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    IATA seeks to quell Omicron fears

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has sought to quell concerns over the safety of air travel after one of its own experts said the chance of catching Covid-19 while flying had significantly increased following the spread of the Omicron variant.
    Aircraft passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 during a flight since the emergence of the new strain, according to IATA medical advisor, David Powell.
    In an interview with Bloomberg, he argued Omicron is rapidly spreading just as more travellers take to the skies for year-end holidays and family reunions.ADVERTISEMENTThe new strain is highly transmissible and has become dominant in a matter of weeks, accounting for more than 70 per cent of all new cases in the United States.
    IATA has now clarified that aircraft cabins remain a very low risk environment for contracting Covid-19 even though Omicron appears to be more transmissible than other variants in all environments.
    Factors that contribute to the very low risks include aircraft design characteristics (direction of air flow, rate of air exchange and filtration), the forward orientation of passengers while seated, well-enforced masking, and enhanced sanitary measures.
    The controlled nature of the aircraft cabin compared to other enclosed environments adds a further measure of protection, Powell noted in a release.

    Scott Dunn unveils new brand proposition

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    Scott Dunn unveils new brand proposition

    Over the course of the pandemic, luxury tour operator Scott Dunn has taken the time to speak to its guests to ensure that the brand is listening and adapting to evolving demographics and booking patterns.
    The result is a fresh new brand proposition – defining a legacy for the next generation of travel whilst ensuring that the loyal customer base is engaged.
    The campaign, titled ‘Out of the Ordinary’, is founded on three core values; In The Know, In the Detail and Inspiring.
    These key pillars are experienced through an all-new brand colour palette, logo and website.
    Andre Rickerby, chief marketing officer at Scott Dunn explains: “Over the past two years, we have undertaken regular guest research and the results highlighted the high value guests place on our knowledge as well as our passion for travel. ADVERTISEMENT“Emerging from the pandemic, guests want to experience the sheer joy and magic of travel brought to life.
    “We’ve taken this feedback and worked with specialist branding agency the Clearing to review and build on our 35-year heritage, ensuring the brand is true to our values and reflects what our guests expect from us.
    “The new brand positioning dials up inspiration with a vibrant look and feel through a new colour palette and tone of voice, whilst ensuring that Scott Dunn continues to be at the forefront of luxury travel.”
    This overhauled website showcases revitalised destination content and itineraries which are aligned with the different personas that travel with Scott Dunn.
    Scott Dunn chief executive, Sonia Davies, said: “With travel firmly back on the agenda, we are delighted to be starting 2022 with a fresh brand proposition.
    “Over the past 18 months we’ve taken time to listen to our guests and understand what’s important to them. 
    “We have kept this insight front of mind as we’ve innovated and implemented new initiatives to ensure Scott Dunn reflects the luxury traveller of today, whilst retaining its founding principles.
    “Our new brand values of being ‘in the detail, in the know and inspiring’ underpin everything we do, and we are delighted to help more people around the world rediscover the magic of travel.”
    Scott Dunn will be moving its London HQ to new premises in Hammersmith this month.

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    Travel sector critical of new hospitality funding

    ABTA has criticised £1 billion in emergency funding for the hospitality sector, arguing the plight of the travel industry has been ignored.
    Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the cash earlier as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 disrupts the festive season.
    Under the plans, the government will provide one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
    In response, ABTA director of public affair, Luke Petherbridge, said: “The statement today once again ignores the direct impact of government policy decisions on businesses reliant on international travel.
    “Travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies will rightly be asking why they haven’t been given the same treatment as other businesses that are suffering at this time.”ADVERTISEMENTHe added: “Average annual revenue across the travel industry is down by nearly 80 per cent on pre-crisis levels even before Omicron emerged, and the re-introduction of enhanced testing – both pre and post arrival – have added significant costs and notably dampened consumer demand.
    “As the sector approaches what should be the peak sales period for booking holidays for summer 2022, businesses are instead facing another round of heart-breaking and demoralising cancellations, with no indication that the government is listening to the challenges they are facing.”
    Petherbridge acknowledged funds were available through the Additional Restrictions Grants scheme, but said this was insufficient.
    “What’s more, travel businesses will have to compete with companies in other industry sectors to get some of this cash,” he explained.
    “It simply isn’t good enough for the government to continue to ignore an industry that, prior to Covid-19, supported over 500,000 jobs and generated more than £37 billion for the UK economy.
    Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive at Advantage Travel Partnership, was slightly more optimistic, but said there were questions to answer.
    She added: “We’re awaiting the detailed guidance from Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) regarding the announcement from the chancellor and we’d like to understand the definition of ‘leisure’ businesses as retail travel agents were included in previous grants.
    “However, this will mean that half of Advantage’s non-retail business are unlikely to qualify for grants despite seeing an 80 per cent drop in revenue.
    “In addition, travel companies will have to fight tooth and nail against other businesses to qualify for the Additional Restrictions Grants that the chancellor has announced, but come at the discretion of local authorities.
    “Last week we wrote to the chancellor again urging him to provide financial support to the travel trade, and to recognise that they have been locked down, unable to fully trade and yet again it looks as though our members are at the back of the queue.”
    Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, echoed calls for sector specific support.
    “The budget will undoubtedly help domestic tourism businesses that are facing unprecedented challenges due to the Omicron restrictions which is obviously good news.
    “However, it is astounding that hospitality businesses, which can trade, will receive sector specific support, but the UK’s tourism supply chain, such as inbound UK tour and coach operators, are being left to wither and die.”
    He added: “The government’s own arrival testing and quarantine restrictions has seen inbound business virtually wiped out for 22 months.
    “The sector has had no targeted support, which will leave many businesses involved in the UK’s fifth largest export sector, inbound tourism, left wondering just how little the government cares or understands.”

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    ABTA requests government meeting over Covid-19 crisis

    ABTA has requested an urgent meeting with the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, to discuss the financial situation in the tourism sector.
    The body argues there is a pressing need for financial support for the industry.
    It follows other ABTA approaches to the government on the same issues over the past two weeks.  ADVERTISEMENTABTA has made its fresh request in the wake of France imposing a temporary ban on most travel from the UK.
    ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “The government has recognised the plight of the UK hospitality sector, with trade down by 40 per cent in December.
    “But at the same time, the travel industry, where income has been down by 78 per cent this year, and further impacted by Omicron restrictions since late November, continues to be ignored.
    “Over the past fortnight, we have heard nothing from government about how travel and tourism might be supported. 
    “The time to act is now.”

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    Hopkins to take marketing role with Explore

    Explore has announced the recruitment of Jae Hopkins, who will take up the role of marketing director at the company on January 4th.
    Hopkins joins Explore from a long-established career in marketing, including marketing director roles at Exodus Travels and Eurotunnel.
    Most recently, she helped found disruptive start-up Ultimate Travel Club – a members’ club for commission-free travel.   
    Michael Edwards, managing director at Explore, commented: “I’m delighted to welcome Jae to the team at what is a pivotal time for the business.
    “Jae brings a wealth of experience both within and beyond the travel industry, and a passion for mentoring and development. ADVERTISEMENT“Explore has proven itself to be a company that not only leads the way in creating unforgettable travel experiences, but also does the right thing by its customers – in tough times as well as good.”
    Part of the Hotelplan group, Explore is a leading adventure travel specialist that celebrated 40 years of operation earlier this year.

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    World Travel Awards reveals global winners

    World Travel Awards – the leading authority that recognises and rewards excellence in travel and tourism – has unveiled its 2021 global winners.
    Winners include Maldives, which cemented its reputation as the definitive secluded sanctuary to win ‘World’s Leading Destination’ for the second time.
    Portugal also performed strongly, with Madeira voted ‘World’s Leading Island Destination’ and the Algarve picking up ‘World’s Leading Beach Destination’.
    Greek ministry of tourism/GNTO was voted ‘World’s Leading Tourist Board’, while Armenia was named ‘World’s Leading Heritage Destination’.
    Dubai, currently flourishing in the spotlight as host of Expo 2020, was voted ‘World’s Leading Business Travel Destination’ with Dubai World Trade Centre claiming ‘World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre’.
    Mina Rashid was acknowledged as ‘World’s Leading Cruise Port,’ and the Palm Jumeirah – Nakheel took ‘World’s Leading Tourism Development Project’.
    Russia’s imperial splendour was recognised with both Moscow and Saint Petersburg winning top honours.
    Moscow was voted ‘World’s Leading City Break Destination’ and ‘World’s Leading Heritage City Destination,’ while Saint Petersburg collected ‘World’s Leading City Destination,’ ‘World’s Leading Cultural City Destination’ and ‘World’s Leading Marketing Campaign’.
    The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu was hailed ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction,’ with Peru also collecting ‘World’s Leading Cultural Destination’.
    In the hospitality sector, Armani Hotel Dubai fended off a tough field to emerge as ‘World’s Leading Hotel,’ while Sardinia’s Forte Village Resort took ‘World’s Leading Resort’. ADVERTISEMENTThe blissfully remote Amanpulo, Philippines was named ‘World’s Leading Dive Resort,’ while its Aman Resorts stablemate Amandari, Indonesia picked up ‘World’s Leading Boutique All Suite Hotel’.
    Dubai’s Burj al Arab was voted ‘World’s Leading Luxury All Suite Hotel’ and Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach voted ‘World’s Leading Luxury Resort’.
    In the newcomer categories, the St. Regis Dubai, the Palm secured ‘World’s Leading New Hotel,’ while the barefoot chic paradise Raffles the Palm Dubai picked up ‘World’s Leading New Resort’.
    Brand winners include InterContinental Hotels & Resorts (‘World’s Leading Hotel Brand’), Sandals (‘World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company’), Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (‘World’s Leading Resort Brand’), and the Ascott Limited Hospitality (‘World’s Leading Serviced Apartment Brand’).
    In the aviation sector, Emirates lifted ‘World’s Leading Airline’ and ‘World’s Leading Airline – First Class,’ while ‘World’s Leading Airport’ went to Dubai International Airport.
    Etihad Airways was voted ‘World’s Leading Airline – Business Class,’ with Singapore Airlines named ‘World’s Leading Airline – Economy Class’.
    Aeroflot – Russian Airlines was voted ‘World’s Leading Airline Brand,’ while Star Alliance took ‘World’s Leading Airline Alliance’.
    The results follow a year-long search for the world’s top travel, tourism and hospitality brands.
    Votes were cast by travel industry professionals and the public, with the nominee gaining the most votes in a category named as the winner.
    Graham Cooke, founder, World Travel Awards, said: “Our World winners represent the best in global travel and tourism and my congratulations to each of them. They are all playing starring roles in leading the global travel and tourism recovery.”
    Jamaica enjoyed a hat trick of destination awards (‘World’s Leading Cruise Destination’, ‘World’s Leading Family Destination’ and ‘World’s Leading Wedding Destination’).
    The fast-growing aviation company Jetex took ‘World’s Leading FBO Brand’ and ‘World’s Leading Private Jet Travel Experience,’ with Jetex Paris named ‘World’s Leading FBO Terminal’.
    Other winners include Madrid (‘World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination’); Royal Caribbean International (‘World’s Leading Cruise Brand’) Atlantis, the Palm (‘World’s Leading Landmark Resort’); Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai (‘World’s Leading Water Park’); Royal Penthouse @ Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai (‘World’s Leading Hotel Penthouse’).
    More Information
    World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.
    Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.
    For more information about World Travel Awards visit the official website, or head see a full list of winners visit here.

    Foster appointed director with Palm Springs Tourism

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    Foster appointed director with Palm Springs Tourism

    Visit Greater Palm Springs has confirmed Kimber Foster will take over as director of Palm Springs Tourism.
    In the role, Foster will work closely with the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism to drive awareness of and increase visitation to the city. 
    She will lead the development and implementation of the City of Palm Springs strategic marketing plan and work together with the Visit Greater Palm Springs marketing and destination teams and stakeholders to promote visitation.
    Foster brings 20 years of non-profit, agency and destination marketing/communications experience to this role.
    She comes to us from Grapevine, Texas, where she served as director of marketing and communications for the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau for the past five years.ADVERTISEMENTDuring her tenure there, Foster developed and implemented strategies to promote the City of Grapevine, with a focus on leisure travel, convention groups and high-profile festivals and special events.
    “Kimber brings great energy and experience to our team,” said Colleen Pace, Visit Greater Palm Springs chief sales and marketing officer.
    “We look forward to her contributions and collaboration across our tourism community.”

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    ABTA calls for relaxation of Covid-19 testing requirements

    ABTA has joined calls for a relaxation of testing requirements for travellers to and from the UK.
    The government earlier announced it is removing 11 countries from the red list, which were originally added to slow down the introduction of the Omicron variant to the UK.
    However, with the variant now dominant in the UK, the restrictions have become redundant.
    Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “The removal of countries from the red list is a sensible step. 
    “However, the government has always been clear that once the Omicron variant is widespread across the UK there would be little rationale for retaining any restrictions on international travel, so the government must explain why temporary testing requirements have been retained until the first week of January.”ADVERTISEMENTThe government said it recognised the impact that temporary health measures have on the travel and aviation industry.
    These measures – the red list, testing for arrivals and self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers – will be reviewed again early in the new year on January 5th.
    Tanzer continued: “With the testing measures now extending over the Christmas and New Year period, and the industry quickly approaching peak-booking season for summer 2022, travel businesses are facing a very serious situation.
    “Consumer confidence in travel has suffered a significant setback, which will outlast these restrictions.
    “The government must acknowledge this by bringing forward grant support to help businesses through the difficult weeks ahead.
    “Almost two years into this crisis, there has still been no business support from the treasury to address directly the impact on UK businesses of the travel restrictions.”
    ABTA research suggests employment across the travel industry has halved since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
    Tanzer concludes: “We also need the government to focus on providing the stability that is essential to rebuild consumer confidence in the longer-term.
    “This must include a robust plan to deal with future variants, developed with public health experts and the industry.
    “As part of this there should be transition arrangements for the red list – which would enable people overseas when decisions are taken to place a country on the red list to complete self-isolation at home, along with additional testing measures, to avoid costly quarantine – as well as moving away from pre-departure testing, which is the single greatest barrier to getting people travelling again.”

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