As Japan gradually opens its borders for inbound travellers, a recent report from Reuters pointed towards the likelihood of visa-free entry on tourist arrivals. The current rules require tourists to book guided tours through travel agencies to pay a visit. Following the new arrangement, travellers will be exempted from producing a visa for short-term stays. The preceding visa rule permitted tourists from 68 countries to halt in Japan for a duration of 90 days without a visa. Additionally, the daily cap on incoming tourists is expected to rise to 50,000 from the recently revised 20,000 travellers. In the recent past, Japan also scrapped the pre-departure testing rules for travellers with three shots of vaccination. The country has been making efforts to lure tourist footfall by revising their entry protocols at a time when the value of the Japanese Yen is wane, to allow greater purchasing powers to foreign visitors. The list of countries the waiver could apply to is awaited.
Kashmir is gearing up to welcome the state’s first electric railway on the Banihal-Baramulla corridor on October 2, 2022. The total budget for the completion of the project is ₹324 crore. An official revealed that work on the rail commenced in August 2019, but suffered several pauses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In good news, electrification work on the Baramulla-Budgam sector wrapped up earlier this year in June and trials are currently underway while work on the Budgam-Banihal sector is approaching the finish line. The rail link’s mandatory Principal Chief Electrical Engineer (PCEE) inspection is scheduled for September 26, 2022, a week prior to the first official journey. Three sub-stations will dot the 137 kilometres rail line at Qazigund, Budgam and Baramulla. The initiative is expected to decrease operational costs by 60 percent and help curb air pollution considerably.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation has launched a festive season tour package to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra. The ‘NavRatri Special Mata Vashno Devi Yatra Tour’ will operate on the Bharat Gaurav, a theme-based train launched earlier this year, starting from Delhi to Katra on September 21, 2022. The four nights-five days package, priced at ₹11,990 (on a double sharing basis) will be inclusive of AC 3-tier train travel, lodging, vegetarian meals, bus tours, guided sightseeing and travel insurance. An alternative package under ‘Matarani Rajdhani Package’ includes a four nights-five days tour setting off from Varanasi, priced at ₹8,375 per head. Travellers undertaking the journey need to be over 18 years of age and vaccinated against COVID-19. For further information and bookings, visit here.
The Theresienwiese grounds in Munich are awaiting swarms of festivalgoers this weekend at the return of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest Volksfest, after a two-year hiatus. The celebration commences on September 17 and will host gallons of locally brewed beer served with a side of scrumptious Bavarian eats and thrills on amusement park rides to serve visitors of all ages. Exciting itinerary updates for this year’s gala includes extended time on rides and beer tents at the Oide Wiesen or Old Oktoberfest. Operational hours on Ferris Wheel and rollercoasters have been stretched to 9 am to 11.30 pm. The gates will be thrown open at 10 am on weekdays and 9 am on weekends with the exception of the first day, when visitors can flock the tents 12 pm onwards. No reservation or entry fees are to be party poopers at the Weisen. However, the Oide Wiesen will charge a minimal €4 entry fees for visitors above 14 years of age. Rides are priced at €1. After two weeks of fun and frolic, the festival will wind up on the first Sunday of October, i.e, October 3, 2022.
Once one of the largest settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Rakhigarhi village in Haryana is set to welcome the world’s largest museum of Harappan culture. The museum, currently under construction, is reportedly expected to display artefacts from the ancient civilisation dating back 5,000 years. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is reported to have requested the Archaeological Survey of India to speed up the completion of excavation work and directed officials to curate a list of artefacts discovered during the period. Unearthing of the famed archaeological treasure chest has revealed shell bangles, copper mirrors and stone beads along with 56 skeletons, some as old as 7,000 years.
With the world slowly easing back into a pandemic-free lifestyle, New Zealand is the latest country to erase COVID-19 travel restrictions and testing requirements. As per the new guidelines, mandates on wearing masks with the exception of healthcare and old-age facilities have been lifted, while travellers to New Zealand will no longer be bound to submit vaccination proofs to enter the country. In fact, all government vaccination requirements will end on September 26, 2022. Testing will continue to be encouraged with the availability of free antigen tests. However, it will no longer be a compulsory practice. Previous protocols mandated inbound travellers to produce vaccination documentations and run a COVID test immediately after arrival and another after a duration of 5 days post entry. The move comes after the success of the country in vaccinating more than 90 percent of the population above age twelve.
Sudrisha Goswami hopes to connect people with engaging stories from spectrums of art, culture, design and communities. She can be spotted sipping a cup of hot chocolate on any given day with a book in her hand and her eyes scanning crowds for different journeys.