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    New Destination NSW Corporate Website Turbocharges Visitor Economy Growth

    Destination NSW has launched a new corporate website that provides a dynamic digital hub for visitor economy stakeholders seeking the latest research, information, tools and resources to support their growth.The state-of-the-art platform caters to the needs of its diverse community of users with data and insights on visitors and markets; training, resources and other business support via the NSW First Program; a newsroom featuring media releases and updates; information on major event investment, industry, and business events; and the latest marketing campaigns and partner toolkits.
    Destination NSW is the lead agency, champion and voice for the visitor economy within the NSW Government. It spearheads a whole-of-government approach to visitor economy growth, working with various organisations to promote NSW as a destination, to secure and deliver major events, invest in visitor economy infrastructure and support the diverse ecosystem of visitor economy businesses that operate state-wide.
    Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox said: “The NSW Government’s Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 envisions our state as the leading visitor economy in the Asia-Pacific, targeting $65 billion in visitor expenditure by 2030.
    “To achieve this goal, digital innovation is paramount and Destination NSW has a steadfast commitment to leveraging technology for seamless government and industry interactions, ensuring quicker and easier access to news, statistics and insights linked to the visitor economy.
    “The new corporate website, designed to provide an engaging user experience, improved search functionalities and mobile responsiveness, positions Destination NSW to be adaptable and forward-thinking during the momentum phase of the Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 and in turn ensure NSW achieves its targets and goals for visit expenditure.”ADVERTISEMENTKey features of the new Destination NSW corporate website include:
    Modern and intuitive UX and designA highly responsive search functionality powered by Algolia, making it easy to surface reports, articles and related contentWCAG 2.1 Level AA complianceIndustry leading data security through secure, cloud-based systems Sanity and VercelSubscription function to Destination NSW’s weekly visitor economy newsletter, Insights.Sydney design and technology agency Nightjar, which has collaborated on visitor economy projects for Vivid Sydney, Australian Tourism Data Warehouse, Rydges, Atura and QT Hotels, developed the website for Destination NSW.
    Visit to explore the website, discover its resources and receive updates on the latest visitor economy news and initiatives.

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    New Florida Keys Eco-Experience Trail Pass Connects Visitors to Natural World

    Visitors to the Florida Keys can now discover the island chain’s unique eco-attractions and rich natural world by tapping into the free Florida Keys Eco-Experience Trail pass.The mobile-exclusive digital pass enables users to find and check in at local businesses while exploring the environment and wildlife of the continental United States’ southernmost island chain.  The easy-to-use pass features only-in-the-Keys attractions, sites, and marine adventures, all designed to help visitors connect with the natural surroundings.
    Created by the Florida Keys tourism council and technology company Bandwango, the Eco-Experience Trail pass includes nearly 50 geo-tagged, bookable activities that encourage engagement with the Keys’ environment and sustainability initiatives – from wild dolphin watching in Key West aboard Honest Eco’s purpose-built electric boat to going behind the scenes at Plant a Million Corals on Summerland Key. Further activities and offerings are to be added in 2024.
    After accessing the pass via, users can begin exploring state parks and nature tours, wildlife centres and refuges, coral restoration opportunities, eco-adventures and more, from Key Largo to Key West. Also featured are fishing, diving, and snorkelling tours in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that protects the continental United States’ only living barrier coral reef — many conducted by sanctuary-certified Blue Star operators.
    Users can filter experiences by location, activity type or attraction, choosing from kayaking the backcountry waters of the Lower Keys, to uncovering wildlife refuges, or spotting endangered species such as Key Deer, the smallest subspecies of the North American white-tailed deer. Upon checking in at a location on the pass, users also receive points based on the level of the experience. Once a specific number of points is earned, passholders can exchange them for Keys-focused prizes. In addition, some participating businesses provide value-added offerings or incentives.
    “The Eco-Experience Trail pass is an easy-to-use, mobile-based ‘passport’ that introduces visitors to the best of the Florida Keys’ natural attractions,” said Rita Irwin, chair of the Keys tourism council. “Once they connect with the island chain’s environment, they can make eco-conscious choices that help protect it.”ADVERTISEMENTFor full details and to download the Eco-Experience Trail pass, visit
    For more information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit

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    Shanghai launches new online portal for expat services

    Shanghai Municipal People’s Government launched the beta version of a new online portal ( for expat services on Jan 1.
    Called International Services Shanghai, the new website will have its own Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), and WeChat accounts.
    The portal, operated by China Daily, serves as a one-stop platform for foreigners, regardless of whether they are looking for information related to work, travel or study in Shanghai.
    It is answering the call to stress the need to effectively remove the obstacles for foreigners to come to China for business, study, and tourism made during the annual Central Economic Work Conference held in Beijing on December 11-12.
    The portal has been integrated with the city’s e-governance platform, Government Online-Offline Shanghai, to offer quick online access to foreigners.ADVERTISEMENTOnline and offline activities, such as policy introduction sessions, business consultations, themed salons, cultural experiences, and learning and training events, will be organized to better serve and engage with the expat community.
    Many expats who participated in the beta testing of the portal have lauded its launch.
    Michael Wong, managing partner of Talent Service, Asia Pacific, EY, said the portal will allow people interested in coming to Shanghai to make better-informed decisions.
    Montealegre Carvajal Edwin Roberto, who is currently an international student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, said the information provided on the website regarding the setting up of businesses has allowed him to thoroughly understand the nitty-gritty of the process. The Costa Rican is planning to open his own performance company after graduation.
    Clarisse Le Guernic, who works in the tourism industry in Shanghai, said the new website would be beneficial as it would allow her to better answer queries from her customers about the city.
    Shanghai-based marketing consultant Natacha Extier, said the website is useful even for long-term residents like her as it contains a wealth of useful content on doing business in the city.
    The website will be made available in eight other languages – Japanese, Korean, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic at a later time.
    “Shanghai is a charming city full of hope and unlimited opportunities, and it is a land for entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and make a career. We will continue to create a first-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based and internationalized, provide accurate, convenient and innovative high-quality services, and work hand in hand with everybody to create an open and prosperous future,” Gong Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai, said during the “Invest in China Year” summit in November.
    Video –

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    Sustainability, AI, and ‘Slow’ Travel Set to Be Key Travel Trends

    Travellers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) plan to increase their spending on breaks and holidays over the next three years and will have more of an eye on sustainability than ever before. In fact, most now check the sustainability of their travel plans, and are prepared to pay over 20% more for environmentally-friendly accommodation.
    Other key trends will also come to the fore. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become a key tool for holiday planning – with half of people in both the UAE (52%) and KSA (50%) already using it for this purpose. Meanwhile ‘dupe’ destinations – that are similar to traditional holiday destinations but closer and cheaper – will be another key theme.

    In addition, ‘slow holidays’ – where travellers take their time, connect with the local culture, disconnect from technology and minimise their impact on the environment – will be another significant trend.
    ADVERTISEMENTThese are the key outtakes from the Middle East findings of Marriott Bonvoy’s 2024 Future Travel Trends research, in collaboration with foresight agency The Future Laboratory, which analysed the travel plans of 14,000 travellers across Europe and the Middle East over the next three years.

    The rise of AI
    The era of AI holiday planning is very much here – half or more (52% from the UAE and 50% from KSA) have used AI to help them plan or research a holiday. Meanwhile 77% in both countries say they are likely to in the future, showing the trend is set to grow further still.

    Amongst those who did use AI, 95% in both the UAE and KSA say it influenced their holiday decision in some way. This includes booking the accommodation it recommended (36% in UAE and 39% in KSA), booking the activities it recommended (39% in UAE and 31% in KSA), and booking food it recommended (34% in UAE and 35% in KSA).

    Emerging trends
    The research investigates several travel trends that are likely to emerge or strengthen over the coming years. Amongst them, ‘slow holidays’ are becoming increasingly popular. Four in five travellers from the UAE (82%) and 77% from KSA say they have already been on a ‘slow’ holiday. Meanwhile, 82% from the UAE and 80% from KSA say they plan to go on a slow holiday in the next three years.

    In addition, ‘dupe destinations’ – such as the vineyards of Northern Spain instead of South Africa or surfing in Portugal instead of Hawaii– will be another key theme. A third from the UAE (33%) and a similar number from KSA (34%) that are intending to go away in the next three years are planning to save travel time and money by having a similar experience through a ‘dupe destination’.

    Solo holidays, something 70% of travellers from the UAE and 69% from KSA who have been away in the past three years have done in that period, will also continue to be a significant trend, with 70% from UAE and 72% from KSA planning to do one.

    Changing Summer holiday patterns?
    The extremely high temperatures that parts of Europe experienced this summer could be set to impact holiday plans in the coming years for Middle Eastern holidaymakers. Eighty six per cent in the UAE and 83% in KSA say that if these temperatures became a regular occurrence, it would impact their summer holiday plans. While there is no suggestion that people would avoid holidays because of this, some may be amending what they intend to do and when they choose to travel.

    Nearly half in the UAE (46%) and over half in KSA (53%) say they would instead choose to go somewhere cooler, and 26% in UAE and 24% in KSA would visit the destinations at different times of the year.

    Spending and sustainability both up
    More than nine in ten UAE adults (93%) and 89% of adults from KSA say they will be going on holiday next year. Of those going on holiday next year, 66% from the UAE and 69% from KSA say they plan to ‘spend more than usual’ on holidays over the period.

    Over the next three years, sustainability will be on the agenda more than ever before. More than eight in ten from the UAE (83%) and a similar number from KSA (78%) say they would be happy to pay more for environmentally friendly accommodation. The amount extra they would be happy to pay is significant – 21% for those from the UAE and 22% for those from KSA.

    In addition, nearly nine in ten (88%) from UAE and eight in ten (79%) from KSA say that accommodation providers and holiday companies have a responsibility to support the local communities where they offer holidays.

    For many, sustainability is already important – 75% of those from the UAE and 70% of those from KSA say they looked into how sustainable the last accommodation they stayed in was. In addition, 45% from the UAE and 42% from KSA say they check the environmental impact of their travel plans most or every time they travel when they book a holiday.

    Value for money will be key
    Whilst on the whole spending on holidays is set to increase, travellers will continue to seek good value for money and save where they can. Just one per cent of those from the UAE and two per cent of those from KSA planning to take holidays in the next three years say they won’t be looking to save money on some elements of their holidays.

    A third of UAE and KSA travellers (both 32%) will try to save by going on more domestic holidays. And 34% from the UAE and 29% from KSA will use loyalty programmes to pay for some or all of their holiday with points.

    Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Marriott International – Europe, Middle East & Africa: “With the leisure travel market well and truly back to ‘normal’ we are now in a stronger position when it comes to looking at future trends and travel habits for the sector over the next few years. The post covid travel rebound is still going strong but because of what travel means to people, there’s been a seismic shift in people’s thought processes and prioritisation of funds. We are seeing that there is a more considered approach to travel, and a more emotional connection to travel that’s really unfolding in tandem with people’s core values.

    “Two trends we have seen coming to the fore in particular from the consumer research are sustainability and AI – particularly amongst younger travellers under the age of 45. Being ecologically responsible is moving from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for many of these travellers and will only become more so.

    “What’s really interesting to see from this research is the already-established use of AI for holiday planning. Generative AI is perfectly placed to analyse huge amounts of information for travellers, and offer them recommendations based on it. With nine in ten of those who have used it saying it impacted their travel plans, we expect its use to become even more mainstream in the next three years. As a result, travel providers like us need to ensure that we have the information available for AI to find and share with those doing their holiday research.”

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    Travel Insured International Announces Partnership with Robin Assist

    Travel Insured International (Travel Insured), a leading travel insurance provider, has engaged Robin Assist, a tech-driven emergency travel assistance platform, to deliver responsive customer service, emergency travel and medical assistance, and claims to its insureds from any device, anytime, anywhere. The alliance provides Travel Insured’s customers with 24/7 support to help mitigate travel risk, and together with the Robin Assist team, service is available to travelers worldwide.
    “Our partnership with Robin Assist underscores Travel Insured’s commitment to maintaining our customers’ trust and our dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction – forging meaningful connections with our community of curious, adventurous travelers, while empowering them to travel with confidence,” said Barb Merwin, President of Travel Insured International. “Travel Insured’s mission is to alleviate the stress of travel disruptions. We want to ensure that every traveler embarks on their journey feeling safe and assured, no matter what situation they may encounter. Our strategic relationship with Robin Assist will deliver on this mission now and in the future as our business continues to grow.”
    Robin Assist’s claims handling and service platform provides a variety of emergency and concierge capabilities. This platform is supported by a global team of highly experienced travel assistance and emergency coordinators to create a seamless travel experience for Travel Insured’s customers.
    “We are proud and excited to partner with Travel Insured,” said Bo Bawara, Managing Director of Robin Assist. “Our services greatly complement Travel Insured’s coverages and align with their commitment to customer service. We look forward to a long and rewarding partnership in delivering industry-leading assistance so customers can travel with confidence, no matter where they are.”
    With recent events in Israel and the surrounding region, Robin Assist immediately began working with travelers there whose travel plans had been severely disrupted. Working around the clock to help leisure, group, and business travelers trying to leave the country, the team at Robin Assist is providing travelers with on-the-ground logistics and arranging travel out of the country.ADVERTISEMENT“Robin Assist’s culture is grounded in empathy, always putting the customer’s safety and comfort first,” concluded Ms. Merwin. “Their actions and results in response to these unfortunate events – rallying immediately to proactively notify customers who might be affected by events in the Middle East – aligns with the type of commitment Travel Insured has to our customers, and we’re grateful to have Robin Assist as partners.”
    Some of the key services Travel Insured customers will receive through the Robin Assist platform include:Multi-lingual 24/7 customer supportEmergency medical evacuation and travel assistanceLocating medical facilities, andMedically necessary repatriation.
    For more information, visit

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    Space Perspective Surpasses 1,600 Seats Sold for Carbon-Neutral Spaceflight Experience

    Space Perspective, the world’s first and only carbon-neutral spaceflight company, today announced that it has sold more than 1,600 tickets – surpassing the number of seats sold by any other space tourism company, and representing $200M in sales.To put the significance of 1,600 Explorers in perspective, just over 600 individuals have ever flown to space, making Space Perspective’s sales a ground-breaking achievement in expanding humanity’s access to and experience of space, which is core to the company’s vision.
    “We’re extremely proud of the momentum and support behind our growing Explorer community as we pursue our mission to open up space to as many people as possible,” said Founder and Co-CEO Jane Poynter. “We know that looking down on Earth from the blackness of space will radically shift one’s perception of our planet and our place within it. And this experience has the power to change the world for the better.”
    The success of Space Perspective’s ticket sales not only marks a significant milestone for the company, but also showcases the growing interest and demand for space travel experiences, among which the company stands out for its commitment to carbon neutrality.
    A flight on Spaceship Neptune costs $125,000 per person with a starting deposit of $1,000 to reserve a seat. Coveted first 100 flights start at a $60,000 deposit with select first 25 flights requiring a full $125,000 deposit. Commercial flights are slated to begin at the end of 2024, and Space Perspective is already booking into two and three years out.
    Nearly half of the reservations represent full capsule sales, indicating that Explorers want a shared experience with a curated group of friends, family, and loved ones. While North America remains the largest source of ticket sales, a growing percentage is from international markets, especially in Asia-Pacific.ADVERTISEMENT“Our success can be attributed to a multifaceted sales channel approach, including Space Perspective’s expanding relationships with the travel trade distribution, reaching enthusiastic travelers worldwide,” said Edyta Teper, Vice President, Global Sales & Trade.
    For more information about Space Perspective and its unique experience offering, please visit or follow Space Perspective on social media, including Instagram @thespaceperspective.

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    Global Travel and Tourism Partnership doubles e-Learning engagement

    The Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP), together with global technology partners, Equator Global and Travel Uni, has dramatically grown its global reach and ability to deliver learning and education over the past 4 years.
    In 2019 GTTP taught around 400,000 students. In the past year alone over 750,000 students aged between 16 and 19 have received free travel educational courses. The partnership has enabled GTTP to reach many new audiences by using Equator Global’s e-Learning technology. It has significantly boosted reach to rural communities in regions such as the Caribbean, Africa and Asia including India, with Nepal being the latest country to receive access to the platform.
    Commenting on the contribution made by Equator Global and Travel Uni, Anne Lotter, Global Director, GTTP said: “Ian Dockreay and the team have worked tirelessly to provide the technological infrastructure and worldwide distribution to bring our courses to even the most inaccessible places on earth. Communities far and wide have benefited from our greatly enhanced ability to deliver our life-changing knowledge and we and our global partners are delighted by how this has transformed the organisation.”

    The course content ranges from information on why to consider the industry for future careers through to the importance of providing responsible and sustainable travel experiences for travellers.
    Ian Dockreay, Chief Executive of Equator Global and Travel Uni said of the partnership: “This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Travel Uni, and working in partnership with GTTP in recent years has added so much to our broader educational remit for the travel industry. It allows us to contribute so much to the students’ whole journey, from reaching them when they are considering travel as a career option, through providing them with further education advice and contacts, to their choosing which area of the industry they can and would like to seek employment in. Travel Uni has delivered free e-Learning to many hundreds of thousands of travel agents and other tourism professionals over the last 20 years and this partnership programme is all about contributing to the future generations of our industry.”
    GTTP’s educational programme has never been more important. Tourism and hospitality remain a key economic pillar for governments throughout the world and providing qualified students to fill the recruitment gaps that are becoming evident right across the globe, is both essential and urgent.
    Dockreay added: “We should be very concerned that the UK government is set to drop travel and tourism from the national curriculum at the level 3 stage. To lose the awareness and inspiration that our industry provides such wide-ranging prospects for so many young people, when they begin considering career options, is not in the economic interests of this country’’.

    In contrast, 3,500 schools and educational establishments and over 4,500 teachers and educators now benefit from the real-time online delivery of the e-Learning provided by the GTTP Portal, across 16 regional offices spread across the world.
    Travel is, after all, one of the biggest contributors towards employment and economic growth in the world and by harnessing the power of collaboration, GTTP and Equator Global along with Travel Uni can together deliver tangible results in this crucial and diverse service industry.
    To date, GTTP has educated more than 3 million students worldwide in travel and tourism.  In the past year alone more than 700,000 students have benefitted from the programme, more than 3,500 schools have taught the programme and over 4,600 teachers have been trained to deliver the partnership’s courses to young students aged 16-19 years old.
    Industry Partners include: Amadeus, American Express GBT, Marriott, The Travel Corporation, IHG and WTTC.

    Equator Global is the largest travel trade training and engagement company specialising in creating bespoke marketing and training portals for destinations, hotel groups, cruise companies, attractions, airlines and the full range of travel suppliers. Over 60 clients include ABTA, Switzerland, Egypt, Thailand, New York, Italy, Korea, Sandals Resorts, Jumeirah Group and many others.
    Travel Uni, a wholly owned subsidiary, is the biggest global community of frontline sales staff and management in travel agents, tour operators, OTAs, home working networks. Numbering over 320,000 members, with over 100,000 in the UK/I alone the company provides trade marketing, engagement, and training and in over 70 countries. Members primarily book holiday and leisure trips with over 70% booking luxury trips and over 60% booking cruises. The platform includes over 80 training courses and over 200 webinars entirely free to the user.

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    SeaBubbles Launches France’s First Commercial Service of zero-emission ‘Flying’ Hydrofoil Boat

    SeaBubbles, a leading innovator in sustainable marine transportation, announces the launch of France’s first commercial service of its groundbreaking ‘flying’ hydrofoil boat, the Bubble.Following the successful certification of the Bubble, SeaBubbles is thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind mode of transportation as part of a pilot line offering regular passenger service in collaboration with the Grand Annecy conurbation.
    The Grand Annecy, renowned for its picturesque landscapes and commitment to environmental conservation, has taken a significant step towards sustainable mobility by introducing an electric shuttle service on France’s prime lake site. The project aims to combine the region’s natural attractiveness with a responsible transport mix that includes the pioneering SeaBubble hydrofoil boats.
    With eight rotations per day for a period of two months, the initiative is projected to save an impressive 100 tons of CO2 emissions on the lake compared to traditional thermal boats. By incorporating electric shuttles, sourced from a consortium of local players, including the 4-seater SeaBubble flying bubble, passengers traveling on the line will have the opportunity to explore the wonders of the lake while enjoying a unique, silent, comfortable, and environmentally-friendly travel experience.
    The SeaBubble employs an electric propulsion system and hydrofoil wings to lift the vessel out of the water, significantly reducing drag and enhancing speed. Passengers can anticipate an exhilarating journey as they glide smoothly across the water, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
    “This initiative marks the start of a major new stage since the SeaBubbles teams joined our territory. We are committed to experimenting with next-generation solutions. This pilot project for carbon-free waterborne mobility is a source of inspiration for inventing tomorrow’s mobility solutions.” explains Frédérique Lardet, President of Grand Annecy.ADVERTISEMENT“With this new eco-friendly, zero-carbon shuttle service, we intend to offer users of the line and residents of the conurbation not only a different relationship with the privileged natural setting of Lake Annecy, but also future options for easing traffic congestion on the shores of the lake”, declares Virginie Seurat, CEO of SeaBubbles.
    By introducing the Bubble as part of a comprehensive transport system, SeaBubbles takes significant strides towards creating a cleaner and more efficient future for tourism and mobility.

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