being laid on bringing unexplored religious places of Jammu on the religious tourist map to attract more tourists,” a statement said.

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Away from the capital city’s hustle and bustle

Pataudi Palace is also known as Ibrahim Kothi. Recently started serving as a luxury heritage hotel, it is very well known for various reasons. The magnificent white colonial mansion is spread over 25 acres and makes for a great view…writes N. LOTHUNGBENI HUMTSOE

With the sudden change in the Delhi NCR weather and a significant drop in temperature, it is time to succumb to the temptation of a quick relaxing weekend trip. To make the most of this incredible change in weather, choose a location that is a perfect mix of comfort and outdoor spaces where one can unwind in the cool mornings and evenings.

Here are a few suggestions that are only a short drive from the city but will transport you to another world away from the city’s hustle and bustle. And are ideal for relaxing in this weather to bring more life to the moments you spend.

Neemrana Fort Palace

Neemrana Fort Palace Hotel is a popular destination which is close to Delhi NCR because it retains its charm as a getaway that gives you a satisfying experience. A mix of luxury stay at a palace property and modern luxury; is a good option to spend a weekend. The grand structure makes for one of the most picturesque properties within a short distance from Delhi, Neemrana Fort Palace is a great place to spend a fun-filled weekend. There are enough outdoor and indoor experiences to keep your weekend engaged. It also offers great food to make the experience holistic. It is one of the best places to venture out to during good weather. Neemrana Fort Palace is a 3-hour drive from Delhi.

Pataudi Palace

Built in 1935, Pataudi Palace is also known as Ibrahim Kothi. Recently started serving as a luxury heritage hotel, it is very well known for various reasons. The magnificent white colonial mansion is spread over 25 acres and makes for a great view. It offers stylish interior decorations, artistically furnished rooms, classic verandahs, old model furniture, and modern amenities. The manicured lawns, gardens and open spaces are perfect hangouts during pleasant weather. One can easily lose track of time walking around admiring the beauty of the place. Just a 2-hour drive from Delhi, the Pataudi Palace is in Haryana.

Lohagarh Fort Resort

This luxury resort is conveniently located on the Delhi Jaipur Highway. A great place to spend a good weekend with family or friends, this place offers a luxurious stay with lots of activities to keep you engaged throughout the weekend. The tastefully done layout and ambience of the resort in itself is an attraction. One can easily sail through a whole weekend without feeling the need for leaving the resort. The open layout of the resort gives ample space to relish good weather and go around the property for walks. They offer amazing options for luxurious accommodations and scrumptious food. Lohagarh Fort Resort is a 5-hour drive from Delhi.

Dusit Devarana

Very different from any other resort, Dusit Devarana stands out from the crowd like its name. A 5-star resort just 31 km from Delhi, offers an escape from the hustle-bustle of the city. They have a very interesting modern landscape and architecture, with beautiful grounds that can offer you the pleasure to stroll in amicable weather. Or dive into the pool for a cool experience. The great amenities and luxuries of the resort will ensure the utmost comfort during the stay. Overall, a very uncommon and differentiated experience for a weekend getaway.

Noor Mahal, Karnal

Noor Mahal is a majestic 5-star hotel in the rustic backdrop of Karnal. The grandeur of Noor Mahal has been brought to life with Rajputana and Mughal Architecture. Walking among the wide corridors, admiring the beautiful arches and intricately decorated walls, one feels like royalty. They offer luxurious chambers with modern comforts that ensure the ultimate experience during your stay. A destination in itself, one can spend almost unbelievably amazing mornings and evenings outdoors in the lovely weather. Evening by their mesmerising pool side is highly recommended.

So, make your plans for the weekend to visit one of these splendid places to make most of the turned weather for a fortunately cool experience in the middle of harsh summers.

ALSO READ-Insta-worthy destinations in India to explore

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Insta-worthy destinations in India to explore

Among the notable attractions, the Neelakurinji, which blooms once every 12 years, is a sight to behold, as these rare and unique flowers present a picturesque blue and purple landscape against the green rolling hills of Munnar…reports Asian Lite News

Travel is opening up across the world, and with that, our Instagram feeds are now being blessed with pictures of people exploring new and unique destinations. While most travel influencers flaunt beautiful destinations from across the globe, there is absolutely no dearth of insta-worthy destinations in India.

Right from flower-filled landscapes to snowcapped mountain ranges, there is no shortage of beautiful destinations within the country, especially for those who want to make a quick getaway and explore picture-perfect destinations.

To help spice up your travel feed, EaseMyTrip shares a list of some of the most beautiful destinations that will make others envious of your Instagram feed:

* Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Popular for its scenic mountain ranges, coniferous landscapes, and 400-year-old monasteries adorned in colorful Tibetan flags, the quaint town of Tawang is considered to be one of the prime Insta-worthy destinations, not just for those who want to grace their feeds with aesthetic posts, but also for those who want to visit a destination with tremendous natural beauty and history. The town is also home to one of the biggest, and oldest monasteries in India, dating back to 1680. This destination is especially perfect for those who want to enjoy an offbeat vacation, and who want to explore the unique hiking trails such as the Gorichen Peak, which gives travelers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Tawang.

Insta Worthy Location: GadenNamgyalLhatse (Tawang Monastery)

* Munnar, Kerala

Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, Munnar is a scenic destination straight out of a fairytale. This quaint hill station is a romantic paradise nestled in the confluence of three mountain streams. Among the notable attractions, the Neelakurinji, which blooms once every 12 years, is a sight to behold, as these rare and unique flowers present a picturesque blue and purple landscape against the green rolling hills of Munnar. The tea estates, Lakkam waterfalls, and Eravikulam National Park are some must-visit destinations for those who want to explore the unique and magnificent sights of the hill station and add more color to their Instagram feed.

Insta Worthy Location: Neelakurinji Bloom Hills

* KremLiatPrah, Meghalaya

From the dazzling blue pools to stalagmites in gleaming hues, the unique caves nestled in KremLiatPrah make a traveler feel as if they are visiting a destination straight out of a fantasy novel. The KremLiatPrah stands as one of the longest natural caves in South Asia and is interconnected with over 150 caves to awaken the explorer in you. The caves can, however, only be explored along with an experienced cave guide, during the daytime, to truly experience the beauty of this unique destination. Winter is the perfect season to experience the vast stretches of cherry blossoms that bloom during this time of the year. KremLiatPrah is one of the most remote destinations in Meghalaya, which is why pre-booking a bus or a taxi to reach your destination from Shillong is considered to be the best option.

Insta Worthy Location: Krem Dam Caves

* Thiksey, Leh

Thiksey in Leh is one destination that is surely set to become an instant favorite, especially with the concept of glamping being at the forefront of the experiences here. While there are only specific months during the year when visitors can enjoy the sights, the pictures clicked here are sure to last a lifetime. The Chamba Camp in particular is a luxury glamping site that offers some of the best backdrops for scenic views. When visiting Thiksey, opt to stay in one of the local luxury tents, which creates a unique wilderness camping experience. October is one of the best times to visit this destination owing to the ThikseyGustor Festival, which gives visitors a unique insight into the ritualistic life of Tibetan people, and the culture that has been upheld for centuries in this region.

Insta Worthy Location: Chamba Camp

* Kutch, Gujarat

Aptly dubbed as the “White Desert of India”, Kutch is a unique destination that exudes a surreal feeling that is unmatched and sure to add a touch of flair to your feed. The vast and expansive white salt desert coupled with a backdrop of a starry sky is sure to have you staring in awe at the pictures that come as a result of it. The Rann Festival in particular is one of the most popular and instagrammable events, as the numerous sights and stalls set up here add a pop of color to an otherwise pristine backdrop. One of the attractions of this festival is also the hot air balloon rides being offered to patrons, giving them a unique bird’s eye view of the vast saline mudflats that are iconic to this region. Kutch is also known for being home to the unique Tent City of Gujarat, whose notable attractions include the extensive lines of white tent houses and stores, as well as the renowned Statue of Unity.

Insta Worthy Location: RaanUtsav (Tent City)

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Blue wonders of New Zealand

Stroll and admire the pure water of The Blue Spring in the Waikato-Hamilton region, so clean it supplies around 70 per cent of New Zealand’s bottled water…reports Asian Lite News

Everyone is aware of the world’s seven natural wonders. They are spectacular, remarkable, and unforgettable. But did you know that New Zealand has its own blue wonders that will captivate your senses?

New Zealand is a visual seeker’s treasure chest waiting to be opened, with its breathtakingly beautiful sights. These dazzling blue attractions, ranging from azure lakes to turquoise pools, must be seen to be believed.

Poor Knights Islands

Beneath the waves at the Poor Knights Islands, you’ll find subtropical fish that can’t be seen anywhere else in New Zealand. Diving and snorkelling are the best ways to enjoy this underwater world, located 30 kilometres from Whangarei in Northland & Bay of Islands region.

Te Waikoropupu Springs

Be amazed by some of the clearest water ever measured at Te Waikoropupu Springs, in Takaka, the largest freshwater springs in the Southern Hemisphere. Also known as Pupu Springs, local Maori see it as a taonga (treasure) and wahi tapu, a place held in high cultural and spiritual regard.

The Blue Spring

Stroll and admire the pure water of The Blue Spring in the Waikato-Hamilton region, so clean it supplies around 70 per cent of New Zealand’s bottled water. The Te Waihou Walkway winds through wetlands, across rolling pastures and past small waterfalls to the turquoise water of the spring, one of the purest water sources in the world.

Glowworm caves

An ancient subterranean world in the heart of New Zealand’s central North Island, the Waitomo Cave system is a series of fascinating and dramatic natural wonders. Take a boat ride to observe the glowing wonders up close or get your adrenaline pumping with Black Water Rafting.

Blue Pools

Take a short and easy walk through mature beech trees and over a swing bridge to discover the awe-inspiring Blue Pools. The deep, clear glacial pools of the Makarora River can be found in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki, a shimmering blue jewel set against a backdrop of Aoraki/Mt Cook, gets its distinctive deep blue tones from finely-ground minerals carried in the glacier-fed waters. Discover nearby walks, take a scenic flight, or go at night for a spectacular stargazing experience.

Huka Falls

One of New Zealand’s most popular natural attractions, Huka Falls is just 10 minutes from Lake Taupo. Watch as the mighty Waikato River, which measures about 100 metres wide, is squeezed through a narrow gorge and down a 20 metre drop. You can feel the thundering Falls up close on a jet boat ride or marvel from a safe distance on one of the many viewing platforms.

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Spectacular spots for a rainy season getaway

StayVista is dedicated to providing you with the best villas to rent for various events, parties, or getaways. Available in a variety of locations, including Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Manali, Goa, and many others…reports Asian Lite News

A quick vacation in the monsoons is a great way to recharge those batteries and indulge in some R&R. Here are some places which make for a spectacular getaway through the rainy season.

Munjoh Island House, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Imagine a hillside resort surrounded by coconut palms, betel leaves, mango, banyan, and even jackfruit trees, with elegant villas and unique room configurations. If this sounds like a place you’d like to visit for a vacation, look no further than Munjoh Island House.

Sterling, Ooty

Fern Hill, nestled among Ooty’s mountain peaks, offers views of terraced farms and distant pine forests. Blankets of tea estates, silvery streams, incredible flora and fauna, stretches of thick forests, and, most importantly, a culture influenced by many influences make this a must-see destination. There are numerous activities available, including paintball, foosball, a library, and many others.

StayVista, Lonavala

StayVista is dedicated to providing you with the best villas to rent for various events, parties, or getaways. Available in a variety of locations, including Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Manali, Goa, and many others.

Fazlani Natures Nest, Maharashtra

Fazlani Natures Nest, located in Maharashtra, is a great place to unwind and reconnect with nature. Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga & Meditation, Physiotherapy, and Animal Assisted Therapy are some of the health and spiritual programmes available. If you want to get close to nature and relax, this is the place for you.

Club Mahindra Emerald Palms, Goa

If you have children, Goa is a popular tourist destination, so Club Mahindra has created a resort inspired by the Portuguese architecture of Goa. It provides fascinating heritage tours, relaxing wellness treatments, and delectable food.

ALSO READ-Travel tips for millennials

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Take a diversion from trend-setting cities to stunning natural spots

To witness the admirable work the town does with regard to protecting animals, visitors can spend time at — and make a contribution to — the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre…reports Asian Lite News

Celebrated by millions of people across the globe, World Environment Day aims to create awareness and encourage action for the protection of the environment. And while one can practise sustainability in multiple aspects of one’s life, travelling sustainability can be a traveller’s priority, especially with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and resumption of travel.

This World Environment Day, has compiled a list of destinations across the globe with the highest percentages of Travel Sustainable properties on their platform. Travel Sustainable badge recognizes the impactful efforts properties worldwide are making to help protect the planet and contribute positively to their local communities.

From trend-setting cities to stunning natural parks and destinations making a concerted effort to manage their travel volumes more consciously, there is plenty of inspiration for the 94% of Indian travellers who say that sustainable travel is important to them — no matter where your sense of adventure and exploration might take you.

Hoedspruit, South Africa

Nestled beneath the majestic Northern Drakensberg Mountains, the scenic town of Hoedspruit is surrounded by the largest privately-owned conservation area in the world. The town is located in the heart of the UNESCO registered Kruger to Canyons Biosphere where the local community takes part in several recycling and conservation initiatives and showcases local produce at the Lekker Farmer’s market to support the surrounding area. Known as one of the best places for a safari in South Africa, visitors can immerse themselves in the beautiful surroundings by respectfully observing the incredible wildlife in their natural habitat.

To witness the admirable work the town does with regard to protecting animals, visitors can spend time at — and make a contribution to — the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.

Stockholm, Sweden

Spread across fourteen islands, Stockholm is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Europe and celebrated as an international role model for climate action, having taken multiple measures to ensure a net positive impact. The Swedish capital uses renewable energy sources and recycles 99 per cent of the city’s solid waste. It also has one of the cleanest — and tastiest — tap waters in the world, so there’s no need to buy bottled water.

Since the city is relatively compact, there are options to explore it more sustainably, with a great public transport system and many sights within walking distance. The city offers a community bicycle programme that allows people to rent one of 1,000+ bicycles that are scattered throughout Stockholm. Visitors can also explore the city from the water: an evening city kayaking tour offers the unique experience of paddling through Stockholm’s waterways to admire the architecture and landmarks, ending with a traditional Swedish meal.

Arusha, Tanzania

Known as Tanzania’s safari capital and a wonderful stopover for keen hikers heading to scale Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha is exactly halfway between Cairo and Cape Town. With the breathtaking dormant volcano of Mount Meru as a backdrop, Arusha is easily explored by foot and is known for its environmental efforts such as tree planting initiatives, sustainable agricultural volunteering programs, and a water sanitation project which visitors to the area can support.

The East African city is also known for its monumental clock tower and various cultural tourism programs on offer, including a tour of the Olpopongi Maasai Cultural Village and Museum where visitors can experience the local Maasai culture firsthand. This is an ideal way to learn more about and connect with the local community — perfect for the 69 per cent of Indian travellers who say they want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture when they travel.

Merzouga, Morocco

Merzouga is a charming small village in southeast Morocco, located near the stunning Erg Chebbi desert, known for its magical sand dunes and wide range of wildlife. Visitors can trek to nearby ancient Berber villages that still act as oases in the expansive desert to immerse themselves in local history and culture.

For early risers, the desert at dawn provides stunning sunrise views, and those taking part in the two-hour Erg Chebbi Sunset Dunes Walk will experience equally transcendent twilight hues passing across the dramatic landscape as the sun goes down. Morocco itself is a leading destination in terms of its environmental commitments, with a sustainable development model and goals to source 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

Located where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet, Puerto Iguazu is home to the magnificent Iguazu National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. With 275 waterfalls, the most renowned and arguably most stunning is the semicircular Devil’s Throat, more than 269 feet (82m) high and located at the very heart of the national park. For those wanting to explore with minimal impact, the luscious landscape is accessible by foot via the many hiking trails, or reachable by the Ecological Train that crosses the jungle.

Visitors can observe the wildlife in the surrounding tropical forest; with over a thousand different species of animals and plants, it’s part of a larger ecosystem that runs through most of Latin America. To help preserve biodiversity and protect the park, as well as the local community, the hospitality sector has kickstarted several initiatives including litter and street cleaning to ensure the numbers of tourists do not adversely affect the area and the people who live there.

Boracay, Philippines

An idyllic tropical island destination, Boracay is the stuff Instagram dreams are made of. Featuring no fewer than 17 stunning beaches and coves, including the stunning 2.5 miles (4km) long White Beach, visitors have stretches of pristine sand and sea to surf, kiteboard, and snorkel, or to simply relax and soak up the sunshine. Things haven’t always been so dreamy for Boracay: in the past, the island took the difficult decision to close to visitors for six months due to the negative impact of too many tourists.

After refocusing their efforts and allowing the island’s ecosystems to start to recover, Boracay is now responsibly welcoming visitors again, managing volumes with a daily tourist limit. The island has also implemented an array of sustainable eco-tourism practices, including the adoption of electric tricycles, and now relies on solar power as its main energy source, seeking to ensure a long and healthy future.

Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Located northeast of Colombia’s capital Bogota, the charming town of Villa de Leyva is known for its rich history and traditional whitewashed architecture. In the heart of the town lies the stunning Plaza Mayor, home to the city hall, museums, hotels and shopping passages for visitors to explore and support the work of local artisans. Visitors should consider timing their trip to coincide with the annual tree festival, the Festival del Arbol, which is held in October to celebrate the natural wonders the town has to offer. A celebration of the region’s indigenous plants, the festivities include everything from lectures on conservation and sustainable tourism to performances from local musicians.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Given its warm and welcoming atmosphere, its historic canal houses, cosy cafes, and small boutique shops, it’s no wonder the Dutch capital is so popular with travellers. Although Amsterdam has struggled for years with what some might call ‘too much of a good thing’, in terms of tourism, it’s actively addressing the issue by encouraging visitors to explore outside of the crowded city centre and its infamous red-light district.

By redirecting travellers to its many charming neighbourhoods, the hope is to spread the positive socio-economic benefits of tourism more evenly throughout the city and surrounding areas. On a national level, the Dutch government is rewarding sustainable initiatives, taxing polluting activities, making investments in soft mobility and encouraging the use of public transport and bicycles. Amsterdam is also committed to reducing CO2 emissions and has fostered an increasingly popular vegan and vegetarian food scene, making it easier for both visitors and locals alike to eat more mindfully.

Toronto, Canada

Known for its live music scene, acclaimed museums and galleries, the iconic CN Tower and an incredible skyline, Ontario’s capital and Canada’s largest city is also a fantastic destination for those with an eye on traveling more responsibly. Mesmerizing and modern, Toronto is best discovered through a tour with a local guide to escape the tourist trail and discover local markets and hipster hangouts.

In efforts to address climate change, the environmentally-conscious Toronto is actively supporting the take-up of electric vehicles, offering carbon offset credits, and even introduced a Green Roof Bylaw in 2009, requiring buildings to have a green roof for vegetation to grow. As Toronto is now blessed with incredible fruit and vegetable growers and nearby farms just outside of the city, the farm-to-table ethos has been adopted widely by many of the city’s most popular restaurants, where visitors can enjoy delicious food grown close to home.

Rishikesh, India

At the base of the Himalayas and located right on the Ganges River, Rishikesh is a beautiful city surrounded by rippling rivers and majestic mountains. An exquisite and calming place to nurture the soul, visitors can tap into the rejuvenating vibe by participating in wellness activities like a sound healing session.

A world renowned destination for yoga, meditation, and hiking, the city has also taken multiple measures to be more sustainable, including becoming vegetarian by law and actively encouraging plant-based eating to support the environment. Rickshaws, one of the main traditional transport options in the city, have been fitted with CNG-powered engines in an effort to reduce pollution, while local artists are producing art installations using single-use plastics.

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Visa facts for your next trip

Each country has a different timeline for its visa processing, and these timelines are clearly mentioned on their websites, providing you the information required to apply for your visa well in advance…reports Asian Lite News

Information about Visa Application Centres offering visa services are being updated real time by VFS Global as it continues to resume services in a phased manner for its client governments. VFS Global answers some questions and offers facts to help you get that VISA for your next trip.

How does the key visa application trends look like pan India?

Number in visa applications have seen a rise of over 100 per cent in Q1 2022 when compared with Q1 2021. Volumes in Q1 2021 were significantly less as many international borders were closed with pandemic-induced travel restrictions. Premium services like Visa at your doorstep also saw a significant increase as given below:

Q1 2019 vs Q1 2022: 6x

Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022: 4x

If I am travelling to the UK with stopover in EU member states, do I need Schengen airport transit visa?

Yes, Schengen airport transit visa is mandatory for travellers with a stopover in France, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic. This requirement has been in place for many years.

How early before my travel dates should I apply for my visa?

When planning your travels, you always book flights and hotels in advance. Do the same for visas. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days (three months) before your date of travel. According to the revised Schengen Visa Code, effective 02 February 2020, you can apply for a Schengen visa up to 6 months before your date of travel. Particularly this year with higher demand and limited appointment slots available, we urge applicants to apply for their visa as early as possible. VFS Global forwards applications as per the agreed service level agreements with the embassy/consulate.

What are the typical turnaround timelines for visas?

Each country has a different timeline for its visa processing, and these timelines are clearly mentioned on their websites, providing you the information required to apply for your visa well in advance. Be aware that during peak season visa processing can take longer than anticipated, hence apply early.

What is the appointment allotment process at VFS Global?

Appointment slots are offered online based on volume of demand or forecast, and in conjunction with the embassy’s own internal capacity planning. Once scheduled, we highly recommend being at the centre 15 minutes prior the appointed time to avoid missing your slot. Appointments are free, beware of fraudulent parties selling appointments in exchange of money. We urge applicants not to pay for any appointments being offered.

I am confused about documentation, which varies depending on who I ask! Which are the correct documents to submit?

A checklist of the documentation required for visa applications for each country served by VFS Global is available on our website. Be sure to carry all the requisite documentation, including a printout of the checklist, to submit along with the duly filled application form. Check your passport’s validity. Many countries require a valid passport six months beyond your return date.

How do I track the status of my application?

Once your application is submitted, you can opt for the SMS service, and receive timely updates on your application’s progress through VFS Global’s online tracking service. The status will be updated as and when your passport is ready for collection/delivery. Be aware that VFS Global cannot track your application during the assessment process within an embassy or consulate.

Can VFS Global offer me advice and guidance on visa categories and vaccination?

VFS Global is strictly not authorised to provide advice or guidance on visa category or any other visa requirement that the customer may need. VFS Global manages the administrative and non-judgmental aspects of the visa process only, such as visa application submission and biometric enrolment. VFS Global does not comment on vaccine requirements. All travellers are requested to check the destination / transit country guidelines for the same.

Can I expedite the process? Does availing any of the value-added services guarantee a faster visa outcome?

The time taken for visa processing differs with each mission. Please check the turnaround timelines before applying. Opting for any optional, value-added services (such as Prime Time Services or Form-filling, or any other service) does not guarantee a quicker or more positive decision by the concerned embassy/consulate. Optional and value-added services are available for select client governments only, as per agreed service level agreements with those governments.

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