Παρασκευή, 30 Μαΐου 2014

Best hotels in the Dominican Republic for family holidays

The Dominican Republic is considered one of the “best family holiday destinations” in the Caribbean, according to the travel website TripAdvisor. In the category of family hotels, several hotels stand out for the special programs they have designed for the enjoyment of children and adolescents.  Here are a couple examples:

Casa de Campo:
Situated in the eastern region city of La Romana, this 185-room resort also offers guests luxury villas and apartments with an extensive sports and entertainment program.  Tennis, swimming, horseback riding, kayaking and scuba diving are offered for the enjoyment of children and adolescents visiting the hotel.  All activities are divided into clubs that are run and managed by a team of experts.

Each particular club is organized by age, in order to provide guests with the best possible experience. Toddlern’casa (for children ranging from 1-3 years) provides toddlers with fun educational activities; Kidsn’casa (4-7 years) features adventure-style activities and fun-filled mini-Olympics; Casa Tweens (8-12 years) gives children the opportunity to come in contact with nature and practice various sports; and Bonche 4 Teens (13-17 years) is packed with surprises and age-appropriate activities.  In addition, the Nanniesn’casa service gives parents the possibility of enjoying a fun evening out without worries, because their children will be cared for by professionals.

Club Med:
This 300-room resort, situated in Punta Cana – on the country’s easternmost region – provides children (ranging in ages from 4 months to 17 years) with many activities.

Toddlers from 23 months and up will truly enjoy their stay at this hotel, and so will their parents since the facility provides various kinds of toddler-friendly amenities such as changing facilities, small bathtubs, high chairs and baby food. Also available are well-trained nannies, which will also provide services until late at night.

For older children and teens, there is age-appropriate entertainment provided.

Barceló Palace Deluxe:
Situated in Bavaro, on the country’s easternmost region, this 1,402- room hotel offers a modern water park and a children’s pool with slides and other games.  The Pirates Island Water Park is a must-visit place for older children since it also features slides and artificial waves. The BarcyKids Club (3-12 years), and the Laser Tag or Laser Games is a must for the entire family, as well as its 18-hole mini golf course. Teenagers can enjoy fun-filled evenings at the Xone Teen’s Disco, opened from 9.00 pm to 01.00 am.

Now Larimar:
Located on Bavaro Beach, the 450-room hotel is a favourite among parents and young guests.  The attending staff is certified by the American Red Cross and the Explorer’s Club, and there are many activities directed at the younger crowd.  Some of the hotel’s most popular activities are the Ocean Trampoline, wall climbing, and various children’s recreation areas. For those 13-17 years of age, the Corezone Club organizes bonfires on the beach, sports tournaments, and parties.

Sirenis:
Located in Uvero Alto, in Punta Cana, the all-inclusive five star hotels offers 427 rooms to choose from. The hotel’s 12,000 square-meter water park is a true paradise, featuring slides and pools for all ages. Admission to the park includes all drinks and a buffet lunch. The park is also open to non-hotel guests.

Source:- WTM

Great Hotels of the World launches prize-draw for MICE planners

Great Hotels of the World, the London-based hotel sales and marketing alliance, has announced a year-long prize draw for its Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) clients.

Over the next year Great Hotels of the World will be offering the chance to win four breaks. Each will be for two people including flights, transfers, a meal and a three-night stay in some of the alliance’s finest hotels.

Clients who place an enquiry at the Great Hotels of the World Groups Desk will be automatically entered into the draw. There is no limit on how many times one person can enter, so each time a client submits an RFP they will also be increasing their chance to win. All RFPs submitted to Great Hotels of the World have a guaranteed 24-hour response time and will receive the Best Available Rate.

The first draw is for three nights for two people on a B&B basis at the Grand Hotel Reykjavik, Iceland, including flights and transfers, as well as dinner for two the Grand Restaurant. Enquiries submitted by July 30 will automatically be entered, and the next prize will be announced on July 31.

Hotel industry in U.S. broke all records in 2013

Hotel industry revenue levels topped an estimated US$163 billion in 2013, with house profits nearing US$60 billion and net operating income just more than US$41 billion, according to STR Analytics’ Hotel Operating Statistics (HOST) Almanac. These absolute levels represent new peaks, though fall shy of the record levels on a per-available-room (PAR) and percent-of-revenue basis set in 2007.

“2013 was a year for breaking records in the U.S. hotel industry,”said Caitlyn Milton, business intelligence manager of STR Analytics. “Supply, demand and average daily rate saw new highs, and hoteliers were able to control costs, helping to push absolute net income levels to new highs. Luxury and Upper Upscale hotels continued to lead the surge in profit, aided by steeper increases in ADR.”

On a same-store, PAR basis, total revenue growth of 5.4 percent outpaced the increases of departmental and operating expenses, leading to a gross operating profit (GOP) increase of 9.0 percent. Operators continued to be successful in controlling expenses. Departmental and undistributed operating expenses saw modest increases of 3.8 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

While we are seeing record profits in total dollars, income as a percent of revenue is still a bit shy of what the industry achieved in 2007,” said Carter Wilson, director of STR Analytics. “I expect 2014 will be the year we will finally break 2007 levels.”

Same-store hotels realized NOI increases of 10.0 percent in 2013. NOI does not include deductions for rent, amortization, depreciation or debt service.

The property most likely to experience a profit decline in 2013 was an Upper Midscale hotel (39% of all Upper Midscale hotels registered declines), while Luxury hotels were most likely to increase profit (89% of all Luxury hotels did).

Other highlights of the 2014 HOST Almanac:
* Full-service hotels reporting to HOST achieved an average occupancy of 71.8 percent and an ADR of US$172.32 in 2013.
* On average, full-service hotels generated US$271.78 in total revenue per occupied room (POR), up 5.4 percent from 2012. Full-service, chain-affiliated hotels checked in at US$266.06 on a POR basis, while independent properties reported US$335.58.
* GOP for full-service properties was US$25,220 on a PAR basis, up 9.8 percent from 2012.
* Overall in 2013, limited-service hotels reporting to HOST recorded an occupancy of 73.0 percent and an ADR of US$100.66.
* Limited-service hotels reported a GOP of US$13,760 on a PAR basis, an increase of 6.0 percent from 2012.

Source: STR Analytics.

New Craft Beer Theme to Brew on Crystal Fall Culinary Cruise

Crystal Cruises is putting a twist on its popular “Wine & Food” Experiences of Discovery motif by replacing the “wine” with lagers, stouts, IPAs, and “cold ones” that are barrel-aged, made with bacon, have names like “Funky Old Time,” and more – all for a new Microbrew-themed luxury cruise.  New, beer-focused Boutique Adventures, expert presentations, cooking and cocktail classes, tasting sessions, and dinners will all be on tap for the Crystal Serenity voyage, which sails from New York to Miami, via the East Coast and Caribbean, starting November 5.
“We’ve recently seen the growing interest in microbrews, from crafting to drinking, reflected in our own guests’ palates, leading us to add international specialty beers to our Connoisseur beverage menu in 2013,” says Toni Neumeister, vice president, food and beverage operations and hotel procurement.  “A microbrew theme in 2014 is a natural extension of that interest, utilizing the programming format of our successful ‘Wine & Food’-cruises to expand travelers’ palates and minds in new ways that can last well beyond their cruise.”
Programming highlights include two new Boutique Adventures (intimate, exclusive Crystal Adventures that can’t be found on any other cruise line) created just for this voyage.  The shore-side excursions take guests to micro- and nano-breweries (the latest trend in ultra-local beer craftsmanship) in and around New York and Charleston for exclusive behind-the-scenes access, expert insight, and diverse sampling of innovative, historic, seasonal, and limited-run beers, complete with a souvenir “growler” swag bag in South Carolina.
Onboard, guests can glean complimentary expertise from:
Stephen Beaumont, writer and one of the world’s top authorities on all things beer – from production to education — and Victoria Tonini, a certified cicerone (think wine sommelier, but for beer)/brewer at Tenth and Blake Beer Company — a specialist in craft and import ciders, pilsners, IPAs and wheat beers – who will both lead tastings and microbrew presentations;
Anthony  Caporale, Art of the Drink TV host and producer, who will teach guests how to make cocktails using beer, then serve them up as guest mixologist behind Crystal’s bar; and
Jon Ashton, a cookbook author and Today/Tonight Show guest chef, who will lead hands-on cooking classes using beer as an ingredient, plus create special beer-themed dinners for all guests in the Crystal Dining Room and for just 14 guests in the Vintage Room, the latter featuring seven courses of rare beers from around the world.
The itinerary overnights in New York City before sailing down the U.S. East Coast to Baltimore, Maryland; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Turks & Caicos/Grand Turk; Curaçao/Willemstad; Oranjestad, Aruba; and Miami, Florida.  All-inclusive cruise fares for the 14-day voyage start at $4,710/person, with $1,450/person in savings if booked by June 30.  A shorter, 11-day version of the cruise is also available departing from Baltimore, with “Book Now” fares starting at $3,700/person.  The limited-availability microbrew Boutique Adventures start at $179/person.
Crystal Cruises’ passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more “World’s Best” awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history.

Cruise the Amazon in Ultra-Luxury Style with Seabourn

Seabourn is giving Australians the chance to have an intimate ultra-luxury experience on the amazing Amazon River with great value deals on veranda suites during Seabourn Quest’s upcoming South America season.
Complimentary upgrades to veranda suites are available on two voyages in October and November with fares for a 15-night cruise starting from A$5999* per person double occupancy.
Departing Fort Lauderdale on October 25, 2014, the voyage calls at several Caribbean islands before cruising along the Amazon for five days and ending in Manaus, the largest city on the river.
A 20-night voyage from Manaus to Buenos Aires on November 9, 2014, also includes five days of Amazon cruising, a journey down Brazil’s coast to Rio de Janeiro and a call at Montevideo in Uruguay with fares for a veranda suite starting from $6999* per person double occupancy.
“These boutique, small-ship experiences are what Seabourn does best,” said Seabourn Director of Sales Australia Tony Archbold.
“Watching the Amazon go by from the luxury and intimacy of a Seabourn veranda suite is a real “bucket list” experience and these great fares make it even more enticing.”
*All fares are in Australian dollars, for new bookings only, per guest, double occupancy, and subject to availability.

Avalon Expands Exotic Offerings In Asia,Unveiling 2 New All-Suite Ships On The Mekong & Irrawaddy

A journey on one of Asia’s great rivers offers a tapestry of fascinating sights, colorful cultures and ancient traditions.  A journey with Avalon Waterways gets travelers closer to all the must-see sights and introduces them to the locals and their way of live.  And in 2015, travelers will have the opportunity to live the “suite life” in Asia.  For the first time, Avalon Waterways is introducing two NEW, 36-guest Suite Ships® on the Mekong and the river cruise line’s newest destination, the Irrawaddy River.
“Next year, we’re introducing our wildly popular Suite Ship design to travelers looking for a more exotic cruise experience in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar,” said Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways.  “With new, intimate ships in Southeast Asia, as well as Small Group Discoveries in China with no more than 20 travelers, the intimacy we offer travelers, paired with our immersive Local Favorites program designed to spotlight the unique stories in each destination, inspire an unparalleled Asia vacation.”
Both NEW all-suite ships – the Avalon Siem Reap and Avalon Myanmar – will deliver cruisers an intimate experience. One that invites them to truly engage with and experience the local culture and revel in the unique sights and sounds found along the Mekong and Irrawaddy Rivers.  Built by local craftsman, the ships reflect the character, symbols and traditions of the areas through which they sail while also offering travelers the modern features they expect and enjoy.
On these ships, travelers will be welcomed by 18 well-appointed Avalon Suites with 245-square-feet of living space.  And, while other ships may offer guests tiny balconies, these new ships introduce travelers in Asia to Avalon’s innovative, signature Open-Air Balconies® featuring floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic windows measuring 14-feet-wide with retractable screen systems and doors that slide open a full 9-feet, creating the feeling of sitting outside.
In front of each Open-Air Balcony is a private sitting area, complete with love seat, chairs and table.  And facing the passing views is Avalon’s Comfort Collection BedsSM, inviting travelers to relax and enjoy every moment of cruising past the fascinating scenes of daily life on the Irrawaddy and Mekong Rivers.
“Our new Asia vessels mirror the experience found on our Suite Ships in Europe.  But, perhaps as important as the attention to detail and appointments found on these ships is their overall size,” says Clark.  “Both new ships – featuring only 18 Avalon Suites each – were designed to traverse more of the Irrawaddy and Mekong Rivers, providing travelers the chance to enjoy more of Asia.  For instance, the Avalon Myanmar is small enough to cruise the spectacular Upper Irrawaddy throughout the season – a feat not possible on a larger ship.  And the Avalon Siam Reap is the only ship in the industry cruising all the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (or vice versa), as water levels allow.  And when sailing into the Ho Chi Minh harbor, Avalon guests are just minutes away from their deluxe hotel accommodations.
And, for the first time, Avalon is sailing the Irrawaddy with a new, 14-day itinerary – Golden Myanmar & The Alluring Irrawaddy – featuring a deluxe 10-night cruise from Began to Bhamo with hotel stays in Yangon. For this vacation, travelers will enjoy a walking tour of Yangon before flying to Bagan to embark on their cruise.  On the cruise, they can watch the sunrise from a Bagan temple, explore colorful local markets, see palm candy being made in the Shwe Pyi Thar village, visit Kaunghmudaw Pagoda and Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda in Sagaing, take a sampan ride at sunset in Amarapura, watch a traditional dance performance by firelight, relish the sights in Mandalay, visit a monastery and present alms to the monks in Kya Hnyat, check out a local farmer’s home in Kyun Dew and more up close encounters.
2015 Asia cruises offered by Avalon Waterways:
MEKONG RIVER
-        13-day Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River
(Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap; Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City)
IRRAWADDY RIVER
-        14-day Golden Myanmar & the Alluring Irrawaddy
(Yangon to Yangon)
YANGTZE RIVER
-        11-day Magical China & the Yangtze River
(Beijing to Shanghai)
-        15-day Culture China & Tibet with Yangtze River Cruise
(Shanghai to Beijing)
-        15-day Enchanting China & the Yangtze River
(Beijing to Shanghai)

Southwest Airlines slammed with a fine of $200,000 for misleading ads

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a hefty fine of $200,000 on Southwest Airlines Co. for the controversial and misleading advert that went on air in October last year.

In a flight ticket promotion, the Southwest Airlines announced a fare of $59 in two of its regular routes. It is the second time in 10 months that the U.S. Department of Transportation has slammed the Southwest Airlines for violation the agency’s fair rule for promotion and advertising.

In addition, Southwest must pay $100,000 from a previous fine for the same type of violations. The DOT last July had suspended that penalty upon Southwest’s pledge to correct the violations. In a consent order with Southwest, the DOT said the Dallas-based airline had engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition.”

According to the latest statements of Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King, “the audio portion of the TV advertisement incorrectly stated three cities that were never intended to be a part of the $59 sale … As soon as we became aware of our mistake, we pulled all incorrect advertisements off the air.”

Despite the error, “the sale provided significant savings to consumers in Atlanta and across the country — with more than 300,000 consumers saving millions of dollars,” King said. She said “Southwest did honor the $59 fare for any consumer who called reservations” requesting $59 tickets to New York, Los Angeles and Chicago out of Atlanta.

In addition, Southwest must pay $100,000 from a previous fine for the same type of violations. The DOT last July had suspended that penalty upon Southwest’s pledge to correct the violations.

Ebola outbreak in West Africa, virus crosses border

Ebola outbreak which has affected West Africa killing nearly 200 people in Guinea has crossed borders and has already claimed one life in Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation and Médecins sans Frontières have sent an expert team to the east of the country. The disease could spread rapidly, especially to the remote communities where health facilities are limited.

Sierra Leone recorded the first case this week with 16 cases recorded so far, 5 have already died.  Ebola is a highly infectious virus which proves fatal in up to 90 per cent of its victims. It can be passed on through contact with the fluids of infected people, including sweat – meaning that just touching the body of an infected person can cause transmission. Healthcare workers have been forced to wear protective body suits.

The government has sent task forces to various regions to make the communities aware of the outbreak. The locals are treating the epidemic as Cholera. Various voluntary services are also doing their best to salvage the situation and control the disease from spreading. Koindu, a town in the eastern Kailahun district, had become the “epicentre” for the outbreak.

The government has prioritised 13 key messages, which it is attempting to disseminate to every Sierra Leonean. People have been told to attend the nearest health clinic immediately if they have symptoms of fever, diarrhoea or vomiting. There have also been warnings over hand-washing, and eating bush meat, especially from monkeys, chimpanzees or bats, or to eat fruit that might have been eaten by animals. Fruit bats are believed to be the natural host of the virus. The treatment is being offered free of charge by the government.

WHO, feels that the communities have to be made more aware of how to keep away from the virus. Early cases can be cured but there is no medicine to counter Ebola. So the religious leaders need to be approached who can make the communities understand the precautions needed against the Ebola virus. So far 186 deaths cases of Ebola had been detected in Guinea.

Qantas set to link Perth and Newman with charter services

Qantas today confirmed it has secured a three year initial term contract for charter services for BHP Billiton Iron Ore’s Jimblebar mine, in Newman, Western Australia.

The charter services will be operated by the Qantas Group’s wholly owned subsidiary, Network Aviation, on its Fokker-100 aircraft between Perth and Newman from 9 June 2014.

Qantas Domestic Chief Executive Officer, Lyell Strambi said he was delighted that Qantas was successful in securing the Jimblebar mine charter contract.
“The agreement demonstrates Qantas’ strength in the fly-in, fly-out business and affirms our strategy of investing in our charter operations through Network Aviation,” said Mr Strambi.

“This shows the flexibility we have to adjust charter capacity according to the market and the needs of our customers, including the ability to target growth opportunities or to make adjustments when demand slows.
“Qantas has a long standing relationship with the BHP Billiton and we look forward to working with the company.”

Qantas purchased Network Aviation in 2010. With 12 single-class 100 seat Fokker F100 aircraft, Network Aviation has the largest fleet of F100 aircraft in Western Australia.
Qantas currently operates over 75 flights between Perth – Newman each week.

COMESA to organise first Sustainable Tourism Development Forum

Business leaders and policy makers will for the first time discuss a competitive approach to tourism in the region. COMESA has organised the Sustainable Tourism Development Forum, to be held on 22-24 August 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. The public-private dialogue, to be held under the theme “Shaping the Future of Tourism in COMESA”, will bring together over 70 regional participants from tourism boards, investment promotion agencies, tourism businesses and development partners.
The meeting, is to be hosted by COMESA Secretariat in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism for Kenya .The Forum has been organized through the support of the COMESA Business Council in partnership with Kenya Investment Authority and Kenya Tourism Board. The meeting will analyze the regional diagnostic study of COMESA’s 19 Member States, whose aim was to come up with a framework for regional approaches that can be undertaken by both the public and private sector stakeholders to promote a more competitive, investor friendly, sustainable tourism sector in the region.
The framework addresses issues such as putting in place a regional policy and strategy that defines tourism in the region, promotes the relaxation of visa requirements for tourists, packages and brands tourism, investment in infrastructure for tourism development, upgrades the sector to meet regional and global standards, promotes investment in key areas of tourism such as hospitality and catering, addresses supply side constraints in the hotel industry, and exploits the quick benefits of E-Tourism; among others.
The setting of the Forum, Windsor Resort Hotel, one of the luxury resorts of Kenya, will provide the country an opportunity to showcase its tourism attractions and provide the participants with a taste of Kenya’s natural beauty, diverse culture, local brands and quality wildlife experience. It is expected that dignitaries from the tourism sectors of Morocco, Egypt, and the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) will also attend the meeting, which will share the experiences of corporate hotels like Serena Group, Speke Hotel Group, and renown tour operators from all countries in the COMESA region.
In the face of an ever changing economic and political environment, tourism continues to succeed as a well performing sector in regional and international markets. While the industry moves towards adopting more sustainable models, the economic outlook of the sector today clearly indicates that there are great benefits to reap through a regional approach to boosting competitiveness, sustainability and investment.
Among the expected results of the Forum is a roadmap and action plan owned by the stakeholders, which will structure tangible approaches towards shaping a sustainable tourism strategy and implementation framework for the COMESA region.
Tourism is the fastest developing enterprise in Africa and one of the continent’s major investment opportunities, standing at 6 percent growth rate the last decennium. Africa receives 4.8 percent of all tourist arrivals in the world, and 3.3percent of the receipts and although it is not at the heart of the global tourist market, this modest proportion of the world’s number one industry is still important for the continent. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that, from direct and indirect activities combined, the tour and travel sector now accounts for a remarkable 9.2percent of global GDP. Tourism’s contribution to employment is estimated at 6 – 7 percent of the overall number of jobs worldwide, and it makes up 4.8 percent of world exports and 9.2 percent of world investments.

Leading organizations team up to restore sustainability in the Caribbean and Latin America

Some of the world’s most popular and appealing travel destinations are in jeopardy, vulnerable to issues like climate change and unsustainable development. Several leading organizations have joined forces to address these challenges head-on by helping tourism destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America to safeguard their natural and cultural assets, while enhancing communities and securing a vibrant regional economy.
The new Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), which was launched today at an event in Barbados, marks the largest-scale effort to date through which public and private entities have united to focus on destination sustainability in the Americas. The Alliance includes the Organization of American States Caribbean Tourism Organization, global NGO Sustainable Travel International, leading cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and the United States Government through the United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States.
The SDAA will offer seven destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America significant support with their sustainability efforts. Each participating destination will begin with an evaluation of destination management practices designed to recognize areas of strength, and to identify areas in which they have the greatest opportunity to improve. Destinations will also have access to an online sustainable tourism course called Sustainable Tourism Professionals, designed to facilitate implementation of sustainability practices, and a destination sustainability monitoring framework called SMART, which will support the tracking of key performance metrics. Results and lessons learned will be disseminated regionally to leverage market advantage, and to foster greater understanding among destination decision-makers.
Sustainable Travel International, the Alliance’s non-profit implementation partner, will conduct assessments in each destination using its Rapid Destination Diagnostic tool, which provides a snapshot of the destination’s sustainability status, a summary of destination management priorities, and valuable input to inform and shape destination level policies.
The aim is for these seven destinations to follow the successful implementation of similar pilot programs in Cozumel, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras. Today’s announcement is also the first step in an active effort to expand the SDAA to include more than 30 destinations in the next few years, which would make it the largest initiative of its kind in the world.
The SDAA initiative, which will become a critical component of the OAS Sustainable Tourism Program over the next two years, underscores the close inter-agency cooperation among the OAS and its regional partners, the strong involvement of key stakeholders, and collaboration with the private sector.
In-depth work in the first 7 destinations is being financed through resources provided by the United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States and by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. through its Ocean Fund. Four destinations will be funded by the US Mission, and three will receive funding from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
The OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development Sherry Tross says, “With the focus of this initiative on destination sustainability and management, we are strengthening our ability to assess issues that are critical to the competitiveness and destination product and to make targeted recommendations that, among other things, will help to ensure the maximization of benefits for local communities. For the OAS, it is important that these issues remain as an integral part of the sustainable tourism policy dialogue so we can respond effectively to the needs of our member states.”
“It’s critical that companies look at ways they can have a positive impact in the places where they do business,” said Rich Pruitt, Vice President, Safety and Environmental Stewardship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We want to see the uniquely beautiful destinations of the Caribbean and Latin American region thrive, and are committed to collaborating with the organizations that can work to move these destinations toward greater sustainability.” Pruitt also announced its Destinations for Tomorrow toolkit today – an online resource for destinations that wish to complete sustainability self-assessments, learn how to prioritize sustainability practices, and become part of a community of organizations and destinations with similar goals.
Pruitt then invited all destinations in the region to visit www.destinationsfortomorrow.com in order to be among the 75 cruise destinations that Royal Caribbean will sponsor to complete a destination self-assessment.
United States Ambassador Larry L. Palmer remarked, “We are proud to facilitate the strengthening of the tourism industry in the Caribbean and Central America to ensure that our region meets the highest sustainable tourism standards.” He highlighted that “there’s tremendous opportunity to keep tourism development on a steady path that emphasizes sustainability, authenticity, social equity and poverty reduction, ecological protection, stakeholder engagement, while keeping pace with the development of other key sectors, such as agriculture.”
“We are thrilled to expand the work we have done in pilot destinations through the SDAA initiative,” shared Seleni Matus, Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean at Sustainable Travel International. “We believe that destination stewardship is a shared responsibility, and are delighted to bring together these organizations across sectors in a way that will maximize regional impact.”
CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley acknowledged that multi-sectorial partnerships are the ideal way to pursue sustainable tourism. “By bringing to bear the views of the public, private, and NGO sectors, this initiative supports our mandate to establish best practices in sustainable tourism.”

TripAdvisor awards all Mamaison Hotel Properties for outstanding traveler reviews

PRAGUE - Proof that Mamaison Hotels & Residences commit to customer service and quality; all the properties in the group have a reason to celebrate with their guests this year. Two hotels, Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest and Mamaison Business & Conference Hotel Imperial Ostrava were awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014, while Mamaison Suite Hotel Pachtuv Palace Prague, Mamaison Hotel Riverside Prague, Mamaison Residence Belgicka Prague, Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow, Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw, Mamaison Residence Diana Warsaw, Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest, and Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava have each won the Travelers' Choice® 2014 TripAdvisor award.

Now in its fourth year, the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence celebrates hospitality mastery and is given only to establishments that achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Only the best properties listed on the site are eligible for the award, and Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest and Mamaison Business & Conference Hotel Imperial Ostrava rank among the finest hotels in the world.

Only 7,123 unique properties worldwide won Travelers' Choice® awards in 2014. For Mamaison Hotels & Residence, to have eight of its ten European hotels among the top travelers' favorites on the world's largest travel site is an outstanding result.

Mamaison Hotels & Residences properties are located in some of Europe's most desirable, and interesting cities. The independent hotel chain offers accommodations for both business and leisure travellers, in luxury boutiques, and upscales hotels. From weekends away, to extended stays and executive events, Mamaison has the rooms, ambience and amenities that fit every need. The brand's boutique hotels are located in the culturally rich, and prestigious cities of Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow, Bratislava and Ostrava.

Aviation leaders assemble in Doha for IATA’s Annual General Meeting

DOHA - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend its 70th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Doha, Qatar from 1-3 June 2014. Hosted by Qatar Airways, the event will take place under the patronage of the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

"Doha will be the center of the air transport industry next week as its leaders discuss the most important commercial aviation-related issues of our times: safety, security, environment, distribution and financial sustainability among others," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA is the global association of the world’s airlines. The IATA AGM draws together the CEOs and senior management of its 240 member airlines that carry 84% of global traffic. They will be joined by leaders from across the spectrum of industry stakeholders including governments, partners in the value chain and other international organizations.

"You will notice a very unique atmosphere at the AGM. IATA’s members come from all parts of the world and operate on a variety of business models. We have very large global network airlines. And we have much smaller regional airlines. They compete vigorously in what is a very tough business. But when they are at the AGM, they are focused on the industry and making the best decisions possible to secure its future success," said Tyler.

This will be the fourth time that the AGM is hosted in the Middle East. Aviation in the region supports some 2 million jobs and $116 billion in economic activity. "The AGM will be a major event for aviation in the Middle East, and particularly for the airlines based in the Gulf region. These carriers, including Qatar Airways, have been at the core of a major shift in global aviation. In just over a decade, the share of global traffic accounted for by Middle East airlines increased from 4% to 9%. Much of this growth has been realized here in the Gulf," said Tyler.

"Qatar is an excellent venue for the AGM, at which we celebrate the first 100 years of scheduled commercial aviation. The country is using aviation-enabled connectivity as a cornerstone of its economic and social development," said Tyler.

The high-profile agenda features two panel discussions on the first day:

The CEO forum will include:

-Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways
-David Barger, Chief Executive Officer, JetBlue Airways
-Ivan Chu, Chief Executive Officer, Cathay Pacific Airways
-Andres Conesa Labastida, Chief Executive Officer, Aeromexico
-Willie Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, International Airlines Group
-CNN International Business Correspondent, Richard Quest (moderator)

Economic Shocks will focus on potential economic speed bumps ahead and how they could affect the air -transport industry, and will feature:

-Peter De Keyzer, Chief Economist, BNP Paribas Fortis
-Gene Huang, Vice President, Chief Economist, Abbott
-Marlos Maratheftis, Global Head of Macro Research, Standard Chartered Bank
-Thomas Mayer, Senior Adviser, Deutsche Bank
-Andrew Sentance, Senior Economic Adviser, PricewaterhouseCoopers
-IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce (moderator)

Sessions and briefings on Tuesday 3 June will focus on key industry issues and initiatives such as safety and aircraft tracking, reputation management, new distribution capability, government treatment of commercial aviation, among other important subjects.

Pleasant Holidays expands Europe portfolio

Pleasant Holidays announced the expansions of its Europe portfolio with the addition of new destinations in Southern France and Spain, including beach resort areas in each country. In addition to Paris, Pleasant Holidays’ France portfolio now offers Cannes, Nice, Aix en Provence and Marseille. Madrid and the beautiful beaches of Costa del Sol join Barcelona for Spanish destinations offered by the expert tour operator.

To celebrate the Europe expansion, Pleasant Holidays is offering a $150 per booking air credit on vacation packages at the 14 hotels offered in these newly added cities. The air credit applies to vacations of four nights or longer booked by June 29, 2014 for select travel through December 31, 2014 and must include roundtrip transatlantic airfare from any U.S. city.

“The perfect complement to our Europe portfolio,  these newly added cities represent some of the most popular choices in this No. 1 destination for U.S. vacation travelers,” said Jack E. Richards, President and CEO. “Agents can now book  a Europe itinerary or pre- and post-Europe cruise extension through Pleasant Holidays that offers options for exploring both exciting cities and relaxing coastal resort areas—the best of both worlds for the romance travel and honeymoon market.”

Daily breakfast is included throughout Pleasant Holidays’ Europe portfolio, including these latest additions that feature a variety of four-star hotels and resorts ranging in size from intimate to expansive. In addition to accommodations, Pleasant Holidays’ Europe portfolio expansion includes private transfers in all destinations and select excursions, including private tours in the South of France and shared tours in Madrid. Pleasant Holidays offers Europe flights on 20 airlines including Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic with competitive rates for First, Business and Premium Economy classes. Flights are also available between countries within Europe for travelers who wish to visit multiple cities. Pleasant Holidays offers AMAWaterways luxury Europe River Cruises, including Paris & Normandy.

Africa Travel Week 2014. The world came, saw and did business

It was a year in the planning but by the time the inaugural Africa Travel Week closed, Africa had experienced it’s first all encompassing week of travel industry events. The international buying community alongside those from the region came to see what it was all about, to do business and to put the spotlight on Africa. Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) in partnership with ReedThebe launched the first ever travel industry expo that brought 3 global brands together on one continent.

ILTM Africa, IBTM Africa and WTM Africa created the impact that the organisers had planned from the start.  

Focused on the luxury travel industry, the b2b MICE sector and the leisure side of tourism, each event comprised one-to-one pre-scheduled business appointments, pre-qualified international hosted buyers who had proven business to deliver (many who had not visited Africa before), plus travel industry professionals from across Africa who qualified as trade visitors and decided their own business agenda. It was all put together with a mix of education and knowledge sessions, keynote conferences and a variety of networking and parties that showed Cape Town to the world.

“Support and testimonials of the business our stakeholders achieved have been overwhelming. The team is now well underway with planning Africa Travel Week 2015, which will of course take place once again at the CTICC."  

"We are engaging with exhibitors who have requested more space, and others who want a presence at more than one show plus several who want to be at all three. The synergy between the 3 events will give the African and sub-Sahara Africa travel industry an even bigger stage for 2015” Said Craig Moyes, Portfolio Director, Africa Travel Week.

“We have been asked to look at new initiatives to support the events, to invite all those who attend to be at the next Forum and to cross over opportunities for networking between shows as the week progresses. We are taking it all in and will be announcing how 2015 will look over the coming months. But we believe we have achieved what we set out to do when we first announced our plans last June, that we would deliver a leading global event for Africa’s travel industry and our stakeholders have told us that we did”.

The statistics (still to be independently audited) spoke for themselves. ILTM Africa hosted buyers from 31 countries. IBTM Africa had 17 nationalities represented and WTM welcomed buyers from 47 countries. The organisers invested money in the buyer programme that was well spent for some 700 international buyers to be in Cape Town to attend the week’s events. 

Conferences, seminars, workshops and keynote speakers were all part of the experience and more than 10,000 known meetings took place.

Asia’s tourism sector commits to face up to climate challenge

The need to strengthen the tourism sector’s ability to address climate change took centre stage during the UNWTO-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change.
The Conference was held in conjunction with the 26th Joint Commission Meeting for Asia and the Pacific (Legazpi, Philippines, 18-20 May 2014).
Asia-Pacific has been at the forefront of tourism growth and development over the last decade, and recent numbers confirm that tourism in the region continues to progress above average. With rising international tourist arrivals and receipts in 2013 (+6% and +8%, respectively), the region’s tourism leadership is increasingly consolidated. Yet, continued tourism growth and sustainable development depends on improving the tourism’s sector resilience to climate change.
"Climate change is real", said the President of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III, opening the Conference. The President commended the celebration of events such as these and underscored the relevance of tourism as "one of the shortest and most efficient paths to inclusive growth". The Philippines is mainstreaming "climate change adaptation with local, sectoral, and national plans – all of which will consequently guide the development of tourism destinations and tourism activities per locality”. ”With the increasing risks of climate change, this is something we encourage other ASEAN-member countries, as well as countries around the world, to look into", he added.
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, made a call to position the fight against climate change at the heart of the tourism agenda, underscoring both the need for greater responsibility from the sector and the benefits sustainability entails for tourism and beyond: “Energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies can reduce operational costs. Resource efficiency not only mitigates and reduces the tourism footprint, but fosters economic growth and creates much needed jobs in the process.”
Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), in her opening remarks to the Conference, thanked the participants “for advancing the dialogue on how to address the greatest challenge of our time: climate change, and in particular, how to address climate change in tourism and in policy that promotes tourism as an economic engine”.
The Conference highlighted that climate change mitigation policies should be consistent with the overall challenge it represents, thus requiring a multi-stakeholder approach and taking into account specific technological, economic and social changes.
Participants stressed that tourism’s highly dynamic and innovative nature positions it at the forefront of those sectors dealing with climate change adaptation, and therefore providing opportunities to reduce the vulnerabilities it induces. But in order to succeed, this endeavor needs to be shared both by tourism providers and consumers through increased awareness on the individual contribution to climate change response.
The UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change brought together more than 200 senior tourism officials, policymakers and industry experts from 18 countries to exchange views and best practices on how to strengthen the sector's ability to address this global challenge.
The upcoming UNWTO/University of Queensland study Tourism´s Response to Climate Change: An Examination of Tourism Related Initiatives in Asia and Pacific shows that Asia-Pacific is affected by 90% of global climate-related catastrophes. Responding to the challenges of climate change is thus fundamental to ensure that tourism, a sector which has been identified by a majority of countries as a pillar for socio-economic progress, continues to advance in the region.

Daegu gets ready for the 7th World Water Forum 2015

The World Water Forum, which is organized every three years by the World Water Council, attracts some 20,000 participants.
The Republic of Korea expects to welcome some 35,000 visitors from 200 countries to this Expo, according to Mr. Lee Jung-Moo, chairman of the National Committee. It is estimated that the event will bring USD242.8 million in economic benefits while creating 2,500 jobs.
To help ensure the complete success of the Forum, the Daegu Convention & Visitors Bureau (Daegu CVB) developed an enhanced Event Support Package which combines the best of Korean hospitality, efficiency and team work.
Delegates to this Forum can take advantage of the new online accommodation booking system, presented in English, which will allow them to browse photos and read details of each accommodation venue.
An onsite Welcome Desk complete with all sightseeing brochures and staffed by personnel who are trained to service international visitors (a mobile on-wheels version is also available for organizers where the traditional desk model is not possible) is complemented by an online tour programme booking system so that delegates can select the right tour package to suit their needs. As Daegu is the hub of four UNESCO designated World Heritage sites, this pre/post touring facility will surely be well patronized.
In addition, delegates can enjoy rebates at selected locations – restaurants, tourist attractions, shopping and lodging – when they use their Daegu Card which can offer discounts up to 30 percent.
Myung-Hee Kwon, Director of Destination Branding Department at the Daegu CVB, said, “Daegu CVB is one-stop shop for organizers. Our support package that attends to the essentials of planning - accommodation, touring, promotional support and event staffing - means that planners can spend less time on basic logistics and troubleshooting and more time organizing an unforgettable event,”.
The 2015 World Water Forum will be the second one held in Asia, following the 3rd Forum held in Japan 11 years ago. Daegu Gyeongbuk competed with Glasgow in the final bid-off to come up triumphant as the Host City.
Daegu is aiming to turn itself into a linchpin of the water industry by capitalizing on the event to become the center of the water industry of Korea. The Korean government has prioritized sustainable water management and sound water environment building in its national agenda with the goal to become a role model country in all areas of water management. Daegu has developed its own traditional culture and industries around the Nakdong River and has accumulated abundant knowledge and experience in water quality management.

The Most Welcoming Luxury Hotel in Switzerland

Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina has won a Switzerland Tourism PRIX BIENVENU award, having been named the most welcoming luxury hotel in Switzerland 2014.
The awards, which were being presented for the second year running, were handed out at a glittering ceremony in Lausanne on the 17th Switzerland Vacation Day.
The aim of the PRIX BIENVENU awards is to recognize those hotels that provide a model example of how to preserve the world-famous tradition of Swiss hospitality.
Accepting the award, Managing Director of Grand Hotel Kronenhof Marc Eichenberger, said, “It is a real honour to receive the PRIX BIENVENU on behalf of the entire team at the hotel; friendliness and a passion for hospitality are key elements of our ethos. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessors Heinz and Jenny Hunkeler, who played a very important role in building up a solid team and the highest levels of service in the seven years that they managed the hotel prior to my arrival in March 2013”.
The PRIX BIENVENU is not the only recognition that Grand Hotel Kronenhof has received this year. In January, the property was named the World’s Top Hotel in the 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards, as well as being ranked Europe’s Top Hotel, Switzerland’s Top Hotel, the fifth best Luxury hotel in Europe, the second most Romantic hotel in Switzerland and the top Luxury hotel in Switzerland. And last week, in England, The Daily Telegraph’s Ultratravel included Grand Hotel Kronenhof in its annual list of the top five hotels in Europe, alongside the Four Seasons in Paris and Claridge’s, The Dorchester and The Savoy in London.

Πέμπτη, 29 Μαΐου 2014

ILTM SPA 2014 WELCOMES GROWTH IN WELLNESS LIFESTYLE

With wellness tourism already a US$439 billion market and set to grow to US$678.5 billion before 2017, ILTM Spa (www.iltm.net/spa) has announced some of the headline destination and wellness spas that will take part in this year’s event at the Café Royal, London, 29 September – 1 October 2014, in association with Healing Holidays.
Reed Travel Exhibitions launched the specialist, invitation only ILTM Spa in 2012 to provide a platform for the great and the good of the global spa and wellness industry to address the burgeoning growth in wellness lifestyle trends. 
Following their success at ILTM Spa 2013, Chiva Som will be returning to this year’s event.  Athipat Jitchaiwat, Sales Director commented:
“ILTM Spa is an ideal platform for Chiva Som - an opportunity to meet specialist Wellness & Spa buyers from all over the world in one-to-one meetings at a focussed, high-end event.  Last year's event is still proving very successful for us and we are looking forward to ILTM Spa 2014 with great expectations.”
The Oetker Collection will also take part for the third year. Manuela Busch, Regional Head of Sales & Marketing commented:
“ILTM Spa in 2013 was successful for Oetker Collection on many levels: a great mixture of new buyers, pioneers from new markets and media opportunities.  The growth potential for spa and wellness worldwide is significant and we are looking forward to introducing Villa Stéphanie at ILTM Spa 2014 to meet the very best of the world's spa experts at this valuable specialist event."
And Aman Resorts will join ILTM Spa for the first time in 2014:
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to present Amangiri to the world’s top spa specialists at ILTM Spa and look forward to furthering new and existing relationships at this extremely targeted event." 
ILTM Spa is a three day event comprising a high profile Opening Forum and educational sessions, one-to-one pre-arranged business meetings and after hours networking. Some of the world’s top spa destinations, wellness resorts and retreats will meet with buyers from 20 countries, all of whom specialise in designing luxury leisure programmes with specific interest in spa and wellness travel. 
David Paterson, ILTM Spa Exhibition Manager commented:
Recognising the exponential growth in the spa and wellness industry, ILTM Spa brings the hugely successful pre-scheduled appointments format to our burgeoning network of specialist spa and wellness buyers around the world, generating new relationships and market share for our exhibitors and highlighting key areas of opportunity across many wellness-related sectors.”
For further information regarding taking part in ILTM Spa, please contact David Paterson, Exhibition Manager, ILTM Spa: david.paterson@reedexpo.co.uk.

Khiri Travel Funds Guide Training in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand



Khiri Travel has partnered with a specialist international guide to provide training for young tour leaders in the Khao Sok national park area in southern Thailand near Phuket.
The park is increasingly popular as an add-on eco-tourism experience to the beach resorts of Phuket, Koh Samui and Khao Lak.
The training addresses a desire by local communities to share their knowledge of the park with international visitors.
Seventeen guides are currently receiving intensive training, sponsored by Khiri Travel. The focus is on improving English skills, group leadership, knowledge of flora and fauna, safety standards, emergency responses, confidence building and initiative.
The objective is to improve guide skills for the benefit of all tour operators and tourists visiting Khao Sok.
The specialist training is being provided by Bodhi Garrett, founder of Andaman Discoveries, a community eco-tour operator based in Surat Thani province.
Cheow Lan lake
Download image here
"I talked to villagers, guides and village chiefs to identify who was hungry to boost their skills and which skills needed boosting," said Garrett. "The guides want to share understanding of nature in Khao Sok. We're helping open doors for them."
Garrett and a team of experienced foreign and Thai guides started the training on 7 May. There is about two days training per week for two months. The instruction is a combination of classes, hikes, and lake explorations. Each training day lasts 7 to 10 hours. The work is intensive.
The training is personalized, reflecting the unique needs of each guide who is seeking to be a responsible leader.
Training is taking place at three locations: near the Khao Sok park headquarters, at Cheow Lan lake, and at the Kilometer 82 community. The guides include trail leaders, Sok River canoe guides and Cheow Lan boatmen who want to be tour leaders and not just transport providers.
Khiri Travel CEO Willem Niemeijer joined the first day of training at KM 82. He said: "The Khiri Phuket office identified the need to boost guide skills so that all tourists, not just those travelling with Khiri Travel, could appreciate the magnificent biodiversity of Khao Sok. Each guide has strengths and weaknesses. The training reflects individual needs."
Niemeijer said the training would lead to stability in services and create dedicated and responsible guides.
Khao Sok is the largest area of virgin rainforest in southern Thailand. It is thought to be older and more diverse than the Amazon rain forest. Khao Sok covers 646 sq kms of spectacular mountain and forest scenery including Cheow Lan lake. Elephants, languars, leopards, bantung, a variety of monkeys, and over 178 species of bird inhabit the park and surrounding sanctuaries. It is one of the most valuable nature reserves in Southeast Asia.
In 2009 Khiri Travel also funded a training course in Chiang Mai for guides who specialize in trips into the forests of Doi Suthep national park.
To join a Khiri Travel trip to Khao Sok email enquiries@khiri.com