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    WTTC: Hospitality cannot wait for Covid-19 vaccine rollout

    The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and major international industry bodies have joined forces to call for the immediate restoration of international travel using proven processes and without waiting for, or requiring, vaccinations.
    WTTC has joined with Airports Council International (ACI), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), to argue the world cannot wait for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
    Officials said they recognised that public health is paramount and welcome the recent roll out of the game changing vaccines, which in the long-term will play a major role in combating coronavirus and restoring international travel.
    However, they must not be a requirement to travel as this will further delay the revival of the already ailing tourism sector, which needs to restart now to save millions of jobs and help restart the global economy.
    Getting people back to work will also provide enormous health benefits to those around the world, whose livelihoods have been affected by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

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    The safe opening of existing travel corridors such as London Heathrow–Dubai, with appropriate testing and hygiene protocols, demonstrates international travel can already take place at minimal and acceptable risk.
    Together the bodies have identified four key measures which need to be implemented to restore international travel safely; globally recognised testing regimes before departure, common health and hygiene protocols that are aligned with globally-established standards set out by ICAO, a risk management regime and internationally consistent and recognised travel passes.
    WTTC and the industry bodies warn against the introduction of so-called ‘health passports’ – as opposed to internationally-recognised travel passes currently being considered – which would only further delay the recovery.
    Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC welcomes the incredible developments and hugely encouraging medical advances on COVID-19 vaccines which has seen the beginning of coronavirus vaccinations.
    “The vaccines currently being rolled out are truly game-changers, and hopefully just the first of many which could transform the world, mark the beginning of our return to a more normal way of life and see the return of safe and confident international travel.
    “Safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines will be critical to combatting Covid-19 and restoring confidence for people to interact with one another.
    “However, it will take considerable time to vaccinate the world and for the vaccines to have a significant effect on the global population, and the global tourism sector simply cannot wait.
    “Vaccination must not be a requirement to travel but should co-exist with testing regimes and be considered as a progressive enhancement to already safe travel.
    “Governments must now demonstrate leadership by opening bilateral travel corridors on key international routes with countries that apply the same robust risk management processes.”
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    Lastminute.com to step up refunds following CMA probe

    Lastminute.com has agreed to repay more than £7 million owed to customers whose package holidays were cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.
    More than 9,000 customers are waiting for refunds, and the move follows pressure from the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).
    The government watchdog is currently chasing more than 100 package holiday firms to get refund commitments.
    The holiday firm was told to repay customers after hundreds of complaints it was delaying repayments owed to passengers.
    The firm has agreed to repay at least half of customers by December 16th and the rest by no later than the end of January.

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    Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, said: “Online travel agents have a legal responsibility to provide prompt refunds to customers whose holidays have been cancelled due to coronavirus – irrespective of whether the agent received refunds from airlines and accommodation providers.
    “Our action today means that customers whose holidays were cancelled by lastminute.com will receive their money back without undue delay.
    “The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms following concerns that people are not getting the refunds they are entitled to when bookings cannot go ahead because of the pandemic.
    “If we find that businesses are breaching consumer protection law, we will not hesitate to take further action.”
    In October, the CMA received a commitment from Virgin Holidays to refund all customers “without undue delay” after hundreds of complaints were made over delayed payments.
    The watchdog also wrote to more than 100 package holiday firms earlier in the year to remind them of their refund obligations, and got commitments from Tui, Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals to repay customers.
    Package holiday customers are legally entitled to refunds within 14 days for cancelled trips.
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    UKHospitality warns 600,000 jobs could go by spring

    UKHospitality has written to the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, warning that additional financial support is “absolutely vital” to ensure hospitality businesses survive a bleak winter.
    Funds will also be necessary to ensure companies are in a position to help power economic growth next year, the trade body argued.
    Ahead of the a spending review, the trade association is warning that hospitality is set to lose the majority of its ‘golden quarter’ with Christmas sales severely depressed, as it then heads into the worst quarter for sales, from January through March.

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    The removal of the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) has also materially damaged businesses’ ability to survive and creates a £2.1 billion black hole in the sector’s finances in February.
    The letter follows the release of a new survey of hospitality businesses which shows that, by February, and without further government support, around 600,000 jobs will be lost against employment figures from the same month this year.
    The letter calls on the government to act in five areas to protect hospitality businesses:
    Announce a successor scheme to JRB as soon as possible, with an early drawdown facility
    Extend the business rates holiday for a further year from April
    Continue the VAT cut for hospitality and tourism for the duration of 2021
    Broker a workable solution on the huge rent debt hanging over the sector, supported by a moratorium extension
    Maintain the VAT Retail Export Scheme
    UKHospitality argues that this package of additional financial support will put the sector in a position to rebuild next year and continue its position as a major contributor to economic and social wellbeing across all regions of the UK.
    UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “The support received so far from government remains greatly appreciated, including recent announcements on the extension of furlough for our teams and grants for closed businesses.
    “Yet these do not go far enough to protect businesses’ bottom line, and, in the case of the removal of the Job Retention Bonus, actively damage their ability to survive.
    “The consequences of the withdrawal of the JRB are severe.
    “While the sector has done its utmost to retain staff, almost half of businesses believe that they will now be forced to make redundancies because of this decision.
    “More broadly, with the right package of support, the chancellor can help the sector navigate the challenging landscape ahead, protect as many viable businesses and jobs as possible, and allow people to enjoy safe and welcoming hospitality across the country.”
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    British Museum holds on to tourism top spot

    The annual attractions survey, published today by VisitEngland, has revealed that gardens saw the highest percentage growth in visitor numbers during 2019.
    Visits to gardens across England increased by ten per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year.
    Farms and places of worship also saw strong growth in visitor numbers, up eight and seven per cent, respectively.
    historic houses/castles and wildlife attractions/zoos saw good growth in visits, both up by five per cent.
    Overall England’s visitor attractions saw a rise of three per cent in visitors in 2019, the highest year-on-year increase since 2014, and four per cent growth in revenue compared to the previous year.

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    These trends are likely to have gone into sharp reverse this year, however, as the country battles the Covid-19 pandemic.
    VisitEngland chief executive, Sally Balcombe, said: “From world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to rural, wildlife and outdoor experiences, England’s outstanding range of visitor attractions are a crucial and valuable part of our tourism offer, boosting local economies right across the country.
    “England’s attractions continued to provide a rich and varied canvas to capture the imagination of domestic and international visitors and our stunning gardens were a proven tourism draw, admired at home and across the world for their beauty and variety.
    “Millions of jobs and local economies rely on tourism and this annual survey is also a timely opportunity to highlight the dedication of visitor attractions across the country who have been working so hard to welcome visitors back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working and still providing a great experience.”
    Topping the list of free attractions was the British Museum with 6.2 million visitors followed by the Tate Modern with nearly 6.1 million and the National Gallery with six million.
    The Tower of London remained the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction in 2019 with almost three million visits followed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which saw a 25 per cent increase in visitors to 2.3 million and Chester Zoo with 2.1 million.
    The survey, which gathered information from 1,308 English attractions, also showed increases in international visitors overall in 2019, up two per cent, and more local day trips to attractions than in the previous year, also up two per cent.
    More Information
    To see the results of the VisitEngland annual survey of visits to visitor attractions, including regional data for attractions, head over to the official website.
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    WTTC finds huge demand to travel next year

    An overwhelming majority of US and Canadian travellers, as many as 99 per cent, are eager to travel again, with 70 per cent stating that they plan to take a holiday next year.
    That is according to a travel leaders group survey of nearly 3,000 frequent travellers.
    The survey was conducted in September in conjunction with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global tourism private sector.
    Results indicate that 45 per cent of respondents have already made plans or are starting to make finite plans for their next holiday, while 54 per cent say they are dreaming of when they can travel again.
    “These are really strong numbers.

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    “The fact that 99 percent of travellers surveyed said they are planning a trip or looking forward to the time they can travel again indicates that as concerns about Covid-19 are addressed, leisure travellers will lead the recovery,” said John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group.
    In the survey, 23 per cent of respondents said they plan to travel by the end of 2020, 70 per cent said they will travel in 2021 with just 18 per cent saying they will resume traveling in 2022.
    “Consumer uncertainty about the risk of exposure or concerns about being quarantined is a core problem,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president.
    “With rapid testing to replace quarantine requirements, enhanced contact tracing and industry-wide standards by sector that can be clearly communicated to the public, we can help alleviate many of those concerns.”
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    UNWTO launches new tourism recovery tracker

    As growing numbers of countries around the world ease restrictions on travel, the World Tourism Organisation has launched a new tourism recovery tracker to support the sector.

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    This represents the latest concrete action undertaken by the United Nations specialised agency as it leads the response of global tourism and guides recovery.
    The most comprehensive tourism dashboard to date, the tracker is the result of a partnership between international organisations and the private sector.
    Available for free, it covers key tourism performance indicators by month, regions and subregions allowing for a real time comparison of the sector recovery across the world and industries.
    All key tourism data in one place
    The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker compiles all the relevant data in one place, giving governments and the private businesses the ability to track the recovery of tourism at global and regional level, alongside information on the top destinations for international tourism.
    The tracker includes data on:
    International tourist arrivals
    Seat capacity in international and domestic air routes
    Air travel bookings
    Hotel searches and bookings
    Occupancy rates
    Demand for short term rentals
    The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker is available for free and is a collaborative effort by a group of partners including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), ForwardKeys, STR, Sojern and Airdna.
    According to UNWTO latest World Tourism Barometer, the massive drop in international travel demand over the period January-June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$ 460 billion in export revenues from international tourism.
    This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis.
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    New domestic tourism campaign from VisitEngland

    VisitEngland has launched a UK-wide campaign to encourage people to take a domestic break during autumn and winter.
    The move comes in partnership with the tourism organisations of London, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
    The £5 million ‘Escape the Everyday’ campaign highlights the quality destinations, visitor attractions and experiences on offer across the cities, countryside and coast of the UK to boost tourism across the shoulder season.

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    The campaign kicks off today with a short video and branded content across social media, digital display and ‘on demand’ television advertising.
    The content also drives online traffic to the VisitBritain websitewith ideas and links to information on autumn and winter activities and experiences across the nations and regions.
    The campaign is also calling for tourism businesses, visitor attractions and destinations across the UK to get involved.
    VisitBritain’s latest domestic consumer sentiment research shows that only 19 per cent of Brits surveyed anticipate taking an overnight domestic trip in the UK during September and October, and 21 per cent between November and March.
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    Tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Summer may be coming to an end but the UK-wide Escape the Everyday campaign will help get great British breaks booked through the autumn and beyond.
    “There is so much to enjoy right across the UK and the changing of the seasons is the perfect time for a change of scene.
    “We have been helping the industry get back up and running safely throughout the summer but it is important that we continue to support the sector and do our bit where we can to boost local economies by experiencing the best of the UK.”
    VisitEngland – in collaboration with London & Partners, Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales – has also created a free Escape the Everyday campaign toolkit with marketing materials that destinations and tourism businesses across the UK can download here.
    VisitBritain has forecast a 49 per cent decline in domestic tourism spending in Britain this year equalling a £44.9 billion loss to the economy.
    Inbound tourism spending is forecast to drop 79 per cent equalling a £24 billion loss.
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