Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

Passengers thinking of returning to buses as Covid restrictions lift will be able to save money on fares following a new agreement with operators. Some fares will now be the lowest they have been in more than a decade.

Bus operators and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) have agreed to reduce the n-bus multi-operator fares across the board – ranging from a 60p saving on a day ticket to £140 on the 52-week fare – from Monday 19 July.

The nbus day fare is now £4.20 the same price as it was in 2012.  While the last time a one-week nbus ticket was as low as £15.80 was 2008.

Those working flexibly following the pandemic can benefit from multi-day offers – including £38 for ten days.  Swift is the West Midlands version of London’s Oyster card and was used by customers to pay for more than 50 million journeys during 2019.

The nbus tickets are purchased using the region’s popular Swift travel card – available to buy from shops or online.

The agreement on n-bus brings fares across the region in line with those recently announced by the largest operator National Express West Midlands and means that those hopping between operators will share the same great value fares – starting from £4.20 for an adult nbus day ticket.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The region’s bus operators have worked hard with TfWM to improve services, convenience and better value for passengers through initiatives such as low fare zones, live timetable apps and half-price travel for 16-18 year olds.

“As a result pre-pandemic we were starting to see this work paying off with the numbers of paying passengers starting to rise. Now, as we look to encourage people to get back on the bus the operators have got together to cut fares.

“We now have the lowest fares in the country at the same time as we are investing millions in infrastructure and services – such as the Sprint rapid bus route, the redeveloped interchanges at Dudley and Perry Barr, the refurbished Pool Meadow Bus Station and the All-Electric Bus City in Coventry.”

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council said: “Bus is the most popular form of public transport in the region, relied upon by many.

“As the region opens up we want people to return to public transport, rather than take the car and add to traffic on our streets, therefore it is great to see that the operators are cutting prices to make it even more attractive and better value for passengers.

“For our part at TfWM we are investing in our bus infrastructure, such as developing new routes such as Sprint, currently under construction, and the planned cross-city bus route linking Birmingham and the Black Country with more reliable services.”

Transport operators have stepped up cleaning on buses, trains and trams, as well as at stations and facilities across the network to help keep passengers and staff safe. Passengers are also expected to continue wearing face coverings when using public transport.

The introduction of lower fares comes as the WMCA ramps up the Open for Business Safely campaign to support those businesses, especially those in the hospitality and tourism sectors, who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

The campaign highlights safety measures taken by firms including bus companies keeping up their strict covid cleaning regimes to give people the confidence to use them safely.

For a full rundown on the fares and information on where to buy Swift visit as well as the latest Covid 19 travel advice visit the TfWM website.

Despite the Balearic Islands being downgraded to amber in yesterday’s traffic light update, Spain remains the most popular summer 2021 destination for Brits.

The latest booking figures from leading independent travel company, Travel Counsellors, show that 31% of all new holiday bookings made were for Spanish destinations. Summer bookings to Spain have progressively increased over the last few weeks, boosted by the addition of the Balearics to the government’s green watchlist on 24 June. 

Travel Counsellors has also seen a rising interest in Greece and expects this to continue. Some 20% of all new summer 2021 bookings made last week (w/c 5 July) were for Greek destinations, increasingly significantly over the last few weeks. Barbados, the UAE and USA are leading the bookings for winter 2021/22; while USA, Spain and the UK are the most popular destinations for summer 2022, according to last week’s new booking figures.

Kirsten Hughes, UK Managing Director at Travel Counsellors, says: “Despite the Balearics being moved off the green travel list, we have experienced a considerable increase in summer bookings to two of Brits’ favourite destinations: Spain and Greece. The upsurge was clearly apparent after last week’s announcement of the removal of quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

“We expect other popular destinations, such as Croatia, now moved to the green list, to follow the booking trend we have seen with Spain and Greece, as Britons seem more confidence than ever in booking late summer holidays this year.” Travel Counsellors has almost 1,500 experts across the UK who offer support, local expertise and reassurance from ‘inspiration to destination’. 

For more inspiration on the next destination, you can take a look at Travel Counsellors postcard film, written and performed by the poet, Tony Walsh.

easyJet has recently launched the first flights on two new domestic summer routes from Birmingham, providing customers in the Midlands with more opportunity to reconnect with friends and family across the country or book a long-awaited break.

The first flight from Birmingham Airport to Newquay took off for the first time on Saturday 10 July and to Jersey airport on Sunday 11 July. Flights on both routes are now operating up to twice a week, with flights to Newquay on Tuesdays and Saturdays and flights to Jersey on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Both Jersey and Newquay offer miles of scenic coastline which makes them both ideal destinations for travellers wishing to relax and recharge, all while discovering some of the UK's best beaches. All customers booking flights with easyJet benefit from some of the most flexible policies under its ‘Protection Promise’ which means that customers can book with the confidence that if their plans change, so can their booking. 

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager, said: "We are delighted to have launched our first flights from Birmingham to Newquay and Jersey for the summer. We know our customers can’t wait to be reunited with friends and family or explore more of the UK so these new routes will prove popular for customers in both Birmingham, Jersey and the South West and this further strengthens our UK domestic network, providing customers with great value fares and even more choice this summer."   

Aviation Director of Birmingham Airport, Tom Screen, commented: “It is great to see easyJet launch these two domestic routes this weekend to Newquay and Jersey from Birmingham Airport.  This popular seaside destination of Newquay is a short flight away and is a firm favourite for Midlanders. We also see the launch of easyJet’s Jersey service. Jersey a popular destination for beach lovers, with stunning scenery and famous for its food that will delight all. 

“Booking with easyJet, and travelling through Birmingham Airport, means that customers have the confidence of great customer service but the reassurance of a Covid-19 safe and secure environment.” All customers booking flights with easyJet benefit from industry leading flexible booking policies under its ‘Protection Promise’ which means that customers can book now with confidence that if their plans change, so can their booking. 

All easyJet customers will now be able to change their flights this summer without a change fee at any time up to two hours before departure, providing even more last-minute flexibility. Unlike other airlines, there are no restrictions on dates or destination; customers can transfer to any flights currently on sale up to the end of September 2022, and to any other destination on the airline’s network which spans 35 countries across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

This means that if some travel restrictions are impacting their destination country, such as self-isolation in destination or on return to the UK, customers can easily change their trip to another country on easyJet’s network. Plus, should a mandatory hotel quarantine impact a customer’s travel destination this summer, customers can now request a refund for their flight within four weeks before departure if the restriction is still in place, even if their flights are still operating.

The safety and wellbeing of all customers and crew remains easyJet’s highest priority and the airline continues to have a number of biological safety measures in place onboard in line with guidance from the relevant authorities. This includes daily enhanced cabin disinfection effective in protecting against coronavirus for at least 24 hours and mandatory mask wearing for customers and crew. All easyJet aircraft are already fitted with HEPA filters, similar to those used in hospitals, which filter 99.97% of airborne contaminants in the cabin, including viruses and bacteria.

 

Foreign tourists who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada for quite some time because the government is unwilling to jeopardize progress made on containing the virus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while,” he said when asked by reporters when Canada would allow unvaccinated tourists to enter the country.

Canada, as of this week, has waived quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated citizens. But non-essential foreign travellers are still not allowed to enter despite pressure from the country’s hurting tourism sector. The United States does not have vaccine requirements for visitors. At this point talks about lifting border restrictions are focused on fully vaccinated travellers, Trudeau said.

“The next step we’ll be looking at what measures we can allow for international travellers who are fully vaccinated,” he said. “We will have more to say in the coming weeks.” Trudeau has previously said authorities are looking closely at domestic vaccination rates, the spread of variants of concern, and how the rest of the world deals with COVID-19.

Some 78% of people aged 12 years or older in Canada have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said. About 44% of people 12 years or older are fully vaccinated. Governments in Canada and the United States have faced pressure to reopen the world’s largest land border, which has been shuttered to non-essential travel since March 2020.

The current restrictions are in place at least until July 21.

Restarting business and international travel was a “top priority” of the Biden administration, according to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Speaking on a virtual forum conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Raimondo said the department would soon announce a package of $750 million in aid to the US travel and tourism industries.

The funds would be used by individual states in a “flexible” manner, she explained, depending on where each state sees the most need.

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the US and the UK and more slowly in the rest of Europe, Raimondo said, “I’m hopeful that post-Labor Day we will see a nice uptick in business travel and international travel.” Raimondo promised to do everything she can “to revitalize domestic and international business travel through agencies that report to me.”

She said easing travel restrictions is a top priority of hers and the administration’s and promises that “we are collaborating across the government to do everything we can to ease travel restrictions safely,” including advocating to open key corridors for business travel internationally.

easyJet has today launched flights from East Midlands Airport to Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland for the first time, providing customers in the midlands with even more domestic connections this summer, to reunite with friends and family or take a long-awaited break.

Flights to Belfast are now operating up to four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays throughout the summer and are on sale at easyJet.com with fares available from just £34.99. Belfast is the ideal location for a city break. Travellers can step back in time at Victorian-era tourist attractions, learn about Belfast’s past on a walking tour, dive into the city's maritime history in the Titanic Quarter and sample the local food and drink scene in award-winning independent restaurants and pubs.

Holidaymakers wishing to explore the scenic countryside can take a day trip to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. All customers booking flights with easyJet benefit from some of the most flexible policies under its ‘Protection Promise’ which means that customers can book now for later this year with the confidence that if their plans change, so can their booking. 

 

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager, said: "We are excited to be celebrating the launch of our inaugural flight from East Midlands to Belfast today, and are confident this new route will be a popular addition for passengers in the East Midlands needing to travel for business or those wishing take a well-deserved break or to visit loved ones." 

East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, Clare James, says: “After one of the most difficult years in the history of aviation, it’s great to be announcing some positive news and waving off passengers on board an easyJet flight from this airport for the first time in 11 years. Domestic connectivity to other parts of the UK is an important part of our offer and I’m confident that this route to Belfast will be popular with travellers across the East Midlands region and beyond. We look forward to continuing to work with easyJet to explore further opportunities in the future.”

All customers booking flights with easyJet benefit from industry leading flexible booking policies under its ‘Protection Promise’ which means that customers can book now with confidence that if their plans change, so can their booking. All easyJet customers will now be able to change their flights this summer without a change fee at any time up to two hours before departure, providing even more last-minute flexibility. Unlike other airlines, there are no restrictions on dates or destination; customers can transfer to any flights currently on sale up to the end of September 2022, and to any other destination on the airline’s network which spans 35 countries across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

This means that if some travel restrictions are impacting their destination country, such as self-isolation in destination or on return to the UK, customers can easily change their trip to another country on easyJet’s network. Plus, should a mandatory hotel quarantine impact a customer’s travel destination this summer, customers can now request a refund for their flight within four weeks before departure if the restriction is still in place, even if their flights are still operating.

The safety and wellbeing of all customers and crew remains easyJet’s highest priority and the airline continues to have a number of biological safety measures in place onboard in line with guidance from the relevant authorities. This includes daily enhanced cabin disinfection effective in protecting against coronavirus for at least 24 hours and mandatory mask wearing for customers and crew.

All easyJet aircraft are already fitted with HEPA filters, similar to those used in hospitals, which filter 99.97% of airborne contaminants in the cabin, including viruses and bacteria.

The confirmation on the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 19 July is clearly making an immediate impact on Britons’ summer plans, as many have swapped the UK for traditional European destinations for their summer holidays.

Spain has now toppled the UK staycation from its top spot with 29% of bookings, the UK is 12% of bookings and Greece remains at 8% of all summer holiday bookings made by Travel Counsellors.

Holiday bookings were already up by 10% and are expected to rise further. The latest booking figures from leading independent travel agency, Travel Counsellors, show that 50% of all new holiday bookings and re-bookings made last week (w/c 28 June) are for summer 2021.

For bookings further down the line, USA, Spain and the Maldives are very popular for winter 2021/22; while Greece, USA and Spain are leading the bookings for summer 2022.

Kirsten Hughes, UK Managing Director at Travel Counsellors, says: “We welcome today’s announcement, which removes the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers returning from an amber list country. This is a positive step in the right direction for both the travel industry and consumers looking to get a much-needed break away. We have been waiting for this clarity, which will certainly give Britons more confidence in booking late summer holidays to popular European destinations once again.

However, travel remains more complex than ever at the moment, with the traffic light system and latest FCDO advice to navigate. Placing travel plans in the hands of an experienced travel professional has never felt so important – a sentiment that is clearly reflected in our latest consumer survey report”, Kirsten concludes.

The release of these stats from Travel Counsellors coincide with the publication of the company’s latest consumer survey report of 1,000 customer responses in June 2021. Insights highlight there is still an appetite to travel in the current climate, with over 40% citing the fact they ‘just want to get away’ as the main reason for booking a holiday. Booking with a trusted advisor is still very important in these uncertain times, with 60% of consumers saying that ‘booking with someone you can trust’ is the most important factor when considering travel plans. Whilst some 22% are planning to travel in the autumn, clear guidelines are also needed, with 61% of respondents saying they require more clarification on individual country requirements to boost confidence.

Travel Counsellors has almost 1,500 experts across the UK who offer support, local expertise and reassurance from ‘inspiration to destination’. For more inspiration on the next destination, take a look at Travel Counsellors postcard film, written and performed by incredible poet, Tony Walsh.

 

The USVI management of the COVID-19 public health crisis along with savvy marketing tactics are being credited for the confidence airlines have placed in adding and increasing service to both St. Croix and St. Thomas.

Speaking at the recent 2021 Routes Americas air service development event in Orlando, Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said the multi-agency approach to curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the Territory has helped travelers and airline executives to select the USVI (U.S. Virgin Islands) as a leading choice for leisure travel.

“Despite the global travel lockdowns, we have had incredible winter and spring seasons, and we expect to experience one of the strongest summer months in the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Commissioner Boschulte, who reported St. Croix and St. Thomas are registering about 10,000 and 30,000 weekly seats respectively this summer.

“We have welcomed new nonstop service from places like Dallas, Miami, Orlando, New York City and Newark, New Jersey, and increased lift across several gateways,” said Commissioner Boschulte, who disclosed that plans are in the works for new service to St. Croix from the mainland United States. “We are also close to consummating a deal for new flights from Canada to St. Croix, and will continue to work on resuming seasonal flights from Denmark,” the tourism executive disclosed.

Commissioner Boschulte said the response from airline executives in Orlando was exceptional, and as the Territory moves towards the post-vaccination period, he was confident of increased business as refreshed hotels such as Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino and Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa on St. Croix come back online in the months ahead. He was also optimistic about the eventual return of the iconic Frenchman's Reef Marriott Resort and Noni Beach, a St. Thomas Resort, Autograph Collection, to the accommodations inventory on St. Thomas.
“But what has really been remarkable throughout the pandemic is the sharing economy – Airbnbs, condos and villas – which has kept our economy ticking as we continue to safely welcome thousands of travelers to our shores every day,” he said.

Moving forward, the Commissioner said the work of an expanded sales team in the marketplace as well as the continued deployment of innovative marketing tactics, especially across digital platforms, will be critical to maintaining the momentum: “We feel good where the USVI is positioned and are heartened by the intelligence we are receiving about plans for continued growth during the 2021-2022 winter season.”

During Routes Americas, the Commissioner and his team met with representatives from Air Canada, American Airlines, Cape Air, Caribbean Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and WestJet Airlines in addition to representatives from data-focused aviation service companies.

The USVI team also hosted an educational travel industry luncheon to provide destination updates to meeting planners, travel agents and journalists in the Orlando area.

The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts has enhanced its guest experiences by becoming the first international boutique hotel group to accept cryptocurrencies from any country for hotel bookings, leading the tourism industry into the future of secure online payments. Partnering with UK-based, world-leading global crypto-payment gateway, Coindirect, all of The Pavilions’ hotels and resorts can now be booked confidently and securely with digital assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum and 40 other virtual currencies.

"We pride ourselves on providing partners a platform for instant secure payments with over 40 Cryptocurrencies; this was a critical factor for The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts to ensure the end-to-end payment service is safe, flexible and easy for guests, when booking their next experience at any of The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts' across the globe." said Jesse Hemson-Struthers, CEO and Co-founder of Coindirect. 

"Guests can take advantage of paying in the Cryptocurrency of their choice, based on the currency and location they are situated in at the time of booking, offering more freedom and a contemporary, personalised service." he continued.

"Personalised experiences are at the core of our DNA; allowing this flexibility in payments combined with security and peace of mind for our guests is the next step in personalised and bespoke services. We are proud to lead the industry and enhance ourselves in the digital world with this exciting new crypto payment method available at all of our unique and distinct Hotels and Resorts across the globe." said Gordon Oldham, Founder & Owner, The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts. 

The Pavilions Residences, which are available for sale at the group’s Phuket and Niseko resorts, will also accept cryptocurrencies for property sales. 

The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts recently announced several new hotels, most recently The Pavilions Anana Krabi in Thailand, and The Pavilions El Nido, Palawan Island in the Philippines, expanding its portfolio to 14 locations across the globe including Phuket, Bali, Himalayas, Mongolia and Niseko in Asia, and Amsterdam, Madrid, Lisbon and Rome in Europe.

Unique to the luxury hotel group are ‘Curated Journeys’, which immerse the guest in the discovery of the very essence of the destination; a Pavilions Spa brand that delivers locally inspired treatments with locally sourced products to ensure authenticity; F&B concepts derived through destination research which offer an authentic, local experience, and comprehensive focus on CSR initiatives.

Payments using cryptocurrencies will be available for direct bookings through each hotel's reservations centre from today (July 7). In the near future, it will be available on website booking engines as well.

The crash in international tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic could cause a loss of more than $4 trillion to the global GDP for the years 2020 and 2021, according to an UNCTAD report published on 30 June. The estimated loss has been caused by the pandemic’s direct impact on tourism and its ripple effect on other sectors closely linked to it.

The report, jointly presented with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), says international tourism and its closely linked sectors suffered an estimated loss of $2.4 trillion in 2020 due to direct and indirect impacts of a steep drop in international tourist arrivals. A similar loss may occur this year, the report warns, noting that the tourism sector’s recovery will largely depend on the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines globally.

“The world needs a global vaccination effort that will protect workers, mitigate adverse social effects and make strategic decisions regarding tourism, taking potential structural changes into account,” UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism is a lifeline for millions, and advancing vaccination to protect communities and support tourism’s safe restart is critical to the recovery of jobs and generation of much-needed resources, especially in developing countries, many of which are highly dependent on international tourism.”

With COVID-19 vaccinations being more pronounced in some countries than others, the report says, tourism losses are reduced in most developed countries but worsened in developing countries. COVID-19 vaccination rates are uneven across countries, ranging from below 1% of the population in some countries to above 60% in others.

According to the report, the asymmetric roll-out of vaccines magnifies the economic blow tourism has suffered in developing countries, as they could account for up to 60% of the global GDP losses. The tourism sector is expected to recover faster in countries with high vaccination rates, such as France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, the report says.

But experts don’t expect a return to pre-COVID-19 international tourist arrival levels until 2023 or later, according to UNWTO. The main barriers are travel restrictions, slow containment of the virus, low traveller confidence and a poor economic environment.

A rebound in international tourism is expected in the second half of this year, but the UNCTAD report still shows a loss of between $1.7 trillion and $2.4 trillion in 2021, compared with 2019 levels. The results are based on simulations that capture the effects of international tourism reduction only, not policies such as economic stimulus programmes that may soften the pandemic’s impact on the sector.

The report assesses the economic effects of three possible scenarios – all reflecting reductions in international arrivals – in the tourism sector in 2021. The first one, projected by UNWTO, reflects a reduction of 75% in international tourist arrivals – the most pessimistic forecast – based on the tourist reductions observed in 2020.

In this scenario, a drop in global tourist receipts of $948 billion causes a loss in real GDP of $2.4 trillion, a two-and-a-half-fold increase. This ratio varies greatly across countries, from onefold to threefold or fourfold.

This is a multiplier and depends on the backward linkages in the tourism sector, including the unemployment of unskilled labour, according to the report. For example, international tourism contributes about 5% of the GDP in Turkey and the country suffered a 69% fall in international tourists in 2020. The country’s fall in tourism demand is estimated at $33 billion and this leads to losses in closely linked sectors such as food, beverages, retail trade, communications and transport.

Turkey’s total fall in output is $93 billion, about three times the initial shock. The decline in tourism alone contributes to a real GDP loss of about 9%. This decline in reality was partly offset by fiscal measures to stimulate the economy.

The second scenario reflects a 63% reduction in international tourist arrivals, a less pessimistic forecast by UNWTO. And the third scenario, formulated by UNCTAD, considers varying rates of domestic and regional tourism in 2021.

It assumes a 75% reduction of tourism in countries with low vaccination rates, and a 37% reduction in countries with relatively high vaccination rates, mostly developed countries and some smaller economies. According to the report, the reduction in tourism causes a 5.5% rise in unemployment of unskilled labour on average, with a high variance of 0% to 15%, depending on the importance of tourism for the economy.

Labour accounts for around 30% of tourist services’ expenditure in both developed and developing economies. Entry barriers in the sector, which employs many women and young employees, are relatively low.

In July last year, UNCTAD estimated that a four- to 12-month standstill in international tourism would cost the global economy between $1.2 trillion and $3.3 trillion, including indirect costs. But the losses are worse than previously expected, as even the worst-case scenario UNCTAD projected last year has turned out to be optimistic, with international travel still low more than 15 months after the pandemic started.

According to UNWTO, international tourist arrivals declined by about 1 billion or 73% between January and December 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer points to a decline of 84%.

Developing countries have borne the biggest brunt of the pandemic’s impact on tourism. They suffered the largest reductions in tourist arrivals in 2020, estimated at between 60% and 80%.

The most-affected regions are North-East Asia, South-East Asia, Oceania, North Africa and South Asia, while the least-affected ones are North America, Western Europe and the Caribbean.

Leading international boutique hotel group, The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, proudly announces the launch of its new and highly anticipated hotel brand, Explorar Hotels & Resorts, with its first resort - Explorar Pawapi Koh Mook, opening on 01 October 2021. The inaugural 24 key resort sits on an unspoilt stretch of private sandy beach on the peninsula of Koh Mook Island in Southern Thailand's secluded province of Trang.

The name, 'Explorar' meaning 'Explore' in Spanish, was inspired by the heritage of one of the world’s first great explorers, Christopher Colombus, who first started traversing and uncovering new lands in the 15th century. Explorar Hotels & Resorts is aimed at the millennial traveller looking for a light-hearted space in which to socialise, make local connections, and enjoy easy, fun living whilst enjoying a meaningful experience that provides value to the community.  

Offering modern-day travellers the opportunity to explore and enjoy destinations from a vibrant, comfortable base, the Explorar crew is central to ensuring they get the most from their stay, utilising their local knowledge to ensure easy access for guests. The crew at each hotel or resort is a small and dynamic team of local experts who will work across multiple areas. The focus is on building relationships with guests and providing insight into the destination, and ensuring a hotel experience that is easy and uncomplicated, where everything is within reach. Explorar will offer hotels and resorts a new vibrant energy; 'The Exchange', a social space traditionally dedicated to a lobby or reception, is reinterpreted as somewhere to exchange information, to grab something to eat, a local snack or something more, and to talk about tales of adventures over a cocktail or local brew with other guests or one of Explorars' crew members. 

Focused on creating a community and engaging socially with guests and the world through the website and social media platforms, Explorar hotels’ online exchange will be an organic forum that will allow guests to interact, gather information and ask questions, from recommendations on other hotels in the group to local restaurants.

Explorar Pawapi Koh Mook will provide guests with a genuinely untouched, quintessentially Thai island paradise experience. Bungalows and villas are located directly on the white sandy beach, with an open-air restaurant offering authentic Thai cuisine alongside creative culinary experiences. Guests will be spoilt for activities in the resort and adventures within the surrounding areas. Spa salas are dotted through the island landscape offering traditional Thai spa treatments to the soundtrack of the ocean lapping on the beach and the tall palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze.  The lobby, or The Exchange, will house a pool of local knowledge via a 'Walls of Discovery', an old school place for guests to pin up their stories and experiences, in analogue form, for the next traveller looking to explore Koh Mook and create their own memories.

Koh Mook Island is one of Thailand's hidden gems. It lies between Trang and Krabi on the west coast of southern Thailand, providing panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, with Koh Lanta to its North and Koh Lipe to its South. Renowned for its Emerald Cave - where the only way to enter is to swim under dark limestone to reach a magical hidden and secret beach - it also allows visitors to participate in activities such as dugong observation and scuba diving in some of the clearest waters of the Kingdom.

Explorar Hotels & Resorts is looking to develop within Asia and Europe both into urban and resort’s locations and offers four innovative themes depending on the hotels' location and unique experiences. Beach, Eco, Cultural and Urban themes unite the brand and offer the traveller clear choices for their individual experience. 

Explorar Pawapi Koh Mook will open its doors to guests after an extensive upgrade on 01 October 2021.

Qatar Airways is proud to announce that it has signed a codeshare agreement with the newest member of oneworld, Alaska Airlines, further strengthening its position as the ideal choice for international passengers travelling to and from the United States. Qatar Airways will be Alaska Airlines only Middle East partner, providing seamless connectivity between the U.S. carrier's hubs and the Gulf carrier’s global network of more than 140 destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Starting 1 July 2021, the agreement will enable Qatar Airways passengers to book travel and easily connect to more than 150 of Alaska's routes including Portland, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, San Jose, Anchorage and Vancouver. The second phase of the agreement will allow Alaska Airlines passengers to book travel on all of Qatar Airways’ flights between the U.S. and Qatar and beyond to their favourite destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “This is an important step in advancing our commercial cooperation with Alaska Airlines as we welcome the newest member of the oneworld alliance to Qatar Airways’ list of strategic partners. This agreement, combined with our existing partnerships, will help consolidate our presence in the region and provide Qatar Airways passengers travelling to and from our 12 U.S. gateways with access to the most comprehensive network of seamless connections across the United States.

“As we expand services to Alaska’s key hubs of Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, we look forward to implementing the next phase of this strategic partnership and welcoming on board Alaska Airlines passengers as we connect them to our global network of over 140 destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport.”

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this evolving partnership with Qatar Airways, one of world’s premier airlines,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Air Group CEO. “As international air travel resumes, it’s important to provide our guests with easier, more convenient travel options to get out and see distant places again. That’s why our new codeshare agreement between our two airlines is such a big deal. Qatar’s nonstop flights from our hubs in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to Doha and points beyond offers our guests tremendous opportunities to visit nearly any country they want.”

As oneworld alliance partners, Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members are ensured recognition of their tier status and can enjoy a wide range of benefits including access to lounges worldwide, through check-in, extra baggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding plus accrual and redemption of miles, across the partner carriers’ networks.

Qatar Airways offers more than 100 weekly flights to 12 destinations in the U.S. - Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA) and Washington, D.C. (IAD).

As we welcome travellers onboard our flights, they can take comfort knowing that they are travelling with the only airline in the world that has, together with its state-of-the-art global hub Hamad International Airport, achieved four 5-Star Skytrax ratings – including the prestigious 5-Star Airline Rating, 5-Star Airport Rating, 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating and 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These achievements highlight Qatar Airways’ commitment to providing its passengers with an industry-leading experience at every point of their journey, including the highest possible level of health and safety standards that safeguard the wellbeing of its passengers both on the ground and in the air.

Qatar Airways has also received industry recognition for its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 45 destinations including Johannesburg, Maldives, Riyadh and Singapore. 

The Bahamas welcomed Frontier Airlines' inaugural flight yesterday with great excitement as it landed at the Lynden Pindling International Airport. Frontier is the first ultra-low cost carrier to enter the Caribbean market with multiple travel days per week.  

As travel continues a steady return, The Bahamas is eager to welcome back visitors with more flight options and deals this summer. Frontier will operate direct flights from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Nassau (NAS) four times a week, starting July 2021.

Frontier will operate direct flights from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Nassau (NAS) four times a week. Minister of Tourism & Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D'Aguilar, was among the officials gathered at the Sir Lynden Airport this afternoon to greet the inaugural flight and he expressed warm words of welcome.

"I am honoured and excited that Frontier Airlines has decided to partner with The Bahamas, particularly at this critical juncture, as we engage on the path of tourism recovery and economic restoration following a devastating hurricane and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. I take this opportunity to extend a warm Bahamian welcome to you and to express our sincere appreciation for your partnership."

The addition of Frontier Airlines to the growing number of air carriers servicing The Bahamas comes as a result of the ongoing drive by the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation and key industry partners to expand airlift to the destination. A robust increase in airlift from major source markets figures as a key element in the Ministry's overall strategy for tourism recovery.

"Frontier Airlines' multiple flights per week provide a breath of fresh air to our tourism economy as this air link connects our destination to the hub of the Southeastern USA, including Florida, a market from which we annually attract a significant share of our visitors," said Minister D'Aguilar.

Caribbean Airlines is making plans to cut down on approximately 450 employees as part of a restructuring of the carrier.

The airline, headquartered in Trinidad & Tobago capital Port of Spain, also said it would put a number of aircraft into storage. Caribbean Airlines said the restructuring strategy comes in the wake of the devastating Covid-19 crisis.

“We will need to adjust operations to cater for a reduced scale of demand after the opening of the borders,” explained a statement. “Put simply, passenger demand in the short- to medium-term is not going to recover sufficiently to support the existing company structure,” the airline added.

According to Cirium fleet data, the airline currently has six ATR 72-600 turboprops in operation, as well as seven Boeing 737-800 aircraft. It has five Boeing 737 Max planes on order.

The carrier did not say how many aircraft it will take out of its operating fleet as part of the new strategy. The news comes on the same day that Caribbean reported first quarter 2021 results.

The carrier posted a $26 million loss for the period, and a 75 per cent decline in revenue, compared to the same three months in 2020.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) have teamed up to strengthen the relationship between travel advisors and the region.

The partnership between the two organizations is intended to generate synergies in areas such as advocacy, information exchange, and cross-organizational membership.

Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General of CHTA, sees great value in the networking opportunity, noting that travel advisors represent a valuable untapped channel for growth: “This is an enormously smart partnership, which gives our members direct access to ASTA, the leading trade association for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public.”

She added: “We are seeing an increasing trend in travellers’ booking behavior, in that they are relying on travel advisors more and more to help them make decisions. This trend gives CHTA members further opportunity to connect with more clients.”

Under the agreement, CHTA members will be offered a 50-percent discount to join ASTA, available through mid-July. Further details can be found at https://caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/member-product-discounts.

“We are excited to announce this partnership between the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA),” said Christina Salu, Membership Director of ASTA. “Our job is to help generate new business leads and B2B opportunities – helping to expand your reach and increase tourism to the Caribbean. With over 13,000 members and growing, ASTA is the leading trade association for travel advisors, the travel industry, and the traveling public. Our membership represents 80 percent of the travel sold from the U.S. agency industry.

“We not only want to help you understand the U.S. travel market, but we also want to help you build brand awareness and strong partnerships with U.S.-based travel agencies that are looking for trusted suppliers, tour operators and DMCs in the Caribbean,” said Salu.

Ledesma expects a productive partnership for CHTA members aligning with ASTA: “CHTA members will be able to use the ASTA logo, be listed in ASTA’s member directory and their quarterly magazine Travel Advisor, gain access to ASTA’s global network of travel professionals, and benefit from discounts on products and events as well as the use of industry resources to help save time and money.”

In addition to sharing the benefits of critical member news, contacts and industry updates, the two associations will also collaborate on crafting advocacy strategies critical to the speedy and successful return to pre-pandemic levels of business.

“It’s been a rough pandemic for us and for our visitors and we want to make use of our partnership to broaden the reach of our messaging and to strengthen the impact of our Caribbean region promotions to enable a rapid return to normalcy and profitability,” Ledesma added.

Ledesma was upbeat about the newly minted partnership’s potential to jointly identify new business leads and business-to-business opportunities: “CHTA looks forward to helping ASTA and its global network of travel professionals expand their reach into the Caribbean, which obviously is good for us all.”

The world tourism industry is enduring a historic moment and is opening with hope for the future. Central America and the Dominican Republic are not lagging behind and are certainly betting on making a joint projection with the launch of a campaign entitled "Central America + Dominican Republic: The Healthiest Trip in the World", which will be carried out by the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency (CATA).

Featuring a motto that goes #JuntosSumamos, the campaign is aimed at creating tourism products for tour operators from both territories in a bid to put them on the map to wholesalers in Europe and America, as well as to take advantage of the airlift in the Dominican Republic-Panama route as a bridge between the region. 

The initiative hinges on a concept of health and biosecurity symbolized through a healthy heart where the Dominican Republic is reflected as a strategic partner of Central America for the promotion of offers linked to wellness, combined with beach, nature and heritage that allows travellers to enjoy a whole.

This campaign is a clear indicator of the work conducted by the governments and peoples that make up the Central American Integration System (SICA) in an effort to contribute to the reactivation of the economic and social activity of the tourism sector, as well as to let the world know that there are paradisiacal destinations that can be enjoyed with peace of mind and safety. 

In this regard, Mr. Gustavo Segura Sancho, Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica and President Pro Tempore of CATA's Board of Directors, said that "this stage of recovery provides the opportunity to promote a greener, more resilient and sustainable tourism industry, adding that this joint promotion campaign places the SICA region as a privileged destination, with a special focus on health and biosafety, for its diverse, unique and complementary tourism products, giving tourists the chance to live unforgettable experiences through the multi-destination". 

The addition of the Dominican Republic's tourism product into Central America's promotional activities is evidence of a far more powerful regional offer that can boast of capturing the attention of increasingly demanding travellers. The fusion of these two worlds makes it possible to wallow in one of the most important destinations in the Caribbean and mix it with any of the destinations Central America has to offer. 

Today, the Dominican Republic is one of the most important travel destinations, being the second-largest and most diverse country in the Caribbean thanks to its geography, nature and people. With its addition to CATA's efforts, a window of opportunities opens up, highlighting the access and direct connection between Central America and Europe, and giving added value to the promotion of multi-destination in international markets.