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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Startups from around the world have been recognized for their unique contributions to sustainable and responsible tourism in the UNWTO SDGs Global Startup Competition.

The competition, which was supported by the United Nations Innovation Network, attracted some 10,000 initial proposals. From these, the jury chose 25 winners from 18 countries, highlighting the array of tourism talent in every global region and its widespread ability to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Shortlisted finalists were judged according to criteria which included the potential of the startups to contribute to a specific Goal, their ability to be scaled-up and the maturity of both the product and the team behind it.

The 25 winning startups, selected by a jury made up of leaders from across the tourism sector, offer distinct solutions for advancing the SDGs. The Americas led the way in submitting winning proposals, with nine of the competition winners coming from the region. Europe provided eight winners, Asia and the Pacific six, and Africa and the Middle East one winner each.

“The winners show the power of new ideas for transforming our sector”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili in recognizing tourism’s potential to contribute to all Sustainable Development Goals. He added: “By embracing innovation, we can realise this potential and build a better future for people and planet through tourism. I congratulate them all and look forward to seeing these startups grow and deliver positive change.”

Lisandro Menu-Marque, Director-General of International Business Development for Globalia and Wakalua said: "The take-off of post-Covid tourism is moving closer and closer. The implementation of many of the innovative solutions, which have been brought us entrepreneurs from all over the world, will be part of this. The collaboration of institutions, governments and corporations will help host and scale up many of these projects through the Wakalua Hub, to make tourism a much more sustainable, responsible and socially impactful sector, all with the support of the UNWTO.”

Globalia is a key ally of UNWTO in its shift to lead the positive transformation of the sector, working together to identify and promote innovation through several competitions over recent years.

The winning startups will now be given expert support and backing to develop further, including through guided mentorship programmes from Amadeus, Google, IE University and FarCo, and tailored mentorship sessions from Mastercard and ClarkeModet.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, have signed a Strategic Commercial Cooperation Agreement (SCCA) to deepen their partnership between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and beyond the respective hubs.

The wide-ranging SCCA, subject to obtaining applicable governmental and regulatory approvals, sets out specific actions for deepening and broadening commercial cooperation, building on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the airlines signed in 2018.

The SCCA envisages a phased approach to closer collaboration between the partners. In the first phase, by June 2021, the scope of the partners’ codeshare agreement, first signed in 2019, will be significantly expanded. Etihad and Gulf Air will be able to offer up to an additional 30 combined destinations beyond the Abu Dhabi and Bahrain hubs, across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. 

The partners will work together to optimise joint operations on the Abu Dhabi-Bahrain route, with improvements to network connectivity over each of the partners’ hubs.

The Strategic Commercial Cooperation Agreement was signed by Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, and Captain Waleed AlAlawi, Gulf Air’s Acting Chief Executive Officer.

Tony Douglas said: “This agreement reinforces the strength of the ongoing partnership between our two airlines. We look forward to exploring pragmatic ways in which the two carriers can increasingly work seamlessly between our two capitals, enhance benefits and customer experience for our most frequent travelers and further extend the reach of our joint networks beyond our hubs.”

Captain AlAlawi said: “Our relationship with Etihad Airways has always been strong and today we are reaching a higher level of collaboration with many more opportunities in the horizon between the national carriers of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. This agreement will empower both of us to offer a more elevated experience to passengers and widen their travel options.” 

Turkey has welcomed 15.9 million International visitors in the year 2020 generating a tourism revenue of $12.1 billion. In 2021, Turkey is targeting to host 30 million international visitors.

According to a media release, Turkey was amongst the first few countries to open its borders for tourism after implementing stringent measures like Safe Tourism Certification to safeguard health of tourists and those involved with touristic activities. Tourists travelling to Turkey from different countries return to their countries healthy and safe having spent their holidays in certified facilities in Turkey.         

During the year, Turkey witnessed 45,000 Indian arrivals. Of these, 30,000 travelled to Turkey between January and March 2020.

Turkey is open to all foreign visitors including Indians since June this year. Once the restriction on international flight is lifted in India, the flights between both the countries will resume immediately.

Turkey opened its borders for tourism in June 2020 with well-planned Covid regulations in place due to which the country has emerged as a major tourist destination.

Airbnb today released a report on new travel trends for 2021 which shows Indian travelers are looking to reconnect with friends and loved ones and enjoy safe, unique experiences off-the-beaten track. Health and safety continue to be key priorities, and this is increasingly reflected in traveler choices as well.

According to the Survey, 57% of respondents across age groups said that they would choose to connect with their immediate family members as soon as travel is back in 2021. This was reflected in traveler groups who are most likely to travel after the pandemic as well, including GenX and Millennials. Also, 50% of Millennials said they would travel with, or to see, friends and family, suggesting new opportunities for hosting across the country that could emerge in 2021.

Moreover, 85% would like to stay in unique accommodations when they travel next (formats such as heritage homes, havelis, farm stays and villas), exploring new destinations and places recommended by local hosts, family or friends.

And, GenX (89%) and Millennials (86%), who comprise a large pool of current and future travelers, are leading this trend. 39% of Millennials stated a firm intent to travel in 2021.

The Survey further states that the local recommendations and social media will inspire travel. The trend of hosted travel and local recommendations will also be fueled by Millennials. 63% of that demographic are open to sharing their unique stays and experiences on social media to inspire travel amongst their peers. 66% of respondents across age groups said they love taking pictures to share on family and friends groups.

Due to the pandemic, travelers are looking for exclusive and secluded holidays in the lap of nature. While the vaccine continues to be an encouraging factor propelling growth for industries including travel and tourism, 50% of would-be travelers find nature travel more meaningful, and continue to use nature holidays to relax and recharge, compared with urban spaces. This perpetuates a trend towards slower, sustainable and more regenerative travel.

Sustainable travel choices that are closer to remote communities and nature not only provide a boost to these communities and their members - redistributing the economic impact of travel – but are accessible and affordable and are a transformative choice contributing to unique and individual travel experiences.

Commenting on these trends, Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager - Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said, “After a year of sacrifice and hardship where so many were kept apart for so long, 2021 offers many the chance to reconnect with friends and loved ones. We will also see the continued growth of restorative, inclusive and sustainable travel throughout India. Travelers are looking at more meaningful experiences, prizing personal connection and valued time with friends and family. Holidays in the hills and other natural settings are also helping travelers re-connect with the environment as a medium to rest and recharge. This is a model of travel that Airbnb has always supported – travel as a way of fostering meaningful connections and regenerating communities.”

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has partnered with local designers to upcycle obsolete aircraft cabin interiors into pieces of art, as an environmentally friendly alternative of dealing with waste.

Carpet and fabric rolls, emergency equipment, sidewalls and windows, and Economy and Business class seats are just some of the old aircraft parts Azza Al Qubaisi and Christine Wilson used to design art installations for Etihad Airways.

Terry Daly, Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand & Marketing, Etihad, said, “End-of-life parts that were destined for landfill have been repurposed into beautiful art instillations by skilled artists who used rare and unwanted aircraft scraps. By collaborating with artists from the local community, our goal is to not only showcase talent within the region, but to further encourage sustainable innovation that’s good for the environment.”

Born in Abu Dhabi, Emirati sculptor Azza Al Qubaisi’s first art piece used seat floor mounting rails as a building motif to create symmetric geometric formations that can be displayed free standing or suspended from the ceiling.

“Visiting Etihad’s warehouse of aircraft parts during the COVID-19 pandemic brought back memories of travelling around the world and discovering different cultures. I was thrilled to have unlimited access to amazing materials that I could upcycle or melt into art for my ‘Seeking Identity’ sculpture series. After deconstructing some seats, I have a bigger appreciation for the ergonomics and technology that goes into them – there are hundreds of pieces. I’m already working on a second piece of art by melting and casting the scrap materials I didn’t use for my first installation and I can’t wait to share it with the world,” said Azza.

Using aircraft curtains, wall panels, life jackets and cabin interiors, Christine Wilson, an emerging artist from Ireland based in Dubai, designed a multidimensional upcycled art piece to encapsulate a textural zeitgeist of Etihad.

“Upon reflection and consideration, we want to remind travellers that 2020 should be remembered for more than the difficulty of COVID-19 times. ‘Aintiqal’ is a visual reflection of the Abu Dhabi skyline and depicts the incredible landmark achievements of the UAE’s space programme. It represents national pride and reminds us of new beginnings and a new journey,” said Christine.

Inspired by nature with a passion for the environment, Christine founded her ‘covid-couture’ business at the start of the global pandemic to play her part in remaking the world and living a sustainable life.

Etihad is displaying the art pieces at Etihad Headquarters and hopes to commission similar work in the future.

Sabre Corporation has announced a strategic long-term technology partnership with Louvre Hotels Group, Europe's second-largest enterprise hotel group counting almost 1,600 hotels across 54 countries and a subsidiary of Jin Jiang International.

With this new agreement, Louvre Hotels Group will benefit from SynXis Central Reservations and its industry-leading reach with connections to almost 900,000 travel agents and nearly 700 online channels across the globe, including hundreds of online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch engines.

“This partnership with Sabre is a priority to sustain our ambitions, especially in this global context. We constantly develop our network across the world with our brands from 1 star to 5 stars. Therefore, we want to deploy innovative distribution strategies with robust technology solutions, to provide cutting edge solutions to our investors and franchises while ensuring technical and operational efficiency for our hotels,” said Pierre-Frédéric Roulot, CEO at Louvre Hotels Group. “For us, Sabre Hospitality Solutions is offering the best combination of innovation, platform, security, scale and service.”

In addition to increased distribution and reach, Louvre Hotels Group will have the ability to create differentiated capabilities with seamless integration of Louvre’s suite of customized applications and other third-party systems via an extensive API library.

“In today’s evolving travel and hospitality industry, it is critical that hoteliers have a unified, highly-flexible technology platform that allows them to drive commercial performance, enable operational excellence, and do this on a reliable platform that just works,” said Scott Wilson, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “Sabre’s industry-leading solutions will extend Louvre Hotels Group’s distribution reach with speed of innovation, performance, and stability inherent in an industry leading platform while providing the ability to create highly differentiated experiences for both its brands and its guests.”

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), vide its order dated February 11, 2021 has allowed the withdrawal of Thomas Cook India’s Buy-back Offer application filed vide the Draft Letter of Offer dated March 5, 2020. The application for withdrawal dated September 28, 2020, filed by Thomas Cook India (TCIL) has accordingly been disposed of under the relevant regulations of the SEBI (Buy–back of Securities) Regulations, 2018.

The Board of Directors of TCIL had approved the Buy–back Offer in a meeting held on February 26, 2020 and filed the Draft Letter of Offer with SEBI vide a letter dated March 6, 2020. Subsequently, vide a letter dated September 28, 2020, TCIL had filed the Application seeking withdrawal of the Buy–back Offer.

The SEBI Order noted that the continuation of the Buy–back Offer will result in an adverse effect on the business of the Company and in turn, its shareholders. Accordingly, SEBI exercised its powers to allow the withdrawal of the Buy-back.

The Company will proceed to complete the regulatory formalities in this regard.

Marriott International President and CEO, Arne M. Sorenson, unexpectedly passed away on February 15, 2021. In May 2019, the company announced that Sorenson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On February 2, 2021, Marriott shared the news that Sorenson would temporarily reduce his schedule to facilitate more demanding treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Sorenson became the third CEO in Marriott’s history in 2012, and the first without the Marriott surname. A visionary leader, Sorenson put the company on a strong growth trajectory that included the US$13-billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. During his tenure as CEO, Sorenson was tireless in driving the company’s progress, creating opportunities for associates, growth for owners and franchisees and results for the company’s shareholders. Known for his leadership on difficult national and global issues, Sorenson steered Marriott to make significant progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and human trafficking awareness.

JW Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, said, “Arne was an exceptional executive – but more than that – he was an exceptional human being. Arne loved every aspect of this business and relished time spent touring our hotels and meeting associates around the world. He had an uncanny ability to anticipate where the hospitality industry was headed and position Marriott for growth. But the roles he relished the most were as husband, father, brother and friend. On behalf of the Board and Marriott’s hundreds of thousands of associates around the world, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Arne’s wife and four children. We share your heartbreak, and we will miss Arne deeply.”

When Sorenson stepped back from full-time management in early February, the company tapped two veteran Marriott executives, Stephanie Linnartz, Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology and Emerging Businesses, and Tony Capuano, Group President, Global Development, Design and Operations Services, to share responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company’s business units and corporate functions, in addition to maintaining their current responsibilities. Linnartz and Capuano will continue in this capacity until the Marriott Board appoints a new CEO, which is expected to be within the next two weeks.

Singapore’s tourism sector has taken strides to reimagine its offerings and experiences, while supporting nationwide efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism-related companies have benefited from various government support measures to transform their products and offerings, while building new capabilities to position themselves for future growth opportunities.

Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said: “Singapore’s tourism sector has had to fight for survival in 2020. Our tourism businesses have displayed immense resilience and adaptability throughout this difficult period, reinventing their business models and leveraging technology to find solutions in a COVID-19 world. STB remains confident in Singapore’s position as one of the world’s safest and most attractive leisure and business destination, and the long-term prospects of Singapore’s tourism sector. While mass international travel is unlikely to resume in a major way in 2021, STB will continue standing together with our industry partners to prepare for recovery and to start building a better and more sustainable future for tourism.”

To ensure that Singapore remains top of mind even while travel is curtailed, STB’s regional offices launched new initiatives to engage its fans and strengthen Singapore’s brand image around the world. STB partnered with technology, media and tourism industry players in key source markets to jointly promote Singapore as an attractive destination for future travellers.

India is an important visitor source market for Singapore. and  The Singapore Tourism Board and its tourism partners have been leveraging technology and the digital medium for consumer outreach in the India market since the beginning of the lockdown as they have realised that it is important to continue engaging with and entertaining the audience in such extraordinary times and keep Singapore close to their hearts and minds.

Interesting virtual consumer activations with brands such as Zomato, BookMyShow, NH7 Weekender, Windmill Festival, St+art India Foundation, Tripoto have been executed where Indian artistes and influencers have collaborated with Singaporean artistes where they were also to showcase their passions and talents and connect with the Indian audiences virtually.

Recently, STB concluded its first virtual travel trade engagement roadshows for 2021 in India. Based on this year’s theme, “Charting Our Pathways to Tourism Recovery”, the roadshows aimed at strengthening partnerships and planning on how to grow the tourism business and prepare for travel restart once the situation normalises. During the roadshow, the STB shared updates on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore and how the country is preparing for tourism re-start and recovery in 2021 and beyond. The roadshows included close to 48 key stakeholders from Singapore representing hotels, airlines, integrated resorts, attractions, Destination Management Companies (DMC) and cruise operators and were attended by over 3000 buyers from India.

GB Srithar, Regional Director (India, Middle East and South Asia), Singapore Tourism Board while talking about outlook for the India market adds: “Singapore has made progress in its gradual and calibrated return to some normalcy. We had entered the third phase of a three-phased ‘A Safe Singapore’ transition since 28 December 2020 and are adopting a deliberate and cautious re-opening of our borders for international travel, with necessary safeguards in place. We are prepared for recovery to be a slow and deliberate process but we are confident that we can overcome this pandemic.

STB is confident that along with our valued partner-friends and tourism partners, we will come together to share and exchange ideas and jointly configure the pathways to recovery for travel and tourism.”

IndiGo signed an agreement with Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL) to start operations from Durgapur – the 66th destination in 6E network. The airline will operate its first direct flights from Delhi, Bengaluru, and a southern city to Durgapur from April 22, 2021, with bookings opening from February 13, 2021.

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to partner with Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited, to add Durgapur as a new domestic destination in our network. Being one of the largest industrial hubs in the state of West Bengal, daily direct connections between key metro cities and Durgapur will augment economic growth in the city as well as the region. Durgapur also attracts people for its Damodar river and coalfields of Raniganj and increased access to the safest mode of transportation will further augment domestic tourist traffic. IndiGo is committed to providing an affordable, on-time, safe and hassle-free travel experience onboard our lean, clean flying machine”.

As part of the agreement, BAPL will also provide local marketing support to IndiGo through their expertise in the city. Post securing all regulatory approvals and specific flight schedules for Durgapur, IndiGo will soon take the overall number of domestic destinations in the 6E network to 68 by opening Bareilly and Rajkot in the coming months, as part of its plan to expand regional connectivity in the country.

 

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