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The 2021 Shandong Conference on Tourism Development to be held in Yantai in late September

This conference aims to be a unique, high-level tourism event that combines universal participation with openness and sharing, achievement demonstration, exchange of experience, innovation and development, and publicity and promotion.

Yantai, China – The 2021 Shandong Conference on Tourism Development will be held in Yantai from September 22 to 24. This conference aims to promote the high-quality development of the cultural tourism of Shandong Province by focusing on the theme “Welcome to Coastal Wonderland – Enjoy the Hospitality of Shandong” and starting with the marine and cultural tourism projects. The conference is hosted by the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee and the People’s Government of Shandong Province and organized by the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, the CPC Yantai Municipal Committee, and the People’s Government of Yantai.

This conference aims to be a unique, high-level tourism event that combines universal participation with openness and sharing, achievement demonstration, exchange of experience, innovation and development, and publicity and promotion. The overall conference arrangements include four major activities: the opening ceremony, the large-scale cultural tourism show “A Solemn Pledge of Love for Yantai”, the working meeting, and the project observation in addition to four minor ones: the display of cultural tourism achievements made by 16 cities of Shandong Province, the Yantai cultural tourism experience activity with the theme of “Love for Traveling in Wonderland”, the 2021 International Coastal Leisure Tourism High-Quality Development Forum, and the Grand Yantai Carnival.

When the day comes, representatives of the cultural and tourism departments of some provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities), representatives of some coastal cities, key distributors, investors, trade association leaders, cultural tourism experts, foreign consuls in China, and the heads of relevant international organizations will be invited to attend the conference. The guests and attendees will participate in the conference both online and offline. The number of the offline participants will be strictly controlled and various epidemic prevention and control measures will be carefully implemented to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.asia/the-2021-shandong-conference-on-tourism-development-to-be-h

European Destination of Excellence 2022 shortlist announced

One Turkish and two Danish destinations named on the shortlist for this year’s competition

BRUSSELS, Sept. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The European Commission announces the three shortlisted destinations for the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) 2022 competition. This initiative rewards the best achievements in sustainable tourism and green transition practices in smaller destinations across Europe.

Gürsu in Turkey and Middelfart and Thisted in Denmark convinced the panel of independent sustainability experts with their applications and were chosen ahead of 40 other applicant destinations. The winner of the 2022 award will be selected from this shortlist of three. Find out more about each of the shortlisted destinations here.

The European Destinations of Excellence is an EU initiative, implemented by the European Commission. Its aim is to recognise and reward smaller destinations that have in place successful strategies to boost sustainable tourism through green transition practices. The competition is founded upon the principle of promoting the development of sustainable tourism in destinations which brings value to the economy, the planet and the people. The initiative covers EU countries as well non-EU countries participating in the COSME programme[1]. The competition addresses smaller tourism destinations which can showcase their outstanding achievements in sustainability and inspire other tourism destinations in their green transition.

In order to compete for the 2022 European Destination of Excellence title, destinations were asked to demonstrate their best practices in sustainable tourism and green transition. In the next step, the three shortlisted destinations will be asked to present their town’s candidature in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will select one winner, the European Destination of Excellence 2022, which will be awarded in November 2021.

The winning destination will be positioned as a tourism sustainability pioneer committed to the European Green Deal objectives and will receive expert communication and branding support at the EU level throughout 2022.

For all the latest news visit the European Destinations of Excellence website.

Contact

European Destinations of Excellence Secretariat:
Antigoni Avgeropoulou, info@edensecretariat.eu, +49 (0) 30 70 01 86 390

Notes to Editors

1. Since 2007, the European Commission has supported EU Member States and other countries participating in the COSME programme to reward non-traditional, emerging sustainable tourism destinations in Europe through the ‘European Destination of Excellence” (EDEN) award. This action aimed to foster sustainable tourism destination management models across Europe by selecting and promoting EDEN destinations. To date, 175 destinations from 27 different countries have received the award under different annual themes.

2. In 2019 the “Study on EDEN evaluation” was carried out to assess the continued relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the EDEN initiative and the various actions implemented in its framework, as well as its coherence with other EU initiatives. Following the results and recommendations of the evaluation study, the European Commission relaunched the initiative, taking into account European Green Deal goals. In addition to the EU countries, it also covers non-EU countries participating in the COSME programme. The competition addresses smaller tourism destinations which can showcase their outstanding achievements in sustainability and inspire other tourism destinations in their green transition.

3. The EDEN Award was implemented first as a pilot project and as a preparatory action initiated by the European Parliament and since 2011 has continued under the CIP/COSME programmes.

4. The 2022 EDEN competition was open to submissions from 22 April 2021 to 16 June 2021. Terms and conditions are available at https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/tourism/eden_en

5. Eligible applications were evaluated against a set of established assessment criteria, by a panel of independent sustainability experts. The shortlisted destinations will be invited to present their candidatures in front of a European Jury. The European Jury will select one European Destination of Excellence 2022.

[1] Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom. https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/39579

Source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/european-destination-excellence-2022-shortlist-135500587.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAJvf5D786jaqL8vSPlbw2dVsZ8pjV_gzQ5ooUn_Kcgybm3d_CXOPWoCkLWtVxdmmw9XeV2K7SVXgxkyDActUiXAxIJwxCwz3E3YQ8Zqu5C_jcnTFvLB-YB2_AaQI5oBXuVNODNjFNPkroHxZg9gY8uGn9MmSLfD2eQAOuHOYLrOB

This week Tourism Ministers and industry leaders join together at the Évora Forum

This week over two dozen ministers and government officials; 140 speakers, professors and industry leaders, will come together at the Évora Forum – A World for Travel and will be announcing the five sustainable commitments to accelerate the transformation of travel for a more sustainable future.

The Evora Forum, the brainchild of Christian Delom, Secretary General, A World For Travel and Frédéric Vanhoutte, Founder/CEO, Eventiz Media Group aims to be the “davos-like” forum of sustainable travel and aims to put tourists and residents at the heart of tourism transformation while promoting best practices and collaboration across the travel industry.

The five commitments will focus on sustainability from all perspectives including social, environmental, and economic. The ambition of the Évora Forum – A World for Travel is to return one year later, Evora 2022 to hear about the successes and to revise the acts for the coming year.

The organizers have collected 35 position papers from across the global travel industry, engaged Oliver Wyman who has developed a baseline of where the travel industry sits vis a vis sustainable actions and goals.  Results from surveys and analysis will be announced at the morning press conferences.

At the first morning’s keynote, five tourism ministers including H.E. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica, H.E. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State for Tourism, France, H.E. Fernando Valdès Verest, Secretary of State for Tourism, Spain, H.E. Vasilis Kikilias Minister of Tourism and H.E. Ghada Shalaby, Vice Minister Tourism and Antiquities, Arab Republic of Egypt  will be joining a panel session titled  ‘Covid-19: A Resilient Sector Drives to a New Deal with New Leadership Demands’. They will be discussing how government leadership needs to facilitate the sector’s influence on policy making from establishing standards to defining easier access to funding and capital. 

High on the agenda will be agreeing the challenges faced by the industry and how to reach core targets set by the COP21 Paris Accord. During the forum industry leaders will be debating how to establish standard criteria for measurement and offset options for travellers. Jane Madden, Global Managing Partner, Sustainability and Social Impact, FINN Partners will be moderating the panel session titled ‘From transport to mobility solutions – zero carbon target’ and she will be joined by Lucas Bobes, Group Environmental Officer & ESG Reporting, Amadeus, Dr. Marc Ivaldi, Professor, Toulouse School of Economics; Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Aviation (ISA) and Affiliate at NERA Economic Consulting, Ian Moore, CCO, VistaJet  and Michel Taride, Board Member, former Group President Hertz International, Smart Mobility Expert.

Mr. Delom commented: “We are just one week away from the first think tank about sustainability in travel.  We know important topics will be discussed and commitments generated that will have true impact. Our goal is that the development and announcement of five commitments will be adopted and implemented by tourism businesses and organisations around the world to ensure a more sustainable future for travel, while making changes to the impact of tourism.”

There will be over 30 presentations, panel sessions and discussion groups during the Évora Forum – A World for Travel covering a variety of issues from the economics of tourism to tourism’s impact on the environment.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/this-week-tourism-ministers-and-industry-leaders-join-together-at-the-evora-forum

Venice to demand tourists pre-book city visit on app to tackle tourist overcrowding

Authorities in the Italian city are testing airport-like turnstiles to control the flow of people. Should the number of visitors become too high, further tourists will be prohibited from entering.

Authorities in Venice are preparing to demand tourists pre-book their visit to the city on an app in a bid to tackle tourist overcrowding.

Officials in the Italian city are also looking at charging day-trippers between €3 (£2.58) and €10 (£8.59) to enter, depending on the time of year.

Airport-like turnstiles are being tested to control the flow of people and, should the number become too high, stop new visitors from entering.

Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro said his aim was to make tourism sustainable in the lagoon city, which is visited by about 25 million people a year.

“I expect protests, lawsuits, everything… but I have a duty to make this city liveable for those who inhabit it and also those who want to visit,” he told reporters.

City officials have already started tracking every person who sets foot in the city in a bid to tackle the issue.

With a CCTV network of 468 cameras, optical sensors and a mobile phone-tracing system, officials are able to tell residents from visitors and where they are travelling from.

They can also find out where people are heading and how fast they are moving, with authorities updated every 15 minutes on how crowded the Italian city is.

Information on how many gondolas are on the Canal Grande, whether boats are speeding and if the waters rise to dangerous levels are also passed on.

Residents, students and commuters will be exempt from the tourist tax, as will those spending at least one night in a Venice hotel, given they will have already paid the overnight tariff of up to €5 (£4.29) a day.

Mr Brugnaro added that authorities had yet to decide what the maximum number of people in the city should be and when the new rules will be enforced.

They were due to be implemented between next summer and 2023.

The scheme was first mooted in 2019 and then it was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor’s plan is the subject of debate, with some worrying it will deter tourists from visiting.

Others, such as 50-year-old Stefano Verratti who sells Murano glass near the train station, backed the idea.

“I have been here for 30 years, and it used to be very different. Before Venice was really romantic,” he told Reuters.

“Now it’s just people rushing to buy a kebab, take a quick selfie on the Rialto bridge, and then rushing to take a train. I don’t know if they really enjoy it.”

A month ago, Italy banned cruise ships from Venice lagoon to defend its ecosystem and heritage, after the United Nations culture organisation UNESCO threatened to put the country on a blacklist for not banning liners from the World Heritage site.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/venice-to-demand-tourists-pre-book-city-visit-on-app-to-tackle-tourist-overcrowding-12400694

Self-isolation changes: Relief for hospitality managers as ‘pingdemic’ ends, but ‘uncertainty’ not over yet

Managers at pubs and hotels, and the CBI, have warned that disruption could last for weeks to come with younger hospitality workers less likely to have had both vaccine doses.

Pub and hotel managers have hailed changes to self-isolation rules – which are set to mark the end of the ‘pingdemic‘ – but warned that uncertainty is not over for businesses yet.

From Monday, those who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to quarantine when identified as a close contact, signalling an end to temporary closures and huge staff shortages that have blighted the hospitality industry this summer.

However, managers have warned that with younger staff members – who are more likely to work in hospitality – still waiting to receive second doses, some disruption is still expected over the coming weeks.

Veryan Palmer, director of the five-star Headland Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall, welcomed the changes, but added: “It’s not quite over for us yet”.

“Generally our older staff have been fully vaccinated, but if you’re young you still often haven’t yet had your second vaccination.”

Over recent weeks, the hotel has experienced mass disruption due to self-isolation, leading to bedrooms being closed and only one of its three restaurants being able to operate.

At one point, 51 out of its 227 staff had been pinged, although only one employee has tested positive for Covid after being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

“It’s been really tough and it’s been really tough for a lot of the staff. People want to work and they want to earn money,” said Ms Palmer.

She added that on top of having lots of staff under 25 who are yet to receive a second dose, there were fears that last week’s Boardmasters Festival, which was held in the town, could lead to an uptick people being told to isolate.

“I know a lot of young staff managed to get tickets. We’re hoping that it won’t have become a super-spreader event,” she said.

Disruption to the industry caused by people being asked to self-isolate after being pinged as a close contact could last for several weeks yet.

Those who are yet to receive a second dose will then have to wait two weeks until they are exempt from quarantine when contacted.

Martin Robinson, general manager at Ye Old Fighting Cocks, in St Albans – which claims to be the oldest pub in England – said the changes would make things “much easier”.

But, he added: “A lot of the staff are under 21, so it’s going to take a little while for everyone to get there.”

Amid the heatwave on 12 July, the pub was forced to close for 10 days after all 17 staff who were working that day were pinged.

“Not one of us tested positive. That was a real kick,” said Mr Robinson. “10 days, beautiful sunshine, and a bunch of healthy 20-somethings sat at home twiddling their thumbs.”

On Monday, the pub’s chef was isolating after contracting Covid, meaning there was no kitchen service.

But while Mr Robinson said it was important to keep people safe and to avoid further lockdowns, even small numbers of staff isolating caused big issues because the pub was operating on scaled-back staff numbers.

“You try to run as slim as possible because we’re coming out of financial hardship,” he said.

“When you’re running that tight, it only takes one person to say I’ve been pinged and it’s really tough to deliver a decent standard of service.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said the changes would come as “a long-awaited relief to businesses” and would “ease” the impact of the pandemic.

However, a spokesperson added: “for those sectors reliant upon younger works still awaiting their second jab, including hospitality, a critical part of the workforce still face the prospect of needlessly having to self-isolate.

“A practical test and release scheme could be a sensible alternative for those who are single-dosed to ensure that self-isolation remains properly targeted at those who risk spreading the virus.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also said that while the new exemptions would provide “huge relief” to small business owners, a “well-functioning testing system” was also critical.

Source: https://inews.co.uk/news/self-isolation-rule-changes-hospitality-relief-pingdemic-ends-uncertainty-not-over-1152908

Space Tourism Is a Waste

Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk want to make “space tourism” a thing. This could jumpstart a pointless industry that’s totally unsustainable.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man on Earth, will head into suborbital space on Tuesday. He’ll be the second billionaire to take such a journey this month, getting narrowly beat out by Richard Branson, who recently took an hour-long rocket trip to the edge of space. Next year, Elon Musk—who has traded the world’s-richest title with Bezos a few times this past year—will also head to space on Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane.

If these billionaires get their way, there will be more of these flights in the future. Virgin Galactic has said it already has $80 million in deposits and sales plunked down for its flights. All three of these men are gunning to make “space tourism” a thing. But it comes with a major cost to the rest of us.

For the super-rich, a few minutes spent experiencing weightlessness and viewing the curvature of the Earth could leave humanity footing an ever-larger carbon pollution bill. It also reflects the increasingly unsustainable levels of inequality and concentration of power, which, coupled with the climate crisis, will lock in suffering for billions. That’s nothing to celebrate.

Neither Bezos nor Branson has been particularly forthcoming about the environmental impact of their flights. But then that’s precisely the problem. The initial climate impact of an individual space tourist flight may be comparatively small, but they will add up. And each flight signals something more ominous to come.

We know those impacts can be large in part because they emit pollution directly into the stratosphere. Studies show this can deplete the ozone layer that protects us from harmful ultraviolet rays and that the world has worked so hard to restore. (For its part, Blue Origin claims its effect on the ozone layer will be minimal.)

Then there are greenhouse emissions to worry about. The VSS Unity winged spaceship that Branson took to space runs on a combination of nitrous oxide andhydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB). HTPB is
made out of butadiene, which is a byproduct of using steam crackers to turn petroleum or natural gas into ethylene—a highly polluting process that releases emissions that are both toxic and planet-heating.

Bezos’ New Shepard rocket, made by his company Blue Origin, runs on a combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.Though neither of those emit carbon when they’re burned, producing liquid hydrogen usually does. Compressing and liquifying the oxygen for the fuel is also an energy-intensive process that, if not done using renewables, results incarbon pollution.

Refining and burning these fuels isn’t just the equivalent of a tank of gas for your car. They’re not even necessarily equal to using jet fuel to hop a coast-to-coast flight.

“The Virgin Galactic flight carried six passengers and reached an altitude of 53 miles [85.3 kilometers], and from information provided by Virgin Galactic, we can estimate that carbon emissions per passenger mile are about 60 times that of a business class flight,” Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, adding that “more research is needed to understand the full climate impact.”

Branson has said that the emissions from his flight will be offset by investing in projects that suck up carbon elsewhere. But planting trees and encouraging regenerative agriculture doesn’t undo the damage of his joy ride. Forestry offset projects have also proven to be both ineffective and unjust. Blue Origin, meanwhile, has focused on how much less polluting Bezos’ flight will be than Branson’s was.

These flights to the edge of space will add to Bezos’ and Branson’s individual carbon impacts, which are already cartoonishly large thanks to their propensity for behavior such as regularly flying private. (A single private jet trip can emit nearly double the amount of carbon than the average American does in an entire year). But though infuriating, there aren’t that many of these flights taking off, so the overall environmental effects aren’t that big.

“Contemporary attempts to boost suborbital and orbital space tourism (such as those attempted by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin) are still at an early stage of development,” said Nikolaos Iliopoulos, a doctoral candidate in sustainability at the University of Tokyo who researches space travel’s environmental impact. “Thus, as of today, space tourism presents limited socio-environmental impacts as space tourism vehicles travel to the orbit and back.”

But in the near future, Branson and Bezos as well as Musk want that to change. Branson’s Virgin Atlantic wants to “open space to everyone.” Bezos’ Blue Origin wants to “increase access to space.” And Musk’s SpaceX wants to “make humanity multi-planetary.”

Though these companies all make it sound like the missions are for the masses, the price tags say otherwise. A yet-unnamed person, for instance, paid $28 million to be a passenger on Bezos’ Tuesday trip up to space. (They subsequently and improbably had a scheduling conflict, and an investment firm CEO’s 18-year-old son will take the seat instead.) Future Virgin Galactic flights are priced between $200,000 and $250,000.

Rich people are already responsible for a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions. Just 1% of the global population is responsible for half of the world’s commercial flight emissions. That doesn’t even account for the even more elite select few who can fly private.

“When you look at the aviation sector, private jets are so much worse on a per passenger basis than a regular plane full of economy class passengers just because fewer people are traveling on each one,” said Clare Lakewood, senior legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “You put just one or two people in a rocket, and you’ve got something orders of magnitude worse that would supersize the carbon footprints of people that already have the largest ones.”

Globally, individuals in the richest 1% are already responsible for 175 times more greenhouse gas pollution than the average person in the bottom 10%. If space tourism takes off, it could make these disparities even worse.

Don’t get me wrong, there are good reasons for space travel. Without it, we wouldn’t have satellites that help us track dangerous weather and our changing climate. Learning about other planets is important, too, not only for its own sake but also because it helps us understand our own. Observing Venus and Mars has helped scientists better understand the climate crisis on Earth. The search for life beyond Earth also can’t happen without sending probes out into the solar system. Space exploration can even help us understand the beginning of the universe, allowing us better understand our place in it.

But space exploration is not the same as space tourism. While the former is conducted for the worthy goal of understanding what’s beyond our atmosphere, the latter only serves the interest of the super-rich who want a thrill and the billionaires who own the companies that can provide it. It’s one of the most glaring illustrations of rising inequality. What’s more, it could widen the gap further by worsening the climate crisis and forcing the most vulnerable to suffer the impacts while the rich snap space selfies.

Even if we create truly clean fuels someday, using them for space tourism to enriches billionaires is still not sustainable. Concentrated wealth is concentrated power, and concentrated power is bad for the Earth. We’ve seen the democratic decay and the planetary danger posed by putting so much money in the hands of the few. Musk has ignored labor regulations and bullied California officials during the pandemic. (Hundreds of his employees got covid-19.) Bezos has pretended to give a damn about the climate with his venture capital fund—which will inevitably enrich him further—even as Amazon helps oil companies more efficiently extract fossil fuels. Lining the pockets of these men through space tourism will further corrode what we hold dear.

But couldn’t space tourism be the beginning of space colonization, helping us to ensure we have a livable future even if the climate crisis makes Earth uninhabitable? These billionaires want us to think so. SpaceX wants to colonize Mars as a space outpost for when life on Earth is no longer tenable.Bezos wants to build colonies orbiting Earth to support billions of people. But put simply, these proposals are absurd. They’re not going to come to fruition, and they’re certainly not going to create a sustainable alternative to life on Earth, a planet that has all the life support systems we need if billionaires would just stop wasting them.

“We are not going to build large-scale sustainable human civilization on Mars anytime soon, certainly not on any timescale remotely relevant to stopping climate breakdown,” said Kalmus. “It will be far easier to stop climate breakdown on Earth than it would be to build large-scale civilization on Mars, where there isn’t even air to breathe.”

Consider that at any given time, there are a handful of people in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station. Unlike, say, Mars, it’s a relatively protected part of space, located firmly within Earth’s magnetic fields, which makes it comparably safe from the radiation produced by gamma rays and cosmic rays as well as destructive solar winds. But it still takes thousands of workers on Earth and regular restocking trips to the ISS just to keep those few people alive.

“We don’t even pretend that the International Space Station is an independent system, and it’s protected by our magnetic fields. It’s got easy delivery to and from Earth, and it’s still hard to live there. We certainly couldn’t just cut it off and have the astronauts live there without a constant stream of resupplies,” Mika McKinnon, a field geophysicist (and former writer for Gizmodo), said. “This idea that we can colonize other places is just bullshit. Earth is easy mode, and we can’t even maintain livable conditions here.”

Leading climate scientists have made it clear that if we’re going to have a shot in hell at repairing Earth’s deteriorating conditions, we’re going to have to restructure society. As Sarah Diamond, associate professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and an author of one recent landmark report told me, that will require “a profound collective shift of individual and shared values concerning nature.”That means not wasting Earth’s resources on pointless spectacles that only serve the rich. It means not organizing our whole society in a way that enables a handful of people to accumulate stratospheric wealth, while everyone else suffers in economic and ecological disparity. We should be focusing all our efforts on securing a livable future on this planet—not celebrating flashy indulgences of billionaires at the edge of space.

Source: https://gizmodo.com/space-tourism-is-a-waste-1847285820

European Commission moves closer Schengen visa rollout

The European Commission has outlined new rules for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).

The move is considered an important step towards the entry into the operation of ETIAS by the end of 2022.

Once the system is in place, non-EU citizens travelling to the Schengen area who are exempt from the visa requirement will need to register and obtain authorisation before travelling.

This is likely to include travellers from the UK.

“The rules entering into force detail how ETIAS will work with other EU information systems it will query when conducting checks, namely the entry/exit system, the visa information system, the Schengen information system and a centralised system for the identification of member states holding conviction information on non-EU nationals,” the Commission said in a statement.

The system will cross-check travellers against EU information systems for internal security, borders and migration before their trip, helping to identify ahead of time people who may pose a risk to security or health, as well as compliance with migration rules.

The set-up of ETIAS forms part of the ongoing work to put in place a “state-of-the-art external border management system” and making sure that information systems work together in an intelligent and targeted way.

“ETIAS will not change which non-EU countries are subject to a visa requirement and will also not introduce a new visa requirement for nationals of countries that are visa-exempt,” the Commission clarified.

Visa-exempt non-EU nationals will only need a few minutes to fill in an online application which in a vast majority of cases (expected to be over 95 per cent) will result in automatic approval.

The process will be simple, fast and affordable, officials said.

The ETIAS authorisation will cost €7, which will be a one-off fee, and will be valid for three years and for multiple entries.

Source: https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/european-commission-moves-closer-schengen-visa-rollout/

Virgin Galactic opens ticket sales for space flights

Virgin Galactic has opened ticket sales for space flights, with prices starting at US$450,000 a seat.

The move comes weeks after the billionaire founder of the company, Richard Branson, took a high-profile flight to the edge of space.

The space-tourism company confirmed it is making progress toward beginning revenue flights next year.

It will sell single seats, package deals and entire flights.

In June, Virgin Galactic received approval from the US aviation safety regulator to fly people to space.

Sales will initially open to a list of “early hand-raisers,” Virgin Galactic said.

“In the second quarter, we made meaningful progress towards commencing commercial service in 2022.

“We successfully completed two spaceflights from New Mexico, the latest carrying a full crew of mission specialists in the cabin and garnering an extraordinary global media and consumer response.

“In addition, we received FAA approval to expand our existing launch license, marking the first time the FAA has licensed a Spaceline to fly customers to space,” said Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic.

“Leveraging the surge in consumer interest following the Unity 22 flight, we are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today, beginning with our Spacefarer community.

“As we endeavour to bring the wonder of space to a broad global population, we are delighted to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience.”

Releasing its quarterly results, the company said it made a net loss of $94 million over the past three months.

This is compared to a $72 million net loss in the second quarter of 2020.

The company posted revenue of $571,000, barely enough to cover one seat on a future flight.

Source: https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/virgin-galactic-opens-ticket-sales-for-space-flights/

TOP 5 WORLD’S EXTREME TRAIN JOURNEYS

Moving through jungles, deserts, steppes and endless plateaus, some train rides represent truly magnificent engineering work and unique travel experience. For these trains to be able to travel mountains, deserts, jungles and forests of extreme temperatures, it took thousands of workers and experts that overcame difficulties that seemed impossible. Tourism Review presents the best extreme train journeys around the world.

The Longest Ride

When people think about the most extreme train journeys, one certainly comes to mind: The Trans-Siberian Express. The express travels 9,288 kilometers from Moscow to the far east of Russia, to the port of Vladivostok.

The railway opened in 1904 and it took thirteen years to complete, in which two additional branches were added: the Trans-Manchurian, which reaches Beijing; and the Trans-Mongolian, which also heads for the Chinese capital after going through Mongolia.

There is also a route that reaches Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, by crossing 10,214 kilometers, making it the longest commercial express in the world.

The entire journey on the Trans-Siberian takes a week. Besides watching the beautiful wilderness behind the windows, the luxury services onboard also make the trip an amazing experience.

Through the Outback

Australia has one of the aridest deserts in the world, known as the Outback. The Ghan crosses this desert from north to south, going from Darwin to Adelaide on an almost 3,000-kilometer journey that takes five days.

The construction of the railway began in 1878, but it was not until 2004 when the route from the north to the south of Australia was completed. Nowadays, it can be very pleasant to board the Ghan train and look at the reddish desert, but the first journey of this train was actually made in 1929.

The name of this train service is a shortened version of its previous nickname, the Afghan Express, given after the Afghan camel drivers that made the same journey until the majestic railway was constructed.

The Northernmost Train Ride

Back to Russia, but this time we’ll be talking about the northernmost railway in the world: the Yamal Peninsula.

Opened in 2010, the Yamal Peninsula Express takes workers to Siberian gas plants, but tourists can also join on the 550-kilometer journey through the Obskaya–Bovanenkovo line.

While some may boast about going on a train that holds a world record, chances are it also holds the record for being the most boring train ride in the world. The view is amazing, but it’s the same picture for 22 hours.

And if you are planning to get a drink, you would be disappointed: the Yamal is a dry train with an airport-style security, so alcohol is forbidden.

Traveling the Indian Jungle

The Konkan Express, also known as the ‘monsoon train’, runs for 756 kilometers along the west coast of India, between Mumbai and Mangalore. Since 1920, a railway between those cities had been discussed, but the complex geography of the region introduced one obstacle after another.

It was inaugurated in 1998 after 20 years of work, which involved the construction of 2,116 bridges and 92 tunnels, making it the largest railway project in the history of Asia.

Tracing the line in the mountains on the edge of cliffs, cutting through the rugged jungle and raising rails in the middle of flooded terrain was an enormous effort of engineering in which those involved had to work under torrential rains, mud and water avalanches, infectious diseases and wild animals. In total, 74 workers died during the railway’s construction.

Train to the Clouds

Train to the Clouds

In the far north of Argentina, you can find the “Train to the Clouds”. This tourist train was opened in 1948 after two decades of work, and in 1972 it began being officially used by tourists as a heritage railway. After many pauses amid the economic crises that the country faced years ago, the train finally came back to life.

The train departs from Salta to San Antonio de Los Cobres, a small town that lives off the mining industry and is located at 3,775 meters above sea level.

Passing this town, the train reaches La Polvorilla viaduct, located at 4,200 meters above sea level, one of the most exciting points of the ride, when the train crosses this 64 meters high metal structure.

The engineering masterpiece of this railway line can be seen at departure and on the way back, consisting of 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, 2 spirals and 2 zigzags.

Source: https://www.tourism-review.com/worlds-best-extreme-train-journeys-news12043

Digital Tools to Revitalize Tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) continues to energize the restart of tourism based on sustainability and innovation. An agreement with MUST Travel & Tech places a digital tool at the service of tourism, allowing users to share their experiences to promote the reactivation of the sector with a view to sustainability. Presented during the UNWTO Mayors’ Forum in Porto, Portugal, the tool is an opportunity for the advancement of smart cities, as well as destinations that incorporate technology and innovation in their development.

Already operating in 60 countries, MUST aggregates all the information of interest to travellers in one place. By also integrating key information and analysis from UNWTO, it aims to become a leading tourism application and generate opportunities for destinations.

Technology at the service of development

We welcome innovative ideas and technologies that allow the creation of global and regional innovation ecosystems aimed at accelerating the recovery of tourism for development

Visibility provided through technological tools is an opportunity for those who, along the entire value chain of the sector, require support to restart their activity, from new destinations around rural communities, to destinations with a high degree of infrastructure development.

“We welcome innovative ideas and technologies that allow the creation of global and regional innovation ecosystems aimed at accelerating the recovery of tourism for development,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili upon signing the agreement.

For his part, the CEO of MUST, Pablo López, highlighted that “technology enhances the productivity and resilience of companies. The implementation of digital solutions in line with new trends in the tourism sector allows us to develop a differentiated, personalized and safe tourism product that is more focused on behaviour patterns and the management of spaces that will undoubtedly contribute to the recovery of a key activity for the economy in general”.

Shared objectives

A distinctive element will be the contribution of tourism intelligence from the UNWTO to the users of the tool. In this way, relevant and verified content is combined with data for making informed and evidence-based decisions.

The agreement provides for cooperation in the execution of projects that include, among others:

  • Supporting the digital transformation of tourism service providers.
  • Fostering tourism development and promotion in a sustainable and inclusive way.
  • Boosting innovation in the practices of reservation and consumption of tourism experiences and activities.
  • Encouraging the creation of quality content with a focus on cultural heritage and the authenticity of the destination to be promoted.
  • Promoting and disseminate the UNWTO “Best Tourism Villages” programme on the MUST platform as well as other programmes or events of the Organization.
  • Promoting programmes related to innovation, education and investments that are useful for tourism destinations of mutual interest.

The agreement between UNWTO and MUST will be in place until the end of 2024.

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Source: https://www.hotelnewsresource.com/article116476.html