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Europe’s tourism & leisure industry sees a drop of 53.1% in deal activity in Q2 2020

Europe’s tourism & leisure industry saw a drop of 53.1% in overall deal activity during Q2 2020, when compared to the four-quarter average, according to GlobalData’s deals database.

A total of 53 deals worth $2.81bn were announced for the region during Q2 2020, against the last four-quarter average of 113 deals.

Of all the deal types, M&A saw most activity in Q2 2020 with 35, representing a 66.04% share for the region.

In second place was venture financing with 12 deals, followed by private equity deals with six transactions, respectively capturing a 22.6% and 11.3% share of the overall deal activity for the quarter.

In terms of value of deals, M&A was the leading category in Europe’s tourism & leisure industry with $2.64bn, while private equity and venture financing deals totalled $128.67m and $42.26m, respectively. 

Europe tourism & leisure industry deals in Q2 2020: Top deals
The top five tourism & leisure deals accounted for 95.6% of the overall value during Q2 2020.

The combined value of the top five tourism & leisure deals stood at $2.69bn, against the overall value of $2.81bn recorded for the quarter.

The top five tourism & leisure industry deals of Q2 2020 tracked by GlobalData were:

  • Evolution Gaming Group’s $2.32bn acquisition of NetEnt
  • The $224.57m acquisition of Porto Carras by Belterra Investments
  • TowerBrook Capital Partners’ $108.67m private equity deal with CarTrawler
  • The $20m private equity deal with Playa Hotels & Resorts by Davidson Kempner Capital Management
  • Atream’s asset transaction with PATRIZIA for $18.48m.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/europes-tourism-leisure-industry-sees-a-drop-of-531-in-deal-activity-in-q2-2020

Spain to reopen to international tourists in July

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has announced the country will reopen to international tourists from July, pledging to guarantee the safety of visitors and the workforce.

The leading destination receives over 80 million tourists per year.

Starting in July, Sánchez said that international tourism can resume once more, adding tourists can start planning their holidays.

Sánchez confirmed that as part of the planning for Spain’s phased reopening plan – known as the ‘Plan de Desescalada’ – the government was working with the tourism sector to prepare measures for the reopening.

The moves will be coordinated by ministry of industry, business and tourism in collaboration with Spain’s autonomous communities.

Going forward, the prime minister announced that Spanish tourism will have two new hallmarks – health and safety and environmental sustainability.

GreecePoland and the Algarve have announced similar moves in recent days.

At the same time, the European Aviation Safety Agency has been considering how to get passengers safely back in the air.

Source: https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/spain-to-reopen-to-international-tourists-in-july/

11 EU states agree on rules for tourism reopening

Eleven European Union states, including Greece, on Monday agreed on a set of rules regarding the gradual easing of movement restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The agreement was announced following a video conference between the foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Portugal, Malta, Slovenia and Bulgaria. It is based on the guidelines issued last week by the European Commission, and it is designed to coordinate the reopening of borders for tourists.

In a joint statement, the ministers said they had agreed on four guiding principles, namely that an approach of phased steps, coordinated and agreed among EU states is the best way to achieve a gradual normalization of cross-border traveling; exploring ways of allowing travel while avoiding an unsustainable rise in infections is key priority; ensuring that citizens who travel freely within Europe can also safely return home (they stressed the need for a harmonization of health-related standards and procedures); and, finally, that the restoration of the freedom of cross-border movements can be achieved progressively, provided current positive trends continue leading to comparable epidemiological situations in countries of origin and of destination.

“We call on tourism businesses and related private actors to use the coming weeks to take appropriate precautionary measures to protect travelers once freedom of movement and traveling is restored. We believe this is a crucial element to rebuild public trust in the safety of traveling,” the statement said.

“Even though currently the situation concerning the corona pandemic continues to differ from country to country, it is our common goal to coordinate our approach among European partners as closely as possible with a view to restoring freedom of movement and safe travelling in the near future,” it said.

Source: https://www.ekathimerini.com/252783/article/ekathimerini/news/11-eu-states-agree-on-rules-for-tourism-reopening

Deserted Venice contemplates a future without tourist hordes after Covid-19

A few days before Italy is set to lift restrictions across much of the country after being locked down since March 10, the streets of Venice are starting to spring back to life. 

There are no tourists here just yet. Instead the noise is from vacuum cleaners and sanitation crews inside stores that are getting ready for the grand reopening on May 18.

But even as shop owners prepare for whatever post-lockdown Venice looks like, everyone here in this deserted tourist town is asking the same question: who are they reopening for?

Every year, as many as 30 million tourists from all over the world descend on Venice, pumping up to $2.5 billion into the local economy, according to the Italian Tourism Ministry.

But few are Italians, who have never been as enamored with the lagoon city as the rest of the world, according to Matteo Secchi, head of the tourist group Venessia, who says Venice has always attracted far more international tourists than national ones.

“When the city reopens next week, it will still be much like it looks today,” he told CNN in an eerily empty Venice this week. “Tourists won’t really start coming back until the borders are reopened and international travel is allowed.”

Not everyone wants things to go back to business as usual.

Jane da Mosto, who heads non-profit group ‘We Are Here Venice’, has been fighting to get policy makers to understand the advantages of sustainable tourism for the city by launching campaigns to keep massive cruise ships out of the historical harbor and studying the options for preventing flooding like the city endured last fall.

She sees the pandemic as a turning point for the city, and envisions a new Venice emerging in the post-pandemic world.

“The new Venice I dream of after this is like it is now, just with more residents,” she told CNN in an interview in Venice. “The problem for Venice isn’t the lack of tourists, it’s the lack of permanent residents. And with more residents, the city will reflect more the Venetian culture and the wonderful lifestyle that this extraordinary city offers and future visitors to the city will be able to enjoy Venice more.”

A funeral for Venice

In many ways, Venice has lately become a victim of its own popularity in a worsening struggle between overtourism, fed by the popularity and affordability of cruise ships and low-cost air travel, and the steady decline of local residents who have been fleeing the tourist invasion in record numbers.

The population of Venice has dropped from 175,000 after World War II to just over 52,000 today.

Secchi’s group even helped stage a funeral for Venice in 2009 when the population dropped below 60,000. Things have only gotten worse since then.

“The virus shows just how tourism has massacred the population,” Secchi, who is also in the hospitality industry, says. “When the city locked down and it was just Venetians here, you could see how few we really are.”

Last summer, that inner struggle with mass tourism came to a head when the government, worried about the ecological effects of mass tourism on the city’s canals, threatened to ban cruise ships from entering the historical port by way of St. Mark’s Square, which is a highlight on any Venetian port call. 

It was a tough choice for Venetians since the massive cruise ship terminal employs thousands. The plan was eventually scrapped when the government fell in August, but the city was left with a tough choice: keep going the way they were and risk destroying the city entirely.

Then, on February 25, Covid-19 did what Venetians have not been able to do: make everything stop.

As the spread of the virus turned the surrounding Veneto region into a hotspot, the annual Carnival celebration was canceled for the first time ever.

“The shock of canceling Carnival really woke everyone up,” Secchi says. “It was like having the rug pulled out.”

A turning point

Many in Venice now see the pandemic as a chance to do just what city governments have failed to carry out in the past: rethink mass tourism and try to create a new type of sustainable tourism for the fragile city.

Melissa Conn, the director of the Venice office of Save Venice, an American cultural heritage group that works to preserve the city’s vast cultural heritage through conservation grants, sees the pandemic as a turning point. “We are using this time in a positive way,” she told CNN in Venice.

They are moving forward on between 30 and 40 urgent projects to help after Venice suffered historic floods last year.

The group normally has to work around tourists, but in their absence, they have been able to work less hindered.

“What will follow will be slow tourism, not mass tourism anymore,” Conn says. “We are confident that we can rebuild, reestablish and rethink Venice, concentrating on helping the city withstand the elements and tourism.”

Conn knows that pulling the plug on the sort of mass tourism that Venice has experienced in recent years will cause some businesses to close.

“We’re going to see empty shops,” she says. “We are going to need to rethink Venice, to bring it to a higher level.”

But she’s not talking only about designer shops and luxury goods. “We don’t want it to become a Monte Carlo,” she says. “We need to focus on the Made in Venice brand, to promote local artisans and bring that Venice back and offer a better quality of life to the people who live here and who visit.”

She also sees an opportunity in the vacuum created by the absence of mass tourism due to travel bans instituted by the pandemic to lure academic programs back to the city.

She envisions the tourist apartments housing students and bringing new energy to the city. “We feel more than ever that this is the moment,” Conn says. “Saving Venice is a very particular mission, but we are on a roll right now.”

Black Death

What happens next in Venice is crucial for its future.

After all, this city has risen from pandemics before. The very word quarantine was born out of the city’s response to the Black Death more than 700 years ago when the city was a powerful trading hub that brought merchants from around the world.

When the plague hit, they decided the only way to protect the city was to isolate incoming ships for 40 days, or quaranta giorni, which became known as the quarantina, what we now call quarantine.

What happens next in Venice is in the hands of the Venetians, perhaps for the first time in centuries.

Mattia Berto, who runs a theater company in Venice, believes the city can find the right balance.

“Venice in many ways has been a perfect lover, willing to give everyone what you want without asking for any commitment for the future,” he told CNN.

“But it’s time to rethink what Venice can be. It’s time to finally solve this conflict between the two Venices, the one for tourists and the one for Venetians. It’s time to finally commit to our future.”

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/venice-future-covid-19/index.html


WTTC calls on G20 tourism ministers to take initiative in Covid-19 recovery

The World Travel & Tourism Council has called upon G20 tourism ministers to lead a united and coordinated recovery for the sector out of the Covid-19 crisis.

The body, which represents the global tourism private sector, argues only the G20 has the power to influence and drive forward a coordinated recovery effort needed to preserve the sector.

According to WTTC analysis, the Covid-19 outbreak is threatening the jobs of 75 million people around world and one million jobs daily, significantly impacting major source markets.

The extraordinary tourism ministers meeting due to take place on Friday is set to discuss how to combat the crisis crippling the entire sector.

Ahead of the meeting, WTTC praised the G20 for freezing the debt of the poorest countries as a major step towards enabling them to bolster their health systems, to save lives and combat Covid-19.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “The proven record of the G20, which powered the recovery following the financial crisis in 2008, and the recent decisive action to freeze debt proves this forum is the best platform with the speed and agility needed, to drive forward the urgent actions required to set the pace and save the global tourism sector and enable it to survive and thrive.

“WTTC proposes tourism ministers participating in the meeting, fully jointly commit with the private sector to four key principles to achieve a faster recovery.

“This would involve including the private sector in the coordinated response, ensuring all measures put the traveller at the heart of their actions.

“This would include a seamless traveller journey with enhanced health security standards enabled through technology, developing joint public-private and G20-wide health protocols as well as ongoing support packages for the tourism sector beyond lifting of lockdown and into the recovery.

“As the premier forum of international cooperation, the G20 is the best proven vehicle to help achieve global economic stability and sustainable growth, which has successfully partnered with the private sector to achieve such objectives.

“Millions of people around the world depend on their actions.”

The four WTTC principles to ensure swift recovery for the tourism sector and the global economy following the end of the Covid-19 outbreak are:

  • A joint public-private coordinated approach across the G20 to re-establish effective operations, remove travel barriers and reopen borders. This would ensure the efficient resumption of flights, movement of people and widescale travel essential to re-build confidence in tourism.
  • Enhance the seamless traveller journey experience, combining the latest technology and protocols to increase health standards. Consider the “new normal” for the sector with components of health, security, hygiene and sustainability with a traveller centric approach.
  • Work with the private sector and health experts to define global standards for the new normal, grounded in science which can be easily adopted by businesses of every size across all travel industries and can be implemented across the world.
  • Continue providing support to the tourism sector during the recovery phase, throughout the entire travel eco-system. Financial aid for workers and businesses to promote a swift recovery. It is vital the domino effect is fully realised so that businesses large and small can all recover and prosper.

Source: https://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/wttc-calls-on-g20-tourism-ministers-to-take-initiative-in-covid-19-recovery/

Experts Say It Could Be 18 to 24 Months Before Travel Picks Back Up

As we near month two since the coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a pandemic, workers in the travel industry would like nothing more than for the world to return to normal.

They may have to wait a while, however. CNBC has reached out to experts in the public health and tourism industries for an estimate on when travel will resume for its series “The Next Normal.” In its segment, CNBC outlines the challenges the travel industry will face even after the pandemic diminishes.

Experts agree that it may take around 18 to 24 months before airlines see a substantial increase in demand. While there are a recorded number of people willing to travel once the pandemic recedes, there will still be many people who will remain cautious. Airlines and airports are already trying to reassure travelers by implementing new kinds of security checks to screen travelers who are sick.

Delta has been exploring ways to get people traveling again while reducing exposure, such as issuing “immunity passports.” Airports have been checking the temperatures of all passengers, and many airlines are now requiring crew members and passengers to wear protective masks.

Ultimately, however, these solutions are not completely foolproof, and many will still refuse to travel until a proven treatment or vaccine can be found or senior health officials and scientists, not just airlines and travel experts, confirm that air travel no longer poses a risk.

“Many people are not going to feel safe going back to crowded airplanes … until they see that the number of new deaths from the virus has gone down to almost none in their region, or until there is a vaccine or much better ways of tracing and isolating who has it,” said Robert Reich, the former U.S. Labor secretary and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Additionally, the pandemic has caused mass furloughs around the world; many people may not want to travel after the industry resumes simply because they cannot afford to travel or do not want to spend so much money right away. Businesses in the travel industry will likely market themselves to locals for a while to appeal to the desire of a “staycation.”

The furloughs and layoffs throughout the industry also mean that small, local tourism businesses will be struggling well after the pandemic is over, unlike larger, high-end chains. And even these businesses will most likely have to continue enforcing social distancing after they open their doors. The fewer options combined with enforced safety precautions may not appeal to most travelers.

Source: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/features/experts-say-it-could-be-18-to-24-months-before-travel-picks-back-up.html

Battered global tourism industry makes reopening plans

Six months ago, the global tourism industry was celebrating a record year for travel. Now, it’s decimated and facing a recovery that could take years.

Tourism Economics, a data and consulting firm, predicts global travel demand won’t resume its normal pace until 2023.

When tourists do finally return, they will face a changed landscape that incorporates social distancing and other measures to calm residual fears over COVID-19, the disease that has so far killed more than 244,000 people worldwide and infected millions more.

“It takes time to shake fear from the hearts of people, not to mention the economy,” said Mahmoud Hadhoud, founder of Egypt Knight Tours, who doesn’t expect foreign tourists to start trickling back into Egypt until September.ADVERTISEMENT

Last week, Hilton, Marriott and Airbnb all announced enhanced cleaning procedures worldwide to ease travelers’ minds. In Egypt, Hadhoud is removing cruises and hot air balloon rides from his packages and replacing them with tours of Egypt’s vast western deserts, where travelers can keep their distance from one another.

At Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, multiple teams are working on scenarios, including putting more space between riders on roller coasters, said John Sprouls, the resort’s chief administrative officer, at a recent virtual event for tourism officials.

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said his company may sanitize dice between users, put fewer seats at blackjack tables and idle slot machines between players at its casinos in Las Vegas, Boston and Macau.

Gary Thulander, managing director of Chatham Bars Inn, a 106-year-old resort on Cape Cod, said the resort is planning many changes when it reopens this summer, including checking in guests via cell phones, letting them opt out of room service and lengthening dining hours so fewer guests will be eating at the same time.

The road to recovery will be long and hard for the tourism industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts global tourist arrivals — or visits from tourists who come to their destinations and stay at least one night — will fall 30% this year from the record 1.5 billion in 2019. Airlines have grounded nearly two-thirds of their planes as passengers vanish. Cruise ships are docked; some won’t sail again until November.

Millions of people who depend on tourism are laid off or furloughed. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 8 million tourism-related workers are jobless right now, or about one-third of total U.S. unemployment, said Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.ADVERTISEMENT

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, the leading airline trade group, said carriers need to fill at least 70% of seats to break even on most flights. If they’re required to block or remove many seats, they will either stop flying or raise prices 50%, he said.

That will delay recovery for places like Israel, which sees almost all of its tourists arrive by air. Diklah Cohen Sheinfeld, chief of staff of the Israeli Tourism Ministry’s director general’s office, said the tourism industry — which employs 250,000 Israelis — was the first to be impacted and will likely be the last to recover.

“There are no tourists and no entry to the country for tourists. The gates are totally closed,” she said.

In some places, governments are stepping in to help the sector. Serge Cachan, president of the Astotel hotel chain in Paris, closed his 17 properties in March and expects to lose 70% of his business this year. But the French government will help the chain get through it, he said. The government is paying around 80% of furloughed hotel workers’ salaries.

Many destinations anticipate travelers’ behavior will change in the virus’s wake. Pornthip Hirunkate, vice president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, thinks more people will come in small groups or seek personalized tours.

Ander Fuentes, who works as a tour guide in Spain’s Granada province, thinks travelers will shift away from crowded beaches to the quieter interior mountains.

“It could be an opportunity to develop a new kind of tourism, which is going to be good for Spain, because in the last 10 years, the tourism boom has been in quantity but not in quality,” Fuentes said. He hopes tourism there picks back up by mid-August.

But not everyone is comfortable with reopening. Marco Michielli, who owns the 67-room San Marco Hotel in Bibione, a beach resort east of Venice, Italy, said many hoteliers worry their businesses will be ruined if the virus spreads on their properties. Some would rather reopen next year than serve guests this summer with desk staff and bartenders wearing masks.

’’If we have rules approved by the ministry, some hotel owners would be convinced to start to open. But if the hotel must look like a COVID ward, many will refuse to open to guests,” he said.

Others say they need reassurance from science — not just tourist sites — before they travel.

Ema Barnes visited a dozen countries last year, including Serbia, Vietnam and Chile. This year, she had planned trips to Jordan and South Korea.

But right now, Barnes is working remotely in a tiny town in her native New Zealand. Airports near her are closed, so she’s not sure when she’ll get back to New York, where she works in publishing.

Barnes said she needs some peace of mind — a COVID-19 vaccine, or testing to make sure she isn’t a carrier — before she resumes her travels.

“I don’t think my desire to travel and explore other places is worth my risking the health of people in those places,” Barnes said.

Others remain optimistic. Dedy Sulistiyanto, the owner of a tour and adventure provider in Bali, Indonesia, has been promoting his business on social media while it’s closed. He has received so many positive responses that he thinks tourism will resume quickly when restrictions are lifted. Most of his clients are domestic tourists from Indonesia.

“There are so many people out there very eager to do traveling,” Sulistiyanto said.

Source: https://apnews.com/c5ad53fbaf1c2380d88508243ec51860

CRUISE LINES READY TO SET SAIL AFTER THE PANDEMIC – WITH CHANGES

Cruise lines look forward to the day when ships will sail again, but after the pandemic, the voyages will be different. Some experts even agree that COVID-19 might have changed the rules forever.

As of now, there is no set date for the industry to resume activities. At first, most believed that it would last one or two months, but for now, the large companies expect that operations will resume in June, although the decision solely depends on the governments of each country.

Shorter Trips

One of the immediate consequences is that trips will be shorter, mostly because the reopening of ports won’t be the same in all countries. It is likely that some European countries might happen to agree on dates, but while in the Mediterranean ships sail to places such as the Caribbean, ports may remain closed longer.

Companies like Norwegian Cruise Line announced that one of their ships, the Norwegian Sun, will be based in Port Canaveral, Florida for short trips of 3 to 5 days instead of the 12-day cruise along the coast of Canada and Alaska, which was its original route.

Passenger Control

In the No Sail order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prohibiting cruise ship activity in the United States, it was specified that companies should implement new security measures to avoid the spread.

After the pandemic, cruise lines will carry out regular health checks on passengers, although coming up with methods to do it quickly while boarding and disembarking will be a challenge.

It is expected that cleaning and disinfection processes will be more frequent and that there will be hand sanitizer at the entrance of restaurants and bars, as well as attractions and other common areas.

Additionally, cruise lines will perhaps require travelers aged over 70 to show medical exams showing that they are COVID-19 free and in good health for the trip. These exams will also have to comply with the requirements of ports visited in the itinerary before allowing the passenger to disembark.

Several companies announced that there will be regular temperature checks on passengers and staff. Some expect an on-site rapid COVID-19 test for passengers like the one announced by Emirates Airlines, which involves a quick blood test that issues results within 10 minutes.

However, it is one thing to implement this for the 300 to 500 passengers of an airplane, and another to run tests on the 5,000 passengers of a mega cruise ship.

Smaller Ships

If a ship cannot book all of its suites and cabins, cruise lines will switch the vessel for a smaller one. Like Carnival, some of the largest companies expect to leave the biggest ships docked, and sail on those with the least capacity.

The lower demand will force companies to postpone plans such as building new cruise ships, but using the older and more polluting ships is not an option.

This way, the industry could rethink its strategy and, instead of designing mega cruise ships for over 5,000 passengers, opt for vessels with capacity fewer than 1,000.

The End of Buffets?

A study by a travel blog The Point Guy suggests that companies should consider changes for some of the customs on board. One example is the cruise ship buffet: instead of having passengers wait in line and touching kitchenware for self-serve, it will be safer to appoint crew members to serve dishes and drinks.

Self-serve buffets will need more involvement from the crew than before, or maybe the popular custom could be suspended for the first months and replaced by traditional restaurant menus, as several hotels are doing. The only problem lies in the fact that this will represent costs for cruise ships as more personnel will be needed.

Cheaper Tickets

The cruise industry will have to make large investments in the first months after the pandemic. The psychological factor is quite important, so the strategies must involve convincing passengers that going on a cruise is safe.

But words and sanitary displays won’t be enough. Passengers will also need to be lured with cheaper rates: some experts expect that cruise ship tickets may drop between 25% and 30% during the first months of reopening.

Other measures being considered are more flexibility for cancellation policies and making paid services complimentary, such as WiFi, which is an important source of income.

Keeping Distance

One of the challenges on cruise ships will be keeping social distancing. For this, companies such as Dream Cruises and Star Cruises announced in advance that restaurants and theaters won’t be booked completely, so seeing empty seats will be part of that measure.

The same might apply to cruise ship tickets in general, so in the near future cruise ships won’t travel at full capacity, which was the engine behind the business. On the one hand, the industry will recover slowly over the months, and it is expected that it will take a couple of years for it to return to previous performance levels.

Still, cruise lines hope to be on the water as soon as possible, no matter the demand, in an effort to show the public that the industry is strong and prepared for what is ahead.

Source: https://www.tourism-review.com/cruise-lines-plan-major-changes-news11501

WTTC aims for ‘climate neutral’ tourism sector by 2050

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has reiterated its commitment to the global fight against climate change following the UN’s Climate Change Conference, Cop 25, in Madrid this week.

The WTTC aims to tackle the climate crisis through its Climate & Environment Action Plan and called on the tourism sector to become climate neutral by 2050. 

Its plan sets out targets, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy initiatives to reduce the use of plastics, food waste and others. 

The WTTC has also helped in the creation of a Sustainable Travel & Tourism Partner programme, to recognise companies that are taking action on this area and will share industry best practices via a Sustainability Knowledge Hub.

The travel and tourism sector supports one-in-10 jobs around the world and contributes 10.4% of global GDP, figures the WTTC said emphasised the need for the industry to commit to tackling climate change.

The meeting was the second time the tourism sector has been formally represented during a Cop summit and follows the WTTC hosting the first global Climate & Environment Action Forum during UN Climate Week in September.

The gathering featured presentations and discussions on leading by example through sustainable business practices to move the travel sector to climate neutrality by 2050 as well as delegates debating what is still needed to be done to create a more sustainable industry. 

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “We are excited to be moving forward with our Climate & Environment Action Plan, as the leaders within the travel and tourism industry, we have the power to drive real change and are committed to this issue.

“Many of our members are already champions in sustainable business practice, and WTTC has the opportunity to convene the industry so we can move faster, contribute, and address the significant environmental and sustainability challenges facing our world.”

Source: https://www.ttgmedia.com/news/news/wttc-aims-for-climate-neutral-tourism-sector-by-2050-20349

Tourism Task Force tries to get handle on tourist overload

In packed Assembly chambers at City Hall, the city’s Visitor Industry Task Force tried to get a handle on the ever-growing tourism industry.

The issue at hand was how the city will manage the influx of tourism expected to arrive in the coming years.

“There are a lot of ships on order,” said City Manager Rorie Watt, “and they are large.”

In its third meeting ever, and only the second substantial meeting according to Task Force Chair Carole Triem, the group looked at how the city had managed tourism in the past and how that might serve as a guide for the future.

“Past efforts show that we’ve been at a point where we thought mitigation was insufficient before,” said Michele Elfers, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation for the City and Borough of Juneau. Elfers walked the Task Force through portions of the city’s Long Range Waterfront Plan, a technical document which gives an overview at how the city has approach tourism management in the past.

“It seems that we’re at that point again where we need to look at tourism more seriously,” Elfers said.

One of the words that is used repeatedly in the plan, Elfers said, was the word “balance.”

“The word balances comes out a lot, it’s a reoccurring theme,” Elfers said. “It also talks a lot about unifying the waterfront, about connectivity between the waterfront and downtown.”

Elfers told the task force to think of the Waterfront Plan as an infrastructure guide. However, she said, the plan did not discuss things like management, policy or maintenance issues.

Task force members talked about how to enhance the quality of life for Juneau residents while still accommodating the needs of the tourist industry, which is a major economic driver.

Meilani Schijvens of Rain Coast Data said she had worked on a number of studies related to the tourism industry, and that building infrastructure with locals in mind was a key element of achieving that balance.

“If you build for the tourists, the tourists are going to hate it,” Schijvens said. She said amenities built specifically for tourists often feel unauthentic and are usually disliked by visitors.

“But if you build for the locals, everyone is going to like it,” she said. “Sometimes if you go down to the waterfront, it’s all locals. We’re building a tourist industry that is for the locals and for the visitors.”

Yet there was still concern about the growth of the industry and the number of people coming to the city each year.

Paula Terrel, a community organizer and tourism industry critic, said the number of tourists was affect quality of life in Juneau.

“The ships are getting bigger, we’re getting more. If we don’t do something, it’ll just grow and grow,” she said. “There’s nothing to stop the cruise ship companies from coming with any volume they want.”

Assembly member Wade Bryson was wary of putting a cap on the number of tourists.

“There’s no way for us to pick a number, there’s nothing we can do to say this is the line (where no more tourists can come),” Bryson said. He was concerned that caps or other limitations on the tourism industry might disincentivize cruise ship companies from choosing Juneau as a destination.

“We also have to look at how much money is at stake,” Bryson said. “Every business in Juneau is tied to tourism.”

At the end of the meeting, Triem said she wanted to schedule additional meetings where members of the public could give comment.

“What I would want to hear is specific concerns,” Triem said. “The more specific, the more it helps with policy. I find it helpful when people have their specific points of friction.”

Two meetings were scheduled for public comment. On on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 10 a.m. and the other on Thursday Jan. 16, at 5:30 p.m. Both meetings will take place in Assembly chambers at Juneau City Hall.

Source: https://www.juneauempire.com/news/tourism-task-force-tries-to-get-handle-on-tourist-overload/