Travel Unpacked: Etihad expands in India and Malaysia may resume search for flight MH370

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

Etihad will start flights to Jaipur, India in June. Unsplash / Aditya Siva
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Etihad Airways is adding more destinations to its network, with new flights to India and Turkey, and Fujairah has a brand new coastal resort.

Elsewhere, France, the world's most visited destination is on the up when it comes to summer travel and as we approach the 10th anniversary of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, authorities suggest a new investigation could be on their radar.

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

Etihad adds flights to Antalya and Jaipur

Etihad is adding new flights to its 2024 network. The national airline of the UAE will begin flying to Antalya, the Turkish resort city, and Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan in June.

From June 15, Etihad will fly three times per week to Antalya on the Turkish Riviera. One day later, on June 16, it will commence four weekly flights to Jaipur. Known for its rich cultural heritage and pink-hued buildings, Jaipur’s addition to Etihad’s network means the airline will be operating to 11 destinations across India. Three additional weekly flights to Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram are also part of Etihad’s summer plans.

And it’s not only India that’s getting a boost. The airline is also upping frequency of flights to Amman, Cairo, Karachi and Colombo.

These additions will see Etihad operate to 75 destinations around the world this summer, with 847 weekly flights operating in and out of Terminal A at Zayed International Airport.

Authorities continue to seek answers 10 years since Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared

This week marks 10 years since the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished 40 minutes into its flight, and there may be scope for a new investigation into the plane's disappearance.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said at a press conference on Monday that if new evidence was presented, then an investigation could follow.

“We have taken the position that if there is a compelling case, evidence that it needs to be re-opened, we're certainly happy to re-open,” Anwar told journalists in Melbourne, reported Reuters.

On March 8, 2014, flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with ground control shortly after checking out from Malaysian airspace. It disappeared from radar and all subsequent attempts to contact it were unsuccessful, resulting in one of aviation’s greatest mysteries. There were 239 passengers and crew onboard the flight when it disappeared, none of whom have been heard from since.

The country's transport minister Anthony Loke attended an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the plane's disappearance in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. He said that the Malaysian government is in discussions with the marine robotics company Ocean Infinity about launching a new search operation, according to local media.

The original search for the Boeing 777 aircraft ended in January 2017 after a two-year campaign that bore no results. Debris has been found scattered across several countries, but investigators have not been able to determine exactly why the jet disappeared.

Naama Beach Villas & Spa to open in Fujairah

A new all-villa luxury resort is heading to Fujairah.

Naama Beach Villas & Spa will open on the UAE’s east coast by the end of March. Located opposite Snoopy Island, the resort is surrounded by the ocean and Hajar Mountains.

It has 44 villas, including the largest private luxury villas in Fujairah and each comes with butler service and calming interiors.

Aseelah restaurant will serve freshly caught fish from Fujairah’s waters and charcoal-grilled meats, while Amara Bar will cater to guests enjoying the resort’s infinity pool. Travellers looking to indulge in wellness will be able to visit Espa for holistic treatments.

The resort will also make the most of its coastal location with a private beach, water sports and snorkelling tours. Bespoke excursions are an option for guests, including trips to Al Bidya, one of the UAE’s oldest mosques, and hikes in the desert and Hajar mountain range, where travellers can spot about 300 species of wildflowers.

Japan’s cherry blossom season set to begin this month

Japan’s annual cherry blossoms are one of the country’s biggest spectacles with travellers flocking to the country to see sakura in all their pink glory. This year, the season is expected to start on March 22 – when the first of the blooms will be visible in Tokyo.

According to Kansai University, about 63 million people travel to and within Japan to see the blossoms every year.

Typically, the season begins in April, but in the past few years, flowers bloom earlier, and this year is no exception as the Japan Meteorological Corporation is forecasting flowering to start in Tokyo later this month. Full bloom is expected on March 29.

The flowers typically only bloom for a week, so visitors hoping to catch the spectacle may need to review their travel plans.

In Kyoto, the flowers will bloom on March 22, peaking around March 31, while Osaka will reach full bloom on April 1.

In Japan’s northernmost prefecture Hokkaido, hanami (blossom viewing) season will start on April 30, ending around May 4.

World’s most visited destination to get even busier ahead of 2024 Summer Olympics

France is already the most visited country in the world, and it's about to get even more popular as travellers look to flock to Paris ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games.

Six months ahead of the games, flight searches to France for the dates just before and after the Olympics are already surging by 25 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to data from Amadeus, a global travel technology company.

German travellers top the leader board when it comes to seeking flights to the French capital, with searches for airfares from Germany to Paris up 144 per cent compared to the same period last year.

And travellers from the UAE are also keen to head to Paris during the games, with flight searches up 60 per cent for travel between July 23 and August 15, the dates of the sporting spectacle. The Mena region as a whole has seen an increase of 10 per cent in flight searches to Paris, compared to the same period last year.

And it’s not only Paris that’s set to see a tourism boost this year. The cities of Lille, Lyon and Marseille are also seeing a sharp rise in domestic and international interest for flights according to Amadeus data.

Lille in France's north, will host basketball and handball games and is proving popular with travellers from the US and Germany. Lyon is attracting football fans, with Japan and the US leading the flight searches. Meanwhile, Marseille, which will host football and sailing competitions this summer, has seen a sharp rise in flight searches from travellers in Japan, the USA and Germany.

Updated: March 06, 2024, 8:10 AM