Travel Unpacked: Indian ski resorts lack snow and Venice entry fee booking goes live

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

Venice will introduce a fee for day tourists to enter the city centre during the peak tourist season. AFP
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Resorts around the world are gearing up for Valentine's Day, not least those in the romantic Maldives, where one group has offers for GCC travellers.

Anyone heading to northern India's ski resorts in the near future, however, will be disappointed as a lack of snow is driving guests elsewhere.

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

Venice entry fee goes on sale

The Venice City Council has unveiled its online platform to process bookings for its historic centre entry fee, which is being implemented from April 25 to July 14.

The floating city will introduce the much-discussed tariff for day trippers as a pilot, and it will apply on certain days during the high season.

People staying overnight won't be subject to the charge, but if they're visiting between those dates, they'll still need to register on the website for an exemption.

The $5.45 per person (per day) charge is for visitors coming between 8.30am and 4pm.

Indian Himalayas suffers from lack of snowfall

There's a dearth of snow in the Indian Himalayas, leading to empty ski resorts and holiday cancellations.

This means skiers who would normally go to Kashmir's Gulmarg resort, one of the highest in the world, are heading elsewhere.

Scientists have linked the “unusual” winter to climate change and the El Nino winter phenomenon – the warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. They said these conditions in northern India have not been seen for about a decade.

Locals are now hoping for snowfall in the first week of February as it has been a blow to the tourism-reliant regional economy.

Dubai hotel in One Central offers exclusive resident staycation

The 25Hours Hotel Dubai One Central has announced a new staycation package exclusively for UAE residents. Guests, who will need to present an Emirates ID, can take advantage of 20 per cent off on room rates per night, with these starting from Dh699.

No maximum stay limit applies, but the offer is subject to availability on exhibition dates. There is also free cancellation until one day before arrival.

Up to two children under 12 can stay and dine for free when they're with their parents. There are 15 per cent discounts on food and beverages and at Extra Hour Spa. Two free coffees and man'oushes are also available at rooftop shisha garden Juna.

A late check-out of 5pm is also available with this package.

Famous Riyadh hotel is taken over by Mandarin Oriental

Al Faisaliah Hotel, one of Saudi Arabia's most famous hotels, has been rebranded as a Mandarin Oriental, marking the group's debut in the kingdom.

“We are honoured to continue Al Faisaliah Hotel’s legacy as an iconic hotel and lifestyle destination, while reaffirming Mandarin Oriental’s commitment to the region,” said the property's general manager, Richard Johnson.

The hotel now features refreshed interiors, new spa and wellness treatments, as well as updated dining and entertainment options.

The renovated public and private spaces have been infused with bespoke Saudi Arabia-inspired artworks.

Valentine's Day offers at resorts in Maldives

Pulse Hotels & Resorts have created packages with GCC travellers in mind this Valentine's Day.

Kandima Maldives is offering savings of up to 55 per cent on Sky Studio stays, with rates from Dh1,379.73 per night, inclusive of taxes, for two adults with a bed-and-breakfast meal plan.

At Nova Maldives, there's an all-inclusive package from Dh4,713, taxes included, per accommodation, per night, with free group Sunrise Yoga, a 30-minute photo session, three-course dinner and 15 per cent off on selected water sports and spa experiences.

A new high-speed route between Italy and Slovenia is in the works

A Frecciarossa train will run from Milan to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, taking seven hours, after an agreement was signed between state rail operators Trenitalia and SZ Passenger Transport.

The train will pass Italian cities such as Venice and Trieste, making stops at some of Slovenia's natural attractions, including famous caves and Lipica, where Lipizzaner horses are bred.

There is no confirmed launch date but a Trenitalia representative told CNN they wanted to start “as soon as possible”, potentially in April. It's expected that there will be one service per day, eventually expanding to two.

Updated: January 22, 2024, 2:17 PM