Πέμπτη, 30 Ιουνίου 2016

UNWTO Conference on Quality Management held in Bucharest

unwto qualitymanagement buchares2016
Quality management indicators and processes are key tools for the competitiveness of tourism destinations concluded the UNWTO Conference on Quality Management held last week in Bucharest, Romania.
In that regard, participants to the conference called for an integrated approach to quality management as a priority in long-term strategic planning of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) at national and sub-national levels.
An integrated quality management approach to destination management contributes to improving the image of the destination, enhances the legislative framework and minimizes operational challenges.
“We live in an increasingly competitive sector. Quality standards provide a framework to guide stakeholders to improve their operations and services along the whole tourism value chain so as to create a complete and positive tourism experience” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.    
Costin Grigore Borc, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Commerce and Relations with the Business Environment of Romania said “the dynamic changes in the global tourism market require qualitative transformation of nearly every tourism segment within a destination. For tourism destinations to survive, trends that relate to a continuous improvement of the tourism supply quality need to be intensely tracked.”
“Tourism, multi-sectorial by nature, was and still is vulnerable to market turbulence and economic crises. However, it was able to withstand the global economic crisis more than most other sectors, to relaunch as few sectors have been able to, and to quickly recover from periods of temporary weakness” remarked Anca Pavel-Nedea, President of the National Tourism Authority of Romania at the opening of the conference.
The Conference focused on ‘destination quality’ as a step beyond ‘product/service quality’, and provided a showcase for sharing initiatives and good practices in quality management in coastal destinations, protected areas, spa/wellness destinations, urban destinations and cultural heritage destinations.
The 103rd UNWTO Executive Council Meeting held in Málaga last May approved the following definition of Quality of a Tourism Destination, as proposed by UNWTO’s Committee on Tourism and Competitiveness: "Quality of a Tourism Destination is the result of a process which implies the satisfaction of all tourism product and service needs, requirements and expectations of the consumer at an acceptable price, in conformity with mutually accepted contractual conditions and the implicit underlying factors such as safety and security, hygiene, accessibility, communication, infrastructure and public amenities and services. It also involves aspects of ethics, transparency and respect towards the human, natural and cultural environment”.

WestJet serves Halifax non-stop from Vancouver and Winnipeg



WestJet becomes the only Canadian carrier to serve Halifax non-stop from Vancouver and Winnipeg. The inaugural flight from Vancouver to Halifax launches today and flights from Winnipeg to Halifax begin July 2, 2016. Both of these seasonal, direct flights have been timed to connect conveniently to WestJet's Halifax and Vancouver hubs from its extensive domestic network. 

WestJet now offers 23 daily flights on 13 routes from Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Since 2005, the airline has accounted for almost 90 per cent of the capacity growth out of Halifax. Overall, WestJet's guests in Atlantic Canada have a total of 34 non-stop routes and 24 different WestJet destinations to choose from. WestJet has tripled its capacity out of this region in the last 10 years and now accounts for 75 per cent of the capacity growth of all of the airlines that serve the Atlantic provinces. WestJet now offers 65 daily flights on 35 non-stop routes from Vancouver International Airport to 100 WestJet destinations.

 Overall, WestJet has increased its capacity in the region by more than 80 per cent in the last 10 years and now accounts for 26 per cent of the capacity growth of all airlines that service the Vancouver International Airport. By mid-summer, WestJet will offer 30 daily flights on 21 non-stop routes from Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.



JetSmarter launches first intercontinental private JetShuttle service from New York to London



NEW YORK - JetSmarter has announced the launch of the first transatlantic JetShuttle, the feature that offers single-seat trips for its members between New York City and London. For the first-time ever in the private aviation industry, consumers seeking to jet set across the pond in supreme luxury between both cities now have the opportunity to reserve seats on direct, scheduled flights with total travel time faster than the Concorde.

The Intercontinental JetShuttle flights will depart New York on Fridays at 9AM and will return from London on Sundays at 6PM. All flights will be on a luxurious and spacious Gulfstream GIV-SP and Bombardier Global Express. The first flight will fly out from New York to London on Friday, August 26.

"Due to the high demand for a transatlantic flight, we are expanding the JetShuttle service to connect two of our most popular regions, the US and Europe. We expect our flights on this route to save fliers 3-4 hours each way," said Sergey Petrossov, Founder and CEO of JetSmarter. "With the popularity of our US and European routes growing exponentially, we are proud to be the first to offer intercontinental shared private flight options to our members."

Currently, JetShuttles are available across Europe and the Middle East in cities including London, Paris, Nice, Moscow, Ibiza, Milan, Geneva, Dubai, Kuwait, Jeddah, Riyadh, and more, with plans to continue expansion throughout 2016.

Reservations for the Intercontinental JetShuttle service are available now and can be made through the JetSmarter app, available for iOS and Android devices. New York City to London flights are JetSmarter Inc. public charters operated by Advance Air Management, Inc.




Aviation sector applauds Government of Canada decision to lift visa requirements for Mexican travellers



OTTAWA - The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) welcome the announcement by the Government of Canada to lift visa requirements for citizens of Mexico effective December 1, 2016. The decision to use the upcoming electronic travel authorization (eTA) for Mexican travelers will further expand economic ties between Canada and Mexico and supports the Government of Canada's priority to expand economic engagement in the Americas.

"This is great news. Lifting visa requirements for Mexicans in favour of the electronic travel authorization will mean more opportunity to expand business, trade and travel with an important partner," said Marc-Andre O'Rourke, Executive Director of the NACC. "Canada's major airlines recognize the importance of balancing the integrity of our immigration laws on one hand and the benefits associated with making it easier to visit and do business in Canada on the other hand. It is encouraging to see that Canada is taking steps to streamline its visa processes and find that balance", added O'Rourke.

"Canada and Mexico have a longstanding relationship, and this new development today will strengthen that partnership and further boost tourism and business opportunities in Canada," said CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch. "Enabling low risk travelers from Mexico to use the electronic travel authorization is a good step in what we hope will be a broader, more modern approach to facilitating low-risk travelers from additional countries around the world."

Given the opportunities surrounding the upcoming Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), the NACC and the CAC encourage Canada to continue to take steps to continue to ease visa requirements where appropriate to grow investment, trade, and tourism.



Hilton Recognized as One of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials by Great Place to Work® and Fortune


Today, global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work® and Fortune magazine announced that Hilton has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2016. The list recognizes the 100 employers around the world who scored the highest among millennials, who make up more than 36% of Hilton's workforce. 
"At Hilton, our goal is to provide the very best environment for Team Members of all ages," said Christopher J. Nassetta, president & CEO of Hilton. "We're honored to be recognized for the many ways we support and empower our Millennial Team Members, who represent the largest and fastest-growing percentage of our global workforce."
The company is committed to offering competitive benefits and perks to ensure that Team Members succeed both in their personal lives and careers. As part of Hilton's commitment to leveraging the perspectives and ides of younger generations and to foster innovation and increased competitiveness in the marketplace, Hilton will launch a new Team Member Resource Group (TMRG) focused on Millennials later this year. Hilton's Matthew Schuyler, chief human resources officer, will be the executive sponsor of this first global TMRG, with representation from all of the company's corporate locations around the world.
Some of the other benefits offered to Hilton Team Members include:
  • Exciting Global Opportunities
  • Dynamic Development & Recognition Programs
  • Innovative Work Environment
  • Worldwide Travel Perks
  • Industry-Leading Benefits
  • Meaningful Work with Robust Corporate Responsibility Programs
"This recognition reflects our commitment to creating fulfilling programs and career experiences for all five generations of Hilton Team Members," said Matthew Schuyler. "Like all of our Team Members, Millennials' passion for hospitality, desire to be involved in meaningful opportunities and innovative spirit help to deliver on Hilton's mission to be the most hospitable company in the world."
The 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials award marks Hilton's 13th Great Place to Work® recognition in 2016. For a full list, visit the Awards and Recognition webpage.

*Team Members include employees at owned and managed properties and corporate offices globally.

New survey reveals preferences of North Americans planning to travel to Europe


PORTLAND, MAINE - Results of a new survey conducted by Auto Europe, one of the car rental industry's first aggregators, reveal that over 40% of North Americans planning to visit Europe in the next 12 months do so as part of an annual trip. These results were gathered to learn more about the travel preferences of North Americans. The survey revealed that these travelers will most likely be accompanied by a family member in a group of 2 or 3.
The survey also provided insights into how European travelers select their destination. As illustrated in the graph, in over 50% of instances, travel destinations were selected because the traveler had "been there before." Of those planning to rent a car while abroad, 57% stated that they typically book their car rental reservation 2+ months in advance and do so because they want the best price and "want to feel relaxed leading up to their trip."
"We were not surprised to hear that so many of our customers are frequent travelers to Europe," said Imad Khalidi, Auto Europe's President & CEO. "Our expertise in the European market helps ensure our clients have a smooth rental experience, and we go to great lengths to ensure that we have the types of vehicles they are looking for even in peak travel months."

Swiss International to manage Palace hotel in Bahrain

Swiss International has signed a management agreement with The Palace hotel (formerly known as the Ramada Palace hotel) in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The well-known Palace hotel, located in the Gudaibiya area of Manama will be rebranded to receive its guests as the Swiss International Palace hotel, effective July 1, 2016.
With the addition of Bahrain in the company’s portfolio, Swiss International embarks on the journey to create its mark in yet another region of Middle East which displays the brand’s strong commitment to the Middle East. Coupled with the different attractions that Bahrain offers catering to the distinct interests of people will reap positive results for the hotel and its shareholders.
The Company is already represented in Saudi Arabia with 9 hotels and is looking for further expansion in the Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
The Swiss International Palace hotel will offer:
  • Hotel of 84 spacious rooms and suites with free wifi
  • Restaurants: Swiss Café – Restaurant & Lounge, TED & Co, Bar & Lounge, Akbar, Indian specialty restaurant, Thai restaurant and a Turkish Moroccan restaurant
  • Eventives for conferences and Banquets – Capacity from 10 delegated to 2,000
  • Twister Club
  • Inspirations Pool & Gym and Thai Spa
The rebranding of the Palace Hotel to the Swiss International Palace hotel will be completed by September 1, whilst the reservation channels will be open as from July 1, 2016

Prague Mobile App for Meeting Planners

prague meetings app
Prague Convention Bureau in cooperation with C.O.T. media publishing house and with the support of Prague City Tourism launched a mobile app to help meeting planners explore Prague congress opportunities.
Those interested can download the “Prague Meeting Planners’ Guide” in app stores from the second half of June. Mobile app is intended especially for meeting planners seeking the right venue and services providers for their event in Prague. Basic information about the capital, various types of conference venues, an overview of hotels and restaurants, professional conference organizers (PCOs) and destination management companies (DMC) as well as providers of other related services can be found via the app.
The owners of Android based smartphones can download the app in English here. iOS version is available on thislink and Windows Phone here.

91% of airlines invest in cyber security for today's connected world of travel



GENEVA – As the connected world of travel becomes a reality 91% of airlines plan to invest in cyber security programs over the next three years. This is according to the SITA Airline IT Trends 2016 Survey. The level of commitment to cyber security reflects the consensus that a lot is being done in this area but there is always more to do.

SITA, the travel technology provider to the air transport industry, carried out its survey among the world’s top 200 airlines, and discovered that cyber security at airlines is progressing. Three years ago less than half of airlines (47%) said they were making advanced preparations to manage cyber risks -today this has doubled to 91%.

The focus on cyber security also reflects the move to the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) in which a vast number of physical objects will become connected to the internet. This enables tracking, data collection, analysis and control, which necessitates more security. An overwhelming majority of airlines (68%) are investing in IoT programs in the next three years, up from 57% this time last year.  

A key area of IoT investment is in connected aircraft which 46% of airlines believe will give a better passenger experience. Today 37% of airlines operate connected aircraft and this will jump to two thirds by 2019. Currently ‘internet via passenger devices’ is the service offered by most (33%). Over the next three years big increases in services are expected with more than half of airlines planning to provide destination services and duty-free shopping apps, while 70% plan to provide multi-media file streaming on passenger devices.

Nigel Pickford, Director Market Insight, SITA, said: “Airlines are investing in areas which will promote a connected world of travel for the benefit of passengers and the workforce.  We see new priorities attracting more investment, with cyber security and electronic flight bag solutions coming to the fore in this year’s research.

“The initiatives to realize the ‘Internet of Things’ include smart bag tagging to enable continuous tracking, which is planned by 61% of airlines by 2019. Nearly half (47%) of airlines are also planning IT programs for single token travel for passenger identification.”          

The overall sentiment among IT executives at the world’s airlines is positive. The majority expect an increase in their IT spend over the next year, this is a big change from 2015 when only around one third had positive expectations.

Other trends of note are the move to more software development in-house and the shift to outsource IT operations. In future a growing proportion of airline IT budgets is likely to be spent on innovation rather than service continuity with innovation rising to 36% of overall IT and telecommunications spend in 2016.

Providing passenger services via smartphones continues to be a key area of investment for airlines; 79% are planning major investment over the next three years while a further 17% are planning a pilot program or R&D in this area. Services to passengers on tablets will also see significant investment with 71% of airlines planning major programs for these devices (up from 63% in 2015). Airlines are using social media activity and physical location to tailor personalized offers to passengers; in fact three quarters plan to do this by 2019.

Despite the fact that airlines have baggage tracking as part of their IoT plans, one quarter have no specific IT investment plans for compliance with IATA’s Resolution 753. However, 77% see a major benefit in improving customer satisfaction from compliance to the Resolution.



Outrigger in the Maldives Announces Special Marine Activities in July



KONOTTA ISLAND, MALDIVES – Visitors to the Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort in July will be able to join the resort’s in-house marine biologist to participate on a range of activities such as PADI Women Dive Day, Shark Awareness Day, and International Plastic Bag Free Day.

In addition, the property is unveiling a turtle quest trip, stargazing cruise and snorkelling with a marine biologist.

On 3 July, the island’s resident marine biologist Caterina Fattori of Best Dives Maldives will conduct a presentation on marine debris at the resort pool bar. Globally, 80% of marine litter is plastic. Around eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans every year. The majority of this waste comes from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

For Shark Awareness Day on 14 July Ms Fattori will do a presentation on sharks at the pool bar. Children at the resort will be invited to the Kid’s Club for shark-related ‘edutainment’. There are over 400 types of shark ranging in size from six inches (15cm) to 45 feet (13.5m) around the world. Sharks have been around for 400 million years. They predate dinosaurs.

On 16 July, Outrigger will invite all ladies staying to do a scuba dive, preceded by a free first breath underwater session in the resort pool for beginners.

Guests at the Outrigger can also join a new tour called Turtle Quest which visits a newly discovered Hawksbill turtle family on a nearby reef.

Snorkelling with Ms Fattori will become a regular feature. In each trip she will give a detailed pre-dive briefing on the barrier reef and help with identification of species. She has also introduced sunset snorkelling for insights into a different range of species that can be seen under water in the evening.

Ms Fattori has also been in charge of a coral restoration 
project at the Outrigger, which is part of Outrigger’s worldwide Ozone (Outrigger’s Zone) marine conservation initiative. Guests can also inspect this by snorkel or scuba dives, accompanied by the marine biologist.

“We can create marine excursions and study trips to suit all levels of interest and diving capability,” says Ms Fattori. “Indeed, quite a few of our guests don’t scuba dive but just enjoy our marine briefing sessions and some snorkelling. We have marine experiences for all levels.”

Further information into the marine excursions and trips available at the Outrigger in the Maldives are available on the Best Dives Maldives Konotta Island pages 
here

US hoteliers in recession mode



DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE USA - Business activity for US hoteliers declined to a reading of 116.0 in May according to release of the Hotel Industry's Pulse (HIP) indicator. e-forecasting.com's HIP - a predictive analytic which gauges monthly overall business conditions for hotels earlier than any industry indicator - fell by 0.3%  in May after a decline of 0.1% in April. The index is set to equal 100 in 2010.

HIP's six-month growth rate, which has historically confirmed the turning points in US hotel business activity, posted a negative rate of 0.7% in May, following a negative rate of 0.1% in April. This compares to a long-term annual growth rate of 2%, the same as the 40-year average annual growth rate of the industry's gross domestic product.

The probability of the hotel industry being in recession, which is detected in real-time from HIP with the help of sophisticated statistical techniques, registered 59.7 % in May, up from 51.8% reported in April. When this recession-warning gauge is near or passes the threshold probability of 50%, the US hotel industry has entered a recession.

"In the last seven months, monthly growth rates in HIP posted zero or negative numbers" said Maria Sogard, CEO of e­forecasting.com. "Particularly in May, HIP declined by 0.3%, or an annualized decline of 3.6%; such a decline was last seen in May 2009 during the great recession," Maria added.

None of the demand and supply indicators of current business activity that make up Hotel Industry's Pulse (HIP) Index had a positive contribution to its change in May. The three indicators of current business activity which had a negative or zero contribution to HIP's change in May were Hotel Jobs; Total Spending on Hotels (includes non-room revenues); Hotel Capacity;

“Two turning-point predictive analytics, recession probabilities and the long-term growth rate, show underlying trends indicative to a recession for US hoteliers. The probability of recession passed the 50% threshold, and the six-month growth rate hit negative readings for a second month in a row,” said Evangelos Simos, professor at University of New Hampshire and research advisor for predictive analytics at e-forecasting.com.

The latest HIP reading will be used to update e-forecasting.com’s total US Monthly Hotel Forecast as well as market level forecasts for the top 25 US markets. The firm also covers EMEA markets via a partnership with HotStats with hotel market profitability forecasts.


Defiant travellers – Four in five are not put off by terror attacks

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium, as well as the ongoing treat of attacks during the Euro 2016 football tournament it seems that learning to cope with terrorism has become a part of the norm. However the good news is that people are determined not to let this affect their everyday life and especially their holiday plans. New research carried out by Send My Bag shows four in five (they surveyed 1,000 Americans and 1,500 Europeans) have stood defiant and will not change their travel plans.
Despite the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and the ongoing warnings about the suspected attacks on the Euro 2016 football tournament, new research undertaken by a door-to-door worldwide holiday baggage courier company has revealed that the public remain defiant and 79% proudly state they will not let the ongoing terrorist threats affect their travel plans this summer.
Spain, France, Germany, Morocco and Algeria are all popular summer holiday destinations which are visited by millions of holiday makers every year, but after the activities of the last few months, now they are also all linked as they have recently been classed as ‘as high risk of a terrorist attack’ by the Foreign Office.
To find out what effects of these attacks have had on those travelling this summer, holiday baggage courier company sendmybag.com surveyed a total of 2,500 people to find out if attacks across Europe have affected their upcoming travel plans.
Surveying 1,000 Americans and 1,500 Europeans Send My Bag asked respondents: “Have you let the recent extremist attacks in Europe affect your travel plans?” The results were overwhelmingly positive, a massive 79% of all respondents declared that they had no intention to change travel plans.
They were also interesting to see how the attacks affected different nationalities. The survey revealed that Americans were the most tenacious with a whopping 88% of the 1,000 Americans surveyed showing they would not change travel plans, whereas the Spanish were revealed as the most nervous with 31% admitting that they had changed travel plans.
The results can be broken down further to reveal: 
  • In the UK over 80% of travellers have not changed their bookings for their European holidays
  • Despite attacks in their capital city, the French are also defiant 75% will not be changing their travel plans
  • As the busiest country for tourists in Europe, the Spanish are not letting the threat of terror attacks put them off travel, 69% will not be changing their plans
  • American travellers we found to be the most defiant a massive 88% stated they would not be changing their European travel plans
Asked further about their thoughts those surveyed said:
“The actions of a minority will not affect my travel plans. I will not be made to feel scared on holiday or allow these people to dictate through fear where I wish to go.”
“They (sic) Terrorists do not put me off travelling, you have much higher chances of dying on the way to the airport than on holiday.”
“If we restrict our travel because of the actions of terrorists, then they have won. The effect on economies around Europe would be more devastating, than a single attack.”
“We have much more heightened security and I’d like to think sharing intel is now much better, that perhaps we are safer now than ever. People are so much more aware and don’t want to be restricted by those wishing us harm.”
Commenting on the findings, Adam Ewart, founder of Send My Bag said:
“Sadly, the threat of a terrorist attack is something we are having to learn how to live with. It seems that we get almost daily reports of either a plan being foiled or an attack being made. This leaves us with two options: either we change our plans and let fear dictate our lives or we make a stand. I am so thrilled to see that some many people feel like I do and will not let these attacks affect their lives. It makes it abundantly clear that terrorism, in any form, will not win.”

Record Fourth of July travel expected

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Nearly 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend thanks to the low gasoline prices. This Independence Day Weekend will be the highest fourth of July travel volume on record and five million more travelers compared to Memorial Day weekend. The holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
According to AAA in its annual July 4 travel forecast, 84 percent of holiday travelers – more than 36 million people – will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 1.2 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 2.2 percent over last year, with 3.3 million Americans taking to the skies this Independence Day.
Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase two percent to 3.3 million travelers. Most of those travelers are expected to fill cruise cabins and AAA's holiday cruise bookings are 35 percent higher than last Independence Day.
Low gas prices are motivating millions of Americans to travel this Independence Day. Despite recent seasonal increases, gasoline prices remain well below recent years. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.31, which is 48 cents less than one year ago. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005.
According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be nine percent less this Independence Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $207. Hotel costs have fallen slightly compared to last Independence Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $185, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $144 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $75, six percent more than last year.
The nation’s largest motoring group expects to rescue more than 370,000 motorists during the Independence Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
Before setting out for Independence Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more atAAA.com/mobile.

ACI Europe statement following terrorist attack at Istanbul-Atatürk Airport



BRUSSELS - ACI Europe and the wider airport industry are shocked and saddened by the callous terror attack that took place at Istanbul-Atatürk airport on Tuesday June 28th. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends and with our airport colleagues at TAV Airports Holding and DHMI.

This is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks targeting not only airports but various other public spaces. The growing frequency of these attacks indicates that our way of life is intrinsically linked to how we secure significant public spaces where large numbers of people gather.

In the wake of the terror attacks that took place in Brussels on 22 March (both at the airport and in the city), national authorities across Europe reviewed the security of their airports. As a result, additional measures have been adopted for public areas (landside) at many airports. These additional measures are aimed at reinforcing surveillance & increasing detection capabilities and they remain in place at this time.

Last Tuesday’s attack took place at an airport that has systematic landside security checks on all passengers & visitors as they enter the terminal buildings. Many of the fatalities occurred while people were queueing to access the terminal building – an unfortunate reminder that this kind of additional security measures tends to move the target rather than actually securing it. We must face the reality that when dealing with a terror threat based on suicide bombing, no security measures can ensure 100% protection.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe commented “Security is paramount and we the airport industry remain firmly committed to continuously improving the quality and efficiency of security measures. Airports are already among the most regulated spaces in this regard. What happened yesterday in Istanbul shows us that the real challenge now is to stop terrorists before they ever reach an airport or any other public space - I cannot reiterate enough, better intelligence and more effective information exchange & cooperation between the competent public authorities needs to become the highest priority.

ONYX Hospitality appoints Simon Dell

simon dell2
Thailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group appoints Simon Dell.
Mr. Dell becomes the new Vice President and Area General Manager for Sri Lanka. In his new role, Dell will oversee ONYX’s growing presence in Sri Lanka, and will be responsible for the operations of the three hotels managed by ONYX in Sri Lanka, including OZO Colombo, OZO Kandy, and Amari Galle, opening late 2016.
Prior to taking on this role, he held regional responsibility across Hong Kong and China as the Vice President of Operations for ONYX North Asia.
Having started his career in the front office, Dell has since held various management positions at well-known international hotels in the UK, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong and Thailand. Dell has been with ONYX since 2008 and has held various positions within the group. He first joined Amari Pattaya as the Executive Assistant Manager, and was subsequently the pre-opening General Manager for Amari Hua Hin, the first hotel to feature all the new Amari hallmarks following the brand’s relaunch in late 2009. His expertise in hotel preopening and exposure to a broad range of international cultures will further support the long term expansion of ONYX in this growing market.
Commenting on the new role, Dell said:

“The appeal of Sri Lanka as a travel destination for business and for leisure continues to rise and I look forward to the launch of the first Amari hotel and the third for ONYX Hospitality Group in this country. I am committed to establishing Amari Galle as the hotel of choice for travellers to this beautiful part of the island, and continuing the success of our two existing OZO hotels in Colombo and Kandy.”

Heading out of town for weekend, check out these travel apps for your trip

travel apps
According to AAA in its annual July 4 travel forecast, nearly 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend thanks to the low gasoline prices. 84 percent of holiday travelers – more than 36 million people – will drive to their Independence Day destinations.
We hope following apps will help you plan ahead for your road trip and stay flexible during your travel.
Field Trip (by Google)
The Field Trip app by Google looks for sites of interest around you, based on categories you select and your location, and it pops up cards on your phone when you're near something interesting.
Google Maps
Google Maps has become the best navigation app around, allowing you to pull up addresses with voice commands and turn-by-turn directions with a single tap. Real-​time traffic info and lane guidance assist drivers; straphangers can see the last train departure of the day.
MotionX GPS Drive
Lauded by gear-heads and techies alike, this GPS app does it all, from providing turn-by-turn voice guidance to giving you quick access to nearby pit stops like coffee shops and gas stations. Clear maps, speed limit readouts and lane-assist visuals make it a must-have weapon for any road warrior.
GasBuddy
When it's time to refuel, you'll be happy to have GasBuddy on your phone. This app and website helps you find gas by location and price.
Waze
Google’s crowdsourced traffic app, Waze is the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join drivers in your area who share real-time traffic & road info to save time, gas money, and improve daily commuting for all.
Transit App
A new way to find out local transit options that offers comprehensive subway, train, and bus directions in 65-plus cities throughout North America and Europe.
Viator
Want to skip the line for tickets, try Viator, which lets you find and reserve excursions in more than 1,500 locations across the globe. No need to print out tickets, either, thanks to integration with iPhone’s Passbook.
AAA
Travelers can use the AAA app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more.

TAV breaks ground on new Tbilisi Airport terminal



Operating the Tbilisi Airport, TAV Airport broke the ground for the new terminal of Tbilisi Airport in a ceremony attended by the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The Prime Minister presented to TAV Airports President & CEO Mr. Sani Şener the State Medal of Distinguished Service for his contributions to the country.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitri Kumsishvili, Turkish Ambassador to Georgia Zeki Levent Gümrükçü, TAV Airports President & CEO Sani Şener, TAV Georgia General Manager Mete Erkal, bureaucrats, journalists and TAV employees. Planned to be completed at the end of 2017, the new terminal will be able to provide service to approximately 4 million passengers per year.
TAV Airports President & CEO Sani Şener stated: “Tbilisi Airport has a special meaning to us, as it was TAV's first investment abroad. We have been operating Tbilisi and Batumi airports since 2005 and 2007, respectively. Until now, we have invested over $100 mln in Georgia. Following the transfer of the operations, we have created a significant synergy. Turkish Airlines increased the number of flights performed to Tbilisi from 3 to 32 per week. Pegasus and AtlasGlobal airlines started to launch flights to Tbilisi. We strive to contribute to carry the historical relationship between the two countries to a further level. We believe that we are a true representative of our country. I am honored to be awarded by the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili with the State Medal of Distinguished Service. I am receiving that award on behalf of hard-working and persevering employees of TAV. With the motivation of this medal, we will continue to endeavor toward strengthening the collaboration and good relations between Turkey and Georgia."
Operating Tbilisi and Batumi airports, TAV Georgia welcomed 2,066,000 passengers in 2015 with an increase of 16 percent. The company employs approximately 800 people.
The new terminal will have 12,000 sqm indoor area. The project also includes rehabilitation of runway and taxiways and construction of a new aircraft parking area for five aircraft. The renovated runway covers a total area of 135,000 sqm planned to be put into service on July 11th. The total area of taxiways amounts to 73,600 sqm.
Tbilisi Airport was awarded the Best Airport of Eastern Europe at 'Skytrax World Airport Awards' held in 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.
TAV has the right to operate Tbilisi and Batumi airports until 2027.

MSC Partners with Luxury Hairstyling Brand


MSC Cruises has announced a partnership with the global hairstyling brand Jean Louis David.  The cruise line will introduce the brand in their ships fleetwide by the end of the year.
Guests who want to head in for a haircut, hair treatment, or even a shampoo and style can enjoy those services aboard MSC’s ships with not only Jean Louis David products, but the aid of stylists trained by the brand as well.  Treatments will also be a great value for money – as land-based pricing will extend onboard the ships.
Jean Louis David is an innovator in the hairstyling world, and is internationally recognized with over 1,000 salons around the globe.  The new partnership sees the initial opening of 11 salons at sea, with plans to provide the service on the new upcoming ships as well – beginning with MSC Meraviglia in June 2017.
Jean Louis David products will be available for purchase onboard.  The first salons in the partnership are already open aboard MSC Preziosa, Fantasia, and Poesia.  

MSC Aurea Spa

One feature aboard an MSC ship is their Aurea Spa, which offers beauty treatments, therapies, and more.  Experiences and features include:
  • a cedar wood sauna and Turkish bath, over 20 types of massage, 20 body treatments, 26 facials, and a selection of manicures and pedicures
  • a range of Medi-spa treatments developed by specialist Professor Piero Berrino
  • Mya Advance, Q-Frequency, and electroporation rejuvenation and anti-aging procedures delivered by specially trained onboard spa doctors
  • an “Aurea Experience” package that includes a private consultation with a doctor, a massage, a tanning shower session, a welcome cocktail, and more.

MSC Fragrance

MSC Cruises was the first cruise line to develop their own fragrance – MED by MSC.  The scent was created with sensory experts from around the world, and takes influences from the Mediterranean.  It includes hints of fig, sweet bergamot, and earthy vetiver.  It’s designed to leave guests feeling invigorated across all their senses – especially while onboard their cruise.  The scent is available as a take home room diffuser, room spray, or eau de toilette from the onboard shop.

Travelling With Interrail Remains Unchanged Despite UK Referendum Outcome




Despite the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum announced on Friday 24 June,Eurail Group G.I.E. is reassuring customers that travelling with Interrail remains unaffected. Citizens of the UK can continue to explore Europe with Interrail. Likewise, Interrailers from elsewhere in Europe are still able to travel in the UK just as easily as before with an Interrail Pass.


    An Interrail Pass provides European residents with borderless, unlimited rail travel in up to 30 European countries including the UK. Each year, over 250,000 European residents across all generations use Interrail to travel to new and unique destinations in Europe, interact and connect with people from alternative cultures, and learn more about the diversity and history that makes up Europe.

    Conditions for Interrail eligibility and regions of travel will remain completely
unchanged regardless of the recent results of the UK referendum. "We will continue to uphold the choice for all European residents to experience with Interrail what makes Europe so special as a destination," said Ms. Silvia Gorlach, Sales & Marketing Manager of Eurail Group G.I.E.

    Bringing together 30 nations, the Interrail Pass was founded to encourage European residents to travel in Europe in order to help foster cross-cultural exchange. "We regularly hear from our passengers how Interrail broadens their personal horizons and creates a lasting positive effect on their own intercultural understanding. We are pleased
to continue to provide all European customers with this unique life-changing opportunity", adds Ms. Gorlach.

    Further details regarding Interrail Pass eligibility and participating countries can be found at http://www.interrail.eu.

Princess Brings Local Experts Onboard



Guests aboard Regal Princess sailing to Russia and Scandinavia this summer have a unique opportunity during their cruise.  An esteemed lineup of speakers will come onboard overnight to share their personal stories, local expertise, and passion for the places they call home – all for guests to listen and learn from.
The speaker series has been developed by Princess Cruises in partnership with Cruise Baltic, and is part of their “Local Connections” program.  The program is aimed to inspire the line’s guests by sharing the pride that the company’s port partners have for their destination, and give them helpful suggestions and tips from those that know the locale best.
Over 70 speakers will join Regal during this summer’s Baltic season.  Highlights include:

Pia Allerslev, Mayor – Copenhagen, Denmark

Allerlei is a member of the Copenhagen City Council for the Danish Liberal Party, and Mayor of the Children and Youth Administration in the City of Copenhagen.  She began her political career in 1991, where she was elected Chair of the Liberal Youth Party in her former hometown.  Previously, she was Mayor of Culture and Leisure for six years, and was also a teacher in the public school system.

Maris Hellrand, Estonia Stories – Tallinn, Estonia

Hellrand is a multilingual freelance journalist and consultant that tells engaging stories about Estonia to audiences from all over the world.  She’s passionate about travel, music, architecture, cinema, innovation, and education.  After almost two decades as a global nomad, Estonia has become her focus.  Her countless stories about the country have reached TV, radio, and magazine audiences in Germany, France, the UK, and Scandinavia.

Evgenia Brileva, Ballerina – St. Petersburg, Russia

Born into an artistic family as the daughter of a ballet dancer and musician, Brileva was naturally devoted to acting, dancing, and piano playing.  At the age of 10 she toured to Germany with her father, performing pieces by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev.  She learned photography from her grandfather, a press photographer of Pravda Newspaper.  Her background is a blend of Russian culture that includes ballet, music, fine art, and photography, which has been inspired by her mother city.

Ingreid Ruefors, Director – Stockholm, Sweden

Rudefors is a Swedish director, film producer, and writer.  She spent the first part of her professional life in New York, where she studied theater.  In the late 1980’s, she was active there in the independent film industry.  She currently works as film commissioner in Film Region Stockholm Malardalen.

Sonya Antoni, Historian – Waremunde, Germany

Antoni hails from an international surrounding; born with a British mother and German father, she grew up in Iran and South Africa, returning to her father’s country to study English and French literature and linguistics as well as psychology in Germany, England, and France.  Attending the University of Potsdam set her path for tourism, and the art lover found a haven in the World Heritage Sites of Sanssouci Parks and Palaces.  She participated in the tourism program of the Potsdam City Council and of the Foundation Prussian Parks and Palaces, and soon became inseparable from the city’s history.
Additional elements of the “Local Connections” program include a video series of local partners sharing their experiences, insights, and recommendations of the places they call home, new shore excursions, new welcome and departure experiences, and an insider’s guide including ‘cool things’ made in each port.