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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

With an easy-to-use interface that is optimised for mobile and completely new content, lots of games and quizzes, Disneyland Paris has launched the new DisneyStars training platform to educate travel agents, tour operators and tourism professionals.

The new training platform helps tourism professionals stay updated with the latest news and information about Disneyland Paris and study various modules at their own pace and convenience; accessible from mobile, tablet or desktop.

Industry professionals can now gain access to exclusive courses covering the Disney Parks, accommodation, dining, services and much more. With features such as search engine and a personal profile to track one’s progress, paired with lots of games, quizzes and tips to sell and upsell Disneyland Paris.

Uttarakhand is witnessing a continuous upsurge in the number of tourists ever since the state government has allowed relaxations in the protocols being followed amidst Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the recent data shared by President of Rafting Association, Rishikesh, Dinesh Bhatt, Rishikesh alone-recorded over 4000 tourist’s inflow since Sep 26, following the reopening of the popular white-water river rafting adventure activity in the city. The adventure tour operators who conduct river rafting in Rishikesh, received almost 90% more bookings from places like UP, Delhi and Haryana, which was way above their expectations for the first day itself. Enquiries for advance bookings continue to pour in for the next two weeks.

Rajpal Yadav, owner of rafting operator agency in Rishikesh says, “We are extremely elated with the opening up of adventure tourism in Rishikesh and are seeing a continuous increase in the number of rafting lovers. We hope that the tourists visiting for rafting activities will adhere to all the safety norms in regards of Covid and enjoy their visit in Uttarakhand.”

“Adventure Tourism contributes to a majority part in the state’s overall tourism industry. I am happy that our step towards resuming the adventure sport activities has heeded the desired results and has attracted large number of adventure seekers in the state. While, we have opened up the activities for the tourists, I also expect full cooperation from all the stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of rules and guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19 in the state. There has been a steady increase in the number of tourists appearing for rafting in the last four years. 68,604 tourists arrived in the year 2017 from September to December, over 3,49,736 in 2018, 3,34,753 in 2019 and 29,932 tourists till March 2020 have enjoyed river rafting. On the other hand, after the commencement of adventure sports activities in Uttarakhand over 19,872 tourists have arrived in the state from October 2nd to 5th,” Dilip Jawalkar, Secretary, Uttarakhand Tourism, said.

New flight booking data released today by Amadeus reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on flight booking lead times in India since March 2020.  According to Amadeus’ first COVID-19 Travel Insights bulletin, flight booking lead times in India decreased by 68% between March-July 2020, compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019 – the biggest change seen across the APAC region.

The bulletin also found that Indian travelers are currently the most last minute in the region when it comes to booking flights – making flight bookings on average only 10 days before their departure date between March-July 2020.

According to Cyril Tetaz, Executive Vice President, Airlines, Amadeus Asia Pacific, this shift towards last-minute bookings has major implications for how India’s travel industry should begin to think about recovery going into 2021.

“We expected that a greater number of passengers would prefer to book last minute in light of the uncertainties and changing travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has certainly been borne out by our flight booking data,” he said. “This has significant ramifications for India’s travel industry as it looks to rebuild. For a start, India’s airlines, hotels and tour operators now have a much shorter window of opportunity to engage travelers, and urgently need to adapt their marketing and business strategies to cater to the nuances of the last-minute market more than ever before.

“The old methods of using historical data to predict demand and income are no longer effective in the COVID-19 era, either; with so many bookings now left to the last minute, India’s travel businesses will need to increasingly rely on real-time data instead, and build extra flexibility into every aspect of their day-to-day operations, so that resources, systems and services can be seamlessly scaled up and down as demand fluctuates at short notice, without having any impact on the traveler’s experience.”

The Amadeus bulletin also found that the other nine APAC countries that it studied followed the same pattern as India in recording a contraction in booking lead times during the COVID-19 pandemic, except Malaysia and Philippines where travelers have been making domestic flight bookings much further ahead during the pandemic than they ordinarily would.

After India, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand are the APAC countries that have so far seen the most significant changes in traveler behavior, with decreases of 54%, 53% and 51% respectively in flight booking lead times compared to pre-COVID-19 levels on international and domestic flights combined. Even in Japan – where booking lead times have remained the longest in the region at 53 days – the booking window has still contracted by 14% compared to before the pandemic.

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) has expressed disappointment for the Indian travel and tourism industry that LTC funds of government employees are being redirected to buy consumer goods.

Coming on the back of a prolonged lockdown, the industry was looking at festive season holidays boost travel demand when people look to travel to their home state. After almost 8 months of nil to now very limited tourism activity, festive season was one of the few demand drivers that the Indian tourism travel and hospitality industry was looking forward to and the industry was hoping for more tax based stimulus in the hands of all citizens to travel.

Instead redirecting the LTC money of government employees to buy consumer goods would dry up those funds for the travel sector. Additionally, it would also send a vote of no confidence to the tourism travel & hospitality industry which was looking to get back on its feet after ‘Unlock’

Additionally, since this is a 4-year block scheme it will also cut away funds for future travel demand source for the next year when the LTC block ends in 2021. This thus goes against the spirit of domestic tourism push and year 2021 as domestic tourism year being planned by tourism ministry.

It is requested that not only be the LTC funds be restored but also an income tax benefit be introduced for all citizens to get income  tax exemption  while travelling within India upto ₹1.5 lakhs against GST registered  travel agents, hotels tour operators, tourist transporters & restaurants .

Additionally the way states are being extended  tax free funds payable over 50 year, the tourism industry which is the most stressed currently and also the most employee intensive be  given similar tax free funds on a direct benefit transfer for salaries & operating costs payable over 10 years post COVID.

Genting Cruise Lines has announced that Dream Cruises will be the first cruise brand to restart service in Singapore with World Dream, as she makes her homeport debut from 6 November 2020 onwards. World Dream will also be the newest built cruise ship to homeport in Singapore, offering a series of brand new 2 and 3-night “Super Seacation” experience for Singapore residents during the school and year-end holidays.

In wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Dream Cruises continues to be at the forefront as the first cruise brand in the world to resume operations in a safe manner with two key homeports in Asia, starting with the successful deployment in Taiwan in July 2020 and subsequently in Singapore this November.

“We are delighted to be the first cruise ship to restart operations here in Singapore and to give a much-needed boost to the local tourism industry. We are able to provide Singapore residents with more vacation options beyond land-based resorts and we hope to bring back the joy of cruising with safety being paramount,” said Michael Goh, President of Dream Cruises, said.

Working very closely with the Singapore government, Dream Cruises was granted approval by the local authorities to start a pilot based on the company’s stringent and enhanced health and safety protocols, complemented by its exemplary safety track record during its first two months of operations in Taiwan.

“Public health and safety are our utmost priority as we reopen various sectors of the economy in a gradual and safe manner. We are glad to work with Genting Cruise Lines on the cruise pilot with a focus on the necessary safe management measures to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. Genting has sailed from Singapore for the past 2 decades, and our longstanding partnership puts us in a good stead for the cruise pilot starting from November,” said Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board.

In conjunction with World Dream’s homeport deployment in Singapore, Genting Cruise Lines remains committed in creating career opportunities for Singaporeans through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and the Institute of Technical Education. Under this collaborative effort, a series of joint activities, learning projects and internship programs will be made available to students and graduates who are keen to explore a career in the cruise and tourism related sector.

Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India said that technology will be the game-changer for the travel start-up industry and the government is ready to support new ideas and collaborate with start-ups.

Addressing a webinar on ‘Travel Start-up Accelerator Series - Towards A Self-Reliant India’, organized by FICCI, Brar said that COVID-19 will accelerate the digital transformation in Indian travel and tourism industry that will lead us to be innovative, creative and out of the box thinking. “We cannot miss out on the software product opportunity that lies in front of India and this is the time for start-ups to Make in India and for the world,” she added.  

She stated that as travel restrictions are easing, both the government and industry are coming up with ideas to implement minimum or no-contact set up. “E-visa seems to be the way forward which can act as a supporting tool for the promotional campaigns run by the governments. This will also help in recognizing a tourist destination as a safe destination,” she said.

Highlighting the global competition in the tourism industry, Brar said, “Adopting digital technology provides the best opportunity for the tourism industry to cement their position in the Indian economy. There has never been a better time for the industry to use it and make themselves globally competitive.”

The slow easing of international travel restrictions in future will result in intense competition as countries will target the same markets. This calls for an aggressive strategy focusing on the intense use of technology, noted Brar.   

Roma Datta, Director – Travel, BFSI, Classifieds, Gaming, Telco & Payments, Google India, said digital adoption by consumers has increased in the past few months and travel start-ups must leverage the opportunities in digitization.

“Understanding the changing needs of the travellers, reinventing, reimagining and being relevant are key factors for travel start-ups. COVID-19 has taught India to be Atmanirbhar and several start-ups will emerge from this adversity by seeking inspiration from the global market,” said Ms Datta.

Ashish Kumar, Co-Chairman, FICCI Travel Technology Committee & Thought Leader said that companies need to focus on innovation which is the key for a sustained growth. Travel companies and businesses must promote their safety protocols and encourage travellers to also keep sustainability in mind, he added.

Ankush Nijhawan, Co-Chairman, FICCI Travel Technology Committee & Co-Founder TBO Group, Managing Director, Nijhawan Group, said, that the new travel companies are extremely talented but require mentorship to take the next step. He also urged the government to support and boost the start-up sector in India. 

Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said that start-up as a concept challenges the existing business models, markets, thought process and brings in the disruption. During the pandemic, we must identify the start-ups and help them accelerate. This is a time to create a new experience which is safe, secure and generates a growth paradigm for the industry, he added.

Kartik Sharma, Board Member, Start-Up Mentor Board moderated the webinar.

Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have today made a joint call for a globally-consistent approach to testing international passengers as an alternative to quarantine measures.

The global shut down of air transport as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions has had a catastrophic impact on employment. Some 4.8 million industry jobs have been lost or are under threat.

Governments must cooperate to remove quarantine restrictions and restart air travel. A systematic approach to COVID-19 testing will provide an effective way to give governments the confidence to re-open borders without quarantine.

The aviation industry, focused on the health and safety of passengers and their employees, has worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART), which included the World Health Organization, to agree and implement a layered approach to health measures that will enable safe operations amid the COVID-19 crisis.

As the CART reconvenes this week ACI and IATA emphasized that a systematic approach to testing must be the key focus. Both associations call for an internationally agreed and recognized approach to testing passengers during the travel process that is fast, practical, accurate, low-cost, easy-to-use and supported by public health authorities.

“Airports and airlines are united in the view that a consistent approach to testing passengers will help to restore the confidence of passengers, avoid border closures, and remove cumbersome quarantine measures which are hampering the genuine efforts of the aviation industry to recover,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “This will better foster recovery among airports, airlines and the travel and tourism sectors, thereby protecting jobs and providing the economic and social benefits that aviation delivers to the local, national, and global communities it serves.”

IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said borders must be reopened without quarantine. “Systematic testing is the key to restoring connectivity,” said de Juniac. “That’s critical because millions of jobs depend aviation. And millions more travelers want and need to reconnect with family, take a hard-earned vacation or support their international business needs. We must learn to live with this disease and that includes safely restoring the freedom to travel. Already we have measures in place to ensure safe journeys through ICAO’s CART recommendations. And trials around the world are helping us to demonstrate that we have effective testing technology that can be efficiently integrated into the travel process. We count on ICAO’s leadership to bring governments into agreement on an implementation plan so that aviation can reconnect people and economies. We need to do this with speed. Each day of delay puts more jobs at risk.”

Tourism Ministers of the G20 nations have committed to stepping up their efforts to place sustainability and inclusion at the heart of tourism recovery and future growth. The implementation of the World Tourism Organization AlUla Framework for Inclusive Community Development Through Tourism, presented on the occasion of the Ministerial Meeting, was welcomed by the G20 Tourism Ministers as a tool for achieving a fairer and more inclusive sector.

Under the leadership of the 2020 G20 Saudi Presidency, UNWTO and the G20 Tourism Working Group developed the AlUla Framework to further advance the contribution of the sector as an effective means towards fairer growth and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Framework provides specific recommendations and tools to support both governments as well as all other key stakeholders in the tourism sector – including regional and local governments, the private sector, industry associations, civil society, communities and tourists – fostering a truly holistic and integrated approach to inclusive community development through tourism.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “As we join forces to restart tourism, we must live up to our responsibility to ensure that tourism’s benefits are shared by all. I congratulate the Saudi Presidency for placing inclusive community development through tourism at the heart of the G20 Agenda and I invite G20 countries to follow this vision and embrace tourism as an effective means for inclusion and sustainability.”

Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Tourism and Chair of the G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting welcomed the AlUla Framework saying, “On behalf of the G20 Tourism Ministers, I commend the Tourism Working Group and the UNWTO for this initiative. The AlUla Framework – named after Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO world heritage site – demonstrates how the tourism sector can promote inclusive community development by highlighting practical examples and case studies that governments can emulate to protect local culture and the environment, while empowering local communities, especially women and young people. The Framework is a vital tool to be used as we work together to rebuild the tourism sector to be more sustainable, resilient and inclusive.

Calling for a model of tourism development based on Public-Private-Community (PPC) partnerships, the Framework includes a set of concrete programmes and initiatives based around four pillars of action – empowerment, safeguarding, prosperity and collaboration.  It further defines the key areas of measurement for the impact of tourism in the communities in line with the Measuring Sustainable Tourism Initiative, led by UNWTO.

In a first for any tourism organisation, Tourism Australia has launched a new series of immersive videos that harness the innovative 8D audio technology and take viewers on a sensory journey of Australia’s unique sights, sounds and textures. For the uninitiated, 8D audio is a sound engineering treatment that, when the viewer wears headphones, gives the music and sounds a three-dimensional effect, thereby putting viewers in the middle of some of the country’s most iconic destinations.

From the fiery red sand of Uluru to the glassy turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef, and the deep greens of the Daintree Rainforest, Australia’s landscapes span the full colour spectrum. And to showcase this visual diversity and vibrancy that Australia is distinctly known for, each video is themed by a colour - blue, red, magenta, green, black and white – to evoke a range of feelings and emotions.

While the colours blue and white bring in a sense of calm and peace with soothing shots of the underwater world and snowy wonderlands, the colour red and black invoke the feeling of mystery, power and excitement with scenes that capture Australia’s beautiful night sky and billions of years old rock formations. Magenta appeals to the romantic with the soft pink hues of the sunset over iconic drives and Green leaves you refreshed with sights and sounds from Australia’s ancient rainforests.

In line with the calibrated resumption of economic activities in Singapore, safe cruises will be piloted from November 2020 with enhanced safety protocols for two cruise lines that are homeported here. To provide assurance for safe cruising, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is developing a mandatory CruiseSafe certification programme, which sets out stringent hygiene and safety measures throughout the passenger journey – from prior to boarding, to after disembarkation. The pilot cruises will be round-trips with no ports of call, sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 percent and only open to Singapore residents.

To allow time to review the operationalisation of enhanced safety protocols, the pilot cruises will start from 6 November with Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream. Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas will begin sailing in December.  The Government will monitor the outcomes of the pilot sailings carefully in the coming months before deciding on the next steps for cruises.

STB’s CruiseSafe was created in consultation with the industry and is benchmarked against global health and safety standards. Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to develop and implement a mandatory audit and certification programme for cruise lines before they can commence sailings.

Prior to sailing, all cruise lines sailing out of Singapore must obtain the CruiseSafe certification, which requires independent assessment by a third-party certification firm. Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the certification. They were approved for the pilot as they have demonstrated the ability to put in place stringent protocols and precautionary measures as part of their CruiseSafe certification.

As part of CruiseSafe, the pilot cruises will have to comply with prevailing safe management measures, such as mask-wearing and 1m-safe distancing. To ensure compliance, regular inspections will be conducted on board during the pilots. Cruise lines that are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to penalties including fines, suspension of sailings and revocation of CruiseSafe certification.

“This cruise pilot is a valuable opportunity for cruise operators to reinvent the entire cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers. As ASEAN’s lead coordinator for cruise development, Singapore remains committed to supporting and growing cruise tourism in the region. We will continue to work with cruise lines and our industry stakeholders to chart a new course for safe cruising,” said Mr Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board.

 

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