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    UNWTO prepares Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action ahead of COP26

    In preparation for COP26, two information sessions were held today on the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.
    The declaration, developed by a collaborative group of leading organisations, is an urgent call for all stakeholders to commit to a decade of climate action in tourism.
    The signatories of the declaration are committing to act now and accelerate climate action to cut global tourism emissions by at least a half over the next decade and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.
    In particular, each signatory will commit to deliver a concrete climate action plan, or updated plan, within 12 months of signing.
    Plans will be aligned with the proposed pathways of measurement, decarbonisation, regeneration, collaboration and financing that will accelerate the ability of tourism to transform.ADVERTISEMENTZurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the UNWTO, said: “We all recognise that tourism has an important role to play.
    “It’s highly vulnerable to climate change and contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases, while being well placed to contribute to adaptation.
    “But no one organisation can tackle this alone.
    “That’s why we need to work urgently together within a consistent sector-wide approach to accelerate change and therefore I encourage tourism stakeholders to subscribe the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.”
    During the events, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), VisitScotland, the Travel Foundation and Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency were joined by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, European Tourism Association, Inkaterra, Intrepid Group, Machu Picchu, Oregon Coast, Radisson Hotel Group, South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the Long Run and the Travel Corporation (TTC).
    All were united in emphasising the importance of defining a clear and consistent sector-wide message and approach to climate action in the coming decade, as well as encouraging organizations across all areas of tourism to demonstrate their public support for scaling up the response to the climate emergency by becoming signatories.
    The declaration will be officially launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

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    ABTA confirms new speakers for the Travel Convention

    ABTA has unveiled the latest line-up of expert speakers for the Travel Convention.
    The even will take place on Wednesday, October 13th, with guests offering insight into how they have responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic and sharing their vision for the short- and long-term future of the travel industry.
    Announced today, Manuel Butler, newly returned as director of the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK, will discuss how destinations can rebuild from the impact of the pandemic and how Spain – a hugely important destination for UK outbound travel – is leading the way in adapting to changing consumer behaviours.
    Also announced today is Julia Simpson, who took up her new role as chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council last month.
    She will address delegates on the importance of strong leadership as the travel and tourism sector emerges from the Coronavirus crisis.ADVERTISEMENTManging director of Intrepid Travel, Zina Bencheikh, and vice president, EMEA, at Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ben Bouldin, will join a panel discussion exploring how the industry can place sustainability at the heart of its recovery.
    The newly confirmed speakers join Andrew Swaffield, chief executive of Virgin Red, Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, and Ailsa Pollard, chief executive of dnata Travel Group in the UK and Europe, on an impressive list.
    The Travel Convention will offer delegates the option to attend either in-person at East Wintergarden in London’s Canary Wharf or online via a customised digital platform.
    Tanzer said: “As the travel industry’s flagship event, the Travel Convention always brings together an esteemed list of speakers to debate the most pressing issues facing the travel sector – and this year’s event is no exception.
    “This year, more than ever, it’s important for us to come together to reflect on the events and learnings of the past 12 months and inspire our delegates to envisage and embrace what the future holds for the travel industry.”

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    CMA warns Teletext holidays it faces court over unpaid refunds

    The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has warned Truly Holdings, the company that operates Teletext Holidays, it could face legal action over its failure to repay customers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    In May, the government body secured undertakings from the company committing it to address failures to refund package holiday customers for cancelled holidays.
    A similar document was signed by sister company, the travel operator Alpharooms.com.
    These undertakings required Truly Holdings to use all reasonable endeavours to pay outstanding refunds to passengers at the latest by the end of August, and going forward to ensure that refunds due for package holidays cancelled after the date of the undertakings are paid promptly and no later than 14-days after cancellation.
    After a review, the CMA said it was concerned that some customers whose package holidays were cancelled since it signed up to the undertakings have not been repaid within the 14-days required by the law. ADVERTISEMENTAlthough Truly Holdings has paid back a significant number of customers within this two-week period, too many have been left waiting longer for the refunds due to them.
    The CMA is also concerned that Truly Holdings has not done enough to repay customers who were already owed refunds at the time the undertakings were given.
    As a result of the action, Truly Holdings has paid £7.2 million of the £7.8 million owed to package holiday customers, but almost £600,000 in refunds remains outstanding.
    Truly Holdings has reported that the outstanding amount is owed to customers whose current bank details it does not have and whom it has been unable to refund through their original payment method because the purchases were made more than a year ago.
    The CMA said it does not consider that enough has been done to ensure that Truly Holdings is able to provide refunds to package holiday customers with outstanding claims.
    In addition, the CMA does not consider that Truly Holdings has done enough to make sure that it pays all refunds that may in future become due within 14 days, as required by law.
    The CMA has therefore written to notify Truly Holdings that it will take court action unless the firm takes immediate steps to rectify the situation and to ensure that, in the future, customers who are entitled to a refund are repaid in the timeframe specified by law.
    Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “It is unacceptable that some package holiday customers are still not receiving refunds within the timeframe that they are legally entitled to.
    “While we are pleased that many consumers have now received the refunds they were due because of our intervention, we are clear that Truly Holdings must comply with the law.
    “Unless it urgently takes steps to address the failures we have identified, we will take court action.”
    Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, called for the CMA to do more.
    He explained: “We have received countless complaints from Teletext Holidays customers who have been battling for refunds for cancelled holidays.
    “It’s hugely concerning that Teletext has not yet paid all outstanding refunds to its customers and it’s still failing to comply with the 14-day period required by law.
    “We welcome the action taken by the regulator to enforce consumers’ rights.
    “Teletext is one of many holiday providers that has attempted to shirk its legal responsibilities to refund customers for cancelled trips, highlighting the need for industry-wide reform.
    “The government must ensure there are better protections for holidaymakers’ money, while the Competition & Markets Authority must be given stronger powers to take action against companies which break consumer law – including the ability to impose fines if necessary.”

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    WTTC urges tourism investment to boost recovery

    The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a new report that provides investment recommendations for governments and destinations, as they aim to rebuild and grow their tourism sectors.
    With the pandemic bringing international travel to an almost complete halt, the global sector suffered more than any other due to severe mobility restrictions.
    The sector’s contribution to global GDP fell from nearly US$9.2 trillion in 2019, to just US$4.7 trillion in 2020, representing a loss of almost US$ 4.5 trillion.
    Furthermore, as the pandemic ripped through the heart of the sector, a shocking 62 million tourism jobs were lost while many still remain at risk.
    The report reveals that capital investment dropped by almost one third last year, plummeting from US$986 billion in 2019, to just US$693 billion in 2020 and now, as the market head towards recovery, investment in tourism has never been so critical.ADVERTISEMENTThis paper demonstrates how crucial it is for both destinations and governments to attract investment through an effective enabling environment, including incentives such as smart taxation, travel facilitation policies, diversification, integration of health and hygiene, effective communication and a skilled and trained workforce.
    The report also offers key recommendations for governments and destinations and highlights those segments which could be most attractive to investors.
    According to the report, governments and destinations should invest and attract investment from the private sector in areas such as physical and digital infrastructure, as well as in travel segments such as wellness, medical, MICE, sustainable, adventure, cultural or targeted – including women, LGBTQI, and accessible – tourism.
    Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC data has laid bare the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the tourism sector.
    “It is crucial for stakeholders to focus on travel facilitation to achieve a safe and seamless traveller journey, and diversification of revenue-generating activities, among other opportunities.
    “As this sector heads towards recovery, it is essential to understand the priorities to drive public and private investment in order to rebuild the economy and unlock the full potential of the tourism sector.”

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    Baldwins Travel takeover deal secures future

    A multi-million-pound takeover of Baldwins Travel by business group Inc & Co has been completed.
    The new company says the deal secures the travel agency’s high-street presence across Sussex and Kent.
    Established over 120 years ago, the Tunbridge Wells-headquartered company currently employs more than 50 staff across eight branches, all of which will be protected under the move to the new owner.
    The acquisition of the business – established in 1895 – follows a challenging year for travel, but its new owners say the investment will allow it to navigate its way out of the difficulties presented to the sector during the pandemic.
    Originally a bookbinder and stationer that started selling rail tickets, Baldwins grew to become one of the largest travel operators across the south coast.ADVERTISEMENTIt currently has a high street presence across Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook, Lewes, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tenterden, Tonbridge and Uckfield.
    Jack Mason, group chief executive of Inc & Co, said: “We’re really excited to announce Inc & Co’s acquisition of Baldwins Travel, and we’ll be warmly welcoming the brand into our growing portfolio of businesses.
    “Although it’s been a difficult year for the wider sector, we’re delighted to be in a position to secure the futures of Baldwins’ employees and branches across Kent and Sussex.
    “Since our founding in 2019, we’ve grown the number of businesses we oversee and our employee headcount, from just five to 750 across 15 brands.
    “We’re really excited to bring Baldwins’ established brand heritage and the expertise of its long-serving staff into the Inc & Co family.”
    Through the deal, Inc & Co will take on any existing payments due, tour operators will receive all monies owing and all customers will be refunded any outstanding payments.
    Chris and Nick Marks – former Baldwins owners – will continue to remain within the business.

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    ABTA calls on government to overhaul travel regulations

    ABTA is seeking to keep up pressure on the government to put the “right framework” in place to get people travelling again, kickstart a recovery in the travel industry and provide urgent financial support.
    The moves come as officials prepare to release the latest strategic review of international travel requirements, which is due by the end of the month.
    Using the findings from its latest member survey on the impact of the pandemic, ABTA has written to the chancellor and transport secretary to highlight the devastating impact the travel requirements have had on the ability of the industry to trade this summer.
    The association is calling for a significant overhaul of the traffic light system so travel businesses can trade their way out of this crisis, and also emphasising the ongoing need for tailored financial support.
    ABTA is encouraging its members and the wider industry to get involved in lobbying and communications efforts to help drive home the essential changes needed to save jobs and businesses within the industry.ADVERTISEMENTGraeme Buck, director of communications at ABTA, said: “We must use our collective influence to get the government to use the strategic review to reopen more destinations and get more people travelling again.
    “To help us exert pressure and hammer home the essential changes needed at the review, we are calling on our members and all parts of the travel industry to join our ‘Twitterstorm’ at 14:00 today and write to their MPs this week about the challenges facing the industry.
    “There are also new assets available to share on social media to spread the message even further.”
    Calls from ABTA echo those of Heathrow earlier this week, with both calling for a scrapping of the current traffic light travel system.

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    Competition & Markets Authority brands PCR test system a ‘lottery’

    The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has found there are features of the PCR testing market which mean “competition alone will not deliver the right outcomes for consumers”.
    The body said there is a risk of a ‘race to the bottom,’ in which providers compete on grounds other than high clinical quality and travellers end up losing out.
    Consumers’ complaints include that they are paying over the odds and receiving poor service, with test kits and results arriving late or not at all.
    They also say that, when things do go wrong, they are unable even to contact some providers, let alone get refunds when they are due.
    In addition to providing advice to the UK government, the CMA is already using its powers to act where it can.
    On August 25th, it published an open letter to all PCR test providers warning them to stay on the right side of consumer law.
    On September 3rd, the CMA launched an investigation into Expert Medicals, one of the largest providers in the market, and investigations into other companies are being considered.
    Meanwhile, a further 19 test providers have also been told directly by the CMA to improve their pricing information or risk further action.ADVERTISEMENTBut the CMA’s review has found that, even with the enforcement of consumer protection law, competition cannot be guaranteed to deliver the right outcomes for consumers in the PCR testing market.
    A combination of up-front regulation, monitoring and wider sanctions is needed.
    Consumer research also found that being listed on the official government website was the most commonly cited factor in why consumers had chosen a particular provider.
    Building on previous advice provided to the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC), the advice published today makes a number of recommendations, including creating a one-stop shop list of quality, approved test providers by significantly improving the basic standards to qualify for inclusion on the list.
    The CMA also suggested introducing a comprehensive monitoring and enforcement programme to ensure providers on the official list meet these basic standards and rules.
    Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “Buying a PCR travel test is a lottery.
    “From complaints about dodgy pricing practices, to unfair terms, to failure to provide tests on time or at all, to problems with getting refunds, the experience for some is just not good enough.
    “Recent weeks have underlined that we will not hesitate to take action against any PCR test provider we suspect is breaking the law and exploiting their customers.”
    He added: “However, competition alone will not do the job, even when backed by enforcement of consumer law.
    “The PCR testing market is unusual because its key features are dictated by Government policy decisions to fight the pandemic.”
    The findings come as reports suggest Boris Johnson will scrap the PCR test system in a wider overhaul of travel restrictions later this week.
    Commenting on the findings, Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “The government must now urgently set out how it will implement the regulator’s recommendations and ensure safe, reliable and affordable tests are available for all travellers.
    “Meanwhile, the regulator must continue to come down strongly on any providers not following the rules, to send a clear message to the rest of the market and prevent any more travellers being left out of pocket.”

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    SPAA calls for return to travel as organisation reaches milestone

    The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) celebrated 100 years since its founding with the message that the “fear factor” around international travel must stop.
    In front of an audience of 200 travel professionals at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow, SPAA president, Joanne Dooey, appealed to the Scottish and UK governments to support a return to international travel.
    Dooey said: “We need to see a return to international flying.
    “The fear factor driven by people in power now needs to stop.
    “We need to get Scotland back to business with safety protocols in place which are simple, and more importantly do not cost a fortune, to allow our industry to get back to some normality. ADVERTISEMENT“We need to remove complexity and bring in simplicity with clear consistent communication and processes to support travel and not to hinder it or prevent it.”
    It is widely accepted that the travel sector has been the worst hit industry by the pandemic, with passenger numbers falling to below ten per cent of previous years.
    However, this statistic hides the true financial picture for the outbound travel sector.
    With travel agents not receiving any income until the customer actually travels, agents were faced with refunding bookings made pre pandemic meaning that, once credit card refund charges are considered, agents have had negative income – and little tailored support – since autumn 2019.
    The SPAA has been lobbying for Scots being demonising for going on holiday to cease, and for the Scottish government to get behind an industry which supports 26,000 jobs in Scotland and brings £1.5 billion to the economy annually.
    Joanne added: “We need to trust in the vaccine and allow freedom of movement.”
    The SPAA has continued, throughout the pandemic, to lobby for sectoral support for travel agents who have tirelessly worked to keep their customers travelling and their businesses afloat.
    The SPAA centenary dinner was originally scheduled for February.
    It is the oldest organisation representing travel agents in the world and currently has 120 member companies.

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