Tag Archives: tourism

Focus: Breaking Travel News interview: Arvind Bundhun, director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority

Mauritius has unveiled plans for a phased reopening strategy over the coming months.

There are hopes the destination can be fully open to international travellers by October.

From today, 14 Mauritian ‘resort bubbles’ will open, with each having been specially set up to welcome vaccinated international travellers. 

Air Mauritius, Emirates and other global airlines will also add additional flight capacity this month.

Phase two of the reopening will begin on October 1st, whereby vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions and be able to travel around the island.

This will mark a full reopening of the island ahead of its peak winter season.

Here we find out more from Arvind Bundhun, director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.

Breaking Travel News: Where does Mauritius stand with its vaccination programme against Covid-19 – and have tourism professionals been prioritised ahead of the reopening?

Arvind Bundhun: The response to the pandemic has ranked among one of the best in the world, as the Mauritian government responded promptly with stringent control measures and protocols.

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The safety of Mauritians and visitors has been a top priority since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the success is a result of a joint effort by the Mauritian government and the population of the island.

The responsiveness of the Mauritian authorities and the effectiveness of the health system are the core reasons behind our low death rate.

Due to the precautionary measures put in place by our government, we have been successful in containing the spread of the pandemic.

This is itself a reassuring message for visitors who can see the efforts that both the government and private sector in Mauritius have implemented to ensure safety of locals and visitors.

The local community had really banded together to respect the rules, follow guidelines and work together for the destination to reopen and we are very proud of how we have, and continue to, overcome this challenging period in our history.

The announcement follows the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and the progress made towards herd immunity by the end of September.

Tourism employees were prioritised during the vaccine rollout.

This has enabled a prompt and safe restart of the Mauritius tourism industry.

As of now, the island is well on track to reach its herd immunity as Mauritius has received most of its stock of vaccines.

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BTN: You have unveiled plans for a cautious reopening over the coming months – what can you tell me about that?

AB: Throughout the pandemic we have taken a cautious approach, placing the safety of our visitors and Mauritians at the forefront of our actions.

The reopening on July 15th is the first stage in a phased approach, with the first phase running to September 30th and enabling vaccinated travellers to experience our class-leading resorts and the varied range of facilities including pools, beaches, restaurants and many resort activities.

This will lead into phase two beginning on October 1st, whereby vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions so will be able to once more enjoy all that our wonderful island has to offer.

We have been working hand in glove with our island stakeholders to move forward to this stage and are delighted to have a clear roadmap in place.

The UK is, of course one, of our most important and valued markets and we are greatly looking forward to working with the UK trade to invite holidaymakers back to our island and extend a warm welcome.

BTN: ‘Resort bubbles’ have been set up across the island – what will life be like for travellers during their stay?

AB: A total of 14 ‘resort bubbles’ have been specially set up to welcome vaccinated UK and international visitors to the island from today and enabling travellers to enjoy a resort holiday on the island.

The approved Covid-19 safe resorts are available on a new website.

Holidaymakers will be able to enjoy facilities within their chosen resort premises, including the swimming pool and beach.

If guests stay for 14 days and have negative PCR tests during their stay in the resort, they will then be able to leave the hotel and travel about the island freely for the rest of their stay, exploring the island’s many attractions.

However, for shorter stays, they may leave the resort earlier and travel back home.

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BTN: You have seen strong support from the aviation sector, with carriers returning. What role will Air Mauritius play after its administration process?

AB: Air Mauritius has confirmed a new schedule of three flights per week from Paris to Mauritius from July 15th in line with the reopening of Mauritius borders to international travellers. 

There are currently regular connecting flights using Air Mauritius partner carrier Air France from multiple regional points in the UK to Paris.

Air Mauritius will be confirming further updates for direct flights from Heathrow to Mauritius in the lead up to the full reopening on October 1st.

In addition, British Airways is currently working on scheduling direct flights to Mauritius from August, and Emirates and Turkish Airlines are looking to resume their indirect flights soon too.

BTN: What are your expectations in terms of visitor numbers for 2021?

AB: Our Mauritius hotel partners and UK tour operators are reporting strong forward bookings for quarter four of 2021.
We believe Mauritius is a strong destination brand and remains in the mind and heart of travellers when they leave, therefore we strongly believe tourism to Mauritius can bounce back in the long term.

More Information

Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority is considered the Indian Ocean’s Leading Tourist Board by voters at the World Travel Awards.

Find out more about visiting the island on the official website.

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This post originally posted here Breaking Travel News

Spain quarantine rules a ‘great way to decimate’ tourism! Angry Brits vow to never return

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced plans to introduce new quarantine restrictions for UK arrivals unless they can provide evidence of being fully vaccinated or a negative PCR test. It comes amid growing concerns in the European Union(EU) over the spread of the Delta variant in the UK.

Another added: “It [is] obvious that the Spanish et all don’t want or need your money or Brits come to that, so just stay away from the places.”

Despite this, Spain’s tourism officials have reinforced the value of its UK visitors and stressed that “British guests remain welcome”.

The new testing requirement for unvaccinated Britons is to “ensure the protection of both local residents and visitors” according to a spokesperson for The Spanish Tourist Office.

While Spain says it looks forward to welcoming British holidaymakers, Mr Sanchez justified this measure given that the data coming from the United Kingdom shows concerning infection rates “well above 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants based on the prior 14 days.”

What do you think? Join the debate in the comments section here

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Not all readers were opposed to Spain’s decision, with some showing understanding for the Spanish PM’s decision.

“Moaning about others requiring tests is the height of hypocrisy,” wrote a commenter.

“For months all visitors from the EU have been required to quarantine on entry to the UK.

“Now we have a higher infection rate than EU countries we think they should welcome us with open arms.”

Many, however, remain unsatisfied with mounting restrictions, the cost of PCR tests and the risk of quarantine.

Instead, some readers say they are turning their attention to other holiday destinations.

“My money is being spent on some wonderful places in the UK,” said one reader.

“Shame really as I have always enjoyed lovely holidays on mainland Europe, but judging by some of the comments on various websites, they only wanted our money.”

Already UK holidays have seen a boost in popularity throughout the summer months, with the likes of the Lake District, South East Coast and Devon and Cornwall seeing a spike in domestic tourism.

Britons have also begun to turn their attention to other green list nations.

“Go to Gibraltar, [it has the] same sun and warmth,” recommended one Express reader.

Both British Airways and easyJet have ramped up capacity to Spain’s neighbouring Gibraltar.

While there are no exact figures available on how the nation’s tourism has benefitted from the green list boost, Gibraltar’s tourism minister Vijay Daryanani told the Observer “you can see a lot of movement in town and in our marinas and restaurants.

“People are booking with a lot of UK [phone] numbers, which is proof of a lot of people are coming from the UK.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

First British cruise line in more than 10 years to launch in huge boost to UK tourism

Ambassador cruise line will start operating from April 2022 and sales will be available from June this year. The Covid-19 vaccine will be required for all passengers prior to departure. 
The country hasn’t had a British cruise line since 2010. 

Ambassador promises a premium-value and authentic and friendly cruise experience. 

Their first ship, the Ambience, will carry 1400 guests in 798 cabins. 
The first inaugural cruise will depart on April 6 from London Tilbury port. 

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The inaugural voyage onboard the Ambience will be a short-break cruise out of Tilbury to Hamburg, Germany. 

The cruise will offer a choice of five different restaurants, two cafes and nine lounges. 

Guests on board the Ambience will also be able to enjoy a swimming pool, spa, fitness and leisure facilities. 
The UK-based operator also promises exciting daytime activities and evening entertainment. 
Greenland, the Baltics, the Arctic and Iceland will be some of the 88 ports that the cruise will visit. 
Ambassador also has a winter plan that includes “expedition-style voyages”. 
Some of the destinations will be the Canary Islands, Cuba, the Caribbean, Scandinavia or Cape Verde. 
Health and safety is the company’s number one priority, and confirmed that all passengers and crew will be required to be vaccinated for Covid-19 prior to departure. 
Some indicative prices have been released today showing very affordable packages for next year’s holiday. 
A seven-night European cruise on board the Ambience and departing from Tilbury will be about £850 per person, on a full-board basis. 
Booking can be made online from June this year. 
Find out more about the itineraries here. 

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Spain holidays: 'June' to spark beginning of tourism 'recovery' with Britons welcomed back

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Spain is keen to welcome Britons back to its shores, with the nation’s tourism minister eyeing June as its month for tourism “recovery”. Fernando Valdes Verelst, Spain’s tourism minister, said he is pushing for the UK and Spain’s digital vaccination certifications to be “mutually recognised”.

“Hopefully we will be seeing this summer the restart of holidays.”

However, it is not yet clear whether or not Spain will make it onto the UK’s quarantine-free “green list”.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said he would be revealing more about the list “within the next few weeks.”

He said: “The earliest possible unlock is May 17. We won’t have international travel before that.

“So far the data does continue to look good from a UK perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure you’re protected from the disease being reimported.

“But specifically on when I’ll be able to say more about it, I haven’t been able to do it a long time advance because the situation changes the whole time with this pandemic, but it will be towards the beginning of May when I will set out which countries fall into the various different countries.”

According to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) Spain recorded a rate of 247.25 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days cumulative.

By comparison, according to Gov.uk, the UK recorded 25.3 per 100,000 of the population in the previous seven days cumulative.

Though the Government has not yet given any indication as to which nations are on the table for “green” list status, experts have been using available data to predict which countries could make the cut.

Analysis carried out by Robert Boyle, former strategy chief at BA and its owner IAG, looked at the Government’s four “risk” criteria for travel.

This includes vaccination rates, Covid prevalence, the extent of variants and the capacity for genome sequencing of the virus.

Under this modelling, Mr Boyle predicted the USA, Gibraltar, Israel, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Australia and New Zealand could be on the list.

However, he noted economic and political factors could see Spain also being included.

The report said: “Last year, the Spanish and Greek islands were given a lower-risk rating than the mainland and that could happen again this year.”

Review: A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism – Switch Tracks With This Complex Business Sim

A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Choo! Choooo! All aboard! Land ahoy! Now, we’re not train experts but we know a good game when we see one – and A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism signals (pun intended) the first-class return (intended again) of a unique management sim on the Switch (again) platform (yep). Coupling (that’s five) railway construction with business management, the A-Train series is relatively underground (six) outside Japan, where it’s been picking up steam (seven) since first crossing the cathode ray tube (eight) in the 1985 Famicom original. For some, this latest arrival (ahem) will be another addictive sim to mainline (sorry); others, though, will be running bored (yikes). (Note: the subsequent 33 train puns in this review will, mercifully, not be demarcated in the text.)

A-Ressha de Ikou – “Let’s take the A-Train” – has seen so many releases over its 36-year history it’s hard to keep track (ok, maybe just one last one). Eventually arriving on platforms from Famicom to FM Towns to Xbox 360 and 3DS, its first great Western release was on PC in 1992. While on the surface A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism may appear to be a primarily construction-driven sim akin to Transport Tycoon, it provides a very Japanese take, where railway management involves getting your fingers into a veritable buffet car of pies, from real estate down to concessions stand retail.
A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

There’s a reason for that: when the UK privatised its national rail in the 1980s, it separated the service provision of the lines from the rolling stock, so different companies own the different parts. In Japan, the approach was to take vertical slices, so JR East, for example, owns all the land, stations, track and trains associated with the services it delivers in Tokyo. Again, we’re not train experts so we couldn’t say which approach is better but, in Tokyo, you will need to collect an evidence slip if you expect your boss to believe that your train was 10 minutes late following an earthquake. In Britain, “leaves on the line” is a traditional reason for total cancellation. We’ll let you decide which is best.

Hence a railway management sim in Japan is about managing a huge conglomerate with close ties to government, where the various moving parts need to be made to synergise for maximum profit. For instance, your revenue from transport itself will be somewhat limited but, by investing in land, constructing a station, laying lines and running a service, you can boost the population of an area, causing the land value to rocket, along with the value of your investments. You can then sell your land for a profit, or realise the value of it by installing your own retail operations – the new emphasis in Tourism being on tourist attractions.
A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The game is structured around scenarios set in fictional Japanese locales between 1955 and 2025, with the buildings, infrastructure and technology changing through the years. In the early scenarios, you will depend heavily on the cast of anime-style colleagues who provide guidance as well as flavour (albeit through some pretty egregious stereotypes). They set out goals such as target revenue, number of tourists or population growth. On meeting a scenario’s goals, you can move on to the next, or just keep playing an open-ended game with what you’ve built.

Since your objectives are not always about money, your success is connected to the prosperity of the region and plays out in dialogue with chirpy local government representatives. You need to serve residents from all stations in life – even those from the wrong side of the tracks – and won’t succeed by simply siding with the better-located suburbs. There’s a gentle sense of symbiosis with your host city, and a respect for harmony, oneness and caring coexistence – ripe for you to siphon off that sweet, sweet JPY.

Perhaps the greatest strength of A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism is that the grand scope of your business doesn’t preclude the satisfying finer points of building pretty train tracks. You can scout good routes on the map, lay lines, and build elevated rails and tunnels to your heart’s – or at least your budget’s – content. But when we say “the finer points”, we mean the very finest points; you have the option to specify exact timetables for multiple trains in and out of a station, deciding which platform they stop at, what speed they leave the station at, whether they will stop at all, how, where and when they will pass other scheduled trains on the line, and so on. You have the tools to design and build full local services with express and semi-express trains all running past one another on the same route, all scheduled to the minute. If efficient railway service timetable design turns you on, then be careful playing A-Train in public.

A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

If all that efficiency sounds too raunchy, however, some of these settings are tucked away in off-by-default advanced options, and the game helpfully explains some simple track designs in its first scenario in case you’d rather ignore the most detailed of details. In fact, A-Train is a fairly complete and intricate experience even in its easy mode, where some complexities are removed around staff morale, fluctuations in passenger numbers and so on. There are many, many hours of fun to be had without stepping off the beaten track, and probably hundreds of hours for real anoraks.

There isn’t space here for even a whistle-stop tour of the deep roster of trains you can develop, the train designer, securities trading, resource exploitation and trading, subsidiary management, bus services with exciting road junctions, build-your-own scenarios shareable and rateable online… Suffice it to say, Artdink is bringing a lot of content here. Credit is also due for a valiant effort at delivering all the options and subtlety not with a delicate mouse pointer but with a big fat controller – and, in handheld mode, a mostly passable touch interface.

But things do start to go off the rails. Although it wouldn’t be fair to criticise A-Train for its complexity – that’s the point – it does bring some game design challenges. The tutorial scenarios are helpful but they are fully-fledged scenarios and they leave plenty of room to get stuff wrong, then throw more instructions at you while your brain is still buffering. A short, simple, on-rails training level, crossing off the basic techniques, would have been helpful. In the throes of the later game, meanwhile, rail planning keeps getting richer long after other mechanics have reached the end of the line and the balance never really gets back on track.
A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The slow pace of the game is another driver of the game’s appeal, but while a peaceful, somewhat passive interaction with an organically developing city is a soothing way to let off steam, sluggish menus and repetitive commands had that steam coming out of our ears.

The graphics engine is perfunctory. There are options to extend draw distance and toggle some effects, but using these makes the game unplayably slow. However, a click of the left stick toggles an isometric view, with a pleasing, nicely engineered transition, through which the cities look, if we’re being generous, quietly characterful. On top of the performance issues, though, we did have two crashes and lost some time, even using autosave to guard against it. (Two patches have been rolled out since release so Artdink is at least attentive.)

Conclusion

It’s hard to express how well a niche game fares with a numerical score. If train business minutiae are your niche, your heart will be all a-flutter; if not, you’ll be all a-bored. Setting the content on one side, there are significant balance, interface and performance issues – but they don’t derail the game entirely. While there are other options for management sims on Switch that are much more light-hearted and accessible, A-Train is something different that educated us and broadened our horizons in the genre. Fans, then, will be stoked to play the series on a new platform; for others with plenty of patience A-Train could be a sleeper hit. (We’re really, really sorry about all the puns. Honest.)

Turkey expects tourism to surge by up to 70% amid global Covid-19 vaccination drive

The Turkish tourism sector is putting high hopes on vaccination campaigns launched across Europe and globally, with the transcontinental nation expecting to welcome 20 million people during the coming season.

Turkey is expected to see an increase in tourist flows of up to 70% in 2021, according to Firuz Baglikaya, who heads the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), as immunization against coronavirus picks up the pace in Turkey and around the world.
Also on rt.com One third of all countries worldwide COMPLETELY closed to international tourism – UN
“More than 400 million people have been vaccinated worldwide, the total number of people who have been vaccinated in Turkey has exceeded 13 million,” he said in a written statement seen by TASS.

The official highlighted that Turkey is due to receive another 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Our request to give priority to vaccination of workers engaged in the tourism sector was met with approval by the government,” Baglikaya said, adding that the measure would ensure the industry was ready to welcome international tourists.
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Turkish tour operators reportedly expect the first groups of holidaymakers to start arriving from Russia and Ukraine – crucial sources of tourists for Turkey – starting mid-April.

In 2020, the Turkish tourism sector, choked by the coronavirus pandemic, saw a grim year as the number of foreigners visiting the country dropped 71.7% compared to the previous 12 months, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
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Global travel restrictions and lockdowns provoked an immense year-on-year drop of more than 65% in Turkey’s tourism revenues, which amounted to 12.6 billion US dollars last year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

RT

One third of all countries worldwide COMPLETELY closed to international tourism – UN

The latest data from the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed that 32 percent of destinations worldwide – 69 in total – are now completely closed for global tourism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of those, just over half – 38 destinations – have been completely closed for at least 40 weeks, and 34 percent of all destinations are still partially closed to international tourists.

According to the UNWTO report, the emergence of new variants of the Covid-19 virus has prompted many governments to reverse efforts to ease restrictions on travel, with total closures to tourists most prevalent in Asia and the Pacific nations, and Europe. 

“Travel restrictions have been widely used to restrict the spread of the virus. Now, as we work to restart tourism, we must recognize that restrictions are just one part of the solution. Their use must be based on the latest data and analysis, and consistently reviewed so as to allow for the safe and responsible restart of a sector upon which many millions of businesses and jobs depend,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

The report said that regional differences with regard to travel restrictions remain. “Of the 69 destinations where borders are completely closed to tourists, 30 are in Asia and the Pacific, 15 are in Europe, 11 are in Africa, 10 are in the Americas, and three are in the Middle East.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

RT

Oil trading is bigger contributor to Switzerland’s GDP than tourism

Oil and other commodity trading have a much larger share in the gross domestic product (GDP) of Switzerland than its tourism sector, according to data from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs cited by Bloomberg.

Some of the biggest independent commodity traders in the world, including Vitol, Glencore, Trafigura, and Gunvor, have either their headquarters or large offices in Switzerland, also because some Swiss cantons have low-tax regimes.  

According to the data from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, commodity trading accounted for 4.8 percent of the Swiss GDP in 2018, much more than the tourism sector, which represented 2.9 percent of GDP in that year. This 4.8-percent contribution of the commodity trading industry is higher than previous estimates of around four percent.  
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Back in 2018, the commodity trading industry in Switzerland generated combined revenues of $ 33 billion, according to the data quoted by Bloomberg.

In the past year, the extreme volatility in the oil market helped some of the biggest oil trading groups based in Switzerland to generate record revenues and profits.

Trafigura, for example, delivered record core earnings in what became its strongest trading year ever due to the extreme oil market swings earlier in 2020.

In its annual report for 2020, covering the financial year ended on September 30, Trafigura booked exceptionally strong financial results, mostly thanks to its core oil and petroleum trading business. The commodity trader’s net profit was the highest since 2013, while the gross profit and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) were the highest on record.  
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The biggest commodity traders typically profit from a glut in oil markets as they store oil to sell at higher prices in the future. In the second quarter of 2020, the oversupply on the market reached record highs as global oil demand crashed in the pandemic, and Saudi Arabia and Russia briefly fought a price war for market share, which also contributed to the glut and to the oil price collapse.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

RT

Greece holidays: Britons welcomed to ‘book flights’ in positive sign from tourism minster

Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis has shown positivity British holidaymakers will be welcomed back in time for the summer. In fact, he is so confident the minister encouraged Britons to “book holidays” now.
Meanwhile, the UK is already steaming ahead with its vaccination effort.

In the week ending February 28 an additional 2,249,002 people were reported to have received an NHS vaccination for COVID-19 in England.

This took the total number of people vaccinated with at least one dose to 17,179,491.

Of those vaccinated, 598,345 people have received a second dose, taking the total number of vaccinations given to 17,777,836.

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Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Theoharis said Britons can “book flights and start choosing the places where they want to go.”

However, at the time of writing, the UK Government has given no confirmation as to when international holidays will resume.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned it will not be before May 17, with the Global Travel Taskforce due to reconvene in April to discuss the possibility of international travel.

When the time comes, though, the Greek tourism minister said the nation wanted to make travel to the country “as smooth and hassle-free as possible.”

It may also share details on whether a person has previously been diagnosed with the virus.

As Greece is an EU member state, should the “digital green pass” be agreed upon, tourists hoping to visit would likely need to provide this information.

For now, though, travel is off the cards for Britons under lockdown rules which see leisure travel been classed as illegal.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is also advising against all but essential travel to Greece.

However, it adds: “The FCDO is not advising against travel to the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete.”