RSS Hospitality News

Austria in lockdown: Hotels set to open just 12 days before Christmas

Austria’s tourism sector was plunged back into lockdown this week – for the fourth time since the pandemic began.

It’s the first country to take the drastic measure, despite spiralling COVID-19 infection rates across Europe. The hotels, restaurants, bars and cultural attractions forced to shut on Monday are unlikely to be able to reopen until 13 December – leaving just 12 days until Christmas.

From the traditional Christmas markets of Vienna, to the ski slopes of the Alps, there’s plenty of reasons why tourists flock to Austria over the festive season. Businesses were no doubt hoping the Yuletide spirit would work some magic on their finances, after a tough two years. So how are they faring now?

The luxury hotel still open for a lucky few

Inside Vienna’s historic Sacher Hotel, Christmas has already arrived. The lobby is decked out in its finery, though only a few fortunate business travellers are there to see it.

One told owner and managing director Matthias Winkler that “he feels like a king, because he has the whole building to himself”, which is quite something, given the hotel’s 152 luxury rooms.

Though he remains sanguine, Winkler says it was emotional to see an increase of guests coming to Austria – with visits approaching 70 per cent of 2019 levels – before his growing confidence was cut short by the lockdown announcement.

Practice makes perfect, however, and one thing Sacher Hotel has learnt over previous lockdowns is how to keep bringing its world-famous chocolate cake to the world.

Having observed that McDonald’s drive-thu was one of the few places open in the city last year, the concierge began selling ‘Sacher Torte’ on a little stand outside the hotel.

“We expected this to make a nice Instagram story but probably not more,” says Winkler.

“Completely wrong, people were loving it.”

This time they’re even doing home deliveries, with other Viennese specialities such as Wiener Schnitzel on the take-away menu. Some of the 16 to 18-year-old staff also had the idea to make Christmas sweets in the kitchens and sell them for charity.

“You would be surprised how much Christmas you would find,” Winkler says of the hotel’s interior.

With New Year also around the corner, they’re hoping to host a large number of guests for the renowned New Year’s Day Concert, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic just down the road. No one yet knows if it will go ahead.

A clear signal is needed from the government in the next few days, says Winkler, to stem the tide of cancellations in the city.

‘Another catastrophe’ for some businesses

Not all businesses are feeling so optimistic. One leading Viennese restaurant, whose owners did not want to be named, said “there is not much to say other than it is a catastrophe for our industry for the fourth time now.”

There’s an acknowledgement among others that while the lockdown is a blow to business, it shows that health is an important issue in Austria.

“This lockdown is epidemiologically necessary,” the Vienna Tourist Board tells Euronews Travel.

“At the same time, it means a frustrating situation for Vienna as a tourist destination, where efforts were made throughout the year to prepare for the important winter business by also taking all necessary measures according to scientific standards.

“The booking situation before Christmas this year was promising, the recovery tendencies were clearly visible.

“However, the increasing demand of the last months has proven that Vienna’s international attractiveness is unbroken. We hope that international travel will be possible again from 13 December.”

Source: https://www.euronews.com/travel/2021/11/25/austria-in-lockdown-hotels-set-to-open-just-12-days-before-christmas

Retailers hail lifting of travel ban, return of international tourists with hopes of sales rebound

As the holiday shopping season picks up, retailers across the country hope to get a lift from another wave of spenders: international tourists who can visit the U.S. once again

Starting Monday, the Biden administration will allow visitors from abroad into the country again. Most foreign travelers from more than 30 countries, including the U.K. and Brazil, have been restricted since early 2020, as Covid-19 cases rose globally. Visitors must be fully vaccinated against Covid and have a negative Covid test within three days before departure. Exemptions apply to travelers under the age of 18, if they have medical reasons preventing them from getting a vaccine, or are traveling from one of 50 countries with low vaccine availability.

For retailers, the policy is a much-awaited change that may help them fill up stores and ring up bigger sales again. At stake are billions of dollars that tourists spend on not only souvenirs, but luxury handbags, high-end makeup, top-shelf liquor and other items they often can’t find at home. Global visitors fueled more than $43.4 billion of shopping in 2019 — or 27% of the total shopping driven by travel and tourism, according to the International Trade Administration.

Yet retail experts and companies say it will take time for tourists to return to the U.S. and spend at post-pandemic levels. Airlines still have fewer flights. Other countries, including China, tightly restrict outbound travel. And pandemic-related logistics, from long lines at the airport to show proof at vaccination to Covid test when returning home, could delay travelers from booking a trip.

“Airlines will tell you that they are seeing a surge in booking. What they don’t quantify is when. Hotels will tell you is they’re seeing an uptick in bookings. What they won’t tell you is when,” said Daniel Binder, a partner for Columbus Consulting who focuses on travel retail. “The ban will lift, and it will take time.”

Binder saw the spending power of international tourists — especially Chinese tourists — up close as a longtime executive at DFS, a luxury goods travel retailer that’s owned by LVMH. He said he also saw the many months it took for global tourists to flock back and spend freely after other challenging periods, including the 9/11 terrorism attacks and the SARS outbreak.

Still, National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay said there is a feeling of optimism as the ban lifts. He said that as Americans feel comfortable booking trips, dining out and having more active lives, they are also shopping. As international tourists visit, that will “give a jolt to the retail side,” too, he said.

“The return to the service and the experience economy is going to be positive and beneficial for retail and it’s going to be enhanced furthermore by these international visitors returning to the U.S.,” he said Wednesday on a call with reporters.

‘Shot in the arm’ for New York City

International shoppers will be a key ingredient needed for New York City’s recovery. During a typical year, visitors from other countries spend an estimated $4.75 billion on shopping, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism board.

Shopping is the most popular activity for people visiting the city from other countries — with 88% of international visitors saying they participate, according to a 2018 survey by the Department of Commerce. That’s compared to 86% who participate in sightseeing, 54% who go to art galleries and museums and 29% who experience fine dining.

In contrast, less than 30% of tourists from other parts of the U.S. shop when they are in New York City.

“It’s a pivotal milestone in our recovery, for sure,” said Chris Heywood, executive vice president of global communications at NYC & Company. “Welcoming back the international traveler is exactly the shot in the arm that New York City needs right now.”

In the coming days, Heywood said the tourism group will unveil a project with Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers to incentivize visitors to return to their stores. Over the next few months, he said the group plans to spend $6 million across the globe on advertising about New York City. He said that money will be concentrated in countries that have loosened their policies in a way that makes it easier for their citizens to leave and return home. These include South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, France and Italy. Places where restrictions are till very tight, such as China, will not be part of the advertising campaign.

Heywood said New York City benefits from having many shopping districts that are themselves tourist destinations — such as Fifth Avenue, Times Square and Hudson Yards — along with attractions like Broadway shows and art museums.

“This is a chance to actually get back to this notion of that shopping experience and having the bragging rights to say ‘I bought that on Fifth Avenue’ or ‘I bought that in New York,’” he said. “That’s something people have not been able to have.”

Still, he said it will take years to build back up the city’s tourism and shopping revenue. The group expects about 2.8 million international visitors to come to New York City this year, compared with 13.5 million international visitors in 2019. Next year, it expects international visitors to triple to about 8.5 million and by 2024, it expects international tourism to roughly match pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re hoping to accelerate that timeline as much as possible,” he said.

‘We don’t see tremendous movement’

Some retailers said they don’t expect the lifted travel restrictions to result in an immediate jump in sales. For many companies, especially those outside of the luxury space, the market doesn’t make up a significant chunk of their businesses. Department store chain Macy’s, for example, said that international tourists accounted for just about 4% of sales in 2019.

Capri Holdings, which owns Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, believes that some international tourists will book trips to the U.S. in the coming weeks. But CEO John Idol noted on an earnings conference call on Wednesday that there was only a minor return among international tourists into Europe, after travel restrictions were lifted. And there has been no return into Japan nor Korea, he said.

“In our forecast, we don’t see tremendous movement changing our trajectory at least in next fiscal year,” Idol said.

For a company like Tiffany, however, it could be worth the extra effort to try to court international visitors back to its U.S. stores. The jewelry chain, now owned by LVMH, typically sees about 12% of sales domestically coming from foreign tourists.

This holiday season, Tiffany has opened a pop-up shop in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, which pays homage to the legendary Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger. The space, which features a number of Instagram friendly backdrops and activities for visitors such as painting, is open to the public from Monday until Jan. 8.

It’s the mall operators — some of the most challenged by stay-at-home trends in 2020 and consumers shifting into e-commerce — that say they expect to see a boon to traffic as foreigners return.

“We still think that there’s another leg up if we get the international tourist that we haven’t seen for a couple — two, three — years,” Simon Property Group CEO David Simon told analysts on an earnings conference call held Monday.

Simon’s malls include The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, The Galleria mall in Houston, as well as a number of premium outlet centers.

Over in New Jersey, the American Dream megamall is antsy for foreigners to visit. A portion of the 3 million-square-foot development first opened to the public in October 2019. But it was shut down shortly after due to pandemic restrictions. When it had first kicked open American Dream’s doors in the fall of 2019, operator Triple Five Group told CNBC the megamall would draw 40 million visitors annually, many of them foreigners. It has likely only since seen a sliver of that.

American Dream is ramping up its efforts to court tourists to New Jersey’s Meadowlands in preparation for Monday. The megamall has a team entirely dedicated to tourism that is corresponding with travel agencies and helping visitors book trips to the development.

“American Dream was always designed to be a top global tourism destination,” said Jill Renslow, executive vice president of marketing at Triple Five. “We’re also working with New Jersey … making sure we’re showcasing all the things that New Jersey has to offer.”

The fact that sales of clothing and footwear in New Jersey are generally tax exempt should be another appealing factor for foreign visitors to head to the state, she said.

Just last month, the first round of luxury retailers — including Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes and Dolce & Gabbana — opened up at American Dream. These high-end shops also have their own wing within the megamall, which includes a separate escalator entrance for buses that are there to transport tourists and their shopping bags.

Jeweler David Yurman has laid the groundwork during the pandemic to grow its international sales. It has 45 stores in the U.S. and a handful in Canada, but has partnerships with jewelry and department stores in other parts of the globe.

Over the past year and a half, it has launched dedicated websites in other countries and kickstarted initiatives to woo more Chinese customers, David Yurman head of marketing Lee Tucker said. It started to sell a limited collection through social media and messaging app, WeChat, he said.

Tucker said that salespeople at the jewelers’ stores know how to speak numerous languages, including Mandarin, Arabic and Farsi, so they can welcome tourists and make them feel at home.

Starting this month, a double-decker bus wrapped in the company’s advertisement is driving to destinations like Rodeo Drive and Newport Beach, where international tourists may see it and get inspired to shop.

“We’re holding our breath to understand how international tourists are going to come back to our cities and which groups are going to travel here first,” he said.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/07/retailers-hail-lifting-of-travel-ban-return-of-international-tourists-with-hopes-of-sales-rebound.html

Garth, a luxury neo-Bistro opens this week at Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates

Located inside a new private members club, The 9 Lounge, at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, the premium culinary hub has opened its doors to those with a penchant for refined, delicious medleys of Italian, Greek, and Southern French cuisines. Guests that are not members of The 9 Lounge are encouraged to make reservations in advance and abide by the formal dress code, suited to the elevated ambiance of the locale.

The space comprises of a beautiful verdant terrace, a cigar lounge, and a restaurant, where guests can indulge in the finest mix of seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes. Whilst diners can enjoy a host of raw fish and seafood plates courtesy of a specialty raw bar, the menu also includes an array of meat, vegetarian and vegan options that are guaranteed to gratify even the most selective appetites.

Guests are promised satisfaction as they acquaint their palates with the gastronomical innovations, born from the proficiently sourced quality ingredients at Garth. The food and menus are expertly designed by celebrity chefs Sergei Andreychenko and Mohammed Musthafa. A team of professional mixologists and sommeliers assist guests in selecting from a carte of Old World and New World wines, cocktails, and premium spirits.

The mouthwatering menus include dishes such as Zucchini Carpaccio, Beef Cheeks Paccheri, Poached Sea Bass, Truffle Risotto, Niçoise Salad, Beef Tartare, Burrata Grande and many more.

At the raw bar, guests can opt for the Salmon or Tuna Tartare, Sea Bass Ceviche, or indulge in an assorted tartare platter featuring three varieties of the dish. The desserts menu is home to rich classics such as Basque Burnt Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Almond Crumble with Berries, Dark Chocolate Mousse, and hand-crafted Ice Creams and Sorbets.

Garth features a new lunch menu each week, featuring daily specials, to keep it fresh and interesting for afternoon guests, from 12pm till 3pm. Although the culinary adventure is the primary focus of the experience, the menus will maintain the sophisticated taste and plating associated with the brand.

Open daily, from 12pm till 12am on weekdays and from 12pm till 2am on weekends, the lounge creates a relaxed atmosphere with unique sound design, featuring a distinct combination of genres. Produced skillfully by an ensemble of instrumentalists from Moscow, the music will include streams of new wave funk, soul, jazz, chill rave, and afro beats genres. Breezy terrace evenings can be enjoyed with a soundtrack of electronic chill rave beats, whilst soulful piano music will grace special dinners at the restaurant.

The layered interiors feature neutral tones of cream, beige and brown, complemented by blush pink furniture. Plush pampas grass lines the windows and the bar canopy, accented by bright neon lighting that lends an effortless luminous glow to the space. A promising venue that is bound to be the next hotspot in Dubai, Garth takes guests on a journey that goes beyond the plate, offering an ideal space to socialize and indulge in finer experiences.

Source: https://www.hotelnewsme.com/hotel-news-me/garth-a-luxury-neo-bistro-opens-this-week-at-kempinski-hotel-mall-of-the-emirates/

Former hotel workers sue Swissotel Chicago, accused it of violating ‘Right to Return to Work’ ordinance

Swissotel didn’t respond to a request for comment, but sent a letter to the women’s attorney in August, arguing the ordinance doesn’t apply to the three women because they were “terminated,” not “laid off.”

Maria Ruiz was a banquet server at Swissotel Chicago nearly 24 years, putting her job before her family, sometimes sleeping in a hotel room for just a few hours between shifts when there wasn’t enough time to go home.

“I was at the hotel for 36 hours straight,” Ruiz said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference outside the hotel. “I wasn’t able to kiss my babies good night or hug them in the morning. My brother was killed two years ago and it was so hard — but even then I didn’t miss a day or work.”

Ruiz, 51, was one of hundreds of hotel workers who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainty of their future was scary, but the Chicago City Council sought to alleviate that anxiety by passing the “right-to-return-to-work” ordinance to make sure hotel workers could get their jobs back instead of being replaced.

But a lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Swissotel of violating that ordinance by not rehiring Ruiz and two other banquet servers, each of whom had worked at the hospital at least 20 years.

“I dedicated my life to this job, to this hotel. I was so proud to work there,” Ruiz said. “Since being fired last year, my life is like a nightmare that I haven’t been able to wake up from.”

Unable to find new work or pay her mortgage, Ruiz said she’s on the verge of losing her house, The situation is just as dire for the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Marie Lourdie Pierre-Jacques and Maria Teresa Hernandez.

The ordinance had been pushed by union leaders and laid-off hotel workers. It called for Chicago hotels to prioritize seniority when deciding which former employees to rehire. The women involved in the lawsuit advocated for the ordinance, speaking out publicly in favor of it.

That original version, however, was opposed by the hotel industry as a logistical nightmare that would slow the pace of rehiring. It made no sense, they argued, to rehire someone based only on seniority if it meant having to hire a dishwasher to do an accounting job.

Eventually, a compromise version passed the Council. It narrowed the scope, requiring seniority be considered, but only within the same job categories.

But in their lawsuit, the women claim Swissotel offered positions to banquet servers with less seniority than the three women.

Swissotel didn’t respond to a request for comment, but in a letter sent to the women’s attorney in August, it argued the ordinance doesn’t apply to the three women because they were “terminated,” not “laid off” — an important distinction, the hotel’s lawyers argued in the letter.

Stephen Yokich, an attorney for the women, said they anticipated this problem when they lobbied for the bill, but even so, “most responsible hotels in the city are following the law,” he said.

“Swissotel passed over the women who helped pass the law in the first place,” Yokich said. “Our message to the court will be the same as our message today: Swissotel should follow the law.”

Pierre-Jacques stood behind her colleagues during Tuesday’s news conference, often breaking down in tears as she remembered working while pregnant. Her co-workers often joked she would go into labor at the hotel because of the long hours she worked.

When she did gave birth to her son, she returned to work in just six weeks. She would drop the baby off at her sister’s house on her way back to the downtown hotel.

“I left him with my sister and for a long time he thought my sister was his mother. It broke my heart every time he called her ‘Mommy.’” Pierre-Jacques said through tears. “No one can understand that feeling unless you have been through it. I sacrificed that time with my son because I thought I was being a good worker. I thought if I worked had and give my all, my job would respect me back.”

Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter joined the women and their supporters outside the hotel to show his support in the lawsuit which calls for the women to be reinstated and for them to receive back pay from the date of when they “should have been reinstated.”

“We believe that as guests return to Chicago and hotels increase staffing, hotels should recall the workers who have dedicated their lives to Chicago’s tourism industry,” Reiter said. “These women were fired by Swissotel Chicago during the pandemic, they’ve also been on the front line of advocating for Chicago’s hotel worker’s rights. … We are here to support these workers who are seeking to enforce their rights.”

The Federation of Labor has an ownership stake in Sun-Times Media.

Source: https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/2021/10/26/22747376/fired-hotel-workers-lawsuit-swissotel-chicago-right-return-to-work-ordinance

Radisson Hotel Group shows remarkable growth in 2021 marked by 70 signings and openings in key markets in EMEA

Brussels – Radisson Hotel Group, one of the world’s leading hotel groups, looks back on a successful Q3 2021 with key expansions across the Group’s EMEA portfolio, reaching over 50 hotel signings and nearly 30 openings in EMEA YTD.

Radisson Hotel Group is continuing its road to recovery and ambitious pursuit of its five-year expansion and transformation plan. The strength of Radisson Hotel Group’s strategic transformation and development plan has ensured that the Group can rebound swiftly. Since the start of the pandemic, Radisson Hotel Group has achieved remarkable growth of more than 250 signings worldwide, including 100 hotels confirmed in China alone.

Elie Younes, Global Chief Development Officer, said: “Our initiatives are increasingly relevant to our guests and investment partners. We are thankful and grateful to our owners for their continued trust in our people and brands. We commit to continue creating more possibilities to our guests and opportunities to our owners as we slowly enter a transition recovery period for the travel industry”.

Radisson Hotel Group remains solidly committed to becoming the brand of choice for owners, partners, and guests and has signed more than 50 hotels in EMEA since the start of 2021. Key milestones achieved in Q3 2021 include:

  • The opening of central London’s first Radisson RED hotel, Radisson RED London Greenwich The O2
  • Strong expansion in Morocco with the signing of seven new hotels, of which five already opened during the summer, adding 1600 rooms. This brings the Group’s Moroccan portfolio to 10 hotels, fast-tracking its strategy to reach 15 hotels in operation and under development in the country by 2025
  • Doubling of the Group’s presence in Makkah, Saudi Arabia by adding nearly 1000 rooms and serviced apartments in Thakher City
  • Signing of the Group’s second Radisson Collection property in Sochi, Russia and opening of two exceptional Radisson Collection properties in Milan and Seville, marking the brand’s introduction in Spain and further expansion in Italy
  • Swift global expansion of Radisson Individuals to more than 20 hotels across EMEA in one year since the brand was established, including Greece’s first Radisson Individuals property, Anda Hotel Athens, a member of Radisson Individuals

In the lead up to the UN COP26, Radisson Hotel Group supports the responsible recovery of the hospitality industry. In line with the Group’s target to reduce its carbon and water footprint by 30% by 2025, Radisson Hotel Group is increasing the number of green hotels in its portfolio with recent additions like Radisson Collection Hotel, Magdalena Plaza Sevilla which is Spain’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Hospitality Gold certified hotel, Radisson Collection Hotel Gran Via Bilbao, Radisson RED Hotel Dubai Silicon Oasis, and Radisson Resort & Spa Lonavala in India.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4107163.html

Hoteliers doubt eased tourist rules will make a difference

Operators say new government plan to open borders to foreigners sets too-tight limits on vaccination requirements

A move by the government to open Israel’s borders to visitors has been met with skepticism by some in the tourism industry, who point out that the scheme’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements greatly limit the list of those who would be granted entry, Reuters reported Sunday.

The vast majority of tourists have effectively been banned from entering Israel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020. The reopening of borders has been delayed numerous times throughout the year, as COVID infections waxed and waned.

Last week the Prime Minister’s Office said ministers agreed to open Israel’s borders from November 1 to tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease.

Guests at the reception desk in a Tel Aviv hotel, April 27, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ FLASH90)

A move by the government to open Israel’s borders to visitors has been met with skepticism by some in the tourism industry, who point out that the scheme’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements greatly limit the list of those who would be granted entry, Reuters reported Sunday.

The vast majority of tourists have effectively been banned from entering Israel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020. The reopening of borders has been delayed numerous times throughout the year, as COVID infections waxed and waned.

However, there were a number of conditions, such as having received at least one booster shot within the previous six months and that the tourists do not arrive from so-called “red countries,” those with high virus infection rates.

Hotel owners in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, and Bethlehem in the West Bank have not seen a marked increase in bookings, according to the report.

Israel Hotel Association CEO Yael Danieli pointed out that many countries have yet to begin administering booster shots to their populations. Whereas Israel pioneered giving third shots to its population in a campaign that began in August, other countries only followed a two-dose vaccination regime.

“How many tourists out in the world have actually gotten boosters or are sitting in that six-month period following their second dose?” she said to Reuters.

Guests at the reception desk in a Tel Aviv hotel, April 27, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ FLASH90)

A move by the government to open Israel’s borders to visitors has been met with skepticism by some in the tourism industry, who point out that the scheme’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements greatly limit the list of those who would be granted entry, Reuters reported Sunday.

The vast majority of tourists have effectively been banned from entering Israel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020. The reopening of borders has been delayed numerous times throughout the year, as COVID infections waxed and waned.

Last week the Prime Minister’s Office said ministers agreed to open Israel’s borders from November 1 to tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease.

However, there were a number of conditions, such as having received at least one booster shot within the previous six months and that the tourists do not arrive from so-called “red countries,” those with high virus infection rates.

The timeframe means that any would-be tourist whose most recent booster shot was before May 1 would not be able to travel to Israel. Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Newsletter email address By signing up, you agree to the terms

Hotel owners in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, and Bethlehem in the West Bank have not seen a marked increase in bookings, according to the report.

Israel Hotel Association CEO Yael Danieli pointed out that many countries have yet to begin administering booster shots to their populations. Whereas Israel pioneered giving third shots to its population in a campaign that began in August, other countries only followed a two-dose vaccination regime.

“How many tourists out in the world have actually gotten boosters or are sitting in that six-month period following their second dose?” she said to Reuters. Advertisement

A further constraint is that children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination and therefore would not be permitted to enter Israel, even if their parents are, she noted.

Danieli said the government should allow individual tourists to enjoy the same rules that are already in place for small tour groups, which are exempt from the six-month rule, on condition that group members take virus tests every 72 hours during the first two weeks they are in the country.

“We just want to make it easier for tourists, so they come back,” she said. “We can’t say how many will be able to come with these rules.”

Israel’s entry rules also impact the West Bank, as visitors to the area must pass through Israeli border controls.

Joey Canavati, manager of Bethlehem’s Alexander Hotel, told Reuters that although the plans for November are a “great step,” he is not expecting any big change in tourist numbers until next year.

“At the moment, we just want to stop the bleeding, stop digging into our savings,” he said.

Guests at the reception desk in a Tel Aviv hotel, April 27, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ FLASH90)

A move by the government to open Israel’s borders to visitors has been met with skepticism by some in the tourism industry, who point out that the scheme’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements greatly limit the list of those who would be granted entry, Reuters reported Sunday.

The vast majority of tourists have effectively been banned from entering Israel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020. The reopening of borders has been delayed numerous times throughout the year, as COVID infections waxed and waned.

Last week the Prime Minister’s Office said ministers agreed to open Israel’s borders from November 1 to tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease.

However, there were a number of conditions, such as having received at least one booster shot within the previous six months and that the tourists do not arrive from so-called “red countries,” those with high virus infection rates.

The timeframe means that any would-be tourist whose most recent booster shot was before May 1 would not be able to travel to Israel. Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Newsletter email address By signing up, you agree to the terms

Hotel owners in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, and Bethlehem in the West Bank have not seen a marked increase in bookings, according to the report.

Israel Hotel Association CEO Yael Danieli pointed out that many countries have yet to begin administering booster shots to their populations. Whereas Israel pioneered giving third shots to its population in a campaign that began in August, other countries only followed a two-dose vaccination regime.

“How many tourists out in the world have actually gotten boosters or are sitting in that six-month period following their second dose?” she said to Reuters. Advertisement

A further constraint is that children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination and therefore would not be permitted to enter Israel, even if their parents are, she noted.

Danieli said the government should allow individual tourists to enjoy the same rules that are already in place for small tour groups, which are exempt from the six-month rule, on condition that group members take virus tests every 72 hours during the first two weeks they are in the country.

“We just want to make it easier for tourists, so they come back,” she said. “We can’t say how many will be able to come with these rules.”

Israel’s entry rules also impact the West Bank, as visitors to the area must pass through Israeli border controls.

Joey Canavati, manager of Bethlehem’s Alexander Hotel, told Reuters that although the plans for November are a “great step,” he is not expecting any big change in tourist numbers until next year.

“At the moment, we just want to stop the bleeding, stop digging into our savings,” he said. Advertisement

Under the new regulations, only tourists who have been vaccinated during the 180 days before they boarded the plane will be allowed to enter Israel. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, seven days must elapse between the traveler’s second or third shot and entry to Israel. In the case of Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (one dose, not two), Sinovac, and Sinopharm, 14 days must elapse.

After announcing the plan last week, the Prime Minister’s Office said the scheme, which must still be approved by the high-level coronavirus cabinet, may be updated to take into consideration any threat posed by fresh variants of the coronavirus. Several cases of the new AY4.2 variant have already been diagnosed in Israel.

Current regulations allowed tourists to begin arriving in organized groups in May, though in a very limited capacity. Additionally, first-degree relatives of Israeli citizens or residents were able to apply for permits to travel to the country.

Under both the current and the new regulations, all travelers to Israel must take a PCR test within 72 hours of their departure and must take a second test when they land at Ben Gurion Airport. Vaccinated travelers must remain in quarantine either for 24 hours or until they receive a negative test result. Those who are not vaccinated must remain in quarantine for 14 days, which can be shortened to seven days with two negative tests, on days 1 and 7.

Israel appears to be at the tail end of its fourth coronavirus wave, as new infections and serious cases have ticked down over the past few weeks.

Tourism numbers dropped 80 percent in 2020, a plunge from record numbers in 2019 that were worth $7.2 billion to the economy.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/hoteliers-doubt-eased-tourist-rules-will-make-a-difference/

How Tech is Helping Revolutionise the Hospitality Industry

Over the past five years, food delivery services have steadily grown in both popularity and most recently necessity, with many restaurants rising to meet the demand. A primary reason is that diners love the perfect melange of restaurant quality and at-home comfort that food delivery offers. About one third of individuals aged between 18 and 24 eat takeaway and delivered food several times a month in the UK alone (Statistica, 2020).

At Deliverect, we’ve seen this come to life as we’ve helped to process an average of more than 1.5 million orders per week this past year. That’s a 750% increase from the year before. But as beneficial as delivery services can be, behind-the-scenes details like last-mile logistics can be expensive and challenging to manage.

It’s clear that digital solutions have helped restaurants better serve their customers and adapt to life in the new normal. Online ordering is here to stay – so implementing the right technology in restaurants is crucial for helping to create an excellent at-home dining experience for your customers.

That’s why this past month we introduced a new suite of products to help our customers enable further growth and empower control within the competitive hospitality landscape.

We’re excited for more restaurants to have access to top technology that enhances day-to-day and delivery operations. Any updates that make our platform operate more seamlessly for restaurants is a win – our team is motivated by helping the hospitality industry continue to succeed and thrive after a tough year.  Let’s take a look at some of the new feature and how they’ll help restaurants to continue thriving:

Deliverect Insights: Deliverect Insights offers upgraded dashboards that allow restaurants to utilise their data more extensively, answering key questions that will enable them to see how their performance is trending on delivery platforms and to spot outliers. Insights offers three sub-sections:

  • ‘Menu Item Performance’ allows restaurants to compare products and identify the best and worst performers.
  • ‘Location Performance’ enables restaurants to gather insights surrounding the performance of individual locations and generally understand performance over time.
  • ‘Channel Performance’ helps compare channels, easily identify best selling items and see how sales fluctuate on different delivery channels.

Pickup Manager: Deliverect’s Pickup Manager permits drivers and restaurants to view the status of their order with the pickup screen, making overall communications smoother.

  • Restaurant staff can easily manage order statuses to keep drivers and restaurants well informed.
  • A look at the pickup screen will tell drivers when to go to the counter to pick up their order, improving user experience and shortening wait times.
  • Through real-time and clear order status updates, orders that are ready are brought to customers faster and more accurately.
  • Dispatch: Dispatch enables restaurants to manage the complete delivery experience through their direct channels, helping them to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Restaurants can easily offer delivery on their direct channel by assigning online orders to delivery drivers.
  • They can also follow orders through the entire delivery, as real-time driver updates and driver details are shared.

Chat: Chat provides conversational support, allowing our customers to reach us directly from our platform tools anytime and anywhere.

In the food service industry, everything restaurants do is for the benefit of diners. They cook delicious food to delight their palates, they offer a variety of dining options to match their needs and preferences, and they craft balanced menus to cater to every kind of eater. Everything is to ensure that the end customer has an excellent experience and returns to dine time and time again.

Incorporating online ordering software to improve delivery capabilities will positively impact diners’ experience, especially how restaurants communicate with their customers. Maintaining stellar customer communication is vital to creating brand loyalty, as it  shows them their experience and opinions are important.

Source: https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2021/10/how-tech-is-helping-revolutionise-the-hospitality-industry/

Government to deliberate on late night hospitality guidelines

Government officials will resume their deliberations in the morning on how to iron out anomalies in the new plan to reopen the late night entertainment industry, which is due to start on Friday.

It is understood that Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin was in contact with arts and music representatives earlier today.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Licensed Vintners Association say they have not been invited to any talks tomorrow.

Government sources suggest, however, these groups are likely to be contacted in the morning to garner their views on what should happen.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ News that he accepts the need for clarity, adding he also understands that the timelines are short.

As part of tomorrow’s deliberations, there will be a meeting of the Regulatory Forum – a body involving the gardaí, the Heath and Safety Authority and environment health officials.

The Taoiseach said these officials will be charged with working out what is termed an enhanced form of compliance and enforcement, to ensure that people are adhering to the guidelines.

When asked why live venues will be restricted to only seated guests while nightclubs appear to have fewer constraints, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that will initially be the case but hinted that these seating restrictions could be eased over time.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time, he said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is trying to get away from “banning normal activities”.

“There are two options, one was pause to see if things got better. They advised against that because things won’t fundamentally change over the next few weeks.

“This is going to be the new normal for the next couple of months.”

Mr Varadkar added that there are no guarantees “this will work out” as he said projections show that cases and hospitalisations are likely to rise.

He said he trusts the projections, and despite the fact that NPHET, NIAC and Government members will not always have absolute unanimity on everything, he believes they share the same view on the way forward today.

Earlier, it was announced that any sectors or businesses due to reopen on Friday can do so but with specific protective measures in place.

At a briefing at Government Buildings, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the progress made over the course of the last year is “real and tangible and has to be protected”.

The Cabinet met at Dublin Castle earlier to consider the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team in relation to the planned easing of restrictions.

This Friday was due to see an end to the requirement for physical distancing, or mask wearing outdoors, or indoor, in private settings.

NPHET had advised that existing restrictions on hospitality should stay in place until around spring 2022.

The Government’s revised reopening plan includes the return of normal trading hours in bars and restaurants but table service only measures will remain with a maximum of ten adults at a table.

These premises and nightclubs will only be open to those with a digital certificate.

Mr Martin said businesses or any event that allows people indoors must check for proof of vaccination and enforce the rules.

The caps on numbers at weddings and religious ceremonies are also to be dropped and a return to full capacity at sports stadiums has been included under the measures agreed by cabinet.

The Taoiseach said Covid passes will not apply for outdoor events.

He added that fixed capacity will no longer apply for indoor and outdoor activities but protective measures must be put in place. Mr Martin said where groups are mixed indoors, pods of six will apply.

Antigen testing will also play a bigger role in this phase of reopening and tests will be sent to fully vaccinated close contacts.

These new measures will be in place until February 2022. The Taoiseach said there will be sector specific guidance issued.

He asked that anyone who has not been vaccinated or who has not received their second dose to make arrangements for this.

Mr Martin said the changes to the reopening plan give space to make sure the next steps towards normality are safe and sustainable.

He said the Government is not putting capacity limits on national outdoor sporting events, adding that protective measures such as masks will apply.

In relation to booster vaccine advice, the Taoiseach said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee said in its correspondence to Government and to the Chief Medical Officer that it is going to keep the administration of boosters to healthcare workers under review.

Mr Martin said he understands the concerns that are there in relation to healthcare workers, but the Government is not the expert on the issue.

At the same briefing, the Tánaiste said the pandemic is not over yet and “unfortunately we’re going to have to get through at least another winter before we can be safely say it’s behind us”.

Leo Varadkar said: “We’re not where we hoped or expected to be for October 22nd”.

In August the Government thought that Ireland would be past the peak of the Delta wave, but that is not the case and “we’re most likely experiencing a twin peak”.

He said NPHET modelling and projections indicate that cases will continue to rise and peak around the end of October or in November.

The Tánaiste said that modelling also shows that hospitalisations will rise to 800-1,000 peaking around mid-November with ICU numbers peaking at 100-150 around the end of November or early December.

He described the change to the plan as “deeply disappointing”, adding that a lot of sectors who had hoped to be fully open with full capacity “will be crestfallen that we haven’t got out the gap just yet”.

There is no need to reimpose restrictions, Mr Varadkar added, because a high proportion of the population is vaccinated.

He said that if these numbers existed last year, the Government would be announcing that it was reintroducing curbs.

A large number of people including children are unvaccinated, the Tánaiste said, and there is evidence that the immunity is waning particularly among those who were vaccinated more than six months ago.

Mr Varadkar said NPHET had considered a full pause for a few weeks, but it recommended against that “on the basis that the situation will not be much different in a few week’s time and it’s going to be like this for a few months”.

He said the country is going to have to live with Covid-19, this is not going to be easy, and it means adjusting to a new normal for at least the next couple of months.

The strategy has three elements – vaccines, test, trace and isolate, and keeping our economy and society fully open but with protections.

The Tánaiste said that testing will resume of fully vaccinated people who are close contacts and have no symptoms, but this will be done through antigen testing to supplement PCR testing.

People who are going to be in groups or crowds will be encouraged to start self-testing and using antigen tests to do so, Mr Varadkar added.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the advice the Government received from NPHET was a “really serious note of caution” on various areas including epidemiology and hospitals.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Donnelly said the five-day case average at the moment is around 1,700.

“I can tell you that the number of cases that’ll be reported later on today will be well in excess of 2,000,” he said.

“So we’re seeing about a 40% to 50% increase in average daily cases over the last month, so this has moved quite quickly.

“The result of that is more people in hospital … and more pressing again is the number of people in ICU.”

The minister said NPHET’s advice was essentially that while reopening can continue, it has to be done “more carefully than we had all hoped to do it”.

He said that up until about two weeks ago, the Government was following the “most optimistic” of the four scenarios that NPHET had laid out.

Mr Donnelly said “several thousand” vaccination certificate checks have been carried out at venues by the Health Service Executive and Health and Safety Authority, and about two thirds of venues are in compliance.

He said that according to new survey results, one in three diners have said they are not being asked for their cert.

“That’s not good enough,” Mr Donnelly added. “We need a much, much higher rate of compliance than that. There’s going to be intense engagement with the sector by the various Government departments.

“What I would say to the sector is – I know you’ve had a really tough year and I fully understand what you’ve been dealing with, and the majority are compliant, but we need to get much higher than a two thirds compliant rate on these Covid passes.

“They keep your patrons safe and they keep your staff safe, and it really is important and it is a legal requirement for you to strictly enforce the Covid pass.”

Source: https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2021/1019/1254540-nphet-advice-government-restrictions/

Marine tourism may boost west coast off-season – study

New research suggests marine tourism could generate additional business during the off-season for counties along the west coast.

Studies carried out as part of the European Union’s Moses Project suggest coastal tourism has the potential to attract people for longer stays, when specific offerings are in place.

Using the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) as a research model, researchers from NUI Galway concluded that sustainable tourism in coastal areas could benefit the local economy, while ensuring that there was no adverse impact to the environment.

The Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit, which is based at the university, stresses that close collaboration with local communities is key to achieving the goal of sustainable tourism.

Its report says that with improved infrastructure and specific offerings outside the traditional holiday season, tourists could be attracted by new, sustainable visitor experiences.powered by Rubicon Project

Effectively this involves a balance between attracting tourism, without compromising the natural amenities in such locations.

Offerings like this are particularly suited to areas away from existing destinations on the Wild Atlantic Way.

They also reduce the attractiveness of day trips for visitors, which can divert spending to established tourist attractions.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly, which covers eight counties in the area, supported the research project.

It says the development of niche attractions could boost sustainable investment, as well as helping to contribute to the low-carbon economy it envisages.

The Moses Project is part of a strategy to encourage growth in aquaculture, tourism, offshore energy, posts and fisheries, while ensuring any developments undertaken are environmentally friendly.

This research will be used to inform the development of tourist trails elsewhere in the EU.

Source: https://www.rte.ie/news/2021/1018/1254497-marine-tourism-study/

Tourism industry is still on the ropes

Latest tourist accommodation statistics show revenue in the sector is still 60% lower than normal.

While the latest survey of tourism accommodation suggests that tourism and business travel in SA continue to recover strongly, the occupancy rate of hotel and tourism accommodation and revenue earned from accommodation are still way below normal pre-Covid-19 levels.

The latest Statistics SA report on tourism accommodation shows that the number of nights sold in different accommodation types (from hotels and guest houses to caravan parks and campsites, as well as breakaways on farms and other types of accommodation) increased by some 134% in August 2021 compared with August 2020.

This big recovery in bed nights sold follows even larger increases in the preceding months. Compared with a year ago, July clocked up an increase of 225% and June more than 580%.

The increases of over 2 100% in April and 1 750% in May show that the figures are actually irrelevant – travel was banned during April and May 2020.

Likewise, the strong recovery in income earned by hotels and guest houses over the last few months is welcome, but also still only a fraction of normal levels.

“Measured in nominal terms [at current prices], total income for the tourist accommodation industry increased by 88.3% in August 2021 compared with August 2020,” according to the report. “In August 2021, all accommodation types recorded large positive year-on-year growth in income from accommodation.

“The largest year-on-year increases in income from accommodation were reported by caravan parks and camping sites (263,2%) and guest houses and guest farms (257,9%),” says the Stats SA report.

However, a closer look at the figures themselves show that things are not as good as the huge recovery in percentage terms suggests.

Income from accommodation

Total income from accommodation (excluding restaurant and other income, which is still reliant on room occupancy) increased to just less than R890 million in August from R406 million in August 2020.

Total income is still a fraction of what it was in “normal” times. In August 2019, the industry reported income of approximately R2.4 billion.

Annual figures confirm the devastation of the industry during 2020. Total income from accommodation increased steadily year after year, from R27 billion in 2016 to R29 billion in 2019. It fell to only R11 billion in 2020, as hotels, guest houses and nature reserves earned very close to nothing for four months, and very little in the other months of 2020.

National chair of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) Rosemary Anderson also points out that while total income for the tourist accommodation industry increased significantly, we know that in August 2020 tourism and hospitality had not been opened up after the pandemic first hit to the same extent as it opened up in August 2021.

Anderson notes that when more travel was allowed there was a good uptake of caravan, camping, self-catering and guest house type accommodation, because “tourists gravitated towards accommodation settings which did not involve many other people and where they could stay within their own bubble”.

“The UK experienced very similar trends in accommodation when it opened up – where self-catering was up significantly on other accommodation sectors. This has been good for some sectors, but damaging for the larger hotel groups,” says Anderson.

Government assurance needed

While Fedhasa acknowledged the big recovery in income in the hospitality industry, it added: “What we really need now, is to be able to have government assurances that any increase in Covid-19 cases or a so-called fourth wave will be controlled through a big vaccination push, as they have done successfully in the UK, and not by any more shutdowns – or restrictions on the very basics of what tourists enjoy while being on holiday, like their favourite wine, beer or malt, and being able to enjoy the night life and freedom to travel inter-provincially.

“As Fedhasa we urge government to put a tremendous push on the vaccination programme as the way to either prevent or control the fourth wave and not even contemplate introducing restrictions again, which will make tourism and hospitality simply financially unviable.

“We simply can’t take any more knocks than we have had,” says Anderson.

“There needs to be some form of guarantee and assurance from government that they will allow hospitality and tourism to continue to recover, without setting us back again.”

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), also finds the possibility of restrictions during the upcoming holiday worrying.

TBCSA, describing itself as the umbrella organisation representing the unified voice of business in the travel and tourism sector, says the figures in the Stats SA report illustrate the effect of the lockdowns during 2020 clearly.

International tourists

“There has been recovery, but the tourism industry is still suffering due to the absence of international tourists. An increase in local travel during the holiday period will definitely help, but the industry is still reliant on foreign travellers spending dollars.

“The truth is that establishments need to make money to survive and pay their staff and other costs. Most employees in the sector are still working only a few days per week, and temporary seasonal workers not at all,” says Tshivhengwa.

He hints that hotels and guest houses are currently offering discounts to local travellers, just to earn a bit of income. “We need overseas travellers. We must be mindful of what people pay,” he says.

The difficulties of the tourism industry can be seen in any town that is dependent on tourism such as Cape Town, and it even affects Johannesburg, he adds.

It is noticeable to the casual observer. Restaurants aren’t full, it’s easy to get a room (for a good price) in a guest house, and shops in tourism hot spots are standing empty.

Meanwhile, potential holidaymakers are holding off booking a holiday this year – after they were forced to pack up halfway through their break last year and head home.

Source: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/tourism-industry-is-still-on-the-ropes/