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    Pololikashvili confirmed for second UNWTO term

    The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has re-elected Zurab Pololikashvili to the role of general secretary of the organisation.
    He will serve a second four-year term, from 2022-2025.
    Pololikashvili was nominated earlier this year and was endorsed during the annual general assembly of the organisation. ADVERTISEMENTMeeting in Madrid, UNWTO members have strongly aligned themselves behind his leadership and vision for the sector.
    Meeting in person for the first time in two years, members from every global region approved a ‘Programme of Work’ for the organisation and endorsed key initiatives designed to build a more a resilient, inclusive and sustainable tourism.
    The general assembly has brought together more than 1,000 delegates from 135 countries, including 84 ministers of tourism, as well as business leaders, destinations and representatives of key international organisations.
    Opening the event, Pololikashvili cited the spirit of solidarity and determination that has defined tourism’s response to an unprecedented crisis.
    In presenting his report to members, he made clear how a focus on collaboration and harmonisation of protocols, political advocacy and securing financial support for tourism, have help the sector mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and laid the foundations for tourism’s restart in many parts of the country.
    It will be a true honor to lead UNWTO for the next four years. I thank UNWTO’s Members for backing my nomination and vision for a sector that means so much to so many people – myself included. Let us now unite and #RestartTourism!— Zurab Pololikashvili (@pololikashvili) December 1, 2021
    Pololikashvili said: “In every global region, the pandemic has made clear the importance of our sector – for economic growth, for jobs and trade, and for protecting natural and cultural heritage. We must make the most of this opportunity – to transform goodwill into concrete support.”
    Emphasising the significance of the general assembly, United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, welcomed delegates and called for them to work together for a “green, inclusive, sustainable” future.
    Guterres added: “I commend UNWTO and secretary general Pololikashvili and hope the decisions taken at the general assembly will help restore trust in travel and get the world moving safely do developing economies can reap the benefits of sustainable tourism.”
    The 24 #UNWTOGA supports @UNWTO Secretary-General @pololikashvili for a second term for the period 2022-2025.— World Tourism Organization (@UNWTO) December 1, 2021
    Alongside receiving an updated on UNWTO’s activities since the last general assembly two years ago, members also benefited from a comprehensive overview of the latest tourism trends, as indicated by UNWTO’s latest data, as well as an updated overview of restrictions on travel worldwide.
    From the floor of the assembly, members from different global regions expressed their solidarity with countries impacted by the continued imposition of travel restrictions.
    Pololikashvili is a Georgian politician and diplomat.
    From 2005-2009, he was Georgian deputy foreign minister, and he served as ambassador to Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Andorra.
    Image: UNWTO

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    UKinbound: No Christmas rebound for tourism sector

    UKinbound has released stark new figures indicating that its members expect international visitors to be down 75 per cent in November and December, compared to 2019.
    In 2019 inbound tourism during this period was worth £4.25 billion to the UK economy.
    In a recent survey of its UK tour operators, accommodation providers and attraction members, undertaken prior to the latest Omicron restrictions, 89 per cent of respondents stated that November/December international arrivals/visitor numbers would be lower than 2019 figures.
    Of these businesses, four in five stated they expect to be down over 75 per cent, indicating that although many restrictions at UK borders have been removed, the country is not expecting an influx of international visitors pre-Christmas.
    The survey also asked, if international clients have cancelled a trip to the UK in November/December 2021, why? ADVERTISEMENTDeferring their visit to 2022 was the top reason given, however the Covid-19 case rates in the UK and testing requirements were also cited.
    Additional analysis was undertaken to understand how the lifting of restrictions has affected inbound tour operators and destination management companies based here in the UK, who, along with other intermediaries, pre-pandemic brought in over 60 per cent of all international visitors.
    On average, these businesses reported that they expect revenue for 2021 to be down 93 per cent compared to 2019.
    Commenting on the results, chief executive of UKinbound Joss Croft, said: “Prior to the announcement of the latest Omicron restrictions, the inbound tourism industry was already facing a tough winter.
    “With annual revenues down 93 per cent and international visitors expected to be down 75 per cent during a critical part of the year, Christmas, businesses are skating on thin ice.”
    He added: “Additionally, the latest restrictions have sent shockwaves through our industry.
    “We will need to see what the implications are on travel and health, but inevitably fragile consumer confidence will be dented.
    “We were seeing green shoots and our members were reporting an increase in enquiries for 2022, however cancellations for December and early next year are already starting to come through.”
    Image: Unsplash/Louis Hansel

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    Tahiti Specialist Programme launches to agents

    Tahiti Tourisme is encouraging agents to sign up to Tahiti Specialist Programme.
    The programme is designed to aid the training and development of agents across a growing product base.
    It delivers a complete suite of online training and engagement tools ensuring learners gain and retain knowledge in an enjoyable, engaging and more effective way.
    Featuring ten interactive lessons, the programme will take users on a journey around the islands of Tahiti and leave them with a thorough understanding of the destination. ADVERTISEMENTContent for the modules includes a brief overview of the islands, experiences and cultural elements, as well practical information such as how to get there and local currency.
    Each of the archipelagos will be introduced to give further knowledge of islands outside the well-known Society Islands, and highlight the diversity of experiences on offer.
    Designed to excite and engage, the Tahiti Specialist Programme invites members of industry to participate in a rewards style programme that incentivises agents to not just sell the destination, but to immerse themselves in it.
    Currently, the programme has a four-tier level system which finishes with the chance to become a Certified Tahiti Specialist.
    Image: Tahiti Tourisme

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    UNWTO records incremental tourism recovery

    According to the newest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 58 per cent in July-September compared to the same period of 2020.
    However, numbers remained 64 per cent below 2019 levels.
    Europe recorded the best relative performance in the third quarter, with international arrivals 53 per cent down on the same three-month period of 2019.
    In August and September arrivals were down 63 per cent compared to 2019, the best monthly results since the start of the pandemic.
    UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “Data for the third quarter of 2021 is encouraging. ADVERTISEMENT“However, arrivals are still 76 per cent below pre-pandemic levels and results across the different global regions remain uneven.”
    In light of the rising cases and the emergence of new variants, he added that “we cannot let our guard down and need to continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations,  coordinate travel procedures, make use of digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility and continue to support the sector”.
    The uplift in demand was driven by increased traveller confidence amid rapid progress on vaccinations and the easing of entry restrictions in many destinations.
    In Europe, the EU Digital Covid Certificate has helped facilitate free movement within the European Union, releasing large-pent up demand after many months of restricted travel.
    Arrivals were only eight per cent below the same period of 2020 yet still 69 per cent below 2019.
    The Americas recorded the strongest inbound results in January-September, with arrivals up one per cent compared to 2020 but still 65 per cent below 2019 levels.
    The Caribbean recorded the strongest results by subregion with arrivals up 55 per cent compared to the same period in 2020, though still 38 per cent below 2019.

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    UNWTO general assembly headed for Madrid

    More than 500 delegates from around the world are set to arrive in Madrid for the general assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
    On hand will be ministers of tourism from UNWTO member states, international organisations and leaders from the private sector and civil society.ADVERTISEMENTThey will discuss the future of the sector after the pandemic, bearing in mind the commitment to a more inclusive and sustainable tourism.
    In line with the core priorities, the general assembly will focus on building for the future through innovation, education and tourism for rural development.
    UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, will present his report to the members, outlining how the organisation has led the global tourism response to the unprecedented crisis caused by Covid-19.
    The report will also set out plans for a more inclusive and resilient future, including the revision of the UNWTO 2030 Agenda for Africa and the first International Code for the Protection of Tourists, also designed to restore confidence in travel.

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    IATA calls for simplification of Covid-19 travel rules

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to adopt “simple, predictable and practical” measures to safely facilitate the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open.
    Specifically, the trade body urged governments to focus on simplified health protocols, digital solutions to process health credentials and Covid-19 measures proportionate to risk levels.
    The vision to address the complexity is outlined in the newly released policy paper.
    “As governments are establishing processes to re-open borders, in line with what they agreed in the ministerial declaration of the ICAO High Level Conference of Covid-19, the blueprint will help them with good practices and practical considerations.
    “Over the next months we need to move from individual border openings to the restoration of a global air transport network that can reconnect communities and facilitate economic recovery,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA deputy director general.ADVERTISEMENTThe document aims to facilitate the efficient ramping-up of global connectivity.
    “We must have processes in place to safely and efficiently manage the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open.
    “With over 18 months of pandemic operational experience and traveller feedback we know that a laser-focus on simplicity, predictability and practicality is essential.
    “That is not the reality today.
    “Over 100,000 Covid-19 related measures have been implemented by governments worldwide.
    “This complexity is a barrier to global mobility that is exacerbated by the inconsistencies these measures have created among states,” said Clifford.
    Key recommendations include the removal of all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine.
    The management of travel health credentials (vaccination or testing certificates) should also be handled digitally, IATA argued, enabling travellers to complete the process in advance so that they can arrive at the airport ready-to-travel.
    This will facilitate automated check-in processes, reducing airport queuing and wait-times.
    “Travel is important – pre-pandemic some 88 million livelihoods were directly connected to aviation.
    “And the inability to travel freely by air has impacted the quality of life for billions of people.
    “We know that travellers feel confident with the implementation of the Covid-19 safety measures.
    “But they have clearly told us that the current travel experience needs to improve with better information, simpler processing and digital solutions,” concluded Clifford.

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    NBA games headed to Abu Dhabi next year

    The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have announced a multiyear partnership to host the first NBA games in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
    The pre-season NBA games in Abu Dhabi beginning in 2022 will mark the first games between two NBA teams in the region.
    The partnership will see DCT Abu Dhabi, under “Visit Abu Dhabi,” the tourism promotion initiative of the capital city, serve as the official tourism destination partner of the NBA in China, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
    Abu Dhabi will host preseason NBA games beginning with two games in October 2022.
    The participating teams and host venue will be announced at a later date.ADVERTISEMENTMohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “This announcement further demonstrates the emirate’s position as a top-tier home for global sports and for attracting the very best talent.
    “As Abu Dhabi is committed to further developing as a dynamic global destination, adding the NBA to our impressive year-round portfolio of sports and entertainment events, only reinforces the UAE capital’s standing as a centre of sporting excellence.”
    During the 2021-22 NBA season, NBA games and programming will reach fans in 11 countries across the Middle East.

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    Intrepid Travel expands US portfolio for 2022

    Intrepid Travel has announced a collection of 38 new trips in the United States that will begin departing in 2022.
    The company calls the departures its “most robust offering” in the country since its launch over 30 years ago.
    Each trip was designed to provide opportunities to forge meaningful connections between travellers and the people who make this diverse country so rich in culture.
    “We’ve thought for a long time about the unique role Intrepid can play in the United States,” said James Thornton, chief executive of Intrepid Travel.
    “We felt compelled to not only offer sustainable and unique travel experiences for both domestic and international travellers, but to also ensure we use the power of tourism as a force for good.” ADVERTISEMENTHe added: “We created these itineraries to showcase the United States through a more authentic and diverse lens.
    “While they will offer travellers the chance to see the country’s most iconic sites and cities, they also celebrate the lesser-known places, communities and highlights that make up the rich fabric of America.”
    The new trips will incorporate the must-see attractions while giving travellers more curated, in-depth offerings.
    From enjoying local delicacies and going on human-powered active adventures, to spending time with First Nations tribes, each trip will provide a unique take on the destination.
    The launch of these new trips brings Intrepid’s total portfolio in the United States to 57 tours, together covering 28 states and Washington D.C. and including a mix of walking, cycling, multi-active, culinary and general sightseeing adventures.
    Image: Intrepid Travel

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