Travel Unpacked: Visa-free travel to Turkey and Etihad launches new India flights

The National rounds up the most interesting tourism news you might have missed

UAE passport holders can now travel to Turkey without a visa. Unsplash / Ibrahim Uzun
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Emiratis can now travel to Turkey without a visa and reach more Indian destinations than ever, thanks to Etihad Airways' latest flight launches.

In Saudi Arabia, a new cruise line will debut this year and rare artefacts from AlUla will go on display in Beijing.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

Turkey announces visa-free travel for UAE

Turkey has announced visa-free travel for citizens of six countries, including the UAE.

As of December 23, nationals of the UAE, US, Canada, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia can enter the country for up to 90 days without a visa.

The decision was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and comes in a bid to boost the country's tourism industry and strengthen international ties.

Etihad Airways expands to 10 destinations in India

The UAE's national airline launched new flights to India on Monday, with the introduction of Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram to its route network.

This expands Etihad Airways' number of Indian gateways to 10, including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Other new destinations to launch this year from the airline include Boston from March 31 and Nairobi from May 1, as well as seasonal summer routes such as Malaga, Santorini, Nice and Mykonos from June.

Aroya Cruise unveils first cruise ship

The first cruise line in Saudi Arabia has unveiled its debut cruise ship, which is 335 metres long with 19 decks and 1,682 cabins.

Aroya Cruises, affiliated with Saudi Cruise Company, was launched last year, with trips to begin in 2024 from Jeddah.

The ship is the former World Dream from now-defunct Genting Cruises and is undergoing a major transformation to also include 17 restaurants and a water park with five slides.

Rare artefacts from AlUla go on display in Beijing

AlUla, Wonder of Arabia is heading to China for the first time from Friday to March 24. The exhibition, which debuted in Paris in 2019, takes visitors on a journey through the history and legacy of the ancient Saudi city, with rare artefacts and cultural relics on display.

It will open its doors free of charge to the Chinese public at the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City, featuring sculptures, pottery, inscriptions, bronze artefacts, ancient animal bones, immersive multimedia and works by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Four main sites are explored: Dadan, Qurh, AlUla Old Town and Hegra, the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site.

Eight Dubai beaches obtain Blue Flag accreditation

Beaches across Jebel Ali, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Islands have achieved Blue Flag status, according to UAE property developer Nakheel.

The Blue Flag accreditation is a world-renowned eco-certification administered by Danish non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education. It monitors environmental conditions of beaches around the world to minimise the impact of human activities on shores.

To achieve this status, beaches must follow strict criteria with regards to their eco friendliness, safety features and accessibility.

Hakuba in Japan is the world's best ski destination

Recent data from travel insurance experts at Compare the Market AU has revealed the best ski destinations in the world.

The team looked at 50 different cities, towns and villages around the world, taking into account the number of listed accommodation options, total length of ski runs as per difficulty, annual average snowfall and the average cost of a ski pass for adults.

In first place was Hakuba in Japan, scoring 8.91 on the index. This was followed by Grenoble and Morzine, both in France.

Five of the top 10 are found in the French Alps, alongside two Austrian towns, a Swiss ski village and Canada's Banff.

Updated: January 01, 2024, 4:09 PM