Visit England releases New Promotional Video

Visit England Releases New Promotional Video

England has recently launched a £5 million worth campaign to drive travellers from all corners of the UK on a journey of discovery within the countries’ borders.

VisitEngland has partnered with Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland, VisitWales and London & Partners to boost internal visitor spending in local economies. The campaign with the hashtag #EscapeTheEveryday calls attention to tourism attractions, destinations and activities in all kinds of UK regions: Coasts, mountains, countrysides, cities and towns. With this marketing campaign, the Destination Management Organisations (DMO) hope that winter break might not look as bleak for tourism businesses and destinations abandoned by visitors due to COVID-19.

The video campaign can be viewed through this link:  https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/escape-everyday

This years summer season was disastrous for the tourism industry, and besides the obvious forfeiture of international visitors, the English DMO has estimated a 49% loss in annual British domestic spending, around a £44.9 billion drop in the economy. To add salt to the wound, the new viral wave has prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten restrictions all around the country: At the moment, more than half of England is under strict lockdown measures (circa 28 million people).

Due to a rise in infections, Lancashire and the Region of Liverpool City have entered the danger zone: level 3, meaning that pubs, bars and restaurants are forbidden to open, and mixing households in indoor and outdoor settings are also banned. At Level 2, whereby pubs and restaurants may remain open, but mingling indoors is still discouraged, are destinations such as London, York, Essex, Chesterfield, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire and Erewash. Regions at Level 1 are free to travel and keep businesses running, although the hospitality sector is to close at 22:00, and group sizes must be reduced to 6 people.

Vexing as it may be to invest in a campaign that encourages domestic travel precisely when Coronavirus cases are increasing, and lockdown measures are tightening, it is important to keep in mind that national health & safety supersedes the will to travel and #EscapeTheEveryday.

In truth, the hospitality and tourism sectors have been suffocating since March this year. If infection cases keep rising until next year’s touristic seasons, it will be a catastrophe for the economy, the industry itself,  and more importantly, the very people who depend on it. Therefore, this is the time to be conscientious about wearing masks and not indulging in reckless behaviours that endanger the prospect of a re-flourished future in Travel & Tourism.

France to Ban Using Wild Animals in Marine Parks and Circuses

France to Ban Using Wild Animals in Marine Parks and Circuses

It seems that caging dolphins and killer whales, displaying bears, lions, tigers and elephants for circus performances, and farming mink for fur, will be a thing of the past!

The French Ministry of Environment has declared a measured prohibition to these harmful activities, therefore keeping animal welfare as an utmost priority. Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition, emphasizes that travelling circuses and marine parks need a smooth passage in leaving these spectacles behind. The ban will take several years to be fully implemented because, according to Ms. Pompili, each animal will need a different type of care. Furthermore, this ban will alter the lives of many employees working in circuses and other related wild animal shows, which is why an 8-million Euro package will be implemented to encourage them to find other jobs.

In her announcement, Ms. Pompili said that a smooth transition is necessary: “Our attitude to wild animals has changed. It is time to open a new era in our relationship with them. We are asking circuses to reinvent themselves. That transition will be spread over several years because it will change the lives of many people.”

This decision was met with a division of opinions. On one side of the coin, animals rights groups applauded the states’ willingness to drive it forth, with PETA writing on their Twitter (In French): “Champagne bottles are being uncorked! Thank you to all those who have helped bring this victory to light.”

On the other hand, Circus owners and employees, whose lives will be most impacted by the announcement, are frustrated that they are not being listened to, and are concerned about the aftermath of the whole ordeal.  William Kerwich, the director of the Circus Trainer’s Union and owner of his own entertainment unit (Cirque ROYAL Kerwich), told a news outlet that [Ms. Pomplili] did not take everything into account: “She didn’t want to listen to us. Who is going to pay for the meat for the lions and tigers and the food for the elephants? Circuses will have to abandon their animals and the minister will be responsible.”

Certainly, a decision of this calibre needs not be taken lightly, because there are many lives at stake. Those of circus and marine park employees and owners, who will have to fend for financial alternatives to keep their businesses running and their jobs relevant, or to find other means of employment altogether, with the current qualifications they have. Most importantly, the lives of the wild animals, who have (likely) been domesticated and cannot easily be reintroduced into the wild.

For this very reason, the ban will need several years to take a full-on effect. It needs to be done thoroughly, and with a comprehensive plan. Wild animals do not belong in cages and do not exist for our entertainment. Moreover, they are not to be mistreated, abused or kept in disastrous conditions. Yet, the voices of everyone that has a stake in the wild animal entertainment industry still need to be heard.

Tokyo Aims to Boost Domestic Tourism

Tokyo Aims to Boost Domestic Tourism

The Japanese government recently announced that Tokyo has been included in its Go to Travel campaign: A governmental scheme designed to subsidize potential tourists, for a gradual regain in domestic visitor numbers. Discounts of up to 50% in landmarks, attractions, accommodation, restaurants, transportation and shopping all around Japan. A golden ticket, if you’ve spent lockdown confined inside the metropolis with a penchant for travel and a need for fresh air.

Although July saw a rise in infection cases, Tokyo has been doing much better in September, and was added to the discount list last Thursday. Two days later, airports and railway stations were packed with travellers from the capital visiting popular destinations such as Okinawa and Hokkaido. Naha Airport (Okinawa), New Chitose Airport (Hokkaido) and the train stations of Shizouka and Aichi Prefectures welcomed domestic tourists in dire need of a break from the big city life to sightsee, unwind and visit family members. Nobuyuki Hosoi, who was heading toward Shizouka Prefecture from Chiyoda Train Station (Tokyo) with two family members said: “It’s the first time I’ve left Tokyo since the virus was at its height… I want to use the money the campaign is saving us on our trip.”

Both health and safety are being continuously monitored in public spaces with temperature checks and mask enforcement, however, Tokyo has around 14 million inhabitants: Even a fraction of this population fleeing the capital towards peripheral Prefectures on the same festive days will impact in more ways than the intended economic gain. The situation, therefore, raises some concerns and questions among local inhabitants, on whether a resurgence in virus cases is now more likely if domestic travel of this magnitude continues.

 

Special Tourist Visa established in Thailand

Special Tourist Visa established in Thailand

In an official statement from the Ministry of Interior, visitors to Thailand who plan on staying for a long time can opt for a single-entry Special Tourist Visa (SVP) worth 90 days. After these days have expired, the SVT can be extended two more times: for 90 or 180 more days.

Each time period for this Visa costs 2,000 Baht. The sum of permits for this type of Visa will serve its purpose in revitalizing the tourism industry, affected by the pandemic. In order to decrease national Coronavirus infections, visitors will be entering a 14-day quarantine at a local hospital or specialized estate upon arrival and will be required to provide proof of long-term residence and payments of either hotel reservations, rental contracts or ownership of a house/apartment. Finally, health and accident insurance will need to be bought and might cost from 40,000 Baht up to 400,000, depending on the coverage.

Testing and health checks will be done in congruence with the standards set by the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand, and the SVP can be obtained worldwide at Thai embassies, consulates and other relevant governmental bodies.

Nepal Seeks Domestic Adventure Travellers to Restart Tourism

Nepal Seeks Domestic Adventure Travellers to Restart Tourism

The end of the monsoon season in Nepal marks the beginning of autumn. Usually, during this time, the country welcomes crowds of international adventurers that seek to venture the Annapurna trail, mountain bike through the Himalayan peaks and river raft across the mighty rivers of Pokhara.

This year, however, will be different, to say the least. Although the Democratic Republic intends to open borders to foreign tourists from October 17 onwards, it counts on domestic tourism to make up for profit loss. Hotels are already seeing their occupancies rise up from domestic bookings alone, but in Pokhara, which owns 1,000 hotels and resorts by being the access point to Annapurna base camp, domestic visitor spending will not compensate revenue by itself. In the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chitwan National Park, the standard occupancy rate was 68%, around 7,000 daily tourists (40% of them being Chinese), but Hotels and Resorts have only recorded 200 visitors a day (53% reduced occupancy) during the summer season of 2020.

As a preventive solution, the Ministry of Tourism is planning a proposal to extend Nepali weekends to two days (Saturday & Sunday), instead of the usual 1 day weekend (Saturday). This temporary solution will incite Nepali business travellers that would normally be abroad, to book hotels and activities nearby, and inquiries from this demographic have been recorded across the hospitality sector in Pokhara and Chitwan. Furthermore, the 5-day traditional Tihar (Deepawali) festival is right around the corner, and the tourism industry is hoping to attract as many national visitors as they can get their hands on.

The hotel sector, although visibly struggling, takes an optimistic stance in the face of internal tourism, and sees it as a provisional saviour. The executive director of Hotel Barahi (Pokhara), Biplav Poudel, says that: “Yes, domestic bookings are coming back. This trend suggests that we may observe at least 25% occupancy this autumn season from domestic tourists alone. That’s a beginning.” By the same vein, the ex-President of Regional Hotel Association in Chitwan, Suman Ghimire, reiterates: “We don’t have another alternative at this time. Like in post-earthquake in 2015, we believe domestic tourism will bail out the industry.”

Wishtrip, Israeli Travel App turns your Wanderlust into a Game

Wishtrip, Israeli Travel App turns your Wanderlust into a Game

The constrictive nature of the COVID-19 has prompted innovative action among tourism management bodies around the globe. Seeing how worldwide travel movement has been significantly reduced since the start of 2020, certain enterprises have ridden the wave of technology and online presence. At the same time, everyone’s travel bug has grown stronger as each day of Coronavirus inhibitions continues with vigour.

As a reactionary response, Israeli startup Wishtrip has launched an interactive game App to feed your wanderlust even further.  The company has designed a budget-friendly, easy-to-use mobile app whereby destination managers create games oriented to their visitors. A comprehensive platform with “game builder” features that provide tailor-made templates to site admins, so they can customize game options according to their chosen geography, tourism attractions and must-see spots; therefore re-focusing their marketing strategies during the uncertainty of this pandemic.

This new app has no limit on the number of games available, and they can be created within various languages, in a wide spectrum of themes and levels to be played. They are all oriented towards the interests of various age groups and geographical locations, with the aims of attracting local tourism and empowering attractions and Small to Medium Enterprises currently struggling to survive. For many of these attractions, international visitor income will not be sufficient for the time being, which is why alluring domestic travellers is a mechanism that will cauterize the wound, even if it is temporary.

Owner and CEO of Wishtrip, Bezalel Lenzizky advocates for virtual travel opportunities, even though a destinations’ main focus might not be transferred through a smartphone: “Statistics show that nearly 60% of people don’t go more than one hour without using their smartphone in some way. While constant phone use can be frustrating, especially for destinations that want visitors to focus on a site’s natural beauty, the power offered from smartphones provides an unparalleled opportunity to create a positive, educational, and interactive experience for guests.”

Certainly, the travel industry is taking its fair financial beating due to a fallback in international travel, but it can rejoice through adjacent promotion and a closer, more intimate interaction with the local, regional and national markets, which are aching to visit nearby attractions. Today, the best way to do so is by means of online marketing and free/low-cost and accessible local travel, through a smartphone or a laptop.

Mexico reopens UNESCO Teotihuacan for Tourism Recovery

Mexico reopens UNESCO Teotihuacán for Tourism Recovery

This year’s travel restrictions have weighed heavily on the Mexican tourism industry. International arrivals in July dropped by 90% in Mexico City and 84% in Cancun. Considering that 9% of Mexican GDP derives from the tourism industry, authorities have taken a step forward to jumpstart the sector.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Teotihuacán, also dubbed “The City of the Gods” is now open with visitor capacity kept to 3000 visitors per day, about 30% of its usual volume. Strict rules on safe distancing, temperature checks, constantly applying hand sanitizer and wearing facemasks will be mandatory upon entrance and inside the precinct. Nevertheless, narrow stairs and safe distancing do not match, so climbing the slender-staired ancient monoliths, such as the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, will not be allowed.

The preciously authentic Aztec Citadel was buzzing with the life of 100,000 to 200,000 natives between 100 B.C and 750 A.D. During that time, the region held an important role as a political and commercial hub, until it was abandoned in the 14th Century. Fast-forwarding to contemporary dates, The City of the Gods was listed as a vital UNESCO site in 1987, and continuously receives religious and cultural tourists from Mexico and Central America, as it is believed that the Pyramids are points of energy to “recharge your batteries”.

Although it is estimated that 80% of visitors are national travellers, considering that it’s only 45 minutes away from Mexico City, the area started receiving hordes of international tourists within the past 10 years, many of them being European. At the equinox of springtime (March – high season) 2010, Teotihuacán received 70, 358 national and international visitors, and between January and September 2019, 2.6 million.

The Coronavirus pandemic is a pause for thought on how we manage culturally and historically priceless monuments for touristic gain. Since local employees, employers and supervisors at tourist attractions have to level out quarantine losses, opening their doors is necessary. Teotihuacán is a positive example of how hygiene and social distancing measures can be paired with a cap on carrying capacity and faithful time slots, in order to prevent mass tourism and reckless behaviour that may both damage the archaeological authenticity, and cause the virus to spread.

This situation begs the question: If Coronavirus ever becomes a thing of the past, will important attractions such as The City of the Gods uphold these critical measures of safety and corresponding heritage site sustainability, or will we come back to our old “mass tourism” model that erodes the very attractions it promotes?

 

 

Riga Airport Follows Plans to Become Northern European Aviation Hub

Riga Airport Follows Plans to Become Northern European Aviation Hub

As you may well know, the aviation industry has nosedived during this pandemic, as a result of cancellations and lost bookings. However, the Latvian capital is following through with a plan to transform the airport into a major Northern European focal point for airline traffic.

With the aid of Cohesion Fund and their own finance, the airport is investing in large-scale projects worth more than 15 million to upgrade a part of the runway and taxi spaces to >11 km, resume construction of a new terminal, and build a helipad and brand new helicopter and aeroplane stand. With these improvements, Riga Airport (RIX) will be able to expand operational capacity, while at the same time utilize fewer resources and lessen waste and CO2 emissions. Currently, Riga operates direct flights to 76 destinations, making it the largest airport in the Baltic nations, and ambition does not fall short in its growth and sustainability schemes.

The Chairwoman at the Riga Airport Board, Laila Odiņa, explained their upcoming plans and considered Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to gain time and resources: “This crisis has given us some extra time to prepare for new challenges. By investing in the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure solutions today, in the future, it will be possible to organize work more efficiently and reduce costs per serviced passenger or aircraft, which will boost the Airport’s competitiveness both in terms of costs and environmental sustainability.” 

Irish Tourism Industry warns No-Deal Brexit may cost €260m in Additional Revenue

Ireland Warns No-Deal Brexit May Cost €260m in Tourism Revenue

The predestined divorce of Britain to the European Union might indeed have detrimental effects on tourism revenue. Specifically, it may backfire on the Southern parliamentary Republic of Ireland,  which relies on the monetary value of the Euro, as well as both EU and British relations.

The umbrella group for the tourism sector in the Republic of Ireland, The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (Itic) has calculated that as a by-product of a “doomsday” Brexit (on the event that it is completed with a no-deal squabble between both parties) the sector could lose up to €260 million in revenue & additional cost and over half a billion Euro in the years to come.

Considering that Southern Ireland receives more than a third of overseas visitors from Britain, the aftermath of Brexit would cut off their tourist supply with influence from the aviation sector, as well as the devaluation of British currency, which would make Ireland more expensive for holidaymakers and their consumers. According to Itic, 75% of British tourists fly across the Irish Sea, while 1/5th of US visitors and 30% of additional long-haul nationalities transit through Britain on their path through the Republic.

Furthermore, a no-deal Brexit situation would constrict access of peoples and goods/services at the physical geographic borderline between the Free-State Republic and its Northern UK counterpart. Obviously, this is menacing news to the tourism sector, and according to an Itic bulletin, it “would present a real threat to the current free flow of visitors and residents crossing between the two jurisdictions and negate Tourism Ireland’s all-island marketing strategy and investment”. Such inhibitions, caused by the rupture of  UK- EU relations, might even discourage the 1.3 million Irish visitors that travel south each year. What was before an easy ‘domestic’ commute from Belfast to Dublin, might become a hassle at the customs border.

It is important to note, that Brexit is still in a hypothetical phase and lacking explicitness. The future relationship may take different legal shapes, depending on the policy choices that the EU and UK have yet to make, but as the world is watching the situation unfold, Ireland is especially concerned for its own well-being. Though uncertain and disturbed about the various outcomes of an injurious Brexit, Itic expresses hope for a beau idéal: “Ideally the delivery of the backstop agreement on Ireland’s land border and a smooth transition period would be the best outcome for tourism.”