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African regional bloc loses 92 per cent tourism earnings due to Covid

Six member states of the East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc, lost 92 per cent revenues in the tourism sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a top official said here.

Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General, said that tourist arrivals to the region fell from 6.98 million before the pandemic to 2.25 million at present, causing the losses, adding that the tourism sector was the worst hit by the health criris, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The region is now open again for business,” said Mathuki, urging EAC member states governments and other stakeholders to work together to market the region’s tourist attractions and products as part of efforts to ensure speedy recovery for the sector.

The EAC member nations are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda.

“Despite the fact that the pandemic has reversed the gains that we had made in the tourism sector, we are quite confident that through collective and collaborative efforts, we should be able to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels of performance and even do better within a span of less than five years,” Mathuki told the first East African regional tourism expo in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha, also the headquarters of the EAC.

He said that the region had drawn a number of important lessons from the pandemic especially in relation to the economic sectors that were hard hit.

“One lesson that stands out and resonates with most destinations around the world is the need to entrench resilience in the tourism sector,” said Mathuki, adding that the EAC will take a number of steps to enhance recovery in the sector.

Tourism is one of the most significant sectors in all the economies of the EAC region.

The sector contributes an average of about 17 per cent to export earnings and its contribution to GDP is quite substantial averaging at around 10 per cent.

It generates about 7 per cent of employment in the region. Moreover, tourism has important linkages with other sectors of the economy including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, and finance among others.

Source: https://www.ehospitalitytimes.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=91026&action=edit

Australia won’t welcome foreign tourists until at least 2022

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Foreign tourists won’t be welcomed back to Australia until at least next year, the prime minister said Tuesday as he outlined plans for lifting some of the toughest and longest COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed by any democracy.

The country will instead prioritize the return of skilled migrants and students after it hits Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s benchmark for reopening its external borders: the full vaccination of 80% of the population aged 16 and older. It is expected to reach that point Tuesday.

The news comes just days after Morrison announced plans to allow vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas from November for the first time since March 2020.

The severe travel restrictions, which have trapped most Australians at home and kept most foreigners out, have led to the lowest level of immigration since World War II. Australian universities, which rely heavily on fees paid by international students, have been particularly hard hit, and many fear students will go elsewhere if they are not allowed in soon.

While many countries imposed strict lockdowns that shut down large portions of the economies, Australia’s travel restrictions have kept life fairly normal for much of the pandemic — though it is now experiencing shutdowns in the biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital Canberra.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Foreign tourists won’t be welcomed back to Australia until at least next year, the prime minister said Tuesday as he outlined plans for lifting some of the toughest and longest COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed by any democracy.

The country will instead prioritize the return of skilled migrants and students after it hits Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s benchmark for reopening its external borders: the full vaccination of 80% of the population aged 16 and older. It is expected to reach that point Tuesday.

The news comes just days after Morrison announced plans to allow vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas from November for the first time since March 2020.

The severe travel restrictions, which have trapped most Australians at home and kept most foreigners out, have led to the lowest level of immigration since World War II. Australian universities, which rely heavily on fees paid by international students, have been particularly hard hit, and many fear students will go elsewhere if they are not allowed in soon.

While many countries imposed strict lockdowns that shut down large portions of the economies, Australia’s travel restrictions have kept life fairly normal for much of the pandemic — though it is now experiencing shutdowns in the biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital Canberra. ADVERTISEMENT

The rules imposed a high emotional burden in a country where half the population was born overseas or has at least one immigrant parent. Families were separated, and some grandparents have been barred from meeting grandchildren in Australia who are now approaching 2 years old.

After lifting restrictions on Australians, Morrison said the next priority would be skilled migrants and international students — before tourists. He did not specify when those groups would be allowed in.

“We will get to international visitors as well, I believe next year,” Morrison said.

The Australian Tourism Export Council, which represents a sector that made 45 billion Australian dollars ($33 billion) a year from international tourists before the pandemic, wants international visitors to return by March.

Australian tourism operators — which have suffered not only from the ban on international tourism but also frequent internal pandemic border restrictions — are frustrated that there aren’t more details of how leisure travel will resume.

“International tourist arrivals have to be part of the plan,” said Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Queensland state’s peak advocacy group. “Even if they’re not the first priority, we’d like to see how this is going to be worked out. There are many businesses that are just hanging on.”

Gschwind that his sector needed to plan for how the COVID-19 risk could be managed, perhaps through rapid testing and self-isolation.

There are a few exceptions to Australia’s travel ban — and tourism has never been accepted as a reason to cross the border. Those who have been able to enter must spend two weeks in hotel quarantine. That would represent a major obstacle if it remains even after tourists are allowed.

Morrison said last week that his government would work toward “complete quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.” He did not elaborate on the timing.

Australia and New Zealand briefly shared a quarantine-free travel bubble when both countries were essentially free of COVID-19 transmission.

But New Zealand reintroduced quarantine after Australian authorities lost control of an outbreak of the highly-contagious delta variant, which was brought to Sydney in June by a U.S. air crew.

The delta variant has changed the game in many countries that previously were able to largely keep the virus at bay with very strict travel rules, including New Zealand. On Monday, that country’s government acknowledged for the first time that it can no longer completely get rid of the coronavirus.

Australia is continuing to battle outbreaks, while also racing to inoculate its population. Its vaccination rollout was initially slow but has picked up.

Victoria state on Tuesday reported a national record 1,763 new local infections. Australia’s second-most populous state also reported four COVID-19 deaths.

The previous national record of 1,599 infections in 24 hours was set by New South Wales when its outbreak peaked on Sept. 10. Hospitalizations peaked in Australia’s most populous state in mid-September.

New South Wales leads the other states in vaccination rates and Sydney’s airport is expected to be the first to reopen to vaccinated travelers.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-lifestyle-business-scott-morrison-travel-0e0dea481cefe0952e19f6315b6955ee

Creating change agents of hospitality

There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the hospitality industry and its people. It was a change in which we ended up being mainly passive observers – powerless to change the course of the pandemic, government decisions, and the impact that the pandemic was having on travelling and purchasing decisions of our guests.

The impact of this change financially in the UK is estimated by UKHospitality at £80.8bn of lost sales in the first 12 months of Covid. However, we are yet to see the full impact on the staffing levels, industry staff retention and the health and wellbeing of those who have stayed loyal to hospitality and worked all the way through these challenges.

Hospitality response – makers of our own destiny

Once we had gone through all the stages of the Kubler-Ross change curve (a model used by individuals and organisations to help people understand their reactions to significant change or loss), we could see the hospitality spirit waking up and businesses and individuals taking the change processes in their own hands.

We could see amazing Michelin star takeaway menus, hotel premises being repurposed, teams that have never worked remotely being amazingly agile and finding ways to efficiency in the new circumstances.

We could see amazing Michelin star takeaway menus, hotel premises being repurposed, teams that have never worked remotely being amazingly agile and finding ways to efficiency in the new circumstances.

Agile change management approach

The key in the survival and the faster recovery for some of the organisations Umbrella Training has been working with is the choice to be an active player with a holistic approach to change management.

Rather than mothballing the development programmes and investment plans, these organisations decided to support their people through the change curve and apply concepts like resilient leadership, agile communication, stronger partnering with stakeholders and utilising blended learning models.

This comprehensive set of actions is outlined by Deloitte management consultants in their comprehensive report “Combating COVID-19 with an agile change management approach” that was recently published as one of the pathways to success in keeping the organisation competitive.

Why do we need to continue to change in an agile manner?

The world around is not waiting for us to settle in our new working environments. Just as we think we have settled on a course of action – things evolve and require us to adjust.

Melanie Franklin, a highly respected thought leader in change management and firm advocate of agile change management techniques, explains that the frequency of change generated by agile approaches is far higher and that, when adopting this, we create mini waves of change.

These mini waves of change all contribute to successful adaptation to new ways of working. The most important part is supporting people whilst riding on these waves of change, and allowing them to be part of it from the very beginning. Hospitality can embrace this.

Issues with change and change initiatives

Despite change being the only constant we can rely on, humans have not taken easily to this definition. Change brings with it fear of losing status, fear of being able to use the new technology, being able to learn new ways of working. The majority of people dislike change because of the perceived uncertainty that it brings with it. We’ve seen this across business over the course of the pandemic period. Managing change successfully has become one of the key leadership skills in the hospitality industry today.

Making change management more effective

It is paramount for the organisations involved in the change to support their stakeholders by providing the following:

  • Information – at every stage of the process and in a format relevant to their audience.
  • Involvement – asking for feedback and input; working on hearing all the voices who will be impacted by the change.
  • Support – open doors policy for people to be able to explore their personal challenges with change.
  • Structure – clarity on how the change will work, who to speak to if they have issues, how to get involved, what the desired outcome of the change should be.

Role of the apprenticeships in managing change

Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin, has said: “Our job is obvious: We need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has.”

Apprentices are perfect change agents. They have capacity to be critical friends, they bring different perspective to a business and by developing future-fit skills like agility and autonomy – we are building future leaders who are not afraid of agile change.

Apprentices can support businesses with horizon-scanning and scan the external environment to help predict changes in the labour market. Apprenticeship programmes can be a perfect platform to support changes to processes, performance expectations and culture in general. Apprentices can be emissaries of change, sharing their experience and engaging others in the organisation that might have a more stagnant view.

There is always a temptation to go down the route of a path well-travelled. What if we empowered our apprentices to be change generators? Talent attraction, recruitment days, training – these are great examples where your apprentices could help you create new waves of change by hearing their voices.

Source: https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2021/09/creating-change-agents-of-hospitality/

Indian Tourists For Diwali: What Thailand’s Banking On

Thailand’s hard-hit tourism industry expects Indians to resume travel in large numbers during Diwali, relying on it in the absence of Chinese tourists.

Thailand is looking to attract Indian travelers during the traditional holiday season to boost its tourism-reliant economy that’s been hit hard by the absence of mass holidaymakers from countries including China.

The Thai tourism industry expects Indians to resume travel in large numbers next month during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, said Somsong Sachaphimukh, vice president of the Thai Tourism Council. That should help spark a tourism revival as it coincides with the planned waiver of quarantine for vaccinated visitors from Nov. 1, she said.   

With the outbound Chinese travel not expected to resume anytime soon, Thailand is betting on travelers from other origins to take advantage of its relaxed rules for tourists. Indians, who made up the third-largest group of visitors to Thailand before the pandemic, may head again to Thai beaches for holidays, conferences and destination weddings, Somsong said. 

“If Thailand plans to reopen the country and many of our tourism hubs in November, this year’s Diwali may be a great opportunity,” Somsong told an online briefing on Tuesday. “Indian travelers have a lot of spending power and a lot of potential.”

Thailand is looking to attract Indian travelers during the traditional holiday season to boost its tourism-reliant economy that’s been hit hard by the absence of mass holidaymakers from countries including China.

The Thai tourism industry expects Indians to resume travel in large numbers next month during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, said Somsong Sachaphimukh, vice president of the Thai Tourism Council. That should help spark a tourism revival as it coincides with the planned waiver of quarantine for vaccinated visitors from Nov. 1, she said.   

With the outbound Chinese travel not expected to resume anytime soon, Thailand is betting on travelers from other origins to take advantage of its relaxed rules for tourists. Indians, who made up the third-largest group of visitors to Thailand before the pandemic, may head again to Thai beaches for holidays, conferences and destination weddings, Somsong said. 

“If Thailand plans to reopen the country and many of our tourism hubs in November, this year’s Diwali may be a great opportunity,” Somsong told an online briefing on Tuesday. “Indian travelers have a lot of spending power and a lot of potential.”

Indian travelers may spend between 27,000 baht ($800) and 76,000 baht each during trips to Thailand, and each destination wedding could generate between 10 million to 120 million baht in revenue for the hotel and services industry, Somsong said.

Almost 2 million Indians visited Thailand in 2019, generating 80 billion baht in tourism-related revenue, according to official data. They were the largest group behind Chinese and Malaysians that year when the nation saw almost 40 million tourists generating more than $60 billion in revenue.

“Even though it will be difficult to match the number of visitors and revenue generated by Chinese travelers, Indian tourists can help support Thailand’s tourism industry during this time,” Somsong said. 

Thailand saw foreign tourist arrivals plunge to 73,932 in the first eight months of the year with the nation reeling under the worst Covid-19 outbreak that triggered widespread travel and business curbs. The pandemic has led to 3 million job losses in tourism sector, the council said, while slashing its tourist arrival forecast to 280,000 this year from 500,000 earlier.

Source: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/thailand-targets-indian-tourists-to-make-up-for-missing-chinese-travelers-2557496

‘Time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism’, says UN chief

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism could result in a more than $4 trillion loss to the global economy, according to a recent report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

Emergency for developing countries 

Highlighting the fact that in the first months of this year, “international tourist arrivals decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world”, Mr. Guterres said that tourism continues to suffer enormously due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This is a major shock for developed economies, but for developing countries, it is an emergency”, he added.  

“Climate change is also severely affecting many major tourist destinations, particularly Small Island Developing States”, his message added. There, tourism accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all economic activity.  

Tourism for inclusive growth 

Acknowledging that many millions of livelihoods are in jeopardy, Mr. Guterres said that now it is “time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism”. 

“With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone”, he added. 

According to the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism (UNWTO), tourism is a recognized pillar of most the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), particularly Goals 1 (poverty-elimination), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (to reduce inequalities). 

In his message, Mr. Guterres went on to call for targeted action and investment, towards green and sustainable tourism, “with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality”.  

Adding that everybody should have a say in how tourism shapes the future of our societies, the UN chief concluded that “only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs, and transform tourism to fulfil its potential”. 

The sector could then become “an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples”, said Mr. Guterres. 

Source: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1101382

South Asia eyes tourism revival with eased restrictions

(AFP) – Nepal has restarted visas on arrival for vaccinated tourists as South Asian nations attempt to revive tourism businesses devastated after 18 months of the pandemic.

A near travel shutdown has been in place in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for more than a year as successive waves of coronavirus took a deadly toll.

Nepal reopened to tourists and scrapped quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreigners on Thursday and its neighbours are expected to quickly follow as they seek to bolster linchpin industries in their economies.

“The resumption of on-arrival visas is aimed at reopening the tourism sector which is one of the mainstays of Nepal‘s economy,” Tourism Ministry spokesman Tara Nath Adhikari told AFP.

All visitors must still take a pandemic test on arrival and unvaccinated travellers have to quarantine for 10 days.

The decision came just as monsoon clouds cleared for the autumn trekking season, and many are hopeful it will help drive up the arrivals.

“So many have lost jobs and livelihoods. This decision is crucial for all of us and we are hopeful that at least some visitors will return,” said Nabin Trital of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal.

Neighbouring India is soon to announce that it will give away 500,000 free tourist visas as it also starts to reopen after more than a year, officials told AFP.

The country had more than 12.5 million tourists in 2019 but lost hundreds of millions of dollars after the shutters came down in March last year.

New Delhi is negotiating with international airlines to get scheduled flights resumed from main markets in North America and Europe, the officials said.

Bhutan recently let in its first foreign tourist, an American who spent three weeks in quarantine.

The country has imposed draconian restrictions to minimise the impact of the pandemic, recording only three coronavirus deaths in the population of 700,000.

Vaccinated tourists began entering Sri Lanka in July, without having to quarantine if they test negative for Covid-19 on arrival.

South Asia is highly dependent on tourism, which accounted for some 47 million jobs in 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

But the pandemic left beaches and mountains deserted, from Everest to the Indian Ocean, and the fall in tourism played a major role in recessions seen by most of the countries last year.

Source: http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/15546/South+Asia+eyes+tourism+revival+with+eased+restrictions

Vietnam: Nation prepares to welcome fully vaccinated tourists

iet Nam News via Asia News NetworkIn addition to previous plans to open Phu Quoc Island to international tourists, Ha Long, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Da Lat will also welcome tourists this year, under a plan developed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST).

The MoCST has issued a plan to stimulate travel demand, restore the tourism industry, and resume travel activities in late 2021 and early 2022 while ensuring the dual goals of disease prevention and control and socioeconomic development.

It will create favorable conditions for domestic and international tourists who have valid vaccination travel certificates.

Phu Quoc in Kien Giang Province will be the first locality to welcome international visitors in October, followed by Ha Long in Quang Ninh Province, Hoi An in Quang Nam Province, Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province and Da Lat in Lam Dong Province.

In addition to safety measures such as 5K rules and improving medical capacity to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry will prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for local residents and employees in these tourism centers.

Existing tourism campaigns including “Vietnamese people traveling to Viet Nam” and “Safe and attractive local tourism” will continue, together with other programs helping local businesses sell their tourism products at preferential prices.

Tourism products post-COVID-19 will be associated with sustainability, nature and health care, according to the plan. Night tourism and eco-tourism will be invested in and developed as well.

The government plans to launch a pilot inbound tourism program with an aim to lure 2 million to 3 million foreign arrivals to Phu Quoc Island by the year end, according to the prime minister.

Source: https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007768086

Biden’s ‘incomprehensible’ travel ban on European visitors widens transatlantic rift

Last week, France became the latest European nation to issue travel restrictions on unvaccinated American visitors. The move prompted outraged responses from some, but many Europeans seemed to believe that the move was America’s just deserts.

The issue for wary Europeans isn’t just the United States’ persistently high national coronavirus case numbers, or the lingering pockets of anti-vaccination sentiment that have seen an immunization front-runner become a laggard. It’s that most Europeans, vaccinated or not, have been banned from the United States since March 14, 2020: more than 550 days and counting.

The U.S. ban — which affects most European visitors, but not American citizens, permanent residents and a limited number of visa holders flying from Europe — was imposed in the early days of the pandemic under President Donald Trump. Many Europeans believed President Biden would lift the ban soon after taking office. He didn’t. Later, some speculated he would do so after he visited Brussels or when he hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington, around the time that Europe and Britain lifted most of their own blanket restrictions. Still, no policy change.

Even as foreign diplomats and leaders descend on New York for the U.N. General Assembly and the nation prepares to host a summit on vaccination next week, the United States has proved unwilling to relax its rules for a wider group of travelers.

“Given where we are today in terms of the delta variant both here and around the world — we are maintaining the existing travel restrictions at this point,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told a meeting with representatives from the U.S. travel industry.

Some Europeans see no hope on the horizon for a lifting of the ban. “At this point, it’s really just incomprehensible,” said Benjamin Haddad, director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council.

With little sign of change, tensions are flaring. The Times of London recently dubbed the policy “Kafkaesque” and indicative of “political cowardice.” European diplomats are increasingly speaking out, with at least one E.U. official canceling a planned trip to the United States in protest of the restrictions.

Even though Trump was the one who slammed the door on Europe, it is Biden who is keeping it shut. And the restriction’s continued existence threatens to widen a somewhat surprising transatlantic rift that has arisen during the Biden administration. Many Europeans had looked to Biden with enthusiasm after the “America First” policies of his predecessor but have been angered by unilateral moves on Afghanistan and other issues.

The Trump administration moved to lift the travel restrictions in January, but Biden’s team quickly reinstated them. There was little controversy at the time: Vaccinations were only just beginning, a devastating winter wave of covid-19 was sweeping the United States and Europe, and many countries’ borders were closed to most American travelers anyway.

By summer, that had changed. In June, the European Union announced it would recommend lifting restrictions on U.S. travelers, and U.S. citizens packed Parisian cafes and Aegean beaches. But if Europe was expecting reciprocity, it found itself disappointed.

Administration officials pointed to a new wave of coronavirus cases in the United States, driven by the delta variant, as justification for keeping the ban intact. “Given where we are today … with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on July 26 — almost exactly the same language used by her colleague Zients nearly two months later.

That rationale has grown weaker as time has progressed. Many European countries are far more widely vaccinated than the United States and have seen their daily coronavirus case numbers dip as a result. The delta variant is as dominant as it is likely to get in the United States, where large pockets of unvaccinated people already provided fertile ground, and cases are far higher than in Europe.

There were never any requirements for testing and quarantine that would have stopped a delta-spreading U.S. citizen traveling back from Europe. Meanwhile, other nations with lower vaccination rates and coronavirus waves do not currently face U.S. travel restrictions: Some, such as Serbia or Mexico, have served as popular stop-off points for Europeans traveling to the United States with the time and means.

Much of the public opposition to the restrictions has focused on the personal impact, with the hashtag #LoveIsNotTourism on social media detailing accounts of divided families and missed life events, from births to deaths. But the economic impact on America is clear, too, with airlines, tourism-reliant businesses and European-owned companies complaining of losses. One industry estimate for the net losses from all U.S. coronavirus travel restrictions stands at $198 million per day.

One European official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid hurting ongoing negotiations, said the United States had simply “missed their moment” because of bureaucratic inertia over the summer. But some pinned part of the blame on the E.U. for unilaterally lifting measures on American travelers this summer. “I think the Europeans were a bit naive to expect automatic reciprocity from the United States,” said Haddad.

Now, with travel restrictions favored by Republicans and coronavirus anxiety common among Democrats, it may be politics, rather than science, that stops Biden from changing course. “If protecting Biden’s political flank is the criterion, as it may very well be, these and other border restrictions could remain frozen until 2022 U.S. midterm elections,” economist Edward Alden wrote for Foreign Policy this week.

Indeed, the U.S. travel restrictions may be more a reflection of what is happening inside American borders than outside. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the administration was debating a plan to require proof of vaccination for domestic or international air travel, but that there were concerns about travel disruption and the persistent Republican opposition to vaccine mandates.

Any concern about political backlash might be misplaced. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) tweeted last week that the policy “makes no sense” and called for vaccinated Europeans to be allowed into the United States.

Conservative groups have criticized the policy, too. The American Enterprise Institute’s Stan Veuger has dubbed the restrictions “not just bizarre and cruel, but ineffective too,” while the National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke has said that Biden should end the policy as soon as possible. “Fit it with concrete shoes and send it to the bottom of the ocean,” Cooke wrote.

It’s hard to imagine that reopening international travel will happen without some kind of system for recognizing foreign vaccines. Last week, the World Health Organization seemed to point the way, urging national governments to recognize all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing so that they could avoid “chaos, confusion and discrimination.”

Speaking on Wednesday, Zients said the administration was working on a “new system” that could include “vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States,” as well as improved approaches to testing and surveillance. What that means is not yet clear, but here the Biden administration may have to think a little less American — and a little more French.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/16/biden-travel-ban-europe-analysis/

Italy’s Domestic Tourism Reaches Its Peak for This Summer Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Italian tourism has hit an all-time high during July and August since the beginning of the pandemic, the Italian Confederation of Craft Trades and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CNA) has revealed. Such a rise in travel demand has been attributed to the implementation of the country’s green pass.

According to a press release issued by CNA during July and August 2021, around 23 million Italian nationals had decided to spend their summer vacations in the country, lifting the booking rate higher than ever.

The number of those who spent their holidays in the country this summer was 6 million, higher than the total of 17 million people in 2020. As for the pre-pandemic period, in 2019, the number of those who spent their holidays within Italy was 18 million, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Based on CNA’s report, the health pass of the country had a crucial role when it came to the domestic travel and tourism sector. This is because the COVID-19 Certificate allowed those who had one of the required documents to travel freely without being subject to strict restrictions.

“And with them, six million foreign vacationers have also vacationed in Italy, much less than in the pre-pandemic summers but in turn in a consistently larger number than expected, a fact favoured by the positive effects of the “green pass,” national CNA of Italy noted.

Since August 6, the “green pass” has been mandatory in Italy for all persons over the age of 12, including international tourists. Italy’s health pass, which is an extension of the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, is issued to all persons who have been vaccinated with one of the vaccine doses recognised in Italy as well as to those who have recovered from the virus.

Regarding the accommodation occupancy in Italy, it has been revealed that traditional hotels were preferred mostly by the Italian vacationers during July and August, with 15 million arrivals. As for the other accommodation places, including campsites, they accounted for eight million arrivals.

As such, based on this data, it means that even though cities of art in Italy continue to be highly affected by the pandemic, the seaside resorts and other facilities made the most significant difference in the country’s tourism sector. – Advertisement -https://69cec3a7c846f9145ead4a068b09b680.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“In the field of seaside tourism, this year the smaller islands have come out of the niche, thanks to the important appeal of Procida, the next Italian capital of culture,” CNA added.

Previously, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that Italy had extended the use of its Green Pass. Consequently, since September 1, all persons who want to use airplanes, busses, ferries, and other transport means are required to present a vaccination or recovery certificate. In addition, those who hold a negative test result not older than 48 hours are also eligible.

Source: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/italys-domestic-tourism-reaches-its-peak-for-this-summer-despite-covid-19-pandemic/

Cuba, Israel and Phu Quoc announce reopening plans

Fall is almost here, we’re approaching our seventh season of living with a pandemic, and yes, it still sucks. Never mind, though, as CNN Travel is here as always to sharpen your pencils, straighten your rucksack and get you schooled in our weekly roundup of the latest developments in pandemic travel news.

1. France has banned unvaccinated American travelers

France has become the latest European country — and the most significant tourism destination — to remove the United States from its safe travel list, following EU recommendations in the wake of a US Covid spike.

A French government decree issued on Thursday bumped the United States and Israel from the country’s “green” list, down to “orange,” effectively prohibiting nonessential travel to France for unvaccinated visitors.However, the caution is reciprocated. France was added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s highest-category risk list — “Level 4: Covid-19 very high” — back on August 9, meaning US citizens are already advised to avoid nonessential travel there.

2. And Spain has done the same

In a change from policy earlier this summer, Spain is allowing tourists from the United States only if they are fully vaccinated, the health ministry told CNN on Tuesday.The new rule, which took effect this week, states that visitors from the United States on “nonessential travel,” such as tourism, must show “a vaccination certificate that the (Spanish) Ministry of Health recognizes as valid.”Like France, Spain is on CDC’s highest-risk Level 4.

3. Cuba will start to reopen its borders in November

Cuba’s state-run media has announced that the island will begin to reopen borders in November, despite a recent surge in Covid cases. Cuba has been closed for much of the pandemic, which has hit the local tourism industry hard. According to Cuba’s Ministry of Health, more than four million people on the island have been fully vaccinated with the island’s home-grown vaccines.A statement from the Ministry of Tourism that was published on Monday in the Communist-party newspaper Granma said that Cuba will gradually reopen borders starting November 15 and will no longer require travelers to take a PCR test upon arrival.

4. Israel will reopen to small groups of tourists this month

An Israeli pilot program to kick-start tourism will allow small foreign tour groups from selected countries, reports Reuters. Fully vaccinated tour groups of between 5 and 30 people from countries on Israel’s green, yellow and orange lists will be allowed to enter the country, the tourism ministry said on September 5. Individual tourists will still not be allowed to enter outside of a tour group, with exceptions being made for people visiting family members.

5. The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc will reopen next month

Vietnam has taken a tough line with its Covid restrictions — this week a man was jailed for five years for spreading the virus — but there are still plans to revive its tourism industry. Authorities hope to reopen the island getaway of Phu Quoc to foreign tourists from next month, for a trial period of six months. The 222-square-mile island is known for its stunning beaches, including Sao Beach, Long Beach and Ong Lang Beach.

6. Jamaica and Sri Lanka have been added to the US ‘do not travel’ list

Two tropical islands half a world apart and popular with tourists — Jamaica in the Caribbean and Sri Lanka in South Asia — are the latest additions to the CDC’s ever-expanding list of the highest-risk destinations for Covid-19.They join the likes of Greece, Portugal, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Thailand, the Bahamas and many other much-loved vacation spots.

7. The UK government was blasted for long lines at London Heathrow

Last weekend saw huge lines at London’s Heathrow Airport as families returned from trips abroad in time for the new school term. Social media erupted, with some claiming to have been kept waiting for hours.The airport press office criticized British Border Force on September 4 saying, “We are very sorry that passengers faced unacceptable queuing times in immigration last night (September 3) due to too few Border Force officers on duty.” The UK government might scrap its travel traffic light system within weeks, the BBC reports, and could be replaced with a new strategy that would allow vaccinated travelers to go quarantine-free to countries with similarly high levels of vaccination as the UK.

8. Time Out has named its ‘best cities in the world’

San Francisco — renowned for its booming tech industry, sumptuous restaurant scene and THAT bridge — has been crowned the “world’s best” city, according to Time Out.Time Out says San Francisco’s “unbeatable combination of progressiveness, acceptance and sustainability” clinched it the top spot. It was also applauded by Time Out for its response to the pandemic, and for boasting one of the highest vaccination rates in the US.

9. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be a bit more like normal this year

The world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will return to a more traditional route in 2021 and the public will once again be able to line the streets of Manhattan to watch.However, masks will be required for volunteer participants and staff and a vaccine mandate will apply, with few exceptions. Public viewing locations, entry guidelines and restrictions will be announced in November.

10. Delta Air Lines says the stick part of its ‘carrot and stick’ strategy is working

US airline Delta announced in late August that, while it wasn’t mandating vaccinations for employees, after November 1 those who weren’t jabbed would face a company health insurance increase of up to $200 a month. The company reported Friday that since the announcement, its employee vaccination rate has already shot up from 74% to 79% — a big leap in around two weeks. There remain around 20,000 unvaccinated Delta employees.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/pandemic-travel-news-france-spain-cuba-israel/index.html