Latest in Travel: Jammu & Kashmir sets tourism record, Portugal invites remote workers and more

In other news from the world of travel, flying with your furry friends is set to get easier, and Hong Kong has a surprise in store for travellers next year.

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Jammu & Kashmir has recorded 1.62 crore tourist arrivals for 2022 so far.

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Travel with pets with this Indian airline

If travelling within India with your animal companions has been disappointing so far, there’s good news. Among Indian airlines, only Air India allows passengers to travel with pets, with the hugely limiting 5-kg weight limit for both pet and carrier. But now, the recently launched Akasa Air, India’s latest budget carrier, will allow pets (“domesticated dogs and cats”) in the cabin and cargo hold, with weight limits of 7 kg and 32 kg respectively. The move will come into effect starting November 1, and passengers can make bookings October 15 onwards. The airline is yet to announce the fee it will charge passengers looking to bring their furry friends along.

 

Hong Kong hopes to revive tourism with 5,00,000 air tickets

After dropping a series of pandemic travel restrictions including a hotel quarantine mandate recently, Hong Kong is planning a grand giveaway to boost tourism. The Hong Kong Tourism Board will shell out five lakh free air tickets next year, to anybody travelling to or from the city’s airport in 2023. The initiative will cost the authorities more than €250 million. “Back in 2020, Airport Authority Hong Kong purchased around 500,000 air tickets in advance from the territory’s home-based airlines as part of a relief package to support the aviation industry,” an Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) representative told CNN. The entry guidelines to the city-state continue to be tighter than the rest of the world, with travellers required to submit vaccination proofs and a negative PCR test report before entering. A three-day self-monitoring period is to be observed and regular rapid antigen tests and PCRs undertaken for a week after arrival.

 

The First-ever Snowman Race is here

After a watchful and much-anticipated reopening to tourism following the Coronavirus pandemic, Bhutan has announced the first-ever Snowman Race, to be held in the country from October 13 to 17, 2022. The 203-km trail that will see 29 international ultramarathoners tackle highly challenging terrain and mountain passes as high as 18,000 feet, is modelled after the world-famous Snowman Trek. Intended to raise awareness about climate change, the marathon is billed as the “world’s toughest race”, and comes close on the heels of the opening of another hotly awaited adventure offering, the Trans Bhutan Trail, running through the middle of the country from Haa to Trashigang, which was launched on September 23.

 

The summit of world’s largest active volcano is closed

‘Elevated seismic activity’ has forced an indefinite closure of the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano. The active shield volcano, which is also among Earth’s most active volcanoes, has been experiencing heightened unrest, translating to 50 minor earthquakes on a daily basis in the past couple of weeks. The park authorities have, however, made it clear that the summit area has been “closed for hiking” as a precautionary measure, and that Mauna Loa is not erupting. The volcano, which has erupted 33 times in history, last did so in 1984. According to the U. S. Geological Survey, the recent seismic activity is probably because of “renewed input of magma.”

 

Portugal wants digital nomads

Do you make $2,750 (₹2,26,520) a month as a remote worker? If yes, Portugal could be your base for the next one year to live and work out of. The sunny nation has launched a digital nomad visa under which, starting October 30, remote workers will be able to apply for a one-year work visa or a residency permit that one can renew for a maximum of five years. Visa holders will be able to travel on the same document across the 26 countries of the Schengen region, besides enjoying the pleasant Portuguese weather, affordable living, promising coworking infrastructure and so on.

 

Saudi Arabia to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games?

The next Asian Winter Games is set to be conducted in the unlikeliest of places: Saudi Arabia has clinched the right to host the 2029 edition of the sporting event. Even as most of the world wonders where the country, most of which is the vast, hot Arabian desert, plans to organise these winter games—the plan is to set up a mountain resort in the $500-billion city of NEOM, by 2026, near the Gulf of Aqaba coast. The resort, which will feature outdoor skiing facilities and a nature reserve alongside a man-made lake, in addition to luxury accommodation, is named Trojena. The Guardian quoted Nadhmi al-Nasr, chief executive, Neom, as saying, “Trojena will have a suitable infrastructure to create the winter atmosphere in the heart of the desert, to make this Winter Games an unprecedented global event.” The development has invited the ire of the international skiing and sporting community, especially with regard to the potential enormity of the risk it poses to the fragile climate situation and environment.

 

Highest tourist footfall in Jammu & Kashmir in 75 Years

Despite the communal strife and violence that have plagued Jammu & Kashmir for decades, tourism has never really ebbed in the beautiful Himalayan region. And now, tourist numbers seem to have peaked unprecedentedly after the two-year lull enforced by the pandemic. According to government records, the Union Territory has recorded 1.62 crore tourist arrivals for 2022, as of October 6, tweeted tourism minister Piyush Goyal. According to a PTI report, most hotels and guesthouses in famous destinations such as Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg saw full occupancy for a large part of the year.

 

To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.

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  • Prannay Pathak dreams about living out of a suitcase and retiring to the island of Hamneskär to watch films in solitary confinement. He is Assistant Editor (Digital) at National Geographic Traveller India.

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