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Bench Events to launch Hospitality Tomorrow online conference

Bench Events is organising a complete online conference to bring together industry leaders to discuss the unprecedented economic circumstances caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The event will address what the industry can do collectively to rebuild confidence.

The virtual conference will take place on April 7th from 10:00-16:00 BST and registration is free of charge for all participants.

However, an optional donation is requested to selected charities helping out those in the hospitality industry, suffering from the worst effects of the coronavirus.

Puneet Chhatwal, chief executive, Indian Hotels, said: “With Covid-19 sweeping across the globe, many companies in the hospitality industry are facing an unprecedented threat.

“As we will combat the pandemic much better united than divided, we all need to come together to share ideas.

“This meeting on the internet will set a great example of what we can do by thinking in a bold and imaginative way.”

Bench Events has lined up a stellar list of speakers, including: Paul Stoltz, the world’s leading expert and consultant on resilience and creator of the Adversity Quotient; Roger Bootle, the award-winning founder of Capital Economics; Najib Balala, cabinet secretary, ministry of tourism and wildlife, Kenya; Roger Dow, president of the United States Travel Association; and dozens of top executives from across the hospitality industry worldwide.

Topics on the agenda will cover the economics of coronavirus, how to survive the greatest adversity of our time, the nine essential leadership behaviours needed in a crisis, and the outlook to recovery.

Discussions will be moderated by the presenter of HARDtalk and conference chair, Stephen Sackur, and Anita Mendiratta, special advisor to the secretary general of the UNWTO.

State of the art video conferencing technology will be used to bring virtual main-stage panel sessions to an audience of up to 100,000 online participants.

The plenary debates will be complemented by more focussed roundtables, drilling into the detail of specific subjects.

People joining remotely will be able to ask questions and post comments in real time, using a live chat facility.

Jonathan Worsley, founder, Bench Events, concluded: “Devastating is the word most governments are using to describe the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on society and the economy.

“The sector that stands to suffer the most is travel and hospitality.

“Today, nothing is certain, except that our world will never be the same again. We need business leaders to come together to discuss the best strategies to cope with the immediate crisis and to plan how to capitalise on the recovery when it comes.

“That is what Hospitality Tomorrow will do.”

More Information

More information about the agenda, speakers and how to register can be found on the official website.

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Holiday

COVID-19 coronavirus: 39 ways the travel industry is being impacted – A Luxury Travel Blog

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 coronavirus has had a profound effect upon the travel industry, as it has on most sectors around the world. But travel and hospitality is perhaps one of those areas that has seen the most immediate economic impact. Amid the chaos that the travel industry suddenly finds itself in, we reached out to a number of professionals within the industry to see how it was impacting them and their clients, and to see what they thought the future held.

Here are just some of the many responses we received:

“Of course, the pandemic has effected our Spring departures, but being a luxury adventure travel company, our guests tend to be a bit more intrepid than the average traveler. Because of that,73% of our guests reserved on March-May trips have simply transferred their dates to the fall or in 2021, and we’ve actually had twice as many reservations this month as we’ve had cancellations for trips departing after May. It’s clear that our kind of traveler still wants to travel and will be ready to do so when they can. In addition, we continue to receive inquiries from travelers making future plans. People are at home with limited things to do and are spending their time dreaming about and researching their next trip. I suspect everyone is yearning for new experiences and personal interactions right now, so when life resumes to normal, there will be travelers itching to get back to exploring the world.”

Matt Holmes, Founder & President, Boundless Journeys

“The vast majority of our clients over the last month were able to continue their trips as planned. However due to ever-evolving travel restrictions and closures, unfortunately, many won’t be able to travel as expected over the coming months. Where changes are required, we are being as flexible as possible, working with our network of suppliers to make adjustments in light of the situation. Airlines and travel partners on the ground are being extremely flexible, and 98% of our clients have chosen to postpone their holidays – so they’re not missing out on much-anticipated trips and not losing their money. Our advice for our clients travelling from June onwards is to hold off for now and we will continue to monitor the situation – we will be on hand to make any amendments if the situation hasn’t improved by then. And for those planning ahead, it’s important to note that they can benefit from flexible flight tickets and the flexible deposit policies from our wonderful local partners. In real terms, this means in most cases we can design future trips whilst offering a fully refundable deposit policy against new bookings. With this reassurance, customers can get excited about travel plans and at the same time have confidence they are not putting money at risk should the situation change.”

Henry Morley, Founder & CEO, True Luxury Travel

“At EYOS, we see clients waiting on what border restrictions individual Arctic countries will impose by June. We have worked out contingency plans for each of the yachts and we are still fielding enquiries, but on the assumption of flexible cancellation terms. We are still seeing strong interest from our clients and bookings over the last week for Antarctica this winter. The private nature of yacht charters and Antarctica’s remote appeal seems to be a refuge for those wondering where and how it will be safe to travel in 8 months.”

Ben Lyons, CEO, EYOS Expeditions Ltd.

“Our distillery is a travel destination in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and we are of course disappointed that we must limit the number of guests we can host. However, we understand that this temporary change is for a greater public good. Mostly, we are heartbroken for our hospitality friends – bartenders, sommeliers, restaurant managers, and other hourly staff who depend on restaurants being open and vibrant. But if there are any lessons I learned from working in the hospitality industry in downtown NYC during 9/11, its that ultimately communities will survive and reemerge with a renewed fervor. This will happen in spite of the tremendous fear many are feeling. But we carry on: bluebonnets will still bloom, we will take care of each other, and whiskey will flow from our stills every day as it has since we opened.”

Heather Greene, CEO, Milam & Greene Whiskey

“Firstly, we should make it clear that this is not the first time the industry and indeed Centara are facing challenges. We have detailed responses to each situation including a pandemic outbreak. SARS had a major impact on our performance in 2003 but in 2004, our revenues were close to 20% higher than in 2002 on a like-for-like basis – so there is hope. At this time, the health and safety of our guests and our employees continue to be our top priority. To that end, we have implemented additional disease prevention and training enhancements to ensure employees follow World Health Organisation guidelines on health, safety and hygiene to prevent coronavirus infection. Sanitation levels are at their highest across all properties. With regards to the business, whilst the WHO has not recommended any restrictions on travel to any of the countries in which we operate, we are offering free booking modifications and cancellations to guests travelling from affected areas. At the same time we are doubling our marketing efforts to replace the lost business primarily from FIT segments in our domestic, ASEAN, European, and Australasian markets, amongst others.”

Markland Blaiklock, Deputy CEO, Centara Hotels & Resorts

“The travel industry has weathered numerous crises in the past from 9/11 to erupting volcanoes, the bombings in Sri Lanka and the SARS crisis but COVID-19 is the toughest challenge I’ve seen in over 40 years in the business. However, the British public are a resilient lot and once we are through this and the FCO lifts travel restrictions they will start to travel again. Our biggest challenge right now and, for the foreseeable future, is to ensure we can retain as many forward bookings as possible using everything in the toolbox to persuade clients to defer their holidays. We are currently planning for a 20% downturn in our European Mediterranean sales and our long haul sales are around 10% down. However, the Closer to Home domestic programme is currently running 27% ahead of last year. While this is very pleasing, we are not naive enough to think it will off-set losses in other parts of the business. In the short term we are encouraging people to book for later this year and for 2021. We are also planning for when the world starts flying again as we anticipate a lot of pent up demand.”

David Skillicorn, Commercial Director, Prestige Holidays

“We are dealing with all our clients case by case, initially to make sure we could get guests who had travelled out on 14 March home and then moving on to future bookings, where they can, asking people to claim on their insurance now the FCO has advised against all travel. On a positive note, many of our regular clients are asking if they can to defer to 2021 which we would be delighted to help them do. We are willing to take options on ski holidays (apartment bookings of all sizes) for 2020-2021 ski season with very low, or no deposits to help skiers out and get them back to the Alps next winter.”

Jane Bolton, Managing Director, Erna Low Ski Holidays

“The travel industry is the canary in the mine and many tour operators are having difficulty breathing. The Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) are our biggest hindrance at the moment – effectively making us a lender of last resort. The travel industry needs the government to suspend the PTRs asap. Without this support, many will face imminent bankruptcy despite being perfectly viable under normal circumstances. The result will be the needless loss of tens of thousands of jobs.”

Justin Wateridge, Managing Director, Steppes Travel

“COVID-19 has impacted the yacht charter industry the hardest. This is directly due to the uncertain ability to travel and duration of time the world will be dealing with the awful virus. Worth has had 90% of the booked/optioned charters scheduled through April cancelled or an agreed reschedule at a future date. Both owners and charterers have been understanding not to enforce contract penalties but to come to an amicable agreement. We are hopeful that as soon as this situation passes, clients will be ready to get back on the water and go yachting.”

Brian Tansey, Managing Owner, Worth Avenue Yachts

“We had very high expectations for wellbeing travel as a category this year and were ready to deliver new and enriching experiences, kicking off the season with our largely anticipated first wellbeing retreat in Sicily this April. The immediate impact was a 100% cancellation rate of all retreats scheduled until summer. We are confident that once this passes, the approach that Balance Holidays has been advocating for since its inception will be embraced on a wider scale. Such as returning to the basics, enjoying the simple things in life that a lot of us have forgotten along the way or considered as a given. In the meantime, we are making it our mission to deliver meaningful content to help make it through the storm.”

Livia Manca Di Villahermos, Founder, Balance Holidays

“The travel industry is going through a very tough time; the scale of this crisis is unprecedented and companies are finding it difficult to cope with the fast changing environment. At Elegant Resorts, we are first and foremost looking after those customers affected and who are still abroad to ensure safe returns where necessary and have created a dedicated crisis team who are working through all our customers bookings. We are in a good position with financially secure owners. We are prioritising and reorganizing all our work so customers and agents are at the forefront. The vast majority of our customers are working with us to amend their holidays to later in the year when hopefully we will all be able to travel again. A lot of our suppliers are offering the flexibility to change dates and give credits to minimise losses for everyone. We believe getting pricing and dates locked in now is the safest option for the very best price for our customers. The travel sector is resilient and companies that survived the previous crises have come out even stronger than ever and I expect that we will see the same thing happening again.”

Lisa Fitzell, Managing Director, Elegant Resorts

“As suppliers to travel businesses, we are seeing a huge impact from the outbreak. Inevitably as bookings stop and refunds are requested businesses look at cost-cutting measures. Unfortunately marketing is often viewed as expendable and as a result we have seen a huge drop in clients who are trying to save their own business in this unprecedented scenario. We have close relationships with all our clients and want to do our best to help and support them whilst also doing what’s needed to stay afloat ourselves. We’ve offered to carry out the same amount of work for clients for half the price to do our utmost to help them get through this challenging time and still allowing them to capitalise on the opportunity which always appears in these times. For those that can survive and afford to continue marketing there is a huge opportunity. The majority of the market has stopped investing, so it is a time when you can make a real difference if you do the right things. To try and help those who can still invest to we’re also offering our Content Strategy Analysis for half the usual price, as content capacity is one silver lining that is likely to appear as the phone stops ringing and there are no trips to be run. Likewise I’m available to chat for anyone struggling in this period to try and help guide them on what they can do to keep things ticking over until we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Those that can hang on and make the most of this time will undoubtedly be the ones who flourish when we come out the other side.”

Tom Mcloughlin, Director, SEO Travel

“The last 3 weeks have been unprecedented. The impact of the virus and travel bans to the industry is the worst in living memory. Here are some of the things that we are implanting to help our customers and ensure we don’t have to lay-off staff during these troubling times. We’ve implemented a lifetime deposit guarantee with our customers who have already booked but need to cancel. This way customers aren’t losing deposits and can switch onto any of our tours any time in the future. We’re also working with local country authorities to try get back non refundable or transferable payments. For example, we are working with the Tourism authority in Peru to get refunds on non-refundable permits for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.

“Finally, we are providing financial relief to our local operators around the world who are having to lay-off staff. For example in Tanzania our local operator has seen a 100% cancellation rate for the next three months. Their guides and porters on Kilimanjaro are this going to have to go without work and have no means to earn money. We are looking at relief packages to help them. It is a really tough time for everyone and we all need to pull together globally to beat this virus and it’s social and economic impacts.”

Mark Whitman, Founder, Mountain IQ

“The coronavirus has hit the experiential and luxury travel segment very hard. At Yonder we have found the overwhelming majority of our clients to be pragmatic and supportive on the impact that this has to our business as well as to an industry as a whole. Whilst new bookings have dropped very substantially almost all existing bookings immediately impacted have chosen to defer holidays. One interesting manifestation is that we have found our repeat clients are still active and very much engaged with the idea of wanting to go on holiday. They are still calling us, wanting us to develop experiential itineraries for them and providing insights/ideas for them to read up on. For clients, it’s not complete doom and gloom more like research and delay.”

Nico Kostich, Founder, Yonder

“At Voyagers we have seen tremendous disruption in travel plans, it started with panic and went to total shutdown in our operations. We are based in Ecuador. Starting March 10 Ecuador raised a quarantine of 14 days for travelers arriving from or who had been in Spain, Italy, France, South Korea and affected areas of China less than 14 days before reaching Ecuador. On March 12 Ecuador restricted entry to Galapagos if the person visited had not been in quarantine within Ecuador 14 days before travel to the Islands (first the outlined countries, then anyone) even if they had arrived to the country before. By the 16th Ecuador shut its borders completely and canceled all incoming flights, local flights and went into complete lockdown. We have had to re-schedule about 100 trips to Galapagos from March 12th – May 30th. Ecuador borders will supposedly reopen on April 5th, but all source countries for travelers are closing borders just now, so it is almost impossible to expect anyone arriving for their cruise before June. There is rescheduling, cancelations and refunds. Reversed business transactions amount to around $500.000,00 USD and we do not see it getting better. We are trying to motivate people with free hotel nights if they keep their May dates. If they wish to re-schedule we offer them alternative dates for the 2nd semester of 2020 with no charges and if they need a refund these are issued in full for canceled dates and very small penalties for dates that are not affected yet. Apart from this we have been on duty 24/7 to help stranded guests get a flight home. We helped re-schedule flights, change plans for over 50 people in less than a week.”

Andre Robles, Managing Director, Voyagers Travel

“Sailing Virgins offers premium catamaran sailing courses in some of the world’s leading sailing destinations, including the Virgin Islands, Croatia and Tahiti. Our main operating base is the British Virgin Islands. Three years ago we were struck by Hurricane Irma, which may provide some parallels to what the world is experiencing right now. At first there was the shock of the unknown. People were physically injured, some seriously. Businesses stopped. The fundamentals (like food and showering) became a challenge. After some weeks of this, it felt like this may just be the “new normal”. But after a few months, things improved. The next travel season, most businesses reopened. It was a year or two of hardship, then business-as-usual conditions returned. For COVID-19 we don’t have the destruction of property like we did with Hurricane Irma. But we do have the halting of businesses, and the wholesale interruption to supply chains. If there is one lesson to be learned from Irma, it is to stay positive, do “the right thing” as often as you can make that decision, and know that this will pass.”

James Kell, Founder, Sailing Virgins

“Travel, especially luxury international travel, has always been shielded from deep losses with economic recessions. Most luxury travel customers are not using their savings for these trips but excess cash from their wealth portfolios. That said, no one would ever put a pandemic into a luxury travel SWOT analysis! When governments completely shut down international travel, luxury travel businesses have no choice but to cancel trips occurring during these dates. As it is with every major unforeseen business interruption, no one can accurately predict what will happen when it is over but it is always a learning experience we all hope to never have to fall back on again!”

Wayne Brown, CEO, Aggressor Adventures

“The impact of Coronavirus on our business has been devastating. In the month of March our revenues have dwindled by nearly 90%, and we suspect the next few months will be same or worse. Our industry is very dependent on the tourism and that sector has been hit the hardest, and anything that disrupts travel will inevitably impact luxury yachting. The timing of this coronavirus outbreak is also particularly troublesome as we are currently in the peak of the season. There is great uncertainty that ensues our industry, and while we hope for the best we are preparing for the worst, and are expecting a tough year ahead.”

Kate Kalamaga, Owner, Tropicalboat Luxury Yacht Charters & Rentals

“With the extraordinary headlines that we are waking up to each day, travel has been completely disrupted. Since we are interconnected in the travel industry, cancellations we are dealing with in a luxury yacht charter niche have skyrocketed. Feb to March spike of cancellations saw an increase from 35% to 80% on all yacht holidays across Indonesia, with a slightly better picture in Thailand. And while nobody knows with any certainty when travel will return to normal, and millions of travelers can once again enjoy carefree yachting, it WILL resume and boom once again. And we will be there to take you to the most exotic and incredible island destinations across Southeast Asia, which are only accessible via yacht holidays and luxpeditions.”

Vadim Toshu, CEO, Islander

“Our business is almost exclusively European and North American private client-focused. This means we are in virtual gridlock affecting travel – as no one is permitted to leave their country – and, for the same reason, real estate acquisition. We are seeing paid-for trips of very high value held for 12 months under extended cancellation agreements with unpaid for trips cancelled altogether. Our current high value real estate negotiations in London and Italy are frozen until movement is restored. Short term means business lockdown. Depending on the measures imposed by countries, such as the UK and the US, to speed up curtailment of the virus and the time it will take for the spread to abate and be under control, will dictate when we can expect to see a peak and subsequent u-turn. Until then we have to assume a minimum of three months loss of time and business. We are not too concerned by any economic downturn affecting our clients who are among the world’s richest. Once the green light appears, pent up demand should see a big surge in exclusive travel together with a return to international real estate transacting. We also doubt there will be much, if any, impact on prices as demand/supply is unlikely to change significantly. 2020 will be looked upon as a tsunami of a financial year for any business in these sectors, among many others. It is all about the reduced volume this crisis will have created as months of trading get wiped out. Yet, for the long term we remain positive. We plan to use the time to improve our systems, refocus our business model and prepare for (hopefully) great times ahead.”

Anthony Lassman, Founder, Nota Bene Travel

“Outlier Jets is a global private jet company. We service leisure and business travel. We have seen an very near term increase unanticipated travel but almost a similar amount of cancellations- especially for business of conference travel. 38% increase overall. People forget that those companies and individuals that service the private aviation industry are hardly in the same economic stratosphere as the clientele. I would urge the public not to balk at the request for the bail out funds to (for commercial travel) to apply to private aviation.”

Michael Farley, Founder, Outlier Jets

“My name is Dylan and I started a tour company in San Francisco called White Wolf Private Tours. We show high-end travelers how to experience Yosemite the right way. Our business, like many others in the luxury travel industry, has gone to zero from Covid-19. We had a great summer lined up with several reservations, both for one day tours and wilderness hikes, and in an instant, in less than a week, each one of them cancelled and our schedule is now open. Long term for us is up in the air. America, and the whole world for that matter, is living week by week. We are waiting for the next bit of news to come out, to see where our business goes next, however we are willing to wait for as long as it takes to rebound, and in the meantime do whatever we can do to help our friends, family and community around us.”

Dylan Gallagher, Founder, White Wolf Private Tours

“The hospitality industry is in uncharted territory but it is has proved its resilience in the past and it will bounce back. We operate serviced apartments at the top end of the market and while it is far from business as usual, the home from home environment is still attracting bookings. We have had people staying with us whose overseas holidays were cancelled and have short and long stay guests who are using their apartment as a work base because they need to be in Edinburgh. We are monitoring bookings on a daily and a weekly basis alongside our capacity to look after our guests. With three properties in Edinburgh, we are able to pool resources and we are doing everything we can to accommodate those who wish to or need to travel while following all official guidelines. Our priority is the health of our staff and guests while ensuring the continuity of service. We are also looking forward. We are still marketing the properties for breaks later in the summer and autumn, launching gift vouchers and planning events. When the recovery comes, we want to be ready.”

Gavin MacLennan, General Manager, Lateral City Apartments

“As Ciao Andiamo’s business is solely focused on Italy, we have seen a tremendous impact on our business since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. March is typically the start of our travel season, with bookings steadily increasing through April, May, and into the summer. We have seen an 87% drop in new trip inquiries when comparing the first two weeks of March 2019 and March 2020, and we expect the drop to increase even further as the pandemic expands worldwide. Our approach in this challenging time has been to be as flexible as we can with our travelers, working to reschedule all trips that had been set to go off through May. Thus far, we’ve been successful in our approach of flexibly rescheduling trips rather than having to cancel them outright, and most of our travelers have been very appreciative of our flexible terms (upon request, we are happy to extend flexible rescheduling without time limitation, and with the ability to even rearrange trip details, no hassles, no penalties). It’s a win-win for our travelers and our business alike. With respect to our daily operations and team members, we are a small close-knit team that operates as a “famiglia”. This extends both across our full-time team members, and our entire network of local collaborators, guides, drivers, producers, chefs, artisans and experts who help bring the Ciao Andiamo mission to life for our guests. Weathering this storm together is paramount. In these times of uncertainty we are doing everything we can to be financially responsible, while keeping the team in tact, and taking care of this amazing collection of passionate individuals. Thus far, we have found smart ways to succeed. While we know that Italy travel, our services and the Ciao Andiamo mission will eventually resume and our business will be as strong as ever, what we don’t know is when exactly that will be, or what means will be needed in the short term to survive. With this in mind, we are actively considering all short-term scenarios, so that we are able to proactively manage this period without making rash decisions that unnecessarily disrupt our operations and team.”

Jonathan Pollock, Founder, Ciao Andiamo

“There can be no doubt it’s a time of unprecedented uncertainty for the whole world, and the travel industry is feeling its own effects following the COVID-19 outbreak. From the first half of March, we saw a 40% drop in sales and that’s drastically decreased in the last week. Importantly though, we are still getting some enquiries, showing that people are looking to the future. It’s been an extremely challenging time for our clients as we try to sort out flights home and alternative plans for future travel. They’ve all been very understanding, and many are just pleased we’re available on the other end of the phone to help. It’s extremely strange to go from selling holidays to managing this crisis, it’s changed the business and our day to day activities almost overnight. We’ve run a successful business for many years, so are confident we can get through this. Unfortunately, several businesses may struggle, and the industry may be in a very different place when we come out the other side. One thing we’re sure of is that us Brits love our holidays, so we’re confident that the bookings will resume once the travel bans get lifted.”

Gavin Lapidus, Company Director, eShores

“This is an unprecedented moment for the travel industry, like for any other industry directly impacted by the implications the virus has on travel restrictions and social contact. Wellbeing and safety of our clients and employees is of the utmost importance, so we do expect a bearing on us as well. But Here at CLP we are positive in the medium term: many of the international guests who were meant to travel to the clinic in the coming weeks ask us to reschedule their stay to benefit from their health programme on a later date. I am confident that collectively we can overcome it. The current challenge will evolve into an opportunity for our sector to help even more our clients. Why? Because now more than ever, we cherish our health and we understand that our immune system is on the front line in the war against virus. We’ll all want to preserve it even stronger in the future, looking for medical and holistic assessments which will help in keeping internal defenses strong or in rebuilding immunity. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to engage in healthy practices and try to sustain regular routines that nourish body and mind. Eating well-balanced meals, keeping up with exercise, balancing their anxiety with breathing techniques and getting sufficient sleep is truly vital.”

Simone Gibertoni, CEO, Clinique La Prairie

“Our 12 suite luxury lodge in the remote Gangtey (Phobjikha) Valley, was affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The very first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on 5th March. Within 24 hours the tiny Himalayan Kingdom closed its borders and took preventative measures including suspension of all arrivals, closure of schools and banning of gatherings. The financial and social impact on business was swift and immediate, with mass cancellations and anxious staff worried about their futures and livelihoods. Our first response was to reassure our 55 local and foreign teams of their own employment, followed by the need to look after and attend to our guests in country and about to arrive. As the global situation evolved daily, we moved quickly to work out flexible solutions to agent partners and clients, waiving cancellation fees and offering either a refund or a two year rollover period. The next 12 months will be challenging as our main markets – US, UK, Europe and Australia – face the challenge of containing the virus and the travel bans look to continue. When this comes, I see future travelers seeking destinations that are uncrowded, pristine in nature and where sustainability is placed above pure commercial gain.”

Khin Omar Win and Brett Melzer, Owners, Gangtey Lodge

“Tour operators use our platform to collect payments from their travelers. In February, our clients in East Asia started to refund their travelers but business was still as usual for the rest of the world. The rest of our clients still predicted that the virus outbreak was a regional issue that could be contained. However, the crisis really escalated when Italy decided to do lockdown. Our clients everywhere received refund requests from their travelers. Almost 100% of the trips that were supposed to happen in the next 3 months get canceled or postponed. Our top clients predict that their bookings will drop by 70-80% in the next 6 months. We believe international leisure travel will only bounce back late this year, while domestic travel might bounce sooner. However, the big determining factor will be how well the coronavirus can be contained or cured because that is the big question mark for our clients and their travelers.”

Zaky Prabowo, Co-Founder, WeTravel

“Satopia Travel specialises in hosted experiences, exclusive small group travel designed for people to connect with and learn from some of the most successful people in the world. Over the past 3 weeks we have had to postpone all of our Summer experiences from Italy to California. Many months of work goes into creating these experiences and we work very closely with our partners and hosts to organise exceptional events for all of our guests. It has been with great disappointment for us to postpone these events. But it has to be done. The impact on our business is significant, but we are small and agile and we have a very loyal customer base. There are many other companies out there facing incredibly challenging circumstances and one of the first things we did as a team was to reach out to all of our clients, partners, hotels and hosts to make sure they were ok and offer any sort of support that we could, also on a personal level. During this time, connecting with our community was a sign of solidarity and the responses provided a strong collective commitment to support each other and reemerge stronger, when the time comes. The world is facing a global crisis, while countries close their borders and airlines ground their planes, we know that that travel industry will bounce back. There will be many jobs lost and companies closed, all we can do now is plan for the future and do our best to support those around us in the industry, and this industry already has a strong sense of community globally, I am confident that contentedness will only grow stronger in the future.”

Emma Ponsonby, CEO, Satopia Travel

“From what we’ve seen at Epperly Travel, the immediate impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to the travel industry on a global scale, which has subsequently tumbled (not trickled!) down to each individual travel agency. Small businesses like ourselves are working harder than ever to ensure the future of our company and our team are secured, and if there was ever a time to see that not all heroes wear capes, just look to the travel agent community. I am so proud of the way in which my team has stepped up to help each and every traveler, from rescuing clients out of countries with closing boarders and dwindling flight opportunities to helping travelers navigate their options of canceling or postponing their dream trip. The best of the best travel advisors are working overtime at a backbreaking level all without making a single dollar of income, since the majority of our revenue comes in the form of commission once the trip is complete. It’s heart-wrenching, too: we genuinely care about our clients, and seeing their devestation when their 20th anniversary trip or their destination wedding being postponed keeps us up at night. This truly speaks to the level of service and care that advisors have for their clients – a far cry from the reviews we’re seeing for online booking sites and discounters, like Costco and Expedia. As for the future of our industry, I know, without a doubt, that people will start traveling again and, when they do, they will turn to advisors now more than ever to steward their travel dreams in a world where we no longer take the ability to travel for granted. It’s my hope that we can come out of this dismal time with a renewed perspective of gratitude that each trip we are afforded is not something we take in stride, but an event that we savor, one that cannot be trusted to just any old booking site, but needs to be handled under the expert care and human touch of a travel advisor.”

Lindsey Epperly, Owner, Epperly Travel

“Long term planning is what PELORUS excels at and our military planning model is perfect for this. As people have more time on their hands they can start to plan further out and build positivity into their lives by undertaking a project of this nature. We are finding that as people spend more time working from home they have realized the value of spending quality time with each and have also learned that we cannot take everything for granted. Therefore planning an amazing experience balances all of this and gives people a goal to aim for when we can hopefully travel again later in the year. The outlook is hard to tell and I’m not sure anyone can predict the timelines. We will see an adjustment to how people travel and it may encourage people to venture further afield and to find those locations that are further off the grid. These locations will require more planning and specialist help and this is exactly where PELORUS can help.”

Jimmy Caroll, Co-Founder, PELORUS

“This week has been especially devastating for my business and for all of my 72 Hawaii clients. All parks have been closed, of which luxury tours have been halted. All commercial vessels have been forced from operating as well as luaus and shows. Basically, all tourism-reliant businesses have been forced to close, but here’s the real kicker: airlines are still bringing tourists to Hawaii! The local community is exposed to visitors and the virus, but we can’t make any money.. At this rate, the only businesses that will survive Covid-19 will be the airlines (likely from a bail out) and shipping/delivery of food and essentials. The logic is broken. If we want to stop the spread of this virus and get back to some degree of normality before we all lose our businesses, we need to completely shut down all flights with passengers to and from the Hawaiian Islands (other than those trying to get home.) So many of my friends have been laid off and are truly scared, not just for their health, but for their livelihood. Our hospitals are woefully unprepared for our local population, let alone those trying to get a good deal on a vacation.”

Chris Norberg, Owner, MauiGuide.com

“Africa Adventure Consultants organizes award-winning customized luxury safaris to East and Southern Africa. The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is certainly devastating and our hearts go out to everyone who is impacted. Every business like ours is being hit extremely hard but we are focusing on rebooking as many clients as possible for travel 9-12 months out, which is a win-win-win: Our guests still get to avoid large cancellation penalties and take their dream safaris, the operators still retain some revenue (albeit deferred) to keep the lights on and pay staff, and the wildlife and people of Africa still receive critical financial support.”

Kent Redding, Owner, Africa Adventure Consultants

“Our bookings have effectively doubled in the last month, as we are able to provide private charter flights to folks who otherwise have been left stranded by airlines. Governments are still being very lenient toward nationals returning to their home countries, which allows us to perform repatriation flights without major issues. By flying privately, our customers avoid numerous touchpoints which otherwise make flying quite risky in these times: instead of departing from a congested main terminal, private flights depart from a much smaller, dedicated terminal just for private flights. Onboard the aircraft – rather than sharing the cabin with hundreds of strangers, our customers enjoy the exclusivity of only being around their loved ones. Just a few days ago, we moved a family out of South America on three hours’ notice – after they had been told by their airline that they would be stuck there for the foreseeable future.”

Oliver Smith-Aichbichler, Founder, AlbaJet

“We are focused on what doing what is best for all stakeholders, this includes the end client, travel agency partners, and our own employees. Our first priority is to ensure that our team remains intact and that our employees are able to support their expenses and their families. At that same time, we also want to ensure that our clients have minimal loss of funds and that our agent partners don’t lose out on their commissions. This makes issuing credits for future travel the best solution for all. We eliminated all “non-essential” spending, stopped traveling, and increased our online sales training sessions for agents so that they can also use this “quiet time” to brush up on their destination knowledge so they too can come back stronger. We also used the time to reevaluate our products and services, locate where we can improve and expand on these products and then use the downtime to relaunch those services. This downtime is also giving us an opportunity to reconnect with our suppliers and work with them in developing new products, new messages and unique experiences that will help us all earn back the clients’ trust and make them feel safe to return once the threat of the virus is gone. We keep believing that better times will come, as the Italians are saying andrà tutto bene, everything will be alright, the market will recover, the travel industry has always been resilient. People will continue to dream, plan and travel. It may not happen in the next few months, but it will happen, and when it does, we will be ready to start creating more amazing travel experiences across the Mediterranean.”

Mina Agnos, President and Co-Founder, Travelive

“As a travel company, the coronavirus is a powerful punch squarely in the face. In the last week, we’ve made some difficult decisions, we’ve taken our gloves off, and are ready to punch back. Modern Adventure is here and we are not going anywhere. We are not canceling any trips, rather rescheduling them as our community has made it clear that they still want to travel. On Friday we received this note from a Modern Adventure guest: ‘I just want you to hear from your appreciative travelers that we are here. We will be back. When it is safe to travel again, we will support you.’ Many of our trips include chefs and culinary luminaries who are being deeply affected. We will continue to work closely with them to ensure that our experiences support their own recovery efforts. Fundamentally, we believe that no matter how long or hard the road ahead is, the future will once again be bright.”

Luis Vargas, the CEO & Founder, Modern Adventure

“Anyone’s assessment or understanding of the economic impact of coronavirus is still evolving, but what we do know is that business aviation continues to remain crucial. It’s at times like these where the speed, efficiency, flexibility and safety of business aviation comes to the fore. The ability to fly anywhere at a moment’s notice and get home quickly is proving invaluable. By avoiding large crowds of people and minimizing contact with others, business aviation can help limit the spread of infection for those who must travel.”

Peter Antonenko, COO, Jetcraft

“Like most of the companies operating in the tours and activities segment, we at VIVI CITY have started to see the effects of Coronavirus crisis since February 24. About a week later we spoke with our business partners and noticed that the drop in traffic and conversions was consistent across marketplaces. Meanwhile, the number of bookings dropped as cancellations started to skyrocket.Unfortunately, what we are all seeing is that different governments apply different measures to contain the outbreak. Alas, this misalignment will play a key role in the recovery process of the travel industry. I am almost certain that outbound tour operators covering destinations with medium-haul flights will be among those who will suffer the longest.My personal prediction is that there will be a post-crisis buffer period during which travellers will choose to travel within borders. The first to benefit from this scenario will be those tour operators who are now focusing on designing short-term domestic travel packages. Moreover, some governments are asking employers to consider this quarantine as annual leave. Inevitably, when the crisis is over, few will still have a week or two to go on holiday and many will make the most of their weekends.”

Adriano D’Ambrosio, Co-Founder and CEO, VIVI CITY

“COVID-19 has halted all of our bookings through end of summer. This is mainly due not to guests not wanting to travel, but having to pause all new bookings due to current obligations being cancelled or postponed and needing to wait until they have been rescheduled before booking anything new. Our guests are C-level, investors, and entrepreneurs, and sponsor and attend many events during the year, and expect to be travelling double-time once things go back to normal. We expect bookings to be impacted for months after green lights go on.”

Scott Hartman, Founder & CEO, GURU Adventure Travel

To readers from the luxury travel industry: to be a part of future industry round-ups and editorial opportunities, please make sure you subscribe to the A Luxury Travel Blog industry mailing list.

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Disney Halts Work on Avengers Campus

Fans of Marvel’s Avengers franchise will be disappointed.

Temporarily, hopefully.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have temporarily halted construction due to the coronavirus outbreak that closed all Disney parks in the U.S. on March 13. The move affects the work on the Avengers Campus-themed land at Disney California Adventure, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway dark ride at Disneyland, both located in Anaheim, Calif.

The decision was in line with direction from government and health officials, Disney officials said in a statement as reported by the Orange County Register.

The Marvel-themed Avengers Campus is scheduled to open on July 18 while the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction in Toontown is set to debut in 2022.

In addition to those projects, the Register reported that Disneyland also has plans for:

– A $100,000 “crown castle” antenna cell site on the roof of a building in the new Marvel-themed Avengers Campus.

– A $7.5 million attraction building with offices, restrooms and break room for cast members. Referred to as Building 6205, the 120,000-square-foot site sounds like the location for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway behind Mickey’s Toontown.

– Refurbishment of Indiana Jones Adventure attraction. Previous permits revealed Disneyland crews would replace a plank bridge and its steel structure in the show set of the Indy attraction and refurbish rockwork. The latest permits call for the replacement of a motor control center and work on the lighting in the motion-based dark ride.

– A $200,000 renovation of Disneyland’s Frontierland entrance. The project calls for the widening of an existing bridge and the replacement of a pair of 15-foot-tall faux wooden gates and a 16-foot-long marquee.

– A $350,000 reroof of the Cider Mill and Blacksmith shop on Tom Sawyer’s Island. The work includes the removal and reinstallation of a scenic prop platform. The rustic building on the tip of Tom Sawyer’s Island serves as the centerpiece for Disneyland’s nightly Fantasmic water show.

– A $115,000 reroof of Mickey’s House in Toontown where visitors meet the famous mouse and pose for photos.

– A $1.1 million Space Mountain emergency exit exterior staircase.

– Electrical and lighting work in the Westward Ho Trading Co. retail shop in Frontierland.

– And a $30,000 shade canopy in the Simba parking lot used by Downtown Disney shoppers.

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Short stay: Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel, Bath, UK – A Luxury Travel Blog

Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel is not just a hotel, it’s a radical new concept, a way of living. Sat high on one of Bath’s seven hills, the hotel looks down on a UNESCO World Heritage City and over Somerset’s green hills and valleys.

“An escape from the ordinary” is the hotel’s motto. Decor brings to life the style of Country Living, one of Britain’s best selling lifestyle magazines. There are times when guests feel – as they are relaxing in the library, lounge or bar – that they are part of a carefully curated magazine shoot.

The welcome

Reception has become a lounge with a vast rural landscape backdrop that is instantly soothing. The receptionist, sits at a large desk and guests sit too in comfy armchairs. The message is simple, “Relax. Take it easy.”

Set in to the peripheries of the desk, like a museum display case, are fragments of stone from Bath’s Roman Empire glory days, a reminder of the architectural riches this city has to offer.

The room

Portions of this Grade 2 listed building date from the 18th century so this is a building of character with arches, balconies, curves, spaces and vistas.

Decor in the rooms is country-chic with edgy contemporary touches. Prints of a birds-nest, a sheaf of wheat and a brooding rural landscape bring the country into the city but a dark-grey slate feature wall is unexpected.

Beds are welcoming with fluffy duvets and warming throws. Kettle, coffee maker and biscuits stand ready for afternoon or early morning tea. A discretely wall-mounted large flat-screen television is a subtle reminder of the 21st century.

Copies of Country Living magazine are artfully positioned on a coffee table. For many guests their stay is as much an education in interior design as that “escape from the ordinary.”

The bathroom

In a building centuries old, bathrooms are often irregularly shaped and probably a little larger than is standard in a hotel. Amongst the bright lighting and mirrors, a statement feature of monochrome tiling, featuring a range of geometric designs, makes an impact.

Currently there is generous provision of HK toiletries but there is talk of a distinctive range of Country Living toiletries. You can imagine the floral scent probably accompanied by a slightly decadent heady infusion …

Facilities

There’s a Regency balance to the architecture of the restaurant, with its classic proportions and domed ceilings, that sits at the heart of the hotel. Beginning with cereals, fruits and juices – guests select from a country-kitchen themed buffet whilst they wait for their traditional English breakfast – or scrambled eggs with salmon or whatever their choice.

Dinner is based on the flavours of the West Country but the menu is prepared to travel further afield for cosmopolitan influences. For a starter, popcorn cockles blend beachside salt and vinegar flavours with scallop roe as well as more exotic lime hollandaise. Another nod to the West Country’s traditional shoreline bounty is crispy whitebait with lemon and tartare sauce.

For a main course, the poached sea trout and scallops borrow from Italy for the mixed herb gnocchi but look to the Far East for the subtle flavours of lemongrass butter. Great British hearty traditions are not forgotten with prime British 28 day matured sirloin steak with wild mushrooms and triple cooked chips.

The strong West Country influence continues for dessert. Amongst the options are rhubarb cheesecake, apple tarte tatin and a five counties cheeseboard.

Location

Just a short stroll down hill – the hotel is right on a bus route for the return journey – takes you into Bath. There’s far more to the city than it’s postcard sights of Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Regency Crescent. Visit Milsom Street for some inspirational interior designers and artists studios. Nor is artisanal shopping along Walcott Street to be missed. For many guests, as Bath is the gateway to the West Country, the city is just the beginning of their explorations.

Other nice touches

Spacious beautifully decorated public areas make the hotel a charming place for friends to meet for a weekend or short break.

Linger in the library or lounge to catch-up and chat over coffee, before moving through to welcoming sofas in the bar for something, possibly, a little stronger.

Cost

Double-rooms, with breakfast, begin from around £95 per night.

The best bit

Just an easy stroll from the centre of historic Bath, one of Britain’s most beautiful cities, Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel’s comfortable elegance fits in perfectly with its surroundings.

The final verdict

Bringing to life the pages of a magazine in a hotel was a daring concept but from the number of guests booking into the Lansdown Grove Hotel and its sister hotel – Country Living St George in Harrogate – the move is undoubtedly a success.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel.

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How to visit Paris in style… once the current crisis has passed – A Luxury Travel Blog

For most people at the moment, travel is the last thing on their mind, understandably. For others (like me), it’s something they live and breathe. Indeed, this current climate has only made me more determined to save this industry and keep inspiring people across the globe to reach for new experiences and explore. I hope that this article will inspire you to keep dreaming, stay positive and look forward to the future!

Paris is widely considered to be the capital of fashion. The French have been known for their ability to start style trends (whether fashion or culinary) ever since the epoch of Louis XIV at the court of Versailles.

No matter your reasons for visiting Paris, whether it be with family, on business, or a solo trip – you’ll probably want to do so in style. Style in the sense here means more than just clothes, it is also about attitude and an overall way of being. Achieving that French je ne sais quoi can seem a bit intimidating for visitors to the City of Light- but it is actually more achievable than you might presume. We’ve broken down all the ways you can visit Paris in style- from the outfits you pack in your suitcase, to where you decide to stay, how you pass your time in the city and perhaps one of the most important – where you dine.

What to pack

First comes first, you’ll want to be quite methodical when it comes to choosing what to pack in your suitcase. Whilst in Paris, if you want to blend in with the locals, you’ll want to dress appropriately. In Paris, you will never witness the natives wearing athleisure wear unless they are actually working out. There are a few cardinal rules to follow. The French, and Europeans in general, tend to dress up more so than what Americans may be accustomed to.  First, despite how comfortable yoga pants are, most Parisians will only actually wear them inside the yoga studio (they’ll usually change their clothes at the studio). And even in the heat of summer, you can forget the French wearing flipflop sandals. These are only considered appropriate for the beach- for the practical reason that if you’re walking the streets of the city your feet are bound to get really dirty in flip flops.

Because you’ll want to make sure you’re appropriately dressed and your outfit doesn’t scream tourist, you’ll want to follow these French fashion tips. Start with the basics- jeans are your best friend. They are casual but can be dressed up with blazers, sweaters, a fashionable top and worn with boots or high heels. For the rest of your Parisian wardrobe opt for items of clothing that are mostly neutral colors – black, navy, tan and white. You can therefore mix and match several outfits and won’t have to worry about bringing an oversized suitcase to the airport. To these basics, add accentuating touches using brightly colored scarves and jewelry (both of which are easy to pack!).

For your shoes, as you likely will be spending a lot of time on foot exploring the city or wandering the galleries of its world famous museums, you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible. But this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. The French are crazy about baskets (sneakers), so choose trendy pairs that not only feel good on your feet but catch the eye, too.

As for beauty, the French seem to have deceivingly simple beauty routines. It is true that French women wear less makeup than their American counterparts, but what is valued here in France is a more detailed attention to skin and hair care. Preserving what nature gave you by using top quality skin and hair care products seems to be the rule the French follow. This rule does not just apply to women, Parisian men are known to be very conscious of their skin and hair care, as well.

If you’re taking excellent care of your skin, no need to cover up with lots of makeup. Take the best care of yourself possible and you’ll be already starting with a beautiful canvas, to which all you need to add is bright red lip stick.

To give your Parisian vacation a bit of style – think about choosing a hotel or private apartment that really speaks to the type of experience you would like to have while visiting France.  Whether it be one of the iconic five star luxury Parisian hotels (The Four Seasons George V, Plaza Athenee, The Ritz Paris, Le Meurice)…or a hip boutique style hotel like Hotel Particulier in Montmartre, where you’re staying stages the important backdrop for your trip and will set the tone for your experience and over all mood. If you opt for staying in a private apartment, you’ll really have the opportunity to live like a Parisian. Consider looking for a private apartment rental in stylish neighborhoods like the Marais or St Germain-des-Pres.

Beat jet lag

Flights arriving to Paris from the US and Canada depart in the evenings and land in the morning, usually quite early.  The key to having a great arrival to France without being in bit of travel fog is to ensuring you get great rest on the plane ride over the Atlantic. It is certainly worth it to travel by first class if it is within your budget, or to upgrade to seats with more leg room. That way, when you arrive in Paris you’ll be feeling refreshed.

If you do find yourself very tired during your first day in Paris because of the time change, try your best not to give in to the tiredness and avoid sleeping.  If you can make it through that first day and get to bed at a relatively normal time, you’ll usually wake up at a regular time in the morning on your second day and be ready to take on the city.

For your arrival to Paris, whether by plane or by train, navigating the RER train and the metro with large suitcases can be quite a hassle. You may consider hiring a private car service that will meet you at the airport or train station and bring you to your hotel or apartment rather than having to wait in line for a taxi. Alternatively, there are also shuttle buses that run directly from the airports to landmarks in central Paris like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Gare de Lyon and Opera. These buses are quite comfortable and have Wifi onboard.

Now that you’ve arrived in Paris and are settled in your hotel, how will you spend the rest of your visit to the City of Lights in style?

Private museums and custom tours

Depending on what your interests are, Paris has something for everyone. If you happen to be a  museum aficionado, you might consider reserving a high quality private tour for you and your party. These are especially convenient when visiting such monuments as the Louvre Museum and the Chateau of Versailles. When visiting in a group, you’ll typically have a special entry and avoid long waits in line. Depending on the  agency you choose, most private tour guides will typically meet you at your Parisian accomodations and then travel with you in a chauffeured car or van to the site you will be visiting.

Even if you’ve been to a museum before, touring with your own private guide is the best way to experience French monuments. You’ll be able to ask questions and learn so much more than you would otherwise get from an audio guide.

In addition to museums and historical sites, many agencies also offer customizable itineraries for your visit, so you can pick and choose what you’re going to see and do in Paris based on your particular interests.  Plus, private guides will always have local insider knowledge about the best restaurants and spots to try in Paris during your visit.

Fine dining

Paris has no shortage of fine dining. The French capital boasts over 100 Michelin starred establishments within the city. From traditional French cuisine, to contemporary and fusion – there is choice that will suit everyone’s taste.

The following Parisian restaurants all have three Michelin stars and are certainly worth the visit while you’re in Paris.  In addition to award-winning gastronomic fare, these restaurants each possess exquisite style and luxurious ambiance:

Arpege – chef Alain Passard’s restaurant has been open for over 30 years and features organic vegetable inspired dishes that come straight from the restaurant’s own vegetable gardens.

Guy Savoy – located in an 18th century neoclassical building and former home to the Paris Mint, Guy Savoy is famous for its classic cuisine with contemporary twists.

L’Ambroisie – within the elegant Place des Vosges in the Marais, L’Ambroisie has had three Michelin stars for 30 years and proposes traditional French dishes.

Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen – The Pavillon Ledoyen is located in the gardens of the  Champs-Elysees in and has been the home to the prestigious restaurant since 1792. Chef Yannick Alleno is known world-wide for his audacious modern cuisine.

Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée – the iconic restaurant features a natural Haute-Cuisine menu of fruit and vegetables that have been hand picked in the morning and then make their way onto your plate that evening.

Épicure – located in the elegant Le Bristol Hotel, Epicure is known for unforgettable French cuisine.

Le Cinq held within the Four Seasons Hotel George V is the sophisticated Le Cinq restaurant, proposing refined French cuisine made with modern techniques.

Pierre Gagnaire – this posh restaurant located not far from the Champs-Elysees is known for having the most inventive menu in Paris.

Le Pré Catelan – nestled within the Bois de Boulogne in the western part of Paris, Le Pre Catelan has been around since 1875 offering haute cuisine in a bucolic setting.

While it isn’t hard to find extraordinary gastronomy in Paris in stylish settings, don’t forget that in addition to fine dining another great option is to visit one of the city’s many open air markets.  Experience the joy of choosing fresh vegetables, poultry and meat, and then finding the perfect cheese and wine. As you walk down the cobblestone streets, baguette in hand, you’ll really begin to feel like you’ve adopted the Parisian style.

Maria Pasca is the Communications & Marketing Director at My Private Paris. My Private Paris is an award-winning boutique travel agency that fully tailors high-end tours and experiences in Paris with the finest local guides.

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Africa’s Travel Indaba postponed in South Africa

Africa’s Travel Indaba has been postponed indefinitely in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak spreading around the world.

South Africa tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced the decision earlier.

The annual trade show was scheduled to take place at the Durban International Conference Centre from May 12th-14th.

Speaking at a media, Kubayi-Ngubane said: “After careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone Africa’s Travel Indaba.

“Africa’s Travel Indaba is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar, is one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar.

“It showcases the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products, attracts global buyers.

“The current travel restrictions imposed by various countries to contain the pandemic will inevitably lead to a greatly reduced number of participants if the event that is Africa’s Travel Indaba was to go ahead.”

Kubayi-Ngubane said that organisers also considered the risk associated with a large number of people gathering in one place when they decided to postpone the event.

“We want to ensure that this event does not contribute to the spread of this pandemic.

“The decision to postpone Indaba 2020 is also in keeping with the advice by health authorities for social distancing and limiting mass gatherings,” the minister explained.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the team reached out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about the postponement and the future plans.

New dates are expected to be announced in due course.

Sisa Ntshona, chief executive of South African Tourism, said he understood disappointment around the decision.

“I want to thank everyone who has already invested a significant amount of time, effort and resources in preparing for this year’s much-anticipated event.

“I appreciate how we, as an industry, look forward to showcasing our products, attracting new buyers and most importantly, network with our peers at Indaba.

“This decision must come as an enormous disappointment, but we as partners in tourism need to act responsibly to put our people first,” he explained.

World Travel Market – Africa, also due to be held in South Africa, was cancelled last week.

Coronavirus

For all the latest from Breaking Travel News on the coronavirus pandemic, take a look here.

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3 outdoor activities to enjoy in a closed ski resort – A Luxury Travel Blog

We find ourselves in unchartered territory as Coronavirus tightens its global grip. For those that have made their way to a ski destination or indeed live in one, we can only look on as many of the resorts close and cease to spin their lifts. In an effort to glean something positive from this, there are fortunately still some sporting actives that we can enjoy – whilst maintaining safe social distancing and without placing ourselves at risk. Here are 3 outdoor activities that we can still enjoy in a closed ski resort.

1. Backcountry skiing

For those that have experience in avalanche terrain and/or the ability to hire a guide, backcountry skiing or snowboarding is an excellent alternative to resort riding. Not only is it a great work out and way to experience the great outdoors, but it comes without any lift lines, shared gondolas or chairlifts – and other people all together. There is no need for any physical contact with your fellow adventurers, and you can enjoy a whole of day of backcountry touring without once being indoors or in a confined space! Coronavirus aside, it is a magnificent experience, often offering great snow conditions and the complete peace of quiet of the mountains. As with all backcountry touring – do be sure that you have the necessary skills and experience to be in avalanche terrain, or hire a guide if in doubt.

2. Snowshoeing

An incredibly underrated past time, snowshoeing is another way to immerse yourself in the mountains and does not require you to come in to close contact with anyone else. The design of the snowshoes allow you to access areas that regular footwear does not, and therefore maximise on the scenery, peace, or physical activity element. As an added incentive, snowshoeing does not require any specialised skills, training or even prior experience – so is a good option for families or groups or individuals of most ages and fitness levels. As with backcountry skiing, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying a picnic and sitting for a while in the fresh mountain air! Do be wary of your route and avoid bigger, more avalanche prone terrain. For many years snowshoeing has been overshadowed by skiing and snowboarding – so maybe now is the time for a comeback?

3. Snow biking

Snow Biking is exactly as it sounds and can be scaled from entry to advanced skill levels. For those that have not tried it before, start by biking on flat, even terrain and ride it as you would a normal bike. Once you have gotten to feel for it, and become well acquainted with the fatter tires and deeper tread, feel free to add some ups and downs into your Journey. It is a great way to explore a local area, whilst avoiding public transport and larger thoroughfares. For those with experience, you could tackle some of the closed ski slopes (if permitted) with a rigorous work out on the up and an adrenalin filled decent. Another the checks the boxes for safe social distancing, fresh air and a good work out, the skills required for snow biking are not too dissimilar to that of regular biking – making it accessible for most people.

Though the current situation in closed ski resorts is far from ideal, it could be could be an opportunity to pick up a new sport and truly reconnect with our surroundings. After all – when was the last time that we were able to enjoy a ski resort without the hum of chairlifts turning and the swishing of skiers rushing by?

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.

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Best Sustainable Tourism Videos of 2020 Revealed

While the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and resulting travel bans and restrictions have hampered travel, there’s still plenty of excellent content for travelers to consume this spring.

GLP Films has announced its official selections for the “Best Sustainable Tourism Films” of 2020, selecting the top five shorts from more than 100 submissions by travel trade organizations and filmmakers from across the world.

The list of recognized films include productions from Black Forest Collective, Wideoyster Magazine, World Nomads, G Adventures and Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism and was chosen based on the strength of their sustainable tourism messaging, overall video quality and use of compelling storytelling.

“The winning films transport us to five continents and stand out for their compelling storytelling and global sustainable tourism themes. Themes like women empowerment, wildlife conservation, social impact, farm-to-table cuisine and cultural heritage,” GLP stated. “In these challenging times, GLP is proud to present a selection of the best storytelling in sustainable tourism to shine a light of hope on the positive stories for the future of tourism.”

“We are excited to celebrate inspiring messages of sustainable tourism through video storytelling. We thank all the travel brands and filmmakers that submitted their videos, and hope these positive stories of tourism and humanity add a little light to the challenging times the travel industry and the world are facing right now,” said Laura Knudson, Marketing Director of GLP Films in a statement.

Each of the five productions is three minutes or shorter so even time-strapped viewers will be able to watch them all.

Visit glpfilms.com/sustainable-tourism-films-2020 to view all five winners in their entirety.

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UK travel industry urges government action to forestall collapse of businesses

The UK travel sector is calling on the government to make immediate changes to the package travel regulations to prevent “innumerable company collapses and the loss of many thousands of jobs”.

Under the existing regulations tour operators are obliged to offer a full refund if elements of the holiday can’t be provided. But travel industry bodies say that in the current global crisis the regulations are not fit for purpose and will lead to the end of many otherwise successful travel businesses.

“The existing financial protection structures and regulations were not designed to cope with a large-scale collapse of businesses,” said Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

Abta is asking for an emergency government consumer hardship fund to fulfil refund payments; and is also requesting that credits should be allowed as an alternative to cash refunds. In addition it is calling for the current 14-day window for refund payments to be removed.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) reiterated Abta’s assertion that the package travel regulations must be changed with immediate effect because “they were not designed to cope with a disaster affecting every country and every destination worldwide.”

“The existing financial protection structures and regulations were not designed to cope with a large-scale collapse of businesses”

To continue with the regulations “would lead to innumerable company collapses and the loss of many thousands of jobs, which would cost the government dear for many decades to come.”

As well as calling for government intervention over the PTRs, travel businesses are pleading with holidaymakers to help by being patient and postponing rather than cancelling trips. “Travel companies are doing everything they can to offer flexible booking policies. It is really frustrating [for customers] if you don’t know where you stand in terms of your trip but companies are inundated at the moment so trying to have patience [will help]. The best advice is to speak to your travel company and get a credit or change to an alternative date,” said an Abta spokesperson.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents 350 small and medium-sized travel agents, said the industry was at breaking point while working round the clock to help customers. She said Advantage group members were looking at bookings by date order. “If you don’t have an imminent departure the best advice is to wait and see.”

Lo Bue-Said welcomed the chancellor’s announcement of a £330bn emergency package for businesses on 17 March but said it was unclear how it would be split between various sectors such as hospitality, retail and leisure, adding: “Speed is of the essence. Nothing is materialising quick enough; [financial support] doesn’t seem to be filtering down. The situation is really dire. For small businesses this is going to be catastrophic. We will get through this but what the industry looks like at the end is impossible to say.”

Her call for immediate action has been echoed across the sector. Following the news of the stimulus package, Abta said measures such as government-backed loans should be made available immediately to travel businesses, with clear guidelines on how businesses can access them.

The chancellor’s promise that the government would do “whatever it takes” came just hours after warnings that the global tourism sector was fighting for survival. In an open letter published on 17 March, the World Travel and Tourism Council said: “The travel and tourism sector is uniquely exposed, and we estimate 50 million jobs globally are at risk. It is calling for immediate financial assistance to protect the incomes of millions of people who work in travel and tourism; unlimited, interest-free loans for travel companies; and all taxes and other dues to be waived for the next 12 months.” Without these interventions, the WTTC said, economies around the world faced “an existential threat.”

Signed by WTTC president Gloria Guevara, the letter “implores” governments to take drastic action to protect the sector, which is responsible for creating one in five new jobs.

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The best private lodges in the African wilderness – A Luxury Travel Blog

Africa’s safari camps and lodges are renowned for being especially intimate and wild, more so than any other hospitality experience throughout the rest of the world. Take the most private and most intimate lodges across the continent and you have the best wilderness experience the world has to offer. Dotted around safari Africa are several private lodges where you and the family can go to get away from it all in the ultimate exclusive retreat. Here is a run down of the best places to do this in.

Bailey’s Banda at Beho Beho. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

This is the ultimate old school safari experience. Dappled brick walls enclose guests in a haven of old era safari romance, with bushy views onto the raised hill which creepy up into the horizon. Watch the peaceful everchanging canvas of wilderness from your private plunge pool. This is the kind of scene which can change in a blink of an eye; a tranquil river scene can within a page of your book transform into a playground for elephants; a blank field can come alive with the howl of wild dogs in a split second. Staying at Beho Beho is as much about wildlife viewing from the luxury of your room as it is about the game drives…

Laragai House. Laikipia, Kenya

Laragai House is one of the original private venues for those who want exclusivity in a wild place. Laikipia is a haven for adventurers, and Laragai House is about as luxurious as it gets. It really does have something for everyone. Here, you feel isolated in the wild with sweeping and endless views of the undulating Borana hills below. You can be bathing by the pool admiring the view in the morning, and galloping around the below wilderness in the afternoon on your very own horse. Laragai House is the very best option on the continent for horse and wilderness lovers, all to be enjoyed from one of the finest private safari lodges on the continent.

The Motse. Tswalu, South Africa

Twenty-four of your best friends and family can enjoy this fabulous private getaway. Perhaps The Motse is suited best for older families with teenagers, who want to tear around the surrounding wilderness in activities galore which is this action packed private reserve. Guided activities include searching for pangolins, which are (incredibly) very easy to spot here; keeping wildlife enthusiast parents more than entertained. Perhaps, Tswalu is also excellent for younger families as it has no age restrictions and is, importantly, one of the only non-malarial reserves in southern Africa. For those who aren’t restricted by non-malarial zones, the nearby and easily accessible Cape Town is a perfect contrast and compliment to an exceptional Tswalu safari.

Mkombe House at Nomad Lamai. Serengeti, Tanzania

Mkombe House is the ultimate big 5 safari hideaway. The Serengeti National Park is brimming with life – time it right heading to Lamai in July to October and your could be living in amongst one of the greatest, most spectacular natural events on the planet; the Great Wildebeest Migration. Indoors, Mkombe House cosies into a huge Kjope, huge towering mysterious boulders which are typical of this beautiful part of the park. Staying here is as close to nature as anyone could get. To avoid other tourists completely, I would recommend visiting in the off-season months when the Migration is not around. You will still be greeted by some of the best wildlife on the continent which never leave this action-packed park, but for a lot less than in high season.

Chongwe House, Lower Zambezi. Zambia

Chongwe House is what safari is all about; rustic, wild and with a hint of safari romance impossible to replicate on any other continent. Set on the banks of the Zambezi, enjoy a bright pink sunset and a cold drink after a long day of exploring this beautiful region. The wildlife in the park is superb, and the boating unparalleled in the country. For those who love fishing, Chongwe is the dream with some of the very best fishing opportunities on the continent. It is a hideaway for those who love a river view, and all the activities which come with it.

Marc Harris is Managing Director of Africa Odyssey. Africa Oydssey is run by a team of award-winning experts offering tailor-made African safari holidays.

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