Technology is Accelerating Travel Industry’s Recovery ITB

Technology is Accelerating Travel Industry’s Recovery ITB

Berlin, Germany, February 27, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / International Travel Technology exhibitors are presenting innovations at ITB Berlin NOW – Latest surveys and views on the targeted use of digital solutions in the travel industry – Startups offer tips at START UP NOW – Virtual cafés provide a forum for meeting and exchanging ideas – The programme of events is online now at

Updates about the travel sector and the latest travel technology here.

During the coronavirus pandemic the use of smart technologies in the tourism industry has risen sharply. Chatbots for instance have helped to deal with the high volume of cancellations and rebookings. AI, smart interfaces and dynamic pricing have also become very important. At ITB Berlin NOW the Travel Technology segment will provide an overview of fascinating developments, useful innovations and the latest surveys. The new format START UP NOW is where the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show will let successful startups have their say and share valuable experiences and tips. At the ITB Berlin NOW Convention, the CEOsof international business leaders will offer their views on the future of travel technology. The themed virtual cafés, which are open all day, are where users can meet new contacts.

More than 100 tech companies have already registered for this entirely virtual edition. Among those represented on their own Brand Card this year are Amadeus, bd4travel, Cendyn and Sabre. Companies offering tech solutions for the hotel industry include Apaleo, Cloudbeds, Duetto, HQplus, hotelbird, Infor, Oracle and Suitepad. Among those taking part for the first time are Travelledger, Kaptio, MeTripping and Unififi.

Digital solutions for safe travel

ITB Berlin NOW Convention is examining key digitalisation topics and new trends. On Tuesday, 9th of March 2021, Lukas C.C. Hempel, CEO and co-founder of Bookingkit, Luuc Elzinga, founder and president of Tiqets, Claudio Bellinzona of TUI Musement, Ilaria D’Uva of D’Uva and Christian Gross of HochschwarzwaldTourismus GmbH will discuss what the new normal after COVID will be like for travel sales. On the same day Patrick Mendes, CCO of Accor, will take a look at the future of the global hospitality industry, the importance of digitalisation and other economic developments. In these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, customer confidence and health safety are becoming more and more important for travellers. Monika Wiederhold, Global Program Lead, Safe Travel Ecosystems, EVP Airlines Central and Eastern Europe of the Amadeus IT Group SA, will take a look at how the latest digital processes and solutions can contribute to safe travel.

In a keynote interview on Wednesday, 10th of March 2021, Richard Holden, vice president, Product Management at Google, will provide information on digitalisation trends in the travel industry. In their respective keynote speeches, Vinzenz Pflanz, president of Corporate Sales Sixt Se, and Florian von Klier, senior director of Global Innovations & Solutions Sixt Se, will make the case for quicker innovation and digitalisation in the mobility sector and for greater safety in business travel. David Peller, managing director of Travel and Hospitality Amazon Web Services, will highlight the potential of cloud services for the global travel industry and how they can improve the customer experience. At ITB Outlook, Sean O Neill of Skift will present the latest travel trends for 2025.

Startups share their knowledge

On Thursday, 11th of March 2021, at two eTravel DATA TALKS sponsored by SIO AG and featuring bd4Travel and WBE Travel, the focus will be on the growing importance of data in the travel industry. Kicking off the event, Phocuswright will present the latest Technology Report. Afterwards, Michael Docherty, head of Data Partnerships Skyscanner, will show how access to predictive real-time data can offer travel companies a way out of the coronavirus crisis. At the second eTravel DATA TALK, Christian Warneck, vice president, Airlines Solutions, Central & Eastern Europe at Amadeus Germany, James Adams, chief commercial officer of Sixtand Anthony Hunt, vice president, Product & Strategy of the Shiji Group, will discuss the importance of data in the context of the frictionless travel experience. This talk featuring representatives from different travel and booking segments is a first for the convention. Ben Messner, sales manager of SIO AG, will talk about the big reset that will impact the software industry in general and in particular the travel technology.

The new START UP NOW format lets users at ITB Berlin NOW find out more about the progress and experience of successful startups in the international travel industry. International startups will talk about investors, sustainable travel and current business challenges. Among those taking part will be representatives of Citynomadi, Gopassport Australia, Greentinyhouses, MyCabin, Smartguide and Social BnB.

Updates about the travel sector and the latest travel technology here.

For those who want to exchange ideas and knowledge with other users and exhibitors the place to meet is the themed virtual cafés at ITB Berlin NOW. The Travel Tech & Startup Café sponsored by Visit Greece is where users can talk about their visions for the future and meet like-minded visitors. Every day at 5 p.m., Verband Internet Reisevertrieb e.V. (VIR) is organising a happy hour where everyone can meet. On Thursday, the focus will be on financing and investment. At the Investors Special, founders can meet representatives of NEXT Floor GmbH, the Howzat ennea Group and Falkensteiner Ventures AG among others in order to network and meet new contacts. The TTA Café sponsored by Malaysia for tour and activity organisers is where to look for the right platforms and booking technologies in this segment. The Hospitality Café sponsored by Infor is where visitors will find a meeting corner, moderated by, for discussing hospitality tech.

About ITB Berlin NOW and the ITB Berlin NOW Convention
ITB Berlin NOW will take place from Tuesday, 9 to Friday, 12 March for trade visitors only and as an entirely virtual event. ITB Berlin is the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. As part of ITB Berlin NOW, the ITB Berlin NOW Convention, the largest travel industry event of its kind, will also take place as a virtual event. The World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) is the co-host, Mascontour Track is the sponsor of the ITB Future Track, Google and Lufthansa are track sponsors of the ITB Marketing & Distribution Track, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is the ITB Sustainability Track partner, SIO AG is the track sponsor of the eTravel DATA TALKS and Studiosus is the session sponsor. For exhibitors, trade visitors and the media, participation in the ITB Berlin NOW Convention is included in the price of a ticket.

Harnessing the Power of Culture and Creativity in Tourism Recovery

Harnessing the Power of Culture and Creativity in Tourism Recovery

Madrid, Spain, February 27, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The shared values and close ties between tourism and culture stakeholders means both sectors can work together to ensure inclusive access to heritage, as countries around the world recover from the pandemic. In recognition of this mutually reinforcing relationship, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and UNESCO have collaborated to produce a set of new guidelines focusing on the responsible restart of cultural tourism.

Read all the latest UNWTO News and Announcements here.

UNWTO invited the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to contribute to the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide, Issue 2: Cultural Tourism. This is the second set of guidelines relating to the socio-cultural impacts of COVID-19 issued by UNWTO and will continue to be revised, as the situation evolves.

Make cultural tourism relevant in the recovery

The publication draws on the insights and expertise of the two UN agencies to analyse the impact of the pandemic on their respective sectors. This includes how lost revenues are severely impacting communities, heritage sites, cultural events, spaces and institutions, while also weakening destinations’ competitiveness and market differentiation. The guidelines on cultural tourism also stress the need for support from policymakers to ensure the relevance of culture in the emergency and contingency planning within tourism destinations.

Cooperation for a better future

Alongside the new guidelines, UNWTO is urging the cultural tourism sector to create participatory governance structures, bringing together artists, creators, tourism and culture professionals, the private sector and local communities, for an open dialogue, data exchange and real-time solutions. The document also advocates for better urban–rural connections so as to ensure the benefits of both culture and tourism are enjoyed as widely as possible.

As a result of the pandemic, 90% of countries introduced total or partial closures of their World Heritage sites. In many cases, sites of special significance to humanity were closed to the public for the first time in decades. At the same time, the pandemic highlighted the relevance of both tourism and culture. The sudden fall in tourist arrivals has been felt across the globe, while millions of people have turned to virtual cultural experiences for comfort and inspiration.

Read all the latest UNWTO News and Announcements here.

The release of the guidelines comes within the context of the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021, a UN initiative designed to recognize how different manifestations of culture, including cultural tourism, can contribute to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

250 Destinations Worldwide Benefit Now from WTTC Safe Travels Stamp

250 Destinations Worldwide Benefit Now from WTTC Safe Travels Stamp

London, United Kingdom, February 27, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Following its launch in May last year, the highly popular Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has now been awarded to a remarkable 250 destinations around the world.

WTTC, which has continually been at the forefront in leading the private sector in the efforts to rebuild global consumer confidence and encourage the return of Safe Travels, made history when it launched the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp, just eight months ago.

Read all the latest WTTC News and Press Releases here.

The stamp, developed to help restore confidence in travellers and aims to revive the global Travel & Tourism sector which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now being used by many more major countries with Honduras, Belize and Malawi, the latest destinations to join the ever-growing list.

VisitBritain, the tourism agency representing one of the world’s most popular destinations, has also now been recognised through the ground-breaking stamp.

The now globally recognised stamp enables both business and leisure travellers to distinguish destinations around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so they can experience ‘Safe Travels’.

This pioneering move by WTTC also received the backing of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the launch of global protocols to recover the Travel & Tourism sector has been embraced by over 200 CEO’s including some of the world’s major tourism groups.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “We are delighted to see our Safe Travels Stamp is still growing at a rapid rate and is being adopted by destinations from all corners of the world.

“Reaching this incredible milestone, with 250 destinations around the world now proudly holding our Safe Travels stamp, is testimony to the hard work which has been put in to make the stamp work for both destinations and holidaymakers. 

“As the global vaccine rollout picks up pace and with the restrictions expected to be relaxed over the coming weeks, we believe the stamp will prove a key component of destination recovery and restoring consumer confidence.

“The success of the stamp shows the importance of global coordination to help rebuild and revive the international Travel & Tourism sector. Destinations with the stamp will benefit from travellers being able to recognise the destinations which have adopted the global protocols, encouraging the return of ‘Safe Travels’ around the world. 

“We are finally beginning to step into the new normal of a post-COVID world, and we are proud to be leading the way for globally coordinated efforts in recovery.”

Sally Balcombe, VisitBritain CEO said: “We are delighted that businesses certified to We’re Good To Go can also automatically register for WTTC’s global Safe Travels stamp, recognising the standard of protocols and processes we have in place in the UK. This is also testament to the hard work and commitment of tens of thousands of businesses right across the country who have adapted and innovated to safely meet new ways of working and are already ‘good to go’.”

Honourable Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Fiji said: “Getting such an endorsement for the work we have done on the Care Fiji Commitment program is truly remarkable for a small country like Fiji. This world class health and safety programme gives visitors confidence to travel to Fiji when the borders reopen.”

Honourable Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations, Belize said: “Belize is delighted to be recognised through the WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp. Following the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, my country’s highest priority has been, and remains the health and safety of our guests. Within this context, we have implemented extensive health and safety protocols as part of a Gold Standard Recognition Program for accommodations, tour operators and other industry partners.”

Hailemariam Desalegn, Chairman, Ethiopian Tourism Board, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia said: “We are extremely honoured to be issued the Safe Travels stamp by WTTC and commend it for this important initiative. This decision reflects Ethiopia’s commitment to maintain the standard safe travel protocols and procedures as we reopen our doors to tourism and international visitors. With the aim of ensuring safety of workers and visitors we will continue to work closely with tour operators, hotels and regional destination marketing organisations to maintain these standards.” 

Read all the latest WTTC News and Press Releases here.

The protocols were designed following guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and taking best practices from WTTC’s Members into account.

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million total), made a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generated one in four of all new jobs.

Thailand to Become Global Superyacht Destination

Thailand to Become Global Superyacht Destination

Bangkok, Thailand, February 25, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / At a meeting in Bangkok chaired by the new Minister of Finance, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, and attended by officials from both the Customs and Revenue departments, it was finally confirmed that foreign-flagged visiting superyachts will from now on be welcome to spend the winter seasons in Thai waters and offer their yachts for charter there without having to pay VAT on the value of the vessel.

The meeting marked the culmination of a six-year campaign to bring this all-important change in the local regulations, and thus finally enable a new “third destination” for the global fleet and a new “Superyacht Tourism“ industry to boost Thailand’s pandemic-challenged tourism economy.

The campaign started in earnest in 2015 when the then Minister of Transport was tasked by the Prime Minister with launching Thailand’s own Yacht Show. The show was conceived as a platform to promote the Kingdom as the Marina Hub of Asia and develop an important new yachting industry bringing in significant foreign investment for the benefit of all Thai people.

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, then Minister of Tourism and Sport, became a real champion for the cause, and her unflagging belief in this opportunity remains to this day, despite her having left politics two years ago. Minister Arkhom was the incumbent Minister of Transport who in 2016 signed the government decree authorising the so-called “superyacht charter license”, the first three of which were presented to foreign superyacht owners at a ceremony announcing the launch of the new Thailand Yacht Show. It has taken until today to finally agree on the official tax regulations surrounding this initiative, but it could not have come at a better time when Thailand desperately needs a new wave of high quality, high-spending tourists to arrive when we finally see the end of the pandemic – hopefully in time for next season.

The whole of the Thai yachting industry has worked together to finally arrive at this point, and TYBA Chairman Matthew Na Nagara and his team have been instrumental in ensuring that enough information and political persuasion has been given to all government departments and administrative organisations to push the initiative to a conclusion.

The Thailand Yacht Show itself will now become the centrepiece of a much wider Festival of Luxury Tourism, encompassing a showcase of private aviation at the new Phuket Private Jet Terminal, an international classic car Concours d’Elegance; a Wellness & Anti-Ageing Expo; a Collectible Art Show and many other luxury sectors that will attract increasing numbers of UHNW visitors to the beautiful island of Phuket over the next 10 post-covid years.

Whilst the headline news is a huge boost for the superyacht industry, bringing as it will new business for all parts of the ASEAN region right through to Australia and New Zealand, there will also be a massive “trickle-down” effect into every corner of the leisure boating industry and on-water lifestyle industries throughout the whole of Asia.

IATA: COVID-19 Cash Burn Continues

IATA: COVID-19 Cash Burn Continues

Geneva, Switzerland, February 26, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released new analysis showing that the airline industry is expected to remain cash negative throughout 2021. Previous analysis (November 2020) indicated that airlines would turn cash positive in the fourth quarter of 2021. At the industry level, airlines are now not expected to be cash positive until 2022.

Estimates for cash burn in 2021 have ballooned to the $75 billion to $95 billion range from a previously anticipated $48 billion. The following factors play into this estimate:

  • Weak Start for 2021: It is already clear that the first half of 2021 will be worse than earlier anticipated.  This is because governments have tightened travel restrictions in response to new COVID-19 variants. Forward bookings for summer (July-August) are currently 78% below levels in February 2019 (comparisons to 2020 are distorted owing to COVID-19 impacts).
  • Optimistic Scenario: From this lower starting point for the year, an optimistic scenario would see travel restrictions gradually lifted once the vulnerable populations in developed economies have been vaccinated, but only in time to facilitate tepid demand over the peak summer travel season in the northern hemisphere. In this case 2021 demand would be 38% of 2019 levels. Airlines would burn through $75 billion of cash over the year. But cash burn of $7 billion in the fourth quarter would be significantly improved from an anticipated $33 billion cash burn in the first quarter.
  • Pessimistic Scenario: This scenario would see airlines burn through $95 billion over the year. There would be an improving trend from a $33 billion cash burn in the first quarter reducing to $16 billion in the fourth quarter. The driver of this scenario would be governments retaining significant travel restrictions through the peak northern summer travel season. In this case, 2021 demand would only be 33% of 2019 levels.

“With governments having tightening border restrictions, 2021 is shaping up to be a much tougher year than previously expected. Our best-case scenario sees airlines burning through $75 billion in cash this year. And it could be as bad as $95 billion. More emergency relief from governments will be needed. A functioning airline industry can eventually energize the economic recovery from COVID-19. But that won’t happen if there are massive failures before the crisis ends. If governments are unable to open their borders, we will need them to open their wallets with financial relief to keep airlines viable,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

With airlines now expected to burn cash throughout 2021 it is vital that governments and the industry are fully prepared to restart the moment governments agree that it is safe to re-open borders. That makes three initiatives critical:

  1. Planning: Preparing the industry to safely restart after a year or more of disruption will take careful planning and months of preparation. Governments can ensure that airlines are prepared to reconnect people and economies by working with industry to develop the benchmarks and plans that would enable an orderly and timely restart.

“The UK has set a good example. Earlier this week it laid out a structure for re-opening based on an improvement in the COVID-19 situation. This gives airlines a framework to plan the restart, even if it needs to be adjusted along the way. Other governments should take note as a best practice for working with industry,” said de Juniac.

  1. Health Credentials: It is becoming clear that vaccines and testing will play a role as the pandemic comes under control and economies ramp up, including the travel sector. The IATA Travel Pass will enable travelers to securely control their health data and share it with relevant authorities. A growing list of airlines—including Air New Zealand, Copa Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, RwandAir, and Singapore Airlines—have done or are committed to doing trials with IATA Travel Pass.

“Efficient digital management of health credentials is vital to restart. Manual processes will not be able to cope with volumes once the recovery begins. Digital solutions must be secure, work with existing systems, align with global standards and respect data privacy. In developing the IATA Travel Pass these are fully in focus. The IATA Travel App will help to set the bar very high for managing health credentials, protecting against fraud and enabling a convenient travel process. While there is choice in the market for solutions, there should be no compromise on the fundamentals, or we risk failing systems, disappointed governments and travelers, and a delayed restart,” said de Juniac.

  1. Global Standards: As vaccination programs and testing capacity expand, two developments have become critical—global standards to record tests and vaccines; and a plan to retrospectively record those who have already been vaccinated.

“Speed is critical. Fraudulent COVID-19 test results are already proving to be an issue. And as vaccine programs ramp up governments are using paper processes and differing digital standards to record who has been vaccinated. These are not the conditions needed to support a successful restart at scale when governments open borders. The WHO, ICAO, and OECD are working on standards, but each day without them means the challenge gets bigger. We need an early conclusion by competent authorities that the industry can plan around,” said de Juniac.

“Even as governments focus on managing the COVID-19 crisis, we must be thinking a step ahead to the plans, tools and standards needed to restart flying and energize the economic recovery from COVID-19. Working in partnership is nothing new for airlines or for governments. It’s how we have delivered safe, efficient, and reliable connectivity for decades. For a year it’s been lockdowns and restrictions as vaccines were developed and testing capacity expanded. The reason for all the pain that this has caused is to keep people safe and to eventually be able to retore their well-being and that of the economy. With good news on vaccines and growing testing capacity, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. So, it’s the time to ask governments for their restart plan and to offer any support from industry that could help,” said de Juniac.

WorldHotels Elevates Asia Pacific Leadership Team

WorldHotels Elevates Asia Pacific Leadership Team

Phoenix, Arizona, United States, February 24, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / WorldHotels announced today that Olivier Berrivin has been appointed Managing Director of WorldHotels Asia Pacific (APAC). The region also sees company veterans Roland Jegge and Melissa Gan assume expanded responsibilities in their new roles as Senior Advisor and Chief Commercial Officer respectively. Olivier Berrivin Appointed Managing Director; Roland Jegge and Melissa Gan Assume New Responsibilities.

Berrivin has decades of experience in the hospitality industry and is a 4th generation hotelier who grew up in his family’s hotel business that included four properties. He has extensive industry experience having started his career with the Lucien Barrière Hotel Group in France and having held various positions with Accor Asia.

Berrivin joined BWH Hotel Group, WorldHotels’ parent company, in 2015 as Managing Director – Asia, and has played a pivotal role in dramatically growing the company’s presence with particular success in driving development of upscale brands across APAC. During his tenure with BWH Hotel Group, Berrivin has helped to grow the company’s presence, especially in the upscale and boutique segments. He also implemented several key initiatives to drive improved results to the regional hoteliers, including improved Revenue Management services, sales and marketing support, new architectural and design services, and additional training for upscale properties.

In his new role with WorldHotels, Berrivin will be responsible for all aspects of the operation of WorldHotels in the region and will focus his efforts on hotel development and growing brand awareness.

“I am delighted to welcome Olivier to our seasoned team of WorldHotels APAC leaders,” said David Kong, President and CEO of WorldHotels. “WorldHotels will benefit tremendously from Olivier’s extensive experience, deep industry relationships and proven leadership within the region. Olivier is joining a group of truly accomplished leaders who, together, will undoubtedly drive WorldHotels to even greater success in the years ahead.”

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead WorldHotels efforts in Asia Pacific,” says Berrivin. “The team in place has done a phenomenal job of serving our rich and diverse collection of hotels across the region. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues in APAC as we support our existing portfolio of hotels while also welcoming even more exceptional properties to WorldHotels in the future.”

In addition to Berrivin’s appointment, WorldHotels has further elevated its APAC senior leadership team with the expansion of responsibilities for Roland Jegge and Melissa Gan. Jegge will continue his 25-year tenure with WorldHotels as he migrates from his current role of President – APAC to become the Senior Advisor to the CEO of WorldHotels. Gan, who has been with the company since 2005, will assume increased responsibilities in the newly created role of WorldHotels Chief Commercial Officer APAC.

Under this experienced leadership team in Asia Pacific, WorldHotels will continue its focus on driving superior revenue to its hoteliers, expanding its portfolio of offerings in premier global destinations and providing exceptional travel experiences to its guests.

About WorldHotels Collection
Newly relaunched, the WorldHotels™ Collection delivers proven soft brand solutions for a curated global offering of over 300 of the finest independent hotels and resorts. Founded by hoteliers dedicated to the art of hospitality, only WorldHotels curates the best independent properties around the globe, each reflective of the locale by offering intuitive service, and a refined sense of character. WorldHotels’ proprietary ‘Start With Why’ philosophy helps each hotel identify their unique set of assets that distinguish and elevate their guest experience and revenue generation performance from the competition. Geared to both business and leisure travellers, the WorldHotels Collection is classified into four tiers allowing guests to select the offering that meets their needs: WorldHotels Luxury, WorldHotels Elite, WorldHotels Distinctive and WorldHotels Crafted Collection.

WTTC Responds to Latest UK Government Announcement

WTTC Responds to Latest UK Government Announcement

London, United Kingdom, February 23, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “While we welcome the incredible progress the UK government has made on the vaccine rollout programme, delaying the return of international travel until at least mid-May, could mean the Travel & Tourism sector simply won’t survive and struggling SMEs will just disappear.

“The sector was banking its hopes on a quicker return to international travel, so there will be widespread dismay at this news. Its return is crucial if the UK economy is to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, given the sector generates £200 billion to the UK’s GDP and supports almost four million jobs.

“In our recent letter to Boris Johnson, WTTC’s plan to revive international travel recommended an international coordinated approach, led by the UK, with public and private collaboration, to establish an international mobility framework to allow the safe movement of people, and remove restrictions such as blanket quarantines.

“It also included the UK government moving from risk assessments based on countries to individual travellers, through a robust and comprehensive testing regime supported by technology and digital health passes.

“WTTC’s plan also addresses reinforcing health and hygiene protocols, including mandatory mask wearing in addition to the vaccination rollout, as part of an integral solution; and providing major support packages to Travel & Tourism businesses which are struggling to keep their heads above the water.

“Travel and Tourism is one of the most diverse sectors in the world, in which 54% of those employed are women. Delaying the reopening of travel will not only have a profound impact on the nearly three million jobs affected by the restrictions to curb COVID-19.”

Switzerland and Morocco, a Promising Tourism Partnership

Switzerland and Morocco, a Promising Tourism Partnership

Lucerne, Switzerland, February 24, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The pandemic has the world firmly in its grasp. The tourism industry is under pressure too and needs to reinvent itself. It’s a challenge, but at the same time an opportunity to give tourism new impetus for the future. That’s why the World Tourism Forum Lucerne (WTFL) is initiating a discussion about new approaches and actively promoting them. Morocco has been invited as the guest country. The nation is currently breaking new ground in tourism with diverse projects and with Switzerland’s support.

Morocco is an ambitious tourism destination, which is actively involved in the development of tourism. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) will hold this year’s General Assembly in Marrakech in October. Before then, in spring, Morocco will be a major focus for tourism industry stakeholders and investors at the Tourism Innovation Festival. High-calibre delegates will participate in the hybrid event, amongst them Morocco’s Tourism Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui. In keeping with the event’s motto, «Moving Forward», she will offer the international audience a glimpse into Morocco’s vision of a sustainable tourism destination. A satellite event is to be held in Morocco at the same time, with Swiss involvement and broadcast online via livestream.

Morocco breaks new ground in tourism
Switzerland and Morocco maintain a close collaboration. Synergies are exploited, particularly in the field of tourism. Both countries are working hand in hand and championing sustainable tourism development. To this end, a development programme was launched with the foundation Swisscontact. Its aim is to improve conditions, particularly for young people and women in tourism-related sectors.

Furthermore, Morocco wants to advance tourism in its rural areas. Achieving this objective requires a lot of experience, but also young talents with innovative concepts. In this respect, WTFL offers exactly the right contacts and instruments. With its international platform for the exchange and evaluation of new ideas it has created the ideal framework for connecting young talents with the know-how of industry experts and investors.

Moving forward together
Morocco’s presence as the Guest Country at the Innovation Festival marks the beginning of a promising partnership. In order to intensify the discussion and advance innovations, further joint projects are already in the pipeline. WTFL will add the Moroccan Mohammed IV Polytechnic University to its international university network. Morocco will play an active role in the existing WTFL Think Tank and is planning to host an international Start-Up Innovation Camp in its own country.

At the «Innovation Festival» at the end of April leading personalities from the tourism industry and politics, as well as investors and start-ups will come together to discuss the brightest new approaches. World Tourism Forum Lucerne (WTFL) has been connecting tourism industry experts for over 10 years and offers participants a unique platform for exchanging ideas. World Tourism Forum Lucerne is closely observing the pandemic situation and reserves the right to make changes to the date and programme.

World Tourism Forum Lucerne
Zentralstrasse 9, P.O. Box 4339
6002 Lucerne, Switzerland

Martin Barth, President & CEO
T: +41 41 228 99 82

Visit our festival website on

WTTC Calls UK Leadership to Safely Restore International Mobility

WTTC Calls UK Leadership to Safely Restore International Mobility

London, United Kingdom, February 22, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has sent an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for his leadership ahead of next week’s  announcement, urging him to support its recovery plan and provide evidence of a clear exit strategy, to save the besieged UK Travel & Tourism sector.

The WTTC letter referred to its four key principles to safely restore international mobility including an international coordinated approach, led by the UK, with public and private collaboration, to establish an international mobility framework to allow the safe movement of people, and remove restrictions such as blanket and hotel quarantines.

Read all the latest WTTC News and Press Releases here.

It went on to urge the UK government to move from risk assessments based on countries to individual travellers, through a robust and comprehensive testing regime supported by technology and digital health passes; to reinforce health and hygiene protocols including mandatory mask wearing, in addition to the vaccination rollout, as part of an integral solution; and provide a major government support package for the Travel & Tourism sector.

Following extensive consultation with WTTC Members and governments around the world, WTTC also made clear there was strong and determined opposition to air corridors and that the UK could be in danger of ‘burning bridges’ with overseas governments looking to agree trade and other deals post-Brexit, putting the UK in a competitive disadvantage, should this policy continue.

WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that in 2019, Travel & Tourism generated £200 billion or 9% of the UK’s GDP. It was responsible for almost four million jobs, or 11% of the country’s total workforce, hence its importance to aid boost economic recovery.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “While we applaud the government’s incredible progress on the rollout of vaccines to combat the virus, the Travel & Tourism sector is still massively exposed to the terrible impact of anti-COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“That is why we are calling on the UK governments leadership to take urgent action to support the sector, without which we fear Travel & Tourism in the UK could face complete collapse.

“We have laid out a pathway using four clear principles for the government to navigate the Travel & Tourism sector out the lockdown, and back to powering the UK economic revival.

“Our Members and overseas governments believe that air corridors should not be reinstated, as they could put in jeopardy relationships with overseas governments looking to agree trade and other deals in the post-Brexit period. 

“We know from extensive consultation with WTTC Members and governments around the world that there is strong and determined opposition to air corridors.

Read all the latest WTTC News and Press Releases here.

“They are not the answer and have created great uncertainty for countries, consumers, airlines, and travel agents up and down the country, causing more problems than they have offered solutions.

“The way to save Travel & Tourism while avoiding importing and exporting the virus, is to shift the focus from entire countries to individual travellers’ risk assessment, irrespective of which country people are travelling from, using the UK’s leading practices in technologies in border control, and implement a comprehensive testing regime on arrival and departure, which is less destructive and disruptive to the economy than blanket quarantines.

“What is very clear from all we have experienced in the past 12 months, is that we will not see a complete return to pre-pandemic days. We will have to adapt to coexist with the virus and the future of Travel & Tourism will see the widespread use of digital and biometric technology, alongside mask wearing and hygiene protocols, to create a touchless and seamless travel experience.”

The four key principles are based on WTTC’s global view and assessment of best practices around the world, in order to save thousands of travel businesses and SME’s across the ecosystem that depend on our sector, and the many millions of livelihoods at risk.

Together, WTTC says these four principles will help restore a sector which will be key to aiding economic recovery and saving thousands of jobs, and many more livelihoods throughout the country; and enable the UK government to build back a better Britain.

WTTC believes that only these actions will save Travel & Tourism, while effectively managing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health.

WTTC, which has been at the forefront in leading the private sector in the efforts to restore international travel and rebuild global consumer confidence, applauded Boris Johnson, and his government for its world leading vaccine rollout, and the recently implemented targeted testing programme, to stop the spread of the virus.

Shortlist for Experience Mekong Showcases Announced

Shortlist for Experience Mekong Showcases Announced

Bangkok, Thailand, February 21, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Created four years ago in September 2017 to both recognize and encourage sustainable and responsible tourism development, 72 Experience Mekong Collection (EMC) member businesses have been shortlisted – ten from each of the six GMS member countries plus the two finalists from last year that did not win – to determine the final six businesses to be recognized for the third annual Experience Mekong Showcases via public voting, announced at the 2nd Virtual Destination Mekong Summit in May 2021. The “Experience Mekong Collection” curates small, responsible, and sustainable travel businesses in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), endorsed by members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group and is a collection of inspirational, rewarding, and authentic experiences that minimize negative impacts and generate greater benefits for the people of the GMS and enhance the well-being of host communities. This year’s shortlisted businesses were each examined in great detail regarding their practices, tangible impact on the environment and social climate, innovation, and financial viability.

Each business needs to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Make a significant social impact on its community
  2. Provide an authentically local experience positioning the GMS as a responsible, inclusive, and experiential tourism destination.
  3. Have an innovative concept and sustainable business model.

“The importance of responsible tourism cannot be underestimated and the ‘Experience Mekong Collection’ is a wonderful way of highlighting examples of good practice. Social enterprises have the potential to drive sustainable tourism and to promote the Mekong Region as an experiential and responsible travel destination. We aim to tell their stories to inspire travelers to experience these “stars of the Mekong,” said Mr. Jens Thraenhart,  Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO).

In January 2020, at the FITUR travel trade show in Madrid, Spain, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) featured the Experience Mekong Collection as a global best practice on tourism aligned to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Experience Mekong Collection program is aligned to our Mekong Heroes program, part of our Mekong Responsible Travel mandate. During these challenging times, to support our small responsible travel businesses and protect the fragile tourism ecosystem of the Greater Mekong Subregion, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, together with Destination Mekong, last year launched the “Support Experience Mekong Collection Businesses”.

During this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are afraid that many small businesses are struggling, and some may not survive. What makes travel in the Greater Mekong Subregion so unique and authentic are these small local enterprises and responsible operators. For some of these experiences to go away is like taking a part of the Mekong Region away. The Experience Mekong Collection not only creates a strong community for these small businesses to get through this difficult time, but also provides a powerful platform to accelerate the recovery process”, said Ms. Duangmala Phommavong, Managing Director of Exo Travel Laos, and a member of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG).

By choosing one organization from each Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) country, the MTCO, along with the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) endorses and selects “best practice” tourism organizations specifically committed to sustainable and responsible practices. As previously structured, each showcase organization is thematically categorized by either ‘DO’, ‘SHOP’, ‘STAY’, ‘TASTE’, ‘TOUR’, and ‘CRUISE’.

This year for the second time, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is inviting the public to vote for their favorite Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) small businesses out of the 72 shortlisted members of the 350+ Experience Mekong Collection members to determine the 2021 Experience Mekong Showcases.  Public voting is open until March 31, 2021. The top 3 businesses with the most votes from each country will move into the final, when the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG), the GMS Tourism Working Group (TWG), and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) help in selecting the six 2021 Experience Mekong Showcases – one from each GMS member country.

“In recognizing the most innovative best practice businesses as the Experience Mekong Showcases, this sets several benchmarks to further improve travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion. We hope this motivates other operators to become more involved and do their part for responsible tourism,” said HE Mr. Htay Aung, former Minister of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar, and a member of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG).

The 2018 Experience Mekong Collection Showcases included Phare Cambodian Circus (Cambodia), Longji Rice Terraces Guangxi (PR China), Ock Pop Tok (Lao PDR), Inle Heritage Place (Myanmar), Local Alike (Thailand), and Koto (Viet Nam). The 2019 Experience Mekong Collection included Soksabike (Cambodia), Linden Centre (PR China), Elephant Conservation Centre (Lao PDR), Hla Day (Myanmar), Sampran Riverside (Thailand), and Streets International (Viet Nam). The 2020 Experience Mekong Showcases included Elephant Valley Project (Cambodia), Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (PR China), Laos Buffalo Dairy (Lao PDR), Living Irrawaddy Dolphin Project (Myanmar), Family Tree (Thailand), La Hoa – Flowers Speak (Viet Nam).

All members of the Experience Mekong Collection get exposure via channels of Mekong Tourism, as well as the dedicated Experience Mekong Collection Facebook and Instagram accounts. Experience Mekong Collection members also have priority access to marketing campaigns and have their own dedicated online member-only community to connect with each other.  Via a partnership with Mahidol University in Thailand, we bring these innovative best practices into the classroom to educate future leaders about the importance of responsible tourism and create case studies of the Experience Mekong Showcases to inspire the industry and other businesses.

Shortlisted Experience Mekong Collection Members

CategoryBusiness NameCityCountryNotes
DoBambu StageSiem ReapCambodia
DoPhare Ponleu SelpakBattambangCambodia
ShopGenevieve’s Fair Trade VillageSiem ReapCambodia
ShopCoco KhmerPhnom PenhCambodia
StayFarmhouse Smiling GeckoKampong ChhnangCambodia
StayMulberry Boutique HotelSiem ReapCambodia
TasteSala BaïSiem ReapCambodia
TasteThe Lonely Tree CaféBattambangCambodia
Tour / CruiseWildlife Alliance Release StationKoh KongCambodia
Tour / CruiseArtisans AngkorSiem ReapCambodia
DoCambodia Living ArtsPhnom PenhCambodia2020 Finalist
Tour / CruiseAyana JourneysSiem ReapCambodia2020 Finalist
DoLanxu Eco-Culture Development CenterDali, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
DoYunnan Mountain Heritage FoundationShangri La, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
DoLeye-Fengshan GeoparkGuangxiChina2020 Shortlist
StayThe Wenhai EcolodgeDali, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
StayHorsepen 46Dali, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
StayVinetree Gaoligong Tented ResortGaoligong, YunnanChina
StayYangshuo Village InnYangshou, GuangxiChina
TastePear Blossom OrganicDali, YunnanChina
TasteNixi Black Pottery CoffeeShangri La, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
Tour / CruiseXintou EcotourismLijiang, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
StayShaxi Old Theatre InnDali, YunnanChina2020 Finalist
StayThe BivouLijiang, YunnanChina2020 Finalist
DoTAECLuang PrabangLao PDR2020 Shortlist
DoNahm Dong ParkLuang PrabangLao PDR
DoHeuan Chan Heritage HouseLuang PrabangLao PDR
ShopPassa PaaLuang PrabangLao PDR
ShopSaoban CraftsVientianeLao PDR
StaySinouk Coffee ResortChampasakLao PDR
StayNamkhan EcolodgeLuang PrabangLao PDR
StayKingfisher EcolodgeChampasakLao PDR2020 Shortlist
TasteSaffron CoffeeLuang PrabangLao PDR
TasteTamarind CaféLuang PrabangLao PDR
Tour / CruiseThe Vat Phou Mekong CruisePakseLao PDR2020 Finalist
DoNam Et-Phou Louey National Park Wildlife ToursNam EtLao PDR2020 Finalist
DoThe Inle Horse ClubShan StateMyanmar2020 Shortlist
DoGreen Hill Valley Elephant CampShan StateMyanmar
ShopPlan BeePinyadaMyanmar
ShopAidii CollectionsChin StateMyanmar2020 Shortlist
StayArakan Nature LodgeRakhine StateMyanmar
StayLalay LodgeNgapali BeachMyanmar
TasteYuwaddy CenterYangonMyanmar
TasteVeranda Youth Community CafeHpa AnMyanmar
Tour / CruiseMyanmar Adventure OutfittersLashioMyanmar
Tour / CruiseUncharted HorizonsYangonMyanmar
TasteSanon RestaurantBaganMyanmar2020 Finalist
Tour / CruiseSampan TravelYangonMyanmar2020 Finalist
DoElephant Poopoopaper ParkChiang MaiThailand
ShopThai Tribal CraftChiang MaiThailand
StayPhu Chai Sai Mountain ResortChiang RaiThailand
StayThe Tongsai BayKoh SamuiThailand
TasteBetter Moon CaféBangkokThailand
TasteTheera Bake RoomBangkokThailand
TasteThe Passport RestaurantTakThailand
Tour / CruiseSiamRise TravelBangkokThailand
Tour / CruiseBangkok VanguardsBangkokThailand
DoAnurak LodgeSurat ThaniThailand2020 Finalist
DoAndaman DiscoveriesPang NgaThailand2020 Finalist
DoOmamori SpaHa NoiViet Nam
DoZó ProjectHa NoiViet Nam
ShopMekong QuiltsHo Chi Minh CityViet Nam
ShopCraft LinkHa NoiViet Nam
ShopIndigo CatSapaViet Nam
StayMekong RusticCan ThoViet Nam
StayNgoc Son Ngo Luong Nature ReserveHoa BinhViet Nam
StayPhong Nha FarmstayQuang BinhViet Nam
TasteOriberryHa NoiViet Nam
Tour / CruiseSapa Sisters TrekkingSapaViet Nam2020 Shortlist
ShopToheHa NoiViet Nam2020 Finalist
StayMr. Linh’s HomestayBac KanViet Nam2020 Finalist

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office:

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), located in Bangkok, was set up with funding from the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries – Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The MTCO, which operates on annual financial contributions from each GMS country, acts as the secretariat for the GMS Tourism Working Group, comprising of senior officials of the six GMS countries’ National Tourism Organizations, to coordinate and facilitate sustainable tourism development of the GMS, and promotion of the Mekong region as a single travel and tourism destination, in collaboration with the public and private sectors. The MTCO manages digital platform as a one-stop platform to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the region, as well as the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, whose hosting is rotated among GMS countries.

About Destination Mekong:
Destination Mekong was created in 2017 to promote the Mekong region, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam as a single tourism destination to stimulate responsible and sustainable development and investment, and drive inclusive growth. Endorsed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and aligned with the mandate of the regional collaborative tourism framework of the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Destination Mekong executes targeted projects and initiatives, including Mekong Moments, Mekong Mini Movie Festival, Mekong Innovations in Sustainable Tourism (MIST), Experience Mekong Collection, Mekong Heroes, and Mekong Trends, with feedback from the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) and via public-private partnership investment structure, led by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies.