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    Voters select Latin America World Travel Awards winners

    World Travel Awards – the leading authority that recognises and rewards excellence in travel and tourism – has unveiled its Latin America 2021 winners.
    Winners include Argentina, which claimed ‘South America’s Leading Destination’.
    Chile – with its dazzling array of natural wonders – was voted ‘South America’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination’.
    Peru enjoyed a strong showing, picking up ‘South America’s Leading Culinary Destination,’ ‘South America’s Leading Cultural Destination’ and ‘South America’s Leading Tourist Board’ (PromPeru), while the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu was crowned ‘South America’s Leading Tourist Attraction’.
    The rise of Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo was recognised with victory as ‘South America’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination’.
    Guayaquil, Ecuador won ‘South America’s Leading City Break Destination’ and Santiago de Cali, Colombia was named ‘South America’s Leading Cultural City Destination’.
    The incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica was acknowledged with the title for ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination’.
    Mexico also celebrated with a raft of destination awards including Cancún (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Beach Destination’); Cozumel (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Island Destination’); and Mazatlán (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading City Destination’), with its tropical neoclassical architecture and paradise beach.
    In the hospitality sector, Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena won ‘South America’s Leading Hotel’.
    Wyndham Guayaquil emerged as ‘South America’s Leading City Hotel’ and Wyndham Quito Airport as ‘South America’s Leading Airport Hotel’. ADVERTISEMENTGrand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun picked up ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Hotel’ and Gaia Hotel & Reserve, Costa Rica was voted ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Green Hotel’.
    ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort’ went to Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park.
    In the newcomer categories, Brazilian flair and indigenous style helped Six Senses Botanique to victory as ‘South America’s Leading New Hotel,’ with ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading New Hotel’ going to Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort.
    In the aviation sector, LATAM was named ‘South America’s Leading Airline’, while Aeromexico scooped ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Airline’.
    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 winners represent the very best of Latin America’s travel and hospitality sectors and my congratulations to each of them.
    “They are all playing starring roles in spearheading the travel and tourism recovery.”
    Other winners include Explora (‘South America’s Leading Expedition Company’); Grand Fiesta Americana Hotels & Resorts (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Hotel Brand’); and Avis (‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Car Rental Company’).
    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 recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.
    Each year, World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognize and celebrate individual and collective success within each key geographical region.
    For more information about World Travel Awards visit the official website, or find a full list from of Latin Americas winners here.
    Image: Hector Ramon Perez/Unsplash

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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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    ATM 2021: Saudi Arabia prepares for return of tourism

    The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has attended Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2021 with an impressive stand highlighting the breadth of product offerings and an array of partnerships in the country.
    As Saudi prepares to reopen its borders, STA is showcasing its strength as a leisure destination through an immersive pavilion which brings to life the exciting, diverse tourism offer.
    Over the course of the four-day event, visitors will be invited to embark on their own Saudi journey through an interactive deep-dive into its top destinations and resorts, from the pristine coastline of the Red Sea to the breath-taking heritage sites of Hegra, Alula and Diriyah, outside Riyadh.ADVERTISEMENTAt the event, Fahd Hamidaddin, chief executive of Saudi Tourism Authority, will address travel trade professionals at the Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit, a dedicated buyer forum for Saudi, to highlight the unique business opportunities offered by a country that just opened up to international tourism in September 2019.
    “We are bringing together our partners across the industry to showcase Saudi’s readiness to welcome international visitors, safely and seamlessly.
    “As STA continues to develop Saudi’s tourism offering for local, regional and international travellers, the strength of our presence at ATM 2021 reflects our commitment to fostering a rich environment for building quality partnerships.
    “We are committed, we are confident, and we are ready to open Saudi’s doors and hearts to the world,” said Hamidaddin.
    Since its launch in June 2020, STA has worked with travel trade partners to successfully grow their business and drive visitation to Saudi.
    The Saudi pavilion at ATM 2021 will host exhibitors from across the tourism ecosystem, representing the best Saudi has to offer.
    In addition to dedicated buyer forums and conference sessions with international speakers, ATM Dubai will offer networking opportunities and expert panels discussing a range of key topics including hospitality, aviation and technology.

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    WTTC 2021: Global Summit baton handed to Manila

    Private and public sector tourism leaders have taken a united stand to safely restart international travel at the closure of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit.
    They used the forum to share their experiences from the last 12 devastating months and discuss how together they could safely restart international travel.
    The Global Summit also named Carnival Corporation chief executive, Arnold Donald, as new chair of WTTC, which represents the global private tourism sector.
    Donald took over from outgoing chair, Chris Nassetta, chief executive of Hilton, after three successful years at the helm of WTTC.
    Following the three-day event in Cancun, Mexico, WTTC announced Manila, capital of the Philippines, will be the host of its next Global Summit, with dates to be confirmed. ADVERTISEMENTIn a world-first, WTTC organised the event for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic – with tens of thousands more joining virtually – while complying with strict world-class health and hygiene protocols.
    Regular testing was made available for all delegates attending for the duration of the summit to ensure their safety was paramount.
    Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC brought together exceptional leaders from across the private and public sectors throughout tourism at our Global Summit, united in their desire to safely revive international travel.
    “Our very presence here, shows that we can resume international travelling once more, by observing the latest health and safety protocols, which WTTC has helped develop for businesses large and small throughout the sector.
    “Together we have shown that with a united front, both the private and public sectors in tourism can drive change and get the world moving again so that we can start travelling, exploring and sharing our experiences face-to-face.
    “We concluded our Global Summit here in Cancun, confident that together we can revive a sector which will generate the economic recovery and bring people back together thanks to the amazing benefits international tourism can bring.”

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    WTTC 2021: New York prepares for summer reopening

    Momentum is beginning to return to the New York hospitality market according to Fred Dixon, chief executive of NYC & Company.
    Speaking at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, he explained: “It has been an incredibly challenging year for us all, and for urban destinations in particular.
    “Our strength, density, that energy, became a liability.
    “But we have learned to live with it, to manage it.
    “The past four-to-five weeks we have seen demand begin to rebuild, led by leisure travel – we are now above 50 per cent occupancy among contemporary inventory – optimism is growing every day.”ADVERTISEMENTDixon, however, explained around a third of hotel rooms in New York remain closed.
    The city went into the pandemic with around 124,000 hotel rooms, with 88,000 currently in operation.
    Authorities expect the figure to rebound to around 118,000 by the end of this year – meaning the permanent loss of around 6,000 rooms due to Covid-19.
    Dixon added: “We have discovered that we have amazing outdoor spaces that we have underutilised in New York, and we have taken back many of our streets for pedestrians.
    “We are building a café culture, bringing an energy we have not seen for a long-time.”
    NYC & Company earlier unveiled plans for $30 million advertising campaign, to debut in June, designed to promote the reopening of the city.
    New York’s official destination marketing organisation predicts 36.4 million people will visit the city this year, recovering more than 50 per cent of the record 66.6 million visitors that came in 2019. 
    Dixon concluded: “Travel is going to be a coiled spring; it is going to rebound quickly.
    “We need to communicate clearly and emit positivity – people are looking for permission to travel and they are ready to go.”
    More Information
    The highly-anticipated WTTC Global Summit, organised in partnership with the government of Quintana Roo, is being held in Cancun until April 27th.
    The showcase seeks to position itself as the leading tourism event in the calendar, where the highest-level industry leaders meet with key government representatives to act on the biggest issues across the international agenda.
    This year, the summit will be exploring the challenges ahead and providing a platform for the recovery of the sector.
    Find out more on the official website.

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    UNWTO seeking to restart tourism at Madrid conference

    The global tourism sector is starting the new year prepared to #RestartTourism when conditions allow, with the World Tourism Organisation set to again bring together leaders from across the public and private sectors.
    Tomorrow in Madrid, the UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Committee will hold its first meeting of the year.
    This meeting to advance concrete plans to ensure the restart of tourism will take place in the context of the UNWTO Executive Council.
    Today, the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, established by UNWTO at the very start of the pandemic as a means to unite the sector and lead a strong and consistent response to the crisis, will meet for the first time this year.
    Taking advantage of the Executive Council celebrated the following day and hosted by Spain, this meeting will be a hybrid event, combining in-person and virtual participation.
    Once again, the committee will bring together tourism leaders from around the world, as well as UN agencies and representatives from civil society and the private sector.

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    Key issues on the agenda include exploring how vaccines against Covid-19 can be part of a harmonised approach to restarting tourism, including through the potential use of health passports and other measures.
    UNWTO will also call on members of the committee to join forces for a global campaign aimed at restoring confidence in tourism.
    During the 113th session of the UNWTO Executive Council tomorrow, representatives of the 35 council members will be provided with updates on the implementation of the UNWTO programme of work and plans for 2021.
    The Executive Council will also explore current tourism trends, including the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the sector and what this means for livelihoods and the contribution of tourism to sustainable development.
    This hybrid event expects 150 in-person participants.
    The Executive Council meeting will also include the election for the position of UNWTO secretary general for the term 2022-2025.
    Incumbent Zurab Pololikashvili will stand for re-election for a second term, while the kingdom of Bahrain has nominated Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa for the position.
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    International coordination could see tourism recover by 2022, WTTC argues

    World Travel & Tourism Council chief executive, Gloria Guevara, has said global tourism can recover from the Covid-19 pandemic by early 2022.
    However, the timeframe will require a great deal more cooperation between governments, she argued.
    “We can recover in 18 months – but it depends on coordination at an international level.
    “Some countries did a good job containing this pandemic, but they do not have a plan to reopen.
    “You cannot work in silos; travel depends on a lot of partners working together.”
    She added: “It is our role to facilitate these relationships and to help countries to work together to reopen.”
    Guevara pointed to the possibility of opening airline routes between London and Dubai or London and New York to evaluate testing procedures designed to remove quarantine.
    If the world fails to act to reopen tourism, as many as 100 million jobs could be lost, the WTTC has argued.
    Guevara added a vaccine would play a vital role in the reopening of the sector.

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    She explained: “We believe there is going to be a vaccine before the end of the year – the challenge is going to be the distribution of the vaccine.
    “Again we will need the coordination in order to make sure everybody who needs it, gets it.”
    Guevara was speaking at the Future Hospitality Summit, a hybrid virtual conference developed to explore big ideas and tackle the challenges facing the hospitality industry.
    It is taking place in Riyadh over the next two days.
    The event, which promises to be one of the most impactful gatherings of the hospitality community, will be delivered on a cutting-edge event platform from Bench Digital.
    It will provide an immersive live experience, including a virtual exhibition, one-to-one video networking and integrated chat features to all participants.
    More Information
    Future Hospitality Summit is organised by ministry of tourism Saudi Arabia and G20 Saudi Secretariat as part of the International Conferences Program, honouring the G20 Saudi presidency 2020.
    Find out more on the official website.
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