Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

Midcounties Co-operative, one of the UK’s largest independent consumer co-operatives, has finalised an agreement with award-winning, independent travel agency, Carrick Travel to transfer seven of its branches to the society’s retail travel division, Co-operative Travel.


The agreement sees the Carrick Travel branch in Cheylesmore, West Midlands and all colleagues employed there, join Co-operative Travel, effective 2 October 2020. The move takes the society’s portfolio of Co-operative Travel shops across England to 78.

Located at 161 Daventry Road in Cheylesmore, the travel agency remains open to customers and will complement Co-operative Travel’s existing West Midlands branches.


The shop will continue to trade as Carrick Travel but will be part of the Co-operative Travel family. 


Rad Sofronijevic, Chief Operating Officer of Co-operative Travel, said: “Despite the challenges of Covid-19, Travel remains core to Midcounties’ long-term strategy. The transfer of Carrick Travel gives us the opportunity to grow the Co-operative Travel operations for the benefit of our members, with shops that are located in the heart of their communities and to serve an additional customer base that complements our own.


“We look forward to nurturing and supporting the former Carrick Travel branches and their staff. Their welcome addition will strengthen the position of Midcounties Co-operative’s Travel division for the future”.


Eight-time winner of Travel Weekly’s “Agent Achievement Award for Central England - Small Agency”, Carrick Travel’s shops supported 10,000 customers with their travel arrangements over the last 12 months.


Tina Nason and Tracey Carter, owners of Carrick Travel, who will not be joining those staff transferring to Co-operative Travel, as part of the agreement, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Carrick Travel. However, we are incredibly happy that the journeys of our valued customers and many of our talented colleagues will continue under Co-operative Travel. The protection of our staff and clients has always been our highest priority. By agreeing a transfer with The Midcounties Co-operative, particularly with the security that being part of a diverse business provides during these tough times in travel, we are ensuring the protection of our clients and as many of our colleagues’ jobs as possible.

“We have operated Carrick Travel very much as a family business with our stores playing an important role in the communities they serve. Co-operative Travel’s community-focused mindset and principles of care and compassion match our own ethos and we know that our team members and clients will be passed into very safe hands.”


The seven branches that have transferred to Co-operative Travel are in Kenilworth (Warwickshire), Stratford Upon Avon (Warwickshire), Leamington Spa (Warwickshire), Cheylesmore (West Midlands), Pershore (Worcestershire), Grantham (Lincolnshire) and Newark (Nottinghamshire).  The four Carrick Travel branches that are not included in the transfer agreement closed their doors at the end of September 2020.





The president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) welcomed the focus of World Tourism Day this year on the important, but often overlooked, linkages between tourism and rural development.

Applauding the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) celebration of tourism’s essential role in providing opportunities beyond major urban centres, Patricia Affonso-Dass noted that many of the Caribbean’s rural areas have benefited from tourism’s development and are now challenged with working together to revitalize tourism, as their communities have been particularly hard hit by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.


“The Caribbean is replete with examples of how tourism has been key to the development of rural communities. Many of our hotels in rural areas are major generators for other economic activity in their communities beyond the creation of jobs at the resorts,” said Affonso-Dass.

“These hotels have spawned a range of businesses and jobs which otherwise would not exist without tourism, including new attractions, ground transportation services, restaurants, musicians and entertainment providers, fishermen, farmers, and other support services for hotels. 

"As tourism-generated dollars circulate from visitor spending and employee earnings, they in turn support the grocery stores, petrol stations, banks, insurance companies, and public services that help to build and maintain roads, utilities, sanitation facilities, health clinics, police and fire securities, and other infrastructure which is so essential to rural development,” she added. 

The tourism leader optimistically reflected that the slowdown of visitor arrivals to the Caribbean due to the pandemic was a golden opportunity for the region to invest in showcasing the beauty, diversity and productivity of rural areas through the development of more agricultural tourism offerings, which help to preserve and promote history and culture.

“The beauty of our coasts, beaches, reefs, and seas is well known but we should support and highlight the potential of our inland farming communities to feed and sustain not only our residents, but also the formal tourism sector, and encourage visitors to experience the simple joys of Caribbean country life through agritourism,” Affonso-Dass urged.

The CHTA leader believes the economic benefit to territories and countries is another strong argument for supporting the rural environs: “While we have made real headway in recent years integrating local produce into hotel and restaurant menus, we need to continue and streamline this effort by working with farmers to strengthen critical supply chain challenges and implementing virtual clearing houses that would allow farmers to know what products are needed in what quantities, at what standard and in what timeframes so that they can maximize the value from their production. This way we all benefit and our visitors can enjoy a real taste of our distinctive regional flavours while giving our farmers, large and small, more sustainable livelihoods.”

UNWTO has reported that young people have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, with youth in rural communities three times more likely to be unemployed than older adults, making rural tourism an important social adhesive.


“Supporting tourism recovery and strengthening its linkages to the rural areas would allow our young people to remain and earn a sustainable living in their beloved lands rather than migrating within their home countries or abroad,” observed Affonso-Dass.


Indeed, she pointed to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ statement that for rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations, tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and income generation.


The CHTA president emphasized that rural communities were typically much less prepared to deal with the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. “This is due to several factors, such as aging populations, the difficulty in sustaining durable livelihoods and the difficulty and cost of developing and maintaining efficient and reliable communication so they can quickly identify the food needs of consumers. And, we totally agree with the UNWTO that tourism offers a solution to all of these challenges,” she said.

World Tourism Day 2020 was celebrated by UNWTO’s member states on September 27, 2020, as well as by cities and other destinations and private sector organizations and individual travellers. 

It comes as the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In line with the calibrated resumption of economic activities in Singapore, safe cruises will be piloted from November 2020 with enhanced safety protocols for two cruise lines that are homeported here. To provide assurance for safe cruising, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is developing a mandatory CruiseSafe certification programme, which sets out stringent hygiene and safety measures throughout the passenger journey – from prior to boarding, to after disembarkation.

The safety and well-being of our local community, as well as passengers and crew remain the top priority. In light of this, the pilot cruises will be:


       round-trips with no ports of call;

       sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 percent; and

       only open to Singapore residents

To allow time to review the operationalisation of enhanced safety protocols, the pilot cruises will start from 6 November with Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream. Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas will begin sailing in December.

The Government will monitor the outcomes of the pilot sailings carefully in the coming months before deciding on the next steps for cruises.


STB’s CruiseSafe was created in consultation with the industry and is benchmarked against global health and safety standards. Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to develop and implement a mandatory audit and certification programme for cruise lines before they can commence sailings.

Prior to sailing, all cruise lines sailing out of Singapore must obtain the CruiseSafe certification, which requires independent assessment by a third-party certification firm. Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the certification. They were approved for the pilot as they have demonstrated the ability to put in place stringent protocols and precautionary measures as part of their CruiseSafe certification.

The CruiseSafe standards include:


1.    Infection control measures at every stage of a passenger’s journey, including a mandatory COVID-19 test prior to boarding

2.    Strict and frequent cleaning and sanitisation protocols onboard

3.    Safe management measures aligned with prevailing national policy at the time of sailing

4.    Ensuring 100 per cent fresh air throughout the ship

5.    Reducing ship capacity to enable sufficient safe distancing

6.    Setting up onboard measures to discourage close contact and inter-mingling between groups

7.    Emergency response plans for incidents relating to COVID-19

As part of CruiseSafe, the pilot cruises will have to comply with prevailing safe management measures, such as mask-wearing and 1m-safe distancing. To ensure compliance, regular inspections will be conducted on board during the pilots. Cruise lines that are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to penalties including fines, suspension of sailings and revocation of CruiseSafe certification.

The crew on pilot cruises are subjected to stringent measures beyond Singapore’s prevailing requirements for cross-border travel. For example, the crew who need to enter Singapore to serve on board the pilot cruises must first undergo 14 days isolation in their home country and must test negative for COVID-19 before their departure to Singapore. They will be tested on arrival in Singapore, serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) in Singapore, and will undergo another test at the end of their SHN. Once sailings begin, all crew members will also be routinely tested.


As the lead coordinator for cruise in ASEAN, Singapore aims to set a benchmark for the future of cruising in the region with the development of CruiseSafe standards. Singapore also remains confident of the long-term potential of cruising. Given our cruise industry’s strong fundamentals, we expect cruise performance to rebound when international travel recovers.

“This cruise pilot is a valuable opportunity for cruise operators to reinvent the entire cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers. As ASEAN’s lead coordinator for cruise development, Singapore remains committed to supporting and growing cruise tourism in the region. We will continue to work with cruise lines and our industry stakeholders to chart a new course for safe cruising,” said Mr Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board.

To prepare for the eventual recovery of the cruise industry, STB has also partnered Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Travel Weekly Asia to hold a series of training webinars for regional travel agents under the ambit of CruiseWorld Asia 2020]. Travel agents are key to the industry, accounting for about 80 per cent of cruise packages sold in the region. The trainings will take place in October and focus on strengthening consumers’ confidence to cruise again by raising awareness of cruise lines’ enhanced sanitisation measures on-board and rebuilding the demand for cruise.


Specialist travel insurance comparison site, Medical Travel Compared has analysed which 2021 holiday destinations those in the West Midlands have been searching for on Google and identified that the far-flung aspirational beach settings of The Maldives is the most searched for.


There is a clear north vs. south divide when you compare the preferred dream beach location, with those in the North of the UK and Northern Ireland picking Mexico as the most wanderlust-worthy destination, while searches for The Maldives dominate in the south.


The UK’s most searched-for holiday destinations for 2021:

  1. The Maldives
  2. Mexico
  3. Bali
  4. Dubai
  5. Thailand
  6. Turkey
  7. Barbados
  8. Greece
  9. Jamaica
  10. Cuba


A survey of over 3,000 UK travellers conducted by the travel insurer earlier this year found that four in five of us (83%) feel optimistic about travel next year and it’s clear to see Brits are using this time in lockdown to research next year’s aspirational getaway.

Tommy Lloyd, Chief Product Officer at Medical Travel Compared comments: “As a nation we’ve seen a huge rise in demand for staycations since the Coronavirus pandemic, but our research reveals that people are longing to experience the world. It’s great to see that travel confidence for 2021 is high and Britons haven’t lost their wanderlust despite the various lockdown and quarantine measures currently in place.

“Our research shows that Brits are keen to visit destinations that are not currently on the UK’s quarantine travel-free list. We ask the British Government reviews travel guidance for all destinations to see if any countries on the long-haul list can be added safely.”


The Covid-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe. While no one can say with certainty when tourism will recover, people are starting to dream again of getaways whether closer to home or to remote destinations.

As more and more people go online to search where and when they can travel, accelerating the digitalization of the tourism sector will be key to adapting to the new tourism reality.


That is why the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Google have partnered for an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO Member States' tourism ministers, top travel associations and tourism boards to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills.


Ahead of World Tourism Day, the first UNWTO & Google Tourism Acceleration Program took place, focusing on insights from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Tourism is the backbone of many economies around the world. As data from UNWTO shows, tourism represents 9% of global trade for Africa and 1 in 10 jobs directly and indirectly. Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth, as women make 54% of the workforce.


Natalia Bayona, UNWTO Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments, said: "UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger. With the right policies, training and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region".


Africa is home to 30% of the world’s population, adding every year hundreds of millions of new online users. Google is a highly trusted partner in Africa to find relevant and reliable information, and Search is one of the places they go when researching and booking travel.


Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Market, Doron Avni, said: "We’re here to help the tourism sector rise up from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger.


“Our travel data insights and tools can help tourism authorities identify and understand the barriers and drivers to visit travel destinations for better tourism planning."

British tour operator Thomas Cook is back and this time around with a different business model.


They re-launched on Wednesday as an online-only venture, one year after a collapse that left hundreds of thousands of travellers stranded.


The company has reinvented itself as a digital booking platform as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hobble global demand for travel.


Its new website caters only to "quarantine-free destinations" from the United Kingdom, such as Corfu, Cyprus and Rome.


Thomas Cook went bust last September, leaving 600,000 travellers grounded and wiping out thousands of jobs. The company's previous business was centred on selling flights on its own airline, along with hotel rooms, from brick-and-mortar stores.


The 179-year-old brand was acquired in November by Fosun Tourism, a Chinese company that also owns Club Med.


Its chair and CEO Qian Jiannong said that the brand's British revival followed the launch of another online platform for Thomas Cook in China.


In a statement he said: "As one of the world's leading tourism and leisure groups, the group values Thomas Cook's 180 years' heritage and global brand influence."


"Supporting the growth of the brand in China and its relaunch in the UK is a big step in our plan to turn Thomas Cook into a global success story."