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Utopia Hospitality Group prepares for Phuket tourism growth

Announcing  a total 10  projects in new landmark projects in 5 years (with 3 in the pipeline) and also developing a ‘superhero’ team of senior executives, Utopia Corporation has expanded its business unit under the Utopia Hospitality Group (UHG) to introduce a new midscale hotel by October next year and is developing two landmark projects in Phuket worth a total 4 billion baht Mr Hachi Yin chief executive and founder of Utopia Corporation, said recently at the media launch in Bangkok’s plush embassy district.

UHG, its wholly owned hospitality management company, offers three brands under midscale “aparthotel” which merges apartment and hotel for flexible stays, as well as an upscale lifestyle resort and hotel focusing on wellbeing.

UHG will launch in Southeast Asia with premium midscale to ultra-luxury hospitality projects starting with the rebranding of the group’s existing properties in 2022.

UHG’s master plan covers the development of new landmarks at two prime locations in the north and south of Phuket. “Bay of Icons” is situated on Ao Por Bay on the island’s northern coast, while the second project, Utopia Dreams, is on Nai Harn beach on the island’s southwest coast.

The firm plans to introduce the two landmarks valued at 4 billion baht to attract international high-net-worth individuals, slated for the fourth quarter of 2025.

There is also an ultra-luxury brand under a collaboration with partners such as Tonino Lamborghini to introduce Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket, slated for 2024.

Mr Yin said the first midscale hotel will open next October, followed by an upscale hotel in February 2023.

Utopia Corporation, founded in 2015, has real estate projects in Phuket under an investment budget of 8 billion baht and plans to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand through an initial public offering by 2025.

Bay of Icons consists of Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Phuket, beach club and another hotel with a second partner in the field of ultra-luxury fashion brand.

Mr Yin said in his stage presentation that other famous destinations such as Bangkok, Singapore or Hollywood have landmarks, but there is no landmark in Phuket to attract ultra-luxury tourists to come and stay.

He estimates that the projects will coincide with a surge in tourism from 2023.


Big Data to measure the tourism sustainability of destinations

Mabrian expands its travel intelligence platform by adding a dashboard of sustainability indices for Smart Destinations. The new tourism sustainability dashboard uses big data analysis to measure a destination’s performance across multiple metrics. Index developed in collaboration with Mastercard and sus​tainability consultancy Ético.

SEVILLE, SPAIN –  Mabrian Technologies – a leading provider of travel intelligence – has launched the Global Sustainability Tourism Index at the Tourism Innovation Summit (TIS).

This new dashboard of indicators of tourism sustainability allows a destination to measure, compare and follow those factors that indicate sustainability for a destination.

In total the dashboard has six indices grouped together by concept, formed by more than 20 different indicators related to sustainability, that come together to make the Global Sustainability Tourism Index for destinations. 

Through these indices destinations can measure aspects such as the level of distribution of tourism income in the local economy, the concentration of the tourism offering in the locality, the dependence on long-haul source markets, any excessive seasonality or the perception that visitors have about the sustainability of the destination, amongst others. 

Additionally, destinations using this can add to those indicators in the dashboard their own data that they consider relevant to create a measurement even more complete that helps the development of sustainability. 

Carlos Cendra, Director of Sales & Marketing, comments: “Can tourism destinations really convert themselves into sustainable destinations without the tools necessary to measure their sustainability performance?   

“In this reinvention of the sector that we are seeing right now, sustainability is going to be the cornerstone of the reactivation of tourism under a model that is more aware of the issue.

But there is a big gap when it comes to tools and indicators that allow the measurement and monitoring of the evolution of those concepts on the part of those managing destinations and tourism companies. With this index we hope to change that.

Mabrian, in collaboration with its partner Mastercard, has developed a dashboard of indicators about tourism sustainability based on the observation of global data, that can be tracked and corroborated in stable manner over time. 

Mabrian has a wide range of experience in extracting indicators of tourism trends based on big data analysis of diverse sources. With this latest development it complements the wide range of tourism indices, including Tourist Product; Perceived Security; Perceived Climate; Hotel Satisfaction; and Global Tourist Perception.

For the definition of these indicators Mabrian has also counted on the advice and collaboration of the consultancy Ético, specialists in tourism sustainability, that has brought its experience in how to define a sustainable destination. 

Laura Garrido, founder of ético comments: “The challenge for tourism destinations is to understand and monitor the indicators that affect their sustainability. Only through data and their correct analysis can they plan adequate actions for the sustainable transformation of their destination. At ético we believe that this tool is key and necessary for taking decisions and the creation of sustainable tourism destinations.”

Mabrian has announced this news within the international summit dedicated to innovation in tourism that is taking place in Seville, Spain between the 10th and 12th of November, the Tourism Innovation Summit (TIS).

 Alex Villeyra, Operations Director at Mabrian, presented  the dashboard CET in the main auditorium of the Tourism Innovation Summit (TIS), with participants including Antonio Muñoz, responsible for urban habitat, culture and tourism at the Seville city council, a pioneering destination in the application of such indices; Caroline Leboucher, Director of ATOUT France; and Nicola Villa, Executive Vice President of Government Relations & Strategic Growth at Mastercard. 


Retailers hail lifting of travel ban, return of international tourists with hopes of sales rebound

As the holiday shopping season picks up, retailers across the country hope to get a lift from another wave of spenders: international tourists who can visit the U.S. once again

Starting Monday, the Biden administration will allow visitors from abroad into the country again. Most foreign travelers from more than 30 countries, including the U.K. and Brazil, have been restricted since early 2020, as Covid-19 cases rose globally. Visitors must be fully vaccinated against Covid and have a negative Covid test within three days before departure. Exemptions apply to travelers under the age of 18, if they have medical reasons preventing them from getting a vaccine, or are traveling from one of 50 countries with low vaccine availability.

For retailers, the policy is a much-awaited change that may help them fill up stores and ring up bigger sales again. At stake are billions of dollars that tourists spend on not only souvenirs, but luxury handbags, high-end makeup, top-shelf liquor and other items they often can’t find at home. Global visitors fueled more than $43.4 billion of shopping in 2019 — or 27% of the total shopping driven by travel and tourism, according to the International Trade Administration.

Yet retail experts and companies say it will take time for tourists to return to the U.S. and spend at post-pandemic levels. Airlines still have fewer flights. Other countries, including China, tightly restrict outbound travel. And pandemic-related logistics, from long lines at the airport to show proof at vaccination to Covid test when returning home, could delay travelers from booking a trip.

“Airlines will tell you that they are seeing a surge in booking. What they don’t quantify is when. Hotels will tell you is they’re seeing an uptick in bookings. What they won’t tell you is when,” said Daniel Binder, a partner for Columbus Consulting who focuses on travel retail. “The ban will lift, and it will take time.”

Binder saw the spending power of international tourists — especially Chinese tourists — up close as a longtime executive at DFS, a luxury goods travel retailer that’s owned by LVMH. He said he also saw the many months it took for global tourists to flock back and spend freely after other challenging periods, including the 9/11 terrorism attacks and the SARS outbreak.

Still, National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay said there is a feeling of optimism as the ban lifts. He said that as Americans feel comfortable booking trips, dining out and having more active lives, they are also shopping. As international tourists visit, that will “give a jolt to the retail side,” too, he said.

“The return to the service and the experience economy is going to be positive and beneficial for retail and it’s going to be enhanced furthermore by these international visitors returning to the U.S.,” he said Wednesday on a call with reporters.

‘Shot in the arm’ for New York City

International shoppers will be a key ingredient needed for New York City’s recovery. During a typical year, visitors from other countries spend an estimated $4.75 billion on shopping, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism board.

Shopping is the most popular activity for people visiting the city from other countries — with 88% of international visitors saying they participate, according to a 2018 survey by the Department of Commerce. That’s compared to 86% who participate in sightseeing, 54% who go to art galleries and museums and 29% who experience fine dining.

In contrast, less than 30% of tourists from other parts of the U.S. shop when they are in New York City.

“It’s a pivotal milestone in our recovery, for sure,” said Chris Heywood, executive vice president of global communications at NYC & Company. “Welcoming back the international traveler is exactly the shot in the arm that New York City needs right now.”

In the coming days, Heywood said the tourism group will unveil a project with Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers to incentivize visitors to return to their stores. Over the next few months, he said the group plans to spend $6 million across the globe on advertising about New York City. He said that money will be concentrated in countries that have loosened their policies in a way that makes it easier for their citizens to leave and return home. These include South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, France and Italy. Places where restrictions are till very tight, such as China, will not be part of the advertising campaign.

Heywood said New York City benefits from having many shopping districts that are themselves tourist destinations — such as Fifth Avenue, Times Square and Hudson Yards — along with attractions like Broadway shows and art museums.

“This is a chance to actually get back to this notion of that shopping experience and having the bragging rights to say ‘I bought that on Fifth Avenue’ or ‘I bought that in New York,’” he said. “That’s something people have not been able to have.”

Still, he said it will take years to build back up the city’s tourism and shopping revenue. The group expects about 2.8 million international visitors to come to New York City this year, compared with 13.5 million international visitors in 2019. Next year, it expects international visitors to triple to about 8.5 million and by 2024, it expects international tourism to roughly match pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re hoping to accelerate that timeline as much as possible,” he said.

‘We don’t see tremendous movement’

Some retailers said they don’t expect the lifted travel restrictions to result in an immediate jump in sales. For many companies, especially those outside of the luxury space, the market doesn’t make up a significant chunk of their businesses. Department store chain Macy’s, for example, said that international tourists accounted for just about 4% of sales in 2019.

Capri Holdings, which owns Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, believes that some international tourists will book trips to the U.S. in the coming weeks. But CEO John Idol noted on an earnings conference call on Wednesday that there was only a minor return among international tourists into Europe, after travel restrictions were lifted. And there has been no return into Japan nor Korea, he said.

“In our forecast, we don’t see tremendous movement changing our trajectory at least in next fiscal year,” Idol said.

For a company like Tiffany, however, it could be worth the extra effort to try to court international visitors back to its U.S. stores. The jewelry chain, now owned by LVMH, typically sees about 12% of sales domestically coming from foreign tourists.

This holiday season, Tiffany has opened a pop-up shop in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, which pays homage to the legendary Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger. The space, which features a number of Instagram friendly backdrops and activities for visitors such as painting, is open to the public from Monday until Jan. 8.

It’s the mall operators — some of the most challenged by stay-at-home trends in 2020 and consumers shifting into e-commerce — that say they expect to see a boon to traffic as foreigners return.

“We still think that there’s another leg up if we get the international tourist that we haven’t seen for a couple — two, three — years,” Simon Property Group CEO David Simon told analysts on an earnings conference call held Monday.

Simon’s malls include The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, The Galleria mall in Houston, as well as a number of premium outlet centers.

Over in New Jersey, the American Dream megamall is antsy for foreigners to visit. A portion of the 3 million-square-foot development first opened to the public in October 2019. But it was shut down shortly after due to pandemic restrictions. When it had first kicked open American Dream’s doors in the fall of 2019, operator Triple Five Group told CNBC the megamall would draw 40 million visitors annually, many of them foreigners. It has likely only since seen a sliver of that.

American Dream is ramping up its efforts to court tourists to New Jersey’s Meadowlands in preparation for Monday. The megamall has a team entirely dedicated to tourism that is corresponding with travel agencies and helping visitors book trips to the development.

“American Dream was always designed to be a top global tourism destination,” said Jill Renslow, executive vice president of marketing at Triple Five. “We’re also working with New Jersey … making sure we’re showcasing all the things that New Jersey has to offer.”

The fact that sales of clothing and footwear in New Jersey are generally tax exempt should be another appealing factor for foreign visitors to head to the state, she said.

Just last month, the first round of luxury retailers — including Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes and Dolce & Gabbana — opened up at American Dream. These high-end shops also have their own wing within the megamall, which includes a separate escalator entrance for buses that are there to transport tourists and their shopping bags.

Jeweler David Yurman has laid the groundwork during the pandemic to grow its international sales. It has 45 stores in the U.S. and a handful in Canada, but has partnerships with jewelry and department stores in other parts of the globe.

Over the past year and a half, it has launched dedicated websites in other countries and kickstarted initiatives to woo more Chinese customers, David Yurman head of marketing Lee Tucker said. It started to sell a limited collection through social media and messaging app, WeChat, he said.

Tucker said that salespeople at the jewelers’ stores know how to speak numerous languages, including Mandarin, Arabic and Farsi, so they can welcome tourists and make them feel at home.

Starting this month, a double-decker bus wrapped in the company’s advertisement is driving to destinations like Rodeo Drive and Newport Beach, where international tourists may see it and get inspired to shop.

“We’re holding our breath to understand how international tourists are going to come back to our cities and which groups are going to travel here first,” he said.


Asia tourism reopens with big-spending Chinese stuck at home

Asia’s gradual easing of international travel curbs is proving a welcome relief for the region’s hard-hit tourism operators slowly opening up to visitors from around the world – with one giant exception.

China, previously the world’s largest outbound tourism market, is keeping international air capacity at just 2% of pre-pandemic levels and has yet to relax tight travel restrictions as it sticks to zero tolerance for COVID-19.

That has left a $255 billion annual spending hole in the global tourism market for operators such as Thailand’s Laguna Phuket to try and fill.

Managing director Ravi Chandran says Laguna Phuket’s five resorts have shifted their marketing focus to Europe, the United States and United Arab Emirates to make up for the loss of Chinese visitors, who accounted for 25%-30% of its pre-COVID business.

“Up to today, we have not done significant marketing or promotion in China … because we don’t feel anything coming our way,” Chandran said.

The pandemic has cost Thailand an estimated $50 billion a year in tourism revenue and Chinese were above-average spenders based on tourism ministry data.

Thailand hopes to receive 180,000 foreign tourists this year, a fraction of around 40 million it received in 2019, as it opened places beyond Phuket to tourists on Monday.

Many experts expect China to keep such stringent measures such as up to a three-week quarantine for those returning home until at least the second quarter of next year and possibly then open gradually on a country-by-country basis.

“Destinations have to identify new source markets and learn how to market and cater to different cultures,” Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Chief Executive Liz Ortiguera said, citing the Maldives as a rare example of a successful pivot during the pandemic.

The string of islands in the Indian Ocean promoted itself heavily at trade shows and attracted more Russian and Indian visitors to its luxury resorts and sparkling waters.

China had been its greatest source of tourists before the pandemic but the Maldives saw overall arrivals in the first nine months of 2021 fall just 12% versus the same period of 2019.

“When we realised that Chinese travellers weren’t coming to the Maldives any time soon, we switched our focus to other key markets including Russia,” said a spokesperson for COMO Hotels and Resorts, which has two Maldives resorts.


Travel data firm ForwardKeys estimates it will take until 2025 for Chinese outbound travel to recover to pre-pandemic levels. That will also force airlines to re-evaluate their routes given its data shows 38% of Chinese tourists took foreign carriers in 2019.

Even as Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia’s Bali gradually open up for international travellers, Thai Airways (THAI.BK) and Garuda Indonesia (GIAA.JK) are drastically shrinking their fleets as part of restructuring plans amid the absence of Chinese tourists.

When China does open its borders, industry surveys show a reluctance by many to travel internationally due to COVID-19 fears.

There has also been a boom in domestic holidays to Hainan Island which now offers duty free shopping in a threat to future visits to nearby destinations such as Hong Kong and South Korea.

“I honestly do not have much enthusiasm for international travel,” said at Kat Qi, 29, a researcher in Beijing who travelled to Southeast Asia and Britain before the pandemic. “A lot of places that I wanted to visit are in less developed countries with gorgeous natural scenery and they tend to be the least vaccinated countries.”

Her preference for natural scenery is also a trend emerging in surveys of Chinese travellers. Many are focused on the outdoors at a time when domestic camping holidays have become popular and tourism operators will need to adapt accordingly, experts say.

“The market will have changed so the Chinese people travelling in 2022 will be different from the Chinese travelling in 2019,” said Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. “I think the trends will go away from this shopping and rushing around.”

Large group tours that have also fallen out of favour on domestic trips could also be a thing of the past, to be replaced by independent travel and smaller customised tours with family and friends, said Sienna Parulis-Cook, director of marketing and communications at advisory firm Dragon Tail International.

“You might have organised travel and everything but it would be with a small group of people that you know, rather than 50 strangers on a tour bus,” she said.


Robotics operation in travel and tourism industry set to grow, says GlobalData

The utilization of robotics will continue to grow in importance in the travel and tourism industry. However, companies need to be sensitive in how they deploy this form of smart technology, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to a recent GlobalData poll*, 31% of the respondents stated that their company will invest in robotics in the next 12 months, with robotics being the third most popular answer for this question, above the likes of IoT and cloud. A significant contributing reason as to why business executives and employees think that investment in robotics will increase is due to the long-term cost savings this technology can provide along with its ability to meet the sudden changes in consumer demands.

Ralph Hollister, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Prior to the pandemic, the utilization of robotics in tourism was mainly seen as a gimmick. Robot butlers in hotels would provide good Instagram opportunities for guests, creating exposure for the accommodation provider, and customer service robots at airports would entertain guests to reduce feelings of boredom. These same robots are now a necessity for the likes of hotels and airports due to the need for COVID-safe experiences.”

According to GlobalData**, 74% of global consumers are is still either ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ concerned regarding the impact of COVID-19. These robots reduce the need for human contact, which increases safety for travelers across multiple stages during their trip.

It is also no secret that COVID-19 has battered the finances of many companies involved in travel and tourism. Although the initial cost of investing in robotics to replace human jobs will be high, many companies will recover what they have invested in just a short number of years. Subsequently, companies will then continue to shrink fixed costs and increase profit margins.

Mr. Hollister concludes: “Investing too heavily in robotics to replace human jobs could tarnish brand image. Travel and tourism employment has fallen substantially across the globe due to the pandemic, and many consumers will feel that it is a company’s social responsibility to employ people in need of work as travel recovers, especially if they have appropriate skill sets. Filling vacancies with robots could be deemed as insensitive in the current climate, especially in destinations that heavily rely on tourism as a key contributor to the local economy.

“Through increasing operational efficiency and improving traveler confidence, robotics in tourism will continue to grow. However, companies need to ensure that they are not seen to be shunning their social commitments. It must be emphasized that the robots are deployed to work alongside humans, not instead of them.”


Garth, a luxury neo-Bistro opens this week at Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates

Located inside a new private members club, The 9 Lounge, at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, the premium culinary hub has opened its doors to those with a penchant for refined, delicious medleys of Italian, Greek, and Southern French cuisines. Guests that are not members of The 9 Lounge are encouraged to make reservations in advance and abide by the formal dress code, suited to the elevated ambiance of the locale.

The space comprises of a beautiful verdant terrace, a cigar lounge, and a restaurant, where guests can indulge in the finest mix of seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes. Whilst diners can enjoy a host of raw fish and seafood plates courtesy of a specialty raw bar, the menu also includes an array of meat, vegetarian and vegan options that are guaranteed to gratify even the most selective appetites.

Guests are promised satisfaction as they acquaint their palates with the gastronomical innovations, born from the proficiently sourced quality ingredients at Garth. The food and menus are expertly designed by celebrity chefs Sergei Andreychenko and Mohammed Musthafa. A team of professional mixologists and sommeliers assist guests in selecting from a carte of Old World and New World wines, cocktails, and premium spirits.

The mouthwatering menus include dishes such as Zucchini Carpaccio, Beef Cheeks Paccheri, Poached Sea Bass, Truffle Risotto, Niçoise Salad, Beef Tartare, Burrata Grande and many more.

At the raw bar, guests can opt for the Salmon or Tuna Tartare, Sea Bass Ceviche, or indulge in an assorted tartare platter featuring three varieties of the dish. The desserts menu is home to rich classics such as Basque Burnt Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Almond Crumble with Berries, Dark Chocolate Mousse, and hand-crafted Ice Creams and Sorbets.

Garth features a new lunch menu each week, featuring daily specials, to keep it fresh and interesting for afternoon guests, from 12pm till 3pm. Although the culinary adventure is the primary focus of the experience, the menus will maintain the sophisticated taste and plating associated with the brand.

Open daily, from 12pm till 12am on weekdays and from 12pm till 2am on weekends, the lounge creates a relaxed atmosphere with unique sound design, featuring a distinct combination of genres. Produced skillfully by an ensemble of instrumentalists from Moscow, the music will include streams of new wave funk, soul, jazz, chill rave, and afro beats genres. Breezy terrace evenings can be enjoyed with a soundtrack of electronic chill rave beats, whilst soulful piano music will grace special dinners at the restaurant.

The layered interiors feature neutral tones of cream, beige and brown, complemented by blush pink furniture. Plush pampas grass lines the windows and the bar canopy, accented by bright neon lighting that lends an effortless luminous glow to the space. A promising venue that is bound to be the next hotspot in Dubai, Garth takes guests on a journey that goes beyond the plate, offering an ideal space to socialize and indulge in finer experiences.


Tourism Adds $115m per Day to Economy

Strong growth in tourism over the past few years has seen it overtake industries such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, contributing $115m a day to the Australian economy.

According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), tourism grew 3.7% during 2012-13, compared to 2.4% for the economy as a whole.

With the increase, direct tourism added $42bn to Australia’s gross domestic product for the year.

“International tourism was particularly solid, up 5.7% and showed the strongest growth we’ve seen since 2006-07,” said Sean Thompson from the ABS.

“The increase was mostly due to strong growth in the number of international visitors, up 4.9%, while the average spend in Australia on international trips was largely unchanged on the previous year at approximately $4,300 per trip.”

While not as strong as international, domestic tourism was up 3.4% over the past two years.

Despite record numbers of Australians travelling overseas, Australian tourists spent less during overseas trips in 2012-13, down about $200 per trip from 2011-12 to just over $4,540.

The tourism industry employed 543,600 people throughout Australia last financial year, an increase of 11,400, with employment growing at 2.1%, nearly double the rate for the economy as a whole which grew at 1.2%.

Hours worked in tourism increased by 1%, compared with 0.4% overall for the economy, with tourism contributing 8.9% of Australia’s total export earnings in 2012-13.

Deloitte Access Economics has pegged tourism as a “super-growth” sector which could add $250bn to the economy over the next 20 years and help guide Australia out of a post-mining boom flunk.

In recent research, Deloitte predicted that visitors from markets like China, India and Indonesia to more than triple over the next 20 years, with tourism exports to grow from a current $26bn to $57bn in real terms by 2033.

“We need to invest in our airports and ensure conditions are attractive for international airlines, especially low cost carriers,” said Deloitte’s tourism, hospitality and leisure leader Lachlan Smirl.

“Equally, we need to invest in other tourism infrastructure such as hotels and attractions to support and leverage our existing assets.

“Travel is an experience, so we need to optimise this experience with a skilled, professional and ‘Asia-ready’ workforce.”


Quality Program of Swiss Tourism Accredited by the Renewed European Hospitality Quality Scheme

HOTREC, the European business association of hotels, restaurants and cafes, accredited the Quality Program of Swiss Tourism under its renewed European Hospitality Quality (EHQ) scheme. The EHQ is HOTREC’s umbrella quality scheme for hospitality related quality schemes, and provides for a reference model at European level. “HOTREC welcomes the decision of the Swiss Quality Program, one of the best established in Europe, to continue the cooperation with HOTREC with its accreditation under the renewed EHQ scheme” said Kent Nystrom, President of HOTREC.

The Quality Program of Swiss Tourism was the first one to be accredited by HOTREC’s EHQ scheme in 2007. Following the recent simplification of the EHQ scheme, the reduction of its levels from three to one and some adjustments to its criteria, it was first the Quality Program of Swiss Tourism which was seeking for an accreditation under the renewed conditions, supported by GastroSuisse and hotelleriesuisse. Following the evaluation of HOTREC the second level of the Swiss Quality Program was considered to fulfil all the current requirements of the EHQ scheme. Enterprises entitled to bear the Swiss double “Q” are also entitled to display the EHQ label for marketing purposes. For guests the Q labels are the guarantee for an excellent tool allowing for a reliable and high quality service provision in the given establishments.

“The improvement of quality awareness and assurance of service quality in the Swiss tourism branch is very important to us. We are satisfied that these efforts are also recognized at European level “, said Chantal Beck, Head of the Quality Program of Swiss Tourism.

The other schemes accredited under the EHQ scheme are supposed to undergo their reassessment within the next two years’ time with the renewed accreditation conditions. The EHQ label is a registered Community Trademark, with protection within the European Union and, among others, in Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

“HOTREC is satisfied with the first accreditation under the renewed EHQ scheme and we are looking forward to applications from other countries as well in order to make this benchmark more widely accessible to the tourism market across Europe” commented Akos Niklai, Chair of HOTREC’s Quality Board.


Turkey and Neighbours Hotel Investment Conference Returns to Istanbul in 2014

The Turkey and Neighbours Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC), the region’s leading hospitality conference, will return to Istanbul for the fourth year running 9-10 June 2014 at the newly opened Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center.

The event will showcase investment opportunities available in Turkey and provide an opportunity to meet the industry’s top-level executives with a wide range of knowledge from both the local and international perspective.

“Turkey is a key market for investors seeking growth opportunities. CATHIC provides the perfect venue for both the local and international market to come together to listen, learn and network” said Mehmet Onkal, Managing Partner, BDO Hospitality Consulting. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 2013 report on global tourism, Turkey ranked third in terms of increasing tourism revenues for the first eight months of 2013, an increase of 22 percent compared with the same period in the previous year.

The CATHIC Advisory Board, composed of high-level investors and industry experts, recently convened in Istanbul to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the region’s burgeoning tourism and hospitality sector. Board members include A. Murat Ersoy, President, Turkish Tourism Investors Association (TYD); Omer Isvan, President, Servotel Corporation; Emre Narin, Vice President, Marti Hotels & Marinas and Marti Gayrimenkul Yatirim Ortakligi AS, a Turkey-based real estate investment company; and Mehmet Onkal, Managing Partner, BDO Hospitality Consulting.

“The advisory board is instrumental in developing a well-rounded and balanced programme with topics and regional issues to be presented and discussed at the conference, ensuring that CATHIC remains an event created by the industry, for the industry,” said Marilyn McHugh, Vice President of global events for Questex Hospitality + Travel.

This year’s event, which attracted more than 300 delegates from 23 countries, highlighted the need to alter the current perceptions surrounding investment in the Turkish market as well as instigating more open and in-depth conversations between the government and the investment community. The advisory board also identified an opportunity in the CATHIC programme for a focus on the resort market and plans are already underway to include a steam dedicated to this important segment of the Turkish hospitality industry.

A selection of other key issues from the meeting include: the role transportation and air linkages play in hotel and tourism investment, opportunities for development in the luxury market, how to minimise unused hotel capacity, the development of extended-stay and mixed-use products including residential complexes and the paradigm shift to social platforms within the hospitality industry.


New Zealand Tourism Hoping for Boost from Chinese Law Change

This summer the Chinese tourist will become much more noticeable hopping in and out of campervans at visitor landmarks such as Lake Tekapo’s Church of the Good Shepherd or Milford Sound to view Mitre Peak.

A Chinese law change means they are more likely to be seen down the highways and byways of the regions, than out of sight on organised shopping tours to foreign-owned Auckland and Rotorua souvenir outlets.

The legislative change from October 1 was designed to stop these tours, that often left the Chinese unsatisfied with their holiday Down Under.

The tourism industry is welcoming the law change, saying it should lead to more independent and higher-spending travelers visiting the real New Zealand.

About 78 million Chinese are crossing their borders annually and that figure could grow to 400 million in five years’ time, a seemingly incredible Chinese forecast by Premier Li Keqiang.

The mind-boggling Chinese figures seems to offer abundant tourism opportunities but New Zealand will be competing with North America and the United Kingdom to attract the new Chinese middle class.

The number heading our way now is just a drop in that massive bucket – 234,500 this year, spending on average $2700 dollars each – in total, $633 million.

But Chinese tourists are already the second-largest source of visitors after Australians, who come in their droves – about a million a year.

There have been warnings in the past that New Zealand should maintain a balanced mix of visitors, to avoid the risks of a downturn akin to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.

However, those in the tourism industry have their glasses fully charged to toast China. Chinese tourists are forecast to spend about $1.1 billion here in 2018.

But it will not be handed to New Zealand businesses on a plate. Tourism leaders say tourism operators need to do their homework to attract and please Chinese holidaymakers.

The country needs better signage, and Kiwi hospitality and tourism operators should work on having better language skills to compete with the likes of Europe.

The stereotype of coach-driven Chinese moving from one souvenir shop to another no longer applies, the experts say.

Many Chinese tourists are happy on a shared bus trip of New Zealand destinations including Rotorua and Queenstown.

Other more wealthy Chinese prefer to be indulged with a more exclusive offering of lodges, fine Kiwi foods and wine and partaking in cultural events with Maori hosts.

Ryan Ingram, sales and marketing director of tourism operator Real Journeys that operates coaches and boats on Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, says a simple offering of hot noodles can go a long way.

Real Journeys representatives have been visiting China for 10 years to make tourism trade contacts.

Real Journeys now has 10 Mandarin speakers and other staff are put through a “cultural” training program.

“In terms of a Chinese experience they’re very heavily into food . . . if you don’t have a hot lunch, it’s certainly no-go [in creating goodwill],” Ingram says.

More Chinese are travelling around New Zealand, says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.

“I happened to be at Pukaki [one] weekend, I was on the lakeshore and I counted seven rental cars with what were definitely Chinese visitors, and a couple of smaller coaches – 24 to 30-seaters – with some more groups of them.”

New Zealand has recently outstripped Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom in Chinese visitor percentage growth, Hunter says.

“I think some of the work Tourism NZ’s done with social media has really paid off.”

Hunter says young professional Chinese are seeing New Zealand as the new cool destination. “I can’t say it will last forever but it’s a very good thing to happen.”

CCT has recently run “China ready” seminars for tourism businesses.

Christchurch Airport is talking up the chance of a permanent China Southern Airlines service. So far it has one special chartered Boeing 787 Dreamliner service confirmed for Christchurch in February.

The airport’s chief executive, Jim Boult, says at the beginning talks with China Southern were very formal, but they have become more relaxed.

“You use this analogy of a courtship. You’ve got to keep on dating and handing over the presents until you finally get to the altar.”

The airport has Chinese language signage.

However, only about 20 per cent of Chinese visitors to New Zealand, or about 42,000, are getting this far south annually.

That appeared to be changing, though, following the shopping tour law change. Chinese October arrivals in the south were up 42 per cent on October last year, Boult says.

Auckland’s Keri Davis is the owner of ICEworks New Zealand which designs tours for small groups of wealthy Chinese tourists wanting to rub shoulders with Kiwis and participate in cultural events like hangis.