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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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    Wego and Tourism Authority of Thailand Collaborate to Showcase the Land of Smiles

    Wego, the largest online travel marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), join hands with Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote and enhance tourism in the captivating country.This collaboration aims to leverage Wego’s extensive reach and advanced travel technology to provide travelers with an exceptional experience while exploring Thailand.
    By combining their expertise, Wego and the Tourism Authority of Thailand strive to create a seamless and convenient platform that showcases the country’s rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities.
    Through this partnership, Wego and the Tourism Authority of Thailand will focus on multiple aspects to ensure an unforgettable journey for travelers. Wego’s advanced search capabilities and personalized recommendations will enable users to discover the best flight and accommodation options tailored to their preferences and budget.
    Mamoun Hmedan, Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director, MENA and India, Wego said: “Thailand is an extraordinary destination, renowned for its rich cultural tapestry, breathtaking scenery, and warm hospitality. We saw over 4 million searches this year and expect the numbers to grow in the summer. This collaboration with Tourism Authority of Thailand fills us with great enthusiasm as we strive to curate unparalleled travel experiences and spotlight the diverse wonders that Thailand has to offer.”
    Moreover, the collaboration aims to offer comprehensive travel guides, insider tips, and deals, allowing travelers to make well-informed decisions and experience Thailand’s hidden gems.ADVERTISEMENTMr. Chaiwat Tamtai Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for Dubai and the Middle East, commented: “Our target audience comprises of Arab families and millennials, with Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and Krabi being our top cities for Arab travelers. With 13 airlines operating the Middle East-to-Thailand route, we are expecting an exceptional 300% increase in growth for the summer holiday season in July-August 2023.”
    Thailand’s diverse attractions make it a captivating summer destination that promises unforgettable experiences for every traveler.

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    Buy Now Pay Later is a game changer for travel e-commerce, says Digitrips

    Leading multi-product travel platform Digitrips says Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services have become a game changer for travel e-commerce, with such purchases accounting for up to 75% of sales for the company’s B2B2C customers.
    Digitrips currently operates 65 white-label storefronts for e-commerce players across Europe, most of which offer BNPL – a type of short-term financing that allows consumers to make purchases and pay for them over time with little or no interest.
    According to the platform, the financial service now represents anywhere between 35% to 75% of sales for their B2B2C customers, depending on the site’s customer typology.
    Emilie Dumont, CEO of DIGITRIPS, said: “It’s evident that Buy Now Pay Later purchases play a critical role in empowering our white labels partners sites to make travel more accessible. In fact, some report that the majority of their travellers choose to defer their payment or spread the costs over a series of instalments.
    “As the numbers suggest, offering payment flexibility to passengers not only facilitates the pent-up demand for travel but also emphasises the need for personalised offers that cater to customers’ payment preferences.”ADVERTISEMENTThe 2022 version of the FLOA – Kantar European barometer highlights the growing importance of payment facilities in the consumption habits of Europeans. The focus on travel in this study revealed that travel is a strategic category for BNPL providers, with 35% of users leveraging the financial service to book travel arrangements. In France, Digitrips’ main market, the proportion of BNPL users benefitting from deferred or staggered travel payments is as high as 44%.
    Meanwhile, just under half (49%) of the respondents of the FLOA-Kantar European barometer stated they would not have been able to make some of these purchases without the flexibility offered by BNPL, further highlighting the growing importance of the financial service in driving demand across the travel sector.
    Marc Lanvin, Deputy CEO of FLOA, said: “As it develops in France and Europe, and despite disparities in usage from one country to another, this study reveals increasingly strong expectations in terms of payment facilities. In the travel sector, FLOA’s solutions are even more in demand due to rising inflation, but also because the customer can make a travel reservation at the most convenient time to take advantage of early bookings, promotions, etc.”

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    Bitkub Metaverse added to Thailand’s Smart Tourism transformation

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bitkub Blockchain Technology to cooperate in further developing the Bitkub Metaverse as part of the TAT’s ongoing strategy to leverage technology and innovation to transform Thai tourism to be Smart Tourism.
    Mr. Nithee Seeprae, TAT Deputy Governor for Digitalisation, Research, and Development, said “With the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2023: Amazing New Chapters’ campaign, TAT is revitalising Thai tourism towards digital transformation in recognition of the importance of the digital economy and digital as a game changer. Blockchain technology will play an important role in promoting and developing tourism, and it also represents an opportunity for Thailand to be a role model in using virtual reality as an effective tool to promote tourism.”
    Under the MoU, TAT and Bitkub Blockchain Technology will cooperate in promoting Thai tourism through the Bitkub Metaverse. This will be further developed to include an information centre on Thai tourism, while promoting tourist landmarks and year-round travel experiences that simulate real-world tourist attractions and destinations with 3D images and videos.
    Web 3.0 technology and the application of digital assets will be utilised to promote a new dimension of tourism, thus creating a new virtual world in the metaverse that combines NFT (Non-Fungible Token), Blockchain, Crypto, XRB Token, and other technologies in one place. Tourists can use digital vouchers and NFT to enjoy a virtual travel experience and shop for tourism products and services in the real world.
    Ultimately, Thai and foreign tourists will be inspired to travel more around Thailand after enjoying their virtual experience.ADVERTISEMENT
    Mr. Passakorn Pannok, CEO of Bitkub Blockchain Technology, said “We are excited about the possibilities to further develop the Bitkub Metaverse, a project that has received much attention in Thailand’s blockchain industry. Our collaboration with leading animation design and production specialist The Monk Studio offers users a real connection with their characters, which can help promote Thai tourism and travel to both domestic and foreign travellers.”
    TAT’s innovation approach on digital tourism included the ‘Amazing Thailand Metaverse: Amazing Durian’ project in April 2022, the ‘Thailand Travelution 2022’ event in November 2022, and two seasons of the ‘Amazing Thailand NFTs’ tourism experience in 2022 and 2023.

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    UNWTO Launches Women in Tech Startup Competition in the Middle East

    UNWTO has launched a new Startup Competition to support women tourism tech entrepreneurs and innovators across the Middle East.Announced at Biban 2023, Saudi Arabia’s largest SME conference, the Women in Tech Startup Competition: Middle East, will further advance UNWTO’s work to make tourism a pillar of women’s empowerment. The initiative gives innovators the chance to compete for enhanced capacity building and visibility. Finalists in each category will join the UNWTO Innovation Network, giving them access to the UNWTO Member States network, mentorship programs and to UNWTO scholarship opportunities.
    Tourism startups are also leading the way in advancing women empowerment, in the Middle East and globally, and UNWTO is delighted to support the region’s best innovators and digital entrepreneurs
    UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, says: “Tourism startups have the power and agility to transform the sector in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Tourism startups are also leading the way in advancing women empowerment, in the Middle East and globally, and UNWTO is delighted to support the region’s best innovators and digital entrepreneurs.”
    Who can apply?
    Startups must be led, owned or managed by women residing in any of the following countries: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.Idea Stage, Early Stage or Series A startups with a minimum viable product or idea that is ready to be developed and funded.Have a full-time team, a tested pilot and business plan.Be scalable with potential for international growth.ADVERTISEMENTStartups must also belong to at least one of the following categories:
    Social Impact: For startups that focus on technology in wellness, health, urban development, rural development, sustainability, and education with cross-cutting benefits with tourism.Tourism and Travel Experience: Startups focusing on the food and beverage, transportation and accommodation, travel, and retail industries to participate.Future Tech: Startups that leverage fintech, AI, AR/VR, cryptocurrency, Internet of Things, blockchain technology, digital twinning and the Metaverse.Events and Community: Startups focused on social and messaging platforms, e-sports and gaming platforms, community-based applications, events-related platforms, and education technology.Applications close at the end of July 2023 and the winners will be announced at the Tourism Tech Adventure (TTA), to be held on World Tourism Day (27 September Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).
    UNWTO and Innovation
    Since 2018, UNWTO’s IEI department has launched more than 21 startup competitions and innovation challenges, covering over 150 countries around the world. With over 10,000 participants and more than US$214 million in funding, UNWTO continues its efforts to support digitalization and innovation in line with the global entrepreneurship ecosystem. Tourism has the opportunity to improve inclusiveness, local community development, and resource efficiency by leveraging innovation and digital advancements.

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    Good news for tour operators and booking platforms: dealing with different currencies and cross-border payments has now become much easier thanks to digitalisation.
    Speaking at ITB Berlin, Ted Clements, CEO of WeTravel, offered some ideas to small and medium-sized travel businesses and showed how everyday operations can be managed more efficiently. Reservations and payments in particular can be made easier with tools such as WeTravel.
    The best ideas come from the practical sphere: one of the founders of WeTravel was looking for ways to organise travel bookings and payments more efficiently. He set his company up in 2016 as a bookings and payment platform, which is continually expanding its services for the tourism industry. Ted Clements, CEO von WeTravel, shared some insights from his company‘s “Annual Travel Trend Report” about post-pandemic travel behaviour and the accompanying challenges facing small and medium-sized providers.
    The survey reveals that 70 to 80 per cent of bookings are made by women. It is therefore important to address them in campaigns. Furthermore payment in instalments is becoming increasingly popular. 80 of those questioned make a down payment before the remainder is due. Another piece of advice is that the payment methods should be reconciled on one’s own market. Every country has its own special features, such as the iDeal which is widely used in the Netherlands, or the provider PayPal which is popular in Germany. If an online reservation is interrupted it is worth subsequently enquiring digitally with the client in order to draw conclusions for one’s own business model.
    The pandemic caused many travel companies to reduce staff numbers, which imposes a greater workload on those remaining, Ted Clements observed. This makes it advisable to automate operative tasks and make them more efficient. WeTravel, for example, offers clearly arranged dashboards, providing an overview of reservations and finances at one location. This gives users a reliable picture of money coming in and going out. Individual service providers can also be provided with credit cards for specific uses, such as refuelling vehicles.ADVERTISEMENTTed Clements recommends that small companies that are doubtful about the new technologies now coming onto the market should implement improvements to booking processes in a number of stages. The fragmented nature of tourism processes can make their digitalisation particularly challenging. However, support can be found through an exchange of views with businesses of a similar size and with similar requirements.


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    How can a company find out more about its customer groups and reach travellers online, what expectations do these groups have – and how can a company target customers better with its advertising? Answering these questions on Wednesday in a keynote speech opening the Marketing and Distribution track at the ITB Berlin Convention, Michael Trauttmansdorff, director of Product Management, Travel Ads at Google, offered some valuable insights.38 per cent of all holidaymakers who regularly travel abroad want to book a once in a lifetime travel experience, said Trauttmansdorff. Travel has a high priority and the amount of time spent on planning and preparing is growing, Trautmansdorff continued. Coupled with that was the fact that young people in particular showed less brand loyalty and were more willing to try out new brands.
    Videos and quality images are becoming more and important for approaching and winning over travellers. Travellers, especialy Gen Z, look online for inspiring content and get their fascination there. “90 per cent of travellers get information from YouTube, which is why it is important to have a YouTube strategy“, said Trauttmansdorff.
    Google Tools can help destinations in a whole range of ways to approach potential travellers with as little waste coverage as possible. Thus, Performance Maps for Travel Tools can be used to create marketing campaigns for hotel chains, which are broadcast via seven different Google channels. By visiting the website at, destinations, hotels and tour planners can obtain valuable insights into customer demand trends and tailor their campaigns accordingly. This tool can be used to make decisions based on solid data and target the right customer groups with the right message.
    AI-based Google Tools can also help make a trip as sustainable as possible. Thus a Google flight search will display the approximate CO2 emissions for the flight in question.