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Even as visa issues may have put a slight dent in their European dreams, Indians have found that the world is brimming with captivating places waiting to be explored, no Schengen visa required.

With Covid-related restrictions easing and schools closed for summer vacations, Indians are embarking on adventures that will have their friends scrolling through envy-inducing Instagram feeds. Summer vacations in India typically coincide with the school holidays, making it an ideal time for families to plan their trips.

While dreamy European destinations might beckon with their cultural allure and picturesque landscapes, visa issues have acted as a speed bump. The delay in issuing Schengen visas has had an impact on travel to Europe, said Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-Founder of EaseMyTrip. “Obtaining a Schengen visa can be difficult and time-consuming and the visa processing times also interfere with travel plans,” Pitti said.

Indian travelers however, have found ways to quench their thirst for international adventure by opting for destinations that don’t require them to navigate the maze of European visa applications. Indians have discovered destinations like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia Maldives and United Arab Emirates that are just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Little wonder then that India emerged as the frontrunner in Asia Pacific’s tourism rebound, with 86 percent of Indian travelers displaying confidence in their travel plans, according to Booking.com. The recovery was fueled by the enthusiasm of Generation Z and Millennials who exhibited a strong eagerness to travel.

Online travel company MakeMyTrip notes that while international travel saw a surge in interest, short-haul destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, and the United Arab Emirates emerged as the top five choices for Indian travelers.

The delay in Schengen visa processing is indeed a concern for tourists planning to visit Europe this summer, said A Krishna Mohan, managing director of Southern Travels. “It is taking as long as 45 days just to get the appointment and there have also been massive rejections. While there is a higher demand for European destinations, lack of slots for visa appointments and long turnaround time for visa processing have significantly affected the tourists travel plans,” Mohan said.

As a result, there is also a growing trend among Indians to rediscover the country. MakeMyTrip notes that Goa, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan have emerged as the most popular domestic destinations.

In its Summer Vacation Index 2023, Oyo revealed a promising travel resurgence, with a significant number of Indians (82 percent) intending to travel during the summer season. Furthermore, 92 percent of travelers expressed a desire to explore domestic destinations.

The summer travel landscape from India has also been witnessing a shift towards more immersive experiences with travelers seeking relaxed itineraries. As a result, MakeMyTrip noted that the average room nights booked for both domestic and international packages have significantly increased, compared to previous years.This shift also resulted in higher per-passenger spend as travelers indulged in pre-booked activities, seeking to make the most of their vacations, according to MakeMyTrip.

Radisson Hotel Group noted that summer break provided the perfect opportunity for travelers across the country to escape to the hills. Road trips and staycations gained popularity, with travelers opting for a range of accommodation options from luxury to mid-segment hotels. The average length of stay during summer vacations ranged from 3 to 5 days, allowing travelers to engage in activities both within and outside the hotel property.

Go First Lenders Approve $55 Million Interim Fund to Revive Airline

Creditors of cash-strapped carrier Go First, which filed for bankruptcy last month, have approved an interim funding of approximately $55 million to bring it back on the runway. Lenders to the airline include Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Deutsche Bank and IDBI Bank.

While the lenders have given an in-principle nod, the additional funding would require approval from respective bank boards, which would happen once aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation clears the plans. The regulator is currently examining an application submitted by the airline to get back in business. Go First plans to operate around 150 daily flights with 22 aircraft. The airline also plans to operate charter flights for defense forces in the initial phase.

Radisson Hotel Sonamarg Opens Doors

Radisson Hotel Group has announced the opening of Radisson Hotel Sonamarg in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the group’s seventh operational hotel in the region. “The current summer break presents a perfect opportunity for tourists from across the nation to visit the town and admire its beauty,” said Zubin Saxena, managing director and area senior vice president of South Asia at Radisson Hotel Group.

Radisson Hotel Group signed 11 new hotels in India across brands between January and April this year. In April, the group also announced the India debut of its luxury lifestyle brand, Radisson Collection, with the signing of the first hotel in Hyderabad. The 300-room Radisson Collection Hotel Hyderabad Financial District is set to be operational by the second quarter of 2026

India May Soon Get More Direct Flights to Sydney

Destination NSW, the global tourism promotion arm of Australia’s New South Wales is in talks with several airlines including Qantas, Air India, Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines, to introduce new direct flights or additional flights between the state capital Sydney and India. “We are currently in talks with Qantas and the airline may add an additional Bengaluru-Sydney flight by October,” Samar Chokshi, country manager of India at Destination NSW told the media. “We are also in conversation with Air India exploring if Bengaluru can be an option for the airline to introduce a direct flight to Sydney,” he added.

India currently has 11 direct flights in a week to Sydney, of which Air India operates seven between Delhi and Sydney and Qantas operates four between Bengaluru and Sydney. According to Chokshi, India is a high-priority and the fourth-largest market for New South Wales in terms of tourist arrivals after New Zealand, U.S. and the UK.

Kerala’s Muziris Heritage Projects to Launch in July and August

Kerala Tourism has completed 18 Muziris Heritage Projects stretching across Thrissur, Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts, which will be inaugurated in July and August. More infrastructure projects will be taken up in Kovalam by using the fund from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board and necessary measures will be taken to ensure the well-being of lifeguards, said the state tourism minister, P A Mohamed Riyas. The Muziris Heritage Project is one of the biggest conservation projects in India, which aims to conserve more than 3,000 years of rich culture and heritage. “Muziris was an active port on the west coast of southern India in the 1st century BC. The project includes museums, religious sites, beaches and historical sites,” the department said in a release.

Last week, Airbnb signed a memorandum of understanding with India’s Ministry of Tourism to showcase the country’s heritage stays and promote cultural tourism

The Fern Hotels & Resorts Expands Presence in Maharashtra

India-based environmentally sensitive hotel chain The Fern Hotels & Resorts has announced the rebranded launch of its luxury resort, Blue Ocean The Fern Resort & Spa at Ganpatipule in Ratnagiri in the western state of Maharashtra. The 55-room property is located on the scenic Malgund Beach. Early this month, the brand opened its 100th hotel, The Fern Shelter Resort, Palghar in the state. The hotel chain has said it would be adding 1,000 more rooms spanning 13 hotels this fiscal, most of which will come up in the east and northeastern markets. It has already added seven hotels this year, taking the total number of properties to 100 in 85 cities, mostly in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

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Tags: asia monthly, easemytrip, heritage, india, makemytrip, qantas, radisson hotel group, skift india report, summer travel, sydney

Photo credit: A tea plantation in Vagamon, Kerala. Kerala is a popular domestic destination for summer travel. Nandhu Kumar / Pexels

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