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Can Phuket’s sandbox be a model for vaccine tourism?

Phuket opened to tourists despite COVID-19 deaths surging on the mainland. But the sandbox provides lessons for other tourist-friendly countries in the region, says a Southeast Asia observer.

JAKARTA: Before the pandemic, Thai island Phuket offered visitors the perfect blend of sun, beach and seedy-but-fun nightlife as one of the region’s best-known tourist destinations. Now, it offers visitors something much more novel: A quarantine-free holiday.

As of the start of July, fully vaccinated visitors from select countries can fly directly into Phuket and go straight from the tarmac to the beach. Spend a full 14 days there and visitors (or savvy Thai nationals) are welcome to continue their trip around Thailand, effectively spending their quarantine term in a resort under a programme that is being called the “Phuket sandbox”.

The programme isn’t without controversy. Fears over the safety of Phuket communities, as well as cynical assumptions that few would take up the confusing and expensive offer, blighted the programme in its first weeks.

Still, if it goes well, expect to see other holiday favourites such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao accessible shortly afterward.

Thailand was the first country outside of China to record a case of COVID-19 which, paired with mass cancellations of trips from Chinese visitors, saw tourism grind to a halt in the first couple of months of 2020.

The sharp, sudden decline in visitor numbers and then eventual rolling lockdowns smashed the country, where tourism accounts for around 12 per cent of GDP.

The delicate balance between economic imperative and public health has been revealing of governments around the world. In Thailand, that balance has looked desperate as the government moved to open something – anything, anywhere – to tourism.

Phuket is a natural choice. With a long-time reputation as one of Thailand’s best resort islands, Phuket has the infrastructure, particularly an international airport, to support the programme.

And as one of the most visitor-dependent provinces in a country already vulnerable to the whims of tourism, it is among the most desperate.

A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

For the half a million residents of Phuket, the “sandbox” is a double-edged sword. The tourism industry has been all but destroyed by a year of no visitors, but public health is also paramount.

The government in Bangkok promised the plan would not go ahead until the community reached 70 per cent vaccination by the Jul 1 launch, which did in the end fall short – but only slightly.

The province has been plagued by the same issues as the mainland in terms of securing vaccine stock and navigating complicated online systems. Still, the vaccination programme will continue alongside the opening of the sandbox.

Full vaccination can’t come soon enough. At least six tourists have tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving on the island under the sandbox programme. One of the first to be identified was a visitor from United Arab Emirates who had taken the test as part of requirements upon arrival.

Drivers and hotel staff who had come into contact with the man were placed into self-isolation. Health officials confirmed the tourist was vaccinated fully with the Sinopharm vaccine.

“Worry more about domestic arrivals,” provincial chief doctor Kusak Kukiattikoon told local media. His blunt words refer to the growing disaster on the mainland, with new daily record deaths as the Delta variant surges through the country.

Fresh restrictions are expected imminently including restrictions on interprovincial travel – essentially ending the quasi-quarantine of Phuket before heading elsewhere.

Ironically, the launch of the Phuket sandbox may have become a spreader event for the political elite in Bangkok who attended.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, who proudly attended the launch on the island, went into self-isolation after an attendee tested positive. Spokespeople for the prime minister’s office reassure that he has so far tested negative and will continue his work as usual.

AN OPTION FOR OTHER COUNTRIES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

He may well use that time promoting the sandbox idea to other leaders in the region.

As planned travel bubbles, such as that between Singapore and Australia, collapse under the weight of new cases and unsteady vaccine programmes, the sandbox could become an option for other tourist-friendly countries in Southeast Asia.

“The sandbox is much more than just for Phuket or Thailand. It sets a possible way forward for other Asian countries,” tourism magnate Ho Kwon Ping told Bloomberg. He pointed to other possible locales such as China’s Hainan province, islands in Vietnam or even Indonesia’s Bali.

That may be overly ambitious for the time being, but it shows an industry pivoting towards creative ideas which acknowledge the pandemic is a long way from being over.

By the end of the year Phuket expects to have played host to 100,000 visitors. A long cry from the 10 million in years past but a respectable start for a devastated community fighting its way back.

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/covid-19-phuket-sandbox-quarantine-beach-resort-travel-thailand-15225442

New coalition to fight for gender equality in hospitality

Hospitality leaders across the globe have come together to form LeadingHôtelières, a coalition working to achieve better representation for women at the highest levels.

Formed by some of the world’s top hoteliers and hospitality academics, this pioneering initiative is calling for gender equality across senior positions, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5.

Uniting industry leaders in a common goal

The LeadingHôtelières coalition has been founded by the CEO and president of HoteliersGuild, Frank M Pfaller, and co-founded by the CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Lindsey Ueberroth. Considerate Group’s Xenia zu Hohenlohe is leading the coalition as chairwoman in its inaugural year, and the associate professor of management at EHL, Dr Sowon Kim, is joining as co-chair.

“When we looked at our HG membership roster, we realised that we had far too few women in leadership positions,” said Pfaller. “Reaching out initially to Lindsey, Xenia and Sowon, we were thrilled to realise their enthusiasm to join our cause to making a real change.”

Additional support is being provided by industry leaders like the owner and CEO of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Valentina de Santis; sustainability architect Yasmine Mahmoudieh; the director of Red Carnation Hotels, Vicki Tollman; the director of spa at Four Seasons Hong Kong, Dr Tania Bardhan; and the CEO of hospitality consultancy WE(i) Think, Celine Vadam. Each will play an important role in establishing greater gender balance at a systemic level. The group’s communication is to be coordinated by the managing director of Mason Rose, Maria Pajares.

An advisory board is now taking shape, with founder of ESPA International, Sue Harmsworth; associate professor at Institut Paul Bocuse, Dr Henri Kuokkanen; and professor at IUBH University of Applied Sciences, Dr Willy Legrand onboard to offer support.

Working towards gender balance

Together, these figures are setting plans in motion to encourage gender equality across the industry by providing guidance, mentorship and training through its network of industry contacts.

The focus for the coming year is on addressing flexible working structures. “I’m happy to see more women CEOs in hospitality, but we are still a far cry from where I hope we can be in terms of representation,” said Ueberroth. “The biggest challenges for women looking to achieve top leadership roles were the need to travel, relocate and dedicate long hours.

“In the past, once having children and raising a family came into the equation, many women were forced to make a choice, and those challenges were hard to overcome. Given the innovations in technology and a more open attitude towards flexible working hours and home offices, many of these hurdles seem alleviated.”

“We are currently working on a framework to test whether the outcome of our goal, to improve gender equality among directorial and operational roles in the hospitality industry through updated flexible working schemes, actually works for our hotelier partners,” added Dr Sowon Kim, who is heading up research for the initiative. “We aim to create new and relevant knowledge and share these findings in a meaningful, productive way.”

Xenia zu Hohenlohe concluded: “Gender equality is a key part of the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and any business serious about futureproofing itself will need to address this issue.

“We have an incredible collection of women with highly professional profiles paired with great brainpower in this group, all driven by the motivation to ensure the female hotelier of the future will be able to finally have the same opportunities for career development as their male peers. I am delighted to be co-chairing this chapter with the wonderful Sowon Kim and we hope to be able to make a real difference with this work.”

Source: https://tophotel.news/new-coalition-to-fight-for-gender-equality-in-hospitality/

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

New CEO for Institute of Hospitality

The Institute of Hospitality, the professional body for current and aspiring managers working in hospitality, has appointed Robert Richardson as CEO.

Robert Richardson is to become CEO of the organisation as of 19 April 2021, succeeding Peter Ducker, who spent eight years in the role.  

A new chapter for the Institute of Hospitality

  Now taking the helm of this international professional body, Richardson will endeavour to build on Ducker’s legacy. Richardson was previously general manager of Cave Hotel in Kent and, prior to that, held the same post at The Grand in Folkestone, and was an active member of the institute’s advisory board.   The new CEO received the Institute of Hospitality Judges’ Award in 2018 for his commitment to the professional body, before in September 2020 being named Institute of Hospitality vice-chairman.  

Leading the industry forward

  In this influential role, Richardson will work closely with the Institute of Hospitality chair, Kellie Rixon, to lead the body in a post-pandemic world and help realise its aspiration to achieve chartered status.   “We could not be more thrilled to welcome Robert as our new CEO,” said Rixon. “We know he brings with him not only a wealth of hospitality industry experience and connections, but the respect of his peers in education and the wider community where he has dedicated so much of his time to raising the standards and stature of our amazing profession.”   “As hospitality returns to the forefront of our economy and our daily lives after a year of unprecedented disruption and challenge, there has never been a more important time for our industry to cultivate strong leadership and management skills,” added Richardson. “We also need to attract and inspire future generations of talent, and I believe the IoH is perfectly placed to help support this. It is a huge honour to step up and lead our institute moving forward into a brave new post-lockdown world.”

Source: https://tophotel.news/new-ceo-for-institute-of-hospitality/

Cruise industry to generate $6.6B in revenue in 2021, almost five times less than in 2019

In 2019, the entire cruise industry generated $27.4bn in revenue, revealed the Statista data. After the pandemic struck, revenues plummeted by 88% in a year to $3.3bn in 2020.

The COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the global cruise industry, with cruise lines practically disappearing after the pandemic hit and all operators witnessing double-digit sales drop.

However, it seems that 2021 might bring a new hit to the sector, which is already on its knees. According to data presented by StockApps.com, the entire cruise industry is expected to generate $6.6bn in revenue in 2021, almost five times less than in 2019.

Confidence in the Cruise Lines Plummeted Amid Pandemic, The Number of Users Down by 76% in Two Years
When the COVID-19 hit, cruise ships immediately suffered high infection rates among passengers and crew. Thousands of people were stranded on board, spending months in quarantine. By the end of April 2020, more than 50 cruise ships confirmed hundreds of COVID-19 cases. It didn’t take long for cruises to be depicted as places of danger and infection.

In 2019, the entire cruise industry generated $27.4bn in revenue, revealed the Statista data. After the pandemic struck, revenues plummeted by 88% in a year to $3.3bn in 2020. Although this figure is expected to almost double and hit $6.6bn in 2021, it still represents a massive 77% drop compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Statista data indicate it will take years for the cruise industry to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2023, revenues are projected to reach $25.1bn, still $2.3bn less than in 2019. In 2024, cruise line revenues are expected to rise to over $30bn.

As people lost confidence in the entire cruise industry amid the pandemic, the number of cruise line users plunged to the deepest level in years. In 2019, almost 29 million people worldwide had chosen cruise lines for their vacation. Last year, this figure dipped to 3.4 million. Although the number of cruise line users is forecast to recover to 6.7 million in 2021, it still represents a massive 76% drop in two years.

Combined Revenues of Top Five Cruise Markets Still $16B Under Pre-COVID-19 Levels
The Statista survey revealed that, despite a $10.24bn revenue drop in 2020, the global cruise giant Carnival Corporation remained the largest player in the market with a 45% market share in 2021. Royal Caribbean Cruises ranked second with a 25% share. Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises follow, with 15% and 5% share, respectively.

Analyzed by geography, the United States represents the world’s largest cruise industry, expected to generate around $2.8bn in revenue this year, 78% less than in 2019.

Revenues of the German cruise line market, the second-largest globally, are expected to hit $830 million in 2021, compared to $2.8bn before the pandemic struck. The UK’s cruise companies are forecast to generate $650 million in revenue, down from $2.4bn two years ago. Chinese and Italian markets follow, with $570 million and $218 million in revenue, respectively.

Statistics show that combined revenues of the world’s five largest cruise markets are expected to amount to over $5bn in 2021 or $16bn less than in 2019.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/cruise-industry-to-generate-66b-in-revenue-in-2021-almost-five-times-less-than-in-2019

Tourism takes action on plastic waste and pollution

Addressing plastic pollution is essential to sustainably restart tourism, preserve destinations and contribute to climate action.

Tourism businesses and destinations are stepping up their commitment to sustainability. Aimed at reducing waste and pollution across the sector, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI) is welcoming 32 new signatories, with every global region represented behind the shared goal.

The Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It enables businesses, governments and other tourism stakeholders to lead by example in the shift towards a circular economy of plastics. Among the 32 new signatories are organizations such as TUI Group, AC Hotels by Marriott, Palladium Hotel Group, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Hostelling International, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Visit Valencia. These new additions bring the total number of signatories up to 93 companies and organizations. These include organizations from stages of the tourism value chain, including accommodation providers, tour operators, online platforms, suppliers, waste managers and supporting organizations.

Andreas Vermöhlen, Manager for Sustainability, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development at TUI Group said: “Together we can make important steps towards less unnecessary single-use plastic in the world and shift towards a circular economy.”

Addressing plastic pollution is essential to sustainably restart tourism, preserve destinations and contribute to climate action
To mark the confirmation of the new signatories, UNWTO and the United Nations Environment Programme, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, held a special panel discussion with the theme Eliminate. Innovate. Circulate. Strategies from the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative. Participants included Accor Group, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Palladium Hotel Group, Chumbe Island Coral Park and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.

Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General said: “Addressing plastic pollution is essential to sustainably restart tourism, preserve destinations and contribute to climate action. We are proud to see the number of signatories growing continuously since the launch of the initiative.”

Alongside this, a keynote presentation on “A Life Cycle Approach – Key messages for tourism businesses” further highlighted the aims of the GTPI, with a special focus on innovation and the importance of context-based approaches to ensure plastics are circulated back into the economy rather than thrown away after use.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/tourism-takes-action-on-plastic-waste-and-pollution

Slight uptick in tourism recovery: UNWTO

Between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85 per cent below 2019 levels (or a 65 per cent drop on 2020), UNWTO data shows. Despite a small uptick in May, the emergence of Covid-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the recovery of international travel.

Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to rebound in many parts of the world. The latest UNWTO data shows that over the first five months of the year, world destinations recorded 147 million fewer international arrivals (overnight visitors) compared to the same period of 2020, or 460 million less than pre-pandemic year of 2019. However, the data does point to a relatively small upturn in May, with arrivals declining by 82 per cent (versus May 2019), after falling by 86 per cent in April. This slight upward trend emerged as some destinations started to ease restrictions and consumer confidence rose slightly.

“Accelerating the pace of vaccination worldwide, working on effective coordination and communication on ever changing travel restrictions while advancing digital tools to facilitate mobility will be critical to rebuild trust in travel and restart tourism,” said UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili.

International tourism is slowly picking up, though recovery remains very fragile and uneven. Rising concerns over the Delta variant of the virus have led several countries to reimpose restrictive measures. In addition, the volatility and lack of clear information on entry requirements could continue to weigh on the resumption of international travel during the northern hemisphere’s summer season.

However, vaccination programmes around the world, together with softer restrictions for vaccinated travellers and the use of digital tools such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate, are all contributing to the gradual normalization of travel. In addition, domestic travel is driving the recovery in many destinations, especially those with large domestic markets.

Domestic air seat capacity in China and Russia has already exceeded pre-crisis levels, while domestic travel in the United States is strengthening further.

Source: https://www.traveldailymedia.com/slight-uptick-in-tourism-recovery-unwto/

Almost half of all hospitality employees lost job in sector during last year

Almost half of all people employed in the Belgian hospitality sector during the first quarter of 2020 no longer have a job in this sector, according to the Federal Public Service Economy’s Labour Force Survey published on Tuesday.

The study compared the labour market status of the first quarter of last year when the pandemic started in Belgium with the first quarter of this year and found that, although most people are still in employment, the rate of employment has not recovered as well in all sectors.

“We see a particular effect among workers in hotels and restaurants: of those who were working in hotels and restaurants in the first quarter of 2020, only two-thirds are employed a year later,” the report read.

In the first quarter of 2021, the sector employed 40.4% fewer people than during the same period in 2020.

In comparison, employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector also dropped by around 10%. Only the Agriculture, forestry and fishing and ‘Human health and social work’ sectors had slightly higher job retention rates.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, businesses in the catering industry are finding it hard to fill vacancies, not because there are not enough people looking for a job in this sector – around 8,000 people are, according to Bruzz – but because jobseekers don’t have the relevant education or experience.

The number of job offers in the hotel and catering industry is at its highest since April, and the number of job-seekers in the sector has also remained high since March last year however a lack in experience as well as in the certainty such jobs offer during a pandemic is resulting in them remaining unfilled.

Job seekers’ struggle

When it comes to the impact on the unemployed, the study found that 44.9% of the job seekers in 2020 were unemployed (again) a year later, 29.1% have stopped looking or are no longer available for work and just 26% have found a job since.

The rate of continued unemployment varies between the French- and Flemish-speaking regions: in Flanders, 38.4% of the jobless remain unemployed, but another 38.6% found a job a year later.

In comparison, 48.6% remain unemployed and only 18.6% go back to work in Wallonia, whilst in Brussels, the rates are similar, with 48.7% people remaining jobless and 19.1% finding a job.

Young people and low-skilled people are particularly affected, as, respectively, only 80.2% and 77.4% of those who were employed at the start of 2020 were still employed in the first quarter of this year.

FPS Economy pointed out that making comparisons between the two periods when it comes to unemployment has become more complicated as the definition of employment changed in the new European Framework Regulation.

Now, people who have been temporarily unemployed for more than three months (‘long-term temporarily unemployed’) are considered unemployed or inactive, and no longer employed.

“In the first quarter of 2021, it is estimated that 80,000 long-term temporarily unemployed people will be counted as inactive (and to a lesser extent, unemployed),” the report explained.

Source: https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/belgium-all-news/employment/176455/almost-half-of-all-hospitality-employees-lost-job-in-sector-during-last-year/

Bookings surge after Covid quarantine rules relaxed

Bookings for flights and holidays have surged after the decision that fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber-list countries will not have to self-isolate after 19 July.

Airlines said there was a rapid rise in ticket purchases within hours after the government announced it was relaxing quarantine rules on Thursday.

EasyJet said bookings to amber-list destinations increased by 400%.

Despite suggestions prices could rise, analysts thought this unlikely.

The need to quarantine on return to the UK has hindered the travel industry’s recovery from the pandemic, with many people choosing not to holiday abroad.

Under previous rules, those returning to Britain from its top holiday destinations – Spain, France, the US and Italy – all had to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

The travel agents’ association, Abta said the industry was “very much led by supply and demand”, so prices could rise as more people booked after the rule change.

‘Pinch of salt’

But consumer group Which? said previous research found holiday prices before and after government green-list announcements “stayed the same or went down, not up”.

It said that so far, prices had not increased to popular destinations on the amber list.

Out of 14 package holiday prices and six flights to Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal it tracked departing during the peak holiday season in last August, 12 packages remained the same price and two increased.

Four of the six flights rose in price, although the average fare increase was £7.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, urged people to take news of surging prices “with a pinch of salt”.

EasyJet said flight bookings from the UK to amber-listed countries had surged 400% following the government’s announcement on Thursday, adding that holiday bookings were more than 440% up on the previous week.

Alicante, Malaga, Faro, Nice and Corfu are among the top destinations for flights this summer, the airline said.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said Europe had “now turned green for the double-jabbed”.

He urged the government to “remove expensive testing” for fully vaccinated people travelling to green and amber-list destinations “as we do not want to see a return to flying being a preserve of the rich”.

British Airways said “within a couple of hours” of the government’s announcement, it witnessed a 96% increase in the number of views on its website compared with Wednesday last week.

A spokesperson for Tui told the BBC the tour operator had seen a “surge in website visits showing demand is incredibly strong”.

The most popular destinations among their holidaymakers were Mediterranean hotspots such as Spain and Greece, the company said.

Hays Travel said in a statement: “There’s huge optimism from our customers who are booking for the popular destinations – about a quarter of our bookings are for Spain this summer – and also for once-in-a-lifetime holidays.”

But one business said the government’s new plans would not change its own decision not to sell holidays at all this summer.

Operator On The Beach had said in May it would not be selling holidays for June, July and August this year. The firm reiterated that decision in the wake of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement.

Spokeswoman Zoe Harris told the BBC: “We welcome the decision, it’s a step in the right direction… but these amber destinations can still go back to red.

“And it’s not just our government restrictions. The governments in the countries we travel to are looking closely at how they manage tourism, we’ll see what the response is from those tourist destinations to see when its the right time for us to start selling July and August holidays again.”

Queues

Mr Shapps told the BBC the government was working towards extending the exemption to arrivals from those vaccinated in other countries, provided the vaccine had been approved by the World Health Organization, but said that this was complicated because other countries used different systems.

He suggested EU arrivals may be the first to be able to bypass the quarantine system: “It’s easier from the EU because they’re creating their own digital passport, it’s more complicated from other countries.” He said the US had 50 different systems for each state.

Mr Shapps said he hoped to give more detail in a couple of weeks.

He also warned holidaymakers to expect additional queues when checking in for flights home: “Before you board a plane you would need to show you have completed your passenger locator form, that you have carried out a pre-departure test, that you have got your test booked for day two and all of that needs to be checked by the carrier – the airline usually – before you travel.

“So the place to expect queues is the airport you are coming from. Once you get back to the UK all of that is starting to be automated.”

What are the new travel rules for double-jabbed passengers?

  • Fully vaccinated UK residents arriving in England from amber travel list destinations will no longer have to quarantine from 19 July
  • They still need to pay for tests before and after their return. The second one must be a PCR test, but they will not need a day 8 test
  • The rules apply to people 14 days after their final dose of the vaccine
  • Under-18s returning from amber list places will also be exempt from quarantine
  • The guidance that people should not travel to amber list countries will also be removed from 19 July
  • The next review of countries on the green, red and amber lists will be on 15 July – next Thursday
  • But “an amber list country could still turn red”, warned Mr Shapps, meaning hotel quarantine would become a requirement
  • Anyone arriving in England from a red list country must still go into government-managed hotel quarantine

Source? https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57770236

Tourism Takes Action On Plastic Waste And Pollution

Tourism businesses and destinations are stepping up their commitment to sustainability. Aimed at reducing waste and pollution across the sector, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI) is welcoming 32 new signatories, with every global region represented behind the shared goal.

The Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It enables businesses, governments and other tourism stakeholders to lead by example in the shift towards a circular economy of plastics. Among the 32 new signatories are organizations such as TUI Group, AC Hotels by Marriott, Palladium Hotel Group, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Hostelling International, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Visit Valencia. These new additions bring the total number of signatories up to 93 companies and organizations. These include organizations from stages of the tourism value chain, including accommodation providers, tour operators, online platforms, suppliers, waste managers and supporting organizations.

Andreas Vermöhlen, Manager for Sustainability, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development at TUI Group said: “Together we can make important steps towards less unnecessary single-use plastic in the world and shift towards a circular economy.”

To mark the confirmation of the new signatories, UNWTO and the United Nations Environment Programme, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, held a special panel discussion with the theme Eliminate. Innovate. Circulate. Strategies from the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative. Participants included Accor Group, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Palladium Hotel Group, Chumbe Island Coral Park and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.

Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General said: “Addressing plastic pollution is essential to sustainably restart tourism, preserve destinations and contribute to climate action. We are proud to see the number of signatories growing continuously since the launch of the initiative.”

Alongside this, a keynote presentation on A Life Cycle Approach – Key messages for tourism businesses further highlighted the aims of the GTPI, with a special focus on innovation and the importance of context-based approaches to ensure plastics are circulated back into the economy rather than thrown away after use.

About The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency fostering tourism as a vehicle for equal, inclusive and sustainable development. Working with its Member States, international organizations and the private sector, UNWTO promotes safe and seamless travel for all. UNWTO also works to make tourism the foundation of trust and international cooperation and a central pillar of recovery. As part of the wider UN system, UNWTO is at the forefront of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through its ability to create decent jobs, promote equality and preserve natural and cultural heritage.

Source: https://www.ehospitalitytimes.com/?p=90743&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=89976