MP’s Ladhpura Khas nominated as ‘Best Tourism Village’ for UNWTO award

The ‘Rural Tourism Project’ has been started in villages across the state, including in Ladhpura Khas, with an objective of giving shape to the concept of village tourism by adding new dimensions, Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Culture Department’s Principal Secretary, Sheo Shekhar Shukla, said.

Ladhpura Khas, a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Niwari district, has been nominated in the ‘Best Tourism Village’ category for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Award, a senior state government official said.

 “The Union Ministry of Tourism has nominated Ladhpura Khas village near tourist town Orchha under the Best Tourism Village category for the United Nations World Tourism Organization Award. Along with this, two other villages have been nominated – (one each) from Meghalaya and Telangana,” Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Culture Department’s Principal Secretary, Sheo Shekhar Shukla, said in a statement. 

The ‘Rural Tourism Project’ has been started in villages across the state, including in Ladhpura Khas, with an objective of giving shape to the concept of village tourism by adding new dimensions, he said. “In the next five years, 100 villages will be developed from the point of view of rural tourism. Among these, suitable sites will be selected and developed around tourist places, including Orchha, Khajuraho, Mandu, Sanchi, Pachmarhi, Tamia, Panna National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Sanjay Dubri National Park, Pench and Kanha National Park, etc,” he said. 

Shukla said that rural tourism provides an opportunity to local people to learn about the interests and needs of tourists while maintaining the importance of local culture and tradition. “The local community will directly benefit from the development of tourism in their area. MP Tourism Board is also providing training to develop tourism-related products with community participation,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has congratulated all the officers and employees of the tourism department for nominating Ladhpura Khas village as the ‘best tourist village’ and said that it was a matter of pride for the state. 


Vaccine tourism is a double-edged sword, says GlobalData

Vaccine tourism, where tourist hotspots are now offering COVID-19 vaccinations on holiday to attract visitors, is a double-edged sword as, while it could assist travel’s restart, it also raises the question of vaccine equity as it will further increase the divide between the wealthy and less privileged, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.  

GlobalData’s Q2 2021 consumer survey found that only 6% of global respondents were not concerned about the impact of COVID-19. The remaining 94% were ‘extremely’, ‘slightly’ or ‘quite’ concerned. With concerns high, the opportunity to get vaccinated has been seized by many. Lengthy delay or a general shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in some countries is leading tourists to travel to other destinations. 

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The wealthiest people in poorer countries will now be able to access vaccines first as they can afford to travel. This raises the argument that countries promoting vaccine tourism could be donating excess vaccine doses instead of giving access to wealthy tourists.

Certain US states, Russia, the Maldives, and Indonesia are some of the destinations that are currently offering vaccinations to tourists. Some travel agencies have taken the opportunity to promote vaccine tour packages as a way to boost revenue. In Russia, for example, three-week tour packages priced between US$1,500 to US$2,500, excluding the price of the plane ticket, include vaccinations. However, with many destinations worldwide still struggling with low vaccine supplies, this is raising the question of vaccine equity.

According to GlobalData’s COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, the Democratic Republic of the Congo administered 3.5 vaccinations per 1,000 people as of 25 August 2021. In comparison, the US had administered 1,115 vaccine doses per 1,000 people on the same date. This highlights there is already a stark gap between different countries, and many are being left behind.

Bonhill-Smith adds: “One positive of vaccine tourism is that it could play a role in travel’s restart after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sector to its knees. Global international departures declined by -72.5% year-over-year (Y-o-Y) and domestic trips by -50.8% Y-o-Y, according to GlobalData’s databases. This demonstrates the severe effects of the pandemic and why destinations worldwide are eager for a travel restart.


Radisson Hotel Group shapes the future of hospitality at its hybrid event, Radisson Live

Today, Radisson Hotel Group is organizing the first edition of Radisson Live. An exclusive hybrid event broadcast simultaneously from four different locations, Radisson Live brings together business leaders as well as industry experts to share insights and knowledge that will further shape the future of hospitality.

Broadcast live and simultaneously from iconic Radisson Hotel Group locations in London (The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel), Frankfurt (Radisson Blu Hotel, Frankfurt), Stockholm (Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, Stockholm), and Dubai (Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis), Radisson Live strives to inspire as well as to expand the attendees’ understanding of the challenges and innovations that will drive the hospitality industry forward.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the travel and hospitality industry and has drastically changed the way we will travel and conduct business in the future. As more and more countries open their borders, the hospitality industry must think about ways to respond to new market demands. At Radisson Live, we are bringing together key clients, partners, and renowned industry experts to expand our common understanding of the opportunities and innovations that will drive our industry forward, and how working together, we as an industry can respond and shape the future of the travel industry”, says Eric De Neef, Executive Vice President, Global Chief Branding & Commercial Officer Radisson Hotel Group.

Three world-class speakers will share their knowledge in forward-thinking sessions. Richard Quest, CNN Anchor & CNN Business editor-at-large, will dive ‘Inside the mindset of the new business traveler’ and provide insights on how business and leisure travelers will re-discover a world of destinations in this new era of travel, as well as answer questions on how the hospitality industry can deliver a safe experience in a post COVID-19 world without comprising on high-quality service.

Owen Fitzpatrick, international best-selling author and psychologist will host an insightful conversation about the ‘Science of WOW’ to discuss questions such as what kind of content grabs and keeps the brain’s attention as well as what kind of events – both virtual as well as in person – people will want to attend. During his session, Fitzpatrick will also reveal the secret to creating events and content which are impossible to forget.

As Managing Director, EMEA at Encore, Nicholas Rudge is an expert in the events and media sector. In his session ‘Event experiences re-imagined’, Rudge will explore how event experiences will continue to develop in the post COVID-19 world, and how experiences for physical as well as digital event attendees can be blended.

In addition to these world-class speakers and industry experts, business leaders from Radisson Hotel Group will share their insights on: embracing change and ‘The keys to staying alive in transforming a global company’ (Federico J. González, Chief Executive Officer), ‘The fast-growing global footprint of Radisson Hotel Group’ (Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer), as well as ‘How customer centricity is the catalyst for growth’ (Eric de Neef, Executive Vice President, Global Chief Branding & Commercial Officer).

Inge Huijbrechts, Global Senior Vice President Sustainability, Security and Corporate Communications will share insights on ‘How to define a successful sustainability strategy that cares for the planet and the bottom line’, and Giorgi Mindiashvili, Vice President Food & Drink EMEA will be discussing ‘The future of Food and Beverage at Radisson Hotel Group’.

Chema Basterrechea, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer will talk in depth about ‘How to deliver unique guest experiences through fast paced innovation’.

At the event Radisson Hotel Group will also reveal its latest cross brand introduction: Radisson+, an umbrella brand covering all innovation and technological transformations that enhance both the employee and guest experience, enabling a more flexible, efficient, and personalized experience. With Radisson+ guests will be able to choose how they manage their stay, with services like online check-in, AI-enabled service chats and omnichannel e-concierge capabilities. Certain services of Radisson+ are already available across different hotels in EMEA and will also be further rolled out the next months.

Radisson Live uses Radisson Hotel Group’s signature Hybrid meetings technology, using the Radisson Meetings Broadcasting Studios platform for both live attendance as well as live streaming. This event is 100% Carbon Neutral, as are all events at Radisson Hotel Group properties worldwide.

More information on the first edition of Radisson Live can be found here.

Follow the Radisson Hotel Group Twitter account for live updates during the event on the 9th of September.


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.


European countries reimpose bans on US tourists

The prospect of European travel for Americans has begun to diminish once more as countries adopt new measures in response to a recent surge in US Covid cases. Earlier this week, the European Union announced it was dropping the United States from its safe list, advising its 27 member states to reconsider allowing entry to nonessential US travelers.

Many prime tourist destinations that welcomed back much-needed visitors from the United States earlier this year, have so far chosen to ignore the non-binding EU advice. Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden have become the first to impose new rules.

Beginning on September 4, the Netherlands says the United States will be designated a “high risk area,” joining Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia as fresh additions to this list, according to a government website. While travelers from these and other high-risk countries will be allowed entry if fully vaccinated, they must still quarantine for 10 days. And as of September 6, they must also produce a negative Covid test. Sweden, which had previously exempted US travelers from a ban on almost all non-EU arrivals, has also removed the country from its approved list, alongside Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Pandemic-battered tourism industry

The country said in a press release the measure would apply to all nonessential arrivals, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, although those with Swedish resident permits who can produce recent negative tests could be exempted.It added Swedish authorities were considering whether to allow fully-vaccinated arrivals from certain counties and would “return to this issue at a later date.”

Italy, which was one of the first European countries to open its borders earlier this year, has also introduced new measures affecting arrivals from all destinations, including the US.On August 31, it began requiring all visitors to show proof of a PCR or antigen Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

Those travelers who are not vaccinated or have proof of recovering from Covid must quarantine for five days on arrival and take a swab test, according to Italy’s Ministry of Health. It’s unclear yet whether other European countries, many of whom have been banking on an influx of US visitor dollars to help revive their pandemic-battered tourist economies, will also revise rules. Covid cases have been rising sharply in the United States throughout July and September, with the disease’s Delta variant blamed for many new cases.


The impact of the Fall of Afghanistan on the World Travel and Tourism industry

Its conquest greatly increases not only the Taliban’s prestige but that of numerous other terrorism and insurgency groups around the world.  

From this perspective, the conquest of Kabul, and by extension Afghanistan, is a symbol for anyone who opposes European and American influence and power of what they perceive as the west’s long road to self-destruction.  This symbolism is especially powerful as the Taliban captured Kabul just a few weeks prior to the twentieth anniversary of September 11, 2001.

 The fact the Taliban flag now flies over the former U.S. embassy speaks volumes to people throughout the developing world.  

The symbolism throughout much of the Middle East and the nations of the Silk Roads could not be more poignant.  Due to the United States and its allies abandoning the Bagram airfield some of twenty years after the attacks on New York and Washington, Westerners, and their Afghan allies are reduced to imploring the Taliban for safe passage to the only airport out of which they can fly to safety.  Tourism has long been an industry in which many women have held prominent positions. 

Women in a Taliban dominated Afghanistan are sure to lose even their most basic rights.  Women’s groups around the world not only worry about the safety and freedom of Afghan women but also have noted the silence of the first US female president. As of August 19th, Vice president Harris has not made a public pronouncement regarding the state of insecurity in which millions of women now find themselves.

From the perspective of the United States and Europe, the fall of Kabul could not have come at a worse time. Western national economies are reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The United States (and much of Europe) is suffering from inflation caused by over-spending. This overspending first occurred during the Obama administration, then continued during the Trump administration and has now greatly increased during the current Biden administration. 

The fact that the United States is spending trillions of dollars of money that it does not have means that the nation is less able to deal with international crises and potential military threats. Additionally, the woke-cancel culture (seen in much of the world as mere political rot or social decay ) means that the west’s focus is on inconsequential internal matters rather than on economic and political threats. 

Perhaps nothing speaks to this internal weakness and its impact on tourism more than the US-Mexico border crisis. This crisis should not be seen as separate from the fall of Kabul.  As perhaps almost two million illegal immigrants cross the US-Mexico border, the nation’s border patrol is overwhelmed and understaffed. 

Not only do refugees cross this border but many of them are ill with Covid and none are vetted.  How many coming into the US, and now once again Europe, maybe stealth terrorists is unknown. 

As crime increases tourism will once again suffer.  Border control agents may also feel the impact of COVID-19. Many of whose agents are now sick with Covid. 

What we do not as yet know is how many unvetted migrants may also be part of terrorist sleeper cells that can be turned against nations in Europe and the United States and creating another 9-11 tourism crisis.  

Possible implications of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan

It is of course too soon to realize the full extent of the consequences of the Taliban victory not only on world politics but also on tourism.

We should remember that tourism is a by-product of the world’s political situation.  Although tourism promotes peace, it also needs peace in order to thrive or merely survive.  Wars, human rights violations, illnesses, and natural disasters all dissuade visitors from coming to a specific location.

Below are some of the things that the tourism industry might expect from the poorly executed US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  1. Although few would argue that after a twenty-year war and the loss of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives it was time to leave, the US withdrawal’s poor execution will be seen as American weakness and ineptitude around the world.  Major politicians from US allies such as the United Kingdom and Germany have called this NATO’s greatest military defeat and wonder about the US resolve to be a world leader.
  2. Both China and Russia will applaud the Taliban’s victory and will see the western nations defeat as a way to control the regions natural resources.
  3. The overspending on the part of the current US administration means greater dependency on China and the US government’s inability to stand up to the Chinese. This in turn will lead to an eventual lowering of western standards of living and a pulling back of expendable income expenses such as tourism.
  4. The control of major resources by the Taliban can easily translate into acts of well-funded terrorism around the world and especially against the tourism industry
  5. We should expect to see new outbreaks of violence around the world. China might well attack Taiwan and seek dominance over the entire eastern Pacific region. Tourism in this region can become totally dominated by the Chinese and countries such as North Korea might become emboldened to act in a reckless manner.
  6. Latin American nations such as Venezuela might see the Taliban victory and potential largess as reasons to export revolution to other Latin American nations, thus causing a decline in tourism
  7. The West’s ability to deal with Iran will be weakened and we should not be surprised to see the Taliban terrorist state collaborate with Iranian hardliners, especially in the face of weak US administration
  8. Europe should expect an increase in unvetted refugees who will continue to make Europe less safe and less attractive to visitors.  The result will be a decline in European living standards and quality of life.
  9. Due to an unprotected southern border, the US might well suffer from higher rates of communitive diseases and a post-Taliban national malaise. Even if there is not a repeat of terrorism due to the open border policies now in place, tourism might well suffer from the US

Even if there is not a repeat of terrorism due to the open border policies now in place, tourism might well suffer from the US population’s continual loss of faith in government.


Dark tourism can lead to dark places

A James Cook University researcher has been studying ‘dark tourism’ – the phenomenon in which tourists visit sites of death and disaster – and is warning of its psychological dangers.

Travel medicine specialist Dr Irmgard Bauer is from JCU’s College of Healthcare Sciences. She said the term dark tourism covered a range of destinations of varying danger and horror, from historic dungeons and prisons to old and current battlegrounds, to sites of the Inquisition, Holocaust or Rwandan genocide.

“Memorial sites for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, for instance, attract visitors who are presented with displays of bloodstained clothes, the actual remains of victims and also the opportunity to meet some of the perpetrators in person,” said Dr Bauer.

She said such tours may inflict psychological scars in an unpredictable way, including descent into full-blown psychosis, with the reaction subjective, highly individual and unpredictable.

“Torture instruments in a mock dungeon may shock one traveller whereas another remains detached when visiting a former concentration camp. So, it is important travel medicine practitioners investigate travellers’ motivations for and emotional responses to visits of ‘dark’ sites,” said Dr Bauer.

She said one of the reasons for dark tourism’s attraction may be a natural curiosity and hunger for more insight into death.

“People have become more distant from death. It’s been medicalised, so dying now happens away from public view, it’s become a private affair, so there are usually no public outpourings of grief, and the de-ritualisation of death and mourning makes sure that life goes on without major interruption,” said Dr Bauer.

She said regardless of which philosophical angle, category, classification or label is used, it is the appreciation of the effect on the traveller that should concern travel health practitioners.

“It is a practically unexplored part of travel medicine. Travellers may come home with a fever, which will be attended to; but their potential psychological scars remain invisible,” said Dr Bauer.


Weak jobs report as delta impacts travel, tourism

The unemployment rate, however, dropped to 5.2% from 5.4% in July.

America’s employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, a surprisingly weak gain after two months of robust hiring and the clearest sign to date that the delta variant’s spread has discouraged some people from flying, shopping and eating out.

The August job growth the government reported Friday fell far short of the sizable gains of roughly 1 million in each of the previous two months. The hiring jumps in June and July had followed widespread vaccinations that allowed the economy to fully reopen from pandemic restrictions. Now, with Americans buying fewer plane tickets, reducing hotel stays and filling fewer entertainment venues, some employers in those areas have slowed their hiring.

Still, the number of job openings remains at record levels, with many employers still eager for workers, and overall hiring is expected to stay solid in the coming months. Even with August’s tepid job gain, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% from 5.4% in July. With many consumers still willing to spend and companies to hire, the overall U.S. economy still looks healthy.

The details in Friday’s jobs report showed, though, how the delta variant held back job growth last month. The sectors of the economy where hiring was weakest were mainly those that require face-to-face contact with the public. More Americans said they were unable to work in August because their employer closed or lost business to the pandemic than said so in July.

“The delta variant has taken a bigger toll on the job market than many of us had hoped,” said Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. “It’s going to take workers longer to come back to the labor market than we expected.”

A few months ago, many economists, as well as officials at the White House and Federal Reserve, had expected a fading pandemic to encourage more people to resume their job searches. Worries about getting sick on the job would fade, they hoped. And as schools reopened, more parents, particularly women, would return to the workforce.

So far, that hasn’t happened. As a consequence, many economists now predict that the Fed will delay an announcement that it will begin withdrawing the extraordinary support for the economy it unleashed after the pandemic erupted in March of last year.

The August jobs report “slams the door” on the prospect of the Fed announcing a pullback when it meets later this month, said House, the Wells Fargo economist. Fed Chair Jerome Powell made clear last week that the central bank would begin to reverse its ultra-low-rate policies later this year if the economy continued to improve.

Hiring in a category that includes restaurants, bars and hotels sank to zero in August after those sectors had added roughly 400,000 jobs in both June and July. Restaurant dining, after having fully recovered in late June, has declined to about 9% below pre-pandemic levels, according to reservations website OpenTable.

Some live shows, including the remaining concerts on country star Garth Brooks’ tour, for example, have been canceled. Businesses are delaying their returns to offices, threatening the survival of some downtown restaurants, coffee shops and dry cleaners.

Health care and government employers also cut jobs in August. Construction companies, which have struggled to find workers, lost 3,000 jobs despite strong demand for new homes.

Government employers shed 8,000 jobs, mostly because of a sharp declines in local education hiring after strong gains in June and July. That decline occurred mostly because the pandemic has scrambled normal hiring patterns as schools have closed and then reopened for in-person classes.

Yet many employers are still looking to hire. The job listings website Indeed says the number of available jobs grew in August, led by such sectors as information technology and finance, in which many employees can work from home. And the National Federation for Independent Business said Thursday that its surveys show that half of small businesses have jobs they cannot fill.

Walmart announced this week that it will hire 20,000 people to expand its supply chain and online shopping operations, including jobs for order fillers, drivers, and managers. Amazon said Wednesday that it is looking to fill 40,000 jobs in the U.S., mostly technology and hourly positions.

And Fidelity Investments said Tuesday that it is adding 9,000 more jobs, including in customer service and IT.

The difficulty in filling jobs is forcing more companies to offer higher pay. Hourly wages rose a robust 4.3% in August compared with a year earlier. Walmart, for one, said it was giving over 500,000 of its store employees a $1 an hour raise.

Governors in about 25 states, nearly all led by Republican governors, cut off a $300-a-week in federal supplemental unemployment benefits in June and July because, they said, the extra money was discouraging recipients from looking for work. Yet the proportion of Americans with jobs or searching for one was flat in August, Friday’s report showed, suggesting that the cutoff has had little impact so far.


Asian tourism sees ups, downs in 2nd year of pandemic

From the Great Wall of China to the picturesque Himalayan mountains of India, Asia’s tourist destinations are looking to domestic visitors to get them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the Great Wall to the picturesque Kashmir valley, Asia’s tourist destinations are looking to domestic visitors to get them through the COVID-19 pandemic’s second year.

With international travel heavily restricted, foreign tourists can’t enter many countries and locals can’t get out. In the metropolis of Hong Kong, glamping and staycations have replaced trips abroad for at least some of its 7.4 million residents.

Across the Asia-Pacific region, international tourist arrivals were down 95% in the first five months of the year, compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2019, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization.

New variants of the virus loom — a constant threat to any recovery in even domestic tourism. Warnings of a possible third wave in India worry Imraan Ali, whose houseboat on Kashmir’s Dal Lake is his only source of income.

“Since we are expecting a good influx of tourists, we don’t want that to be affected,” he said.


Tourists are returning to the valleys and mountains in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as infections in the Himalayan region and nationwide come down after a deadly second wave earlier this year.

Nihaarika Rishabh said she and her husband were relieved to finally get away from their home in the city of Agra for their honeymoon, after their wedding was postponed during the second wave. The vacation in Kashmir has helped calm their nerves after months of the pandemic, she said.

Ali, the houseboat owner, is happy that the number of visitors has gone up. “We have been suffering from past two years,” he said. “Our livelihood depends on tourism.”

But mountainous areas like Kashmir have seen an uptick in infections as the number of visitors rises, fueling worries about a third wave.


Erawan Shrine in the center of Bangkok once bustled with foreign tourists and locals making offerings day and night. Today, it is eerily quiet. Only a handful of people buy incense or flowers from the vendors who set up stalls outside.

“We are still here because we don’t know what else to do,” said one, Ruedewan Thapjul.

As Thailand battles a punishing COVID-19 surge with nearly 20,000 new cases every day, people who depend on tourism struggle in what was one of the most-visited cities in the world, with 20 million visitors in the year before the pandemic.

Suthipong Pheunphiphop, the president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, urged the government to commit to its plan to reopen the country to foreign tourists in October.

Currently, the streets are all but empty in Bangkok’s Siam Square shopping district.

Passavee Kraidejudompaisarn, the third-generation owner of a popular noodle shop, wiped away tears as she talked about her fears of losing the family business.

Previously, the 60-year-old restaurant would be filled with locals and foreign tourists, bringing in about $2,000 a day. Now, she said, she earns a little more than $2 on some days.


Strict virus control measures have allowed China to return to relatively normal life. The number of tourists visiting Beijing in June and July tripled compared to the same period last year, while revenue quadrupled, according to, China’s largest online travel booking platform.

“I personally feel very safe,” Olaya Ezuidazu, a Spanish national living in Beijing, said on a recent visit to the Great Wall.

But even China is not immune to the delta variant. Outbreaks in July and August prompted authorities to suspended flights and trains to affected cities. Parks and museums reduced the number of visitors to 60% of capacity, down from 75% previously.

Phil Ma felt the resulting dent on tourism at his café in a traditional “hutong” neighborhood, steps away from Tiananmen Square in central Beijing. “It is obvious during the three or four days from the weekend to today that the number of guests has decreased a lot,” he said.

The alley outside his café was quiet, in contrast to the line that formed for a cup of coffee during a major holiday in May.


The difficulty of traveling abroad has made glamping — or glamourous camping — popular in Hong Kong.

Berina Tam and Vincy Lee went with We Camp, a campsite located in Yuen Long, a rural area in the north of Hong Kong.

“It’s actually a good opportunity for us to really, to try to explore Hong Kong a bit more,” Tam said.

Many glamping sites provide clean beds, showering facilities and barbeque sites for campers to grill kebabs and chicken wings. The typical charge is $65 per person a night.

Bill Lau, the founder of Hong Kong travel platform Holimood, said that glamping offers an alternative for those who find camping too primitive.

“Families and couples need to find somewhere to go during weekends,” he said. “If we are trying to recreate the experience of traveling, it must be an overnight experience.”


Tourists, industry in limbo after EU drops US from safe travel list

It is up to individual countries to decide whether to follow the EU’s recommendation.

The EU’s decision to take the United States off its approved travel list, just months after it was included, has upset the travel industry — but it doesn’t bring transatlantic travel to a crashing halt.

EU countries agreed to take the U.S. off the list Monday, in a decision that also saw Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia dropped.

The move means U.S. travelers could once again face restrictions on nonessential trips to Europe, although countries can lift that ban for fully vaccinated tourists.

The “decisive” factor was a surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S., an EU diplomat said. The country, which is dealing with a daily average of 155,000 newly reported infections, had previously been placed on a “watch list” as a result of climbing case numbers, according to two diplomats.

The EU last year recommended that countries put a temporary stop on nonessential trips from outside the EU, arguing that a coordinated approach was crucial in convincing governments to lift travel restrictions within the bloc.

Its list of non-EU countries from which travel is nonetheless considered safe is updated every two weeks, based on an assessment of criteria such as the countries’ health status, their approach to the pandemic, the trustworthiness of their data and their willingness to reciprocate. 

Because the EU’s recommendation is nonbinding, the impact of the decision to remove the U.S. from the list will depend on whether individual countries choose to follow it — something that is not yet clear.

It’s in countries’ interest — and that of the EU’s free-travel zone — that they follow EU travel measures, for the sake of coherence, but “it is, and remains, a recommendation,” one EU diplomat said.

Croatia, for instance, has taken a more liberal approach to travel from outside the EU, allowing third-country nationals traveling for tourist reasons to enter with a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery. SPONSORED BY CECIMOabout:blankSCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

Mato Franković, the mayor of Dubrovnik, said in an interview earlier this month: “You see that things are pretty much under control … even if we have really a lot of people now in all destinations throughout Croatia.”

For the travel industry, the decision spells trouble.

The decision “is extremely disappointing for Europe’s airlines and our ailing tourism sector,” Jennifer Janzen, of airline lobby group A4E, said Monday, arguing that “with the spread of the Delta variant in communities on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s clear that air travel is not the source.”

The recommendation is “bad news” for travel agents, too, Eric Drésin, secretary-general of industry group ECTAA, said. Besides expected business losses, which risk “further fragilizing the companies,” the decision “shows that we are still in the midst of the pandemic,” he said, warning that it would be a blow to people’s confidence that they can travel safely.

Both called on U.S. and EU decision-makers to lift restrictions for travelers who got vaccinated, tested, or who have recovered from the virus.