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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements can be a ‘game changer’ for destinations around the world as they look to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic. A new set of  Inclusive Recovery Guides from the World Tourism Organization, produced in partnership with the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the ONCE Foundation of Spain and Travability from Australia, makes clear the importance of placing inclusivity at the centre of recovery plans and provides key recommendations for achieving this.

Launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide – Socio-Cultural Impacts of COVID-19: Issue I Persons with Disabilities, draws on the expertise of UNWTO’s Ethics Culture and Social Responsibility Department and its partners. While much progress has been made, the publication makes clear that persons with disabilities and seniors encounter barriers preventing them from fully enjoying tourism experiences, even more so during the pandemic. Now, as UNWTO leads the restart of tourism globally, this guide outlines steps that governments, destinations and companies should take to build back better, becoming more inclusive and competitive.

This can be a real game changer for destinations and businesses, helping them recover from the crisis and grow back in a more inclusive and resilient way

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism environments and services are often designed without considering the different access requirements that visitors and locals may have. The tourism sector must prioritize accessibility. This can be a real game changer for destinations and businesses, helping them recover from the crisis and grow back in a more inclusive and resilient way.”

Highlighting the potential benefits for more accessible destinations, the publication notes that, by 2050, one in six people worldwide will be aged 65 or over, rising to one in four in Europe and North America. Furthermore, data shows that the average spend of tourists with disabilities in Spain, for example is in excess of 800 euros, compared with just over 600 euros for tourists without disabilities.

Recommendations for inclusive recovery

The recommendations advocating for accessibility during the recovery of tourism insist on six main action areas:

Assistance in a crisis: Including accessibility during every stage of repatriation, which requires the backing of destinations and disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs)

Adaptation of protocols: Follow UNWTO guidance on adapting general health and safety protocols, considering that customers may have different abilities and requirements

Inclusivity in post-pandemic tourism: Including the effective use of data to guide decisions on accessible tourism planning and adjusting accessibility policies and strategies to reflect post-COVID realities

Accessibility in business planning: Treating accessibility as a competitive advantage, improving customer service, and the application of harmonized international standards to enhance quality of life for all

Staff training and inclusion: Extending professional training to better cater for tourists with different abilities, and ensuring equal opportunities in the tourism workforce

Innovation and digital transformation: Embracing innovation to make travel and tourism safer, smarter and easier for all

The guidelines reflect UNWTO’s ongoing commitment to inclusive tourism, enshrined within The UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, calling on signatories to facilitate tourism for persons with disabilities. This publication is also the first one in a planned series of thematic briefs from UNWTO’s Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility Department, in its intent to provide guidance to our sector.

Lufthansa launched a unique ‘Calendar of Hope’ initiative today to help street and slum children in India. In a collaborative effort to help spread hope with kindness, the airline has dedicated the 2021 edition of its iconic calendar to support the most vulnerable in the fight against the hardships of COVID-19.

Lufthansa is partnering with ImpactGuru, a Harvard incubated start-up and India's leading healthcare crowdfunding platform for this initiative. This will ensure that 100 per cent of the contribution goes directly to help the children at Aasraa Trust, which supports over 3300 street children in Dehradun, as well as Sunshine Children Education Society, which gives shelter to over 250 slum children in Delhi. The funds will help provide the children with much-needed food, rations, medicines, reusable masks, soaps, sanitizers, warm clothes, blankets, stationary, school supplies, healthcare and uninterrupted education. Both projects have been supported extensively over the years through help alliance, the aid organization of Lufthansa Group employees.

Calendar of Hope ensures that help alliance can continue supporting projects in India. Over the past decade, help alliance has donated almost 3 million euros in Indian projects. It currently supports five projects across the country. Just recently, help alliance was part of a large-scale effort together with a major German TV network to raise funds for a girls’ shelter in Dehradun. With its Calender of Hope, Lufthansa aims to extend a helping hand in collaboration with like-minded people, inviting donations of Rs 201 for each calendar, up to a maximum of 25 calendars.

Speaking about the initiative, George Ettiyil, Senior Director Sales South Asia – Lufthansa Group, said, “Street and slum children are particularly susceptible to the impact of COVID-19. Malnutrition, poverty and poor hygiene make them easy targets in this pandemic. Our 2021 Lufthansa Calendar of Hope exemplifies our collective will to fight this scourge and, despite our hardships, help carry the weakest with us through collaborative strength.”

IndiGo touched a milestone of operation of 1000 daily flights to and from 59 domestic and 06 international destinations. The flights include scheduled commercial operations and air bubble flights. IndiGo has been operating these flights while adhering to all the precautionary measures, ensuring a safe and hassle-free travel experience on-board a lean, clean flying machine.

Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “From zero domestic and international operations to now operating 1000 scheduled commercial flights daily, we have indeed come a long way since we resumed operations post the lockdown. Our tireless efforts to provide a safe and hygienic experience and awareness campaigns are bearing fruit, as seen in the form of steadily increasing demand for air travel. We are currently operating at around 70% of our pre-covid capacity and we hope that the growth will continue into 2021,” Dutta said thanking customers for the confidence and trust they have placed  in IndiGo.

FAITH has urged the Government to set up a Targeted Tourism transition corpus which makes available funds on a direct benefit transfer through Min. Of Finance for Indian tourism, travel & hospitality industry, till the vaccine is deployed.

The path to vaccination is becoming clearer now reportedly with multiple vaccines being considered for approval. Reports across the world indicate that by mid-year of 2021 vaccine will hopefully be deployed across most of the international markets and across India too. Tourism will then only see recovery as people will feel safe to travel post vaccination.

Currently barring some spurts of domestic travel during long weekends, almost all segments of tourism are currently non- performing: inbound tourism, corporate travel, meetings & events travel, outbound travel. All these segments will get unlocked post the deployment of the vaccine.

Faith has thus requested till then a bridge fund targeted at the tourism sector be setup to enable tourism travel and hospitality companies to draw down from this corpus set up by MOF on a direct benefit transfer basis on an interest free which they can utilise to repay their salaries and operating costs till vaccine is fully deployed.

This drawdown by the tourism enterprises may be adjustable over 5 years against their GST & income tax liabilities.

As the recent Q2 GDP data has indicated, the travel hospitality & trade contracted over 15% almost double the GDP contraction of 7.5% for India. On a stand-alone basis, if seen, the contraction in tourism will be much higher.

However, this bridge funding to tourism on an interest free basis will help in correcting that and will open up a path to recovery led through a stable tourism supply.

The drawdown from this corpus will set in motion a virtuous cycle  enabling tourism travel & hospitality companies to keep their business and jobs alive and to be ready for the tourism demand as it begins reviving across international, leisure and corporate markets. The Government will lose just the time value of money but will benefit from tax-based growth emerging from this revival.  

Globally countries have already started on their second phase of their support to sectors impacted adversely by tourism.

The tourism sector has now seen almost three full quarters of complete distress unlike other sectors and is facing the once in a century crisis of confidence.

Sabre Corporation announced that Gulf Air has recently implemented Sabre’s branded fares technology – enhanced merchandising capabilities that allow travel agents using the Sabre global distribution system (GDS) to access the full breadth of airlines’ branded fares.

With this implementation, agents can now easily view, compare and sell Gulf Air’s ‘Boutique’ fare family across the network, offering their customers greater choice and personalization at better value.

“With Sabre’s branded fares, airlines can go beyond the basic fare rules,” said Dino Gelmetti, Vice President EMEA, Sabre Travel Solutions. “They can package additional benefits and features, such as additional air miles, seat selection, checked baggage and other services, with the goal of providing their customers better flexibility and greater value. The ability to cater to and personalize these demands will enhance travelers’ experiences and drive revenue for airlines.”

Gulf Air has introduced a new price concept for all destinations effective Oct. 20, 2020, which travel agents can book through Sabre’s GDS. With three economy class and two Falcon Gold class fare options, customers will be able to enjoy more choice when booking their flights. By marketing its “Boutique” fares through Sabre, Gulf Air will be giving its customers more control over their travel experiences, paying for the services that best meet their needs.

“We recognize that many travelers today consider the overall value of a ticket, rather than just the price alone – and this means different things to different people,” said Vincent Costa, Chief Commercial Officer, Gulf Air. “While we continue to offer increased benefits across our fares, we also need to be able to cater to specific traveler demands. With Sabre, we can ensure that each traveler receives the best experience from flying with us by showcasing the full range of our fares.”

‘Ramayan Cruise Tour’ on the Saryu river in Ayodhya will be launched soon. Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways today chaired a review meeting for the implementation of cruise service.

It will be the first-ever luxury Cruise service on the Saryu river (Ghagra/National Waterways-40) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. It aims to give mesmerizing experience to devotees with one-of-its-kind spiritual journeys while cruising through the famous ghats of the holy river Saryu.

The cruise will be equipped with all luxury comfort and facilities along with all essential safety and security features at par with the global standard. The interiors of the cruise and the boarding point will be based on the theme of Ramcharitmanas. The fully air-conditioned 80-seater cruise will have large glass windows for experiencing the scenic beauty of Ghats. The cruise will be equipped with kitchen and pantry facilities for the comfort of the tourists. The cruise contains bio toilets and hybrid engines system for the ‘zero effect’ on environment.

Tourists will be taken on the ‘Ramcharitmanas Tour’, of 1-1.5 hour duration, featuring an exclusively made video film of 45-60 minutes duration, based on Ramcharitmanas by Goswami Tulsidas, covering the period from the birth of Lord Ram to his Rajyabhishek. The entire tour will cover the approximately 15-16 Km distance.There will be several activities and selfie points inspired by different episodes of Ramayan. The tour will be followed by Saryu Aarti, in which every member will be able to actively participate.

The ‘Ramayan Cruise Tour’ will not only attract a large number of tourists but it will also generate direct and indirect employment opportunities in the region. Ministry of ports, Shipping and Waterways will provide all necessary infrastructural support for the smooth operation of the cruise service.

As India embarks on a mission aimed at slowly reopening the country to international travel, Amadeus has revealed four trends that will shape the airport experience in 2021 and beyond. 

Since March, international passenger flights in India have been suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. Travel was limited to special flights under the Vande Bharat Mission and reciprocal air travel bubbles established with countries such as Japan, Canada, and Germany.

As airports in India return to full capacity, maintaining these levels of passenger safety and trust will be challenging. “Major airports in India are already greatly advanced and smart when it comes to automation, security screening, and baggage handling technologies. However, we are now seeing that future digital transformation initiatives are being accelerated, as the industry rethinks the way people travel, in order to drive recovery and rebuild traveller confidence. This is good news for passengers who will benefit from a more frictionless experience in the future. Looking ahead, the airport experience in India will be underpinned by technologies such as automation, biometrics, big data, and advanced analytics,” Sunil Ankalgi, Head of Sales and Account Management, Airport IT, APAC, Amadeus, said.

Amadeus has identified four technology trends that will have a lasting impact on airports in India and ultimately, help to rebuild India’s travel ecosystem. These trends are: contactless self-service devices, biometrics, social distancing and reducing carbon emissions.

With the aim of establishing actions and commitments to restart international travel, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Spanish Government hosted a hybrid conference, where leaders from the industry both from the public and private sector participated, covering 95 countries and more than 100 Travel & Tourism companies. 

This event was organised as a result of WTTC's call for the leaders of G7+Spain, South Korea and Australia for an agreement at the highest level, to save the sector and the millions of jobs that depend on it.

Opening the conference, Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain, said: "The priority is to make it possible to restart international travel, and to do so, we must use new tools available, such as more accessible and reliable diagnostic tests, so that international travel ensures safety".

During his address, he made it clear that we must turn the crisis into an opportunity to modernise the international tourism sector and make it more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable, and to spread wealth better.

In conclusion, he said that a world  without COVID-19 is drawing closer, but as this future comes, we have an obligation to mitigate the effects of this crisis on the Travel & Tourism sector.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “WTTC is delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with closely with the government of Spain in organising this vital conference, as the biggest challenge the industry faces is international coordination.

“I would like to recognise and congratulate Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, as well as Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto, for their leadership and commitment to public-private collaboration. This is an historic meeting, and will be fundamental to restarting international travel through close collaboration that will result in the implementation of key measures that will be necessary to recovery millions of jobs.”

She also highlighted that an international protocol of rapid test at departure is crucial for the sector, and therefore the La Palma Declaration will support in the execution of this and all of the proposals presented by WTTC at the G20 meeting last month.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, gave the closing speech, said: "We want Spain to remain the most competitive country in the world in terms of tourism and for this we will mobilise more than €3.4 billion over the next three years in transformative projects, that make tourism a more sustainable, digital, accessible and inclusive sector," she said.

On December 5, 2020, Jungfrau Railways will be inaugurating the brand new Eiger Express tricable gondola which will take travellers from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier station in just 15 minutes. The launch of the new tricable gondola, will reduce the transportation time to Jungfraujoch by 47 minutes from popular destinations including Interlaken Bern and Zurich. With 44 gondolas and 26 seats each, the Eiger Express breaks the world record as the heaviest tricable gondola. With the new lift project, visitors can travel by public transport much faster than before from several of Switzerland’s major cities to the Jungfraujoch and Eigergletscher slopes.

The Eiger Express can transport 2,200 passengers every hour which will minimize the queues and waiting time for travellers going to the mountain top. Each cabin will have heated windows, which guarantees a great view regardless of the weather, as well as Wi-Fi and heated seats. All the power will be generated by the cables pulling the lifts.

Urs Kessler, Director, Jungfrau Railways, said, “In these difficult times, we want to send a positive signal for tourism in the Jungfrau Region and the Canton of Bern. The worldwide renown of this project will help us to emerge from the crisis stronger.”

Ritu Sharma, Deputy Director and Marketing Head- India, Switzerland Tourism, said, “Jungfrau is one of the most popular mountain peaks amongst Indian travellers! With the launch of the brand new Eiger Express gondola, we are positive that it’s popularity will only increase, with an easier mode of transportation and a reduced travel time from major tourist destinations like Zurich, Interlaken and Bern. This will allow the travellers to plan their day trips to the mountains with ease.”

The long awaited Eiger Express is the second part of the impressive project V-Cableway that consists of two gondola lifts from Grindelwald to the mountains Männlichen and Eigergletscher. The first stage (to Männlichen) was inaugurated last year.

The Committee for the Development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists has met for a second time, bringing the establishment of the landmark legal framework a step closer to being realized.

UNWTO hosted the consultative virtual meeting which counted on the participation of 92 Member States, as well as one Associate Member. The diverse range of observers reflected the strong interest in an International Code designed to offer tourists greater protection as consumers and to spread the responsibility of assisting tourists affected by emergency situations across the whole of the sector. The European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, which is responsible for the EU’s tourism policies highlighted its interest in following this project in view of the potential commonalities with the Commission´s work.

Joining them were the representative from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Additionally, and highlighting strong interest from the private sector in the work of the Committee, a number of business organizations and member groups took part as observers, among them the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Hotrec, which represents the European hospitality sector.

Participants of the Committee also elected a Chair (Brazil) and Vice-Chair (Greece).

 

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