World Tourism Won’t Return To Pre-Covid Levels Until 2024: UN Agency

Tourism revenue in 2020 was 72 per cent down on the previous year — which closed with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism arrivals around the world are not expected to return to their pre-pandemic levels until 2024 at the earliest, the World Tourism Organization said Tuesday.

The highly contagious Omicron variant, though mild, will “disrupt the recovery” in early 2022 after last year saw four percent growth over 2020, according to the Madrid-based UN agency’s World Tourism Barometer.

Tourism revenue in 2020 was 72 per cent down on the previous year — which closed with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence,” the UNWTO said in a press release.

In Europe and the Americas, foreign visitor arrivals surged by 19 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, last year over 2020.

The statement said tourism professionals “see better prospects” for this year after turbulence in the early months because of the Omicron wave.

The agency predicts a 30 to 78 per cent rise in international arrivals this year over 2021, while remaining far below 2019 levels.

Most experts say they do not foresee a return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, it said.

Many countries are highly dependent on tourism and are eagerly awaiting a return to normal.

“The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) is estimated at $1.9 trillion (1.68 trillion euros), above the $1.6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of $3.5 trillion,” the statement noted.

Soruce: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/coronavirus-world-tourism-wont-return-to-pre-covid-levels-until-2024-un-agency-2716088

3 Trends That are Shaping the Hospitality Industry

After a difficult few years, things are beginning to look up for the hospitality industry.

After a difficult few years, things are beginning to look up for the hospitality industry. Travel bans are lifting. More than 30 million Covid vaccines are administered worldwide each day. Airlines are getting busier by the day.

And while there are several reasons to be optimistic, here are a few that will be defining trends for the industry’s future:

Pent-up demand

After almost two years at home, many consumers are eager to get away. Because of high levels of personal savings and credit and loyalty program points, they are willing to splurge.

According to a survey from American Express, 57% of travelers are willing to spend more on a “once-in-a-lifetime” vacation than they were before the pandemic. In addition, nearly half are more likely now to book lodgings that offer luxury experiences and amenities.

Hotels and resorts — many of which closed in the early days of the pandemic or operated at reduced capacities — are more than happy to accommodate them. Some brands are so bullish on luxury travel that they’re investing heavily in the market. This summer Hyatt spent $2.7 billion to purchase Apple Leisure Group, doubling the company’s global resorts footprint and making it the largest operator of luxury hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean. The acquisition also expanded Hyatt’s presence into 11 new European markets.

There’s even an ultra-high-end hotel that will be opening in space in 2027. The views, in particular, will be out of this world.

The rise of technology

While technology was becoming an increasingly important part of hospitality before Covid (ex. complimentary wifi or the ability to book easily online) the pandemic took things to the next level.

Now, a hotel’s digital offerings play an important role in attracting guests and enhancing their on-site experience. For example, virtual and augmented reality are increasingly being used to offer tours of properties before booking. This gives prospective guests a view of a hotel’s amenities beyond anything previously available.

User-friendly apps now provide a seamless experience from booking rooms, to reserving services on the property, to checking out. These services are now the industry standard.

The pandemic has also increased consumer appetite for, and familiarity with, contactless service experiences. This allows hotels to digitize some of their standard processes, like check-in or concierge services. As we continue to navigate Covid-19, this could be key to protecting guests and staff from virus exposure.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4108367.html

Virgin Hotels set to open its first UK sites in Scotland

Virgin Hotels has announced plans to open its first hotels in the UK, with both of them based in Scotland.

The ‘lifestyle hotels’ are coming to Edinburgh in the spring, followed soon after by another in Glasgow.

The capital site will be located in Edinburgh’s Old Town, near the Royal Mile, in the India Buildings on Victoria Street.

The 225-bedroom hotel will also come with several dining and drinking outlets. The design team plans to work to preserve the historic building, while adding modern touches to the interior.

It will be completed in partnership with owner Flemyn, with assets managed by Siggis Capital.

Its Glasgow hotel will be located at 236-246 Clyde Street, with a view of the river.

The 242-bedroom property will include a meeting and event space, multiple dining and drinking outlets, including the brand’s Commons Club – a restaurant, bar and social club where guests can both work and play.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “Edinburgh is such an iconic city and we’re thrilled to be able to say it will be the home of the first Virgin Hotel in the UK and across Europe.

“Glasgow is a dynamic city with a rich history that is extra special to me as my wife Joan is from Glasgow.”

James Bermingham, chief executive of Virgin Hotels, added: “Virgin Hotels Glasgow will have all the brand differentiators such as our innovative chamber design, forward-thinking technology, food and beverage offerings and entertainment.”

Source: Virgin Hotels set to open its first UK sites in Scotland – Business Insider

How Can Hotel Website Design Bring in More Bookings and Revenue?

Do you want to build a hotel website design that can help you increase direct bookings and revenue?

The design of your hotel’s website has a significant impact on travellers’ booking patterns, and it should be a primary concern for you.

Travellers want a website that reflects their demands and expectations; if the website does not engage them, it is unlikely that they will book a room at your hotel. Today, having a strong, appealing, and successfully integrated online footprint is the only way hotels can stay in business.

This article will help you understand the need for a hotel website design and how to make a hotel booking website.

Why Do You Need to Design and Build a Hotel Booking Website?

Building a website for your hotel or property is important since it expands your online reach, enables direct hotel booking reservations and increases hotel revenue. All of these factors are advantageous to your hotel.

However, merely being visible online and providing relevant information about your hotel or property is not enough.

Here comes designing!

Hotel booking design is critical for increasing SEO rankings and creating an impression on travellers.

To get more guests to make reservations through your hotel’s website, you should do the following:

  • To make your hotel more discoverable, you need to rank highly on search engine result pages.
  • You must visually impress and connect guests with your hotel website design.
  • You should be able to provide and display important and relevant information to your potential customers in an easily accessible manner.
  • You must make it convenient for travellers to book hotel rooms.
  • You should use advertisements, discount deals, and cost-effective packages to entice potential guests.
  • You must display excellent visual content that is highly engaging and relevant to your hotel and location.

Unless you build and design a good and appealing website for your hotel, it could be hard to implement all of these elements in a presentable and organised manner.

When you build and design your hotel’s website using a website builder tool, you won’t have to worry about the final output. The technology will cover and take care of everything. Technologically advanced website builders are developed with best practices in mind, making it as simple as possible to increase traffic and convert visitors.

How to Create a Hotel Booking Website?

Developing and designing a new website can be a daunting challenge for hoteliers. Before you get started, you should pause for a moment and review your requirements, resources, and design expertise.

When it comes to hotel website design, there are two primary alternatives:

  • Investing in a website builder that is easy to use.
  • Investing in a web developer to develop a customised design from the ground up.

Investing in a web developer can provide hoteliers with a stunning, custom design. However, it can also be difficult for operators who are unfamiliar with web design.

Hiring a developer to design a web page from scratch will take far more time and cost more money over time than using a website builder. Furthermore, future updates and modifications to the website could be challenging because the hired website developer must approve all changes.

Investing in a hotel website builder, on the other hand, will allow you to design a customised website that is tailored to your branding. This option can save you a lot of money because you do not have to pay every time you change a minor element of your website.

If you decide to go with this option, choose a website builder designed exclusively for hotels. It will have the functionalities you need to increase your hotel’s direct bookings and sales revenue.

However, if you already have a website for your hotel, you will need to figure out and recognise the necessary elements that are missing and then consider redesigning your website. A call to action such as a ‘Book Now’ button, a safe online payment system, or a handful of high-quality SEO features could all be lacking from your hotel’s website.

Tips for Hotel Website Redesign

Here are five basic tips for you to begin with your hotel’s website redesign:

1. Check the image quality on your website

Adding beautiful and aesthetic imagery to your hotel website design is an important element in creating an impression on visitors. Add pictures of your hotel’s most interesting and unusual places to captivate potential visitors. But make sure that the quality of those pictures is good.

You can begin by assessing the quality of the existing photos on your website. It will help you determine the necessary improvements needed to be made to appeal to potential guests.

2. Going through the information available for your guests on your hotel’s website

Another deciding factor for your potential guests to book rooms with you directly on your website is the information you have provided for them about your hotel and region.

The information and details that matter the most about your hotel are:

  • Hotel rooms rates
  • Hotel room availability
  • Services
  • Amenities
  • Ancillaries
  • Contact details
  • Your location
  • Proximity to attractions
  • Things to do

Most of this information is vital but basic.

Are you wondering how to make your hotel stand out?

Taking a step further and providing a complete overview of what’s interesting in the nearby area might help your hotel stand out from competitors. It will take your hotel one step closer to having the best hotel booking site. Having extensive information about local attractions on your hotel’s website will help keep a potential visitor hooked for much longer.

3. Implement mobile-friendly responsive web design

Responsive design is a fundamental concept that you should implement unquestionably. It is a website design technique that aims to build a viewable and interactive interface that responds to the user’s preferred device.

It ensures that the user experience is seamless and that the website’s features can be seen and operated efficiently.

Note that your hotel website design for mobile hasn’t been developed responsively if visitors have to zoom in to click a button or link.

For the finest user experience, prioritise your users’ requirements, just as you would when they arrive at your hotel.

4. Easy direct bookings

You could have all the great components for a stunning web experience, but the hotel website design is practically flawed if your potential visitors can’t make a reservation.

It is essential to enable direct bookings by integrating an online hotel booking engine into your hotel’s website, such as AxisRooms’ booking engine tool. It helps ensure that your website converts website traffic into customers. Direct bookings increase the sales revenue of your hotel.

The primary step is to ensure that your hotel’s website seamlessly integrates with an online booking engine. It is even more vital to make sure that your booking engine integrates into your branding and website design, convincing visitors that your website is secure.

5. Optimize your SEO

Want to know what makes a good hotel website?

The pinnacle of effective hotel website design is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and attracting visitors through search engines must be a crucial aspect of your online marketing strategy.

Here are a few SEO pointers to get more direct bookings and ultimately increase your hotel’s sales revenue:

  • Determine the best keywords for your hotel’s SEO.
  • Write unique title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Improve your hotel website’s loading time and responsiveness.
  • Publish keyword-rich, high-quality blogs about your hotel and location that are interesting and educational for visitors to read and learn.
  • Enhance your hotel’s customer experience by localising hotel web pages.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4108295.html

French tourism bosses tell Macron to scrap his travel ban on UK holidaymakers as they accuse him of punishing the industry over worsening ties with Britain

  • Tourism bosses have told French President Emmanuel Macron to scrap the travel ban on UK tourists, which was put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus 
  • Industry figures claim French resorts face economic catastrophe this month
  • The Omicron variant of coronavirus is now the most dominant in France  

French tourism bosses last night told Emmanuel Macron to scrap his travel ban on UK holidaymakers, accusing him of punishing the industry over worsening ties with Britain.

The French president slapped the tough measures on UK tourists shortly before Christmas, claiming it was to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.

Senior industry figures across the Channel said several holiday and ski resorts face economic ‘catastrophe’ this month unless the ban is lifted. 

It comes as the country’s own public health agency yesterday admitted Omicron is now the most dominant variant in France. Omicron helped drive infection numbers to a record 232,000 new cases yesterday, piling more pressure on Mr Macron to back down.

Francois Badjily, head of the Alpe d’Huez tourist office, suggested France was playing politics with the pandemic. ‘We have the impression that our industry is being made to pay the price for the poor relations between both countries right now, whether it’s about Brexit or fishing or whatever,’ he said.

Mr Badjily said the current rules were incoherent because fully vaccinated tourists from other countries where the Omicron strain is already present are able to visit.

Vaccine passports are needed to enter French holiday hotspots such as ski resorts, as well as restaurants, bars and leisure facilities.

Alpe d’Huez draws a quarter of its visitors from the UK every year, and Mr Badjily added: ‘Why should a Briton who meets these criteria not be allowed to come, but the French and Belgians can?’

Christophe Lavaut, director of the Val d’Isere ski resort, also called on officials in Paris to axe the ‘compelling reason to travel’ directive that has stopped holidaymakers coming to France. ‘This restriction should simply be lifted as it is no longer necessary,’ he added.

At least 42 per cent of Val d’Isere’s customers are British, said Mr Lavaut, who urged his government to act ‘at the beginning of January’. Mr Macron’s travel measures have created chaos and sowed confusion throughout the entire Christmas break.

Earlier this week, border police even prevented Britons who were legal residents in the EU from returning to their homes – French officials at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone said they were not allowed to cross through France on health grounds.

But the EU’s top disease agency said in a report last month that Omicron travel restrictions only ‘help buy valuable time during the first days of detection’, adding that in countries already experiencing community transmission ‘such measures will probably not be relevant for much longer’.

The French government failed to reply to the Mail’s request for comment. Germany will remove Britain from its travel red list on Tuesday after its government admitted Omicron was already widely present in the country.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10359911/French-tourism-bosses-tell-Macron-scrap-travel-ban-UK-holidaymakers.html

Space tourism took a giant leap in 2021: Here’s 10 milestones from the year

From suborbital space to high Earth orbit, space tourism is just getting started. This year saw more space tourists fly to space on a bunch of different systems, and the story has only just begun. Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX each flew their first tourist-focused missions this year, sending aloft several people each with minimal training in professional spaceflight. Meanwhile, Roscosmos (the Russian federal space agency) brought two sets of space tourists into space, including a mission with Space Adventures. With 2022 also set to be busy, between more tourist flights and the expected addition of company Axiom Space (using a SpaceX Crew Dragon), we rounded up some of the main milestones of 2021 below.

1) Axiom Space announces first crew for 2022

Axiom Space revealed its clients Jan. 26 for its first privately-funded and operated mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Called Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the flight is arranged under a commercial agreement with NASA.

Slated to launch on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft are Larry Connor, an American real estate and technology entrepreneur; Eytan Stibbe, a businessman and former Israeli fighter pilot; Mark Pathy, a Canadian investor and philanthropist; and Michael Lopez-Alegria, a retired NASA astronaut with nearly 260 days in space already across four missions.

In June, SpaceX and Axiom announced an agreement to fly three more missions to the orbiting complex after Ax-1. NASA officially cleared the Ax-1 crew for flight on Dec. 20.

2) Starship launches test flight and sticks the landing

After several attempts on previous test landing that didn’t make it safely to landing, SpaceX’s Starship SN-15 prototype launched its own test flight May 5 and made it all the way from takeoff to touchdown. 

The uncrewed test flight coincidentally fell on the 60th anniversary of the United States’ first-ever crewed spaceflight, which saw NASA astronaut Alan Shepard make it to suborbital space. SpaceX has said it hopes to use Starship to branch out in the solar system, especially for crewed Mars missions.

3) Virgin Galactic launches Richard Branson

On July 11, Virgin Galactic launched its first operational tourist flight, featuring founder Richard Branson. It was “the experience of a lifetime,” Branson said during a live broadcast of the flight. 

The four-person crew and two pilots of the Unity 22 test flight mission took off from the company’s Spaceport America facility in New Mexico and flew just above the boundary of space, where everyone experienced about four minutes of weightlessness. 

Future flights of Virgin Galactic, though, have been delayed due to a Federal Aviation Administration investigation into a reported incident that happened during the spaceflight. That said, Virgin has opened up tickets again to paying spaceflyers, now at $450,000 apiece.

4) Blue Origin launches Jeff Bezos to space

Days after the Virgin flight, Blue Origin launched its first crewed spaceflight on July 20, featuring founder Jeff Bezos and a set of other three space tourists, including Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk

Since the system flies autonomously, no pilots were required to be on board (although Funk is highly qualified as an aviator) as the New Shepard system lifted off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One near the West Texas town of Van Horn.

While Bezos and Branson denied their companies were in competition, the broadcast of Bezos’ flight made several cutting remarks about the company flying above the Kármán line, an internationally recognized boundary of spaceflight that Virgin Galactic flights don’t reach. 

Bezos also said in an interview in July that Blue Origin is not focused on competition, but building a “road to space.” The company has adopted that catchphrase as a tagline and repeats it frequently during live broadcasts.

5) SpaceX stacks tallest booster ever with Starship

SpaceX’s newest Starship prototype (SN-20) perched on its massive Super Heavy booster for the first time on Friday (Aug. 6), briefly setting a new record for the world’s tallest rocket during preparations for an orbital mission.

The hour-long fit check brought the stack to 395 feet tall (120 m), taller than NASA’s massive Saturn V moon rocket, which was 363 feet tall (110 m). Super Heavy alone stands 230 feet (70 meters) tall and Starship SN4 includes another 165 feet (50 m) of height. 

The next major milestone for Starship is the orbital launch that may take place in 2022, pending an environmental review by the Federal Aviation Administration and related government groups. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has pushed back launch estimates several times due to the review.

6) Inspiration4 launches 4 civilians on first orbital mission

Billionaire Jared Isaacman’s privately chartered spaceflight launched on Sept. 15, 2021 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, flying high in Earth orbit on a nearly three-day mission. Inspiration4 was the first crewed orbital mission with no professional astronauts on board (as the Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin flights preceding it were all suborbital missions.)

Isaacman, a pilot, commanded the flight and was accompanied by physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux, data engineer Chris Sembroski, and geoscientist and science communication specialist Sian Proctor. Sembroski and Proctor won their seats in contests to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, while Arceneaux is employed at that hospital.

Resilience and its crew circled Earth for three days, splashing down off the Florida coast on Sept. 18. The mission exceeded its fundraising goal for St. Jude.

7) Blue Origin launches William Shatner

A “Star Trek” star boldly went into suborbital space Oct. 13 on Blue Origin’s second crewed space mission, called NS-18. William Shatner, 90, is best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek: The Original Series.”

“That was unlike anything they described,” Shatner was heard saying via a radio link as the capsule parachuted back to Earth, after carrying him and three other crew members to suborbital space.

Shatner is now the oldest person to have ever flown to space, beating the record set by Wally Funk, 82, who flew on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight July 20. Crew member Glen de Vries died in a plane crash weeks after the flight and Blue Origin dedicated their next crewed mission in December to him.

8) Russian film crew shoots drama on ISS

Just days after Shatner’s ride to space, a Russian film crew including actress Yulia Peresild and producer Klim Shipenko landed with cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian federal space corporation Roscosmos on Oct. 17.

“Вызов” (“Challenge” in English) is the movie in production. It follows the fictional story of a surgeon (Peresild) who is launched to the station to perform emergency surgery on a cosmonaut (Novitskiy, who would play the role well given he is a cosmonaut in real life.)

The effort is a joint production of Roscosmos, the Russian television station Channel One and the studio Yellow, Black and White. Given the small crew on hand in space, Shipenko took on several behind-the-scenes roles, including director, make-up artist, sound editor and cinematographer. 

9) Blue Origin launches ‘Good Morning America’ host to space

Blue Origin’s next (and likely last) crewed flight of 2021 filled out all six seats in the New Shepard spacecraft during a successful launch and landing Dec. 11. The starring guest was Michael Strahan, host of “Good Morning America”, who is a retired football player. (The crew threw mini-footballs in space to celebrate his past career.)

Strahan said the experience was amazing. “I want to go back,” he told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos after returning to Earth. “Touchdown has a new meaning now!!!” he wrote on Twitter after the flight.

Also on the flight was Laura Shepard Churchley, 74, the daughter of NASA astronaut Shepard after whom the New Shepard system is named, and four other individuals who paid for their seats. Blue Origin has not yet released per-seat pricing for customers, and we are also awaiting details on their next planned crew launch.

10) Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa flies to ISS

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, video producer Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin launched on Dec. 8 to the International Space Station for a 12-day mission to the orbiting lab.

Maezawa is also planning to fly around the moon on a SpaceX mission that he paid for, tentatively slotted for 2023, but chose to visit the space station as well on a mission brokered by the U.S. space tourism company Space Adventures with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. It was not revealed how much Maezawa paid for the flight, but single seats in the past have cost up to $35 million. And Maezawa bought two seats, one for himself and for Hirano, who recorded videos of Maezawa in space.

Maezawa, the CEO of Start Today and the founder of online clothing retailer ZOZO, bought the seats for himself and Hirano. Hirano documented the mission and participate in some health and performance research. They also made the first Uber Eats delivery in space on the flight. The trio returned to Earth on Dec. 19.

And that’s a wrap at the biggest space tourism moments in 2021. The year 2022 is expected to bring more milestones as the company Axiom Space plans to launch its first fully private crew to the International Space Station early in the year, with SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic all expected to continue their private spaceflight pace. 

Source: https://www.space.com/space-tourism-giant-leap-2021-milestones

Digital tourism in the lockdown era

Tourism was one of the sectors that suffered the most from the COVID-19 pandemic. As early as April 2020, the International Air Transport Association has reported that over twenty million jobs were at risk.

You’ve been dreaming about traveling throughout your college years, but you never could afford it. You rarely had any free time. Half of your time was devoted to studies, and all the free time you could’ve had was spent on odd jobs to support your living and pay your tuition. 

Yes, you could’ve gone for a weekend to another town or another state, but never to a different country. Despite digitalization providing you with many possibilities, you simply didn’t have enough time or money to do that. 

And then, suddenly, the whole idea of traveling was stolen from you by the novel coronavirus. If you haven’t been working remotely, you lost your job. All your college life has gone online. And you are watching the news and finding out that yet another country goes on lockdown. 

Previously, you thought that you could’ve saved enough money and used one of 24/7 homework help services to spend a weekend, at least, in another country. And the only reason to get homework help from online services is that you are too depressed to do it on your own. 

Tourism was one of the sectors that suffered the most from the COVID-19 pandemic. As early as April 2020, the International Air Transport Association has reported that over twenty million jobs were at risk. Countries and regions that were dependent on tourism were hit the hardest. 

Fatalists were quick to claim that nothing was going to be the same and that the world would never go back to the norm. And it, indeed, seems like mass tourism is unlikely to bounce back to an insane number of over a billion international tourists. But that doesn’t mean that the sector is dead beyond resurrection. 

Rebuilding tourism: Key priorities
Since the novel coronavirus had enveloped the world, things were looking pretty grim for tourism. The predicted drop was 80%, and the actual drop wasn’t far from that number. And governments from around the world have made impressive steps, enabling tourism to survive in the short and medium-term:

  • restoring traveler confidence;
  • helping tourism businesses to adjust;
  • supporting local tourism and facilitating international tourism recovery;
  • providing exhaustive information to travelers and businesses;
  • maintaining capacity in the sector and solving arising issues;
  • improving cooperation locally and internationally;
  • building more resilient, sustainable tourism.

But taking measures for short-term or medium-term survival wasn’t enough to help tourism continue. The pandemic is a lesson to learn from. And there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of changes expected in the post-pandemic world. 

Main changes in traveling during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world of tourism. The question of whether those changes will persist in the future or not is still debatable. But there are several things that you should know if you are planning to travel within the next several years. Let’s check them out. 

The popularity of travel agents is on the rise again
Previously, all you had to do was find the proper flight and accommodation. But nowadays, almost every destination has its own rules and regulations in terms of vaccine and testing requirements. Somewhere, you are allowed to cross the border if you were vaccinated with Pfizer. Certain destinations require tests done as recently as 72 hours before the flight; others don’t.

This led to the rise in the popularity of travel agents. They will provide you with all the information about the vaccine rules and regulations in your tourist destination. But it’s not only their knowledge of health and safety guidelines that attracts the tourists but the ability to change tickets or cancel flights if needed. 

More money is spent on flexibility and insurance
The COVID-19 continues to mutate and change. The Delta variant arrived in late 2020, and Omicron was discovered in November 2021. And it affected tourists’ habits, especially in terms of flexibility and insurance. And people are willing to pay more to be safe. 

Previously, people opted for lower prices for airfare tickets and hotel rooms rent because they were sure that once they booked everything, they were going to make the trip. Nowadays, people are willing to pay more to have flexibility. You might want to go somewhere else or cancel your flight if the outbreak of the new variant of COVID-19 occurs in your destination point. 

The same goes for insurance. Previously, a lot of people opted against tourist insurance. Now, realizing that you may not get home if you catch COVID-19, tourists started getting insurance. Thus, you do need to cover your staying costs while recovering from the disease in another country. 

The rise of the workation popularity
Remember how you couldn’t travel because of your work? Remember hard decisions between working and traveling? Well, you don’t have to decide anymore. Remote employment opportunities allow you to work from any corner of the world. Even on the go, if you have a strong Internet connection. 

This led to a thing known as workcations. You can’t be present in the office because all of you are working remotely. So, why not log in your workday while on the beach? You can easily work from Lombok or wherever you want to go. Based on Booking.com research, the idea to combine work and leisure during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the rise of workcations. 

Final thoughts
No one can say for sure how long the pandemic will last. The chances that it will come to an end within several years increase with the advances of vaccines. At the same time, the pandemic’s impact on tourism will remain. And not all of the effects are negative. 

Surprisingly, the pandemic had quite a positive effect on ethical tourism. Nowadays, tourists feel the actual need to help the local communities of the destination point. And instead of staying at large multinational hotels and eating at the international restaurant chains, they stay at local hotels and dine out in local cafes. 

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/digital-tourism-in-the-lockdown-era

Bookings cancelled and plans changed as ‘chilling talk of Plan B’ hits hospitality sector

Restaurants and bars desperately need to have a good festive period after a “lost” Christmas last year – but now there are fears that mixed messaging and nervousness among customers could have a catastrophic impact.

Business owners across the hospitality industry say COVID rule changes are already having a “chilling” impact on bookings.

Many who have survived 20 months of lockdowns and restrictions as well as a “lost” Christmas last year, say a strong festive period this year is essential to their survival.

Data from reservations website OpenTable also suggests that diners became more cautious over the weekend after news of the Omicron variant came to light.

New restrictions came into place at 4am on Tuesday morning, including mandatory mask wearing on public transport, in shops, museums and other locations. Advertisement

While the hospitality sector is, thus far, exempt from these rules, many fear a nervousness setting in amongst customers.

Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, is one voice already sounding the alarm.

“Every restaurant I’ve spoken to today, is now experiencing Xmas party cancellations.” he said on Twitter.

“Most of these businesses desperately needed a good December.

“The knock on effect will be catastrophic. Businesses, jobs, supply chain. A blow to a devastating year.”

OpenTable’s figures suggest that the level of people opting to eat out did fall in relative terms this weekend compared to the previous weekend.

On Saturday 20 November the number of seated diners was up 31% on the level seen two years ago – but by Saturday 27 November this had fallen to 20%.

There is concern that a lack of clarity from the government and those who advise it is not helping.

On Tuesday Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK’s Health Security Agency, said that “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to” would “help keep the virus at bay”.

The inference seemed to be that people should reduce contacts over the festive period and potentially cancel Christmas parties.

This was rejected by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who insisted he has implemented a package of “balanced and proportionate measures”.

The health secretary Sajid Javid reiterated that stance by suggesting people do not need to cancel parties but should consider taking a test before attending.

But many in hospitality fear the damage is already done.

“The chilling talk of Plan B is already being felt across hospitality as bookings are cancelled and plans changed,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality.

“There is no doubt that this will have a damaging effect on businesses, just as they head into their key trading period.

“This all comes at a critical time for the sector, as costs are rising across the board, supply chain issues continue, chronic labour shortages show no sign of easing and next year will see a return of 20% VAT rate.”

The importance of this period and customer confidence is being echoed by those in retail.

Many are very aware that real disposable income is falling due to the steep rises in petrol and energy costs as well as inflation more generally.

Footfall has also struggled to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

While it has improved in recent months, last week it was still 17% lower than during the same week in 2019.

Shop owners such as Sam Haq, who owns SWAG in Reading, say they need customers to remain confident.

“I believe the most important thing is not to lose customers now,” he said.

“This is where a lot of the shopkeepers and owners are going to have a problem.

“Do they worry about customers wearing masks or do they say nothing and welcome the trade? And I think 90% of them will just welcome the trade because they need the sales.

“To be honest if we have another lockdown it could put a lot of businesses down to the bottom and close.”

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/bookings-cancelled-and-plans-changed-as-chilling-talk-of-plan-b-hits-hospitality-sector-12483797

Coronavirus pandemic could cost global tourism $2 trillion this year

The coronavirus pandemic will likely cost the global tourism sector $2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN’s tourism body said Monday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow.”

Despite recent improvements, the report warned that demand for travel could be further affected by “uneven vaccination rates around the world and new COVID-19 strains which had prompted new travel restrictions in some countries.

In the past few days, the emergence of the Omicron variant has led dozens of countries to reinstate restrictions on arrivals, or to delay relaxation in COVID-19 travel and testing rules, leading to wide uncertainty for holiday season travellers worldwide.

Spikes in oil prices and the disruption of global supply chains have also had an effect. According to the latest UNWTO data, international tourist arrivals are expected to remain 70-75 per cent below 2019 levels in 2021, a similar decline as in 2020.

‘We cannot let our guard down’

Although a 58 per cent increase in tourist arrivals was registered in July-September of this year compared to the same period in 2020, this remained 64 per cent below 2019 levels, the UN body found.

In August and September, arrivals were at 63 per cent lower than 2019, which is the highest monthly result since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Between January and September 2021, worldwide international tourist arrivals stood at 20 per cent lower, compared to 2020, a clear improvement from the 54 per cent drop, over the first six months of the year. 

“Data for the third quarter of 2021 is encouraging,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said. “However, arrivals are still 76 per cent below pre-pandemic levels and results across the different global regions remain uneven.”

In light of the rising cases and the emergence of new variants, he added that “we cannot let our guard down and need to continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations, coordinate travel procedures, make use of digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility, and continue to support the sector.”

Uneven recovery

Despite the improvement seen in the third quarter of the year, the pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions.

In some sub-regions, such as Southern and Mediterranean Europe, the Caribbean, North and Central America, arrivals actually rose above 2020 levels in the first nine months of 2021.

However, arrivals in Asia and the Pacific were down by as much as 95 per cent when compared with 2019, as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

Africa and the Middle East recorded 74 per cent and 81 per cent drops respectively in the third quarter compared to 2019. Among the larger destinations, Croatia, Mexico and Turkey showed the strongest recovery in the period of July to September.

Caribbean rebound

The Caribbean had the highest results of any of the subregions defined by the UNWTO, with arrivals up 55 per cent compared to 2020.

International tourist arrivals “rebounded” during the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to increased travel confidence, rapid vaccination and the easing of entry restrictions in many nations.

In Europe, the EU Digital Covid Certificate has helped facilitate free movement within the European Union, the report added.

Source: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/11/1106712

Six weeks after reopening, Bali wonders where the tourists are

Indonesian island’s unique culture and natural beauty not enough to overcome stress and worry of travel during COVID.

Pererenan, Bali – Before the pandemic, Dicky, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, earned up to $20 a day hawking shell craft jewellery to tourists on the crowded beaches of Bali’s southwest coast.

But nearly two months after Indonesia reopened its doors to visitors from China and 18 other countries, the international tourists Dicky once relied upon for sales are still few and far between.

“I came here at eight in the morning and have been walking up and down the beach all day. I try, try and try but I have not sold a single piece all day,” he told Al Jazeera as a blindingly beautiful blood-red sun set over the Indian Ocean at Pererenan Beach last weekend. “I don’t understand why more tourists aren’t coming now that Bali is open again.”

Dicky is not the only person on the island perplexed about the fact that not a single international flight has landed in Bali since the international airport reopened on October 14. The island’s COVID-19 metrics – just about the lowest recorded since the start of the pandemic – only add to the conundrum.

According to Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management, the seven-day average for new positive cases in Bali now stands at 11, the seven-day average for deaths is just one while the seven-day positivity rate for individuals tested is 0.17 percent – well below WHO’s minimum threshold of 1 percent for territories it classifies as having the virus under control. Vaccine numbers are also well above the world average of 42.7 percent, with more than 77 percent of all adults fully vaccinated in Bali, according to Indonesia’s Ministry of Health.

But six weeks after the country reopened, only 153 people around the world had applied for tourist visas, according to Indonesia’s Directorate General of Immigration.

The low level of interest reflects a survey by the International Air Transport Association that showed 84 percent of people have no interest in holidaying at destinations that require quarantine, and Indonesia imposes a mandatory hotel quarantine that was recently extended in response to the Omicron variant.

“Even with a short quarantine, no one will come to Bali,” said Udayana University Professor I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, the island’s most senior virologist.

Confusing, complex, constantly changing, and sometimes contradictory government messaging and immigration policy is also keeping international tourists away.

Thailand has reintroduced free visas-on-arrivals for tourists, but those who want to visit Indonesia must apply for visas at foreign embassies or consulates and need a travel agency to act as guarantor. And they must show proof of booked accommodation for the entire length of their stay in Indonesia – a surefire way to quench the wanderlust of any intrepid traveller.

“There is no clear statement from the government of what it is trying to achieve, a process for getting there, or simple guidelines for would-be tourists,” wrote Bali-based statistician Jackie Pomeroy on her popular ‘Bali Covid-19 Update’ Facebook page.

And in a blow to the domestic tourism sector that saw up to 20,000 Indonesians fly to the island daily in November, restrictions have been reintroduced for the period of December 24 to January 2.

Beach clubs, restaurants and nightclubs cannot host Christmas events or celebrate New Year’s Eve, while voices on social media fear all leisure travel in Indonesia will be banned during the peak holiday period.

Travel apartheid

A little less than a month ago, Professor Gusti advised Indonesia to drop quarantine altogether for fully vaccinated international travellers who test negative before departure and on arrival. But that was before the WHO identified Omicron as a variant of concern, tossing a radioactive wrench into the long-awaited reboot of the global travel industry.

On November 28, Indonesia, echoing measures by the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, banned non-resident arrivals from South Africa or any of eight other African countries. It also banned travellers from Hong Kong, which has reported its fourth case of the Omicron variant. Yet it did not ban travellers from the UK, where 246 cases of the variant had been reported as of Sunday – the kind of knee-jerk policy UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described as “travel apartheid”.

Indonesia also extended quarantine for arrivals from all other countries from three to seven days. Less than a week later, it was extended again, this time to 10, the longest quarantine period Indonesia has seen since the start of the pandemic. The strict new rule forced Garuda, the country’s national air carrier, to axe its first planned international flight to Bali in 20 months from Haneda Airport in Japan on December 5. Subsequent weekly flights have also been removed from the airline’s website.

The developments have put a dampener on Bali’s hopes of reviving tourism this year, which accounted for an estimated 60 percent of economic activity before the pandemic. The island’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk by just less than three percent in the third quarter, having contracted nearly 10 percent in 2020.

Indonesia’s national GDP increased 3.5 percent in the same period, making Bali the hardest-hit Indonesian province by the pandemic from an economic perspective for two years in a row.

The global tourism monster that once fed Bali will probably not rebound to 2019 levels until 2024, according to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company that made the prediction in June based on various scenarios that examined the effect of virus containment.

Observers in Bali feel the same way.

“History has shown that Bali is very resilient to disaster but the island will take another year or two to recover,” said Mark Ching, a director of the Tamora Group, a prominent property developer on the island. “It’s not just opening borders. People need to feel safe before they travel again.”

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/6/six-weeks-after-reopening-bali-wonders-where-the-tourists-are